Where did you go, my Lovely?

so It’s been a couple of months since I’ve posted.

and most of that’s because there’s not too much going on in my life, pole-wise.

In good news, switching back to the brand of my pills has cleared up all the problems I’ve had the last six months.  I’m happier, I’ve lost several inches, and I’m sleeping better.  I also started working 8 hour shifts at work the first of June, and having the extra couple of hours in the afternoon has made a world of difference – I can do whatever and unwind before I start doing the things I have to do, and even that is no longer a chore – I’m enjoying cooking dinner again, and that’s a big thing.  I like to cook, so when it became a bad thing, something was really wrong.

Now, I have this extra time in the afternoons, but I haven’t been doing anything constructive with it.  I spent a couple weeks just chilling out and vegging after work, and the week I decided I wanted to start working out again, I started having severe sciatica. I went and saw my dad that weekend, and he fixed me up, but all last week I was banned from any kind of exercise except power walking – which I did plenty of to help strengthen and stabilize my hip.  If you’ve never had sciatica, it’s horrible.  At its worst, it felt like someone had stuck a live wire in my leg and every step was painful.  It affected my hip, the nerves in my groin, and ran down the entire length of my leg in the back.  It’s literally a pain in the ass.  But I’m so glad it’s gone.  I got adjusted again this past weekend, and have been cleared to slowly start some body weight strength training.  Instead, I’ve been running up and down a ladder most of the last few days at work.  That’s on the schedule for the rest of the week, too.  Does that count as exercise?  Probably not as much as I hope.

So that’s pretty much it.  I have another project I’m looking forward to working on, but I have a wedding for a family member in a couple weeks, and then I’m moving the end of July, so that’s probably going to go on the back burner until August.  I’ll keep you posted!

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Yea, it’s pretty clear I ain’t no size 2

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I’ve been having issues lately dealing with my weight.  Or more correctly, my increased size and increased body fat percentage.

April 15th was the end of the weight/fat loss challenge at my work, and I got another body composition test done.  In good news, I’ve gained back a ½ lb of muscle since February, and my hydration has gone up a little.  Overall, I’m better than I was in February, but a little worse than when we started in January (a little less muscle and less hydrated, and a tiny bit more fat).  I’m eating better, and I’m not obsessing over my food.  I make healthy choices (most of the time), eat when I’m hungry, and stop when I’m not.  I’m trying to be conscious about eating more vegetables and not eating carbs (bread, rice, noodles, etc) with dinner. I’m making an effort to increase my protein intake (yummy protein shakes!) because I think I wasn’t getting enough before.  I’ve not been great with my water over the last month, but I’ve remedied that the last few days, making sure I get in my 64oz a day.  On a small side note, I learned last week that pasta makes me bloat like crazy.  It was gone by the next day, but it was a really strange thing to see for the first time – I looked pregnant!  So no more pasta for this girl!

    After recovering from my injury and illness a few weeks ago (the end of last month), in addition to the diet changes above, I started to work out again a couple days a week.  Last week, I upped that to 4 days, even WITH my period (take THAT, Aunt Flo!).  I did 40 min Bendy Body one day, 30 min RLNA, some yoga, and a pole day with Samantha.  Part of me felt like I didn’t do much at Samantha’s but I was sore the next day, so I was working harder than I thought.  I really need to be nicer to myself.  And Samantha and I took progress photos because Brandi posted one last week.  She’s lost 22 lbs and I’m so happy for her.  She’s been literally working her ass off, and looks fantastic (and she’s got abs to die for).  It’s super inspirational, and has helped me kick things up this week.  We measured, too, and while some things have stayed the same, there have been losses in other areas.  I was on my period, which probably wasn’t a good time to measure – I’ll measure again this week.  In good news, I’ve lost an inch in each of my thighs, but gained an inch in both my hips and my butt (this may have been due to bloating).  Everything else has remained the same.

     All of this awesomeness, and my body fat percentage hasn’t budged.  Not one tiny bit.  On the upside, I haven’t gained any fat, but I haven’t lost any of that 30% either.  I’m trying to figure out what I’m doing wrong.  I know these things take time, and maybe I wasn’t working out enough, but to hold steady at 30% for…4, 5 months?  WTH?  I was really frustrated the evening after getting my body comp.  I was trying to figure out what I was doing wrong.  Boyfriend said I needed to do more cardio.  So I upped the cardio last week.  But if diet is 80%, and my metabolism has been roaring (I’m hungry every 3 hours) surely I should have seen SOME change?  I even compared my pictures from Friday with the ones from last Nov, and they look basically the same.

