PT-25.1: Huff the magic dragon

Monday morning, training with J. And I am ridiculously excited and brimming over with enthusiasm for the latest and greatest in PHA (peripheral heart action) workouts. Or as I refer to them: the huffy-puffy routines. Partly because it was a teaching day, partly because I am like a puppy (or a newborn calf, if I am to continue with my leaner cow analogy of yesterday’s post) about exercise stuff and feel something akin to rolling around on the ground with excitement about the next big thing.

Key Takeaways

We are reviewing, improving, enhancing huffy-puffy Lists. So much fun.

While I say this a lot, it is worth repeating: my state of mental health is so vastly improved. After so many years of shredding myself over every perceived “should” in my life or setback that may have occurred, I have become extremely laissez faire about fitness and exercise. Teaching days, while fun, would result in this internal struggle of “I am so shit-worthless because I cannot do [insert anything here].” Teaching days today are like “oh goody!” and how do I break it down into tiny enough bits and pieces to learn and then figure out how to use each piece to put it together at a whole.

I am no longer embarrassed or ashamed of requiring review, or requiring adjustment or correction to my technique. Typically for me, pain of any sort is an big giant red flag that I heed. If something hurts, I stop. If something hurts sharply, I cannot stop quickly enough. But I am a curious Jane; I will put down the weight, break down the steps, and go through them slowly until I figure out what I am doing and where I am going wrong. If it seems really troubling, I make a mental note to ask J next session. Or I pick up the phone and text about the problem. But that happens less than and less frequently as the months have passed; my ability to problem solve is improving.

There will come a time when I figure out the huffy-puffy pacing and am more capable of conducting myself for the whole hour plus in pursuit of Lists. I am pretty pleased with my progress in this regard and the ways the road stretches out in front of me. At least my lungs no longer hurt anymore afterward, and I do believe this is because I am improving and not because I am failing to work hard enough.

Working hard enough – big score for me is recognizing that I am the decider on this. My body, my health, my decision on how hard (or not) to press forward and to try. For the most part, I feel as if I have found a good balance with this. I go to the gym consistently, I rotate and go through my Lists, I improve in form, technique, strength, competency, proficiency. Kind of a big deal for me, to judge myself as good enough and trying hard enough. Not every day is perfect, and not every day is my very best effort. But I don’t have time to waste a time playing at fitness, and my curiosity and interest in the subject expands by leaps and bounds every day that passes. I am energized by my exercise and fitness pursuits and inspired to keep going every day, to keep trying to perfect my form and become better at this stuff. In my books, I am working plenty hard.

On Friday, J made the final payment on his student loan debt, rendering him 100% debt free. Yay J! But he made an interesting analogy about getting out of debt and improving health through more exercise. The debt itself is the correctable health issue with better choices, the regular exercise a payment toward the debt principle, and the interest is the ongoing accumulation of poor lifestyle choices. Buckling down and making regular payments toward the debt (exercising consistently) reduces the interest accruing (continued compromised health) toward the actual debt (correctable health). Debt free, in this analogy, would be improved management of the compromised health condition. Now, instead of making debt payments, you pay yourself first by continuing the exercise to maintain good control and management of a lifestyle-related health condition. While not the most perfect analogy, the accountant in me loves this and completely understands the objectives of why I keep going on my better health quest.

What We Did

A1  Front Squat to Overhead Press
A2  Bent-over DB Row
A3  Alternating chopper sit-ups
A4  Otis ups

B1  DB Walking Lunges
B2  Bench Pushups w/ DB Handle Assists
B3  Squat to ball slams

C1  Kettlebell swings
C2  Bench Triceps Dips
C3  Lateral lunges with bicep curl

How it Felt

It has been awhile since we trained with this List, and it certainly showed in the front squat to overhead press. Nothing terrible, except squats usually have the dumbbells held at the sides, this one starts with them held at the shoulders. No harm, no foul – I managed to get my mind back in line and was pretty quickly back into the rhythm and routine with the hip crease of the squat to the tall-tall shrug at the top of the overhead press. I remain mildly obsessed with squat form and how low do I go and is tailbone tucking (no, not even close). But all good. Worse things in life and in training than forgetting how to start an exercise. If I remembered everything perfectly there would be no need for review sessions, and I love review days.

Still love the bent-over dumbbell rows. With a pair of 20 lb. dumbbells no less. For the most part I have a pretty good grasp of these, except maybe the rounding down of back at the bottom – not 100% sure I was doing that before we got started. But by the time I walked away from these today, I was definitely doing better on the back form with these. Pull from the shoulder, and I am trying very hard to ensure I am pulling around and back. The tiny pause at the top is so miniscule that you don’t even have to blink to miss it, but I am thinking about it every time I do these and trying very hard to make myself implement it. Unsuccessfully for the most part, but I will get there.

Last week sometime I mentioned in passing that I should pay more attention to my abs List. Over the weekend, I shared a meme with J about a woman crying, sobbing, breaking up with her trainer after one sit-up. Today, the alternating chopper sit-ups return. Coincidence? I think not. Not the end of the world, because these things are good for me. Just because I am presently not very good at them is irrelevant. Like everything in this realm, with focused practice comes measurable improvement, and if I were smart, I would be doing these a few times per week until I feel more proficient. On the one hand I am plenty smart, but in reality, I have only so much time per day to spend at the gym pursuing a List. Maybe these will levitate to the fill-in List when I have extra time.

Whoever Otis was, I feel he should be kind be chastised for unleashing Otis ups on the world. Abs need work, I knew, but dang – these and the chopper sit-ups make me realize they really need work. While J indicated these should be done with weights in the hands, today was a teaching session and I was just learning and trying to get the essential shape down and went through the sets without added weight. They are still hard. Doing 5 of them per set and I kept thinking these are hard. Not forever kind of difficult, but oh man, I wish these were easier right now. But I am kinda/sorta enjoying the challenge. I like to think know I have opportunities to strengthen my core and become better at these.

How far I have come with the walking lunges. My habit up until today has been step forward, lunge, stand up straight, do next leg. Today, J suggested eliminating the pause in the middle and to just step forward, lunge left leg, go directly to step forward, lunge right leg, all the way down the 15 yard blue grass patch. And it was fine. No weeble-wobble, which is what developed the habit of pausing in the middle, to ensure I could recapture my balance and set-up for the next one. While we did one set of the 15 yard length, I might test drive these again with and out and back 15 yard length to see how it feels. I am beyond happy about this new turn of events. Lunge anxiety was a real thing; not so much anymore.

