There’s been a “12 Reasons you should watch roller derby” buzzfeed article floating around. Guess what, folks? Some of it they got right! Some of it they got eeeehhhhh…..
So I’m rebooting this blog! It was one my first popular article on Examiner.I’ve re-written some of the explanations, but I’ve kept the headlines the same. 2010 derby or 2015 derby, these are still the 10 reasons you should watch roller derby. (PS Most derby leagues still don’t have seating, so you may want to pick up a Coleman Stadium Seat for your comfort at the game.)
The WOW factor How many of your friends watch roller derby? If the answer is “many”, then maybe there is something to this. Maybe they have an in on something. If your answer is “none”, you can introduce your circle to the fast-growing sport on the planet. How cool does that make you look? Roller derby is a completely unique, high-impact sport that is totally inclusive of age, gender, nationality, etc. It is an international phenomenon that grows every year. In 2018, the third Roller Derby World Cup took place in Manchester, England, hosting 38 countries, including the Czech Republic, Korea, and West Indies. Barcelona is the stage for the third Men’s Roller Derby World Cup in April 2018, where 24 teams, including Japan, Chile, and Denmark will compete. The speed, power, and finesse on 8 wheels is enough to keep you entertained, even if your local team isn’t allowed to sell beer!
The social works of derby teams Roller derby teams are often non-profit organizations themselves; regardless you will find your local teams out at charity events and raising money for good causes at their home bouts. Tens of thousands of dollars have been raised worldwide for charities. Whether promoting suicide prevention, helping wounded animals, collecting for homeless shelters, promoting love as love, or helping a city rebuild after tragedy, derby has covered the spectrum of charitable causes. The Girls on Track Foundation was founded to keep young girls involved in the sport of roller derby, thus building their confidence, courage, and leadership skills. Locally, our own Tampa Roller Derby is involved with Big Cat Rescue and Girls on the Run,
Athletic prowess These are athletes. Teams practice between two and six times a week, and the participants work out beyond their practice limits. Yoga, crossfit, powerlifting, Spartan Races, aerial silks… the cross-training of roller derby knows no limits.
Impressed by your favorite hockey player doing fancy footwork and scoring points? Wait until you see Lil Slinky of Stockholm duck and dance through the pack effortlessly. Get hyped up by your favorite safety playing all over the field defense? You will love seeing Alli Kat Scratch of the Tampa Tantrums crush the hopes and dreams of her opponents. The feats of agility and pure strength are display at any game (whether it’s the 500-person strong Rose City Rollers or 20 strong Twin City Terrors).
“Any Given Sunday” Just like in any other mainstream sport, roller derby has the “any given Sunday” mantra. The Oly Rollers came out of nowhere in their first season as a WFTDA* team, and took the Hydra as the underdog. It is possible for any team to sweat and bleed their way to beating a giant of roller derby. Tournament play has seen a lot of international teams come in and shock the world with their undeniable strength. Teams from the United Kingdom, Germany, and Australia have been doing damage in WFTDA and MRDA** rankings the past few years.
Less expensive than a movie date
An American movie date can easily breach $75 (IMAX anyone?), and if you’re counting dinner, you can bet on a night breaking $100. Yes, there are some games that offer beer or full entrees (thank you Charm City). Yes, buying merch from Tampa’s Wrecking Mall might up your final cost for the night. However, most teams still play in roller rinks with small concessions and bake sales. A derby date can easily stay under $30! Derby encourages interaction and conversation, whether you are with one person or a group, and it’s way better than sitting awkwardly in a dark theatre with your Tinder date. Bring them to derby!
Community! The roller derby community is a very inclusive place; if it’s a tailgate kind of game (you can check with the league on their event page ahead of time), get a group together and hang out in the parking lot. My first team was notorious for cookouts and beer trading in the parking lot of the Olympic Skating Center before games. Groups often mix and mingle. Don’t know what’s going on during the game? Ask the people beside you (or look for someone with a “Ask me about derby” sign). Regardless of the side you are rooting for, everyone is super friendly and inclusive. You will make friends in the fans, the refs, and the league members themselves. Labels and judgement have no place in our house, so come one, come all!
Direct interaction with athletes
How many sports teams offer one-on-one time with their athletes? Every game and after party is a meet and greet, and leagues host events throughout the year where you can meet your favorite skaters. You can catch up with league scores from those directly involved, and can really feel like a part of the organization even as a fan. Websites like Flat Track Stats even gives you chance to follow how your favorite travel teams are doing, even if the team hasn’t received official sanctioning ranking. With the popularity of tournaments growing in roller derby, keep your eyes peeled to your team’s social media, it’s likely their travel games will be live streamed at some point. Then you can even watch them from home.
Unique characters Mainstream sports are chuck full of big characters, and roller derby does not disappoint. Be warned: It is not make-up and fishnets. It is the heart, soul, blood and tears that they pour into their work that make these athletes into giants and idols. Big characters in derby are the big hits, the big jams, and acrobats on skates. Whether your team matches in black compression pants, or dons old school mis-matched DerbySkinz and stickers on helmets, you will see the personalities on and off skates. It’s not just the skaters that make the game exciting: The announcers of roller derby are some of the most colorful characters you can imagine. Plus they are super knowledgeable about the game, so make friends with them.
You might find a new love Skaters, refs, NSOs***, announcers, medics, and coaches have to come from somewhere. Often, they come from the audience. Fans, friends of the fans, and the munchkins of fans are the future of roller derby. Even if you never end up skating, your support is vital to your league. Being a fan and posting about the games, inviting your friends to the events, watching WFTDA.tv, watching the YouTube archives of bouts… it spreads the goodwill of derby to people outside of the community who may never have heard of derby before. Or, maybe they went to a game three years ago and “have been meaning to return”. Maybe you can be the one to remind them to spend a Saturday night at the rink.
It’s just plain FUN The excitement is infectious. Regardless of your familiarity with the sport, the skill and strength of roller derby pulls you in. It is impossible to resist cheering as your jammer breaks through the pack. Try not to flinch when your team knocks an apex jump out of the air. The more you learn about your league, the more fun you will have each game. BUT the only way to learn more is to actually go!
If you have been pushing off attending a roller derby bout, it’s time to get off of Facebook and head to the rink. Friends, excitement, and real social networks await you. Youtube offers some great fan tutorials, or wait until you get there and inquirein person. Spend some time at your local games. You’ll be cheering more than at a Marvel movie, you’ll get closer to the action than nosebleed seats at Lincoln Financial, and you will build relationships unlike anything else you have experienced before.
*Women’s Flat Track Derby Association
**Men’s Roller Derby Association
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What makes us want to be on a roller derby team?
I’ve been thinking about this topic for months. Tried writing a blog a few weeks ago and I couldn’t actually translate my feels into a coherent written structure. I’m not talking, “Why do we love the sport?” or “Why do we join a league?” But rather, what drives us all to make a travel team? Or be drafted to a home team?
Before my home league’s travel team votes on the charter, each skater gets to talk about what they had to offer, and why they wanted to be a part of the team. It was interesting to hear the answers from those dropping their name in the hat for the all-stars versus the b team. There was quite the difference in theme of statement from one team to the other. I realized that those going for the the all-stars had a much different theme of answer than those wanting to be on our b-team. It got me thinking more and more about WHY we want to play on teams so badly.
If you ask a derby skater why they want to be on a team, the most common answer you’ll probably get is: “I want to play in bouts!” (Or do I call them games in the blog now?) **winky face**
They want to travel. They want to play other opponents. They want to prove themselves. Playing in bouts is a bit about the attention of everyone watching you, but should also be about the practical applications of skills and drills. Bouts are the place we test ourselves against an opponent to see if we have improved. I have been on many teams at this point, and I can say that being in a bout means different things based on the culture your team builds.
Some teams value bouts strictly as ranking potential.
Some teams just want to enjoy the fun of the sport; including all that boutfitting, production shenanigans, and after parties offer up as they play against your family from a different city.
Some teams want to try out what they have been drilling in practice, to see how their strength and mobility have improved.
Some teams play bouts just to raise money in their home venue and have their friends and family come and watch them do the thing that they love.
Some teams work really well together on bout day, and everything is low stress and fun.
Some teams may work together, but tension runs so high that benches become explosive.
Maybe a team just has that one player that yells at refs or complains about calls, and because they’re a “superstar”, the behavior isn’t squashed. That behavior spreads to the rest of the team, and the bench becomes a 3 headed monster.
Maybe the bench coach is that one superstar yelling.
Or maybe everyone loves each other and the sport so much that everyone is just focused on the fun of the game.
I should mention that teams don’t always take the time to create a culture. Some are self-aware enough to create a mission statement of culture to promote and strive for. Most derby teams, I have seen, do not even understand that a culture has manifested through coaching habits, attendance enforcement, and superstar treatments. Sometimes an awesome derby culture of fun and support is born organically through individuals gathering for a common purpose. Too often, I have seen leagues succumb to the expectation that certain players get praise and playtime, and those players can do and say no wrong. Everyone else are plebeians and must fall in line and teach themselves.
If you just had an ‘ah-ha’ moment, recognizing that your team has not given itself a Culture Goal (or worse, you’re in one of those cancerous league situations!), maybe it’s time to sit with your steering committee and decide on some core values for the league and individual teams.
Many cultures have this idea rooted into their core values without realizing it: “You will play bouts when you are on the travel team, and we do this to play in bouts.” So the skater immediately begins lobbying for a spot on the travel team, despite dedication. Despite training. Despite safety. Despite their willingness to play on a team. Endgame, we are taught, is: PLAY IN BOUTS.
I have a radical suggestion for you, Roller Derby:
You should not want to be on a team to play bouts. You should want to be on a team to practice roller derby.
You should want to be on a team to PRACTICE roller derby.
What do I mean?
I mean we need to adjust our mindset.
Bouts are fun, yes. Bouts are what count towards our ranking, absolutely. Bouts are the culmination of our practice time and work together, yes. But it’s just 60 minutes on the clock.
