Episode 153 – Miyo Strong


Hey everyone. I am Drew Manning, the host of the Fit2Fat2Fit Experience Podcast. Thank you so much for tuning in. Really quick, for those that do not know me, I am that Fit2Fat2Fit guy. This Podcast is the Fit2Fat2Fit Experience, which basically takes the lessons that I learned from intentionally gaining 75 pounds in 6 months and then losing it again in 6 months. I take those lessons, especially on the mental and emotional side of transformation and apply it to this Podcast when I bring on certain guests. I try and deliver the best of both worlds. The physical benefits, the physical tips, tools and hacks that you need to change your lifestyle. But then also, the mental, emotional and even spiritual support to help you to balance that out, as you are on your journey to a new lifestyle and transformation. That is what we do here on the Fit2Fat2Fit Experience Podcast. I bring on all different types of guests from doctors, to nutritionist, to celebrities, to fitness trainers and sometimes just friends. *laughing* Today’s guest is a special guest that I was introduced to. She is a local person here in Utah and her name is Miyo Strong. She is legit strong. She is a mom of two and she is a Jiu Jitsu specialist. She is a sponsored athlete and she is a badass. She teaches self defense classes. She has such an amazing story, one of the most amazing that I have ever had on the Podcast. So today in our episode, we dive in to her personal story of sexual abuse, which she has never opened up and talked about. We dive into her self defense classes and why she chose Jiu Jitsu. It’s important for men and women. She is the mother of two daughters and she teaches them the benefits of being strong and Jiu Jitsu. I had an opportunity to roll around with her on the mat and she definitely humbled me. *laughing* Let’s just say that she is about 5 foot something, really short. I am 6 foot something and I was definitely humbled as we were rolling around on the mat and she was teaching me some lessons. It was a really cool experience to kind of get to know her and then we did the Podcast afterwards. So you definitely want to stay tuned for her and for this episode, to hear her story. She definitely opens up and talks about some very, very vulnerable things. As you guys know, I am a big fan of vulnerability as a strength. Let’s go talk to Miyo Strong.

Drew: Alright, Miyo, how are you doing today? Welcome to the show.

Miyo: Good. Thanks for having me.

Drew: It’s my pleasure. As you guys can tell, we are a little bit sweaty. *laughing* This is my first time doing Jiu Jitsu. I lived in Brazil for a couple of years and I remember a friend of mine would try and mess around with me. But I was a wrestler and so no one could ever win, because he wouldn’t want to go to his bak and I was trying to get him on his back. And I was like, ‘How do you do this?’ This was my first time today and I was actually really impressed with how much of an art and chess match it is. So, how long have you been doing Jiu Jitsu?

Miyo: I’ve been back doing it competitively for about four years.

Drew: Ok. When did you start?

Miyo: I started back in the 90’s.

Drew: In the 90’s? How old are you?

Miyo: Like a long time ago. I’m 40. *laughing*

Drew: Oh my gosh! Ok, I did not know you were 40! *laughing* I apologize, ok?

Miyo: No, no, no! It’s good. Yeah, back in the 90’s when it first came out. It was marketed as a little person sport and so, of course, it appealed to me! I am not too big or too tall so …. *laughing*

Drew: *laughing*

Miyo: Then I trained for a couple of years and got my blue belt and competed a few times. Then I quit, got married, had kids and did grad school. I just barely came back four years ago.

Drew: Wow, that is so cool. Back up a little bit, what kind of family environment did you grow up in that led you down this path of wanting to do Jiu Jitsu?

Miyo: *laughing* It’s like the opposite I think, because I am half Japanese. My family focused a lot on education and musical talents and not necessarily the aggressive tomboy that I naturally am. Although my family is very supportive.

Drew: *laughing* Ok, and where did you grow up?

Miyo: In Michigan, in Ann Arbor. My dad did his PhD at U of M and then he taught for a little while after. We moved back and I went to the “U” and Highland High School here in Utah.

Drew: Oh wow, ok. What got you into Jiu Jitsu? Did you just like see it on TV one day and though you wanted to do that? What kind of sparked that interest?

Miyo: So, it’s kind of a crazy story. I was sexually abused and looking for some way of gaining my independence and power over my body and over myself and helping other women in that same situation. I just kept coming back to Jiu Jitsu and it’s a small person sport with real life scenarios. You are on the ground with like 99% of all fights and altercations, especially sexual abuse situations. With them you are usually on the ground.

Drew: Are you open to talking about that situation?

Miyo: Of course.

Drew: How old were you and what led you down this path of wanting to …. having the courage to `want to do something about it? Does that make sense? Versus kind of like the victim mentality of just staying in that mindset of feeling helpless? Does that make sense?

