Try keep up

One of the main things dissuading me from stopping boxing was an overwhelming fear that I’d lose my hard-earned figure. I’ve only learned to be proud of my body, for the first time in my life, within the past 12 months and even at that, my relationship with my body is fractious at best. Yes, I am vain. Deal with it. Being proud of my body is VERY important to me.

I was aware that cutting the number of weekly intense workouts in half would have an impact on my body. I hoped that by continuing to lift very heavy things & do brutal circuits with Coach twice a week, I could maintain most of my muscle mass, and athletic shape. Sure, I anticipated that my body might change, and my overall fitness levels would drop, but I told myself that all the benefits of pursuing new activities, and developing the creative/artistic side to my personality that has been neglected for far too long would outweigh the physical downsides. Rationally, I still believe the trade-off to be worthwhile. Emotionally, however… I’m finding this hard. Its been a month since I stopped boxing. So far, by carefully adapting my dietary requirements, I have avoided putting on any weight. Work stress has acted as an unanticipated appetite suppressant. I’ve actually lost 5 lbs, without noticing any significant decrease in my strength and lifts. This is good news, yeah? Well…

Yesterday, at salsa, I looked good. Tight red pants, black high heels, fabulous top. I was feeling the music and ALMOST wiggling my hips. Until I noticed Beaut observing me with a perplexed air. “Vanilla… I think… I’m pretty sure… your butt shrank.” Impossible: since birth, I’ve been blessed with a lot of junk in my trunk. I am proud of the booté. I work hard for the booté to be perky and pleasant. “Ok, maybe I am wrong Vanilla, and it is just the cut of your pants… but nope. I’m pretty sure the space occupied by your bum has decreased.”

Y’all. Do you know how hard it is to dance salsa while peering into the mirror to see all possible angles of one’s posterior chain? I totally crashed into my partners, multiple times, because of my distracted, upset state.

During a break, I confided to Beaut that not only did I think he might be right, but that this had totally overset me. “Vanilla, what did you expect? You stopped training. Your body will change.” I admitted I had lost weight. “See, good! It shows! This is a good thing, right? You decreased your training, and have kept your weight under control! Nice.” Well, no, not if I am going to have a flat-ass! Consolingly, he reminded me that some men do like skinny bitches. #helpful

Later in class, our salsa teacher showed us an optional move where the guy lifts up his dance partner and spins her in the air. Beaut announced to the class that yeah, no, he would only be trying that with the wee tiny girls. Turning to me, “you’re way too stocky for me to lift you. Don’t even suggest it.” I gave him The Look. “Vanilla, you are 5’9”, and weigh at least 150lbs [I actually weigh 160lbs]. I’m not going to risk injuring myself! Be realistic here.” Beaut noticed my face redden with ill concealed rage (meanwhile, out of the corner of my eye, I could see Teacher watching our interaction with glee – all that was missing was a bucket of popcorn, and Teacher’s entertainment would have been complete), “Women! YOU ARE SO COMPLICATED. First you are upset that I noticed you lost weight and are slimmer and now you are upset that I said you are too heavy for this move. MAKE UP YOUR MIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIND.”

I did make up my mind. I made up my mind to NOT chose him as my next dance partner. Hmph. But when we did dance together a few songs later, Beaut surprised me by attempting the move, which we executed with the grace and skill of two hippos dancing on pointe.

So yeah. I definitely reinforced every man’s knee-jerk reaction to tread very carefully whenever mentioning a woman’s weight. When it comes to navigating my body’s changes throughout this period of transition, Imma be THE female stereotype. #noshame #ridiculous

I'm one step away from being this girl...

I’m one step away from being this girl…



A highly accurate, scientific comparison of weight loss prep between male and female boxers

To all my non-boxers out there: you are probably aware that there are multiple weight categories in boxing, for the safety of the boxers and the fairness of the fights. Typically, a boxer will have an everyday walking weight that is heavier than their fighting weight category, and will drop weight in time for the weigh-in which usually occurs btn 4 and 36 hours before the fight (depending on the importance of the fight, and if it is amateur/pro. The time gap between weigh-in and fight is longer the more serious the fight, to allow fighters adequate time to recover from some of the more extreme weight loss techniques and rehydrate and re-energize.)

It’s competition season at the gym. Everyone is discussing weight categories, diets, strategies, non stop. I’m gearing up for my first fight in 2 years, and so I am in the midst of my own weight loss journey. It has come to my attention that the female and male boxers at my gym prep VERY differently for their weight. Here is a totally accurate, extremely scientific summary of how each gender makes weight.

