Training #19 – This way to happiness

Monday morning came seemed earlier than typical this morning, but it’s training day with J so no way to blow off the gym. Not that I wanted to or ever had any intention of blowing off the gym; training days are a highlight of my weeks. The weekend was long and almost exclusively work, so I was not eager about jumping up out of bed at 4 a.m. So I stayed put for an extra 5 minutes after shutting off my alarm.

Today was a variation on our existing cables routine:

  • 1-arm Press (Incline)
  • 1-arm Row
  • Tall Kneeling Lat Pulldown
  • Rope Overhead Triceps Extension
  • Rope Facepull
  • Rope Overhead Lift and Reach
  • Half Kneeling Chop High-to-Low

Depending on how practice progresses tomorrow, I may be having some difficulty connecting with the half-kneeling chop. Of course, now that I think about it, I had/have the same issue with last week’s cable chop exercise as well. While I get the explanation of how to do it and what it is meant to accomplish, my brain is simply not getting full traction while actually trying to perform even refreshing with the cue sheet before, after, and in-between sets. Other exercises, usually after a practice or 2 the light comes on and I get it. Thus far with the chop things, I’m just not sure. But I also am not completely certain I am unsure, too. I can most definitely feel it in my side abs today while working, so I know I must have been doing it in the ballpark of correct. I am going to have to try it again to see if the coin drops and it all makes more sense for both of these movements. We shall see.

Overall, I am pretty happy with the new exercises and the learning cues. My shoulder shrugging issues resurface, though, along with the joint mice in my shoulder making their presence known. It’s a weird thing, the shoulder creaking. It does not hurt at all, but it must mean something. I will be keeping an ear on it. Honestly, though, in the months since I have been working and practicing regularly my right shoulder has loosened up considerably. I watch other people use their shoulders in ways mine tend to balk at and have been grateful for every millimeter of movement that has increased out of the original set range of motion. Today was the first time in quite some time I have noticed the rice crispy sounds, and J, standing across from me, could hear it clearly as well.

Now aware of it, and of course the ongoing shoulder-rounding shrugging when it should be shoulders back or down or in an un-shrugged posture, J suggested some other exercises to add to my warmup to strengthen the back/shoulder and eventually break me of the shrug habit. I am concerned about it – shrugging has been a recurring cue since we began – but not obsessively worried or judging myself a complete exercise failure. Progress is seeing this issue is just another lumpy bumpy on the journey to success, not a reason to reactively feel I am a hopeless case with exercise and should quit because I am forever shrug-challenged. Like so many other things through the months I will overcome it, and I have learned to trust J’s judgment and absolutely believe that taking these corrective measures will help resolve the shrug-fest. Eventually. But patience is not a great virtue and I am having to learn to cope with that much more challenging concept as well.

All in all, a great session. So much fun and lots new things to focus upon in practices this week. I am finding myself drawn to the cable machines, because they are still so foreign and we are still in our getting-to-know-one-another phase of the relationship. But I am finding myself not at all upset if they seem busier and not a place for me on the days I decide I wish to use them. This weekend they were busy both days I was there, but that was fine; I had planned in advance to revert back to my dumbbell queen roots.

It occurred to me yesterday that even if the bench I typically choose was also occupied, I have bands or TRX as well. Or I could do lower body stuff first. Lots of options and choices now. Absolutely no reason to freak-out or leave the gym because I was discombobulated over what I had planned to do with my time. I have such a burgeoning library of choices that I could be there for days and not do the same sequence twice.

There was one day last week when I recognized that I am in pretty good control of my gym crazy, in that I seem to be just like regular people who go to the gym and exercise without internal angst and drama flaring. It has become part of my daily routine and no longer this major source of anxiety to be obsessed over and force fed to make me follow through with it. Training days are always fun, but even practice days have perks built into them now. I am not on autopilot with it, probably never will be, because if I am not thinking about what I am doing I am mentally wandering away and soon doing something wrong that I can feel. My focus on not harming myself or others kicks hard when that happens and I am riveted on the minutiae of every bend and turn.

