Routines!

Closed Gold it is!

Last week I got a pleasant surprise when I was emailed two routines, rumba and cha cha from my new instructors. Both were closed gold.

It was a surprise because I wasn’t expecting routines so quickly and because I was expecting closed silver instead of gold. Needless to say, I was pretty happy.

I was also able to get some practice in last week and slowly determine what I want to work on for exercises. Already I could feel some of the changes I have been working on starting to become part of my movements. I was also able to learn the full rumba and write out the cha cha before my lessons on the weekend (I only received the cha cha on Friday evening).

I had two private lessons, one with Lady Boss and one with Boss, followed by a 90 min semi private group class (only 5 students) focused on technique with Lady Boss.

The lesson with Lady Boss was focused on arm movements, giving me some movements to focus on and incorporate with my other exercises, was well as some movements for more ‘freestyle’ arm movements.

The lesson with Boss was focused on working on the rumba routine together. He was very happy to see that I knew the routine and already we were able to look into some of the details, again mainly making small adjustments due to differences between what I had done before. For example, adjusting where I step back from the fan to going straight back instead of at a diagonal angle.

The Bosses are away for the next two weekends competing in Asia, so I have a bit of a break in lessons. Boss told me he would like me to know the rumba, cha cha, and a samba which I am waiting to receive.

There has been another major change in how I do strength training. I had a meeting with my trainer who has been discussing options with my physio therapist. Around the same time, I managed to pull together an idea based on some conversations with Boss and my physio.

Long story short, I will not be doing any heavy lifting at the gym for quite some time. The main reason for that is that there is nothing I do in dance that requires me to move heavy weight. There is a lot that requires me to stabilize using my core and stabilizing muscles. That is the new focus on my exercises. None of my exercises require use of weights, except one (which can also be done with a theraband) and all of them focus on working the stabilizing muscles (eg. erectors, abs, obliques, adductors, abductors, and small glute muscles).

I do the exercises 4 days a week with some small variations to a couple of them to work the muscles slightly differently. I follow this with cardio – sprint intervals two days a week and sustained cardio on the elliptical the other two days.

I am eager to work into a regular pattern with these new exercises. I am looking forward to seeing if the change makes a difference in other areas where I have been struggling – mainly weight loss. Prior to competing at Emerald I suddenly dropped a lot of weight without expecting to. In hindsight, the only difference during that period was that I wasn’t doing weight training due to the hip bursitis. That is leading me to think that one of the major barriers to my weight loss may be doing the heavy lifting. When I first lost the weight in 2012, it is interesting to note that I didn’t do any heavy lifting exercises then either. Seems to be too much to be a coincidence. Time will tell.

Unfortunately, getting started has been delayed a little. Over the past 3 weeks I have been struggling with some on-going issues – dizziness, exhaustion, digestive issues, frequent headaches, fuzzy head, unexpected weight gain, bloating, and almost constant yawning. It took me a while to put it all together because I was attributing it to stress and other factors, but once I did I realized they are all side effects to the medication I am on for menopause. I experienced similar side effects when taking the medication before in 2017.

The most difficult issue has been the exhaustion. I had actually increased my caffeine intake from a max of 1 cup of coffee to 4 a day to try to overcome it. Every thing I did took far too much energy and motivation and I had been basically walking through things. I spoke with a doctor and we are switching back to another medication which will help with most of the symptoms, but not the hot flashes. There is a period of transition between the two meds where I am reducing the dose of the previous while taking the new, but I am hopeful that in a few days things will start to feel ‘normal’ again.

I really want to just get back to doing things I enjoy – dance practice, and my strength training.

Afterall, I have new routines to learn.

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Change

Change is hard.

The reality of how much change I have to do really set in during my lessons last weekend. Even though I expected and knew there would be a lot of adjustments to make changing instructors, the reality still hits a little hard.

I had moments during my lesson when I seriously though I should go back to bronze and start over. I just keep reminding myself we are focusing on details which are supported by my foundation.

One of the biggest things I am discovering is that there is a profound difference in interpretation of latin and latin technique between Old and New Boss. Once you consider that they each have difference areas of focus and ways of teaching, it all adds up quickly.