     So I started thinking about when things changed – when my weight and body fat percentage went up to this level.  A lot happened in August – a new job that has me not moving quite so much, moved in with boyfriend, so my diet probably changed a little, less sleep (early shifts at work).  In Sept or Oct, I changed my birth control to a generic.  And then there was the holidays, but all of this gain started before that.  I even checked out my previous body comps, and while my body fat was 28.5% the end of Oct, and 30% in Jan, it’s held steady since then.  Over the holidays I gained 2.5 lbs of fat.  No changes in muscle or water, just packing on fat.  Granted, I still wasn’t really working out then, because my back would flare up, and I ate a lot of stuff I probably shouldn’t have because I was stressed and depressed and frustrated (depression increases cortisol levels, which increases fat storage, too).

      I’m not sure what caused it, but sometime between the end of August and the first of Nov, my weight changed drastically and my body fat % shot way up.  My work pants fit in August, and even into September.  But somewhere in the fall, they started getting tight.  It may have been a combination of all of the factors above, but as my fat gains have been primarily in my butt, boobs and thighs (my waist is still the same measurement! Go figure…), I’m thinking that the change in birth control was a primary contributing factor. 

    So I’m running an experiment.  I’ve switched back to the brand of my pill this month (started this week), and going to see if that has an effect on my weight the next couple of months.  In addition to continuing to eat healthy and work out (more cardio!), of course.
     Samantha thinks part of the problem is also that getting up so early for work (5 am and some days earlier) had thrown off my sleep cycle and I’m not getting enough sleep. And I can tell you right now that I’m not. My body naturally likes a lot of sleep, and most work nights I get 5-6 hours. 7 if I’m really tired or lucky enough to doze off early.  So I’m working on going to bed earlier (boo) so I can get the sleep I need.

     Honestly, I’m excited to see my results in a few weeks.  I’m not going to watch the scale, or jump on every one I see – that would be stupid.  But I’m definitely getting my body comp done again in 6-8 weeks.  I want to see my side-by-side photos.

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Sexy, Flexy, and Bendy

A few weeks ago I posted about some small setbacks – a flare up of my back injury and illness.  And to make myself feel better, I ordered some pretties and a new DVD.

     In case you missed the post on my Facebook page, I got my very first pair of Flexy Legs leggings from Cleo the Hurricane’s website, and a pair of pole shoes I’ve been wanting since I started pole over 4 years ago.

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    The leggings are definitely a darker pink than I expected – more deep fuschia than hot pink, but still gorgeous.  They’re also fairly thick, and fleecy soft on the inside!  I got a pair for my friend Samantha, too (because she’s awesome) and we both love them!  As for my Hot Pink UV 7” Adore-708s… well, I grinned like an idiot and stroked them for at least 5 minutes after I pulled them out of the box. SO STINKING HAPPY.  I danced in them for the first time last week, too.  I didn’t dare buy them before because they’re 7”, and I figured I should start with 6” before I moved on to 7”s.  But it’s really not much of a difference, and I love them.

     I also bought myself Fit & Bendy’s DVD Bendy Body.  I occasionally repost things from F&B’s facebook page, because the owner, Kristina, is a contortion trainer, and offers great explanations for things and awesome tutorials.  Plus, I saw a girl on FB post a picture of herself with her leg tucked behind her shoulder in a lying hamstring stretch (lay on your back, one leg straight out on the floor, lift the other straight up, toward your face, then pull it down next to your ear and tuck it behind your shoulder – still straight legged).  She contributed it to RLNA and Bendy Body.

