Right for you, wrong for me

A few of my closest female friends are crossfit fans and encourage, cajole, try to bully me into joining them in this endeavor. Mostly we agree to disagree, but 2 of my friends have completely guzzled the koolaid and are born-again crossfit disciples. L started about 2.5 years ago, and B about 2 years ago. Friend M has been doing crossfit about 5 years. Just some brief background of their longevity in this pursuit compared to my training partnership with J (about 2.25 years).

L is having shoulder surgery next week, her second this year. Both shoulders were injured doing something at her crossfit box. B had to have her knee repaired last year, and just did something very serious sounding to her low back earlier this week. Either way, she’s not going to be doing much other than walking until that heals. M has had 3 serious exercise-related injuries in the last 5 years, 2 of which resulted in surgical procedures, and has been sidelined for more than 12 weeks on various occasions this year due to exercise-aggravated injuries.

All have lost significant amounts of weight: L is down 86 lbs., B is 60 pounds light, and over 100 lbs. for M since taking up this hobby. Each of them average about 4 days in their gyms each week when healthy and capable of that type of exercise. They use their weight loss and lesser time commitment as rationalization in our discussions about diet, exercise, better health. I would not classify them as arguments, but we have many times had discussions escalate and grow heated and shut down that topic by agreeing that we  disagree about priorities and what matters most to each of us in our overall health pursuits and reaffirm that we remain caring friends.

I am not especially strident in defending my methodology, but when the topic comes up, I start ticking off the injuries, surgeries, weeks and months of physical therapy for them as a group versus me with none of the above. And when it comes to their weight loss progress versus my own, I believe we are speaking in terms of apples and oranges. I am diplomatic and tactful in not pointing out how much weight is regained or how much more lock-down restraint must be deployed with diet while they are sidelined with injuries.

There was a time when I would remain silent in such discussions, having limited experience or confidence in my own opinions and no skin in the game. But that’s changed; I have now notched my second year of consistency in the gym and do have some thoughts about the reasons we do not exercise or improve our eating habits.

It’s too hard. It IS hard, especially at first. Social media, television, glossy magazines in the checkout line in the grocery store are full of promises of quicker, easier methods to drop weight than spending hours in the gym or eating rabbit food for the balance of our lives.

I don’t have time. Our world is full of distractions that are far more interesting and pleasurable than slogging through sets of squats and rows and presses or the cardio equipment. There are way too many more cheap and easy food sources than buying and preparing healthier meals at home.

I need to lose weight before I can exercise. Our minds are full of the idea that everyone else in the gym or who exercises regularly is thin and fit and not struggling, not breathing very hard, not sweating, not swearing where our untrained selves want to die on the floor in a puddle of sweat in the first 5 minutes.

I don’t know how. This is one I can completely get behind, because it can be complicated. But it doesn’t have to be complicated. Everyone knows how to walk. If that’s all you feel confident to do, go forth and do it. There are also millions of online fitness resources and videos. Or if you have the resources, join a gym and book a few sessions with a personal trainer.

If you’re just getting started, I feel your pain. From direct personal experience, I know how difficult and how painful it is to take the first baby steps into altering our lifestyle habits. But there is no fool-proof supplement that melts fat or minimizes the need for a consistent movement program. There is no magic bullet or perfect program that is fun, easy, and fast. Obesity is an expensive condition, both on our bodies and on our wallets.

So yes, I am well acquainted with the excuses and reasons we don’t take better care of ourselves. Heck, I still employ a few of them on occasion myself. But telling me what I’m doing is somehow less correct than what you are pursuing with regard to exercise and diet is a lot less effective than just letting me go forth to work toward the best version of myself possible. Why does anyone do that? Why do we (sometimes) insist there is only one true way?

