From Sitting to Squatting

Since September, it’s been incredibly difficult for me, and other CreCommers, to stay in shape and to eat healthy. I’ve only participated in one roller derby practice since school started. I haven’t made myself a salad or a sandwich since sometime in September.

So what have I been doing? Well, eating protein bars, going out for McDonald’s because there’s no time to make anything, and sitting on my butt in front of a laptop, only moving to go to the bathroom or to walk to school the next morning.

As a result, I’ve gained weight. More than I ever have.

Sure, it may not be noticeable to you. My whole life I’ve had people telling me to not worry about my weight because I’m already too skinny, or that I’ll be skinny forever, blah, blah… but as much as my metabolism may be decent, I do need to put in some effort to stay happy with myself, usually with derby and eating at least somewhat healthy foods.

My (Possibly) Crazy Fears

I’ve always been afraid of becoming unhealthy. Not necessarily overweight (although they are related), but unhealthy to the point where I feel like crap, where I just want to sleep, where I don’t want to go out and do anything. I’ve seen this happen to people around me in my life, and it terrifies me to think that if I let myself continue the way I am, it may be more difficult for me to play roller derby or to spend a day doing something other than sitting around on my laptop doing homework.

A Team Australia player showing off the derby bum.

A Team Australia player showing off the derby bum.


This past summer I worked my butt off to get myself to a point I was truly happy with. I was mostly eating well, and I actually had muscle tone for once in my life! I wasn’t just that skinny girl anymore; I had toned legs and I finally started to have a bum! I was able to hit girls out of a derby track and stop them with my bum that never really existed before! The derby bum is a cherished thing because it’s one of the main things players use to block and hit out other players.

My derby legs and derby bum have since shrunk to their almost pre-derby state. It’s sad that I can barely hold a squat for 30 seconds now, and it almost feels like I wasted my time this summer. My pants have become baggier in the thigh area, while getting too tight in the hip area. Eek!

What do I do?

At this point, I need to start taking baby steps to get back to the way I was. Once this school semester is over I’ll be able to shift back into gear at least a little bit, thank goodness.

When I first started derby, a trainer told me about this great site, Roller Derby Athletics. A derby girl, Booty Quake, has created a bunch of derby specific workouts that can all be done from home mostly with a yoga mat and a chair. They’re also appropriate for those living in apartments, since Booty Quake films these in her apartment.

Though they may be more derby specific, they’re great workouts to do from home when you’re busy. She has a series of 8-minute workouts to do five days a week that, at the time, helped me with balance and strength. I need to sign up for this again. I need to start squatting again. I need to start doing planks, balancing on one foot, squatting, squatting, and more squatting.

Even if you aren’t in derby, if you’re looking for small workouts that are easier to do from home, check out some of Booty Quake’s stuff, especially the 8-minute workouts. It’s not as good as going to the gym or being involved in a sport a few times a week, but it’s definitely a start.

For all of you who have no time to go to the gym or get to sport practices, what do you do at home to stay in shape? Anything is helpful at this point!

There’s No “I” in Team

Teamwork. It’s something we often deal with in our everyday lives. In communications, most work is done in teams. When planning an event, for example, you need different team members to set up the venue, invite people, write necessary materials, and execute the actual event.

Even working in a tedious retail job teamwork is important, with some people helping customers, others working the cash register, and even more receiving the product that goes out into the store.


Teamwork in roller derby (Winnipeg Roller Derby League)

In roller derby, it’s especially important. A jammer can’t score points without the help of her blockers, and conversely, blockers can’t stop a jammer unless they all work together. The whole team needs to help or stop the jammer, not just one person.

Teams need to work together to reach common goals.

Even outside of the actual sport, the roller derby community has always been so giving to me. I’m currently working on a massive school project where I’m filming staged roller derby scenarios. Each time I make these, I need at least 12 skating volunteers and one narrator. I have yet to have any problems finding volunteers.

