Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Check this post out on my new blog at http://polecompete.com/2014/07/two-steps-forward-one-step-back/

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.

 

 

Elevated Update

Hello!

Sorry I dropped off for a week. If you didn’t make it last Saturday to Elevated Art, it went really well. I completely neglected to ask anyone to take any photos or videos, but you can check out official photos of the whole evening (including my performance) here.

 

Once the official videos are released, I will link to that as well.

 

Dancing at that venue was really fun, to say the least. I felt like I grew as a dancer and performer. It was amazing to have real stage lights and a fancy pole set up. Everything was clear and well organized and everyone was so much fun to work with and/or be backstage with. I was “on” about halfways thru, so I got to watch most of the last half, which was also delightful.

 

Thanks to Ali for choosing my awesome performance song (Guts, by Alex Winston). Thanks to Jess at Adorn for making my hair look fabulous. Thanks to Alyssa for lots and lots of constructive choreography feedback. Thanks to Harper for making me get off my butt and add some bling to my costume well ahead of time. Thank you to Estee Zakar for helping me so much with the choreography. Thank you to all of the people who came and watched me. Thanks to all of the amazing performers, and to Natasha Wang for being so gracious about being accosted after the show to get a photo. (If you are marveling at the absence of photos, it’s because I lost my camera cord. Again.). While I’m thanking people, thank you to all who read this blog! I have a lot of fun writing it, so I appreciate having an audience.

What a 15 month Old Baby Can Teach You about Pole Dancing

My roommate has a 15 month old (or so, I lose track) baby. She’s adorable, like most babies.

Lately, E (the baby) has been learning how to climb up and down stairs. She can’t walk down the stairs yet, but she’s figured out how to turn backwards and kind of slide down.

I got home from a long practice session in preparation for Elevated Art with Harper, and E was clambering down the steps. She ignored us as she got to the bottom step. When she was safely down though, she turned to us with a  big grin on her face and started clapping. She was clearly delighted that she had gotten down the steps by herself.

After such a long practice, complete with small tweaks (and bigger tweaks), physically exhausting training, and lots of wondering whether it will all hold together for the showcase next Saturday, E’s victory kind of put things in perspective.

“Remember two years ago when we couldn’t do a fireman spin?” I asked Harper. She laughed. It’s so easy to be annoyed that you can’t find a good way to get out of a spatchcock or stick in your foot grips or get into a handspring- but the reality is that we’ve come a long way.

We should all smile and clap for ourselves a little more often.

Got a Minute?

Starting a workout program sounds intimidating. It brings to mind images of nutcases like myself who pretty much wrap their whole lives around training and then trudge into their day jobs complaining about being sore, or posting obnoxious things about their workouts to facebook. Harried people juggling family, work, school, social lives, laundry, and life can’t imagine spending so many dedicated hours  in the gym or the studio.

It doesn’t have to be like that. Think of it like a relationship- you don’t want to spend too much time with your fitness right away. Work up to that.

One of the best ways to start is one minute at a time. For example, do one minute of jumping jacks two or three times a day. Make it a habit, by doing this every day for one month.

Thinking small is valuable because it gives you an entry point. Everyone has one minute a day. You won’t need to worry about finding time, or being overly sore, or getting special equipment or gym memberships or looking foolish (or at least only looking foolish in front of your spouse or roommates). You can do it in your pajamas.

The key is to commit fully, and to only commit to one thing. Just because it’s only one minute doesn’t mean you should commit to 5 different things. Stick to one for one full month, and anything else you do is just a bonus. If you don’t do your jumping jacks or whatever you committed to, you need to hop out of bed and get it done.

If you commit fully, you will feel good about actually doing something to increase your health. You’ll start to know what it feels like to follow through on commitments you make to yourself. Get up and do it right now if you want.

What will your one minute commitment be? 

Why I Won’t Share What I Eat

I’ve had a few people now ask me to share the finer details about what I eat on this blog. This probably will never happen, and here’s why.

1. My eating habits don’t make sense for most people. They are based on extreme laziness, sloppy cooking, and the ability not to care if I eat the same thing over. And over. And over.

2. I experiment with my diet frequently. For someone who’s learning how to eat healthier, this could get confusing.

3. The secret to being successful with your nutrition plan is to do one that works for you. Telling you what works for me might not be as useful as you would think.

