PT-67: Good things (day 31)

Thursday morning, training with J. Back to our mostly regularly scheduled programming. It has been an odd week, with Monday’s unusual evening training, and while today was nothing out of the ordinary, it just feels out of the ordinary. But productive. And FUN! And a lot of hard work.

Key Takeaways

I continue to be amazed by the difference in feels between weights equipment in the gym. Today, it was the kettlebell versus the dumbbell. We were upstairs and using 35 lb. KBs (because the 35 lb. dumbbells live in the big kids’ room downstairs) and boy howdy did they feel heavier and have a different sort of swish to them. Of course, if I had “grown up” using KBs I’d probably be giving my beloved dumbbells the WTF? look instead. J and I have talked about this before, but the distribution of weight is so very different between the shapes. Not being a science or engineering person, I always thought 35 lbs. is 35 lbs. and it all feels heavy. Now having done exercises with the dumbbells, the barbell, and the kettlebells, I have new respect for just how unique each weighted tool.

The big giant rubber bands are now part of my reality. Before a month or so ago, the only time I saw those in service was when someone else was using them for an assisted pull-up. Now I have my own yellow one on order to add to my growing collection of gym paraphernalia that I simply cannot live without and must lug around with me everywhere I go. M had told me that as I got deeper into my routine of choice I would start acquiring stuff to support it. I also broke down and ordered a larger bag to cart my day-to-day crap in, as my assortment of bags small and medium bags to repurpose for gym equipment use seems to have hit the wall.

Speed bandwork is kind of like my version of beat the clock on my favorite huffy puffy Lists, but the objective is to keep going until my arms refuse to work anymore rather than continue until the time beeps to switch to the next exercise. Kind of looks like I was a complete abject failure, choosing to stop when it felt like my arms were just going to be sore later because of trying to get there (and I was right – they are kind of sore). Still, I do not really see it as a failure, more of a new challenge and mind obstacle course to overcome. It has been over a year since J has introduced this concept to me, so not the end of the world that I am rusty on it.

This week, feels like a lot of things returned or were reintroduced and/or repurposed and I am insanely out of shape on them. Mini bands – love, Love, LOVE my mini bands – but not so much in conjunction with glute bridges. Body refuses to remember the endless glute bridges we did week after week in 2015 in the original dumbbell A and B Lists. I am going to have to put forth some consistent practice to get myself whipped back into glute bridge shape.

I still love teaching days.

What We Did

The List is not yet updated, so the names could be changed later. But after forgetting a couple of exercises and their proper ordering (so had to confirm with J to get this right), here’s the List:

Romanian deadlift with 35 lb. KBs
Mini band lateral walks

Double mini band glute bridge
Stability ball hamstring curls

1-arm row with KB
Band horizontal speed rows

Dumbbell overhead pullover
Band speed straight-arm pulldown

Band facepull
Zotman curls

TRX lat pull-up (bonus exercise – just for fun)

How It Felt

Right out the gate, we got started with Romanian deadlifts with 35 lb. kettlebells. Yep, we used a pair of those bad boys this morning, and they felt very strange and heavy in my hands. It’s been awhile since we have done RDLs with anything other than a barbell, and this was a first with 2 KBs. The distribution of the weight makes it feel like a different exercise, or just a much weightier weight.

Mini band lateral walks are a staple in my life anymore, but big novelty of the day was J had a brand new mini band for me to use. Now I have my own and typically have them with me on training days, but he had a matching pair. I feel a bit like a mini band connoisseur and can tell the difference between a newer band and the same band I have used a few dozen times and stretched out. Surely there is a day in my future when the heavier mini bands get all stretched out and feel like the lighter ones when new. The fact that I think about such things and can tell when my bands are getting less elastic speaks volumes about my progression. I am a simple woman in such matters, and it thrills me to know that I’ve worn some out and have to buy another.

I am ridiculously out of shape with a basic glute bridge, much less a double mini band glute bridge (band above and below the knee). I understand and remember the basic concepts – elevate the hips by tightening the glutes and tilting the pelvis, tightening the core and pressing navel into the floor, rib tucking – whatever term I think to use, essentially it all comes down to raise the hips as high as possible while not arching the lower back. While doing all that upward glute and pressing hip bones skyward, press legs against the mini bands to engage the side hips. A lot to think about when glute and hip joints do not seem cooperative about that whole getting butt off the floor action.

I am engaged in a like/don’t hate relationship with the stability ball hamstring curls. They are getting easier, yet still challenging enough that the urge to rush through and be done with them is very powerful. But I do force myself to slow down and try for that last half inch of pulling the ball in toward me. Today I had this weird cramp in my glute doing these and I know it is from sitting and working much more than has become typical for me. I took a brief pause, explained to J that I was having a weird glute cramp, and got back to it. He suggested not raising hips as high – going about half of what I’m usually trying for – and that did make a difference. Not sitting in an office chair for hours at a stretch will make a much bigger difference, though.

The 1-arm row with 35 lb. kettlebell was new today. This is/was a step-up in weight for me, and the KB shape difference also had an impact. I have done these with a 35 lb. dumbbell and while heavier it is manageable, but my present customary weight is 30 lbs. So while this KB was heavier, the 5 lb. difference felt a lot more significant and the round bell part of the weight created a distinct swish urge. What I mean is, with a dumbbell I pull the weight up through my shoulder with my hand and wrist steady toward and toward my hip. Even with the heavier dumbbell, my arm and wrist stay stable and still while pulling with my shoulder. However with the kettlebell, the urge to unbend my bent elbow and swing the bell toward my hip is strong. I don’t think it is the weight itself so much as the distribution thereof. I mostly resisted the urge to swish it, but the fact that I’m detailing it here tells me I might have flickered my wrist and arm more than I realized.

