Category Archives: Sports

Suck it Up, Buttercup: The Road to the Cup

As the saying goes, life’s tough — get a helmet.

The omigod-I’m-bagged feeling I had last Monday sure as hell hasn’t improved this week. Let me tell you, people, if you’re a hockey fan and the Stanley Cup playoffs hits your town, you will feel like shit by the time the playoffs are over.

Drinking, eating badly, and falling off one’s routine has never been so easy as it is right now. Praise be, we’re at least half-way through the final series. The two-plus month road is nearly at an end.

This morning, it’s evident I’m closer to 40 than I’d like to be. I call it “Stanleycupitis.” It hurts here, and here, and here, Doc.

Tonight, I’ll eat better. I won’t get the sleep I want, what with a 5am wakeup call for yet another early game day. But THIS IS WHAT WE LIVE FOR, like the Canucks’ team signage says this year. We want the Cup.

If the players can make it through, I can toughen up on rigours imposed by a gruelling playoff diet of booze and pizza.

Oh, Lord Stanley’s Cup: The double-edged sword you wield.

Given my back injury’s nowhere near where it needs to be for the longterm, I have not yet celebrated with the masses downtown. Tomorrow, I may. Depends on the back, of course. Something about crowding with thousands and thousands of easily-excitable people on city streets is a little unsettling for me, even now.

Between the playoffs, having to start work at 7am just to fit in treatment sessions on my back, struggling to keep my place in not-a-crackden status (but not doing too well at that), I’m reaching the end of my ever-aging fuse.

I’m not alone, of course. A lot of my friends are trying to fit life in with epic hockey that’s become don’t-miss-a-minute kinda gameplay. (Well, when an overtime-producing goal happens at 13 seconds remaining in regulation, or a game-winning sudden-death goal hits the net 10 seconds into overtime two games later, would YOU want to miss a minute? Not me.)

They’ll tell you that the Stanley Cup is incredible for the local economy, but I propose that any advantage the local economy’s experienced through the cash-happy hockey fan’s overzealous spending of late has been directly countered by productivity losses in all offices as employees buzz with “We’ve waited our whole lives to win hockey’s Holy Grail!” energy every day, with more hangovers per capita over a longer period than even the Olympics could’ve induced.

We Vancouverites are hanging on by a thin-but-happy thread.

Usually, we’re celebrating victories but today we’re lamenting the worst game of all the series so far. An 8-1 drubbing at the hands of Beantown’s Carebears certainly took the swagger out of the Canucks’ game.

Secretly, people like me are happy. Good, Game 5 is when we’ll win the kit and the kaboodle. We’ll take it all, baby! And, on a Friday night, at home, with sunny weather, and the whole weekend to celebrate and recover.

Yep. Let’s do THAT.

I remember that game in Vancouver’s ’94 Cup-run, against Toronto or Dallas, I don’t remember — someone whose asses we thoroughly kicked as we made our way to the Finals with New York. Some 40 gloves were littered from end-to-end on that ice, with so much penalty time handed out you needed a calculator just to get a tally of it all.

I don’t remember the score then, I don’t remember the next game’s score either, but I remember the buzz around it, and I can’t wait to see how Vancouver responds on Wednesday.

The hangovers, the antacids, the ass-dragging, the time-crunch, the flagging energy, the death-defying schedule juggling — THIS IS WHAT WE LIVE FOR. This is what the Stanley Cup does to you.

This isn’t no dinky football final where they play one game, and whoop, there it is, you have a victor. This is an all-out, bone-crunching, bruising, gasping best-of-7 fight through the injured-reserve list victory, baby. The winner’s gotta make it happen four times JUST THIS SERIES alone! Never mind the other three series nor the oodles of overtime played.

Two months, man! I hurt, and I’m tired, and I’m fed up.

But I’m not gonna miss a goddamned minute.

Because, really, this is what we live for.

Today, this week. The Stanley Cup hasn’t been held by a Canadian team since 1993. Vancouver has never owned the Cup.

But this year we will.

And I won’t have missed a minute.

Make my coffee a double. Maybe a triple. And get me a bigger piece of thread to hang onto, buddy. 31 hours to Game 4. I’ll be glued to it. You?

