Fall Fitness 2015 #20 – Everything that means anything to me

Monday and Thursday this week combined to make the last of my original 20 personal training appointments, because I currently have sessions scheduled with J twice weekly. This week was reviewing and revamping an older TRX routine with new movements and challenges. This TRX stuff is something we have not focused on in lots of weeks. Because of issues with a few things (see here for details on my epic meltdown) we reviewed the same list on Thursday:

  • TRX overhead squat
  • TRX split squat
  • TRX Y
  • TRX row
  • TRX facepull with external rotation
  • TRX biceps curl
  • TRX 1-leg Romanian deadlift
  • TRX lateral lunge
  • TRX pushup
  • TRX triceps extension
  • TRX shoulder safe fallout
  • TRX resist rotation press

A lot of things contribute to how well or easily I learn and adapt to new things. This week the TRX movements just did not stick and I came unglued over it. Still, it’s forward progress; I have not become quite so distraught over practice in at least a couple of months.

Thursday we reviewed and really drilled on a couple of movements that were particularly ugly. Tomorrow or this weekend – next I do TRX on my own – will tell how much of the new cues I absorbed and am able to implement on my own, but I feel a lot more confident now. Not having my cheatsheet to remind and refresh me on what I am supposed to be doing was a direct contributor to my falling apart Tuesday evening, and if ever there was an indicator of my dependency upon the List to get me through a practice, it was Tuesday.

As this is my final post in the series, I am structuring my goals update a little differently and including reflections and lessons learned over the course of the 20 weeks.

  1. Weight –  Drop 20 lbs.
 In the spirit of complete honesty, I have not replaced my scale and at this point have no intention of doing so anytime soon. Therefore, I have no idea where I stand on this goal this particular week and truly do not care much one way or the other. As time has passed I have alternated between panicking because I am nowhere close to where I “should” be with this goal and completely detaching from caring. I remain at the completely detached from caring end of the spectrum.
    Goal Summary: Over the course of this period, my weight went up, went down, went all around in the process … until I got to the point where it truly does not matter. The final tally has me down about 4 lbs., well short of the 20 lb. goal I set. But as I said in my very first post, it’s ALL about the clothes for me. I am down something akin to a full dress size since I began and even some of my smaller sized jeans are getting loose. My workout capris are now a size smaller, and the toning effect of the weight lifting has altered my shape. From a numbers standpoint this goal is a FAIL; from everything that means anything to me it’s a huge PASS.
  2. Strength training –  3 times per week on my own.Since my prior training session (12/10), I have continued with my daily gym visits and was at the gym training with J or practicing the routines for 6 of 7 days. After an unusual cramp in my calf on Tuesday evening (forever burned into my memory as country music gym Hell), I consulted with J on Thursday and heeded/compromised on his recommendation to take a few days off or at least focus on upper body while at the gym. I took Friday off completely and felt much more refreshed when I returned on Saturday. While irritating leg syndrome was pretty much over by the time I woke up on Friday morning, I took the day off anyway because J has been very gently expressing concern about my super attendance record. Plus I do value his opinions and insight and since I asked, it seemed wrong to completely disregard his recommendations.
    Goal Summary: When I first began this journey, I wanted to do more of my workouts at home and well within the confines of my comfort zone. I refer to this as my “dilly-dallying” period within the series. After week 11, I flipped my schedule and began working out every morning, striving to arrive with enough time to ensure I got my full 3 sets of that week’s exercises done in the time allotted. Since October 17, 2015, I have missed a single day of practice at the gym and averaged well over 3 strength training workouts per week. While it does not always sound like it  –  even (perhaps especially) to me  –  I am extraordinarily pleased with my effort in getting moving and overcoming my crazy brain, anxiety, and club intimidation. Without reservation I did well on this; PASS.
  3. Stretching/Flexibility –  3 to 4 yoga practices per week.No yoga practice or classes at all this week and not a smidgen of guilt about it either.
    Goal Summary: I completed 39 yoga classes including a beginning yoga workshop at another studio in 20 weeks. A lot of things changed through this 20 week series, primarily my focus and commitment toward the strength and resistance training goal overriding any other exercise-related desires and ideals. Once the possibilities of success from my one-on-one training with J began to take shape, my heart drifted away from from the yoga practice. I did not (and in truth still do not) feel the cost/benefits were working in my favor. Like so many things, the emphasis on the results messed with my head, and I know the group class session format does not allow me to ever feel completely comfortable with the “getting it” aspects of the practice. My inability to get my brain slowed down enough to focus on individual postures versus improving my form on 26 postures all at once made yoga a daunting, stress-inducing, and unproductive activity. Deliberately pursuing it further evolved into an overwhelming burden with all the other interests and priorities in the my world. However, I have made friends at the studio and yoga has become as much a social activity for me as it is a workout. Going forward I will probably make room for a weekly class or two to hang out with pals, but it is not the priority that sessions with J and gym practices are right now. For my purposes, this realistic evolution is still a PASS.
  4. Cardio/HIIT –  3 days per week.Treadmill desk walking and the daily warmup at the gym continue. The cardio has truly fallen by the wayside. I still row on occasion, primarily for stress relief, but it’s pretty far from the guilt-if-skipped event it once was for me. And at this time in my life, I am a-okay with that.
    Goal Summary: While I really did nothing to pursue this goal, I still got in regular amounts of cardio as an extra booster to my weight training workouts. In week 17, J designed a circuit-like routine of resistance movements (at a faster pace) for cardio training. Again, somewhere around week 11 my dilly-dallying became complete and total abandonment of this goal as my priority and focus shifted to the resistance training. I also began to accept that the 30 minutes of recommended cardio for diabetics does not really apply to me, because my heart rate is elevated with the resistance training I am doing AND I am working at it for well over 30 minutes daily. For my goal of better health, this is a PASS.
  5. Post updates each week. Here we are –  update from session 20 of 20. I made it through to the end and am feeling pretty happy for completing this series, warts (looking at you weight) and all.
    Goal Summary: Setting a few basic goals and reporting back on my progress each week has been incredibly motivating. The status reports were/are an integral part to keeping me focused and on-track. The blog has become my safe place to discuss my training, my feelings about it, my big and little victories and my tearful bouts of frustration and angst. It is comforting and encouraging and empowering in so many ways, if only to bleed the self-pity out of my system before getting up and trying again the next day. Having never, ever identified as an athlete or thought for a single second that I have any physical gifts, even the tiniest steps forward meant so much to me to write down and share, even if no one else was reading or caring. I am a spectacular success at maintaining this goal; it’s a big giant PASS.

