PT-64: The lost session (day 21)

Monday morning, training with J.

I unexpectedly and tragically lost a close friend yesterday and feel wrecked about it. But I got up and went to meet fab trainer J this morning anyway, because if I can easily imagine lying on a set of train tracks waiting for a train to run me over I can all too easily find myself canceling sessions, blowing off practices, and returning to a sedentary lifestyle in my grief.

No matter what my circumstances, how crappy I feel today or in the days ahead, I cannot be deterred from my better health quest.

Mercifully, comfort food holds little appeal right now, although I admit I feel the knee-jerk allure of old habits. I have worked so hard to get past that reflexive inclination, and I have new habits and ways to cope.

Life continues, despite a broken heart and wounded spirit.

But I got nothing as far as feedback from this review session. At this point of the day, 12 hours later, I cannot really recall what we did. I know it was review. I know it was upstairs. Beyond that, it all looks and feels like a big blur today. I could look at the List and it will refresh what we did, but nothing stands out other than getting through it without bursting into tears and lying on the floor sobbing and refusing to get back up.

Yeah, I had my fears about that happening.

Since we finished in record time, I know I could care less about rep count or even set count. We could have done one per and I would say it was fine. One low energy, low expectations session matters little to me under the circumstances. Not showing up for it felt terrifying on so many levels.

I’m very fortunate – I have an incredibly caring, supportive tribe that holds my hands and lets me ramble and wander as I stumble along in this haze of grief.

But as I type this – a couple of things do stand out.

I want to be able to climb to my feet from sitting on the floor without having the help of another person or sturdy, immovable object. And right now it does seem to still to require the logistical planning of unsinking the Titantic from the ocean floor, but it will not be like this forever.

The things that influenced and inspired me to get started on my better health quest, those only die if I allow them to die in my heart and mind. Courage, bravery, all those cool-sounding heroic buzz words do not enter into this equation. Discipline, steadfastness, accepting that life continues is the only thing that makes the senseless unlucky sequence of events make sense.

The range of emotions that come with loss are not easy to quantify or describe, and there is no one-size-fits-all patterns to mourning. The amount of anger and rage I feel inside is almost embarrassing, yet who am I actually angry with? God? Some other higher power? Modern medicine? My friend? Myself? I think it normal, healthy, to be upset and full of rage that something I never, ever wanted to happen has happened. It seems yet another side of the complexities of being human and the circle of life.

I learned a long time ago that being a victim is a circumstance, but it does not need to be the defining circumstance. Channeling my anger and my rage has been a driving force to get me past that label and made me make something of myself. While it feels kind of noble to imagine continuing my better health quest for my friend and compadre who means so much to me, it is also a cheap and tawdry self-serving device for which he would gleefully verbally bitch-slap me if he were reading this right now. Always, this has been for and about me and me alone, and to try to twist it into some sort of tribute is both wrong and unsustainable for the long haul. His influence and encouragement does not end because he is no longer walking this earthly plane with me. Perhaps that is the best, finest legacy anyone can provide.

I am so much stronger, more capable, and frankly more physically appealing to my own eye than I was when I started with J. I work hard at my better health quest for myself, for more life in the years I have. But I have new measures of pride and confidence, and I am glad my friend got to see and experience that first hand.

In the throes of grief and loss, I truly remember why I love my life. Because I feel such depths of grief and loss with the passing of a genuine, faithful friend. Eventually I will bear these fresh scars with dignity and pride, and always remember the one who helped me earn them.

Not much of a training recap today, I know. Hopefully our regular programming will return soon.

#august2017, #balance, #better-health, #diet, #emotional-health, #exercise, #fitness, #friends, #grief, #gym, #health, #healthy-eating, #inspiration, #motivation, #sadness

PT-51: Exercise geekery

Delays, delays, delays! My excuse factory could go into overdrive as to why this Thursday training recap is going up the following Wednesday rather than the hoped for same day Thursday or next day Friday. Life happens and brings with it work-related deadlines that gobble up all available time allocated for fun things like writing blog posts. The quest for work-life balance continues. 

Thursday morning and training with J. Because we are in the review cycle of our push-pull series, it was a review day. I love, Love, LOVE review days. What I think I know I typically know a little or a lot or that I was somehow doing it incorrectly (rarer) after review days. Room for improvement? Big giant hotel with lots and lots of rooms for improvement in my case.

Key Takeaways

In keeping with the “more I learn, more I realize how little I actually know” theme of late, J suggested, coached, taught me a new wrinkle for training. We have the pretension of working muscles, been doing that forever it seems, and now we’re trying to pretension at the end of the stretch and before the pretension. Confusing, right? Try doing this in a Romanian deadlift with a barbell in your hand. It’s hard. It’s mind-boggling. And it’s soooo cool!

Yep, gym geek girl in the making.

Things we set aside for a time – like more than a year – still have a lot of value and nuances to be learned. This time around, once the memory of exactly how these things are supposed to work returned, I feel more confident about my ability with them. Mostly, anyway. There were probably good and valid reasons I shed tears learning these things, and after some tweaks, reminders, corrections – I finally got back to it. The lessons are valuable for a number of reasons, primarily that the information is not lost forever, even if I don’t do something for a year or more. Granted I don’t necessarily want to be emailing J far into the future asking how precisely I do some obscure exercise I learned in 2015, but I should be able to do majority of this stuff.

What We Did

It was push day (which sounds really awkward, I know) and on the List for the day:

Barbell Romanian deadlift
Mini band lateral walks, kickbacks

1-leg dumbbell Romanian deadlift (25 lb.)
Dumbbell pullovers

Stability ball hamstring curls
Seated cable row

Seated hamstring curls
Dual cable lat pulldown

How It Felt

There is something a little special about doing the barbell Romanian deadlifts. Possibly because of my lingering intimidation factor and having to don my biggest of big girl capris to venture into that corner of the gym on my own to try this during my own practices. Typically left to my own devices, I use dumbbells. Heavier dumbbells, but I can feel the difference in weight distribution between the different types of weights. I remind myself every day that it is a process. With the introduction of the overlap – the muscle pretension at the very end of the stretch and just before the actual pretension to return to do the lifting work – I find myself in a completely different type of focused headspace. It’s exciting into my inner geekette.

