Oh, about the barbell …

In my recap yesterday I forgot to mention our adventure into barbell demonstration.

First new fact: the hinge thing bolted to the floor is called and landmine. The only reason I can conjure for that particular name is that people grazing too close to the walls where these things are bolted can easily trip over them.

Second new facts: there are 2 types of bars in my gym’s body fit room, one weighs 41 lbs. and the other weighs 45 lbs. The circumference of the bar of the 41 lb. bar is smaller, which is the only way I have of discerning the difference. Both are like 7 feet tall and in my hands, likely extremely dangerous. It’s far too easy for me to imagine losing control or not paying close enough attention and unintentionally braining someone with it while moving across the room.

Third fact: I am not a barbell-using gym person. J was kind enough to demonstrate a few things for me, because he offered a peek and had to follow through to satisfy my curiosity. Curiosity satisfied, questions about my fitness for barbell use mostly answered. Next!

In all seriousness, I am not a good candidate for this particular piece of equipment. Not because I am incapable of learning – I have proven to myself I am adaptable to using weights as part of my better health quest – but I have virtually  no interest in pursuing this any further.

It was enlightening to hear about this from J’s perspective. He has to consider not only the client’s ability in session, but also what he/she/me might do with the information during the rest of the week. While I am presently pursuing other Lists and not practicing the order and sequence of the huffy and puffy training we’re doing right now, this is 2017 behaviors. Throughout 2016 I was pretty faithful and consistent about replicating what we did in training sessions. The barbell is not something that I feel inclined toward, at all. Perhaps that will change into the future, but for now or until I run out of dumbbells or cable machines with enough weight to get the job done, I see no need for further explorations. The row, the overhead press, the squat, and the something else I cannot recall that we discussed yesterday – all are things that I have plenty of dumbbell or kettlebell or cable machine to utilize. Granted the sensation and work feels a little different and may be specialized to hone in on something neglected by my usual methods, but when the day comes that I need something so laser-focused I will probably be a lot more inclined to try other modalities.

That day seems quite a long way out and into the future.

J was remarking yesterday that the day may come (again, probably long into the future) when he has nothing left to say to improve my performance on individual exercises, and that could be a very ominous, scary idea. Kind of makes me laugh to think about, because I know from experience that we would change the weights, which in turn changes the angles and abilities and performance. Or we would learn a new machine. Or alter the order. Or do all the above.

I no longer concern myself with him firing me as a client or the potential of him moving off into his next great adventure or my outgrowing this particular style of training. My burgeoning confidence says I will be okay, that I will continue with my exercise pursuits. The interesting things about this journey are not just what happens in the gym, but the reading I do in outside publications, books, other fitness folks. So many are focused on specific goals – body building, losing weight, burning fat, cardio, style of cardio – but I enjoy reading about the different ideas and what they practice and preach. Even if I myself have no intentions of ever following them down the same or similar pathways.

Educating myself builds strength and endurance as much as the weights I am lifting, pushing, pulling to and fro. I like that part almost as much as the actual process of getting sweaty and gross perfecting my form and increasing my fitness capabilities.

And being just a teensy bit boastful, I am uber proud of my improving one-leg exercise abilities. Tuesdays are typically lower body days, and today I was working my step-ups on the box with the one-leg hip hinge at the top. I am doing so much better with the hip hinge on and off the box as well as the single leg Romanian deadlifts. I find myself ridiculously excited with every successful rep and the ways my confidence expands. Being an ungraceful and clumsy person much of my life, this is a Very Big Deal for me. I relish and celebrate every single success.

And I truly do love that. M used to tell me finding some exercise pursuit that I liked and suited me would make me fall in love and find joy in regular movement. M knows things, and he knows me well as well, because he was absolutely right. Except it is unlikely to be the barbell. The nice thing about my gym – there is a vast amount of other equipment available for my use and potential future exploration.

Yay! And go me!

#balance, #consistency, #exercise, #fitness, #gym, #happy, #health, #lifestyle, #positivity, #progress

PT-9: The path forward

Monday morning, training with J. Today was another huffy and puffy learning session on the FreeMotion machine.

Key Takeaways

Sometimes it is not so much what we/I do in training sessions so much as how it feels that makes training and exercise so great. I like learning new things, but I have come to realize what I value about teaching days is the deeper, broader understanding of the why of it all. For every time J has to remind me to put my shoulders back, I remember why it is important and how much difference it makes in so many other things. The shrug impulse is well entrenched after so many years of typing and cutting myself a lot of slack for not overcoming a well instilled habit is more liberating than I ever expected. Not in the “woo hoo! I can keep my shoulders shrugged until J tells me to stop” sort of way, but in the habits become that way with lots of time and practice and may take that much and more to change.

When I was in high school, my tennis coach used to tell us the practice did not make perfect, only perfect practice made perfect. It was kind of deflating, because my practice efforts were devoted to becoming competent with hopes for proficient. The coach had told us from day 1 that most of his energy would be dedicated to the top seeds on the team, the girls capable of winning matches. Having never done anything competitive before in my entire life, it was quite shocking to my ears. Then as now, I tried very hard. Then and less like now, I lacked the mental fortitude or experience to know how to get tougher and stay the course when I was ready to throw in the towel. I showed up for practices, I tried and worked very hard to learn and to improve, but stuck on the outside with minimal coaching or feedback, the biggest lesson that season taught me was how to lose gracefully and graciously to sharper, stronger opponents.

I think of that frequently these days, because with proper coaching, I might have been a contender. Actually, I doubt that; there was so much I lacked back then that I now enjoy. To my parents, tennis was not even a hobby; if they were even aware that I was competing, tennis was just something I did that took away from my ability to do other, more productive things. Now I have M, chief cheerleader in my better health quest, and a whole tribe who regularly inquire about my endeavors in this area. Even my work colleagues and private clients have kind and positive words about my efforts.

Gym practice is a solo endeavor for the most part. Even others I observe with training partners, one is doing one thing, the other doing another, then they switch. I am living inside my head in my own practices, plotting or planning or slowing down and speeding up to assess the feedback from body. And I realize – it makes me really happy to be in the gym pursuing my List(s) of the day. I like the process, the evaluation, the feedback, the curiosity and that little professor in my mind seems to be paying attention even when I am caught up in what I plan to do next or what the balance of my day holds.

How shocking the thought is to me now, that I am happy to be there and pursuing List(s) of the day. I plan ahead, usually know what I will do once I arrive and changing my mind is primarily driven by equipment availability. The part of me that craves stability and order sings knowing we we do A1, A2, A3, etc. for X numbers of sets and then proceed to the next block. When we are done with the List, and depending on time available, maybe we will run through a set of arch nemesis, push-ups.