I just noticed that my Cow Yoga calendar has a theme word each month, and this month it’s Harmony, which fits with my present frame of mind. Life is very busy lately, but it is also very peaceful and productive. And positive! Let us not forget the happy-happy-joy-joy radiating outward. We have big social stuff brewing, between the wedding next month and guests coming and going with racing season approaching, all of which I am anticipating and looking forward to unfolding, yet none of which will interrupt my exercise and better health priorities. I have a bit of a sore bum, hip, and shoulder after slipping and falling on Saturday, but nothing so serious that I avoided or even felt like I should avoid the gym. There were some things I went more slowly on yesterday and this morning, but all in all it was fine once I got going and finished probing to see if anything actually hurt more than bruising. It never occurred to me to not go to the gym on Sunday or to training this morning. If something were especially bothersome I would have substituted another exercise or avoided the sore spots completely, but to not go was not an option that even crossed my mind. How unusual is that? It was not that long ago where I would jump at any potential reason to avoid the gym. Now M and I both work out weekend commitments around his running and my gym visits, which to others seems like such an extraordinarily strange set of priorities. To us this is the new normal, and M is happy to encourage and accommodate my schedule. The exercise is critical to my overall health, and until I reach some threshold where I can trust myself to skip without negative consequences it will have to remain a high-level priority for us.

More than just the exercise, though, the diet aspect seems to be coming together. My “eat more protein” campaign is now ending its second week and seems to be working pretty well. Miscommunication between me and the RD has my next follow-up tomorrow rather than next week, a happy-fingers typo on my part when we scheduled. He graciously offered to push it back a week, but I’m okay with going tomorrow. There are always questions, questions, questions.

J has been on a vegan-quest for about a week now, and he has been sharing his food pictures and thoughts on the journey. What he has been eating looks … interesting. But the trials and tribulations seem to be suiting him well. From a professional perspective it provides insight that he did not have previously. It is definitely quite a bit different than my mass chicken, eggs, a little more pork and beef than usual eating habits. I have eaten more spinach in the last 2 weeks than probably ever, along with my staple vegetables of broccoli, green beans, edamame, lettuces, cucumbers, tomatoes, celery. That said, I am pretty proud of myself for trying asparagus, spaghetti squash, and tofu. All were okay. The spaghetti squash I will have to pep up the marinara I used; I tried a new “real food” sauce and either I made a mistake with the recipe or it was not a very good recipe for us in the first place. The tofu is basically flavorless, but M put it into a stirfry and it seemed to simply absorb whatever sauce we were using. That said, the smooshy texture does leave a lot to be desired. However, J mentioned a baked tofu variation that I will investigate as an alternative. Asparagus was okay. There was some other lettuce blend that I tried that unfortunately had kale in it, making it memorable for that particular awfulness. M doesn’t mind kale and ate the rest of it, though, and thankfully I had the good sense to buy the smaller bag.

Being a picky eater and trying to consume more protein sort of sucks. But I persevere. I find the benefits are slowly accumulating. Granted, I have eaten the same breakfast, lunch, snack for almost 2 weeks straight, but I like what I like. I can eat a bowl of protein-laced oatmeal before the gym and a protein shake afterwards without any issues. I can eat the same spinach salad with a couple of hard boiled eggs, chicken (or pork), sunflower seeds, and sliced almonds every single day and not tire of it immediately. I can mix up something sauce or soup-like with plain cooked chicken with a vegetable and/or salad and eat it without complaint. Bigger question for me is how would I go about doing this forever, and is is sustainable or even healthy to eat the same proteins and plant-based carbohydrates over and over indefinitely?

The dietician (RD) and I have a lot to talk about tomorrow. Maybe he has some tips for me about meal planning.

Despite all that, I confess to being only about 75% successful with my eat more protein and primarily plant-based carbs experiment. Life happens and sometimes we go out and have pasta, especially when M is starving and I have been working all day and really think the idea of a restaurant meal sounds like the best thing ever. I am not beating myself up over it – sometimes actual spaghetti just tastes really, really good – but the effect on my system was curious.

Until J brought it up this morning, I had not really noticed or even thought much about the difference in the typical hungry markers. With the eat more protein regimen, I seem to have trained myself to eat something every 4 to 5 hours and developed the hungry alarms to mark the occasion. It is nothing like the ravenous, eat-the-entire-pantry hungry after a few hours when consuming a lot of processed and carb-heavy food, but sort of a natural, it’s time for more fuel type hungry. Then Saturday night we had pasta, and within a few hours I started feeling really starved. Typically I have been eating dinner around 6 and go to bed around 9-ish without another thought about food. Saturday night, after 3 hours I felt like I may not be able to sleep if I didn’t eat something. It was odd. It might be pure coincidence, but once my brain starts thinking food and then has me thinking I’m starving there is no talking myself down from the ledge. I have to eat something or drive myself crazy with real or imagined hunger.