I am also having a little bit of difficulty adapting to lessons only on the weekends, or every other week. I am finding it harder to retain everything because there is such a gap between lessons and reviews.

All things I have to work out as I work through the change. Nothing I have encountered is unexpected and I seem to be on track – first I was excited about all the changes, then the reality of the multitude of changes has set in making me second guess everything. I hope that next things stop feeling so ‘foreign’ and I am able to figure how to make the changes work.

It didn’t help that last week was so crazy with my graduation, my mom visiting, and two days of commuting 3 hours for work there wasn’t any time to practice or even work out what that practice should look like.

This week however, I am already on a good track with 75 mins of practice in yesterday. I took all the points from my lessons and made exercises from them for me to work on, but the main issue I am encountering right now is that there are so many details and points in each exercise to focus on my mind (and my body) is all over the place.

But its a starting point.

New Boss is still doing some evaluation. At my last lessons we reviewed the points in rumba and then switched to samba. We started working on cruzado walks, which were small changes, followed by whisks. He quickly picked up on the main point I often got from Old Boss – that my hips are swinging more like a pendulum than samba action. So main exercise – transferring my weight to a position where my trailing hip is elevated.

At least something I recognize has needed to be corrected for a long time, but I haven’t had a chance to focus on it previously.

A big difference between Old and New Boss came out during the rumba review. With Old Boss, we tended to focus on the leg action and steps and added arms later when we did styling. I had some basic things I would do on my own, but we never really talked much about the arms specific to the steps.

For New Boss, its all a package. For example, we were doing hip twist to fan in rumba and as I moved to cross New Boss I was trailing my arm behind me and doing what I usually do. He stopped and asked me why I was doing that. Mainly, its to get my arms out of my way. We then took the time to make some adjustments to the arms, but the surprising thing was that we worked on the arms together as a couple. It sounds strange, but as we were doing it I felt like I had never taken into consideration my partner when thinking about arms and how I transition from hold, keep my arms out of the way, etc. – at least not with basic steps.

We talked about how arms are part of the step and technique and separate from styling. It makes sense, but again – so much work to do!

I am still struggling to adapt to the nuances between the two Bosses as partners. There are small but marked differences in how they lead certain steps (not unexpected) that mean I have to step slightly different because where one led a step straight forward, the other led it slightly to the side.

New Boss also calls me out whenever I don’t look at him when I am suppose to. Its awkward, but good for me as it forces me to connect and will build that habit.

There are times I almost want to ask New Boss to go back through all the syllabus steps so I can see how he does them and adapt. That’s the perfectionist in me talking though. For now, I need to keep going and adjust as I can.

It may seem all negative, but really it is not. It is change, which is neither negative nor positive, it is just different. I am trying to not compare the two Bosses, but it is hard and likely a bit of a defence mechanism so I don’t feel completely overwhelmed.

I have two more (possibly 3 – one with Lady Boss) lessons this weekend, then a two week break while the Bosses are away competing overseas. I hope to work out the exercises before then and hopefully reduce the current number of them to some small fundamentals that will focus on the big changes I need to make.

I can already tell I am slowly making changes in how I dance. Its slow, but it is something. I am definitely working harder than before at moving all my muscles and that I do like. Its a challenge I am working to embrace.

But change is still hard.

Time to Reset

I have reached the end of what has been a particularly busy month.

Starting with competing at Emerald Ball, then a major evaluation at work was followed by two weeks on a training course in Germany. Not to mention the changes in dance which haven’t even really taken effect yet.

Whew. I’m still a little jet lagged and yesterday at work was spent trying to catch up on the last two weeks while also managing the current workload, but slowly I am working to reset myself and settle into a new pattern.

One of the first things that is happening is the implementation of cognitive behaviour therapy for my insomnia. I have been having sessions to learn about sleep and insomnia and tracking my sleep patterns to get an idea of my sleep habits. They are not bad in general, but I am still reliant on regular sleep medication, which is something left over from chemotherapy. I had issues with sleep before I got sick, but my medication use was once a month on average, not nightly. The goal of this program is to eliminate the need for medication altogether.

