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.

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Not Being an Idiot: Researching Nutrition and Diet

There is an astounding amount of poorly researched, poorly written, and just plain wrong information about nutrition. There is also an entire industry that makes a lot of money off of confusing you about your diet. Here are some techniques to sift through the garbage:

  1. Think about it. If nutritional advice doesn’t make sense, it’s probably not right. Watch for articles that contradict themselves, make claims that seem unreasonable, or that directly contradict things you know to be true. Also watch out for illogical arguments (such as animals don’t do this, so why should humans? This is faulty because humans do a lot of things other animals don’t.)
  2. Consider your source. Does the article link to other articles? Does the author write other articles that are solidly written and researched? Do you trust the author? Are there logical fallacies in what he or she is saying? Can the author spell words correctly? Does the author have a basic grasp of grammar?
  3. What do you want out of the research? Event nutrition and general nutrition are not always the same, and this can be confusing. Weight loss  nutrition is different than competitive nutrition. Pole nutrition is different from marathon nutrition. Make sure that you are researching the right thing.
  4. Consider the actual research. How many people were included in the study? Was their demographic similar to yours? Were they athletes or dancers? How relevant is this tip to you? Was the method of the study good? Has it been repeated?
  5. Don’t be a victim of chemophobia.There are chemicals in everything you touch, breathe and eat. Get used to it. “All natural” doesn’t mean anything, and “natural” solutions aren’t always better.
  6. Give your body some credit. Anything that talks a lot about cleanses or resetting your body is likely to be bullshit. Cleansing sounds nice, but your body does that on its own. And if you are jumping on the “all organic all the time” bandwagon, you should keep in mind that  people are living longer, healthier, more active lives all the time. Clearly, some of this hysteria is unnecessary. Stop panicking over whatever the new trendy things to avoid are.
  7. Experiment. Try out the advice for a few weeks and see how you feel. If it seems to be working, keep it. This is particularly important since everyone has a different body, level of activity, genetics, and goals.
  8. In general, if the advice demands that you buy a certain product, it is not great advice. Consider who is paying for you to get that information.
  9. If the article uses shame or fear tactics to convince you that you need to adapt their way of eating, it is most likely not a reliable source.
  10. Anything that promises you some sort of results (particularly weight loss results) in a certain time is certainly bullshit.
  11. Herbal supplements get their own warning: If you use herbal supplements, make sure to thoroughly research the brand and the type of supplement first. Even reputable brands do not have any quality control for dosages. Often, if there is any research that supports the herbal remedy at all, the dosages required would be much higher than what you would ever actually take. In addition, many companies don’t even put the ingredients that they advertise in the supplements. Finally, there are a lot of false “research” reports about supplements on the internet that are actually hosted by supplement companies. Tread very, very carefully here.

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.

30 Day Diet, or Something Like That

This is what I eat for breakfast almost every day. Three eggs, half a piece of bacon, spinach, bell pepper, mushrooms, onions, and avocado. Yum.

I don’t really believe in diets, because the key to eating healthier is learning how to eat in ways that fit your lifestyle and budget and that actually taste good. I saw this quote from Zig Ziglar that sums up exactly how I feel:

“I tried a 30 day diet, and I lost a month!”

Stop wasting your time with crash diets, and become committed to eating better. You are a dancer. Eat, exercise, and sleep like one. Here are some posts to get you started:

Only eat junk food that tastes good

Clean up your diet, starting with these three steps

Eating Well

Mix your diet up

Mix Your Diet Up

I recently got sick of most of the food that I make for myself, so I opted to mix things up by buying a few cookbooks. Cookbooks are awesome, because you can sprawl out on the couch with them and decide what looks good to eat.

I opted for one paleo cookbook and one vegetarian cookbook. Conflicting philosophies, but those styles most closely mimic what I make in my everyday life. I love that the paleo cookbook includes lots of cheese-less recipes. I also tried replacing tortillas with lettuce leaves, something I’ve always mocked in the past. Now I get it. The lettuce is crisp and doesn’t leak or get soggy. I recommend it, regardless of whether it’s part of your diet or not.

diet alternatives, paleo cookbook, vegetarian cookbook

My new vegetarian and paleo cookbooks help me mix things up in the kitchen

 

If you’re stuck in a rut, get a new cookbook. Look for one that includes lots of healthy foods that you eat. and make a point of actually trying out a large number of the recipes. It will help break things up and make your diet more interesting.

Only Eat Junk Food that Tastes Good

When you are rebuilding your eating habits, the best thing you can possibly do is to go in slow increments. Commit fully to a small thing and keep with just that thing until it is a habit.

The best habit to build first is to only eat junk food that tastes good.

Most people eat an astounding number of things that are bad for them and don’t even taste that great. TV dinners, candy hearts, sort of tasteless preservative filled crackers….

The best way to start a diet is by replacing crappy junk food with high quality treats.

