Monday and Friday (because of the holiday on Thursday) this week combined to make 17 of 20 personal training appointments, because I currently have sessions scheduled with J twice weekly. A lot of thoughts, emotions, ideas, and other random stuff ping-ponging around in my head today, so this is likely to be a long one. Please bear with me while I try to write it all out coherently.

On Monday we reviewed last week’s dumbbell routine, because for whatever reason I was still struggling. The list is as follows:

  • DB goblet crush squat (20 lb.)
  • Tripod 1-arm DB row (20 lb., 25 lb.)
  • Anterior reach lunge (15 lb. x2)
  • DB curl to overhead press (12 lb. x2)
  • DB rear shoulder fly (2 lb. x2 – these are so darn CUTE, like dumbbells for toddlers)
  • DB flat bench press (20 lb. x2)
  • DB pullover (25 lb., 20 lb.)
  • DB triceps extensions (8 lb. x2)

Today, we explored the cardio aspect of training. I cannot recall all we did and without The List I am reluctant to even guess, but it was faster paced and pretty brutal, an acute reminder of just how out of shape I remain. It totally sucked (do not adjust your monitors; that bright light is the sparkle lighting up J’s eyes as he reads those words), and yet I mostly enjoyed it. Maybe there is a masochist within me waiting to be released? Who knows. I suspect the challenge presented is exhilarating to my raging brain, and I now believe I could potentially master it someday. Either that or it will kill me off in a slow, agonizing, this-is-why-I-hate-exercise kind of way.

On my goals update:

  1. Weight – Drop 20 lbs. ON TRACK
    Week 17 finds me down 1 lb. per the newly acquired scale. We shall see how it tracks over the next few weeks. Considering it was Thanksgiving week and yesterday’s meal, dessert, and then some popcorn at the movie, I am calling this a win.
  2. Strength training – 3 times per week on my own. ON TRACK
    Since my prior training session (11/19), I have continued with my early morning gym visits and was at the gym training with J or practicing my routines for another 7 days, including Thanksgiving. Nothing like working up a sweat first thing before the massive food fest.
  3. Stretching/Flexibility – 3 to 4 yoga practices per week. NOT A PRIORITY
    Once this week, a half-hearted Tuesday evening effort. It’s just not much of a blip on my radar with the holiday schedules everywhere, and my mind was elsewhere during class.
  4. Cardio/HIIT – 3 days per week.NOT A PRIORITY
    Treadmill desk walking and the daily warmup at the gym continue. Cardio is not much of a priority right now. That may change in the weeks or months ahead, especially after today, but right now I’m pretty much focused on getting myself to the gym every day and investing the time doing my resistance training.
  5. Post updates each week.ON TRACK
    Here we are – update from session 17 of 20. For a holiday week this has been a peaceful and pleasant several days.

On Monday J and I reviewed the prior week dumbbell exercises. The tripod 1-arm row has been giving me grief with cocking my head, a bad habit that I can feel in my neck and shoulder after the fact. J adjusted it for me a couple of times. He remarked that if my brain were a CPU it would be going at 95%, which I assume came from the frowny-face concentration. It brought forth visions of steam coming out my ears from the effort and makes me smile. I did better on my practice days, so that’s a positive cue.

J has the benefit of reading relevant blog posts I write/create in Word before posting them here. On Monday before we got down to the serious business of training we had a chat about eating and goals and how far I have come in the last several months. The gist of our conversation about these updates is that FAIL is not something he would apply to my efforts. The upside (or downside) of him being privy to my thoughts outside the gym is that he has grown familiar with what I am thinking and feeling about our sessions, exercise, and this quest to implement lifestyle changes that will benefit my overall health. There has been some subtle shading and tailoring in his remarks to me, so it’s beneficial to both of us. He is better equipped to motivate, encourage, and correct, and I do not have to explain the impact of his words and what works, what does not work.

Since our conversation on Monday and thinking it over between then and now, I have come to realize that goals I set 4+ months ago are not the same as my reality right now. How the training has evolved is completely unexpected and my goals and priorities have changed along with it. I did not know J at all when I was setting the goals; what I thought we would be doing and discussing by this point in our journey together has turned out to be nothing like what I anticipated or imagined.

