Peer pressure

From Saturday midday …

My zen has been disturbed and negative girl saw an opportunity to undermine my efforts. For the most part it was an transitory gesture, but there were a few minutes in practice this morning and a few hours spread out over the day that she had a brief joyride in the control center.

Maybe I need that reality check every now and again. Maybe I need to be reminded how far I have come to fully appreciate my place in the world right her and right now. Maybe falling back into a fear-based mindset will give me the boost I need to finally finish the post on the topic that has been lingering in my drafts folder.

Or maybe I am not more active on Facebook for good reasons.

Okay, some backstory here and the drilling down to what I am really thinking, since I have mostly finally figured it out. Took all day, but I’ve been busy with work as well, so my navel-gazing had several other more pressing priorities in front of it.

Last week I sat in on a couple of different webinars for the fat loss prescription beta program I have agreed to join. Overall, I am really excited about the program and the opportunity to participate and contribute to improving and enhancing this initial offering. For me, too, it will be an interesting exercise in 27 days of kick-start on fat loss and aggressive diet-style eating.

One of the benefits of this program is opportunity to join a private Facebook group with other participants in the program. I do not use FB much. This is the first “group” I have ever joined, and I am recognizing that it is for very good reasons. In my experience and perception, there is always one or two voices that dominate the group and seem to control the narrative. Plus it seems like a confined space for group therapy with mean people and no active moderator. While head understands this is just social media at its normal setting, I am recoiling from these people before we even get started.

The leaders of this program are both very knowledgeable and understand that there is no one size fits most when it comes to diet and exercise. However, the compliance junkie in me that wants to get along and at least try to fit in can feel the rebellion and the “I can’t” building over the exercise. And if presented to the program’s leaders, they would completely understand the tell me what I am presently doing with exercise is fine and good and no need to change. Their message, their style of training is geared more toward the sedentary person just starting out.

Dr. Spencer and Pat Flynn are both more exercise minimalists, in that they aim to do more in less time. Or at least that’s what I have gotten from their comments and very general descriptions of what they envision as far as exercise. As it was stated in the webinar, strength train with good form and with intensity, as heavy as you can, for 5 reps. Most people do no do that; most people (present company included) do not really know or go through the process of determining their maximum weight lifting threshold.

I do tend to agree with that, because I am overly paranoid about injury and want to be safe, sane, conservative, and well supervised in my experiments. In truth, I allot more time in the gym because the type of exercise I like and that J has tailored for me sometimes takes more time than doing 5 heavier reps. We have done weightier weights and it’s been fine. But we always seem to come back to higher reps and lighter weight ranges. It works for me, and while I don’t mind mixing it up with variations of resistance, for the life of me I am failing to see the joy in moving heavier weights to and fro.

I post that, and it gets drowned out by two other participants who honestly sound like body builder types enroute to dropping fat for better muscle definition. Or something. Essentially, I believe they are pompous asses, and working on my steely glare on FB … I am mystified on how to make it work. Hell, I am still mustering it for the big boys room at the gym, opting instead to just spread my crap out on my bench and space and daring one of them to move it when my back is turned.

I am also a form junkie. After this many months, J has drilled into my head about form, Form, FORM (damnit!). However, knowing I was about to embark on this escapade and knowing the style of strength training recommended, J was already priming me with advice tailored to me and my needs. Do one set of heavier weights as the first set (after the warm-up) for 5 or 6 reps, then return to my normal weights. Sounds good, right? So I tried it this morning with my first series and found myself with a sore shoulder afterwards. Not sure why, except maybe I was so tense about having lifting an unusual weight for me all by myself that I practically issued engraved invitations for shoulder soreness to come visit me.

And things tried to go downhill from there.

Now, the shoulder is nothing serious – I have had worse gym tweaks. Somehow the mere fact of the tweak occurring while I was trying something different makes it worse and fuels my fears.

And this reminds me, again, why trainer J is so integral to my success in the gym.

But by the time J texted me from his own workout, I had mostly turned it around. Negative girl was mostly contained, save for the occasional squawk, and I was in full-on work mode.

Thursday I had said to J that maybe the people who believe that fat turns into muscle do not realize that there is muscle underneath fat but that you have to burn off the fat to expose the muscle. While I have always understood the difference, it’s only been recently that I am starting to see muscle starting to peek out. Back, arms, legs, even my abdomen I am starting to realize there is muscle beneath the layers of tummy fat.

After my practice and getting ready to meet a client, I was thinking about fat loss and while admiring my backside in the mirror. I asked M if he thought my back look more muscular and he said yes, my whole backside was trimmer and firmer with smooth muscle from my time in the gym. I then remarked my back fat seemed less than before, although some remains. He agreed, but said it was far thicker previously and had been steadily winnowing off through the months. Since M rarely compliments, if I want to know something I just ask.

If you never have any hope or expectation of reshaping your shape, it comes as a really pleasant surprise when it actually starts to slowly happen.

