Snippets

My car is in having its first service at 4911 miles. I purchased the car in April and finally just grew annoyed enough with the idiot light reminders to schedule and bring my car in today to get it cleared and off my to-to list. And jotting a few random things to share since a proper blog post is out there in the ether for me right now.

I could tell you about how busy I have been lately, but I hate that. It sounds to my mind as some sort of lame-ass excuse for why I am not getting my stuff done, including neglecting my blog. I have no less than 3 training recaps in progress, and it is not beyond the realm of reality that it increases to 4 with Monday’s session before anything gets completed and published. But I’m going to try very hard to not let it happen.

Part of my truth is fab trainer J is away on an eagerly anticipated vacay adventure starting Wednesday, so I will be completely off the training leash and on my own for a Thursday and a Monday. And in all honesty, I feel like I have been kinda/sorta on vacay the last couple of weeks myself.

Not his fault, not at all. I’ve enjoyed our sessions and worked hard at the review we’re doing, learned a boatload, put the old-is-new-again challenges into practice during my own time on the loose in the gym. While I took last weekend off due to an unexpected work tsunami – that I enjoyed to an almost embarrassingly geek-like degree – I don’t even care.

But it tells me that things are off-kilter and imbalanced. Not overtraining type imbalanced, but my focus is scattered and divided and I really, really needed to purge a lot of the distraction.

So i’ve been doing a fair navel-gazing self-examination and forcing myself to get back onto the schedule and routines that feel more normal and natural to me, including adequate amounts of sleep.

While I could be updating my in-process posts, I am presently typing from my phone and offering a brain-dump instead of the better health quest and what else is on my mind.

Me and social media – poor match. I belong to precisely 2 groups on Facebook: my fat loss group and another fitness-related group. Both are turning out to be very poor fits for my personality for different reasons.

  • The fat loss group tends to attract more attention-seeking sorts who are ultimately not ready to do whatever it takes to break the bad habits that made them fat. Not a good fit for me. When I was not ready, I was not ready, and I was keenly aware of how much whining and complaining I do/was doing about not getting with the program. Unfortunately after about 9 months of reading and listening and trying to participate, I’m pretty much done for the most part. I have no further good advice to offer, and while my empathy does still flare and ultimately bite me in the ass, my frustration and feelings are my own responsibility.
  • The fitness-related group is populated by other trainers, coaches, and people who are very into pursuing some sort of certifications and the daily challenges that the group’s leadership posts. There’s tons of pictures and videos of people swinging kettlebells or talking about their workouts or asking questions … and it’s just overwhelming. Plus, really not my thing. I’m a-okay with a quick and intense workout, but I’m not a quick and intense exerciser. I try to peppy pacing when the huffy-puffy List calls for peppy pacing, but as a rule I crave my own speed and pace. There is that, primarily. But then there are folks who are “new to kettlebells” and/or new to exercise in general or who have not touched a weight in year trying to pursue some of these hardcore challenges and daily workouts. While I shouldn’t care, I do; I cannot see to look away and adopt a laissez-faire attitude toward complete strangers’ efforts to do themselves harm. It’s a poor fit for me; I am learning nothing, feeling inadequate in my own efforts, and am frankly sick of having all this stuff staring back at me every time I log into Facebook.

So I have had to unfollow both groups. I was going to try to unjoin, but after some back-and-forth with one of the moderators, I gave up and unfollowed them. There are a couple of folks whose posts I might want to see from time to time, so I leave my options open.

Food issues never seem to end. In the last 24 hours, I have had 2 blood sugar crashes. Thursday night I was hanging at another gym with former work friends doing their version of a huffy-puffy List. It was a lot of fun, even if the program they were following made little sense to me. But oh well – I could at least dance to their tunes. At the end of it all, though, I was feeling light-headed and checked my sugar – at 61, I was pretty much crashed/crashing. I thought nothing of it, just figured my lunch and pre-workout protein bar had not taken me far enough – drank some juice and went home for a decent dinner. This morning, though, I crashed even harder at 52, and I had barely gotten started with my practice when it happened. So strange. No real rhyme or reason for it, but I am adjusting my pre-gym meals a bit to try to avoid such unpleasantness.

Managing expectations and disappointments. Not going to lie – I was really upset this morning to have my practice cut short by a sugar crash. It’s been months since it happened, and I thought (silly me) that I was past all that. When it happens I drink some juice to get back into normal range, then feel exhausted for the rest of the day. No question that going back to get busy with my exercise was not happening, and I am disappointed. I know shit happens – even my doctor says shit happens – but it’s hugely inconvenient and annoying. I could go back and eagle eye every single morsel of food that has pass my lips, but I don’t think it’s the salad or the chicken or the broccoli or the fact that there has been Halloween candy in the house (that I did not eat). Thus far I have successfully restrained myself from getting all obsessively compulsive about looking at my food intake and practices. But I am low-level thinking it over, because I have worked hard to become a person who exercises regularly and do not want to be derailed because I’m not fueling myself appropriately.

Mindset is a fragile thing. While I am working hard at stripping fat and strengthening muscles and (hopefully) getting slightly more bendy, I have also watch my thinking and viewpoints change as well. My confidence has soared, and I occasionally find myself thinking about how truly awesome sauce I am in various ways. Imbalance tends to upset my outlook and mindset as well. Negative girl finds wiggle room on the door of her box and fear and anxiety start creeping into my mind where it is not welcome or appropriate. I begin having doubts about my ability, effort, intensity, seriousness in pursuit of my better health quest, and the negative noise starts trying to infect me. I cannot allow that to happen.

And my car is done – all is well.

Except I forgot to hit publish. Back soon with training recaps. 

 

 

FILO

Nope, not talking pastry dough today. Sorry for any unexpected excitement that I might actually be offering content of unusual substance in my post today. In truth, I have no idea what one actually does with filo dough to transform it into something tasty edible.

During training yesterday, fab trainer J and I were discussing weight loss (always a random topic of conversation) and my progress in this endeavor. Being an accountant, I adopted the “first in, last out” method of managing inventory – only it’s more like “first on, last off” – with regard my personal fat storage inventory and retention. My theory is where I gained weight first (abdomen and waistline) will be the final frontier of coming off my body. Where I gained weight last (probably my back and butt) tends to come off first.