I posed the question in an email to my crossfitter friends. They all responded, a bit embarrassed that I perceived it that way, particularly with the specific examples I cited. In their defense, they are very excited about their weight loss and what they have found, what has turned their lives around, and they are eager to share their success. I’m very excited for them, delighted they have found something that works for them and provide satisfaction and success. My polite declining their invitations to try it is not a snub or disapproval; it is simply that their program does not suit me. We are friends, and they were understandably upset that I received their enthusiasm as criticism of my own approach. Faced with their words from prior conversations, they have the grace to admit that they have gotten carried away on occasion. That’s fair; it’s not like they are clubbing me over the head every time we chat. (Most of the time we’re too busy talking about work, parents, kids, other family relationships, and their dating interests to talk too much about exercise and diet.)

In many ways, I understand why it happens. We are middle aged women, taking control of our health and fitness and making genuine forward strides. There are a lot of reasons to be very excited about where we are now, where the path leads next. My concern about the injuries they are sustaining mostly relates to my concern for their health and longevity as well as to their criticism of my own efforts. Fab trainer J describes crossfit enthusiasts as “cult-like behavior” and from my own experience I know it a genuine and accurate observation. Anyone pursuing crossfit as their mode of exercise – I wish you well and hope you get stronger, stay safe, remain healthy. But is it the best method when you are continually getting injured in the process?

I love these ladies and I only want them to remain happy, healthy, and physically capable. Anything that gets all of us up and off the couch is important and to be applauded, and while I have reservations about their choices, I fully support and encourage all efforts to move more and lengthen our lives with regular exercise and movement, better food choices, healthier lifestyles.

With so many injuries between the 3 of them, I simply question the sensibility of their choice of sport.

I freely admit the very idea of getting hurt, being sidelined from injuries is extremely frightening to me. I have worked so hard to get this far and do not want to lose any ground because I am stupid in or out of the gym. As someone who could trip over hairline cracks in the sidewalk, I am accident prone and well aware of all the dangers in the day-to-day business of living my life aside from all the perils of the gym with the weights and machines (death traps, all of them if I am not careful). So I hired fab trainer J to teach me how to do things correctly, to hopefully minimize my access to injuries from poor form or general exercise ignorance. Our training partnership has never been about motivation, inspiration, or even accountability; it has always been about teaching me and expanding my level of understanding with regard to an area of life (exercise) I knew little to nothing about.

Perhaps this is a difference in perspective between me and my crossfitting friends. They are strong-minded, intelligent women, and I suspect that quality alone relates to the depth of our disagreements. But they are more independent and blaze-their-own-path whereas I accept that my natural brilliance has a lot of built-in limitations. I have endured plenty of frustrating setbacks in the gym – everything from completely baffled by hinges and Romanian deadlifts to balance to the limitations of generally untrained muscles getting slowly whipped into shape. I am painfully honest that I can only handle so much disappointment from my own independent effort before I simply abandon the program and the quest.

I strongly disagree that a crossfit gym program is equal or somehow superior to my training partnership with fab trainer J. I also do not believe that one-size-fits-most when it comes to our individual better health quests. So imagine my lack of delight when anyone suggests I’m somehow “wrong” in my approach. Excuse me – off diabetes drugs, losing weight (albeit slowly), reshaping my shape, HAPPY –  please do not be so bold as to tell me I am doing something incorrectly.

The email exchange on this topic has been a productive and ultimately positive conversational interaction and cleared up a lot of misconceptions about what we say and how we say it. Yes, I too have developed strong opinions on best practices when it comes to exercise. I don’t think anyone deserves to get hurt; I know injuries happen no matter how careful we are in our individual pursuits. However, I am true believer in learning how to exercise safely and sanely, including consistent practices between training and absolutely committed to the idea that warming up appropriately before getting started on my List of the day will go a long way to prevent injury. While I am not someone who does a lot of stretching, I do understand the benefits and anticipate that it will become a component of my exercise routine at some point in the future. Time is a finite resource and right now I prefer to spend my available allotment in the gym and primarily with resistance training.

What prompted this discussion among my friends today? Injuries in my fat loss group. Not crossfitters there, but a torn back muscle while doing goblet squats and some other back injury from chest presses. Both were admittedly more inconsistent exercisers utilizing more weight than was wise to burn more calories and fat in this outing. Now they are both gym/weight training sidelined for 6 to 8 weeks and confined to walking and physical therapy. Nothing wrong with walking, but they also lose any flexibility with diet if they wish to achieve their fat loss goals.

