Diet Week 3 Update

Halfway there.  I seem to be losing about a kilo a week; well in the safe range for weight loss.  The biggest problem is that I notice my energy is generally low, which means that sometimes I tell myself I will just take a little nap and end up sleeping through my training time.  This happened two times last week, and that combined with my post-acupuncture rehabilitation made for a very poor showing indeed in the training department.

But still, it seems like another two weeks or so and I should be back to my college weight of 58 kilos!

As a side note, I calculated that my current lifestyle has me burning about 2784 calories per day.  Compare this to the average daily calorie consumption of an equilibrist at circus school: 5500+ (!).

You can figure out your daily calorie expenditure here.

While you’re at it, you can see how many calories you are consume on a daily basis here.

Or how many calories you burn doing various activities.

Quick reference (Calories burned in 1 hour assuming 130lbs weight):

  • Moderate biking: 472
  • Stretching: 147
  • Vigorous weight training: 354
  • Jumprope: 590
  • Jogging: 413
  • Swimming: 427
  • Gymnastics: 236

I really believe that the most important factors in weight loss and control are: getting at least 2 litres of water a day plus any water you lose during your training (measured by weighing yourself before and after training and drinking the equivalent weight of water), cutting caloric so that you are about 1000 calories below your expenditure, and forcing yourself to train even though you are sure to feel too tired.  Aim for shedding a kilo a week and you will not be disappointed.


discipline is an ability to do something that you hate without immediate gain.

it is the deprivation of pleasure to build up an immunity and make decisions as a spiritual person instead of a material one.

what is the down side?  well, if you are not allowing yourself to feel good, you condition yourself to develop bad feelings as a result of good feelings.  is it that screwed up?  well, yes, it is exactly that screwed up.

a painless body feels so wrong and uncomfortable, like a suit that fits too loose.  on the other hand, i could happily sleep 12 hours a day and only train in my peak hours, but see, that’s the thing.  discipline makes you work outside of your peak; when you are not succeeding; against an influx of negative emotions so powerful that all your fragile parts are worn away by the sandblast of self-doubt and failure.

there is no room for your delicate beauty in the supersonic race towards perfection here (despite the constant complaining of the little person who lives in the base of your brain and wants you to crawl up into a little ball and sleep as your muscles shorten and atrophy).

you know when you are on a train or a bus with all the people that are around you, and if nothing else, you all have that in common?  do you ever think that there is a reason you are not the other people; a reason that you are you?  That being there, rubbing elbows and bottoms and stepping on the feet of all the other people who have that one thing in common that you do not – they are not you.

what an exclusive club little they are in.  they will never let you join.

and what an exclusive little club you are in in.  no one can possibly join but you.

so here you are in a one-person club and there they are in a world of people who are not you.

who wins?

when I was coaching at my gym in the usa, the head coach turns to me, points to one of the kids, and says “hard worker.”  i say to her later that the problem with being a hard worker is that you’ll have to keep on working harder and harder because the second you think that you are working hard enough, everyone will assumes that you’ve lost your drive, and now you are just as lazy as the rest of them.  she smiled at that, no less.  can you imagine smiling at that?

never resting. filling every moment with trying harder and harder to try harder and harder.  work hard today and that will make me always expect you to work hard.  you can always work harder, but never work less than that.  this is your curse.

my co-captain of the mit gymnastics team once told me about how he would just smash every gymnastics trophy and medal he won, crying in frustration, knowing that it would never get easier than that, that he had raised the bar permanently for himself, and worse, in his case, he didn’t even feel that he deserved them in the first place.