This will hold true no matter how many sets and reps of core work I manage to choke down daily. Or not. I admittedly do more now than I have in the last 2 years, and I’m sure once more of the buttercream (my new word for fat) is burned away there, those core muscles will be iron-woman strong.

I posted this on my FB fat loss group this morning:

My weight loss and reshaping my shape is tending to follow a “first on, last off” method of fat stores inventory (I’m an accountant, so kind of geeky in that characterization). While I am smaller all over, it was most noticeable first in my back and legs where most of the excess fat seems to have burned away with this program and regular exercise. My waistline/abdomen have shrunk down as well, but far and away that remains where I still carry most of my fluff.

As of this morning, I was at 179.8, and officially over 20 lbs. down in 2017. That said, I’ve only been more (maybe averaging 75%) compliant with a maintenance version of the program (1 shake per day, 2 sensible meals that typically include a big-ass salad, very rare between meal snacking) since June, and my weight loss is not super fast or in a straight trajectory downward. I’m perfectly okay with that. Adapting to a new eating strategy is not easy, and sometimes I just want to eat a cookie or calorie splurge on a cheeseburger or worse. Most important to me: I have a much better understanding the impact of my food choices and know the opportunity to do better starts with my next meal.

I have come so far, and I actually cried with this morning’s weigh-in. Not for the typical reasons I cry when I get on the scale, but because I cannot remember the last time it said I am this light. It remains a data point, nothing more, nothing less. Yet on days like today, when the results are good and make me feel so justified and satisfied with all the work I have put forth in my better health quest, it’s hard to not want to elevate this as a bigger milestone that is lit up in flashing neon lights with lots of bells and whistles.

But it’s just a data point. Tomorrow it could (and likely will) bounce back up to 180-something, and it will remain a data point that tells me nothing more significant than how much I weigh today. My objectives continue, no matter what numbers read out every morning. Maybe days like today it is a time to take a victory lap; other days it is a call to action to take a look at my eating and exercise efforts. Life continues, and as long as I have days to live, I have chances to improve and do better.

If you knew me in real life, had been traveling in my wake the way M, trainer J, many of the friends I have picked up along the way, you know know how black-and-white the transition of my mindset. About exercise. About food. About who I am and my own sense of self. While my physical footprint is smaller, my mental and emotional states are far broader and more resilient from my better health efforts.

Who knew. Certainly not me.

Yesterday I remarked to J how much smaller my forearms seemed to me. While I see them each and every day, I had my Fitbit off my wrist to take a shower and was sort of startled with how tiny my wrists seemed. In true fab trainer fashion, J commented on the muscle definition rather than the skinny of them, which is also an excellent point. Friend K has these amazingly muscled forearms from kayaking, and I am very aware of how we are different people who layer in muscle and strength in different fashions. My admiration of her strength, capabilities, and accomplishments is not jealousy or despair, and I feel really great about my ability to celebrate our differences and valuations of success.

And that, my friends, is huge progress. While I want to celebrate with cake, it’s a big-ass salad with steak for me tonight instead.

Because occasionally I have to hitch-up my big girl capris and be responsible. Yeah, that’s everyday. But oh well. My life means I need to adult more of the time, and I’m okay with that.

My skinniest pair of skinny jeans

When I write posts like this, it feels almost like I’m writing a press release. Alert the media! I have finally winnowed myself down and can now fit into a pair of black skinny jeans – the first pair I ever purchased – without extraordinary measures. They fit so well I pulled them out of the bottom drawer (where the retained thinner me clothes are kept) and was able to pull them on, zip, and button them without having to do much more than stand up straight. There was not sucking in my stomach and lying on the bed to get them closed. I could sit down in them without feeling squeezed, pinched, or uncomfortable.

I am amazed. I am happy. I am ridiculously excited. And I am playing beat-the-clock and on a timer so this post could end abruptly (that’s just the public service message portion of this post).

These skinniest skinny jeans are not the smallest piece of clothing in my closet. Nope, that would be 2 pairs of vintage Levi 501 jeans from high school. Yep, still have clothes from high school. Definitely qualify as vintage, because these jeans are at least 40 years old. Maybe they would be worth more on ebay? Maybe I’ll sell them AFTER I reshape my shape and can put them on and button them.

Thing is, these vintage jeans fit me before I had children and body underwent that dramatic shift in proportions. And maybe middle aged women should not aspire to wear jeans they wore as teenagers. But I presently weigh (183 lbs. this morning) is within 10 lbs. of what I weighed when I got married the first time at 20. But with the way body has rearranged itself with pregnancy, childbirth, age it could be kind of a pipe dream. Still, a worthwhile experiment to pursue. And I have held onto these jeans for this long for some reason. What’s another few months?

This week, the last couple of weeks, have been strangely challenging in my better health quest, and I am taking definitive steps to make my own madness cease. Social media is not my friend. Many, many people can go forth and be on Facebook without any ill effects, but apparently I am not yet one of them. My fat loss group has gone from being something I enjoy and feel good about to me feeling oppressed and irritated that I am looking for discussions and solutions on common issues that crop up with trying to change our lifestyles. Or even successes and setbacks that will happen to and for each of us. Instead, it has devolved into just another place where there are hurt feelings, off-topic comments, and then some chastisement for suggesting that politics has nothing to do with eating strategy and exercise. As in most social groups, there are a small handful of folks who suck all the air and attention out of the group, and my frustration impacts me.

Add to that, struggles with political differences among very close friends. It’s not that M and I are so strident in our beliefs so much as our friends who are more liberal are so black-and-white that they are right and anyone disagreeing with them are evil. How we got here – I’m honestly not sure. It may be the influences of their young adult children, or it could be they are only now breaking out of their social propriety and preaching and lecturing rather than participating in give-and-take discussions and sharing of information. Whatever. It’s exhausting and draining to me.

And once again, I have to step away. It’s not yet to the point of shedding friends completely, but I find that if divorce was hard at 29 (my age when my kids’ dad and I split), it’s absolutely debilitating at 59 (the age when close friends separated and entered counseling). These are good folks, but the level of crazy that had infected has me backing away and maintaining plenty of space between us.