I am not saying we should undervalue bouts, or want to play in them less. Rather, I think we all need to shift focus to being excited for practice time. Most of Roller Derby practices at least twice a week. You are spending far more time with your team in drill, skill, and endurance situations than you are in bout situations.
I do my best to not even worry when my next bout is, because my intensity does not change from practice to practice. I do not show up with different intentions or drive when I know a roster is being decided that night. Every practice is 110%. I pay for this time on the track, so I am going to love it and use it. If I am put on a roster, great! If I’m not, it’s OK because I have practice again Sunday night. I know I won’t be short on derby for the weekend.
Too often skaters put so high a priority on bout day that all they think about is making the roster. They show up just in time, and with just enough intensity to play in the bout. If we could shift the prevailing thought in roller derby to be less “BOUT DAY!!!” and more “PRACTICE DAY!!” think of how many people would value their drill time more? How much would attendance change?
Bout day is a priority because Roller Derby puts an emphasis on it.
To me it is just as fun and invigorating to stop Tazmaniac in a wall drill in practice, as it is to stop her in a bout day situation. Putting our focus on the awesome of practice means more excitement, which means more bodies, which means more opportunities for strategy and teamwork. Which will, unsurprisingly, lead to MORE SUCCESS ON BOUT DAY.
When practice time is the center of attention, you can focus on goals as an individual and as a team mate. You can put your energy into what is being practiced instead of worrying about making the next roster.
When your focus is practice, not bout day, you think about your daily cross training differently, and with the mind of making practice better. You know you’re going to be doing five minute jams at practice on Monday, so what can you do on your off day, Saturday, to improve your conditioning for it? Thinking about that every week builds into months and then years of cross training, almost by accident!
When you focus on practice, you get to struggle and laugh with all of your team mates in all the different situations. You get to love the sport and the nuance of the sport.
When our focus is bout day, we get caught up in the spotlight of it. We get caught up in the pressure of performance, but when we focus on practice day, we are all Superstars, and egos are left at the door because no one is watching. When our focus is practice, we work hard for two hours at a time. If we can work hard for two hours, we can definitely work hard for our piece of 60 minutes.
Practice is the proving ground for bout day.
Practice is where we get to push ourselves and learn.
Practice is where we get to high five our family and celebrate victories.
Practice is where we get to tell our friends that bad days happen, and that one bad practice will not equate to a lifetime of failure in the sport.
Practice is where we get to put our head down and do work.
If your heart doesn’t beat with excitement when prepping for training (sometimes up to 5 in a week), why are you in the sport?
Glory should come from within. Achievement should be felt when doing something awesome with your team mates. This is no longer an individual sport. No longer should we put the spotlight on those who have talent, who don’t come to practice or fundraisers or do committee work.The spotlight should be on the weekly warriors who sweat with each other and create the bonds that only practice time can.
Practice IS our sport. I feel like the leagues that recognize and promote that in their culture, have the most success over the long term.
Stop counting down to bout day. Start counting down to Monday.
For coaching and nutrition help for all athletes, or to ask questions, propose blog ideas, or just give feedback, leave me a comment, or drop me a line at DerbyAmerica@gmail.com. I’m always booking league coaching for all levels.
When talking to derby folk about nutrition I hear the same things over and over:
“I don’t know what to eat.”
“I don’t know when to eat”
“I try to eat healthy” OR “I eat terribly and I know it”
“I drink plenty of water” OR “I don’t drink water and I know it’s bad”
I’ve been doing this health coaching thing for a little while now and I can almost predict what people are going to say before they say it. It is part of why I’m so passionate about Derbalife – I want to help my friends answer questions.
Because honestly, it can be really confusing when you’re trying to figure all this out on your own! There are a billion fad diets and trends, and everyone has a different idea of how much you should eat and what you should eat. And then the SCHEDULING? WOOF. That can be rough.
So, while my method isn’t perfect by any means, and there is still some trial and error that goes along with creating plans for yourself, I wanted to share with you what I have created for myself.
1) This is my 90 day plan. As I approach the end of 90 days, I will re-evaluate, tweak, and create a new 90 day plan (that won’t look too far off of this one, probably).
2) Bout weeks will change up my schedule. I will do a deload leg day on Thursday, and will rest at least a day and a half before a bout; more than that for a more competitive game, or for a weekend competition.
3) I have eased into this schedule. I did not just decide one day to work out this much. This has been a two and a half year process. Do not just try and hop into a two a day program. Work with a sports trainer if you’re unsure of how to plan out your cross training.
4) I have nothing to do other than work, train, and play/ref/watch derby. Do not look at my schedule and think “Wow. I could never do that.” **kick stones** “I guess I just won’t do anything”. No. That is not the point here. The point is to show you how you can break down every day of your week into an intentional plan.
So the first thing I did was color coding. I broke my day into half hour bite sized increments. Then I went through and blocked out the scheduled pieces: work time, drive time, practice time is all set. I can’t change them, so they go in first. From there, I could build my cross-training schedule. After that, my extra stuff could go in.
Once I could see what my days look like, I could build my meal plan. I know that when I work at Taco Bus I can only eat meals during certain times. I also know that I get employee meals. The goal is to eat every 2-3 hours, starting with eating within 30 minutes of waking up. I walked through my day, and found times that I thought I’d be able to eat. I typed in what I thought would be good snacks and meals. I put in as many snacks and meals as I thought would hit my desired calorie count… which… originally… I thought was 2000 calories. As you can see, below, it is NOT 2000 calories.
So after I planned out Monday, then I went onto a calculator program on If It Fits Your Macros. When you walk through the calculator, I always encourage people to use the athlete formula (since it factors in your exercise amount, not just your body fat). I, personally, am on a plan to help me gain conservatively. Everyone’s goals are different, and that’s ok! I would recommend, for derby athletes that you choose either the “Recommended” for WEIGHT LOSS, the MAINTAIN, or “Cautious” for WEIGHT GAIN.
PS Macros are : Fat/Protein/Carbs/Fiber. How I got my numbers? I’m 32 years old, 5’4”, and 145#, looking to GAIN CONSERVATIVELY and working out “everyday”. I also did the formula where I eat 1g of protein per 1# of body weight, .4g of fat per 1# of body weight, and I had it calculate for 7 meals a day.
Right, so it gave me numbers listed just below this paragraph. Next I went into FatSecret.com and plugged in the day I had planned out to see what it gave me. I found out that not only was I about 600 calories short, but I was 25g of fat short! Good fats are super critical for muscle creation and is also awesome for your joints and your brain. Once I saw that, I could go back through my Monday and adjust my meals! I had them broken down in my tracking program, so I could see that a snack only had 11g of protein and I could add some jerky to it to improve that. Or that a meal was only 150 calories, so I needed to add some avocado. 😀
I want everyone to know that while I am super excited about the above schedule of cross-training … I also get a little vomity looking at it. I am not a cardio kind of girl. If you know me, or have been keeping up with this blog, than you know that I would rather deadlift every day than run. EVAR. However, too high of a focus on weight training for too long can weigh someone like me down (especially since I cameo jam now and again). So I’m moving my focus to some explosiveness. On my lift days, I’m using a modified 5×5 program, that I have preached about in the past! More about lifting and 5×5 here.
You may look at this schedule and say, “But Khaos! You said that running for long distances doesn’t do much for derby!” And it is true. It doesn’t. However, my long endurance has been slipping since I am on a team that doesn’t do endurance practices. Since I am not doing a speed practice, I am utilizing my conditioning training to help keep my long distance endurance strong, which is linked to recovery over the course of a bout. (So it may not help me from jam to jam, but over the course of a whole game, I want my large muscles to still be able to respond.)
How to build your meals?
Look at your macros, use your tracking devices to understand the compositions of your food. Whenever I eat, I make sure there is at least 10g of protein in what I’m eating. Otherwise I pick something else, or add protein to the thing I’m already eating. I also drink a gallon of water a day. I also take vitamins 3x a day. Doing those things helps to keep the metabolism running and helps your body absorb all the things you’re giving it!
Feel free to use my meals as a starting point! If you want specific help please feel free to message me at DerbyAmerica@gmail.com. I have a good bit of Herbalife in my personal plan, but I can help you figure things out for you with or without the Herbalifle. ^_^
It’s a lot. It’s confusing. It’s overwhelming. Break it down piece by piece. Map it out. Then, all you have to do it is follow it and be awesome! The nice side effect of mapping out your nutrition and fitness this way? You’ve just made a road map for your daily schedule. Watch your productivity go through the roof!! And don’t be afraid to schedule in “FUN TIME” or “TRAVEL TIME” or “READING”. Do it up! It’s your plan.
So… my blog has been super quiet for a while. Sorry about that. It hasn’t been for a lack of wanting to write, or for a lack of material. I have about three blogs either outlined, or in the works including “balancing the zebra and the lion”, “creating the plan” (how to schedule your training and why), one about how to overcome the difficulties of transferring, and one about what it means to really be a part of a team.
It’s Why has my blog been quiet? I’ve been back to the life of the “real world”. I’ve lived in three places since I’ve been here in Florida and FINALLY have settled into a little town called Gulfport, and landed me a job at a place called Taco Bus. And quite honestly, when I get home from running around slinging tacos for 6 hours, I have a hard time mustering creativity.
Also, I have been skating 4-6x a week. Monday, Wednesday, Saturday, Sunday I train with Tampa Roller Derby. Currently I’m a blocker on the Bruise Crew and the Black Widows, and I hope that one day my team mates will see enough potential in me to make me a Tampa Tantrum, and I’ll get to wear a shiny WFTDA patch on my jersey again.
Tuesdays you can find me with the Tampa Bay Men’s Roller Derby. I’m officially recognized by the MRDA as a ref (woot!), and technically am TBMRD’s head ref. This rainbows into the other things I do on the weekend. Most Saturdays you’ll find me either making calls and wearing stripes, or you’ll find me playing on Team Zebra.