While filming, all of the skaters have been so incredibly positive, they have fun, and they help me improve my initial plans. It makes me feel so warm and fuzzy inside to think that I get to be part of such a wonderful community of positive and empowering women. They all try so hard and almost everyone gets along and works together when they need to.

But then there are other forms of teamwork in life that aren’t always so jolly.

I’m sure we’ve all had those groups. Sometimes there’s someone who slacks off and does nothing at all, sometimes there’s a group member who’s incredibly difficult to contact, sometimes there’s someone who just doesn’t care, sometimes personalities clash, and other times there’s someone who cares almost too much and takes control of absolutely everything and doesn’t take other group members’ opinions into account.

I’m still learning how to deal with these situations, but here are some things I’ve started to learn.

Stand up for yourself. Someone can only shoot down so many of your ideas. Stand for your ideas and contributions. I have such a difficult time doing this.

Always be in contact with your group. That’s the time when it’s easiest to get left out of decisions, and sometimes members of a group won’t care about your opinion later on.

Know when to pick your battles: Fighting for your opinions is good, but there comes a point when constantly fighting about something won’t help you move forward. Especially in something like roller derby where players need to make decisions so quickly.

Start searching for people you work best with. Some people’s personalities don’t match up, and that’s okay. When you have the chance to pick your groups, pick people you like to work with and who compliment our working style.

Saying No

When was the last time you told someone no? I seem to have a very hard time saying such a simple word.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve only been able to say no to someone if I absolutely need to or if I was peer pressured. This has been most prominent in the workplace.

I felt so bad saying no or leaving anything, that it took me two weeks to work up the courage to quit my first job for a better one.

Part of me is okay with the fact that I never say no, because the more things I take on, the busier I am, the less bored I get, and the less likely I am to wind up doing something like sitting on the couch with a sack of potato chips. But everyone has a breaking point, and this year I’ve found mine.


Saying Yes to Experience

During my first year of Creative Communications last year, we were told to say yes to everything we could and to take on as many experiences as possible so we could get the most out of our education. Of course this makes sense. You’re paying so much for it, why not get the most out of it?

Last year, I wound up doing a whole bunch of different things like hosting a radio show, going to school full-time, and working retail part-time. I somehow managed to do it, although when I think back to it now it’s just a blur.

Over the summer I found a wonderful summer job, but I never ended up taking a break for myself because I could never get up the courage to ask for one. Once I started school again this fall, I already felt so exhausted that I began questioning how I was going to survive another semester.


The Breaking Point

Last week I once again questioned my survival.

My boss at work got married and was away on his honeymoon, so we were down one full-time person. The pressure was on to fill those extra hours at the beginning of the Christmas season. I was given four shifts that week on top of my nine course school schedule with plenty of school projects coming up like our news conference, different produced radio spots, TV interviews, and my lovely IPP.

Then one of our temporary staffers quit on his first day.

My manager had asked me to take on an additional shift, and since I couldn’t seem to say no, I agreed. That meant five shifts in one week along with all of my school work. Any time I would mention it to a fellow CreCommer or other friends, they’d just stare at me and say, “how?” My answer? “I don’t know.”

Sure enough, I cracked. On Wednesday, I had a bit of a breakdown and didn’t want to do anything but curl up on the couch, cry a little, and watch the Simpsons. I ended up calling in to work and felt horrible for doing so, but I simply couldn’t do it. My physical and mental health were quickly deteriorating with everything I had to do and absolutely no time to do it.

After that incident, I’m slowly starting to learn my lesson, but it’s definitely a work in progress. Again today I was asked to work late one day this weekend. I did manage to say no, but I needed a little push from my classmates to do so.


What to Do?

With that, I ask you: how do you manage to say no to people without feeling guilty or feeling the need to come up with some magical reason?

But you can learn from my mistakes; say no sometimes. Trying out new experiences and taking on plenty of tasks can be great, but learn where your breaking point is before you end up curled up on the couch with some Kleenex and a season of the Simpsons.

