PT-64: The lost session (day 21)

Monday morning, training with J.

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

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

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

Life continues, despite a broken heart and wounded spirit.

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

Yeah, I had my fears about that happening.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PT-60: Sweet spots and happy spaces (day 7)

Monday morning, training with J. And it was way too much fun! I sometimes think that I pack a lot of my fun for the week into the couple of hours of training with J each week. The ranges of our conversation contribute to the sense of accomplishment, and I frequently believe I get more out of our pre- and post-session chitchat than most people get out of the on the floor work.

Key Takeaways

I am getting stronger. This is one of my weird blindness issues in that this small fact continues to surprise me. Not sure why it should, but it always does. From my earliest recollections of an 8 lb. dumbbell being big and heavy to now, goblet squatting with a 50 lb. dumbbell, I have had this continual upward trajectory with weightier weights that confirms the work I do in the gym. Yet I am mostly in denial, until something splendid happens and I realize – wow, I did that!

One of the best aspects of training with J is the experiments in the test kitchen. In the 2 years we have worked together, I have watched him bulk up with muscle, then slowly trim back down, then bulk up again, slowly trim back to “normal” size. Nothing crazy or alarming, but definitely he gets bulkier and then very gradually becomes less so with changes in season or diet and exercise focus. Right now he is in a trim down and retain muscle phase, noticeably losing weight and becoming a more defined V-shape shape. With each of these cycles, though, there has been a dietary change and/or modified exercise focus, sometimes mildly, often wildly. There was the year of veganism – that was interesting. Now he’s working with intermittent fasting and kind of a blander foods diet. Lots of exercise himself, of course, and it sounds to me like more cardio as well. It is pure fun for me to watch and listen to the methods to his madness. But when your job is working with folks trying to reshape their shape, it is good to be aware and to test drive some of the things they/we as clients bring up and question him about.

Older is new again, with skills this time around. I have so much fun training days, and today was like new and off-the-scale fun. If all clients are as happy as I am when we conclude on Mondays and Thursdays, J has the best job in the whole world. Maybe not everyone has this level of fun or are as into training as I am, but it is really great to see and feel measureable forward progress.

What We Did

Today was about both review and layering in some alternative to our existing push List.

A1  Heavy goblet squat
A2  Incline chest press

B1  Bulgarian split squat
B2  1-arm overhead press/1-arm snatch

C1  Tricep rope cable (high, middle, low)
C2  Rope upright row

D1  Bent arm plank
D2  Reach-up + chopper sit-ups

How It Felt

Did I mention the heavy goblet squat with a 50 lb. dumbbell? While I could minimize it and say it was only the final set, I’m not going there. It was a 50 lb. dumbbell! Huge – physically and weightier weight wise. My issues of late with the heavier weights is ensuring form stays good and in place. With the goblet squats, there is this whole subtle hip breaks away first before knees and without too much forward lean. It’s subtle enough that I really have to apply supersize focus to ensure I work the body parts in the appropriate way. Today we warmed up with 30, up to a 40, then a 45, and finally the 50. J explained that trying to extend my strength range, it was fine to try for a few reps with the heavier weight. For whatever reason, I thought we were supposed to start heavier and drop set if necessary.

We did the incline chest press today, and as is our new custom, ramped up the weights. I went from pairs of 20, to 25, to 30 lb. dumbbells and had no issues. In fact, I enjoyed myself far more than is probably appropriate in the gym or legal in the state of California (we’re big on regulating and taxing everything around here). But no, between the new-to-me bench with it’s unused foot rest and feet on the floor or on the tippy toes while pressing, it was a new experience that felt wonderful. If my understanding of the push-pull Lists holds true, we’re still stalking that 6 to 8 range on the heavier weights, and I did well with the 30s. That said, I think there is more to learn and master with them, so in no rush to add more weight. So much fun just to experience the new feels of the my arch and feet on the floor (versus on the bench or foot rest).

Rather than the walking lunges, J put back the Bulgarian split squats. First set was body weight and considered the warm-up, but J noted this tiny little correction: I tend to straighten, push shoulders back, and arch my low back slightly while pushing up. This is not the best for my back, but it also diminishes the work the lead leg is supposed to be doing with the pushing up part. Second 2 sets we added dumbbells – first a pair of 10s, then a pair of 15s. I mostly did okay with the weights in my hands, although I do want to watch and ensure I don’t allow shoulders to sag forward with the weight. For the most part, I’m completely delighted with my efforts with the weights; it’s been months since we added weight, and last I recall it was a single 5 lb. dumbbell offset weight effort. There is still more work to be done with these, but for the most part, I’m super happy with my efforts. Bulgarians are not on my nor anyone else I know favorite’s list, but I have not-so-secret hopes of improving with more focused practice. My good fortune that they appear on several of my Lists and weights can be added and subtracted at will.

