Training #81 – I’m gonna be somebody

Thursday morning, time for another training session with J. So. Much. Fun. Kind of a review day on steroids, because nothing especially new or startling, but rearranged and some new goodies delivered in the cueing and the actual doing. Exercise updates or upgrades and enhancements are always appreciated.

Today was all about upper body, a counterpart to Monday’s lower body. As I said, the exercises on this List are things we have done before, but with the subtle enhancements to the cueing so it resounds more powerfully or enhanced with a stability ball or a weight plate. It was so much fun. I know, I say that all the time. But I geek out over the exercise theory and how muscles work and what they are supposed to be doing and how I should be feeling them, so much I was kind of proud of myself this week for succeeding it making my glutes so damn sore. I mean, lots and lots of other things have ached in the course of the last year. But glutes are rare, and Monday into Tuesday they really smarted. Yesterday ran through Monday’s List again and today feel fine, no more aching soreness. M, in his infinite wisdom and running knowledge, told me that I should do the soreness-inducing workouts a little bit every day until body gets used to it.

I should have listened and not burned brain cells contemplating how those big giant butt muscles could possibly become so troublesome to sit on. But oh well. M knows it’s a crap shoot on offering me advice and my following it.

Fun, fun List we went through today:

For the Back
A1 – Lat Pulldown (Wide, Over, Under) (80 lbs., 3 sets, 8-12 reps)*
B1 – Seated Cable Row (60 lbs., 3 sets, 8-12 reps)*
C1 – 1-arm DB Row (30 lb. DB, 3 sets, 8-12/side)

For the Chest
D1 – Slight Decline DB Chest Press (25 lb. and 30 lb. DBs, 3 sets, 8-12)
E1  – Slight Decline DB Chest Fly (20 lb. DBs, 3 sets, 8- 12)

For the Shoulders
F1 – Seated Rope Facepull (30 lbs., 3 sets, 8-12 reps)*
F2 – 1-arm DB Snatch (15 lb. DB, 3 sets, 8-12/side)

For the Arms
G1 – Slow Tempo Rope Triceps Pushdown (40 lbs., 3 sets, 8-12 reps)
H1 – Cable 2-arm Biceps Curl (40 lbs., 3 sets, 8-12 reps)

J and I spent a few minutes at the white board going over the “under the hood” of the lower body stuff that made my glutes stand up and take notice of the workload I was putting upon them and then this new rendition of the upper body stuff. The * above is because I’m not 100% sure on the weights I have listed; it was exciting times and I do not remember clearly what setting we were using on the cable machines. I do know it got heavier and heavier as we moved along without J ever touching the pin on the weight plates.

Because the lat pulldown machines are located in the big boy’s section of the gym, I am still somewhat timid about venturing out there on my own. In my defense I am slowly overcoming it, but sometimes the area is wildly busy and I still have enough residual gym crazy to become self-conscious, anxious, and give myself license to avoid it. But training day I’m always fine with it, and into the future, I will work on getting a grip and just get over myself and on with it. I may have to force myself the first few times, but I can do it. With all that preface, I remember what I should be doing, but had a refreshing reboot on the cueing today. Past efforts found me focusing on not leaning back too much, which was first and foremost in my mind. Going forward, don’t lean back too much, chest up to meet the descending bar, bar to just below chin. Fascinating discovery today? How different each different hand placement feels on the bar. The wide is what we have done the most of, but the closer to the center section wakes up the back muscles differently. No plans at the moment to attempt pullups in my lifetime, but J tells me pulling the bar down that way sort of mimics the working muscles. Same with the underhand or reverse grip, mimics working muscles utilized in a chin-up. Fascinating to me when I actually feel the differences in such small changes myself. I am always so surprised, as if I am a special snowflake whose body does not provide feedback like everyone else’s bodies.

From there we went to the seated cable row, which remains a vexing machine. Having used an indoor rower for many years, my ingrained habit it to lean back while pulling on the handles. Only with the cable row machines, you don’t do that. Shoulders down and back, pulling low and sort of flexing the upper back in the sparest of leans backward. It’s so much harder than it looks. But I’m getting there even with my shrug tendencies. Again, this one is located in the big boy’s section of the gym and therefore need a lot more practice with this one. Big girl capris on. Pulled up. On.

Through the months we have done A Lot of 1-arm rows. But today, we did something new. Today we did them standing up and leaning against some other, bigger, badder bench-like structure. It was totally cool. Because to be frank, I am not crazy for 1-arm rows. Anymore they are okay, but I struggle with the heavier weights I am now using. They feel okay when using the 20 lb. or 25 lb. dumbbells for warm-ups, but when I get to the 30 lb. dumbbell gives me the struggles. Then J introduced me to the new stance, going from knee on the bench and hip-hinged at 90 degrees, this was standing up and leaning on the bigger, badder bench-like structure. Oh. My. Goodness. What a difference the standing up makes. It was a small change, but to me, completely changed this exercise for me. Maybe a new favorite is born? At the time is was hard work, focus-focus-focus, but thinking back about it now, oh my it was so much fun to feel successful and doing something old in a new and better (for me) way.

The chest press is a standard staple that we have done for months. I am up to using 30 lb. dumbbells (started with 10 lbs. DBs months ago) and feeling pretty confident with them anymore. So we went through a set as we normally do them, then J introduced elevating the foot of the bench with a weight plate. The slight decline DB chest press is indeed a very slight change. The weight plate was maybe an inch high, but it did change the dynamic of the movement. I know well the feeling of lowering those weights and where to stop before Very Bad Things could happen in the shoulders. With the slight decline, I feel the stopping point sooner, maybe an a half-inch or an inch before the normal, flat bench version. When J talks about the bad outcomes from not listening to body, I am most definitely listening to him and therefore listening really carefully to body. Today it was whispering new things about the mysteries of the slight decline trick.

Just like the slight decline in the chest press, the slight decline DB chest fly has the same sort of interesting effect on the stopping point on the lowering of the dumbbells. The slight decline has no discernable impact on the big bear hug part at the end of this exercise, but I do like these for the focus required to not let Very Bad Things happen to my shoulders.

Up to this point, we did these individually, no switching off. Built in rest pauses. It was really gratifying do each one for its 3 sets before switching it up to the next one. Next series we went back to alternating for each body part.

From the stability ball, we did seated rope facepulls. Oh my – had we always done these this way, I would do facepulls every single day. Not that I have anything against facepulls standing up, but these are so much more pleasant. Love them. New favorite thing in cable machine land.

The 1-arm dumbbell snatch is fairly new in the rotation and are part of my cardio-focused List with a light, 5 lb. dumbbell. When I do them in conjunction with other Lists, I have used 8 lb., 10 lb., and 12 lb. dumbbells as well, because I have been a bit of a scaredy cat and afraid of my form and technique. I have been getting better, more confident in my form and technique, and I am more than capable of using the 15 lb. dumbbell. Today was fine, no issues wielding the greater weight. I really like this exercise. Theme word of the day: these are a lot of fun in a really satisfying way.

On prior Lists when we have done triceps pushdowns, these were different pacing. The slow tempo rope triceps pushdown is different, and my muscle memory says peppy pacing, not this slower down, slower up that I learned today. I can do this, and J even took pictures of the cool little crease I am developing to prove it.

I am not a big fan of bicep curls; well documented in this blog. But, I do like the cable 2-arm bicep curl. First we used the W-shaped bar, because it was handy and available, and then switched to a straighter bar. I do not mind either, but the W-shaped bar the hands are closer together than on the straight bar. I like the control and stationary shoulder positioning of this version of bicep curls. But hey, my biceps are bigger, my batwings are no longer an issue. I am hulking out of lady’s blouses and tops and am thinking of taking commenter SAK’s advice and going sleeveless year round. Definitely thinking of parking my short sleeved workout shirts; I am starting to dislike the uncomfortable way sleeves are riding up my upper arms these days.

And that was my fabulously fun training day.

Of the many things discussed today, I commented that most of the time watching the steam coming out of my ears as I am thinking through each exercise. Sometimes I observe other members working and think their expressions are akin to people in casinos sitting playing slot machines. There is this glazed, vacant expression on their faces as they press buttons almost on autopilot. The days I feel like that, zombie mind demonstrating that I am mentally millions of miles from the gym, those are the days I do 1 or 2 sets and leave, because I’m not in the right headspace. I am glad this happens only once in awhile.

I had been thinking walking into the gym this morning that if trainer J got overwhelmed with new clients or teaching classes or just requests for more of his time from other clients I could probably give up one of my sessions each week. In the space of 3 steps closer to the gym’s lobby I had changed my mind and realized I want to be selfish and continue what I have. Because I deserve it? Well, yes … I work really hard at the stuff I am learning between sessions. No, primarily because I really like it and am feeling very empowered by the learning-reinforcement/review-practice-learning loop. If I feel as if I am not getting adequate practice time with my growing library I have alternatives before giving up one of my training slots. First and foremost would be longer mornings or a second practice in the evenings and/or on Sundays.

Honestly, no idea why the thought even popped into my head. Now is the gym’s slowing down period for holidays and people going on vacation, etc., as I have noted off and on the last couple of weeks when regular training tribe people before and/or after my slots are not coming in as usual. Maybe the week has been so productive and so downright pleasant I needed some heavier thought to bring my head out of the clouds where it was pleasantly floating.

We also talked about my recent doctor visit. As I discussed in this post, I had an amazingly good check-in with my endocrinologist this week. Internal body systems check says everything is in excellent shape and running very smoothly, and still no supporting medications, so I am very happy. J and I were talking about it this morning, and in another conversation, was relating to me a story that really hit home about the impact of our self-esteem and negative reflections and mindset.