One my favorite tools remains the under-appreciated mini bands. This Thursday we paired mini band lateral walks and glute kickbacks, a nice change of pace for working the glutes and side hips. The overlap does not quite work that way.

Perhaps my biggest nemesis and victory of late is the 1-legged dumbbell Romanian deadlift with a 25 lb. dumbbell in one hand. Balance is an ongoing issue for me, although I have improved dramatically in the last 2 years. Still, every successful 1-leg anything is a small win to a major victory, depending on the day. The overlap makes me feel like I am relearning this exercise all over again, but my focus is improving and hopefully with time and practice balance will continue to improve.

The weightier weight on the dumbbell pullovers is like a full-body exercise. Got the upper back arch down pretty well now, but the pulling the weight back up and back overhead requires tightening the abs and glutes all at once. There is this half-rib tuck ab tightening thing that I just discovered works well for me, but it’s hard to describe. With the bigger dumbbell weight, it requires a lot more focus to pretension the muscles to do their work, and the overlap helps enormously with it. It’s interesting to me how my whole body seems to get involved and working when I do this one right. I can easily envision the Very Bad Outcomes if I lose my focus and have to drop the weight, and I do know that dropping the weight would be better than other scenarios. But I’m doing pretty well with these, even with 35 lbs. in my hands.

While not in the nemesis stable, the stability ball hamstring curls remain an uphill climb. Keep my feet in the proper position on the ball. Curl in that ball in that extra half inch. Sometimes I imagine how sick J must get of repeating the same instructions over and over again; I know I grow weary of my own screaming whining in my head about how my legs don’t have another half inch to curl or that hips can’t or won’t raise more and are going on strike and refusing to work the rest of the day. Of course it doesn’t happen; hips continue t do their jobs. The exercise is effective, and if it were easy there would probably be a lot more fit folk in the world. Or so I tell myself every time I want to give in and give up on something.

The seated cable row is another that looks so simple and is far more complicated than it appears. Leaning forward from the shoulders and not the waist, keeping a decent bend in the elbows. For the most part I have the pulling back in the row with the shoulders and upper back arch, but that leaning forward from the shoulders and the decent elbow bend – work in progress. Probably doesn’t help that there is an inadequate amount of practice occurring with these right now – that whole big boys room and lingering intimidation factor going on deep inside the recesses of my head.

Unlike their cousin the stability ball hamstring curls, the seated hamstring curls are mostly improving. I found the overlap to be particularly effective with these. Thinking about it afterwards, it seems this machine has a more clearly defined beginning, middle, and end that makes the overlap more easily applicable. Either way, I found the overlap particularly useful for this exercise. I also found this new wrinkle in the exercise iceberg to be extremely useful on the cadence and pacing.

The dual cable lat pulldowns, like the seated cable row, is far more complicated than it seems. I want to overcomplicate this, but it doesn’t have to be that complicated. Pull down with the shoulders and into the back arch and pull those elbows back behind me. Then like the row, lean forward with the shoulders not from the waist and keep a decent amount of bend in the elbows at the top. I find myself thinking about this concept and applying it to any and all lat pulldowns with both the pulling and the overlap of tension and stretching.

Kitchen Sink Thoughts

One of the (few) benefits of being distracted with real life and not getting the recap written the same day is my kitchen sink thoughts overflow and flood the kitchen. Now always a bad thing; frequently I feel clearer about what I am thinking and feeling.

Our latest and greatest adventures into push and pull land are meant to increase my strength. I have apparently not yet completely grasped the 8 rep max for the weightier weights (the 10 and 12 and 15 minimums are burned into my mind), and I lack absolute confidence with my capabilities. But like so many things, forward progress is a process, not a once and done type experience.

There is so much backlog of negative girl baggage still sitting in the storage rooms of my mind that it makes completely purging her impulses and ideas – it’s like addiction recovery in that one is always in recovery, never actually cured. What I have learned over the course of the last couple of years in pursuit of my better health quest, managing my own expectations is imperative to success in nearly all of my life’s endeavors. That and patience; nothing is easy at first and it takes awhile to get acclimated and learn the bazillion and 47 small details that encompass everything. After the initial learning curve, there is the whole mastery of the bazillion and 312 other details that contribute to mastery.

This shit takes a really long time. Patience, still not one of my virtues, is mostly consumed by the bazillions part of both the learning curve and mastery aspects. My vexation is all the other small details that remaining and from that seeds of doubt are sowed.

But while it occasionally seems like a daily battle to beat back my inner self-directed negativity, I know my coping skills have improved as my gym and exercise geekery have expanded. Few people I talk with understand my fascination with the details. Then again, most of the have little understanding of why I even want to know or understand the fine details. To them, it’s more a matter of braun than brain, whereas to me I am older, growing less bendy by the minute, and have to be smarter about exercise or I will be spending more time injured on the sidelines.

The longer I pursue my better health quest, the less competitive I become. My perspective has broadened as the weeks and months have passed, and measuring my progress in ability and competence is far more important to me than the weights moved. It is a huge boost to gradually move up in the weights I’m using, but I want body to feel satisfied and not unduly taxed and overly fatigued to the point of having to stop. From my perch right now, I don’t want to stop until my expiration date is reached. Maybe I cannot extend it indefinitely, but I believe my investments in this pursuit now will keep me comfortable for a longer period of time.

Besides, I have too much fun. From the woman who hated exercise, described “sweaty and gross” with disdain (versus the matter-of-fact way I use the term now), and had to pep talk herself into going through the club’s front doors every day – quite a change in mindset and outlook.

