While I kicked restart with this blog and moved milestones into more a calendar perspective, this one is too significant to me to ignore. So bear with me for a partial year milestone recap.
It was October 17, 2015, when I began my resolution to make the gym a habit. I’ve told the story many times, but between our first training appointment at the end of June and the training appointment on October 15, 2015, I was rarely in the gym outside of training sessions with fab trainer J. The balance of my practice time on my own would not consume the fingers on both hands during that period. In a casual parting comment after our training session on that day in 2015, J remarked that he’d like to see me in the gym at least twice over the course of the next week. It was just a standard, throw-away wish-list comment, something he probably says to clients 2 or 3 or more times daily. Yet me being me, I took it incredibly personally, as if he actually noticed my lack of practice and therefore lack of progress with my program. Deer-in-the-headlights panic overtook me. I was sure I was going to be fired after our 20 appointment run, and while I was not yet sure if I could or should continue, I wanted to retain the choice.
Then and there I resolved to do better.
My thinking at that time was 30 days of daily gym visits would make a habit, and after that, I could be trusted with the training day session, then 2 practices per week schedule. I could do it. I could overcome my gym crazy and do that.
And so 2 days later, I started my 30 days quest. For the last 2 years, I have averaged at least 6 days per week of gym attendance. In fact, for 2017, this weekend is only the second time I have only strung 2 days away from the gym when not out of town on vacation. I take a day off here and there, but for the most part I practice or train every single day. It is not something I preach or judge others for maintaining their own schedule, and at the same time I find people suggesting I’m overtraining, addicted, obsessive, or worse to be tiresome. I am listening to body, and body says go forth and do something every day.
On my calendar, there is a G for every occasion I went to the gym, and some days there are notations for 2 gym visits. But for my purposes of reporting on this milestone, the extra G does not count. Still, the numbers are impressive to me:
Days to date in 2017: 290
Training sessions in 2017: 80
Days in the gym in 2017: 272
Total gym visits in 2017: 299
For a woman who hated exercise and sweat when she first started, that’s a pretty impressive amount of days and chunk of time spent in the gym routinely getting sweaty and gross. A lot has changed in my life. The changes are positive improvements by anyone’s standards.
I’m healthier. First and foremost, good control of my type 2 diabetes without insulin injections or oral medications. Nothing for high cholesterol or blood pressure. I do still take a vitamin D supplement, which makes me feel rather vampire-ish and sun-avoidant (resulting in me being vitamin D deficient). But oh well. From what I understand, nearly everyone is vitamin D deficient anymore.
And I’m leaner. From a purely pounds lost perspective, I am down about 30 lbs. in 2 years. Yay me! I avoid the camera still – some habits and feelings may never fade – but I can tell from the way my clothing fits and comments from others all around me that I have shed fat and gained muscle through this process. Heck, even I can see the sleek little bundles of muscle peeking out on my arms, legs, butt and back. On top of which, I have this new sense of hopeful optimism that I have abs and a waistline lurking. Probably there will be a press release and a news conference once they are sighted and confirmed.
Stronger too. Fab trainer J started me out using dumbbells and stretchy resistance bands. This time last year, I was cresting with 15, sometimes 25 lb. dumbbells for various exercises. I now use a wider range of dumbbell weights, most from 15 to 55 lbs., and while it is important and does matter, it is not something I pursue with any sort of focused intensity. My power-lifting pals are far more capable with weightier weights, but our training objectives are also very different. Building power and strength is not that important or the source of satisfaction for me. Those characteristics of progress are more consequences of my better health pursuit, not a goal.
I’m more confident. Working with J, practicing on my own – I have learned a lot in 2 years and I have grown more skilled with that new knowledge. Exercising consistently, learning to lift weights, becoming a gym hamster in my mid-50s seemed so out of character and out of reach when I began, yet it has become a defining quality of my life. I’m comfortable in my club; I have made friends and know many members by sight. While training with J is a wonderful luxury, I know enough now to continue on my own if he takes an extended sabbatical or even moves on elsewhere in his life and career. Concern about getting fired as a client is a humorous footnote in our history.
New and different outlets for time and energy. Exercise is a huge component of my life now. But it has also influenced the ways I think, work, read, write. Relationships are different now, and friends I had this time 2 years ago are now more acquaintances than people I have known for a larger chunk of my 56 years. And I’m okay, even relieved with those situations. Relationships, friendships are akin to living organisms that grow and change over the course of time and are dependent upon their environment to evolve and to thrive. My new hobby and lifestyle focus was not a good fit anymore. There is no guilt on my part; life happens. I bear them no ill will and genuinely wish them well in any and all future endeavors.
Even the empty can be filled, the broken can be strengthened. Personal growth is very individual, and a lot of my own cannot be measured in blood tests, the scale, or the gym. It cannot be measured in friends lost or friendships born and/or expanded. I have never been a scholar, but I am a good student. Actually, I’m a great student, and one of the most powerful lessons that come with my better health quest is not just confidence, it’s elevated self-esteem and self-assurance. Bad things do happen to good people, and I am good people. My overall self-possession – I’m extremely proud of it.
When I’m blogging here, it is so odd for me to feel so positive and upbeat and talk so openly and with genuine pride in my accomplishments. The idea of becoming so self-centered and saddled with conceit has been a lifelong concern for me. Talk of narcissism – entire blogs devoted to what it is and how bad genuine narcissists are in real life – I can understand my own phobia. Coming from a dysfunctional and emotionally fucked-up family of origin does mess with the mind, and it has taken me a very long time to work through the minefield of self-destructive measures I have laid down in order to protect myself.
I doubt I am extraordinarily vain. I doubt I will develop narcissistic tendencies this late in my life. If only because I try hard to not be an asshat or develop new mental or emotional disorders to replace the ones I cope with now.
I am not a gold standard for which anyone should compare themselves, because I can do better and more than just showing up every day. For me, showing up is 80% of the battle, and in the better health quest, 80% majority of the time means significant, measureable progress.
But I’m very, very proud of my deliberate consistency efforts. It has done more for me than just reshape my shape. It’s truly saving my life. And tonight I’m giving myself a little pat on the back for this accomplishment. I never imagined a day like this in my history, and even if I dared, my hopes of what it might feel like would have been so far afield. I feel as if I started out as Jane average in my unfit, untrained, exercise-ignorant body and mind.
I’m not average anything anymore.