The good of these issues – it opens up a lot of avenues of conversation with M and I. M spends a lot of time on Facebook with his various group activities, and he is comfortable cutting off communication with those who disagree and who lead with attacks when the disparate points of view are disclosed. With our friends, the husband has a different perspective on marital breakdown that his wife, and quite honestly, I am starting to believe there’s something wrong with many women I know that are in my age range. It is as if their sense of self faded as their children grew up and into independence whereas my sense of self has expanded and taken over the entire universe. M and I seem to grow closer as we pursue our own interests as an empty nest couple, whereas so many woman I have known for long periods are become irrational, demanding, entitled princesses. As a consequence, we no longer mix well. They are as frustrated with me as I am with them.

It makes me extraordinarily grateful to the people I have met and become friends with from the gym and my various jobs the last few years. Our interests in our long-term health, taking care of ourselves, and the world around us makes friendship as stimulating and rewarding experience. So many of the female friends I have – there are a few exceptions – are tiresome for me, just as I am for them, I’m sure.

I am glad to have lightness of a decision made and resolve about the future of my social interactions in place. It’s impairing what matters most to me with my better health quest and finding more balance between work-work and the rest of my life.

And my blogging lunch is up for today. Happy weekending everyone!

PT-67: Good things (day 31)

Thursday morning, training with J. Back to our mostly regularly scheduled programming. It has been an odd week, with Monday’s unusual evening training, and while today was nothing out of the ordinary, it just feels out of the ordinary. But productive. And FUN! And a lot of hard work.

Key Takeaways

I continue to be amazed by the difference in feels between weights equipment in the gym. Today, it was the kettlebell versus the dumbbell. We were upstairs and using 35 lb. KBs (because the 35 lb. dumbbells live in the big kids’ room downstairs) and boy howdy did they feel heavier and have a different sort of swish to them. Of course, if I had “grown up” using KBs I’d probably be giving my beloved dumbbells the WTF? look instead. J and I have talked about this before, but the distribution of weight is so very different between the shapes. Not being a science or engineering person, I always thought 35 lbs. is 35 lbs. and it all feels heavy. Now having done exercises with the dumbbells, the barbell, and the kettlebells, I have new respect for just how unique each weighted tool.

The big giant rubber bands are now part of my reality. Before a month or so ago, the only time I saw those in service was when someone else was using them for an assisted pull-up. Now I have my own yellow one on order to add to my growing collection of gym paraphernalia that I simply cannot live without and must lug around with me everywhere I go. M had told me that as I got deeper into my routine of choice I would start acquiring stuff to support it. I also broke down and ordered a larger bag to cart my day-to-day crap in, as my assortment of bags small and medium bags to repurpose for gym equipment use seems to have hit the wall.

Speed bandwork is kind of like my version of beat the clock on my favorite huffy puffy Lists, but the objective is to keep going until my arms refuse to work anymore rather than continue until the time beeps to switch to the next exercise. Kind of looks like I was a complete abject failure, choosing to stop when it felt like my arms were just going to be sore later because of trying to get there (and I was right – they are kind of sore). Still, I do not really see it as a failure, more of a new challenge and mind obstacle course to overcome. It has been over a year since J has introduced this concept to me, so not the end of the world that I am rusty on it.

This week, feels like a lot of things returned or were reintroduced and/or repurposed and I am insanely out of shape on them. Mini bands – love, Love, LOVE my mini bands – but not so much in conjunction with glute bridges. Body refuses to remember the endless glute bridges we did week after week in 2015 in the original dumbbell A and B Lists. I am going to have to put forth some consistent practice to get myself whipped back into glute bridge shape.

I still love teaching days.

What We Did

The List is not yet updated, so the names could be changed later. But after forgetting a couple of exercises and their proper ordering (so had to confirm with J to get this right), here’s the List:

Romanian deadlift with 35 lb. KBs
Mini band lateral walks

Double mini band glute bridge
Stability ball hamstring curls

1-arm row with KB
Band horizontal speed rows

Dumbbell overhead pullover
Band speed straight-arm pulldown

Band facepull
Zotman curls

TRX lat pull-up (bonus exercise – just for fun)

How It Felt

Right out the gate, we got started with Romanian deadlifts with 35 lb. kettlebells. Yep, we used a pair of those bad boys this morning, and they felt very strange and heavy in my hands. It’s been awhile since we have done RDLs with anything other than a barbell, and this was a first with 2 KBs. The distribution of the weight makes it feel like a different exercise, or just a much weightier weight.

Mini band lateral walks are a staple in my life anymore, but big novelty of the day was J had a brand new mini band for me to use. Now I have my own and typically have them with me on training days, but he had a matching pair. I feel a bit like a mini band connoisseur and can tell the difference between a newer band and the same band I have used a few dozen times and stretched out. Surely there is a day in my future when the heavier mini bands get all stretched out and feel like the lighter ones when new. The fact that I think about such things and can tell when my bands are getting less elastic speaks volumes about my progression. I am a simple woman in such matters, and it thrills me to know that I’ve worn some out and have to buy another.

I am ridiculously out of shape with a basic glute bridge, much less a double mini band glute bridge (band above and below the knee). I understand and remember the basic concepts – elevate the hips by tightening the glutes and tilting the pelvis, tightening the core and pressing navel into the floor, rib tucking – whatever term I think to use, essentially it all comes down to raise the hips as high as possible while not arching the lower back. While doing all that upward glute and pressing hip bones skyward, press legs against the mini bands to engage the side hips. A lot to think about when glute and hip joints do not seem cooperative about that whole getting butt off the floor action.

I am engaged in a like/don’t hate relationship with the stability ball hamstring curls. They are getting easier, yet still challenging enough that the urge to rush through and be done with them is very powerful. But I do force myself to slow down and try for that last half inch of pulling the ball in toward me. Today I had this weird cramp in my glute doing these and I know it is from sitting and working much more than has become typical for me. I took a brief pause, explained to J that I was having a weird glute cramp, and got back to it. He suggested not raising hips as high – going about half of what I’m usually trying for – and that did make a difference. Not sitting in an office chair for hours at a stretch will make a much bigger difference, though.

The 1-arm row with 35 lb. kettlebell was new today. This is/was a step-up in weight for me, and the KB shape difference also had an impact. I have done these with a 35 lb. dumbbell and while heavier it is manageable, but my present customary weight is 30 lbs. So while this KB was heavier, the 5 lb. difference felt a lot more significant and the round bell part of the weight created a distinct swish urge. What I mean is, with a dumbbell I pull the weight up through my shoulder with my hand and wrist steady toward and toward my hip. Even with the heavier dumbbell, my arm and wrist stay stable and still while pulling with my shoulder. However with the kettlebell, the urge to unbend my bent elbow and swing the bell toward my hip is strong. I don’t think it is the weight itself so much as the distribution thereof. I mostly resisted the urge to swish it, but the fact that I’m detailing it here tells me I might have flickered my wrist and arm more than I realized.