My continuing arch nemesis: pushups. Today’s rendition was the bench pushups with dumbbell handle assists, and I give myself modest credit for doing better. However, I also know the improvement is so modest due to very little attention and practice on my part. The world is not going to end, J is not going fire me as a client because I have not advanced past 10 consecutive pushups and even then they are not full-on, lowering myself as much as possible. Mostly it is mind presenting the reality of not just inconsistent practice so much as no practice at all with this exercise of late. That is a fair assessment, and nothing for me to feel guilty about or begin torturing myself with anxiety over. Writing about it here, I highlight my acceptance of lack of progress due to lack of practice. Simple. What is most important to me is prioritized higher in my time management calendar. It is not that mastering push-ups does not remain a priority so much as there have been so many other things that have my attention and are therefore consuming more of my time. But J took a pic of me going through these this morning, so I share with you:

Triceps

3/27/2017 – I have triceps!

First new item on the List was a squat to ball slam. This is a variation of sorts on the medicine ball chop from a lower body List. What I learned: these are complicated. I got the squat part down, got to the ball overhead part pretty well, but the ball slam part – practice, practice, practice! Seriously, it’s not that complicated to throw the ball down hard – at least it seems like it should not be that complicated – but it kept landing way out in front of me rather than sort of between my feet. By the end of multiple sets of 5, or 6, or 8 attempts at throwing down correctly, I was showing improvement. Like everything complicated, though, it’s a matter of breaking down the steps and mastering them one by one, which in this case is the slam and return to starting squat position. Still, the reigning emotion coursing through my veins? Excitement. I can kinda/sorta/mostly visualize the shape of this exercise, and while my focus is presently on the slam portion, I know there is more to do with the whole up/slam/down. Once I get better at the shape, I will focus on the feels. That’s for Thursday, though, when we go through this again.

After a few months absence, we are back with kettlebell swings. Now, I see others doing these all over the gym. Within the first half dozen sessions with J, we had a conversation about kettlebell swings. I did not understand them and found myself frequently idly wondering if anyone had ever lost control and had a KB swinging through the air and across the gym. While he was kind enough (way back when) to do a quick demonstration of proper form and technique, J told me then it would likely be “awhile” before these would be included in the List rotation. And it was more than a year before he introduced me to them, and they have been spotty since that time. With all that said, it may as well be a brand new exercise for me. I understand the general shape, but they are far more technical than they appear. So we went through several “batches” of these today over the course of 3 sets. Key points for me are keeping knees locked out and hips forward drive the swing, not arms. While he did not say it, my mind says “invisible arms” with the hip thrust and tight glutes to keep it out of the low back. Have a fairly good handle on these. I think. But for this week, I will go through them with J again on Thursday. In the meantime, I will be thinking about it.

While I cannot precisely put my finger on it, I have a new love affair going with the bench triceps dips. Saw someone else doing these recently with their legs straight out in front of them and thought that looked really hard and asked J about it. He said it is technically correct, but for me, knees bent is better for (because of too much temptation to fall out of proper form). But dang – I can feel these bad boys! Keep those shoulders pinned back, go slowly, and feel the burn in those triceps. Love it.

From the dumbbell matrix, we have the lateral lunges with bicep curl. Still not a huge fan of lateral lunges, but working on improving my technique and form if I cannot improve their likeability. Go through the lunge left, bicep curl at top, lunge right. There is a particular rhythm to these; I just have to keep on trying to feel it and not get distracted by the potential for sidestep tipping over.

Practices Between Now and Thursday

Since this is huffy-puffy week, my plan is to pursue last week’s huffy-puffy List tomorrow and an upper body List on Wednesday. There are new things from last week I want and need to practice and cement in my mind. Plus I am reawakened to the possibilities and workload potential of mini bands, so I will incorporate those into a my warm-up.

Kitchen Sink Thoughts

Switched things up today and provided the meat-and-potatoes of the recap and saving the kitchen sink thoughts for later. Because I was so very excited and eager to jot thoughts on that aspect of the day. I will be back soon with the second half of this recap.

Of late, I have been keeping an eye on Pinterest for good thoughts to share at the end of these recaps. This one encompasses my thought very nicely:

e4f455ec0b8b39ae4168ae6d5fc8edf3

Me and my cow

I have great affection for cows and have all sorts of stuff around the house reflecting that. At the same time, I also have the unfortunate tendency to see myself and body shape/make-up in a negative light and use cow as a reference point. While I never ask pointed questions like “does this make my butt look big?” I have been known to use blanket self-depreciating statements like “I look like a big giant cow in this.”

In other words, self-reflective comments about cows are rarely not positive.

M knows this about me, but occasionally he is very clever in turning things around. While not a big complimenter, he does acknowledge my hard work in the gym and my slow efforts of reshaping my shape.

Last week, I had one of those moments when I realize that things are different now. What I said? “M, I can feel my ribs now!” Not as in breathing in, I have ribs. But as in, I have a itch on the back of my ribcage, and scratching it, I can feel the bones and in the mirror I can see the outline starting to take more defined. Before, there was a thicker layer of fat that sort of squished beneath my fingertips. I’m not exactly sure when or how long it has been shrinking away, but it is much thinner now.

So with this background and context, M says this to me yesterday: “If I still think of myself as a cow, the leanest parts are shining through.”

There you have it: M believes I am a leaner cow. Yep, leaner cow here.

I was and am hugely flattered. Not every woman would be, of course, but context is everything. And I just love cows. Or the look and idea of cows. They do smell kind of awful.

 

#compliments, #diet, #exercise, #fitness, #happy, #health, #marriage, #positivity

PT-24: Celebrating life

Thursday morning, training with J. Part 2 of our first huffy-puffy review week, and it was glorious. I am actually posting this on Friday, because I had an unusual day yesterday and simply let myself off the hook of personal deadlines in light of that. Majority of it was written and ready to go with a few small updates.

On a very personal note, this was the most difficult day of the year for me. Not sure if I have shared it on this blog, my daughter and oldest child died at age 12  on March 23, 1996, was the day we said our final goodbyes as she was wheeled off to the operating room to become an organ donor. While her birthday was on March 17 – another challenging day – this one is typically the most difficult day of each of the last 21 years. I make the best of it. I try hard to stay in the present, focused and intent on what is happening to me right now, but my mind flashes back to that day on its own. Some years are harder than others, but every year I recognize how fortunate and how blessed I am for all I have in this life right now. Including my better health journey and every small step I take toward getting stronger and fitter. In my heart, celebrating the life I have built is the only way to overcome the sorrow of loss. For those of us left behind, life does indeed continue.

Key Takeaways

There are some universal cues and techniques that apply to most exercises, or that I seem to want to try and apply to exercise. The pretensioning of muscles before contraction is nothing new, but the pre-pretensioning at the end of the stretch and maintaining that through the work is fairly new. While he mostly brings it up on things like chest press and 1-arm row, in my mind it applies to just about everything. I am striving to be mindful and add it to the cue scripts that run through my head.