Band work for speed returned today with the band horizontal speed rows. I like these because we don’t count reps and the objective is to maintain good form while going as fast as I can until it feels like my arms are about to fall out of my shoulder sockets. Cues here were the usual ones – chest up, pull back with shoulders and relax forward into the stretch – and keep that up until shoulders start to round forward with fatigue and then do at least 5 more. Signs of growth and forward progress? That actually makes perfect sense to me.

A favorite is the dumbbell overhead pullover, today with a 30 lb. dumbbell (when not downstairs to snag a 35 lb.). Since I have be retraining myself to put my feet on the floor (rather than on the bench), I think I might like these even more. It’s almost like a whole body exercise, since we’re focused on pulling the weight back overhead and tightening those lats and abs and stuff while hefting the weightier weight.

For the band speed straight-arm pulldown, we used the lightest yellow band over the highest bar on the TRX rack, and believe me, both points make a difference in the way this exercise feels. Usual cues are in place – chest up and shoulders back, pull bands straight down – only once I get the groove down go as fast as possible while maintaining good form until shoulders start to round and then do 5 more (before collapsing to the floor in a heap). (Okay, that last was just the thought that flitters through my mind; J would never suggest such a thing out loud.) After the work we did today, I was feeling the fatigue and ready to stop almost immediately after starting, but I kinda/sorta hung in to get the feel for what the speed work actually feels like to me. After the first set, I gave up trying to hold onto the handles and went back to my usual grip on the band just above the handles. No idea why it makes a difference, except for the habit that comes with 2 years of doing straight-arm pulldowns with that grip. I am still feeling the work in my lats and back muscles from this block of exercises.

Or maybe it was the new band facepull exercise I learned today. More and more lately we have been using the big giant rubberband loop rather than the 2-handled stretchy bands for various things, and I have come to appreciate it more than that regular stretchy bands. For the facepull, J secured it to the rack and then showed me how to grip the band about shoulder width apart to mimic the rope attachment on the cable tower. The rest of the facepull action works my back and shoulder muscles in similar ways as the cable tower. Fascinating to me how effective this is as an exercise, but when people discuss resistance training they are usually thinking weights or cables and overlooking the effectiveness of the bands.

I remain sort of ho-hum on most bicep curls, and the Zotman curls are so unmemorable I had to text J to ask what was paired with what because of the last 2 blocks of exercise pairings I could only remember 3. The Zotmans I find interesting if only because I have to keep an eye on my shoulders to make sure they are not wandering too far back or trying to shrug up. While I most definitely have more bicep mass than I can ever recall having, I suppose I don’t care enough about them to expend a lot of focus on what feels like a boring exercise. When curls appear on Lists I do them, but it’s not an “oh goody! Bicep curl!” type experience.

Someday I might want to do a pull-up, but that someday is so far into the mysterious future I cannot even envision it. I learned today how to do a TRX lat pull-up, though, and it was plenty enough work to keep the regular pull-up a very distant future aspiration when I have conquered and mastered everything else. The basic shape was easy enough to understand – shorten the strap handles to absolute minimum, grab shortened handles and squat with arms extended overhead, then step forward so upper body is at an angle as if doing a lat pulldown. From there, pull up with arms and lats, using legs as little as possible while pulling up. It was hard, but absolutely captured my imagination as not that impossible for me to improve upon with practice. I love that. J says this can substitute for the overhead pullover, but since I love that one too, it will remain kind of a standalone bonus exercise for this List.

Kitchen Sink Thoughts

Pondering a multitude of things today. With all the stuff going on in the world, with Harvey and the fallout of that natural disaster in Houston, I do have an attitude of gratitude and hopeful heart for those who have lost their homes and possessions and remain displaced. Since one of my biggest clients is sort of from that area and still maintains a home and large business presence there, it has been something I have been dealing with this week. He has several investment properties there in flooded neighborhoods and will soon be getting some first-hand reports about damages from his local property managers. In the meantime, families are displaced and completely devoid of possessions. It’s impossible for me to even imagine how that feels.

I was reading a few things this morning about survivor’s guilt that gave me pause. One of my nearest and dearest passed away suddenly and unexpectedly last week, yet of the range of emotions I feel, guilt is conspicuously absent. I am incredibly sad and insanely angry at times, but mostly happy and grateful for the rich cache of memories, painful as they feel in this time period. It makes me wonder what drives that. I am a survivor of a few things, and perhaps I have had enough therapy through the years to cleanse my system of anything as wasteful as guilt.

With the better health quest, I periodically get questions and comments akin to “don’t you wish you started earlier in life?” I am not a worrier by nature, nor am I someone who looks back with regret, so I find such inquiries perplexing. Worry and regret imply opportunity for different outcomes, an issue of control and decision-making and obsessing over aspects of both outside my sphere of influence. I tend to be pragmatic about things, look at my options and make the best choice possible, and yes, sometimes there is an emotional bend to what course I select. Depending upon the situation, I might be plagued or crippled by insecurity and self-doubt about the various ways to do things, but once the decision is made, it is done and no amount of worry about rightness or wrongness of my choices would alter the situation. If the decision rested with someone else, I would offer an opinion, sometimes passionately argue my point of view, but I respect our individual autonomy. I am not an “I told you so” sort of judgment being. If things don’t work out based on choices made, it’s part of life’s learning curves.

