Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The End of Season Eight

My second season as a DC Rollergirl came to a close on Saturday.  My team, the Majority Whips, made it all the way to the home team championship bout and lost by four points, finishing in second place.  It wasn't an easy road to the championship.  Four skaters who started the season with us retired before it was over, and outside our team there was more than the usual amount of drama swirling around the derby-verse. 

When I wrote about our season opener, I said, "Whips run on love."  And that was true from start to finish this season.  I have played a lot of sports, and I can honestly say this is the most positive team environment I've ever experienced.  We love each other more than we love winning, and that is a pretty amazing.

All of this is not to say we don't love winning.  Of course we were disappointed when we lost.  For my part, I felt a strange emptiness in the moments after the clock ran out.  It's not a feeling I can remember experiencing with other losses in other sports.  I think it was feeling not so much that we were beaten by the other team but just that the clock ran out before we were done.  There wasn't a moment, until we actually lost, that it occurred to me we might not win.  I don't mean to sound arrogant or to say I took it for granted that we would win.  It's just that it seemed inconceivable that such an incredible season could end any other way.

And it was a truly remarkable season, the most competitive one the league has had so far.  When I think about that, it gives me goose bumps.  We gave this city the best season of roller derby it's ever seen, and we can all be proud of that.

Photo courtesy of Pablo Raw

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

March Review and April Goals

Here's how I did on my goals for March:

Achieve 90% attendance at practices.  Being on the travel team means there are more opportunities to practice, which is exactly what I want and need.  However, having more opportunities to practice also makes meeting my cross training goals more difficult.  (Not to mention managing my job, the league board, and the rest of my life.)  I am still working on figuring out the balance.  I've had to reconcile myself to the fact that I'm going to have to miss practice sometimes to take care of other things.  In March, I missed practice to work late, to do board business and once to take care of a minor muscle strain.  I've set a few ground rules for myself regarding missing practice.  For instance, I aim for 100% travel team attendance, and I try very hard not to miss more than one practice a week, if that.

For today's post, I reviewed both my attendance for March and my attendance for the quarter.  To give you an idea of how travel team changes things, in January when I had not yet made the team, there were six league practices, and I attended all six.  In March, my first full month on the travel team, there were 14 practices between league and travel team, and I attended 11.  So I nearly doubled my practice time, but at the same time, my attendance rate dropped from 100% in January to 79% in March.

For the quarter, I attended 100% of travel team practices and 78% of league practices for an overall attendance rate of 84%.  It's not 90%, but it's close.

Lift twice a week.  I met this goal two of four weeks.  The other two weeks I lifted once. 

Eat 9 servings of fruits/vegetables and 1 serving of nuts each day.  Just like last month, I had trouble keeping track of this goal.  It is definitely something I aim for every day, but I don't have good data on how well I did.

Fitness Milestone: Chinups!
This month I did three sets of ten assisted chinups.  When I started doing assisted chinups in September, the most I could do was four.  By December, I could do one set of ten but couldn't make it to ten on the other two sets.  So now that I've hit this milestone, I've switched to a resistance band that provides less assistance and will build up until I can do more reps with that.  Frak has also suggested some additional exercises to help me strengthen those muscles so I can meet my goal of doing at least one unassisted chinup by December.

Goals for April

1. 85% attendance (combined league and travel team practices).

2. Lift twice a week and run once a week.  I said I was only putting running on hold until I'd had a chance to adjust to more skating, and I've had six weeks to adjust.  Now the weather is getting nicer, and I really want to fit in at least one jog to the Capitol or maybe a track workout each week.  Of course, the more likely scenario is that I'll be running around the block outside my gym after lifting since I don't know when else I am going to have time to fit this in, so we'll see what happens.  I'm actually pretty bummed that I won't be able to participate in the Crystal Run 5K series this month, as I have for the last two years.  I'm going to try and do the last one of the four Fridays.  The other three all fall the night before a bout, and I don't think running a race the night before a bout is the best idea.

3. Track my daily food intake.  So far I'm 3/7 with this, but it's a start.  I really want an accurate record of what I'm eating now that I'm practicing more, running more and starting to build up the amount of weight I'm lifting again.  I'm interested in looking at fruits/vegetables, protein and saturated fat, but if I don't log the data, I can't analyze it. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

My First Strongman Competition

On Saturday I went to watch my teammates, Wham and Frak, compete in NOVA's Strongest Woman, a strongman competition at NOVA Strength & Conditioning.  I was super-excited to finally get to see a strongman competition, and even more excited that my first one was a women's competition.

I had hoped to post some videos of both my teammates here, but apparently I am the only person in the world who can't figure out how to upload videos from my phone to a PC.  Fail.  Anyway, here is a video of Frak that shows four of the five events in the competition and will give you a good idea of what was involved. 

The event not shown was a pressing medley that included a log, an axle, a dumbbell and a barbell.  You can see the weights for the different events and weight classes here if you are interested. 

The competition was so inspiring and fun to watch.  Here are some things I love about strong(wo)man:

Everyone has their event.  After seeing some women really struggle with the first couple of events, I was surprised to see how they rocked the later events.  It seems that with such diversity in the types of events, there is likely to be something that plays to everyone's strengths, which is cool.

