Monday morning, training day with J. While it sounds sort of repetitive (read: boring) to say it, sessions continue to be great. Even when we have to review dreadful core exercises. While my head understands they are necessary, that a strong core is necessary, my heart and the rest of me hates their bloody guts. Not just our current blast of 3, all of them. All core, all the time – I have some serious hate on for it.
But no matter. We did them today, they are done until tomorrow. And then tomorrow I will again be thankful for another 24 core exercise-free hours. Review and repetition are my friends, though; someday my dislike of core stuff will fade … at which time J will have something new to bring on the suck.
I am not sure why I find them so awful. Perhaps they remind me too much of high school PE where we we did endless sit-ups and then planky-like stuff that did not feel good anywhere. Flashbacks to awkward beyond belief teenage years is unpleasant any way you try to frame it.
What else we did in review today besides the dreaded and dreadful core exercises:
DB elevated reverse lunge (maybe was supposed to alternate but did not?)
DB alternate side lunge and “reach”
DB alternate single leg Romanian dead lift (forgot to alternate, though)
Supine hip bridge march with mini band
DB anterior lean split squat (aka Bulgarian Romanians)
90/90 curl up crunch
Two up, 1 down lowers
High tension plank
I love review days. As much as I really enjoy training days where J is teaching me new things and/or changing and/or reordering other exercises, I just love review day because there are corrections and adjustments and cueing that make the exercises in current rotation better for me. Not necessarily easier, but better in that mastery feels closer to within my grasp. There are always moments in practice when I feel like I might be getting lazy because a series feels so familiar, almost too easy type familiar. Anything seeming to be too easy for me sets off this big flashing neon sign in my head that says I must be doing something wrong, which can and has become a self-fulfilling prophecy. I start doing stupid things and have to break myself of newly acquired undesirable form habits.
Lunges are on my need-to-reframe-more-positively list, but they remain not my finest moments or most beloved of exercises. However, I am determined to improve and will be working at this this week. If I had a spotlight exercise every week (which I do not, and maybe will not ever, but I am toying with the idea) this week it would be lunges. I really have no idea what my problem with them continues to be, but they are eternally aggravating. I am not scared of them anymore, which is a huge something, but there still is no “gee, it’s lunge day!” going on in my mind. Truthfully, there is very little “gee, it’s [insert exercise here] day!” going on very often, but it does happen from time to time.
Some sequences and routines I do like better than others, which J happened to ask me about before we began the dreaded core review. (I recognize the need to reframe that into something other than “dreadful” to get to my happier place about them, but that’s on another, in-the-future to-do list.) But of the dumbbell, stretchy band, and TRX sequences, I had to say it’s dumbbells first, then stretchy bands, then TRX. Which surprises me, because I thought I would really love the TRX more than anything else. But that was way back when we first started, this is now this many months into the future. Things change, and who knows, they may change again and TRX will float to the top spot. I am referring to exercise as “fun” routinely now; anything is possible.
I get why I like the dumbbells – they feel somehow more technical (but no, not really in comparison to other things) and dangerous because I am holding onto something heavy that would be painful if dropped on or accidentally whacked against me or someone else. The bands are similar, because there is a measure of control is required to wrangle with those things or I will find myself suddenly snapped into a different, unexpected place the second I lose focus. The TRX is challenging, for sure, but it seems like fewer Very Bad Things can happen if I do not stay completely immersed in what I am doing. While fewer Very Bad Things can happen, the possibility of making mistakes, being sloppy with form, or just allowing myself to become bored with whatever I am trying has also been cropping up in recent experiences. Thankfully the gym is a lot bigger than just the TRX rack and its straps.
But I also still love the TRX lower body stuff. The skater squats and single leg Romanian deadlifts remain an improving challenge, and those TRX hamstring curls still vex me every time they come up on a List. After what we did today, anything hamstring related is going to give me pause. I am recognizing that I need to do more than just sit on that part of my legs, because my oh my am I feeling every single one of those Bulgarian Romanians today. Happy feelings in spite of the “big muscles working” lingering moan every time I stand up or walk or do just about anything, though. I think the coin just dropped into its slot about correct form and what is supposed to be working, where those hammies are supposed to be screaming out and quaking as they fatigue, and no backaches from doing them less correctly. Progress.