Such is the timing and ongoing nature of my better health quest. Of course I knew 20 or even 30 years ago that regular exercise and healthier eating would benefit me, but during those periods there were other goings on in my life that made better long-term health decisions a far lower priority. I think about it now, as I have young adult children with eating habits that directly relate to their upbringing and it does come up in our discussions. Mom guilt is definitely a thing, but not one that has infected me directly. I can tell you I did the best I could, but that’s inaccurate. I made choices based on the circumstances and situations in my life at the time, and while many of those choices were very good, sound, practical – near as I can tell both my kids are productive members of society – not every decision I made as a parent was in the kids’ best interests. I do not feel defensive about my parenting, and if someday they tell me they hate me and that I am/was a terrible mother, well okay. They are adults and have complete agency and independence to base their own impulses, choices, and beliefs upon their own truths, hierarchy of values and needs, and I absolutely respect that. Unless there is something specific for which they can cite and I should from my own judgment apologize for, I am/was a good and imperfect parent. Just like every other parent I personally know.

I can look back with regret for not gaining mastery and control over my diabetes before it became an issue for which injected insulin was required. But why? Energy is a finite resource; why waste it on something I cannot change now? Hence my tendency to dismiss worry and regret. Going forward, I am fortunate to have a body that responds as well as it does to regular exercise and adjustments to the fuel I feed it. Key for me: in the present moment, while I am training with J or practicing on my own or planning my meals or drinking my protein shakes, I know I will regret any conscious decision to stop if I quit now. Beginning, middle, end of story about why I focus on consistency and developing better habits.

In the gym, I try to be super careful about form and not getting hurt. Because I don’t want to be sidelined for doing something stupid. With my current healthier eating strategy, I am ruthlessly cutting back on processed foods, especially carbohydrates. I eat bread 2 or 3 times per week in meat and cheese sandwiches. I have single portion servings of potatoes and rice with a few dinners each week. Pasta has become something for special occasions or when I just have some amazing craving for spaghetti or lasagna. Pizza remains my one big splurge food, but I am pretty disciplined about no more than 2 slender slices or cutting one bigger slice in half. Fresh fruit is my primary gratuitous sugar source, and I eat A LOT more vegetables and green and leafy salads. Protein shakes are fast and easy and my staple before morning practices/training and occasionally as a midday meal (if I am overwhelmed with work) or snack (if I am returning to the gym for a social practice).

The effort is starting to show. It feels like owning up to that feels right and normal and honest, not like I am claiming premature victory. In fact, if I can own when I do not work as hard as I think is reasonable (slacker me), then I can own that the scale is being nudged along by the changes in my eating habits and consistent efforts in the gym.

For me, that’s big progress.

I still do not chase the scale. I have desensitized myself to it as merely a tool for data gathering and hop on every morning, make note of the reading, and continue on with my day. The angst and self-flagellation for lack of positive outcomes is a distant spot in my rearview mirror. As long as my glucose meter reports predictably normal results I have no real concerns.

Kitchen sink – so appropriate for the randomness of my thoughts today from and about training. While I could tell you about the theological and anatomy discussion, some things that happen in training need to stay in training. Besides, my training recaps are overly long as it is anyway.

I was pretty wrung out by the time we finished today, but in good ways. Work has been busy/hectic/crazy, and because of the type of project I have been working on this week I have actually sitting for extended stretches analyzing spreadsheets rather than standing or walking on my treadmill desk. Who knew sitting like this would be detrimental to my hips and glutes? I had this weird cramp in my hamstring/glute this morning doing hammie curls and had to stop for a quick rest, but I got back into it and saved the set. Standing at the treadmill desk for extended periods is having some better effect than sitting, but I am paying attention to my Fitbit alarms to move and stepping down and walking around for the 250 step minimum every hour.

The really great thing these days: I like the way I feel. Granted fitting into smaller sized yoga pants is a huge rush, but I simply like the way body feels and the budding confidence that I can and will get up from the floor under my own power and without needing assistance. Huge. My mind feels clearer and my focus sharper. I’m starting to consider things like getting my trusty beach bike cleaned up and ready to deploy again, because I believe myself far more capable now than the last time I was last it was out and about on it (that’s like 5 years if I am counting). Maybe there is a “real” bike in my future. Or not. Time will tell.

While I would like to step out and take more walks to clear my head and wind down from an intense workday, temperatures have been 100+ all week and not something I want to go out into just to clear my head. But I am thinking about the cooler fall and winter months, how it might be nice to step out in the middle of the day and take a 30 minute walk as I did when my days had more structure with a lunch hour in the middle. That my mindset has adjusted to go to the gym for a huffy-puffy List or take a walk (when it’s not blisteringly miserable outside) is a huge victory for me. Before, it might have been surf the net or take a walk to the kitchen and eat crackers or other tasty (but so not good for me) snack foods.

Last week a lost friend returned to the friendship fold after being away for a short marriage and longer divorce proceedings. She had heard about our friend’s death and reached out. We had a very nice 2+ hour conversation by phone and will get together when she returns to the area in October. But chatting with me, she marveled at my attitude of self-assurance and self-acceptance. While at times it seems I should have been here long before this point in my life, some life lessons take longer to master. Again, looking forward to whatever comes next rather than look backwards with regret at the coulda/shoulda/woulda factor is far healthier for me.

I apply that to the exercise as well. We did some new things today, and I always like learning new things, even new things I dislike. I now have my own big giant rubber band on order so I need not chase around the gym to find one when I want to use it, nearly always when I am downstairs in the big kids’ room (more accurately renamed by my son because there are plenty of women using that area that comfortably own their places) and the bands are kept in the storage locker upstairs. Where I once looked back at training days and grimaced for all I failed to do properly or with enough intensity or commitment, now I look forward to practice on my own and figuring out where I feel weak or have questions or need a do-over on the demonstrations. It is what it is – sometimes I just don’t get it – and I have lost any and all shame about having to ask for help.

