Thursday, March 10, 2011

Breaking up the girl

Triple D. Zaster has fallen off of the face of the planet.

That's what some might of thought, with it being some six months since my last post.

A lot can change in six months. This winter in particular had been especially draining. Despite my best efforts to extend his well-being, I had to face the fact that my dog, my best friend of over fifteen years, was slowly dying. Several close friends fell out of my life suddenly. My grades slipped at the university, and I barely made it through my finals. And I continued to wilt from the lack of sunlight and warmth.

Yet I still held out hope for the spring, when the weather would be fair and mild. I'd get a fresh start with classes, and a whole new season of derby would be fast approaching. Feeling directionless, I through myself wholeheartedly into exercise.

The endorphins are good for you, they say. But more important to me, I wanted to be a fitter, tougher Triple D. Zaster in 2011. And so I devised an ambitious training plan for the winter, upping my old standards to five miles of running, 60 push-ups, 150 crunches, several planks and other core exercises. Every day.

I was convinced that this regimen would drive me to the limits of robustness, sending my speed and stamina through the roof. But I was disappointed as the weeks wore on and my performances at practices seemed to plateau. I could no longer keep up with Ophelia Fracture during sprints; in fact I could hardly sprint for more than a minute without feeling light-headed and weak, barely able to catch my breath. My 25-lap times were slower than they had been in almost a year.

But I just couldn't understand how someone who had been training so hard could be regressing. I had thought I would be bursting with energy, tireless; not someone who could barely keep her eyes open past nine. I'd been dedicated to my training plan; of the 365 days in 2010 I had not exercised on exactly four.

"I'm losing weight and I haven't gotten my period in almost a year," I remember lamenting to my mother, a registered nurse, on the phone. "I'm tired all of the time... I don't know what's wrong with me."

"See a doctor," she said simply, and so I did two months ago.

As it turns out, I have an eating disorder.

This obsession with exercise, the compulsion eat increasingly smaller amounts of food, feeling cold and exhausted... it feels silly to say it snuck up on me. When you think of girls with eating disorders, you think of 80-pound wisps of girls with ghastly hollowed faces and every bone visible on their emaciated frames.

Not girls like me.

"I'm concerned about you playing roller derby," the nutritionist told me. "I have girls who have broken hips just from running." I shook my head. Even the very thought of taking a temporary hiatus from my team and the sport was overwhelming and despairing. And so I haggled with my nutritionist and doctor until a deal was formed to satisfy both parties: I would continue to skate if I promised to follow their strict diet and exercise plans with the greatest rigor and dedication.

For starters, I would have to take one or two days off a week from exercise. When I did exercise on the days I did not have practice it would be limited to no more than 30 minutes per day. No consuming diet, light or low-fat food; in fact I was instructed to take in a certain amount of necessary fats and to eat one dessert per day. I would have to attend weekly nutrition and therapy sessions, and see a doctor monthly to monitor my physical condition and weight gain.

But I'm already reaping the benefits. Instead of a chilly 95 degrees, my body's temperature has risen to a far healthier 98 degrees. At work and in class I no longer struggle to stay awake and focused. And the skating! I had forgotten what it felt like to push myself without feeling dizzy and unbalanced, to be able to dig deeper for more without worrying that my body would be too enervated to respond. And yes, even keep up with Ophelia Fracture (well, at least within 15 feet).

There's still such a long road ahead before I am both physically and mentally well. But I am feeling better and stronger than I have in almost a year, and with the team's seasonal debut against the Quad City Rollers on Saturday I feel that more than ever I am ready to put my best foot (skate) forward.

Wish me luck.



  1. Trip-
    I am thinking of you and have been very worried about you. I am glad to know that you have been to see a doctor. I think that is a good first step. Your health always has to come first, both physical and emotional well being. If that isn't strong, your skating will not be strong.
    You are a huge part of this team!
    We love you and support you!

  2. Thanks for the support. It means more to me than you know.