Progress is being comfortable and happy with my own body. Process is accepting my own impatience while working toward the tiny, incremental improvements. If only overthinking burned the same range of calories of squats and walking lunges and other huffy-puffy type activities. Until body learns that evolution, I will have to continue with my exercise pursuits and health and fitness geekery.

It’s good to be me.


#balance, #emotional-health, #exercise, #fitness, #gym, #happy, #health, #mental-health

PT-50: The steady drumbeat

Monday morning, training with J. Because of the holiday week, schedule was a little mixed. I traded my 6 a.m. for 7 a.m. to accommodate my tribe sister who typically clocks in Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6. All good, happy to help. The flexibility of my schedule makes reschedules simple.

Key Takeaways

No matter how much I tell myself and others that I have no concrete goals, progress is another matter entirely. In the last week of celebratory milestones and such, I can honestly say I’ve made slow and steady progress. However, it’s still really gratifying to pick up a never before used weight and be able to do the work with it, not feel any sort of pain during or after, and to be marveling about my success 24 hours later.

With so many Lists in my library now, I cannot seem to grow weary or bored of my time in the gym. Sure, I can feel like I don’t feel like doing anything; I can (and frequently often periodically do) feel tired mentally, physically, or both. But bored? Not yet. The big challenges for me lie outside the gym and Lists anymore. Care with diet and getting adequate sleep are my daily battles. For the most part, they are battles I win.

There is an evenness to life now that pre-exercise did not exist. Maybe because the pushing I do within the gym is primarily positive and only with myself, so it takes the venom and the sting out of the rest of the drama that unfolds with life. Balance, the ever elusive balance, is more attainable. I have a much healthier outlet for frustration and stress, and a built-in period of contemplation available to me most every day.

I’m grow tougher as well as stronger. Once upon a time, corrections and adjustments to form would be hard on my psyche. Negative girl would go all scorched earth and I’d be fortunate not to burst into tears over my inability to do something perfectly on the second rep ever in my whole entire life. Now, while I absolutely trust J not to be judging me harshly for my present uncoordinated or untrained ability with something new (or even not so new), I have this startling realization when writing recaps how under-reactive I am these days to correction and tweaks. Exposure to and getting to know others with different body types, limitations, and natural abilities has tempered me from the self-sabotage of being at fault or not trying hard enough. There’s a tiny word getting used a lot in my vocabulary with all things training – yet. I am not lifting as much – yet. I am not quite contracting muscles as hard – yet. I have not progressed far enough on this journey – yet. Persistence will get me level out the lumpy-bumpy in my path. Progress is mindset healthy enough to be patient and enjoy the big and little victories achieved along the way. They ALL count.

For all my weenie-whining about what I cannot yet do or the habits I continue to struggle with, I was reminded today how much further I am on this journey. Because I stepped up and got started. I took some responsibility for myself and my choices. And I continue to own both my setbacks and stalls as well as my wins. It is still intimidating sometimes to go to the gym and use equipment foreign to me or outside my comfort zone. It’s sometimes difficult to ask someone for equipment they may or may not be using, or to tell someone else I am still using something they may be seeking. But I’m plugging away at it, every single day. Yay me!

What We Did

We are into a review cycle of push-pulls Lists, which is perfectly fine with me. I love review days. Starting with the pushes, our List of the day (weights used in parentheses):

Heavy Goblet Squat (45)
Flat DB Chest Press (30s)

DB Walking Lunges (20s)
1-arm DB Overhead Press (20)

Seated Hang n Band Laterals (10s)
1-legged Bent Elbow off bench Plank

Heavy Rope Triceps Pushdowns (60)
Kneeling Rope Crunch (85)

How It Felt

Big, big deal today: I used a 45 lb. dumbbell on the goblet squats and had no serious issues getting through a couple of sets of 8 reps. I never imagined picking up a 45 lb. dumbbell with one hand much less actually using it successfully, but there you have – progress in black and white. With the heavier (for me) weights, we do ramping up sets for warm-up with the lighter weights we have used previously. So today we did a set with the 30 lb. dumbbell, moved to the 40 lb. dumbbell (where we have been dwelling), and I seemed to handle it so well J wanted to try the 45, which is what we did for a couple of sets of 8 without any big trauma or drama. If anything, I thought it didn’t feel all that much different than the 40 while do the actual work. Where I noticed was picking it up and getting set-up, but once past that, it felt about the same. We also talked about the breathing – deep breath in, hold it, expel it and empty the lungs at the top. I have been watching friend K do this with her barbell deadlifts and trying to adapt to it myself, but it’s foreign. Practice, practice, practice, though, and now I have practical applications to apply to it.

We are now using a pair of 30 lb. dumbbells on the flat bench dumbbell chest press, a weight I am growing increasingly more comfortable having in my hands. For our warm-up set we used a pair of 25s, which is what I have been using most of the time when practicing on my own. I went through a set of 15 reps (lost count and forgot I could stop at 8) without any difficulties. Big happy moment from this was when J remarked that my upper back arch was looking a lot more natural and automatic these days. That actually surprised me, because my arch obsession remains and I am nearly always thinking about it on everything arch-appropriate. But good to know that the obsession is paying off for me. While J believes I could handle a pair of 35s for this exercise, he thinks there is more to be wrung out of the pair of 30s, which is perfectly fine with me. On my own, I will use the 25s for warm-up sets and go as far as I can with the 30s, assuming I am feeling it.

Former nemesis and ongoing mostly disliked exercise dumbbell walking lunges – always something new to learn with these bad boys. Today is was about the rear leg, dropping knee to the floor and sort of tucking it further back so greater emphasis on the front leg quad, all of which meant take a slightly longer forward step and bit more lean forward as well. Takes a bit of adjustment, and a teeny, tiny backslide of pausing in the middle on the way to the next lunge step was in order some of the times. We started with a pair of 15 lb. dumbbells and then bumped up to a pair of 20s. Brutal. I never thought an additional 10 lbs. of weight could feel so heavy. But, this is why the rep range is 6 to 8, rather than our usual 8 to 12 or 12 to 15.

