Training #15 -Shake it up

Monday morning and training with J. Not much new to see here, more review and reordering and pacing of prior routines. And while it may be incredibly unexciting to read about, it refreshes my perspective and provides new hope that I am continuing to progress forward.

So perhaps we are not shaking it up so much as shaking sideways. Our review list for today:

DB Chest Press
DB 1-arm Row (bench supported)
DB Bent-Elbow Pullover
DB Seated Shoulder Press
DB Standing Biceps Curl
DB Laying Down Triceps Extensions

Tall Kneeling Get Ups
Foot Elevated Reverse Lunge
Anterior Reach (single leg)
Transverse Lunges
Band Hip Pivot-Rotation

I like the latest change-up on the upper body. We have gone from full sets of 6 upper body exercises to 2 sets of 3 each and now to 3 sets of 2. The pacing is different with each way of segmenting, and I really enjoyed it this morning. However, it does make me recognize that it is time to experiment with heavier weights on some of the exercises in tomorrow’s practice. Not a bad thing at all, definitely not a disappointment. It is just a logical transition that demonstrates some progress and proficiency.

For the lower body sequences, it was an abbreviated review of last week, aka one set each. I find there are lots of choices for lower body exercises and at least one thing I like significantly less on each of the sequences. While I recognize that I cannot love everything, I am less confident about more of the lower body stuff. I still do it, but every morning I go through the decision process based on what sounds the least sucky.

There has been some struggle with exercise and the gym the last several weeks. To be fair, I have not been feeling poorly about the exercise or the routines or even showing up and practicing. If anything it has been a subtle disconnect and the lingering sense that I am not trying hard enough. My mental game is off and I have not wanted to admit it to or explore options to improve this for myself.

My heart rate monitor reminds me daily that a recovery week is still needed. Mine is apparently a judgmental piece of purple plastic. But it does make me wonder about what it would be like to take a week off from the gym and exercise, other than heart-racing panic and off-the-charts anxiety. Since getting past the heart-racing panic and off-the-charts anxiety are indicators that I am not ready to take more time off, I need to examine other areas of my life that are distancing me from my exercise objectives.

It was a busy week or a busy month before it was a busy week. The disentangling from my prior firm has not gone as smoothly or as guilt-free as I would have liked, but I should have predicted there would be some emotional conflict with separating the way I did. However, it is smoothing now, particularly because it is not my problem any longer and anything I do going forward is only because I strive to be professional and nice about business interactions. The new hire is quite bright, so our phone calls and email exchanges have been productive. That helps.

I was realizing this morning that it has been about 6 months since I actually was on vacation, and maybe that is part of my present low-level malaise. Except if I were to take a week off right now, I would want to sleep 12 hours per day, go to the gym for practice, and then come home, shower, and sleep for another 6 hours or so. Eating and blogging – assuming I would have anything at all to write about sleeping 18 hours daily – would consume the remaining hours leftover. That much sleep, that desire for that much sleep, is indicative of some sort of issue unrelated to work and physical activity.

From an email this morning (and sorry in advance for the language):

Nel, I just read your posts about toxic Hawaii, because who else could you be talking about that would say shit like that to you? You know she hates me and the feeling is mutual so hell yeah I am biased in saying she’s a man-hating bitch and so fucking bad for you. Onus on your trainer? What the fuck is that? The kid is taking care of you and bringing you along right. If her head is so far up her ass to say that shit she must be peering between her teeth to have such a narrow fucking view. Kick her ass to the curb with a haz mat sticker attached. I love you and love your loyalty, but reserve it for people who deserve it. Like my namesake.

My friend J has very strong opinions on many things, and the stronger the opinion the more profanity-laced the messages. But he’s right. And my oh my do I hate admitting that; the months of gloating I will now have to endure is nearly unbearable to contemplate. *smile*

With my changing/improving health and wellness, my focus on other stuff is starting to take hold and extract a toll on my exercise and eating habits. Letting go of people and things weighing me down or holding me back is long overdue for examination and action.

I am not sure if personal energy is a finite resource for everyone, but it sure feels like it is for me. While now the daily exercise gives a baseline feeling of good and better, I have had to work to get to this level. In the beginning it was all I could do to get through a shower and not crawl into bed for a nap immediately afterwards. Now it gives me a boost, my new normal. It impacts my thinking and gives me a positive buzz throughout the day as I zip along through work and the rest of the things on my daily agenda. If I could just maintain and build upon that I would be a very happy soul.

