No, derby isn’t perfect, but …

I am seven years deep into the sport of roller derby. I have transferred three times, taken one extended LOA. Sometimes, because my league and I were not the right fit for each other and things were turning toxic. Sometimes it was purely for geographic reasons. Regardless, I am here. I am in love with the sport so much that I play, coach, ref, and announce (oh and I write).

I dedicate most of my life to the sport in some way. Sometimes it’s to work on the social media of my sponsors, or to piece together marketing for my league, or writing up drills for a friend who messaged me. Sometimes I write blogs, or go to the gym for an extra hour, or watch some archived footage to relax. I travel with my love (whom I found through roller derby) to go to tournaments all over the country (and hopefully, one day, the world).

Yes it is a lot. It is stressful, and it is tiring. And no, derby is not perfect.

We are a young sport with a young ruleset, and we are finding ourselves in a time when people are finding their voices. Our sport is molded by the climate of the time, and we have allowed ourselves to be on the forefront of acceptance of different races, religions, identities, and orientations. But derby is not perfect. Within our ideals lay the individual micro aggressions seen at social gatherings, at practice, during tournaments, on text messages.

Every year we lessen how much we gloss over bullies and sexual harassment. We call for action against those who threaten our safety and peace of mind. We change the way we think about people. But no, derby is not perfect.

We have bullies. We have league cultures that allow Mean Girl mentalities, or frat boy egos. There have been leagues that would rather ‘lose coaches, not talent’, or not punish a skater who spits in someone’s face (while wearing a WFTDA patch).

There are also schools that experience this. And bowling leagues. And movie companies. And bands. And crochet groups.

Does that make it right? No. Does it make us special? Certainly not.

Social interaction comes with a wide range of implicit dangers, and the wide variety of personalities of roller derby ignites sparks. I wish I could tell you that roller derby, or soccer, or rock climbing, or theatre, or choir would be a stress free, drama free adventure for you. I cannot. Where there are people, there is conflict. It’s our responsibility as an organization to call out the shitty people and hold them accountable. And I see it happening more often (not in the online “forums” but in real life when things can actually be effected). So yes, there is a lot of bad stuff that happens in our sport.

You know what else derby has though?

Love.

I have gotten groceries from league mates when I was out of work. I have had laughter and socialization on nights where I just needed to get away from my sadness. I lost my place to stay in the Netherlands a handful of days before arriving,  Parliament of Pain found me lodging (when I sprained my MCL a couple days later, that league member took care of me). Members of Duke City came and found me when I was stranded in Albuquerque and got me on my way (Bugs was correct, shoulda made that left). Roller derby got me to go back to school. I saw so many strong people changing their lives, that I was inspired to go back.

We dog sit, trade skillsets, swap recipes, attend graduations of team mate’s kids, and more. If it weren’t for derby, I would not be strong and healthy. I would not have the greatest friends and love that I have right now. Derby has provided the greatest highs (and lows) for me in my life, and I know I am not alone. “To light a flame is to cast a shadow.”

I am strong because of derby. I am resilient because of derby. I own my space because of derby. Some is a result of bullies. Some is a result of training like a D1 athlete.

I know people that have ditched abusive relationships, healed from past wrongs, and forgiven themselves past mistakes because of the sport. I know people that have changed their lives, because derby changed their outlook.

We can challenge ourselves. When we skate, we don’t have to conform to the expectations of society. When you find that player, or that pack, or that crew, or that co-announcer that you click with – it is a spark of joy. Hurdles are jumped. Achievements scored. Triumph embraced.

Is there frustration? Physical limitation? Of course. (But just for now) Just for as long as you allow your mind to hold you to it. If you work and try, you can change that. Will it guarantee a roster spot? No. Will I promise you that you’ll make your all-star team? Sorry. Again… this is every club team you’ll ever be on. Is it frustrating? Hell yes! No one likes being benched.  Sometimes bench coaches are blinded by the job and pieces of paper in front of them. Sometimes they forget about you. Sometimes, it doesn’t matter what happens – you’re not going to play.

(That said, are you coming to practice so you can play in the game or are you coming to practice because you love playing the sport? Why we play)

To the bullies in the crowd: you can shift your attitude and actions too. You can turn your hate into love. You can apologize for the toxicity. You can sit down and talk to people like adults. You can be a leader by recognizing what a detriment you’ve been. If it’s cool in your league to bully certain people, be a rebel: be nice anyway.

There is always going to be someone better than you in this sport, Bullies, so be humble. You don’t know when you’ll be the one with the torn PCL or broken collarbone. Embrace the love of the sport. Encourage, don’t discourage. Let’s squash out the mean, the micro aggressions, the phobias, the anger, the hate.

Too many recall easily the bad, but forget the good. Let’s link arms and call out bad behavior. Let’s share stories of love. Let’s not tolerate threats or harassment. Not everyone can simply transfer when they are in a negative team environment, so all of us must be vigilant. And if a team culture simply is not going to change or align with you, it may be time to do that transfer and skate where you love. Let’s recognize that we need to still fix things in the sport, but it’s not one big dumpster fire … like it can be online.