Miyo: Yes, I guess it was a search to get that power back.

Drew: Ok.

Miyo: Because nobody likes to feel powerless or like a victim or worthless. Marital arts and sports in general, have always been kind of a safe zone for me. I loved sports. I played soccer, softball and track. You name it and I tried to do it. *laughing*

Drew: *laughing* Yeah.

Miyo: Jiu Jitsu was a way to kill many birds with one stone, right? I could be competitive out of college. I could help other women and girls.

Drew: Did you have an outlet, a support or therapy to get you through that or did you just kind of tough your way through it?

Miyo: Oh no, no! Lots of therapy, lots of help, lots of good, solid friends and family support.

Drew: Ok. So, you had a career in Jiu Jitsu before marriage?

Miyo: I wouldn’t say it was a career, but I was competitive in it and I really liked it. But now, it’s more of a part time job that I love. I am teaching and I am also competing. I am sponsored. I am following a dream! It’s never too late! *laughing*

Drew: *laughing* That is awesome! That is awesome, because some people might give up after a few years in their 20’s or 30’s and think it’s too late now. I can’t get back into it. But that is an awesome success story. Before you got married, what were you doing on top of Jiu Jitsu? You did Jiu Jitsu on the side or as a hobby?

Miyo: Yeah, as a hobby. I actually went to school at the “U”. I have my Masters Degree in Photography. I was going down the career path. I actually gave up a soccer scholarship to stay in town and work for a studio that I really admired at the time.

Drew: So, you are good at many sports?

Miyo: I wouldn’t say good. I was competitive and I don’t quit. I may not be the most talented, but I can work hard.

Drew: Yeah. Do you have siblings?

Miyo: I have two brothers.

Drew: Ok. What fields did they go into?

Miyo: My brothers, both of them are “IT”.

Drew: “IT”, ok. “IT” guys. You didn’t follow that path? *laughing*

Miyo: No, but I married an “IT” geek! *laughing* So, there is that!

Drew: *laughing* Ok. It sounds like before you were doing Jiu Jitsu, it was kind of like a hobby, it wasn’t a career yet. When you got married and had kids, what was that switch that flipped for you wanting to get back into this? Was the goal to make it a career or was the goal to just do it as a hobby again?

Miyo: No, the goal had nothing to do with career or anything. It was just to lose the baby weight.

Drew: Oh really? *laughing*

Miyo: Yeah, I don’t really love the treadmill or the big box gyms or the step aerobic classes. It’s just not my …. it doesn’t work with my personality. I got in touch with …. through photography actually, one of my old professors. I started again in an effort to get back into shape. Then I realized, I love this! I had forgotten how much I loved it.

Drew: When did you transition that into creating a self defense course around this? What sparked that idea?

Miyo: I have the best female training partners ever. One of them, Chelsea Killpack, she is on the board of the UCASA. UCASA is the Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault. Her major is in women’s health. We have always talked about how important it is for women to know just some basic self defense. It’s not even the physicality of self defense, it is also situational awareness and bystander awareness. There are all these other components that go into a really well rounded self defense program. She and I felt like together we could offer that. We kicked it around for awhile and then the Temple MMA owners approached me about teaching some female specific self defense for women and teens. We have a lot of mother and daughter crews in our classes. So Chelsea teaches with me, along with Danielle Donaldson. She is a Muay Thai, so between the three of us, we have the education. Chelsea also is a purple belt in Jiu Jitsu and Muay Thai.

Drew: Did you guys feel like you didn’t see other self defense guys giving women the tools they needed? Did you feel like you guys could offer something better or was it just something you wanted to do? Maybe it was your passion or did you kind of see that there was a need for it, because other self defense classes weren’t providing the right tools?

Miyo: Honestly, it’s the fact that sexual assault in the nation is at one in five women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime.

Drew: Wow, that’s scary.

Miyo: Well, in Utah it’s one in three.

Drew: Really?

Miyo: So, I have two daughters.

Drew: I did not know that.

Miyo: Yeah, it’s one in three, it’s high in Utah. So, it’s super scary. I feel like not a lot of people talk about it. That’s why I am willing to put myself out there about my own sexual assault history and be open and try and create a safe space for women to be able to talk about it. Also for men to be able to talk about it. Sometimes it makes them uncomfortable to hear about women getting hurt. It’s the way life is and you just have to move on and help each other. That’s what this class at Temple is for. We also teach quarterly seminars, day long seminars and donate the money. This last quarter we donated all the proceeds to Rape Recovery Center. We are going to do another one in August. That’s going to go to UCASA. So, all the money will go to that.