What it involves right now is essentially resetting my sleep patterns. Based on the information from tracking my sleep, the doctor determined that I tend to need an average of 6.5 hours a night. That leads to permitted time in bed from 1130 to 6. At 1030 pm I start triggering sleep by dimming lights, turning off tv and electronics and preparing for bed. I then read on the couch until 1130 when I go to bed to try to sleep. If I can’t get to sleep in 15-20 mins, I am to get out of bed, go back to the living room and do something quiet until I feel sleepy then return. If I wake up before 6 am, it is the same thing unless it is less than an hour before.

Right now, I am still taking a low dose of melatonin before bed, but I am not allowed to take any medication. I am also not allowed to nap (which I don’t do anyway). I think the jet lag is helping some because the first two nights haven’t been an issue. I see the doc again in 2 weeks and we will adjust the program from there – the next step likely phasing out the melatonin. I am eager to see how this goes because I have been wanting to get off of sleep aids for quite some time.

So that is resetting my sleep. Another thing I am resetting is my strength training workouts. Today I will return to them and see how my hip handles the exercises. Since it has been so long since I have worked at the gym I expect today is going to result in some good DOMS, but hope that there is no other issue. I am going to be reducing my weight some from where I was since it has been almost 2 months. I also have permission to try running again – starting with 15 seconds of running and 2:15 of walking for a total of 25 mins. A low level, but hopefully one that will allow me to gradually build to my goal of 2:00 running, 30 seconds of walking for 25 mins. This week, I will only have today and tomorrow at the gym to give a slower start for my body. Next week I will do all 4 days.

And then there is dance. Monday I was able to do a skype call with new Boss to discuss a plan and figure out when I will start lessons. June 16th will be the first day and I will do 2 lessons with him so he can see where I am, where my strengths and weaknesses are and get an idea of how I work to determine a plan moving forward. I have also been invited to do an invitation-only semi-private group class with Lady Boss focused on basic techniques on the days I am over for lessons, which I will try on the 16th too.

Following that first lesson, new Boss and I will discuss what he is thinking and determine a way forward. At this time, he is not quite sure what level he is going to recommend for me and I am pretty open about what we do. My instinct is closed gold, but I will go with his recommendation. Based on our conversation, I am excited and a bit nervous to begin working with him.

Until then, it is up to me to figure out a schedule for practice. Both he and Lady Boss were impressed when I described my self-practice, particularly with the way I structure it. They are more than willing to support that and Lady Boss will be sending me some videos of exercises after she returns from Blackpool (new Boss won’t return until a week later) for me to try before we meet on the 16th. I have an idea of how I am going to structure the practice and starting next week I will see how it works in reality at the gym – meaning making sure there is space available to work, and seeing how it fits with my own routine. It won’t be too much different from what I was doing before. I will still do 1 hour three times a week right after work; I just won’t have a lesson. Its less volume of dance overall during the week, but it may be a good thing to help me avoid injury and over-training. On the weekends I am not on the mainland for lessons, I will also practice an hour on my own to run through routines. Its a plan for now and we will see how it goes. I will be going to the mainland more or less every other weekend and will average 4 45-min lessons + the 90 min group class while I am there.

It will likely be the fall before I compete for the first time with new Boss, but that is not really different from what I planned previously. It will take until the fall before my budget will allow competing and that gives a good amount of time to adjust to dancing and working with new Boss.

The other area I am doing a reset is my diet. All the chaos of traveling has really tossed it off the rails and now that I am home I am more than ready to return to my regular eating habits. Because I will be doing slightly less exercise during the week, I may need to modify it a little, but considering I lost more weight doing less work in the gym it may not be necessary. I have some ideas for adjusting and it will take a little trial and error but I will see how it goes. I gained some weight while in Germany, but it is already dropping back off again. Once I get into a regular pattern and figure out what works I will reset my weight goals.

Finally, I will have a weekend to myself and I am going to do some spring cleaning around my apartment. Better late than never :). I have just noticed that there seems to be a lot of clutter around that I want to sort and organize, particularly on my dresser and end tables. It shouldn’t take long and I know I will feel much better once it is done.

Overall, it just feels good to have a plan again, even knowing there will need to be modifications here and there. I think it is good to reset every once in a while and since at this point I don’t expect to be doing any major traveling for a while this summer will be a great time to do it.