But what really cements this for me – recently I think I have been trying to do things with too heavy or too light of weights. Too heavy is always easier to diagnose – struggle, struggle, fail, or worse, something hurts in sharp and unnatural ways. Too light is tougher, because there are a lot of exercises where we do lesser weights or resistance and pursue longer sets. Where I began to take note is when form started to suck eggs and be sloppy, so I had to slow down and analyze where I was going wrong (this time). When it has been a long-standing exercise that reappears on various Lists, I feel/felt sort of dumb for having to ask for refresh.

I know I should not feel dumb. I also know my lack of recall on everything is not something I market or wear like a brand for fame and glory, which is a not-so-private fear of mine. So when I have one of those moments, better to make note of it and text my question while it’s fresh. Maybe it’s a big step forward that those types of texts are fewer and farther between than the random chit chat we typically exchange.

Which is another topic simmering in the recesses of my mind – mindset is such a curious thing. How do we change it or improve upon it? How do we make ourselves develop the discipline to be consistent at something beneficial that is a whole lot of painful work?

Near as I can tell, the habit of doing the same things over and over and over again eventually breeds success. Muscles become more resilient and capable of the workload. Tastebuds change and what once tasted so amazing (eventually) becomes overwhelming in less than positive ways.

I can speak with far more assurance in the exercise realm. There was a new variation on the high-to-low chops on Monday. Every single time I have tried the newer variation these last few days, I inevitably revert to the original version. If there is such a thing as muscle memory, my muscles remember how I learned this movement and forces me to consciously change shape and direction to make myself perform the other one. And high-to-lows are not even something I feel especially good or gifted at doing either. But my habit says “hinge” when the new version is more deliberate side bend.

Healthier eating is an ongoing battle and likely will be into the foreseeable future. My love of sugar and junk food is a lifelong addiction and must be respected as such. I know people who are absolute models of consistency when it comes to practicing moderation, but at this point in my life with food, it’s absolutely not me. And I suspect it will always be some measure of struggle, and I have learned to accept this as part of my reality. Putting that into perspective, over the course of my life to date I have overcome much bigger and much greater challenges. Time and practice, I will gain some mastery over this as well.

Finding balance is another skill that has me surfing the learning curve in knowing how and when to utilize it appropriately. Yet another tool in life’s toolbox. Gaining enough experience with that skill to utilize it effectively and efficiently is quite the trial-and-error learning process, though.

I love my job, and the biggest chunk of my time is spent in front of computer screens. However, my next challenge is not so much juggling all the work I have to do so much as it is learning to stand or find the right slow-mo speed for the treadmill desk to lull me into the focused trance that I need to get through a tougher project without having to sit down 10+ hours per day. As J pointed out to me this morning, it is not so much the sitting so much as it is the staying in one position for extended periods of time.

For me personally, I need to be on my feet more of the time anyway. The discoloration and swelling in my left leg tends to return when I sit for extended periods. I have grown complacent with my more active workdays, and it was disappointing to see the darkness return to my left shin. Another insistent reminder that sitting for extended periods is something to be avoided if at all possible.

Writing about all this today and triggered (positively) by several posts in my fat loss group to think about the why of it all, I thought about John Kennedy’s famous quote about space exploration:

We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.

My time to learn to exercise, to eat better, is now. For me, my life does depend upon the better health quest, adopting and learning habits that will carry me through more gracefully into even older and grayer twilight years. While I have no clear idea what retirement may look like, I do know that my hopes are pinned on being an active participant, to not be sitting on the sidelines and wishing to be younger and stronger so I could move more freely through my life. Already it bothers me that my hips and glutes are trying to solidify and turn to stone after a few days of mostly sitting and staring intently at my computer screen. The regular exercise and healthier eating strategy is hard, but not impossible and definitely not beyond reach. In this struggle I am and was just like everyone else starting out or falling out of the habit. Finally I have managed to get far enough out of my own way to feel successful, so much so that it no longer worries me how I might fall down or falter in my quest. I now have enough experience and enough tools to know I can and will get back up and reclaim my present level of success.

But I would really rather not fall down, so I focus on my consistency in the better health quest over everything else. The rest will fall into place eventually.

#august2017, #balance, #better-health, #consistency, #diet, #exercise, #fitness, #gym, #happy, #health, #healthy-eating, #positivity, #productivitiy, #progress, #weight-loss

Another day in paradise (day 8)

I mean the title very genuinely: it was another day in paradise at the gym this morning. A tribe sister and her husband are back from a dream trip to Paris, so it was nice to see them and touch base, catch up a bit. Then I crossed paths with my friend C and got some catch-up time while J put her through her List paces. We were hoping to break bread together on Friday, but C is off to exotic places with old friends on Thursday. We will reschedule.

My List and time spent working went very well. Mini band lateral walks and glute kickbacks, then the 45 degree hyperextensions on the V-shaped stand thing, then the wide bar lat pulldowns. Interesting fact I learned today – the V-shaped stand thing is the only thing probably in the entire gym that is not labeled with what it is or what it is actually used for. Who knew? Now me, after having to ask J what the reverse hyperextension is when there is no stability ball referenced. Typo on his part, admission that I have not pursued this List in a few weeks on mine. And apparently it shows. No finger-pointing condemnation toward me, merely yet another acknowledgment of so many Lists, too few practice days.