Anymore, my own negative girl is amature hour. While I am far from the most confident member in the gym at any given moment, I have improved A LOT and come a long way in my ability to get shit done and not been wholly distracted by what else is going on all around me. That said, even at my worst I never said aloud that I hate my life, a statement that is jarring to me when it expressed, even jokingly, by others. Lots of times I have hated myself, and even now times where I am hard on myself for being human. Nature of the beast, I think. Day I think I have no more to learn, nothing else within myself to improve, hopefully that is the day I am drawing my last breath.

These days, I do not think about hating myself. There are habits and weaknesses I wish I would get busy working out my self-discipline to overcome, but negative girl bleatings about them are weak and mostly ineffectual. I am not a terrible person for stress eating or boredom snacking; I have a habit to break. Big different inside my noggin.

Thing is, I have reached this point of acceptance with my own body that says it is okay, maybe in transition somewhere else. On the insides, under the hood where it really matters, things are humming along in good order. Yes, I could drop weight and perhaps look amazingly better. Or not. In the long game, physical appearance is far less important to me. I have never been cut from the physically beautiful cloth and accepted that a long time ago. Chasing weight on the scale and measurements on the tape only makes me feel miserable, so I should just stop thinking about it now.

And with that, I have decided another 10 days on the fuck moderation eating strategy and then return to simply pursuing an overall healthier eating plan without fads, gimmicks, measuring, tracking food, counting calories/carbs/protein grams, or all the other stuff associated with weight loss. I like my morning protein shakes and will continue with that. I like the lunches I generally consume and will continue that. Maybe I’ll eat lean protein and green vegetables at dinner, maybe I will have another spinach-kale-berries protein shake instead, maybe I’ll eat a vegetarian omelette. Or not eat anything at all if I’m not hungry. The fuck moderation eating strategy has taught me a lot about the reality of how much food I need to consume to get through my days and in so many ways reset my beliefs on discerning what is a fuel need from what is a food want.

I have no idea what will happen with my weight, if I will lose some, stay the same, or heaven forbid, gain weight. The most meaningful numbers measuring my success are those that cover my overall health, not what appears on the scale and the tape measure. I know enough now, have enough guidance and village experts available to make keep myself in the good range without trying so hard.

Which brings me to another thought from this morning. I am starting to truly despise the comparisons which float to my mind and exist all around me. This is kind of a terrible example but something that did come up this week. Friend J has a new pal who remarked that I was “plain and unattractive” when whatever photo he has of me attached to his phone directory popped up in text. This comment did not endear her to my pal at all, and I actually kind of cringed on her behalf because even if she’s a total saint the rest of her life, she’s toast for as far as he is concerned. (One does not say insulting, unkind, or unflattering things like that about his friends she has never met. He’s very territorially protective that way.) While it did not even register a ripple on my radar – I do not know this woman therefore have no reason to give a shit about her opinion and she has now rendered herself unimportant in the grand scheme of things – it did get me thinking about why she would say something like that. Insecurity? Jealousy that I’m close to someone she’d like to be closer to? Because she’s bitchy that way? From there it was a fairly nimble jump to all the ways I myself think in comparative terms and either find myself grossly wanting or kind of smugly superior to others.

This is another habit I am working on breaking within myself. Ultimately, the person hurt most by such thinking behaviors is me, because there is always going to be someone fitter, prettier, smarter. For the most part I am fine with acknowledging those realities and admiring the better qualities of the fitter, prettier, smarter party. It’s the broader, more general, less defined “better” qualities that get me into trouble and start negatively impacting my zen. Perhaps I am better with money because I’ve been poor or overwhelmed with debt and am now not poor and climbed out of the debt pit and stayed out of it. Maybe I seem like a nicer, kinder person because my outlook with others is to try to find a positive spin on most situations. But to think or to feel that I am somehow better than someone else is disconcerting and uncomfortable for me, because there are way too many variables at play in such thinking. Admiring others or desiring to try and improve myself based on another’s attributes seems like a healthier course of action if I must engage in comparative or competitive behavior. But wanting to point out another’s shortcomings in certain areas because I feel inadequate when compared to them in others is just wrong. I am always going to stack up as better in some ways and worse in others in side-by-side comparisons with just about anyone. I am far healthier to simply not go there in the first place.

My objectives in life are fairly simple and completely interconnected – maintain my health and protect our independence. If my health were to begin faltering, my options in older, grayer, less work-dependent and work-oriented years become significantly more limited. Without my health M and I become more and more dependent upon and interrelated with others. Neither of us wants that. We want to retain our ability to move about freely on our own and to pursue our interests for as long as possible. Our hopes and dreams are not extraordinarily extravagant either. Joy is where we find it, and we are fortunate in being able to find it just about everywhere. We want that on our terms. We are both working at maintaining and improving upon our health for the purpose.

Working on my improving the fitness of my mental health has been just as vital as learning to move heavier weights to and fro and how sugar and carbs impact my blood sugar. Kind of sad that it has taken me this long to banish negative girl to her cage, but oh well. The years to now are filled with lots of wonderful memories as well.

So, final summary: absolutely FUN session today. Worked really hard. Learned a lot. Ridiculously excited for Saturday to run through it again. Unless I do something bold and M-like and pursue this List tomorrow? That could be an intriguing experiment. Or not. There’s always Monday’s leg list, because I’m still working at figuring out and ironing out the kinks in form and technique.

And while I already am somebody, I remain a work in progress. The cycle of continuous improvement does not ever end; there is always more to learn and to try and master more perfectly what I already know well. I remain ridiculously excited about the options and opportunities I have created for myself. It is good to be me.


Not quite goodbye, but change is in the works

My life is not a mess, but it pacing has been relatively brisk the last few months, particularly the last several weeks. Part of it is my own doing and design, and part of it is just the nature and fluidity of life.

But what does that MEAN, you could possibly be thinking?

My focus in 2016 has been heavily slanted toward my adventures and ongoing health and wellness journey. It’s not at all what I anticipated when I began this blog almost 3 years and 1000+ posts ago, but little in life is truly predictable. This not me apologizing for changing directions, going from mostly non-themed chatting about anything and everything that popped into my head to talking endlessly about exercise and eating strategies and health improvement stuff. But I admit to coming to the conclusion that my better health quest has taken on life of its own in my blogging endeavors.

I like writing about it. I like sharing it here in blogville. However, I am feel the weight of this being my personal blog, where one post I am giving you a training recap and the next day I am venting my spleen about the young whippersnappers at work or talking about shopping.

It is because of that dichotomy, I have come to the conclusion that change must happen.

So coming soon to a browser near you:

Yep, this will be a completely separate blog devoted to my better health quest and all that entails.

This new endeavor does not mean I am or will be abandoning this space anytime soon. I may not be posting as frequently or with such long tomes (thank goodness, they all said in unison), but this space will return to what I originally intended – my safe, and personal, space to sort out my stuff. I will most definitely still be around and writing about the rest of my life and times. But if you’re here to read my perspective on what we did in training or my latest arch nemesis in the gym and instead find me whining about my first world problem of nothing to wear in a closet stuff with clothes, a separate blog on health and fitness is a huge relief.

Once I get the new blog up and running – possibly as early as November or as late as the first of January – my training recaps will be going up there as well as anything and everything else about my better health pursuits. To round out 2016 and well as direct attention to my new gig for those with an interest, I will be posting links to the new blog once I begin publishing training recaps over there. However, since that space will be exclusively devoted to health, exercise, diet and eating, I hope to will have opportunity to explore and encourage guest posts from those in my realm and to highlight aspects of other types of fitness and health going on around me. For example, my son coaches a training group primarily focused on people who have never run a marathon before. M is a retired ultramarathoner and many of his/our friends are still active competitors and racing frequently throughout the year. Friend J and RD have both participated in weight lifting competitions, something I find both fascinating and horrifying at the same time. Trainer J directs my attention to books, articles, even other blogs that I want to write about and/or promote. I meet interesting people doing intriguing things at yoga and pilates and would love to share more of their stories. My experiences as a diabetic and details of things I glean from my medical team may be written in more detail sometime as well. Products – believe it or not I have actually been asked on occasion to try products in exchange for writing an honest review. To date I have declined such offers, because while hugely flattered and more than willing to write an honest review, it seems weird in a personal blog.

No, there are no plans underfoot to sell my soul for a lifetime supply of amazingly tasty but not very good for me protein powder, but there are things I use now that I like and would talk about in a more a dedicated forum. Again, no expert here. If you want to know whether or not something works well or is nutritionally balanced, there are far more credentialed experts out there. If you want to know if I think something tastes good or like soap, I’m happy to share my thoughts and experiences.

Truly, I think my perspective as average middle-aged woman trying to improve her health is my primary (maybe only?) selling point. That and I am not an audience blogger; I write for me and hope you read or find something interesting or useful in my content.

The possibilities to be more direct and (even more) verbose about my fitness endeavors seem endless to me. It’s not a passion or a hobby; this has truly had to become a way of life for me. What you have all been witness to the last 15, 16 months is my accepting that I have to exercise and alter a life of less balanced/less desirable eating habits. I am learning to embrace the reality of that, while feeling its overall challenges become less drudgery and more fascination. In this I feel very average Jane, but I also know I have had to practically reinvent myself to make it this far. Perhaps there are others out there who have more ideas and experiences to share with me, that we can learn from one another. But even if I am some super special special snowflake in all the world, I have enjoyed the process of writing about it, even if I were the only one reading. Looking back, reading posts from this time last year, I marvel at how far I have come and how infinite the road ahead.

And because this is a personal blog, I do not highlight or promote it, never ever plan to monetize it in any way, shape, or form. I am presently on the fence about promoting or even attempting to monetize the new blog, because making money from the blog is very low on my list of objectives for writing. However, I like having options, and right now, here, I feel very limited in what I can or am willing to give up for my more defined writing efforts.