Because the real truth about roller derby is that it can be the greatest thing you ever walk into, and if you let it… it can change your life.

 

Photo by Phantom Photographics

 

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7 habits that have gotten me healthy

I have changed a lot about my habits in the last 15 years. There is a lot that has resurfaced from the years of being a young, naïve tomboy in middle school (competition and weight lifting in particular). And there is a lot I have had to release over the years. Here are seven things about me that have significantly altered my physical energy, my spiritual strength and my overall positive outlook on life. As I was writing this, I realized I could have made a list of 20 things! I’m sure you’ll hear more in the future.

Befores and afters. ^_^

Befores and afters. ^_^ (and still going)

1) I eat protein for breakfast

“But Kristie! Oatmeal is so good for me!”

O rly? What I have found is that when I start my day with a high protein breakfast, one balanced with complex carbs and some fat, I have considerable energy throughout the day. When I eat oatmeal, cereal or breakfast potatoes I find that I am sluggish, hungry quicker and have a hard time firing on all cylinders at work. It is because even your “steel cut oats” are still oats. They spike your blood sugar and they do not keep you full.

What does this breakfast look like? Ideally it is an Herbalife breakfast shake – recently it’s been 2 scoops of Formula 1 Sport, ½ cup of pasteurized egg whites and maybe some PB2 for fun. If I know I’m running around a lot during the day, I’ll save the shake for later and I’ll start out with 2 eggs, a 1/3 cup of pasteurized egg whites, sautéed spinach, onion, broccoli and tomato.

 All the food!

2) I get dressed as soon as I wake up

Yes, for as much as I try and live in the comfiest clothes possible, I have found that if I wake up and toddle around in my PJs for too long, I become lethargic and my to do list stays as long as it was the night before. By staying in the mode of sleep wear, I have given my body permission to remain in sleep mode. No more permission granted!

Get up, get dressed, have breakfast, wash your face, do stuff.

If I don't get up and get moving, this happens. Then I really feel stuck.
If I don’t get up and get moving, this happens. Then I really feel stuck.

3) I reserve bananas pre-workout only (if at all)

More and more people are catching on that bananas are not the super fruit we once thought. High in sugar and low in protein, these little bombs of energy are fantastic for before a workout, but are a culprit in keeping you hungry and padded when eaten before a long day at the office. And while good for potassium and fiber, there are 6 electrolytes total that effect cramping. If you are chowing down on bananas Charlie horses go away, you very much need to take a look at the rest of your diet. My dehydration migraines have stopped now that I incorporate all the electrolytes into my diet, along with drinking at least half my body weight in ounces of water each day. The 24 Hydrate by Herbalife has been a lifesaver.

4) I eat until bed time.

Yup. Your body doesn’t actually care what time it is. By saying “I’m not going to eat after 7p” and then staying up until 11p, all you have done is slowed your metabolism and hurt your recovery – especially the athletes in the crowd. If you do a workout that finishes at 11p, then you need to eat afterwards. It’s one of the strongest changes I’ve made. That being said, keep away from the simple carbs within four hours of bed time since your body won’t be able to burn them off before bed.

These athletes at Big Bear know that we need to eat until sleep!
These athletes at Big Bear know that we need to eat until sleep!

5) I rarely step on a scale, and I only do measurements every 60 days.

It’s ok to not know where your body is moment to moment. I know that I am much happier feeling healthy and strong and not being concerned if I weigh 138 or 144. Do my pants fit? Do I feel strong during practice? Am I faster than other people? Did my squat max go up? These are the questions I hit myself with. It is good to track your metrics so that you know what your progress looks like and you can re-evaluate every 90 days, but our body fluctuates too much day to day to use a daily weigh in as a gauge. I have seen friends drive themselves crazy over this. It causes stress, which then feeds right into keeping the weight on. It’s a cycle. Don’t feed into it.

There was a time where this high-waist pencil skirt  was too tight on me.
There was a time where this high-waist pencil skirt was too tight on me.

6) I realized that I eat mostly the same things every day, so I may as well make them healthy.

Before my journey began, I used phrases like “Variety is the spice of life”, “Diets are boring” and “I live to eat, not eat to live.” And then one day I realized that all I was doing was making excuses for myself and my habits. And then the next day I realized that I was repeating my meals every week anyway. I always had something egg-based for breakfast, I always had a sandwich or salad for lunch, I always had a protein with some carbs and veggies for dinner. (Back then I also always had 2 cherry sodas a day, a few soft pretzels and candy bars as snacks.)

If you can recognize that you’re really not as chefy as you like to think you are, you can tighten down easier on a schedule of healthy eating that is nourishing, promotes your goals and saves you money (now that I know what I want at the grocery store, there is no need to randomly pick up ingredients “Just in case”).

Also, shakes for meals are not nearly as scary as I thought when I first heard about them. Mostly because my shakes don’t come out of a metal can, I’m full afterwards and they taste RIDICULOUS. Also, when you’re eating 5 – 9 times a day (like athletes should), it’s a whole lot easier to scoops, shake, drink than it is to make 8 individual meals.