When I’m not skating for Tampa, I’m usually at a fundraiser for the Bruise Crew, or a league appearance, or I’m straight up at the gym. I train 3-6x a week; 3 days of weight training, 3 days of conditioning (assuming my work schedule and traffic allows).
What else have I been up to? Well there have a few times that I started to write blogs, and then remembered that I have deadlines to attend to. I’m now writing a column for JAMMERLINE MAGAZINE out of Canada called “Below the 45th, which is focused on US derby. I also have been asked by BLOOD AND THUNDER MAGAZINE to do articles and blogs concerning off skates training. I’m also piecing my book together. I had to rewrite a BUNCH of it since my perspective on training has shifted a lot in the last year and a half.
The last piece is Derbalife. I’ve gotten settled in enough that I have started my business of health coaching back up and I’m getting back to my roots of helping people with their NUTRITION. A bunch of us coaches had gone astray and gotten distracted the last few months, but now we’re locking arms and changing the world!
There is another reason I haven’t written much. And that’s because I had gotten a bit discouraged. Over the years, it has gotten more difficult to find photographs to use in my blog. I am not a photographer. I will not pretend to be one with my iPhone. I have too much respect for the craft. But I am also super wordy. ^^^ As you may have noticed. To have blogs without photos to break up the scheme, it’s really hard to read.
I, by no means, want any photographer to feel undervalued or that their work isn’t worth purchasing. That being said, I have been hand washing my clothing for the last 4 weeks instead of going to the laundromat just to have extra money for food, gas, and bills. This blog makes zero dollars. I write because I love to write, and because sometimes people like to read it.
The whole thing had gotten really depressed and defeated honestly. I didn’t want to write because I knew I wouldn’t feel confident publishing without photos. But … now that defeat has gone away. I’m super stoked that Florida has Phantom Photographics down here documenting all of the awesome that is happening.
Florida derby is expanding SUPER quick, and the competition is getting very high amongst the teams. Phantom is one of the photographers that travels around the state and takes PHENOMENAL photos! MRDA, JRDA, WFTDA; he does it all. He does a lot of portrait work too, which I’ve always been a fan of.
For those of you from the Northeast, he’s like having a Sean Hale, Prints Charming, Sir Clicks-a-Lot, Rick Odell, or Shutterfly. And he’s super nice. So… Go visit his page because he’s awesome. I’m so happy that he’s letting me use his photos in my blogs, and I feel confident in writing again. 😀 You should buy a shirt from him too. (PS if you’re a photog and you want me to feature any of your photos, don’t be shy in letting me know!!)
If there’s a topic you want to see me cover in an upcoming blog – drop me a line at DerbyAmerica@gmail.com ! Have you gotten your ticket to RC? I’m submitting to teach classes again. I hope to see you there at the WESTGATE!! If you don’t already, follow me on Instagram at KHAOS24FIT
This is not a self-righteous rant against imbibing. If you are over 21, you are more than capable of making decisions. For competitive athletes, it is good to know everything about what you put into your body. How many of us labor over the protein content of our bread, or spend hours deciding between the benefits of certain pre-workout drinks, yet do not know the full range of side effects of drinking. There is a plethora of studies that show that alcohol is altogether bad for an athlete’s progress, so while the news should not be shocking, I feel that it’s important to explain WHY you should avoid that weekend binge.
Side note: I’m not a biochemist. I am translating here the research I have read over the course of my studies and have sited sources at the bottom.
Drinking casually is often seen as a way of relaxing; it’s a social experience. Drinking after an athletic competition, like a derby bout or scrimmage, is often associated in the brain as a reward for a job well done. Many of us in the community have trained our brains to crave the alcohol as a way to bring the body down. We arrive at our after party spot and our sense memory is activated. Suddenly, all we can think is, “And now we order a Water Gap Wheat!” Drinking is also, sadly, part of the derby ‘tradition’. What is a bout or tournament without a raucous after party? How many teams brag as much about their after party ‘wins’ as they do about their ACTUAL wins?
Most athletes are uneducated (or flat out ignore) the biology of alcohol. If more knew what was happening, more might turn down that pint the day before a competition.
Your nutrition can be the reason why your training plan is (or isn’t) working out for you. That’s great that you lift and do plyo 4x a week. However, if you are living on fast food and tequila and expect to escalate quickly to the ranks of the Gods, you need to re-evaluate. The likelihood of you raising to elite athlete levels is much lower on this nutrition plan than someone who is training as hard, but pays attention to the daily macros.
So what’s the big deal about booze?
Did you know that alcohol can effect the body even 48 hours after consumption? While it may be gone from the digestive tract, the aftermath lingers in cells and systems. It can effect rationale, balance, and dexterity.
Alcohol is metabolized differently than other foods. Unlike sugar, fat, or protein, the body has nowhere to store alcohol. It’s only option is to metabolism immediately. So let’s say you are eating food after your competition and have a few shots. The body will place priority on digesting the alcohol to move it along, instead of the food, thereby preventing the body from properly converting food into energy. When calories are not metabolized into energy, they are stored as fat for the body to ‘deal with later’.
Are you not eating anything with your drink (also is not wise, but let’s just pretend for a moment)? Unless you’re taking straight shots, your drink will have additional sugars and carbohydrates that will also not be processed into energy; this is Beer Gut City. Though to be fair, if you’re taking straight shots at the after party with no food in your system after you have competed… there may be a secondary discussion that you need to have with your coach.
Along with inhibiting metabolism, alcohol saps away Vitamin A (which is the driver of the immune system bus) and Vitamin C from the body. These vitamins are critical in many cell making processes, not the least of which is protein synthesis and new muscle cell creation. Calcium is processed from the body at twice its normal rate during intoxication. Remember, vitamins do not just live in our system. Like food and water, our body absorbs vitamins, uses them, and then needs more. Basically your body burns through calcium way quicker than normal when you are drinking. Women already have trouble absorbing this nutrient, so putting yourself at a further disadvantage is not a wise choice.
Calcium does not just “make for healthy, strong bones” [though it does, and roller derby is a contact sport so let’s not weaken our skeletal structure more]. Calcium helps blood to clot, wounds to recover, and helps to regulate in muscle contracts, like the heart beat. Wound recovery happens after every hard training session. Your muscles are not just sore from a magic chemical in your body, you are sore because you have damaged muscle tissue. You build muscle when your body repairs that damage.
The moral of this story: muscle and tissue recovery is directly effected by alcohol consumption. If your body is lacking the ability to repair itself because of a lack of calcium, you will not get stronger. Also, for as sore as you were going to be anyway? You’ll be sorer, and possibly for a longer period of time.
Dehydration! Every athlete’s least favorite word.
The kidneys and liver are key in the metabolism of alcohol. In order to assist the kidneys, the body diverts water from other parts of the body to flood these our kidneys. All athletes should understand the importance of water to their health and recovery processes: water keeps cells healthy and replicating properly. We are 70% water and even without the alcohol, most of us do not drink enough water.
The liver is what produces glycogen. When it is busy metabolizing alcohol, it cannot be producing the regular rates of glycogen. It is glycogen that the body relies on for most bodily functions.
It is the glycogen that brings energy to our muscles, but our source has been disrupted. This is the metabolism-inhibition process. To make it more fun, without the hydration and glycogen, the byproducts of lactic acid will build up in the muscles. It is that acid that causes the “burn”, and the byproducts that cause the DOMS. If you drink days before your competition, fatigue will occur far quicker. If you drink after your competition, your water intake will be diverted from your muscles to your kidneys, glycogen will not help you to continue to have energy in your muscles to make new cells, and the vitamins will not be there for the wound recovery anyway.
See how it’s all tying together?
In the realm of cognizance, most know that alcohol impairs the brain. In what way, and how quickly though? Since alcohol is so quickly absorbed into our systems (about 20% while in the stomach, the rest while in the intestines), the effects happen within five minutes of ingestion. So that “one for the road” that people do is a really bad idea, regardless of training status.
What basically happens in the neurological system is this: Neuron receptors in the brain are numbed by the metabolized alcohol, which reaches your brain as acetate (yes, acetate, the same stuff we old timers used to develop film). The alcohol slowly shuts down the cerebral cortex, the center of the brain that is in charge of functions like rational thought. In its place, the limbic system calls the shots to keep things running. This is the most primitive part of the brain. It is purely emotional. It is the reason your friends take your cell phone away from you after you begin drinking Mojitos.
Aside from placing beer goggles on you, the shut down of the cerebral cortex means that you have lost some control over your balance, reflexes, and dexterity. Do you really want to be lacking these three pieces of the puzzle the day before you play a bout?
Oh and just for funsies, here’s another great side effect. Alcohol in the blood stream causes blood pressure to go up, causing abnormal heart rates and changes. Also, the synthesis of cholesterol increases when you have alcohol in your system; so more cholesterol is finding its way to the heart than normal. Yes, more of that blood pressure stuff.
Ever drink a couple days before a practice and your cardio conditioning is shot? You feel like your head is pounding and your heart is racing the whole time? That would be from that elevated blood pressure. Plus the dehydration. Plus everything else we’ve talked about.
But wait! You say ABC News told you beer is great after a workout? It’s “more hydrating” than water? That’s what you’re going to write in the comments, right? Yes, beer has grains that would, in theory, help the carbohydrate replenishment your body needs. Yes, booze does spike your blood sugar the way sugar does (and the way your body needs to begin the processes of repair).
However, the ALCOHOL in beer will dehydrate your body, and it will inhibit testosterone secretion.
Ladies, you may think you don’t need test in your system, but you do! We all make testosterone naturally and lifting weights will increase the testosterone production. So guys that suffer from Low T? Try a few months of 5×5 stronglifts before reaching immediately for medication. Ladies that are low on sex drive? Let’s get you deadlifting!
What else does testosterone do? It not only increases the size of muscular cells, but also encourages the production of new muscle cells (Greenfield). Larger cells means an increase in power capacity. More cells means greater power and quick-twitch strength (Greenfield).
So …. what?
So consuming alcohol even semi-regularly, will have an adverse effect on training and progression. It slows muscle recovery, makes cardiovascular endurance harder to build, decreases the rate of muscle cell production from normal rates, and keeps the body from performing normal functions.