I began this journey and series of posts on August 6, 2015, setting a few specific goals and updating my progress (or lack thereof) each week. There were some definite hopes in those goals, a few secret dreams that seemed too impossible to articulate in words. Despite all that, I felt my expectations were minimal, my thoughts mostly neutral on whether or not I would be successful or go down in flames as I have in so many previous efforts toward a healthier lifestyle. But I was hopeful.

If I look at this list at face value as written here, I am generous in my passing grades and truly only kinda/sort successful with these 20 weeks. But I do not see it that way, which in and of itself is a huge admission and step forward; I am typically much harsher on myself in my judgments. I feel enormously successful and very proud of my efforts. I set these arbitrary goals before I knew or understood what training with J would be like or how life-altering and transformative an experience it would eventually become. Just a few examples come that immediately to mind:

  • I am healthier –  no longer on injected insulin and taking the lowest dosage of diabetes medication I have in years.
  • I am physically stronger –  now lifting and utilizing weights that seemed so far beyond my capability when I started.
  • I am mentally and emotionally more resilient –  my anxiety is still present, but it is far more manageable than when I started out 5 months ago.
  • I feel better about me the person – there is a lot of irreparable emotional breakage within that is softened or mitigated as my confidence grows and my small successes accumulate.
  • I may be crying on my keyboard and whining here, but it certainly helps me keep it together and get myself out of bed and into the gym nearly every single day.

Do I appear fitter than I was 20 weeks ago? Possibly. M says I am, so we will go with that. The tangible proof for me is that I can schlep 5 gallon bottles of water and boxes of paper around the office without contemplating asking one of the guys for help. I cannot remember the last time M lectured worried about swollen feet or ankles, and the bruising on my lower legs continues to fade.

My fitness and quest for better health is far from complete or even close to over. In my mind it is a lifetime journey and is possibly more important than retirement savings as far as overall security. For someone who worries about money for a living that’s kind of a big deal admission. The training with J session bank remains relatively flush and the budget line item continues to accrue funds until it’s time to replenish and purchase more. I imagine after the first of the year there will posts on those sessions each week. Not as formal or as formatted as these have been, and possibly not as long. I find writing about it after the fact clarifies a lot for me, helps me sort out what is a real issue and what is the fear inside my head trying to magnify little things with technique, scheduling, or both into major obstacles in my path.

I am meeting with J on Monday, and then he is off on a well-deserved break from work and to celebrate Christmas with his family. Much as I love working with him every week, the break will be good for me as well. I have been enjoying learning and eventually mastering a wide variety of exercises that come with a couple of training sessions with him per week and another 4 or 5 days of practice on my own, and I am really grateful to have multiple programs available to do every day I am in the gym. But having over a week to just do whatever I want (within reason) feels like enough freedom to become a little ho-hum about my present routines by the time we resume. That’s my plan, anyway. When J returns I may be so wigged out we have to start from scratch with each of them  –  after all, severe regression is always possible. (But I doubt it.)