Routinely while I am writing these recaps or anything else on this blog, I am thinking about exercise and running the steps in my head and frequently going through the motions in my office or wherever I happen to be while writing. (Thankfully I rarely do coffee shop blogging.) It is a visual aid thing, to help me get the shape or iron out issues with remembering the steps. Often it is like an update to the cue scripts that run inside my head. But when it is time for training sessions or practices on my own, the extra work and attention to small details tends to pay off. I have better retention and body’s muscle memory is starting to snap back into place. Kind of reassuring that my habits are not just part of what makes me a one-off weirdo about this stuff.

Huffy puffy pacing tends to take care of itself. If I know it’s huffy puffy, mind tends to automatically shift into peppy pacing mode and want to get into the rest-free zone for each block. Not sure I am 100% successful, but at least I am not having to think “hurry, hurry, don’t stop, don’t stop” through the whole List.

Excitement over new stuff is like Christmas day, even if I am not especially excited about the new item. Found that my enthusiasm for the snatch and the overhead triceps extension has not faded nor has my determination to practice and improve my overall skills. Then again, I feel that way 98% of the time about all my Lists. There is always something I like less than other things, but the overall process keeps me focused and engaged. I can still remember how much I looked forward to teaching days, when just about the whole List was new, but there is much to be said for refining my technique and striving to perfect my form on things I already know.

What We Did

A1 Dumbbell Bulgarian Split Squat
A2 1-arm DB Row
A3 Plank off Bench w/: step-outs to kick-backs

B1 2-DB Romanian Deadlift
B2 Flat DB Chest Press
B3 Stability Ball Passes

C1 1-arm DB Snatch
C2 Lying Longwise Dumbbell Pullover
C3 Seated Overhead DB Triceps Extensions
C4 Band Horizontal Choppers (skipped for time today)

How It Felt

I never thought of seeing myself saying this, but there is distant potential for the dumbbell Bulgarian split squat to be elevated to the very lowest section of my favorites List. Maybe. I am very pleased that the “light on the rear foot” cue seems to be working for me and that I am able to get deeper into these without a lot new or additional stress and anxiety or work on my part. At least that is how it feels when going through it. I still have the weeble-wobbles, fall out of position and have to redo my set-up to continue to the end of my range, but I am also confident that with some focused practice I will overcome that. I am also sure the addition of dumbbells in both hands – little professor living inside my head has to make the programming adjustment for the extra weight and its impact on overall balance. It is so hard to describe how ridiculously excited I get when I finally feel like I have overcome some nagging problem with an exercise.

While my love affair with 1-arm dumbbell rows continues, I felt a little tired, a little flat, and as if my form particularly sloppy this morning. The 30 lb weight is an adjustment – this is my first week and only second outing with that as my new standard – but truth is my focus was not quite as sharp either. The cue script running inside my head says to not straighten arm at the bottom of the stretch yet at the same time to push the shoulder down and to maximum stretch. Kind of tricky to manage until body learns this new way.

For the plank off bench with step-outs to kick-backs, additional practice and work are required on these as well. Mind tells me serious practiced is needed on these, if only because I do not do enough focused ab work to be able to feel them kicking hard enough … until a few hours later when I am feeling my stomach and wondering if it’s the ball pass or these giving me that “wow! I have abs!” feeling. More important to me, though, is the way the lats feel as if they are working hand in hand with the planks.

New tweaks and deeper details about the hows and whys of making Romanian deadlifts better. Working on my latest and greatest universal rule about the pretension just before the end of the stretch, I am finding a new cadence to going through these. My overall fatigue was such that I lose sight of how far the stretch and therefore the the “when” of the pretension. Today I found myself wanting to bend my knees slightly this morning at the bottom and asked J about it. I know knees are not supposed to bend, and J explained to me that body is not being lazy so much as efficient and going for the longer stretch. We then tried it without weights, so I could feel how the stretch goes away the minute I bend my knees even a little bit. Point made, another coin drops. Super bonus points from that little tidbit of information? I now have the right sense of the when for starting my pre-pretensioning on the RDL and have a much better feeling for the cadence.

My obsession with the thoracic arch continues on the flat bench dumbbell chest press. Not much new to report on these, except I am continuing to think about the arch in my initial set-up and the latest pretensioning cue for the press up. With my pretending my arms are invisible to ensure I am pressing through my shoulders and tightening the upper/high chest muscles – I almost feel like the new age trainee with the woo-woo cueing.

We did the stability ball passes on the bench today, because it is more convenient. Plus J theorized that my scooch issue was related more to too much enthusiasm on the pass part and slowing it down would probably alleviate the issue. So that’s what we tried and of course it works, because J is very wise. More than that, though, I figured out that on the bench I get a different, better kind of stretch with the extra room to lower the ball with my limbs. While I still don’t love these (and console myself that I cannot love everything), and they remind me that i should pursue my abs List once a week rather than the once a month – maybe – I have been doing lately.

In the last couple of days, I have found myself more than once running through these in my head and at least the upright row portion of the 1-arm dumbbell snatch. It is new; I can be obsessive about trying to understand what is new and seems like a challenge. Pays off in a lot of ways, because I felt a little more in control and like I understand what I should be doing with these. Not yet perfectly fluid and smooth, but closer than I was on Monday. A few focused practices with this List and I will not have steaming coming out my ears from having to concentrate so hard on what my arm is supposed to be doing.

The lying longwise dumbbell pullover – have to remember to try and keep elbows flared at the furthest extension. We have been over this before, but for some reason there has been some static in my mind about what to do and when I should be watching for the elbow flare. I know there is a tendency to want to bring them inward all the time, but my attention is now directed and focused on the end rather than the beginning or the middle, when it seems easier to remember the flare. Small details that do make a difference. It is just not as easy to lay down on something and figure it outside the gym.

We did the seated overhead dumbbell triceps extension with the same 25 lb. dumbbell I used for the pullovers. First set it was fine, but second set I had to lighten it for the last half of the set. Fatigue was part of it, but also an eye on the clock, needing to finish up, and wanting to finish strongly and not a half-set of reps. For the most part I think I have the shape and technique of these down with a fair amount of weight-less run throughs at odd moments throughout the days. Now I just need to keep working, keep practicing to build my endurance with the weight.

We skipped the band horizontal choppers because while spoiled, I am not entitled and do not pout on Thursday’s when friend C is present for her appointment at 8 a.m. Perfectly content letting go of these today.

Kitchen Sink Thoughts

Allergies suck. If I were sick more frequently, or if I had sinus issues more routinely, I probably would bitch less about my few days of symptoms and being high on allergy medicine. Honestly, I only take this stuff when absolutely necessary and then coming down off of it is like extreme caffeine withdrawal.