_______________________

Photo: Canadian Press. Baby Sign: No idea–bouncing around Facebook for a few weeks now, anonymously.

Not-so-Confidential To Boston Fans:

After last night’s game, you don’t get to whine about “dirty” play. Enjoy losing the series, Beantown.

The Week That Was: A Round-Up

What a week. I’m just finishing up some coffee, then I’m dragging my tired ass into work.

My seat in the arena might've been the nosebleeds, but it was fun to be above everything. Loved it. Great view.

A lot of changes coming for me. I’ll share one day. Not today. But life is settling down. It feels like the end of a long road. Not quite there yet, but getting there.

I got to see the Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals in hockey. The Canucks smoked the San Jose Sharks. It was one of the most enthralling sports experiences I’ve ever been present for.

17 years to the day that Greg Adams scored a double-overtime sudden-death game-winning goal, sending Vancouver’s Canucks to the Stanley Cup finals against the New York Rangers, our Kevin Bieksa scored his double-overtime sudden-death game-winning goal. Now Vancouver’s waiting on word of our next meal, in the Stanley Cup Finals: Boston or Tampa.

17 years. Wow.

I just made a mental list of the world of experiences I’ve gone through in those years. It’s an interesting week to take stock of where I am and where I’ve been. Where I’d like to go.

It’s an exciting time, both for me and for my city.

The Queen Is Retired, Long Live the Queen

And Oprah’s over. A lifetime of learning from her show — mock me if you will. I think there’s a few Oprahs, given the variety of topics she’s handled over the years, but I think Oprah’s social efforts make her one of the greatest people of modern times.

Whether it’s the thousands of scholarships she’s given out, the work she’s done to protect kids from sexual abuse, her advancement of gay rights, celebration of the arts, her involvement with education on all levels… well, there’s not many people in this world who’ve truly put their money where their mouth is, but Oprah has.

Oprah has meant a lot to me over the years. There have been times when I’ve been home in the afternoon, lost or sad or pensive, and just happened to turn on Oprah and there she was, talking about something that I could use to have more insight into my own predicaments.

So many times have I watched her show and had something to write about, whether it was Oprah-centric or some six-degrees topic that’s inspired by some aspect of a conversation she’s had.

I’ll miss her wealth of fodder for writing. I really will.

And I will miss the constant of that show being in my life.

Judge me if you like, but I’m an Oprah fan and I don’t apologize for it. This week, I’m sad to see her leave.

Rant-Be-Gone: Social Media

I wrote a rant about Twitter last week, under the guise of it being social media tips. I stand by a lot of it, but some was over-the-top. I’ve taken it down. I’ll rework it sometime.

I’m getting a little burned out on social media. I began what I do so I could have a voice. I like the portal. There gets to be a time when one feels like others think they’re entitled to a piece of you. Replying feels like work. Engaging feels like just another strain on a day.

It reflects the extent to which I feel like life demands my attention right now. It’s been a long and tiresome road, not just for myself but for others this year. Social media’s sort of that outlet place where we get to “say” things… but the larger our audience, the more inclination there is for us to be held to task by someone who perceives X situation in Y light.

The balance gets difficult. Maybe I don’t want that debate with you. Maybe I get to choose what absorbs my time. People forget there’s two sides to social media. What we say, and what we don’t.

Unfortunately, you’re mostly judged via what you said in the last 5 minutes.

Man, there are days when giving everything up to take that remote home on the coast, that I’d love to live in within five years, seems like it can’t come soon enough.

There are days when having an outlet doesn’t seem to be enough of a reward to deal with what that social media produces in response.

Fortunately, there are better days, too, when it all makes sense.

Right now, I’m not getting a lot out of being on social media. Instead, I feel like a rat on the wheel of life. It’s work, working out, hockey, work, working out, hockey. Even social media feels like work.

These days, saying less online means having fewer replies, which means it’s less work, which means I’ll recharge sooner.

This is how the thinking goes.

When Being A Couch Potato is an Improvement

I’ve sat on my sofa two days in a row. Last Monday was the first time I’d sat on my sofa in two months, thanks to that horrible back injury I had back in March.