I honestly don’t get it.

I know I am far more conservative in my exercise pursuits, but I’m a true believer in the long game. A healthy lifestyle includes a sensible diet and regular exercise, and it is a process, not a goal to be achieved and then celebrated as a triumph. If there was a way I could get from fat to fit significantly faster that did not feel like I am living a miserable life, I might be willing to consider it. Ultimately, I value my joie de vivre too much to be so reckless about abusing my body with exercise or winnowing my diet so severely that I instinctively know is unsustainable.

For me, this is the right path. And as I told my friends, your mileage may vary.

New strain of gym crazy

It has been quite a week around here, and fortunately none of the noise and distraction has to do with my better health quest. Except for the stress I am generating, of course, and that is just part of how I seem to roll. I console myself that my stress vibe is significantly reduced from what it once was, if only because I am older, maybe a bit wiser, and care less about stuff well beyond my control. Unfortunately I seem incapable of scaling and crossing over into the caring not at all about the things I cannot control, but at this point my progress is good progress. The work-related stress disrupting my sleep – 2 more weeks and it should be mostly behind me. Always it is the unpredictable unknown that zaps my stress and pressure (stressure) levels. And this seems true for just about anyone, so no special snowflaking here.

I have 2 posts about 50% written recapping this week’s training. Probably they will be posted tonight, this weekend, when I have time to finish writing down all the details I like to capture. This week it’s been hard to block out time to just relax and write; I am either caught up on my hamster wheel thinking about work or actually working. I wonder how I did all this or if life were just less complex before I spent time at the gym.

But an unfortunate side effect of the outside world stress has me pondering work inside the gym as well.

Of late J has been working with me on push-pull routines with heavier (for me) weights and lower (for me) reps per set. All good! Except, I’m using my at-my-desk working time to listen to fitness podcasts and youtube videos. Learning a lot of new terms and gaining exposure to different ideas and opinions. It has me thinking about my own efforts. Finding less fault with me than has been usual and customary, yet still wondering if I could do better or be trying harder somehow.

My type A- personality disorder has been kicking in lately, it with the harshly self-judgmental aspect.

I like my daily gym practice. For me, it is for the best and it works. For me. Unlike M (who is almost a zealot in his passion for running and exercise), I do not ever suggest anyone follow my examples, yet I have been told all sorts of things about how bad or unsustainable going to the gym every day is for me. *shrug* I’m fine, thank you. Despite the doom, gloom, predictions of Very Bad Outcomes if I continue on my current path, I seem to be thriving. Those with the darker outlooks suggest I am some sort of outlier on the exercise and fitness path, but not really. I philosophically understand now that not only our fitness objectives differ but our process for getting from here to there parallels our differences. Perhaps it is as simple as managing our expectations and listening to body and it’s feedback.

With J and in our current training methodology with the push-pull, I am not learning new exercises as much I am learning how to lift heavier weights and maintain good form for fewer reps, typically a range of 6 to 8 (versus my normal 8 to 12, 12 to 15, 15 to 20, etc.). This is all good, of course; everything I do and learn in the gym is ultimately very good for me.

Until it’s not. Until I get injured (superstitiously knocking on wood). Or until some new strain of gym crazy starts to invade my consciousness.

As I said, I like my daily practice. I have zero intentions of giving it up, as tempting as it is to sleep past 4 a.m. during the week and 6 a.m. on weekends. But this morning, running along through my most time efficient huffy-puffy List of the day, I realize that there is some fear and anxiety associated with lifting weightier weights by myself. While in hindsight I recognize this is not that big of a deal – just do something else when on my own – but in my mind during practice it grew and grew and grew until the idea was some 200 foot tall and 300 foot wide elephant bursting through the roof in the gym. Full-on spin cycle in progress. By the time I got home I was practically breathing into a paperbag imagining my ultimate wash out of training and exercise and dying a 600 lb. blob of personhood because I am incapable of doing anything on my own.