I am missing dance and regular lessons, but soon that gap should be filled.

Reset and move forward.

Big Changes Coming

I mentioned in my last post that there are some big changes coming to how I dance.

  1. I will no longer be working with Boss.
  2. I will be specializing in Latin only.

The first is occurring because Boss has made the decision to stop competing, the second as a result of no viable pro/am 10-dance option available in either my immediate area or even within reasonable commuting distance.

I was not surprised with Boss’s decision. Its been coming for a long time and if I am honest, I really have just been waiting for him to finalize it and tell me. I had a very strong suspicion before the competition that it would be my last with Boss.

Because I subconsciously knew what was coming, I think I also began to subconsciously figure out a plan for what to do after. Once Boss told me the news, I realized I had already laid a little bit of the groundwork, I just needed to gather details and make a final decision myself.

One thing that really stood out to me at Emerald was how much my latin styling needs a lot of work, and how much it detracts from the rest of my dancing. I also noticed that when it comes to standard, I was also missing styling there as well. That led me to the decision after we finished dancing to reach out to the dancer who designed my dresses (who was also at the competition with her husband who was competing with his students) to ask about pricing and if she could do regular lessons with me in styling.

When Boss told me his decision, it didn’t take long for me to realize that the best option for now would be to specialize in latin and see if I could work with the gentleman of the couple as a pro/am student. I discussed this idea briefly with Boss, and while I think he was surprised he too agreed it did make sense as the best option.

I reached out to the couple to see if they would take me on as a pro/am student and they agreed. I say ‘they’ because they train their students as a couple, so I will be working with each of them as they feel necessary.

Unfortunately, everything is not quite as easy as it might sound.

As I mentioned before, I live on an Island off the west coast of North America. The couple, live and work on the mainland. Its a 90 minute ride on a ferry that can be extremely busy and is expensive for a vehicle. It also doesn’t run every hour or sometimes even every other hour, and it is a 45 minute drive from my apartment to the terminal. I can walk on the ferry and take public transport to the studio where they work, but it is a 45 min to 1 hour trip.

Needless to say, going over to the mainland and back on a weekday evening when I have to work the next day is not going to be possible. I am going to be limited to mainly working with them on the weekends, and I know from doing dress fittings that it can be almost a full day trip if I don’t stay overnight. Going over every weekend would quickly burn me out, so I have proposed going over an average of every other weekend and doing 4 lessons, ideally over two days.

The couple, who I will call New Boss and Lady Boss until I come up with something more creative, are currently away in Britain training for Blackpool later this month. I won’t be able to start with them until June, and I will be away when they return from the training before the competition. There is a small window we may be able to figure out details, but we will have to see. Until we can work out details, I really don’t know when I will restart dancing and training, or what that training will look like exactly.

I am optimistic we will be able to work out a system that works for all 3 of us and the commute.

Already, I have discussed some preliminary things with them, such as cost and level. They are more expensive to work with than Boss, but that is expected. This couple are Blackpool Rising Star Pro Latin Champions, and regularly place in the top 48 in major World competitions. Because I am specializing in latin though, I don’t need to take 3 lessons a week, so to stay in budget I will cut back to an average of 2.

For level, they are recommending I go back to doing closed routines to build a stronger technical foundation. I have already agreed, although I know we will discuss it further when we meet. I am well aware that there are some major gaps in my latin, styling aside, and I have no issues with working to fill those gaps and strengthen my dancing overall. I know already that this couple have different focuses for dance than Boss and I am looking forward to seeing where they want to start.

I am going to miss standard. It is one of the biggest hesitations I have with this plan, but I am looking at Boss’s decision as an opportunity to do focused work in latin, and that I will be able to return to standard at a later date to resume 10-dance. I intend to dance for a long time yet and there is certainly time to go back to standard when the time is right.

For now, my plan it to trial working on the mainland and see how it works. There is a strong possibility that this time next year I might receive word that work is moving me to a new location, and if that happens, hopefully there will be an option for a 10-dance pro or even a partner there. If the decision is made that I will stay here, I can evaluate where I am at and see if there is a viable option to resume both styles.