Next up was the 1-arm overhead press, a warm-up set with the 15, then a second set with the 20. All good, went well. When J replaced the 20 with the 25, I assumed we were going to up the weights today and try and overhead press with that. Nope, we were switching to 1-arm dumbbell snatches.

Last I recall doing 1-arm dumbbell snatches, it was with a 10 or a12 lb. dumbbell, not a 25 lb. dumbbell, and truthfully it has been awhile since I have pursued those Lists. But here’s the thing about training: I trust fab trainer with absolute faith in his judgment and expertise. If he thinks I can do it with a 25 lb. dumbbell, I am going to give it my best attempts. And the first few, the whole first set – they were ugly. They were tentative, trying to remember how they worked efforts, and there might have been some “holy S**T – what the F**K am I doing?” kind of thoughts flittering through my head. A couple of them got away from me, and rather than elbow bending like an upright row my arm and hand with the weight flew out in front of my like a wildly off-course, uncontrolled front raise. J got out an 80 lb. dumbbell and demonstrated for me once again. He says the weight is not to show off, but what he needs to demonstrate what it’s supposed to look like. My fab trainer is a badass; if he wants to snatch an 80 lb. dumbbell to demonstrate, I am plenty impressed. But I did get the more explosive portion of the movement, the push forward with the hips, and most important cue of the day: lead with the elbow. Not sure what I was doing or thinking the first go-round, but honestly I think if I am doing anything with a weight in my hand mind tends to be focused on it and whatever it takes to keep it under control. Leading with the elbow – cha-ching! Coin drop moment when suddenly it all makes a lot more sense. Still not as pretty or elegant or smooth as J’s demo, but much improved over the first set.

Next up was the cable machine for the rope tricep – high, low, and middle. In my own practices, I will choose one and go through my sets with it. But today, we did a set of each. When next I pursue this List, probably it will be the low setting, if only because I am too lazy to move the cable pulley up and down between exercises. For today it was fun experimenting and doing all of them; on my own, easier to sick with low when paired with the next exercise.

The rope upright rows replaced the rope crunch. Elbows above the hands and shoulders shrug up – these are harder than they appear on paper while actually trying to go through and conduct myself through them. But I am mostly back into the groove, paying attention to the elbows above and the shrugging up part. I can still feel my shoulders and upper back from doing these. Good things.

Planks, always a favorite; the bent arm plank from the floor remain a challenge. But I’m oh-so-slowly rising to that challenge. We have been doing a lot of planking recently, primarily from the bench. My arms tremble and shake, I have to focus, Focus, FOCUS on keeping glutes tight and ribs tucked, not letting shoulders sag, keeping elbows bent. Ugh. On my own in practice, will be using my gym timber to ensure I make my minimum – at least 10 seconds – and keep a watchful eye on my potential for maximums. I was inching closer to 30 seconds off the bench, but the floor changes everything.

The reach up + chopper sit-up – I refer to them as floor chops – resurfaced. I am stronger than I was, and can generally get through 5 or 6 sets of these bad boys. But there’s something about the end of the session, especially when I am aware that I’m in overtime, and I don’t especially want to do more than some spare-bare minimum. Something in my head clicks off and has me stopping, even though I feel pretty confident about form, technique, potential ability to continue.

Kitchen Sink Thoughts

No secret that I love training days. I love the learning, the corrections, the tweaks, the old and the new. There is a mind-body connection that I don’t even recognize or really even understand, but it has captured my imagination and the fullness of my attention. Having no other real hobbies (work doesn’t count), I get that this my thing. I love that I improve with practice to the point that even I see and can appreciate that my body is changing, regaining health and gaining strength.

This is my month for labs. I am eager and curious for new measures of my overall health. For the most part I feel really good about my ongoing efforts to keep my blood sugar under good control, drop some weight, and overall feel good in my own body and its abilities.

My mental and emotional health journey continues. There is a sense of disconnect and wonder that there was a 50 lb. dumbbell in my hands this morning and I did not injure myself or others in using it. More than that, sometimes the topics of our discussions while we are training bring to mind other ways and aspects of my life where I am not so normal or traditional and my brand of special needs – I would do a lot to erase that from my history. At the same time, I have grown up into a pretty normal, low-key, non-freaky sort of person. I would even venture so far to say I am pretty bland and boring when contrasted to the proclivities and interests and drama-laden lifestyle of others. And not at all strangely, I really love that about me.

Today was so much fun. My daily check-ins and discussions about exercise and diet leave me with less thought download on training days, although I admit some distraction tonight with other adventures underfoot this week. A weekend road trip may be looming large, and I am so excited I can barely focus on work or anything else this evening.

But I gotta. Such is the life of an entrepreneur with projects and deadlines and meetings ahead.