Such bullshit. Negative girl must have blown up her cell and been set loose to run free.

Shower and actual food slowed my thinking down and brought me back to reality. The elephant shrunk to manageable beanie baby size, and I got back to the business of dealing with my reality-based thoughts.

I do have some anxiety about using the weightier weights on my own right now. Fair enough. Rational me (obviously not in the wheelhouse this morning) starts brainstorming ideas. Do push-pull only on training days for now, with extra heavy emphasis that for now is not the same as forever. Perhaps more review time with the push-pull we have done thus far? Possibly a fantastic idea! Means less prep work and planning/thinking for J (compiling new List of the day for the week) and boring times standing around hanging out with me while I work at overcoming this latest phase of crazy. But there are dividends. A less crazy client (that would be me) means less chance of phone spontaneously combusting in his hand with overload of freaked-out texts describing massively growing elephants.

For the most part, I do not see myself as rigidly inflexible. However, I like structure and routine. Every week, I have my basics of 2 days of training sessions and 4 days of practice, with freebies on the other day and the evenings I am there to hang out with friend K. For the most part, I rotate through my Lists doing at least a huffy-puffy, a plexes, and an upper/lower every week. The way J writes my Lists, whole body gets some work a few days every week.

Since I am not known for working at or pressed to work at the same sort of intensity J does in his own fitness pursuits, I have really good weeks with daily Lists. Anymore, I tend to be crankier when I fail to get some exercise in every day, even if it is only a meandering stroll with my work pals. When I have tried to take days off or what feels like too much time off, I find myself getting anxious about the break in my routine. Unless I am on vacation and away from home, at which time it equates to I am out of town, gym is out of mind.

This is not a big, life-altering issue. Mostly it is just me recognizing that I’m uncomfortable with The Plan (all in my mind – nothing J or anyone suggests I should be doing) for various reasons and trying my best to address it head-on. I like the weightier weight training, but I am now educated enough to understand that I cannot work like that every single day. Perhaps with enough training I can get there, but I feel somewhat doubtful. To put that kind of pressure on myself is to suck all the joy, peace, balance I have found in the gym to date, and that’s a sacrifice I’m unwilling to make.

However, there is simple compromise to be found. Doing weightier weights only on training days is probably best until I feel more capable in my ability to maintain good form. Confidence increases under the watchful trainer eye that sees all and tends to correct less desirable practices before they become ingrained as bad  habits. It also releases me from the feeling that I must practice or J will believe me to be some super slacker client. (Oh please – there must be some hidden switch in my mind that make clinging to that old thought pattern cease.) I understand that wishcraft is not going to get me from here to some point out there in my foggy forward view, but I also understand no matter how hard I try, how furiously I might push myself, getting there faster does not mean I cross the goal line and am done and can now go out for pizza like the game is over. Nope. The process is a continuous one, a choice I will make every day for the remainder of my life. Acceptance that doing whatever I can to stay active and pursue better health is does not end until illness or infirmity or death overwhelms me – sometimes it’s just hard to believe that I have been at this long enough to call it a habit.

My recent foray and immersion listening to fitness podcasts and youtube videos has more focus on weight training with the weight lifting emphasis. A lot of stuff on the heavy lifting, 3 rep maximums, training to fatigue, personal records. All that stuff does not interest me much, except as data gathering to understand what drives others. It’s fascinating – for someone else. For me, unlikely to be a pursuit. Since I am now around a lot more people who do this kind of stuff as a hobby, it feels good to be listening and acquiring the knowledge and understanding so I can be supportive and encouraging to others in my realm as they pursue their own, differing goals and objectives. And it gives me new batches of questions to ask J about while we’re working together.

But it sometimes leads to new strains of gym crazy. I thought myself mostly inoculated or immune anymore, yet I seem to be feeling the mildest inclination of anxiety. The shoulds are chasing me down today.

#balance, #better-health, #exercise, #goals, #gym, #happy, #health, #inspiration, #lifestyle, #work

Gym vacation – FAIL!