Doing really well with the 1- arm dumbbell overhead press, which always feels as if there is slippery slope potential of being overly confident or cocky with something, meaning it’s time to bump up the weight or I am about to do something insanely stupid. So I temper my thrill-fest about wielding a 20 lb. weight overhead just a tiny bit, because I am always mindful of lofting a dumbbell over my head and its impacts on my shoulder as well as the opportunities to brain myself if it slips. Still, no way I would ever increase weight on something like this without J standing right there supervising the first several times.

Had a new correction on the seated hang and bang lateral raises. I struggle with these and feel like I might never get past the pair of 10 lb. dumbbells I am presently using. But it’s okay – weights I am using really does not matter to me. However, correct form is imperative to me, and if I have to be corrected and adjusted from now until eternity on these I can accept it. First it was hands turning outward toward the ceiling when they should be turned inward with thumbs toward the floor. Doing better with that for the most part. Today, though, I wanted to do the upward press and then flip my hands and forearms up when they should be staying level. This is pancakes to me, because it is precisely the way and angles of the spatula when I am flipping pancakes. The food cues I use to remember these small details.

Oh planks, how I loathe thee. All of them. But I persevere. The 1-legged bent elbow off bench plank is not quite the worst, but it’s a plank and by definition not as wonderful as other stuff on other Lists. But maybe improvement happens slowly. I know I’m not holding onto the hold for the “right” time span when we’re training, but I also do not have the luxury of my dreaded little gym timer going either. So I am working on adapting to trainer J’s suggestion of counting breaths. Except breathing is hard, too. Whoda thunk? Breathing. Difficult? You betcha. Working on getting the hang of it, though. After 2 years, you’d think I could breathe effectively by now. Remind myself breathing is a process, just like everything else.

I love, Love, LOVE the heavy rope triceps pushdowns, especially now that I’m finally catching hold of the concept of pressing straight down and splitting rope at the bottom while straightening elbows. Before I would sort of split the rope willy-nilly and elbows would never quite straight out completely. Now that the lightbulb moments have finally fired in my mind, I feel the difference and want to do these all the time with the heavier weight.

The kneeling rope crunch is an ongoing work in progress, but I am definitely making some forward progress with them. I seem to have grasped the “shape” of the exercise and have gotten my hips to stay in place and upper back to arch the way it is supposed to arch, but still have to scorch brain cells to make it happen. Important thing, other than hopes that I have unlimited supplies of scorchable brain cells, is that I am understanding what it and should be happening with these. I’ll continue to work at them, which will not be that difficult – they feel simpler to manage than the planks or the floor chops.

Kitchen Sink Thoughts

Training days I frequently float along on a happy bubble of accomplishment. There are not always big milestones to celebrate or amazing events to report, but feedback and assurance that I am on the right track with how things work makes me happy. Left to my own devices I might practice my same favorite Lists over and over again and mostly without daring to increase weights used. Until we began our recent push-pull series, I had not realized that my own practices with the same weights built strength. Honestly, I’m not sure sometimes where these notions come from, but in my mind it is like doing the same exercise with the same weights week after week is merely a maintenance type regimen. Possibly, but I’m also working with J frequently enough to have weightier weights incorporated and provide enough confidence to eventually try it on my own.

While I am still celebrating my bump up in goblet squat weight, I have been thinking about  how my mind processes that accomplishment. Yes, 45 lbs. for squatting for me is huge and yeah, that dumbbell is not light or something I’d want to walk up and down the stairs with in my hands. But somehow it seems different doing squats with that weight versus a row or an overhead press or something somehow more active and direct with weight itself moving to and fro. I do not tend to measure or feel good about progress measured only in weightier weights lifted or moved, yet when it happens it’s a most amazing and exciting feeling. Perhaps it is more that I am not highly motivated by the idea of lifting weightier weights. It’s extraordinarily gratifying when it happens, but I am in no rush to crest the next level with big honking pieces of iron.

So I ponder my intense excitement and satisfaction on this new threshold of accomplishment and wonder why I am not doubling down on my practice and pursuit of the next level of something. It occurs to me that my core satisfaction comes from knowing I’m sticking with the program, pursuing the Lists, and trying my best to stay focused and on track with regular exercise. In the end, that’s what matters most to me and is my highest priority. I find myself pondering form, listening to J cue and tweak and correct when needed and required. It’s almost impossible to describe the difference in how I “hear” it now with the negative noise turned off.

Not really sure what I imagined when this all began, or even when I began my daily pursuits. I use machines. I use dumbbells. I use stretchy bands and mini bands. And while pretty far from an expert, I am more knowledgeable than I was. That’s enormously satisfying and brings great buckets of happiness splashing through my life and times.

There are far worse things in life to be obsessive about.

If only I can get my head in order about food and healthier eating. The weekend kicked off a fairly unrestrained eating streak. Nothing horrible – no boxes of cupcakes or donuts or chocolate bars were consumed, no bottles or cans of coke were drunk in the open or in secret drinking binges – but near constant noshing throughout the entire 4 days. It was great fun and even better food, but still. Way too much eating and drinking and socializing and not enough sleep.

Still, worth it. Time with our friends tends to involve food, so I tried to eat more healthy fruits and vegetables and protein sources (bbq chicken). But one of our friends makes these major league fabulous dinner rolls from scratch with homemade cinnamon honey butter. Carbs and fat, the LOVE/hate affair continues.