Band work for speed returned today with the band horizontal speed rows. I like these because we don’t count reps and the objective is to maintain good form while going as fast as I can until it feels like my arms are about to fall out of my shoulder sockets. Cues here were the usual ones – chest up, pull back with shoulders and relax forward into the stretch – and keep that up until shoulders start to round forward with fatigue and then do at least 5 more. Signs of growth and forward progress? That actually makes perfect sense to me.

A favorite is the dumbbell overhead pullover, today with a 30 lb. dumbbell (when not downstairs to snag a 35 lb.). Since I have be retraining myself to put my feet on the floor (rather than on the bench), I think I might like these even more. It’s almost like a whole body exercise, since we’re focused on pulling the weight back overhead and tightening those lats and abs and stuff while hefting the weightier weight.

For the band speed straight-arm pulldown, we used the lightest yellow band over the highest bar on the TRX rack, and believe me, both points make a difference in the way this exercise feels. Usual cues are in place – chest up and shoulders back, pull bands straight down – only once I get the groove down go as fast as possible while maintaining good form until shoulders start to round and then do 5 more (before collapsing to the floor in a heap). (Okay, that last was just the thought that flitters through my mind; J would never suggest such a thing out loud.) After the work we did today, I was feeling the fatigue and ready to stop almost immediately after starting, but I kinda/sorta hung in to get the feel for what the speed work actually feels like to me. After the first set, I gave up trying to hold onto the handles and went back to my usual grip on the band just above the handles. No idea why it makes a difference, except for the habit that comes with 2 years of doing straight-arm pulldowns with that grip. I am still feeling the work in my lats and back muscles from this block of exercises.

Or maybe it was the new band facepull exercise I learned today. More and more lately we have been using the big giant rubberband loop rather than the 2-handled stretchy bands for various things, and I have come to appreciate it more than that regular stretchy bands. For the facepull, J secured it to the rack and then showed me how to grip the band about shoulder width apart to mimic the rope attachment on the cable tower. The rest of the facepull action works my back and shoulder muscles in similar ways as the cable tower. Fascinating to me how effective this is as an exercise, but when people discuss resistance training they are usually thinking weights or cables and overlooking the effectiveness of the bands.

I remain sort of ho-hum on most bicep curls, and the Zotman curls are so unmemorable I had to text J to ask what was paired with what because of the last 2 blocks of exercise pairings I could only remember 3. The Zotmans I find interesting if only because I have to keep an eye on my shoulders to make sure they are not wandering too far back or trying to shrug up. While I most definitely have more bicep mass than I can ever recall having, I suppose I don’t care enough about them to expend a lot of focus on what feels like a boring exercise. When curls appear on Lists I do them, but it’s not an “oh goody! Bicep curl!” type experience.

Someday I might want to do a pull-up, but that someday is so far into the mysterious future I cannot even envision it. I learned today how to do a TRX lat pull-up, though, and it was plenty enough work to keep the regular pull-up a very distant future aspiration when I have conquered and mastered everything else. The basic shape was easy enough to understand – shorten the strap handles to absolute minimum, grab shortened handles and squat with arms extended overhead, then step forward so upper body is at an angle as if doing a lat pulldown. From there, pull up with arms and lats, using legs as little as possible while pulling up. It was hard, but absolutely captured my imagination as not that impossible for me to improve upon with practice. I love that. J says this can substitute for the overhead pullover, but since I love that one too, it will remain kind of a standalone bonus exercise for this List.

Kitchen Sink Thoughts

Pondering a multitude of things today. With all the stuff going on in the world, with Harvey and the fallout of that natural disaster in Houston, I do have an attitude of gratitude and hopeful heart for those who have lost their homes and possessions and remain displaced. Since one of my biggest clients is sort of from that area and still maintains a home and large business presence there, it has been something I have been dealing with this week. He has several investment properties there in flooded neighborhoods and will soon be getting some first-hand reports about damages from his local property managers. In the meantime, families are displaced and completely devoid of possessions. It’s impossible for me to even imagine how that feels.

I was reading a few things this morning about survivor’s guilt that gave me pause. One of my nearest and dearest passed away suddenly and unexpectedly last week, yet of the range of emotions I feel, guilt is conspicuously absent. I am incredibly sad and insanely angry at times, but mostly happy and grateful for the rich cache of memories, painful as they feel in this time period. It makes me wonder what drives that. I am a survivor of a few things, and perhaps I have had enough therapy through the years to cleanse my system of anything as wasteful as guilt.

With the better health quest, I periodically get questions and comments akin to “don’t you wish you started earlier in life?” I am not a worrier by nature, nor am I someone who looks back with regret, so I find such inquiries perplexing. Worry and regret imply opportunity for different outcomes, an issue of control and decision-making and obsessing over aspects of both outside my sphere of influence. I tend to be pragmatic about things, look at my options and make the best choice possible, and yes, sometimes there is an emotional bend to what course I select. Depending upon the situation, I might be plagued or crippled by insecurity and self-doubt about the various ways to do things, but once the decision is made, it is done and no amount of worry about rightness or wrongness of my choices would alter the situation. If the decision rested with someone else, I would offer an opinion, sometimes passionately argue my point of view, but I respect our individual autonomy. I am not an “I told you so” sort of judgment being. If things don’t work out based on choices made, it’s part of life’s learning curves.

Such is the timing and ongoing nature of my better health quest. Of course I knew 20 or even 30 years ago that regular exercise and healthier eating would benefit me, but during those periods there were other goings on in my life that made better long-term health decisions a far lower priority. I think about it now, as I have young adult children with eating habits that directly relate to their upbringing and it does come up in our discussions. Mom guilt is definitely a thing, but not one that has infected me directly. I can tell you I did the best I could, but that’s inaccurate. I made choices based on the circumstances and situations in my life at the time, and while many of those choices were very good, sound, practical – near as I can tell both my kids are productive members of society – not every decision I made as a parent was in the kids’ best interests. I do not feel defensive about my parenting, and if someday they tell me they hate me and that I am/was a terrible mother, well okay. They are adults and have complete agency and independence to base their own impulses, choices, and beliefs upon their own truths, hierarchy of values and needs, and I absolutely respect that. Unless there is something specific for which they can cite and I should from my own judgment apologize for, I am/was a good and imperfect parent. Just like every other parent I personally know.