Female fighters

6 weeks out: The female fighter will weigh herself furtively. Pretend it never happened. Start planning out her social calendar to see how many events she will be attending before her fight, and the nature of those events: will there be food? If so, what kind of food. Using that information, the female fighter will determine a reasonable amount of weight that can be lost in the 6 week period. Then, the female fighter will talk to Coach about her feelings: “Coach, I feel I should fight at X weight. I feel that will make me taller than the other girls, and faster. I feel that is what I should do.” Coach will ask her if she can drop that weight. The female fighter will start listing her calendar, the moon cycle, the levels of stress in her life, the situation at work, the weather as relevant factors. Coach’s eyes glaze over, and he never gets a yes or no answer to his question.

4 weeks out: the female fighter determines when her next period will be, and how the timing of it will impact her weight loss plan. Inevitably, it impacts her plan negatively, because inevitably, the female fighter forgot to factor in the entirely predictable, recurring bloat from PMS in her initial calculations for her reasonable weight-loss timetable. The female fighter shares her period symptoms (flow, number of shits, cramps, cravings) with all the other female fighters. Specific commiseration is reserved for the female fighters who are likely to get their period on the day of weigh-in.

3 weeks out: the female fighter posts hangry memes on Facebook and Instagram. She updates all her fellow boxers about each cheat meal/bite she has taken and frets that one cookie will derail her entire boxing career. She mutters reassuring half-sentences to herself, “It’s ok, if I stick to my diet, no more cheats, I should be ok. I’ll be ok. I just have to not eat anything when I go for brunch with all my best friends next weekend. I don’t need to eat anything. It’s my favourite restaurant – I’ve been there before; I can skip food this one time. It’s for a good cause.” The female fighter cuts all alcohol from her diet.

2 weeks out: The price of celery goes up across all grocery stores in the city. Every male boxer in the gym has heard about every female boxer’s weight loss struggles and is uncomfortably familiar with their menstrual cycle and impact on their body. At least one female fighter has had a freak out and questioned her place in the Universe, “If I can’t even be disciplined and stick to my diet plan for just a few weeks, what does that say about who I am as a person? I don’t think I have the mental fortitude to be a fighter. Maybe I should move up a weight category. I don’t WANT to move up a weight category: I like MY weight category. I’m just immature, I lack dedication. A grown-ass woman should be able to survive without chocolate or candy for a few weeks, no?! But I LIKE chocolate and candy. This sport is stupid.”

Daily for 2 weeks straight: the female fighter will weigh herself 1-4 times a day, and can guesstimate her fluctuations due to clothes, time of day, mood, and humidity. She’ll do daily cardio sessions, talk about her weight to coworkers, friends, teammates, strangers on the bus, and her cat.

Day of the weigh-in: the female fighter will abstain from food or liquids and weigh in at +/- 0.25lbs, stripped down to her underwear. The female fighter will then look at a protein bar or banana and promptly regain 5lbs.

Male fighters

At some point in the 3-4 weeks leading up to a fight, while they are sitting around joking with their teammates, one of them will perk up, turn to Coach and ask, “Hey Coach, am I fighting in (choose one) weight category? Yeah? Ok. I should probably drop 15lbs then”.

3 days later: “Coach, I lost 7lbs. I ate a veggie.”

1 week before the fight: “Oh, I’m still 8lbs overweight. I guess I’ll cut out alcohol from my diet.”

Day of the weigh-in: makes weight with a 2lb buffer.


The Dynamo trip: extreme wedding prep

Everyone warned me about the food in Beirut: it is in a class of its own. Every day, I’ve said I’ll eat a reasonable amount of food. Every day, I’ve eaten the most decadent, delicious, salty food in obscene quantities. I’ve redefined my concept of bloating. Despite working out every day, for at least an hour, sometimes even twice a day, I’ve a much fuller figure, due to the insane water retention.

Dynamo’s wedding is in 7 hours. My dress. My tight, non-stretch, sexy dress. How to fit into it?! (Never mind sitting in it, or dancing. One step at a time.)

Easy. Move into the hotel sauna, for an hour or two. Refrain from imbibing any liquids or foods other than coffee during the day.

Who cares if my face is the same shade of red as the painting in the background? That is what makeup is for.

Cutting weight for a boxing fight is less intense than the preparation for this wedding.


