Monday, March 12, 2018

Flexibility with the Valentino Brothers: Two Month Update

Week 1

So, in early January, I wrote about how I was going to get flexible with the Valentino Brothers.  And for a full month, I was on it.  I was following the videos three to four days per week.  I was feeling pretty good about it.  I wasn't feeling necessarily more flexible in the moves I was doing with the DVDs, but I did feel more flexible in my yoga classes.  It doesn't make sense to me, but that's how it felt. 

Anyway, the first weekend in February, I was screwing around after doing one of the DVDs, taking photos and probably holding poses a little too long.  I then went to Twirly Girls, where I danced alone for about an hour, then taught a two and a half hour party.  At the end of the party, the girls asked me to dance for them.  It was during that dance that I suddenly knew my knee was not okay.  My knee was swollen and the kneecap kept feeling like it was popping off.  I hobbled around for a couple of weeks, icing and heating, and trying to be careful.  I was skipping pole and lyra classes (see that update HERE), but carefully doing some yoga.  My knee would be "almost better," and then something would set me back.  For example, I was probably at about 95% better, and my Monday yoga instructor told everyone to squat down, and I did so without thinking.  I was immediately set back a week in recovery from that.  I was scheduled to teach at Jen's studio, Wildcat Parlour, last weekend, and I was just trying to keep my knee well enough to make it through that workshop.  Well, I not only survived that workshop (as well as taking her heels workshop beforehand), but feel like my knee is still about 95% healed.  I can't squat all the way down with weight on my knee but I can almost put weight on it if I'm sitting on my knees and start pushing myself back towards child's pose.  So, I'm getting there.  I had put a note in my calendar for today that I would go see Tobe if I wasn't better, and I think I am going to be able to avoid a visit for now. 
Month 2

Last night, after about five weeks off, I tried one of the flexibility DVDs.  I wasn't able to do all of the moves, and I was extremely careful about the ones I did do, but I made it through.  I also did a video to get screen shots.  Obviously, there is no huge difference in my before and after photos from the last two months. 

So, here are some photos (and the two long videos of my ramblings, which is where I'm taking my screen shots from).  Hopefully in another month or two, I'll have something more exciting to report. 

First week:

Last night:

Week 1

Month 2
Week 1

Month 2 (don't mind my creepy face)

Friday, March 2, 2018

Operation Upside Down: Months 7 and 8

I haven't posted an update in awhile.  If you want to read my last upside down update, you can find it HERE.  Where do I start?  I guess here, with the excuses and whining.  I spent most of January sick and February with a knee injury.  Also, I am just exhausted, and it's freezing cold (well, California cold, which is cold to a Californian), so making a 25 mile drive for an 8 PM class requires a special kind of motivation that I just don't have right now.  I'm tired and frustrated, so I missed many classes in the last two months.

I enjoy Janet's Bottoms Up class because I like and trust her.  I know I won't completely squish her when she tips me backwards.  But the 8 PM start time means I don't get home until after 10 PM on a work night.  I enjoy Jen's lyra class, but the 6:30 PM start time means I need to leave straight from work and pray that the traffic gods are on my side.  It stresses me out.  Plus lyra hurts 100 times more than pole.  And I feel like since I've turned 40, I ache a lot more than I used to.  My hands hurt for two days after lyra.  Currently, I'm rocking a bruise across my hips from a forward fold.  I barely did a forward fold.  I'm not trying to be a circus performer.  So what I've determined is that I really go to lyra to see my friends and laugh.