However, I have been getting more and more distracted and misdirected from my objectives the last several weeks. Of primary concern is how much of my time I spend thinking about other people and their problems and issues. It has felt as if the universe is ganging up on me in the name of care, concern, friendship. I am kind of sick of it, frankly. I grow weary of people mindlessly expressing concern and refusing to accept or believe that I am perfectly fine and moving forward, and after some back-and-forth I start to feel and resent that the emotion is primarily about them and their stuff. Like some massive emotional vacuum I am somehow sucked into their vortex of wasted worry and anxiety and concern.

If I want to keep my focus on my own priorities, I am the one who has to put a stop to the distractions and make wiser choices for myself.

It is really difficult for me to say that out loud, because it challenges my world view of me as a good and caring person. But as I have said to many people through the years, I have to take care of myself first or I am completely useless to anyone else. It is like they say in the airplane safety demonstrations – put your own oxygen mask before trying to assist the person sitting next to you.

With regard to my overall better health and wellness objective, the no goals plan is working for me and I fully intend to stick with it. Because it’s working. Maybe it’s not for everyone. Maybe other people need targets to aim at and rarely feel as if they are failing when tracking or measuring progress. But we are all different people, and not tracking progress works for me and my nervous system. I am getting up and into the gym for practice. I do however many reps and sets of whatever List or sequence Lists and leave feeling successful. Do this often enough, and each exercise properly enough, and you make progress whether you are watching closely and measuring or not.

Except in the past few months, amid all of the noise and criticism and downright hostility cloaked as care and concern I have allowed myself to lose sight of that process. As I admitted, my focus has been off for any number of reasons, and I have not felt as energized or as excited about practices and training. I still enjoy both, but I can feel something slipping and not liking it at all. Bigger victories tend to minimize or soften that impact, but truth is my head has not been as in the game. Because other thoughts and feelings that have nothing to do with me or my objectives are intruding and distracting me. Repeatedly.

I have drifted away from my habit of deciding I am doing X number of reps and sets of this List, or X reps and sets of upper and lower body sequences plus X number of reps and sets of dreaded core work. While I do not need to be robotic about exercise or any other aspect of my life, my better health priority remains extraordinarily important to me and requires absolute and unwavering commitment and discipline right now. Regular, consistent levels of exercise is a big giant component of making the better choices that continue to make sense to me.

I feel lazy and as if my resolve is waning. Work is crazy, friends are even crazier, but is that a good reason to erode my determination to stick with training and try to continually improve?

Yeah, I do not think so either. I can always come up excuses to quit, but I can also now readily come up with a lot better reasons to continue.

Today was a good session, but every session with J is a good session. Some are more impactful than others, sometimes the energy is different. But driving home and then starting this post I recognize that my head is way, way off, further than even I have wanted to acknowledge and it needs to be reeled in before it gets away from me completely.

But it was also fun. J introduced a tiny, subtle adjustment in the chest press to emphasize a different muscle and then showed me the muscle most affected by the position change. I feel like an idiot, but there are all these tiny little muscles I have never taken note of previously and am now discovering them on my own body. This morning it was the muscle beneath the collar bone. I wonder what it felt like previously. At least this one is more obscure than the one on my arm affected by the hammer curls. I still check in with it from time to time and am amazed by the little shape shifts it has undergone.

And posture! I have never been a super sloucher but I could afford to stand up, sit up straighter. Slowly, incrementally, I can tell my posture is changing and adjusting. And there is not nearly the twice weekly corrections to put shoulders back and stop the shrug. Yeah, it’s take this many months, but eventually I learn. Progress.

So I am resolving to get back to basics – decide on whatever I am going to do each practice, how many reps/sets, and stick to it unless genuine disaster happens. If my form falls apart because my brain disconnects and falls out of my head, stuff brain back into head and finish the set. No more excuses or cutting corners. Time to get tough with myself and eliminate all the superfluous background noise and distractions being generated by my mind rebelling against the changes in my doing and thinking.