Replace your Snicker’s bar with a high quality chocolate.

Replace your t.v. dinner with homemade macaroni and cheese.

Replace your hot cocoa mix with real chocolate melted into milk.

Replace your crappy freezer or takeout pizza with fancy pizza from a good restaurant, or homemade.

Replace your fast food burger with a sandwich.

Replace your quart of freezer burned ice cream by going out to the nearest ice cream place.

Replace your cheap, terrible beer with delicious beer.

There are many reasons this approach to dieting works. First, by increasing the quality of your treats, you are avoiding any sense of deprivation. Second, you cannot just mindlessly eat, because you have to go to the effort of getting the higher quality stuff. Third, you are breaking any mental habits that you have around junk food. Fourth, generally better quality treats have better ingredients, which means less sugar, preservatives, corn syrup, etc, and also more protein and vitamins. Fifth, a lot of the better quality items are kind of a hassle, which subtly discourages you from overindulging.

16 Snacks for Hungry People

So, something that invariably happens to me whenever I kick up my workout a notch or two is that I become hungry. Constantly. As if I had a parasite living in my belly, which I don’t think that I do. Looking in fancy health magazines leads to a lot of pre-packaged, sometimes sugary, tasteless expensive diet food. Blech. To address this common problem for athletes, here are my snack suggestions:

  1. Celery and peanut butter. Celery alone is pretty worthless for making you feel fuller.
  2. Plain greek yogurt, maybe with a tiny bit of honey. Flavored yogurts have too much sugar.
  3. Apples and peanut butter.
  4. Spoonfuls of peanut butter. Clearly, I’m a fan of this stuff.
  5. Apple and cheese
  6. Cheese and salami
  7. Cheese sticks. I actually have stopped eating cheese, but if you eat it these are great.
  8. Triscuit crackers and olives
  9. bowl of plain shredded wheat cereal (frosted shredded wheat has too much sugar. Sorry)
  10. Bananas, if you like them. Also good with peanut butter.
  11. Hummus with triscuits or vegetables
  12. Walnuts mixed with Craisins
  13. Leftovers.
  14. A mini salad.
  15. Hard boiled eggs. Particularly with salt and pepper
  16. Baked sweet potatoes.

In Which I am Forced to Count Calories

I’m an intense person, so the fact that I love Crossfit probably won’t surprise anyone. I love the borderline fanaticism, the sweat, the desire to finish. If Crossfit included booty shaking or hanging upside down, this blog would be about Crossfit instead of pole.

As it stands, pole dance is still my main love, so mostly I just read about Crossfit. One of the diet related things that is trending right now is intermittent fasting. The idea is that you should restrict the hours you eat. Some people randomly skip meals, some people skip eating for one 24 hour period and some people limit the time available to eat. For example, you may eat for eight hours and then fast the remaining sixteen.

You shouldn’t be hungry because you are not restricting the number of calories you are eating. Eating more food less often appealed immensely to my sense of laziness, so I decided to try it.

The first week was great- I felt even more energetic, and had less dishes to do. I was careful to pack more lunch than usual so I would be getting enough to eat. I was excited about the second week.

On Monday of the second week, I noticed I was crashing a bit after my first class (I do two pole classes Monday nights). I assumed that this was because I’m still adjusting to my new bike commute, which is somewhere between 9 and 12 miles, depending on where I need to go that day.

Tuesday night I was a little cranky. I thought I was just tired.

Wednesday night I was arm-gnawingly hungry.

I cook all my food ahead of time and eat the same thing all week. For fun, and also to figure out why in the hell I was so hungry after eating so many tupperwares full of food, I decided to add up my calories.

1,200.

For reference, women my age are supposed to have about 2,000 calories if they don’t have an active lifestyle. People who train for pole and bike an average of 10 miles a day need more. I was on my third day of eating about half as much as I needed. No wonder I was hungry and tired and crashing.

I bought a sandwich, which seemed like the logical response to a lack of calories. It was delicious.

french toast with apple, not a sandwich

So yeah, this is not a sandwich. I was too busy eating it to get a picture, but this is delicious, calorie laden food, so I think I get my point across.

I adjusted my calories and continued on with the fasting- I love it. I’m just really careful to pay attention to how many calories I’m including now, since I can’t eat later in the day anymore.

I’m also only making intermittent fasting mandatory for myself for four days a week, because I want to be able to partake in social dinners or snacks if I want to. It is really important to me that my diet doesn’t interfere with my social life.  Other people skew the hours so they miss breakfast and can eat in the evening, but I love breakfast.

Overall I recommend intermittent fasting, but make sure that you eat enough while you are trying it! Also keep in mind that intermittent fasting will not make up for a lousy diet- If you eat nothing but french fries and ice cream but only do it 8 hours a day, you will not gain more energy for training.

On Being Obese

This post has moved to my new blog, http://www.polecompete.com

Find it at http://polecompete.com/2013/11/on-being-obese/