This knee injury has been plaguing me for a month now.  I believe what happened is that I hyper-extended it while doing the flexibility DVDs (you can read the first post on that HERE), then went to Twirly Girls to dance for an hour, and teach a two-and-a-half hour party.  By the end of that night, I knew I wasn't okay.  I've been limping along by icing and heating, taking cinnamon, using arnica and being extremely careful in yoga (I have to do some kind of movement).  I haven't done the flexibility DVD in a month.  I feel like the worst of the pain and swelling passed within a week or so.  But one little wrong step or tweak puts me back in it.  I am 95% better, but that 5% keeps me down.  I can't climb the pole because it hits my knee in just the right (or wrong) spot.  I can't hang from my knees in the lyra.  I can't sit on my knees for any reason.  I tried to just simply squat down on Monday and that actually put my recovery back at least another week.  In fact, as I write this, I should be in class, but I am aching so much (let's blame the rain), that I don't want to chance hurting myself any further.  I am supposed to teach a workshop in ten days so I am just trying to keep myself at this level until I get through that.  Then I can fall apart.  In fact, it is probably time to get myself to the doctor, but I know they're going to tell me to stop doing what I'm doing and I don't want to be told that.

All this being said, I don't feel like I've lost any strength.  On the nights I have been able to get to class, I do get upside down.  I haven't improved, but I haven't moved backwards.  I can kind of get my knees driven upward, but Janet still has to tip me backwards.  I also wonder if part of my problem is that I need a new goal.  If the goal was simply to get myself upside down, I've done that.  My goal never said: get upside down alone or gracefully or whatever.  I also wonder what's the point?  Just to say I do it?  I don't see myself getting comfortable enough with it to suddenly start throwing it into routines.  So, if I just simply wanted to be strong enough to throw my ass upside down, I did that.  I am in the process of figuring out what I want out of pole.  Is it to be strong?  I haven't been taking any flow or dance classes, so I feel like I've lost a lot of that fluidity.  I think I have a lot to figure out in the next month or so.  I only have this one body and I don't want to be lazy but I also don't want to push myself into injuries that could be avoided if I just listened to my body.  I mean, I can't even squat down to 90 degrees.  I don't want to lose mobility, and I feel like that's happening at an alarming rate.

So the whining is done.  Here are some videos from the last two months.

Performing for Robert and Twirl for a Cause:

The day of the knee injury:


This is where I am pretty sure I hyper-extended my knee.  I was doing the flexibility DVD and trying to take photos to show progress over the previous month.  Someone on Facebook talked about yoga being the portal to hell and then a friend photoshopped this.  So, it's kinda true.  But the photo makes me laugh so I am sharing it here with you.

Made it back to class last week, although I was pretty limited on what I could do.

So, there you go.  I really don't know what the future holds for my "pole career."  I am trying to be kinder and gentler with myself in 2018.  Judge myself less.  Love myself more.  And I don't know that pushing myself through injuries is honoring that.  I guess I have a lot to decide, with no real deadline forcing me to make a decision.  I will certainly let you all know what is coming next!

Monday, January 8, 2018

Getting Flexible with the Valentino Brothers: Day 1

I am not a flexible person.  I can touch my toes but I can't do the splits to save my life.  I am even worse at back bends.  Over the last six or seven years, I have noticed I am losing what little flexibility I do have.  I have been in the pole world for eight years.  Many polers are crazy flexible.  Even the ones who swear up and down that they aren't flexible look like Gumby next to me.  Although I envy them on some level, I haven't been motivated enough to want to follow them.  The splits have never been a pole goal.  However, as I'm getting older and things are tightening down (especially my hips and lower back), suddenly staying out of pain IS a goal.  I have seen many talk about the Valentino Brothers on Facebook, so I decided to download their basic package.

The beginner series includes three videos.  I did my very first one on Saturday (two days ago).  It was a seven minute yoga sun salutation to warm-up, then it was a series of static stretches, each held for one minute.  They were pretty basic stretches but I definitely had a little bit of an issue holding some of them.  I was fairly sore the rest of the day and the next day.  I am scheduled to do my second video Monday night.

My take on the videos is that they are fairly simply made.  They come with little to no instruction, so I wasn't sure what to expect.  I kind of wish they had a list of things you'd need to get started.  For example, that I'd need some clear wall space in the middle of the video for one stretch.  Or a list of the photos you may want to take to track your progress.  Otherwise, they got the job done.  

