Mid Year Review

This blog post has been moved to my new website! Find it at http://polecompete.com/2014/07/mid-year-review/

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Personal Power

This blog post has been moved to my new website! Find it at http://polecompete.com/?s=personal+power

It’s Not Your Decision

This blog post has moved to my new website! Find it at http://polecompete.com/2014/06/its-not-your-decision/

I Was Almost a Pole Dancer….

I am a returned Peace Corps Volunteer, something that still shapes my thoughts and attitudes about a lot of different things in my life.

The quickest way to make me judge you is to say something along the lines of “I almost did Peace Corps.” 

You either do something or you don’t. 

I’ve still been out of practice with pole, due to mostly to my mysterious toe injury and also some other goals that need to come first. I’ve noticed that I’ve started thinking about pole in past tense, and that needs to stop. I don’t want to almost have been a pole dancer. 

I’m working through the other goals that need to come first (things like graduating, finding a new place to live, and finding ways to increase my income so that I can afford more pole…) But I’ve noticed I’ve slipped on a lot of maintenance things that have nothing to do with my toe. My diet is sloppy. My sleep habits are sloppy. Pole requires discipline; but it’s hard to be disciplined when you were a dancer instead of when you are a dancer. 

Enough with words like “almost” and “have been.” Athleticism requires a full complement of physical and mental training, and much of that can be done with an injury. I’ve worked hard to build up disciplined habits of mental visualization, sleep, and diet. Time to go back to those basics until I can start actually training on the pole again. I am a pole dancer. Who are you? 

Respect Your Sport

The mountain doesn’t care that you have a full time job and go to school full time. There’s only one summit – and the fitness demands to reach it are the same regardless of our time to train, fitness level arriving, age, etc.Mountain Athlete Website

 

I love this quote, because it so succinctly sums up the importance of disciplined training for your sport. Pole doesn’t involve exposure to the elements or the intense duration of mountain sports, but it does involve supporting your body weight at the limits of your flexibility, sometimes upside down. The point is the same. Take the time to train properly, or else bear the consequences.

What this looks like for pole dancers:

  1. Ample, thoughtful, crosstraining. 
  2. Warming up before you engage in either dance or flexibility training. Be sure to warm up the specific motions that you will be using in your dance.
  3. Master fundamentals before moving on to more difficult moves.
  4. Eat right.
  5. Sleep enough. 
  6. Be present and pay attention to your body and your movement.
  7. Structure your training cyclically around your competitions.
  8. Rest enough.

Will Power Isn’t Real

When people become pregnant, they start stocking up on specific products (that aren’t even baby related). Marketing gurus know this and predict the pregnancy (sometime in advance of the rest of the family.). Like the professional marketers that they are, they send the expecting couple direct mailers with lots of coupons for cribs, diapers, and other stuff that newly expecting parents might want or need.

 

Aside from being a tad creepy, this little bit of marketing knowledge is critical to your success with your nutrition, training, and health.

 

Consider for a moment the idea of will power. People who are trying to get healthier usually experience a gap between their knowledge of what will make them healthier and their ability to follow through and make those changes. Those folks then lament their lack of willpower.

 

Instad of being one of those people and beating your head against the proverbial brick wall, consider that will power isn’t real. Doesn’t exist. You made it up, probably because you watched too many Iron Will type movies when you were a kid.

 

Instead, be like Target and capitalize on disruptions to everyday life. The reason that the marketing works is because Target knows that people change their habits when routines change. When people have kids, they change their shopping patterns and Target makes sure that those new parents establish their new shopping routines at Target.

 

Getting knocked up is one way to knocked out of your routine, but you can capitalize on this idea on a much smaller scale. For example, if you grab a burger on the way home from work, try a different commute. If you snack on ice cream late at night, stop keeping it in the house. If you eat when you are stressed, make a point of going for a short walk to clear your mind instead. I once beat a habit of eating a brownie from the cafe at my work every morning by exiting the office from a different door for a few months.

 

Identify the specific actions that lead you unhealthy choices, and then change those actions. Remove the less desirable options. Remember that the secret to discipline is laziness. You will be much more successful when you realize that will power isn’t real.

On Faith

Hey, remember me? I’m still broken and broke, so I sadly don’t have anything specifically pole related to write about. But I wanted to share some thoughts about spirituality and faith, because that’s what’s been topmost on my mind lately.

 

In my self-imposed process of cutting things out of my life and simplifying, I have realized that I have given away much of my own personal power. Instead of taking control of my life, I’ve been making small compromises and letting situations that arise dictate how I behave, the words I speak, and where I direct my energy.

 

I think that at the bottom of this surrender of power is a lack of faith.

 

I stopped believing some things that are a central part of my approach to life. When I’m being true to myself, my core beliefs are (no surprise to my regular readers) pretty hard core. For example, I believe that life is fair. I define fairness in terms of personal growth. This is true in three ways.

 

The first way- When bad things happen to you, it’s usually because of your choices. Learn to make better choices.

 

The  second way- When bad things have nothing to do with your choices, it’s still fair because you always get a gift in terms of personal development, if you choose to take the gift. Bad things make you stronger, more compassionate, more loving, more courageous or in other ways contribute to your personal growth, but only if you take the time to find the gift.