I will also miss working and dancing with Boss, but in many ways the time has come for me to move on, even if he was going to continue competing with his students. I have spent the past 6.5 years working with Boss and just absorbing and taking in all he had to teach me. It was an extremely rough time, considering my illness, and when I started with him, I never would have guessed that my journey would take me to where I am now. I am extremely grateful to Boss for all he has taught me and put into my dancing and the opportunities he has given throughout our time working together. I truly wish him well in the future.

Change is scary and hard, but I don’t find myself feeling as I expected I might. I am sad to be leaving behind Boss and standard, but I am generally happy with my decision to specialize in Latin and work with New Boss and Lady Boss. I don’t feel anxious going into the future, but optimistic that my dancing will continue to develop leading me to reach a new level. If I were to feel anxious about anything, its managing the commute between my schedule and my new coaches. For now, until I am able to sit down and discuss my training with them I can only wait and see what the plan will be. At this point, I have sent them only some background on my dancing and me, as well as some information about my goals and some information on how I have worked previously. From here, it is up to them.

Change is hard, but it often brings us to places we didn’t expect to go.

And so, off I go…

 

Emerald Ball

What an amazing experience!

I am really glad I decided to do this comp in the end. I placed well in the open silver latin events, but other than that I was close to the bottom everywhere. I am not disappointed in that because I know the depth of the field at that event and in the end, my personal dancing was very strong – truly the goal for me.

It was a great two days competing. Our schedule worked really well with just enough of a break between dances to recover and feel fresh for the next set. I really felt I was able to put my best dancing on the floor.

That’s not to say that everything went smoothly. As expected, there were glitches here and there with little mess ups and sometimes difficulty navigating some very busy dance floors. I also caught my heel on my dress a couple times in standard, having to stop to fix it.

My body felt good and even today I am a little achy through my back and tight in my hip flexors, but much better than I expected to be. No blisters at all from the comp – truly a great achievement in itself!

From the videos and how things felt, I was able to understand and get a great idea of where I am at, and some ideas for working in the future. Seeing what others are doing helped me to recognize areas I need a lot of work and what my own dancing in lacking.

In short, this competition experience was exactly what I hoped it would be, and I wouldn’t hesitate to return to Emerald Ball in the future.

Now that we are home, its time to re-evaluate and figure out a plan for the future. We did a little bit of planning on the way home and needless to say, due to a number of factors, there are some extremely BIG changes coming to the way that I train. I will write about them later this week, or even later tonight.

Suffice it to say the changes are sending me in a direction I didn’t expect to go in so soon, but knew inevitably would come. One of them is permanent, but the other I hope will be temporary, although only the future will tell. They are big enough changes to make the experience of Emerald Ball a little bittersweet, but they don’t diminish the overall experience at all.

One thing that surprised me (although perhaps it shouldn’t have) is how much I enjoyed being on the competition floor again. Competing is truly where I want to be and this weekend just absolutely confirmed that.

My new dresses were amazing and felt great to dance in. Well worth the investment.

That is all for now, but I do promise to let you know about the changes very soon. I am still processing them myself in many ways.

So good to be back on the floor.

Sweat

Seems like an odd topic for a post, but there it is.

Why? Because this is something that seems to be permeating into my dance in ways I didn’t expect.

One thing I have learned about sweat is that the fitter you are, the more you sweat and in more places. I guess as your body gets stronger it also gets more efficient at cooling itself – and that means sweat.

What is significant about sweat for me right now is the variety of places I am finding I am sweating as I work – whether in the studio or the gym.

Case in point – I am having issues right now with my side planks. Not because they are difficult, but because my forearms and elbows are sweating so much I keep sliding on the mat making them harder to hold. Its even an issue when I take the time between sets to mop off my arm and the mat.

Another place I am sweating a lot I didn’t expect are my knees. Anyone else get sweaty knees? I noticed today I had wet marks on my pants from where my knees were sweating through the fabric.

All of this to say that despite how inconvenient it may be (especially as I soak through a pair of practice shoes each night at dance making me prone to blisters), it is also a sign that my body is slowly getting stronger.

The last time I noticed myself sweating this much and in so many different places, was back well before I got sick when I lost my first round of weight. I guess in some ways I am equating them both together and that one is a sign of the beginning of a return to another.

Regardless, it appears that sweat is good.