Pretty happy with the 45 degree hypers, other than a traitorous right foot that wants to twist with the torso elevation and as a consequence twist ever so slightly and cause unanticipated pain in my knee. Soooo – new note to self about pressing hard on heel and keeping that foot still. And until I get there, I need to watch it from my upside down pose and make the tiny adjustments as needed. The rest of the work went well enough – tighten glutes, partial rib tuck at the top to keep back from arching. Lather, rinse, repeat.

From there I moseyed along to the lying down hamstring curl machine and the TRX trio of rows, Y, and face pulls. This segment goes pretty quickly, yet … not so much. Keeping the straps taut and focusing on the back and shoulder and that whole range of muscles that should be working together and working, period. But I still love the lying (autocorrect had my first misspelling as “lounging”) hamstrings machine. I feel as if I am improving with this set of exercises.

The final block in today’s List was the standing tall straight-arm pulldown, the lean forward straight arm pulldown, and the underhand high row. All I can say – I really need to practice this List more frequently. I can still feel the squeaks in my back and shoulders.

Kind of sends shivers up my spine thinking about the pleasant nature of body squeaks.

Since I had some extra time today, I went upstairs to work on the latest nemesis corral. Bent arm planks and floor chops (crunches and sit-ups), renegade rows, also from the floor with the pair of 10 lb. dumbbells. Since I did not have my phone and headset for music, I’m had to count the breathing and the seconds on the planks. Hopefully I made it at least 10, but who knows? I’ll be better tomorrow. Floor chops – J says MAX as a rep range, and today I made it through a series of 6 in the first set, 5 in the second. Not terrible. Renegade rows – 5 in the first set, 4 in the second. Not great, not terrible. But better than nothing, and more practice should benefit me in the long run.

It is a good day.

I was wandering through the grocery store at today enroute to the deli and my weekly sandwich indulgence. But in my travels up the beverage aisle (to my new favorite flavored seltzer water), I passed a couple of ladies about my age shopping. Snatches of conversation overhead in passing one was lamenting the cost of gastric bypass surgery and the other was talking about the pain in her legs. Twinges of sympathy went through me, because it is so easy to imagine myself in the same place and having the same thoughts and feelings about my body and my health. I certainly do not feel smug or superior for making the choices I have, because I don’t know them at all and am in no position to pronounce judgment on total strangers. Mostly I’m grateful to have the time to still make different choices, that there are still options available to me.

While for the most part I am making better food choices, I am still imperfect in this regard, most definitely a work in progress. But for today, my sandwich was delicious, a nice break from my usual protein shake and piece of fruit. I can tell when I’m not eating a lot of junky food, because I just feel better. I often think that alone should be enough to keep me on the straight and narrow with regard to diet, but I am all too often wrong. There are consequences for every decision I make, and I know that to be true. Sometimes I just feel like eating the junk, and usually there is an unacknowledged emotional component. Changing that behavior, acknowledging that I am eating a cheeseburger because I’m stressed or angry or unhappy about something makes me really tends to put the brakes on what I order.

My weekly meal plan – I include a sandwich day when I’m working at a client’s location, because I like a normal lunch to break up the food boredom. Nothing wrong with meat or with cheese, or sliced sourdough bread. I am striving to learn how to exercise some self-discipline and moderation in my eating, one meal per week at a time.

In all honesty, when it comes to food, that’s about all I can handle right now.

And I am good with that. I’ll be in the gym in the morning and reminding myself that my Lists, even the nemesis list, is more fun now because I am stronger and I am physically lighter. It’s a decent sized carrot dangling in front of me when food temptations begin whispering in my ear.

#august2017, #better-health, #diet, #exercise, #fitness, #gym, #happy, #health, #healthy-eating, #weight-loss

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

The Scale (day 6)

Before I get started on today’s brain dump-palooza, let me tell you about my yesterday and today at the gym. Nothing astonishing or amazing happened; I was not bothered by muscle-headed men invading my space and trying to bully me. Nope, just uneventful practices that made me feel so splendid for various reasons.

First there was that extremely rare to the point of hereforeto thought of as extinct Saturday evening practice. My son-in-law was in town last week and we got together with him, G and K for breakfast before G’s workday (and mine) began. So meeting them for a meal at 8:30 and the gym not opening until 7 — no typical practice for me. The good part of having to meet a client and complete a project on Saturday was that the big boys’ update and new flooring was completed and equipment put back where it belongs. I thought I might want to hang out and use that area, but I instead chose to revisit and review Thursday’s List.

New favorite lower pull List. Or is it a push List? Whatever, never favorite. So interesting to me that I went through it Saturday night and again this morning.

I cannot believe how awful and yet productive 60 seconds of dead tread push is or can be. Oh my – it’s dripping sweat inducing, heart raising not much fun at all. But it’s damn effective. Forget trying to do a huffy-puffy List after another workout; I’ll just strive to get a few minutes of this in and call it great. Between that and my new success with renegade rows, I am a very happy camper. I tested the renegade rows from the floor this morning and got through fewer – 4 and 5 per arm in the sets attempted with a set of 10 lb. dumbbells, but so much better than ever before. I managed 10 and 8 reps from the bench last night and this morning. So YAY ME!

Might not sound like a lot to those who are stronger, fitter, or been at this longer, but this is huge progress and major win for me.

Now onto the catch-and-release segment of today’s post.