I can look back with regret for not gaining mastery and control over my diabetes before it became an issue for which injected insulin was required. But why? Energy is a finite resource; why waste it on something I cannot change now? Hence my tendency to dismiss worry and regret. Going forward, I am fortunate to have a body that responds as well as it does to regular exercise and adjustments to the fuel I feed it. Key for me: in the present moment, while I am training with J or practicing on my own or planning my meals or drinking my protein shakes, I know I will regret any conscious decision to stop if I quit now. Beginning, middle, end of story about why I focus on consistency and developing better habits.

In the gym, I try to be super careful about form and not getting hurt. Because I don’t want to be sidelined for doing something stupid. With my current healthier eating strategy, I am ruthlessly cutting back on processed foods, especially carbohydrates. I eat bread 2 or 3 times per week in meat and cheese sandwiches. I have single portion servings of potatoes and rice with a few dinners each week. Pasta has become something for special occasions or when I just have some amazing craving for spaghetti or lasagna. Pizza remains my one big splurge food, but I am pretty disciplined about no more than 2 slender slices or cutting one bigger slice in half. Fresh fruit is my primary gratuitous sugar source, and I eat A LOT more vegetables and green and leafy salads. Protein shakes are fast and easy and my staple before morning practices/training and occasionally as a midday meal (if I am overwhelmed with work) or snack (if I am returning to the gym for a social practice).

The effort is starting to show. It feels like owning up to that feels right and normal and honest, not like I am claiming premature victory. In fact, if I can own when I do not work as hard as I think is reasonable (slacker me), then I can own that the scale is being nudged along by the changes in my eating habits and consistent efforts in the gym.

For me, that’s big progress.

I still do not chase the scale. I have desensitized myself to it as merely a tool for data gathering and hop on every morning, make note of the reading, and continue on with my day. The angst and self-flagellation for lack of positive outcomes is a distant spot in my rearview mirror. As long as my glucose meter reports predictably normal results I have no real concerns.

Kitchen sink – so appropriate for the randomness of my thoughts today from and about training. While I could tell you about the theological and anatomy discussion, some things that happen in training need to stay in training. Besides, my training recaps are overly long as it is anyway.

I was pretty wrung out by the time we finished today, but in good ways. Work has been busy/hectic/crazy, and because of the type of project I have been working on this week I have actually sitting for extended stretches analyzing spreadsheets rather than standing or walking on my treadmill desk. Who knew sitting like this would be detrimental to my hips and glutes? I had this weird cramp in my hamstring/glute this morning doing hammie curls and had to stop for a quick rest, but I got back into it and saved the set. Standing at the treadmill desk for extended periods is having some better effect than sitting, but I am paying attention to my Fitbit alarms to move and stepping down and walking around for the 250 step minimum every hour.

The really great thing these days: I like the way I feel. Granted fitting into smaller sized yoga pants is a huge rush, but I simply like the way body feels and the budding confidence that I can and will get up from the floor under my own power and without needing assistance. Huge. My mind feels clearer and my focus sharper. I’m starting to consider things like getting my trusty beach bike cleaned up and ready to deploy again, because I believe myself far more capable now than the last time I was last it was out and about on it (that’s like 5 years if I am counting). Maybe there is a “real” bike in my future. Or not. Time will tell.

While I would like to step out and take more walks to clear my head and wind down from an intense workday, temperatures have been 100+ all week and not something I want to go out into just to clear my head. But I am thinking about the cooler fall and winter months, how it might be nice to step out in the middle of the day and take a 30 minute walk as I did when my days had more structure with a lunch hour in the middle. That my mindset has adjusted to go to the gym for a huffy-puffy List or take a walk (when it’s not blisteringly miserable outside) is a huge victory for me. Before, it might have been surf the net or take a walk to the kitchen and eat crackers or other tasty (but so not good for me) snack foods.

Last week a lost friend returned to the friendship fold after being away for a short marriage and longer divorce proceedings. She had heard about our friend’s death and reached out. We had a very nice 2+ hour conversation by phone and will get together when she returns to the area in October. But chatting with me, she marveled at my attitude of self-assurance and self-acceptance. While at times it seems I should have been here long before this point in my life, some life lessons take longer to master. Again, looking forward to whatever comes next rather than look backwards with regret at the coulda/shoulda/woulda factor is far healthier for me.

I apply that to the exercise as well. We did some new things today, and I always like learning new things, even new things I dislike. I now have my own big giant rubber band on order so I need not chase around the gym to find one when I want to use it, nearly always when I am downstairs in the big kids’ room (more accurately renamed by my son because there are plenty of women using that area that comfortably own their places) and the bands are kept in the storage locker upstairs. Where I once looked back at training days and grimaced for all I failed to do properly or with enough intensity or commitment, now I look forward to practice on my own and figuring out where I feel weak or have questions or need a do-over on the demonstrations. It is what it is – sometimes I just don’t get it – and I have lost any and all shame about having to ask for help.

But what really cements this for me – recently I think I have been trying to do things with too heavy or too light of weights. Too heavy is always easier to diagnose – struggle, struggle, fail, or worse, something hurts in sharp and unnatural ways. Too light is tougher, because there are a lot of exercises where we do lesser weights or resistance and pursue longer sets. Where I began to take note is when form started to suck eggs and be sloppy, so I had to slow down and analyze where I was going wrong (this time). When it has been a long-standing exercise that reappears on various Lists, I feel/felt sort of dumb for having to ask for refresh.

I know I should not feel dumb. I also know my lack of recall on everything is not something I market or wear like a brand for fame and glory, which is a not-so-private fear of mine. So when I have one of those moments, better to make note of it and text my question while it’s fresh. Maybe it’s a big step forward that those types of texts are fewer and farther between than the random chit chat we typically exchange.

Which is another topic simmering in the recesses of my mind – mindset is such a curious thing. How do we change it or improve upon it? How do we make ourselves develop the discipline to be consistent at something beneficial that is a whole lot of painful work?

Near as I can tell, the habit of doing the same things over and over and over again eventually breeds success. Muscles become more resilient and capable of the workload. Tastebuds change and what once tasted so amazing (eventually) becomes overwhelming in less than positive ways.

