Month: October 2015

Roller Derby Recipes: Chocolate Banana Whey Protein Pancakes

whey protein pancakes

Since starting roller derby and regular weight lifting, I’ve been thinking more about eating foods that will aid muscle recovery. For the most part, this has meant trying to eat more protein in general and particularly after workouts. Protein shakes are efficient but they can get boring, so I’ve been looking for other things to do with protein powder. I’ve made ‘protein pancakes’ in the past with just eggs, banana and oats or ground almonds with good results, so thought I’d try chucking some whey in too. They work! Not exactly like regular Scotch pancakes but not far off. Delicious with a little salted butter and syrup.

Chocolate Banana Whey Protein Pancakes

Makes 12 small pancakes

  • 2 scoops/50g chocolate whey protein powder (I use PHD Pharma Whey HT+)
  • 2 large free-range eggs
  • 1 large banana
  • 25g oats
  • For frying: fat of your choice (I used coconut oil)

Put all the ingredients in a blender or smoothie maker and whizz until well-combined. Heat fat in a large pan over a medium heat, and spoon in mixture; I used about 2 tablespoons per pancake. Cook on one side until little bubbles start to rise in the surface of the pancake, then flip and cook for a few more minutes – about 4-6 minutes in total.

Nutritional info per pancake:

  • 58 calories
  • 4g protein
  • 5g carbohydrate
  • 2g fat
  • 1g fibre
  • 2g sugar

whey protein pancakes

Got any good protein powder recipes in your arsenal?

Share this post:

5 Awesome Sports Movies To Be Inspired By Today

Since getting into roller derby I’ve found myself much more interested in team-mate and team/coach dynamics. When I say ‘much more interested’, I mean I’ve gone from having watched The Mighty Ducks maybe 10 years ago to having the sudden urge to watch ALL THE SPORTS FILMS. On a recent two-day spell off work sick, I managed to consume no fewer than FIVE sports movies from my blanket-fort-of-illness on the sofa. They were:

Miracle poster

Miracle (2004)

Based on the true story of Herb Brooks, the coach that led the 1980 US ice hockey team to an unlikely triumph against the heavily favoured Soviet team. Who can resist a film that sees a “ragtag squad of college kids” go up against a “legendary juggernaut”? I loved the dedication to training and teamwork exemplified in this film. My favourite quote: “The name on the front is a hell of a lot more important than the one on the back!” Amen.

league of their own poster

A League of Their Own (1992)

It’s nice to watch a sports film with a female cast for a change (if you know of any other good ones, holla at me in the comments!). A fictionalised account of the real life All-American Girls Baseball League, a women’s league set up during World War II to keep America interested in baseball, this movie won’t change your life but is still a fun watch. The ending is schmaltzy as hell, BUT… Lori Petty! Geena Davis! (Somewhat weirdly) Madonna!


Friday Night Lights (2004)

Friday Night Lights looks at the manifold pressures heaped upon high school  (American) football players, and their coach, in a small town where football is God. Set in 1988 in Odessa, Texas and based on a true story, this film really tugged at my heart-strings. Favourite quote: “Being perfect is about being able to look your friends in the eye and know that you didn’t let them down, because you told them the truth. And that truth is that you did everything that you could. There wasn’t one more thing that you could’ve done.”

Whip It Poster

Whip It (2009)

How could I not include the only wide-release feature film about roller derby in my sick-day-movie-marathon? Having seen this a couple of times, I find myself skipping past the indie-boy love story bits (bleugh) to the skating and female bonding. So many penalties though guys… so many. Favourite quote: “Put some skates on; be your own hero.”

We could be king poster

We Could be King (2014)

The only documentary of the bunch, and for me the most affecting. When a budget crisis in Philadelphia forces the closure of two dozens schools and the integration of Germantown School students into long-term rival school Martin Luther King, football is the thing that brings them together. The boys coach, laid-off from Germantown and working as an unpaid volunteer at MLK, is awe-inspiring to watch. Favourite quote:  “Humility: not only playing for yourself, but playing for the man right next to you. Sacrificing for the man next to you. That’s brotherhood.”

What’s your favourite film to watch for team/coach dynamics? 

Share this post:

Shake It Off

Today was a tough day. I felt clumsy, awkward; everything felt like work. I can tell that I’m letting negative mind-talk get the better of me, psyching myself out of stuff I’ve been able to do before. I knew that the transition from rookie training to training with the B team would be challenging, but I don’t think I realised how big a part of the challenge would be mental. I’m certain that if I can just stick it out past the What the fuck am I even doing here?  thoughts and keep going to every practice, my abilities will start to improve. Sometimes it’s good to be reminded of how short a time you’ve been skating, and of the time and effort those awesome skaters had to put in to get where they are, which someone did for me today. And sometimes, just sometimes, it’s good to put your headphones in, crank up the volume and listen to the wise words of one T. Swift.

Share this post:

Cross-Training Diary: September



Up until near the end of August, my cross-training for roller derby mainly involved at-home workouts (using Youtube videos like this one), semi-regular jogs and spin classes. This changed at the end of August when I bit the bullet and finally joined the gym. Yup, you heard right; I’m a regular gym goer for the first time in – quick maths alert – 10 years (!!). Also how dare it be a decade since I was 18.

Although I’d been doing some limited free weight stuff at home using dumbbells, joining the gym has been my first proper taste of weight lifting including using a barbell. Barbells can be big scary things when you’ve never used one – I was certainly intimidated by them, worried that I’d hurt myself or even just look like a clueless gym noob. But I fear the barbell no longer! In fact – I kind of love it.