This means things are improving.

It’ll be a while yet before I get the pacing of life under control, but I think I’m on the verge of having a less scattered lifescape before me. May has been far better than April. April was better than March. I believe June will be far better than May.

When it comes to writing, et al, I have things to say, but I don’t have the time, or energy, for saying them.

I may be tired, bone-tired, but I like life’s trajectory. Working hard is better when it’s getting you somewhere.

___________________________

And that, friends, is the week that was.

Have a fantastic weekend.

Confessions of (Not) a Bandwagoner

Here we go: playoffs, baby.

I actually love playoff hockey. There’s nothing more fast-paced and exciting than when your team starts doing well in the post-season. The spring of ’94 was one of the most exciting times of my life, when this town went on the playoff run with the Rangers. Man, was that some kinda hockey.

And maybe the Olympics were a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but so’s a Stanley Cup Playoff Run in Vancouver, and, for me, the playoffs are a bigger, happier, more awesome memory for me than the Olympics. It was unexpected, it was for us and no one else.

This year is the first time I’ve watched almost none of a season. I can’t believe it. Feels so odd to not be into watching sports all winter anymore. But there you have it.

But don’t let that fool you. I want the Canucks to go all the way. I want them to play inspired, to get hurt and come back from it every single game. I want little Vancouver boys and girls watching and later playing street hockey with all their favourite team players’ names taped on their backs.

I want the streets to open up and bleed maple-flavoured hockey blood, man. I want a choir of angels harmonizing “Hallelujah” behind Stompin’ Tom belting out The Good Old Hockey Game while an arena stomps along.

YET I didn’t watch the regular season.

Some yahoos on Twitter last night are exactly the kinds of asshole fans that kind of turned me off of watching day-in, day-out. Some are saying Bushisms like “You’re either with us or against us!” and calling people tuning into the playoffs “bandwagoners”.

Those dickheads make it seem like THEY did what these 26 guys accomplished on the ice. Um, no, they’ve done nothing but swill beer and mouth off at their TV — those 26 teammates have bled and ached for the game.  They’ve been well-paid to do so, yes, but they’ve bled and ached and trained.

So, I’m here to tell you the real reason I don’t watch the full season of hockey anymore.

From 1991 to 2004, I probably watched or listened to 80% of ALL the Canucks games that were broadcast. I was a fan girl, baby. I didn’t miss a MINUTE of the spring of 1994. I was managing a photo lab and on game nights when I was working, you could hear the game in the mall corridor, filtering from my back lab, where it would be blasting.

When the team started sucking again, I stuck with them. When a new empire began with Bertuzzi and Naslund and Mo, I was  in love with that hard-hitting great-shootin’ team.

2003-2004 was The Year It Changed for me, in more ways than one. The hockey season was all right, sorta phoned it in with a tendency to start slow and win late, and the playoffs sucked. It was game 7, series 1, against the Minnesota Wild. Dominating the first 3 games, they lost the next four, and the Wild took the series. I was the fool with the hope they could undo the falling-apartness and actually WENT to Game 7 live.

You know, the infamous game where Captain Markus Naslund later confessed the team “choked”? It wasn’t their first post-season choking, it was just the most offensive occurrence of recent years. THE FUCKING MINNESOTA WILD!

I stayed until the end of the game, because that is what a FAN does. I don’t leave early, it’s disrespectful.

And then some asshole threw a lidded beer from higher up, and missed the ice by a mile — hitting me in the head, exploding all over me.

That was it. I was done.

And it coincided with the Lost Year, thanks to the NHL strike — which caused me to loathe the pettiness of both players and owners. With no hockey available, I learned there WAS life after hockey. Holy toledo.

I got out of the habit of watching, and I liked being out of the habit. I found it harder to focus on pro sports anyhow, having had a head injury during the year of the strike, and not trying to watch made more sense.

When fans are rabid and love their teams and support them, and in losses suck it up, grumble a bit, but know that’s how it rolls, they’re great.

It’s the dickheads with the us-versus-them, take-it-all attitude that boo opposing teams’ anthems, pitch beers when they’re unhappy, get argumentative, etc who turn folks like me off.

