Monday, training day. Nope, did not oversleep and was on time to warm-up and get started at the assigned time. All good.
My outlook and attitude were positive and upbeat. I went to sleep last night without sleeping aids, and while I woke up several times with bad dreams, it was not long-term awake or fatigue-inducing stressful awake-ness. It’s just present day reality that I have bad dreams and will be awake and falling back to sleep several times per night.
Things are looking up, I think. Training sessions are always good days. I learn a lot, even when we review and reinforce/update cueing. The TRX hamstring thing is still not a favorite – my imagination does not stretch far enough to see the day when it might be a favorite – but I am determined to practice those bad baddies until I achieve competency. It will happen.
Which is a big adjustment for me. Belief that competency will happen and that I will someday probably really like what I am disliking so intensely in the here and now. I still have hopes for the TRX push-ups, am still making incremental progress every time they appear on a List or I have extra time to practice, and it’s only been 7 months. It will happen. Soon. Which is a term that could mean anything anymore.
What we did today, and descriptions will likely be updated because I’m not at home and looking at my papers right now:
Leg press machine (this is in the weight room with the mysterious plate machines)
Gravity single leg press (in lieu of the leg press machine)
Mini-band glute bridge
Bulgarian split squat
Stability ball hamstring curls
Mini-band bicycle legs
TRX triceps extension
I am really pleased with my performance today. Wow, I actually said that, out loud and in the blog. But I strive to be completely honest and transparent about what might be perking and burning brain cells in my head, and today it’s that. Yesterday it was reporting to J that I was ready and prepared for him to “bring on the suck,” which possibly made his eyes light up and dance with glee. Even M remarked when I got home today that I looked pretty smug about doing my time at the gym. I had to restrain myself from running to the nearest mirror to see what “smug” looks like on my face, but it was kind of a fun term to have applied to me and my expression coming home from training.
The leg press machine was just an initial exposure and introduction, and I didn’t freak out or feel awkward about using it. Granted I am pretty far from ready to jump in and tackle it on my own time, but just being out of the comfort zone of my practice room is forward progress. I have also never been a fan of the stability ball – people who are clumsy do not need the added incentive of trying to master roly-poly things – yet I did surprisingly well with it today on the hamstring curls. Go me! I am feeling confident that I can make friends with the big blue ball, at least for this exercise, and I think I prefer it to the TRX version of the same movement. Not sure why yet; maybe it’s just the way my feet fit into the loops on the TRX versus how they feel on the big blue ball. That is a comparison for tomorrow’s practice. I will not be surprised if I return with a flip-flop on the TRX hamstring curl versus the stability ball. Stay tuned.
The banded glute bridge today was interesting experience. I was running through the session in my head driving home and thinking about the cues and the things J said about it. The glute bridge is one of the first things introduced when I started with him and as the weeks and months have passed there have been different variations and versions of it. Today there were some new cues, some new things to think about and improve upon. After this much time, so many variations, so many practices of this in all its various forms, and there are still areas for improvement? Have I been doing it wrong all this time?
Panic typically ensues after such thinking starts. Today, not at all. Today it was more thoughtful curiosity and comparing then and now.
Not that long ago it would have bothered me a lot that J was still correcting or critiquing or having to simply repeat himself on things I must have forgotten. “Bothered me a lot” is my euphemism for feeling a little (or a lot) crushed and/or devastated because I am not getting the technical aspects of the exercise more productively after so much time has passed. The voices in my head would be unleashed to wreak carnage on my confidence and leave me vulnerable to thoughts of being incapable or too [insert derogatory term of choice here] to learn how to do resistance training correctly and that quitting completely would be a more practical solution. There is a whole dramatic backstory that plays like a tragic operetta of thinking that accompanies every event of this type, every real or imagined criticism of things my inner perfectionista feels I should be understanding or knowing to a greater depth or higher degree. In past instances – too many to be named and called out here – maybe I would have said something or otherwise shown my disappointment in myself for not being further along in the process, and if memory serves J stepped back a tiny bit and/or rephrased his cueing. (There are a few rarer occasions when the exercise was recalled from the list.) Or maybe I would have kept my expression composed (hey, stop that laugher everyone who knows me in real life who happens to be reading this) and no feedback given, instead merely internalizing it into something even uglier and more painful.
The reaction is part of my life story, and at this juncture I am so very sick of it.
I did not, am not reacting that way these days. And truthfully, no one is more amazed than I am at this subtle changes in direction of my thoughts and attitudes. If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results, I must have made the decision to lose my insanity or at least check it at the entrance to the gym. I am rewriting my internal script and dialog, one word at a time. And I believe it is showing.
Today I view the banded glute bridge’s updated cues as a new thing, an adjustment to form that has gone unnoticed or uncommented upon as I tried to learn and absorb everything that has been presented. There are a few specific cues in my brain right now that make me want to try this again, practice it until I feel more confident about the basic shape of what my glutes and abs and heels and knees are all supposed to be doing to make this exercise its most productive. The change in my thinking is the newest cues are designed to help me perform better, not that I was doing something so wrong before. Same thing happened last week with the Romanian dead lifts – another long-time standard exercise, another cue about springing upward with glutes and abs tightening at the top. I know this, have heard J say it every time this exercise is on the rotation, but there are minor tweaks and adjustments (which are really freaking hard in the moment of actually doing the work) that make my form and execution better.