Tagged , ,

Protein Bars: Life savers or evil?

A little while ago, I had a post about trying to stop eating out so often, for obvious reasons. I can safely say I’m on the right track to meeting that goal, but it’s because I’ve substituted McDonald’s for something else…

Protein bars and meal replacements.

I have a bit of a long on-and-off relationship with meal replacement type foods. I started drinking these Special K protein shakes in the mornings when I had 8 a.m. classes in University because I preferred sleeping in over making a filling breakfast.

I kind of stopped this habit when I realized how much these drinks were costing me.

protein-barSome fellow derby girls introduced me to protein bars when I started playing. The way my nights would work, I’d go around four hours without food, and two of those hours were filled up with exhaustive exercise. I’d be so starving when practice was over that I got into the habit of eating these homemade protein bars a girl I practice with would make.

Since she only made them in her spare time, I started buying bars from the store – usually the fitness store by where I work. These bars were great for after practice and for tournaments like the one I played for in Grand Forks this summer, where we played three games in the span of something like 8-10 hours.

Now, these bars have started serving another purpose.

In the past couple of weeks I’ve noticed some of my fellow classmates drinking and eating meal replacements/protein bars. Often times our days are so jam packed with things to do that I struggle to find time to heat up my lunch and eat a full meal. Protein bars have become a huge help.

But are protein bars and meal replacements healthy?

This is something I’ve been toying with. What’s the point of cutting out McDonald’s if I’m just eating a glorified chocolate bar? But while digging online, I found that they aren’t all bad. (Hurray!)

1What are you using the bars for?

If you’re using it as a snack, watch out. Usually protein bars vary from 200-400 calories with large amounts of sugar. It would almost be better to eat a regular chocolate bar as a snack, but of course it’s best to find something healthy to snack on.

If you’re using it as a form of meal replacement, the large amount of calories are, for the most part, okay. On Jillian Michaels’ website, she recommends eating a protein bar that’s around 300-400 calories as a meal replacement.

What should I be looking for when picking a protein bar?

As I already mentioned, the amount of calories can determine what it should be used for. Another big thing to watch out for is the amount of sugar. Although the protein bar has other nutrients that are beneficial, 30 grams of sugar is still too high.

You should also look at the kind of protein you’re getting. Jillian Michaels recommends staying away from soy-based bars. Some of the best bars use whey protein, calcium caseinate, P-protein, brown rice, and hemp.

Everything in moderation

This is a lesson I still have to learn with these things. These bars are great once and awhile, but should not be a daily meal replacement. Even though they have lots of protein and nutrients, they still lack nutrients you get in regular healthy foods. They’re also expensive. Very expensive.

Tagged , , ,

Purple Badges of Honour

One of the more popular derby bruises.

One of the more popular derby bruises.

Since I was a youngin’, I’ve never had visible bruises.

Oh believe me, they would be there in all of their painful glory, but would my skin turn purple or brown? Nah. I’m probably one of the only people in Winnipeg that’s upset by the fact that I don’t get visible bruises.

Why is this such a disappointment for me? Bruises are a badge of honour. In the world of roller derby, bruises are something a lot of the women take pride in. It’s like saying, “look how hard I got hit and I’m still kicking ass!”

There’s a tumlr blog devoted to derby bruises and the hashtags on Instagram #derbybruise or #derbybruises. Even if you just search #rollerderby, chances are decently high you’ll find pictures of derby bruises.

Roller derby is the only place I’ve seen women pull down the side of shorts to show off that impressive hip bruise they got at the game that past weekend. Usually, women are supposed to be clean and proper, and bruises are sometimes, unfortunately, signs of abuse.

According to an article on derbylife, getting a bruise in roller derby adds to the idea that roller derby makes a woman stronger, both physically and mentally.