     I have to say, I did the entirety of Bendy Body for the first time last Friday with Samantha, and by the end (1hr 10min) we were both sweaty, tired, and shaking.  Pole was not possible at that point.  And none of the exercises look hard.  Oh, no.  They look so simple, so easy, so low-intensity and relaxed…  and then you try to do them and your muscles are shaking and before you know it there’s a sweaty outline of you on your yoga mat.  It hurt SO GOOD.  And I was SO SORE the next day – I-can’t-move-without-ibuprofen sore.  It was awesome.  It took me two days to recover, but it was awesome.  But I got deeper into all my splits last Friday than I’ve been in years.  My front splits on both sides were 2-3” from flat with both front calves resting on the floor, and in my straddles both knees were touching the floor.  This DVD is all active stretching – meaning you stretch by strengthening the opposing muscle groups.  There are sections for shoulder and backbend flexibility, which I have tried only once, and worked to failure during both sections.  My muscles could not keep up and hold the contractions.  But the gains I saw were phenomenal.  I have to say this is one of the best stretching DVDs I’ve ever done.  The video was filmed at a few different angles, and these angles change to give you the best view of the poses and body alignment as needed.  Kristina does not talk while she does the exercises – it’s all voice-over. But the verbal cues are phenomenal.  I watched the DVD through once, but I could perform these exercises from the verbal cues alone.  She cues well on when to come in and out, what pace to maintain, and things to be mindful of, like the hip riding up in a lying hamstring stretch.  Some of her imagery is unusual, but it is vivid and precise.  For example, before starting shoulder and backbending stretching, she takes you through some neck stretching.  She tells you to roll your head back, lengthening the neck up toward the ceiling and “imagine the throat opening up like a PEZ dispenser.”  Odd imagery, but I knew exactly what she was talking about, and was able to make subtle changes to the way I was engaging the musculature in my neck and could feel tight muscles stretching that I couldn’t before.

      All in all, if you’re looking to gain flexibility that you can use (a standing split without having to hold your top leg in place, for example), or just looking to gain flexibility at all, Bendy Body is THE dvd to get.  I highly recommend it.  I will still use RLNA because it does build strength and gives a GREAT cardio workout, but if I’m looking for major strength and flexibility training, this is the DVD I’ll reach for every time.  It’s also available in a digital streaming video,  but I just like to have hard copies of things.

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Small setbacks

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So I experienced a small setback last week after my last post.

My job requires me to occasionally move fire extinguishers, and doing a lot of this, especially with heavy 25-30 lb extinguishers irritates my back injury due to the repetitive lifting, turning and carrying (puts an extra strain on my back, which I have to use to carry them in front of me).  This happened to me last week.  I missed the first part of week 2 of my RLNA challenge over the weekend (I started on Friday) due to being out of town on vacation, and with the added irritation from work (seriously, I came home and put ice on my back – I haven’t had to do that in months) I decided it would be better to rest.  And wouldn’t you know the next day I came down with a cold. And started my period.  It wasn’t a good week.  Inflammation of my back injury, head cold, and my period, all at the same time.

So I spent most of last weekend in bed.  I’ve missed seeing Samantha 2 weeks in a row, and I miss her.  I miss my pole time and our girl time.

But this week, I decided I was going to get back on track.  I’ve started working on my diet again, cleaning it up and making more meals at home to ensure I have leftovers for lunch. 
And remember my personal trainer boyfriend?  He’s been raving about a protein powder for a while, and we finally got some on Sunday.  It’s called Syntha-6.
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It’s super clean, pure protein (whey, soy, and egg) with no extra junk added.  And it’s DELICIOUS.  Mixed with milk, it tastes JUST LIKE A MILKSHAKE.  Even better than my Muscle Milk, which had been the best tasting stuff I had found before.  And 2lbs costs about $35.  Not bad at all.  I’ve been experimenting this week with different fruit and fruit juices (orange juice and a banana, banana and strawberries, apple juice…) and it’s all scrumptious. It doesn’t feel heavy in my stomach when I drink it, and it’s not made me gassy (which some protein powders will do).  If you haven’t tried it, get some!  It’s totally worth it.  And it comes in a zillion flavors.  I have the Vanilla Ice Cream flavor right now because I wanted to be able to customize it with fruit and juices, but my boyfriend says all the flavors are super yummy.

That’s pretty much all for now.  I did a mini workout on Tuesday that actually left me sore in a good way so I’m happy about that.  I ordered myself a couple new pole treats yesterday – I’ll post pictures when they come in!