So we are starting anew with healthier eating. Every day is a good day for a fresh start, and I am doing my best to get balance my eating and ongoing socializing. Summer fruit is the best and readily available. The hot weather makes salads taste better. If I can watch my portion control and healthy food options during the week, I should be more capable of doing better while out and about. It’s also a eating/timing issue; sometimes it’s difficult to time my meals to advance eat before an event.

But I will keep trying. Another measure of my progress in the better health quest is that I falter and then try again. I am not staying down once I fall off the wagon, and I have good reason to be pleased with this aspect of my progress.


#balance, #better-health, #diet, #emotional-health, #exercise, #fitness, #gym, #happy, #health, #healthy-eating, #mental-health, #progress

20-month consistency span

Recaps from the last 2 weeks have not been published. There are a couple in progress, maybe half written before stalling out completely. It’s not that I am less into training, writing the recaps, losing my interest in blogging. It’s not even that I am busier than usual or being particularly lazy about taking care of business. There is perhaps a trace of each in the why of it all, but broader truth is that I am extraordinarily stressed and in a funk about work-related events (to the point of losing sleep every night for 2 weeks straight due to nightmares about work and the job) and not motivated or willing to string coherent sentences together. My heart has not been in writing my usual entries, even though I am thinking about it throughout my days, but my mind refuses to slow down and type much outside angry vitriol towards work-related personnel and temporary situations.

Reality bites. Part of why my distaste for work right now is that it makes me feel poorly about myself, including my efforts in the gym. I have had to really fight hard to stay present and in the moment and remind myself repeatedly that I am competent and making positive progress. There has been the occasional urge to just give up and quit. Once this might have been a pity-party type indulgence. Now the thought is a terrifying wake-up call as to how impacted I am by recent events.

So today, instead of trying to catch up on my recent training sessions or the ways I feel kind of crazy, I am choosing to reflect on better health quest positives. Life in general is different now and has taken such a positive 180 since I began pursuing regular exercise.

Blogging and training recaps matter. One of the more upsetting things about life happening is when it impacts my better health quest routines. Training days are Mondays and Thursdays, and I am still in the gym every other day of most weeks. I know practice is critical to me for improvement, understanding, and progression, plus it is a healthier method for burning off venomous rage at things well beyond my control. But more than that, after 2 weeks of not writing my detailed recaps, I am finding that recapping those sessions here on the blog is crucial for me as well. Friend K casually remarked on Wednesday that I am someone who needs a deep understanding of exercise, and writing the detailed blog recaps enhances and cements the cues and the bazillion of small details associated with the exercise. Part of me regrets my lack of discipline to have more control of wayward mind, but under the circumstances, I have to just let it go. At worst, recaps will return the first week in July. But I’m hoping to implement some discipline and return to it next week.

Long-term consistency trumps short-term intensity. Who knew this quote is from Bruce Lee – besides everyone except me before just now looking it up. I am extremely proud of myself for sticking with training and regular, daily practice. Not sure my consistency is accurately described as long-term, it has been just over 20 months since I began my commitment toward regular practice at the gym. I began my consistency march in October 2015 – after J gave me The Talk about seeing me in the gym at least twice between that Thursday and our next session the following Thursday – and I took it terribly personally, as if this were not a regular suggestion he provided all clients every single day of the week but something he was using to tree me, personally, for being a slacker client. Other than out-of-town vacations and my attempt to take a few consecutive days off from the gym (only managed 2), I am in the gym pretty much every day most weeks doing something. While 20 months is not much time in the overall big picture, it’s huge for me. As for short-term intensity, I am not sure “intense” is a word that ever applies to me, and I am absolutely okay with that. My better health quest has no finish line; burning out is not an option I wish to will entertain.

Goals are still not my thing. From the very start, letting go of the idea of setting goals immediately brightened my outlook and made me feel like my chances for long-term success increased. I completely understand this strategy does not work for everyone, but for me, not chasing the scale or the weights I can move to and fro relieves me of self-induced stress and pressure. Tiny steps and incremental progress is still progress. The primary objectives I pursue with relentless consistency are ensuring I am on time and prepared for sessions with J each week and then practicing at least 4 other days each week. That’s enough for me.

Progress measures are also still not my thing. I am ready to pitch my scale yet again. Because I am unhappy with the results? Not exactly. Because I am unhappy with my inability to not be negatively influenced by the results. While I limit myself to weighing in only once per week, the sense of dread and anxiety that comes with knowing weigh-in day is coming has impact on my mood and sense of well-being. Maybe I have had a near perfect week full of big-ass salads, fruit, protein shakes. Perhaps every single practice in the gym has me feeling like an empowered badass when I leave for my effort. I have gotten my 7 hours of sleep every night and a work week that while busy and hectic, was not especially stressful or frustrating. I’m feeling good, great, excited about all my good choices and strong forward progress. I jump on the scale, and I am up 2 lbs. from the prior week. As mind reads and processes that result, instant sense of hopelessness. Forget talking to me about hormones and general body weight fluctuations; negative girl is on the loose wreaking havoc with all my good and positive energy. IF I keep my scale, I am returning to weighing in once per month to see if I can cope. If not, scale shall be returned to the garage.

Judgment Fitbit data gathering has it place. M likes me to ensure I keep track of my heart rate at the gym because I am a diabetic. I am a well-controlled diabetic and since modifying my diet there have been no further low events, but still – he likes me to be aware of what’s going on with body if I should start feeling weird. For the most part, I like it for keeping track of my daily exercise, as if I need some sort of proof that I am working hard enough and gotten my 6 hour minimum per week. I also like it for the sleep tracking feature, in that I know for sure I should be tired when I am told “you look tired.” But after having one for a while now, I can see trends and progress in my overall health and fitness. That’s something. On the flip side, it seems like it takes significantly more effort to elevate my heart rate into the cardio zone. If I were someone worrying about closely tracking heart rate, I would be more distressed than I am. Steps and other tracking features – not something I consider or take very seriously.

