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

PT-20.1: Velveteen Rabbit

Thursday morning, training with J. As it IS Thursday and we are winding down the review process on this series of upper/lower Lists, one would think we would have less to discuss. The one thinking that thought would be wrong.

I have already started on the other sections of my training recap so no worries this time about not getting it done, but I apparently had A LOT to talk about today and found this section simply exploded, necessitating a split post.

Kitchen Sink Thoughts

The primary walk-away thought from today’s session and conversation could be a post all its own.  But then what would I talk about here?

I titled this today because my ponderings are centered around perception – what is real, what is imaginary, what floats in the gray bog surrounding both, and what that matters to me. Where do my values lie and how does that impact my perceptions?

The better health quest is not turning out or evolving the way I timidly, tentatively hoped it might. In fact, it is so much more splendid than that. Maybe I am not so timid or so tentative anymore. Maybe the habits of my professional life are leaking into my personal habits as well. Or maybe the stars and moon aligned in just the right ways to bring me all I needed to enjoy sustainable success this time around. Whatever. No reason to seek out explanations for the why I am pushing ahead, just keep inching my way forward.

But again, this brings me back to perception. From my viewpoint, if this were a series of battles in some war against bad habits and declining health, I am mostly winning and making slow, steady progress. Yet, there are moments of weakness when I think that success and winning are imprecise descriptive terms in this case. In the moments of weakness, I see it more as building a 5000 square foot home’s foundational footprint by placing a cubic inch of concrete per day and taking most of the 24 hour day to do it – that kind of slow, almost imperceptible progress until significant time and effort has passed. The moments of weakness leave me idly wondering if I am fooling myself about my own level of commitment and validity of my aspirations.

I vehemently hate moments of weakness. I should also characterize them more accurately as moments of doubt.

Today, though, is not about doubt; it is more an exploration of my perception that could have me diving down that black hole of doubt and insecurity about my path. No one, especially me, wants that, and without any doubt I can say the fact that I am navel-gazing exploring the ideas and impulses says I’m 1000x better than day 1 of this journey.

While getting ready to leave the house for the gym this morning, I was thinking about my Monday evening practice with my associates. They are good sports about it, and while I currently have bragging rights, I am not horrible to them about it. The lesson was a good one for me, because honestly, these are strapping young lads and the picture of youthful exuberance and health. They play basketball a couple of times per week and lift weights in a more traditional way. I train the way I train, practice what J prepares for me, and working from my List, of course I might have an edge. But still – feels really good to be able to keep up and surpass at my own Lists. If they took me out on a basketball court, I would be standing there trying to remember how to dribble and walk (much less run) simultaneously and likely tripping over the ball, my own feet, or both. The washout would happen within the first minute, guaranteed. As for lifting the way they do, if they put a barbell in my hands I would be looking around the room to ensure no one is nearby to get whacked with it, because the few occasions when I have actually had to move one by myself that was precisely what I did (the looking around, not the whacking people). Maybe they would let me use the little faux barbells, the ones with weights that appear to be elongated dumbbells (maybe they are smart bells?), but even then – I suspect they feel and work differently than my dumbbells.

My point – we are different. Our fitness pursuits are different. And the lesson for me is that in my particular brand of exercise, I can hold my own with my own Lists. I am improving steadily and have no reason to be embarrassed, ashamed, feel behind, or like the special needs tribe member struggling to catch up. Not that I do any longer, but I have had some reservations about working out with others because I might hold them back because of my inability to keep up. Perhaps moving forward I will be less concerned with that, because this is a very individual pursuit, and I can be either working hard to keep the peppier pace or cut my rep range back to stay with them. Neither solution is going to have great impact for an occasional social practice, and I am extremely confident any future endeavor with others will teach me something.

This was not a direct competition thing, although these are lawyers and they do tend to view life from an adversarial viewpoint. In my “winning” the evening they did not lose out to me, and I am farther away than I realized from my former viewpoint that someone winning meant I would be losing, even if I won the day. Mindset was confused and predetermined to find the loser in me in every situation. I could feel inspired and excited for those whose efforts I admired; they and their efforts and abilities are amazing, while me and my own pursuits a big pile of poo in comparison. Direct comparison – not only not my friend, it became remains my worst enemy. Mind is much healthier, life so much happier now that I see someone else achieving a goal they have been pursuing and can feel genuine delight and admiration for them untainted by my own “I suck” feelings. I have my own successes to enjoy and appreciate now, and if I want to feel poorly about myself … well, I don’t. Not anymore. But if I did, I would try harder not to go there again.

