Today’s post will be unusual (I mean, more unusual than all of my posts). I wasn’t writing for some time for a good reason. If you are following my updates on Rough Strength Facebook page you probably already know what I’m talking about but if you missed the info here are the great news: I got married. Yes, ladies, you missed your chance. I am very thankful to everyone who congratulated me, you are awesome. So I’d like to dedicate this post to the event and all the struggles and happy findings I came across during this period.
My wife’s name is Alina (and, by the way, she’s the author of, I guess, all my photos here on Rough Strength). We were dating since 2008 so the wedding was quite expected. Anyway, I made it all on my own terms and caught her by surprise. I proposed on 25th of November 2012, just the day before her birthday. Everything was planned in a week (in my head), from where I will take her to my quick-to-take-off shoes. Here in Kiev we share an apartment with our good friend. So I came to him two nights before the day of proposal and asked for little assistance. I’ve bought lots of candles and needed him to light them up while I will be distracting my at that time future wife’s attention. He said OK and the trap was set up. The day of proposal started casually, it was Sunday after all. She always wanted to see the planetarium so it was a perfect place to go (I’m a big fan of space and stars too). On our way home I’ve send a text to my “assistant” to light everything up. She had no idea of my plan so when we came home she was a little bit confused. There was dark in apartment but some warm light was glowing from our room. I don’t know what she thought at that moment but probably something like: “Holy shit! We’re on fire”. So she headed fast to our room. There were candles everywhere and their light illuminated the room. She turned back to me and I was already on one knee. The rest is history. Lots of smiling, crying, telephone talks with parents and all the friends. Ah, women.
The wedding was scheduled on 7th and 8th of June 2013. I’ve decided to separate different generations of guests to different days. Usually weddings are boring due to not doing this. But there are exceptions. So all the parents and relatives were on the first day and all the youth and friends were on the second. As experience showed it was right thing to do. The ceremony could be the most trivial in the world if I didn’t choose the right music. Led Zeppelin, Bonobo, Portico Quartet and similar artists made everything unusual, unforgettable and unique.
The second day was outdoors. There were lots of meat, booze, active games and fun. I even showed some skills and performed Straddle Planche Push-Ups on Dip Bars (quite a feat considering that I already had some beers (around 1.5-2 liters) and was exhausted after all the wedding preparations).
Everything was great and one thing I was really glad about is that me and my wife connected so many great people together. There were lots of guests who didn’t know each other but they found something in common right away. Finally all the wedding buzz was over and the next thing that was waiting for us was honeymoon in Greece.
The trip to Greece was a wedding present from my parents. I haven’t flied before so I was a little bit nervous. It’s not fear, you just picturing in your head all the situations that might occur (I don’t know whether this happened to you but I’m that type of person), all the broken wings and burning engines. But end of nervousness came with acceptance. Seriously, what are the chances that something bad will happen? And what can you do about it if you get in such situation? So I was pretty calm. And it turned out that it’s awesome to fly. Especially when you get pushed in your seat with inertia. The only advice I can give you (it worked for me) is to chew some bubblegum on takeoff and landing phases of flight. This way ears won’t get hurt too much.
In the Sky
Our honeymoon was on Crete island. What can I say about it? It’s totally awesome. You forget about everything there. All the problems are gone. All the native Greeks (or Cretans, as they prefer to call them) that I was lucky to speak with are open people. Yes, they are a bit lazy but their friendliness is over the top. In good sense, of course. I never had so much free drinks, meals and stuff. I’m used to Ukrainian (or Russian, all the same) attitude. If you ever be in Ukraine remember: if you get something “for free” you are highly likely be charged for it. Let me give you an example how I rented a car. I had not that much money with me so I choose Suzuki Swift. It cost me 50 euros for a day (prices for tourists). So when I came to take it I started to examine the car for any scratches and other stuff I could be charged for. Just with a glance I notices a scratch and showed to the Greek. He replied: “Oh, it’s all ok. Take a look here”. And there was a huge scratch in front. So I understood that this doesn’t matter here. When I drove the car back the guy just asked me: “Is everything ok?” I said: “Yes”. And that was it. In Ukraine they already would try to get more money from me, showed me some old scratches and told me that they were mine.
Lassithi Plateau, Crete – Touching the Clouds
Quality of products there is much higher than in my country. When I had a conversation with one Greek I asked him about chicken. It turned out that chicken breast costs less on Crete than in Kiev (!) and when I said him: “Well, in Ukraine chicken breast you get from supermarket is obviously not real because you can boil it just holding it under running hot water” he looked at me like I’m insane. But it’s the reality here.
Crete has amazing views. The town that we liked the most was Agios Nikolaos. There is a lake and nobody knows its depth. Here’s me doing handstand near it.
