Dieting and the Aging Acrobat


I am on a diet.  It is not the most natural or fun thing for me; but I guess I must be getting older.  This aging manifests itself in strange ways; for example:

Strength: I still gain strength very quickly, but the retention of that strength is much attenuated.  I used to be able to maintain form for roughly a month after heavy training, but now, a week or so off and I weaken noticeably.

Flexibility: Flexibility, on the other hand, is much more difficult to develop as well as maintain.  I used to feel like if I took one week off of flexibility training, it would take me two weeks to get back to my previous level.  Now, one week off can translate to a month or two of dedicated training to get back up to speed.

Technique: Strangely enough, my handstand technique is the one aspect of training that seems to be improving with age.  It is easier for me to maintain stable handstand positions for longer periods.  Before, a shaky 10 seconds at 80% success rate in the classical one-armed position (see picture) was great.   Now, a stable 20 seconds is the norm.  It seems to support my theory that this particular acrobatic discipline is largely mental in nature.

Weight:  I have always been able to eat as much of whatever I want without gaining appreciable weight.  This is still true, but I find as though my equilibrium point has shifted a bit.  I used to settle in at around 58 kilos (128 lbs), but now my natural state seems to be at around 62 kilos (136 lbs).

So that is it.  I have not been able to exclude the possibility that some of these shifts are due to being two years out of circus school rather than being two years older as the lifestyle difference are obvious:

Circus School:

  • Average of 10 hours a day, 6 days a week of intense physical training.
  • Home-made, meager, low-fat meals.
  • Drinking only on weekends, maybe once a month.
  • Nearly insurmountable stress (external and internal).

Developing Projects in Asia:

  • Average of 2 hours a day, 5 days a week of intense physical training.
  • Restaurant food picked up on the run from meeting to meeting.
  • Drinking with friends whenever we have a free moment to meet, maybe 3 times a week.
  • Nearly insurmountable stress (only internal).

But the fact that my handstands themselves are improving is still a little mysterious to me.  Perhaps it is like riding a bike, only there is infinite room for improvement.  Perhaps it is just the different levels of stress; these two hours a day are often pure meditative joy, as compared to the often tortuous feel of my hours spent in training in Montreal.

I should also mention that after only four days of moderate dieting, I am well on my way to my goal of 58 kilos.

Diet Rules:

  • Weekends, I can eat whatever I want.
  • Weekdays, I can eat whatever I want for one meal, but:
  • No snacks at all
  • Only drink water or tea (alcohol is especially verboten, dame, interdit).
  • Moderate hunger and grumpiness at all times is a good sign.
  • The other two meals, no meat, minimal carbohydrates.
  • Weekends, I can eat whatever I want.

One I get back down to 58, I am going to forget all rules, increase my training regimen (July promises to be full time training for four weeks; no outside distractions – I must promise myself!), and switch to monitoring mode.

Anyways, all submitted for your approval.  All theories are welcome.

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