Drew: So, quick questions, because I have two daughters as well. Those statistics honestly scare the crap out of me. It’s super scary. It’s so easy to live in this safe space and think that’s not going to happen, but it could. How do you teach your daughters? How old are your daughters?

Miyo: Eight and Eleven.

Drew: Ok, so how do you teach …. how do you start that conversation with them at a young age? Is it never too early to start that conversation? How do you talk to them about it? I’m just curious how you do it?

Miyo: Well like we talked about earlier, I was raised in a very traditional Japanese household. I am the opposite. We talk about everything. They know all the correct terms for body parts. They know all the words to describe creepy guys or creepy women. We are very open about sexuality. We try to be anyways, about the dangers as well. Most sexual assault happens from somebody you know. It’s a boyfriend, it’s a father or a cousin. It’s somebody that you are familiar with that does the abusing. So, we are also very open about that as well.

Drew: Yeah. It’s interesting, I grew up in a similar culture as well. Conservative, a little bit of Polynesian culture. My dad was part Hawaiian and if something was uncomfortable, we just didn’t talk about it. I think that leads to a lot of problems, because then it leaves you to figure things out for yourself in the world. You just kind of throw your kids out there and are like, ‘Alright, you will figure it out.’ *laughing* I didn’t feel like that was the best approach. I am always curious. I’ve heard of those things, of teaching your kids the correct names of certain body parts.

Miyo: Anatomy.

Drew: Yeah, anatomy. So that if they use a slang term, you can ask them where they learned that from, right? Any other tips for teaching your kids to be self aware? Also, how do you teach kids self defense?

Miyo: You have to make it fun, because their attention spans are small! *laughing*

Drew: Exactly!

Miyo: I think the biggest thing me and my husband try to drill home in our kids is self worth. Because a lot of people will accept poor treatment. It doesn’t always start as abuse, it starts as control. There are baby steps up to the actual terrible marriage or lifelong sexual abuse from your uncle, or whatever it is. But if you have value in yourself and you understand compassion and love and empathy, all of those key factors as a young child, I feel like you are able to stand up for yourself and stand up for others. Also, follow your compass of what is right and wrong. If it feels wrong, even if they are telling you don’t tell, don’t tell, you have a safe adult or a safe friend or sibling that you feel strong about sharing your troubles with.

Drew: Gotcha. I think it is really important what you talked about, kind of building that self confidence at a very young age. I think a lot of young girls suffer with that. They don’t know that they are good enough. They don’t know if they are pretty enough. So if they don’t hear that enough at home, when they get that attention from other guys at some point, it’s easy for them to get sucked in to that, right?

Miyo: Right.

Drew: So, I think it’s really important to build that self confidence at a very young age. I know one thing that I have tried to do to implement is to, I know it sounds weird, but positive affirmations. I will stand my girls up in front of a mirror and I will have them say things about themselves that they like about themselves. Those things can go a long way for little girls.

Miyo: Yeah. We do that as well. My older daughter and I …. well both of my children and I do like special time where it is just one on one, short but very focused attention. One of my favorite things to do is my 11 year old will lay a yoga mat down in the bathroom. We will light candles, turn the light off and I give her a little massage and as I massage her, she repeats after me. I am good. I am smart. I am kind. I am loved. It has nothing to do with what she looks like, but everything to do with the quality of human she is. I love that and I think she loves that too.

Drew: That’s awesome. That is so cool. How do you …. like with these self defense classes, what are the top three things women should know when it comes to defending themselves? I think most women struggle with, ‘Well I am a girl. I am weaker than a guy.’ How do you give them the advantage in certain situations that would help them out in a real life situation? What is some of the advice you give them?

Miyo: I think the biggest thing is situational awareness. You are off your phone. Put your head up. Know where the exit is. Know where your friends are. Park in a lighted zone. Be aware of your surroundings and your environment and your crew you are with at all times. Because a lot of the times, if you are distracted, there is an opportunity. People are going to look for that victims body language. Body language is huge. Also, I think bystander awareness is key. A lot of times we want to mind our own business. We don’t want to put our nose in other people’s problems. But if you see a woman out at a bar or a woman at a grocery store …. it doesn’t matter, a man or anyone that is in trouble, never be afraid to step in and say, ‘Are you ok? Do you need anything?’ Make the person in the situation aware that you are watching as well. We also go over the basic grip breaks and choke defense, body block defense. If somebody grabs you from behind or if they grab you from the front. If they push you against the wall, all of those things. But we never, ever, ever say, ‘Ok, once you get out of their grip, stand and bang with them. Like hurt them!’ That is just not reality. Reality is you get away. You want to neutralize and run. Go to a safe zone. Get to a phone or get to a crowd. Don’t ever think you are going to stand and fight with a dude, or a woman. It doesn’t matter.