I can speak with far more assurance in the exercise realm. There was a new variation on the high-to-low chops on Monday. Every single time I have tried the newer variation these last few days, I inevitably revert to the original version. If there is such a thing as muscle memory, my muscles remember how I learned this movement and forces me to consciously change shape and direction to make myself perform the other one. And high-to-lows are not even something I feel especially good or gifted at doing either. But my habit says “hinge” when the new version is more deliberate side bend.

Healthier eating is an ongoing battle and likely will be into the foreseeable future. My love of sugar and junk food is a lifelong addiction and must be respected as such. I know people who are absolute models of consistency when it comes to practicing moderation, but at this point in my life with food, it’s absolutely not me. And I suspect it will always be some measure of struggle, and I have learned to accept this as part of my reality. Putting that into perspective, over the course of my life to date I have overcome much bigger and much greater challenges. Time and practice, I will gain some mastery over this as well.

Finding balance is another skill that has me surfing the learning curve in knowing how and when to utilize it appropriately. Yet another tool in life’s toolbox. Gaining enough experience with that skill to utilize it effectively and efficiently is quite the trial-and-error learning process, though.

I love my job, and the biggest chunk of my time is spent in front of computer screens. However, my next challenge is not so much juggling all the work I have to do so much as it is learning to stand or find the right slow-mo speed for the treadmill desk to lull me into the focused trance that I need to get through a tougher project without having to sit down 10+ hours per day. As J pointed out to me this morning, it is not so much the sitting so much as it is the staying in one position for extended periods of time.

For me personally, I need to be on my feet more of the time anyway. The discoloration and swelling in my left leg tends to return when I sit for extended periods. I have grown complacent with my more active workdays, and it was disappointing to see the darkness return to my left shin. Another insistent reminder that sitting for extended periods is something to be avoided if at all possible.

Writing about all this today and triggered (positively) by several posts in my fat loss group to think about the why of it all, I thought about John Kennedy’s famous quote about space exploration:

We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.

My time to learn to exercise, to eat better, is now. For me, my life does depend upon the better health quest, adopting and learning habits that will carry me through more gracefully into even older and grayer twilight years. While I have no clear idea what retirement may look like, I do know that my hopes are pinned on being an active participant, to not be sitting on the sidelines and wishing to be younger and stronger so I could move more freely through my life. Already it bothers me that my hips and glutes are trying to solidify and turn to stone after a few days of mostly sitting and staring intently at my computer screen. The regular exercise and healthier eating strategy is hard, but not impossible and definitely not beyond reach. In this struggle I am and was just like everyone else starting out or falling out of the habit. Finally I have managed to get far enough out of my own way to feel successful, so much so that it no longer worries me how I might fall down or falter in my quest. I now have enough experience and enough tools to know I can and will get back up and reclaim my present level of success.

But I would really rather not fall down, so I focus on my consistency in the better health quest over everything else. The rest will fall into place eventually.

#august2017, #balance, #better-health, #consistency, #diet, #exercise, #fitness, #gym, #happy, #health, #healthy-eating, #positivity, #productivitiy, #progress, #weight-loss

Chocolate (day 29)

Emotional eating, my old friend. I have been fighting hard to stay on this side of the sugar divide, but today my resolve dissolved.

I have been brought down by a single dark chocolate caramel.

For the most part, I am philosophical about it. It is, after all, a single piece of chocolate, not an entire pound (or more) of Godiva. There is much life ahead of me, a lot of opportunities to overcome this backslide and prevail over my sugar addictions.

The most interesting part of this experience is not the emotional eating, although of course that comes into play. I have spent a good portion of every day since my best friend passed thinking about it, feeling the burn of that pain. Nope. The most interesting part is the way the super-charged cravings have been reengaged.

It’s been a long, long time since I have had cravings come on so strong or so quickly. It has also been awhile since I have indulged in gratuitous sugar, and when I was still having small amounts, I was doing it regularly, never allowing the cravings to grow so powerful. Which tells me I am winning the war on getting away from the things that trigger the desire for sugar and carbs and other foods the contribute to my blood sugar spikes.

I lack the ability to regulate my cravings right now. When it comes to foods I love and that are poor choices for me, I have very little self control. Flexibility of mindset is a skill, something I am hoping to work at and build upon. But for right now, I’m struck with visions of sugary delights dancing in my head.

As long as they do not follow me into my grocery cart and home pantry I should be okay. Maybe the best answer is more core work? Tomorrow morning is another practice, another day. We shall see what abs say in the morning.

#august2017, #balance, #better-health, #diet, #exercise, #health, #healthy-eating, #sugar

PT-66: All about abs (day 28+1)

A rare and different Monday evening training session. Somehow more relaxed than usual, or just so darn different than our usual meeting time that it felt weird. Plus it was a teaching night – new core exercises, updated and delving deeper into other core stuff I already know. All in all, it was a lot of fun.

Not quite back to normal format, if only because of the timing change, doing something different, and not able to recall all we did. But this Tuesday morning after – my abs! My core! Everyone has a 6 pack waiting to emerge (mine presently lurks beneath a slowly shrinking, narrowing, thinning fat layer), and last night we worked each and every one of them and woke them up to the reality of what it’s like to be worked industriously.

Take it from me, my core does not like it, not one bit. The squeaking while going through the exercises was one thing; the shrieking this morning is quite another.

Still, all good. I had a good introduction to leg raises of various stripes, more crunches than I realized existed, and some new chop variations. We also revisited glute bridges with double mini bands, and planks, my old/new nemesis. Still, all good.

I have to highlight a couple of new favorite intriguing things, not ever to be confused with favorite exercises. But they do capture of my imagination and the challenge of actually doing them is strong with these, and while I am sure there will be a follow-up recap featuring things we did, this is a brief summary of the primary standouts.

There was one that was like an Otis-up crunch with a leg raise follow on – forever forward labeled in my mind as a teeter-totter. J lives in this land of hopeful optimism when he suggests we try for 10 to 12, and inside my head there is this ringing, mocking laughter. But they intrigue me nonetheless. There is almost a rhythm to up with upper body, down slow to some magic point, then elevate legs – all while paying attention to pressing low back into the bluegrass. Teeter-totters seems appropriate.

