1. Introduce yourself please, when and how did you start doing BJJ?
Hi, My name is Kaitlin Wonder. I am a Brown Belt under Taniel Santos de Jesus and train under Team Abu of Ares BJJ. I have been training for about 11 years. I started training BJJ 2006 while in college. I had been struggling after surviving sexual assault and one of my friends suggested I try BJJ as a way to learn self defense and regain some of my confidence back. I fell in love with it in that first class, and have not looked back since.
2. What do you like more about this sport?
It is hard to choose just one thing that I love about this sport, but if I have to choose just one, I think it is the overwhelming sense of closeness and community that comes with being in BJJ. I’ve had to move a few times since I started this journey, and no matter what state or town I have ended up in, I have been able to find a gym, get that sense of community and belonging, and then make great friends who regardless of where I end up, I can and still do go back and visit.
3. Which is your profession?
I am currently finishing my final semester of my Master’s in Social Work with a concentration of Children and Families. I am actively job hunting, which in and of its self seems like a job.
4. Did you stop training BJJ during the pregnancy? if yes, why?
I did not train while I was pregnant. A few months before I got pregnant I herniated 2 discs in my lower back. I had been working on physical therapy, while he doctors were trying to decide whether or not I needed surgery. I found out I was pregnant days after I was released to go back to BJJ, but since I had already been off for about 4 months, I decided to wait until after I had my son to come back
5. When do you started to practice BJJ again after delivery?
The first time I tried to restart BJJ after delivery was at about the 6 week mark. We moved across the country when he was about 2.5 months old. I kept trying to get back into BJJ during that time, but I did not fully get back into the sport until this past February, 3.5 years after my break started.
6. When you got pregnant, did you gain a lot of weight?
I only gained about 30 lbs while I was pregnant with my son. Which I don’t think was too bad? By my 6 week check up I had lost almost 20 lbs but I was also diagnosed with Post Partum Depression. I also have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) which can make weight loss very difficult. I ended up gaining all the weight back and more due to stress from moving across the country, finishing school, and also the depression and PCOS. The highest weight I hit was 178 lbs.
7. How much weight did you lose already since you gave birth to your son. How did you do it? Please explain what it is working best for you. Gym, Diat..?
When I started back up in February I was 178 lbs. (80.74 kg), as of last week I was down to 133 lbs. (60.33 kg). I’m at a total of 45 lbs lost so far. The biggest changes I made wwas just getting back into BJJ. I was not happy trying to work out in other ways and so I just did not try as hard as I do in BJJ. I also stopped binge eating. I realized I was an emotional eater, and would binge eat while depressed, which is something I constantly struggled with. Eating a normal amount of calories every day and cutting out a lot of the junk and processed food helped me lose weight. But by far, stepping back on the mats was the number one factor.
8. Some mums find difficult to keep training when they have kids. Tell us about your own experience. How do you manage it? is there someone who helps you? How often do you train?
I currently train about 4 days a week. It is definitely very hard at times to train since I’ve had my son. I have been lucky that when I finally did start back up, I was able to go during the day at lunch time, while my son is in childcare. Occasionally I do train in the evenings, and he comes with. Max is 3 now, and he wears his gi, and he plays while I train, he joins in the warm ups, and the cool down, but other than that I bring a bag full of toys and snacks, and he stays pretty happy.
My husband has also started training some, so he helps when he is there as well. However, he is in the Army, and is gone frequently due to his obligations.
9. What has been the most difficult thing you have endured so far as a mum/fighter?
Starting BJJ back up after being gone for 3.5 years. I felt like I had forgotten everything, and every day was a constant struggle to remember techniques, and not just get absolutely steamrolled, while wearing a purple belt. I actually asked if I could demote myself, because I had forgotten so much technique, but they wouldn’t let me. I also didn’t have a lot of support when I restarted BJJ, so there was a lot of juggling to try and make it happen.
10. Are you competing again? when did you start competing after your son was born?
I am competing again! One of my training partners convinced me to compete this past June, and I ended up winning that first tournament back. My son was 2, and he was there with me since my husband was deployed at the time. I’ve competed and won at 2 more tournaments since that first one, and at the Charlotte Open, I was awarded my Brown Belt. I am excited for 2018, I plan on competing as much as possible, and already have a few tournaments lined up.
11. What do you love about competition?
I have always been a competitive person and have competed in sports since I was young. Doing tournaments fills that need for competition. I get to test myself and my skills against new people, and I just overall enjoy the feeling. I also love getting to know my opponents after a tournament, if they live close by, I look forward to meeting up with them at women’s events. I also feel with everything going on in the world it is important that my son sees me training and competing, he needs to see good examples of winning, losing, working your hardest, and coming back after a loss.
12. Anything you would like to tell the BJJ Mums community out there?
Stepping back on the mats after an extended break can be a very daunting task. It doesn’t matter if it was a few months or a few years, once you have made the decision to go back, stick with it. You’ll find your groove again, the technique will come back, and you will be amazed at the support you find within the community. Keep going, and enjoy every moment of the journey.