Year-round? Well, I find the “fans” who insult and belittle the team for a loss after 4 wins turn me off too.

When the team’s playing hard, showing up, like the Canucks have all year, then that’s all a fan can ask. Sometimes I think Vancouver fans ask too much, and I grew tired of being in the mix. I needed a break.

So, am I a bandwagoner? Nah. I’m a fan who’s watched them for much of 25+ years. I’m a fan who doesn’t like having to commit to watching sports anymore. Not right now. I’m a fan, I’m just not an observer.

I was bantering with a friend in email last night, who surprised me when she said she was watching, and confessed she only watches playoffs, so I asked her about whether she thinks she’s a bandwagoner. Her reply?

To appease their taunts of “bandwagoner!”, I tell them I’m not a fan of hockey, I’m a fan of fans, and fans are really fun this time of year! ;)

I have to agree. Some fans are HILARIOUS and just so much fun at this time of year, and I love the energy they bring to the city — those with shrines on their work desks, hockey flags, a schedule for washing/wearing their jersey — they crack me up and are everything a fan should be.

Know what I want this year? Average fans who can handle the playoffs WIN OR LOSE. Fans who respect the effort, who don’t become assholes if it should go awry, who understand there is no US OR THEM in Vancouver — this is VANCOUVER. We’re in it together, but not everyone’s addicted to hockey. It’s not a CHARACTER flaw. It’s like chocolate versus vanilla — you like what you like.

But mostly, I want the Canucks team to put it all on the line, hit any motherfucker with the balls to touch a puck, pass clean, hit fair but HARD, make fast changes, listen for their linemates, remember how much their fans have stuck with them over the decades, do what the coach says, and fuckin’ WIN.

That’s what I really want. This town would be wild after a Stanley Cup.

Maybe that’ll make me fall in love with regular season again. Who knows. Or maybe I’ll just keep hockey as a Canadian rite of spring.

Either way: Bring us the Cup.

A Different Day: Forty Floors is a Different View

And this is why I’ve been telling myself fitness would be the key to changing mindsets, etc.

Hello, there.

Yesterday’s post is h-e-a-v-y, because “depression” always is. Asshats leaving comments about “crying a river” don’t help others admit they’re depressed.

There’s a big difference between the depression I’ve been in lately and ones that cripple other people so much that suicide seems like a solution. I’m not even close to that.

So I can say, yeah, I’m depressed, but at least I’m able to motivate myself to try to effect change in my life.

Luckily, I sort of agreed with the inconsiderately-worded-but-kinda-well-meaning comments that said stuff like “stop whining”, “shut up,” and “just do it.”

And I have been doing that. When I work out, my attitude is always that I can totally do what I’ve set out to do. I don’t stop early or unperform. I totally commit.

I also know it takes 5 days a week, and now I’m meeting that, too. My attitude has been, “One of these days, this shit’s gonna click.”

But there comes a point when you just get frustrated. I’d been trying to work out a back problem before I got sick, then there’s the long break-in period, so I guess I just hit the “FUCK, CAN WE MOVE ON NOW?” breaking point this week.

Writing that post yesterday kinda felt like my darkest-before-dawn, hit-bottom-so-the-bounce-is-better moments.

Going there can be invaluable, man. And this time, it was.

I published that heavy shit, took a deep breath, got my workout gear on, went to a highrise in the area, and, doing sets of up-down-up-down in its 15 floors, did the 40-floor stairclimbing exercise I’ve been wanting to be strong enough to do for a long time, and I did it faster than I used to do 25 (total: 19 minutes!).

Today? I’m stiff and stuff, but I don’t “hurt.”

Big difference between stiff, tense, inflamed, and actual pain. I LIKE the day-after “ooh, I feel that one!” feeling. I don’t like pain. The day-after normal-stiffness is actually awesome, because I always eat better, since I’m conscious of the work I did to get that feeling, and I need that added consciousness so I can have success. Being an emotional eater, though, if it’s PAIN, I don’t react the same way, diet-wise. It’s weird, but there you go.

So, this is the first time I have that — the combination of pride and no heavy price getting paid the day after.