Distance, Dodgeball, Lichen

i owe it to myself, and to whoever i might possibly end up with, to be myself now, without them, and to continue to be myself even after i meet them. 

the people around you are like a fluid that you continuously move through and past.  it’s lonely to think of people and their minds and their souls as things that you pass by.  

if there was no time, there would be no such thing as distance, because all that makes two things physically separate is the time it takes to travel from the one object to the other.  we would be surrounded by everything and everyone that ever made us happy.  

the passage of time is important, indispensable, to the people who want to achieve something. it’s a race that never ends, all the training and all the failure, all that is part of the race.  there is no finish line, there is only running and running and running.  

i remember in junior high or elementary school and we had to run in gym and i hated running.  i just did the running.  like, i wasn’t the kid who would throw up and i wasn’t the kid through whom the teacher could relive his youth vicariously, but my point is that a lot of people sit down in the race like the girls in my second grade class who would sit down in the middle of the best dodgeball game ever because it was stupid. 

and the thing is that yeah, dodgeball is stupid and a race metaphor that combines notions of life and achievement and time, that’s just as stupid, but i loved dodgeball and i love this stupid race too and i’m going to keep running it until one of my ribs literally breaks through my chest and sprays blood all over the asphalt ahead of me and my leg bone pierces through my ankle and grates on the ground and  splinters and shreds like a green stick just pulled off the tree and until everyone i know can look at me only pityingly and an xray shows no injury, but rather just age, and that the age was only brought on by the race itself.  

what is it about the body that makes people who pursue these things want to break it down and destroy it?  is there some promise of liberation?  to see the destruction and decay of everything physical and to know that something inside you is still soaring?

a lichen on a rock that has decided that 0 mph is maybe the right speed for me if you please thanks very much, though, and send me a postcard from infinity when you never get there.  enjoy the ride and the hatred of yourself when your sweat hides in your eyebrows such that the slightest wince might send a stream of stinging salt into eyes forever fixed on the horizon that may as well be your only place worth getting to. 

my name and address:  travelling acrobat, the horizon, earth.  never send me anything.  thanks.

Circus clowns at the National Circus School of Montreal's annual show

Things That Are Interesting After 7 Months Of Circus School

years of failure at a trick can be fixed by a russian coach telling you ‘do it with no falling.  is much more beautiful for the public that way.’

after you control your fear, anything is possible.

there is nothing that is physically difficult in acrobatics.

flexibility is the most important thing in the world.

juggling does not suck.

unicycle does.

if you do a trick correctly the first time, you will never, ever, ever forget how it is done.

there is no expectations on a person that cannot be raised by their success.

sometimes, you are right.

sometimes, you even know it.

a one-armed handstand is just holding yourself up with one hand.

a standing full twisting back somersault is just jumping really high, arching your body, kicking yourself in the chest with your knees, hugging yourself while looking over your shoulder, and then straightening out.

strength is the most important thing in the world.

if you feel the responsibility that goes along with holding someone over your head and then throwing them for a back flip, there is no way that you will let them fall.

if someone you trust tells you that you can do something you have never done, they are right.  So do it.

charisma is the most important thing in the world.

if skill is developed by learning, then creativity is developed by playing.

people like seeing you do something you enjoy more than they like seeing something that is difficult.

show an acrobat a skill they have never seen and they will try it.  if they fail, they will fall in a funny way.

when a russian tells you to do a double back salto from a wall, do it. 

even if he is kidding.

sleep is the most important thing in the world.

good night!


Circus artist doing a one-armed handstand in the desert

Comfort and Habituation

One of the upperclassmen fell on her head today and people were really worried about her.  The EMT’s came but at the end of the day she seemed fine.  Just one of those moments unique to circus school that reminds you that it’s dangerous and that we’re mortal but that you have to keep going. 

Movement today was good, I got an A for my evaluation which he said he gives out very rarely and that I seem to have a knack for it.  It’s fun doing well in something and getting appreciation for it even though this was not a class that I thought I would enjoy.  Did the stick exercise today where you have the ends of a stick held between the fingertips of two partners.  We also did a giant round robin at the end because both classes were together.  Good trip hop music and enjoyed playing with some breaking-style movements. 

I also got to be a flyer in hand to hand because we were joined by The Frenchman and another first-year guy who could port me.  Also was able to work with The Clown and we’re starting to have a good rapport. 