As of right now, I have purchased my domain name and gotten the basic shell of a blog started. There is still a lot more to do before official launch. But as I said, hopefully the grand opening will be the first part of November. Not to worry – I will be announcing it all over the place when it finally goes live.

♥     ♥     ♥     ♥     ♥     ♥     ♥     ♥     ♥

In other news, my daughter and son-in-law are both impacted by recently announced Verizon’s call center closures. While this was a bit of a shock, it is not really much of a surprise considering California’s prohibitively expensive business climate. C and A have made the decision to relocate, because it is a really great opportunity to see/explore/live in another geographic location with the advantage of relocating for jobs and relocation expenses paid. It is definitely a more advantageous to just moving to get away from where they live right now.

M and I are 110% supportive of their decision, so much so that when I read about the closures in the local paper I immediately asked M where he thought they should go from the choices listed. Turns out there were other options available, but nothing is known yet except they are ready and willing to relocate to remain employed. As of right now we are all anxiously awaiting more details on their choices for where they are going and when, whether it is before the holidays or after. In the meantime, they are looking at all their belongings with a very critical eye of whether or not they need to cart it across state lines to their new life. Of more concern is their multitude of pets – moving out of state with several cats and dogs is not ideal under any circumstances. Since I work with a couple of nonprofit pet sanctuaries that care for as well as rehome pets, I have put them in touch to “interview” their cats and dogs so C can be assured they are not going to be lethally injected 5 minutes after she and A leave town. It is hard enough to have to leave the vast majority behind (C’s first kitty will probably go with them no matter what) without worrying about euthanasia. Fortunately their animals are relatively well socialized and get along well with people and other pets, so the likelihood of finding suitable homes seems good.

No matter how positive a spin we strive to put on it, this is a very big change for them and for the rest of the extended family. M and I are pretty laid-back and accepting, but A’s family – Freaking. Out. This sister in mother-in-law-hood is not tactful or measured in her reactions, and she told A that they would never visit because C doesn’t like them as well as expressing her anger that they talked to me about their decision-making process before her and her family, indicating that poor A has been brainwashed by C and her machiavellian parental units. Okay, I’m extrapolating that based on what I was texted while the conversation was happening, but honestly, in my most overwrought emotional state I would never say that to either of my kids, even if I privately suspected it might be true. To be fair to me, I might and probably would state bring up the thought and ugly feelings that come with it when calmer and capable of having a rational discussion.

But the kids are adults and capable of thinking for themselves and making sound decisions. I may wish my daughter were not soon to be living in another state, but planes fly to the locations where they could end up every single day. In my most selfish, I view this as another opportunity for M and I to expand our choices for vacation destinations.

Primarily, I want the kids to be happy. They both like their jobs, enjoy the work they are doing, the promotions and advancement opportunities they are chasing. Corporate ladder-climbing is not for everyone – been there, done that, bought and shredded the damn t-shirt – but for them at this point in their lives it is work they enjoy and allows them to pursue personal objectives simultaneously. All good. Living in another state is an opportunity to expand their horizons and see what life is like elsewhere in the US. I mean, it’s not like they are moving to Dubai or Bosnia; they are talking about Arizona, New Mexico, South Carolina, Florida. Each has its drawbacks – hot and humid immediately come to mind – but probably not terribly different or unsafe.

So … change is coming. I’m both very excited and a little apprehensive, but change is inevitable and resistance is futile. I am well armed with big girl capris and ready to step forward into a brave new world.

Now, if I can only find enough bigger blocks of time to make it all happen ….

Health news

So I had an appointment with my endocrinologist today. Guess what? I’m a glowing picture of health. Everything right down the line is normal to great, all without any medication. While I am concerned about my A1c, doc says it’s normal to fluctuate, but we will continue to monitor it. The rest of my readings – all comfortably within the normal range.

So we chatted about the possibility of waiting 6 months for my next check in, but I am not quite ready to be let so far off the leash. I will check in again in 3 months, see how things are looking.

While my eating has improved, I know the exercise is a determining factor and covers a lot of food sins. My doc agrees. I know I would not feel as good or be as health on the inside if I was not quite literally working my ass off in the gym and the yoga studio.

Which, since I brought it up, my glutes and legs – completely KILLING me today. And I thought walking out of the gym yesterday that maybe I had not actually worked that hard. Shows you how little I know.

Anyway, best labs to date this month, even if the A1c crept up a little. My smoothie life diet is helping with that I know, so I’m pleased and expect things will be better in January.

One thing we did discuss is weight loss and medications available to help me with that. My doc knows there are drugs he could prescribe that will likely help, but they are not without risks, of course. I am kicking the can down the road, will see what the next 3 months brings or if I can come up with a more compelling reason to approach this again. Honestly, I feel like if I’m not eating tons and tons of crap food and am not actually gaining weight and my test results are coming back so squeaky clean I must be doing a lot right. Right?

But the WORST – I think my scale is messed up. Fully clothed on the doc’s scale, I was 7.4 lbs. lighter than sans clothes on my own scale first thing this morning, and while I worked very hard this morning at the gym (had a fantastic day with shoulders), I seriously doubt I lost more than 7.4 lbs. between the time I got up, drank a protein shake, practiced, and then showered/dressed for my appointment.  I tested my theory when I got home and sure enough, I was nearly 8 lbs. heavier.

I told M I need another scale, because his cannot be trusted either.

So … now I’m doing some research for the most accurate home scales, because mine is obviously not good. I could just subtract 7.4 lbs. every time I hop on it. But even then, I’m not sure I will ever believe it again anyway. Or maybe the doc’s scale is off. It makes me feel better that I’m not just delusional about this weight stuff.

And while I would like to just pitch it and forget about it, I’m not sure I can do that either. Ugh. Maybe I’ll wait for a less emotionally volatile day to search Amazon for replacements. These kinds of health measures – chasing weights and measures – make me crazy. My doc says while sure, he’d love it if I dropped some additional weight (I’m actually down almost 10 lbs. since my last visit a few months ago … seriously? Seriously? How come I don’t know this?), my test results are impressive and he feels I am on a good track to better health without medication.

He’s the doc, right? I should just shut the f**k up and listen to him.

And drink my smoothie for dinner.


Training #80 – Just the way you are

Monday morning, training with J. And it was FABULOUS. Now, I have had all sorts of questions flittering in and out of my mind about why I characterize it that way, but I am just jettisoning those silly attempts by negative girl to turn me to the dark side. It. Was. Fabulous. Great way to start my week and end my Monday writing this recap post.

Today was kind of a teaching day, but not exactly. There were a few new things – a new machine, new adventures with stability ball – but for the most part it was stuff I know in a new and different order with the new goodies sprinkled in for variety.

Leg day. Oh my – I love leg days. Really, I do. I will bitch, moan, complain, and whine that I don’t wanna do this, that, the other thing, but honestly, I really love leg days. Probably more than the other body parts. And since I am typically at pilates on Sundays, sometimes at the all-abs-all-60-minutes guy’s class, it’s nice to do something non-ab on Monday. I survive if we do, of course. But leg day is a nice change.

What we did today:

  • 1-legged leg press (7 sets, 10/side, 170 lbs.)
  • Stability ball glute bridge (3 sets, 12-15 reps)
  • Stability ball hamstring curls (3 sets, 12-15 reps)
  • 1-legged Romanian deadlift with kettlebell (3 sets, 8-12/side, small black KB)
  • Machine hamstring curl (3 sets, 8-15 reps/side, 20 lbs.)
  • Quad extensions machine (3 sets, 8-15 reps, forgot to look at weight)
  • Dumbbell power squats (3 set, 8-12 reps, 20 lb. DBs)
  • Bodyweight Bulgarians (3 sets, 12-20/side)
  • Adductor machine (3 sets, 12-20 reps, forgot to look at final weight)
  • Stability ball lateral squats (3 sets, 8-15/side)

Love, Love, LOVE this new List. While I can barely sit still for the stiff kind of soreness in my legs and glutes, I also cannot wait for Wednesday to try it again on my own. Feels as if we are starting another new series of something, and I am very excited. I am fine floating about in between with older Lists of bodypart splits, but new stuff is new stuff and it’s exciting in its different-feeling challenges.

So it has actually been awhile since I have ventured out and mucked about with the leg press machine. The 1-legged leg press is something we have done before, but after a week or 2 passes I have a hard time recalling where I was last with weights. Since it has now been more like 2 months since I used this machine, I took a random stab at the weight and hoped it was not embarrassingly too much. However, since my mind is stuck at 2-legged versions are always 60 lbs. heavier than 1-legged, I did not think I was too far off the mark with the 170 lb. setting. It did raise a little eyebrow with J, and I would have happily jumped up off that seat and moved it down if needed. Fortunately I did not embarrass myself with being overly ambitious, and the 170 lb. setting was just about right. I have been doing other leg stuff after all, and I felt like it was in the ballpark of what I had done last. Then J says … we’re going to do 5 sets of 10. Ummm … okay. This is the first time ever we have done 5 sets of anything, so in my mind this is a new chapter in our most current training volume. But I did 7 sets of 10, so I am enormously proud of myself in this effort.

The stability ball glute bridges were only introduced in recent weeks, and of all the glute bridges on all the Lists as well as those seemingly endless sets in pilates class, this version is far and away are my favorite. However, I do need to put the focus and practice on with these. I cannot put my finger on it precisely, but I do not feel quite as efficient at them as possible. Thinking about it off and on today in anticipation of writing this post, I think it might be the foot position, it that my feet and knees should be more tucked in during the bridge part. These occur on other lists, and it surely won’t hurt me to run through in warmup tomorrow, while it’s fresh in my mind and I am mildly obsessing over it.