#august2017, #better-health, #diet, #emotional-health, #exercise, #fitness, #gym, #happy, #health, #healthy-eating, #inspiration, #mental-health, #motivation, #productivitiy, #progress, #weight-loss

A “mom win” and other aspects of today (day 2)

I am a ginormous fan of non-scale victories when it comes to my better health quest. Sometimes those are not even diet and exercise related at all.

My son, G, is a primarily a runner, although he does bike and swim as well. A month or so ago he asked me about joining my gym, primarily for the pool, and I offered to set him up with membership. I also suggested he take a few of my sessions with fab trainer J, because if he wanted to lift a little coaching on form and technique would help keep him on the safe and sane track. He had his first session last week and was feeling it afterwards. But I’d suggested if he ever wanted to work out with me, I’d be happy to have a gym buddy.

Last night he texted wondering if I’d be in the gym tonight (I typically am on Wednesday evenings, hanging out with my friend K) and I asked if he wanted to join me. Sure! he replied, and we set up a meet time.

Made my whole week. My adult son wants to hang out with me. In public even. Where I would introduce him to my kick-ass friend who is a rising rock star in lifting.

The experience was a first for us, made more special in that I could keep up with what he was doing, having been training with J for awhile and understanding all the stuff on his List. We got to chat while he worked (I continue in my regular Wednesday evening supervisory capacity and did not match him set for set) and I go to be fairly impressed by his efforts. For sure I know I do not want to do fab trainer J’s job; if the client didn’t care, I probably would cease caring as well.

It was a super fun evening with my son, getting to see my friend K, and being uncharacteristically rude to a supplement sales rep. On the latter item, I feel a little badly about my unconscious, reflexive response to being accosted about supplements almost immediately as I walked through the front door of the gym. Plus J had just been texting me about the dude’s remarks to him and fab trainer made the mistake of describing the guy to me. So when he came up to me about trying his supplement in that overly hearty, sleazy salesman way, I told him his supplements were crap and he was a douche for pushing overpriced crap I don’t need. He laughed off my remarks – maybe he didn’t hear me or think  I was actually that woman who is that kind of rude – but on the way out I felt a twinge of conscience at my behavior. Not enough to stop and apologize, but still.

Before all that, though, I was in the gym this morning plodding my way through a couple of Lists. First I warmed up, then I went through a core-focused stability ball warm-up J prepared last year. It has been awhile on that one, and I would love to say it was easy-peasy and what was all the whining about when it was new. Nope. Not happening. Still challenging enough to try and reach 20 reps per set (I think I made 15 on most of things, 20 on a couple of them with rest pauses to pep-talk myself into continuing.

Then I proceeded to the FreeMotion machine for a run through an upper body List. Neck and shoulder kink have magically disappeared, and since I had planned to be doing something leg-intense on still slightly sore and tight hamstrings with G and friend K later tonight, I focused on upper body.

So. Much. Fun.

When mind is clear and really focused on the work, the workload feels really good. It was nothing spectacular, no uber special effort or amazing breakthroughs to report. Just a regular day, regular practice, methodically working my way through a List exercise by exercise, set by set, until concluded. An item crossed off my to-do for the day.

But it’s still gratifying to get it done. I enjoy the experience, thinking it through, imagining all my muscles working and maybe growing stronger. Machines seem far more mysterious to me than the dumbbells; I have a far easier time with envisioning body and muscles working and growing stronger with the dumbbells than with the same weight on the machines. Plus doing the same exercise on different brand or style of machine feels like a unique experience that is not working the muscles in the same way, although I can logically see that any perceived differences exist primarily in my head.

And that’s okay. Mind is a powerful tool that either works for me or against me in my exercise efforts. I am continually coming to grips with that reality.

There is no denying how much it makes me smile to know the muscle work in my lats and back is still felt hours after I have left the gym. More than legs or lower body, that sort of worked sensation in the back and upper body makes me think Wow! Legs work all the time. Back and shoulders and arms? Not so much, and definitely not in the same ways.

And finally, M said something this morning that still makes me laugh.

I was getting ready to leave and he said “I wish we had a lot of video of your legs when they were fat.” Yep, he said that as a standalone sentence. I actually laughed out loud and interrupted his thought, because seriously – what sane man uses that F word about his wife ever and stays happily married? Once again, another example of how we are not a normal couple. But then he continued with “Because you could see the difference between what they were like then and how different they are now.”

It is true; I do not perceive the changes in the same way he does. Lately I have been wondering about my seemingly pudgy knees, except they are not so much pudge as the emerging leg muscle makes legs and knees look different. I don’t think my knees were ever that flabby, but maybe they were; we don’t have any video of my legs when they were fat so I will probably never know for sure.

And not knowing is a huge step forward in this particular battle. I am happy that legs and knees continue to work well and serve my purposes.

It was a good day.