One of my favorite shakes right now!
One of my favorite shakes right now!

7) I include workouts that are mental exercises.

Yoga and running are most specifically what I have worked on, though rock climbing and speed skating are another set of mental challenges.

I hated running. Hated it. Railed against it and refused to believe that it could help me (secretly, I knew it would, I just hated the way it felt because I was so out of shape). I will never forget running my first mile alongside of Eric Winters on the track of Mechanicsburg High School; technically I was his pole-vault coach, but he gave me the single greatest lesson of my life as the ex-boyfriend turned best friend:

Your body will do amazing things, if you just ask it to.

Conquering workouts that we hate means that we must overcome our self-doubt, our mind’s will to sabotage and we must release all of the excuses we have made in the past. Yoga, running, climbing, speed skating, cross-country skiing… there is quiet control and a zen-like state that must be achieved for success. You must connect to your breathe, to your soul, to the Universe’s will around you.

Bouldering is so much fun, and a true mental challenge - you know.. when you're not posing for a camera
Bouldering is so much fun, and a true mental challenge – you know.. when you’re not posing for a camera
Warrior 2 on the edge of a cliff on the way to Big Bear.
Warrior 2 on the edge of a cliff on the way to Big Bear.

Pro Tips: Set an intention at the beginning of the session. “Focus”, “Awareness”, “Precision”, “Fearlessness” are all excellent intentions. When it begins to get hard (and it will), repeat this to yourself. Also, I like to visualize something that I connect with that calms me. The giant manta ray that I would watch float towards me in the vastness of Atlantis’s aquarium in the Bahamas comes to mind when I am running and my breath gets ragged. I picture the calm beating wings to gather myself and then keep going.

The tranquility of the manta ray
The tranquility of the manta ray

To start on your journey with me as your coach, drop me an e-mail at KGreyActiveNutrition@gmail.com and follow me on Instagram and Twitter @Khaos24Fit

Big Bear Clarity

Big Bear, California.

I have to be honest, until I booked the plane ticket I didn’t even know where Big Bear was. I had associated with (don’t laugh Next Wave people) COLORADO. There was snowboarding and big mountains in the photos … it had to be in Colorado, right? California doesn’t have mountains like that! (Geography student FAIL)

Last February Kristen Adolfi qualified for Big Bear and I saw all these photos of one hundred Herbalifers on the same team in these amazing mansions in the mountains – they were drinking healthy cocoa and becoming friends and getting a boost for their business. All I kept hearing was “This is awesome. This is so amazing.” And I made the choice that I would be there in February 2014.

So I qualified.

I found out I qualified only about a month or so before I had to be there. So the plane ticket was booked, I realized my geographical mistake and I realized that 2 major goals of 2014 was going to be checked off the list: Visit California. Qualify for something huge.

This year we only had 24 people qualify and what you had to accomplish was different (though still challenging) and what it did is that it really brought the NEXT WAVE of leaders in the Addy Organization together (Jill and Mark Addy are my AMAZING upline). So instead of being overwhelmed by 100 people I’ve never met, which may have caused me to hide in a corner and not talk to anyone, there were only 20 people I didn’t know and we all got to be friends.

Hiking. Pool. Table Tennis. Food. Shakes. Even some wine. Lumberjack Fit Club. Hot Tub. Team call from the hot tub. Olympics.

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I ended up being the Fire-Tenderer because for some reason this weekend, my fear of flames subsided and my excessive need for warmth took over. I also did Warrior Pose on the edge of a drop off this weekend with Krissy Krash- and for anyone who knows me, you know I have a pretty crippling FEAR of heights. I felt it start to go away now. Maybe before it just came from my complete lack of balance…

This weekend really solidified why I work with Herbalife. It’s not just for the energy I get from my nutrition plan. Not just for the amazing way I feel after I drink my shake. It’s not just because I can set my own hours, make full time money with part-time hours or because it’s a great excuse to be fit.

No.

It’s because of the relationships I get to build and the friendships I get to create. I get to work with my best friends and I get to have best friends from every part of the world and I love it. I get to help people change their lives. I get to help people live stronger and longer. I get to help people be healthy and independent. And through doing that, I get to live stronger and longer. I get to be financially independent. I get to teach and I get to be taught. BY MY FRIENDS. I get to dream  about all the things that I can accomplish with my friends.

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And I can’t wait to meet my new friends in the upcoming years. Who don’t I know yet who will be like Andrea Wright? Teri Bossard? Amber Butyn? These are ladies who I didn’t meet in person before they began their nutrition plan and now I can’t imagine not having them influence my life. They are the reasons I push on and I keep doing what I’m doing.

I’m going to continue my dream of coaching and training roller derby leagues (I’m booking now, actually). I’m going to start inviting people to work out with me when I’m in Baltimore (and when I’m anywhere else). This weekend in Big Bear with new friends who are all starting out their dreams like me – it made me realize that affirmations are amazing and useful. But only if you start doing the work. So now is the time to stop making excuses and start doing the work. Keep your eyes peeled! It’s time to DO stuff and BE awesome.

 

NEXT WAVE!!
NEXT WAVE!!