 

The third way- Bad things don’t just happen to you. I read a quote that said something to the effect of “misfortunes flourish everywhere, not particularly in your garden.” It’s true. Life is cyclical, and there is no rain cloud that hovers only above your head.

 

I didn’t really mean to go into a tangent about why life is fair; the important thing is that at my heart I believe this to be true. I also fundamentally believe that things will work out to be OK and that I am capable of imbuing my activities with meaning. Another core belief is that you must take care of yourself so that you can contribute more to the world. I call it structural integrity- keeping your life, mind, and body strong and healthy so you can help other people grow.

 

And I’ve been ignoring every single one of these beliefs for months, until I gave away so much of my personal power  that I forgot that things work out OK in the end, and that my life has meaning and purpose and that I have things to offer to other people.

 

It is only possible to function when you have faith in core beliefs, whether they are religiously principled or drawn from other sources. Faith and principle make it possible to get through the hard times, to find the gift in adversity. Without faith, it is too easy to stray into things that have nothing to do with you and subtract from your personal power. Find your core principles, the things that you absolutely believe to be true, the things that give your life meaning, and do your best not to lose sight of them. Have some faith. You will be much stronger for it.

 

This is an awesome song by Keb’Mo with a sort of similar theme, if you like blues.

Miss me? Get Used to It…

I have not been updating much recently, and that will continue for the foreseeable future.

 

I’m simplifying everything in my life right now. And I do mean everything… I’ve thrown away a lot of things I own. I combined some bank accounts into one. I redecorated my cubicle, mostly by taking things off the walls. I threw most of it away. I took all but 8 items down from my goals board.

 

I have also cancelled my pole membership. I am close to canceling my phone service too.

 

I’ve been working towards many, many goals for a long time. Because I’ve been working towards so many, my progress has been incremental.

 

I’m fed up.

 

I need focus.

 

And because it’s me, and I do nothing by halves, this is my approach, I’m just getting rid of things, commitments, appointments, subscriptions, even ideas.

 

I scheduled in about two hours a week to work on the 6 of the items on my goals board. The only fitness goal that made the cut was to do a minute and a half of handstands every morning. I am adding three hours a week of generic maintenance exercise.

 

When I make my to do list in the morning, I am only allowing myself to add one item. A single thing to focus on, dedicate my time to, and finish.

 

I will not take this approach for forever, but psychologically, I desperately need some progress. Progress only comes from hours (in pole or in any other endeavor)- and so I’m putting my hours toward one thing at a time for a while.

 

I will still post to this blog, but probably only once a month or so, until I’m mentally in a place where I can do more. I’m sure as I post I’ll let you know how my experiment in focus is going.

 

 

Cross training for Pole Dance

No matter what sport you choose, your body will become unbalanced if you only train your sport. Pole is no exception. To bring your training to a more elite level, you must learn how to cross train.

 

Unfortunately, cross training can be confusing. How much should you do? Come to think of it, what should you do?

 

These answers are going to be different for everyone, so I’ve made a list of questions to consider while you are designing your own crosstraining routine. At the bottom, I’ve linked to some articles that may be helpful for you.

  1. Why are you cross training? To prevent muscular imbalances? (I’m looking at all of you who don’t practice on both sides as much as you should). To build stamina? (I’m looking at all of you who don’t finish your freestyle because three minutes is a really long time and you’re tired) To prevent mental boredom? (all of you who are starting to dread class) What you want out of the cross training will determine what you should be doing.

    Stairs near Beijing

    Stairs are a good option for building stamina. Particularly if they go all the way up a mountain like these ones

  2. What skill sets do you need to build? Training in hip hop, lyrical, ballet, or any other dance form might serve to increase your dance skills, but may be less useful in terms of rounding out your exercise. Think carefully about what you are trying to accomplish.
  3. If you’ve picked something else, how advanced are you in that sport? You need to gain a certain level of proficiency before you can really start getting into the workout, so keep this in mind. Probably it’s best to focus on one or two new things at a time, and stick with them until your skill set increases.
  4. How easy will it be to incorporate the cross training you choose into your life? Pick something close to your work or home so you don’t slack off on cross training days.
  5. Does cross training add to your life? Exercise has always been for me my hobby, my social life, my spiritual place, my peace of mind, and a plethora of other things. Make sure your cross training offers at least a little bit beyond a more balanced fitness routine.

    Running a Tough Mudder is cross training- but you could also do yoga, or just go for a swim.

    Running a Tough Mudder is cross training- but you could also do yoga, or just go for a swim.

  6. What is your overall fitness level? Or, to put this another way, how many hours a week total can you train without becoming exhausted and overtrained? This is another test to determine how much time to invest in cross training vs. regular pole.
  7. You should also check in with the amount of time you have available for training. Some people will be limited by time, and some by fitness level. In either case, don’t overextend yourself.

More Resources:

Dance Spirit: The Do’s and Don’ts of Crosstraining

Pointe Magazine Online: Crosstraining for Technique

The Dance Training Project: Training Myths

Costuming

Costuming, sparkles

Here’s me, actually working on my costume ahead of time

Now that it’s almost a month since this happened, I thought I’d prove that I am capable of working on a costume ahead of time.

Harper's finished bling

Harper’s finished bling

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