Drinking a few days before a game could change your performance the day of competition. Drinking after a workout could negate some of your progress for the day.
Will having a drink destroy everything you have worked for? Absolutely not. However, exercising true moderation and limiting your consumption will have visible results whenever you lift, run, or compete.
To help combat the effects of your favorite beverage, make sure are properly hydrated throughout the day. When in doubt, drink a gallon. That’s my motto! To keep it up with booze, drink an extra 12 oz of water to every 8 oz of liquor (or equivalent). Take vitamins throughout the day, and eat plenty of leafy green veggies.
The best combatant is to not make drinking a habit, or drink alcohol at all.
Like my EAT BIG PLAY BIG notes, this is not going to be a verbatim dissertation of what we went over, but more the bullet points of things we talked about and maybe some WHYs involved. We talked about nutrition too, but because I have my notes posted from EBPB up and running, why don’t you just check them out and get the full picture of the athletic nutrition.
WHAT I MEAN BY LIFTING WEIGHTS
Big lifts – Build all over strength and power, utilizes the full bar
Barbells – Build stabilization muscles and helps support big lifts, small movements, and quick twitch.
Free Weights – Barbells and bars; your body must do the work to keep things in place
Plate/Smith Machine – Training wheels; no real accurate measure of weight. Some plate machines are useful (like the leg extension) but usually you can pass by these.
Cable Machines – The baby of free weights and plate-loaded; there is some stabilization work done here.
Free weights and cables should be used as your supplemental workouts. Like your vitamin and protein supplements, they are the extra stuff you do to support the mainline of work. They should not be your primary form of ‘weight lifting’. Mostly because you’re not really lifting weights when you do them.
WHY SHOULD YOU WEIGHT LIFT?
The easy answer is: Because you play a contact sport.
Show me one contact sport that does not require their athletes to weight lift. If your coach tells you to do dry land drills, do you question? No. You question weight lifting because it’s different and new and super difficult. The resistance to lifting in roller derby is not because it’s not helpful or proven to advance skaters – it’s because it takes more effort to do it. And, honestly, it can be intimidating.
From the physics standpoint think of this reason why you should weight lift:
If you can only squat 130 pounds, that means you can only push that much weight (approximately) into your wheels. If you have someone who is 170 pounds hitting you, but you can only respond with 130 pounds – who is going to win?
This is a very basic, crude example, but hopefully you get the point.
Why bench press? I learned during Beat Me Halfway that if you have Magnum PIMP doing truck-and-trailer with you, your arms and core better be able to hold up to the resistance he’s giving you. If he then directs you into a full-speed Screecharound, your arms and body have to be able to deal with as much power as he’s putting into you to transfer to your skates, to transfer to Screecharound to take him all the way to the line.
(and also, I was so sore the next day)
If you can push a sled with 150 pounds on it, you can push through a link giving you 100 pounds of resistance.
WHAT IS CONDITIONING?
We talked a lot about lift days verse conditioning days.
Your lift days are just that. You’re picking up heavy weight. Your conditioning days involve cardio work, particularly HIIT. This is your tire flips, your hill runs, your wind sprints, your heavy plyometrics. If you do Crossfit, those WoDs should be your conditioning days … so the extra days. WoDs every day will not build your strength the way lift days will.
WHAT DOES THIS FEEL LIKE?
Like with derby, we have to adjust to a new feeling when we start weightlifting. If you’ve done plate machines in the past, then you are not used to what it feels like to have 180# on your back, or to pick up 200#.
It feels heavy. It feels miserable sometimes. It feels like you might hurt yourself. Just like it feels when you’re doing a new advanced skill on roller skates. Like those one foot “chomps” or one foot plows.. Picking your foot up and putting it down in front of you, with your toes turned in and your knees touching? That’s terrifying! I was sure I was going to break my leg. I didn’t. And you won’t break your shit just because it feels heavy.
It’s supposed to feel heavy. That’s the point.
DO I NEED SPECIAL GEAR?
I wear knee wraps because I can feel things shift around in my right knee when I squat and it’s weird and I don’t like it. With lighter weight, you don’t need belts, wraps, wrist grips. As you start lifting, talk to people around you about the gear they have. You’ll learn when you’ll need to get a belt, or if you want to get gloves.
Wear flat shoes or no shoes. Those weird toe shoes? They actually work really well for lifting. So do Chuck Taylors. So does nothing. Just like you wouldn’t buy Bonts for your first pair of skates, you shouldn’t go buy the special fit lifting shoes before you start lifting.
WHAT ARE THE LIFTS I SHOULD DO?
No questions asked you need to do:
Lifts that I think you should incorporate:
Sumo Deadlifts (or Sumo/Russian)
WHAT SUPPLEMENTAL LIFTS SHOULD I DO?
This one is tough. It depends on your programming. Ones that I make sure I incorporate:
Hanging Leg Raise
Bent Over Row
Lat Pull Down
WAIT – HOW DO I KNOW WHAT TO DO?
Guess what? More reading for you!! What I recommend to EVERYONE is to pick up Mark Rippietoe’s “STARTING STRENGTH”. There is an app you can download called 5x5Stronglifts that will help you through the whole process.
Here’s the idea that I can pass on to you that I started with… 5×5. So you’re doing 3 lifts each day, 5 times, 5 reps. This does not include your 5 rep warm-up. When my plan was set for me, we did one lift for the upper body, one for the back, one for the legs.
I then did 1 or 2 supplemental lists each day (unless I was crazy spent). Getting someone to help you set up a training plan around your skating schedule is awesome. I had a couple people helping me along the way. And don’t be afraid to tweak your schedule as you progress. After your first four weeks, you should be in a routine, but before that it’s ok to move things around and figure out what works best for you!
Learn form on your own through the BUFF DUDES series. They’re really a great, short series of tutorials.
HOW DO I KNOW HOW MUCH TO LIFT?
Again, having a friend that knows lifting is helpful here. If you don’t, go to your gym and find the biggest dude or lady who is both strong in the upper and lower body (or ask someone at the desk of who to ask), and humbly request help.
Think of it this way: If someone came up to you at an open skate and said, “Hey you look like you know what you’re doing. I’m trying to get into roller derby, but I don’t know how to plow stop, can you watch me real quick to help me?” You’re not going to tell them to fuck off. Lifters feel the same way about their sport. I promise they’ll be nice to you.
Step one is to find your personal record (PR), also known as your one rep max (1RM).
Do not plan on doing your 5×5 during max days. You also shouldn’t try to max out multiple workouts for the same body part. For example, don’t try to max out back squat and front squat on the same day.
To max out, do your warm up weight (people can help you figure out what that would be… for me, my deadlift warm up has ALWAYS been 135#, and my squat started at 100#, bench was 45# … these are good starting points). Do 5 reps. Your buddy can help you go up in weight. Do 3 reps. Then up in weight and do 1 rep until you can’t move it. Boom. 1RM.
Plugging these maxes into your 5×5 Stronglift app will create a nice little “oh this is what I lift today” guide for you. You can contact me if you want something more specific.
SO I JUST LIFT FOREVER NOW?
Things can change up, but yes, now you just lift. In a 5×5 program, I do like incorporating a deload week either on week 5 or 6. A deload week is when you do your lifts, but at 50% of your max. It gives your body a chance to recoup.
When I first started this program, I was going up in weight for some of my lifts each week, not up for others. The stronglift app helps you with that.
Setting goals will help keep you focused and your training tight so that way you don’t get bored.
You will plateau. You will have bad days at the bar. It happens. Just like derby. Sometimes you have enough sleep, you’re hydrated, you’ve eaten enough, and you just can’t squat the bar the way you did the week before. It’s ok. It happens. Seriously.
This can be new and can be scary. Just like derby. Don’t be put off from lifting by yourself because “You don’t want to hurt yourself”. There is just as much risk for injury in this sport as others. If you play derby, you know that you can have someone there with you, you can be in the process of being coached, and you can do one thing and still hurt yourself. Don’t fear injury for the sake of fearing injury.
You are probably not going parallel on your squats. If you have never squatted before, start with BOX SQUATS. Your new gym bro can find a good box for you. It should be low enough that when you sit on it, your legs create an angle lower than 90 degrees.
Your back is going to hurt. That’s because this will be the first time you’re fully using your back for a lift. All the time I hear “Oh man, my low back hurts! I must not be deadlifting right.” Or you’re deadlifting exactly right and you’re using muscles you never have before. Your back is going to hurt.
If your back is weak, your squats will suffer. “What?? But squats are a leg lift!” Yes, but the bar is on your back. So if you can’t support the bar, you can’t squat it. It’s possible that your squats may be lighter than what your legs can handle at first, because your back is not strong enough.
RECORD YOURSELF SO YOU CAN SELF-CRITIQUE AND GET NOTES FROM FRIENDS. It seems super narcissistic, but you can correct between sets sometimes! You can send the video to your friends from around the country and say “Hey is this parallel?” or “what am I doing wrong?”
When you’re lifting, EYES UP HIGH! Pick a spot towards the ceiling, look at it. Do not look side to side. Keep your weight on your heels, you should be able to wiggle your toes.
I think that’s about it!
Drop me a line if you want some extra help or have other questions about setting up your program. Your offseason program is going to be different than your in-season program, so I can help you with that stuff too. When in doubt, read books! 531, Beyond 531, and Starting Strength are the ones that have been recommended to me. Drop me a message at DerbyAmerica@gmail.com with questions or if you have anything you want me to address.
If you were in my “EAT BIG/PLAY BIG” class at Beat Me Halfway, you know we jumped around a little bit. This is not going to be a thorough explanation of the notes nearly as much as a bullet point list of what we covered. For more information, explanation, or to work with me on your nutrition plan, message me at DerbyAmerica@gmail.com
I will remind you that I’m not going into all the biochemistry of this. You don’t care about it anyway, you just want to know the what and the basic why. So this is like 1st grade chemistry when we are told “This is how it is!” and then in high school they say “Yea, ok BASICALLY that’s how it is, but it’s actually more like THIS.” So keep that in mind.
