Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Third Annual Northern California Pole Presentational

We are four days away from the THIRD annual Northern California Pole Presentational.  The third!  If you had asked me four years ago, after Amy brought this idea to me, whether we would still be doing this today, I don't know what I would have said.  (I feel like my wrap-up from 2014 actually still embodies how I feel about the whole experience.  You can read that HERE.) 

I don't need to sell NCPP to you.  If you are reading this, you probably already know what it is and you are either dancing, volunteering or planning to attend.  For that, I thank you.  This show has completely taken on a life of its own.   Every year, we grow -- all thanks to the Northern California dancers who come out to support local dance (and shout out this year to those coming from Florida, Los Angeles and Las Vegas -- we love you too!).  We do very little marketing or promotion because we have a full theater every year. 

When I started this blog, I called myself the self-proclaimed Northern California pole dance ambassador.  I get that businesses are supposed to compete with each other, but I wanted the pole industry to be different.  Pole studios are not cheap or easy to run, so there is no danger of one popping up on every corner.  Therefore, studios in the Bay Area are free to band together and support each other (I am extremely happy that there is now a monthly instructor jam hosted by different studios).  I appreciate that most studio owners are supportive of this business model. 

I have been pole dancing for almost seven years.  I did take a fairly long break last year after getting my new job, but I am ecstatic to be back.  I don't consider myself a super "artsy" type but I love using dance to let out my emotions.  I am so insanely proud of this show and all of the dancers who are performing.  It takes a lot of guts to get up on stage and bare your soul to the world. 

I am also eternally grateful for Ellen.  This show wouldn't have happened without her.  It is rare to find someone you can work this closely with and still like as a friend at the end of the day.  I feel like we have a pretty amazing partnership. 

Sorry for getting all sappy on everyone, but planning for this show begins a year in advance and we spend the months leading up to the show giving up evenings and weekends to make sure everything is planned perfectly.  I am looking forward to Saturday and cannot wait to see what you dancers are bringing this year!

Don't have your tickets yet?  Don't pay more at the door!  Tickets on show day -- if we haven't sold out -- will be $40 CASH ONLY.  So, do yourself a favor and pick up your tickets beforehand:  http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2567041

Also -- FINALLY -- this year we will have shirts.  And if you are a Pat the Bear hater, we have a new design thanks to Seanmichael.  Bring your dolla dolla bills y'all.  There will be plenty of great shopping in the lobby and courtyard! 

See you on Saturday! 

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Bringing Sexy Back 2016

Every July, United Pole Artists hosts Bringing Sexy Back Week (well, two sexy weeks).  Last year, I did not participate.  This year, I decided it was time to join the party again. 
I am always hesitant to join large scale pole events like this because I am not the strongest poler, nor am I a super sexy mover.  What will make my video stand out amongst the thousands of videos that will share the same hashtag?  I have a fairly analytical mind, and being artsy is a process that I don't really like to share.  I feel extremely vulnerable putting my movement out there for others to judge.  I feel like I can often copy certain moves, and even make them look fairly good (hello, Closer routine!), but I don't always feel right on the inside when I do them -- mostly because I feel silly.  I haven't felt comfortable free dancing since before my foot surgery in 2013.  So, deciding to do this dance in particular was a hard decision.  That being said, I'm actually pretty happy with the result.  It was raw and emotional.  No, I'm not sexy like a lot of the other girls, but I felt sexy in this moment.  It was a very real experience and I am happy it was captured on film. 
So, enjoy my contribution to UPA's Bringing Sexy Back 2016. 

Thank you to Stephanie Otto for these awesome photos

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

You Know Nothing Jon Snow!

I don't even know how I get up everyday with all this fat on me
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a rather angry rant about my doctor fat shaming me and trying to push diet pills on me over a liver issue.

There are so many problems I have with this.  First off, pushing diet pills on your patient who has eating disorder issues is highly irresponsible.  I've spent a lot of time trying to "fix" myself.  One day I finally realized I wasn't broken -- I just had some things I'd like to change.  And then everything started to fall into place.  However, having diet pills waved in my face was a little scary.  Yes, asshole doctor, even though I am happy with how I look, I would still like to magically wake up tomorrow 20 pounds lighter.  It makes you realize that you probably never fully recover from things like this.  And you're probably only one bad day away from a binge (or a bottle of diet pills).  Ellen gave me huge kudos for staying strong and saying no to the medication. 