I even see it in my morning timing. Alarm goes off at 4:30 and I typically get up right away, but where before I would be leaving the house by 5:15, I am now leaving at 5:30 or even 5:45, thus cutting into my overall practice time. Part of it is I am more efficient, but I used to set 90 minutes as a baseline, so if I had extra time I would work on problem exercises or do extra sets. The further I move away from my objectives the easier it is to accept that an hour is adequate, rationalizing that I am there every day anyway and basic recommendations are only 3 practices per week.

Rationalizing for me is a dangerous, slippery slope. Better to not open that Pandora’s box of ideas. I know myself very, very well, and I need to arrest this drift into less disciplined territory before it gets much worse.

There have been so many positive changes, and I absolutely deserve the kudos and compliments received. But I cannot ease up in the ways I have been lately. The concern, the ragging and nagging by friends who think I might be overtraining or doing too much has to stop. What other people do or do not do, I cannot afford to invest any more time thinking about it because it’s costing me something precious and the price is becoming too much. Now I just need to steele my heart and mind to stop listening.

Speaking of kudos and compliments, M is not a big complimenter. I mean, he does on occasion, but it is infrequent unless some random spirit moves him in the moment. He’s also not a big criticizer, so it kind of evens out. If I ask, he tells me what he thinks, and I have learned  to be prepared to hear the worst if I do ask. But spontaneously saying nice things? Not so much. And I am surprisingly okay with that. His spareness makes it more meaningful when it happens and I tend believe him without the self-depreciating qualifiers.

This morning I was admiring my reflection in a pair of skinny jeans when he got home from his run. He said the jeans really showed how much trimmer my legs are getting and that my hamstrings are starting to pop … which immediately made me want to turn around and closely examine the area to make sure there was not some new, terrible looking thing going on back there. Seems like hamstrings have been spotlighted the last few weeks, and I have certainly been thinking about them a lot during training sessions with J as well as practicing on my own. As I said to J this morning, the specific hamstring exercises have had the effect of making me feel as if I do little other than sit on them all day long. Then this morning M says they are looking better, and he, being a distance runner, knows hamstrings.

I will take that compliment and label it as progress. Plus the skinny jeans were from the smaller size box, so definitely a little happy dance victory day as well.

2 thoughts on “Training #15 -Shake it up

  1. Wow – I thought I could swear in an email – your friend makes me sound like a prude! Love it!

    When I want to do nothing but sleep I know my depression is kicking in and I have to step back and try to figure out what it is. But oh sleep always sounds so good then.

    Good for you for noticing that you are starting to lose a little focus. I am in such awe of your gym routine – while I go every day (when I am in town) it is because I meet with trainer D every day. It has been a year now and I go by myself when D is sick but I am starting to pay more attention and doing a more complicated workout on my own when I am traveling (I have basic ones from D to do).

    Don’t you love the smaller jeans? And the hamstring compliment! Love it – just got it from D a few weeks ago!

    On thinking about your friends’ “care and concern” – letting go of that is hard but try to reframe it – because it is neither care or concern about you but simply criticism.

    Perhaps you should consider a goal – which is to stay committed and engaged.

    And no more cake pictures!!!

    • Sowwy for the cake picture – it’s my forever memorial that I actually baked something from scratch, with ingredients other than cake mix. The frosting was a PITA, but K loved it and that made it worthwhile.

      Friend J is a complete potty mouth and has very strong feelings on a lot of topics. He was kind of wary of me working with trainer J at first – having seen a fair number of gym trainers in his day. But obviously “the kid” is doing a lot of good and great things for me so he’s grudgingly accepted that I found someone who gets me.

      Noticing that I’m losing focus, admitting it, and deciding to do something about it are apparently steps up the ladder. I was thinking this morning doing chest presses that it’s been awhile since my last vacation, and the only thing that sounds appealing is sleep, sleep, more glorious sleep. That got my attention as some kind of more serious funk brewing, time to take a closer look at where that’s all coming from. And this after 7 hours of sleep without dreams or nightmares. I am a lot more aware of it now, so I can address it directly. Waffling about it inside my head gets me nowhere.

      OMG – the smaller jeans are like this amazing place I never thought I would revisit! I was surprised, because I don’t feel smaller. Last I tried them on (maybe at the beginning of January) they zipped and buttoned but were tight. Today they are perfect. I love, Love, LOVE these jeans, and I may have to *gasp* buy the next new pair, because I think these are the smallest ones I have in my inventory. Most definitely looking forward to that day, because I have some specific ideas of what I want in my next pair of jeans.

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