Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Day Sixteen: “There is no failure except in no longer trying.” - Chris Bradford

I felt like a piece of shit last night.

I'm presumably pre-menstrual, but my mood in the last few days has dropped and I'm feeling less capable at the gym. Actually, I'm feeling less capable across the board, in my personal life as well as at work. It's not rare for me to experience peaks and troughs in self confidence, but there's probably a few things, environmental and physical, in play that's created a bit of tension within. I'm handling it ok, but I wonder if other women in sport feel totally mentally and physically incapable in the lead up to the rag. 
The strength programming at the gym has changed considerably in recent weeks and there's a fairly significant powerlifting component. Any snatch lifts are a huge challenge for me, but in yesterday's incident I knew that as soon as I saw it in the workout I could sense that I'd have a fairly bad time with it. My ability to stabilise at the bottom of the squat was shot, and as much as I wanted to tantrum I knew that being a 31 year old and throwing weights around while having a cry probably wouldn't demonstrate the most mature behaviours to the little kids that hang around while their parents work out. Well, that and I know it's not really that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things. Anyway, my mates could sense that I was off I think, as one or two discreetly shared some kind words of support.

*End of whinge*

I think the feelings associated with performance difficulties are interesting to pay attention to. I'm trying to be aware of all the negative self talk that stirs when I fail or get flustered . What do I think is going to happen if I fuck it up? People aren't going to laugh at me. I'm getting fitter and stronger just trying, so attempting is far greater than not bothering at all, right? Also, with hormone levels partying on down, I've gotta give myself props for understanding that it takes a bit time to sort out the source of emotional sensitivity. Perhaps I'll learn to let myself be more vulnerable in the process, which is a cool thing in the end, however daunting.

So yeah, I'm trying to listen to what I'm telling myself, and if I talk dirt to myself I'm going to back it up with some self forgiveness and a boost of patience. Back on the horse!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Day Fifteen: 'The trees that are slow to grow bear the best fruit' - Moliere

Moliere was so patient. I am guilty of wanting my peach to look good, and fast.

It's been fifteen days of no sugar. No booze. No bad stuff. All the fresh stuff. Not even bread. I kind of thought that by now, I'd be able to see some changes in my body. I still have a 'skinny-fat' belly, and my legs are still pretty thick. For how much I love donuts and icecream and how often I used to eat treats, I am only now realising how easy it is to put on and maintain a spare tyre, and how hard it seems to shed. I find myself idealising a certain desired body type, which I know isn't healthy. If this challenge doesn't come from a place of self-acceptance, I think it will fall short of being a transformative activity. Sure, I might look a bit tighter, but will I actually be a better person?

Day Nine: “Why is it that the people who seem to have the most to say aren’t doing anything at all?” - Colleen Patrick-Goudreau

I guess I hadn't intended to write on the blog every day, but I also didn't expect to slip more than a week. Oh well, life happens (until it doesn't).

I've been exercising pretty much every day and still haven't touched sugar, coffee or booze so that's a big achievement already. I'm feeling pretty amazing actually and I'm hungry LESS often that I used to be even though I've cut out a pretty huge amount of shit from my diet.

I had a mate of mine request that I write about my veganism and, for some reason, I'm uncomfortable about it. I'll do it anyway, because the point of this whole thing is about getting out of my comfort zone. Thus, in an effort to open up to my friends about my own experiences without having to stand on a soap box, I've decided to be bolder (and no doubt, the butt of at least one steak joke) and chat about the topic and how it impacts the challenge and my training on a whole.

