So why did you join roller derby? This is usually one of the first questions someone asks me when they find out I joined the sport. I respond to that question similarly to most of the things in my life- I did it on a whim. After all, I had never attended a bout. I knew little, if anything, about the sport and after years of broken bones, sprains, and injuries from riding horses, the idea of getting back into a full contact hobby was a little daunting- yet here I was, investing a small fortune into tights, knee-high socks, and glitter. Yes, it was a whim, but there was another, larger force at work.
Instead of being thin and lithe growing up, I was built more like a Mustang horse…short and hardy. Since humor was something that came naturally, it was easy to be the chubby, witty girl in a group of friends. Even though I knew I was overweight, I still had a positive self-image and a voracious appetite for food and life. Over the years, the weight had crept up and instead of getting things under control, I told jokes. Then I stopped going out with friends. Then I rarely stopped moving my body from the couch or bed unless it was for work.
“Got fat.” There it was- two words jumping out at me when I accidentally glanced down at my audition sheet for a community theater production in 2011. “Egads” was one of the words that ran through my head followed by a series of swear words. The director of the show was not attempting to be mean or rude; in fact, the audition sheet is solely for the use of the director and was not meant to be seen by yours truly. Nevertheless, words were written and inadvertently seen by me, proving the hard truth that I had deliberately been ignoring for the past few years. In all actuality, it didn’t hurt when I read what someone else saw when they looked at me. Instead it helped me become resolved.
I joined Weight Watchers the day after the audition. I was cast in the show, ironically named, “Eat Your Heart Out” and told the director that by the time the show opened that I would be 20 pounds lighter. Nine weeks later, I was 19.6 pounds lighter. In less than a year, I had shed 60 pounds and began to find a smaller me within.
But this is not a story focused on Weight Watchers or the power one has to rise up from the ashes of couchdom. This is my secret reason for joining roller derby that I have rarely divulged…until now. The reason I joined roller derby is because I need to be the healthiest I can be. This doesn’t translate to a dress size 2 for me, but it does translate to muscle tone and finding my collarbone without digging my fingers into my neck, and eventually making that mile jog in less than 10 minutes. Intentionally or unintentionally, my teammates hold me accountable to keep attending practice and keep me moving. At 25 years old I was borderline diabetic and my cholesterol numbers had doctors discussing medications that I had only heard about on commercials. Whether they know it or not, my Foco Girls Gone Derby league-mates have helped me keep those numbers beaten back with a well-wielded stick…of quad skates. Will roller derby help you lose weight? I can’t really say, but considering the health risks I could face by going back to my stagnant lifestyle, roller derby is help saving my life.