Goals, motivation, attitude

Ugh. Just … ugh.

This morning in my email was a huffy-puffy-fluffy motivational sermon-istic email about what it takes to be healthy and fit. Buff, even.

And it depresses the living daylights out of me and reminds me again why I should not be reading fitness professionals’ blogs, emails, facebook posts. Those people mean well and really want to make a good living restructuring people’s bodies and minds. But I have to remember first and foremost: they are not talking to or about me.

I don’t have goals for good reason: the stress of failure. Rather than being energized by how much closer I am with every pound of weight lifted, I fret about the days (like today) where I did not catapult myself out of bed, shower, dress, Vitamix my protein shake, and dash out the door to get my workout done. Or obsess about the 0.2 lbs. the scale says I retained from yesterday and what it all means. Or carefully weigh everything from the protein powder I mix before the gym to the leaves of lettuce in my big ass salad tonight. For goodness sakes – it’s freaking LETTUCE, one step above water but with nutrients.

But I become mired down in the weeds and the minutia of details. I seem to set myself up to fail in a big giant ball of frustration that ends with a pint of Baskin Robbins chocolate chip mint ice cream.

So I prefer to avoid setting results-oriented goals. If anything, I set simple goals for the next 24 hours – like get up, shower, dress, consume protein shake, and ass in the gym with at least 90 minutes before I have to enter into the fray of getting ready for work and the rest of my day. Most of the time, anymore, I am successful. Days like today, where I half plan to call for a rest day. Except not really, because I’ll be in the gym this evening with friend K and doing something for a set amount of time.

But I have been mulling motivation lately. With work-related changes underfoot and new challenges ahead, do I even feel much like working and pushing ahead toward my good intentions these days? Then again, what does it matter if I feel like it or not? Hyper-responsible self will not let me get too lazy or too slack too much. A little, for sure, but not that much.

I had not intended to sound like all that ails me is related to my piss-poor attitude about the better health process, but in my head, it’s coming across that way. Weenie-whining because I don’t get to be gym-free and eat whatever I want whenever I want – oh woe is me. Yeah right – me and my first world problems again.

My food-related battles are never ending. Understanding it’s not what I am eating so much as how much and how frequently is not translating into improving those impulses. Stress is off the charts right now. Even if I look calm and relaxed on the outside, on the inside it’s hair-on-fire panic because the entire world is teetering on its bitter end and I am the only one aware enough to make it stop.

Yeah, me and my delusions of grandeur again as well.

The feels I have right now about my better health quest are circling around burnout, for lack of a more descriptive, all-encompassing term. Much of the time life soldiers onward. Get up, go to the gym, strive for healthy balance in eating, work really hard at work-work, have some fun, enjoy some me time. Seek balance between responsibility to good citizenry in my personal community and selfish pursuits of my wants and whims.

June has been a month of imbalance, with uncertainty and emotions running high all around me throughout the work day and beyond. Family and tribe are mostly well and thriving, a few friends facing milestones in life that come with aging, faltering health or injury, circle of life type changes. I recognize and value the good things in my life that keep me grounded and stable: my relationship with M, work that keeps me engaged and financially afloat, grown children who are pursuing their own hopes and dreams and thriving as well. I also desire to be a good friend and tribe citizen and help others whenever and wherever I am able. Unfortunately, sometimes personal stability is not enough to keep me from being mightily buffeted by outside forces, and even the most resilient among us has to make allowances for life’s turbulence, floods, tsunamis.

I feel deflated from the month’s events, as if need of a change of scenery or reordering of the daily schedule. Change of scenery is not on the agenda right, because of other responsibilities we have at home AND it is essentially a holiday weekend. The idea of reordering the daily routine also causes my hand to hover over the panic button. What would I do, what would I change, how does it impact the big picture? At the end of that particular exercise (which takes place routinely every single week on something or another), I recognize that things are fine, the circumstances causing the current level of freaked-out-ness are temporary and will fade, regular programming resumes.

It just does not feel good in the moments.

At the end of this long and rambling post, I feel better. Sometimes just talking about my brand of crazy backs me away from the edge of doing something I may come to regret in the future, like that pint of Baskin Robbins chocolate chip mint ice cream that seems to be in grocery store freezers everywhere these days. I deliberately took the morning off from practice because yesterday I was having elbow pain. Elbow pain! Of all the things I think of that could go wrong and cause me physical issues, elbows would be awfully low on the list of potential suspects. Shoulders, knees, wrists, ankles, even glutes, hamstrings, palms – for sure. But elbows? Not even in the top 5. Anyway, I am following J’s usual recommendation for gym tweaks – 24 to 72 hours to let it pass – after a fashion. I read that and had another sort of anxious panic attack, ala “nooooooo! Don’t make me bench myself for 24 to 72 hours!” Ridiculous, I know. But since I knew I wanted to meet friend K tonight, I prioritized and compromised and skipped out on practice this morning. And voila! No elbow pain as yet today. Then again, not nearly as much mousing either.

 

#better-health, #diet, #emotional-health, #fitness, #goals, #happy, #health, #healthy-eating, #mental-health, #stress

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