Plus the pasta sent my blood sugar higher than it has been in several weeks. At 142 it was not horrible high, but I have grown accustomed to the steadiness of lower than 100, hovering somewhere between 70 and 98 before meals and going to bed at night.

But it seems to me I am developing the same sort of cues and reminders about eating that I have developed about the exercise. It’s becoming part of my daily routine to eat at the same times daily and have the same range of blood sugar readings. About this stuff I definitely am a creature of habit and enjoy the stability of routine.

Today, I am feeling a bit more adventurous with food. M has been encouraging me to try avocados again – I think they might taste like soap, but it’s entirely possible it was some other ingredient that tastes like soap to me. So maybe I shall give it a try. We have also been seeking out non-chili recipes for beans. I do not eat chili, but I will on occasion eat beans if they are prepared in something that tastes at least okay to me. J mentioned garbanzo beans this morning, which M loves and I may be willing to try again and see what they are like. And I was just reading something about protein sources that I’ve not heard of and therefore not considered previously, like nutritional yeast. Seriously? But what I have read suggests it has uses, and I have reached out to vegetarian and vegan friends for their thoughts and recipe suggestions. There may be other sources out there that I have overlooked.

A lot of my picky eating habits were developed as a kid, and quite honestly I am not sure what the problem is with a lot of foods. Taste? Texture? Seasoning? All of the above? I am thinking if I need to continue to sustain this “eat more protein” thing I will also need to expand my food sources if possible. I seriously doubt I would ever consider becoming a full-time vegan, but maybe once or twice a week would not be the end of life as I know it. Assuming I can find enough foods something I like and will voluntarily eat.

Gym stuff, though … I mostly feel good about it. What makes me use the qualifier, there is a bit of lingering anxiety about being outside my comfort zone. I will adjust, but already I can feel my habits and attitudes subtly changing and regressing a bit. Perhaps I am evolving into a wanna-be goth girl, wearing only black or gray or other drab colors; nothing bright, nothing that typically makes me happy, nothing too flashy, nothing even remotely eye-catching. Since my own eye is automatically drawn to colorful things, I find myself wanting to avoid them and invoke my invisibility cloak once more and blend in with the furnishings. No one looks, no one cares, and while I know this, until I am engaged in practice and fully immersed in it I feel a little skittish and prone to being bothered or distracted by other people around me. I will get past this, though. I am in my groove and not giving up or giving in to my weaker self helmed by negative girl and her megaphone.

It is hard sometimes not to scan the skies and not brace myself in anticipation of falling shoes, but I am doing my best. And progress is progress – I am squaring my shoulders, leaving my comfort zone, and getting shit done.

Oh, and this post’s title? For these training recaps the actual song lyrics or themes contained therein themselves may not have anything to do with the content of the post. The title itself just captures and encapsulates a particular snapshot of moments in my life. But this particular song also had a line that captured my attention and summarized so much of this journey so perfectly and succinctly:

Highway to freedom is when you start believin’

Read more: Glenn Frey – This Way To Happiness Lyrics | MetroLyrics

What really made me choose this title began with an endearing little text reply/exchange with friend J this morning after training. He is generous and genuine with his praise, yet is rarely so sweet in directly complimenting me, so I want to memorialize it in print so everyone knows he’s just a big old softie. He broke his hand on Friday night in a weird accident, hence my query about his hand last night while reporting the results of one of J’s powerlifting lady clients. Friend J, being a powerlifter himself, always appreciates hearing good news like this, plus it gives him opportunity to needle me about a direction I could go with my own training.

Screenshot 2016-03-07 18.39.12

So much in my life is under construction. Believing in myself and trusting my own instincts despite my anxiety and fear of this new, undiscovered country has to be part of the stronger foundation I am building. I am and was pretty happy before I started remodeling, but I still appreciate the signs that I am progressing in the right direction.

 

 

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