But anymore, even that, practicing arch nemesis exercise, I gain perspective. I am improving, albeit slowly. I can accept that and be satisfied, and happy, with positive progress.

What We Did

A1  Freemotion Squat Machine
A2  Floor Seated Dual Cable Lat Pull-downs
A3  Dual Cable Decline Chest Press
A4  Dual Cable Reverse Fly
A5  Dual Cable Straight-Arm Pull-downs

B1  Squat-Row
B2  Resist Rotation Presses (square stance)
B3  Step-Press

C1  Glute Kickbacks or Donkey Kicks
C2  Long Rope Low-High Chops
C3  Dual Cable Bent-over Triceps Kickbacks
C4  Dual Cable Biceps Curl

How It Felt

Back to the Freemotion squat machine and a few sets of 20 or 30 or however many reps we I did per set. Started in the usual “frog” stance (feet wider apart) like a goblet or sumo squat and then moved to a narrower stance like a power squat. Between uses, I forget how much I actually like this machine. The distribution of the weights, from hands to shoulders, makes it not so much easier as different enough to focus on what my glutes, leg, hips are doing and feeling and less on whether arms, hands, shoulders are tiring.

New to me today – floor seat cable lat pull-downs. Yep, doing these sitting on the floor. And it was fine, actually. I thought the actual getting on the floor would be more an issue, but it was not an issue at all – take FreeMotion machine handles, lean back, bend knees, somehow land gracefully on my bum without causing tremors in the entire building. from that angle on the floor, it feels different than sitting on a bench or on a stability ball. Lean forward with the arms extended overhead, push chest up and then shoulders back while pulling down, work the arch in the slight lean back. Feels somehow more powerful and controlled from the floor. Getting up off the floor – I lack J’s confidence and grace in being able to just hold onto the handles and hoist myself upward. Instead, took a couple of tries but figured out that looping my right wrist through one handle then grasping the other in my right hand and putting left hand on the floor and rising from that position worked surprisingly well.

We did a couple of versions of the dual cable decline chest press today, for feels and such. The normal version – where elbows are elevated and spread wide, and the second version – where elbows are closer to sides while pressing. The new and improve cue – chest up then shoulders back – applies here as well and made my shoulder shrugging less of an issue than usual. While it may seem a small change, it has had a positive impact on me already.

I am not sure what it is about dual cable reverse fly, or flys as a species of exercise, but I find them hugely challenging. Whether I am using the cable machine, the bands, waving dumbbells through the air, or laying down on the bench hoisting dumbbells in the air, I am always probing to figure out which muscles are impacted by the movement. And to be honest, I am not always successful in discerning what muscles or muscle groups are working. Nothing hurts – always an excellent sign – but frequently the areas I think I should be targeting are remarkably quiet and serene. Maybe more weight? Slower more listening to what squeaks and speaks? Possibly more arch? The little professor inside my head will continue her inquiries on Wednesday, when next we visit upper body exercises.

The dual cable straight-arm pull-downs are another beneficiary of the chest up, shoulders back cue. We have not done these on the FreeMotion in awhile, and it feels a little different. Mostly, though, I am pleased with my grasp of the new cue and finding less shrug creeping into my shoulders.

Squat-to-row is part of the warm-up List with the bands. Same movement and general feeling with the cable machine. The complexity of these is not lost on me – squat to hip hinge, tighten glutes and quads to rise, tighten abs, pull back in row, chest up and shoulders back, hands at ribcage. Yet I have now been at this long enough to do them without steam coming out my ears in concentration.

It has also been awhile since we have visited the resist rotation press (square stance), and I had forgotten its impacts and how it feels. We went through a couple of different foot positions, and for all the ways I do not always feel other exercises where it seems I should, I almost immediately got the difference between each different foot position on these. Despite how passive this exercise seems to be, it’s surprisingly effective. Hours later and I can still feel it in my obliques.

The step-press is like a single arm chest press with the step. This one in particular is where I feel the peppier, huffy and puffy pacing coming into play. The entirety of huffy and puffy pacing usually coalesces on the second set, because the first I getting the step and press motions smoothed out. By our third set today I had a much better handle on pacing and heart rate stepping up. Using the band warm-up more frequently will help condition me to the rhythm and pacing of the movement.

While there was a choice today between glute kickbacks or donkey kicks, I went immediately to the donkey kicks, primarily because they give me more issues than the glute kickbacks with the high forward leg start. Between the fluffy cuffies and the regular adherence to a couple of days of lower body work each week, I have grown more comfortable and confident. It shows.

Last week we did high-low and horizontal chops with the rope, today we do the long rope low-high chops. But first we tried it with a handle, and that was okay. The rope – so superior and easier to manage. These rotation things – it seems like it is all about the shape, and finding and perfecting my shape on these chop exercises is a challenging.

A newish exercise is the dual cable bent-over triceps kickbacks. These are effective – I can still feel my triceps this many hours later. After 3 sets of 12 to 15, I can feel they were worked and working.

From there we went directly to the dual cable biceps curls, which is a nice contrast after the triceps work. I have some modest, growing affection for curls these days, having now done enough of them to appreciate the new creases appearing in my arms. Definitely my arms are getting stronger, for everything except the pushups.

Kitchen Sink Thoughts

Occurred to me on the drive home – I am so pleased and so proud of myself. After over 100 training sessions without missing or even requesting a reschedule (vacations don’t count, nor does any time J needs to move our session because of conflicts with his schedule), I think this may be the first time I have had that thought linger in my head. Not that we did anything new, powerful, awe-inspiring today. Maybe that’s the more significant point – the actual movements and exercises are not personal records every week or even something I track, but the fact that I get up, I go, and I do this week after week with a happy heart. Training days – I genuinely look forward to it. Not just because of the interaction – my goodness we do have a lot of fun and are working really hard – but because I learn something new every single session and I continue to improve.

One of the best compliments I receive from my trainer: You’ve been practicing [insert exercise here]. Today it was the cable donkey kicks, and honestly, it completely thrilled me out. While it is not in J’s job description to make my time in the gym a happy period, it has evolved into a surprising byproduct of our work together.

This weekend, I spent some time with a couple of friends who have become crossfit aficionados. It is not for me, not my style of training, but it seems to be working for them, so I can and will be supportive and encouraging for them to continue anything that makes them feel good about themselves and contributes to their overall health. In this, I wish to model the behavior I hope for from others toward me and my better health efforts (unfortunately, my experiences leave room for improvement).