There's a bunch of reasons why a vegan diet seems to be working for me. I eat a lot of crap as a vegan, but you should have seen the amount of rubbish that I put in my pie hole when I ate everything. I was a bin. A human bin. More relevantly, I'm not vegan for the sole purpose of a mad detox. I really love animals, and I don't see the need for me to eat them. I figured out, thanks to some pretty great influences, that I can do just fine as a human without consuming the flesh of the cows and the pigs and the chickens that I love.  I saw an article floating around social media the other day saying that Veganism is a first world luxury because there are so many people going hungry around the world. Veganism is an option? No-duh, Einstein. I know that the realities of true poverty would lessen my ability to make these food choices, but the purpose of Veganism isn't to stop world hunger, it's to protect innocent animals and protest against the everyday cruelties against them. In my opinion, the writer just gave it a good go to reverse the guilt about eating meat that they were pissed off about copping onto those that decline. I am aware that many people are not as fortunate as I am, but I live in a reality in which the food on my plate does not have a magical effect on the plates of those in need of more. In fact, ACTUAL MONEY via donation helps them, and I can say that my grocery shop costs less now than it used to pre-vego (excluding fucking soy milk for a cafĂ© coffee but I have no idea why the assholes actually charge more because it's the same price per litre at the supermarket)....thus, in a roundabout way, this actually leaves more money in the pocket to donate to those in need than if I personally was to blow $20 - $50 a week or however much meat costs on steaks and sausages.

Anyway, I got a little off topic there. Sorry.

I've always struggled with my own feelings of passivity, or the belief that I let my political responsibilities slip. Veganism felt like the one thing that I could easily exercise, using the autonomy of my own body and the compassionate choices that I made for it, and I have found a new joy in listening to what it telling me. Soon after I went vegan I noticed that I was craving more and more fresh and raw foods, and far less cooked foods.  I'd never liked tomato, mushrooms, celery or spinach and all of a sudden my taste buds came alive and my body seemed to sing out for more and more nutrient rich plant food.

People often wonder how the diet effects my training, specifically because I go to the gym most weekdays and it varies from medium - high intensity work. The protein myth is an easy one, in that anyone that eats a rich variety of whole foods probably gets enough protein. I source mine from lots of leafy greens (spinach and kale) and vegies, kidney beans, tofu, cashews and almond. I also have a smoothie every day using Prana On protein powder supplements (they taste AMAZING and you can wang them in a blender with some berries, frozen bananan etc and away you go).

I also supplement B12 with an oral spray as I have been low to test low on that, but other than that my body has been kicking on pretty well. The challenge has made me super aware of my caloric intake, so I've been monitoring that without feeling that I need to go hungry. Half the difficulty is making the fat count without going over in sugars etc. For this, I'm eating some good sources of healthy fats and omegas in nuts, seeds and avocado and well as having Udo's Oil available (although I'm slack with supplementing).

I don't ever want to be a member of the Vegan police because I've even be bullied by them for not being 'vegan enough'. I just like plant based meals, I can veganise any traditional food, and I'm doing the best I can one day at a time. There's heaps of info on the internets about Vegan powerlifters and body builders out there, but if you ever want to have a chat with me about it please feel free to pat me on the shoulder.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Day Three: "I think real girls have bruises. Tough chicks get bruised. They get dirty. And they have fun." - Nina Dobrev

A Rebuttal.

I think real girls do whatever the fuck they want. They get bruised, or they don't.

They can stay clean and love art, or they stay clean while studying, or they can get dirty as an auto mechanic or they can get bruised and punch face in the ring. Whatever.

They have fun, or they don't. Whatever.

What's important is that they are the ones calling the shots.

Gender roles are so yesterday, but so is putting traditionally "masculine" qualities over and above traditionally fem ones. We can have both tough and sensitive personal attributes OR either in dominance and be more authentic than ever.

Day Four: “You become what you think about all day long.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

I think I figured something out. I don't eat my feelings, I eat for them.

While I was ironing my work pants this morning I started thinking about how I used to have to iron my attire in an almost military fashion every morning.  This is going back a few years, but the train of thought led me think more about that professional lifestyle, with a uniform standard crisp suit, compulsory pearls and specific shade of lipstick to be worn every day from nine to five and often longer.

The job was hard, and I think in many ways I formed a habit for seeking out richness and vibrancy in every other aspect of my life. I've always been led by my emotions, with rational thought clumsily following suit on rare occasion, but working in a job where your own emotions are repressed seems to have only accentuated my tunnel vision for things that made me feel good, and a community of people that chased similar highs.