I confess to not going to the gym yesterday – I blew it off in favor of a day at home alone. Plus I made the mistake of starting on work-work and next I knew 3+ hours had passed and I was no longer interested in the idea of getting into my car and driving to the gym to practice. Plus it had been 29 straight days (and a few double workout days tossed in for good measure) since my last absence from the gym. (I had to check my gym account to see how long it had been since my prior no-check-in day.) It was also Valentine’s day and our wedding anniversary. Essentially, I had lots and lots of excellent ways to justify taking a day off, even if the only person who demands any sort of excuse is me.
That whole “listen to your body” thing is mostly working out for me, except I need it to stop pleading for chocolate and soda and potato chips. With the exercise, though, I am starting to recognize the signs of fatigue, both physically and mentally. Weekends are usually my time to enjoy the ability to stay and continue as long as I wish and do as much as I want without limits to my time, but Saturday I had an appointment with a client at 10 and needed to head out by 8:45 or so. However, I had been feeling the fatigue weighing pretty routinely in practices all week. On Saturday had been toying with the idea of making a break for the exit long before my phone reminded me that I needed to leave. So really, the seed of a day off had already been planted and growing inside my head.
I marvel at my most recent 29 day streak of gym check-ins. I no longer plan these things, as I had to when I first began my quest for consistent practice. Mostly I am more habituated to getting up and going to the gym every day. Like Monday and Thursday are training days with J, the rest of the week has its own rhyme and reason as well, but the primary theme is get up when the alarm goes off and get to the gym, after which everything falls into place with regard to Lists and sequences.
Chatting with another lady on Saturday she was expressing how much better she feels after her workouts and it got me thinking about how I feel after practices. At first I really noticed that I had been exercising, but now it seems I have gotten to a new plateau where I just expect to feel this way, this level of good everyday. Maybe it’s not the hamstrings reminding me that I was doing something before the workday, but I have a sense of my musculature now that was missing before. I find myself going through my day and some movement will remind me of something on the Lists, whether it is bending over to pick something up or reaching for something in an overhead cabinet. If I ever choose to stop exercise completely, it would likely be easy to forget what my new normal feels like and how much more physically resilient my body feels right now, something I hope will continue as we mosey along the health and fitness trail. But since I have absolutely no desire to return to my former normal, I am motivated to stay plugged into training and practice.
J also asked me this morning about my comfort level in our little room, and I am better than fine in there. My gym anxiety has mostly dissipated with the habit of going as frequently as I do these days. Seeing many of the same people, same faces morning after morning, doing the periodic evening practice to increase my gym tolerance and strengthen my mental/emotional fortitude. Walking to the ladies locker room I pass a series of the big machines with plates and stacks and people using them and I idly wonder what they are doing and why. The variations I see of the same/similar exercises make me curious – are they doing it correctly or is there a greater possibility of someday hurting themselves in their efforts than the last person I saw doing something similar? I has been weeks since I have been upstairs in cardio-land, so I have no clue as to what new and intriguing things may be going on up there or if they have rearranged the equipment yet again.
The rest of the gym does remain a bit of a mysterious place to me, and I see no real reason to rush into exploring on my own things that have grand opportunities to hurt me, possibly a lot. My imaginings of Very Bad Things befalling me while testing these ideas on my own without J’s guidance and tutelage looms large as a protective cautionary measure. I am inclined to venture out there with J, to learn new things with the bigger tools when it seems appropriate. Until then, though, I have lots and lots to keep me fully occupied with my dumbbells and bands and TRX.
Which brings me back to my head and my attitude about gym stuff, food stuff, health stuff.
As much time and effort as I am putting into my physical practices, I am devoting almost as much time working to upgrade my mental game. Because I utilize a commercial gym, my mind tends to pay attention to their marketing. Their advertisements online, on TV, on the radio, and the various messages being played in the gym as I am working on my practice or just wandering to and fro down the hallways all seem so seductive – all those pretty, fit people doing things and making it look easy. I get that seeing some supersized person trying to huff and puff through a BodyFit session is not really going to sell many (if any) memberships, even if that is their target market.