Somewhere along the line I came to the conclusion I can be responsive and try harder or I can be fearful and not try at all. It seems like a lot of time has passed since I was that fearful.
Anyway, my mind has been obsessively turning over that subtlety and making me want to practice Romanian deadlifts to feel more confident I am closer to getting them right. So I select lists that have them, or I added them to the end of the practice for a set or two to see if I can automate my body to perform and respond. Am I successful? In that I am willing to think about it and try to make it happen consistently, yes. Is it perfect? Not hardly (written with a derisive chuckle). And I am learning, oh so slowly, to let go of that hope or expectation.
Maybe I have stopped taking the cueing and instructions and corrections so personally? Although I admit I do, in fact, take it very personally, or I would have zero incentive to continue. But I do not feel self-indicted so much as a failure waiting to happen anymore. My goal throughout this training partnership has to learn how to perform the exercises correctly and consistently, and if I am still requiring work and cueing to improve at these things several months from now then that is just how long it takes me.
Somewhere along the line I stopped comparing myself to others around me and started paying a lot of attention to what is right in front of me. I get distracted, I fall apart, and most recently I have really had to work at staying focused on the work at hand even when I really wanted to stay focused exclusively on the work at hand. There is no shame in having a bad day. Or falling apart repeatedly and having to try again repeatedly. I have even decided there is no shame in giving up and moving on and trying harder the next set, the next time, or even coming back to the troubling thing and doing it separately from the set. Once I gave up the idea that there is some invisible grading scale out there and I am failing, my vision seemed to clear and my ability to see the reality of my actual progress improved.
The last couple of weeks, I am feeling that. The progress. The steps forward versus what the voices in my head would gloat about as my standing in place or regressing. Anymore, my attitude is does the speed and pace of progress truly matter? There is no race. I am not chasing anyone and there is no one behind pursuing me in a race to the mythical finish line. J makes the same hourly wage working with me if he’s trying to teach me proper form on a banded glute bridge or training someone a lot more exciting in lifting lots of heavy weights. I feel less like the special needs client who is not getting it and more like the regular person client who is not ever going to be some amazing athletic competitor. I knew nothing about this when we started, and I have truly come a long way in both my ability and my attitude.
My anxiety and intimidation levels have been slowly falling away, so much so that I feel more at home in my primary gym than I ever expected. The little room where I do the majority of my practice has become a safe haven, even with it’s overabundance of mirrors and shiny surfaces to provide reflection and feedback that I really do not want to see (I have turning my back on the images down to second nature). The other people pursuing their own version of fitness all around bother me less and less, although I remain mindful of class schedules and not wanting to interfere with anything they have going.
There is no longer a sense of being found out as a gym imposter because I am clueless about what I should be doing. I now have a whole library of choices and things to do on any given day, and sometimes it feels like there are too many Lists and not enough days in a week to try everything I want to revisit. I am competent at many of them and improving every practice. It’s not big, dramatic, OMG I can do this perfectly now type revelations, more that I did one tiny thing better than the previous occasion is a very good thing.
Way back when, my first session with J he told me self-sufficiency was part of his purpose as a trainer, to teach me everything I wanted/needed to know to continue on my own as a lifelong active person. As the months have passed I have pondered that. I go to the gym and I practice on my own. I make strides and I feel good about them. I used to fret about being too dependent upon J, but now I recognize that for 2 hours of training per week I am growing more and more self-sufficient in the other 166 hours available to me.
Tomorrow is also session day with my therapist, TM, about my 2016 project of improving my outlook about me and my competencies. Thus far, I have to say I think it’s working and the gym offers some truly specific examples for me to take into him for dissection and discussion. I talk about the gym and fitness in these posts, because that’s where my focus is much of time, but I also see it and feel it in work and dealing with life’s other responsibilities. My evolving self-confidence feels strange and new, like a dress I am trying on that is an unusual color or style for me and I am trying to decide if it works or not. I am trying to recall in my archive of posts about training and exercise if I have every come right out and said I am pleased with my performance. I have said that J is fabulous (because, well, he IS fabulous and very good at his job). I have said that I am learning a lot. I have relayed J’s kind comments on my achievements. But I don’t know that I have ever come out and said that I was pleased with my performance in a training session. Progress.
And finally, as I wind down this training recap novella, I had this super cool incident yesterday with the latest rendition of my endless closet thinning. I was trying on a spring blouse that has short sleeves with a banded cuff/button around the bicep. Last time I wore it was probably in late summer and it fit fine; I could put it on and take if off without having to unbutton on the sleeve cuff. But last night, I could not even get the band over my bicep unless I unbuttoned it and even then it felt snug. My upper arms are definitely bigger, but not from batwing flab. I mean, I still have some batwing flab, but not much and definitely nothing like before. There was major happy dancing going on at my house, and I doubt I have ever been so thrilled to give up a former favorite piece of clothing.
Progress for sure.
Happy Monday and have a terrific week everyone!