#august2017, #better-health, #exercise, #family, #fitness, #friends, #gym, #happy, #health, #inspiration, #motivation

Gym ouchies (day 1 of 31)

I have been extraordinarily fortunate to have not hurt myself in the 2+ years of training. Quite possibly it’s because I am such a baby about such things and stop before something becomes too difficult or challenging (thank you, negative girl, for that completely unproductive opinion). More likely it’s because I am mostly pretty careful and the whole reason for working with a trainer is to learn to exercise safely and sanely. My injury-free record is not something I take lightly, and I am superstitiously looking around for wood to knock on while electronically committing these thoughts to the blog.

Unfortunately, I am not always so careful outside the gym; my clumsiness is common knowledge. However, I’ve improved over the months of regular exercise and tend to trip much less frequently over hairline cracks in the sidewalk. As much as I love a really good night’s sleep, I all too frequently find myself sleeping strangely and causing a crampy kink in my neck that stays with me long after waking up in the morning.

Today was such a day, and it was my intention to work on an upper body List. This rendition of neck kink was severe enough that it impact right shoulder movement with sharp to shooting pain and turning my head to the right was almost out of the question. Another day I would have switched and done lower body work instead, but yesterday we did a pretty awesomely brutal training session that completely shrink wrapped my lower half, especially my hamstrings. It was going to take a lot to get the hammies loosened up, so I decided to roll the dice with upper and see what would happen. I chose a favorite upper body dumbbell List and hoped for the best.

I write a lot about my progress and the ways daily practice has changed me, my outlook, my overall perspective. While I am nowhere near a “no pain, no gain” type trainee, I am also not the wussie slacker I was when my exercise odyssey began in 2015. Muscle tweak? Oh, I have hurt myself! I need to take the day – or the month – off so it does not get worse. Now, I was cautiously optimistic. I recognize what it was – a sleeping tweak – and I know I do not like things to hurt while I am moving weights about. The deal I made with my exercise-addicted “gotta go practice” self was we would go slowly and feel our way through it. If the sharp pain continued, we’d stop and call it a day.

A1  Bent over dumbbell row (4 sets of 15)
A2  Incline dumbbell chest press (4 sets of 15)

B1  Bench dumbbell pullover (4 sets of 15)
B2  Dumbbell chest flyes( 4 sets of 15)

C1  Seated 1-arm dumbbell overhead press (3 sets of 15)
C2  Bent over dumbbell reverse flyes (3 sets of 12)

D1  Lying down triceps dumbbell extensions (3 sets of 15)
D2  Seated dumbbell curls (3 sets of 15)

Typically I’m warming up with 20 lb. dumbbells on rows and chest presses. Today I tried the 20s with both on the first set and dropped down to 15s on the remaining sets. I really thought I would be disappointed or upset about having to take a step backward with the weights I’m using, but I guess I truly don’t care much about how much weights I am using on any given day. It was a curiosity to me to know where I might land with the pain in my neck and shoulder – how low would I have to go to successfully complete my sets? With the lower weight, I completed my remaining sets and top rep range (15) without difficulty and especially without any shooting or sharp pain. By the time I was finished with the first block, the shoulder and neck were loosening up.

I stuck with a 15 for the pullovers (more typical is 25 or 30) and I am still using 15s on the chest flyes, so if my pride were taking a beating (it wasn’t) at least I had some (unnecessary) consolation. Overhead press – I dropped to a 10 and then went back to a 12 without issue. By then my shoulder felt fine although my neck still pinged a bit when I turned my head. The bent over reverse flyes – dropped to an 8 lb. pair (from my typical 10s) and felt pretty much fine. I stayed with the 12 lb. dumbbells for the tricep extensions and dumbbell curls, although by then I felt fine and probably could have used my typical 15 lb. weights.

But I would much rather be conservative and return tomorrow capable of doing another upper body List if I so desired. After spending much of my day working standing up or on my treadmill desk, my neck and shoulder feels 98% back to normal. Assuming I do not sleep in some strange configuration tonight, I expect to be completely fine and pain free by morning.

That I figured out a working weight for me today is a big, giant, HUGE milestone notch in my exercise belt. I know other people probably think it silly or even irresponsible, but for me, it was a very big step forward in my confidence. The advice from J and others to “listen to your body” did not really make much sense to me for a very long time. What my body said – I want sugar! I want junk food! I don’t want to exercise! – and what other people said it should be saying were very different languages. I still hear the grousing for sugar and junk, but I’m far more experienced in selective hearing and ignoring it. The biofeedback as it relates to movement and exercise. I think I am finally fine-tuning my hearing.

That I figured out a working weight without asking J for advice and counsel at 6 in the morning is also kind of a big deal. I feel braver and more assured that I’m not going to make some truly dreadful mistake. I did report my adventure to him after the fact, and since no horrified look crossed his face all is fine and well.