I had really great intentions of figuring out my head stuff by taking a few days away from the gym. I felt just sure that doing something else for 3 days would be a miracle cure, that I would come back refreshed and recharged and recommitted to my better health quest and do better with my Lists. I knew better than to expect miracle cures, that I would somehow be transformed in my absence from the club into someone who can perform push-ups with elegant ease and appear confident and assured doing inchworms or the dreaded burpees, but I thought I might miss my routine enough to feel completely reconnected to it. After all, I reasoned, it was only 3 days.

Fail. Big fat FAIL. I barely made it 2 days without finally throwing in the towel and deciding to f**k this vacation crap and get back to my roots.

So I did. I came back a day early and was in the club this morning and back to toiling away at a huffy puffy List with as close to appropriate pacing as I could manage. And OMG – I feel so much BETTER now.

Was I stellar and miraculously energetic and precise in my performance? No, just no. But  my head was in the game, even body felt like it was still in a food coma from too much bbq yesterday with all that amazing potato salad.

Of course, I know how good chocolate tastes when I have abstained for extended periods as well. But I console myself the gym Lists are actually beneficial to me. After all, it helps build strong bodies in at least 12 ways, whereas chocolate? Chocolate hits the happy button in my brain for about 30 seconds until body screams for more and blood sugar starts climbing and staying elevated for longer and longer periods the more I consume. There truly is no comparison, other than body is addicted to both.

Bottom line: feels good to be back in the gym, doing something that feels like “normal” to me.

For the 2 days away, I had mixed bag of success.

I went to yoga both Friday evening and Saturday morning, and it was okay. I am not a bendy or flexible person AT ALL and it seems to have only gotten worse as the months away from yoga have passed. This is actually part of the reason I think I need more yoga in my life, but at the same time, I do not especially enjoy it. The classes I took this time were different from the Bikram-based yoga I am more familiar with, but like everything new, it will take some adjustment and learning to improve. No worries at all that it will ever replace my gym and resistance training, and if I go another bunch of months again in between I am okay with that.

That said, I am going to try to make another class this evening, to see how it feels to go after a morning of pursuing my more typical exercise pursuits. As this is the long weekend, I have some extra time to experiment and see what works for me. Right this minute, I believe maybe a Sunday class of some sort until my pass expires is my best exploratory pathway. Surely by the end of July I will have a better sense of whether yoga is something I will incorporated into my better health quest once more.

Assuming I carve out some time for this pursuit. Life is busy and full of other priorities that could easily overwhelm this desire.

On the walking, not a problem for me at all. I was out and about in my neighborhood for at least an hour, just taking a casual stroll, and easily exceeded 20,000 steps on my Fitbit both days thus far. I am back in business with my treadmill desk as well, so getting plenty of walking workout in this process. I may not even collapse in a heap on the side of the road walking or hiking 300 yards.

For the most part I have exorcised and banned the “fail” term from my vocabulary; it is but one of many ways I abuse and beat myself up for not living up to my own lofty (and primarily unrealistic) expectations. But in this select instance, it is appropriate. More than that, it is an accurate description of what has happened.

And I am okay with that. If I have learned anything in the last almost 2 years, my habits have been molded and shaped by getting up every day, getting to the gym, and going through a List of the day. Sometimes I am energetic and almost perfectly on-point with everything, and others I struggle and have to really work at it. A process, for sure, but my process, one I am familiar with and has become ingrained in my day-to-day life.

All very good things.

Because I feel better getting some version of exercise every single day. The walking feels good, the yoga feels pretty good after a shower and quart or 2 of water, but nothing really replaces being in the gym and my Lists.

But I knew that going into it. My super secret fear that I did not voice is that I was getting tired of my routines and stuck in a rut. Thing about me – I tend to thrive on routine and the hamster wheel that I run on much of the time. New stuff, reordering the sequences, and varying the pacing works for me. I am looking forward to returning to our regularly scheduled programming.

The 8+ hours of sleep the past 3 nights is a big plus for me. As I always say, sleep is the great equalizer for me.

