Category Archives: Sports

Better-Faster-Stronger Steff, Day 1

If ever someone’s mentality was built for Kicking Ass and Taking Names, it’s mine.

On the outside, however, I’m more of a tribute to the StayPuft Marshmallow Man.

Inside, I’m G.I. Jane (with better writing).

Starting now, it’s onto Mission: Outside-Matching-In.

Found on MediaBistro.com, taken at a marathon.

I’ve managed to snooker a personal trainer who’s willing to make me into G.I. Jane-Librarian.  (But Imma be the Baby-Still-Gonna-Have-Back/Librarian Model, however. We likes a tushy.)

She works my ass out, I write about the whole experience, in short.

Meet Nik Yamanaka, my kicking-ass-and-taking-names trainer-extraordinaire from the Vancouver personal training firm Le Physique, located on the waterfront between Vancouver’s amazing Athlete’s Village and Granville Island.

Le Physique looks like a boutique gym, but it’s a place you go to be guided into a fitness program that is all about you. There’s a big difference between some quickie-certified “trainer” and a licensed kinesiologist like Nik, and I’m really thrilled to have the opportunity to work with her.

Someone like me, coming from a history of injuries, is right to be really scared (ergo cautious) about starting off a program of fitness. There’re a lot of little road-bumps I expect to crash-land into along the way — and that doesn’t mean I’ll have to stop the program; it means tweaking the program.

I’ve done it myself before, but it’s a lot more graceful (and less painful) when done with professional guidance.

There. That’s the deal, okay?

As this experiment goes on, I’ll be writing the real-deal experience from my side of the getting-trained situation.

Where are we at? Well…

Later I’ll measure myself, and those are numbers I’ll keep to myself, but for now I’m about a size 14-18, depending on who’s making the clothing and what it is, but usually a 16/14.

I’m 5’7 and I weigh 212. I was, at one time, more than 280 pounds. I say “more than” because there were several years I went without weighing myself and wearing a whooooole lot of Spandex-y leggings and muu-muu-y tops, back in my size-24 days.

The 68-pounds-at-least-lost is poundage I lost by myself, mostly without gym passes or trainers. During that time, however, I blew out my back and had to rehab my way through 10 months of oodles of pain, which taught me how to at least eat within my daily calorie limit and still lose weight without the endless cardio to compensate.

It wasn’t until I graduated from physiotherapy and started saw an ass-kicking kinesiologist for 4 sessions that my pain finally subsided and I regained strength of old.

Then I burned out on training, because I’d been doing 6-12 hours a week of working out for EIGHTEEN MONTHS. I’d been dumping cash I couldn’t afford into expensive rehabbing costs, chiropractic care that wasn’t effective, et cetera, for all that time, too, due to the high level of fitness I was pursuing.

What I never “got right”, though, was the food. Or the stretching. Or the precise technique.

Hmm. All I really got right was having the will to get it done. I worked through phenomenal pain. I screwed up a lot, sure, but I got it done, I proved a lot to myself.

The experience was really hard, though. Really, really, really hard. In every way.

It’s difficult to rectify why you’ve made so many grueling life-changes when all you keep being rewarded with are sports-related injuries, inflammation, and denied foods.

Then, it’s hard to get past the burden of being an emotional eater, like I often am, when this “healthier” lifestyle you’ve chosen cuts into enjoyment as much as the inactive life led before did — back when you got to eat at Dairy Queen.

Emotionally, starting this new journey with Nik has me coming from a place of fear. I think everyone knows what it’s like to worry that they won’t be able to measure up with what they once were — or, worse, that all their fears about how obsolete they are will be confirmed.

It’s the severity of that fear that changes for each of us. Me, it’s almost crippling at times.

Add to it the fact that I’ve  just gotten over six weeks of pneumonia, and, kapow! Scaredy-Steff right here, buddy. But here we go.

Fortunately, I have first-hand knowledge of everything I’ve been through and what it took to surpass.

I have the confidence of knowing that my trainer went to school for a good long time and understands not only the bio-mechanics behind working out, but the science behind sports eating (like, everything from portion-sizing for performance to what timely consumption of foods can do for us).

And, me, I have the eagerness to soak it all in. I want to learn why and how I paid so heavy a price as I bumbled through the loss of 70 pounds without any professional help.

In the end, I want to lose 50 pounds with Nik. The first goal is 35 pounds. I don’t remember the deadline we set for that, but, there you go: Numbers, since that’s all everyone cares about.

Get far enough on the journey and you realize numbers don’t mean jack when you’ve got the emotional issues kicking around still, so it has to be more than numbers.

So, for me, most importantly than the weight loss, I want to change my attitude about everything from what I’m capable of all the way through to how I feel about truly “healthy” food. I want to find the confidence and self-admiration I know I deserve to have, but that which the fat face in the mirror keeps me from really buying into.

In short, yeah, it’s about being better, faster, and stronger. It’s about saying I don’t want to experience crippling injuries or illnesses like pneumonia ever again. It’s about believing I deserve better than a life lacking energy or enthusiasm or a healthy body.

It was a baby workout yesterday, more for talking about process and where we’ll go with things. I’ll be a little less hands-on for Nik because I don’t need the motivation or constant overseeing others might require, and I do work really well alone — I’ve just done it kinda wrong and need to be righted upon my path.

Therefore:

I’ve been prescribed a cardio goal, a weight-lifting/plyometrics routine, and have been requested to resume my old rehab routine (which is about 30 minutes for a set) six days a week. I said I could handle it, and I know I can. I’ve also been asked to keep a food/activity journal that isn’t just a log of what I’ve consumed/burned, but also about the feeling that came as a result of each entry. I’ve done calorie-counting often, but I’ve never recorded how things made me feel before, and I’m curious if it changes the logging experience for me.