Then there are the stability ball hamstring curls. I do not hate these, and they are not quite nemesis stable level of difficulty, but I absolutely know where I am faltering with them and must intensify my concentration and practice to overcome what I perceive as sheer dreaded lazy on my part. Again, it’s all about the tuck and that that little curl to get the most from my effort, but they look weird in my head and feel weird on the floor and I have to just get over it. I do not even realize until I feel the relief of being done that my effort has been less than pure, and by then I definitely do not want to get back into it and try again.

It has been awhile since the 1-legged Romanian deadlifts appeared on a List. But that’s okay – I have not missed them terribly. I genuinely despise the cable version – damned thing always seems to topple me forward most of the time and I lack whatever it takes to not let it and it remains my arch nemesis. But with the dumbbell and today with the kettle bell – not so bad. Yeah, balance is an issue, especially at first. But I’m better, infinitely better, at these than when they were first introduced. Today we used one of the little black KBs, and I have no idea how much it weighed. But it felt kind of good to be working at balance this way. I had a light (mostly) hand on a piece of equipment for balance, and for the most part it was more security blanket than anything. I will get back to not needing it so much.

Then J demonstrated and introduced me to the hamstring curl machine. In truth, I don’t think I have ever noticed anyone actually using this machine, but maybe I just blocked it from memory. Or more likely, I simply don’t pay attention when I’m in that area. But anyway, it is complicated. It has all these knobs and such to adjust, but I think once I do so and figure out how it’s supposed to be set for me it will be fine. But for today, it was just new and different and strange. By the time the third set came along, I could barely bend my knee to heft those weights, so I was doing something.

The quad extensions machines – not a fan. Not for the usual reasons – it is really hard for me, my brain projects all sorts of crazy silliness that make it harder – but because the machines itself seems complicated. Again, all these little knobs and adjustments to move to and fro and seriously, who can immediately remember where things are supposed to be set? I know I will feel as if I am reinventing the wheel for however long it takes to get over what seems like a memory block, but oh well. If it takes me a few tries to get it right every time I use it then it takes a few tries. Perhaps I will remember to take pictures or write it down for future events.

Had a nice set with the dumbbell power squats today. Nothing crazy on the weights, so my hands were not feeling tired along with my legs.

We did the Bulgarians with rear foot resting on the quad extensions machine, so that was different (that pad was round and spins, whereas benches are flat and stationary. The Bulgarians themselves have gotten mostly easier, but the swivel feature of the pad was a bit off-putting. I will adjust. I learned to do these without a stool or other equipment to maintain my balance so I can learn to work with a mobile pad beneath my elevated back foot.

The last series included the adductor machine, which I am very familiar with even if it has been at least a month since I used it last. Again, forgotten what weight I was using, but I started light, J increased it, and by the end of 3 sets I was definitely feeling it. While I have no strong preferences between the convenient once downstairs or the other one upstairs, I suspect we each have our preferences based on personal factors unique to each of us. For me, the one downstairs is better because it’s convenient and familiar; I spend far more time on the first floor of the gym than I do the second. I do think I need to work on my leg routines that include this machine, though; there is something about it that makes me wonder if the weight is too much when I get tired or if I am just freaking myself out because the whole List went well.

Final exercise of the day was another new one, the stability ball lateral squat. I dislike the lateral lunges so I thought these would be disagreeable as well. Not exactly disagreeable, but let me tell you I can feel that work in my side hips 12 hours later and I suspect into tomorrow. I will see on Wednesday if the feeling still holds, but I actually kind of liked these for mysterious reasons. Maybe I’m just a glutton for punishment? The angle of the elevated leg on the stability ball and then the bended knee into the squat just feel easier or better somehow than when I am doing lateral lunges. The name perhaps? Label anything a lunge and I start groaning and resisting on principle? Whatever it is, and it could be just that I was in the mood to be agreeable to new things, they were fine. Kind of intriguing even. I find myself wondering about trying them without holding on to the column I was using for balance.

And that was the fabulous Monday training day.

After a few weeks of lower energy training sessions, I started roaring back last week and have been feeling far more energetic and normal today. And I’m so glad; I was starting to feel rather flat about my exercise endeavors. Not want-to-quit kind of flat, more low-energy, less enthusiasm, bah-humbug store of attitude creeping in. I have had some nagging issues – friend J and his black dog, big life altering changes for my kids on the horizon, too much work and not enough vegging-with-a-book sort of down time. All are things I do to myself, with my expectations and hyper-responsibility complex. This weekend I completed a boatload of work-work and got it out of my hair once and for all, made some decisions on a couple of ideas pinging-and-ponging inside my head, had some serious conversations and air-clearing with friends, and essentially let go of most of what has been weighing me down.

Periodically I get obsessive without even realizing I am doing it. Then it’s off me and I wonder how I could let it go on so long until it snowballs into a bothersome thing.

After a year of steady, consistent exercise, I’m relieved I did not falter in my resolve. Does not mean I can now get sedentary and enjoy the fact that I accomplished this feat, but it does mean I can relax. A little. When I started last October, I thought I wanted to go 100 gym days straight before taking a rest day. Christmas sort of screwed me out of that. In January I thought I wanted to go with only a rest day every other week, because after being in the gym every single day for 3 weeks straight I start getting a little tired of being there and it shows in my form and performance. Doing pilates on Sunday has changed that dynamic for me, and while I am periodically inclined to just take a break from both, I do so without any guilt of self-chastisement. I never advocate this for anyone else; the standards I myself pursue are for me and me alone. Some folks are happy with their progress going to yoga or the gym once or twice a week, and I applaud them for going and doing as much as they feel they need or are capable of making work. For me, though, to be consistent means being obsessive and addicted to the routine. I know myself quite well and always feel the allure of stopping and cannot allow such thoughts to take root.

It occurred to me earlier, as I was simultaneously grimacing and grinning from the soreness in my glutes, that quote about “pain is inevitable, suffering is optional” is definitely true with my better health quest. Yeah, trying for the focus and the fortitude to keep going when all I want to do is stop and go home is painful in ways other than just the physical exertion. However, allowing myself the luxury of a piss poor attitude toward it does not make me (or anyone else who has to be around me) feel any better. Exercise got better, became less awful once I got over the idea that it could be easier or is easier for other people. Every week J reminds me that even for him, awesome trainer that he is, his own workouts are tough as well.

I just love that. Not that I want him or anyone else to have to slog through workouts the way I do sometimes, but more the fact that it’s not always easy or pleasant or that much fun for they who seem so much more knowledgeable and experienced. It is no wonder so many of us fall for the marketing that promises amazing results in 10 minutes per day for 3 days per week.

Not every session is rainbows and glitter-bombing unicorns. But I have stuck with my early morning practices and exercise schedule because it does provide me with a baseline good day. I tend to feel more energetic and focused by being in the gym and doing something, but I’m super happy and obnoxiously cheerful when I have had a particularly good, challenging morning wrestling with a List.

I was pondering feeling good this morning while drinking my breakfast smoothie. I think a couple more weeks of this and I’ll be back to eating a regular salad or protein and vegetable for dinners instead of a second protein shake. I am down a few pounds (4.9) since my last weigh in, so that’s something. More than anything, I’m glad I don’t chase the weights and measurements, because I’d be depressed about now that I did not have more to show for eating this way. Jeans just out of the smaller size box are loose tonight, and I am wondering if buying a new pair is next on my horizon.

Tomorrow I have an appointment with my endocrinologist, and I’m excited to see him. My A1c is still in the good range, although higher than last time, and I want to ask him about where the line is between going back on oral meds lies. There are drugs that could potentially help me drop some weight faster, but I’m somewhat reluctant to ask him about that. I rather like my drug-free state right now, and if this is the weight body is happy at and we stay here forever the world is not going to end for me. My vanity less connected with how I look so much as how I feel and wether or not I can continue to train with J and to practice and to try to build some flexibility with a couple of yoga classes each week. It seems to me that as long as I am taking teeny tiny baby steps to somewhere I am satisfied and I need not borrow trouble or anxiety by thinking something may be amiss at some point in the future. Here in the present, I’m feeling amazing and doing well with the different Lists in rotation.

Anymore, I believe balance is not elusive so much as out of reach because of my own inability to relinquish my death grip on the status quo. Sometimes I think I need to just let the crap I’m juggling all fall so I can reorder, regroup, and get shit done and put away. If only I could learn to do that before a funk, a mini-meltdown, a minor existential crisis, or all of the above all happen at once. But that’s not me, not how I’m wired. And TM, as talented and amazing as he is, cannot rebuild me into that model of what I perceive as perfect normality. Nor would he ever bother to try. It sounds like a cross between a personality transplant and a lobotomy to me, so I will have to just continue to endure my periodic overwhelmed low tides with energy and enthusiasm. I need to be more accepting of my human frailty.

Right now, in the present, everything is going very well for me, just the way I am. No worries, very happy.

A date which will live in infamy

While nothing so significant happened on this date in my personal history as Pearl Harbor is to this country, today is a significant anniversary for me. Looking at my calendar and checking back through the blog’s archives, it was this day in 2015 (I was writing and posting recaps the day after and you can read about it here) where J made a comment that had a truly profound and transformative effect on me and my life. I have remarked before that he probably doesn’t remember the conversation, that it was probably the same sort of advice/suggestion/wish (to come into the gym and workout more or more consistently between sessions) he has voiced to clients weekly if not daily since he began his career as a personal trainer. Looking back, I feel a tiny bit silly for reacting as I have, but if someone I like and respect calls me out on my behavior, I am either going to never see or communicate with him again EVER or I am going to get off my ass and pull up my big girl capris and get busy trying to address the issue.

One little sentence, probably repeated hundreds of times in his years as a trainer. But my oh my how things have changed in the last year.

