Monday, January 30, 2012

In Knee Pads I Trust

I've been through three roller derby practices now, and so far it's been pretty much exactly what I expected: really difficult in the most awesome way possible.

First things first: I'm not a natural athlete. In fact, you could probably describe me as the most unnatural athlete ever. I'm not very flexible, I'm really not very coordinated, and I've never found a sport that made me care enough to try to improve either of those things. Add in the 50 extra pounds I'd like to lose, and exercise in general - but sports especially - is usually a pretty unattractive option to me. But there's something so badass about roller derby that I got over my disdain for organized sports and signed up.

Now, don't confuse my enthusiasm for actual talent. Let's be clear: in a pool of 30 beginners, I'm mediocre at best. I seem to be okay with going forward in a straight line (most of the time), but tight turns, some stops and turning around present serious challenges. I've seen some slow improvement already, but it's still incredibly frustrating for me to see other people (some of whom have been in the beginner group for months now) doing things so naturally while I stumble over my toe stops (true story).

Someone very wise pointed out that "there's no reason in the world to expect [myself] to be good at roller derby instantaneously." And of course, she's right. But that doesn't change the fact that I want to be good at it instantaneously, or that I find it maddening that I'm not. This has been a recurring theme my entire life: if I try something and find that I'm not good at it right away, I want to quit. I have vivid memories of throwing a tantrum when I couldn't tie my shoes correctly the first time. I didn't get my driver's license until I was 19 because I wasn't a good driver from day one (and even then, it was only because my friends were so tired of driving me around that they took me out on the country roads and taught me to drive).

So far, every roller derby practice has brought a moment when I wanted to quit. Turn around stops make me trip over my feet. My double knee falls look more like seizure-induced collapses than gentle glides to the floor. And when it came time to slalom around cones, I secretly wondered how I might slip away for a "water break" and avoid it all together. On more than a couple occasions I yelled "fuck!" out loud, and even teared up in frustration a few times. It was maddening. But every time I took a breath, composed myself, and did the drill again.

It was an uncomfortable feeling, forcing myself to do something I knew I wasn't going to succeed at, but it got a little less uncomfortable every time. And eventually, I did improve on some things (though those turn around stops still elude me), and I did become a little more patient with myself. I still don't like failing at things - and really, who does? - but I'm trying to see it as a means to an end. The fun parts - the free skate time, the whips, even the pushing - outweigh all the frustration.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Week 8 Update

This was my first week of roller derby, and it was more or less exactly what I expected: really hard, and really awesome. Everyone in the class, from the other girls on skates on up to the trainers, are patient, positive and supportive. Even when I was falling on my ass, one girl kept telling me, "You're doing a great job!" It's challenging without being competitive, and I'm already seeing myself improve. Don't get me wrong, it's hard work - there's lots of sweating during practice and aches and pains afterwards - but it's fun hard work, and so far I'm really enjoying it.

So, without further ado...

Week 8
Total weight loss: 4.5 pounds (that's 1 more pound this week!)
Number of workouts: 5 (1 day of cardio at the gym, 2 roller derby practices, 2 days of circuit training at the gym)
Number of days at or under 1600 calories: 5

The roller derby practices seem to have made a difference this week. It also helped that I avoided eating out much and planned my meals pretty carefully. Overall, a very successful week!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Week 7 Update

This week was a disaster for healthy living. I was traveling for work for a few days and then worked from home, which means I missed my regularly scheduled classes at the gym at work. And I definitely ate out more than I should have.

I also learned a really important lesson this week: don't cook more rice than I plan to eat at one meal. I made a pot of rice to go with one of my dinners, thinking that the rice would last well into leftovers. I was wrong. I will eat an entire pot of rice in one sitting, for no good reason other than I like the taste of rice. Self-control is not my strong suit.