But whereas these friends have spent days or weeks injured from some mishap in the gym, I have enjoyed an mostly injury-free journey thus far. This is critical for me, because pain would sap my enthusiasm very quickly. At the same time, their results and physique transformations are impressive. As we have discussed numerous times, at what cost? The injuries have not been minor gym-related tweaks, but strains and tweaks that required being on the bench for at least a couple of weeks to a couple of months. The nutrition and diet advice is far more stringent and “tracky” than I am willing to endure. And the downs then creep back ups from being injured and having to rest and recover would be demoralizing for me.

So I am far, far happier in my slow and steady progress, my working toward learning correct form and then perfecting well enough that it becomes a second-nature habit versus trying to go-go-go to the cheers and enthusiasm of others in the gym. Mentally and fatigue wise, I am not the tough girl in the tribe; I readily admit being happy to stop after a few reps and sometimes I lose count and call it good enough. And while I very much appreciate the kind words other members share with me about my efforts, the simple off-hand comment from my trainer mentioned above is more motivating for my continued efforts than all the rah-rah-rah I would ever receive in a class or a Crossfit environment. At the end of our discussions about form and function, it boils down to differences in temperament and what I need to get the exercise done versus what they require on their own journeys. Neither approach is more or less correct than the other; we are very different people with very different needs.

Glad I have settled that in my own head.

Surprisingly to me, such discussions tend to bother me less and less as time marches on. This comes up in discussions M has with his runner friends, particularly when it comes to nutrition and fueling ourselves. There is a vocal facet that is very strong on Paleo and the evil of carbohydrates, still another that is vegan and/or vegetarian. Me, I am all about eating in a more balanced way, meaning I eat carbs, including white potatoes and bread. I also eat more vegetables, more protein sources, more balance.

There are always going to be differences in exercise, in training, in diets and in nutrition. People are insanely passionate about their perspective, and it has been a long slog to get here, where I simply care much less about such differences of opinions between factions of people and they ways we choose to pursue optimal health. I do try to listen –  much to be learned listening to other perspectives. But my own confidence in blazing my own trail has solidified and I am assured in my path. Makes listening with genuine interest and not being swayed or impacted by arguments or discussions.

I believe that is real progress.

January is nearly over, next training session is next month. Because I am a planner, I am already thinking about what happens next. For February, I am going to stick with the upper and lower body splits I have been pursuing – perfect practice and such. I will continue to try and press forward with my pacing, pep it up and work the heart rate, but we shall see.

I have been having such fun with the Lists this month, and I am making strides and improvements. Who knows where I shall be in another month with these Lists, but I am certainly looking forward to finding out. I am making slow and steady progress with the individual exercises and my ability to get through each of them. With the overlap, the benefits are broad and will help my form and technique improve with the PHA lists we are presently pursuing.

I am making progress, and I am getting fitter. In a myriad of big and little ways, it shows.

#598, #balance, #confidence, #emotional-health, #exercise, #fitness, #gym, #happy, #health, #mental-health, #positivity

Friday musings

I have a couple of very close friends who get to hear about my training sessions every week and frequently about my daily gym excursions. This has been going on since session 1, way back in 2015. Because they are suspicious, untrusting souls just sure that the big box gym was taking advantage of my ignorance and bilking me out of hard-earned cash with some less competent trainer. To this greedy and bored nameless, faceless, generic big box gym employee, I was merely an hourly amount on his paycheck, until he finally quit and moved on to being a Starbuck’s barista or something else equally challenging.

My brother-like friend interrogated me about what we did in session, what was said, the nuance, the tone, the actual words used exchanged – interrogate is actually a fairly mild description of what our exchanges were like the first 6 months or so. As he is also a close friend of M’s and they talk regularly like a couple of gossiping old ladies, he would ask M about my gym trainer and experiences and if “that guy” seemed okay. Because lesser experienced or professional gym trainers have some sort of badge they wear around their necks or tattoos across their foreheads. It was as if he were waiting for some bad thing to befall me on which to pounce and declare himself correct in being suspicious of the quality of trainer J’s character and professional abilities. Other friend was and is far more interested in my yoga and pilates class experiences, since that is where his primary interests lie, but since his former spouse has been involved with a gym trainer who may be almost as bright as a box of dead lightbulbs, he has a more personal basis for his reservations about where I get my fitness instruction and advice.

How times have changed. Just today my o-bro friend was saying that J and I have way too much fun and he is jealous of being unable to share our good times. More importantly, he has come to understand and even respect J’s professionalism and abilities, having observed my transformation from reluctant, exercise-hating gym goer to exercise enthusiast. His support and encouragement – it means a great deal to me.

This morning I was lying on the floor doing stability ball glute bridges and hamstring curls and reminded that I really need to put forth more effort to practice these. So many Lists, so few practice days. But it reminds me that I’m sort of willy-nilly lately in my List selection and performance since the start of the year. I will soon have to rectify that and be a little more strategic in warm-up and huffy-puffy pursuits.

Maybe next month, anyway.

Whether I’m all over the place in my List selection or doing the same upper body, lower body multiple times in the same week, I am not especially worried about it. The important thing to me is being there, doing something. This week, I have been enjoying a resurgence of normal energy and passion fierceness toward my practice. While I am not the toughest tribe member and will freely admit having to work harder at my mental game and sticking with it when the fatigue starts and makes me feel like stopping or worse, giving up. In my book, when the going gets tough (and it does), my brand of tough is to develop more discipline and consistency about just going, period.

I am still working at the healthier eating. Food, the final frontier. How can I trust body when it whispers things like “let’s have a muffin!” instead of an egg or a spinach-laced smoothie for breakfast. Or “what about another cheeseburger?” when I go out in search of food at lunchtime. I muddle through and my forward progress is maddeningly slow with my foot-dragging reluctance to just get busy eating food that is good for me but hardly appealing at all. I remind myself that better health is a process, and since I am not so extreme to live on lettuce, water, and protein powder, be patient and keep plodding away at it.

No complaints – as long as my diabetes remains in good control I have no room to whine.

And finally, I sort of miss the days when I did a lot of straight cardio, if only because I had that much more time to actually stand and read. But as it is, I could be reading while pedaling away on my arc trainer in the living room, yet I don’t. Because I would much rather read with something nearby for note-jotting. Or without having my focus somewhat divided by the motion of the arc trainer. Essentially, I am reading to relax these days, not to pass the drudge time while getting through my daily dose of exercise. Someday soon I may try again, just to see what it’s like.