The end of this series also has me thinking ahead and into 2016. No resolutions or big goals here, just pondering a new year with its own milestones and changes. As my overall health is always first and foremost in my mind, I plan to keep an open mind about anything my new endocrinologist suggests (appointment on 12/29) and meeting with a dietitian (1/5). Integration into the Kaiser system should be interesting if nothing else.

As I have stated previously, part of me feels a little sad at the end of this series. I learned a lot in these 20 weeks and 26 training sessions. I can use dumbbells of more than 8 lbs. now. I can walk around with rubber bands on my legs and wonder why others think it odd or unusual behavior. I can feel the difference between the colored bands when using them. I can pretty much predict how busy the room where I practice will be on any given weekday between 6 and 7:15 a.m. and most weekends between 7:30 and 9. I even recognize some of the faces I pass when going to and fro each day.

Whatever positive advances happen in the future, in the last 5 months I have come farther than I ever imagined I could in this realm. If you have ever felt self-conscious about exercising in a public place and faltering in your initial efforts, you know how sweet that moment is when a basic exercise finally clicks into place and you can do a lunge without falling over, or you know that you are correctly, finally pushing off with your heels in a squat, or you are sometimes not shrugging your shoulders in every shrug-worthy exercise imaginable. The training has been elevated to a critically important thing to me, so much that I get emotional (read: tearful) just writing about the evolution of not just my improving abilities but adjusting my attitude toward the endeavor and toward myself pursuing the endeavor.

Consistent practice has resulted in amazing dividends. The immeasurable measures from this process are substantial and worthy of their own post.

Writing this final post for this series, I went through and reread the in-progress draft and edited it, something I rarely do on the blog. My habit and way of expressing myself about events in my life includes a lot of self-depreciation and minimizing any accomplishments I personally may have achieved. That seems less appropriate right now and diminishes the hard work put forth by me and others who participated in this ongoing effort. In my real-life world I have genuine cheerleaders who are always encouraging and supportive, yet I cannot always express out loud what’s going on in the deeper recesses of my mind. Not because I am afraid of them pooh-poohing what I think or how I feel, or even laughing out loud at my ridiculously silly overreactions. No, it is more more because I do not want to feel so desperate and dependent upon them to hold my hand 24/7 and constantly reassure me that I am and will be okay. I know there are a lot of occasions when I am just being a baby or under the influence of crazy brain. They read, they know, they care, they do, and they are simply wonderful; enough said.

M has been great about it, going from a little skeptical to full-on supporter of my training and practice, listening patiently when I lose my mind and restraining himself from trying to “fix” me when I am in a completely unfixable frame of mind. He is a great guy, always honest when I fret about my butt getting bigger and somehow assuring me it will be okay even when he agrees with me that my butt is indeed bigger than some undefined “before” in my imagination or actual reality.

Trainer J has been incredibly patient and kind, well above and beyond his job description and possibly/probably more than I deserve with all my neurotic madness. The world is not going to end because I am dim on a few exercises, and there is always another Monday or Thursday session ahead to try and get through to me. Yet he repeatedly and calmly responds to my texts and gives me plenty to chew on without being pedantic in our communications and interactions.

My kids, my friends in real life and here on and off the blog have cheered my progress and treated my periodic meltdowns with compassion and with humor, sharing many stories of their own successes and fall-downs, two-steps-forward-three-steps-back progressions with health and fitness.

Everything that means anything to me on learning how to exercise and how to just be while pursuing my goals has been expressed and described in detail in this series. Sometimes ad nauseam, so thank you for sticking with me for this long and this many thousands of words.

To all of you, if I have failed to say it previously, thank you. From the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU! For reading, liking, commenting on these posts. Your kindness, support, encouragement, and occasionally well-timed and much deserved tough love and kicks in the ass mean the world to me.

While that’s a wrap for this series, the beat goes on and tomorrow is another day at the gym. I have TRX exercises to master and other sheets to revisit before the year concludes.

6 thoughts on “Fall Fitness 2015 #20 – Everything that means anything to me

  1. You have done such an amazing job! This is all a win because the most important thing has changed – your mindset. You are determined, focused and motivated by the changes you are seeing and feeling! I am so proud of you my friend! And you have learned to keep going despite what the voices in your head say. You are just amazing! Please keep reporting back at what ever level you like – I love following your progress. It is so great to hear someone else having similar issues to me and overcoming them! Well done!

    • Thanks, SAK! And not to worry – my reporting on my exercise and fitness endeavors are unlikely to cease anytime soon. If anything, I worry that I’m becoming a droning bore by talking about it so much. But oh well.

      Our issues are not unique, and it’s unfortunate that I’ve been unsuccessful in locating other blogs that report their ups and downs and work arounds. Maybe I’m not looking in the right places? Either way, I strive to keep it real, warts and all. So not changing just because my initial 20 weeks is now concluded. 🙂

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