Which is something I have been exploring further the last several Wednesday evenings with my friend and fellow tribe member, K. We practice together on some List or another, but frankly for me it is evolves into a light sweat-fest and more about the company and conversation. However, if K needs to get a deeper practice in, I can go light on reps and sets and just hang out while she gets the serious practice concluded. More importantly, it is great for my confidence to practice with someone who is on a similar learning curve of exercise, in the same general age range and level of fitness. We help each other with form issues, and questions do come up between us that we can obtain clarification from trainer J at some point in the future. Most importantly, though, it demonstrates the individual nature of each of us, that bodies not only do not come in a single size and configuration, the range of motion and limitations we may each have must be addressed and accepted individually as well. It is both fascinating and reassuring in the strangest of ways.

While we were working and hanging out last night, another trainer and his client were in the room with us. Nice guy, other trainer whose name completely escapes me for even a first name/initial reference, and K asked me if I noticed how complimentary and encouraging he was with everything his client did – every rep was good, better, beautiful, nice. I had noticed, and we both cracked up about how we are in “praise deficit” with J. If it were an issue, it seems unlikely either of us would still be working with him as we each approach the 2 year point. Honestly, J once remarked that I was a “tank” in the gym and I was hugely flattered. I understood the context of his comment – I had been working at the exercise for awhile, improving, and uninjured. When he does compliment me, even in what sounds on the surface like a very backhanded compliment, it’s a Very Big Deal.

Every training tribe member has different needs, aspirations, expectations for training sessions, and I suspect our perceptions and expectations of results, measures of success may differ greatly as well. I like the other trainer; I was half-listening to his cueing and correcting and felt like he was an okay guy from this particular snapshot. But in my heart I doubt I would have been as successful working with him. Like too much correction and adjustment would overwhelm and freak me out, too much praise would initially breed distrust and eventually fall on deaf ears. The balance and structure J and I have created has allowed me to thrive. The “atta girls” are the unexpected glitter bombs that add an extra sheen of luminosity to my journey, but the path is well illuminated without them.

All this adds fuel to my bonfire of thinking on perception.

I have been test-driving the 27 day fat loss prescription program and finding that the first week did not work for me. This is not me saying alluding to it being a bad diet or a bad kick-start to healthier eating; this is me saying it did not work out for me.

However, in my default way of thinking that I am Jane Average in the world, an eating program not working for me is the same as saying that I have failed at the eating program. The witch hunt is then on for all the ways I managed to sabotage my efforts for success. I am not doing that to myself this time. I am instead evaluating it as rationally and unemotionally as possible and figuring out where I go from here.

In a nutshell, the first, very strict, very low calorie week of this plan made me feel terrible. Physically awful in comparison to my present “new” normal day, normal week. It was not that I was hungry all the time, but the headaches and daily low blood sugar events were neither fun nor making me feel good about the effort. After 4 days, I threw in the towel. Because quite honestly, chasing the scale is not worth the self-loathing toward my body that was beginning to take hold. I have worked hard at eliminating the majority of my negative self-talk, and this eating plan gave me the sinking sensation that sticking with it longer seemed more like a prescription for getting worse about negative feelings toward body rather than losing fat and improving the overall version of me.

For someone as active as I have become, 1200 calories per day seems inadequate. I still do not quite understand why the blood sugar events kept overcoming me, but I think the protein shake I routinely down before practice or training sessions, a piece of fruit afterward (about 350 calories total), and then another protein shake and piece of fruit for lunch was too little fuel for me. Weight loss? Sure, about 2 lbs. The cost? I felt like crap. I went from being happy, engaged, and energized throughout my days to mildly miserable, less focused, and exhausted. Part of it is my sleep disruption (allergy medicines, March is an emotionally hard month), but mostly I just felt like a paler version of my usual self. I am not the most patient person on average, but my snappish, short-tempered behavior was appalling to me. It was primarily directed at M, but there were a few count-to-10 moments at work that I should have breezed through on autopilot.

Not good.

It made me reevaluate my values. Do I want to get back to chasing the scale? Do I want to become that obsessed and neurotic? What is my objective with this process?