Only a few weeks remain in this series, and I think I will be abandoning specific goals after this series is complete and return to just reporting on my training sessions and maybe a monthly progress update on some very general measures. I am still kicking tires on this topic in my head, but I cannot imagine abandoning at least my training session recaps. The mere act of writing it down is cathartic and helps clarify where the difficulty lies for me. We shall see how it evolves after the first of the year.

I have also been mulling over this week about what my expectations were when I engaged J as my trainer. Drill sergeant screaming? I think the club’s management frowns upon that. And if I ever perceived him as badgering me even in polite tones (again, something I think the club’s management would tend to curb), his ass would have been on the curb immediately. Bullying might work with some people, but I do not think I know any of them and I am definitely not part of that tribe. Even some of the powerlifter videos I have started to watch or listen to are a little hard on my nervous system. So no, I never worried about him being that kind of trainer.

I suppose I vaguely thought we’d be doing demonstration, run-through of exercises, see you in a week sort of interaction and communication. Very business-like, professional, impersonal interaction. My imaginings (and the anxiety that accompanied them) were based on another experience with another trainer. Nothing could be further from evolving reality. I have a question, I text it, whereas at first I was really reluctant to bother him between sessions. We started out very slowly, because frankly I had to learn absolutely everything and could not do even a quarter of the stuff I do now back then. It’s been like some infinite layer dip building up to this tiny little chip of the big giant iceberg of possibilities. I work really hard during our hours together each week – that really does not surprise me. I expected it would be hard, being overwhelmingly intimidated by everything exercise and fitness related and prepared for the worst things my mind could project. While it has not been a picnic, it has not been even slightly as terrible. I also expected to be receiving a prescription for a lot of cardio on top of the series of exercises each week. Has not happened, and seemed unlikely. Until today, anyway. Going forward, we will see how that evolves.

The pace feels just right for me, or maybe I’ve just gotten used to it as the weeks have passed. I have never wanted to be lazy about the training, or to feel as if I am a time-killing slacker client who cuts sessions short or mindlessly fritters away training time some how. There are days I come home and want to shower and fall into bed for a nice long nap, and not necessarily in that order. It’s either really comforting that I worked that hard or kind of disheartening that it is still that hard depending on my overall outlook in the moment.

I have also mostly accepted that I am probably not the stupidest woman in the gym because I am not getting all the fine little details in the first go-round. When I am on my own I discover all sorts of things that maybe I forgot to ask, maybe he told me and I just forgot, or maybe I just don’t get, period. I text, and maybe I get clarity. Just as frequently I’m saying “we need to do this again, because I’m still lost.” And it has become an okay thing, not a badge of shame that plagues me and has me dreading the upcoming meeting. I have gotten pretty good about admitting that I am not understanding or feel like I am not understanding or performing the movement right. It was difficult enough to hire someone to teach me this stuff, but I am amazed at my new-found ability to openly admit that I feel wrong about something and need help perfecting it.

Is this what trust feels like?

That alone is pretty startling progress. My normal modus operandi in such uncomfortable situations is to start cancelling appointments and ensure I never cross paths with J again. Ever. Maybe in my older age I am finally practicing adultier-adult behavior. Or my hyper-responsible self is morally engaged and would have to be straightforward, honest, and provide a reasonable explanation before fleeing the scene.

Reformatting the narrative inside my head seems to be required to achieve success with working and reshaping the muscles of my body. I think the head workouts are far more challenging thus far.

I spend a fair amount of my practice time thinking. The noise most of the time is the relevant cues – chest up, shoulders back, abs tight, upper body tight, don’t shrug – but in the other part of my mind is going through all the reasons why it’s Tuesday and therefore not the restful, 1-and-done set day. The taskmaster who sets and demands unrealistic things goes to war with the slacker who wants to give up because nothing is ever going to be good enough. Statistically, I am finding balance and winning the war over both the majority of the time, so that is measurable progress I can feel. Plus, as J reminds me, I am getting up and getting myself to the gym to practice regularly and consistently; that in itself is an accomplishment and more than half the battle.

So while I am chief cheerleader for others, I am my own worst enemy and fiercest critic. I have never had the mind of a competitor; I seem to lack killer instinct. Which is also where I note a change in M and his attitude toward my gym time.