Upping the Ante

Tonight’s lesson was about Paso.

When the coach was here, he made some small changes to the paso and we worked through the routine from top to bottom, but we didn’t have a chance to go over it with Boss.

Tonight we worked through the first half of the paso to incorporate the changes, the coaching and to work on it with the music.

There were some details to work out in the alignment and some places where I needed to rotate more to make it all work. Once we got the details worked out, we focused on running through the first part with the music at speed.

Tonight was the first time we tried any part of the paso at full speed. That said, other than having to adjust a lot to moving faster initially, by the end of the lesson it wasn’t going too bad. There are definitely some rough patches, but it was doable.

We recorded it at the end of the lesson, and the video doesn’t look as bad as I thought it might. I am clearly tired, but there are some good things happening. It looks promising. Next up is to do the same with the second part to put it all together.

My last few lessons have really upped the ante on our preparations. We are dancing more in lessons and running the routines where we can. In total, I am spending a lot more time in my lessons working hard and more intensely. Generally, I like it.

Of course, with any increase in activity there are some trickle down effects. My body is definitely feeling it. After Monday’s lesson, I was surprised to find my left knee a bit swollen and it was aching so bad when I was trying to sleep I had to get up to put some voltaren on it. The voltaren seems to be working and keeping the pain at bay.

I also stayed for the 90 minute group class today – 45 latin, 45 standard. It went well, but again I could feel the fatigue.

This week in itself is a bit of an adjustment week for me. Its the first week doing full strength training, dance, practice, ballet, the group class and an extra lesson which is going to be the ‘new normal’ until the competition, more or less. I expect my body will take a little while to adjust, but really hope it will adjust. I am doing my best to take care of it best I can making sure it is getting good rest, epsom salt soaks, voltaren and trying to listen to what my body is telling me.

And that is how we are upping the ante.

Figuring out the “Where”

I am finding that is a theme with dance right now.

First, on a good note, my back is doing better, although not completely pain free yet. I got permission to try without the back brace and see how things go. My physio did some aggressive needling on my back and hip today too which should help. I was able to dance quickstep more or less full out last night with only minor tweaks, as well as do my regular lower body workout.

I met with my trainer this morning as well and we made some small adjustments to my exercises to ensure I am not aggravating my back doing them. Physio also added a “clamshell” exercise to help my hip.

All of that aside, one of the things we are doing in dance right now is identifying where I need to do things.

I have reached a point where I understand more or less how to do sway in standard and twisting in latin, but I am not sure where I really need to do it.

On Monday, Boss gave me some small sequences to do as exercises in both latin and standard. Part of that includes a piece in waltz where the focus is completely on the sway to the point of purposely overdoing it to really get it in my head.

One of my biggest issues is that if I am not told to do something, I will always try to not do it. What we are working on right now is more or less enabling me to do movements. I expect as I build on this and go over more of the routines I will start picking up on other places to do it automatically.

The plan is to look at where I should be twisting my body more in my latin routines to make sure I am taking advantage and using the movement as much as I can.

We spent yesterday really digging into the open quickstep, particularly some of our runs. The focus there is keeping up on my toes and trying not to ‘bounce’ and ‘jump’ as we move. It was pretty easy to pick out the places where I am not staying on my toes when I need to – so more to work on, and yes another exercise.

I am taking it easy this week to keep my back rested, but plan to return to practice next week and see how it goes. Despite the issues I am having, we do seem to be making progress. I have 2 weeks before I am away for a week on a cruise (a vacation one, not work).

But lots of time to focus on figuring out the ‘where’.

Battling On

My battle with injuries is continuing.

To be honest, I am not sure if I am winning or not, but I am still able to stay active and I am hopeful that when I see physio on Friday I won’t end up in ‘forced rest’.

For the most part, except for running (which I do avoid now), some walking and if I go too fast up stairs, my hip seems to be ok – except when it isn’t.

The reason I say that is that it seems to be a bit unpredictable. I can do a lesson completely focused on Latin and have only a small bit of pain near the end, but some days, like yesterday, a random move I have done several times already tweaks it and I get shooting pain through my hip and down my leg.

Regardless, I can feel my frustration mounting.