I have this long-standing hate-hate with the scale, and for the longest time I would avoid it like some terribly deadly and contagious disease. Over the course of the last few months, I have gotten on it nearly every day and carefully noted my weight. It’s gratifying when it reads even a 0.1 pound difference lower than the day before, and unnerving and anxiety-inducing when it moves even 0.1 pounds in the other direction. Looking through my notes, I have days where I have dropped 2.2 pounds overnight, and other days when I have gained 1.8 pounds in the same number of hours. The repeated exposure to such trends has acclimated me to the swings, and my emotions and mental state are far less impacted with the understanding of the variables. Calories I am consuming, exercise I am pursuing, how much I am sleeping. Good days where I operate at a pretty stable calorie deficit I am typically lighter the next day. Other good days when I have eaten heavier meals and/or been less active on my treadmill desk may read higher, sometimes significantly higher. It’s life. It’s an indicator that tweaks and adjustments to my food intake, activity levels, sleep and stress may be in order. It’s not the end of the world as I know it now. I am not buying a ticket on the bullet train back to injectable insulin if there is an upward fluctuation.

My awareness is expanding. I have more accurate information to make smarter decisions. Or not. I always have choices, and I do not always make the wisest choices. Owning it, accepting responsibility for the consequences of my actions is part of this journey and the objective of making progress. The less freaking out over those consequences also makes life so much more pleasant.

The perception of the information is what tends to fuel my fears and draws a reaction from me. Hopefully my response is positive – I make healthier food choices and amp up my activity level as opposed to binge junk food shopping and skipping my gym practice from a sense of failure. For the most part, I can feel moderately confident that I will make good choices. Now, anyway. My mindset is changing, albeit very slowly. I tend to prioritize what I value most, and my overall health has become exceedingly important to me.

Because it has not always been this way, I am somewhat sensitive to the marketing and personalized stories I read on Facebook, blogs, the internet at large. So many of the messages are superficial and in my opinion, dangerous. But this is likely how fad diets and other unhealthy practices are born. My own personality type and strains of crazy – I have long wanted to be successful, to not perceive myself as such a complete and total fuck-up when it comes to managing my weight and appearance, I would be tempted by the quick fix solutions. Rarely would I succumb to them, though, because my more rational mind understands what seems too good to be true all too often is unreal and a scam.

I mostly hope to be smarter than the marketing. And to keep at least a step ahead of my fork.

Making friends with the scale – maybe it happens. Someday. For now, it’s not my enemy. I am happy to just have it be a tool that shares information with me, not something to fear or be anxious about every morning. While it remains a struggle to be rational and not see it as an independent body passing judgment on me every single morning, it is a battle I am mostly winning.

Plus I am making progress on good reports more often than not. Even 0.1 pound down is better than no change at all or worse – 0.1 pound gained.

#august2017, #choices, #emotional-health, #exercise, #fitness, #gym, #happy, #mental-health, #progress, #weight-loss

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

PT-22.2: Snap! (but no crackle or pop)

I am sort of torn about splitting recaps into multiple posts. It is mostly working, yet I apparently have so much to say it takes awhile to sort out my thoughts and get them committed to screen. In my mind both parts of this equation are important to me for different reasons, and if it takes an extra day to get the second part written, so be it. There is a little overachiever inside my head that things I should be capable of thinking, typing, writing faster. Reality is that I’m rarely satisfied with my effort when I rush through it.

Key Takeaways

The snapping of a mini band while it’s wrapped around the ankles kind of stings, but the actual reality of the momentary pain is actually less significant than what my imagination produces. I was completely unprepared for how ridiculously excited I was about it actually happening. The session and the day have both been so good the mini band event has direct, head-to-head competition for the best thing that occurred to me today.

I like the peppier pacing with the mini band walking to and fro. Other than trusting no one is going to plop themselves down in my path while my back is quite literally turned and I am engrossed in the walking backward process, I feel pretty confident about my abilities in this regard. After all, it’s been months since I actually toppled and fell down with mini bands wrapped around my ankles.

Overall, I think today easily qualified as a huffy puffy session, even if the List is part of the upper/lower splits series. I hesitate to ever label a session as best or even better, because then it feels like something spectacular must happen to top it. Yet the trend continues. I get so much out of training. I learn something new, he presents a new challenge and it is either possible with practice or not quite there yet. How odd that I feel no sense of failure if I am not quite there. Yet. My new favorite word when it comes to exercise and Lists – yet.

What We Did

Mini band lateral/forward/backward walks and straight leg glute kickbacks
1-legged Romanian deadlift with dumbbells

Bulgarian split squat
Goblet squats

Curtsey lunges

Sumo squats
Lateral lunges

How It Felt

While J has the mini band exercises on the List as one big tangled ball of exercise, and since he is very wise about this stuff, I think of it in terms of one big exercise of 15 yars of walking per series of walking back and forth and then another 20 per leg of glute kickbacks. The crazy/sexy/cool love affair with mini bands has begun anew, and while I impatiently await my new set to be delivered, I shall nurse along my final extra heavy band. I love the way the walking and the kickbacks make me feel powerful, like I can snap one of them in half. Sort of, anyway. After any number of months pass. But hey, it happens.

Today we dropped from a pair of 15 lb. dumbbells down to a pair of 10 lb. dumbbells and it made all the difference – I had a far easier time with the 1-legged Romanian deadlift with dumbbells. I still have the weeble-wobbles and am not lifting rear foot that far off the ground when I am not using it as the kickstand that keeps me from toppling.

Still hating on Bulgarian split squats, but doing okay with them. We do these in the 1.5 version, which seems even more difficult and sweat-fest inducing. But for the most part I have the shape down and remembering to stay rib-tucked all the way through. Now if I could just figure out a way to make the easier to execute.

While we have been doing goblet squats forever, I am sure today was the first time we have used a 25 lb. dumbbell for the weight – kind of a big deal when we graduate upward to a weightier weight. I think most recently I have been using the 15 lb. kettlebell, so it’s a bit of a jump. No issues, just feeling it in my legs and glutes. Happy feels, though, and like discovering some old, beloved toy in the deepest, darkest corner of the toybox and remembering all its fun qualities.

