Body Image Issues

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. 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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Joy

Marilyn smileI posted a few weeks ago about honoring my body, and taking care of myself.  I paid for a beginner’s week of unlimited classes at a local yoga studio, and took a few classes.  They were wonderful, but I found my back was sore after, even though the stretches felt so good during class.  I actually had to go home and ice my back after one class.

I learned a few things from those yoga classes – besides how to be mindful, deepen postures, concentrate on slow, even breathing even when my body is taxed, and reminded how much I LOVE yoga classes and the relaxation and destressing they provide.  I talked to the instructor of the harder class (still only a level one class instead of the gentle yoga class I had already taken) and told her about my injuries before class.  She was mindful of me, providing variations, and came to me 3/4 of the way through when I was flagging and my body had had enough.  We talked after class, and even though she was very young, she was supportive, commenting about how injuries change everything.  She told me something her trainer had told her – Leave some in the tank – meaning not to push yourself to the fullest extent of what you CAN do, or think you can do, but to only do what you can do comfortably.  Do what you can do well, because you still build strength there, even if you’re not pushing yourself.  And then, eventually, you find that what you can do well will be a little more than before.

And I know this, but the way she put it made something click.  We hear so much “no pain, no gain” and “change is uncomfortable,” especially with exercise.  But we forget that small changes can still be made by working within our comfort zone.  Doing an exercise in a way that doesn’t push us beyond our limits or what we’re comfortable with still makes a change.  A pushup against the counter may not bring about as much change as quickly as a pushup on the floor, but it still builds strength.  And this is what I need to do.  This is hard, because I’m used to pushing myself.  I’m used to my body doing just about anything I ask.  Now I have to slow down, and work in baby steps.  But even a baby step is a step forward, in a way that is good, and won’t hurt me later.

The next week, I did something that seriously irritated my back at work – I don’t know what it was.  But it felt like I was being stabbed in the spine with an ice pick, and I had a tingling, burning pain in my inner thigh and hamstring.  Pants were not my friend.  But I stretched, trying to ease the muscles and coax the vertebrae back into alignment, and a few days later, something shifted and that horrible burning in my leg went away.  My back was still super sore, but I was so thankful the leg pain was gone.  The skin was so highly sensitized it was awful.

I went to see my dad (the chiropractor) last weekend, and he got me all straightened out, and when I left Monday, my back felt WONDERFUL.  A few things shifted a little after I got home, and I was sore again for a couple days, but was good about my stretching exercises from PT to help relax the muscles and realign everything.  As of Thursday, my back was feeling great again.  The best it’s felt in MONTHS.

The first of the year I started seeing Samantha every Friday again, even though we haven’t been doing much – just some yoga, a little basic pole spins, some floor work.  But yesterday, in addition to our general sun salutations and teaching my friend Jessie a new spin, I did some real pole work. Pole crunches, Oblique crunches on the pole, some climbs, a few real inverts (sloppy as they were).  I managed a butterfly, a chopper, a cross ankle release into a handstand, and reminded myself how painful leg hangs are.  It all felt weird, awkward and uncomfortable.  But I was so proud!  I stopped after that, even though I felt like I could have done more. But I felt like it was better to heed the advice from before, and stop while I still “had some left in the tank.”  Samantha’s had a shoulder injury, but it’s healing, and she was finally able to bust out an Ayesha with me spotting her yesterday.

I am incredibly sore today in my shoulders, pecs, lats, obliques and glutes (we had fun doing glute isolations yesterday too). And it’s awesome.  My back still feels really good, too, and I couldn’t be happier.  I’ll be doing some yoga and stretches today to help with the soreness.  it feels strange to be happy about being sore, but I’m just thrilled, and I can’t wait to do it again.

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Resolutions

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It’s that time of year again.

The time of new beginnings.  When everyone is regretting everything they didn’t do this year, and are going to try to cram it all in this coming year.

But not me.

I have regrets, of course.  I regret being injured.  I regret that I didn’t try to exercise more after I was released from physical therapy post injury.

But I realize that these were things that I had to work through.  The injury helped me slow down when I was stressed out at work.  And the depression following and learning to work within my new post-injury limitations has taught me to slow down and listen to my body (though I thought I was doing that before) and to take better care of myself.  Some limitations were discovered due to reinjury.  Some of them were because I was stupid and pushed my body too hard and I was lucky enough to only make it hurt really badly for a few days.

But these were not really setbacks – they were lessons.  I need to honor my body, and to treat it with care.  It’s the only one I’ve got.  Yes, it’s frustrating that I get tired after 10 pushups.  It’s annoying that I have to be super careful when lifting and carrying and especially twisting.  I feel fragile, and delicate, and part of me hates that.  I feel like I’m always holding back when I move around, always waiting for something to go wrong.  But I’ve also become acutely aware of my body and its signals. The “this is hard, but I’m good” signal.  The “I don’t like this – back off or stop” signal.  The “I made it through that one, but don’t do that again or you’ll be sorry” signal.  The dreaded “Stop now or you’re going to regret this” signal.  I know what all of these feel like, and I’m learning not to push myself.  Pushing leads to pain, and that’s not fun.  So I stick where I’m comfortable, and next time, I will be comfortable with a little more, and then a little more.  And by comfortable I mean taxing, but not pushing or painful in any way.  The kind of taxing that leads to a happy tired muscle, not an angry inflamed one.