Second, throwing around random statements like "you're going to die" without any diagnosis to back it up borders on medical malpractice.  My doctor was merely going off of one elevated liver enzyme.  He used that to state that I had non-alcoholic fatty liver and blamed my weight on the problem.  I had so much evidence proving that my weight was actually unrelated to the enzyme being high or low.  He didn't care.  My ultrasound, by the way, showed that I do not actually have a fatty liver.  And all of my other labs are amazing.  All while being a big, fat ass. 

I went to a liver specialist last week.  Guess what he told me?  I'm perfectly healthy.  My doctor doesn't have a clue what he's talking about.  He has been ordering the wrong tests to begin with and is reading the results incorrectly to boot.  The new doctor said that my number isn't high enough to be concerning and that it isn't actually even an indicator of fatty liver.  He showed me the two numbers he uses to show there is a problem in the liver, and those numbers were perfectly normal.  He said that elevated enzyme certainly could indicate a problem if it was extremely high or if it bounced up for no reason.  But since it appears to have essentially been in the same range for years, it could be normal for my body.  He also said he didn't believe my weight was an issue. 

He likened my issue to companies that manufacture products.  He said you can have a big, beautiful building that puts out a shitty product.  Or you can have a normal building that no one thinks is awesome, but it puts out the best product.  Who cares if my liver is a little ugly as long as the product it puts out is top notch? 

I guess I can go back to enjoying my margaritas.  (In moderation, of course, Ellen!)

The specialist is going to write a letter to my doctor soon.  I cannot wait for him to get it.  It may take everything I have not to scream, IN YO FACE.  Oh, except, I don't plan to see him ever again.  I am in the market for a new doctor. 

So, I am going to continue being my chubby, fabulous self.  I certainly understand that sugar is still not good for me and I will continue to keep my diet as clean as possible.  But I guess now I can sleep better at night knowing I'm not going to die tomorrow from a disease I don't have. 

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Confessions on YouQueen!

I was recently invited to be part of a pole dancing blogger list on YouQueen.com.  I am honored to be included in this list of fabulous pole dancers!

Haven't heard of YouQueen?

There are thousands of websites out there designed for women. Frankly, most of them are boring, mainstream and full of advertisements.

YouQueen is not one of them.

We are dedicated to creating fresh, straightforward and unique advice for women that doesn’t just inform, but also teaches and excites you. We strive to help you grow in all aspects of life, from love and health to finding your life’s purpose, advancing your career and designing a better lifestyle.

I love their tagline:  Because even a Queen needs help sometimes.

When YouQueen asked me a few questions about myself and pole dancing, you knew I wasn't going to pass up the chance to use Amazeballs to describe myself, right?

You in 7 descriptive words?

Thoughtful, adventurous, ambitious, passionate, silly, joyful and (excuse me if this sounds crass) AMAZEBALLS!

Read the rest of the article here:  http://youqueen.com/life/fitness/13-best-pole-dance-bloggers-you-must-follow/

Thanks, YouQueen for including me in your list!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Twirl for a Cause: Out of the Darkness

Last year, my boss took his own life.  It completely turned my life upside down.  Sometimes at work, we still look around and wonder what happened and what could have been done to prevent such a tragedy.  This year, I decided to join the Out of the Darkness Walk.  I walk to honor the memory of my boss, Mark, and also to honor the memory of my Auntie Lori, who ended her life in 2009.

Club 1220 in Walnut Creek generously hosts two pole fundraising events each year.  In February, Robert has an event for AIDS/LifeCycle.  I was very honored when Robert recently offered to hold a fundraiser for the Out of the Darkness Walk in September.

The event will be held Saturday, September 24, 2016 at 6 PM at Club 1220 in Walnut Creek.  There is a $6 cover charge, which will be donated to the walk.  (You can donate directly to my walk HERE.)  Also, for this event, we will allow tipping of dancers and the dancers have the option of donating their tips to the cause as well.

We are currently looking for raffle and auction prizes.  If you have any items, from gift baskets to gift certificates, please let me know.  I will collect them and give you a shout out for your generous donation.  

It sounds like we already have 15 performers lined up for the event.  I have asked that, if they feel comfortable, they share why the song they chose inspires them.  And if you so feel inclined, I hope you will share what inspires you in the comments below.

I hope you can join us in September for this event.  And don't forget, if you or your company has any items you would like to donate, please let me know!

Monday, June 20, 2016

Hip Check: This Viking is Healed!