It's a mental sport.  Some competitors tried a lift two, three, even four times before they got it, but I don't think I saw anyone give up.  I must admit, it made me a bit teary-eyed at times.  The mental focus and tenacity it takes to do this sport is amazing.

Anyone can do it.  The diversity of women in this competition was awesome.  There was no one body type.  Just think, there are women you might run into at the grocery store who are capable of extraordinary feats of strength.  How awesome is that?  It's like the world is suddenly full of secret superheroes.  We all could be secret superheroes and just not know it yet!

I am constantly amazed by my teammates, and that was definitely true on Saturday.  Frak placed second in the lightweight novice class, and it was her first competition!  Wham got a few PR's.  And that's what it's really about, of course.  Trying new things and competing against yourself. 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

I Guess I Should Stop Eating Beef Jerky

This week I got the results from my recent physical, and the numbers are a bit perplexing.  First, the good news:
  • HDL cholesterol (aka "good cholesterol") is up from 67 to 73.
  • Triglycerides are down from 73 to 55.

Now the not so good news:
  • LDL cholesterol is up from 105 to 125.  This is still in the normal range, but it's a big jump up, which probably accounts for...
  • Total cholesterol is up from 187 to 209.


I don't really understand how the good stuff can get better and the bad stuff can get worse at the same time, or how the total number can be so high when everything else is still in the normal range.  This seems counter-intuitive to me.  Nevertheless, numbers don't lie.  When I heard the news, I tried to figure out what I've been eating that could account for the increase.  I'm guessing all the extra meat I've been eating since I started lifting (beef jerky included) played a big part.  I'm not gonna lie, there's been a bit more ice cream in my diet, too.  I've introduced more overall variety into my diet while also trying to get more healthy fats, but maybe in the process I've been getting more saturated fat as well. 

Here's my plan for how to get my cholesterol back where it needs to be:
  • Go back to the diet I had before I started lifting.  Swap out the extra meat for other healthy snacks and lean protein.  I sense that turkey is about to become my new best friend.
  • Start tracking saturated fat on my nutrition app for the first time ever.  Damn it.
  • Resume my afternoon oatmeal habit because oatmeal is good for cholesterol.

Monday, March 3, 2014

February Review and March Goals

February was crazy!  I made the Travel Team.  I bought my apartment.  And I was elected to a position on the DC Rollergirls' Board of Directors.  Crazy!

February has historically been one of the worst months of the year for meeting my fitness goals, mostly because it's one of the busiest months of the year at work.  This year work seemed less crazy than usual, but the rest of my life made up the difference.  Being on travel team and the board means even less free time than I had before, which wasn't very much.  I know it will be worth it, but it's an adjustment.

Here's how I did on my goals:

1. Do not purchase convenience/restaurant meals, snacks or beverages. As soon as I set this goal, I realized it was a dumb idea.  Not because it's not a good idea to avoid convenience meals, but because it violates my belief in focusing on abundance rather than scarcity.  As soon as I told myself I couldn't have these foods, they were all I could think about.  The allure of the forbidden, coupled with being extra busy, meant that not only did I completely fail at meeting this goal, I probably ate more convenience meals than usual.

2. Eat 9 servings of fruits/vegetables and 1 serving of nuts per day.  When my schedule got busy, I forgot to track this.  I met this goal about 2/3 of the days I did track it.  I feel like I'm making progress, especially in getting more vegetables, but there's still room for improvement.

3. Attend 90% of roller derby practices. 
I made it to 85% of practices.  Not bad.

4. Arrive early for all Armory practices.  I totally forgot to track this.  Honestly, I forgot this was one of my goals for the month.  Fail.

5. Watch 1 bout per week.
I met this goal three of four weeks this month.

The mantra for March is simplicity.  This will be my first full month with all these new things to juggle.  Mostly, I just want to focus on getting a handle on my schedule.  Here are some simple goals:

1. Attend 90% of practices.

2. 9 fruits/vegetables and 1 serving nuts per day.
3. Lift twice a week.  (Although this is a habit now, it's going back onto the list of goals because I need to be intentional about carving out the time for it.  I've decided to back off on the running while I get used to the extra skating with the travel team.  I'll pick that back up again next month when the weather is nicer.)

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Fitness Lessons from Home Ownership

Today I finalized my purchase of the apartment I’ve been living in for the past couple of years.  Buying a condo, or any real estate for that matter, was not even the least bit on my radar screen, but when my landlord made me an offer I couldn’t refuse, I had to rethink several of the limiting beliefs that had kept me from pursuing home ownership for my entire adult life.

Limiting Belief #1: I will never be able to afford a home.
I really believed this.  Most months when I finish paying the bills, I’m fairly broke.  I have a pretty big pile of credit card debt, the result of spending my last four years in Maine significantly underemployed, then moving to DC and getting divorced.  While I do faithfully put money in my retirement accounts, I have been less good about putting money in my savings accounts.  That failure, coupled with the credit card debt, made me feel like I’d never get the money together for a down payment. 