And while this may sound like I am whining, mostly I feel very mildly impacted by my lack of regular sleep for almost a week. Had I been more my usual level of rest, I could possibly feel less fatigued and 115% successful versus my present 102% successful. Not the end of the world; it was still fun, answered niggling questions, and makes me feel good about my overall efforts. Even if I felt a little tired and as if form might be sloppy for a hot second or set.

Yesterday driving to work, I had this epiphany about J and his ability with demonstrating exercise. It’s not just that he’s good at his job, or that he himself has been a gym-going guy for at least 50% of his 28 years, or even that he is a avid student in his field. That whole muscle memory thing has infected his whole body. I mean, he does this stuff himself and has for a long time. He doesn’t need to break it down into individual steps and then set the cue script in his head that plays like a metronome. Even I, in my relative exercise infancy, have several things that I just do automatically when the exercise appears on the List.

So it is not so much or not JUST that he is more knowledgeable, has more experience, is younger, bulkier, stronger, and fitter, it is also that his exercise library is bigger. Because of more knowledge and experience.

For whatever reason, that makes me feel enormously better. I do not exactly feel like the the dunce in the tribe, yet I know the way I break things down and sometimes have to master the individual pieces of an exercise one by one does feel overly complicated. But oh well. Injury remains a Very Big Deal for me, and if I have to learn and practice parts of a more complicated movement until I can do it fluidly that what I will continue to do.

But my epiphany made me laugh, and telling friend J about it this morning made him shake his head and wonder how such a smart woman can be such a doofus about some things. Natural talent, I assure him.

Since friend J is my back-up reality check on all things exercise. I was quizzing him about squats this morning as well. I had met up with friend K at the gym last night and we got into a discussion about squat, form, and the tricky things that can happen with exercise. K has been having pain in her hip that actually came from her back and all started doing squats. So we were comparing form and trying to figure out the how and the why of her muscle tweak. This comparison was educational in so many ways, and part of why it is great for me to meet and get to know others in the tribe who are still learning and . But by the end of the evening, I was questioning my own form and technique with the various versions of squats that I have learned through the progression of months.

So I was asking friend J about it, if he had any thoughts about squats that maybe I don’t know? Question was vague, I know, and I was not actually expressing myself very well. What I got in reply was that unless “the kid” (trainer J) is correcting or telling me that something needs to be altered, I am doing fine and need not be borrowing trouble on this or anything else in my library.

We have come a long way, baby.

Brought it up with trainer J as well, because it was on my mind and is one of those curiosities that may linger. He said essentially the same thing, although he was very kind and said that my form is good and when in doubt, trust myself and my body’s feedback. And only a little more surprising to me, I actually do most of the time. I remind myself almost daily that my body is unique and its pieces and parts have an infinite number of different characteristics and capabilities from everyone else I will meet. My mileage is going to vary.

All the things we do, I love that there is depth and breadth and always so much more to learn. Scapular plane, thoracic arch, pretensioning at the junction between stretch and contraction – these are all things that have or continue to haunt my thoughts and may evolve into a universal cue. Shoulders back and tucked. Pretensioning, then pre-pretensioning. Extending the stretch to wring every last drop of productivity out of a movement. I am learning and creating new habits and methods. And I remind myself if it were easy trainer J would have a different sort of job.

#better-health, #diet, #emotional-health, #exercise, #faith, #fitness, #gym, #happy, #health, #healthy-eating, #inspiration, #mental-health, #positivity, #progress

Being fat

Last night while preparing to fall asleep I was browsing random blogs categorized under obesity. It is an interest, and I am curious about what others are thinking and writing about. No secret that I prefer the more personal stories of life’s journey – the ups and down, the successes and setbacks. What I found are many people sharing their shame about the extra weight, the eating plans that others are trying, stories of gastric bypass and lap band surgeries. On the other end of the spectrum, there were a few who openly express their contempt for those who are heavy and impatience with the obese population members’ excuses or explanation for their extra weight. And somewhere a little to the side of both were those who were quite strident in their insistence upon fat acceptance.

The differing perspective is always enlightening even if it does make me vaguely uncomfortable for a lot of different reasons.

For those sharing their shame, I feel sympathy. I do not believe anyone wants to be or to stay morbidly obese or even overweight for an extended part of their life. The extra weight we carry can erect so many barriers and add challenges to our lives that seem insurmountable. Yet at the same time, I know how difficult it is to change the habits that led to weight gain to being overweight and into obesity.

As for those sharing their contempt of fat people, I mostly wince. In my mind their bias is about the same as those who have strong feelings about government assistance programs for individuals and families; the bias is understandable to a degree. With regard to fat bias, either they are quite naturally blessed with good genetics that makes maintaining their weight a non-issue or they have learned the discipline of healthy diet and exercise habits. Like many former smokers who are now extremely vocal in their anti-smoking stance, I know many who have lost and maintained significant weight loss. Sometimes compassion gets ground out with the passionate insistence upon the rightness of the message.

The fat acceptance movement, I think I almost wince more. Maybe because I’m horridly conventional? I understand that there are lot of pieces and parts to why people are the way they are – it is truly why I think of my efforts in this regard as an overall “better health” quest versus weight loss or diet or anything else. Focusing on being fat or overweight or obese tends to place the focus on physical appearance and cosmetic aspects of the weight range when, in my personal view, it should be about weight as a component of general health.

Most people will tell you they possess an obesity bias because of general health concerns, but I think if we are really honest our culture says that thin is more physically beautiful and appealing.

Professionally, I am a manager who hires and fires people; it comes with my particular job description within the firm that employs me. I am first stop on an incoming candidate’s interview experience, and yes, through the years I have spoken to many, many people who ranged from a few extra pounds on their frame to morbidly obese. As a human being, it is something I notice and am aware of my own bias in this regard. No, I do not act upon it, but I am aware of it. When I was transitioning from my former firm to expanding my side gigs into a full-time self-supporting business I was thinking about it every time I met with someone new. Did I look all right? Was my clothing choice professional enough despite my size (to be fair – at that time I was somewhere in the size 16 range, now in 12/14 depending on the article of clothing)? Do I look frumpy? Or worse – do I look too old? This is not a new consideration. Being middle aged (55) and not a small woman under best circumstances, I am well aware that it could be the smallest detail that decides whether or not I am successful with a prospective client.

So I am not completely oblivious to or in denial about the cosmetic and positive physical appearance outcomes of dropping weight. But if I focus on that as a goal, guaranteed I will be depressed and consoling myself with Very Bad Food – think cookies and milk or soda and chips, junk food several times per week. Essentially crap food that will only contribute to my return to medication to control diabetes, and frankly, I like my freedom from prescription pills and insulin and needles too much to want to return to that path.