Even J has been hitting his own workouts pretty hard and building lots more bulky, pretty muscle. It is difficult to recall precisely what he looked like when we first met, but I know he is bulkier now. The hard work and time he has been devoting to himself is paying dividends. While I know this is J pursuing his own hobby and interests while walking the walk he teaches to clients, it cannot really hurt his “brand” to be in a transformative period. I am trying to imagine if his appearance would have made a difference when I started with him last summer. I think not, because it would be very unusual for me to be influenced to the point of immediate go/no go by physical appearance alone. His teaching and coaching methods and style are what make our trainer/trainee partnership work, not the size of his biceps. Now if he smelled bad or was really sloppy to the point of unprofessional in uniform it would have mattered a great deal; I suppose I do have some physical appearance standards.
The gym sells hope and change, hope that me, ordinary person, can with membership evolve and change into the equivalent of the amazing, fit, pretty person on the screen. Never mind that my bone structure or DNA may making achieving svelteness of that level of perfect shape and size impossible. Marketing does tend to be a precise science after all, and I am sure they have professionals advising them as to what works and methods to measure the actual results of each campaign to get bodies into the gym and signing on the dotted line. Consumers looking to join a gym do not really want to hear or to know the raw truth about how excruciatingly hard that transformative journey may be; mileage may vary, after all.
But I find the droning messages tiresome. We can help you lose weight, get stronger, lose weight, gain muscle, lose weight, increase your cardiovascular stamina, lose weight, bulk up, lose weight, fly to the moon under your own power, lose weight … etc., etc., etc. Turning off my mind is not working out for me, so instead I am trying to dissect the noise, break each message down into bite-size pieces that I can throw away as unimportant.
As I have talked about in many of my prior posts, the focus on goals has been detrimental to me, my head, my positive progress, yet I am bombarded with it everywhere I go in the real world as well as online. I cannot expect they or the health and fitness industry to stop for little ole me, so I am obviously the one who has to adjust. I still find myself becoming frustrated or upset with attacks of the “shoulds” from the goal-setting, results-oriented messages being beamed out at me from everywhere, and I can tell in my practice when I have been reading or listening to an overload of such crap.
Before training this morning I was reading blogs and realizing that I am taking in a lot of sad and/or negative stories and information that impacts my emotions and outlook. (This is part of the reason why I shy away from Facebook; the drama is infinite.) I have a lot more control over the blogs I choose to read and to follow, but even that … lately here I seem to be caught up in so much overwhelming sadness and what feels like hopeless situations. And of course that is not always true; sometimes “hopeless” means unwilling to make the tougher decision and enduring the consequences of harder choices. Plus we are gearing up for the next presidential election and all that is filtering in and out and has an effect on me.
My mental and emotional toughness are apparently not where I wish them to be as yet, and I will have to be doing some pruning on the stuff coming into my reader until I can regain some deeper sense of mastery over my mind and emotions. The me I aspire to be is not so swayed by the negativity and negative emotions of others, and until I have more or better control I need to limit my exposure to it. I just finished another J-loaned book on the topic, so it’s been looming large in my consciousness. Review and download of my thoughts and impressions of that is coming soon.
The negative voices in my head are not droning today, maybe drowned out by the happy buzz of success this morning or the still moaning hamstrings? It makes me smile, all of it. I am looking forward to tomorrow, to whatever upper body sequence I choose, but feeling some excitement at the idea of testing more Bulgarian Romanian’s and lunges with new tricks and cues. This idea of focus lingers after this morning’s modest successes, and I am eager to get back and try again and do more of them. It’s not even tempered by the thought of the dreadful core work, because it’s now a thing on the Lists and I may as well suck it up and deal.
Plus yesterday was my last day of the 5 day food tracking. I have never been so happy to be done with food as I was last night. Tonight or tomorrow I need to type it up and get it off to the dietician before our meeting next week, and hopefully he will have some amazing insights to share with me. Fingers and toes crossed my distaste for tracking brings something new and intriguing.
But I must be doing something right. My blood sugar has been steadily dropping, being below 100 every pre-meal test for the last several days. I have not been eating anything new or unusual, although I admit to obsessing about food because of the need to remember to write it down or photograph it and so I could recall later what I had consumed. A really sucky process for me and I am greatly relieved it is now officially behind me.
But today is turning into a fun and great day. Because I really love review sessions, and I feel as if I am having way too much fun with our latest work, even if whatever I am pursuing is difficult to master and frustrating some of the time. I will get there; I have plenty of time.
Progress is being eager to get back to the gym and try again. I am so happy and so glad to be becoming someone who can appreciate this type and level of personal challenges.