I imagine all trainers tell their clients they should work out and with the routines they write for them between sessions. J telling me he wanted to see me in the gym at least twice before our next session catapulted me into becoming an almost daily morning presence at my home gym. For me, brain interpreted his comment as “Janelle, you slacker, I hate having to work with you because you are a dilettante who does not take me seriously” and morphed into this irrational fear of being fired at the end of my 20 sessions. He would suddenly or gradually (he is very professional) be too busy to retain me as a client. I would be unceremoniously handed off by his manager to a newbie trainer where all the slacker clients are dumped with until injured or bored enough to finally give up. Honestly, negative girl’s projections of the terrible, horrible training client I was left me with only a couple of choices: it was either analysis paralysis through the remaining sessions or allowing my upgraded fear and anxiety drive me to the gym at a new neurotic pace. I chose the latter. At first the plan was go every day for 30 days and then it would be a habit. Only that didn’t quite work out; before I had made it to the 30 day mark I had requested and been granted a second training day each week. Then the 30 days became a 5 week, 6, 7 week streak and finally crested at 68 days before I finally took a break and a real rest day.

The journey is well documented in this blog. I wish I had the time to go back and read all the entries and posts about training, exercise, diet, health … essentially, an entire year of blogging … to compile all the accomplishments of this past year. Most are small and unnoticeable to those around me, but they are genuinely profound to me. And it is as it should be; no one is a bigger critic of me, my life, my habits that I am.

While I am not someone who tracks health and fitness statistics in an ongoing and committed manner, I have very carefully kept track of my attendance at the gym or in the yoga studio the last year on a paper calendar. From this calendar I know 23 days lack notations of either training or practice in the gym or at the yoga studio for a pilates or yoga class. The 23 days include the day after our fateful training session and conversation (psyching myself up and ensuring my big girl capris were going to stay put and not split down the seams), Christmas (gym was closed), and the 5 days M and I were on vacation in September. If the gym was open on a holiday, I was there. The days both my children got married and the days immediately before and immediately afterward, I was there. I do not count the vacation days even though I did get more than my usual dose of exercise, because when I started this attendance tracking it was to kick-start me into a new habit of consistency at the gym more than anything else and was completely confined to gym and studio visits. And if I count the times I doubled up and went to the gym twice in a day or gym and then yoga, my modest 23 day deficit is erased and I have a surplus.

I am ridiculously, over-the-top, unashamed about my pride in this statistic. While I could minimize it and suggest I did not always work that hard, stay as long as I typically do, or feel great about my effort, fact remains that I showed up, I did something exercise-related that day. It matters and it counts.

Having never stuck with an exercise program this long much less this consistently, I am very pleased with myself. I wonder what I will be saying or doing this time next year. Not projecting, not overthinking, and definitely not worrying about it; I have found a nice groove and will continue to plug away at it, one day at a time.

An unforeseen factor of my better health quest is the friends who have fallen by the wayside or abandoned me as I squared my shoulders and kept putting one foot in front of the other in my forward march toward overhauling and improving my health. If anyone believes it is easy to get up as early as I do these days, dress, eat something, and drag myself to the gym – I am so sorry. Have you consulted a mental health professional about getting back in touch with reality? Anymore it’s no longer horrible, because it is a choice I make every single day and has now become a habit I have adopted and ingrained as part of my life. It is never going to be easy to have my alarm going off at 4 a.m. during the week when I need not be at work until at least 9 a.m.

If altering my schedule and my life to accommodate my exercise is a choice, so is addressing directly and not side-stepping the passive/aggressive negativity and behaviors of long-time friends. The lack of support from some factions remains this big, huge mystery to me. Had I taken up some bad habits like recreational drugs or destroying my marriage with promiscuity the attitude would be far more understandable, yet part of me truly believes that would have been easier to accept and to tolerate than trying to learn how to exercise and stick with it. There is some sort of implied shame that I am reforming into a daily exerciser where they are not. I guess, anyway. I am not one to intentionally shame anyone, and in my enthusiasm for what I am learning and trying to perfect perhaps there was a thread of fitness shaming that triggered their insecurities? I certainly cannot explain it, and when it came up, they could not articulate it in ways that I could understand either.

Sad, really, but I have grown more philosophical as the weeks and months have passed. Thinking about old friends who are no longer part of my life, directly or indirectly because of the way I am proceeding in living mine, I am lately reshaping the narrative. These are not friendships lost so much as releases on either/both sides from the confines of what once was a good and thriving relationship that has fallen into dysfunction. While I am someone who cherishes friends and values the ties that bind us, I am also someone who understands all too well that not all relationships are healthy, meant to thrive, designed to endure for the longest haul. And for every friendship that has faded from my life, I have grown closer to and expanded upon another or made new contacts, built new bonds of camaraderie.

I’m not sitting out here in solitary confinement by any stretch of the imagination.

I’ve learned what it’s like to be comfortable in my skin, in a place that was once so foreign (the gym) as to inspire my own unique brand of crazy insecurity. My home gym is now familiar and puts me at ease much of the time. Arriving and leaving at the at approximately the same times day after day, week after week I know a lot of the faces now, even if I have no idea of their names or anything else about them. At 5 a.m. it is mostly the same people, and I have found my place now among their ranks. It has gotten to the point that I recognize the faces of other members training with other trainers. There is a woman on Saturdays that has grown slimmer and stronger working with her trainer, another lady on Thursday’s as I am ending my appointment that has moved right along with me in the training weeks. Then there is the rest of the training tribe, some I have met, some I only know by sight and day and time of their regular appointments. For such a creature of habit as I am, such routine is lifeblood.

I have now been at this long enough to notice when someone disappears from the tribe roster or no longer appears on their regular schedule, and I sort of, weirdly, mourn their absence. I find myself hopeful that they have merely moved on to some other training time or gym and not abandoned their own exercise quest, not given up. Anymore, I am ardently opposed to the idea of giving up.

And that is definitely new behavior and outlook for me. I have always been sort of laissez faire about what people do, but having been working so hard to make this much progress, it now pains me to see others give up on their own quests, whatever they may be.

For the most part, I have negative girl pretty well under control. I know I weaken and I falter in this regard, but that’s okay. It’s no longer a way of life to berate myself for my shortcomings, both real and imagined.

I am far stronger and fitter than I was a year ago. Exercise, I find, is not something you are ever done learning or finding ways to improve. While I do not have notes on what I was using as far as weights this time last year, I will say that I never imagined doing off-List farmer’s walks to fetch and then return a pair of 35 lb. dumbbells from the big boys’ room. The 5, 10, and 15 lb. dumbbells I remember as a staple are still in use, but so are the 20, 25, 30, and on occasion, 35 lb. dumbbells as well.

Counting reps is an ongoing challenge, and my focus on this aspect of training remains rather hit and miss. But there are worse things. There are exercises that remain hugely challenging and I frequently still feel as if I may be giving up too soon … so maybe I do a few more. Or not. Depends on the day. But overall, it feels like at least 95% of the time I spend in the gym and the yoga studio I am trying my best and succeeding more than failing in my efforts.

I realized earlier today that it’s been months since I have grown so frustrated or angry with myself over performance that I want to cry, quit, or both. My anxiety over never getting better has mostly faded, along with my desire for external approval has settled down considerably. While it is nice to be acknowledged for doing things correctly, I no longer hope and pray there are minimal corrective actions from J every Monday and every Thursday. If I don’t get it I don’t get it. If I can’t do it now I can’t do it now. Minimum reps may take some time to work up to, and I’m not dying inside, trash-talking myself, or contemplating quitting. Because I am trying, and my ability is limited or directed by my body’s ability, not just my attitude or willingness to try to do better. Big, subtle change in thinking there. Before I always thought my body could do everything, eventually. But no – sometimes my joints and muscles do not work in the same ways someone gifted with more natural ability or inherent flexibility; we are not all created equal in any regard. My library of exercise is now broad enough that I substitute or do another List. I mention my nemesis stable and my arch nemesis exercises; they still exist and the rotation still changes. But I’ve been fortunate to have had a lot of success in a year of consistent working at it. I am not athletically gifted and have to work hard for my gains, and I simply accept that nothing is easy or painless at first and just get on with it. Proficiency and competency – they do come to me. No longer do I have not-so-secret doubts that I am going to be past or present as athletically hopeless as I am or as I was when I started. For me, it takes time, patience, and a lot of practice. But eventually, I reap the rewards. I improve.

Setting goals and chasing measurements are not part of my process. I think in terms of objectives – I want to exercise today, exercise again tomorrow – and while it may be purely semantics, objectives are less hard-and-fast about failure. Objectives seem to have no finish line to cross in the same way goals do, therefore I cannot fail as readily as I would with a goal.

I also do not think too deeply in terms of success and failure, which is huge for me. I have learned to think in terms of the long game, the building blocks I learned last year that are only now becoming more apparent to me as I look around and see what other people lifting much weightier weights are doing. Looking back, there are things we have tried that have mysteriously disappeared from the final List. There are exercises that came back after a few months of absence, only this time they were just another way to squat or deadlift or press or pull, not the hill I was going to die on with regard to exercise.

For someone like me – terrified, insecure, and anxious about all this mysterious exercise stuff – these are not insignificant little gains. Overcoming my gym crazy was a gradual process, but as I have become more proficient and have more to do, more choices, I have more to occupy my thoughts than just being freaked out about everyone and everything else around me.

I vacillate between one-off nutball in my exercise pursuits and that I am just an average bear trying to blend in with the rest of the herd. There is huge comfort in believing I am just another woman in her 50s trying to make the best choices for aging gracefully, only I have to try a lot harder to make the inroads that may be easier for others. This was comparison in its worst, most destructive form. Maybe I am a one-off nutball or the average Jane that goes to the gym, but I have had to learn that such labels do not, cannot matter to me. What I had to learn is that my primary focus needs to be on the List in front of me, the weight in my hand, and doing each exercise to the best of my ability. And then come back the next day and try again with the next List of the day.

