PT-15.1: Into the gloaming

Monday morning, training with J. I do love starting the week this way. Sets a nice, positive, productive tone for the week. It is raining again, cold and dark when I arrive at the gym, but I chose the title today based on the cats. Twilight comes and there is this tangible excitement about them. They pace and prance and swish their big fluffy tails, looking forward to the night. I feel the same sort of excited restlessness warming up for training days.

Key Takeaways

Coming in PT-15.2: Into the gloaming.

What We Did

Coming in PT-15.2: Into the gloaming.

How It Felt

Coming in PT-15.2: Into the gloaming.

Practices Between Now and Monday

Coming in PT-15.2: Into the gloaming.

Kitchen Sink Thoughts

Very occasionally, I wonder what I am doing in the gym. I mean, big picture, long term, end of time. And the answer I come up with is simply: learning and honing my skills.

When I began my better health quest, I thought I would exercise, eat healthy, and the end result would be a svelter, sleeker me. I’d lose weight. I’d look more mainstream fit. The experience would be magical and inspirational for me.

Thus far, 20-something months into it, such lofty ideas have not materialized into reality, because my thinking about such lofty ideas has altered. Instead of weight loss, I have had scale loss, in that I ditched the scale completely and rely more on how my clothes fit as a measure of my success. Mainstream fit is a marketing innovation used to enslave me and separate me from hard-earned money in pursuit of unrealistic promises and dreams. As far as magical and inspirational, my present-day reality is far richer and more profound than the shallow dreams of being more a person who attracts positive attention and attractive in appearance. I am a good person, with many positive and attractive attributes that are not necessarily captured in the mirror or a photograph.

In my gym, majority of the folks are average people pursuing their individual goals and objectives. There are some really, really pretty folks, with admirable bodies and lovely faces. I feel no jealousy or aspiration to be like them, to be fit like them, to be pretty like them. Bodies and bone structure comes in all shapes and sizes, and there are real limits to how much change I can achieve without drastic, surgical intervention. Fat loss, weight loss, strength and muscle building are governed by so much more than simply lifting some predefined amounts of weight for a predetermined amount of reps for so many sets and voila! less fat and more muscled me emerges. I no longer grow frustrated that I am not making faster progress, because my preconceived hopes and dreams were completely unrealistic. Changing my views and measures of progress to something more practical for me was smart and allowed for more realistic and sustainable progress.

The negative girl imprisoned inside my head believes I am a fat girl uncomfortable inside her own skin and powerless – powerless! – to be anything different. In reality I am a lot more vibrant and powerful than I give myself credit, and just lately here, I give myself A LOT of credit.

Many times, M being the endurance monster athlete he is has inadvertently hurt my feelings. When going out with his friends or people he is working with, there’s a certain amount of vetting involved in who is invited. Because there is responsibility there that few are willing to voice honestly or accept. If someone cannot keep up, they become a drag on the rest because someone has to babysit and ensure the less fit newbie makes it back safely. That and his tale of a running group leader telling an overweight woman she was too fat to run with them. While both situations sound terribly harsh, rude, and downright mean to my ears, to M it is a personal liability issue. If he takes non-runner me to a 20 mile mountain run, he is responsible to ensure I make it through, which means he cannot run at his pace. If he is an irresponsible person, he just abandons me and hopes I make it to the finish in the mountain, on unmarked terrain I do not know. But because I would be significantly slower, he is also stuck waiting for me to finish. Or go back and rescue me from where I have fallen down and am slowly limping along and hoping I am not lost. As far as his former running group leader, that woman was not ready to be running with people who routinely ran 5 or 10 or 15 miles per day and would lag behind the group and ultimately slow them down. What I heard was “too fat” and it hurt and overwhelmed all my sensibilities and hearing. From my perspective, people are being rejected based on their body composition; from his perspective, they need to train more, train harder, and come back when they have more ability to keep up with the group.

From my more stable platform of new assurance within the gym, I have a much clearer understanding of his perspective as well as others who push back against the promotion of unhealthy lifestyle habits, including embracing obesity under the guise of body acceptance. Not all of us can have physiological conditions that make and keep us fat. Poor lifestyle choices – I own mine. I also own the struggles to break bad habits and create new, better, heathier ones. It is hard, painful, and in some ways shameful work. It was embarrassing to have to ask for help, to hire a trainer/coach to help me help myself. It’s also a luxury, I know. But if I am locked in battle with my money or my life, hopefully I have the good sense to choose my life.

The discussions with J today reminds me that being fat is not an easy road no matter what the reason. Accepting our bodies is one thing. Trying to do our best and make smart choices in caring for our long-term health and our bodies is equally important. My methods are not the only way, but for me it is the best way.

A good friend of mine started with a crossfit gym 18 months ago and is facing rotator cuff surgery now. She was once much heavier, and what she sees is having lost 60 lbs. in 18 months and not the toll the crossfit is having on her body. After 2 previous shoulder injuries, after being told by her orthopedist she should find some other fitness endeavor, next week she is scheduled for surgery and likely not doing any exercise for another several weeks, if not months. She admits being addicted to results on the scale, the smaller size clothes, the praise from her family, her friends, her crossfit peers. She also allows that perhaps those factors had her ignoring professional advice until now and facing a serious surgery to repair an injury that need not have happened.

I shudder thinking about it. I do not feel morally superior for being uninjured after this much time, but I am also know that being clear-headed about my objectives and keeping my overall health first and foremost has guided my decisions and choices on how to proceed. While every journey is different and unique, the one that leads me to a surgeon’s table is not the right one for me, no matter how significant the weight loss I might have enjoyed. It is simply not worth it to me.

My point is – I have picked my battles carefully. Dropping weight would be nice, actually pretty damn fabulous. But what am I willing to give up to make it happen? What am I willing to risk for that? Apparently not much, or not enough, and I am doing very well with this reasoning and rationale. Exercise is one component of better health, and for me it was the most challenging piece to implement. Now that I have found a groove, I’m not giving it up. Protecting it, and myself, is worth reshaping my shape in a slower fashion.

J was showing me X-rays of an overweight person versus a normal weight person this morning; it was startling. Not just the layers of fat – that’s to be expected – but the way the bones were shaped and bowed and bent in the heavier person. While it would not have been enough to scare me straight at the beginning of this journey, it is quite fascinating and enlightening to review now. Someday soon I may identify more closely with the normal weight person, but for right now, I see myself in the heavier person’s X-ray. It is one of the thoughts that keeps me so immersed and engaged in this learning journey.

Maybe inside a fit woman has been waiting to emerge. The thought makes me smile. I am daring to imagine that fit woman inside and working hard to make her happen.

#emotional-health, #exercise, #fitness, #gym, #happy, #health, #mental-health, #positivity