And maybe it’s a little more sucky tomorrow, since day two often is, but my day-afters have been kinda pretty shitty before now.

This is pretty awesome. It’s not home-free, but it’s better, and those stairs were a THREE-YEAR GOAL. Couldn’t do it with my back injury, not for the longest time, and I always hated doing them but knew they were effective.

So. Yes.

Yay.

I hated writing yesterday’s post, hate having it up there, but I think I’m gonna leave it. Sometimes ‘fessing up about the steaming pile of shit you feel like you’re in is the best way of climbing the hell out of it, too.

40 floors, motherfuckers.

Methinks I might finally be turning the page on the oh-so-painful break-in phase. That’s exciting. I do want to have the ass-kicking experience that comes from intense exercise. Once you get capable of doing it, it’s a real adrenaline surge to get into it. That’s what I’ve been longing for, not this fucking “ugh, this sucks but I know I can do it once I get past this, so let’s do it right” mind-over-matter crap I’ve been having to dial up.

So, to the unpublished commenter: Bite me. Yeah, I “train”. I complain because I *try* to leave it on the floor every time. I don’t phone this shit in. Most of my problems come from overtraining.

Mostly because I’ve done it before and I know I have it in me.

I want this, and I want it badly. This was that moment of “ah, finally”. And I know I’ll feel worse tomorrow — but I’ll be doing everything I can to avoid that today, by being smart.

This was the start I’ve been waiting for. It won’t be all smooth sailing here on out, but it’s still gonna be sailing. Sitting at the dock sucks, man!

Yep. I’ve had this moment before. This feeling I have now came once at the start of a very awesome and empowering journey. Yes, I bitch, but I keep plodding through all the crap, whatever it takes to get it done, and when I do cardio, I give it 100%, and endure the stupid pain that comes after.

Because when you finally have THAT moment, that “oh, I’m gonna be able to do this!” moment, it’s a really great thing.

And I think I’ve had that moment. I’m glad I gave into the dark side, plodded through how I was REALLY feeling about things, and decided to achieve one of my really long-held goals.

The first time I ever did that staircase?

I quit at 10 floors (220 steps). Stopped for breath on floors 3 and 7. I hurt for FOUR DAYS. I couldn’t get out of bed the next day without whimpering. Had to see the Rolling Stones in their last Vancouver gig here, and walking all the stairs at the stadium (nosebleeds!) nearly KILLED me. I was 270 pounds then.

So, you know. Yeah. Today, THIS feels good. This is how exercise should feel.

I wasn’t just jumping into the stairs, either — I’ve done them a few times lately, but only 20 floors. I figured the gruelling lunges that Nik Yamanaka’s had me doing lately had broken my thighs in and it might be the best time to try it.

Moral of the story is, I think it’s fine to give in to the “fuck, this sucks, it’s so hard” feeling as long as I take the time to remember why it was so important to start the process, and keep trying for success.

I was wrong about why I wanted to get fit.

I forgot why I wanted to get fit. Why did I? Because I was scared of returning to a life of pain, because my back injury had been recurring. I was scared of the depression that came with.

In the end, I guess confronting that fear in my writing yesterday sort of brought me full-circle on my journey, and being the GENIUS THAT I AM and doing the stairclimbing immediately AFTER that journey?

Yeah, I get the Nobel Prize for Awesome on that decision.

“Go there, go to the dark place, but get the fuck out,” that should be every writer’s mantra.

Anyhow.

Couldn’t leave yesterday’s words hanging without opening the door on a new and better chapter.

So: [squeak]

There. Door’s opened. It’s a long hallway, though.

Funny how breaking points are so often turning points. What one does next determines which it is.

Building Blocks: Mastering Less as More

It’s been a long week and you’re probably wondering how it went, given my dreaded Month of Suck admission last week.

I’ve spent this past week slowly recalibrating myself, lowering my expectations, ditching my guilt, and focusing on the individual steps to take rather than being overwhelmed by the bigness of my journey…

Found on SciFiTV.com.And it’s been much, much better.