In DC, when the landlord decides to sell your apartment, he or she has to give you the first opportunity to buy it.  I almost ignored the offer because it seemed completely out of reach, but at the last minute I decided to call a realtor I know.  I went over to her office, met with a lender and did the numbers.  It turns out my credit score is really good.  How can that be with all the credit card debt?  I don’t know, but it’s true.  And as soon as the lender starting putting the numbers into the spreadsheet, I began to see how it might actually be possible for me to buy the place.

Obviously, we do this all the time with fitness.  Think of all the fun activities we never try because we don’t think we can do them.  I think of weightlifting and how I never would have thought I could squat 100 pounds until I did.  And now I can squat even more than that.

Limiting Belief #2: If I buy a house and lose my job, or have some other traumatic life event, I’ll become homeless.
This is actually a very real fear.  I mean, this is how a lot of people become homeless.  What I finally figured out though, is that if I have a traumatic life event, I could become homeless whether I’m renting or buying.  In fact, owning my condo might actually protect me a little bit – I could potentially sell it and move somewhere cheaper if it came to that.

Fitness-wise, where would I be if I had let the possibility of something bad happening to me stop me from trying roller derby.  If I spent too much time thinking about all the ways to get seriously hurt, I’d never put my skates on again.

Limiting Belief #3: Everything seems to be falling magically into place.  Something truly awful must be just about to happen.
There’s actually a term for the fear that a good turn of events will be followed by a bad one.  It’s called “foreboding joy,” and Brene Brown writes about it in her book Daring Greatly.  The root of foreboding joy is shame and the fear of not being good enough.  The fitness connection here is obvious—I write about this all the time.

Limiting Belief #4: I’m trapped.
I don’t like feeling that my options are limited.  (This is the exact problem I had with being married, by the way.)  I like to feel that I have a quick and easy exit strategy no matter the situation.  (And this is why I don’t have children.  They’re the one thing you can’t escape from unless you are totally morally bankrupt.)  I’m not gonna lie.  The idea of owning a house makes me feel tied down, and that freaks me the hell out.  What if I want to quit my job and do something that doesn’t pay as well, but I can’t because then I won’t be able to pay my mortgage?  What if I want to move back to Maine to be closer to my dad?  Here’s the thing, though.  In life, we are never without options, it’s just that sometimes those options are uncomfortable.  To keep the panic at bay I remind myself that if I want to do something different, I can rent the place out or sell it.  Now, if I sell it next week, I could potentially lose some money.  If I suddenly needed to be close to my dad, would it be worth losing some money?  Absolutely.  No question whatsoever. 

Do I need to enumerate the ways we can feel trapped with regard to our fitness goals?  We get trapped in our thinking all the time.  Like when I was afraid to go on the treadmill at the gym because I thought I was too heavy and would break it.  Or all the times I thought people at the gym were judging me because I was too fat, and really they were just thinking about their own stuff.  Or when I told myself I couldn’t hike that mountain because I was too out of shape and would slow down my friends and be embarrassed.  In all of these cases, I had the option to face my own discomfort.  Was it painful?  Yes.  Was it worth it?  Absolutely.  No question whatsoever.

Limiting Belief #5: It is dumb to spend a gazillion dollars on a tiny apartment in DC when I could buy a mansion in Maine for this amount of money. 
I love my tiny little apartment.  It is the perfect, cozy size for an introverted single lady.  The limited space means I can only buy what will fit in my closets, which encourages me to focus on the things I need rather than the things I want.  Plus, it’s easy to keep clean.  While I do appreciate the beauty of an old, rambling house, when I think about having to wear three sweaters to keep out the chill, and buying a lot of furniture for rooms I’ll never sit in, and cleaning a bunch of extra bathrooms, I can’t say I’m missing out on anything. 

From a fitness perspective, this is a clear issue of abundance vs. scarcity.  Living in my little apartment is about having enough.  For me, yearning for a mansion feels too much like worrying I'll never have enough.  

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Hello, Dead Lifts, I've Missed You

I took four weeks off from dead lifting after straining a muscle in my back.  During this time, I went light on the squatting as well.  Now that I've had a chance to heal, I'm ready to start challenging myself again, albeit a bit more cautiously than before.

On Wednesday I eased back into dead lifting with three easy sets of 95 pounds and 5 reps.  For squats, I did three sets of 125 pounds and 5 reps, which is 20 pounds less than my max before I hurt myself.  I was a bit more tired and sore than usual after taking it easy for awhile, but none of this hurt my back. 

Today for dead lifts, I did three sets of 135 and 5 reps.  This is 50 pounds less than my max.  It wasn't super hard, but it wasn't easy either, and Frak gave me some pointers on my form.  I think I'm going to stay at this weight for at least a couple more weeks and really focus on my form before working back up again slowly.  The other night I watched this documentary on power lifting, and some of the guys in the film talked about the importance of taking the time to really learn the movements before pushing too hard, so I'm going to take their advice.

Even so, it feels good to be back to my full workout.  I've really missed dead lifting.