There is a beach near this town and we just couldn’t drive by. I stopped at the nearest parking and we got there. It was something unbelievable. Imagine you are standing in the crystal clear azure sea. The temperature of water is perfect. There is beautiful town to the right. In front of you are mighty mountains covered with mist. A view to remember.
Agios Nikolaos, Crete
You can check out more photos at my Instagram profile.
All in all trip to Greece was an amazing experience and eye-opener for me. If you ever have a chance to see Crete live then go for it without any doubt.
All the trip (as well as wedding), of course, was filled with handbalancing. It was a running joke that I got married just to make a photo of handstand in suit. Not to be hypocrite it was on my checklist but I got married obviously not just because of that.
As for the trip, I had several goals:
- To touch the history and see some archaeological sites and museums
- To talk with at least one native Greek
- To learn at least one bad word in Greek
- To swim at see and to admire beautiful views
- To return with more photos of me standing on hands than on legs
Every goal was accomplished. From experience I acquired I can say that:
- It’s quite rough to perform handstand on hot stones. This feeling of burn in hands is unforgettable.
- Performing handstand in strong wind is not that easy as you think it is.
- Standing on different surfaces with different angles can be another challenge. But when you come back to flat ground you will be stronger.
Standing on hands was pretty hard because of constantly new conditions. Sometimes I questioned myself whether I really can do that handstand thing or not. But in the end I still succeeded.
How to Survive All Inclusive
Another passage deserves nutrition. Well, that’s almost impossible to survive all inclusive. It’s easier to stop zombie apocalypse, win a world war and destroy the Death Star than to stop yourself when you have the opportunity to eat as much as you want. I knew that I have unmatched appetite and fat gain super power. So I understood well that I need to limit myself not to come back as a piece of lard.
English Strongman Breakfast
My strategy was to continue my intermittent fasting behavior and to concentrate on foods high in protein (just like I wrote in this article). I couldn’t control the portions so I just dealt with it. Very soon I realized that all the tasty and healthy food I like was on breakfast but lunch and dinner were almost the same. So I made the decision to return breakfast and drop lunch. It was right. Besides, I was there for only 7 days. I stayed away from carbs, because I can easily overeat them, and concentrated on meat, fish, eggs and veggies. Of course, I tried some exotic and traditional foods like snails and moussaka but the majority of my meals consisted from the sources I mentioned above.
Moussaka – traditional Greek meal
Mountain snails – traditional Greek meal
And a thought on alcohol. Here in Ukraine I drink very rarely. I think, once per couple of months. Why? Almost all the booze that is made here tastes awful and you have unbearable hangover the next day. The headache is so strong you want to puke from any little movement. I never liked wine because it always smells bad here and tastes like shit. But after Greece I understand the difference. We drank lots of wine, beer, raki and cocktails and had NO hangovers. And despite drinking we were not that drunk like we would be here after same amount of booze.
Coming Back: The High Contrast
And couple of thoughts on coming back to Ukraine. It’s really depressing. Life here and life in Europe, for example, are different things. It’s probably a theme for another article on another blog but comparing the salaries and costs of living I can state that people here live in voluntary slavery. And if you complain how bad your life is I invite you to Ukraine to feel the difference.
What can I say in the conclusion? If you made to this part then you’re pretty patient reader which is awesome. I won’t tire you with long outro. Marry only the person you love. Don’t hesitate. If you have the chance to taste Crete – go for it. Handstands are awesome and all inclusive is evil. That’s it. Thanks for reading. Share with friends.
What are your thoughts? I’d love to read them in comments.
Bonus: Blood Tests
Right after coming to Cherkassy where the wedding was held I ran some blood tests. Why? Firstly, I had some swings in blood pressure. Secondly, it’s good to know what is happening to your body. There was quite funny story about those tests. I ran them on the fifth of June in the morning. And the funny part was that I had the bachelor party the same day in the evening. So when I came the next day for results I was somewhat inadequate (mix of tequila, beer, absinthe and vodka made their dirty work). It was like in movie The Hangover but not that extreme. So when I came for my tests doctor was not that happy. And when we started talking her world was shattered in pieces. Just imagine: the guy with beard and obvious hangover in the Queens of the Stone Age t-shirt and Converse shoes discussing proper amount of protein per day for athletes and ordinary people, nitrogen pool and advantages of animal protein sources comparing to plants. The last words she said were: “you probably know better than me what to do”. And I definitely do. All the health problems I had were clearly because of high stress, not because of high protein. Besides, I was eating only 185 g per day at that time (at 82-83 kg and comparing to feeling much better with 300 g of protein per day).
So what about tests? Despite eating lots of meat and eggs (I could eat up to 13 of them per day) ALL of the tests (including cholesterol) were in ideal range, except of two: creatinine and hemoglobin. And these two are connected to high-protein diet. They are high for ordinary people who are not training. For me they can be just ok. Make your own conclusions.