M is a fierce competitor. He does not race anymore because he is such a intense competitor it’s nearly impossible for him to effectively divide his focus, so his running every single day has become activity more for his health, balance, and social contact with friends. Because of this, my getting up and going to the gym daily seems like normal behavior to him, although he knows it’s not typical for me and I am putting forth real effort to make it happen. More than that, though, he has developed a much more favorable attitude toward the reality of a personal trainer. In prior efforts there was conflict between his tone and his words, and his encouragement came out tepid at best. His belief that I could and should be able to do this on my own was the far more powerful message even if his spoken words contradicted what my sensitivity and feelings heard from him.

This time he is very vocal in his support and encouragement and the disparaging “tone” of prior years has faded away. He disagrees with me, says he’s always been happy with my efforts, but he also (reluctantly) admits that what he says and what I hear/feel could be very different things. Anyway, this change in him has a huge impact on my own confidence. He disagrees, but I think his own mentoring efforts with other aspiring trail runner ladies and their husband/boyfriend issues has been the best mirrored illustration of our struggles in the fitness realm. We are not one-size-fit-most people, and what I have tried to make him understand about what I desire and need from him has not always been clear as it is right now.

Today’s training was cardio in nature. It was not so much learning new things – although we did go there a bit and will have to revisit in coming sessions if J has any hope of my learning how to correctly do these exercises – so much as the pace was faster and the things we did built upon what I already know. There were some TRX squats and band rows and presses and curls – all things we have done previously with additions and modifications and at a “go faster” type pace. We did some walking deadlifts (there is a formal name, but that’s how I think of them) and lunges and more curls with different overhead things. We even did a squat with a throwing a big ball against the wall; so confusing because it is such unfamiliar behavior.

For the first time since we began my training journey, I had to bail out early and am feeling guilty about it. I am battling back, because if I am honest with myself it was either that or let the light headedness get the better of me. J asked me a couple of times toward the end of our session how I was doing, and other than normal fatigue of new and unfamiliar stuff I was fine. But I knew I was approaching the low blood sugar sensations as they began to creep in and it was either try one more set and probably keel over or accept the wall was rushing toward me and call it a day 10 minutes early.

I checked my sugar immediately after returning to the locker room and it was at 58 (low is 60 or lower), so it was a right call. I always carry a can of grape juice and now glucose tablets with me, so I was fine after a minute and a couple of swigs. The past week has been a strange one, with hitting new lows either overnight or during the day. Every. Single. Day. With yesterday’s binge eating celebration and this morning’s slightly elevated (124 versus my usual under 98 or less) reading, I figured I was fine on my normal food intake. Except we worked really hard today and I may have to rethink my foot consumption before workouts going forward. I may experiment this weekend.

Or I am overreacting and am fine. It’s disturbing to me that I had to be excused early, but J should have no worries about me being a tough girl. I am as wimpy as they come when it comes to weird and frightening physical discomfort. After the fainting incident several weeks ago M gave me the big lecture about ensuring I have my testing supplies in my gym bag AND a can of juice. Fainting during a session with J? I feel ill with embarrassment just thinking about it. Bailing 10 minutes early is the much better alternative and should alleviate my guilt and make me feel better. I suppose in time it will.

After the fainting incident, M also nagged mentioned that I should be monitoring my heart rate during workouts because of this new, undiscovered country with the diabetes and the random lows I continue to experience even after the insulin has been removed from my drugs list. Because this seemed like one more number to obsess over, I did not pay too much attention to it or pursue it. Then he ordered this pretty purple heart rate monitoring device, and I have been trying to get into the habit of putting it on and then remembering to turn it on. I am getting better, but it’s still fairly hit-and-miss.

I had it on today and took a peek at the data reports when I got home. I try to keep my looks at the data extremely casual, or I will find myself obsessing over its fancy features and the information about me it provides. But for context, here’s today’s training stats:

  • Message: Maximal perform. improving (this was a first; usually it tells me my fitness and fat burning are improving).
  • Zone 1 (60% max HR) – 42 minutes, 30 seconds
  • Zone 2 (70% max HR) – 17 minutes, 44 seconds
  • Zone 3 (80% HR and above) – 35 minutes, 32 seconds
  • Average HR – 122; maximum HR – 154

So yeah, apparently I worked hard today.

