Monday morning, training with J. Never again will I underestimate the impact of the sun returning after extended periods of dreary rain. Still, even the cold, dark, dreary rain days do not dampen my spirits for training days, but it sure makes me appreciate my office window and keeping watch on the cars in the parking lot.
We are on a new and improved review journey, reinventing and updating an older lower body List. As as I noted yesterday, I am experimenting with breaking my session recap posts into 2 separate posts. So for my tribe that read and look forward to these each Monday and Thursday, here is part of 1 of 2.
Coming in PT-13.2: Sunshine!
What We Did
Coming in PT-13.2: Sunshine!
How It Felt
Coming in PT-13.2: Sunshine!
Kitchen Sink Thoughts
Exercise impacts me far more than just the shape or capabilities of the body. I have these intriguing new lumpy-bumpy muscles peeking out. I am stronger and more capable. I know stuff about the gym and its mysterious cache of equipment. More than all that, though, I am far wiser, more confident, and generally happier. The better health quest has had a direct effect on all those things.
This morning I was huffing and puffing and determined to make the rep count values. For the most part, I succeeded … when I remembered to keep counting. The rest of the time, I winged it and at times called it good enough. But inside, I was secretly pretty damn impressed with myself – 220 lbs. on the leg press? Wildest dreams – never imagined it happening. Was it heavy? OH F**K yes. But I did it. And only after driving home and while writing a quick note to a close friend (as I do every Monday) did I realize how thrilling the accomplishment.
More than that, I have made it thus far without serious injury other than the occasional gym tweak. When that has happened, J suggested a rest day, or multiple rest days, so now I tend to take at least one day off every week or two weeks. Personally I would rather just listen to body and maybe go lighter some days than actually deviate much from my Monday to Saturday schedule. For the most part it has served me well, and the weekly day of rest or doing something other than weights and gym recharges my physical and mental batteries. I can feel the difference when I string together more than 10 days of consecutive gym days.
Going lighter to me may mean 2 sets instead of 3, or 15 lb. dumbbells instead of 20s. If I get too tired, avoidance mode starts to set in to my routine. And when I am in avoidance mode, I get wrapped up in a zillion small details that make slacking off or skipping completely a justified excuse. Climbing into the leg press sled feels awkward? Good reason to bail and do something else today. Too much low back arch on the upright choppers? Good reason to stop at 3 and move into another block. Cannot remember what weight to use on a machine? Dump that block completely. Too tired, too busy, too not into it? Let’s skip the gym today. And on and on and on. My excuse factory is always ready and willing to power up and get busy cranking out reasons to avoid the responsibility I have assumed for my overall health.
For me, I presently need this short of a leash schedule to stay on the straight and narrow. Fortunately, for the most part I am enjoying the challenge of the journey. I was reading something this weekend that described happiness as solving life’s problems, and the author may be on to something with that supposition. Every time I have a new epiphany about something in the gym there is this spark of pure joy that seems grossly out of proportion for the level of success. I could self-abuse and suggest that I have no life, but I am not going to allow negative girl enough room to even whisper such thoughts into my head (versus reporting the thought objectively here). I am the decider on how big or small my happy-happy-joy-joy over finally grasping an exercise method or tweak. The concepts of right/wrong reactions do not have a place in this dialog.
With every successful day that passes and I learn something new, crest some new quarter inch in height with training, have a small or large triumph, I experience a fleeting wonder about old friends leaving me on the curb in my better health quest. Was I dropped because I became more focused on taking care of myself rather than external friendships and relationships? Or was I usurping my role as the fat chick in the group and therefore threatening to those more conventionally thin, fit, beautiful?
I still do not completely understand it. Unless someone is doing something I view as harmful, immoral, or illegal, I want to be supportive rather than dismissive of or critical toward their efforts. But I have heard the same type of story from enough people who took steps toward healthier lives and lifestyles to know this behavior is not unique to me and my former friends.
Even now, more than a year into the journey, I wonder about the why of it all. I wonder if they ever really liked the person I am inside, and it is both uncomfortable and disturbing for me to imagine responses to such a query. I am not completely insensitive or stupid, yet losing friends over positive changes seems like the plot of a bad movie. There are a lot of years, memories of good and bad times warmly colored by the closeness and comfort that comes with genuine friendship. Or perhaps what I merely perceived as genuine friendship. I miss those old friends, in theory mostly, because reality is that their actions are very hurtful and awakened this sleeping anger ball within.
I could literally drive myself nuts all over again spinning round and round trying to find clear answers. While I might mourn the loss of relationships, to try and resurrect or revive the camaraderie will only disappointment all over again.
Another thing, another reason to be grateful for my better health quest – the belief in my own worth as a human being. And with that, the scorching affirmation that I need not be around anyone who does not value me and what I bring to the table at least that much.
How I look – truly, what does it matter? To me, very little, or I’d be obsessing over the scale and my dress size. I see the creases of newly emerging muscles, and frankly, it’s delightful. This morning getting ready for work, I caught a flash of my upper arm in the mirror and immediately, reactively thought it must be batwing fat. Then I realized – that’s not fat, that’s tricep. OMG – I have a tricep! Rush into the kitchen – M, look, I have triceps! M nods, smiles, dutifully admires – his “happy wife, happy life” mantra still in place. Silly, I know; I see my arms daily. But I go through my lists day after day, week after week, and the ways I feel inside have a far more powerful impact upon me that what I see in the mirror most days.
Walking through the gym and seeing others I know pursuing their objectives, any envy or despair of ever being good enough to be sharing the same space have been vanquished. I admire their efforts and am frequently impressed by the smooth ease with which they do things that are outside of my realm.
So yeah, I love that my outlook is healthier. I love, Love, LOVE that I can appreciate my own efforts and the big and little ways I am improving. Confidence does not come naturally to me. Thinking (much less saying out loud or writing it in black and white) that I am good at anything is kind of unnatural and has felt wrong to me. Not so much anymore. Tiny improvements add up, or I don’t notice that I am making much headway or worry about progress. What I do know is that one day I will no longer be bitching, moaning, or dreading a List of the day.
Feeling comfortable in my own skin and taking my place in my spaces within the gym without a whole lot of intimidation drama, bravery is surging. I could possibly even go to a strange gym and be confident enough with my Lists and my ability that I get the job done. Chatting with my daughter about Tampa this morning, I realize that vacation does not need to mean that I take a week off from my dumbbells and the gym. I could in theory go to some strange club chain and use their equipment if opportunity presented.
This should not be construed as worry or concern about trainer J moving on to his next great professional adventure. As he told me very early in our training journey that part of his job was to create gym independence, to get me to the point where I knew enough about exercise to go forth and thrive on my own. I can say with direct honestly he has succeeded, with a big, giant disclaimer that I am absolutely not ready to be released into the wild on my own as long as he is training and allows me to stay in the tribe. And I have zero worries of being booted for cause anytime soon.
Life is long and until I am sidelined by health-related issues or injury, I am in this for the balance of my life. And ridiculously excited about the prospect.