Maybe next month. Feeling a little Scarlett O’Hara-ish tonight: “I’ll think about it tomorrow, at Tara. I can stand it then.”

Yeah, me and my first world problems. Happy and thankful tonight, as I am most nights. For good days that start with exercise and end with book in hand before I sleep.

#balance, #books, #diet, #emotional-health, #exercise, #fitness, #friends, #gym, #happy, #health, #mental-health, #reading

PT-8: “Big bad wolf” style Lists

Thursday morning, training with J. Since the first of the year we’ve been working at PHA (peripheral heart action) styling in our Lists, what I refer as to the “huffy and puffy” effect. Because seriously, while I have heard the term and know essentially what PHA means, my ears hear “PHA” and “peripheral heart action” and my brain translates that as “huffy and puffy” labored breathing Lists.

Going forward, these will be “big bad wolf” style Lists; the 3 little pigs are just the wrong focus for this narrative. I vastly prefer imagining “I’ll huff, and I’ll puff, and I’ll blow fat away.” Much better, more positive framing that imagining myself as one of the 3 little pigs cowering in my house and waiting for very bad things.

And all is well with that.

Key Takeaways

I love, Love, LOVE review days. Sometimes more than others, though. Today it relates to a spike in confidence and understanding with how it goes with some of the chop exercises. While we were working on the cable machine today on chops today, I recognized that my avoidance of a warm-up List with the band equivalent has been languishing because I have not enjoyed or felt good about the chops. With so many other options for warm-up and beyond, why do something I do not particularly enjoy? The “because then I improve” is far too simple and straightforward for me. Nope, had to be nudged back into it by having the cable version appear and be practiced and drilled down into specifics (foot position, hip motion, what I should feel and where and when). I am now ready to revisit that warm-up List tomorrow.

The current series of huffy and puffy Lists are influencing other aspects of my daily practices. New for 2017 is that I am not practicing what we do on Mondays and Thursdays at other points during the week. Throughout 2016 I was faithful in doing my best to replicate what we did on Mondays on Wednesdays and what we did on Thursdays on Saturdays. In 2017, session Lists are mostly done on session days. However, while I am pursuing an upper or lower body List on practice days, I am incorporating a huffy and puffy List in addition to the upper or lower List of the day. But as the first few weeks of 2017 have passed, I find myself using a few different Lists on practice days – a warm-up, a cardio-based (the huffy and puffy component of my days), and then the upper or lower List of the day. It’s interesting how I now feel the weight, and excitement, of my mandatory 90 minute time block to complete what I want to get done in a practice day. I have felt like I could potentially cut back 30 minutes and still be fine, but I actually prefer the longer block to practice and refine what vexes me on any given day.

My judgmental Fitbit is also getting more play right now. I find myself curious about the average heart rate per session, although it is frequently skewed by my failure to turn it off in a timely fashion. But still, the information is there for evaluation. I can slant it to make me feel good, or bad, or guilty, or something worse. I do not want to dive down the rabbit hole of tracking, judging, or worse. Letting it’s judgments color the positive impact practice has upon my day and my attitude, I choose to review the data from in the spirit of curiosity and to evaluate if its reading match my feelings. I do the same thing with it’s sleep reporting. Is the way I feel upon waking in the ballpark of how long and how well the Fitbit says I slept? The Fitbit is a tool, not the decider of whether or not I am working hard enough at this process.

As long as it is merely a data gathering device, I should be fine. The minute I start thinking about improving on yesterday’s average beats per minute or tracking it too closely is a minute too late for me to stop reviewing the information so regularly.

What We Did

It was review day, so it a repeat of Monday. The List:

A1  High-Low Cable Chop (3 sets, 12-15/side)
A2  Horizontal Cable Chop (3 sets, 12-15/side)
A3  Forward Reverse Goblet Lunges (15 lb. DB, 3 sets, 6-12/side)

B1  High Rep Peppy Leg Press (2 sets, 30-50 reps)
B2  1-arm Cable Horizontal Row (2 sets, 8-15/side)
B3  1-arm Cable Horizontal Press (2 sets, 8-15/side)

C1  Cable Glute Pull-Through (2 sets, 8-15 reps)
C2  Rope Hammer Curl (2 sets, 8-15 reps)
C3  Rope Overhead Triceps Extensions (2 sets, 8-15 reps)

How It Felt

Instead of the cable’s handle attachment for the high-low cable chop, we used the rope today. It seems to make a difference, but more than that, the repositioning of my feet in the split stance made a bigger difference. Mind still wants to split the rotation and the dive bomb to foot into a separate sequence, but it’s better. Cut in for the dive bomb sooner toward the side of the inner foot. Moving the foot forward, a wider yet not as deep split stance and rotation on the rear toe. Working my warm-up List with this chop and the cables will help solidify the “shape” in my head and the practice make me more proficient. With the changes to my foot positioning, the cutting in sooner on the dive bomb, the spot next to my foot I am aiming for in the dive bomb help with my focus and my overall sense of confidence. I feel much better about these, much less awkward about the fluidity.

We also used the rope for the horizontal cable chop. When we have done these previously, it’s more a full rotation through the hips and feel it more strongly in the obliques. Today it was shorted the arc on both ends, res position the feet so they are closer to almost in a line. The rotation on the toe does sort of bring the hip forward, but I recall these as being more a “push” with the hip to form the rotation. But with the shortened ends in the rotation, I felt it more in the glute than the oblique. I did better with focus and concentration and did not feel as if I were weeble-wobbling as we went through the sets.

Getting better with the forward reverse goblet lunges, although still imperfect. Part of it is balance, plus I remain deeply suspicious of anything that requires me to step backwards. Mind ponders the possibilities of what could be behind me, what I could be stepping into, who I might accidentally kick behind me, or any number of other unfortunate outcomes that could happen stepping backwards. J rightly points out that there is a big giant mirror right in front of me that allows me to see what is behind me at any given moment. His logic only goes so far with mind, because mind still dislikes watching what we are doing in the mirror. But I am improving. Work my patience, balance, focus.

The high rep peppy leg press is an ongoing work-in-progress. Lower in a relatively controlled manner, spring back quickly yet in a controlled manner, almost like a jump while sitting down with feet on a moving plate. It’s an interesting rhythm and form, and not as if I am pressing so hard and so violently as to press the plate off the stand and into the next equipment station, as my vivid imagination envisioned while going through this. Mostly I am on the right track. Mostly I feel like it’s just getting the cadence down in my head.