Recap of all previous posts related to the Trip To See Dynamo Lawfully Wedded: Who’d Have Ever Guessed He’d Find A Woman Crazy Enough To Marry Him.

That time I hurt Coach’s feelings

Yesterday morning I tried on my dress for Dynamo’s wedding (T-7 till I get on the plane!!!! Weeeeeeeeee!) to make sure it still fit. I’ve put on 3lbs since I bought it during the holidays, so I was concerned – it is extremely form-fitting, with cut-outs at the waist, made out of material with no stretch. The last thing I want is to spill out of the cut-outs: not sexy. When I bought the dress, my posture had to be perfect to avoid spillover. A 3lbs weight-gain, under such circumstances, is a big deal.

To my surprise, the dress fight perfectly around the torso and waist – a sign that my weight gain is primarily muscle mass and not fat. Yay. HOWEVER, there was a small problem: the dress had grown tighter around the butt & upper thigh area. My booty had grown. Tribute to all those squats, deadlifts and box jumps, no doubt.

At the gym last night, I asked Coach how I could reduce my booty: more cardio? starvation? high reps low weight? I had 2 weeks to slim down the lower body to fit into the dress. With his help, I was confident I could achieve the exact body I wanted.


WHAT do you want to do? You want to REDUCE that booty? I don’t understand. Why would you want to do that? Your booty is perfect. Glorious. Women would kill to have that booty and you want to GET RID OF IT. For a dress. That goes against everything this gym stands for. Here, we CELEBRATE booty! How DARE you ask me that? I am the COACH who gave you that booty, and you dare ask me, ME, to undo all our hard work? Sacrilege! Treason! You are breaking my heart. You have offended my feelings as a Coach. I am speechless.

Except he really wasn’t speechless at all, because during the entire 1.5 hour training session, he made snarky comments to and about me, my glutes, and my poor judgment.

At the end of class, he told me to buy another dress, because he refused to participate in such a foolish scheme.



My coach the puppeteer

Coach. He is the best. Not just because he is one of my favorite people on the planet, but because he is a source of endless blog material. 2 of my favorite posts featuring him: Xmas 2014 and his 2015 bday.

What I specifically like about him is how he is a walking contradiction. He is a large cuddly teddybear (nobody gives better hugs or advice than him) AND scary as fuck (when he gets pissed… Run. Hide. Do apologetic burpees.) The world always feels a little bit safer when he is around, more stable; this, even though he is a big bully AND a drama queen. He can be vulgar, generous, considerate and well-mannered: all of his moods are suitable vehicles for his unshakeable sense of humour. Even when he is mad, he is very funny (but you pity the fool that has caused his ire). He really annoys me, because he knows exactly what buttons to push to get me to do exactly what he wants. And even though I know he is mind-fucking me, I still end up playing along. Jedi-knight level manipulation. He is a puppeteer.

Interweb humiliation

After 4 months of hard work (5-6 workouts a week), a revamped notion of portion size and nutrition, and prodding/nagging/encouragement/tough love from Coach, I’ve dropped 15lbs and packed on a lot of muscle. I can’t really see the change, other than an overall improved sense of confidence and consistently attracting more male attention from both strangers and friends. I only focus on the things that need improvement: my cardio isn’t where it should be. I still hate burpees. Whenever we do reps for time in class, I always finish in the 2nd half of the group – my conditioning needs work.

A month ago, I went shopping for a dress to wear to Dynamo’s wedding in Beirut. And suddenly, I saw myself the way others must see me. It was like I had two brains. I would look at myself in the mirror, and see the Vanilla that I see everyday – the work in progress – and then I’d blink, and see the Vanilla that rocked every dress she tried on.

I decided to make a before and after pic, and that is when I finally acknowledged just how far I’d come. On the left: May 2015, 175lbs. On the right: January 2016, 160lbs. I sent it to Coach & his girlfriend, who put it up on Instagram and Facebook on the gym’s page as a success story.

Since taking the above pic, my work schedule for the winter/spring has changed: I’ll be travelling 1-2 weeks out of the country, every month from now until June, inclusively. Coach made menacing noises, “Don’t be getting all outta shape, now!” I promised him that I would train when away and that I would maintain my newfound physique.

Coach vowed that if I didn’t, he would take a picture of me all soft and chubby, and he would post THAT pic up on Facebook and Instagram, as a warning: “Behold, Vanilla used to be a hot sucess story, and now look how she let herself go. BOOOO.”