One of the biggies for the day was the step-ups. J had commented that part of his job is to challenge me, and today he wanted to see how I would do with the tallest box, which I THINK is 30″ tall (up from the 18″ box I have been using). Now, I do not ever jump on these things; I step up or climb up on them. Took me awhile to get to the point of competency stepping up and down, much less hip hinging at the top, but I got there. Adding another foot to what I am accustomed to stepping up on and balance is not there. Yet. So we positioned the box right next to the big giant suspension frame so I had a handhold to step/climb up onto this tallest box. Legs – either of them – are not quite strong enough to pull myself up to that height without handhold for balance, but I will get there. I was just so amazed to be able to make it work for me even with the handhold.

In my version of Hell, I try valiantly to get the shape of curtsey lunges correctly executed as well as trying for more than 9 consecutive push-ups. I know this because of a vivid nightmare on Thursday night where I am surrounded by flames that only get worse the harder I struggle with these exercises. And that pretty much illustrates my experience with the curtsey lunges. Hate. Them. Bobbing near the top of my nemesis stable with all the version of chest flyes I do battle with every week. Obviously A LOT more practice is in order. Monday there was a change in the depth of the backward sidestep. This time I worked on the depth of the backward step and ensuring the weight is on the front foot, not the rear foot. Ugh. I’ll get these. Eventually.

Another ridiculously exciting development with the sumo squats – graduating to a 55 lb. kettlebell. Not ever going to say it was easy, because it was insanely exhausting. But maybe a little (okay, a LOT) of fatigue is the cost of improvement. I now find myself looking at my feet – are they wide enough, maybe too wide, foot turned out the just right angle? Still, stepping up to this weightier weight and being successful with the rep range is a huge triumph for me.

We actually skipped the lateral lunges today in favor of extra time and energy spent pursuing improvement on the curtsey lunges. As you can tell from my write-up about progress with those, I obviously need the additional session time and practice.

Practices Between Now and Monday

Friday morning, I did a quick run through upper body. I slacked just a bit because of a late start. Plus my focus was just not in it today, which also happens from time to time. Not quite a bad day, or a worse day, or anything else. Sometimes life happens.

Tomorrow I will be back at this, I think. Depends on timing of my arrival and how much traffic upstairs. Still, it will be lower body something. Whatever I do this weekend, I have to add the push-ups. Otherwise I may find myself haunting the Hell of my dreams too frequently for my own comfort.

Kitchen Sink Thoughts

Find them here. My final thought from the day:


#diet, #exercise, #fitness, #food, #gym, #happy, #health, #healthy-eating, #inspiration, #mental-health, #nutrition, #positivity, #progress, #weight-loss

PT-22.1: Snap! (but no crackle or pop)

Thursday morning, training with J. We were back and working on lower body with the hip-heavy emphasis. And today, today THIS happened:


3/16/2017 – Heavy mini band snapped from several months of regular use.

It does not happen to me very often, but I snapped my heavy mini band. And I’m THRILLED! Once upon a time this felt like way too much for me, and today, it finally broke after months of regular use. It had gotten stretched out during the process of transitioning to the extra heavy band that I use more and more frequently, and knowing we would be mini banding today, I prefer to use my own rather than have to dig through the toy box and try to find something suitable.

Honestly, this feels a bit like one of the early colored belts in martial arts, as if I have advanced to some new level in the exercise realm.

Kitchen Sink Thoughts

When I arrived at work today, my receptionist trailed me into my office as he does most mornings. This is usually his time to tell me about what is on his agenda for the day, what he is having issues with, where he feels like his workload may be suffering and getting my approval to either fall a little behind on some routine tasks or my blessing to work some extra hours to stay caught up. One of the best hires I have made in years, he learned his first day that telling me about things with even remotest potential of blossoming into a problem up front is always going to benefit both of us when the perfect storm of circumstances hits. On top of which, I enjoy the interaction first thing in the morning. It gives us a chance to chat and stay connected before the craziness and demands of our days truly begins.

Anyway, with yesterday’s staffing drama and some time away from the office to absorb and process the impact and meaning of it all, I was not surprised he was a little on edge this morning. While it’s not nothing, it is also not enough of something to impact the remaining staff. We have plenty of work ahead, and had the “fit” of those released be better, they would still be with us. It’s the whole story.

But on the tail of that reassurance, my receptionist said he was glad it was Thursday, becasue I am always in an extra good mood on training days. I was kind of surprised by the comment, as I do not perceive it as being a thing. He says I look happier and more relaxed, the way everyone looks, feels, acts when we win or settle a case in a way that feels like a win. He hastily added that I am not angry or sad or depressed when I come in, but I’m extra sparked on Mondays and Thursdays. That makes me smile.

Because while I do have so much fun in training, I had no real idea there was any sort of noteable carryover into the rest of my day. To me it seems there is a happy life baseline that I hover around, and while I have my bad days – Monday morning was actually one of them after an early morning argument with M (over storage location of a kitchen gadget, which obviously has more to do with forces outside our relationship to trigger that level of snarky meltdowns on both sides) escalated into an anger ball on the inside sort of day – my ability to cope with my emotional imbalances has improved dramatically. Exercise has become my go-to outlet that lets me focus on something tangible and within my control, and I can steadily increase weights or reps or set ranges until I feel the burn of the emotional outburst released via burn in my muscles. It has become a genuine game changer for me.