It occurred to me as I was composing this post in my head that I am not going to get stronger faster by stepping backwards and lifting lighter weights. The thought makes me laugh as well. The exercise is a necessity to achieve and sustain optimal health; for me, if I stop I will begin to backslide into preventable chronic conditions. More than that, though, my time in the gym moving weights to and fro fills my soul with a peaceful satisfaction that I never knew was missing in my life. M talks about all he gets from his running and for most of our life together I could not relate. At all. Perhaps it’s me, just another aspect of my one-off weirdo-ness, but I did not get what drove him to work so hard and sometimes suffer so much. While our pursuits and disciplines are different, I have a much clearer understanding of how he feels about his sport. As frustrating as it is for me to be less successful or to struggle mightily trying to master certain movements or whole series of movements, I can remember being far less skilled, muscles far more untrained and straining under the load.

Progress for me is not the big moment of a personal record or reaching a defined goal. The way I pursue weight training also does not really lend itself to such measurements and I am simply not one to have predefined goals. But I’m aware of how weighty the weights I have used in the past, and I remain hopeful that those will increase with time and consistent practice. Today, I am not at all bothered by using lighter weights than typical for the first time in several months. Today, I am actually thrilled that I went to the gym and successfully pursued my practice even with a convenient excuse to blow it off.

Progress for me is the ongoing series of tiny victories sprinkled with setbacks and chaotic, unfocused practices filled with distractions. I love that I celebrate the tiny victories far more than I obsess about the setbacks.

#august2017, #better-health, #exercise, #fitness, #happy, #health, #motivation, #progress

August already – Let’s talk hopeful outcomes (not goals)

July was a very busy, train-wreck-with-work sort of month. I’ve got posts half written yet to be published. On top of which, somehow my blog went offline and was made private. Worse yet, my password no longer worked. Some troubleshooting and recovery and various other security checks, rechecks, and possibly upgrades (aka: an even bigger pain in the ass) in security and voila! Back in business.

A lot of thoughts, ideas, things to discuss flailing wildly in my noggin right now. And rather than rev up my factory production model barrage of excuses, suffice to say it has been a busy and distracting time. I would like to say I am over all that and changing my ways, but I am a terrible liar. Instead, I will simply say I may be mixing up the blog quite a bit in how I do things.

August will be an experimental blogging period for me.

Anyone who has read anything on this blog ever knows I’m a bit obsessive about my exercise pursuits. I love my training days, love, Love, LOVE posting my recaps, but I also think they run a little long (a LITTLE? says everyone in unison) and I might be better served doing them differently. Or not. I actually have no clear idea where I am headed next with the blog, except on a couple few points: (1) I want to be more consistent about my posting, (2) I frequently really want to talk in painfully minute detail about my exercise adventures, and (3) diet, nutrition, eating in general is like the nuclear mushroom cloud poisoning my system and must be purged here for my own good health.

So August is kind of my new test kitchen here on the blog. I’m going to be trying a few different things – like daily recaps, for one. I don’t keep a log book; I am not one of those folks walking through the gym with notebook and pen nearby carefully noting exercises they did, weights they used, reps they completed. Nope. Me, I’m more a think about it, try (or not), succeed/falter/swear, wish to rearrange the gym equipment for my convenience, navel gaze, think about it more, and then wish for a memory that lasted until next training so I could ask the questions that occur as they occur. I could (and have) sent a text in the moment, but it tends to disrupt my rather chaotic flow of getting shit done. No wonder I have to allot 90+ minutes in the gym to get a List completed.

Okay, my gym time is not like that every single day, but it happens frequently enough that I have little and big breakthroughs or spectacular metaphorical face plants that make for good blog fodder. Only I don’t necessarily talk about it because I already use all my words (and borrow liberally from everyone else around me) about the better health quest. It does seem a bit lot self-centric.

Then I suddenly have that familiar epiphany: it IS a lot self-centric around here. This is my blog; since I don’t write gossip columns or fake news, of course it’s going to be all about me. While that should not necessarily make me feel better, it does. I have never been an audience blogger, and while I hope there are folks out there who might find value here, it’s okay if it doesn’t happen. Hey, I have been plagiarized; it was almost flattering.

Anyway, my hope is that I can do this every day, even if it is just a short, light-and-fluffy blurb about nothing significant. I don’t know if I will succeed, or if I will indeed bore myself to death and possibly put us all out of our collective misery by not writing about it. I have 31 days to see how it goes, how it feels. It’s kind of like trying on clothes when I am in the mood to be in the mall actually shopping for clothes.

Part of what inspires this is my fat loss group on Facebook. Sometimes we’re all really active talking about our little victories and ongoing struggles. Unfortunately for me, I’m not really gaining much traction there with that group, because I’m simply not that focused on the food I am eating or I am far too picky of an eater. No one seems to chat about exercise or fitness much – so sad to me – and I can only take so much conversation about The Scale. I’m probably more interested in non-scale victories, but with a fat loss support group, it’s primarily about weight loss.