My workout with Le Physique’s Nik Yamanaka last Monday was really an empowering start to my week. She was empathetic, didn’t dwell on my admitted failings, changed the game up a little, challenged me, and provided great positivity, support, and encouragement during the workout. She also brought The Funny, and we like The Funny.

It wasn’t that she was babying me, not by a long shot. She pushed me enough, and god knows I felt it the next night as the Screaming Thighs of Fury set in a day after the epic “Let’s try some lunges” experiment, but she didn’t push me past what I could take.

Who cares about the Screaming Thighs of Fury, though?

Face it, anyone who doesn’t have killer-sore legs after doing their first-ever triple-set of lunges is probably immortal. We don’t like those people.

We really, really don’t like those people. But I digress.

Aside from letting me ditch my guilt and shame by playing me her version of the “everyone has reversals” record, Nik also provided a lightbulb moment when it came to stretching.

I think I know better than most people the profound difference that can come from tweaking a stretch angle by a few degrees, so I was really surprised to find that, a) I’m still being uber-overzealous in my hamstring stretching, b) it’s probably a huge part of why my hamstrings never stretch out, and c) it’s likely instrumental in why I have recurring back issues on a small scale all the time.

Nik drove the point home that the hamstring is a very gentle stretch, and one of the most important ones we can do. She said to wait while the hamstring naturally extends itself. Stretch the leg to the point of feeling it, hold, as it releases and resistance lessens, extend slightly further, hold, repeat, etc.

Okay, whoa, hold them technique-horses a moment.

This needs saying: I’m not a licensed kinesiologist, I’m not edumacatin’ you on stretching, and you shouldn’t be doing anything by way of my limited explanations here. This was a trained professional explaining the best way of stretching for MY body. Your body is a whole ‘nother thang, and this is why certified personal trainers are a wise idea for anyone embarking on a new life of fitness: Because every body responds a little differently.

(But if you’re like most people, you probably should be stretching those hamstrings more, honey.)

Anyhow, that slight adjustment, less-kamikaze approach has been making a difference in my legs and back this week, but there’s another stretch that’s proven monumentally important to me, now that I’ve been hearing Nik’s voice in my head all the time: “Drop your shoulders. Drop your shoulders.”

I’ve always had my shoulders up too high during stretches — and now I realize my stretches are probably largely responsible for the “tension headaches” I get, or at least as responsible as other things, like carrying too many groceries or wearing heavy shoulder bags.

By keeping my shoulders down during the stretches, I’ve greatly reduced the headaches that were seriously cramping my style. Whew. Fantastic.

So, where didn’t my week go as ideally?

Well, everywhere, of course.

But “perfect” wasn’t my goal.

Sure, I didn’t exercise the “Full Nik Yamanaka Kicking-Ass-And-Taking-Names” routine, but I decided to cut myself slack and instead just focusing on Doing it Right and Feeling Good Later. Nik seems to approve.

I still haven’t stretched often enough, eaten as well as I would like, but I really don’t care.

I really don’t — because I’ve done everything better, I feel better, and I know I can still do better.

The difference is, this time I feel like doing better isn’t going to kill me. I don’t feel the dread and fear I was feeling for a while, when I kept paying for my efforts with negative fall-out (thanks to the trifecta of overdoing it, poor sleep, and bad stretching.)

Now I think “doing better” might even have me feeling better overall.

Working out through my pneumonia recovery has proven challenging, but I’m finally at the point where pushing cardio may still have me spent and asleep on the sofa by 8:30, but a good night’s sleep recharges that battery, and I find myself with more to give the next day.

That’s a new thing — having more to give — and a good thing.

Will I manage the Full Nik Yamanaka Kicking-Ass-And-Taking-Names program this week?

No, probably not, but I can get closer, do it better, feel stronger, and have the feeling that I’m adding to success rather than kicking myself when I’m down.

I’m listening to my body with exercise, and soon I know I’ll be listening to it for food, too. That’s always a 1-2 thing for me — I get the exercise sorted, then figure out the food.

All in all, it feels like the pieces are falling into place — or, rather, that I’m kicking ass and throwing them into place.

This week, less has been more.

