Training #11 – So HAPPY to be me

Monday morning, so training with J. Despite the confirming text last night, I actually forgot it was Monday and training day this morning. For various really dumb reasons, I thought it was Tuesday. But oh well. I arrived at my usual time and had the 30 minute reminder warning go off almost immediately, which catapulted me into training warm-up mode rather than my leisurely prepare to practice pace.

We are still in our new range of sequences and doing review. And it was really fun. I am getting better – even J, he of the sparing compliments – noted that my TRX hamstring curls are looking better. Hey, I will absolutely take that. Progress.

What we did today:

  • TRX Skater Squat
  • TRX 1-leg RDL w/ hip push-through
  • TRX Ham Curls
  • TRX 1.5 Squats
  • DB Alternating Bent Over Batwing Rows
  • DB Alternating Pullover
  • DB Alternating Chest Press
  • DB Alternating Seated Hammer Curls
  • DB 1-arm Triceps Kickback
  • DB Alternating Reverse Lunge
  • DB Alternating Side Lunge & “Reach”
  • DB Alternating Single Leg RDL w/ hip push-through

While that looks like a really long list, it was a single set of each with correction and adjustment discussion as well. The actual exercise itself was pretty good. There are still things I struggle with – dumbbell alternating single legged Romanian dead lifts are so hard – but the struggle is not terminal, not even in my improving yet still doubtful brain. I will get it. It may take awhile and a lot of practice, but I will get it eventually. There is no rush and no race to cross an imaginary finish line.

Even still doubtful brain cannot deny I am getting stronger. Every session with J, every practice builds that perception and reality. I am still pondering what to do about the negative sphere of influence in my life, because cutting off long-term friends is not my way. However, I need to be realistic about the effect their negativity toward my lifestyle changes has upon me. I can and do love the negative forces friends, but my efforts at building self-esteem and a more positive self-image is a very fragile endeavor right now. Taking a time-out away from communications could be a temporary solution until my boundaries are strong enough to endure. It simply seems like such an extreme course of action.

J commented this morning that I have seemed so happy and so upbeat in recent weeks, and I am pleased that it is an improvement and not dwelling on how dour and unpleasant I might have been previously. And to be absolutely clear, direct, and totally fair, J  has never has and likely never will characterize me or our interactions that way; it’s simply another example of the voices inside my own head.

He also mentioned M and I look so happy in our snow day picture. That photo has elevated to my new favorite of us, simply because it captures who we are – just a normal, happy couple goofing off and having fun together. The day was also so memorable because no snow falls, slips, stumbles – truly a first. I credit the regular exercise for a lot of it; while I am still struggling mightily with the single leg Romanian dead lift, my legs are so much stronger and more confident than they were the last time M and I were out and about doing anything hike-like.

When I titled this post Sunday night, I was pondering this better, healthier, happier place where I live right now. I was wondering what switch has been flipped that has made my personal sunshine feel warmer and glow brighter?

If there were simple answers, this entire blog would be so much shorter.

My confidence is changing. I tend to be pretty true to myself, in that I am always honest and straightforward in my dealings with people, but hopefully I am at least respectful if not always diplomatic. As time has passed and I have grown more comfortable inside the gym, I have found myself wondering if I am saying or thinking the wrong things when interacting with or observing others I see there. For example, a couple of weeks back I noticed that J had sort of sheared the hair off of his legs. I knew we had discussed it previously – it was a common thing in a former endeavor as a swimmer – but I did not ask about it in the moment I noticed it because I thought maybe it was too personal.

Silly, I know. But the censorship flittered through my mind at the time the question occurred and therefore it did not get asked. Today we were discussing hamstrings or calves or something and he had occasion to lift the hem of his shorts, revealing the bulky, well-defined muscles above his knees. In all these months, I had apparently never noticed his upper leg muscles (I would have to do an anatomy search to name them properly), and said something about they were so pretty … probably not the most flattering compliment he will receive today, but that’s the thought that went through my mind and it was certainly meant as a genuine compliment for the amount of work that goes into building and maintaining that level of muscle definition. Which also led to the comment about the leg hair shearing and he reminded me about how those mini bands feel. Wincing while demonstrating and extolling the virtues of this tool to new clients would not inspire great confidence. Makes me laugh, recalling my first introduction to the mini bands and talking about that very phenom, because at the time I found them irritating on my hairless legs and we had actually discussed how much worse it was on his legs.