Alex just got back from Belgium so he wasn’t in ITA today and two of his students won three gold medals at the Piste d’Espoirs Festival which is great news for them and The Contortionist’s boyfriend won silver.

Today I intentionally didn’t do any supplementary strength since so many teachers have been telling me that work outside of class isn’t good for my body and might make me sick, etc. etc. so I’m taking a couple of days with no extra strength but I did do a heck of a good flexibility workout today: my splits were better than they have ever been in my life, or at least since doing gymnastics at MIT.

I have this new technique for working flexibility now.  I have my oversplits so I do one with correct form as a warmup and then do one with overextension for one minute each, and then I do “comfort” or “habituation” training where you sit in a medium position of a split for 2 minutes.  I’m doing that right now for splits and pancake and center split but not center split pancake.  I think it will be useful for stalter on highbar and presses on equilibre.

I got to hang out with people while working on standing backs and standing 1 1/2’s again.  I also pulled around a couple of standing double twists to my face in the pit – not beautiful, but fun.

Byamba wasn’t here again today so I worked with The Clown again on some juggling.


Circus acrobat doing handstand on a tower of blocks

Recentering Day – That Acrobat Feeling

So I’ve remembered what it feels like to be a circus artist now after my first saturday recentering day back after vacation.  I’m actually not in as bad shape as I thought I was going to be in as far as strength and flexibility.  I just did a lighter version of my saturday recentering stuff: only one set of each strength series and only held flexibility positions for 45 seconds instead of a minute.  My kicks are still where they were and my pike isn’t as bad as I thought as it was.  I did lose side splits but those are just not coming easily at all.

Working with The Hotshot on our 2x 8 bars was fun and I think that what we’ve  put together is pretty cool.  The women in the class are going to complain some fo the one-leg fondus.  I like working with people that you don’t have to be too polite with and who are excited about what they’re doing.  It just makes the ideas really flow very easily.  It makes working egoless so you can just focus on making something that looks cool in the end.

i also worked on some rudi’s into the pit and discovered that if you actually look at the ground make a full rotation after coming off the minitramp before wrapping tighter to get the last half around it really is much easier and you don’t have to worry about overrotating – you know exactly where you are.  I was going a little crooked but I did about 10 of them for consistency down.  I’m really trying to focus on basics with professors and then and work these more complicated skills on my own.  Trying to develop that sort of patience to let the body and the mind develop in parallel – the mind’s awareness of what the body’s doing, “air sense” essentially, is developed simultaneously.

The Contortionist and The Dreamer who were also there so it was fun to have just the three of us working in the gym.

It’s weird how it feels like at this gym I’m more motivated than at the MIT gym.  Is it the sense that you’re going to be evaluated?  That would worry me because ultimately your motivation to excel should come from within yourself.  I’m worried that in this respect going to school for circus is almost like a motivational crutch.

I was thinking about how yesterday Byamba motioned to something in the corner and shook his head “no.” I had no idea what he was talking about at the time but now I wonder if he meant that he didn’t want me to work rolla bolla anymore.  After taking a sauna for the first time in forever (which felt great) I had to ask myself if I actually would stop working it.  In a way, it gives me the opportunity to train with him on things like acrobatics which he clearly thought would be a good idea.  If he is my “master” I should go with what his instincts.

If i hadn’t gone in today (which was tempting as I had overslept a bit) I still wouldn’t be feeling like a circus artist.  This is really important because I think feeling like a circus artist is a prerequisite to actually training in the circus fashion.  It’s important stuff – glad I got a chance to recenter and remember that it is for myself that I’m in here.


Two circus students from the National Circus School of Montreal shooting images for their streetshow

Back To School

My first day back in school after gramma’s funeral was better than i thought it would be and it was really nice to see everyone.  I guess they knew what had happened because they weren’t coming up to me with the usual “ca va? ca va? ca va?”  