Drew: Yeah, I see what you are saying. What about for a child? Are there certain techniques for them? I’ve heard of going limp, obviously screaming at the top of their lungs. What are some tips you teach little kids?

Miyo: The grip breaks are big. Also, where strong people are weak or where everybody is weak. The groin, the eyes, the mouth, the ears. Like a bop to the ear will disorient you faster than if a two year old is trying to punch you in the chest, right? But if they get you right on the ear with an open palm strike. You don’t want to scare them, but you also want them to feel like they have some tools. I am worth fighting for and my friends are worth sticking up for. `

Drew: How much of the classes are Jiu Jitsu and then Muay Thai?

Miyo: Yeah, a lot of striking. I mean a lot of it is groin strikes. How to make a proper fist. I am always surprised. We get some women in the class, we get all ages with a  variety of abilities. But even just learning how to fall correctly, so that you protect your head and your neck if you are shoved, pushed against the wall or pushed down the stairs. Just things to protect yourself so that you can get up and run.

Drew: Now that you have been in this for a long time, have they helped you out in any of your life situations? Have you heard testimonials from other women where these have been helpful or saved their life?

Miyo: You know, I haven’t heard any testimonials from people I have taught, thank goodness!

Drew: Right.

Miyo: I feel like I am much more calm now, having been able to train daily. I approach things with open arms. Like, ‘Ok, can I help you? I see you.’ It’s given me a little more confidence in the body language. Also I have had people, friends, relatives close to me that have come to me in confidence and let me know that they are being abused or they have been abused and that they are looking for help. I feel like because I have been open about my situation and that I am open with teaching and trying to help other people, I am a safe spot for people. That is a huge honor to me and I don’t take that lightly. When people come to me, I do everything I can to either help them get out of the situation or help them reclaim their empowerment.

Drew: How do you have conversations with your daughters, as far as what to do in situations if …. let’s say, worst case scenario, things go really bad? Do you talk about that with your daughters?

Miyo: Yeah.

Drew: I don’t know …. I’m asking these questions for selfish reasons ….

Miyo: Yeah, because you have daughters.

Drew: I’ve talked about the right words to use. Don’t let anybody touch you. If something happens, come talk to me or an adult. But, I have never really talked to them about worst case scenario, let’s say something happens, what to do next? I don’t know if you have an answer to that question, but ….

Miyo: Yeah, I think that’s a tough question. I think if it were my daughter, I would just let her know it’s not her fault. Because that shame and the guilt that comes with people who have experienced this, is what keeps them quiet.

Drew: Did that happen to you?

Miyo: Oh yeah. I didn’t want to tell anybody. I was this perfect straight A’s and sports girl, you know? I didn’t want to let anybody know that anything was wrong. But eventually it is going to manifest itself. *laughing*

Drew: Yeah. It does catch up to you.

Miyo: Yeah, yeah. So it is better to talk.

Drew: How did you get past that? How did you get rid of the guilt and shame? How did you realize it had nothing to do with you?

Miyo: A lot of work. A lot of therapy. A lot of …. I mean, therapy honestly. I am a big proponent for seeking help for any sort of mental illness. Depression, anxiety, any of it.

Drew: What made you have the courage to go to therapy versus trying to just live with it for the rest of your life, like some people do?

Miyo: Oh you are so deep already, Drew! *laughing*

Drew: I know! We are going deep! Is that ok?

Miyo: Uh, so honestly, I am big about transparency. I tried to commit suicide. I had the mother of  my boyfriend at the time, she was a nurse. She came to the hospital and she was like, ‘What happened? What is going on? This can’t continue. What can I do to help you?’ She helped out.

Drew: How long after the incident was this?

Miyo: It was …. years ago. So it had been a while. I was just trying to cover up, cover up, cover up.

Drew: So, it got worse over time?

Miyo: Yeah.

Drew: You had no outlet? You had no family you could tell or friends?

Miyo: Well, in hindsight, I probably could have told a lot of people. But the shame and the guilt keep you quiet and the persona that you want to present to the world that everything is fine.

Drew: Isn’t that so interesting, it’s so backwards. I don’t know if you have ever read any of Brene’ Brown’s books?

Miyo: Yeah.