For those of you following the adventures of my ol' lady hip, let it be known: she is cured.  Hallelujah!! 

A brief history to catch anyone up on this ridiculousness.  In probably late 2009 or early 2010, I started having a lot of hip pain.  Like, can't get out of bed and walk well because you're in so much pain that you're crying.  Being only 33 at the time, I was pretty scared.  I saw my future in a wheel chair by 40.  I thought maybe it was because I had started pole dancing and perhaps I was dragging my feet and hurting my hip.  I had doctors checking me, physical therapists, body workers, massage therapists.  Not bursitis.  Not arthritis.  Nothing was physically wrong with me.  Everyone had a theory and treatment, and I'd feel better for a time, but nothing cured me. 

In 2014, my hip started feeling better.  I couldn't really understand why but I wasn't going to question it.  Then I flipped in Vegas and destroyed myself againThen I met Tobe.  Tobe asked me a lot of hard questions.  No, not about my body or my hip or any of the physical things I was doing to heal myself.  He asked me about what was going on inside.  Did I often do things I didn't want to do?  Was I angry?  He pushed me to really think about what was going on with my life.  He brought my pain down to a manageable level but I was definitely still just tolerating it.  I wasn't cured. 

Then Tobe told me I needed to read the Mastery of Love by Don Miguel Ruiz (this is the same author who wrote The Four Agreements).  Suddenly, everything clicked and I realized I needed to get out of my relationship as soon as possible.  It wasn't a horrible relationship.  He wasn't abusive.  He just wasn't the right guy for me, just as I wasn't the right girl for him.  I ended that relationship in August of 2015.  Guess what?  For the first time in almost six years, my hip pain completely went away.  (P.S. That short reprieve in 2014?  My ex and I had been living together and he moved out to finish some schooling...so that was my first clue that my hip knew voodoo magic.)  (P.P.S. That relationship began in August of 2009, just a few months before the pain started.)  My doctor continued to treat me for it, always feeling like he could find something in there still holding on to tension (I realize now because he is an over-treater), however, I was pain free.  Even a recent broken toe barely got me down.  But Tobe told me he didn't need to see me again unless I had a flare up. 

That flare up happened.  Earlier this year, I got into a kind of a toxic pseudo relationship for a couple of months.  My hip started hurting again.  I got out of that situation and my hip pain disappeared almost immediately.  My hip is a freaking douchebag barometer! 

After almost seven years of weight gain, inactivity and unhappiness from severe pain, I am BACK!  I'm enjoying pole class once, twice, sometimes even three times per week.  I started kickboxing again recently -- legit kickboxing, hitting bags and getting out aggression.  I am even getting back into silks and feeling stronger each and every class.  I still enjoy yoga several times each week as well.  I am trying to be kind to my almost-40-year-old body, but I feel the best I have in years. 

I am grateful to Tobe for guiding me down the right path and I am learning to listen to my body.  I have spent years not listening -- and have used things like food to medicate and cover up my emotional pain.  I also feel incredibly lucky to know that if my body feels like I'm in a toxic situation that my mind is ignoring, it can send me a signal to let me know I need to make some changes.  Who knew bodies could be THIS amazing?! 

Have you ever had a mind-body connection like this?  Please feel free to share your stories below!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Congratulations, I Now Pronounce You Dead of Fat

I had my annual appointment with my doctor yesterday.  As is now normal, 12 years post-gastric bypass, I had my blood work done.  For anyone who has been following me awhile, you may remember that my liver panels have been slightly off for years.  Earlier, this year, after working hard with Ellen, I brought those numbers down without significant weight loss.  What that tells me is that diet can heal my liver. 
Last night, however, I learned that one of my enzymes had increased slightly since January.  So, the minute my doctor walked through the door, he started telling me that I needed to lose weight and wanted me to try diet pills.  I told him I would not be taking diet pills for any reason.  He told me that nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is more dangerous than they realized and I could expect that my life would be shortened.  I told him we are all dying, so I was okay with it.  We fought, loudly, for approximately 30 minutes (I am actually surprised his assistant didn't come in to check on us).  He would only repeat over and over that I needed to lose weight.  I would counter with all the arguments that pure calorie restriction doesn't work.  If it did, I would be skinny.  He asked me how many calories I eat per day -- I told him about 2,500 calories.  He told me it was WAY too many.  Clearly, I've maintained approximately the same weight for the past few years, so it must not be an extreme number of calories if his precious theory works.  I told him I had my resting metabolic rate tested and it was 1,800.  That means that by merely opening my eyes in the morning, I need a minimum of 1,800 calories just to live.  If I get up and start moving, then I need more.  I can burn 800-1,000 calories in a kickboxing session.  (For those of you concerned that I'm slipping back into disordered behaviors...I'm not...I don't count calories or care how much I burn during a workout session...I just know from years of disordered thinking about how much I eat and burn so I can bust numbers out to fucktard doctors who think they know everything.) 
He told me I was a militant.  Fine with me.  He told me I was going to die.  Last I checked, we all are. 