My shoulders have been a bit up and down, but this morning I woke up more sore than I have been in a while for no reason I could figure out. They have remained sore all day, although they weren’t an issue during my workout.

My workout are at least one silver lining. I feel 100% better about them, even when the lunges seem to be causing me a bit of problem due to a tight quad muscle. They are hard, but not too hard and I feel like I am making better progress than I was before.

Of course, it is only the beginning of week 2.

One of the other things I will add is that doing cardio right after strength training is harder than I expected it to be. It’s only 25 minutes of sustained cardio but I can tell my body is working hard to get through it.

I have also been blasting through the calories quite a bit to the point I have had to modify my diet to eat more calories during the day so I am not having to eat so many after dance at night. I can tell I still need to make a couple more adjustments – in particular to up my protein but I am feeling better this week with the modifications.

I do wish it all didn’t seem like such a battle. It’s not a battle because it is hard, but because I always seem to be fighting against something not ‘feeling right’. Whether it is my hip or shoulder or something else, there is always something that makes me feel like I am being held back.

There are also the menopause symptoms which are coming with the new workout. The hot flashes sometimes seem constant and yesterday I couldn’t cut through the foggy brain to focus in on anything. It made my lesson difficult because my brain wouldn’t engage and my own practice almost useless because I couldn’t seem to focus on anything.

It doesn’t help that I can’t seem to nail down an effective way to practice right now. Mostly I am just running through our silver routines to try and get them in my head but I am not sure what to focus on for technique exercises.

My lessons themselves have been really good lately. We are getting a lot of work done on the open routines and cleaned up some pieces in the open waltz, tango, cha cha, paso, and samba. We have reviewed the silver routines together once, but we will have to go through them again to help them come together. I am looking forward to that.

School is also causing some stress right now. I am working on my final course and the volume of material is proving tricky to keep up with. I am also not really engaged with the subject so that makes the course more tedious than it would be otherwise. Ironically, I am actually dealing with an issue at work that is exactly what the course is about but because of the nature of the issue I can’t use it for school.

This week is going to be hard.

It actually already is because I can feel myself dragging to stay motivated and engaged with all I need to do. Being the second week of a new workout my body also hasn’t adjusted to it yet and is feeling more tired than usual. My ‘to do’ list is long.

But, this week will pass and I will get through it a day at a time and a task at a time. I keep reminding myself that I have only 4.5 weeks of school left and I will have completed my degree!

After that, I can focus more on dance and will have time for other things – not to mention having time to relax a little more and take some much needed ‘me’ time. Its been a long 2 years to get this Masters done, but I am almost there.

Not to mention 3 weeks until I am on vacation – a cruise in the western Caribbean (a real one – not one with work this time!) for a week. Following that, I have some extra time off which will include lessons with a latin coach I have worked with from out east. I am definitely looking forward to that!

In the meantime, I will continue to do battle and get through this challenging period of my life knowing there are good things to come on the other side.

Like competing again.

Revisiting Silver

Last Friday during my lesson we went over our silver routines.

Oy. Lots of work to do there, beginning with re-memorizing the sequences to do them on my own.

There is a bit of a different dimension to them – but that is to be expected considering how long it has been since I have worked on them – how I dance now is different.

I am focusing on working on and reviewing the routines during my self practice, working to rebuild them, strengthen them and incorporate the different techniques I now have in my dance.

Its proving harder than I expected, but its only been a couple days so I am not that surprised. I mostly feel a little unfocused working on them – like I am not completely sure what I should be doing with them. I am sure that will come as I keep working and Boss and I review them together.

I also was able to meet with my trainer today to look at my strength program. She made some significant changes and I am cautiously optimistic that they might shake things up a bit and better support my goals. I will be doing strength training 4 days a week now, followed by some cardio. The strength training is divided into 2 different ‘days’ – upper and lower body – which allows a little more overall work. There is a lot more leg work than I am was doing previously but less upper body work. It is also more balanced overall. The goal is more endurance and less power with higher reps and lower weight.

I will see how it goes as I work to make the changes.

I wish I had time to write more, but I am pretty bogged down with school right now and it is really sucking at my spare time. I may be a little scarce till March, but I am sure my writing will pick up more.

Especially as we get closer to competing again.