Drew: “Daring Greatly” really changed the game for me when it came to guilt and shame. She talks about how shame has so much more power the less you talk about it. So, if you don’t talk about it, it owns you. But the moment you start to open up and talk about it, you realize the less and less power shame has over you. You get more and more comfortable sharing your story and owning your story and then you are brave enough to embrace that vulnerability about it. And it’s like, ok, what can I learn from this experience? I think a lot of people get stuck with this mentality of like, ‘Why did this happen to me? ‘ Like life happening to you, rather than for you. Bad things happen in pretty much everyone’s life. Horrible things, some kind of trauma. We all go through it. But that’s where we grow the most, in some cases. It sucks that we have to go through that, but I feel like that is where we learn the most valuable lessons sometimes. You can become the most beautiful individual, inside and outside, from that experience that was traumatic at the time. I think if people could look at life happening for you …. like the quicker you realize that, ‘Ok, something bad happened to me.’ Instead of ‘Who can I blame? Who can I be mad at the rest of my life? What can I learn from this experience and how can I grow from it?’ Sometimes it takes a few years or 10 years, or almost a whole lifetime. But I feel like if you can look at life happening for you, rather than to you, you will be a lot more prosperous, as far as progressing forward in this life. That was why I was asking you those questions. Ok, what sparked you to seek help and your journey, because I want to go deep. I want to learn these things, because I think the people listening might be going through a similar experience. So, if you telling your story could help someone embrace vulnerability, even though it is scary, I think it’s really powerful.

Miyo: I agree 100%. And speaking of experiences or trauma or cornerstones, my husband and I had a little boy that died in 2003.

Drew: Man, you keep dropping these bombs on me! I’m about to take a drink and I am like, wait a second?!

Miyo: No, no, because like let’s be real. Life is hard and I was such a control freak. And just obsessed `with what people thought of me and I was just an angry person. Then that happened and I realized, I have no control. I couldn’t have done anything differently. You go through what could I have done differently, but in the end, there was nothing I could have done differently. His disease was not compatible with life. It’s the way it is and you move on. I distinctly …. like …. Miyo before Bennett dying and Miyo after Bennett died, I am a much better, kinder, softer person than I was prior to that.

Drew: Really? Wow. How did you get to that place, though? How did you get there?

Miyo: So, my son died. My mom overdosed and my husband left me for his secretary, all within six months.

Drew: Whoa.

Miyo: So 2003 was a shit year, right? It took me awhile to dig out of that.

Drew: And you had two daughters at this time?`

Miyo: No, my 11 year old and my 8 year old came after.

Drew: Ok so that is a different marriage?

Miyo: No, same man. I remarried the same man. *laughing*

Drew: Oh my gosh! We have got a lot to talk about! *laughing* Ok, we are 20 minutes in and ….

Miyo: I’m sorry! Sorry! I am just laying all these bombs on you!

Drew: No, this is getting good. Keep going!

Miyo: Anyways, we have these two beautiful healthy daughters and a great strong marriage. It’s not without the cost though, right? I would pay it all again to be in my shoes today.

Drew: What did you use that time? After 2003 happened? Was it therapy? Was it something different that you tried this time or was it the same process of being vulnerable and opening up and transparent with everybody?

Miyo: I think it was therapy and also realizing I have no control over 90% of the crap that happens. I have just let go of control and have been able to experience life at a more real level.

Drew: Ok, this is another question ….

Miyo: Sorry!

Drew: No this is good stuff! Ok, so people watching this or listening to this have most likely heard my episode 100. I am curious to know, because that is an episode where I embraced vulnerability. That is when I got this tattoo.

Miyo: I noticed that in one of your pictures. I like that!

Drew: For me, it has changed my life. So, I am an open book and I talk about my past. I am curious to know, what happened with your ex-husband. It sounds like he left you for someone else. How did you guys come back together and have a beautiful marriage now.

Miyo: In a full circle.

Drew: How did that happen? I am so curious.

Miyo: A lot of work. He had to do a lot of work as well. Because there is always two sides to every story, right? I mean, it’s …. there is two sides.

Drew: Sure. *laughing*

Miyo: So, we both put in the work. He is an incredible man. I think he now believes in the man that I always knew he was. But until he believed that and lived that truth, then it wasn’t really possible to have a healthy marriage. And the same with myself, until I believed, ‘Ok, I am not defined by what has happened to me. I can choose what and how I react and move forward.’

Drew: Ok, so at the time, 2003 or whenever it happened, he was a broken person. He was broken.

Miyo: Yes.

Drew: I am curious because this is kind of how I saw myself back in the day. I hated who I was, right? So, I am wondering if he went through the same thing. If he hated himself so much, he saw himself as a failure, so he did failure like things ….

Miyo: Self sabotage.

Drew: Yes, self sabotage.

Miyo: 100%. He had left me at seven months pregnant, so we didn’t know anything was wrong with out son until he was born.

