Divorce the Results


After publishing my article about taking the week before a bout off from my typical training routine, I received several comments that sounded like this:

That’s great, but if you aren’t constantly doing something derby-related or training for something derby-related, then you are seen as lesser. If you aren’t 100% derby everyday, you’re wasting your athletic potential and might as well stop breathing everyone else’s air.

And it’s true. All of it.

I don’t necessarily think that this attitude comes from other skaters, though. (And if it does, you should run screaming from your league.) This is a mindset that we have (women especially) that has been cultivated over decades, centuries, longer than all of us have been alive.

Let me backtrack a little.

One of my favorite things about roller derby is the fact that it has a place for everyone. There are tall people on my team, short people, stocky people, lanky people, tiny people, big people — all types of people. And each person has their strengths. Not in spite of what their body looks like but because of it. That’s something that derby has recognized and embraced — there’s body positivity in this community where you aren’t judged by how your body looks (which is the norm for women in society), but by what your body can do.

There’s the rub. Did you see it?

Let me backtrack a little more.

For a long time before I started roller derby, I struggled with my weight. I was solidly in overweight and edging towards obese and I thought about it, a lot. I had this picture in my head of what I would look like when I was finally okay with my body. And, as is typical, it was completely unattainable. Because, let’s face it, I’ll never have an hourglass figure. Any hips I currently have were put there by pregnancy.

Starting roller derby didn’t immediately solve this problem of worrying over how my body looked, however, as time went on, I thought about it less and less. Until I didn’t think about it at all anymore. Amazing, right? Roller derby had cured me of this nasty little voice inside my head that told me I was “too fat”, “not attractive”, “other terrible insults”. That’s a cause for celebration!

It wasn’t until I embarked on my Intelligent Cross Training journey and started critically evaluating the motives behind my prior cross training routine — 3 days of practice, 6 days of cross training, 3 days of HIIT, 5 days of strength training — that I noticed that nasty little voice wasn’t gone at all. She had just changed her address.

Instead of telling me I was “too fat”, she was now telling me that I “wasn’t good enough”, I was “letting my team down”, I “sucked at skating”. The picture I use to have in my head of what I would look like to be okay with my body was gone too. Until I realized that it hadn’t disappeared either, just changed. The new picture was based on skill — I will finally feel like a good roller derby player when {fill in the blank}. I will finally feel worthy when {fill in the blank}. I will finally feel like enough when {fill in the blank}.

It was the same mindset. It just manifested itself differently.

  • Prior to roller derby, I bought every workout program under the sun and limited myself to 1800 calories per day. Then roller derby came along, I was working out 9 TIMES PER WEEK and starting to feel exhausted.
  • Prior to roller derby, when I still didn’t see the “right” image in the mirror, I bought a new workout program and started eating only tapeworms. Then roller derby came along and when I didn’t see the “right” skater on the track, I cross trained harder and felt even more exhausted.
  • Prior to roller derby, I hated looking at pictures because I didn’t want to see what a fat cow I was. Then roller derby came along and I had to scroll quickly past bout pictures and videos because I didn’t want to see what a shitty fucking player I was.

Making the decision to move to Intelligent Cross Training was hard. Mostly because that bitchy little voice rode me the whole way.

“If you’re not cross training hard enough, you’ll lose your roster spot.”

“Everybody on the team can see that your skills have decreased because you aren’t at the gym enough.”

“You’ll never land those good sternum hits unless you’re working out everyday.”

The ultimate problem with all of these thoughts and neuroses was that they made me feel like I wasn’t enough. As though I didn’t deserve to take up space in the world (or on the track), until I was skinnier, prettier, more skilled, could jump the apex.

So I made a decision about this toxic relationship I was in. I was going to divorce that bitch.

Intelligent Cross Training was a big part of this for me. Learning to enjoy all the work my body could accomplish and all the things it could do and divorcing that from what other people could do. My cross training isn’t about them. It’s about me.

****(A lot of this came from when I started to train for powerlifting. As a tall individual with long arms and legs, I’m at a huge disadvantage when it comes to competition. I have to move the bars physically further than someone that is shorter, with shorter arms and legs. It sucks. But I decided I didn’t care. Because every competition, every day, every lift was a chance for me to challenge my body and see what it could do. Some days it would “fail” me, but I had to be okay with that too.)

And out of that came the revelation that I am enough. Exactly as I am today. It sounds a little cheesy and like we should all join hands and sing Kumbaya, but it’s true. And frankly, I didn’t realize it for a HUGE part of my life.

The idea that I needed to divorce the results and marry the process.

The pressure that you feel to go, go, go when it comes to roller derby or cross training or life is the same pressure everyone else feels. When your teammate is looking at you at practice, chances are good (upwards of 75%) that she’s not thinking about you at all. She’s worrying about her performance. She’s probably wondering why you’re staring at her.

Derby is a team sport — more than a team sport really — so the tendency to compare ourselves to others or worry that we’re letting everyone down is completely normal. But the pressure you feel is coming from you. (Again, if you’re getting actual pressure from your league, RUN AWAY.)

Take a deep breath.

Marry the process.

You are enough.

Want more?

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About IronOctopusFitness

Online athletic training and nutrition coach, full-time mom, okay skater, and connoisseur of all things tea, chocolate, and roller derby. I'll help you unleash your inner athlete by building a strong, capable body that can withstand whatever life throws at you.