Better health is my blanket description for my objectives. I forced myself to hire trainer J and go to our sessions, and then I forced myself to get myself into the gym when I really would have preferred to stay home and sleep a lot longer. Transforming my thinking seems to come before trying for anything further, and I feel very successful in turning my mindset from exercise hater to exercise enthusiast, so much so that I actually follow a couple of expert coaches and faithfully read what they post and try to stay current with their Facebook live posts and videos. Not that I understand all of it, but let me just say it’s uber cool when I recognize an exercise on one of MY Lists that is being demonstrated by some major buff person. Exercise geekery at it finest.

Food? I am trial and error in my eating habits. Sometimes I eat very well, very healthy, and sometimes I don’t. Life happens, and I am better than perfect in my imperfections. Thing is, I can fall off the healthy eating habits wagon and climb right back on again. Every day is a new opportunity to correct prior missteps. I am not quite as committed to it as I am to my fitness routine, but I am drifting back to my same meals day after day after day routines. The process is working for me right now. I can press the gas at any time to try and move things a little faster.

At the end of my latest exploration into blogs dealing with obesity and related issues, I find my humanity remains intact. I have genuine sympathy for those dealing with weight-related issues that keeps them trapped in painful cycle of overeating and hating themselves or hating themselves and overeating. While I can understand those who are tired of the complaints and wishing the obese of the world would simply eat a lot more rabbit food and quit whining (or worse), they make me uncomfortable. Because like poverty, violence, abuse, the obesity epidemic is a complicated problem that will not be resolved by preaching “eat less, move more.” The fat acceptance – I have to accept that I agree to disagree and hope those promoting that viewpoint recognize that legitimizing being overweight is not the same as working to alleviate it. In my view, we may as well just give up and accept it as a non-issue that should not ever be addressed as a life-threatening condition or illness.

I have no idea what it’s like to be slender or thin; it is not really my body type. Even within my proper weight range, I am going to be a curvy person with a sturdy bone structure. But while not thin or slender and carrying more weight on my frame than I should, I am the healthiest version of me I have been in years. Yet on a BMI scale, I qualify as obese.

Hence one of my many reasons for not paying much attention to the scale. How I feel, what my quarterly bloodwork shows – those are my indicators for my better health quest. Those are what tell me I am succeeding where I have faltered and failed so many other times.

But while I think and feel I must be Jane Average when it comes to health, fitness, weight loss, better health topics, I feel a bit like an outlier with my narrow sampling techniques. In this case, though, it is best for me to be this type of outlier. Otherwise I would feel like a the complete and utter failure that I most certainly am not.

While I routinely sample other perspectives to broaden my own understanding, I as often as not find validation for my own journey and the approach I have chosen. It’s not flashy. It’s far from glamorous. And it sure as Hell is not fast or easy. But it is what works for me; your mileage may vary.

#diet, #emotional-health, #exercise, #fitness, #food, #gym, #happy, #health, #healthy-eating, #inspiration, #mental-health, #obesity

PT-23.2: And I remember why I train

Monday morning, training with J. We are starting our review and enhancement of the huffy-puffy versions of Lists right now, so it was a partial review, partial teaching sort of morning.

The way days and work have been running lately, I get half the recap posted on Monday and the other half on Tuesday. Despite references to “today” as if it were still Monday, it is actually Tuesday when I am finishing and posting this section.

Key Takeaways

Huffy puffy – goodness, how could I forget we were venturing back into the land of huffy puffy? But it is glorious, because I am not thinking so much huffy puffy pacing during the course of work so much as I am about each individual exercise on the List and making it better. Plenty of huffy puffy breathing going on even without focus on the pacing.

While I always prefer to feel confident about what we are doing – like I am mostly there on the basic premise and J is not having to reinvent the wheel – new stuff is like a heady new drug slamming into my system. I like the way it sinks into my mind with the individual steps that build one by one into something new and exciting. I am evolving into such a fitness nerd.

I have so much fun in training sessions. I mean, seriously, it’s a highlight of my weeks. Trying to explain this to friend J yesterday, about how it is almost a stimulating intellectual discussion of how body works. Not any body, not most bodies, my particular body in a given set of circumstances. And I have become so comfortable with the limitations that I have to work with right now, limitations that could be forever things or are perhaps boundaries that dissolve as I become more skilled or stronger. I no longer feel handicapped or special needs or incapable in negative ways. Because I try to do all I can do, and sometimes it works, sometimes not yet, occasionally it’s a probably not ever.

The training partnership is a bit of a mysterious thing, and it has more depth than I would have suspected or expected when I first embarked on this journey. There is an element of trust that J is being straight with me, that he is not going to lead me down a path of undesirable consequences. It is the undefinable quality that has allowed me to embrace a willingness to try new things without anxiety or fear. Thinking about it as I started this section of the recap, I realize it has been a long, long time since even a flicker of concern about how I might look to the outside world in my efforts. In the earliest days of gym crazy feelings, appearance was a huge handicap on the road to success. I have literally forgotten what it’s like to wonder what other people might be thinking about what I am doing or how my efforts appear to their eyes. Concerns about being fat, awkward, unattractive, insincere in my efforts, or even whether or not I belong in the gym – all that negativity is a distant speck in my rearview. And I must say, it is a both a liberating and powerful reflection. I am free to try new things J is trying to teach me and to not immediately succeed. I am free to practice, stop, run through it again more slowly, break it down into pieces and parts, or file it away for future sessions to ask more questions. Concern about what other people think is not something that occurs to me anymore.

On the tail of that train of thought, if I am not competing or caring about the opinions of others, I have no need to be insecure about my progress. Staying focused and working hard at learning and improving form and technique are measures in and of themselves. Being happy, content, satisfied with my progress, even when it is not measured by conventional standards of goals met or metrics surpassed, is worth more to me than any amount of weight lost or strength gained. I have fallen in love with the process of exercise in and of itself, and that good feeling is not at all based on any physical gains I achieve from it. That’s something kind of special for someone who began hating exercise in all its forms.

Mental and emotional balance aside, I am doing so much better with my physical balance as well. I still struggle with 1-legged everything, but I do better with it now. Outside the gym, I do not trip nearly as much. Far from perfectly graceful, I am no longer the clumsy ox at my starting point. Part of that is my better physical ability, part of it is my overall confidence. All are big benefits of working at the process in a consistent way.