What I value, what brought me to the better health quest was better health. I am largely on the right track, to the point that I feel no dramatic intervention or overhaul is required. I do not want to be closed-minded about opportunities presented from people I trust, yet I need not brand myself a failure when those opportunities do not work for me. While exercise was dreadful at first with its painful lessons, I stuck with it and I improved. However, exercise was not an all day, every day activity or process. It had a beginning, middle, end within the span of 90 minutes, and that was that for another 24 hour stretch. This eating plan while its first week is severe, is mostly working as described and perhaps the misery and painful lessons will subside. However, the cost of that first week seemed far too steep, even for only 7 days, and I mourned the loss of my usual positive outlook and good feeling about my days. I remain committed to giving it a fair shot for the next 3 weeks, though. I have been assured the first week is the roughest, the second week we drop the lunch meal protein shake and eat a sensible, higher protein, lower carbohydrate meal. I started a few days early and already feel much better with this style of eating. My system responds far more favorably to actual food at lunch than merely drinking a shake and eating a piece of fruit.

This experience has me thinking about the why of it all. Weight loss is always a nice concept, but actually working actively toward it takes a level of commitment I am presently unable to care for or about. For me, making small changes is a better strategy – one I will begin to pursue in April. Old hurts and grief flare in March every year, and I am completely unrepentant for feeling incapable of making healthier choices and having the stamina to see them through right now. Where I once would thrash myself horribly for being such a weak-willed person, I now accept my limitations and look forward to pressing reset on April 1. I am still in the gym 6 or 7 days per week, some days twice per day. I am still making reasonable meal choices. I am not doing anything crazy with sugar although I loosen my bands of willpower and indulge if the mood strikes or opportunity presents itself. No apologies, no regrets; we do what we must to survive challenging periods in life.

It comes back to perception – was I kind of dumb for failing to anticipate my personal March madness? Possibly, but oh well. As late as this time last year, I would judge myself harshly, see my inability to handle my mildly miserable, less focused, exhausted state as failure. This year, I see being even mildly miserable, less focused, and exhausted as an unacceptable state for living my life when mostly happy and engaged is a viable alternative available to me. Not sorry to say I am not much of a masochist.

I am choosing to see myself in a good, healthy, thriving place. I will not win awards for weight loss, there will be no big kudos from my peers in the group for my efforts. But I no longer require or crave that sort of affirmation, and I have put forth honest effort that did not work out as hoped or anticipated. My progress may be slower, or not happen at all. I am enriched by the opportunity to learn new things, to experiment with different ways.

In the online group someone asked if I felt like the few days would make a difference, because abandoning the first week’s program after only 4 days seemed like an incomplete effort and sticking it out for the full 7 days might yield a different result. From the way it was worded, I perceive they feel I am giving up too soon and were trying to encourage me to keep pushing through for the final 3 days. I was not offended or disturbed by the question, because it is a valid one. I responded that the worst consequence for my choice was my potential for weight loss would be slowed, and it is a lifestyle/balance trade-off I accept as a consequence. There will be no whining from me about how stubborn the scale, because I never complain about the scale. Because I do not think much at all about that as a measure of my overall health or progress.

My ego and physical appearance are not what drives me. My overall health is far more important and of highest priority to me. Those are not currently impacted by weight.

For my part within this small group, I really hope for others to succeed at whatever goals or aspirations they have set for themselves and to not feel ashamed or like they have failed if the results fail to materialize in whatever timeframe they may have projected. Bodies do what bodies will do with the input/outgo of fuel and energy. It is not easy to change our eating habits or to try to become more active. It is not my job or my place to judge anyone on their level of effort to reach their goals.

How I feel on session days, on practice days, on rest days – it impacts how I perceive my life as a whole. I love this life that includes regular exercise and pursuit of better form and weightier weights. I love that my understanding has expanded, that I am getting that maybe my form is faltering because the weight is wrong – maybe too heavy, perhaps too light. And as I discovered (again) this morning, I love that writing these recaps every week aid my memory with retaining the things I am learning. While in my job I dislike trainees who ask me the same questions over and over and over again, in the training with J it seems not to matter much how many times I ask the same questions. Taking notes while exercising is impossible, so I write it down now and hope most of it sticks. We were discussing chest flyes this morning, and I think our consensus is that they are just hard. It really doesn’t matter than I have been doing them 6 months or more. It takes as long as it takes for body and mind to get in sync about how to make them happen consistently on demand.