There is something about the 1-arm cable horizontal row. Bend knees slightly and pull back with the shoulder. Try hard to keep shoulder relaxed and unshrugged. Today reminded and remembering to keep elbow bent slightly to pull through my shoulder rather than with my arm. Writing it down this way makes it sound strange, because of course I am pulling with my arm; shoulder has no hand attached directly to it. But for as long as I have been doing rows of various stripes, it is still a daily, ongoing struggle to keep my shoulder down and back. The issues and habits of working on a computer all day burned into my neck and shoulder muscles.

All things shoulder means I am paying attention to whether it is relaxed, down and back. The 1-arm cable horizontal press is another of those exercises where I have to pay attention and watch the shoulder. Pull lower to keep this from happening on the row, push forward a bit lower to prevent it on the press. Monday when we did these I had some unusual ache on the right side, always the right side, and sure enough, pulling and pushing lower relieves this ache immediately. So the long slog to keep myself shoulders in proper position continues.

I have spent a fair amount of time contemplating the cable glute pull-throughs while pursuing other exercises on other Lists this week. Every time they cross my mind, the thought is quickly trailed by how weird they may look to the casual observer. But then again, I figure if anyone is spending enough time to think my exercise routine is weird, they need to be paying a lot more attention to their own Lists. But other than that big epiphany – that I do not give 2 shits what other people think about me and what I am doing – I find these things complex. It is an awkward shape to get into and to keep arms straight down, hands near hips, and that last 1/2 inch of hips forward at the can be felt through the glutes. Comes back to the basic precept of everything new – go slow, focus on form, and be patient. I was actually rather surprised to realize today that I am okay with my imperfection and inability to be closer to having new on new exercises down on the first few outings.

The most challenging thing about the rope hammer curls is not splitting the rope at the top of the movement. It is supposed to stay the same on the up as on the down, but the impulse to split it like a wishbone is very quickly something to be suppressed. It’s my new focus point on these – don’t split, don’t split, don’t split.

The trickiest part of the rope overhead triceps extension is keeping the cable out of my pony tail. Yep, me and my first world problems. Actually, it’s not that terrible or that difficult, more a matter of getting the forward lean from the split stance correct so neither the cable or the rope rub against and get tangled up in my hair. Yesterday I may have been using heavier dumbbells on the tricep extensions off the bench and could still feel them squeaking every so slightly this morning. But they are back to speaking more loudly and wondering about my current obsession with working them so hard. I am not-so-secretly enjoying the feeling. It is a very cool thing to have visible muscle on my upper arms.

Kitchen Sink Thoughts

Every now and then I try to recall how I spent my time before the exercise found such a strong foothold in my life. It is a moot point, because I seem unlikely to drift back to a sedentary life and lifestyle.

So many take up the reins of exercise in pursuit of aesthetic changes. They are seeking weight loss and trimmer figures, and I applaud anything that gets us up and off the couch  and moving. While I do occasionally wonder if I have given up on or deprioritized that aspect of diet and exercise objectives because it is not working out that well for me thus far, for the most part I choose to reframe the discussion to one that keeps me engaged and trying. If I am going to be obsessed with anything, I prefer it to be my consistency, in that I am making exercise a priority and into the gym, and from there, perfecting my form and ability exercise correctly.

But what if I have given up any and all aspirations for aesthetic changes? If the critical blood tests indicate I am healthy, how obsessed concerned should I be about my waistline and fat that body retains? When is my overall level of good health good enough?

For as much time as I spend inside the gym and on the floor pursuing my personal objectives for exercise, I spend at least that much time outside the gym reading, watching, and listening to various experts on diet, fitness, habits, psychology, and lifestyle improvements. Changing and maintaining a healthy, positive mindset is as much a contributor to my ongoing success as any amount of weight I may utilize or how many sets and reps I may complete. Mindset, in both my opinion and experience, is a huge component and seems to be inadequately addressed with most programs. J and I – we talk about it all the time in little and big pieces. Part of that is the special snowflake that is my nervous system, part of it is most people only want to talk about losing weight, burning fat, sculpting pretty muscles – fast. Rarely is the idea of sustainability of effort realistically addressed.

I have done battle with negative girl and have successfully prevailed for the most part. However, one does not easily overcome a lifetime of low self-esteem and insecurity in puddles blood, sweat, and tears from exercise. Unless I am actively distancing myself from the pressure of marketing and the general ignorance surrounding fitness and health, it begins to bother me and weaken my resolve about all I have gained from my better health quest. Education is key for me. Education to overcome my own ignorance of what health and what fitness looks like, feels like, is like in reality is as critical as getting myself up and into the gym for the daily dose of exercise. I have to educate myself about the factors that affect weight loss or weight gain, the positive impacts of regular exercise and healthier food choices, or I would be lost and giving up my quest as hopeless. Because I’m no longer young, or even more likely, I remain unwilling to make what I view as extreme sacrifices to try and mold myself into some low-percentage body fat citizen.

Theodore Roosevelt said “comparison is a the thief of joy,” which I have found to be so very true. Measures of our success and progress are unique to each of us, and comparing ourselves and measuring ourselves against others is just an additional method to discount our progress and forward movement and positive motivation for our efforts. The elimination of diabetes medication despite my imperfect dietary choices and lack of significant amount of weight loss is unique to me and my body chemistry and physiology. It is not a standard to be compared to or measured against. Yet, it is difficult to explain to other people, particularly without sounding as if I am making excuses for my lack of mathematical progress, i.e., calorie deficit results in weight loss. What I have read from sources I have come to believe and to trust says it’s not that easy or that simple. What I have been reassured from those sources is that I am not lazy, slacking, overeating, consistently making piss-poor food choices, working hard or hard enough, moving enough, etc., etc., etc. There are forces like hormones, years of imbalanced diet and sedentary lifestyle working against me. At the same time, I am not a petite woman, and I have added a good amount of muscle to my frame in the last 20 months. Better choices, healthier choices, being consistent, persistent, and patient in this quest – I will continue to make progress getting fitter. And with the type of fitness I am seeking, my better health will continue to improve as well.

I stopped apologizing for or hiding my big and small wins, because objectives and reasons for pursuing exercise and healthier lifestyle habits differ for each of us. I continue to exercise restraint expressing my belief in personal responsibility, because not everyone is ready to accept that the first steps are hard and it rarely gets less difficult the deeper we get into the journey. However, while I still find the quest challenging much of the time on the gym floor, I also find my attitude toward the work has improved, my fears of the gym have abated, and my enthusiasm for the exercise itself has increased. These factors have made the actual hard work so much more enjoyable and deeply satisfying.