J and I have this conversation every week about how much training is going to suck. One of the true joys of his job is when clients think “f-you” about the exercise they are doing and how it puts a sparkle in his eyes; we refer to that f-you sparkle (Captain Obvious has nothing on me). This morning we were joking about it as I was pushing forward and he asked me if I could see that in his eyes today, and I replied it was radiating like a nuclear explosion, which was very pleasing for him to hear.

Today was different, and I kind of liked it. Today was pure, undiluted really hard physical work. I like learning new things. But I saw how a pacing change can have an unexpected effect overall. I would not want to be in timing mode or go faster mode every day, but I expect I will be trying it again during future practices.

Funny sometimes how J is either reading my mind or I am such a predictable client that he knows the direction my thoughts are heading. Warming up this morning on my favorite treadmill I was pondering the idea of doing glute bridges or rows or pushups to elevate my heart rate and to prepare for whatever he had planned for us to do today. I kind of hate glute bridges, squats are not a current favorite, and I loathe push-ups of any stripe, but I must admit these are all effective in getting the blood pumping and making me feel awake and alert and in the get-to-work mindset. After doing just our dumbbell routine and doing dumbbell routine after basics A or B, I can say I vastly prefer doing a set of basics A or B in advance of wielding dumbbells through 2 or more sets and closing out with another round of my favorites or still challenging movements from A and B or even the mini bands sheet. The familiarity of these sheets has become my club security blanket.

I read that last paragraph with a rueful smile. I honestly cannot believe I am speaking so matter-of-factly (and without enormous amounts of hate and discontent) about exercise and my preferences for it. When we started, I dreaded our sessions, I would do just about anything to avoid going to the gym, and I felt like a damned awful failure every time I tried. Thinking about it this morning, it has been literally weeks since I have had the thought of cancelling cross my mind, whereas it used to be Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday at least 10x daily before I got the reminder text and was then locked in and committed to showing up. Maybe now that the reminder texts have become unpredictable (I am pretty dependable about appearing for our sessions) it’s less opportunity to bail. More likely it is just that training mornings and going to the gym every other morning have become part of my life’s habits, like brushing my teeth daily or feeding the fluffbuckets and taking out the trash on Wednesday night.

Today is a little different. I am regretful that I had to bail early – I do not want to return to that girl who dreads training and feels free for another week when our sessions end – yet I also understand that the eccentricities of my changing health and body’s needs for fuel is in learning curve mode right now.

J said he nearly texted me advance warning about what he was thinking and decided to surprise me instead. I remarked that I might have had to cancel, but I believe we both know by now I would not have done so. It might have inspired a bit of dread, because new stuff always triggers my internal failure freak-out to a greater or lesser degree. Before I left the gym, once I got the juice in my system and was feeling normal again, my thinking turned to practical solutions so this does not happen again. I may have to yield to M’s urgings and experiment with additional protein to find a better fuel mix.

I am actually marveling at my progress with this series. I remember the dread of Thursdays, of knowing I had not practiced or tried that hard. Dragging my ass to the gym every morning has done me a lot of good, even when I resent it, feel low energy, hate my lack of progress, etc. Those days are normal; I am getting over the fact that sometimes I just slog through it and that’s the best feeling I can muster about it.

As I said at the start of this post, it’s a long one, lots of thinking and emoting and rambling to download today. Maybe training activities influence my verbosity in the recaps? Perhaps I need to put my edit button into my rotation and flex its muscles a bit. But then I would actually have to edit, at which time any actual written posts going up would be dramatically reduced when my inner perfectionista becomes engaged and paralyzes me completely.

Happy weekending everyone!

4 thoughts on “Fall Fitness 2015 #17 – Steam and driven to juice

  1. More comments later – but I have been known to keep my test kit and glucose tabs with me when I work out so I can ward off a low. And leaving a few minutes early is the best thing – your body will adjust to this but getting really close to passing out at the gym (dizzy/blurred vision/walked off gym floor) – is no fun – ask how I know 😉

    1. Thanks for that – I felt rather silly. But I’m discovering that my body seems to have received some sort of system update, so exploring it’s features and boundaries is a bit of a trial-and-error process.

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