The 5 ‘Pillars’ of Athlete nutrition
– Calorie Count
You must eat for YOUR goals. Roller derby is a contact sport, and a high energy one. You should not be designing your food plan in order to meet society’s view of beauty. If your personal situation demands weight loss, then eat for weight loss. If you already are low body fat percentage, then don’t obsess over six pack abs, worry about your strength and progress instead.
I am going to focus on strength and athletic performance, not ‘weight loss’. Note – if you eat for sports performance and pair it with a proper training program, chances are you will lean out anyway. So it’s a win win.
Basic idea: your metabolism is your energy mechanism and how your body gets vitamins distributed around the body. So if the metabolism slows, then your body can’t burn as effectively or get the vitamins you eat around to the places it needs to get to.
We keep the metabolism running by eating. Your body is like a bonfire. If you stop feeding the fire, it dies. If you stop feeding your body, the metabolism slows to a crawl. Think of simple carbs (like bread, sugar, rice) as newspaper, leafy greens as large branches, and proteins as giant logs of oak.
If you are doing heavy lifting (which we all should be doing) you can and should eat more simple carbs than someone who is primarily doing cardio.
You’re not eating enough. I’m making this judgment call based on the fact that you were interested enough in this topic to read. But chances are: you’re not eating enough.
How much should you be eating? Step one is to find out your “RMR” (Resting Metabolic Rate). There is a big long equation that you can google or go to my favorite cheat sheet right here!
To make it easier for you, I went and did some EXTRA research to see if I could find something a little more uniform. What I found they most for athletes that participate in an intense training routine:
MEN: 23 – 30 calories per pound of body weight
WOMEN: 19 – 25 calories per pound of body weight
If you are weight lifting at least twice a week with heavy weights, you should be at the higher end of the spectrum. On your rest days, go on the lower end of the spectrum.
If you’re eating 3000 calories a day, you should be breaking down your calories into many meals and snacks, not trying to eat three 1000 calories meals each day. If you plan out six meals, that means 500 calories per meal! These can be protein shakes, full ‘classic’ meals, bars, snacks, etc.
How do you know what to eat to hit that intake? Here’s a quick cheat:
1g of Protein = 4 calories
1g of Carbs = 4 calories
1g of Fat = 9 calories
I like to give myself a range, so I’m 150# right now. That means I should be eating between 3000 and 3400 calories. (Which means even I haven’t been eating enough!) Giving yourself just a ceiling can cause you to not hit a minimum. I’d rather you say “I’m going to eat at LEAST __________” as opposed to “I can’t eat more than ________”.
THE DIRTY BULK
Here’s where it comes in. We talked about “The Dirty Bulk” – the time where you just eat whatever you want (primarily brownies and fast food) and then you get ‘huge and strong’. Guess what? It kind of works in the temporary, but not for long term results, and not for what we are focused on. If you are a strict powerlifter, a dirty bulk is appealing. You don’t have to be strict on what you’re eating, you can stuff your face, you get big, you pull big numbers.
Powerlifters don’t have to try and catch The Smacktivist on wheels occasionally. Powerlifters don’t have to be as quick as Gnat King Kill. Powerlifters don’t have to out skate Mercy.
For roller derby skaters (and any athlete that treasures their cardio health), the dirty bulk packs on fat, cholesterol, and poundage that weighs you down instead of pushing you forward. There are times you could dirty bulk (a true offseason), but you would have to counter it with a very specific, strict period of eating afterwards.
We are made of protein. If you do not give your body protein, you cannot build muscle. You cannot repair or create new cells with optimal performance. If you don’t give your body protein to burn during competition and training, your body will burn the protein it can find – your muscles.
Is your hair thin, skin flakey, nails weak? Part of your problem could be a lack of protein.
Here’s your easy equation: Athletes need to eat 1g of protein per 1 pound of body weight.
Eating more will certainly not hurt you!
Because protein is the biggest piece of your caloric puzzle, you want to calculate that first! I’m 150# … I want to eat between 150 and 175g of protein per day. So that means 600-700 calories of my day come from protein. BAM. Now I know that about 2300-2700 calories have to come from carbohydrates and good fats.
Side Note: Good Fats = mono- and poly- non-saturated fats. Nuts, avocados, beans, etc.
Ok, so something I hear all the time is “But Khaos, I don’t want to get big”. Guess what? You have to be super super dedicated for many many years to get big and bulky (especially women). You know what actually happens when you increase your calories and you start weight lifting and doing a hefty training routine? You lean the hell out. Your body takes the fat on your body and makes it into muscle.
Srsly. Your body needs fat to make muscle. It’s part of the process. So don’t worry about the “I’m going to get big”. You may gain some weight at first, but keep with it! A year from now you will look like a different person.
Not eating protein, not lifting weights because “I’m going to become a bodybuilder” is like not driving a car because “I’m going to become a Nascar driver” … it just doesn’t happen that way.
Yes, there are some studies out there that say that soy is bad. However, there are just as many studies that say that you would have to eat SO MUCH SOY to get those effects that … well… I hope you have stock investments in Silk. I can show you photos of men and women who have been consuming soy protein as part of their meal replacements and snacks (edamame!) on a daily basis for a long time and they do not have extra fat. They do not have breast cancers. Coincidence SHOULD NOT imply correlation. If you’re allergic to soy, don’t eat soy. If your doctor tells you not to eat soy because ‘it’s bad’ then … well…
DOCTORS AREN’T NUTRITIONISTS SO HE PROBABLY GOT HIS INFO FROM THE TV.
We are 70% water. If we do not give ourselves enough water, our body will not have anything to use for…
Cell creation processes, our joints, our brains, our endocrine system, our blood, to flush out extra stuff in our digestive tracks, etc etc
Have you ever gone to practice and you tell your feet to do things and there is some kind of disconnect? You can usually do the things, but you just feel like there’s a lag? Could be dehydration.
Here’s your equation for athletes:
75% x body weight = Ounces of water to drink daily
A gallon of water is 128oz of water.
If you are more than 170# this means you must drink more than a gallon of water per day. If you have never drank that much before, and are super nervous about doing so, go to the grocery store. Buy 7 gallon jugs. Label with a day of the week. That’s your water for that day.
You will hate me for the first few days. Your body won’t know what to do with the extra water you’re taking in. KEEP AT IT! The water you drink today hydrates you a few days from now. You have to keep going.
WATER DROWNING MYTH
Ok, here’s the time of the day where people send me nasty messages about ‘not needing that much water’. When it comes down to it, I don’t know the exact, precise number of ounces my body needs from day to day. It could be 87.7oz. Do I get water from the veg I eat? Sure. But guess what? It’s easier to just drink my gallon a day and be done with it than to overanalyze and hope that I got enough in that day.
To think that every person can drink eight 8oz glasses of water and be good is silly. My body needs less water than Spectral Abyrration. He’s a dude. He’s bigger than me. For us to use ANY of the same measures for nutrition is odd.
Sorry guys. Alcohol is bad for you. No matter how you try and frame it. Is there carbs in a beer that are great for recovery post bout? Yes. But there’s also ALCOHOL. And that saps your body of water and vitamins. The negative outweigh the positive. Subscribe to my blog, I’m going to be rebooting my article about this pretty soon.
Vitamins are what your body uses to create new cells. They are molecules that your body needs to initiate certain processes. Most vitamins and nutrients cannot be made by your body, your body cannot hold onto vitamins, and your body needs them throughout the day.
So moral of the story? You need vitamins all the time.
Why take a multivitamin? Mostly because we have such high vitamin needs as athletes (think of all those chemical processes going on in your body ANYWAY – then add all that training in? Your body is a madhouse of cell creation), that eating your vitamins through food sources only is damn near impossible. Considering that our food supply is much less nutrient dense than it used to be due to over-farming, picking before ripeness, and shipping long distance.
You can argue with me if you want, but seriously, it’s true. You can tell me that you “eat frozen, and buy local, and do all the things that make me wrong”, but guess what? Still not as nutrient dense. Sorry. And again, if you can take a multi and cover the gaps in your vitamins that you may not know you had: Why wouldn’t you?
I don’t know about you, but I don’t analyze myself for vitamin and nutrient intake through bloodwork daily. I’d rather just take my multi 3x a day, eat veggies, drink properly balanced meal replacement shakes, and not have to worry about it.
Yes. 3x a day. If your multi is one a day, you need to change multis.
WHAT YOU’RE EATING
So supplements are exactly that – supplements. You should build your whole foods, healthy diet and then fill in the gaps of what you’re missing with your supps. Some basics that I make sure I have?
Multivitamin, Meal Replacement shake (it’s an easy snack), my Cell Activator keeps my digestive track healthy and happy, pre-workout, post-workout, 24 Hydrate is my electrolyte supplement, and my fish oil/heart health for injury recovery (mine is flavored with vanilla so I don’t get fish burps).
Otherwise, my food involves a lot of rice, eggs, pasteurized egg whites (for protein shakes), PB2 (also for shakes), black bean pasta, all the veggies, chicken, ground turkey, wheat pasta….
I eat the same things all the time. MAKE A PLAN. Make a plan and know what you’re eating every day.
If you don’t make a plan, then you won’t know what you’re eating at 3p, which means when that time rolls around and you’re hungry – you’ll grab whatever you can. If you know on Sunday that at 3p Wednesday you are eating a protein bar, you better believe you’ll have that protein bar in your desk at work.
Also, this allows you to meal prep! Take a couple hours at the beginning of the week to pre-make and pre-portion all of your meals… or at least everything that you need to take with you.
You know what else this does? It gives you a very specific grocery list. Now you will be saving money because you’re not grabbing everything that sounds kind of appealing. You will buy what it is on your list.
Get with me to talk about pre- and post-workout shakes, but in the meantime… what I like to do is eat a meal about 2 hours before training, and then something small right before I train. After, I get 24g of protein RIGHT AWAY (you have a 45 minute “window of opportunity”) and then eat a meal within 2 hours.