Truly, the most important and valuable lesson I have learned in the last year has been that consistency and practice are required if I ever harbor any hope of learning exercise, staying the course on my better health quest. So every single day I have a choice about getting up and going to the gym or to pilates (Sunday). Anymore I know I am going. Anymore it’s get up at 4 a.m. or sleep an extra 30 minutes and adjust my List once I get to the gym. Or do I get up and go to pilates or do I go to the gym instead? Or do I simply bail and take the day off?

It’s been a year of consistently good choices on exercise for the vast majority of the days. This trend has become a habit for me, and as we all know, I am a truly a creature of habit.

Speaking of habits, my eating has improved over the course of the last year. I am still so much a picky eater, but it has progressed from mostly starchy carbs to more fresh fruits and vegetables and lean proteins. Still some starchy carbs. A lot of protein powder supplementation. But overall, I know I’m doing better than a year ago. The changes are modest – I do not tend to do well or sustain big changes all at once – and ongoing. Since I remain diabetes drug-free I have some wiggle room to experiment and backslide in this area.

The eating part is hard, very hard. I’m always honest about it. Temptation is everywhere, stress erodes my self-discipline, and I just do a lot of stupid shit when it comes to food. I continue to be a work in progress for as long as it takes to get wherever it is I am meandering toward. As I said, I tend to not deal in goals or chase measurements in terms of pounds and inches. Staying stable and in good control of my diabetes is my primary objective here, and as long as I am succeeding, I can tackle my food demons in good order. I am better; this in and of itself is huge progress.

And no one lives in a vacuum. While I have had to literally do the heavy lifting, I did not get here all on my own and by pulling myself up and along by the top of my big girl capris. My village has taught been there through the good days, bad days, the successes, the setbacks, the frustration, the tears. They have seen me at my worst and had a ringside seat for all my incremental improvements.

Trainer J sees me most days in passing; if we are not actually working together there’s almost always a wave across the gym or a few words exchanged. My texts with questions and angsty-sounding plaintive whines have tapered off dramatically as the months have passed and the successes began to build, my confidence expand, the attitude and absorption in the Lists grown.

RD has released me into the wild as my dietician of record yet retains me as a friend and learning to eat project. He completely agrees with friend J’s assessment that I have the tastebuds of your average 4 year old, but we’re working on it. While we talk food, recipes, eating strategies, exercise, and crap available to read or not (mostly not) on the internet, we also talk about anything and everything else, from relocating to Santa Barbara to his social life to our families and interests. Friendships bloom in surprising places.

Dr. Spencer is a recent addition to my village and helps me primarily with my diet and eating, questions to ask my endocrinologist, and writes me workouts that I promptly turn over to J to either teach me or rework and make our own. I imagine great things from him in his future.

As for TM, any and all confidence and attitude gains I have made this year were accelerated by his patience and wisdom. We have known each other a long time, are friendly friends outside the walls of his office, and honestly, my ongoing quest for balance would not be nearly as close as it is right now without his insight and guidance.

This village – I seem to run out of ways to say thank you and have sort of stopped trying. Except it’s written into my DNA to express gratitude, and I strive to do so in real, tangible ways they can feel and understand. I would have given up yet again a long time ago if this magical mix of individuals had not banded together with me.

My long-suffering husband, the fabulous M, has to listen to me bitch and moan when things are not going well, nod sagely and agreeably and come up with some new, satisfactory answer when I ask him 10 times a week if some part of my body looks different. He’s always honest, and if I ask him if something makes me look fatter, I need to be prepared for truths I do not  necessarily want to hear. He has never been critical of my efforts and has always encouraged me to simply move more every single day. Now that I am doing so, putting forth this much effort into my own health, he is so pleased and so proud of me. Where at first I was kind of afraid to admit going to the gym so much, M was telling everyone we know about my excursions and training sessions with great pride in my accomplishments no matter how small they might seem. He had more faith that the habit would stick this time than I did at first, and I am so happy to have not proved him wrong in his predictions that this time I would keep going.

The root of all happiness begins with my family, and I’m fortunate to have terrific kids – all 4 of them – who are loving and supportive. Through 2 weddings, way too many dresses for both weddings, we have had our share of tears and so much laughter and good times. It makes me realize, and genuinely appreciate, the hard work I have been putting forth to become the healthiest version of myself. I want to be around to enjoy this crew for as long as my ticket to ride last. And if sometimes it’s standing room only, with the crush of friends and extended families they have both married into, I am so much more capable of being able to stand and still enjoy myself.

As for my personal tribe, my goodness there have been ups, there have been downs, there have been departures and there have been arrivals. Circle of life, perhaps? Through deaths, accidents, very serious illnesses, and very bad events, I know who has my back, who I can count on, who truly believes in me when I’m struggling, boogie-ing down when I’m celebrating.

Today, I’m quietly celebrating on the outside, but happy dancing all over the place on the inside.

But I don’t get to call this a win and go on a victory lap or victory tour. Tomorrow I get up and go to pilates, or maybe I go to the gym and take a run through an older List just for grins. No decisions yet. My alarm goes off at 6 and I’ll decide then.

Finally, thanks to you, dear readers, for hanging in and hanging on. I know I have written probably hundreds of thousands of words about my diet, exercise, health, and balance pursuits in the last year, and it was not always the rainbows and glitter-bombing unicorn voice squeaking out from the screen. Keeping it real, though, means there are days when I feel like shit and want to quit, never return, become more sedentary, inject insulin and dies of heart disease or stroke or something equally preventable. I want to be lazy and whiney. Those are the posts that make me cringe in retrospect, but at least I present the less pleasant sides and thoughts my racing brain is churning. Mine is not a perfect journey where I report dropping X number of pounds and dress sizes and feeling like the world is laid out at my feet. Nope, mine has been a very human expression of the ups, downs, all arounds of trying to improve my overall health. I have lost some weight – not sure how much, actually – and some tangible inches with the way my clothes fit. I have also grown shoulders and upper arms that do not fit well into conventional ladies blouses now, and I kind of feel like the junk in my trunk makes my jeans fit better. And there you have it – my vanity on full display.

The health and fitness journey is not an easy one, despite all the glossy magazines and internet sites that want to synthesize it down into something bite-size for 4 payments of $29.95. Yet while not easy, for me it got to a point of something I dreaded and was glad when it was over to something I did and walked away feeling hugely satisfied and happy. There are still days when I’m glad its over for another 24 hours, but vast majority of the time I feel happier thinking about my List, what I liked, what I loved, what I nailed, what I want to work at more to improve upon. Part of that paradigm is being part of the gym community, seeing the same faces pursuing their own programs and objectives, the class in session that allows me to work along side its members a few mornings each week, the other tribe members coming in and working during their own training appointments. It’s writing my training recaps or reporting on how I feel about the days – the good, the bad, and especially the really ugly. I can be superficial; my feelings do get bruised or my angry engaged over the stupidest shit imaginable.  That’s why I blog – to sort out my shit.

And today, I blog to mark a significant anniversary of sorts. To feel the weight of my accomplishments and enjoy the satisfaction of an entire year of sticking with a loosey-goosey commitment based a few words at the end of a training session.

Words matter. And I am someone who listens and takes them to heart when it matters most.

Training #79 – Home

Thursday morning, training with J. A good day from the moment I woke up, because I had already decided no matter what it would be an exceptionally good day no matter what. But I got plenty of sleep and was up with adequate dawdle time this morning. It’s Thursday, so later arrival time to the office and just feeling pretty relaxed and good about life and times.

Today was our first foray into a kettle bell routine. Most definitely a teaching day, which was in itself very exciting. I love teaching days. Even when I mostly suck and barely grasp the basics, I love teaching days. Because anymore, someday I know I am not going to suck at whatever I’m trying to grasp. Exercise is complicated enough without mentally beating myself into a blood pulp.

The KB routine itself went pretty well. However, I am reasonably certain J has no intentions of retaining it as an independent, stand-alone List. Today was more a throw it all out there, see if anything sticks kind of training day. And that was fine with me. Some of the exercise series were extra swell, some were just okay, and some I would possibly be tempted (not necessarily giving in to temptation) to skip if they were on a stand-alone List.

Still, it was fun. KBs feel different than working with dumbbells; the balance is different. For the first time in a very long time, I thought with some minor longing for weight lifting gloves, if only to keep my palms from getting so sweaty and gross. Last time I considered them was when I was also rowing at home a lot and getting calluses on my palms; the ridicule of friend J over being a baby about such things made me rethink it. For today my towel worked pretty well and accomplished the same thing.

For what we did today, a couple exercises are missing because J erased them before photographing the white board where it was written down. Which is okay; since they are not memorable for me, I am obviously fine with eliminating them from future consideration.

What I already knew/know and worked well:

  • Kettle bell goblet squat
  • Kettle bell swing
  • Kettle bell sumo squat

New stuff I learned:

  • Kettle bell halos
  • 1-am kettle bell press
  • Chest supported kettle bell row
  • Alternating kettle bell floor press
  • Kettle bell high pull

We did some other things as well – variations, experiments with the non-standard KBs, test driving other shapes and ways of accomplishing the same things. It was a fun, fun, fun teaching and experimenting day. I am delighted with that. And I refined my technique and learned a few new tips and tricks along the way.

The kettle bell goblet squat is a gym staple for me, something I learned my first month of training. It’s been something I do daily for the last year as part of my warmup and frequently peeks out from the various Lists in my library. New kernel of wisdom imparted by J today was about the depth of the squat. Honestly, I never really pay attention; I am grateful for any and all that have me bending knees appropriately, pushing with heels, and not falling forwards or backwards. Today it was let’s try to get deep enough into the squat that at least elbows to forearms wind up between the knees and to pause at the bottom for that extra stretch and contraction. I’m sure he has said that to me before – it sounded oh-so-vaguely familiar – but I have conveniently filed it away until unearthed and reminded today. No obsessive slice of mind will be thinking about it every time I am doing this exercise. And that’s a Very Good Thing. Until I am falling over forward or backward or losing form some other way.