Yet I came into the office in my mostly normal “tone” of demeanor and attitude. While I had flashes of rage about the angry exchange with M, in my heart and mind I recognized it for what it was – stressure from work and work-related problems following me home. I cannot get really angry with clients or staff for their demands and incompetence (okay, maybe a little on that with the staff), but I could freak out on M over being mildly critical about placement of a food chopper. Training with J certainly helps a great deal, because he teaches me to focus on form and shape and let go of the rest of the crap inside my head, as did the yoga class with my work pal, and writing my recap. By the time I actually got home, M and I were both our calmer, normal versions of ourselves.

So there was that today. I had come home from the gym feeling fantastic and carrying my prized broken mini band trophy. M was duly impressed with my triumph of breaking my toy wearing out a piece of fitness equipment. Having watched me numerous times walking up and down hallways in hotels and our home with mini bands around my legs he was not at all surprised I finally wore it out.

More than just that, though, today felt uber huffy-puffy without actually being huffy-puffy-focused. Shirt soaked, sweaty and gross – I worked really hard and was completely immersed in it today. So much that when J said something about being at the midpoint of the journey, I could feel my heart actually start breaking with what I thought he meant.

He was actually speaking of lifespan, because at 55 currently I am middle aged no matter what longevity calculation is used. When he first said it, I immediately thought he was talking about my fitness and exercise journey, that I was at midpoint of what I could or would learn about being more physically fit. Since it seems to me like I barely know much less am yet capable of doing even less than that, my disappointment felt palatable. Then I realized he was not talking fitness at all, but about lifespan. Which made me feel so much better, because if I am only at the midpoint of life, I have plenty of time left to learn how to do more on my better health and overall fitness journey. Even if there is stuff I have little interest in pursuing for myself, I have this expanding curiosity to know about all things exercise, fitness, and health related.

A big giant step forward is that when my mind processed what I thought I was hearing, it was more a “no, this can’t be all there is” rather than a “I am too old and too dumb to learn anything else” type thought and feeling. Anymore, I know this to be untrue. In fact, Wednesday night I got to observe one of J’s powerlifting ladies working out an issue that has cropped up, and it was not-so-secretly gratifying that others have similar types of issues with compound movements and occasionally have to break those exercises down into steps before they are capable of the smooth, fluid, all-in-one movements as intended.

I love that once explained, I could see the subtleties and the issue he was describing and working with her to correct. I love that I actually understood the objective. And mostly, I love that there are ladies in the club wielding 165 lbs. on a barbell with elegance and grace, something that I cannot fathom and do not see in my future at this time. Anymore I never say never and retain an open mind on better health topics, but I am perfectly delighted with my dumbbells and machines in my present moments.

J said to me this morning that part of his job is to challenge me. Which immediately made me wonder how much challenge there is in that? And right on the heels of that thought was the hopeful idea that it gets more challenging as time passes? Ultimately, it doesn’t matter that much in the big picture scheme of things. We have a lot of fun in our sessions; I am at least as lively as other clients in the tribe in my efforts. But it’s fun to try the new things, to listen to the cues and the corrections and enhancements. Improvement is gratifying and is its own reward.

So while review of today’s List is not technically classified as a huffy-puffy List, the impact was very heavy-breathing, take-a-moment (or 5)-to-catch-my-breath type session. I love that I am not kicking myself for being imperfect with it, and I confess to eagerly awaiting delivery of my new set of mini bands to take them out for a spin. In the meantime, I will work with my remaining extra heavy band.

While warming up this morning, I was contemplating my various friends and other tribe members currently having issues with strains and injuries. I want them to get better, and it definitely reminds me that I need to continue taking care and trying hard to avoid a similar fate. Which brought me to my warm-ups of late, where I have been woolgathering and doing things outside the List in my head. I like the TRX for squats, split squats, single-leg hinges, etc. Then I like the bands for a set of rows and chest presses, straight-arm pulldowns, tricep presses, etc. Basic stuff that has mostly been on the warm-up Lists for awhile.

But today I am contemplating the mini bands for warm-up. Maybe a set of sideways, forwards and backwards. Sometimes I fall madly in love all over again with things we have not done recently, and I realize how effective it was/is to my overall sense of well being. The fancy-smancy Fitbit tells me I had a 78% cardio day, whereas most lower body days are more like 60% cardio, 40% fat burn and flip-flopped for upper body days. Huffy-puffy are something in the 75% to 85% cardio range.

I mentioned it because I have some lingering old anxiety about about huffy-puffy pacing. Little portion of mind’s real estate that is still influenced by negative girl broadcasts fear impulses about failure to keep up. Such bullshit. Whether I keep up or not is irrelevant at this point. My fears are based on the idea that I am lazy about the exercise or worse. Growing stronger, becoming more capable is as simple as flipping a switch and voila! I am officially able to keep up with J or others who have been toiling at this craft for far longer than my 20+ months.

The newly remodeled space requires adjustment, learning to get along with the new equipment, placement of the older equipment, running up and down the stairs bands or boxes or something else, etc. Could be a lot worse. But like everyone else, I am adjusting and making it work for me. Someday soon I will forget all about the former body fit room, that I still kind of miss for the possibility of music on the speakers if nothing else, but for now, I still miss the way things were. Plus, it seems like every single day there is a new something in the room taking up more and more of the open space.

Many hours later, I am still a-bask in the glow of yet another successful and gratifying session. Tired, sweating buckets, lungs aching from the huffy-puffy breathing.

I love this. I have never felt more successful or been happier with any hobby or non-professional pursuit. I worked hard, I earned, and damn straight – I deserve to feel this kind of great.

#diet, #exercise, #fitness, #food, #gym, #happy, #health, #healthy-eating, #inspiration, #mental-health, #nutrition, #positivity, #progress, #weight-loss