On the flip side, there is this whole library of exercises in my gym bag and a lot of those same exercises in my head that I can actually perform and perform well on demand. I am very, very proud of that.

Perception – what is real, what is imaginary? Today I would say I am very much like the Velveteen Rabbit, once old and shabby, but time and my own ability to love myself and appreciate my efforts to improved and enhance my health is turning me into someone vibrant and real in my own eyes.

Progress. It works in mysterious ways.

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

PT-12: New sensation

Thursday morning, training with J. Upper body review day once more, working the upper arches, the chest up (first), shoulders back (second), and in some cases feet together and thighs squeezing tight. Sometimes it feels as if I have wild shoulders with mind of their own.

Key Takeaways

Thursdays are review days thus far in 2017, and today did not disappoint. There is no wiggle room in the schedule on Thursday so we have to get our List done. Today we were going to forgo “peppy” pacing and pursue J pacing, as in the pace he would be going if doing this List himself. In another slice on our timeline, I would have heard that as a rebuke, J-speak for me as a slacker, a dilettante, an unserious waste of his time and expertise.

Nope, today I understood it was a time constraint, that a favorite tribe member would be keeping her usual 8 a.m. session appointment right after my session. So we had to get our stuff done in our 60 minute block. Mondays there is a typically an empty slot right after my 6 a.m. so we have wiggle room to go over my time block.

Universal cueing is sticking. Invisible arms are now and forever forward – T-Rex arms. Little, tiny, practically invisible arms and use shoulders to push or pull instead. Feet together, squeeze thighs together to maintain the shapes – this alone may bump push-ups out of the arch nemesis spot.

I love review days.

What We Did

Review day from upper body Monday:

A1  Dumbbell Chest Press 
A2  1-arm DB Row  
B1  Lat Pulldown Dual Cable, Alternating  
B2  Seated Dip
C1  Overhand “Floor” Rope Facepull 
C2  Horizontal Rope Chop with Press Out  
D1  Rope Triceps Pushdown 
D2  1-arm High Concentration Cable Curl

How It Felt

Dumbbell chest press with T-Rex arms – that’s how I think of them now. When I can get my thoracic spine to arch correctly and working right, I can barely feel the weights in my hands. I can, however, feel the chest muscles working. Of late J has been working with me on my elbows, specifically not locking them out or even extending them to perfectly straight. So no I spend my time on upper body Lists thinking about my shoulders and what they are doing and now looking at my elbows to make sure they are not straightening out.

Up, back, and around are what stands out for the 1-arm dumbbell row. That and the lean over as far as possible to be parallel to the floor. As a theme for today’s post, it’s a bit shocking (to me) how far I have come since getting started, when I thought an 8 lb. dumbbell was really heavy. There I am today hefting a 25 lb. dumbbell for warm-up sets before graduating to the 30 lb. unit I most typically use.

Back at the lat pulldown dual cable machine, alternating for sets of alternating, then dual lat pulldowns. Okay, the alternating – remember the shoulder. Pull down one side and the shoulder back without twisting or rotating the upper body. Another slight lean back and work the upper arch. I shadow practicing this at my desk this afternoon to get the shape and the way it feels more clearly focused in my mind. No idea at all where the weights were set, but I could feel it in my lats. Can still feel it in my lats 12 hours later. We worked on not straightening or locking the elbows at the top.

This version of the seated dip has chest emphasis is another where the shoulders are back and the upper spine arch. Anymore, it’s like the doctors with the diet and exercise advice – sounds like it cures just about everything. But I am okay with the diet and exercise advice, even when I was absolutely not following it. The shoulders back and upper arch thing is fine and it works. It’s just me, chest up and forward (first), shoulders back and behind ears (second) – the never ending story. And I’m okay with that. This is why I train with J and practice on my own. Someday it will seem more normal, natural, automatic.

Still love the overhand “floor” rope facepull, if only that sitting on the floor means there is less height to fall from if something goes terribly wrong. Of course, with the overhand part of this particular facepull, I have this really hard time automatically grabbing the rope in the overhand position, and J only had to correct me twice today. So that’s progress, right?

Less issue with how to hold the rope in the horizontal rope chop with press out. Mostly I think I have the shape down, except to not rotate too far with the press and to pretension the abs. The non-pressing arm is bent and held close to the body and to press straight out. Watching the cable as well, ensuring I am behind the rope and it is in a straight line with the rope.