Anyway, it is a happy thing, to be reassured that we are comfortable enough to say “your legs have pretty muscles” and not have him think I’m some sort of pervy middle aged woman. I would be mortified if he or anyone else ever thought that about me. Not only would I have to find another trainer, I would have to find a completely different gym chain to join in order to continue my practice.

Whereas before I started going to the gym regularly and getting lost in my own focused practices, I probably would not have thought twice about complimenting J or anyone else I knew well enough to chat with about how graceful they look performing exercises or that those efforts are paying dividends in their appearance. J has demonstrated enough and told me frequently enough to press on his back, arm, shoulder, upper body muscles to get that he’s a bulky guy that truly walks the walk on fitness. But now that I am trying hard to just move and push my own muscles and limbs, I’m super hesitant to remark on anyone else’s progress or how inspiring I find it to see them going through their routines. It’s a weird thing and probably relates back to my own experiences with the exercise and other people’s reactions. Maybe it passes with time.

The process of adopting healthier habits – I never suspected it might be a point of contention or controversy. Yet with friends I believe like and care for and about my well being are unconscious saboteurs and/or projecting their own stuff onto me. It has caught me off guard, so much so that I remark upon it repeatedly here in efforts to wrap my head around the reality and sort it all out.

To be absolutely fair, I have legions of real-life near and far friends and online commenter and pals who are kind, supportive, and fearless about practicing tough love with me. Like M, they are listening and nodding in agreement and sympathy that this exercise and diet stuff is challenging, yet once I am done with my prescribed allotment of weenie-whining the expectation is that I get myself back to the gym or the kitchen and try again. And again. And again. They celebrate my successes and never every imply that I am faltering, failing, or being (too much of) a baby in my struggles. Everyone struggles, and I am not so special that I get a pass on the hard stuff.

All that I totally understand. Anyone in my life knows I am pretty good and forgiving about needing a periodic verbal kick or slap to get me back to reality and get busy trying to practice and to improve. I am happy and in my own way trying to get better about accepting compliments, but I am just as happy if nothing negative is said.

This morning I had a heart-to-heart conversation with my weight-obsessed friend about our conversation on Saturday night. I let her know that while I am mostly laughing off her comments and not really taking it too personally, they are a long way from helpful or encouraging. I pointed out the obvious – that her intense focus on weight tends to pooh-pooh my very significant and important advances in reversing my diabetes and gaining overall strength and better health. Weight will get handled on its own timeline, and her projections about it and obvious disappointment that I am not trying harder in that effort tend to make me reexamine my overall effort and start doubting myself and my progress. Could she not be happy that I have eliminated the need for medications and my health is improving even if I am completely ignoring the scale? She tried to argue her point, that how can I measure progress if I do not track it? That along with the idea that it’s more difficult to shed weight as we age, she tried very hard to make her point that it is something I cannot ignore. While I knew then trying to make her understand was pointless, I stressed there are a multitude of ways to track progress. I am choosing to not make weight gain/loss the focus for me, and it is wrong of her to push her agenda/standard on me. Plus M was not quite so forgiving for what was said; he was offended enough for both of us.

I cannot say the conversation went well, but rather than sad and upset I feel better about standing my ground, being honest about what I am thinking and feeling. I recognize now that trying to make her understand how her negative commentary about my lack of progress in one area undermines all my efforts everywhere else, in areas like blood sugar control and medication elimination that truly matter . And since it is me, my body, my health, my opinions on how and what measure I use to track progress get the most priority.

Mostly I wish that she could see and understand that when it comes to lifestyle changes, there is so much I am delighted about and that as such a long-term friend, it’s almost impossible for me to comprehend how she can minimize my emerging outlook. My list of good things happening is expansive even if it does not seem all that long. Namely:

  • The exercise is getting more exciting. I am doing more progressively more complicated, technical stuff. No, I do not always love it. Sometimes it’s an ugly and ungraceful process with many tries and minimal successes in the first several practices. Yet when I sense or feel improvement from something that once vexed me in the worst ways, it’s impossible not to smile and feel empowered and want to jump up and down with glee. I am the antithesis of a natural athlete; any and all success I currently enjoy has required a lot of consistent, persistent practice.
  • Feeding myself is still a challenge that terrifies and freaks me out, but I am making progress. I am grudgingly tracking the food for the dietician this week and willing myself to find and cling to my zen about it. Do I love doing it? No, just no. But it’s 5 days out of my life and will give us something to talk about. If he’s judgmental and mean about it (unlikely, but my mind leads with its biggest, worst fears), I don’t have to go back. All that said, I know I am doing better than I was a few months ago with lots of room for improvement yet to come. Hence my reasonable compromise with him about the food tracking.
  • I prioritize exercise and my health and pursue it every single day some fashion. In my normal day-to-day life, talking about the schedule I keep has people marveling that I can spend so much of my spare time exercising. It’s the right choice for me, and I have no expectations that anyone else should or would follow my example. Taking care of ourselves is a very personal thing, and I simply choose to prioritize my gym practice. I get up at 4:30 most days to get my exercise concluded before work, because seriously, what else would I be doing in those hours except sleeping? During the work week our commitments are minimal – dinner, laundry, maybe some grocery shopping – and we are empty nesters, so I can and should get to bed at a reasonable hour to ensure I get enough sleep. When my kids were still underfoot, no way could I maintain this schedule. But other than binge watching Netflix, surfing the net, reading a lot more, or even indulging my workaholic tendencies, I am not sure what else I might be missing out on by spending as much time as I do at the gym and exercising.
  • I am more mindful of my time and how satisfied I am with my life. My former job sucked a lot more life from me than I ever realized until I was separate from it for awhile. Now that I am pursuing other revenue streams, it is so much easier to let loose with the happy, happy, joy, joy. The clients I have, the coworkers I have now, I really enjoy them. It’s not perfect – no job is perfect – but it’s easy to just relax and not be wrapped up in backburner worry about the stupid decisions well beyond my control that will soon become my mess to clean up. Funny, I never realized I might be wound so tight in anxiety and fear that it manifests as less than happy. How good to step away from that and pursue a different path.

It astonishes me that she and others I have had wranglings with can discount these measures in favor of conventional dieting and weight loss. However, I have decided the problem is not mine to bear and I am going to push away from the worry table. I have bigger issues to contemplate, and I will choose to believe their hearts are in the right place even if their implementation and expression of concern comes across poorly.

Tomorrow I have an appointment with my therapist, TM. We are presently meeting every week because of the Very Bad Incident, and I am looking forward to the session. I am sleeping better, still having nightmares, but less. I’m thankful for that. He encourages the exercise schedule, says it’s great for my mental and emotional health as well as my physical health. I know he’s right, and I know that the challenging work that I do with him has resulted in many of the happiness benefits I am now enjoying so fully. It’s difficult to describe, but little things – the complimenting myself, hoping for the best and minimizing or eliminating thoughts of the worst – have me feeling like I am better than okay and worth protecting in my burgeoning confidence and better personhood. Less codependency in my relationships is a very good thing.

I like that there is excitement and eager anticipation about returning to the gym for practice tomorrow morning. Maybe it does not last, maybe I crash and burn in frustration when my balance is still not obeying my brain. But oh well. Wednesday offers another opportunity to try again. And then there is Thursday, another shot at review with J.

If I knew where that better feeling, better attitude switch was located, I would explore the consequences of turning it off and comparing what it feels like off and then comparing it to right now being on. But I don’t know where it lives, and instead of wondering if or when this good feeling of getting shit done may end, I will focus on ensuring it continues for another day. As the saying goes, one day at time. I got this.

Progress, sweet progress. And I am so grateful.

3 thoughts on “Training #11 – So HAPPY to be me

  1. You totally got this! I know what you mean about complimenting J – when D slimmed down for a more “cut” look I remarked how good he looked and then immediately followed it with a long winded explanation that it was just objective and I wasn’t a perv. When he was done laughing at me he assured me he understood that.

    I’m glad you had a such a direct conversation with your friend. I’m surprised though that she clings so hard to the idea that weight loss is the only appropriate/valid tracker of success. It speaks volumes about how focused she is on that in her own life and how closely her image of herself is tied to it.

    • Whew! So glad someone else gets that in this world of political correctness I am a little afraid of complimenting someone and having it come across as being inappropriate. I would wish to be struck dead in my embarrassment if that were ever the perception, and I’m serious – I would totally need to find another trainer AND another gym!
      Frankly her issues are more deeply rooted than I anticipated and it does have me concerned. I totally want to get that t-shirt you mentioned and wear it next I see her this spring (at a mutual friend’s anniversary party, so unavoidable get together).

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