Then there was a variation of the band high to low chop. Rather than a hinge type movement, it was more like a side bend that I can still feel in my obliques. J remarked it would take some practice to get the movement right, and boy howdy was he not kidding. First order of business is retraining mind/body to not automatically go for the hinge, however weeble-wobble it may appear in practice. Second is to rib tuck that elbow into knee while gripping that band. So much harder in reality that this very brief description can belie.

Not good at either these yet. Then again, I do not feel particularly good at any core exercise. Otis-ups and floor chops? Struggle, struggle, struggle. Grit teeth, resolve one more series, swear repeatedly inside my head, keep going.

I am presently not capable of having legs straight on the ground while raising the upper body. I have to really focus on pressing my low back into the floor beneath me. Leg raises are also not easy, and my hips do not elevate even a quarter inch off the floor. Big change for me: I honestly don’t care. New stuff is still new stuff. Core focus is kind of new stuff as well, and core is relatively untrained compared to other parts of me. Practice will happen, core will take on life of its own and stake out residency in my rotation of thoughts and things I need to do or pay more attention to as the days pass.

The months have passed, and I have enjoyed many big and small successes with my practices, my learning new exercises, and with improving my overall diet. More than that, I am really enjoying my increased confidence and self-assurance. My vanity is not so powerful that it drives my desire to go the gym daily, yet I am pleased with the reshaping of my shape. It’s a big giant boost when I am wearing smaller sized clothes.

Results matter. I will never deny that. My pursuit of results – the diabetes control, the additional strength and physical capability, the lower lower resting heart rate and blood pressure – all these things actually have little to do with my appearance. The weight I have lost and the smaller size clothing is a byproduct and consequence of better health. As I have repeatedly said, the numbers I chase are not measured on a bathroom scale or tape measure.

So for me it is not the big promises of results that marketers push. For me it has been a zillion tiny things that contribute to my better health.

Somewhere under the layer of fat covering my abdomen, my core muscles are waking up and will soon be laboring to grow stronger. Maybe the fat layer eventually burns away and my core muscles reveal themselves. Or not. Finally my understanding has grown past the marketing of what I could have and the correlation between burning fat via careful diet and consistent exercise has me pursuing overall health versus a more pleasing physical appearance. The latter will come, and I have no clear idea of what it will look like when it finally happens.

Once upon a time, at the start of this journey, there was a trainer I saw a few mornings each week that possessed a larger bone structure. She was sturdy and seemed strong and capable, and while not a slender or svelte trainer, she seemed healthy and attractive. As aspirational role models went, she was a good choice for me.

But now I feel past that as an aspirational role model. Not actually sure I want or need one to keep me motivated to pursue my healthier lifestyle habits. The education and learning curve with exercise, diet, and the way it all works together has pushed me past the need for such outside motivation. If anything, I want to expand my knowledge and understanding. I want to know about different exercises and their impact on the body. I want to learn more about food and its impacts on my particular body without having to chase calorie and macro counting.

Through all this, I know my attitude has changed. I have learned quite a bit, from my own training sessions and observing J and the other trainers working with their clients or conducting classes. I am also acutely aware that it’s not a job calling for me, because I lack the patience and diplomacy required to properly teach someone who is floundering around and not ready or willing to invest in the work it takes for any sort of results.

I speak to this from experience. I can clearly recall my own intimidation and paralysis for doing much other than showing up on Thursdays for training sessions. Clearly, this was not trainer J’s fault as a professional; he has always been supremely conscientious and goes above and beyond to meet each of the training tribe’s needs for help, assistance, overcoming learning curves. Nope, the problem was me and my own brand of gym crazy. Overcoming that was primarily on me, and there is no easy way to do that until someone is ready to take that step.

And I know how difficult it is to gain any sort of mastery over exercise and convincing rusty muscles and joints that they are old dogs desiring to learn new tricks for the greater good. I do not perceive myself as looking fabulous working my way through the List of the day. I do not for a single minute imagine my sweaty and gross state is an attractive or desirable picture of good health. The informercials and advertisements always have these ripped models with perfect tans, makeup, and hair going through the routines or demonstrating equipment or telling us how they used to weight 4000 lbs. and are now down to 110 because they took [insert magical solution here].

I have seen trainer J sweating through his own workouts, and I have seen many of the other trainers as well. Out of their red-shirted uniforms, they look just like the rest of us working through their own Lists and routines. It really is not very glamorous or attractive, although there is beauty in the muscle movement and exercise done right. Learning new habits and the safest, sanest methods for exercise is not a simple once-and-done process. There is no easy way, no shortcuts. Hard work. Consistency. Patience. Lots and lots of sweat, probably some tears, maybe even a tiny amount of bloodshed (accidents happen).

I know all this, really, really well. After 2 years there are still struggles and challenges, even with Lists I know well and weights that I can comfortably utilize. Does not mean it is ever easy, and I must be doing something wrong if it looks easy.

My point here is – I have a whine quota. I allow myself a certain amount of whining inside my own head, and a lesser amount outside in the real world. The tolerance I have for myself and my own whining is less than other folks, but still – the stuff I hear from other members I know well or overhear from others working nearby leads me to the conclusion that many members operate under extremely unrealistic expectations.

And a potential character flaw: my tolerance for extremely unrealistic expectations under nearly any circumstances is pretty thin. Hence my assurance to all my friends that if I were to ever attempt any kind of personal training or coaching, I’d get fired in short order. Tough love is not a last resort in a family gym where personal training is a pricey add on; it is probably outlawed and grounds for termination.

I am not someone who shames people for being overweight or much else. However, as it has been pointed out again and again, there is a very small percentage of us who are overweight for physiological reasons beyond our control. As much as anyone else, I know the allure of food as a panacea for all that ails me. No one is especially weak for their inability to eat healthy or start an exercise program, but if the readiness to do what it takes is in place, it seems unlikely to happen.

I do understand that, and I’m sympathetic. Intimidation, fear, anxiety, feeling insecure about knowing what to do or how to do it – been there, done that, still have the t-shirt tucked away in the back of my drawers. I have also offered to hang out and practice with others to help them get started, restarted, or just keep on moving forward. I’ve talked for hours to friends and written what feels like a billion words on various diet, exercise, motivation to improve my health-related issues.