“Derby damage is a signature of perseverance, inner strength, and defiance… roller derby teaches us that everyone falls – it’s those who get back up quickly, regardless of discomfort, that come out ahead in the end. ”  - derbylife

I first noticed this bruise-embracing behaviour during Fresh Meat two years ago when we first learned how to hip check each other. The week after practicing smacking each other in the hips for two hours, some of the girls were comparing their badges of honour. I had nothing to show, though.

My pointy hips sure gave bruises, apparently. One girl skated up to me saying something like, “YOU! Look what you did! You gave me my first derby bruise!”

Throughout my (so far) two-year roller derby career, I have yet to have a bruise worthy enough of being my own badge of honour.

Did I bruise at all throughout Fresh Meat? Nope.

During the insane 16-hour 2-day boot camp? Nah.

How about that time I got hit out so hard I went sliding into the stands — right where my family was watching? Of course not.

Two months ago, I even got smacked right at the top of my nose between my eyes with someone’s helmet. A few players came over to make sure I was okay, and they told me: “Oh, that will definitely bruise.”

It didn’t, and I really had my hopes up for that little guy.

In the meantime, I will continue to look in awe at all of the impressive derby bruises that my teammates bring up.

Although, if any of you decide to try and show off your broken finger, like what happened to a poor teammate this summer, I’ll probably run away about to puke.

Maybe one day I’ll get my own badge of honour. Someday…

Tagged , , , , ,

Thank You, Dessa

Her grave last year

Her grave last year

On October 19, 2012, I lost my grandmother, Dessa. It was the first time I ever experienced death first hand, and this week marks two years since that day.

When growing up, my brother and I stayed with my grandma quite often in Petersfield, which is close to Gimli and Selkirk. We would go with my grandpa to the local store and chat with the other residents, go fishing, and wander around Selkirk. We had pictures posing in front of the giant fish outside of the Smitty’s restaurant, and in front of the giant goose just outside of Petersfield. These weren’t my favourite times, though.

My grandma and I would spend hours flipping through the Sears Christmas catalogue. I would try my little best to help her make dinner. I would try to be sneaky and steal her mints, but she always knew. I would always set the dining room table, and my grandma made the best roast beef, perfectly cooked green beans, and of course mashed potatoes for my picky brother.

She was also a master at making cabbage rolls, and she had the best meatball soup. After we ate, we would always crowd around the table, pull out the dominoes, and play Chicken Foot. She was one of the only people I had ever met who still had a water bed, and I loved it. When I would go to bed, she would stay up late watching the CTV late night news, and I could always hear it from the bedroom. Back in the day, my grandpa was a truck driver, and my grandma had gotten used to staying up late waiting for him; she never broke that habit.

I was out with friends in July, 2012 when I got a phone call from my mom. She was insisting I come home immediately. I fought and fought with her, saying that I hadn’t seen my friends in awhile and that I would be home later that night. Then she dropped the news that my grandma was diagnosed with cancer. Not just any cancer, it was this rare cancer (I don’t remember the name, that wasn’t important), and it was terminal. They gave her six months.

In 2006 in her kitchen

In 2006 in her kitchen

Starting that day, we were driving out to see my grandparents almost every weekend, and sometimes more. It was easy to tell from day one that she was in pain, and there was nothing we could do about it.

By September, my grandma had stopped eating almost entirely. She would still insist on making dinner for others sometimes, but she would simply sit there and stare at her plate. She spent most of her time petting my dog, Sadie. Sadie would simply sit beside her for hours.

She would always ask us to come and sit and just talk with her. I was starting roller derby that October, so I would often show her pictures on my phone and tell her about how excited I was. She knew nothing about the sport, but she always listened and smiled.

One day when I wasn’t there, my mom told me about how my grandma was doing; she couldn’t remember my name for a moment. My grandma was asking my mom where I was, but kept blanking on my name until she eventually said, “your daughter!” My mom said she was frustrated by it, but just couldn’t remember at that time.

Then she was taken to the hospital in Selkirk.

She received high doses of pain killers and spent most of her time sleeping. When she did wake up, she would have small conversations with us, but this wasn’t the Dessa I knew my whole life, it was a woman in agony.