Did I say Coach was a bully? Yes.

I’m going on my first trip next week, to Baltimore. I’ve done my research, and found the best boxing gym in town, where I will train at least twice during my 5 day trip.

Did I say Coach was a puppeteer? Yes.

Giving credit where credit is due

On Monday night, after class in the locker rooms, one of the girls suddenly screeched, pointed at my torso and exclaimed, “Vanilla!! You have a four-pack!” I was swarmed by all the girls, who crowded around me, prodding my abs, and counted them, “1-2-3-4! There are 4! That’s awesome.” I had to push them out of the way, to get a clear view of myself in the mirror, and yup. I had a four-pack! A baby four-pack!

Before leaving the gym, I told Coach. He high-fived me, and then gave me an odd look. What? I asked him. “Where is the, “Thank you Coach, I love you Coach, You’re the best Coach”? I haven’t heard you say that in a while.” Laughingly, I repeated, “Thank you Coach, I love you Coach…” before he interrupted me, with a huff, “It’s not the same if I have to ask you for it. It needs to be spontaneous.”

Did I say Coach was a drama queen? Yes.

Here I am writing yet another post about how much I enjoy Coach.

Did I say Coach was a puppeteer? Yes.

Now for the spontaneous part

On Thursday, I was feeling super unwell. I texted Coach to apologize for bailing on training, left work early and went home, slipped on my pjs, crawled into bed, and began working on this post. The more I wrote, the more I thought longingly of my teammates and Coach, and I realized that really, the thing that would MOST make me feel better would be to see them, and sweat out some of the icky that was consuming my body. I majorly flip-flopped, and texted Coach I was coming to training (with a caveat that my output would suck).

I went to class. It sucked, I felt pukey, but was comforted to be with my gym-family. Mary Poppins got it all wrong: a spoonful of sugar does not make the medicine go down. Interval training, circuits, friends and Coach ARE the medicine.

“Thank you Coach, I love you Coach, You’re the best Coach.”

That time I saved a plane from crashing

Y’all!! Dynamo and his lovely wife are getting married (a 2nd time) in Beirut, in March – the ceremony for the extended families, done in true Arab extravagant style. AND I AM GOING.


I bought my dress last week: a fabulous gown. Sleek! Sexy! Elegant!

I bought my plane ticket yesterday. (Notice the priorities. Obviously. No dress? No trip.) Dynamo predicted that my seat would be all the way at the back of the plane, next to the washrooms and a guy who snores. I predicted I would get a free upgrade to business class. Dynamo laughed at me. But he is wrong. It’s happened to me before. No, really! I got bumped to first class on a flight to Chicago because, as the flight attendant so kindly phrased it, they “needed to redistribute the weight on the plane“. Work on your phrasing, bro.

Here’s to hoping that I can do my bit to avoid uneven weight distribution on the flight to Beirut. I’m selfless that way. I’ll accept any upgrade required of me.

Did I mention I am hyper?



I don’t handle diets well

I’ve decided to clean up my diet and shed the 10lbs that I put on over the past year. Basically, I want to get back to where I was at my 30th birthday, so that I can convincingly state this year that I am celebrating my 30th birthday a second time, without people comparing pictures from the 2 celebrations and catching on to my little ploy.

Fueling my motivation to shed 10 is my desire to once again step into the ring and fight this fall, and those 10lbs have most definitely been holding me back when I spar. They gotta go! To make matters worse (better?), my coach requested that I take “before” pictures in a sports bra & shorts last week, to track my progress as I begin a new weightlifting and conditioning program. I resisted that idea for several days – claiming all kinds of excuses from my inability to take selfies (true) to my phone died (convenient). Coach insisted and I gave in to his request, and when I saw those pics my eyes bled, my soul was bruised and I cried. That is when I realized that shedding 10 was my priority for the summer.

Of course, I handled that realization with maturity, and grace.

After getting a mani/pedi, a most excellent way to pamper a bruised soul, I decided I was allowed one last blow-out cheat meal, before embarking on the cleanest of clean diets. I treated myself to, amongst many things, chicken wings and cheese and wine. The chicken wings were deliciously greasy, and I was very hungry, and I took a big bite, and somehow my greasy fingers slipped and I ended up biting my finger and wrecking my beautiful manicure.

 Notice the teeth marks on my middle finger.

Wrecking a 2-hour old manicure through cannibalism is most definitely a sign that a recalibration of my diet is in order.

Sigh. Life is very hard.