Part 1 is posted here.
Kitchen Sink Thoughts
After so many enjoyable weeks of review and improvements to former Lists, a brand new one is kind of a big deal. I have zero doubts about J’s creativity and professional skills to create new and interesting workouts, but from time to time I have my own private doubts about my capabilities. Time between doubt times is stretching out further and further.
It occurred to me yesterday that I could stop training with J tomorrow and probably be okay on my own. Deeply sad and unhappy about my learning days being concluded, but I’d get by on my own. Or I’d be reading and studying harder in my 5 minutes of free time before falling alseep to learn on my own and become my own trainer.
Thankfully I have more time and it’s not something I have to even think much about right now. But I hear that a lot from friends – you’ll be okay on your own. Not just about training. It comes with or work friend changing jobs, friends I used to see all the time relocating to another town or state, or the dynamics of life in general. For the most part I am okay, but that doesn’t mean I don’t miss what I enjoyed previously.
During our session and after yesterday, I found myself musing that the exercises themselves are like old friends or old toys I once loved put away and forgotten about until the box they were stored in is reopened and rediscovered. It’s been a little while since I last did stability ball bridges, and I have learned new cues and new tactics that make them make more sense to me.
I have come a long way and covered a lot of ground in the time span I have been working with J. I am not the strongest client in the tribe, nor am I the most disciplined. But that’s okay – everyone has a role, a place, their own unique priorities. It occurs to me I have no concerns about my “standing” in the training tribe; I truly want all of us to be successful in achieving the goals and objectives we have set for ourselves.
But this week, my thoughts turn back to what are my objectives? I already know how I feel about goals – they freak me out. Better health quest is ongoing, but is there more I could or should or would be doing if I knew about it?
My answer – probably – is fine. And I feel as unambitious about identifying what those other tasks that I could or should or would be doing if I knew them. Because in reality, I do not have the time to pursue much more. There are plenty of times when I feel like I barely have the time for the life I am presently leading. And it frustrates me to no end when friends or others who might like to spend more time talking to me complain about my lack of availability.
I am a big believer in personal responsibility, and I truly believe it is important to prioritize what is important to you. My health – very important. But so is my family, my work, my close friends. However, I am less inclined to spend a couple of hours hanging out with friends who have little to do other than complain about the state of their lives while being unwilling to make the changes necessary to improve them in the areas where change is possible. Sometimes a job is dissatisfying and finding something else in your specialized field is nearly impossible. I am extremely sympathetic – M had that same issue most of his career – yet at the same time, there must be something else in your life that makes it less miserable 24/7. Truly, I’d like some balance in time we spend chatting.
But now that I have taken the leap of faith and take more control over the state of my overall health, I know very well how difficult it is, how unglamorous and blood-sweat-and-tears kind of hard it is to reshape lifestyle habits. But while you may have the time to go out and eat, drink, be merry and complain about gaining weight or feeling crappy, I have to be up at between 4 and 5 a.m. to get to the gym and take care of myself and keep such complaints from recurring in my life. Is it fun? Most days, not really. Most nights I want to be in bed and sleeping by 9:30 p.m., but even 9 is better whenever possible. When I get home from my regular job, eat dinner with M, check my self-employment email and maybe do some work there most evenings, it limits my me time to read or watch TV or listen to something on YouTube. But after 18 months of this type of schedule, I’m used to it. My choices are to stop working earlier and get my me time, or catch up with my reading on the weekends, or sacrifice my List of the day in favor of a cardio machine where I can prop up my iPad and catch up on books and such.
As far as relationships go, I have enough single friends to know it’s not easy meeting quality, compatible people these days. BUT if you are going to consistently date the same loser with a different name every few months it’s hard for me to feign interest when it all falls apart, as it inevitably will. I have two single friends who have been on the loser dating cycle for several years now, and every time we get together it’s the same story, with different names but eerily similar problems. No matter how mildly or gently I point out that they are left in this same unhappy state transitory relationship after transitory relationship, I get the “you’re married and have no idea” speech defensively thrown back at me. Apparently being in a mostly stable relationship all this time has inoculated me with a health degree of self-respect. Even at my worst, lowest point of negative gravity self-esteem, my standard of mistreatment was relatively low. While my negative girl mindset might allow me to believe I did not deserve better, my sense of self-preservation said that the alternative of being without the mistreatment was always going to be better.
In my single and dating days, I had an eleventh commandment: thou shall not get away with being a thoughtless jerk.
My point here is – I prioritize my health. I exercise. Heathy eating is a work in progress. I don’t bitch or complain about pounds not dropping quickly enough because I don’t get on the scale. I rarely complain or whine about going to the gym, because I have enjoyed enough success to appreciate the challenges that come with learning new things and more complicated movements. I
think know my mind is in a healthier, more positive space.
And the more I grow and learn and become immersed in this area of my life, the less I seem to have in common with old friends. One asked me yesterday when I was going to start acting my age in context with my daily gym practices and trying to perfect my form and technique. I was truly dumbfounded by the question, because I have met other women older than I am who do a lot more than I can even fathom. So I asked – what does someone my age do for exercise? It was actually kind of a serious question, because I was curious about what she really thought. She thought I was being patronizing and snarkily told me to f**k off.
That was helpful.
The exchange was on my mind again today, getting to the gym a little later than usual and seeing a couple of my friends there pursuing their own training sessions and post-training cardio. I realize that my life is very different than it was when I socialized with and saw a lot more of these other friends I have not seen much of lately. I derive more pleasure out of seeing my regular gym pals than I do with people I have known for years who are hardening into petrified middle age before my very eyes.
I have no idea how the coming years will play out for me; I have no idea what tomorrow will be like. But my optimism, my hopes for a brighter, different future – it does feel very different now than it did 18 months ago.
Not sure that I saw myself as an invalid or in a wheelchair, but I could imagine not being very interested in a huge amount of physical activity. I am still not a lover of the outdoors and the mountains and forests – the mosquitos we are enduring right now are driving me batty – but I expect to be fully capable of going the distance for the places we go and the things we do enjoy doing.
Thinking about it today, I am not a preachy person about exercise. I do not suggest that everyone should start going to the gym and get busy learning to move their bodies, unless of course they are complaining or saying they should get more exercise. M has always been a moderation guy with me, suggesting I do a little something physical every day until I found my niche. It’s painful at first, physically as well as psychologically. It’s insanely stressful to get started.
Not sure why this is, but I get the feeling there is a disconnect when I say anything about how much I enjoy the process of going through a practice on my own or how much I enjoy my training sessions themselves. It occurs to me that others have been watching too much TV and see these bootcamp/drill sergeant type instructors and imagine that is what personal training is actually like (I would have quit long ago if that were the case). At the end of it all, I realize that they cannot overcome the painful break-in period of exercise. It took me three months to get serious about consistent practice, so I do get it.
The end result of this meandering thought process is a feeling of gratitude. I’m fortunate to be at this place in my life, to value my health and getting to this happier place of overall being better. Depression has never been a condition that plagued me, but I would be overly stressed and overly unhappy with unexpected and stressful disappointments and bad things that are a part of life and living. While managing my time and finding a reasonable work/non-work structure remains somewhat elusive, emotionally and mentally I am far more even and balanced now that I take better care of myself. For women in particular, it seems to be almost a bragging point to be so busy we do not have time to look after ourselves. I wish I understood why we allow ourselves to be programmed to accept overloaded to burned out as a point of pride.
Perhaps red shirt madness is not such a bad affliction after all. I know how much it has strengthened and fortified me in all aspects of my life and times.