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Slow and steady

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I haven’t posted in a while because there hasn’t been too much going on.  I’m seeing slow improvement, and I’m really happy with that.  I’m still seeing Samantha once a week, and I’m still slowly getting stronger.  I’m dancing and doing tricks in heels, and becoming more proficient and comfortable with them.  Some things still scare the crap out of me to do with heels (body spiral/corkscrew spin), but I’m hoping the more I practice the easier it will become, and that eventually, dancing in heels will be just as comfortable as dancing barefoot.

About a week and a half into my new commitment to my personal trainer boyfriend’s eating plan, I found out I need to be working out 30 min a day, 5 days a week (cardio + strength) along with it.  I was rightly livid, because I needed to know I was essentially overeating if I wasn’t working out.  I’m still easing my body into this fitness stuff – I don’t want to go too hard too fast and reinjure myself.  So I quit it, but only temporarily.  I’m taking time out to get back in touch with my body’s natural eating habits.  I’m pretty much still eating the same way, just not as much or quite as often.  I still eat when I’m hungry, and make healthy choices, I’m just not stressing over quantities or macros.  I’m not even tracking what I eat.  I pay attention, but I’m not keeping a record of any kind. And I’m starting to feel a little more balanced.  I’m not stressed over food anymore, though I still make a concentrated effort to make healthy choices most of the time.

Another change I’ve made is that last week, I started Cleo’s Rockin’ Legs N’ Abs 30 day beginner challenge.

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I’ve moved the days of the week around a little to better suit my work schedule, but it’s only 4 days a week, and each of the workouts only takes 30-35 minutes (and 8-10 minutes of that is stretching!).  I’ve lost a lot of strength and flexibility, and since I’m not working on crazy pole tricks, I figure this is a good time for me to take the time to work on stuff I want, but wasn’t patient enough to do before.  If you haven’t read my review of this workout, you can read it here.  The beginner challenge doesn’t seem like a lot, but it’s definitely challenging me!  I’m panting, sweating and failing during the workouts, and sore the next day, but I’m not experiencing any pain, which tells me that this is the right pace.  And my boyfriend is encouraging, telling me this is a good way to build myself up until I’m stronger and can do more intense, strenuous exercises.  And even in just the first week, I can already tell I’m starting to get stronger – I’m lasting longer during the exercises, and I’m not as sore the next day.  It’s too soon to physically see any differences, but I can already feel the changes, and that’s super encouraging.  I’m going to get my splits!

So here’s my starting point with the splits:

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I’ll keep you updated as I progress, with a new picture at the end of the 30 days!

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Body Image Issues

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The last post was so happy, I hate to follow it up with a post like this one.
I’ve touched on this before, but I’m having issues with my weight right now.  And it’s not even so much my weight, though this is the heaviest I’ve ever been.

We all gain a little winter fluff.  It’s natural to put on a little extra fat in the winter when we’re cooped up indoors, and surrounded by holiday sweets.  Honestly, I’ve never really had much of a problem with this.

But this year was hard.  My job has me working 10 hour days now, and I do a lot of walking, which makes it hard to want to work out after.  And honestly, I couldn’t do much working out anyway, because my back still wasn’t ready.  So I was trying to manage it by tracking my diet, and keeping up with what I ate.  I started counting calories.  And I started having issues with food and guilt and hunger.

I want to say I’ve never had a bad relationship with food.  I’ve been blessed with a naturally slender frame and a high metabolism and could mostly eat what I want.  But I ate a lot of the wrong things this fall and winter.  I started restricting calories instead of trying to get back to the way I ate when I was my thinnest.  And I didn’t even keep myself to a strict diet- I just counted calories and tried to meet macros.  And my calorie intake was so restricted that it was hard to do.  When I did, I was still hungry. Then I felt guilty for eating when I was hungry!!  That is SO WRONG.