Lifting heavy* weights has been kind of a revelation to me. I grew up with a lot of bullshit messages about how women and girls should ‘get fit’ that mainly centred on lots of cardio and prancing about with little dumbbells as heavy as tins of beans. While the tide does seem to be turning on this (see: Girls Gone Strong), women are often still advised to work out differently to men. The more I read, the more I find myself siding with the growing movement that says women should lift heavy shit just like men have been advised to for years.

So since the end of August, I’ve been going to the gym twice a week and doing just that. I’m a bit of a cheapskate so I opted for my gym’s ‘super off-peak’ membership, which only allows access from 7am-10am. This means all my gym sessions are pre-work, which I actually really like. Luckily my gym is where I work, so it’s super convenient for me.  Upsides: a feel more awake all day and don’t have to battle the hordes for equipment. Downsides: I have to get up at arse o’clock and am hungry as a freakin’ HORSE all morning. Swings and roundabouts.

I’m still refining my ‘routine’ and haven’t settled on an exact sequence of exercises yet, but there are some things that I tend to do every session:

And these are some things that I mix in:

So, in September a typical workout for me looked like this:

  • 10 minutes on a spinning bike working up a sweat doing intervals (I like to do this to get my blood pumping since my muscles feel so cold first thing in the morning, but I’m not basing this on any particular science!)
  • Deadlifts 3 sets x 8 reps (60 second rest in between sets)
  • Goblet squats 3 sets x 8 reps (60 second rest between sets)
  • Romanian deadlifts 3 sets x 8 reps (60 second rests between sets)
  • Dumbbell shoulder press 3 sets x 8 reps (60 second rest between sets)
  • Glute bridges 3 sets x 15
  • Bicycle crunches 3 sets x 15
  • Push ups x 10 (just!)
  • 60 second plank
  • Stretches (including the stretches demonstrated here)

This is about the amount I can get done in the hour I have to workout. I try to space out gym sessions and derby practices throughout the week; at the start of September training in rookies this meant gym Monday + Wednesday, derby Friday, and towards the end when I moved up to training with the  B team this became Tuesday+ Friday gym, derby Wednesday + Sunday. I’m enjoying the weights so much I’d like to spend a little more time in the gym, buuut I’m also aware that rest days are important for recovery so I’m restraining myself for now.

* When I say ‘heavy’ here, I’m meaning weights that I can do around 8 reps of in a set. The actual amounts I’m lifting at this stage will be peanuts to some people (and maybe even too heavy for a few), but since I’m not in competition with anyone the only personal best I need to beat is my own. In 6 weeks I've managed to add 10kg to my barbell weight which I'm pretty bloody happy about!

Image source: Carlos Varela, Flickr CC

Share this post:

Roller Derby: 6 Months In


Six months. Six months! This might be the longest I’ve ever stuck something out, not including jobs and academic stuff (and relationships!). I’ve never learned an instrument, never gotten fluent in a language, never learned a craft to a proficient level – basically I’ve never stuck at learning something that takes time and work. Roller derby is kind of a crazy thing to try to learn when you don’t even know how to skate, if you think about it. Like trying to learn how to run track when you don’t even know how to walk yet. You spend months learning how to function on skates, and just when you think I’m kind of getting the hang of this BAM you’re introduced to scrimmaging and back to learning square one.

Learning something new is exciting and infuriating and fun and HARD. You have to be the noob. You have to show up and SUCK, in front of other people – including some people who are AWESOME at the thing you’re trying to do. You have to keep showing up and sucking and falling on your butt and getting up, week after week. You have to put yourself out there and let people see you be terrible at something. You certainly have to get over your own ego, which will be bruised (along with your butt). You have to deal with the fact that you will never be ‘done’ learning this thing – there’ll always be more, always be better.

My league had its recruitment evening last night, the first since my intake in March. It got me thinking about what advice I’d give to someone just starting out. The first thing that came to mind was that, although it’s true that there are all kinds of body types in roller derby and that you don’t need to be an athlete to begin with, a base level of fitness will make things easier. I did some things to improve my fitness before I tried out, but not in a serious or structured way – some hot yoga, a spin class here and there, sporadic jogging. If I could do it all over again, I’d start the kind of regime I’m doing now (weight lifting and HIIT cardio) well before I started learning roller derby. And no – skating alone won’t be enough to get fit.

What else? Oh yeah, go to ALL THE THINGS. Go support your teams when they play. Cheer your lungs out. Offer to help out with the merch stall. Volunteer to NSO. It really will help you to understand the game better. Also, it shows that you care about helping to make bouts happen. If you’re freaked out about doing it wrong, ask if you can shadow someone else in a role before trying it yourself. Go to the social events, even if you’re shy. Oh and (of course) GO TO PRACTICE. Go to every session that you can make. Show your coaches the respect of being reliable, punctual and attentive.

My final piece of advice would probably be: get used to saying goodbye to people. Roller derby isn’t for everyone. Lots of people decide to stop coming to practice, for lots of different reasons. We’ve had people leave because they were worried about getting injured – or because they had got injured (although this didn’t account for many). We had some people just… not turn up any more. There’s a great camaraderie to being ‘fresh meat’, of being equally clueless and showing up to learn together. So it does feel a bit sad when people you’ve got used to seeing every week disappear, sometimes without saying goodbye. But it happens!

I’m excited to see where I’ll be six months from now, one year in. Although I have a bad habit of focusing on the things I can’t do well yet, I have to make myself remember the long list of things I can do now that six-months-ago-Jess would be super impressed by. I’ve loved a lot of the my first six months of roller derby but – to be completely honest – not every minute. Right now the road to playing competitively feels like a very long one for me, but that’s okay. My main focus for the rest of year will be on bringing energy to practice, not giving in to negative mind-talk, and spending as much time on my skates as possible. Bring it on!

Share this post: