PT-72.1: Happy feet

Monday, September 18, 2017

It’s been a major busy time period with work and such, so I’m behind (again) with training recaps. This week important stuff happened, that I will want to have records of into the future, but I have not had a blocky enough block of time to compose all my technical details. However, since I tend to start these things from the bottom, here’s what I have completed thus far. 

Kitchen Sink Thoughts

For whatever reason, I had a random zinger of a thought warming up this morning. I was idly wondering if I were nearing The End of training because I had pretty much learned everything an exercise generalist is capable of learning. Pretty good idea of where it came from (more on that in a moment), but at the same time I was both not happy with myself for such a ludicrous idea born of the evil triad of insecurity, arrogance, and doubt. The insecurity because once in a blue moon I wonder if I am falling behind some imaginary standard, arrogance because I am an idiot if I think I will ever stop learning (and I am not an idiot), and doubt about J’s level of expertise, creativity, and imagination for all things exercise.

Even if I knew everything that I could know and do without committing to a more narrowly defined discipline of body building or power lifting or something else, I seriously doubt I am even close to my maximum strength ability. I surprise myself nearly every week with my capability to move weightier weights to and fro, and my endurance still has quite a bit of room for expansion. No, The End of training is nowhere in sight. I’m relieved as well as happy to know that I still have a lot more iceberg to explore.

But I know where the thought originated. Over the weekend and again this morning, I had interesting interactions that have stuck with me, some were even about my better health quest and the seemingly recent gains on reshaping my shape. People have been very kind and complimentary about my efforts in the gym, and being nerdy about my eating is paying dividends as well. Still ….

I am not an exceptional person. I am not scary smart. I am not athletically gifted. I am not model pretty. I am not especially humble and/or kind, or at least I am not enough of the time. These are just my realities of being an imperfect human being, and perhaps a fragment of unrealistic expectations lingers in the recess of my mind. But I don’t know that I believe that. I do think circumstances just have me pondering the breadth of my own humanity and how it relates to the general population.

I do have a strong desire to be better. Not scary smart (sometimes feel downright dumb) – I try hard to pay attention, to read, to listen to other viewpoints and learn from the resources available to me. Not athletically gifted – I am fortunate to be able to afford to hire the services of fab trainer J to teach me all that is involved with getting functionally athletic and into reasonable fitness shape, and on my own time I put in the sweat equity to improve and build upon those lessons. Not model pretty – acceptance of this reality has made the business of living a happy life a far smoother and painless journey. Plus I’m now 56 and aging gracefully seems to quell any competitive instinct that I may possess with regard to being competitive in this regard. Being humble and/or kind – always room for improvement in this area, but this is one slice of my life and times where I do not feel inferior in my efforts.

The point here – I do put forth time and energy toward self-improvement. While not a particularly specific goals oriented person, I am also not placidly accepting that this is as good as the life I live gets, nor do I believe treading water will keep me from sinking or falling further behind the average curve. The targets I chase seem to change, come closer or recede farther depending on the day, my mental and emotional states, and my perception of effort. In the self-judgment realm, if I feel good enough, it is good enough. Less than that, I have hopes to be better in my next outings.

I’m happy and I’m grateful for the ability to make myself do the work and put forth the effort. I know many with depression, anxiety, other mental or emotional impairments that would likely be impacted positively with some of the diet and/or exercise changes I am incorporating into my own better health quest. However, we each have our own journeys and have to feel ready to try new things to make ourselves feel better, improve our lot in life. I’ve learned that being supportive sometimes means stepping back and letting others falter and fall down. The thornier pathways I presently face is how to be a positive force that helps them get back up and in a different direction to where their individual better health quest may take them.

The issue I seem to face more and more routinely is that I cross paths with others who want the positive impact yet are unwilling to do the work. Or to be completely accurate, unwilling to try the hard work that has been so influential and game changing for me. It’s hard, because I truly want others to be happy, or at least content with the lives they are living. My own objectives, hopes, dreams for myself are simple: good health and enough resources (money, time, energy) to pursue what makes me happy. Dreams for retirement and the future are modest; M and I agree we have zero desire to travel the world. Maybe we adventure more, which to M means we drive to beautiful mountain places and run (him) and walk (me). Or we bring out bikes out of storage and explore the many biking paths in our own backyard and beyond. Our nomadic spirits are not especially active; there is so much within our own country we have not yet seen, and even if we were to embark on an exploration trip, we always enjoy returning home.

Good health, strength, a higher level of fitness is an integral part of those hopes and dreams. We could be injured or ill – no one knows what the future holds for each of us – but for both of us there is a lot of wiggle room in how much good health we enjoy now and into the future. Our methods of getting there and then maintaining it are very different, and we agree to disagree. But for both of us, investment in regular exercise and healthier eating now pays huge dividends long past 2017. I have come to enjoy my gym time. I like moving the weights to and fro and the slowly-getting-leaner limbs I am presently sporting. It’s good for my body, but it’s the best medicine I have ever experienced for my soul. As for the healthier diet, M is extreme in his training diet, dropping weight as quickly as possible after an injury that him on a greatly reduced mileage schedule. But he can and does eat nearly anything he deems healthy, no matter how distasteful. Me, I am the far pickier eater and more balanced in my approach. But we can both eat the same things over and over again without complaint.

Just lately here, I am finally, FINALLY starting to really accept that my hard work and consistency is paying off and showing. I am surrounded by and associate with a variety of smart and compassionate folks who are very kind, yet they are also honest and do not lie or tell me what they think I might like to hear. My outsides are starting to slenderize and may will someday be closer to the healthier me on the insides. Finding the right balance, though, now that I am feeling the real impact of the work, is becoming more critical.

It’s a significantly AWESOME and motivating feeling to be in smaller size capris and leggings. More than that, though, is the way the fabric feels against my skin. Do fat layers numb the sensitivity of skin? No idea. Maybe it’s just the psychological boost of smaller sized clothes feeling better from the inside out? Again, no idea. But who cares? My positive impulses continue and keep me getting up, getting to the gym every day. Whatever it takes to sustain this mindset is worth it to me.

The last few days, I’ve had colleagues, friends, clients remark upon my efforts and compliment me on the hard work I have put into this process. One of my friends was musing about the expense and how we choose to allocate financial resources. As she is a CPA and quite successful on her own terms, it was a musing related to her own budget and financial coaching activities. I point to the cost differences between being on insulin to control diabetes and mostly drug free (still taking vitamin D) and what I pay for training with J twice a week. I actually save a significant amount of money paying a trainer to teach me how to resistance train and use weights. I still hesitate to say “weight lifting” because it doesn’t feel like that’s what I’m doing. I remain very much a generalist who has little interest in the actual volume of weights I’m using, except as it may hinder or help with my ongoing progress. Knowing that I am making progress is the most important, driving factor for me.

The way this ties into my better health quest: if I am exceptional in this, it is because I am willing to put forth this much effort into the work. It saddens me that someone like me, invisibly average in most ways merely makes a choice and then puts forth her best effort to improve, is ever considered exceptional. My work ethic is my work ethic. Since no success in my life has come without (hopefully) smart choices and a lot of hard work of various stripes, I cannot imagine anything worthwhile coming easy or being handed to me. I did not win the genetics lottery and have to apply myself to achieve any and all gains. While my clients really like me, I toil extremely hard every single day to ensure I continue to maintain that confidence and trust.

Same is true of my better health quest. In the last 2 years I have finally gotten to the point of ready to address the issue. More distant friends comment on my village of experts as if that makes it easier than those without, yet I still have to do the tasks each prescribes, suggests, teaches. J is demonstrating every session, but his (nonexistent) huffing and puffing does not build muscle or burn fat from my frame. That they are available to me for more tailored or personal advice is invaluable to me and the way I learn and retain information, but if all that goes away, I can still access a lot of useful information on the internet or my local library. There is no secret universal formula and the truth is out there and available.

There is a lot within our control available for change, update, improvement, and if you want that change, updating, improvement badly enough, you find a way to make it happen. This does not mean it is easy or happens quickly or you get exactly what you want when you want it, but when it comes to health, even small improvements pay big, long-term dividends.