As noted, I’m seriously behind on my training recaps. I start and write the bulk of it on the same day, but I find letting it marinate a bit tends to bring out more of my thoughts, feelings, ideas about what I want from this experience. I will start putting the date of the recap at the top of each post, and any other days I reference in the bulk of the post. While the time passage between the session and the recap post will not continue to stretch out (into infinity it seems sometimes), I’m glad to be living and enjoying my time in the gym and out from behind my laptop screen as well. That said, I am going to try hard to catch up and get back on track this week.
July 17, 2017
Monday morning, training with J. As we continue on with our press-pull, new machines are slowly being introduced. Such fun.
While I mostly don’t much care about the actual weights we’re using, it is exciting when something new results in 100 lbs. of weight plates being added. I know I have used at least that much or more on other machines, but since I am only getting my first glimpses of and actual experience with machines that require plates to be added and removed, the weight feels … weightier. Pull a pin from one position, insert it into another is fast and simple – possibly explaining the popularity of cable station machines. These other machines provide a lot of flexibility with how much weight to use. Perhaps it is the novelty of it all, but I was pretty happy with my ability to do the work today.
Walking lunges remain this enduring mystery, other than they are seriously effective. Mostly I hate them. Still. I do them, because they appear regularly on Lists, and the aforementioned seriously effective clauses in body’s strength, endurance, longevity contract. Because they are effective, even if I (and others) despise them. But I console myself that I don’t have to like them. I can bitch, moan, complain about them publicly and privately. However, there is nothing ever written or said that I have to like stuff to make progress and take advantage of its effectiveness. And I can bitch, moan, and complain while doing them. Be like Nike: just. do. it. (Not a big Nike fan, either, and say that to myself with appropriate levels of derision.)
Someday, I will not feel like a baby elephant trying to lumber to her feet doing low-to-high chops. There’s a certain finesse with them when J demonstrates or other friends are doing these, but with me, I feel like this clumsy oaf trying not to trip over myself in the process. And today was better than it has been in the past. Perhaps it is the lateral move-ness of the exercise; I am still not completely comfortable with lateral lunges, although I seem to be okay with ini band lateral walks. Mind swears there is big honking difference, thank you very much. But casually observing a gym acquaintance go through a series of lateral lunges this morning, I inwardly sigh and realize the un-bendy aspects of my body likely contribute to the overall awkwardness. More practice seems my only recourse.
What We Did
A1 Plate Loaded Squat Machine (2 25s/side)
A2 Overhead Press on plate loaded squat machine (no plates)
B1 DB Walking Lunges (20s)
B2 Hammer Strength Chest Press (1 25/side)
C1 1-arm Cable Lateral Raises (15)
C2 Low-high Cable Chops (35)
D1 Rope Overhead Triceps Extensions
D2 Rope Horizontal Chops
How It Felt
My first thought when we walked up to the plate loaded squat machine, they have rearranged the furniture, or this is a new machine. Last time I was in this area of the club, there was another squat rack next to the squat rack where this now rested. I am a creature of habit; I quickly latch on to the layout of things in order to get and retain my bearings. But lo and behold, this new gleaming white-painted bad boy now stood before me. I will adjust. J demonstrated how it works, then had me try it with no plates. There’s a different feel to it that the upstairs squat machine; the weight distribution on the shoulders with the plates rather than in front of me in the cable stack. Surprisingly, I liked it. This machine made me feel awesomely powerful, like Zeus with his lightning bolts or something similar. Seems to me it takes some legs and glutes to toss about that sort of energy. As as I said, while generally speaking I could care less than less about the amount of weight I am moving to and fro, there is something hugely gratifying about layering the plates to make 100 lbs. Plus, it seems easier when I’m not watching the plates going up and down like the cable version upstairs. Still use it, still appreciate it, but this was the bright and shiny new object and I feel like I got and understood the basic shape and feels correctly.