Doing better with the rope triceps pushdown with the split at the bottom. Feet together, thigh squeeze, bending at the waist, with chest up (first) and shoulders back (second) and elbows pinned to the side, rope knobs together all the way down to the split, cable is at a straight angle.

Biggest discovering with the 1-arm high concentration cable curl was the magic words: scapular plane. I have this cool little diagram on my Lists that show where the arm is in the scapular plane to remind me. Biggest reminder on this one was to ensure I am elevating the elbow and keeping it high enough in the air.

Kitchen Sink Thoughts

Every training day, I drive home with a lot of thoughts about a lot of different things. Many are training related – the what we did as the section above detail – but there is a whole lot more that is either triggered or just part of what is unearthed as we are going through new exercises or in reviewing things I already know.

While it’s been close to 2 years that I have been working with J and 16 months of solidly consistent 6 days per week in the gym working at my Lists, inside I still feel like the grossly ignorant and completely blobby unfit woman who started in June 2015. For anyone who has ever been overweight and slimmed down significantly and maintained it, I imagine there is a period where you still feel like and identify with the overweight people. In my view, this is a good and healthy component of empathy and understanding the struggle for others trying for similar achievements. While I know I am much stronger and fitter than when I began, inside I still feel the intimidation and anxiety about being in the gym and trying to learn and do my best to emulate what J was teaching. In the moments, it is easy enough to focus on the List right in front of me, the weights I typically use, the order I have mostly memorized by now. My confidence in my ability is off the charts improved, and even without my Lists at hand, I could probably put together a decent practice from memory.

But on training days, my awareness is continually zapped by the great divide of day 1 to present day. Learning new cues and techniques that improve my experience and expand my ability with troubling exercises always makes me think about if I had this magical thing sooner how much farther I might be in the process. Truth is, unlikely to have mattered at day 1 or even month 1, or even year 1. The context was not there, because it took a ridiciulously long time for me to figure out that the cue might be “tighten abs and glutes” yet there was a big disconnect in being physically capable of consistently following the cue.

Just because J tells me how to do something and I understand the words, meaning, and concepts does not mean that I will be physically capable of following those instructions.

The awareness zapping I experience is mostly because I see me in the same ways as when I began and everyone else who is just getting started is in better shape, smarter about exercise, and infinitely more capable. The unfit me in my mind fully expects that new training tribe members will surpass me any minute in their strength and capability.

While I can mostly contain negative girl in my day-to-day activities, the scarring from a lifetime of her influence on my thinking process and long-held belief system is a slower and more tedious process to endure.

Last night was a rare evening at the gym, and getting to practice with a tribe friend was just the boost I needed to shake off the gloom-and-doom that threatened to overwhelm me. It was so fun to work next to someone doing the same List and getting to watch her graceful execution and the slightly different ways we do various exercises. I am super proud of myself for keeping up and to see how far we have both come.

That I notice when that cranky mood and bad attitude overwhelm is a great sign for me. I don’t want to be Miss Crankypants at the gym sighing and enduring a pity party as I work through my List, and I definitely do not want that aura to follow me throughout the rest of my days. The exercise experience is a lot more pleasant and infinitely more satisfying when I’m dissecting form, or deciding on weights, or feeling the individual muscles work through their ranges of motion rather than deflecting the underlying “am I done yet?” I love the days when I run out of time and still want to try or practice a few things off-List just to answer some question in my head.

It is an interesting dichotomy that I had not thought about much before today. I am making progress getting fitter in reality, but in my head I’m stuck on basic movement patterns and all the ways I will trip, fall, embarrass myself in my efforts. The underlying fear of injuring myself or others lingers even as my willingness to try new exercises and to practice what is hard or uncomfortable has expanded by leaps and bounds.

Day of a big compliment: J tells me that my fellow tribe member and I look like “gym people” now. Made me ridiculously happy. Because I am still intimidated by the big boys room. I will use it if nothing else is available for what I want to do, but I also will choose another more personally comfortable space in the club if it is available.

We are careening along on our training joy ride, and truly, it is a wonderful and FUN experience. I’m engaged in the process, like obsessively and addictively engaged, and I don’t think it’s anything I need to be ashamed of or apologize for. Exercise has become such a positive expression and enhancement in my life. I was never good at it before. I am still learning, still have a long way to go before I feel like I am good at it now. However, being “good” at the style of exercise I pursue is a judgment value. Proficient, competent, safe is what I am seeking, and succeeding.