Then we are back to the kettle bell swings. No idea why it’s hard for me to remember to tighten glutes and abs on the up part of the swing to protect the lower back, but I was doing them yesterday and trying to figure out where I was going wrong. They just didn’t feel quite right. I am resolving to add this portion of today’s session to a warmup sheet so I can make myself memorize the appropriate way to do this exercise. I like my low back in its good and healthy state. I certainly do not want to do anything stupid that makes it give me grief.

The kettle bell sumo squat was the very first squat I learned how to do way back when. And believe me, it took weeks before I finally felt the shape was right. These are among my favorites, and I especially like it when I get to use the lighter weight pink KB (8 kg).

As I said, I think these will be tacked on to one of my warmups so I can get more practice on the KB swings. If there is such a thing as muscle memory mine is not yet working or hasn’t accurately memorized this movement yet. Plus I see people daily doing these and find myself wondering why their form bothers me. Sometimes it is the arch of the back or the height of the swing or both. Sometimes it’s just worry about sweaty palms and rouge KBs flying through the air.

First brand spanking new thing I learned today was the kettle bell halo. I was watching J demonstrate at least half a dozen times before it was my turn to try it. In those half dozen times, watching that thing go round and round, I was absolutely certain the my shoulders did not work like that. While I had to be reminded just about every time the KB should be upside down for this one, the halos themselves were surprisingly gentle and good-feeling on my shoulders and upper arms. It was more like a gentle stretch than anything else. New favorite thing to do on a shoulder-heavy List day.

Not sure if I will be attempting a 1-arm kettle bell press on my own anytime soon. While I watched J demonstrate how to pick it up and the shape it should be getting into position with the KB draped over the hand and resting on the forearm, the cost/benefit of these does not seem to be there for me. Yes, they feel different than preforming the same movement using a dumbbell. But I would have to acquire more confidence and experience with the balance before I’d feel comfortable doing these routinely. But maybe. J then demonstrated and had me try balancing the smaller, non-standard KB from the handle with the bell part overhead. Shaking hand, shaking forearm, sweaty palms making the KB slippery – very quickly felt like I had lost control of the weight. I am far too much of a scaredy cat to try those again on my own.

We have done something similar to the kettle bell high pull with the dumbbells, only I think they were called high rows or inverted rows. They fell off the Lists in the second review, because I struggled mightily with my shoulders and arms doing what they were supposed to do. The KB high pull was definitely easier, because with just the one weight supported in both hands it is significantly more difficult to have one arm or elbow or shoulder wandering around and off the reservation. It seems like I would have to awkwardly move the KB into some obviously wrong position to have the same issues that I did with the dumbbell version.

For the chest supported kettle bell row, I am lying down face-first with chest pressed against the bench and feet supporting me on the ground, then pulling the KBs up in a row. The issues were not what J suggested might be an issue – pressing boobs flat against the bench is not really the most “oh goody!” moment in the gym. But no, that didn’t bother me. I had my towel to rest my chin and face against, except with my feet braced on the floor it kept my head neatly above the edge of the bench. But, each of my feet slipped on different occasions. And I really longed for a shorter bench, so I didn’t feel the need to smash myself so high to keep my head above the edge. Honestly, I think it more an issue of familiarity. I could adjust to the minor discomforts. Then we did bent over rows with hand resting on the back of the incline bench, and again, the weight distribution feels different with the KB. If J wanted to make these a staple I would learn to acclimate to the difference and make my shoulder do what its supposed to do on the pulling movement.

From the floor we did a single arm kettle bell floor press. The alternating did not happen, because of the logistics of learning how to hold and balance a single KB and move it up and down in a chest press type motion. It’s intriguing to me how different the KB balance is from a dumbbell. Or I have been using dumbbells for so long I have more issues adapting to the weight’s different shape.

Teaching days typically have fewer exercises, because it takes more time to adapt and to learn these new and different movements. It was fun because I got introduced to several new things. There was no specific thing that I disliked so much that I would ask J to not include it on a List now or into the future, but the KBs are different enough, feel differently enough from the dumbbells and cable machines to make me cautious about trying things out on my own. Seems to me that there is a lot more room for error and injury in my inexperience with the shape and the balance.

And really, it’s okay if I don’t pursue most of this on my own this week. I have plenty of other Lists to work on perfecting that still off plenty of challenge and room for growth.

But I do feel comfortable enough, confident enough with the squats, the swings, and the new halos to try them as part of my warmups. I use a light enough KB to kick up the heart rate and feel ready for the next phase of things.

Great, great training day. Love Thursdays just for this particular hour of power.

I have been investigating gyms for our firm as a possible perk of offering a subsidized corporate membership. My gym has an awful lot to offer my crew, and I am hopeful we choose to go this route. Most of my coworkers do some form of exercise, many of them belong to other gyms, but mine is a little more expensive than some other local options. With the corporate discount and subsidy, I think they could all become members and be happier. Or so I hope.

But one of the associates has asked if he can tag along and work out with me sometime. I’m certainly open to it – he asks me every week about my training sessions and thinks it really great that I am so religious about my exercise. I remind him that I have a chronic health condition that I am trying to keep in check, but he still thinks my commitment is admirable. He does what I describe as regular weight lifting – not trying to bulk up, merely trying to stay lean and healthy – and he has expressed some interest in my workout library. I mentioned it to J today and he said if I let him know in advance he’d come work out with us. That would be fun! Of course, J is in a  bulk-up phase right now, so it would be interesting as well. One thing about working with trainer J regularly, he grows more muscular, he gets slightly less bulky, then he expands and bulks up again. It’s fascinating to watch.

My head feels clearer of the foggy clutter today. I think perhaps I need to plan my weeks a bit better – know in advance what List I will be pursuing on Tuesday and Friday and have a back-up for Wednesday and Saturday just in case the Monday and Thursday sessions require more review before I strike out on my own.

I am back to feeling really, really good and positive about the effort I’m putting forth and my plodding toward mastery of my Lists. Some I am most definitely better at than others, some I have to try 10 times harder to get through. But yesterday, today my hope bank has been refilled and I’m not feeling off about my effort or willingness to try harder. Whether its boredom or fatigue or some combination of factors, not every day is going to be a more perfect union of my efforts and abilities with the Lists. And gym life is simpler and better when I approach it with a positive outlook.

Reading through J’s fitness likes on Facebook gives me welcome perspective on my very tiny steps into the fitness world. I still have so much to learn, and I feel no despair or disappointment that I still know so little. What I do know I have mostly learned and with a lot of practice have learned pretty well. It’s nice to look around the gym and casually observe other members doing the same or slightly different things and be able o catalog in my head what they are doing, what muscles they are working, recalling how it feels when i do the same or very similar movements. It’s actually better than nice. It took awhile, but it is thrilling to feel like I am gym people, I am finally at home and belong in my particular club.

My smoothie life is continuing for the most part, although I have switched the dinner and lunch meals. Now I eat a salad or protein/vegetable midday and protein shake and banana for dinner. It’s far easier for me to go to bed with a little hunger than it is to get through an entire afternoon of work. I have also been avoiding the scale. Mostly not on purpose; focusing on sticking to my new morning routine (for more sleep and less dawdling) makes me forget about hopping on it. But my sense is the needle is moving in the right direction.

Despite that, I am looking forward to returning to a more typical eating life. Smoothies 2 times daily is unsustainable for me for longer than a few weeks. I do not feel significantly better than I did eating regular food, but I do not feel badly or worse for wear. I have to watch my sugar pretty closely, and I am a lot better about the snacking and carb cravings. This is what I hoped for from this experience, and I’m hoping the feelings and lack of craving stick when I am back to only drinking breakfast rather than breakfast and dinner.

It has been this amazing, exciting, peaceful, productive, and fulfilling day. Work has been extraordinary in its frantic pacing this week, but all good. I make time for what’s important to me, including lunch with my daughter and son-in-law, and to write this recap.

Prioritizing what matters most to me – how do we lose sight of these things in the go-go-go of our daily grind pursuits. Maybe because we classify living our lives as a grind. Words do have consequences, too.

Blur, funk, bounce

Like everyone else, I have days that are so jammed with work and commitments that the work and the commitments and the whole day all fly by in a blur of activity. Yesterday was one of those days. Yet … yet … I still made time for my gym practice first thing in the morning, a yoga class late afternoon, and a quick cardio queen session at the gym after meeting with the new membership manager.

I also billed 14 hours yesterday. Legally and with some marketing and write-off time excluded from those honestly billable billable hours. I was hopping.

Most of the time, I really have to work at my time management and almost look forward to office days because of the basic structure of being somewhere and focused on a particular line of work for a set number of hours. Trust me, there are a lot of distractions here as well, with staff and bosses running in and out of my office, the phone calls, the emails, the appointments and the drop-in-without-appointment surprises. Still, I am not at home looking at a mostly organized stack of work to be done and yet another completely unorganized stack of work that must be sorted and placed into the mostly organized stack so I can finally get to work. Setup time – major time suck.

It’s normal for friends to suggest I am a workaholic. It’s common to be told I need to take a “real” vacation or to take some time off from work, the gym, my life and lifestyle. Relax, they say. Have fun, they tell me. While it generally comes from a good and caring place, it is irritating and nearly impossible for me to not get defensive about my choices. And since I hate that such sentiments make me feel defensive, I have been trying to figure out why the concern grates on my nerves.