Here’s the point where I start making friends. We talked about GMOs during the clinic. First of all, only about 3 people knew what the O in GMO stands for: “Genetically Modified Organism”.
Here’s what’s up people: We are not pulling a Jurassic Park on our food sources. We have been selectively choosing strains of fruits and veg to replant since the start of farming. Are there some foods that have been tweaked in a lab? Yes. But guess what… natural selection and our own farming practices have made EVERY FOOD SOURCE genetically modified.
I have two apples. One apple is SUPER JUICY but is kind of small and not perfectly red. The other apple has that perfect apple shape, and is much larger, but doesn’t taste as good. Guess what? The larger, perfect apple sells better! WOOT! MONEY! We’re going to replant the apple that people BUY.
The small apple does not get another growing season. The large apple does. BOOM. GMO.
This is the other place I make friends.
Organic is just a label that farms buy. There are a lot of things about “organic” that you may not think about … like the fact that arsenic is on the approved list (it’s natural!), or that runoff from the farm next door is common. So just because your big farm doesn’t spray that specific pesticide on your green pepper, doesn’t mean that the neighbors don’t use that pesticide on their apples… which wash off in rain. And get on your peppers through water transfer.
Also, just because it says organic, it doesn’t make it healthy. A lot of big farms have hopped on the “organic” bandwagon because they charge a lot more for [essentially] the same veg.
Want to know what you’re buying? BUY LOCAL! Go to farmers markets, become a part of a CSA. Research other labels, like “Food Alliance Certified”. Talk to the people growing your food. Or [gasp] start growing some of your own. Not all of us have the space for it, but there’s something rad about never-ending kale and tomatoes from your backyard.
Ok! So that’s the gist of things. I can help you create a specific plan based on ALL the things. I personally use Derbalife products, but that’s me. If you wanted to hop on Skype and talk about YOUR training plan, and YOUR nutrition, than let’s do it!! Drop me a line at DerbyAmerica@gmail.com or send me a message on Skype at KMGrey.
There is a little bit of trial and error involved in nutrition. Even the days when you’re “bad” you’re probably not doing THAT bad. I also incorporate nutrition in my in person coaching, so if your derby/football/soccer/softball/any other sport team is looking for classes, training, nutrition – let’s get it set up!! Let’s do it!!
On January 29, 2012 I published this article. It’s funny that the argument is still going. Not only the old school versus new school skaters but the idea that the rules of new school are broken. The argument that if it “ain’t fast it ain’t derby”. Yes the Puget Sound v Your Mom game was an awesome one at MRDA Champs last weekend. However, the more staccato, stronger-yet-sometimes-slow Southern Discomfort against Bridgetown Menace was no less exciting. Anything italicized, ps, is different from the original article, I didn’t want to re-write this. It was popular for a reason the first time around. The photos have also been updated.
So with that I bring you my next reboot:
Old School vs. New School. Strategy vs. Smash ‘n’ Grab. Jammer Line vs. Pivot Line. Booty Block vs. Big Hits. Rules vs. Free Form. Beer & Camaraderie vs. Cross Training & Team Commitment. Sharp, Strong, Stops vs. Fast, Fluid, Sweeping.
These are the dichotomies that have bubbled to the surface of the sub-culture of derby. A generation gap has arisen between the vets of “the good ol’ days” and the skaters of the modern culture.
Since the new revolution of roller derby started (back in 2001), the landscape of the sport has shifted considerably. When it was first gaining momentum, skaters and leagues were looking to the tradition of 1970’s over-the-top antics for inspiration. They had to learn how to play the sport from the only people that had played the sport.
The result was a show of big hits, cages as penalty boxes, personas and spectacle. Game play was spotty during the early years. Leagues were figuring out through trial and error what worked, what did not; what was dangerous and what was just fun. The game was unrefined. Those who were drawn to roller derby wanted to together with friends, to hit things and drink beer. It was not about refining strategy and being at your healthiest. The ultimate goal of roller derby was to have fun, skate really fast and hard, and maybe, be a little bit of show.
When leagues started (the boom of flat track roller derby really started at the end of 2005), girls who are now legendary did not know how to skate. Everyone was new. Other than the speed, jam or artistic skaters that joined the ranks, few girls were adept at the art and skill of roller skating. Forget putting a sport on top of that! This is what made the game unrefined for a while. Everyone was still learning their balance and stability on eight wheels, so being agile and clean on a grand scale was near impossible.
Times, they are a-changing.
It is common now for leagues to have skaters with six years of experience on wheels. From just that one element, the game has changed. Girls who are now coming into the game must train more seriously in order to compete with the vets who have simply been wheels for years. At a boot camp by the Gotham Girls, Suzy Hotrod stated to skaters: “Yea I can do a lot [on skates]. I’ve been doing it for seven years. If you put up with this sport for that long, you’ll be just as good.”
Most skaters do not want to wait seven years, and they realize that if they cross-train, improve their diet and treat their body like a professional athlete, they will accelerate exponentially. There has been a health revolution! More leagues are partnering with gyms and personal trainers. More skaters are paying attention to their nutrition and workout routine off the track, because they realize it will have a direct impact on their performance during game play.
Support groups and workout routines focused on derby have emerged. The Roller Derby Workout Challenge ran for three years. The Derbalife Big 5 Challenge has operated several times; both are challenges designed to teach and motivate. Derbalife is skater-centered nutrition that includes skater-to-skater coaching. Learn about Derbalife.
Winning is fun, and the way to win in 2012 (and even more now in 2014!!) is to be strong of body and of mind.
Speaking of ‘mind’, game play and strategy have changed dramatically in the last three years (five years!). Since the inception of W.F.T.D.A., skaters and refs have taken note about what works on the track and what are health hazards. While the rule set that has evolved over the years can be confusing to the untrained reader, it is so because it has developed organically. If an established rule continually gets challenged, interpreted differently at different bouts, or has shown itself to not protect the skaters, it has been changed. One of the best features of the W.F.T.D.A. set up: voting member leagues have been able to shape the sport itself over the years. Modern Note: And for the M.R.D.A. the ability to look through the rules and make any further clarifications or adjustments as their organization feels is needed.
Now, we get to the crux of it. Because skaters have shaped the sport over the years, skaters have been able to control how they want the game to be played. The best leagues are able to look at the rules and understand the implicit meaning behind the rules. Most leagues look at a rule set and understand what it says. The winning leagues are the ones that understand what the rules DO NOT say. From what the rules do not say, a league can exploit the loopholes and skate circles around leagues that do not understand the implicit meanings.
So, this causes a bigger need to pay attention to detail. In order to compete, every league must understand the new loopholes and strategies being used by the leagues around them. It means watching bout reels. It means watching other bouts. It means extra strategy sessions. It means extra hard training at practice. Those skaters who do more outside of practice to understand the game and new skills and tactics will be the ones most successful in scrimmage, and therefore in bouts.
Five years ago, girls could walk into a league and party. They could practice twice a week, play dirty and laugh about it later because they would still make the all star team. They would still win games. They would still be super stars. No more is it the case. Drinking teams with a derby problem do not exist in the modern world of roller derby: it is an ‘adapt or die’ sport.
Skaters who do not care about their craft simply do not skate on high level all star teams, and even the smallest leagues are becoming highly competitive. Leagues that do not care about their strategy do not win. When you do not win, you do not have fans. You lose skaters to more serious leagues, your sponsors drop off. You perish.
So are “the good ol’ days” of derby gone? Maybe, but the motto of “Skate hard, turn left” endures. There are still bruises to show off, rink rash to brag about and beers to buy after a hard fought bout. Rivalries still happen, and what happens on the track still stays on the track.
The game may feel different than it did in 2006, and the training may be far more intense, but it does not make any of it less awesome. Whether beers and brawlin’ or hydration and smarts, roller derby is a uniquely intense sport. The vets should be proud of the foundation and history they created. The current generation should be just as proud of how they have cultivated their craft and shaped modern roller derby.
How the hell do you run practices when your league has practicing membership from Level CobraSnake to Level NewbornFoal? THIS is the biggest question asked across the world by coaching committees in roller derby right now. How can we keep our vet skaters challenged and satisfied with the training process [so they don’t transfer out] while bringing new skaters up [quickly] to a level to be able to play with those vets?
I had such a huge response to the blog I posted two days ago, about League Rebuilding that I wanted to make sure that my blog about training the leagues that are rebuilding went up quick!
There are fundamental corners to The House that Derby Built: Skills, Teamwork, Strategy, and Health. Without one of the corners, the house will not fall, but it will lean a little funny. Without two of the corners, you don’t have much of a house.
TESTING THE FOUNDATION
First you need to understand where your league is at with each of these fundamental pillars. The first step is to take an honest look at where each skater is individually and as a league. For Skills and Health you can actually do measurable tests to help you with your mapping process.
Set up a practice to set benchmarks and test skills, and I would recommend asking coaches from nearby leagues to come in and help with the ranking process, since the will be more impartial in the process. Create a list of skills (crossovers, one foot glides, lateral motion, hip checks while moving, jumping, counter blocking, 180 toe stops, blocking to the line, etc) and have them ratable 1-10. Move your way through drills, as you would when doing a certification, but make sure you have more advanced skills on the list than a strict certification process.
For Health, you simply create a list of ‘events’ like a football combine. You can test squat strength, bench strength, 100 yard dash, 400 yard dash easily. You can create short ‘obstacle courses’ and time each player through it while rating their cuts, bursts of speed, jumping, and footwork. You can do one foot balance, long jumps, pull-ups, or anything else you think would be applicable to strength and endurance needed for derby.
Once you have your 1-10 data points you can put them into a spreadsheet and simply create a point chart! Boom. You now know where people are. This is not to make anyone feel bad. This is simply a way to benchmark individuals so that the training staff can develop upcoming practices and make recommendations about cross-training. This information is also a great starting point for goal setting! Part of setting goals is that they have to be MEASURABLE. With benchmarks in hand, captains can meet with skaters to create a real list of SMART goals for the skater to focus on in upcoming months.