Week 7
Total weight loss: 3.5 pounds (I'm assuming I didn't lose any additional weight, but also hoping I didn't gain any. I don't own a scale and missed the gym, so I don't actually know for sure.)
Number of workouts: 0
Number of days at or under 1600 calories: 1

On the bright side, this weekend is the beginning of roller derby practice! I can't wait to get my skates on and start falling! Hopefully I'll have a few bruises to show for it on Monday.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

So, I did this thing....

I bought a plane ticket to Paris. 

Last year I said I'd do two things in 2012: I'd sign up for roller derby and I'd go to Paris in the spring. Roller derby was easier because it was cheaper, but I was considering postponing the trip. Darling Juliette ran up a $600 vet bill last week, will likely cost me a couple hundred more this week, and damn - derby gear is expensive! With airline tickets in the $1000+ range, I thought maybe it'd be best to put the trip off until the fall. Fall in Paris is nice too, right? But on a whim I scanned prices over the weekend and spotted a round trip airfare for around $750, which is pretty good when you consider that I live in a non-hub city in the middle of the U.S. and was looking to travel at a peak time. 

But here's the best part: the airfare was only good for the three-week time span I'd been planning to travel. It's like it was meant for me. So I did some math, figured I should get the same amount back on my taxes this year as last, and went for it.

I'm going to Paris. For 10 days. Alone.

I'm beyond excited. I'm giddy. I can't wait to wander the markets and stroll the streets and be dazzled by the architecture. I plan to binge on brie and baguettes and wine. I want to sit in a sidewalk cafe and sip coffee while I read a book. I want struggle with the language (I don't speak a word of French) and get a little (but not too) lost. And I want to do it all on my own and on my terms, like the grown ass woman I am.

It's only the middle of January, but I can already tell I'm going to have a ball this year.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Week 6 Update

I'm gaining some traction with this whole healthier lifestyle thing. I ate out 3 days this week - the same 3 days I exceeded my calorie goal - but still lost a little over a pound. So far this feels very sustainable, and I'm looking forward to the beginning of roller derby practices, when I'll start burning some real calories!

Week 6
Total weight loss: 3.5 pounds
Number of workouts: 2 (1 hour of roller skating at the park, and 30 minutes of circuit training at the gym)
Number of days at or under 1600 calories: 4

Friday, January 6, 2012

Week 5 Update

Finally back on track!

Week 5
Total weight loss: 2.25 pounds
Number of workouts: 3 (1 day of pilates at home, 2 days of 30 minutes of cardio at the gym)
Number of days at or under 1600 calories: 4

Progress! It may only be a couple pounds, but I feel good about it. Very good, in fact.
I made a point of planning my meals carefully, but still ate out three times. Not surprisingly, those are days I exceeded my calorie count. I don't feel like my social life suffered too much from these restrictions, though I definitely had to be more conscious of what I was eating. Overall, I'm feeling good about this. I still need to keep at it, but I'm motivated to keep it up!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year

I got my roller derby skates on Thursday. As soon as I got home and brought them in from the porch I strapped them on and skated up and down the hallway. I fell hard on my ass twice. I got back up and skated some more.

My pads and helmet arrived on Saturday. I went straight out and bought outdoor wheels. I bolted them on my skates and skated around the garage and driveway. I fell on my tailbone - hard - and got up and skated back and forth some more. I landed on my wrist one time, so I went inside, put on my wrist guards, and skated some more.

At 11:30 on New Year's Eve I strapped on my skates and wrist guards and headed for the driveway. I skated back and forth, making slow figure eights, listening to fireworks in the distance. I gathered too much speed and went careening off into the grass, shrieking with glee as I sped through the air, finally losing my balance and falling on my face. I landed on the left side of my face and shoulder and my glasses flew off. I groped for them, held them up and saw they were bent in a most unnatural way. I started to giggle. I looked up at the sky and laughed.

I thought, "This is my year." And then I laughed some more.

I got up, went back into the house and slid my elbow pads over my scraped and bruised arms. I went back outside and skated some more. I fell again. And again. And I laughed and giggled as I arced across the driveway, sometimes gracefully and sometimes with my arms flailing. 

It was wonderful.

This is my year.

Happy 2012, everyone.