Part of me feels like I need to restrict my diet so I can burn off all this fat.  And I want to say that I’m not basing this off weight.  I don’t really care what the scale says.  But I’ve been getting body composition tests, and it was hard to see my fat percentage go from 26 to 28 to my current 30%.  And I can see it in the cellulite on my butt, on my thighs.  My boobs are bigger.  My bras and pants don’t fit.  Oddly, my waist measurement hasn’t changed at all.  But it bothers me that my pants don’t fit and I’ve had to go buy bigger ones.  That 30% number bothers me. And obviously the calorie restriction isn’t working.  I got another body comp test last week – 6 weeks from the one at the first of the year – and while I had lost 3 pounds, 2 of those pounds were water because I was slightly dehydrated, and the other was muscle.  I lost a pound of MUSCLE!  That made me sad last week, but now I’m mad.  Obviously I’m stupidly starving myself, because my body feels like it has to eat into my muscle to fuel itself!  I hate being sad.  Sad is useless and only hurts your psyche.  But mad is good.  Mad I can deal with.  Mad I can fuel into fixing all these stupid issues I’ve brought upon myself.

So I went to my boyfriend, who, lucky me, used to be a personal trainer.  And smart man that he is, he doesn’t tell me how to eat or work out unless I ask.  So I asked.

He came back with an eating plan that blew me away, because it was the complete opposite of everything I’ve been reading.  Now, I asked for this plan before Thanksgiving, but didn’t implement it because, well, Thanksgiving.  Then Christmas.  And since then I’ve just been lazy.  I did try it for a couple of weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and it was pretty awesome.  I got to eat a LOT.  All healthy stuff (the only things not allowed are sweets and alcohol), but a LOT.  I felt good because I was eating well, and was happy because I got to eat when I was hungry – which was pretty often, about 6 times a day.

I’m going to get back on it.  I’m going to rid myself of this stupid, unhealthy, new guilty feeling related to food and I’m going to enjoy what I eat.  I’m going to eat when I get hungry, and eat healthy until I’m not hungry.  And IF I choose to continue tracking food, it will be only to track Macros (fats/carbs/protein).

I’ll keep you posted on how it works.  And if it works as well as he says it does (and I’ve seen it work on his friends) I may post it for the rest of you…

Wish me luck, and happy eating!

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Progress

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It’s been a while since I updated last.  Most of the time when I don’t write, it’s because there’s nothing new going on, like now.

But I’m happy to say my back is finally fully healed.  I no longer wake up with soreness, or feel any discomfort when working out or stretching.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m still careful with it, but the fact that it doesn’t punish me for trying to strengthen it makes me VERY happy.

I’m back to poling with Samantha pretty much every week again, and I’m super happy about that.  I feel weak, I feel like my inverts are sloppy (I really haven’t quite built up enough strength again yet to do them properly), and I’m nowhere near where I was at this time last year, but it doesn’t matter.  I’m back on the pole.  I’m going through and re-learning and perfecting beginner moves.  I’m working through transitions, building more basic combos, doing more floorwork, and I’m doing it in Heels!

I think a lot of people are experiencing setbacks in pole right now due to injuries or life, so I’ve seen a lot of articles about getting back to it, about taking your time to enjoy the journey again, about savoring and perfecting all the little things that you rushed through the first time to get to the next BIG move.  And I’m loving it.  I feel no rush to invert.  I feel no rush to get my Ayesha or Iron X back.  I’m content knowing that I did them before, and I’ll do them again.  Now is time to focus on what I can do now, while I rebuild my strength and flexibility.  Now is the time to work with the strength and flexibility of a beginner, but the knowledge and muscle memory of… I hesitate to say expert.  I hesitate to say teacher, because I never really taught lessons.  We’ll say of an advanced trickster.  Because that’s what I did.  I worked on tricks, but no real combos, no dancing except a few freestyles.  I still probably won’t choreograph routines, but I am playing with combos, with flowing one move into another, and collaborating with Samantha (who’s also been set back due to injury) to try things that are different than my regular style.

I guess I really want to emphasize that this time, I’m enjoying the journey.  I’m enjoying every step, every trick, every move, every combo.  It’s funny how you forget how much leg hangs and supermans hurt in the beginning. I yelped like a kicked dog when I tried an inside leg hang the other week.  Then I laughed.

I’m not frustrated or upset with what I can’t do.  It doesn’t matter.  This is where I am now.  It’s a process, and it’s fun. Even through the sweat, even through the pinched skin, the sore muscles, the grunting and the dreaded ‘pole face’, it’s FUN.  It’s why we get addicted.

The joy has returned.  I’ve found my bliss again.  And it’s wonderful.

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