I am not disparaging them, not at all. I actually really enjoy our interactions and reading about their individual progress. But as seems to be true, I need more. Or I really want more. I need whole paragraphs and blog posts about my tiny victories and slaying my demons in the gym (looking at you, nemesis stable). This group – not set up for that. Or the people involved are not interested in that. Maybe a daily missive will not be as verbose and brain-dump-worthy as my recaps tend to become, but I do find it relaxing to talk and hash out my struggles and happy dance my victories.

So there’s 31 days in August. Maybe 31 posts? Training recaps on training days, conversations about diet and exercise the rest of the time. Perhaps from this process an actual system and process for my posting will emerge. A girl can hope, anyway.

After all, it’s not just a blog, it’s an adventure!

Happy Tuesday one and all.

 

#august2017, #better-health, #blogging, #diet, #energy, #exercise, #focus, #food, #happy, #health, #healthy-eating, #inspiration, #lifestyle, #motivation, #productivitiy, #progress

Talking about food and healthy eating

Things have been busy, hectic, crazy hereabouts lately, and I feel so far behind in my blogging. Yesterday’s training recap is in progress, as are both from last week. I will most likely post them out of order, because last week was a train wreck with injuries and the emotions were kind of dark and dreary and a variation of negative girl – angry, emotional girl – was at the helm. I do want to get them finished and posted, though, because it’s important to me to maintain this record of my journey.

But as an aside, I belong to a Facebook group as part of a weight loss program. While this has been a thing for me for about the last 6 months, it as if someone suddenly plugged me in and powered me up. As it was when I started training with J, once I make the decision to move forward with something, I pull off the blinders and get gazelle intense about it. Such is the case right now with my healthy eating.

While I imagine there will be more written in this blog about it going forward, I wanted to memorialize a couple of posts I wrote for this group about what’s going on with me and with food this week. This is from Monday morning:

Crazy work week this week – 11 to 4 at a client’s office. No plans to break for lunch, so having to do lunch shake at 10 and then eat my lunch apple around noon while I work. I’m trying to plan ahead, because this client always has home baked muffins or brownies or other sugary goodness in their break room, plus a tempting snack box and assortment of sodas. I am bringing my own water bottle and will refill from their cooler, but going to do my best to stay out of their break room and avoid any/all temptation. Ugh. Just thinking about it now is giving me food anxiety.

Funny part of this – I had this engagement scheduled for over a week and had not really thought about the culture of their office. Every single time I have been there, their break room is a sugar addict’s version of Hell. Cookies, brownies, pies, cake – always something yummy. Or there is home baked bread and honey butter, or muffins or cinnamon rolls. The business owner’s mother loves to bake and makes this stuff and he dutifully brings it in every day. What’s worse, there is a subtle pressure to partake, and a real sense you have offended him/his mother by refusing even the smallest taste.

My discipline with food is nonexistent right now. I know this about myself, that moderation is not a word I can successfully utilize when it comes to me and foods I love. Right now, avoidance is my only option. By obsessing about it and making a plan in advance, I felt more fortified to decline. I even told the owner that I am diabetic and my doctor has me on a pretty strict eating regimen that has me watching my macros and absolutely no gratuitous sugar. Doesn’t matter that I have no idea what “my macros” are for me, but it sounded really official and ominous. And I was able to successfully report the outcome last night.

Survived the day at the foodie client site with just my apple and several refills of my water bottle. I was able to escape the apple pie, blueberry cobbler, and homemade vanilla ice cream. Second workout and saw my friends, now home for a BAS (big ass salad) for dinner. Hopefully I don’t have to ask Dr. Spencer for doctor’s note to avoid having the conversation that no sugar, no carbs really does mean no sugar, no carbs.

Maybe not everyone needs an outlet, but I find the need to talk about and write about my struggles, setbacks, and ultimately, my successes is part of my process. I credit blogging with being an integral part of getting me off the couch and in the gym every day. Otherwise I’d probably have to train with J every day he works and paying my therapist to let me bleed out my insecurity week after week.

The FB group is extremely helpful for me right now, because we are all striving to follow the same pretty strict kick-start program based on protein shakes as meal replacements twice daily and one reasonable meal. For anyone thinking that’s not sustainable for the balance of our years, it’s not meant to last forever and ever. However, it is meant to be a jumping-off point to teach us how to make better, healthier food choices and curb our cravings for fat, sugar, carbs, processed food, etc. Such critical commentary is partly why I rarely (read: never) discuss this stuff with anyone outside of J and a couple of others in my life who understand that food remains a big giant trigger for me.

But I’m sharing some of my own FB posts here because I think its valuable for me in the long haul, and maybe someone else who reads this will find some value or insight with their own mindset and struggles.