#better-health, #exercise, #fitness, #gym, #happy, #health, #sleep, #yoga

Little things

This must be some sort of record for me, with 3 posts in a single day. But it has been a bit of a busy, hectic, crazy, and stressful day. I’m glad it is winding down peacefully.

Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows I have the fancy-smancy Fitbit to track my movements to and fro. I have been having a string of low step days, but oh well. I have been super busy at work and not able to do a lot of getting up and getting out.

But I am feeling a bit like a Pavlovian canine with the Fitbit of late. Specifically, with the active minutes.

Active minutes are recognized by the fancy-smancy fitness tracker when activity is more strenuous that regular walking and for activities at or above 3 METs and only awarded after 10 minutes of continuous moderate-to-intense activity. (I’m paraphrasing from the Fitbit app because I cannot seem to get it up on my computer to copy and paste here.)

My daily goal is 30 active minutes. Last week I had 325 active minutes for the whole week, compared to 209 the week prior and 189 the week before that. This week, after 2 days I am at 177 active minutes – 76 yesterday and 101 today (a new record). Curiously, this coincides with my more dedicated and consistent pursuit of huffy-puffy Lists.

While I do not take the fitness tracking too seriously – just another measure to stress and freak me out – it is kind of gratifying when the little fireworks display goes off on my phone. As far as the active minutes, I admit I check my stats after every practice and every training to see if I worked hard enough to clear my 30 minute daily goal and the percentage of fat burn to cardio, which the cardio has also jumps pretty notably on huffy-puffy List days. If I don’t make the 30 minute goal, oh well; it was still fun and I still worked pretty damn hard. Or I didn’t, and that’s okay as well.

If I do not track or monitor the statistics produced by the Fitbit, why do I have it? M is the fitness technology guy in our household and likes to know that I am monitoring my heart rate if I feel weird in the gym.

Plus it works pretty well as a watch.

#exercise, #fitbit, #fitness, #gym, #happy, #health, #progress, #tracking

Shoooozz

I am a shoe horse, meaning I have a lot of shoes. Most of them I wear fairly regularly as well, particularly my gym shoes. And because I wear them fairly regularly, I tend to wear them out fairly quickly as well.

In the last 2 years, I have gone through 2 pairs of Merrell’s and 2 pairs of New Balance. The New Balance have been bitter disappointments in how poorly they hold up – I got far more mileage and wear out of the Merrell’s. The tricky thing is – on the outside they look fine. I have tried new insoles but when they go, they go. I did have some wear left on the Merrell’s, until today when pair 1 of 2 blew about blew out my toe joint, a sure sign a shoe is done. Hopefully the other pair will allow me to limp along until the next victim experiment arrives from Zappos.

For someone who enjoys shopping as much as I tend to, I am hating the gym shoe replacement process. It does seem as if I am reinventing the wheel and trying desperately to find a new brand, new shoe every time I need a replacement pair, which is now happening 2 or 3 times per year. M, who goes is breaking in a new pair of running shoes every month when he is hitting his typical high mileage, had gotten me into the habit of buying in bulk when there is a particular shoe he likes and I can find it on sale or on clearance. Using that standard, I feel like I am escalated to a new plateau.

However, I would likely not be having nearly as many issues if I were not wearing dress shoes (heels and flats) most days for work. Unfortunately I cannot quite bring myself to wear the built-for-comfort Dansko or other clog-like comfortable shoes. Summer is coming, though, and with it the freedom of sandals and toes freed to wiggle around in the open air rather than being squished into semi-sensible business pumps.

I know – me and my first world problems. Unfortunately the bigger sporting goods stores near me do not carry the shoe types I want to try on, and even my son, working in a running shoe boutique, does not carry what I am seeking either.

Oh well. I should be fine until Monday. If I get desperate I can always revert back to my running shoe boats for the few days until I get the replacements. But I think my secondary pair will be fine for the several days until I get the replacements squared away.

#exercise, #fitness, #gym, #shoes

Chasing the huffy puffy

My lungs hurt.