By the way, a few minutes later, my doctor did admit that my ultrasound has never ACTUALLY revealed that I have fatty liver.  I was tested for hepatitis, and those tests were negative.  So, he doesn't REALLY know why my liver panels are elevated, and then he admitted that many thin people have fatty liver.  So he can go fuck right off. 

What is fatty liver and why is it scary?  For years, they thought that only alcoholics got cirrhosis.  Wrong.  Eating a lot of sugar (which is part of the Standard American Diet) causes fatty liver.  Fatty liver can cause cirrhosis or liver cancer, which can lead to liver failure.  The good news is that the liver is the most regenerative organ in our entire body.  It can be healed. 
What I didn't tell my doctor was that I've been drinking a lot of alcohol lately and that is most likely the reason for the increase.  I used to drink once every few months, but for the last four months or so, I've probably been drinking once or twice a week.  However, if you start a conversation by screaming at your patient, they are most likely going to shut down and not have a productive discussion with you.  I am in the market for a new doctor. 
So, here's the history of my numbers:

What are AST and ALT anyway? 
Aspartate Aminotransferase (AST)
An aspartate aminotransferase (AST) test measures the amount of this enzyme in the blood. AST is normally found in red blood cells, liver, heart, muscle tissue, pancreas, and kidneys. AST formerly was called serum glutamic oxaloacetic transaminase (SGOT). Low levels of AST are normally found in the blood. When body tissue or an organ such as the heart or liver is diseased or damaged, additional AST is released into the bloodstream. The amount of AST in the blood is directly related to the extent of the tissue damage. After severe damage, AST levels rise in 6 to 10 hours and remain high for about 4 days.
Alanine Aminotransferase (ALT)
An alanine aminotransferase (ALT) test measures the amount of this enzyme in the blood. ALT is found mainly in the liver, but also in smaller amounts in the kidneys, heart, muscles, and pancreas. ALT was formerly called serum glutamic pyruvic transaminase (SGPT). ALT is measured to see if the liver is damaged or diseased. Low levels of ALT are normally found in the blood. But when the liver is damaged or diseased, it releases ALT into the bloodstream, which makes ALT levels go up. Most increases in ALT levels are caused by liver damage.
I get it, it is my doctor's job to keep me healthy.  I just feel like he isn't fully up to date on facts about health and weight.  Preaching pure calories-in versus calories-out seems irresponsible.  If dieting were ever that easy, we would all be textbook "ideal" weights.  Also, trying to shame people into losing weight has never worked and never will.  Again, if that were the case, we would all be skinny.  I've shown that I can lower my numbers without significant weight loss, so why not continue to allow me to do that?  I feel like he must be getting a kick back from the drug company.  I don't think him very literally yelling at me was just about my health. 
I don't really know what to do.  This incident is triggering my disordered thinking pretty hard.  No, of course I don't want to die.  Yes, of course, my disordered brain still wants to lose 20 pounds.  However, I don't have the luxury of just waking up in the morning, restricting my calories and dropping weight.  When I lost the 20 pounds or so in 2008-2009, I was working out twice a day, watching my food intake, and still only lost one pound a month.  No, that wasn't a typo.  However, when I increased my fat intake, didn't count calories at all, and just ate healthy foods with Ellen about two years ago, I dropped 20 pounds fairly quickly.  My doctor doesn't believe in that witchcraft, however.  He acted like adding avocado to my protein shake was too many calories.  (All that fat!  The horror!!)
I will admit the sugar was slowly creeping back into my diet.  I am the keeper of the candy bowl in my office.  And I have decided to stop feeding anyone's addiction, including my own.  So, if I have seemed extra grumpy this week, that is why.  Sugar needs to come back out of my diet.  Not for weight loss reasons, but for health reasons.  If I accidentally lose 20 pounds again this year, I certainly won't complain though.