I don't know if there's anything inherently wrong with desiring fulfilment or abundance, but I guess it's only now, after experimenting with this restriction of some of the things that I love (ie. donuts and pizza shapes) that I am beginning to understand that there is also a beauty in appreciating things the way they are. Whether it be a lull in your energy, or difficulty in your personal relationships, or food that doesn't make you high, perhaps it's worth paying attention to the genuine nature of those feelings.

Perhaps this is a doorway into self-acceptance. Looking into my relationship with food might show that I have an emotional need for expression rather than an emotional need to eat more pies.

I feel good about day four.

For all my mates also doing the challenge who are wondering about my dietary particulars, I've checked out myfitnesspal.com to see how my meal plans are faring. It's recommending a 1200 calorie diet, with 150g carbs, 40g fat and 60g protein but I'm not religiously sticking to it because I think it might be a bit low for the amount of exercise that I'm doing. I'm finally feeling less lethargic after the initial energy drop, which might be due to Spirulina supplements or the fact that my body is used to not being totally off chops with caffeine.

Todays lunch. I feel like a giant wanker with the Mason Jar salad but they are pretty damn easy to take to work and chill, so whatever. And really, what even is celery without peanut butter.  

Day Two: "Ten men waiting for me at the door? Send one of them home, I'm tired." - Mae West

I hear that you're supposed to be refreshed after a break from work. It wasn't so long ago that I was working in the mortuary and being rewarded with one or two days off at Christmas time was like pulling a 1980 Topps Larry Bird/Magic Johnson NBA card outta the bin. I've just had ten days of doing very little but I am not feeling any good vibes.

Today all I want to do is crawl into bed and rip the sheets up over my head. I want to blame the coffee or sugar withdrawal, but let's just blame it on the boogie.

This is my lunch. My tiny, tiny lunch.

There's nothing exciting to report from day two. I'm drinking a shit ton of water and peeing constantly as a result. I'd murder a donut. But here I am, doing the things.

Here's to hoping I can get my shit together to write something more interesting than "GO AWAY WORLD" in the upcoming days. 

Monday, January 4, 2016

Day One: "If American men are obsessed with money, American women are obsessed with weight. The men talk of gain, the women talk of loss, and I do not know which talk is the more boring." - Marya Mannes

I am 31 years old. I was born a female, and still am.

I wrote down that I was 156cm tall when I passed my drivers license test, so I guess I'm about that. Most people are taller than me, including children, but whatever. At the moment my stomach alarmingly resembles a short stack of pancakes on the outside, giving off an unforgiving allure of dad-bod androgyny.

As of day one of an eight week challenge, I weigh 55.9kg, which Google tells me is medically considered a healthy weight to my flesh and bones. I've got some junk in the trunk, but it's anatomically arranged in less of a curve and more of an overall smattering. If I can figure out my body fat percentage I will, just to be aware of the mathematical science behind a life of beer and biscuit binge eating.

So here I am, saying hello to the internets and offering up some discussion about this challenge. Along the way I might find some answers to questions that I'm asking myself such as "Why bother, you love ALL the food?" and "Why even think about your body when you could be thinking about gravitational influence, or vibrational chemical bonds, or the merits of intersectional feminism?" but I can't guarantee anything.

All I know is, when it comes to my body, nothing is that clear to me. I'm not sure what's going on between how I look on the outside to you, versus how I look on the outside to me, versus how I feel on the inside. I'm interested in how being a woman influences this, and what other cultures think about notions such as fat and skinny in relation to strength. If I'm being honest with you, dear reader, I can't remember ever being happy with how I look, so I feel now is a good a time as any to explore these feelings.

So, what is even up?

No refined sugar. No booze. I'm cutting out coffee because I'm a sadist. Lots of healthy stuff, no bad stuff. You get the drill. Plenty of exercise like crossfit, martial arts, a little bit of running and a few swims. I want to know that I can do this, to explore my physicality and understand why the fuck this seems like such a challenge.

I'm keeping this little diary with the stuff that I eat and the exercise that I do. I thought it would be kinda cool to add how I was feeling in my brain, because I'm old enough to understand that if my head isn't in it, I sure as hell won't get shoulders like Emily Blunt in Edge of Tomorrow.

And here I am. I'll leave you with this.
Keep it real.