One of my closest friends is recovering from a life-threatening illness. A byproduct of this and his ongoing recuperation is evaluation of his life and his choices with regard to his career, geographic location, and the quality of his life and lifestyle. How much money does he really need? What is more important – being part of a large social group or having a few people nearby he can be real with? Retirement is still 20 years away (minimum), but he is starting to wonder what it is he wants from that.

His reflective state seems to be contagious.

While it is true that I work a lot, the work is not physically taxing. On the contrary, the very sedentary nature of the work I do makes it dangerous to my health. It’s why I have a treadmill desk at home that I am resolving to use a lot more routinely than I have been lately. Having a steady gig with the lawyers provides a better than average silver HSA plan (starting November 1) health insurance for a very nominal cost ($100/month for M and I) along with dental and vision. It also fulfills my desire for balance in face-to-face interaction with people, although I admit it can also overflow and tip the balance to the too much side of the scale.

Expanding my side gigs into a full-blown small business has brought its own joys and headaches. As I have written about previously, when I first started I took any and all referrals for work. My law firm job started that way. A year later, I am being more selective about new work, subcontracting out work where it makes most sense, and trying to maintain some sort of balance that does not leave me working 60, 70, 80 hours per week. I have made some passive attempts to terminate contracts by raising rates or limiting my availability, yet they stay. Just yesterday I contacted a couple of my smallest firms with thoughts of referring them to someone else, but by the end of the conversation I was agreeing that ours is a very good and productive business relationship and only modestly raising their fees for the upcoming year. It’s hard when it only takes a few hours each month, is work I’m good at and could likely do in my most sleep-deprived state, although it is not work I especially enjoy. It’s easy and having a few easy projects each month can be a good thing.

On the flip side there are projects that I am drooling over to the point of the point of temptation to work for free. Except I won’t, because that would be really bad for business. This type of work is typically deadline-driven and interesting to me to be part of in whatever capacity. And it’s my heroin with work, typically very lucrative financially, as interesting and exciting for me to work on as it assuredly as pain-in-the-ass it will eventually become. The PITA is a given for these types of projects; nothing ever goes as smoothly as hoped, and even anticipating problems and shortage of time is inadequate for how many problems and how overblown on time such projects typically run.

Still, I live for these. I love the rush that comes with a short-fuse project, and pursuing that kind of work challenge fuels any and all characterizations of me as a workaholic. Unlike my early days toiling in a civil service environment where the motto seemed to be “there’s never time to do it right, but always time to do it over” would vex me to no end, consulting seems to be competitive and driven by smart people wanting to do and be best at their assigned projects … or moving on to civil service jobs.

As I have stated a lot, I really like my work. It’s not going to ever cure cancer or provide solutions to world hunger or lasting peace, but it keeps my days interesting and pays the bills. Although ours is a pretty simple life, we are not especially frugal and actively working to minimize our fixed expenses. Our health is important to us, so a higher than average percentage of our disposable income goes toward those pursuits. Gym and yoga studio memberships, personal training, running shoes, running accessories and equipment, replacement clothing for exercise pursuits. supplements, etc. There are expensive home remodeling projects in the future plan (kitchen remodel, replacing existing tile, landscaping) and we save for those rather than going into debt. M really wants to train to be a pilot and to build an airplane; those dreams are already mostly funded when he is ready to get started studying and enroll and/or finds the airplane kit he wants to build. The where is a bigger mystery to me and we have already done some idle looking around at shop space for rent.

Then there is the whole retirement savings topic. We have no plans to travel the world or for amazing, exotic trips as retired folks. Hopefully we will continue to enjoy good health, go out and remain active, and more time to pursue hobbies and interests. If I allow the marketing and internet hype to sink in, my fear gene starts twitching and I start panic thinking we’re way, way behind and must cut any and all luxuries (including those that enhance our overall health and quality of life) and live this miserly existence. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all in favor of keeping expenses low wherever possible, but at the same time, I know what is working for me and I am loathe to give it up for a future I am unlikely to have much less enjoy if I stop taking care of myself now while I still have opportunity to make better choices that will pay long-term dividends.

I would much rather find the balance between working really hard now and have reasonably ambitious savings goals for future projects and older-and-grayer years. We are fortunate to have woken up earlier to the trap of debt and gotten out of consumer debt before purchasing our home. Unless something surprising happens and we choose to switch things up, our mortgage will be gone within the next 7 years and we will have no further debt. Part of me believes working hard to establish my self-employment habit now will aid me in the future when I do not want to go to leave the house to earn income.

If anything, I feel like I am in a give-away stage of life, where I want to pare down our possessions and volume of crap we keep. Last weekend I did a little more exploration in my endless closet and found several things saved in the last purge that will be going on the block via ebay or some other sale site soon and even more into my donation bag. I am being ruthless with clothing I have shrunk out of and not keeping it just-in-case. If I go back up a size I will either have to suck it up and buy new things or grit my teeth and get back on track. I regret donating a designer handbag last week in a fit of declutter fatigue when I saw the same bag on ebay with multiple bids. Ah well. I’m sure the reseller who ends up with it needs the profit more than I do.

So while I have a good handle on my life and reasoning for the choices I make, I remain a little or a lot fuzzy on why others are so unhappy with their own. Personality differences? To a lesser or greater degree we project our biases on those around us or closest to us, and perhaps that is the issue.

When I began blogging a few years ago I was well traveled in personal finance circles. When I actually began this blog, though, I found out how little I have to say on the topic of personal finance, other than it truly is a very personal choice. I knew then, know even better now that M and I are not terribly frugal people, and I find it annoying that people wear their frugality merit badge like some sort of judgment statement. Either that or I am hypersensitive to it, which is entirely possible as well. But whatever; everyone is different.

Thing is, I worry about money for a living. Because of that, my own spending and saving habits tend to be on autopilot. Our budget is set and we do a good job of sticking to it without much tinkering on my part. I do not want to be quibbling or quivering over meaningful services or saving even more of the money we earn. I also do not want to be feeling anxious about whether or not to tip my esthetician just because she happens to be in business for herself. More unique situations – like trainer J or RD (who will not accept money from me for his advice and dietary guidance help) – I just go with my gut on what seems fair and reasonable to me. Plus they are sort of swept up into my inner circle tribe and benefit from the spoils of goodies (booze, gift cards, etc.) that I acquire from clients and vendors and cannot or will not use.

And because of my job and my past as a budget coach, a lot of my online friends and acquaintances have money worries. Having been there, done that, bought and shredded the t-shirt, it seems natural that many I know see my life as simpler or easier with our financial house in good order.

All this finance and work and thinking stuff has been pinging and ponging around in my head. Because of it, lately here my mind feels like mush. If I am not discussing something with specificity – like training recaps or eating strategy – I am all a-wandering in these posts. Here today I mulling over a snarky tossed off comment in real life about working too hard, taking time off, whining so much. Huh. I do not tend to whine much in person – work-life balance choices start and end with me – and I know she does not read the blog. But her income has to stretch far and includes debt and debt service, children, and limited choices and courses of action to increase her income and limits herself on reducing her expenses. She gets a pass because I find her negativity is the limiting factor on becoming closer friends. She has a nasty habit of “yes, but …” to any and all suggestions about helping herself. And that’s fine; I listen with half an ear and change the subject.

As individuals, we are not powerless. We control our attitude and our emotions. There are a lot of choices we have to make that are unpleasant, uncomfortable, or just plain unfair and awful, but reality and circumstances are not always what we want or feel we deserve.

I have struggled this week with various things, and honestly, I have no clear idea why. At work my bosses are effusive in their assessment of and praise for how I am conducting myself and the business matters at hand. My particular management style, while very different than their own, works well with the staff dynamic. Self-employment work is chugging along and gaining more steam with renewals and new clients, short-term projects. M and I are fine, busy pursuing our own objectives at  home and doing a fair number of standing up dinners enroute to something else that needs to get done. Trainer J is not raining pitiful looks in my direction that say I’m a sad sack broken bird in my efforts or giving me any indications that something has changed to where I feel as crappy as I have been about my own efforts and performance in practices of late. Kids, tribe, other friends are fine, on the mend and doing well in their own lives.

So why the mild funk, I wonder? M suggests it seasonal affective disorder. That would be a new twist if that were the case; I have never been bothered by the time change or the shorter daylight hours.

It’s certainly nothing serious. Even mild funk might be a bit strong to cover the higher self-critical tone I have had of late. Today was good, better than I have been in the last couple of weeks, in that while imperfect I went through my List of the day this morning with stronger focus and resolve. Work is perking right along, and walking at lunch today we were discussing funks, depression, anxiety, and the medications available to battle such issues. Having a day where I am so busy that my time to navel-gaze and overthink my own life’s miniscule drama is also always a good thing. Tends to put things into better perspective for me.

Righting my own ship – action is not always required. Occasionally I just need to ride out the squall and let mind find its happy place again. Of course, limiting social media and reading some of the many books piling up on my Kindle and in my “you should read this” recommendations list makes Janelle a much healthier, happier, positive-outlooked person.

Tomorrow is Thursday – training day! How I know for sure I am on the bounce and enroute to righting the mind ship? Earlier today J told me the Thursday 8 a.m. tribe member is out of town, which means if we run late we can take some extra time. That’s always a happy thing, even if I am spoiled, Spoiled, SPOILED (as friend J remarked earlier). But also, it’s likely a teaching day. We just finished our review of another series of workouts we began a few months ago, interrupted with another style of body part splits, and only recently returned to. Next could be kettle bells or some new version of mix-and-match exercise Lists. Whatever. I don’t care. I’ve had a self-imposed weird week with exercise (although today was quite good) and look forward to interactive Q&A rather than just letting my curiosity sit and spin in my own head about what I or others in my line of sight are doing.

And even this deep into regular, consistent exercise nearly every day, I am still ridiculously excited about training days.