Empirical measures matter. There are a lot of things I can point to as indicators of my success – well-controlled diabetes without medication, the progression of weightier weights I use routinely, my capacity to do the work on a List. Yet there are other measures that have at least at much impact on me from this period of regular, consistent exercise.

My gym crazy is mitigated. I still have anxiety in the gym, but where it was once centered on the optics of how I look or my ability with the exercise I was attempting to perform, now probably 95% of any anxiety I feel relates to form, technique, and safety. The thought of hurting myself still looms large, so I try hard to be careful without being overly cautious.
The training tribe keeps me focused. My friend K is doing some awesome work with her barbell deadlifts. It is purest joy to watch each progressive weight increase as well as her evolving and improving form and technique. This a bucket-list level dream for her, and to be present and part of watching it become reality is inspiring. From a major, traumatic car crash a few years ago to present day working hard and lifting weights, it shrinks my weenie-whining about being tired or bored or my princess tiara crooked into proper perspective. She and other friends who are kindred spirits in our individual better health quests keep me honest and on the journey.
Self-esteem and relationship with myself are better. This month notwithstanding, my confidence in general and internal view of the person I am has improved and stabilized in the higher/highly positive zone. Negative girl still bleats pitifully from her box, but when I hear her, I am not really listening. I observe that she still exists and move on with whatever pursuit I am chasing. The days of beating myself senseless over imperfect efforts are 99% over. It still happens occasionally, but for the most part, ongoing practice and trying again and again have replaced analysis paralysis.
There may be stupid questions, but I ask anyway. If I don’t understand the way body is supposed to be executing a particular exercise, I speak up and ask. My concerns about safety, my desire to improve – if I don’t know, can’t remember, or would just like confirmation of what I think I know, the fastest solution is to just ask and get clarification. I am not stupid and what other people think of me is less important than ensuring I know what I am doing, especially with weights in my hands.

Getting enough sleep makes a difference and is still hit and miss. My alarm goes off at 4 a.m. weekdays, 6 a.m. on weekends. While sleep optimum is 7 hours per night, I am happy if my Fitbit says 6 hours completed. Once I began focusing on getting adequate rest, life became a lot easier and more pleasant. I find the early morning exercise a lot easier to bear as well when I am rested. My focus is sharper and I am more engaged and energized by the List I am pursuing. Starting my day with the workout has tended to even out the workday as well. Balance, elusive balance. At least in this area, I can point to ongoing success for the most part.

Diet matters and changes in this area remains difficult. While I have been successful with the exercise portion of my better health quest, I readily admit that less consistency, fewer wins on modifying my diet and improving my overall nutrition patterns. In my own judgment, telling myself it is a process is not quite the same excuse-factory production. Because it is a process. I’m controlling my diabetes without losing tons of weight, because I am adding muscle to my frame. Things I have tried, abandoned, backslid, and continue working on getting my healthy eating choices consistent and in order again – no shame anymore for me. As a component of overall health dropping some weight will make a difference. Deciding not to do anything crazy and unsustainable is also a valid point, not a reason for me to delay making better choices. However, I know there is more mindset work to be done, and from long experience I know it is not so simple as willpower alone. I’m better. I have and continue to do better with food choices. Perhaps there is a time in my future where it becomes more habitual and automatic. But for now, I continue to work at it and strive to make good choices each day.

Writing about general thoughts and feelings about exercise, diet, fitness and the broader impacts on my mental and emotional health – hard to describe what an impact blogging has had on my overall mental and emotional balance. I still have areas (eating!) where work must be done to make consistent inroads. Overall, though, I am healthier, happier than where I was 2 years ago.

Despite the overall ugliness inside my head these last few weeks, I know it’s temporary and has an expiration date. The habits that matter, the smarter choices and positive behaviors I want to expand upon – it will happen. Taking the timeline out of the equation makes a difference for me, and I am getting this better health shit done. Results matter, and while my results are not glamorous, flashy, or social media-worthy, the positive improvements are there. Periodically I have to break them down and highlight them for myself.

Happy weekending everyone! I’m anticipating our regular programming returning on Monday.


#balance, #better-health, #blogging, #diet, #emotional-health, #exercise, #fitness, #goals, #gym, #habits, #happy, #health, #healthy-eating, #inspiration, #mental-health

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

What for most people is a simple choice feels to me like a major life-altering decision. It has been months since I took more than a single day off from my gym pursuits, but I am coming to realize it is not necessarily beneficial to me to go long stretches without a regular break. Like vacation days off from work, I think I also need to take a break in my exercise routines. My mind has been mulling on the idea of taking a break, not taking a break for the better part of a month. One day I am very gung-ho to take a break, the next day I am paralyzed and just sure I will never again set foot in the gym if I allow myself to pursue other interests.

As previously discussed, trainer J is away on vacation, so there was no training session to recap on Thursday and no session scheduled on Monday, so I am officially off the training leash for about 10 days. When I have that anchoring me, it is good to get into the gym and work at what I am learning, lest I forget and become some hapless trainee once more. Work has been busier and crazier than usual with the 3-day weekend looming large, and I have been tired, distracted, and almost completely disconnected from my practices this week, something unlike me and concerning. Mind has inclinations of its own and requires only a little nudge toward the idea of not that into activities anymore. I cannot allow that to happen with exercise, and before I reach the point of burning out, I am wise to heed the signs and take a break. It is warranted, likely very wise, but my fear of losing ground is almost greater than my common sense in this regard. It would be so easy for me to take one or two days off, then next I know a couple of years have passed and my hard-won gains are gone. Or so says my anxious, fearful, distrusting, and judgmental part of my mind. It knows me well; it knows how I can become a major excuse factory. There is good basis in experience and history for this anxiety.