That I have a fabulous trainer/coach working with me, teaching me, and keeping me safe (from harming myself) is a huge luxury not everyone can enjoy or afford, but I also know there are some wonderful resources online available for everyone. J introduced me to Coach Scott Abel my appreciation for his down-to-earth, common sense approach has made his books, videos, website my go-to resources.

I have mostly stopped caring what others think about my efforts or my progress. Those who matter most to me are unwavering in their support and encouragement. That I have met other members at my club who may be pursuing different objectives yet share my interest in exercise is an unexpected bonus. It is a wonderful thing to be around other people who are on similar journeys.

J and I were talking today about his evolution as a trainer, and in truth, I feel fortunate to be part of the training tribe at this point in his life. Being in the gym pursuing his own fitness interests, testing, adapting, refining workouts for me and the rest of the training tribe shows more and more as I progress forward. There has always been empathy, understanding of my trials and tribulations in learning and mastering technique and form,  but I see how his own workouts have evolved and benefitting me directly in updated knowledge and experience. Not to mention that the muscle explosion bulking up that happens is inspiring to observe week after week.

Anymore, I am all about enjoying inspiration in all the places I find it. In the gym, I find so much positive energy and happy hopes interacting with J and the other friends I have made there.

It is an unexpected development. Because while I typically practice on my own, it is nice to look around and see others I know and faces I recognize all pursuing their own individual objectives and programs.

Even now, after 20 months, I feel some amazement that yes, I am gym people. I do feel invested and as if I have made a place for myself there. Not sure this transfers to other gyms, other chains, or if I could go on vacation and use a strange gym in another town with equal confidence, but in my heart, I think I could do it now.

Little things, but my confidence, my engagement in this process – that is progress.

#balance, #emotional-health, #exercise, #fitness, #gym, #happy, #health, #hope, #mental-health, #positivity, #progress

Consequences

Over the last 24 hours, I have been thinking a lot about consequences. Good consequences (well controlled diabetes without medication) and less desirable consequences (eat junk food, struggle with gym practice). After this much time, I would think I would know better about good food, bad food, junk in, junk out. But nope. I still do kind of dumb things. After a few (dozen) trials and errors I typically learn my lesson, but all too frequently there is a largish span of time between making the mistake and be more aware and choosing more wisely.

My registered dietician friend recommended I test the Shopwell app. It’s a bit of a shortcut to see how nutritious my food choices are for me based on my profile. Because we have already been through the calorie counting (nope, unlikely to do it ever again), he thought I might find this particular app useful as a guide to help me have a more instantaneous understanding of my food choices.

Thus far, everything I eat routinely (that is not fresh fruits and vegetables) is either a so-so to weak choice (regular breakfast and lunch foods) or not in their database (protein powder). Who knew the reduced fat mayo with olive oil I favor had sugar? Which is helpful to know, but I’m unlikely to start using mustard on anything other than hotdogs (extremely rare indulgence), corndogs (even rarer than the hotdogs), or cheeseburgers. I am an extremely picky eater, and I have systematically excluded a bunch of junk food from my diet and now find body wants to rebel if I consume too much of it in one sitting or do not eat a more balanced meal.

Still, I can see why RD would steer me toward this particular app. It’s quick, convenient, and since I pretty much eat the same foods over and over again, it would be a fairly once-and-done thing to know how well or how terrible my regular foods are in my overall heathy eating strategy and why. Like anything related to tracking, I’m very wary of it. Too much and it will become too overwhelming and feel as if I am constantly being judged. Using it as an educational too for a little while, until the novelty wears off, should not harm me. If I find myself backing away from the smoked turkey I love because of too much something, then I will know I have gone too far with it and have to delete it before I am eating nothing but lettuce and water.

Like that would ever happen. I am far too fond of dressing to eat a dry salad.

What’s been most interesting about my food intake missteps of late is the boomerang effect from holiday overindulgences. I have been detoxing and eating pretty well in January, so maybe this is what normal people who have better eating habits and consume a wider variety of foods experience when they wander off the reservation.

I chalk them up to good learning experiences.

And speaking of learning experiences, tomorrow is training day – review day, too. Current trending is we do new stuff on Mondays, review on Thursdays, which is perfectly fine with me. I love training days, period. But J texted and dangled a new PHA (peripheral heart action) style List, but he wants to wait for Monday so we have adequate time. And if you are terribly impressed with my exercise terminology, I had to google it to ensure I was certain of correct phrasing. The term has come up, but that 6 or 7 training sessions ago. My reference – huffy-puffy – is much more direct and to the point. But I’m learning the lingo and will not have this bewildered expression when it comes up in conversation.

 

#diet, #exercise, #fitness, #food, #gym, #happy, #healthy-eating, #nutrition

The air up there, the crash down here

I am ridiculously ignorant about my nutrition needs. I mean, seriously dumb. My doc, my trainer, my ongoing friendship with a registered dietician, and I am still make rookie mistakes. Hopefully I learn from them, probably mostly I do, but unfortunately there is no shortage of complications and complexities when it comes to my body and how it’s fueled.

It was lower body day with dumbbells and everything was proceeding as normal. While my pacing did not feel especially peppy, the judgmental Fitbit’s heart rate reading said I was adequately huffy puffy with this series (average heart rate for the 70 minutes = 133). I am still working at mastery over the Bulgarians, curtsey, and lateral lunges – maintaining the rib-tucking lean still requires extra focus and intensity to maintain – so I was paying more attention to my form first, rep counts second than anything else. I joke that most of my huffy-puffy calorie burn is brain at work, evidenced by the sweat-soaked hair from the steam coming from my ears. Things were going well; I was making good progress on overcoming my low back arching tendencies.

Except it felt as if I were sweating even more profusely than usual, and I was both more thirsty and getting more physically fatigued than is typical for this List and my perceived level of effort. Typically my brain gets tired long before body and then brain tells body how tired it is and the rest of my practice is hard-slog history. Today brain felt fresh, focused, engaged, wanting to go-go-go and body felt as if it were sending out mild distress signals, mostly ignored. Sweaty and gross is a fact of life. Judgmental Fitbit goes fast, slows down, goes fast, slows down. Mostly I ignore it unless I feel weird.

But in midway through the step-ups I started to feel weird, sweat pouring, a nanosecond of light headed. Standing on a box, doing a hip hinge on one foot – even a nanosecond of that type of distraction is a bad sign. It passed so quickly, though, that I was sure imagination was playing tricks, so I continued forging ahead. Rest break seemed to be in order and it helped. Yet by the time I entered my final block, I was starting to get that sinking feeling that something was amiss in my blood sugar. Even if mentally I did not feel I was working extraordinarily hard, body was processing the workout as if I were pushing really hard.