What We Did

A1 Dumbbell Bulgarian Split Squat
A2 1-arm DB Row
A3 Plank off Bench w/: step-outs to kick-backs

B1 2-DB Romanian Deadlift
B2 Flat DB Chest Press
B3 Stability Ball Passes

C1 1-arm DB Snatch
C2 Lying Longwise Dumbbell Pullover
C3 Seated Overhead DB Triceps Extensions
C4 Band Horizontal Choppers

How It Felt

While I still don’t love the dumbbell Bulgarian split squat – with or without the dumbbells – going through them today was like learning a whole new exercise. J has been coaxing and coaching me to go lower, to get the lead leg almost parallel to the floor kind of lower, and finally today I believe the cueing has gelled enough that I am finally getting with the program. I have been proficient, even competent, but focusing on the rear/elevated leg and letting it relax and be light as it bends and I drop down seems to transform it for me. Suddenly lead leg, when I am driving upward again is from the heel rather than the whole foot. Rib tuck is staying in place. I am feeling the lead leg muscles work more fully. While not easier – not doing them at all is the only thing that would make these easier – it suddenly makes a lot more sense to me. Cha-ching! Coin drop moments today.

I do love the 1-arm dumbbell row. I have spent so much time working at these, thinking about whether I am pulling through my shoulder or using my arm – sounds strange, I know, but that’s always first and foremost in my mind. There is this trance-like state once I get started of pull weight, lower weight, pull weight, lower weight that is very soothing to my nervous system. We used a 30 lb. dumbbell and I did fine, other than remembering to not straighten elbow completely at the bottom. I marvel that I have gotten strong enough to wield a 30 lb. dumbbell with relative ease. My forced graduation to the big boys room, where they keep the 35 lb. dumbbells, may happen sooner than I expect. Because no way am I hauling a pair of those bad boys up and down the stairs because I’m too much of a scaredy cat to claim my own bench in that area.

For the plank off bench with step-outs to kick-backs, we started with mini bands around the ankles and then switched to a more lat focused by gripping the bench more tightly. Makes the rib tuck more pronounced, and until we got to the bench gripping aspect of it, I would not have believed how much a difference in made in the hip mobility/flexibility aspect of it. Legs do not step out that far to the sides or kick back up as high as they do when lats and back are not held in a tight formation. The feeling in the abs is different, stronger, and I like that very much. Still not a big plank fan, but I like this newest tweak.

Romanian deadlifts – how far I have come. I love looking back through the many months to getting started, remembering how strange the hinge felt, quizzing J via text exactly how this was supposed to work. That was with the tiniest of kettle bells – the baby bell, as I still refer to it. Today I was using a pair of 30 lb. dumbbells to perform the RDLs, and I enjoyed the sensation. New thing to these (and maybe other exercises) – pretension before standing up straight, but start that pretension just before reaching bottom of the bend. It went much more smoothly once I figured out the timing of the pretensioning.

The new method of pretensioning was very much on my mind with the flat dumbbell chest press. That and the upper back arch – my latest exercise obsession. I have a better understanding now of the pretension, when to start at the end of the lowering the weight and before the upward press and not straightening elbows to lockout. We did the first set with a pair of 30 lb. dumbbells, first time ever, and it went surprisingly well. I was super proud of myself, and after that 8 rep set (all I could manage), the 25 lb. set we dropped down to felt like a nearly perfect weight for the 12 to 15 rep range. I have come a long way since the very early days.

We tried the stability ball passes on the bench and for the most part it works well. Except I seem to have a scooch problem – the reach up to pass the ball from hands to feet seems to scooch me down the bench just a bit. I will try it again sometime, but for today we moved off and onto a mat on the floor. These are not horrible, bad, or terrible. Mostly they are a reminder that I need to get busy pursuing my abs List more frequently. (Written as if I am on the couch eating bonbons with great swathes of my time.)

Learned a new exercise today – the 1-arm dumbbell snatch. Before J had taught me the snatch-like exercise that included a front raise rather than this version with something more like an upright row. So we go from a squat to the upright row to the dumbbell overhead. Watching J demonstrate this with a 25 lb. dumbbell in hand and then have him tell me that he usually does these with a 50 or 60 lb. dumbbell … hmmm, a wow! moment. After J demonstrates with fluidity and grace, I feel like chaos robot in comparison. But onward – it’s new and I cannot expect to be even close to as good right out of the gate. Right now for me, this is a series of steps – squat, upright row, lift dumbbell overhead, bend arm to bring weight back to shoulder, drop back to squat – lather, rinse, repeat. J it looks like one fluid, explosive movement. For the most part I have the series of steps down. Once I retrain mind to upright row rather than front raise, I will be golden. Until that happens, I will be patient and not berate myself when I revert to autopilot and front raise instead.

The lying longwise dumbbell pullover is one of those exercises that I just go until my arms give out. Maybe it’s 8 reps, maybe it 22 (a record high). But not so much that they are easy so much as familiar and I am aware of how sneaky the build of fatigue on my arms and shoulders. That is part of the challenge for me anymore – see how many reps it takes before I burn out each set.

Second new exercise of the day was the seated overhead dumbbell triceps extension. With a 25 lb. dumbbell. Pretty amazing, once J showed me how to hold the darn thing before hoisting it over my head. Visions of it falling directly on top of my head danced briefly through my mind while trying to figure it out. But once I overcame that obstacle, it worked surprisingly well. I have watched others in the gym do this, and I could feel it working both the triceps and flexing the additional flexibility and strength in my shoulders. Only drawback: ponytail maintenance. Must remember to either braid ponytail or tuck it in the stretchy to keep it from becoming a tangled mess.

Band horizontal choppers are okay, but I like them on the cable machine better. I can still feel my obliques, though, so I guess I am doing a lot right.

Practices Between Now and Thursday

Today was lower body day, my favorite lower body List. I just got a new set of mini bands that are insanely more powerful that I remember the others being like. Since we are doing huffy puffy on Monday and Thursday, I will be pursuing body part splits the rest of the week.

Wednesday will be upper body of some sort, possibly the FreeMotion machine if it’s available. With the new pretensioning stuff fresh in my mind, I am eager to apply it to other body parts as well.

Kitchen Sink Thoughts

Find them here. My final thought from the day:

8a5606d157f5c658f5bcd4ad93204952

#better-health, #diet, #emotional-health, #exercise, #faith, #fitness, #gym, #happy, #health, #healthy-eating, #inspiration, #mental-health, #positivity, #progress

PT-23.1: And I remember why I train

Monday morning, training with J. We are starting our review and enhancement of the huffy-puffy versions of Lists right now, so it was a partial review, partial teaching sort of morning.