So, that’s where we’ve started.

Let’s see where the heck it all goes, shall we? Stay tuned. I’ll be doing weekly updates right here.

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 them on Twitter, too, by clicking here.

Murderball: Primal Is As Primal Does

Bear with me. If you know my writing style, you know that, just because I start one place, doesn’t mean I’m gonna stay there. This starts off about wheelchair sports, but becomes a considering of what we are as humans, so give it a chance. Thanks!

Any sport with “murder” in the name sounds like a fun night out to me.

Image from MURDERBALL, the documentary.

This weekend in Vancouver, the World Wheelchair Rugby Championships will be rollin’ on out at the Olympic Skating Oval, across the bridge in Richmond. (Games are $5 each or day passes are $12. Please support them.)

Wheelchair rugby is a Canadian-born sport better known as “Murderball,” and was the subject of an MTV award-winning documentary of the same name.

Also known as “Quad” Rugby, it’s played by paraplegics who have limited limb movement. With each injured player “rated” for their impairment, from 0 to 3 points, there’s a limit of how many “points” can be on the court at any one time.

Aside from that, the dudes are on battering-ram type wheelchairs and they bash the living shit out of each other. Sounds like a good time to me!

Of course, there are namby-pamby activists out there who dislike violence in sports and don’t understand why we’re not more “civil” in this day and age, but they’re the kind of people who probably need to start having questionable fun for the hell of it, instead of worrying about propriety.

With sports, there are areas I differ from that line of thought on, but with very specific situations: Like,  dumb-ass kids who want to do danger experiments on Youtube. There’s calculated risks, then there’s just being a moron.

And living in the rugged rainforests that are Vancouver and its surrounding landscape, we’re all too used to asshats going off known trails to explore then needing massive rescue efforts. Methinks they should be subject to Quad Rugby battering ram treatment, personally, if they’re that fucking stupid.

Like I say: There’s stupidity, and then there’s understandable thrill-seeking and adrenaline.

Me, I like boxing, and I like watching most kinds of fighting live (but not on television). Bloodsports are pretty awesome. I cheer the violence on, and I don’t for a moment feel it makes me less “civilized”. I think it makes me a more balanced human being and less likely to punch you out for being a high-maintenance fuckwad in front of me in a Starbucks line-up.

I mean, sure, we act all civil, but deep down inside, we’re biologically still animals.

All the proof I need is on my bathroom floor right now — every fall and spring, I shed hair even though there’s no reason for the human body to shed anymore. It’s a throwback to who and what we are: Mammals who got lucky and landed opposable thumbs and the ability to have language.

Sometimes, I think we — mankind — are collectively fooling ourselves.

You know the old parable about the Scorpion & the Frog?

From Wikipedia:

The story is about a scorpion asking a frog to carry him across a river. The frog is afraid of being stung, but the scorpion reassures him that if it stung, the frog would sink and the scorpion would drown as well. The frog then agrees; nevertheless, in mid-river, the scorpion stings him, dooming the two of them.

When asked why, the scorpion explains, “I’m a scorpion; it’s my nature.”

But, us? Our nature?

Is our nature REALLY that of sitting at a desk with a computer, or shuffling papers, or making Jell-o Pudding on a Friday night as we watch smarmy TV programs? REALLY?

Or are we really made to be physical creatures? People who toil in fields, bring down trees, climb mountains, haul goods over long distances? Are we made for lashing out and conquering others?

Arguably? Yes. Yes. And, yes.

These days, machines do so much for us. They do TOO MUCH for us.

The last place any of us can get in touch with our primal side is through sports. Whether it’s mountainbiking, yoga, MMA, or murderball, that’s where many of us connect with the physicality that today’s society otherwise would rather pretend didn’t exist.

There’s also, of course, sex. But heaven forbid you let the masses know doggy-style’s your favourite, or god help you if the neighbours can hear you moaning through those thin modern walls.

And that paddle sure does get loud, honey. Got a muzzle?

“Primal” is so verboten today. It’s all button-down collars and Brazilian wax jobs. Some people are even bleaching their assholes because they don’t think an ASSHOLE should be shit-coloured.

This is the ridiculous world we live in today, where we — animals — pretend we’re anything but.

Yet, there, out in Richmond, a bunch of guys who’ve lost most of the use of their limbs, they’re out there being as animalistic as they can be. They have THAT alive in them still, it’s their soul, it’s who they are.

They’re out there fighting to remember what it is that makes them alive. They’re crashing the hell out of each other, defying the odds, doing it for the most pure reason of all — just to be better than the next guy, to survive, to win — just like the only goals possessed by our Neanderthal ancestors.

These are guys who, for the most part, have lost their mobility through spinal accidents. They’ve lost so much already, but it hasn’t stopped them.

Then there are people like most of us — trying to get through our day with the least amount of risk, the least amount of danger, and with nothing but routine surrounding us, while we medicate the hell out of ourselves to dull our emotions, mask pain, or just drive us through our days.

And these barely-alive types are the people who are out there trying to protect the Quad Rugby players from themselves — Oh, it’s too dangerous! Oh, they don’t have helmets on! God forbid!

Fuck that. HIT ‘EM, BOYS! HIT ‘EM REAL FUCKIN’ HARD.

Today, this weekend, let’s all learn a little about passion, dedication, and the willingness to get the fuck up after life knocks you down — values each and every athlete on the world wheelchair rugby court plays with day-in, day-out.

Values we should all have — day-in, day-out.

__________________________

Who or what inspires you to live a little more outside the “safe” zone? Have you ever watched wheelchair sports? What kind of impression did it leave on you? And “special Olympics” are NOT wheelchair sports — wheelchair athletes are able-minded but body-challenged, so to speak.