As context for this next message, M and I are heading for the state fair today. Like all fairs and festivals, the food offerings are all essentially crap. High in sugar and fat, and ridiculously expensive to boot. But it’s a fun tradition for M and I, something we look forward to doing every year. This is what I posted about it:

This is apparently my week for needing extra food help and ideas. My husband and I are headed for the state fair tomorrow, and it has traditionally been the one time per year I gleefully overindulge in super junky fried food and sugary treats. That said, this is my year for beginning new traditions, so I am mentally preparing my game plan tonight.

We’re going midday, so I’ll have been through my gym workout in the morning and be fully fortified with my lunch protein shake and apple. I’ll be drinking a lot of water or unsweetened iced tea while we stomp around through the exhibits. Because this is a fun even we look forward to every year, I am planning one midafternoon snack food purchase – the fresh fruit on a skewer dipped in chocolate, only without the chocolate.

I am surfing a 5-day streak of 90% on track with the program – homemade pasta last night at a friend’s home was my glaring glitch. Hubby’s skill with food moderation and restraint is far more powerful than my own, and he has agreed not to tempt me with french fries or corn dogs and does not like the roasted corn on the cobb – traditional favorites for me. He has a meeting tomorrow night, so I’ll likely be in the gym doing a huffy-puffy (cardio-based) practice and then home for a reasonable dinner.

Any and all tips, strategies, thoughts are welcome. This make-a-plan stuff seems to actually be working for me. Who knew?

Some of the replies were very thoughtful and helpful and representative of a hopes and suggestions to utilize a “flexibility of mindset” regarding food. Intellectually, I get the concept. Emotionally, I am not there yet. This final message is my thought for the day:

I like the concept of the mindset of flexibility, and it is certainly something I hope to develop in time. Despite having been part of this group since February, it’s only been the last week or so that I have truly decided that I want to gain some control and mastery over my eating and nutrition. For me, weight loss is almost an afterthought, a by product of better food choices and more balance in my eating habits. What I want most is to develop a reasonable relationship with food, where my habits of a lifetime do not short circuit my ability to make wise decisions about what my body and long-term health require to function optimally. This week is representative of challenges that occur for me a few times each year. I’m doing 1000% better because I’m thinking about what lies ahead and trying to strategize in advance, so when faced with the actual choices, I will not simply react and eat crap food but be prepared to consider the consequences of my choices. Next year, next fair season will likely be very different. But right now, I’m surfing a learning curve. It’s like my first weeks in the gym, trying to learn a basic goblet squat and not getting it at all. At that time I would meet with my trainer weekly but not practice in between, and every time he would go through goblet squats with me again it would be reinventing the wheel. Once I decided I was serious about learning exercise fundamentals and began practicing on my own between sessions, I got better. Now, seeing “goblet squat” on my training program of the day does not make me stop and think about what is required of me to make it happen. Time and practice – I believe I can make the same habits happen with eating. But right now I am thinking about it, talking, reading and writing about it to strengthen my resolve to educate myself about my own body and making better, smarter choices with food.

To date I have been very sparing with my posts on diet and nutrition, because I have been very wishy-washy and inconsistent with my efforts in this regard. I am presently very engaged in trying harder, and it is neither pleasant nor easy to eat in this manner. However, exercise was the same at first – hated it, dreaded it, wanted more than anything not to have to do it. Persistence in pursuit of consistency has its rewards, and I have fallen madly in love with my daily exercise routines. Yep, exercise-hating woman ha learned to fully embrace the ways body responds to movement and increasing strength and capability. The process has had a lot of unexpected lessons as well; it has taught me about myself and my own adaptability, that I am not such an old dog incapable of learning new tricks. It is difficult to imagine a world where I love vegetables more than a cookie, but I know it is possible for me to develop the reflex and “muscle memory” to be more habitual in bypassing the cookie without pangs of loss shooting through my heart and mind. Or being mindful and conscious of the why when I choose to indulge and have the cookie.

The adventure continues. I’m excited to see where I take me next.

 

 

 

#blogging, #diet, #exercise, #fitness, #happy, #health, #healthy-eating, #inspiration, #motivation, #weight-loss

28 Days

Today is Thursday, July 6, 2017. I’m coming off a long-ish week period of unrestrained eating and drinking because of work-related events and the independence day holiday. Nothing big or crazy (with regard to the eating and drinking), but enough to feel the impact of the excess calories and richer foods that are now more foreign to my day-to-day eating patterns. On top of which, it has made me feel utterly crappy about myself and released my inner negative girl from her bottle. And as anyone who has battled back from the demons of poor self-image, she’s a bitch to get contained once more.

That particularly phenomenon – it is and was enough to want to not just restart healthier eating patterns but to also step-up my efforts and build some insurance against this happening again in the future. After all, Labor day and it’s abundance of BBQs and such is not far away.