Kitchen Sink Thoughts

Driving to work this morning an old Jackson Browne song came up on the playlist and inspired me with today’s title. Because my allergies are killing me this year, and after a weekend spent mostly asleep or stoned on Sudafed, I was actually on the fence about keeping my appointment this morning. My own practices Friday and Saturday morning were very light and struggling through 2 sets of Lists I can practically do in my sleep, so I took Sunday off in hopes of being able to make my session with J this morning. I was feeling more in control of my symptoms by Sunday evening, so I felt good about committing to keeping my training appointment time.

Rarely do I lose sight of the value of working with J, but when I’m sick, all things fall by the wayside. I might fret about them, yet it is surprisingly easy for someone as hyper-responsible as me to justify my rescheduling appointments. If I were sick-sick, I would not want to infect anyone else. And while allergies are not contagious, I prefer not to be blowing my nose and sneezing constantly while meeting with clients. With training, breathing is kind of a critical skill.

All these things were on my mind this weekend while I tried to manage my symptoms and get things under control enough to carry on. Maybe it was the meds, but I started thinking about the domino effect of rescheduling on Monday, then on Thursday, because I like to keep things even. But if I am rescheduling appointments, maybe I should not be in the gym. OMG – what would happen to me if I cancelled 2 appointments in a week and did not go to the gym because I had cancelled appointments? The Very Bad Things hamster wheel began to turn in my mind. In the scenarios created – all things pointed to me parked on the couch with insulin injections and not ever showing my face in the gym. Ever again.

Obviously, an allergy medication induced gym crazy period.

While having my nose and sinuses go crazy is not on my list of fun things to do to pass the time, it is a fact of life that occurs routinely each year. This year is particularly awful, with all the rain we have had making the trees especially robust in their abundance of blooms. While plotting my day last night and assessing my ability to train this morning, I started pondering my journey thus far. J has counseled me many, many times that when I tweak something in the gym, if I am not feeling well, the best thing I can do is to take some time off. I interpret that as a few days, maybe up to an entire week, and mind understands the concept of a beginning, a middle, and an end of such leaves. Mind understands that “time off” from the gym is finite, not a forever and ever, amen, type action.

Yet I still do not have complete confidence that missing too much time does not mean the end of my exercise habits. Maybe in another 20 months … or 20 years. My doubts about myself could be the trigger that keeps me focused on returning to the gym and trying to learn and to improve as the sessions and the practices pile up. Despite being a consistent student about practices and training sessions for more than a year, it still feels like brand new behaviors and habits to me. For the most part, this is fine; it is not making me even more neurotic than I am typically. If anything, it reminds me what success looks and feels like. I know how a day without exercise feels, and I suspect stringing a few of them together when I am not distracted with being on vacation or something similar would make me feel resoundingly gross.

I am starting to identify as someone more disciplined and in pursuit of some greater good, for me personally. Changing habits is not easy, changing lifestyle habits is very hard. Especially when things like diet and exercise are involved, because for me, those are habits of a lifetime. For me, I get into a line and follow it from point A to point B and kinda sorta blindly follow it. Forever.

Except not really. I blindly follow the line from point A to point B; it’s what gets me to the gym every morning. From there, though, I have my different Lists and objectives with each. I am starting to be able to tell that weightier weights might be better, or additional reps with the present weight load.

In the beginning of the exercise segment of my better health quest, I was all about just getting my sorry butt into the gym and doing something. I thought I would rediscover my inner cardio queen as well as build some repertoire of basic resistance training.

With a different trainer, or if J and I had a different type of training partnership, that might have been the outcome. The beauty of being a completely blank slate, there was a lot of room to scribble and paint and create something on it. There is so much about exercise that surprises me, not least of which that I am thriving at it.

My goal is to improve at the craft. The rows. The presses. The push-ups (current bane of my gym existence). And all the other stuff I have learned. But what I have discovered through much of my adventure thus far, I am turning into more a student of the body and of exercise that I am a mere gym hamster … although I suppose I do possess qualities of an average gym hamster.

The way J trains with me, he talks about what the exercise is supposed to feel like, where I should be feeling it and how. Because of my genuine curiosity and interest, he goes into greater detail and demonstrates more frequently, even going so far as to sending me videos of other expert coaches performing the same movements. Days like today, where the focus was on the huffy-puffy, there was no shift way from form, technique, what was working, where I feel it, is that where I am supposed to be feeling it? My ego is mostly separate from the weights we use, so when we switch over to no weight to get the shape of something or work on form, I have no feelings as if I am stepping backward or losing ground. For me, it is all about doing things correctly, wringing the most productivity out of each segment of each exercise. My desire to remain uninjured and continuing to exercise is far greater than my need to use heavier weights or flashier, more badass-feeling equipment in the gym.

Every week that passes I look backwards at where I was and ahead to where I go from here. Every practice day I warm up and then pull out my current pile of Lists to choose my List of the day, and I methodically go through it until I finish the recommended sets and rep ranges, run out of time, or fall flat with my energy stores. Rarely anymore is it lack of focus or inability to connect with the work, something I only realized last Friday and Saturday when I simply ran out of energy and could not push through and force myself to do more.

And I can give myself a pass on that. I can accept that sometimes allergy and physical illness happens and impacts my ability to do what I should be doing. I am learning more and more that the shoulds need to be excluded from my better health quest. By now I know what needs to happen, I need to be in the gym regularly, I need to pursue a healthier diet.

But just like my body is different from others, my needs for exercise and for proper nutrition are going to vary as well. It has been quite a slog to that point, acceptance of that epiphany a long time coming. I still do not have a full catalog of the “just right” balance between diet and exercise, yet I am on the right track and have been for more than a year. I remind myself that if I can walk away from training every week with the same good feeling and in a same or similar positive frame of reference week after week, I am doing well.

Before this, most of my exposure to regular exercise was long distance running, biking, and weight training for bulky physiques. As I recall it when I was around it fairly routinely, the latter took a lot of discipline with diet and significant hours in the gym moving lots of weighty weights to and fro. And I have long known that is unlikely to ever be an interest or pursuit. The nice thing, though, is that it need not be all or nothing. I do not have to choose to be strong or to be weak. I can choose to be fit on my own terms, in my own ways, and blaze my own trail getting to that point.

Occasionally I have to step back and realize blazing my own trail in fitness is exactly what I am doing, day after day, week after week. Fitness is not found only in the magazines and in the more sculpted, perfected images we see online. Every recap I write I seem to have to remind myself, pinch myself almost, that I am moving along and making progress, that the gym hamster I have become is so very different than the earlier version of me who stepped through the gym doors in 2015.

I look through the many challenges on Pinterest (typically on my way to find a cool quote or new recipe to try) and the latest, fastest, easiest program to build a better butt. I glance at the pretty pictures accompanying the diets and exercise plans. Once, I may have felt despair about the process, about my inability to stick with a program long enough to make it work. Now, I feel like a tourist having a look at the drive-through menu at the nearest quick and easy cosmetic surgery clinic.

