Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Josiah "Bad Azz" Grant and Twirly Girls

Last week, Twirly Girls had a visitor!  Josiah "Bad Azz" Grant came to town for some workshops and a pole jam.

I first met Joey at Pole Show LA in 2012.  He is such a sweet soul.  I have had the pleasure of running into him many times since then.  He came to visit Twirly Girls earlier this year, but BART was on strike, and my two-and-a-half hour commute didn't allow me to make it to his workshop.

Unfortunately this trip, I wasn't able to make a workshop but I did come to the pole jam, which kind of turned into a workshop!  He was showing everyone strength-building exercises and some cool moves.  He has these liquid hips that I certainly can't compete with.  I put some videos up on Facebook, which I realize won't do you all any good here.  I'll see if I can figure out a good way to link them.  

I did ask him to "choreograph" my routine for Robert's show on Saturday...which he kindly did...to a song he'd never heard before.  It was pretty impressive.  I'll have to post his video next to mine so you can see how well I pegged the choreo.  lol!  Sorry, I hate using lol in a blog but once you see it, you will lol as well!

If you ever get a chance to take a workshop with Joey, you should definitely do it! Here are some photos from the pole jam and one of the workshops:

Monday, November 25, 2013

Cowboy Wild's Un-Pole-Lievable Pole Show at Club 1220

So both Twirly Girls and Club 1220 have been pretty awesome and understanding any time Robert and I want to do something crazy.  Throw up some poles in the club and bring on half-naked pole dancers?!  Of course!!  Up until now, we have always done it for charity.  And this weekend, we dance for the fun of it.

To show how grateful we are for the dancers who have donated their time to us in the past, we welcome the Bay Area to come to Club 1220 in Walnut Creek this Saturday, November 30 at 6:00 PM to enjoy our amazing pole dancers.  Unlike other pole showcases, we WILL allow tipping at this show.  There is NO nudity, however.  But, especially if you have not been to a pole show before, you will definitely enjoy the show. 

As many of you know, Robert, aka Cowboy Wild, has been involved with 1220 for years and his husband, Holotta/Dale is the hostess of Holotta's Un-Boy-Lievable Drag Show.  So, now we present: Cowboy Wild's Un-Pole-Lievable Pole Show.

We understand some of you may be out of town for Thanksgiving, but if you're around, and ready to get away from the family for a couple of hours, please stop by!  The show is at 6 PM.  Cover charge is only $5.  Tipping IS encouraged (please don't try to stuff the money down anyone's pants though).  The bar has 80's night afterward, so you can stay and dance the night away if you'd like!


Robert "Cowboy Wild" Carstensen
Grace Garcia
Kate Cotruvo
Amy Bond
Lori Myers
Yolanda Berry
Patrick Loranger

If you are on Facebook, the official event invitation is here:  https://www.facebook.com/events/627101380663457/

Have a happy, happy Thanksgiving and I hope to see you Saturday!

Kinetic Arts Center's I Hate The Holidays Cabaret

Last Saturday, I went to Kinetic Arts Center in Oakland to watch one of my favorite people compete in the I Hate The Holidays Cabaret.  I purchased my VIP ticket so I could be guaranteed awesome seating.  Rita and I even arrived super early to be at the front of the line.  We took photos when we arrived, using the props to create our very own hateful holiday scene.  I joked with the ladies who worked there that I already knew who I was voting for.  Many acts walked around, interacting with the crowd, and setting us up for their upcoming performances.  It was really cute and fun and we had lots of laughs before the curtain had even been opened. 

Then the show began.  Mind.  Blown.

Seriously, every single performance was great.  I couldn't say one bad thing about any of them.  The kids were especially PHENOMENAL.  I almost felt guilty voting for my Sean Michael.  The hosts were so funny and kept the show moving, which can be difficult when you have different aerial acts using different apparatuses.  I really don't know how to describe it.  Luckily, I took video!  You should watch.  Literally every single act.  You won't be disappointed! 

I want to congratulate Sean Michael, who went on to win the competition on Sunday night!  I'm so sorry I couldn't come watch!  You are amazing, though, and deserved it!!!  So much love for this boy!!

Did I win?  Did I win???

If I won, this would be my "OMG, I CAN'T BELIEVE I JUST WON" face!
The Sugar Plum Fairy himself
Twirly family
The most amazing family...I love them and I hope this is their Christmas card

I die

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Why do I care about 100 calories?