Drew: Oh, ok. What was he born with?

Miyo: He had a rare blood disorder where his body just produced too many white blood cells. He had some other issues too, that just all kind of fed together. They weren’t apparent until birth.

Drew: How long did he live for?

Miyo: We actually took him off life support, so he was born and they were ready to life flight him, but he had already been without oxygen for too long. It just was the right choice for us as a couple. Luckily we came together. I let him in the delivery room. I wasn’t even going to let him in the delivery room. I was so mad! *laughing*

Drew: Really? Yeah, of course.

Miyo: I was so hurt. But my two best friends, Jenny One and Jenny Two. They said, ‘Brian should be in here.’ I let him in and it was a great decision, because we both got hours with Bennett. That wouldn’t have been an option had he not been there.

Drew: Cool. How do you forgive and trust? Trust, that is the biggest one. How do you trust?

Miyo: Man! I thought this was going to be about Jiu Jitsu and keto! *laughing* Like, damn!

Drew: *laughing* Jiu Jitsu? We got through all the Jiu Jitsu stuff! We will talk about keto in a minute! We’ve got time!

Miyo: It’s rough and it’s a lot of work on his end, dealing with my insecurities. It’s my own work on my own end. I have to find my own identity and finding my own security as a mom, as a woman, as a professional, as an athlete. It’s still a struggle, but it’s not as bad.

Drew: Yeah. It’s not perfect. It’s not like all of a sudden things are hunky-dory and beautiful rainbows and butterflies for the rest of your life. *laughing*

Miyo: No, that would be boring! *laughing*

Drew: That would be boring. *laughing* That is a really cool story. We will have to talk about this more in depth, maybe later on. Maybe with him too?

Miyo: Oh, he is a fascinating human. You would love him. He is my nutrition guru. He is how I found keto.

Drew: So, that’s a good transition point. We can take the pressure off you for a little bit! *laughing* Let’s talk about keto. He introduced you to keto? How did that happen?

Miyo: *laughing* Yeah. So, when I decided to get back into competitive Jiu Jitsu, I walk around right at the bottom of a weight class. My Jiu Jitsu was just average, so it made a difference if they were 10 pounds heavier than me. So, we decided to start cutting for the bigger tournaments. I would go down a weight class. I was doing the regular macro counting, like low to moderate fat, moderate carb, high protein. Like the typical way bikini people lose weight. I was getting terrible migraines, like terrible. To the point where I went to so many specialists, I thought I had a tumor. I was getting them back to back to back. I realized, ‘Ok, so your brain runs on fat. You need fat to fuel your workouts.’ So, he had talked to me about trying keto as a way to drop weight. At first I was like, ‘Whatever! Bacon and pork rinds? I don’t know about this crap.’ Like I am used to eating chicken and broccoli to lose weight. *laughing*

Drew: Yeah. *laughing*

Miyo: But it worked wonders for me and I could do hard training sessions twice a day. Running, Jiu Jitsu, lifting and I was fueled.

Drew: Wow. Did you do any tracking? Were you strict keto?

Miyo: Yes. I was peeing, taking blood. I was doing all the data collecting I could do. I also had blood work done prior to keto, in the middle of keto and at the end of keto. I did all the tracking. My genetic makeup just …. my inflammation was always low. My cholesterol was always low. I am just genetically fit for keto. It’s not for everybody, but for me as an athlete, I love it.

Drew: That’s awesome. A lot of athletes are scared to do it, because they have been taught for so long that carbs are the way to go. Carb up before a race or these glycolytic type of workouts, like Jiu Jitsu or CrossFit, same thing. They worry that they are going to see a different performance. Did you experience a different performance when you initially transitioned into keto? The second question to that, so think of the answer to that one. Do you ever experiment with carbing up, now that you are fat adapted to get the benefits to both glucose and ketones?

Miyo: I love you. *laughing*

Drew: *laughing* Ok. *laughing* Thank you!

Miyo: Ok, so I cycle with keto. I never go long term because I did 16 weeks and lost my period. My body fat was way too low, although I felt fine,  I wasn’t. I should have a period. *laughing*

Drew: Oh wow. Yeah. *laughing*

Miyo: So, I’ve been cycling like 8-12 weeks. That is kind of the money spot for me. Since my very first …. so, I have been doing keto for about 2 – 3 years, on and off. My first time transitioning to keto, I got the keto flu. I have not had it once since.

Drew: Ok, gotcha.

Miyo: So, I can come in and out pretty easily. Now I am able to mentally …. like when I first did keto, I wouldn’t even chew gum, because that’s one carb! And is it one carb if you swallow the gum or is it negate if you chew it? I was just so anal about the control of it! I was counting everything!