To benchmark Teamwork and Strategy is harder. Teamwork, though very easy to see the presence (or lack of) teamwork, it is not easy to quantify. You may want to ask those coaches to come and observe your team in a scrimmage against another league to rate overall Teamwork and Strategy. When you map, you will not be mapping for your team, but you will be mapping for groups of skaters, or the team as a whole.
Things to rate from 1-10 in Teamwork could be: Proximity of skaters, holding lanes, communication, mobility of walls, awareness, recycling, and protecting edges.
Things to rate in strategy could be: Offense, O to D/D to O switch speed, Bridging, Jam line start, power jam defense, preventing recycling. Watch some bouts and make notes of how to describe strategy and teamwork and create your list to test (use the words and ideas that I listed as your example).
CREATING THE PLAN
After you map the data, you can analyze it with your training staff. You’ll be able to see weaknesses very easily. Data doesn’t lie. Create the charts however your brain can deal with the data. After playing around a bit, I decided that I like the bar graph, since I can see distinct lines across. I just made up a mock chart for an example (I picked derby names at random, I didn’t actually rate people on things).
From looking at the chart, you can see that some people have strengths, and some have extreme weaknesses. You do not want to use those as your focus. You want to teach to the median weaknesses. Note: This does not mean ignore the strengths, it just means you now know where to focus more of your training energy. Looking at this chart, I immediately notice that NO ONE has even a 7 on narrow plows. Next thing I see is that while we have a few people strong at left foot plows, the rest are not, and no one is strong at right foot plows.
If you have a team that is primarily new skaters, and you are noticing that in the corners of your house, the median score is 1-5 in most areas, than grade on the curve. So you can’t look at the data and go, “Oh man, there are only a couple 7s. WE MUST FOCUS ON EVERYTHING.” Right, ok, so, bring the top grade to 7 and look at the skills from there. If 7 is the top and you’re noticing some skills have more 4/5s and others have more 2/3s, focus on the 2/3s.
You do this with all four of your pillars. Identify your team’s overall weaknesses.
“But we have too many new skaters to do this!” No. No such thing. If your skaters can’t complete skills they get a 1 on the scale. That’s it. Everyone can run, lift, jump on sneakers.
“But we don’t have any place to do the off skates benchmarks!” Really? You know that? I just suggested it and you’re already coming up with an excuse to not do it? Have you called the gyms in your area and asked about it? Tell them what you want to do. Offer them advertisement in exchange for use of their gym to do benchmarks. They can be the “Official Combine Location of the Blankety Blank Roller Vixens”. Local, privately owned gyms or franchises are the best place to start. You may want to approach CrossFit gyms about it, because they’ll usually have sprinting space too, and some of those coaches have experience in combines.
“But we already spend so much time at derby, we don’t have the time for this! We know how our skaters are, can’t we just use what we know?” Cancel practice for a week and do this. If you want to improve and you’re serious about focusing your training program, you need to know what you’re working with and you need to have an OBJECTIVE view of where you are starting. Without data, provided with the help of people who don’t know you from Adam, all you are doing is continuing old habits. Your current training is based on what you think you know about your skaters. Chances are your advanced skaters are not advanced. Chances are your fresh meat have skills you didn’t realize.
“But we’re not Gotham or Bay Area. We don’t need to train like a D1 WFTDA team.” Well I will respond with a Vince Lombardi quote:
“If it doesn’t matter who wins or loses, then why do they keep score?” You don’t have to be a D1 team to want to be successful or to train to be successful.
What it comes down to is that this is new, and new is scary. What it also comes down to is exposure. Exposure is scary. Skaters (especially self-proclaimed ‘vets’ and those who like to pop into practice when convenient) do not like being told that they need to improve at something, or that the ‘lowly fresh meat’ is actually better than them at a skill. This is not about belittlement. This is about recognition and understanding. Without it, you cannot move forward.
DON’T FEAR TO START AT THE START
If you have to grade on the curve, and you have noticed that you have that moment of “We have to work on everything”, then step one is take it back to the beginning. Begin training the TRUE fundamentals for individuals and teamwork: The mechanics of roller skating & speed skating New derby position (tailbone tucked, feet shoulder width)
Toe stop & duck runs
Holding a lane
Skating without using your arms or looking at the floor
Skating in a pack
Pace lines & Speed control
Lateral motion/Laterals using edges & leading with your knees Carves (short and long)
Narrow & One foot Plows
Stopping with edges
Making a wall
Moving as a wall
Anatomy of hitting Sticky blocking
Transitions both directions
Communication & awareness while in motion
This is the start. These are the building blocks. You cannot do a box drill if skaters don’t know how to control their speed and skate close to other people. You cannot do a weaving pace line if your team doesn’t know how to do a basic pace line. This is your first check list. And honestly? I probably missed things. (I have walked away from this list and come back to it several times.)
“But my vets will be bored!” No, they won’t be. In any drill that involves team play, the vets should be focused on helping their team mates cover lanes, maintain position, and work on speed change. The vets need to be the coaches through the drills with the new skaters. For any individual skill, the vets need to be focused on cleaning up their own abilities. Encourage the vets to work on precision, quickness, reaction, depth of skill, and visualizing they’re in a game situation.
Your vets can plow? They should work on plowing narrower, sharper, stopping quicker, keeping their hips more square, their back stronger, and their head up and looking around while doing it. Your vets ‘know how to roller skate’? Encourage them to make their stride deeper, lengthen their pushes, and focus on breathe work and mental tricks as they go around the track that they can access during game play to calm themselves.
***THERE IS NO PERFECTION IN ROLLER DERBY***
Every skater needs to review and practice these fundamentals. These building blocks are not things to check off a list and never visit again. I recommend revisiting these fundamentals often, even after every skater on your crew can rank at an 8+ with them.
NOTE: Every skater is responsible for their own progress and should be empowered by their team and coaching to take responsibility for practicing fundamentals on their own time as well as whatever happens in practice. Just like with the health section at the end of the blog, it is not the coach’s responsibility to mother each skater to make sure they are keeping sharp on their skills on their own time.
DO NOT COACH DOWN
Just because you are working on fundamentals, it does not mean that you need to treat your skaters like 5 year olds, or offer them drills that do not challenge them. Create drills that push your new skaters. Do not assume that because they are fresh, that means they are incapable. Keep your pace lines challenging. Do not skip a drill that works on something that needs to be addressed because someone thinks the fresh meat won’t be able to do it.
You do not get better unless there is a challenge. Making drills JUST above the median level or intensity will push your largest faction of skaters. Dotting in more advanced drills or more basic drills, will keep everyone confident and working hard.
Let’s say you are working on edgework! You can start with carving long and slow and then short and sharp. Time these for about three minutes, with all skaters moving around the track.
Next, put dummy blockers around the track, facing proper derby direction, near the inside and outside lines. Have them stand NEAR the line, but with some space. Have your skaters carve between the blockers and the line, showing their back to the blocker as they go through (they’ll have to twist their body). After everyone has done it for a few laps, have the dummies take an extra step away from the line, and have skaters get by them by bursting past with a 3 step duck run (which utilizes edges).
Then put obstacles in the track – one in the middle of each straightaway, one at either end (trashcans or chairs work great). Have skaters rolling and approaching the object, then bursting around the object with the 3 step duck run. They can challenge themselves to get as close to the object (without touching it) as they can before they burst around it.
After this, bring the practice back down by practicing lateral motion, leading with the knees, from line to line across the track. You have started with something very basic, upped the intensity a few times, and then brought it back down to a lower intensity, more precision-based drill.
So the moral of the story is – don’t think that your new skaters can’t do it just because it’s harder. You can always offer ways to adjust a drill harder and softer to accommodate for all skaters.
MIXING LEVELS IN PACKS
“Do we have levels mix together in drills?” Yes and no. I will define who skaters should get with as we progress through a coaching plan. This is something that the coaches need to decide. I will say “vets with tots” or “Get with someone of your skill level” or “find someone on your home team” to define who I want them to work with.
You may want to rotate skater partners too, so that way the newer skaters get the advantage of in-drill coaching. Don’t be afraid to spend a longer amount of time on drills and skills. You do not have to rush through practicing; it’s through repetition, repetition that our bodies learn. It takes 5000 SUCCESSFUL repetitions to establish muscle memory. Let them practice in mixed levels, then switch them to equal levels to allow themselves to push and challenge each other.
LESS IS MORE
Less talking, less complication, less spending of energy: in roller derby, less is more.
Do not spend 30 minutes talking about a drill. Do not spend 30 minutes arguing about a better way to do the drill. Do not allow other skaters to try to bully the coach into doing the drill a different way. Explain the drill, demonstrate, try it, observe it, correct misconceptions, do it again, observe it, tell everyone what you’re noticing, do it again, bring everyone to the center, talk about what you observed, take quick questions, move on.
Do not think that you have to bring drills to practice that have 15 steps. Simplification is critical. One piece at a time, and build your blocks. Practice your one foot plows/chomps. Then practice stopping in a two wall. Then practice stopping in a three wall. The practice stopping a jammer in the three wall. Then practice stopping a jammer in the three wall, and having the wall step in front of the person blocking. Build.
Do not think you have to be good at every strategy. Vince Lombardi is one of the most decorated NFL coaches of all time not because his Green Bay Packers could do ALL the plays. It was because they did a handful of plays SO WELL that no one could defeat them. By keeping things more concise, you will give your skater tots less to learn (less overwhelming), meaning they’ll be able to advance quicker and get to the level of working with the vets and having everyone be successful.
Teamwork, communication, being on the same page, and focus. Less is more.
3 FAVORITE PRACTICE THINGS FOR ALL LEVELS
Boxes: Everyone is in a tight box, on the whistle the box completes an action. You can either pick actions before the drill starts, or coach can shout the action before the whistle. Actions can be: rotate right, rotate left, inside line, outside line, hop, front to back, back to front, make a wall, make a line, make a box, speed up, slow down, 180 stop, etc etc etc. Start basic. Work up from there.