Confidence is an outgrowth of my engagement, one I am so grateful to have bloom. More than that, though – I have met some really nice, engaging, supportive, and inspirational women. I truly cannot stress how much joy there is meeting other members and seeing them pursuing their own goals and objectives. Finding camaraderie and a sense of community with a gym – me? Beyond my wildest dreams.

As for the J pacing, we finished in the allotted hour – no slacker here. We even had time to chat with my tribe sister who occupies the Thursday at 8 a.m. slot – she is fabulous. While it was a fast-paced session, there was room for our usual non-training chit-chat as we moved along.

While we were doing something, probably talking elbows, I noticed that J’s bicep stands so much taller than the valley of his elbow. No complaints about my own biceps, merely remarking on the peaks and valleys of his arms and he reminds me that the attachment points may vary from person to person.

And IF I am presently more consistent about my training and practice than J is (as he jokingly remarked to another member), it is only because I don’t work in the club and typically have time to finish my practices in my allotted timeframe.

Training sessions – great, great fun. Today was amazing.

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

Garbage in, garbage out

There are moments, days, when I truly understand this concept and recognize it in the consequences of my actions.

The beginning of the year is extremely busy, hectic, crazy at my various jobs. Being a planner, I arrange my life and schedule around being busy, hectic, crazy. This year, though, has seen a spike in the unusual level of crazy busy with clients running with fires in their arms that need lightspeed analysis, decisions, turnaround. Late nights, weekends, early mornings – it’s kind of insane. Shaving sleep – like 3 or 4 hours versus my usual 7 or 8. Eating crap because it’s convenient or emotionally more satisfying than the salad or vegetables or any other healthier option than potato chips and soda. Soda! If I have a food archnemesis, it’s Mexican coke.

But anyway, almost a week of long days, late nights, not enough sleep. Balance that is grossly imbalanced. I have been thinking and feeling as if I were getting away with it, which is always bad. Because it enables me to continue to make piss poor choices.

Thing is, I don’t get away with it. The shitty food I’m consuming wakes up all sort of demons that makes me crave them even more. My workload is such that it justifies the continued snacking, the eating junk food, the sugar, and staying up later than I should.

Day of reckoning was this morning.

Low on sleep for so many nights in a row, super junky food and water for dinner last night, alarm went off at 4 a.m. and found me bleary eyed and feeling gross. But I soldiered on and got dressed and went to the gym. I was determined to not let my prior bad acts derail my day.

Thing is, feeling gross is not always a physical thing. It is a kind of mental and emotional malaise that has infected and unleashed negative girl back into the world. Attitude may not be everything, but for me, at 4 in the morning, it’s a lot. Usually I am smiling when I walk into the club, saying good morning to the rest of the early morning crew I pass, planning my List of the day.

This morning, I slunk into the gym feeling surly. The Lists were not good mood food as per usual. The Lists were back to the first ring of Hell. The Lists were no longer my friend.

Needless to say, I had a tough day with practice.

But it was good lesson for me.

Getting over my cravings for sugar and junk food – I have done it before and will likely have to do it again in my future. Returning to my sleep patterns – workload is settling and I will be back to my normal sleep/wake pattern by this weekend. Recapturing and imprisoning negative girl is not a process to be feared or anxious about.

In truth, I am not fearful or anxious. Mostly I am, or was, very determined to make it happen.

So I went back to the gym tonight for a second practice. And fate smiled down upon me in the form a tribe sister driving in just ahead of me and being agreeable to practicing with me. With some minor adjustments for limitations and where we are in our individual journeys, our Lists are very similar. Since this was my second practice of the day, I had not planned to go full-bore with effort, but working with my pal, the reps and sets flew by very quickly and were just right.

It was a perfect way to kick-start me back into my happy place.

I am going to be detoxing from a week of sinful eating and trying to get to bed earlier than usual for the next couple of weeks, but my better health quest is not doomed for failure. If anything, it had a minor pause. If I have learned nothing else from the consistency of the last 16, 17 months of daily workouts, I know what the “good mood food” of practice and training feels like and want it back. Thankfully work is settling back into its normal ebb and flow, and negative girl has been chased back to her box and contained once more.

Now if only I could remember to publish posts as I write them rather than waiting to discover they have been sitting open overnight.

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