On October 17, I was visiting my friend working at Little Caesar’s and grabbing a pizza for dinner, when I got a frantic call from my mom telling me to head to the hospital right away. She said my grandma thought it might be her last day, and she wanted to see the family. My brother and I drove out there as fast as we could.

The second I walked in, my grandma grabbed onto my hand and squeezed it until I could barely feel the tips of my fingers. She started giving me her last bits of advice, telling me she loved me, and telling me to have fun with the world of roller derby. I don’t remember how long we stayed there, but my grandma held my hand the entire time, even when she fell asleep.

Dessa (middle) at her and my grandpa's 50th wedding anniversary

Dessa (middle) at her and my grandpa’s 50th wedding anniversary

The next day, I skipped my university classes and went with my mom to the hospital, and my grandma was sort of right about it being her last day. She was still alive, but had basically been put to sleep with the amount of pain killers she was on. I think she woke up once that entire day, and it was only for one or two minutes.

My brother called me on October 19, saying my mom had called him frantic. He couldn’t understand what she was saying, he said, but we headed to the hospital.

As we walked up to my grandma’s room, I could just see my mom crying with my auntie trying to calm her down. We walked into the room and my mom managed to get out, “she’s dead” between her sobs.

I looked over at my grandma for one second, but had to look away. I didn’t want that to be my last memory of her.

I wanted to remember going to Grand Beach, going for dinner at Pete’s Place in Selkirk, helping her make the table, listening to her talk with my grandpa while they watched the late night news.

It’s been two years, and I still miss her all the time.

Rest in Peace Dessa. Thank you for helping to take care of me, for being a role model, for taking me out and teaching me things, for holding my hand and not letting it go even when you fell asleep.

My grandma with my grandpa back in the day. She was a babe.

My grandma with my grandpa back in the day. She was a babe.

Tagged , ,

Too Much McD’s

I like food.

I mean, I really like food.

My biggest problem? I can’t cook if my life depended on it. I can make a mean salad… but, does that count? I’ve had people tell me that salad isn’t food. In fact, I was just watching American Dad and Stan made a comment about salad not being food.

Not only can I not cook, I can’t even bake. My specialty is these oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, but they sometimes turn out salty. I have no idea how when there’s less than half of a teaspoon in the entire batch. Even those cakes in a box, sure I can make them… but they look like they’ve been run over by a car by the time they come out of the oven. I’m the best at being a traditional woman, aren’t I?

Too much McDonald's

Too much McDonald’s

Back to the point. Since I really like food, and I can’t cook – at all, I eat out far too often. My regulars tend to be McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Shawarma Khan, more McDonald’s, Starbucks… and more McDonald’s. I even had so much food from Subway and Tim Horton’s during my post secondary “career” that it makes me shutter even thinking about those places.

So what’s the problem? It tastes good (for the most part), it’s easy, it’s cheap. The problem is I eat it far too often, which is incredibly unhealthy – especially with me not being to practice since school started – and it may be cheap, but it adds up far too quickly.

Let’s say I hit up McDonald’s twice a week for one month, and let’s say there’s four weeks in a month. An average Big Mac meal is about $10. That’s $80 a month and $960 a year. Owch. You know what I could buy with that? A new pair of skates, maybe a tablet or something, or even put money towards a new car that I so desperately need.

Since I’m only working one day a week right now, and I’m lucky if the shifts are over three hours, it’s not in my best interest to spend that kind of moolah on McD’s, no matter how tasty it is. Did I mention they have better (in my opinion) pumpkin spiced lattes than Starbucks? But this must stop.

So yes, this is my new challenge: only eat out once a week, at most. For now, this isn’t going to include drink purchases, because some days just require coffee But of course they don’t always need the fancy latte with whip cream on top.

To all my student friends out there who are sub-par cookers, how do you get by without buying McDonald’s more than once a week?

Tagged , ,

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 72 other followers