My 28 days eating strategy started today.

I decided to blog about the journey a little differently than my training recaps, because I do not plan to talk about it much in real life. Except possibly to poor trainer J, who has the misfortune of spending 2 hours per week with me talking about this, that, the other things on the better health quest. Plus it’s kind of boring when I eat pretty much the same thing day after day after day for weeks at a stretch. It also inspires concern that (1) I’m not eating enough, (2) I’m not eating “real” food, and (3) some reason to be named later. My answer to all of that: I am under the care of an obesity physician who designed this program, and I will be checking in with him every week or even every single day if it seems appropriate and warranted. I have done this off and on for several months, but in truth this is my first honest effort at sticking with it for an extended period. Merely mentioning it here and having a structured plan to post about it in the future is a powerful accountability tool for me, even if no one else ever reads another post.

Rather than writing a daily recap describing my menu, calorie counts, etc., I am going to combine the posts into a weekly log. Format is still being drafting in my head, but I know I will summarize calories in (tracking in MyFitnessPal.com; it’s only 28 days – I can do it) and exercise calories burned in the gym (judgmental Fitbit must be good for something, right?) type results at the top with the nitty-gritty details underneath. Also, I plan to post the weekly blog posts all at once. It seems more impactful for me to write them in week by week post format and then publish them all together so the progress (or lack thereof) is more readily apparent. Sort of like binge watching a whole season of a TV show.

But I am hoping to see actual positive progress rather than a rehash of why I am mostly spinning my wheels.

Perhaps I shall surprise myself with my amazing, stellar success, but I expect there will be plenty of setbacks and backslides, probably tears and angry outbursts as well. And I’m okay with all of that – no perfectionista impulses here in this regard. I want to be clear the potential setbacks and backslides have little or nothing to do with about the ways I will write these chapters. Because I know myself and my blogging style very well by now, the good, the bad, the extraordinarily unflattering will always be included. Because I am pretty Jane Average with all my warts and flaws in the self-improvement realm.

Why am I doing this? Raw truth is the feeling of negative self-worth for this part of my better health quest has never completely faded. The big and small successes with regular exercise and becoming more active have been so much easier to focus on than the lifetime habits of being such a picky eater and being self-indulgent about food. Where I thought exercise would be the biggest hurdle in the better health quest, I was staggeringly incorrect and misguided. The longer I put off getting down-in-the-weeds real about my relationship with food the bigger the issue of monitoring and adjusting my eating habits becomes.

Being fair to me, I am so much better about food choices than I was when this journey began. That said, being better has become an inadequate rationalization; I desire to not rest on my laurels and continue to celebrate the anniversaries of past achievements. More and more, I am either growing restless, dissatisfied, and paralyzed in my efforts to reshape my eating habits or mentally and emotionally giving up and giving in to more destructive food choice impulses and feeling crappy – physically and emotionally – afterward. While once upon a time I thought raw sugar was my sole enemy, I am realizing the flaw in my reasoning is bigger, broader, much more insidious. Essentially, like so many others, I am addicted to highly processed and hyper-palatable foods. Being realistic, there is also a lot of sugar and fat and unhealthy stuff in all that I enjoy and that hits that carnal satisfaction button in my head.

So I need to first break that cycle and habit. Even a little or a taste is too much right now. Developing the discipline to just say no and follow through completely is imperative. Will it last forever? I hope not; I hope it does not have to be quite so black-and-white. Like my exercise and gym habits, I hope to be able to learn some limited form of moderation. But right this minute it feels like a life-and-death emergency to me to conquer this bad food choice addiction and tendency, so I need to do whatever it takes to make that objective happen.

To kick-start myself, I’m following my physician’s 27-day fat loss prescription program, modified for me to 28 days for a nice, even 4 week cycle. This also coincides with my next scheduled lab appointment in early August. While I am not expecting any major surprises with labs that might be affected by improving my eating in these 28 days, having a reasonable schedule and timeline always works better for me. I am a planner; it’s why Lists works so well for me.

I have heard it said that if you do something for 30 days it becomes a habit. Hopefully I will be close to that after only 28 days. While I do not plan to follow this eating strategy forever, it will give me a good baseline of my basic caloric needs and (hopefully) curb some of my triggering cravings. It’s also coincides with a different style of work-related planning and scheduling, so the stressors that come with that will have to be addressed directly and incorporated as part of the cycle.

While I anticipate revisiting and writing about this subject daily for the next few weeks, this is likely the last I’ll be saying about food and drink until or about August 4. Wish me luck?

And so as I find myself saying a lot lately, let the adventure begin.

#diet, #emotional-health, #exercise, #fitness, #food, #gym, #happy, #health, #healthy-eating, #inspiration, #mental-health, #motivation