By the end of the second set of final block, I had the light-headed feeling of doom. Third set abandoned because fainting on the gym floor is frowned upon by employees and other members alike. Plus, so embarrassingly public! Yep, full on blood sugar crash at 59 when I tested in the locker room. I usually carry a can of juice with me, but it had been stolen with my other bag a few weeks ago. I always have glucose tablets with me, because M freaks out at the idea of me wandering around without anything to restore balance. They are unpleasant to eat, vastly prefer juice, but short of calling home, I was in no condition to drive. Popped a couple of those ick pills and just sat on the bench until I felt better, tested again and was on the rise at 70.

It was weird, it was unexpected, it caught me completely off guard and by surprise. And the little professor that lives inside my brain has to analyze and understand what happened, so hopefully I do not have a repeat experience.

I was not especially hungry last night due to a bigger and later than usual lunch. Rather than eat something sensible – like a peanut butter sandwich – I chose a protein shake with dried peanut butter instead. Big mistake apparently. The concoction upset my typically cast iron stomach enough that I was up and down a few times in the night. I thought for sure my blood sugar would be lower this morning, but it was shockingly high at 208 (first thing in the morning reading is more typically between 80 and 100, high is anything over 140). But I felt fine, so I made my usual pre-gym protein shake and away I went.

So my village (my docs, J, RD) and my friends – probably everyone except M – says listen to body, it will tell you what it wants/needs. M is a bit less woo-woo about it, suggesting a balanced diet with plenty of lean protein, vegetables, fruits, and some carbohydrates with each meal seems to work best for me. Which is possibly, probably what body is telling me it needs. Just protein and nothing else for dinner is inadequate. Body essentially had a tantrum overnight and spit out what I fed it. Okay, lesson learned. No protein shakes as meal replacement for me into the future.

Should I have known better and understood the signs I was experiencing? Perhaps. Since I have been off the diabetes controlling medications crashes are few and far between. It did not feel as if I were working extra hard and burning through body’s fuel in an unusually rapid manner this morning. Upset stomachs that wake me up are rare. Higher blood sugar from the stress – probably I should have anticipated this occurrence. But my biggest takeaway is that this experience taught me that I know and understand the signs now. Do not repeat the offending behavior and life will return to normal.

I put a fresh can of juice in my gym bag, just in case. Which of course means this experience is unlikely to ever repeat, because I’m now better prepared for it. And I am so beyond okay with not having another blood sugar crash like that again. After a few days (or weeks) without incident this too will fade from memory. Something to look forward to, even if I cannot hurry it along.

#blood-sugar-events, #diabetes, #diet, #exercise, #fitness, #gym, #health, #healthy-eating

PT-7: Life in balance

Monday morning, training with J. Love starting my weeks this way, especially with a clear head after a day of rest. We continue with new Lists and teaching days. And I do so love teaching days.

Key Takeaways

Old dogs, new tricks – that would be me and trainer J, respectively. We are in this teaching-like phase of training, where J is creating new Lists with different rep ranges and weights than we have used in the past. The Lists of late have a lot of huffy-puffy potential that is being realized.

While I am not actually pursuing our training day sessions on my practice days, there has been something new or revived from longer dormant Lists. The order of exercises, the rep ranges, and the weights change. The pacing – we go for peppy sometimes, or J just adds something that quite naturally brings on the huffy-puffy cardio aspects.

I love that there is still so much to learn and to work on and work at. I do not seem to grow tired of learning, nor even frustrated (anymore) when things do not work out quite as well as I might hope in the first teaching session. The lack of fatigue with learning and frustration with imperfect initial efforts is thrilling progress and is attestation to the trust in my training partnership I enjoy with J. From another pal’s recent experience with a new trainer reminds me that while J’s opinion is hugely important to me, there is no anxiety, apprehension, or fear of his judgment on my efforts. Her experiences remind me that no matter how great the trainer’s knowledge and experience with exercise, physiology, and diet, the rapport we enjoy is the foundation of any and all success.

What We Did

A1  Forward Reverse Goblet Lunges (15 lb. DB, 3 sets, 6-12/side)
A2  High-Low Cable Chop (3 sets, 12-15/side)
A3  Horizontal Cable Chop (3 sets, 12-15/side)

B1  High Rep Peppy Leg Press (3 sets, 30-50 reps)
B2  1-arm Cable Horizontal Row (3 sets, 8-15/side)
B3  1-arm Cable Horizontal Press (3 sets, 8-15/side)

C1  Cable Glute Pull-Through (3 sets, 8-15 reps)
C2  Rope Hammer Curl (3 sets, 8-15 reps)
C3  Rope Overhead Triceps Extensions (3 sets, 8-15 reps)

How It Felt

New and intriguing in this block of exercises was the forward reverse goblet lunges. Kind of exhausting, heart rate elevating, and not especially balance-inducing. But effective on the huffy puffy aspect of the List of the day. Just when I thought I was succeeding at lunges, J combines them into one big lunge-fest and adds a 15 lb. dumbbell in goblet hold. I can do it, but suspect these will be a-wandering into my daily practices to test drive and improve my balance.

Revisited the high-low cable chops this morning, and I’m improving. It is becoming more a seamless, one-step process rather than the two-step rotate-then-divebomb-the-foot-with-cable-in-hand.

The horizontal cable chop also resurfaced this morning. I am getting better at it, but still feel like I could do with some additional practice before I take my victory lap. It is a shape and steps thing, standing straight, feeling the abs, going through the rotation and using the hip to push rotation through, not the arms. I think, anyway; I need to be standing with the cable in hand to get the shape right.

We went to the leg press machine next for the high rep peppy leg press – both legs, no halfs, no single legs. But we were shooting for 30 to 50 reps per set, and it went almost surprisingly well. I was at least 40 – J was counting – but for straight reps of both legs, I could have used a heavier weight. Oh well. It’s been awhile since we did them this way and the others … the other require lighter weight if I am going to have much hope of walking after completing the rep ranges.

Back to the cable machine, for the 1-arm cable horizontal rows. Of late we have been doing 1-arm cable low rows, which feel completely different. The horizontal rows caused some unusual ache in one shoulder. J suggested pulling lower, and voila! Shoulder ache is no longer an issue.

Then we did 1-arm cable horizontal press. I love the press on the cable machines. The single arm forces me to stretch out my arm and focus on it and the sensation in the working arm and shoulder. Reminds me that the mousing I do daily is without consequences. Double reminds me that I’m really glad that I began my better health quest, so I can address these weaknesses before they get to the point of genuine problems.