But this time, this time it will not happen. A lot of things are different now. I have worked hard at building my consistency, and along with that, I have built a community of friends and other friendly faces that make me want to return to my routines. Trainer J – we will be back on track this time next week. My friends at the gym I see most days – I would miss that interaction if I stopped going. The other members I see nearly every time I set foot in the club – while I do not know them beyond saying hello or waving across the gym floor, it makes me feel like I am part of the community. I’m no longer an outsider peering in; I am now part of the daily fabric.

So last night getting home from work and feeling asleep on my feet, I resolved to take today and the weekend off from the gym. I have other movement-related plans for the days ahead, but I will set aside my Lists and ruthlessly restrain myself from driving to the gym for my exercise.

I purchased a 20 class pass for a nearby yoga studio, so I will be trying out a couple of different types of yoga classes. A daily long walk through my neighborhood is on the agenda as well, part of a potential new trend to train my legs in a different way. Maybe I will unchain my bike and ride with M on one of his daily runs.

The point here: I’m not using the break with intent of dissolving into a pile of sludge on my couch. I am going to use this time to try something new and different. The yoga is feeling more and more necessary, either that or doing more stretching on my own. The new studio is further away than the one I have used in the past, but it seems far more stable and consistent in its offering of classes throughout the day, every single day of the week. Its rates and options for class purchases is also a lot more favorable to me. The walking is just something I should do anyway, because it is good for me and someday I may agree to go hiking with M or other friends. While I am definitely stronger now, not sure my lung capacity it up to snuff. Longer daily walks can only help with that. With all that said, the way yoga and the walking are meant to supplement to my resistance training exercise regimen, not replace it. Yoga and walks would get thrown under the bus (and likely in that order) immediately if I had to triage and make choices about my better health quest activities.

Assuming I can overcome my typical anxiety about trying something new and going to a new studio, of course. I will be fine once I get through the front doors, settled with my mat, and class begins, but it’s new and my brand of social anxiety crazy is making a fresh appearance.

Strange how this morning I woke up at 6 and immediately freaked out about sleeping through my gym time, until I remembered making the decision to turn off my usual alarms and not go to the gym this morning. Instead I packed up my clothes and yoga mat and double-checked the yoga class time for after work this evening.

I got this. Besides, I have been so exhausted this week I apparently needed the additional rest.

Just in case I don’t make it back, happy weekending everyone!

#balance, #better-health, #emotional-health, #exercise, #fitness, #gym, #happy, #health, #mental-health, #yoga

PT-20.2: Velveteen Rabbit

This is part 2 of Thursday’s training recap.

Key Takeaways

There is this weird feeling of liberation sitting on the floor at the foot of a cable machine. I am not crazy in love with the climbing back to my feet part, especially on the FreeMotion machine when there are 2 handles and weight stacks to be managed, but even in this simple endeavor (that seems ridiculously complicated to me) I am showing improvement.

Chest flys are hard. All of them. It seems like I have been doing some version of them for months and months still have some level of struggle with something on each. I comfort myself that if they were easy everyone in the gym would be doing them.

While push-ups remain my arch nemesis, the chest press – all of them – are my friends. I have recently read the Marie Kondo’s book on organizing, and like the KonMarie method of “sparking joy” from items (but I honestly do not find it does much at all for me), I find it true of exercise. While it might be that I am competent at the chest presses and that alone makes me like them thus far, I have a much better understanding of the objectives for them and a genuine appreciation for that aspect of the exercise. My inner exercise nerdette finds more satisfaction when we go full circle, and I suspect that is why we like them so much. They are neat, tidy, complete, and most importantly: they make sense.

Not sure what it is, but triceps seem like they are either really lazy or superpower strong. I go along doing tricep exercises wondering if I am actually doing them right because no particular sensation is overcoming me and then boom, burn baby burn. Counting reps on these seems pointless because I could be well beyond the upper range before that kicks in.

Really digging the scapular plane these days and am completely besotted and obsessed with the upper back arch. Everything we do where arch has come up in cueing or crosses my mind, I’m thinking about it and working to recall if it is applicable in this application. Same with the scapular plane. If it is an overhead and shoulder-related exercise, I am closely examining my arm to see if it seems to be in the right position in relation to my diagram. Written down like that, it sound a little ridiculous. In actual practice, though, it makes a huge amount of difference in how things feel.

I am contemplating an “egomaniac” warning sign to wear around my neck, particularly in the gym. But not really, because while my present and expanding level of confidence is new and a little scary, I not believe it approaches caustic or toxic levels. My engagement with the exercise and better health process is much like any other meeting or work-related project; no way do I want to show up for appointments unprepared and not done my homework and background research. The result is J and I always have something to talk about, some of it even fitness related. Of late, my biggest issue is not enough time to just sit around and read. Work is such a hindrance to my fitness and better health education.

What We Did

On the List this week:

A1  Decline Chest Press
A2  (Floor) Lat Pulldown

B1  Straight Arm Pulldown
B2  Abel Chest Fly

C1  (Floor) 2-arm Row (option: 1-arm Standing Row)
C2  Horizontal 2-arm Press

D1  Rear Fly Cable Cross
D2  2-arm Overhead Press

E1  Dual Cable Triceps Pressdown
E2  1-arm (scap plane) Concentration Curl

F1   Low 2-arm Biceps Curl
F2  Triceps Kickback (or Overhead Extension)

How It Felt

The last couple of days, I have been enjoying the chest press process. Yesterday was on the bench, this week’s training was the decline chest press using the FreeMotion cable machine.

The (floor) lat pulldown is interesting. Sitting at my desk and trying to emulate the movement and work my upper back arch. Break myself of the habit of leaning forward and getting the complete upward, full-on shrug and pull down with the shoulders. It is interesting to me how close or how far I am away from the machine and the ways it feels to my arms and shoulders.