Next was the overhead press on the plate loaded squat machine, only with all the plates off. Instead of the weight pads resting on my shoulders and released to follow me down into a squat, my hands were pressed against the pads and the apparatus was locked into position and the only place it could go was up. So, I pressed upward and then lowed it back down for the 8 to 12 rep range. Even without any plates attached, it was plenty heavy and I could feel all the right overhead press muscles working. So fun when exercises I really like are done differently or on different equipment, because the variety keeps things interesting. Seems less likely anyone will be killed or maimed if I lose my grip and drop the weight.
Dumbbell walking lunges – with a pair of 20 lb. dumbbells no less. The good news is I am getting better at these – I can make it “there” and back across a stretch of gym floor with 40 lbs. of weight in my hands now. This is progress. I still weeble-wobble somewhat. Sometimes the weights swing in my hands. I don’t always get my lean right so the lead leg pushes off. But I am light years ahead of even a few months ago, so I will take the good progress and continue to try. Still don’t love it. Lots of things I genuinely enjoy and really appreciate the ways we add weight and make it more challenging. I could be doing bodyweight walking lunges and still not love them. But oh well. Difficult to maintain an active nemesis stable without any nemesis residing on that List.
Other new machine of the day was the Hammer Strength chest press. The positioning of the handles is different from what I’ve grown accustomed to; the handles seem lower to the body (almost waist than chest) and wider than others. The universal truth for me continues, that this is not better or worse, not harder or easier. For a first introduction, it is just different. Replicating the feeling with an incline dumbbell press would be a huge challenge for me, but the lower position starting point probably threw me off the most. Something about new machines; they make me feel all Wonder Woman-esq when I don’ completely screw it up the first few sets. More practice and date collection is needed on this. I feel inexperienced enough with the various equipment to mostly feel some wonder that I’m now to the point of being in the big boys room using plate-loaded machines. Whoda thunk?
Switching things up a bit, new introduction to 1-arm cable lateral raises. We did these on the 2-arm FreeMotion machine previously, but today was a first with the single arm. They were strange, if only because of the holding onto the frame of the machine with the other hand and almost leaning ever so slightly sideways into the pulling hand. For the most part I got the shape and how it was supposed to look and feel, yet it feels different. Maybe it’s the 1-arm part of the equation – everything else from the standing to the seated hang-and-bang uses both arms at once. New, different – more practice to get comfortable and once comfortable to seek competence and proficiency.
Another seemingly permanent resident in my nemesis stable: low-high cable chops. There are still certain exercises that creative negative images in my head, and with these, I always see some musk ox lumbering along. Or maybe an American bison. Or just a regular old ox. But you get the idea; I feel like some big giant lumbering creature trying to rise gracefully and pull the cable across in the chopping action. And this on a day when I feel as if it were my best, most successful effort to date. In other words, despite this and other Lists with this exercise, I don’t quite have the hang of it. Because I am not practicing enough. Maybe I’m rationalizing and justifying or have fired up my excuse factory as to why I’m not practicing (and therefore not improving more quickly), but truth of the matter is I cannot bring myself to be overly concerned about it. I have the cues down. I understand the basic shape. I get my own hesitancy and reticence with lateral everything. But in my own growing exercise library, being weaker in my low-high chops is not going to get me fired from the training tribe without warning. Or even with warning. My head has been turned with bigger, bolder, far more bodacious and interesting things. I’ll get there; I’ll get around to practicing more and focusing on improving. Before that happens, though, I suspect my interest, focus, and improvement with floor chops will become a higher priority reality. Just the way my mind is tracking lately.
Potential new favorite with the rope overhead triceps extensions. I like all the tricep exercises we do regularly, but today, this one grabbed my imagination and feels more strongly than usual. The difference with using the cables versus using the dumbbells or TRX or bands is noticeable, the weight feels heavier or more targeted. Whether it’s the reality of the way my triceps respond to this type of work or it is actual reality I feel with this type of workload, this movement feels more productive that others. Could be that it’s just the newest, shiniest object in my toolbox this week, though.