By doing less and feeling like I’ve executed it better, or more well, or more promisingly, the emotional gains and the confidence I now have in going forward is both a pivotal and welcomed change in my life.

I knew I’d get here, but it was just such a rocky road with so many obstacles, and me with my lack of objectivity at the time.

Recalibrating, lowering expectations, and focusing on technique but working through obvious pains while trying to reduce unnecessary pain, have been a key in my week of regrouping.

Going into this week with a little less fear and a little more confidence will be a nice change, provided I remember that it’s doing less, but doing it better, that’s being my “more” right now.

Baby steps, baby.

Le Physique is in Leg-And-Boot Square, in Vancouver’s False Creek. Nik Yamanaka is co-owner, and was the BCRPA Personal Trainer of the Year for 2008. Le Physique tailors a program to meet your abilities, goals, and lifestyle. They can’t do the work for you, but they can tell you the tweaks that will help you meet your best performance and give you the mental tools and simple practices that might help you attain the success you need. You can listen to Nik talking about training in this radio interview here. You can follow her/them on Twitter, too, by clicking here.

Bouncing Back from The Month of Suck

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October was My Month of Suck.

Things went badly at the end — personally, financially, physically, spiritually.

Times like that, my struggle is with Emotional Eating. Growing up, if there was something we’d celebrate or mourn, we’d do it with food.

At 37, it’s still my battle.

Another struggle is the pressure I put on myself and the self-damning I do when I don’t meet those lofty standards.

What happens when I get angry or disappointed in myself? I eat.

When I eat, what happens? I get fat or feel like it — equally dangerous to morale.

My first mistake in October was not saying sooner that I’d bitten off too much, regarding my post-pneumonia recovery.

The problems with me getting something like pneumonia is, it’s easy to think the pneumonia’s just some “thing” I’ve created to get out of shit, regardless of how sick I actually was.

As a kid, yeah, I was in and out of hospitals, but I was also a lazy kid who loved the excuse of illness — I hated exercise. When it came to exercise, I was happy to play the “I’m too sick” card.

The last five years, the greatest “getting fit” struggle I’ve faced was overcoming “I Can’t” and those old excuses.

In so doing, when I thought I couldn’t do something, I often did better than I expected. When I thought I was too weak, I was strong. If I wanted to improve my time in how long it took to cycle someplace, I did. When I thought I was too tired or too sore, I proved I wasn’t. That’s how I lost 70 pounds on my own.

Sure, I beat “I can’t,” but I’m still not an “I Can” girl — and that’s what I want to be, via my work with Nik Yamanaka from Le Physique.

I want say “Sure, I can do that!” without blinking. Now? Not so much, more like “Maybe?”

A lot has to do with the “I Can’t” Girl legacy.

In October, when I first thought I was doing too much too soon, I didn’t take a break — I didn’t want to use the “I’m not well” excuse or to make allowances for being sick or recovering. I didn’t want to admit I’m weaker or less strong.

Now I’ve paid for it through too sore muscles, too tired body, and the emotional fatigue that comes from the too-much-too-soon lethargy one suffers after trying to bounce back post-illness or injury.

***

Today I see Nik for the first time in two weeks. She knows I’ve been ass-kicked by both life and myself of late. I think I really need a session to get my head from Where I Was last month to where I’d rather be now.

For me, returning to anything after injury or illness is a struggle. The longer I’m out of the game, the harder it is to get back — especially when my body doesn’t like the pace I set, since I normally like to take my angst out on a workout, but my body doesn’t like that approach.

That said, almost every time I “return,” I do too much too soon.

I warned Nik that a former chiro labelled my tactics as “KAMIKAZE”. I mean, I know I do this shit.  I told her, “I know this about myself, I’m gonna be careful”, but, boom, there it is: History repeating.

This time, my bounce-back wipeout coincided with Heavy personal stuff on a few levels, and a bout of food poisoning, all within 10 days. I got knocked on my ass — hard.

Coupled with emotional baggage and the caloric hell that is Halloween, it’s been a doozy of a three-week stint in which I’ve been visiting all manner of feeling like a Failure.

We’ve all been there.

Still, I know my abilities and what I’ve learned about my food relationships, and my physical accomplishments with cardio and strength-training over time.