I am just home from the gym, and rather than getting into the shower to shed the sweaty grossness of my practice, I am sitting down to type this and catch my breath. Quite a morning.

In January we began Peripheral Heart Action (PHA) styled Lists. These are tri-sets, usually only 3 of each, but pacing is peppy. While other tribe members refer to these as PHA Lists, they will forever be the “huffy-puffy” Lists. Because honestly, breathing hard is putting it lightly as I am going through the blocks.

Today was the first time I have run through these on my own, and the first time since we finished going through them January I have actually picked one out for List of the day. And I kinda/sorta kick myself for not doing so soon.

It’s interested observing my own negative self-talk these days. Today was the worst its been in months, and even then it was more the frantic observation that I am woefully out of shape. Despite my daily exercise for more than a year, I feel woefully out of shape. Cardio machines – treadmill, elliptical, stairmaster – still hold little to no appeal to me. If I am going to bulk up my lungs to do this without feeling as if I am trying for slow suffocation, I just need to pursue the huffy puffy more frequently than once ever few months.

Perhaps exacerbating this process – my bench was in use this morning and I had to make do with the gravity machine for Bulgarian split squats (something to prop a back foot up on) and 1-arm rows (lean against) and a teeny tiny stability ball for chest presses and overhead pullovers. Not the end of the world – I made it work, although the stability ball is not something I want to repeat unless I can lay hands on a larger one. The teeny one is made for a much more petite person, and the angles were wrong or I ended up feeling like I were almost leaning up against it with my butt barely hovering over the ground. The positive to it, though: less need to obsess over the arch, because laying flat on that particular stability ball was impossible for me.

Everyone is still adjusting to the gym’s update, and equipment I typically use is spread all over the place. In addition to no bench, I also ended up substituting a kettlebell for a medicine ball on the horizontal choppers because the 2 upstairs were both in use in this morning. Again, I made it work, and I am prepared for set-up substitutions next I pursue this List.

Judgmental Fitbit heart rate monitor had nice things to report: 118 heart rate average and 50 very active minutes. I don’t pay a lot of attention to these statistics, because like all things that measure, it is far too easy for me to fall down the rabbit  hole of obsession and depression when I fail to meet some arbitrary standard. But I have been looking at it as a loose way of tracking my energy expenditure.

I’m happy with my effort this morning, look forward to improving with more regular, consistent practice on this particular List. Because for me that’s what it comes down to: I have not practiced this List, so to me it is a less familiar that must be learned and committed to memory and improvement. As I continually remind myself, so many Lists, so few practice days.

Lungs will be able to handle it. Keep telling myself it is good for them to burn baby burn every now and again along with the rest of me.

#exercise, #fitness, #gym, #happy, #huffy-puffy, #pha, #positivity, #progress

Old Lists, new challenges

In the process of revisiting older Lists on my own, I recognize my desire to keep track of what I am doing and when. While I do not anticipate writing something for every workout every day, Tuesdays are typically my work-from-home days and I have the luxury of arriving at the gym later than typical (and sleeping for an extra hour) and spending more time pursuing my List(s) of the day.

I think of and refer to this as my “planky” List, because it seems there are several exercises that have some variation of plank position. J does not typically do a lot of ab-dedicated Lists, so this one is a bit of a shock to my system. Before Sunday, I had not picked up or thought much about this one in a few months and could definitely feel the impact on my abs. I want to be more successful and proficient with such things, though, so I am revisiting to ensure I stay reasonably well-rounded.