So after 21 months of working with weights, I’m starting to realize I have burned away fat, that there is pretty muscle underneath that is starting to peek out. And that has not come from trying to lift as much weight as I possibly can in the shorted amount of time. Whatever I’m doing, have been doing, is working for me. Life is long, I have time. And if I don’t, does it really matter?

From Saturday evening …

But back to this morning and why I am impacted by this group and the peer pressure I am feeling because of it.

My lack of expectations, goals, milestones from exercise and healthier food choices has served me well. I do not get discouraged by lack of progress, because every day I make it to the gym is progress all in itself. Un-brainwashing myself about beauty standards and body acceptance remains a work-in-progress, a week-by-week battle in a long war.

I work with a big giant group of type A+ on steroids attorneys, so I get my fill of goal-chasing overachievers. For the most part I admire that quality, even if in my own more laid back personality style puts me more into an A-/B+ personality framework. But in my leadership roles, I try hard to let people have personal space to get their work done. For the most part, there is no one standardized way to do anything, and if J and others in my world have taught me nothing else about exercise, there is not necessarily a single correct way of doing most things. Every body is different, and what may work safely and most productively for me and my body may need to be modified or abandoned for someone else. So unless someone tells me they are eating cookies while planking or some such (in my mind) absurdity, I do not question their methods or what is working for them. Heck, I’d be unlikely to really question the cookie-eating planner either, except to know such technique would not inspire me to dread the planking process less. I also do not see the long-term upside of such technique for me.

Unfortunately, there are other who are true-believers, zealots firmly convicted that their way is the one, true path and anyone who deviates is misguided, wrong, or worse. Those who disagree must be brought back into the fold no matter what.

I am likely too sensitive. I am pretty sure I am not tough enough for regular social media consumption. And most of all, my expectations of civil discourse are way too unrealistic.

But oh well. Onward we go.

Had a nice text exchange with trainer J, but by then I had for the most part resolved my exercise crisis. But when it flitters through my mind that I am wasting my time with exercise and should quit, I stop and I snap to attention. When it happens at the gym and I am lofting a 15 lb. dumbbell overhead, I slowly lower the weight before stopping and giving the heinous thought my complete, undivided attention.

Even a nanosecond of a thought like that needs to be excavated and incinerated before proceeding, lest it fester and spread like an aggressive form of cancer.

By the end of Saturday’s practice, I was for the most part on track. I would quit the beta program before I would quit training and abandon my practice at the gym, and I would carefully explain the reasons why I am a poor fit. I was being a baby, though, and can objectively recognize that my childishness needed to stop. I had a busy weekend of work and no time to be entertaining a “poor me” mantra in the background.

I’ve worked hard to change my habits. My slow progress is still progress, and the only opinions on this that matter are my own (I may soon have that taped to my forehead to remind me every day). While I am not yet impervious to the strong opinions and methods of talking down that come from other unknown parties, I have big girl capris in the drawer and plenty of energy and resolve to stay off Facebook.

Now Sunday evening …

A long weekend of work and semi-crappy eating. Anymore, there is a price for eating less desirable foods. Saturday night M and I met at a local diner for pancakes. The waffle I consumed was actually an awful choice, even with the very sparing way of consuming maple syrup. But for whatever reason it sounded really good at the time. Probably because I was tired and my resolve weakened from work.

Good practice this morning. Sunday is my fun day if I go to the gym, and I pretty much do whatever sounds interesting to me in whatever greater or lesser capacity rep and weight range I feel like. It’s even okay with me if I skip it as well; I have a pass to take the day off if it seems prudent.

But mostly feeling burned out from too many work-work hours too many days in a row, poorer food choices, and just malaise and fatigue build-up from the deadline-driven stress that is professional services firms and consulting. Thankfully these peaks are less than once upon a time in my career, but still jarring to my nervous system. Fluctuating blood sugar resulting chills and fatigue, pink and white flower trees blooming everywhere in the neighborhoods making my sinuses and allergies flare. Time for zyrtec. Off and on throughout the day I have feared maybe coming down with something, except seeing all the flowering trees today reminds me that allergy season is here for me. Oh joy.

The “tone” of the support group has toned down considerably in the last 24 hours since I last checked in. Maybe it will be okay for me. Or not. I remind myself that I can just say no to the support group and merely sit in on the webinars and follow along that way. FB is completely optional.

Early night for me, because mind is exhausted and training at 6 and the start of a new, even better week ahead. I say that not just being optimistic, but the weekend’s hard work is paying off in that the bulk of the work is done well in advance of Tuesday’s 9 a.m. deadline. Tomorrow is review, there will be some edits, corrections, and changes, but nothing at all like the marathon of this weekend’s work. Proud of my associates, my staff, and myself for pulling together with minimal stress sniping.


#diet, #emotional-health, #exercise, #fitness, #gym, #happy, #health, #healthy-eating, #mental-health, #stress