There is a new cue with the straight arm pulldown: think of the up, down, and sideways keys on a computer keyboard – stand tall, pull arms down, chest forward/shoulders back. So now I am seeing that shape in this exercise and trying to keep remember to keep it together. For an exercise that is so familiar, this one remains elusive and challenging. Maybe too complacent that I have it down cold? I do know in warm-up with the bands as well as doing these with the cable machines, I will be thinking about it and trying harder. This is not to say I am doing terrible with these, but my spidey sense says I need to pay more attention to what shoulders and back are doing in the process.

As noted above, one of my key takeaways this week: chest flyes are hard. The Abel chest fly is maybe just a smidgen less hard than the rest of the chest flyes in my repertoire. On the FreeMotion machine, the set-up seems simpler because there is a hand hold that rests just below the waist/above the hip and lets me rest my head and shoulders against the machine in arch-worthy positioning. The tricky part with this version, though, is how low or how high to position the arms when pulling hands/handles together. J says just high enough to clear the rib cage. But for women, breasts tend to complicate things. But after sort of shadow practicing them as I am writing this recap, I mostly think I have them figured out. Mostly. If I get a shot at the FreeMotion on Saturday, I will give the whole List another try.

For the row, we did the (floor) 2-arm row on Monday and the standing option today. Doing these from the floor reminds me of the row machine in the big boys room. As always, trying to remember to lean forward to a full stretch and then row by pulling from the shoulders and doing more arch from the shoulders rather than pulling back with the arms and from the waist. Using an indoor rowing machine was my exercise of choice for several years, it the motion and habits of that practice has been a habit to overcome, but it seemed that was only surpassed by my desire to shrug up my shoulders. After doing on the cable machine or with the bands or TRX for 20+ months, I have mostly conquered my shrug issues with them. J had me try to do them the former way that once seemed so natural – now, not so much. I do still have the script in my head that plays every time “row” appears on a List or is said out loud to me, but hey, whatever works.

Like the decline chest press, I am really enjoying the horizontal 2-arm press. I actually like the 1-arm version as well. Ever since we added the “invisible arms” cue, I find myself enjoying the challenge of pressing with my shoulders and reaching for that contraction in my chest muscles.

As noted, flys are challenging for me. All of them. Including the rear fly cable cross. While I am determined to get better at this exercise, progress and improvement happens very slowly. Remember to keep my arms parallel with the floor. Remember to reach out far and wide. Remember that I am looking to feel it in the back of the shoulders, that little tiny area that seems so difficult to dig out and light a fire under it. But I am persisting with these. I will get more competent and confident with them.

The 2-arm overhead press was kind of ingenious in its set-up and execution.. While J wrote the List as 2-arm, we tried single arm as well. Feels different than when we use dumbbells, yet not so dramatically different that I have this strong preference for the dumbbells versus the cables if I happen to be using a cable machine. There is a stronger sense of pulling with the cables, but other than that, I feel the muscle working the same way as I do with a dumbbell in my hand. More practice, more data gathering. Right now it feels novel and different. I wonder how long it will take for me to feel more confident in where I stand, how this all works.

On Monday when we did dual cable triceps pressdown I did not feel much difference between the dual cable versus the single cable with a rope or some sort of bar. J indicated that if there one side or the other was stronger or more dominant, it tended to assume more of the workload with the rope. I did not notice it then, but I most definitely felt it today. When that buildup to burn baby burn finally hit, my right arm felt a lot more impacted than my left. With legs and hips and lower body, the opposite is nearly always true, in that my left side feels weaker and as if it fatigues faster.

My new favorite thing is the scapular plane. The small details that capture and hold my attention are unpredictable, yet the emerging pattern seems to be the tiny changes that yield the most direct feeling impact. In another non-session conversation I last week I had been explaining to J how I figured out how to stand and set-up for certain exercises, kindling the 1-arm cable concentration curl. Monday when we did these, J asked me to demonstrate how I set up for them, so I did, going through my facing the machine and then turning some mysteriously predetermined angle away from it in relation to where the cable in my hand was. Once I got into the general ballpark of correct position, he tells me to look at my arm … and the coin and the angle in reference to the diagram falls into the exercise knowledge bank. Cha-ching. Now if I can just get to the point of not reminding myself 10 times in 12 reps to keep my arm elevated I will be golden.

The low 2-arm biceps curl seems controversial in my head right now. Monday it seems like we were facing away from the machine, but today it seems like we were facing the machine. In my head I believe we were facing away, just because I stand up and pretend to be at the machine and try to remember where the cables were in relation to my stance and body. In my imaginary pretend world of writing session recaps either way seems workable, but I think there is something not as efficient or as effective with the angle of the cable when facing the machine. Next I have time with the FreeMotion machine I will run through this again and see what feels right to me.

Monday we tried both the triceps kickback and the overhead extensions, but today we seem settled on the overhead extensions. There was nothing wrong with the tricep kickbacks when we did them on Monday, except the range of user error possible. The overhead extensions are challenging, but I feel like there is more control involved. I am still working on getting completely comfortable with my stance of leaning forward and keeping my arms positioned overhead. Watching J demonstrate, I have to remind myself that he has these extraordinarily flexible shoulders and arms, and that mine do not bend and flex that way. I also realize this week is the first time we have done them with 2 cables versus one cable and the rope. It is supposed to feel different, and I probably need to accept that it feels just different enough to have me a little off balance in performance.

Practices between Now and Monday

Friend and tribe sister is joining me in the gym tomorrow morning for a lower body List, so I am very excited about that. While I went through the machine-based List on Tuesday, I have a second work-from-home day tomorrow and will run through it again with her if she’s up for it.

Saturday I am hoping to get some quality time with the FreeMotion machine, but if not, I will adapt this List to another cable machine. Or if that seems too crowded or unworkable, I have other choices available.

Sunday is either a gym play day or an on-the-beach type rest event. We shall see how it goes.

Kitchen Sink Thoughts

Find it here.


#balance, #exercise, #fitness, #flexibility, #gym, #happy, #health, #strength