Double Pace Lines: Especially if your league needs some long endurance work, double pace lines can be beneficial to teach speed control, footwork, skating proximity, and awareness. You can have individuals weave, teams weave and lead, teams race, individuals block, teams weave and hit between the pace line, and more.
Games: Soccer (use an empty water jug instead of a ball), dodgeball, tag, and more! Get your team distracted from what they are doing by making them do something that isn’t roller derby. It’s amazing how the footwork, stops, awareness, avoidance, cuts, spins, toe stops, and communication improve after just one session. Plus – it’s really really fun!
So that “health” corner of the house? Here’s the tough thing: You cannot make people do anything outside of practice time. If a skater wants to live on McDonalds and potato chips and watch 5 hours of television on their non-practice nights, that is their prerogative. Doing the benchmark combine may be the shock some people need to start developing some outside healthy habits, but you cannot count on that (You would think being winded after a lap and dreading the 27 in 5 would be enough motivation, but not everyone motivates the same).
YOU CANNOT WANT IT FOR THEM.
You can give all the Braveheart speeches you want, but each person makes their own decision of what to do with their body. If you are a decided rec team, what you can do is make recommendations as a training committee of how people can train for roller derby outside of practice. If this blog hasn’t tired you out completely, check out my SHIFTING PERSPECTIVE blog about training for our sport.
Some leagues I have come in contact with have an ‘extra practice’ that they must complete each week on their own – it’s a set of workouts that they can do at home or in a gym. More serious leagues (or leagues that want to become more serious) are requiring their all-stars to have gym memberships (these leagues usually also have some kind of agreement with their local gym for discounted rates). In the future, some may require a level of baseline fitness in order to qualify for all-star rosters.
Every league is different. Do not be afraid to adopt these health requirements for your league, simply because it is unprecedented in your area. Do not be afraid to not adopt such policies because you do not believe it would be right for your league. Either way, it’s a discussion that the league as a whole may want to have.
My first league was not a D1 level of play, but it was understood that we did NOT drink alcohol the week of a bout.
Nutrition is as critical a part of fitness as the weight lifting, yoga, land drills, sprints, etc. As a Derbalife coach, I spend a lot of time simply teaching skaters what is and is not good fuel for the body. Creating a voluntary fitness challenge with rewards within your league could be a great way to get your skaters to do something good for them (and their skating) without the league instating rules and policies. It can be something people ELECT to do.
I guarantee the people who lift weights and do extra conditioning work outside of practice will, in the long run, excel past those who do not.
PROTEIN! HYDRATION! VITAMINS! EATING BEFORE PRACTICE! EATING PROTEIN AFTER PRACTICE! CUTTING DOWN ON SUGAR! These are things that can play a huge role in a skater’s success on the track.
Wow you’re still here? Well done!! I hope I have addressed your questions, concerns, and issues at least a little bit. This is a difficult problem for a league to have.
If your league is looking for bodies all the time, then you will continually have to rotate in fresh skaters into your tots. It’s imperative that you develop a new skater check list for each player to practice and complete and be tested on before they make their way onto the track with the vets. This way you can be sure that each player that is introduced to your team have spent time building up each corner of their house before they mix it up with more advanced skaters.
Remember that you are not the only league going through this training process. Pick goals, plan out your trainings a few weeks at a time, keep communication open, and evaluate and adjust after each chunk of training plans.
Skate hard, skate fast, be excellent to each other and do it for THE LOVE OF DERBY!!
Like me, Merry Khaos, on Facebook! Like DNA Coaching on Facebook! Want me to come out to your league to help with this stuff? Need nutrition and fitness help for you or your league? Drop me a line at DerbyAmerica@gmail.com and let’s chat about Derbalife.
It has given us the power to stay behind a keyboard and throw hurtful words and opinions without the repercussion of seeing the emotion of the receiving end. Then we have our mainstream media, who like to shove images down our throats of ‘perfection’.
Ok, so let’s think this through. Mainstream media wants us all to be thin and encourages a culture of FAT SHAMING – if someone is overweight then they are looked on differently than others and even the media eye captures them differently. Think of the plot points of “The Truth About Cats and Dogs” or “Drop Dead Diva”. The ‘unattractive’ character was slightly heavier than her counterpoint. (That being said, media seems to equate weight with intelligence – especially based on these two examples so I guess it’s not possible to be thin and smart).
Right, so Fat Shaming on social media has been huge over the years; especially when it comes to the faceless, uneducated masses taking on celebrities or athletes that are not their vision of ideal. Need examples? Go search #FatShamingWeek to see a hodgepodge of the satire and serious.
Recently I have noticed a shift.
We are so over-reactionary now about someone who might possibly be “fat shaming” someone else, that social media has taken another ugly turn into FIT SHAMING.
What is Fit Shaming?
Ever had a friend make a declaration of positive change on Facebook only to be met with their ‘friends’ telling them they’re doing things wrong, they look fine, or not to worry about what the scale says? This is the surface.
Remember this controversy?
The internet went ablaze at this physically fit woman who was making a point. The blasted her for fat shaming, and, in turn, they were FIT shaming. “How dare you exercise when you have three kids?” But that was her point – anyone can find an excuse to not be fit and healthy. She did not find excuses and, despite having three children, here she is: trim, healthy and able to fully enjoy the lives of her sons.
Since I’m on a roll of past media explosions of fit shaming, let’s go with this one:
Watch out. Here is another irresponsible woman who is lifting weights. (Oh and she happens to be pregnant.) “Crossfit Mom” stirred the waters of Fit Shaming when photos of her clean and jerk started circulating the amongst the trolls of the internet. Though she stated that she was cleared by her doctor for exercise, and her weights were low, the fit shamers needed to let her know that she was a horrible person. Let’s also remember that she had been on a Crossfit routine for a long time before her pregnancy. She didn’t take up lifting when she found herself 7months pregnant.
Alright, now let’s move into some personal experiences I’ve had.
Everyone knows that I’m an Herbalife Health Coach. I have a lot of friends that utilize healthy eating programs like I do, in combination with exercise. Do things go astray sometimes? Yes. Do we have to recommit once in a while? Yes.
In the past 2 days I have seen 3 separate instances of good friends of mine (some on Herbalife, some not) being shamed about their decision to become healthier.
I understand that the friends who were commenting thought they were coming from a good place. When looking deeper at some of the comments, I realized there was a lot of projection going on.
“Don’t do that. It’s a diet. It’s a fad. You’re just going to fail.”
“I used to be an athlete and I know you’re doing it wrong.”
“You look fine. Just keep doing what you’re doing.”
“Herbalife is a hoax, you’re going to get fat.”
“You work out a lot. You don’t need to change your eating.”
Right, so those comments are just abridged versions of what I have gotten from a handful of social media sites from my friends’ pages. I also had a friend from Philly post a status about the negativity she’s been feeling ever since she rebooted her program. Not cool. I have been on my journey for over 10 years now. I have endured a lot of hurt and anger over what people have said to me. Here’s a sampling:
“You workout too much.”
“You’re obviously anorexic.”
“Stop exercising. You’re going to hurt yourself.”
“It’s weird that you take that many vitamins”
“You’re being selfish.”
[on a picture of a healthy meal] “Gross. Can’t you put chocolate on that to make it taste good?”
“Muscles are ugly”
“No one will marry you if you lift weights, they’ll all think you’re scary.” (This is why I have my #StrongIsSexy tag)
“You’re stupid for drinking so much water. You don’t need that much.”
“You’re stupid for eating so much protein.”
“You’re getting dyke-ey.”
“You should be working, not working out.”
“You make me feel lazy.”
“You’re too intimidating.”
I’ve also been tagged in many photos of unhealthy habits where the other party seems to be BRAGGING about the unhealthy meal. And when I have put up messages about joining my healthy journey, I have gotten remarks about “Can I do it and eat Oreos?” and other comments along those lines.
Should I keep going? It’s hard to go back through the memory banks and pull these out. I end up commenting on threads and conversations that I should probably stay out of because I don’t want any of my friends to hear these words from people they love and respect. No one should be told that their healthy choice is bad. No one should feel like wanting more energy and life is an insult to others.
Again, sometimes it is meant to come from a place of caring and support, but our phrasing is wrong. I know that I have a very bad reaction whenever someone tells me about the great juice diet they’re about to do for 45 days. No one is perfect, but we need to have an awareness of our words and feelings.
These negative comments come from a place of self-doubt, lack of self-confidence, inability to look at oneself to make healthy changes, or even from a simple misunderstanding of what a healthy lifestyle looks like. Those around us will look at what we are doing and see what they are NOT doing, become defensive, and sometimes go on the attack. The projection ends up on our social media and in passive aggressive conversation in day to day life. It happens all the time, and we are ok with it. Fat shaming is not acceptable, but FIT shaming happens just as often, we just haven’t put the spotlight on it yet.
**Disclaimer: If you have a friend that seriously is not eating, has dropped an unhealthy amount of weight in a short period of time, or has a tendency to go from 0 to 120 mph on things, it’s ok to express your concern. Before you approach them with: “You’re doing this wrong”, ask them questions about what they’re doing and why. I guarantee that every human will be less defensive about your feelings if you come to them from a place of understanding, instead of a place of attacking.
So the next time your friend posts that they’re going to CrossFit for the first time, or that they are starting a running routine, or that they have a goal to lose 20 pounds – encourage them. Support them in public. Ask questions about what they’re doing and what made them go for it. If you’re already healthy, help them along the way. If you are not in a super healthy lifestyle, and you feel indignant, incredulous or any other negativity towards the idea of what your friend is doing, that’s fine. You’re allowed to have those feels. That is your choice, but do not spread the negativity and resentment onto the rest of us simply because your choice is not our choice.
For those of us in this world that are combating the negativity of loved ones on an already difficult journey, keep pushing forward. Life will continue to hit you with obstacles. You are stronger. When you are past all of it and can look back on the journey, you’ll be very glad you did not listen to the naysayers.