I’m learning to stop when my body says “I don’t like that”.  Not that I’ve done any kind of exercise the last couple of weeks.  But I’ve been enjoying the time off resting, recharging to try again. I’m actually looking into going to classes a few times a week at a local yoga studio to start rebuilding myself in a safe, controlled way.

I cannot go hardcore.

I cannot turn on Beast Mode.

But I can honor my body by strengthening and stretching in a slow, controlled, relaxed way.

I have one goal for 2015, and that is to get back on the pole, and get back to where I was pre-injury.

I couldn’t Twisted Grip Deadlift.  I didn’t have my splits.  I couldn’t hold a Marion Amber without a spot.  I couldn’t Aerial Shouldermount.  I couldn’t even do a straight legged invert.  But there were so many other things that I could do, and that’s what I’m striving for.  I want to be able to do a pretty tucked invert again.  I want to get my Cocoon back.  I want to do a Butterfly without shaking.  I want to Ayesha again.  And I will.  The depression from before is fading, and the hunger is coming back.  Instead of focusing on my injury and worrying about hurting myself again, I’m learning how to rebuild, and this gives me hope.  And hope makes me want my love affair with pole back.

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Staying Accountable

Icon - Pen and paperSo the first part of October, when I was so frustrated with my back, Samantha and Brandi were also unhappy with their bodies, and wanted to change.  So they started a 90 day program together.  My back wasn’t (and still isn’t) well enough for me to participate in this program, but I decided that I would do what exercises I could.  We would do this together, to keep each other accountable and support each other.  There’s only one problem.  We all live 30-45 minutes apart.  And with work and families, that makes it hard to get together to work out.

So my friend Samantha found a useful purpose for facebook.

I know.  I thought it was only for finding cat memes and wasting time while I’m bored at work, too.  Who knew?

So anyway, the Groups feature has turned out to be really awesome for this.  She made our very own secret group, so every day, we could post about our workouts.  There’s only three of us in the group, so it makes it really easy for us to keep up with each other, unlike some of the larger groups I’m in.  It’s great!  We all work out when we’re able to during the day, and post after.  It’s got a lot of the benefits of working out together (except bitching to each other during the hard sequences) when we can’t actually physically work out together.  It’s great.

I know me, and I need a workout buddy to help keep me accountable.  Surprisingly, this has worked out really well for me.  I do what I can, when I can, and still get the positive feedback, or a little push when I need it, but having to check in is usually all the mental ‘push’ I need to get me to exercise.  I do admit, I had a few small issues with my back, and fell off the bandwagon a little bit, but they kept going, and seeing them succeed, and seeing them change has kept me inspired.  I’m a little sad I can’t keep up, but I’m doing what’s right for my body, and moving at least a little every day has really helped speed my recovery greatly.

Samantha, you’re a genius.

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A pain in the… back

So I’ve been dealing with back injury for most of this year.  I posted a while ago about how I was so frustrated and depressed, jealous and unmotivated and surly.

I’ve started poling once a week with Samantha, and I feel like I can’t do a whole lot, but I have noticed that I am starting to get a little stronger.  I still have to be careful.  I still have to make sure and stretch and do my exercises at least every other day, if not every day.

Last week, I noticed that after a few days of gentle exercises and stretches that I was still having issues with achy, unhappy back muscles, so I stressed them a little.  I did a single round of an ab and butt circuit (crunches, rev crunches, bicycles, side planks with leg lifts, squats, lunges, deadlifts, etc).  I was TIRED after that one round.  But my muscles weren’t sore and achy the next day like they had been for the previous few days.  So I am making progress.

Until Monday.

My job occasionally requires lifting, which normally would not be a problem.  But the problem came when I was swapping out fire extinguishers (big 25 lb ones).  The first problem is that I had to carry them from my car into offices, and secondly that  I was having to bend over to get them out of my trunk.  I was in serious pain – I wanted to cry.  But Tuesday was a little better, and the work Dr is chalking it up to muscle strain and says I should be fine by Monday.

Until this point, I was doing really well with my recovery – it’s been slow, but there has been some progress.  Enough to keep me hopeful, and the hope keeps me going, keeps me thinking that maybe, just maybe, by the time I hit the one year mark, I’ll be back to where I was pre-injury, back to normal.

I’m trying to be safe and smart about the way I’m recovering, and it’s hard.  Patience and consistency are not two of my strong suits when it comes to personal goals and accomplishments.  But I’m learning, and it’s paying off.

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End of the Multi-Piece Pole Battle!

So I don’t know if you’ve heard, but Platinum Stages posted a press release on their Facebook page Nov 5 stating they will no longer be making multi piece portable and stage poles. They go on to state that they fully support X-pole and their products.
I’m shocked.
Platinum Stages built their business on single piece, permanent poles, especially catering to strip clubs, and to my knowledge, they are still the industry standard for competition poles in the US. They manufactured the first stage pole – the Star stand-alone, which was received by the community with rave reviews.
I don’t know what spurred this change, but I personally think they probably weren’t selling as well because of intense competition from X-pole. They also earned a reputation for bad customer service with their portable poles, and I think this drove many buyers and potential buyers away.
I’ve never had a platinum stages pole, but I’m sad to see them go – they offered stainless steel and brass poles, two metals xpole does not offer, and many people liked the ease of switching between static and spin on their poles (you only have to pull out a single pin at the base of the pole).
I never planned to own a platinum stages pole, but I’m a little sad to see them leave the Multi Piece portable pole market.

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