Nothing in better health happens quickly or easily. Nothing in better health comes without some hard work and sacrifice. My mindset, like a computer’s operating system, needs periodic upgrades and enhancements to keep me on the better health path. I have missteps and experiments gone awry. But I feel surer that I am trying and putting forth honest effort toward my objectives.

Fundamentally, one of the things I barely allowed myself to hope for would be my tendency to lose faith in myself and give up too soon. Or to expect some level of perfection that no one can achieve.

Maybe today I get to cross fear of that failure off my to-do List.

#better-health, #diet, #emotional-health, #exercise, #faith, #fitness, #gym, #happy, #health, #healthy-eating, #inspiration, #mental-health, #positivity, #progress

PT-22.2: Snap! (but no crackle or pop)

I am sort of torn about splitting recaps into multiple posts. It is mostly working, yet I apparently have so much to say it takes awhile to sort out my thoughts and get them committed to screen. In my mind both parts of this equation are important to me for different reasons, and if it takes an extra day to get the second part written, so be it. There is a little overachiever inside my head that things I should be capable of thinking, typing, writing faster. Reality is that I’m rarely satisfied with my effort when I rush through it.

Key Takeaways

The snapping of a mini band while it’s wrapped around the ankles kind of stings, but the actual reality of the momentary pain is actually less significant than what my imagination produces. I was completely unprepared for how ridiculously excited I was about it actually happening. The session and the day have both been so good the mini band event has direct, head-to-head competition for the best thing that occurred to me today.

I like the peppier pacing with the mini band walking to and fro. Other than trusting no one is going to plop themselves down in my path while my back is quite literally turned and I am engrossed in the walking backward process, I feel pretty confident about my abilities in this regard. After all, it’s been months since I actually toppled and fell down with mini bands wrapped around my ankles.

Overall, I think today easily qualified as a huffy puffy session, even if the List is part of the upper/lower splits series. I hesitate to ever label a session as best or even better, because then it feels like something spectacular must happen to top it. Yet the trend continues. I get so much out of training. I learn something new, he presents a new challenge and it is either possible with practice or not quite there yet. How odd that I feel no sense of failure if I am not quite there. Yet. My new favorite word when it comes to exercise and Lists – yet.

What We Did

Mini band lateral/forward/backward walks and straight leg glute kickbacks
1-legged Romanian deadlift with dumbbells

Bulgarian split squat
Goblet squats

Step-ups
Curtsey lunges

Sumo squats
Lateral lunges

How It Felt

While J has the mini band exercises on the List as one big tangled ball of exercise, and since he is very wise about this stuff, I think of it in terms of one big exercise of 15 yars of walking per series of walking back and forth and then another 20 per leg of glute kickbacks. The crazy/sexy/cool love affair with mini bands has begun anew, and while I impatiently await my new set to be delivered, I shall nurse along my final extra heavy band. I love the way the walking and the kickbacks make me feel powerful, like I can snap one of them in half. Sort of, anyway. After any number of months pass. But hey, it happens.

Today we dropped from a pair of 15 lb. dumbbells down to a pair of 10 lb. dumbbells and it made all the difference – I had a far easier time with the 1-legged Romanian deadlift with dumbbells. I still have the weeble-wobbles and am not lifting rear foot that far off the ground when I am not using it as the kickstand that keeps me from toppling.

Still hating on Bulgarian split squats, but doing okay with them. We do these in the 1.5 version, which seems even more difficult and sweat-fest inducing. But for the most part I have the shape down and remembering to stay rib-tucked all the way through. Now if I could just figure out a way to make the easier to execute.

While we have been doing goblet squats forever, I am sure today was the first time we have used a 25 lb. dumbbell for the weight – kind of a big deal when we graduate upward to a weightier weight. I think most recently I have been using the 15 lb. kettlebell, so it’s a bit of a jump. No issues, just feeling it in my legs and glutes. Happy feels, though, and like discovering some old, beloved toy in the deepest, darkest corner of the toybox and remembering all its fun qualities.

One of the biggies for the day was the step-ups. J had commented that part of his job is to challenge me, and today he wanted to see how I would do with the tallest box, which I THINK is 30″ tall (up from the 18″ box I have been using). Now, I do not ever jump on these things; I step up or climb up on them. Took me awhile to get to the point of competency stepping up and down, much less hip hinging at the top, but I got there. Adding another foot to what I am accustomed to stepping up on and balance is not there. Yet. So we positioned the box right next to the big giant suspension frame so I had a handhold to step/climb up onto this tallest box. Legs – either of them – are not quite strong enough to pull myself up to that height without handhold for balance, but I will get there. I was just so amazed to be able to make it work for me even with the handhold.

In my version of Hell, I try valiantly to get the shape of curtsey lunges correctly executed as well as trying for more than 9 consecutive push-ups. I know this because of a vivid nightmare on Thursday night where I am surrounded by flames that only get worse the harder I struggle with these exercises. And that pretty much illustrates my experience with the curtsey lunges. Hate. Them. Bobbing near the top of my nemesis stable with all the version of chest flyes I do battle with every week. Obviously A LOT more practice is in order. Monday there was a change in the depth of the backward sidestep. This time I worked on the depth of the backward step and ensuring the weight is on the front foot, not the rear foot. Ugh. I’ll get these. Eventually.

Another ridiculously exciting development with the sumo squats – graduating to a 55 lb. kettlebell. Not ever going to say it was easy, because it was insanely exhausting. But maybe a little (okay, a LOT) of fatigue is the cost of improvement. I now find myself looking at my feet – are they wide enough, maybe too wide, foot turned out the just right angle? Still, stepping up to this weightier weight and being successful with the rep range is a huge triumph for me.

We actually skipped the lateral lunges today in favor of extra time and energy spent pursuing improvement on the curtsey lunges. As you can tell from my write-up about progress with those, I obviously need the additional session time and practice.

Practices Between Now and Monday

Friday morning, I did a quick run through upper body. I slacked just a bit because of a late start. Plus my focus was just not in it today, which also happens from time to time. Not quite a bad day, or a worse day, or anything else. Sometimes life happens.

Tomorrow I will be back at this, I think. Depends on timing of my arrival and how much traffic upstairs. Still, it will be lower body something. Whatever I do this weekend, I have to add the push-ups. Otherwise I may find myself haunting the Hell of my dreams too frequently for my own comfort.

Kitchen Sink Thoughts

Find them here. My final thought from the day:

af11c694c9945cec2a50ac87a2f0087f

#diet, #exercise, #fitness, #food, #gym, #happy, #health, #healthy-eating, #inspiration, #mental-health, #nutrition, #positivity, #progress, #weight-loss