So I'm entering this blog carefully.  It may be triggering for some, so please click out of this post if you can't deal with "diet talk."  I will be talking about food and calories and weight.  I'll be trying to talk about it from a bad science and I-don't-actually-know-shit kind of perspective though.  I am just curious about some things so I thought I'd throw this out into the universe and see what kind of responses I get.  Respectful responses only, please.  Unnecessary hater comments will be deleted.  Useful hater comments will be allowed.  

Yes, I really am trying to embrace Health At Every Size.  That is, I do believe that thin people aren't automatically healthy and fat people aren't automatically unhealthy.  I don't believe that anyone should be treated like they are a second-class citizen because they are overweight.  We all deserve respect.

However -- yes, I am going to be THAT person -- I don't believe THIS current weight is working for ME.  I have VERY QUIETLY been tracking my calories and exercise for the last week and a half, and after sticking to all the "calorie rules" and doing some kind of activity every single day....drum roll please...I have gained a pound (I got it, it's only a week and a half, but when I used to do Weight Watchers, everyone would lose 5 pounds their first week -- you know, all that water weight!).  :-D  Please don't tell me it's muscle.  Yeah yeah.  I get it.  Diets don't work.  Even "lifestyle changes" are just a marketing ploy so you won't realize you're on a diet.  I am a compulsive eater.  I have to be sooooooooooooo careful when choosing to modify my eating because it could very easily trigger a binge that could throw another 20 pounds on me in less than a month.

Since injuring my foot, I have put on about 10 pounds over a year.  Hey, not so bad considering how limited I was in my activities.  I was actually kind of proud of myself.  I did some math today.  Ten pounds over a year.  3,500 calories equals a pound, times 10 pounds equals 35,000 calories.   Divide that by 365 days.  That equals 96 calories.  So only an extra 100 calories per day will make me gain 10 pounds in a year.  Shit.  I don't even BOTHER with those 100 calorie packs because they don't contain enough food worth eating!  Bring me a 500 calorie piece of cake or bring me death!  So then, I guess I need to find out how exactly many calories my body should be eating every day.  I've written about this subject before...and you can check it out HERE

I am well aware that "calories in versus calories out" is NOT an exact science.  However, I have to start somewhere.  In order to determine how many calories I should eat, I first went online to determine my Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). 

According to THIS calculator.  My BMR is 1952.2.  That is, my body burns that many calories just existing every day.  If I would like to get up and out of bed that day, I will burn more.  Therefore, if I tried to eat 1952.2 on a regular work day, I would be very hungry.  So, now to figure out my daily caloric need, I need to determine how active I am.  Sedentary?  Maybe I'm being a little hard on myself.  Let's go with lightly active.  I might be able to make an argument for moderately active, but I don't want to go crazy yet.  I take my 1952.2 and I multiply it by 1.375.  My daily caloric intake to stay at a steady weight is 2,684.3.  

According to Scooby's calculator, which you can find HERE, the numbers are identical.  BMR is 1953.  My daily caloric intake to maintain is 2,686.  (And a 5% reduction in calories to lose fat would be 2,551.) 

My Fitness Pal is slightly more generous, giving me 1,985 as my BMR (2,729 calories to maintain).  THIS metabolism calculator is even more generous, estimating I can eat 2,734 calories and maintain my weight.  The Tap & Track app on my phone, however, is EXTREMELY stingy, and only allows me 1,842 calories per day, even though I asked that it calculate my caloric needs based on no weight loss.  Lame.

Anyway, the point of all of that was just to point out that there is no exact way to calculate TO THE CALORIE, how much I should eat every day to lose weight.  I don't think any single person in the world can give me the mathematical equation to figure out MY exact BMR. 

I find that if I DO choose to modify my caloric intake and my exercise, it is not so difficult to remove 250 calories from my diet and work out to burn about 250 calories more.  The result is a 500 calorie deficit that SHOULD cause a one pound weight loss every week.  