Flexibility was cancelled so we did acro into the pit and I worked on my standing side summies.  I may have tweaked my knee.  i hope isn’t going to be a pattern of immediately twisting my knee like I did after midsession last semester. 

In dance we learned new combos which was fun and i’m picking that up pretty quickly using my new “think of it as martial arts” technique. 

My evaluation was not great: D in general because the only classes I missed have been dance classes.  we learned the first two bars of the adagio today and The Hotshot and I will be working on a sequence for it to present on Wednesday. 

She’s working on musicality with everyone (counting music and feeling it).  This is the one thing we’ve done in dance which i feel totally comfortable doing – having to do a pattern in a three count with different accents. 

Equilibre was frustrating because these two weeks off have resulted in a lot of lost strength and how everything is supposed to go together but maybe that’s just normal with handstands.  I remeber it was that way after the last break as well, so hopefully it will come back up to speed pretty soon. 

Acro was fun. i talked with Esteban about working iron cross drills because i really want to beat jc at getting a good iron cross.  Esteban’s technique really turns the shoulders forward to use your chest muscles, so the work i’m doing is really to try to recruit my chest muscles to hold the cross. 

Did a lot of good side summie work today, but trampoline was all over the place.  That comes from losing the tempo of the bed after two weeks.  My plongeons were coming out pretty well because it’s one of the skills i wasn’t afraid to do on the MIT trampoline over the break.  It seems so much smaller than the one at school which has all the safety mats around it. 

Byamba equilibre was fun and i actually talked with him for a while.  I guess The Trapesist’s porter didn’t have a very good audition.  She said he sort of approached the audition as a sure thing because, as she said, “he has The Trapesist’s name on his forehead.” 

She told me that maybe she was going to do equilibre and i asked Byamba if she had told him that.  He told me that earlier she told him that she thought equlibre was too hard and said that if you have that mindset it will be tough to do handstands. 

He asked if she was open to doing the rolla bolla – I mean i’m not interested in rolla bolla either and I wouldn’t be doing it if it weren’t for my wrist injury, but i can find ways to make it fun and she said she can do that too.  That said, it’s one thing to say it and another to live by it. 

I told him was giving myself six weeks to learn a one armed handstand and he motioned over to the canes to say, “Well, get to it!” 

So i worked at it and its getting there but its still sloppy and not sturdy at all, but I’m working them all up against the wall and i think that that’s helping.  I did three 1-minute handstand holds against the wall today and then three 10-second one arm handstands against the wall on each side with legs together.  I think that’s helping.  It’s just one of the things that you just need to commit to if you want to do equilibre.  Being able to hold a handstand with your shoulders pressed out as if your against a wall, its just one of those things that you need to be able to do. 

I also talked with Estaban about changing my acro goals to just master the basic skills rather than push myself to do harder skills and sacrifice some of the work that i could be doing on the simpler one that may help more in the long term.

It was nice to be back and see The Contortionist and The Clown because i think that we really missed each other.  

When i was setting up the rings, the cables flew up.  One of the riggers just happened to be around so he was able to pull them down for me but that was kind of embarrassing. 

In general it was a crappy day because the way you eat and sleep affects the way your body performs and after two weeks of not doing that very well I need to get back into eating correctly, sleeping correctly, and all that.  I’ve set up a special timer light to have little sunrises in my room at 6am which is good.

My ideal schedule would be sleeping from 10 to 5 and doing a run in the morning according to Alex who is in Belgium right now possibly talking to the Moscow school on my behalf.  Hopefully the students over there are doing a great job, so good luck to them!

Coming home today I realized that the stupid people are shaping our society on a day-to-day level.  What I mean is that so much in everyday life is put there specifically to keep stupid people from screwing it up, like “coffee is hot” warnings.  One stupid person results in a policy that forever affects the rest of us every day.

Byamba’s son tried out for the school and hopefully he’ll get in for Byamba’s sake.  it would be nice to have another Asian person in the school!