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