My daily caloric goal right now is 2,192 (and according to Scooby, that number is pretty low).  When I add exercise calories to my daily limit, I estimate VERY low (meaning, I tell my handy little app on my phone that I did 45-60 minutes of light yoga when I may have done 75 minutes of moderate yoga).  If I go back to the paragraph above where I talk about simply burning an extra 250 calories, I really burn way more than 250 calories in any workout I do -- pole dancing, yoga or cycling.  Any of them easily provide me with 400 to 800 calories burned in an hour.  Therefore, if I do the math, I should be losing at least two pounds per week based on the calories I am eating and the calories I am burning. 

So how is it I follow all the "rules" and gain a pound?  And if 100 simple calories can lead to a 10 pound weight gain over a year, then the website I choose to follow can mean the difference between gaining and losing this year.  Plus, we haven't even gotten to the problem of medications and metabolism.  I feel like I must be at least slightly genetically different than my siblings as I am the only fat one.  I mean, if I have a "slow" metabolism (very possible considering all the dieting I've done over the years), that might mean I don't get to have 2,684 calories to maintain my weight.  Maybe my body requires 2,300.  How will I know?!  

I have been playing the calorie game for a very long time, so I KNOW about how much I can eat to maintain.  But then I try to lose a little weight and it doesn't happen for me.  If I eat too much, I gain.  If I eat too little, I gain (or at the very least, I don't lose).  How does that work?!

It is a very frustrating game.  No, I don't eat perfectly every day, but I have been making sure I don't go over my calorie goal.  Yet, I didn't lose a fucking thing.  Oh yeah, I didn't lose weight because I was too busy gaining.  Even IF the calories I chose were still slightly high for me, I have cut a significant number of calories from my work day by removing snacks from my desk.  That alone should have resulted in a weight reduction.  It just reminds me of a post I wrote about people's diet advice.  "If you just gave up those vitamin waters...or those cookies...or cupcakes, you'll drop weight like nobody's business!"  Yes, I post a ton of cupcake photos, but you'd be shocked to learn I don't actually eat cupcakes every day or even every week!  And actually, when I was at my lowest weight and in the best shape, I ate Dove chocolate every single day. 

I am trying very hard to be upbeat about the health benefits of eating well more often than not and working out every day regardless of whether I lose any weight.  But yeah, if I am busting my ass, it is a bummer when I don't lose weight.  And no, I don't want to follow some crazy fad diet or exercise craze.  I know the minute I stop, I will gain it all back (plus some).  Been there, done that.  So I am trying to eat normally every day and exercise regularly.  

Last time I lost weight (post-gastric bypass), I did it mostly by exercising twice a day.  That isn't healthy.  I didn't lose it quickly either.  I averaged one pound of weight loss per MONTH.  And the minute my life changed and I couldn't do it anymore, the weight started creeping back on.  I would rather maintain some as-yet undetermined higher weight than get back down to an un-maintanable weight.  So how do I choose that number (both weight and calories)?

I don't know yet.  I really don't know.  There is SOME number of calories that my body needs to eat to be a healthy weight.  I don't believe I am un-worthy of the HAES movement by admitting that I don't want to be THIS weight.  I don't have dreams of being some ridiculously small size either.  I just want to take a few pounds off and let my back and feet have some relief.

So, please feel free to comment with your theories about calories.  I don't want any diet advice.  I'm carefully navigating that scene on my own.  I don't believe I have a gluten intolerance.  No, I don't want to try Atkins.  I won't take any diet products and won't follow any nutty diet plans, so please don't pitch them here.  But do please tell me about how YOU think calories in/calories out works with different bodies and how YOU determine the number of calories that your body needs to survive.  

Bam!  My big ol' body just did that!

Stelara and Psoriasis

Last year, I started getting a shot called Stelara for my psoriasis.  Psoriasis is an auto-immune disease.  Where normal skin regenerates every 30 days, in the patches where there is psoriasis, that process can be sped up to every three days, making you have awesomely dry skin.  It is commonly found on the joint areas, like elbows and knees.  However, it can also grow in places where there was trauma to the skin, so imagine needing to be very careful while shaving.  I am very lucky that, on me, it generally sticks to my elbows and arms.  I also don't have it on my scalp, so I consider myself very lucky.  I have met people with it over almost every inch of their body.  I cannot even imagine how painful that would be.  Psoriasis is an incurable and not well-understood disease.    