Most intriguing exercise of the day goes to the cable glute pull through. It looks peculiar with the cable threaded between the knees and arms straight down to grasp cable handle. Hinging at the hip and then popping back up – kind of shocking feeling the glutes go to work. I would have never imagined these things would literally kick so hard in the butt cheeks.

The rope hammer curls were fun, kind of the reverse tricep pulldown. Only no split at the top, because I wanted to do so every time and forcing myself not to do so. But it was both a productive and useful version of this type of curl.

We have done another version of rope overhead triceps extensions but this is the more upright with just enough lean forward to put some separation between my head/ponytail and the cable. Feeling triceps tonight from these as well.

Kitchen Sink Thoughts

Sometimes the after session conversation yields even more wisdom.

Today J and I were discussing body image, a tangent of some other discussion topic. While not completely immune to the marketing, I am far more aware of it and a lot more secure with my better health quest. On the flip side of the pursuit of thin and more perfected shape is the body acceptance movement. On the surface this sounds like a good and healthier mindset, but it’s equally dangerous. If health and fitness pushes unrealistic thinnness goals, body acceptance encourages acceptance of unhealthy habits and simply accepting the status quo. From a very personal standpoint, I am all in favor of this trend to a point. I can accept that I am exercising regularly and making better food choices that body has changed somewhat, but I have heard the surprise from others that I am not looking fitter (i.e., thinner) from this much hard, consistent effort. If I let my guard down too much, I end up feeling crappy about my efforts. If I can accept that patience is required, life is easier for me. Period.

I have a good friend that has embraced the body acceptance trend and it concerns me. She is at least 80 lbs. overweight, type 2 diabetic and injecting insulin to control her blood sugar, and eating a lot of crap food. We talked about this over coffee recently, and I expressed the opinion that body acceptance is much more rational if your overall health is good. The diabetes control measures are stopgap measures, not a cure. From having been in her position, I am alarmed that she presumes that this is the best health she can enjoy. But she hates exercise (been there) and is “too fat” to exercise enough to have it make a difference. Dieting has not worked for her, there is no time/energy/interest in making healthier food choices. Therefore, she (and anyone else in her life) need to just accept and embrace her just the way she is right now.  and any guy who rejects her over her weight is fat discriminatory.

A little tiny chunk of me withered and died with her statements. So shortsighted and so sad. However, what could I say? I have had a similar mindset. I have entertained the same sort of thoughts. I have made different choices and worked hard to change my mindset and my habits. It’s not been easy, yet it has been so rewarding. In my mind, my acceptance that my journey to aesthetic changes and enhancements (not necessarily improvements) is vastly different than my friend’s. Judgment gene flaring, but I see her body acceptance as giving up on trying to improve her overall health whereas mine is a correlation that comes with my better health quest and improving mental/emotional balance.

That little tiny chunk of me withering and dying – it was my care and concern for this pal. I have watched her gain weight in the years since her divorce, and I have said little to nothing, merely tried to be a caring and supportive friend in her hours of need. Things are different now, and it’s hard for me to hear how she “cannot” do things that I am now doing routinely. It felt like she discounted and dismissed how tough this journey has been for me, and while I recognize the instinct to preserve her world view, it is rather insulting to be told that body acceptance equals my daily efforts to improve my health.

Not a thing I can do about her attitude or these feelings it inspires. We do not spend huge amounts of time together, typically coffee or lunch every few weeks, but I think she found my response as hurtful as I found her attitude disappointing. Before the conversation with J this morning, I had apparently overlooked the fact that body acceptance is an organized movement type event. More time on social media and I would perhaps be more in-the-know about this stuff.

Also in my kitchen sink of thoughts is practice and rest days.

I took yesterday off completely, my first rest day of 2017. As I have progressed on my better health journey, I have worn a groove in my Monday to Saturday schedule with my sessions and my practices. For much of the prior year I would spend my Sundays doing yoga or pilates classes or nothing specifically exercise-related. The break from the gym and my beloved Lists was warranted and became a good schedule for me to pursue. With the new year, the teaching days, the excitement of the sessions and things I was learning, I have been going to the gym for an extra practice on Sundays. Not the new Lists, but adding an extra day of practice to my upper/lower Lists and/or my dumbbell matrix for cardio.

Until I took yesterday off, I was not really sure what it was about the change of pace on Sundays. J and I have discussed rest days on various occasions and his primary guidance has been “listen to body.” Friday and again on Saturday, there was a definite sense of fatigue and fading energy that said maybe a break was in order. I thought about yoga or pilates, but instead slept late and putzed around the house instead without guilt or regret, emotions I might have experienced not that long ago.

Before, I always worried about falling behind or appearing to J that I was not taking our training sessions seriously. It is a real fear, one that I have mostly exorcised through my months of consistency and sticking with practice. Interestingly, since I was mostly doing pilates or yoga on Sundays, I did not immediately notice the difference between Sunday at the gym or the yoga studio.

This time, I noticed the building fatigue on Friday and Saturday. After the rest day, I felt like my brain and focus had been completely rebooted and refreshed this morning. Right or wrong, I believe a day away from the gym and resistance training is appropriate for me and my mental game.

Exercise is my thing; I would go so far to say I am obsessed with it. Success and better health are agreeing with me. If continuing to improve means taking a day off or redirecting my attention once a week, Sunday as a rest day or yoga/pilates class instead floats to the top of my priority list.

Because I am essentially obsessed with exercise, I am very entrenched in the process and cycle of improvement. I am presently enjoying the upper/lower Lists and the regular practice cycle. Of late I have been reading a lot about habits and the necessity of repetitive practice to establish them. By pursuing the same upper/lower body splits week after week, I am finding new little ways to remember the cues and make myself perfect the various steps of the exercises. It is not always working as I hope, but I am make tiny improvements every day.

When I am working in my own practice, usually by the second set all the cues will come back to me. And now I find myself idly revisiting things that we did on session/teaching days to improve my skills. Sometimes I use the same weights as we used in training, sometimes I go lighter or simply bodyweight to become more confident that I have the basic shape. I want to feel more prepared the next time the movement appears on a List or J declares review day.

Old dogs, new tricks – makes me smile. I don’t feel quite so old these days. If nothing else, the exercise makes me feel powerful, and smart, and successful. Almost as if I am sipping from a mythical fountain of youth.

A good day and feelings to enjoy.

 

#balance, #exercise, #fitness, #gym, #happy, #health, #lifestyle