Today was 3 sets of each from this List:

A1  Incline DB press (12-15, 8-12, 6-8 ramp) 15 w/20s, 12 w/25s, 8 w/30s
A2 Bench Alt Step Off/Kick Back combo (6-8/side) 24 side for 3 sets
A3  Alt DB curls (12-15/side) 15/side w/12 lb. DBs for 3 sets
A4  Alt Chopper Sit-us (6-12/side) 8/side for 3 sets

B1  Flat Bench Chest Flyes (10-12) 12 w/20 lb. DBs all 3 sets
B2  Bench Step Throughs w/hip dip (10-12/side) 12/side for 3 sets
B3  DB Alt Hammer Curls (10-15/side) 15/side w/12 lb. DBs for 3 sets
B4  Stability Ball “Reach Up” Crunch (10-15) 20 for 3 sets

C1  1-arm DB Snatch (6-8/side) 12/side w/8 lb. DB for 3 sets
C2  1-arm Lateral Throws (10-12/side) 12/side w/8 lb. DB for 3 sets
C3  Band Horizontal Hip Rotations (10-15/side) 10/side w/red band
C4  Standing Contralateral Knee to Elbow Crunch (15-20/side) 12/side for 3 sets

D1  1-arm Overhead Shoulder Press (10-12/side) 12/side w/15 lb. DB for 3 sets
D2  Dual Band Reverse Flyes (12-20) 12 w/red bands for 3 sets
D3  Kettlebell Swing to Chest Level (12-15, 15-20) 12 w/pink KB for 3 sets
D4  Plank off DBs (20 second slow count) 40 second count for 3 sets

In the A block, the bench alternating step off/kick back combo – I misread the rep range and thought it was 12-15/side and that meant 12 step off, 12 kick back per side, so I stepped and kicked through what I thought was minimum rep range. Not easy; planks are not my friend and feel completely unnatural to me. I did feel like a proud idiot when I realized my mistake; far better to do more if I am capable. Possibly I will be paying for it tomorrow, but that’s tomorrow. Same with the chopper sit-ups. The only redeeming quality for them is the I can lie on the floor to catch my breath when I feel like I cannot possibly do another one.

In the B block, the step throughs with hip dip are more plank positioning. Not too sure if I have the hip dip part down, or if I am just particularly less bendy than usual after yesterday’s go-round with the lower body. The stability ball “reach up” crunches – for the first time in several months the instability ball was back to its old tricks. I feel off of it, twice. Thankfully landing on my bum does no lasting damage, except maybe my pride. The gym has lately been getting all the small size stability balls, and I think my muscle memory is accustomed to something taller. Once I laid hands on the bigger one, I was fine – no ungraceful dismount when I was just getting started.

For the C block, love, Love, LOVE the 1-arm dumbbell snatch and 1-arm dumbbell lateral throws. While using a lighter than usual weight at 8 lbs., I have not done either of these much in the last few months and always play safely until I am sure of form and my strength and ability. Thus far, no injury has befallen me from my work in the gym and I do hope to continue this healthy streak. Now that I have done horizontal band rotations (aka “choppers”) with the rope attachment on the cable machine, I am far less enthusiastic about the band version, but I slogged on through. Finally, the standing contralateral knee to elbow crunch – J’s notes say to “raise knee above 90 degrees, then elbow to raised knee.” Okay, I’m not sure my legs have that grand range of motion, and if I stop and think of it – me, standing on one foot, bending elbow to elevated knee – I will for most definitely fall over. But when I finally did think about it, long after I had moved on to the final block, I was pretty darn pleased with my balance effort.

Finally, the D Block and the kettlebell swing to chest level. We do not do these often and I use a very light kettlebell, but I feel very wary of this exercise. Less nowadays that the KB is going to slip from my hands and fly across the room and more about proper form and avoiding injury. Nothing hurts. Nothing snapped, crackled, or popped during execution, but I am listening intently for sounds of distress. The plank off dumbbells – why didn’t I know about the dumbbells when first learning to plank? Game changer, even if planks have been spare on Lists of late. I use a timer to ensure I get my minimums, and today I was pleasantly surprised to find that the first 20 seconds were fine and was immediately suspicious I was doing something wrong. Worked my rib tucking and abs tightening on the second 20 seconds and could feel it working, so did the same amount of time for the second and third sets.

All in all, happy with my progress on this older List. Tomorrow I expect to hear a bit of chatter from my midsection, but oh well. Just tells me I probably need to pursue the abs List a bit more often.

 

#exercise, #fitness, #gym, #happy, #health, #lifestyle, #positivity, #progress