Anyway, psoriasis is especially difficult if you're a pole dancer because traditional "fixes" include very heavy creams and ointments.  Makes you slide right off that pole.  If you had told me five years ago that I would not be slathering lotion on myself on a daily basis because I would be a pole dancer who needed my skin to stick, I would have laughed at you.  Some medications are also steroids and thin your skin.  You don't need your skin to slide right off on the pole either.  Another helpful treatment for psoriasis is exposure to the sun (helpful for skin cancer as well).  Since I didn't have time to come to the doctor's office for light box UV treatment, I did talk him into allowing me tanning booth time as an alternative.  Even though it's not the right kind of UV exposure, it still helped a little.  I also found that when I lost weight, my psoriasis was almost completely gone.  Stress is also a factor and my psoriasis coming back also could have been connected to very stressful things going on in my life around the same time. 

My biggest concern about taking Stelara is that it is an immuno-suppressant.  The last thing I need, especially now that I sit on BART almost two hours a day with lots of icky germs and coughing people, is to be more prone to catching a bug.  I have found, though, that staying somewhat active and taking echinacea have really kept me pretty healthy.  My doctor did say he didn't notice people getting sick more often on Stelara, but that they may stay sick longer if they did happen to catch something (and I noticed the same thing when I first started the shot but feel like I haven't been really sick in quite awhile -- knock on wood, that was not a challenge, Universe!).  I find if I get that feeling of itchy throat or a couple of sneezes, I take some Zicam and go to sleep early and I'm good to go.  

The bigger issue has been that my insurance company now deals with my shot differently (thanks, Obamacare!!).  It is no longer a "pharmacy" item, it is a "medical" item.  So it takes forever to get it approved and they are often late in getting it to me.  I only need to get this shot every three months but it is commonly two to four weeks late thanks to the incompetency of the insurance company and the crappy pharmacy they force me to use.  When the shot is late, the psoriasis starts to return and it often won't fully clear that cycle.  Getting the shot is also time consuming.  I could give myself the Enbrel and Humira shots at home.  Stelara requires me to go into the doctor's office.  And the office is not near my home or work, so it's one more thing on the to-do list.  That kind of sucks.  

Anyway, so if you want to check out some really bad before pictures, you can check out the link above (or you can look here).  And here are a couple of photos from this month.  My before-shot photo on November 4th and my after-shot photo today (the 19th).  Yeah yeah, you probably can't tell a huge difference but I can!



Monday, November 18, 2013

Poletry in Motion: Kitty Kats' Korner

So here is a random chain of events over the last few years that lead up to a champagne and cupcake party at a studio in Vacaville less than two weeks ago.

A few years back, I randomly started talking to Jade on Studio Veena's website.  That lead to her coming to Twirly Girls and now she teaches there.  She also goes to a studio closer to her home called Kitty Kats' Korner

Last year, around this time, I took Nadia and Mina to Sacramento for a workshop and met a lady named Jeanette.  She had been looking for a studio closer to her home and I mentioned Kitty Kats' Korner.  Maybe five or six months ago, a girl named Stephanie joined my Pole Dancers Unite group on Facebook.  I realize she's local and mention the Jade-Kitty Kat connection...and Stephanie already goes there!

One thing I really enjoy doing is taking photos of cupcakes and putting them on Facebook.  Everyone notices that I over-post cupcake photos.  One day, Stephanie says, hey we should have cupcake night, so fast forward to a Friday night just over a week ago and I came to Kitty Kats' Korner to have cupcakes and pole jam with some lovely ladies!

Kitty Kats' Korner is located in Vacaville.  It is inside the Naughty or Nice Boutique, which has the most adorable guard dogs, Bailey and Jedda.  The back room has been transformed into a very safe and sexy work space.  The warm-up was very sensual and fun.  There was (I believe) one brass pole and three Lil Mynxes.  Actually, I believe there were five poles, though, so now I need to go back and look over the photos.  But I digress.  I had never used a Lil Mynx and I really loved it.  They are powder-coated so you get a little bit more "stick" but you can still spin on them. 

After the warm up, and breaking up into groups with one beginner, one intermediate, and one advanced student, we worked on some moves.  Then we started mingling more and just had a lot of fun.  The cameras broke out and all the crazy photos started. 