4. When I have cheat days, I cheat! I have no desire for the entire internet to witness me eating half a box of pizza, a pint of ice cream, and a container of gummy worms.

cheat day pizza

No one needs to see this

5. It would require me to actually record what I eat. If you didn’t catch on from what I wrote in number 1, I am way too lazy to do that. I can think of about 1,000 more interesting uses of my time.

6. There are already probably billions of health blogs on the internet that have eating plans and even recipes, so there’s really no point in me duplicating these efforts.

7. Everyone’s body is a little different, so, again, what works for me might not work for you.

8. You can’t make me. So there.

Three Ways Curiosity Creates Better Pole Dance

Curiosity is one of the best values you can develop to help you excel at pole. Here’s why:

1. You learn new pole moves by figuring out where your body should be. If you are naturally a curious person, when you see someone dancing or teaching, you will always be trying to figure out what muscles are used in a pole move. You will also be trying to figure out the contact points, where their balance is, and how they get out of it. Actively working to figure that out while you are watching will help you learn the moves faster (and quite possibly safer).

curiosity does not kill cats

Curiosity does not actually kill cats. Thank goodness. In addition to not being harmful, curiosity can help you excel at pole dance.

2. Similarly, curiosity will help you be more creative about how you get into and out of different moves. Some of the things I have tried are so bad that they make me giggle, but if you try new things you’ll eventually find something you want to keep. The driving force behind stumbling onto these awesome transitions is the question of “what if….”

3. Curiosity drives you to seek knowledge. If you apply curiosity to pole, you’ll start to learn more about diet, conditioning, training, mental preparation, music, and every other aspect of pole. As you incorporate this knowledge into your dancing and training, you will get better.

A Quick Roundup of Pole Competition Resources

This blog has moved to my new website! Check it out at http://polecompete.com/2014/03/a-quick-roundup-of-pole-competition-resources/

Chops

“And many strokes, though with a little axe, Hew down and fell the hardest-timbered Oak.” -Shakespeare

One of the best things that I’ve been doing to reach my dance, career, and educational goals (aside from keeping an awesome goal board) is to have an accountability partnership with one of my friends.

The premise is based on the quotation above. If just keep doing things every day to get to your goals, you’ll eventually reach them. The rule is that my friend and I have to e-mail each other with our 5 “chops” that we did the previous day to get closer to our goals. If we don’t make five chops, we have to donate a set amount of money to a charity of the other’s choosing.

There’s nothing magical about the number 5, but it seems to be a reasonable number. Knowing you have to report back to someone who will hold you accountable is sometimes the push between doing something or not.

In terms of pole, this has forced me to do my mental choreography (where I practice my choreography in my head and annoy anyone else around me by playing whatever I’m working on on repeat), to actually do my morning stretches/ exercises, to actually sign up for more classes when I feel scroungy and don’t want to, to work on my handstands.

Set some goals and find someone who will keep you accountable and try it out!

I Dare You to Throw Up

I was in no condition to train that day. I didn’t feel good and I wasn’t well rested. I had been in a hurry all day and had shoved something down my throat to keep my belly from growling on the way to conditioning class. Sometimes it’s not so bad and you can push through.

And sometimes you can’t.

I am a big proponent of mental training. I strongly believe in mind over matter, and that your body can do so much more than you think it can. Most people stop pushing because they don’t have the mental discipline to focus on doing the workout better instead of focusing on how much it hurts.

With that in mind, I started focusing on the workout, on getting my jumps higher, my squats lower.

I started to feel queasy. I was determined to push through. “I dare you to work hard enough to make yourself throw up” I told myself.

And then I did.

This is not where a good workout should end up.

This is not where a good workout should end up.

Later, I started to think about how wrong this mindset is. Mind over matter is certainly true-  but the discipline of training starts long before you go to the studio or the gym. The only thing that can make you really vomit is not being properly prepared- being mentally off your game, eating junk that doesn’t belong in your body, not sleeping enough. For the most part, vomiting equals lousy preparation, not hard training.

Conditioning is a lifestyle, not an hour long class. If you are training until you throw up, you are doing something wrong. Improve your diet, your sleep. Maybe you are pushing harder than your body is ready to push. Push (slightly) beyond your limits, but set yourself up for success first.