Drew: *laughing* Yeah.

Miyo: Now it’s second nature. I know exactly what I can eat. I know how I feel and of course intermittent fasting is huge. I do intermittent fasting on or off keto. I think that helps maintain a healthy body weight for myself. And yes, carb cycling, we just started that. That was Brian’s idea, my husband’s idea as well. I thought no way, I can’t do it. I’ve got to make weight! I know this works. I am going to stick to it. He said, ‘Actually, studies have shown you can try this carb load.’ What it does mentally for me is worth it. I don’t know if it helped me lose more weight, as it’s supposed to. But I did notice that I do one carb day a week, simple carbs. Low fat and after a workout within a short window. I do all the right things. Captain Crunch. *laughing* Sorry, not Captain Crunch, I meant Cinnamon Toast Crunch and fat free milk.

Drew: What?? Oh my gosh! That is my favorite food in this world!

Miyo: Have you tried Shreds?

Drew: No, I haven’t.

Miyo: Ok, it’s made with Cinnamon Toast Crunch, but it’s like shredded wheat.

Drew: Oh my gosh! Really? *laughing* I can’t. This is going to bring back memories of my Fit2Fat journey.

Miyo: Yeah. So, I would eat that and a bunch of fruit. Because I miss fruit on keto. Anyway, so I was doing the carb cycling and mentally it helped. Because I knew, ok …..

Drew: So one day a week you would do that?


Miyo: Yeah, one day a week. And it helps also because when I walk on the competition match, I don’t feel like shooting coconut oil. Like, I want a shot block and a shot block is caffeine and carbs. So, I feel like my body was able to transition and use that as a fuel source when I needed it. Even when I was keto.

Drew: Yeah, and I think it’s important to distinguish how this works for you versus how this works for someone that is sedentary that isn’t fat adapted yet, right? I think the problem some people run into is, they hear that and they think, ‘Ok, I am going to do keto like that!’ They do keto for five days or six days and then they do one day high carb, but they are not fat adapted yet. They don’t know how to use ketones as an energy source. You’ve been doing keto for a long period of time. Your body knows how to shift over from glucose to burning ketones as an energy source. I think it’s really important for that fat adaptation period. Like for you what was it, 8 weeks, 12 weeks or whatever it is, that I think that is essential before you start carb cycling. Or you start doing targeted ketogenic diet, which is where you add it in either pre or post workout. Yes, a lot of athletes I have talked to in these types of sports, I think benefit more off of carbohydrates around a specific time of training, so like before a match. Glucose is a great energy source, right? Your body uses it up really quickly. But if you can use that and then shift over to ketones if you need to, that transition is a lot quicker than if you were someone that just did keto for a week. *laughing* I think it’s important for people to understand that. So, is that your protocol now? Intermittent fasting, carb cycling and then before your matches you will take some kind of carb like …. what is it called?

Miyo: Yeah. A shot block.

Drew: Shot blocks, yeah ok. *laughing*

Miyo: I am usually so anxious and nervous that I don’t feel like eating, even though I realize I need to eat before I go out there. So, that or a protein shake with MCT oil and then some carbs as well, will work for me. I can hold it down. Hard boiled eggs are like my go to. *laughing*

Drew: *laughing* Yeah. Gotcha. Those are so good. I love those with some salt on them. Now, I haven’t heard of too many people doing the …. when they carb up, usually it’s just a cheat day for them. So, they eat high carb, but they also eat high fat. You say you eat high carb and you stay low fat that day?

Miyo: Yeah, super low fat. I only eat the carbs after a hard workout.

Drew: After a hard workout, gotcha.

Miyo: And in a small window. So, 4-6 hours ….

Drew: So, it’s not all day long?

Miyo: No, no. I would like to do that! *laughing*

Drew: Do you eat as much cereal as you can?

Miyo: *laughing* Yeah, half a gallon of Fairlife and a whole box! I can throw down!

Drew: *laughing* That’s impressive! How do you feel on those days? Because the other days you are eating high fat and you probably go longer times between your meals. How do you feel on those days when you have a huge insulin spike? Do you feel ok or do you notice a difference?

Miyo: I’m giddy, happy and high! *laughing* But then the next day, I am super bloated.

Drew: Really? Ok.

Miyo: So usually what I will do, and it’s just what has worked for my personal body. I will do a carb day like on a Sunday and then I will fast for like 16-24 hours and get all of that crap out of my body and then go back to the keto.

Drew: Gotcha. It’s totally worth all of that suffering or all that bloating?