At one point, Sandra, the owner, had everyone sit while a couple of different groups performed.  The vibe at Kitty Kats' is very sexy and sensual.  One of the groups did a very tactile number where they basically incorporated everything they touched into whatever they were doing.  They were in a circle around the outside of the room and they slowly moved around the room touching everything -- the walls, the floor, the feather boas hanging on the walls, the poles...  I was sitting so that I had a view of people coming around a corner.  The song was long -- but I was never bored and I anticipated every single person coming around that corner because I wanted to know how each person would incorporate that corner into their dance.  It was really awesome to watch. 

I really want to thank Sandra for allowing an outsider, Jade, Jeanette, Stephanie, and all of the girls for having me out for such a fun evening! 

Bailey and Jedda

You WILL love me, Jedda!
Kitty Kat Kristmas Tree
Jeanette, me and Jade

Stephanie and me

Stephanie and me

Kitty Kat Pile

Pretending I'm doing toothbrush

Friday, November 15, 2013

Three Months Post-Surgery ~ #HealingVikingWarrior

I am now three months post-surgery.  In August, I had plantar fascial release surgery to get the fascia away from a bone spur in my heel.  

About bone spurs:  http://lolorashel.blogspot.com/2013/03/bone-spurs-calcium-heart-attacks-and.html 

About taking care of yourself when you have an injury:  http://lolorashel.blogspot.com/2013/09/september-blog-hop-beauty-body-wellness.html

Two days before surgery:  http://lolorashel.blogspot.com/2013/08/surgery-is-in-two-days.html

Recovery has gone like this:  Month one: no activity.  I didn't work, I didn't work out.  I did a few stretches and things from my chair, or the floor, but otherwise, I was good.  Month two:  I went to Vegas and back to work wearing the moon boot still.  I was able to do a little more moving around but I still couldn't really do much.  However, every day, my foot felt a little better.  Month three:  Started back to pole, yoga and spin.  Recovery stops cold.  No better, no worse.  :-/  

I'm really a couple of weeks past my third month check-up.  I am working hard to get the swelling down in my foot.  My doctor said MOST people recover fully in three months.  Of course I'm not most people!  I'm definitely not in pain like I was before surgery, but I'm not out of pain either.  And my other foot hurts from bearing extra weight while I limped around.  Plus, my left hip is now hurting again (that's my old injury from a few years back), and my right lower back is out of whack.  It's very frustrating.  

I'm technically not supposed to be barefoot, so I will be wearing tennis shoes to pole.  Super hot, I know.  And I will carefully continue with yoga and spin.  I am still stretching and doing exercises to strengthen my calves and stretch them out as well.  My doctor said I have higher arches so it actually makes sense that it is harder to relax the fascia since it is pulled tighter.  I still have to tape my foot if I'm barefoot (which still isn't recommended EVER...I should literally have slippers with inserts by my bedside so even when I wake up, I'm in shoes) or if I'm wearing flip flops (also not recommended, except that I bought the $70 Othaheels that are slightly okay in my doctor's eyes).  I still have to roll my foot on the ball to massage it and ice it when it's really bad.  I am also drowning myself in Epsom salt baths and taking aspirin and Aleve (a big no-no post-gastric bypass). 

It is all so time consuming, expensive and frustrating.  Surgery definitely wasn't the quick fix, easy answer (I've been there before).  But I do appreciate that I am in less pain and am hopefully still moving in the right direction.

I took some photos of my healing journey (duh, have you met me?).  Enjoy some photos from the #healingvikingwarrior series.

Swelling in the right foot

About an inch difference in my calves

Probably one week post-surgery (they put a tube all the way through so there's one on the other side too)

Laying around after surgery

Leg lifts for exercise

I think that's a muscle

Post-surgery adventure (EDD actually required me to go pick up a form so my sister-in-law drove me and we made a stop)

How you carry stuff when you are on crutches

Hey my pants won't stay on

Getting better

More stretches and exercises with the surgical boot on

Upgraded to the moon boot

San Francisco adventure on the scooter...two peas in a pod

Moon boot fashion

The ink is almost gone (I seriously scrubbed even though I wasn't supposed to)


Ink is gone, finally!


More exercising and stretching

I used to have rock hard calves!


Only a tiny scar (matching one on the other side of my foot as well)

The size difference isn't as noticeable.  Don't tell my doctor I wore these shoes.

Back on the pole!

Dressing up as Candy for a photoshoot

Aerial Hammocks/Yoga

Fly Gym stretch

Yoga at Grace Cathedral