Believe me, I know. That’s why it’s so hard to accept such a rocky return.

Up side? Nik’s got a crash course in Steff’s Fitness Foibles 101 — my determination, roadblocks, how connected food is to my emotions, how I pay for my stubbornness.

Down side? It’s a disheartening start to what I hoped would resonate with awesomeness from the get-go. I have to recalibrate my expectations, and I will.

The I’ll-take-it side? I’m reminded I’m not God, I’m not even immortal, and while deities might allegedly be able to create whole worlds in seven days, we take longer to create what we dream, and more realistic aspirations make the road less arduous.

***

I’ve had a hard time writing this piece. I’ve started it six times now.

Why? I despise admitting that I’ve failed myself, but it’s more disheartening that it came after I tried too hard and hit the wall, only to fall back into old habits just ‘cos I emotionally roll that way.

That’s what I had a hard time with: feeling like I was being punished for working too hard. It’s tough to swallow that you’ve achieved what you wanted to do, but then suffered consequences as a result — and then revisited bad habits of old out of weakness.

To whatever end, it all comes back to listening to the trainer when he/she says “Listen to your body.”

They don’t say “Listen to your neuroses.”

Woefully, my neuroses speak loud and clear. Listening to that’s hard not to do.

And sometimes we don’t understand our bodies. Don’t understand? Or maybe we just don’t listen. Success usually isn’t a switch we can flick on overnight.

Some learn these lessons harder than others.

My lesson is in finding a middle ground between what I want to be Tomorrow and what I’m able to be Today, and for me it can be the hardest part of fitness.

Part of a trainer-trainee relationship comes from learning where you’re at with each other, and the trainer knowing when you’re really trying or when you’re just phoning it in. This is a tough beginning, and I know Nik’s being challenged with having to interpret that about me. I can respect that.

Still, my journey’s not just the physical roadblocks I have to contend with. I know I’ll be in a difficult place emotionally for a while, so my food struggle will be tough. That’s when training will be good, and social media/blogging also helpful, so I can get advice, support, friendly prodding, and experience accountability to others.

Because I can’t work out at 100 per cent, I’m learning I never overcame my food demons, despite having lost 70 pounds.

I didn’t. Food’s the devil, always was. This is the reality check I needed.

Waiter, there’s a fly in my aspiration soup. Check, please.

Yet, Food Demons can be beaten into submission. People do it all the time.

And, pneumonia can only hamper my efforts for so long. I’ll get there a little more each week. I’m just impatient.

***

So, today? Training looms.

My Catholic upbringing makes me dread facing people after I feel like I’ve failed them or myself, so showing up to see Nik will be a bit heavy at the beginning, but another part of me can’t wait to just get in there, see her, and turn the page on my October.

Something I’ve learned in recovery/rehab, and forgot until now: It’s best that I do cardio at the end of the day so I can recover after, rather than early in the morning, when it might take a lot out of me, since, frankly, post-pneumonic life isn’t brimming with energy just yet.

Sometimes we need to find new normals.

I’m finding mine.

***

Failure happens. We don’t choose when. Life’s tough, we deal where we can, and sometimes fall down elsewhere.

At the end, know what matters?

Not that I ate badly or didn’t exercise sometimes, but that I’ve been more honest with myself about food than I have in months, and that I’ve been active more regularly than I have in a while.

I’ve improved. That’s the point.

I haven’t improved as much as I’d wanted, as quickly as I’d hoped, but I know why I haven’t, where I can improve still, and now I’ll do better than I did last time.

In the end, sometimes just continuing to improve is the best result we can hope for.

For now? I’ll take it.

Le Physique is in Leg-And-Boot Square, in Vancouver’s False Creek. Nik Yamanaka is co-owner, and was the BCRPA Personal Trainer of the Year for 2008. Le Physique tailors a program to meet your abilities, goals, and lifestyle. They can’t do the work for you, but they can tell you the tweaks that will help you meet your best performance and give you the mental tools and simple practices that might help you attain the success you need. You can listen to Nik talking about training in this radio interview here. You can follow her/them on Twitter, too, by clicking here.