But my tolerance for bullshit is limited under the best of circumstances, and the only lying I seem to do even remotely well is when I try to lie to myself. Thankfully, diet and exercise is not my professional responsibility, so the evolving opinions I espouse to trainer J and other close friends makes me feel like a mildly less awful, judgmental person. I understand my own shortcomings toward others, but friends are a separate classification and kettle of fish, though. I would do a lot and share anything and everything I know to help them be successful and achieve their goals. But I’m not born again zealot about it; ask me what I might be doing right, happy to share. The process is not easy for anyone, and unless some natural athlete crosses my path in the future where I can ask if it is easier for them than it has been for me.

Today, 24 hours later, the abs are still angry shrieking about the unnatural work I put upon them. Anymore it’s so unusual for me to be sore after training I have almost forgotten what its like.  But worth it – so very worth it.

And I’m excited about trying it again. While I did floor chops and bench planks this morning as part of today’s List, probably tomorrow I’ll try to layer in something else. Assuming the shrieking has faded a bit by then.

Training days. Way more fun than I ever anticipated.

 

 

#august2017, #balance, #better-health, #concentration, #confidence, #exercise, #fitness, #focus, #gym, #happy, #health, #inspiration, #motivation, #relationships, #strength

PT Monday: Switching things up (day 28)

No training yet today, as we rescheduled from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. Trainer J is recovering from summer cold (sounds relatively minor, if what M has is any indication) and was hoping to get some extra rest this morning if I were agreeable to rescheduling. It would be an amazing anomaly if I were disagreeable about such a rare request. He could tell me he was planning to be get very drunk and be very hungover come morning and I would nod, smile, suggest he drink lots of water and maybe take an aspirin before bed, and what time did he want to meet instead? Please note: in our present day universe, that is a story out of a whimsical imagination; J and I could compete to be the most hyper-responsible in our individual lives. Still, I am on the lower-maintenance, easy-peasy client to deal with scale much of the time.

Mish-mash of other things to chat about this morning, though.

Over the weekend J had liked upon another fitness professional’s comment that said something like before you choose to become a trainer, you should be a perfect client. Made me laugh, because while I consider myself a pretty awesome client in comparison to Jane Average (my former aspirational target), I know what a disaster I would be as a trainer much less a coach. So in my case, the corollary does not work. Of course, I have no real ambition to be a coach. The closest I come would be being agreeable to practicing with other tribe members who are struggling with motivation. I mean, for me, if I know I am supposed to meet someone for practice, I show up. But that’s completely different than actually trying to teach them something.

So despite having a training appointment at 5 p.m. tonight, I was in the gym this morning going through an upper body List. Granted I was 3 hours later than my normal Monday arrival time, but I slept an hour later and got some work done before going. Work – always a major time-suck before practices. In my own reasoning, though, I apparently worked the lower body harder than anticipated yesterday – legs were so stiff this morning! Walking the treadmill desk helps enormously, but once I get immersed in something work-related, it’s hard for me to stop until I am done with the task at hand. Hence the 3 hour delay.

And once in then gym, it seems the universe was conspiring against me and my plans. Huffy-puffy List? Class was starting just after my warm-up, bench was in use by someone else, and just other people milling around making me feel claustrophobic. Favorite cable machine had a couple of ladies enthusiastically pulling cables up and down, so I gave up and went downstairs. Not too bad – big boys room was pretty empty and able to snag a bench and room to do my rows and chest presses. The conspiracy against me getting my shit done was back in play when I moseyed over to the other side – a couple of older gents were homesteading on the 2 machines I wanted to use. Plan B – skip to next blocks and cable tower. Found my corner and got to work.

Somehow the time passed so quickly, possibly because of my pondering where all these folks came from today and why were they going out of their way to get into my way. Did they not understand that I am on a mission here? Could have been worse; they could have been cranky towards me rather than just occupying, sweating, and breathing loudly upon machinery I wished to use while texting between their brief and grunty sets. As if me and my desire to complete my block of sets is somehow more weighty and important in the grand scheme of things.

Yep, in a bit of a snarky mood this morning. I think these things in the moment, but I do not react with hostility toward those around me. And I also recognize my limited patience for bullshit is even thinner than usual. I suppose it is to be expected. Compartmentalizing my emotions so I can continue to function in a primarily normal manner is a skill I have honed to master level of certification, yet it is not without its costs. Being on edge and trying to keep myself from flying apart like an exploded suitcase, I’m edgier and even less patient than usual. I cling to the rituals of polite society; it and my hyper-vigilance about fulfilling my responsibilities to others is part of the thread that keeps me stitched together.

Good thing I blog and can say the shit the flitters in and out of my head. It’s like a pressure release valve. So thanks for that.

The upper body List I went through this morning, I wonder why I do not pursue it more often. Or maybe, despite the conspiracy theorist that has taken up part-time residency in my head this morning, I wonder why I do not do upper body stuff more frequently. Or perhaps good days, good feelings just feel so grand I want more than my share of that. Whatever – I have lots of questions and there are even more multiples of answers to each, yet no one answer quite satisfactory and inclusive enough to stave off the production of more questions.

My days start better with exercise. Even though J and I will be doing something tonight, the rest of my day is better because I went to the gym and moved weight to and fro for an hour and 15 minutes. I now know this about myself and accept it as necessary part of my day-to-day existence.

A good habit to have adopted.

Thinking and reading about what others in my fat loss group do, “overtraining” never pops into my head. If I were trying to lift the weightier weights daily it might eventually become a thought, but my methods and practices – not hardly. If I’m tired or tire more easily than normal, I do less weight or slo-mo my sets to diagnose the issue. This is not slacking, or so I have to tell myself frequently lately; this is me pacing and figuring stuff out. Big difference in classification in my mind.

So goes my Monday thus far. Because training is an evening gig today, training recap will post will be tomorrow most likely. Because I’m determined to get back into my groove. New normal is very slowly starting to take shape. I don’t like it, not a bit. But I also can’t change it, so tantrums become a waste of energy and my tantrum quota. Better I save that for something really significant, like nothing to wear to an upcoming wedding. I only have a month to figure it out, but sure as shit my tension over proper attire and going will start to escalate the closer we get to the end of September. The first significant runner people gathering in awhile. Makes me really wish I drank alcohol or smoked dope. I can certainly see how those might help with my tolerance for social niceties.

September’s issue, though. Right now, I feel particularly content with the day and do not want to harsh that thinking too far into the future.

#august2017, #balance, #better-health, #emotional-health, #exercise, #fitness, #grief, #gym, #happy, #health, #mental-health, #positivity