I feel far better about the rope horizontal chops that I do the other chops named above. There is always the challenge of keeping the pivoting foot anchored; I don’t know precisely how I’m doing it, but it wanders and makes me feel like I’m trying to do the splits while chopping. Pause, reset, restart. But if that’s the biggest issue in all my cable chop issues, I can cope. Even I must admit these are effective. In my lofty ambition to someday perhaps have a definable waistline, I know these and all the other chop-like exercises are have very small yet visible effect. There’s kind of a side indent in my abdomen where there once was nothing but fat wrinkles and rolls. When you feel as if you have never had any discernible definition (of a positive nature) in the contours of your body, you take the small wins and run out and celebrate them.
Kitchen Sink Thoughts
I spent a good chunk of my available computer leisure time Facebook last weekend (July 15-16). I am part of a fat loss support group and there was quite flurry of discussion about various topics of interest to me. Up until now it’s been mostly rah-rah-rah type posts. People would post their weight loss and talk about their eating, and frankly it was sort of distant from where I dwell. My experiences with the scale is primarily negative – judgmental little piece of electronic poo. But like all things, I am slowly adapting to the reality that I need to don my big girl capris and weigh in daily to collect more data. Recurring theme with me seems to be I don’t have to like it, but there are good reasons to do things I do not necessarily like.
This same (July 15-16) weekend, there was some frustration on the part of my doc that people seem to disconnect from the long-term aspect of lifestyle changes when it comes to diet, exercise, weight loss. Maybe I just need my village of experts to get real and direct and speak plainly and use profanity to have the message hit home, but it actually finally felt like I was part of a group with real people putting forth their best efforts and faltering rather than a bunch of cardboard cutouts.
Anyway, one of the topics that came up was mindset. Admittedly, mine is scattered when it comes to diet and nutrition. I start, I stop, I falter, I stub my toe quite viciously (as opposed to shooting myself in the foot). But mostly I get back up and continue to try, even if it frequently feels as if I am banging my head repeatedly on the nearest wall. Progress is a very slow thing in this realm, and I am either okay with it or not committed enough (yet) to do something different.
But perhaps with this plain-speaking reality check, I am finally ready to get more committed to sustainable healthy eating.
With the exercise, I have become the poster child for consistency. I am in the gym at least 6 days per week, more often than not every day of every week. Maybe I’m not the gung ho, no-pain-no-gain member, but I’m working my way through a List most days. Sundays are my fun day, when I emerge in my true self as dawdler extraordinaire and practice things giving me trouble or that are just a whole lot of fun and make me feel spectacular. I value my improving health, and I tend to prioritize the things I value most. Hence my consistency. I like training with J; I want our partnership to continue to thrive and feel productive.
Such are days like today, when I’m introduced to something new and feel like I actually feel it where I’m supposed to feel it and those muscle groups are working. Non-scale victory – it’s a thing. But there is very rarely any lingering soreness afterward. Does this mean my muscles have toughened up, or am I not working hard enough? I choose to cautiously accept is it the former, that I’m in much better shape. Even if my effort is not the same as the person next to me, I console myself that we are different, our journeys may be similar yet not identical, and our bodies and experiences – our individual mileages vary. No more comparisons allowed, because in my own head, I always end up in the queendom of negative girl.
When talking about mindset, this seems to be working for me. And blogging – goodness, I can only imagine how lost I would be without blogging. Trainer J block me and get a disposal text number where my blog-esq texts would land, unread. My exercise experienced friends would suddenly be way too busy to talk with me or tell me they were permanently relocating to a small slice of Europe with no internet. My navel-gazing blogging works out for me; it’s part of my process and a contributor to my overall success.
For some it comes easy, and they seem effortless in their ability to remain fit and trim. The rest of us, we have to work at it. Accepting that makes forward progress more pleasant, even if it is not always easier and remains filled with stuff I dislike but know is very good for me.