Miyo: Yeah, I mean it’s just enough that I am like, I’ve got to down the water and get sweaty to just flush it out.

Drew: So, kind of tying all of this together, we have talked about a lot of things. From what you have been through your entire life, what is your message that you want to bring to women? What’s your message that you want to get out there to women?

Miyo: Well there are so many things that I am passionate about as far as women’s empowerment goes. I would say, support each other. There are so many mean girls and so many judgmental women. I feel like finding a core group of women that support you and love you but call you on your bullshit as well. I mean it can’t all be roses and unicorns! *laughing*

Drew: Yeah. *laughing*

Miyo: You have to be 100% real with people. That has been a huge asset in my life. Like I think of my ‘girl crew’, like my friends I train with. My friends that have nothing to do with Jiu Jitsu but that are my core humans that I just love. I wish that for my daughter’s. I want them to find a family that they chose, right? Find women and shine bright next to each other. It does not take away from your shine to help somebody else shine. It sounds so cliche’, but I think it’s really important. I wish my daughters, if I could give them one thing, it is a good partner in life. Whether it’s a man, woman, I don’t care and good girlfriends. A good, good crew of women.

Drew: Yeah. Last question for you, what kind of legacy do you want to leave behind in this life? When you pass on, what do you want your daughters to say about their mom?

Miyo: That’s deep! *laughing*

Drew: Yeah. I don’t know if you have ever thought about that. What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind, especially for your daughters?

Miyo: I want them to do better than what I did. I think that’s the goal, right? As parents, it’s the toughest damn job on the planet. There are so many ways to screw it up and I just keep thinking, I’ve got to do better than my mom did and I want my girls to do better than I did. I want them to always try hard and take risk and embrace failure and love with abandon. You are going to get hurt, but ….

Drew: Do they do Jiu Jitsu?

Miyo: I think I made a mistake with my 11 year old. The day she turned 5 I was like, ‘You are on the mat! You are going to be a world champion! Let’s go!’ *laughing* She hates it! But they are amazing athletes in their own right. They dance and do gymnastics. They do come to my women’s class every Sunday. My oldest loves it because she loves Danielle and Chelsea. She wants to strike with them. She doesn’t want to do ground work with me. *laughing* But I don’t care, whatever gets her there and working out and training. My husband is a competitive strongman, so he is working them as well, just on some basic lifts and strength training.

Drew: Yeah. I think it’s cool to teach girls that it is awesome to be strong. Whether it’s Jiu Jitsu or powerlifting or whatever it is, like it’s ok to be strong. It’s awesome to be strong. I love that. It’s so cool that you have two daughters. For me, it’s very fulfilling in life having two daughters. I used to think I wanted boys, but now that I have two daughters, I wouldn’t change it for anything. Even though we dress up and they paint my fingernails sometimes and I have to play princess with them. I am totally fine with that. It’s so fulfilling for me having young girls. It sucks, because sometimes you try not to worry about these statistics out there about girls and sexual abuse. But it happens and it’s hard as a parent, like I don’t want them to go through that. But at the same time, we can’t always protect our kids and that’s the scary thing in life. Setting it up for success as best you can and realizing that everything else is out of your control. You can’t be with them 24/7 and you can’t prevent bad things from happening. For me, letting go of that control is freeing in a way. It’s scary, but just doing the best you can and realizing that you did the best you could. But I just want to say thank you, Miyo for coming on and sharing your story and being vulnerable. That’s really hard, especially all the stuff I didn’t know you went through. I didn’t know you went through all of this.

Miyo: I’m sorry, I just unleashed! *laughing*

Drew: No, but I’m glad I got that out of you! I think it’s really something that a lot of people out there can relate to.  You wouldn’t believe how many people, like when I share my story, it’s like, ‘Oh my gosh. I had no idea!’ Because it gives them courage to own their story. Where can people find you online, your website, self defense classes, social media, all of that?

Miyo: My Instagram is UtahJitsMama and Temple MMA is where I teach the women’s  self defense. We are actually, August 10th we are going to host our next big one. So, please come and be my guest with your daughters. You won’t be allowed to take it, but I will take those darling daughters of yours under my wing and have these women come.

Drew: Dang it! Ok, that would be awesome. *laughing*

Miyo: Yeah, I would love to have them be my guest at that. It would be wonderful.

Drew: Thank you. And any websites or ….

Miyo: So, I am a photographer. *laughing* MiyoStrong.com is my photography page. *laughing*

Drew: Gotcha. Well, thanks again, Miyo. I really appreciate you coming on and I am looking forward to some more Jiu Jitsu and some self defense classes. So, thank you again.

Miyo: Thank you. Wonderful.