So, here's a video I took to help track my progress.  Basically, I'm so inflexible that it should take minimal effort to make progress.  I am shooting to do the three videos over a week, one every other day.  Day 1:  Side Split and Joints Stretching System.  Day 3:  Front Split and Spine Stretching System.  Day 5: General Anti-Stress Stretching System.  I am going to do them for one month, then I will decide whether it is time to get the intermediate videos (I am going to guess I'll be able to continue with the beginner series for another month or two).  

I will come back and share my progress in a month!  Until then, please share your tips and tricks below.  Thanks!

Friday, January 5, 2018

Get upside down with a yoga inversion chair!

So last night I missed pole class.  I had to get my door handle replaced and would have had to rush out to class.  I decided instead to set up my yoga inversion chair, which was recommended by someone in my plus sized poler group on Facebook.  It was AWESOME!  So easy to put together and use.  I am going to get a ton of use out of it.  Now everyone is asking me where to get it, so I figured it was easiest to put out a blog.  I got it on Amazon.  Link below!  I also did a little video for my friend, Keri, so you can check that out as well. 

As most of you know, I am six months into Operation Upside Down.  You can check out my latest blog on that HERE.

Want one for yourself?

Get it on Amazon!

Try it out, then let me know what you think!  Happy inversions!

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Operation Upside Down: MONTH SIX!

I can't believe we are already six months into this project.  Although I still struggle lifting into a chopper, I can definitely throw myself into an invert.  Now, whatever happens next still leaves much to be desired, but I CAN get upside down.  If you want to see my month five update, click HERE.  December was another light month for me.  I was in Vegas and I missed another class because I was on a date.  I also only made it to lyra once.  I haven't been to yoga much in the last two weeks either.  Basically, I've been a lazy butt.

Here's how the month went!

I celebrated my 8th twirliversary on December 2nd!

Bad side first:

The slowest shoulder roll ever:


Wednesday, December 20, 2017

My favorite mascara!

This one will be short and sweet.

I love this tarteist lash paint mascara.  It is my favorite.  I cannot explain why...I just know that it is!

Monday, December 18, 2017

The Healthy Viking Warrior

Since having gastric bypass in 2004, I have been the queen of supplements and vitamins.  I still drink protein shakes and I take an insane number of pills every day -- all just to keep me alive and healthy.  When I started working with Ellen (A Balanced Table), I started taking a bunch of supplements and vitamins that are only available through a licensed nutritionist (and if you are trying to get control of your health for any reason, I highly suggest you contact Ellen).  However, I do still take some "over the counter" supplements that I can share.

When I first had surgery, whey protein was kind of the "gold standard" for protein powders.  It was called a "predigested" protein, which was easier for my altered stomach to digest.  At Ellen's suggestion, I switched to a grass fed beef protein powder.  No, it doesn't taste like beef.  I use vanilla, and I find it to be a much higher quality protein.  I tried to go back to whey (as it is cheaper than my new protein powder), but I could taste the fake sugar in the whey.  You get what you pay for.  So I am sold on this one.

A year or so ago, I started adding a collagen protein to my shake.  I felt like it would be good for my hair and nails.  It has no taste.

I take my probiotics religiously.  I take one that I get through Ellen.  I also drink a kefir tea every other day.  When I am in a bind, I do like this brand (in fact, if you ever have to take an antibiotic, they have a five day super strong version that I take to replenish the good bacteria; you can find it in the fridge at places like Whole Foods):

I also take fish oil.  I don't eat fish but I know its good for your brain.  Ellen had me switch to fermented cod liver oil.  It also helps with inflammation.

Anyway, these are just a few of my favorite supplements (I also take a simple biotin for my hair and nails).  Working with Ellen on my health and making supplements like these a priority have helped me feel better than I have in years.  At 41, I feel better than I did in my 30's!