Training #23 – What a difference you’ve made in my life

Monday morning, training with J. It was a good day of revisiting and reintroducing the upper/lower body routine rather than another mix-and-match sequence. Being a non-fashion conscious guy, J was not sure what I meant the first time I remarked upon the sequences being like coordinating wardrobe separates. Ever since then I always think of him as the Calvin Klein of workout writing, and my present sequence Lists as the capsule wardrobe of workouts. If I speak of them that way he gets this glazed look in his eyes like I am speaking some foreign tongue he does not comprehend. I imagine I wear that same look a lot more of the time in our interactions. *smile*

We left all that mix-and-match behind today and returned to our full body workout roots, like a spring dress with matching shoes. It seems to me I am missing an exercise in the first block, but probably not. It was a long (read: several hours) ago. Anyway, what we did today to the best of my recollection:

  • DB one-arm row
  • DB overhead pullover
  • Bulgarian split squat – left leg
  • DB chest press
  • Bulgarian split squat – right leg
  • DB single leg Romanian deadlift – right leg
  • DB hammer curl
  • DB single leg Romanian deadlift – left leg
  • DB tricep extension
  • DB lateral lunge
  • TRX shoulder safe fall-outs
  • Stretchy band rotations

In the TMI section of our recap today, I threw up in the gym for the first and hopefully last time (oh please Oh Please OH PLEASE!). I have thrown up afterward. I have thrown up in my gym bag on the way home. Those times was after a practice, when I pushed too hard or did not drink enough water or was still experimenting with pre-workout food. But today was a new first, and I am thankful it was not all over the gym floor or in a garbage can. I excused myself, reracked the dumbbells in my hands, and very quickly walked to the ladies room and upended the water and small amount of protein shake and whatever remained in my stomach from last night’s dinner into the toilet. (Even in distress I have pretty good manners.) And then I rinsed out my mouth, used my emergency bottle of mouthwash, and got right back to work with J.

I have definitely been huffing from the bravado pipe. And other than the ick-factor of vomiting at any time or any place, I am rather proud of myself for getting right back to it.

There was not enough off about this morning to make me feel like I was going to have an unpleasant experience. We went out to dinner last night and I wound up overeating on richer, carb-heavy food (pasta), so I did not sleep well and my fasting blood sugar was higher than it’s been in months at 159. However, part of creating the care and maintenance manual for this new well-controlled diabetes life without medication or insulin is learning how to navigate food and creating new guidelines for living my life. I do not want to become so fearful that I isolate myself from eating out in restaurants or avoiding whole wide swaths of food out of fear of doing bad things to my blood sugar. I experimented last night with the gluten-free noodles, and while they were a little better on my fasting sugar count, it was not discernible enough to make me order it routinely or even ever again. In the future I will simply revert back to my basic restaurant rule – drink water or unsweetened tea, eat all my salad, eat half my entree, and limit myself to one piece of bread if any. Going forward I will also likely avoid cream sauces or too much cheese as well.

Living with M, a die-hard ultra marathon dinosaur, I have learned  few things about toughness and my ability to withstand and keep going. Not that I have to prove anything to him or anyone else, but I am much more aware of the limits of human ability, particularly under stress. Now that trail running training season has officially kicked-off for he and his crew, I will be hearing more and more about he and/or running buds vomiting during their 20+ mile runs in the mountains because they failed to plan or fuel properly or the heat or something else. It happens so routinely I barely even blink or express much concern anymore, so I suppose I have become conditioned to these types of things occurring sometimes. Always to THEM, though; never to me personally. Until now. Even a few months ago I would have been so embarrassed by being ill during a session that I might have used it as a reason to cancel the rest of our time and had a difficult time making myself return to the gym or the next session with J. Today, I did not really expect to be that type of sick, but I had a weird feeling in my tum and drank water and a very light-duty protein shake this morning before leaving. Other than having to purge my system, I was fine, and frankly felt so much better immediately afterwards. And as noted above, I am pretty proud of myself for not letting it deter me from finishing up. My lizard brain is just active enough to have me think I need a toothbrush and toothpaste as well as my emergency mouth wash in my gym bag, because I will then be fully prepared and it is therefore unlikely to happen again. Superstitious much?

Anymore, I know I say something akin to this after every session, but I have to say it again: today was particularly excellent. Perhaps I spent so much time whining about it the first few months I feel compelled to express my happy happy joy joy continuously as well. Everything on the list is an exercise we have done previously and I am therefore familiar with, merely the order and return to our roots is new for today. But I like it when the order changes; it feels like a whole new program. We went through it at a brisker pacing, with normal weight dumbbells for me, and I did pretty well through both blocks. It was tiring, and I would have definitely liked a nice nap afterward, but some food, more water, and I was recharged and ready to move along with my day. Gotta love that.

This weekend I went to the gym both days, and both days my time allotment ran out before I could finish my lower body mini band segment. So I restarted and ran through the entire mini band series at home both days, and by last night I was feeling sore all over for the first time in months. It didn’t feel like I had overdone it with the weights at the gym, but I think going 4 sets on Saturday and then another 3 or 4 sets with lighter weights on Sunday takes a good toll on the body. And the mini band workout we’re doing these days is comprehensive in the most satisfying of ways. I now wonder how I ever made it this far without those bad boys. M sort of pooh-poohed them at first, until he tried them out with me one night and found out just how gruesome using them can be. I do not think he has picked them up since, but he has not made any comments about my wandering the house with innertubes on my legs either. Progress.

One of my friends is an ebay reseller and stumbled into a lot of mini band sets, so I shared the workout J wrote for me with her. After a few sporadic tries over the course of several months, she just sent the set of mini bands she had been using (along with several new sets for J’s other mini band-starved clients) and said the workout was too hard. I was perplexed, because she has some sort of elliptical at home and also utilizes a treadmill desk, but I suppose cardio queenship does not translate into mini band princess super smoothly.

And then I was also using my mini bands while carrying on a phone conversation with a friend in Australia yesterday. I happened to be putting them on when she phoned, so I went through the standing section of the routine while we chatted. At one point she asked me what the heck I was doing (I suppose my erratic breathing said I must be doing something besides sitting around twirling my hair as she probably imagines me doing during our phone calls) and I said she had caught me just as I was starting my workout sequence and saw no reason to not multitask. Her exclamation – “OMG, you’re obsessed!” – was really funny. She does zumba classes several nights per week and admits she herself has an addicted-to-routine attitude as well.

Neither of these friends were being mean or unkind in their comments. Friend C told me that the mini bands were too hard for her, because she was (1) not used to it, and (2) not ready to learn to get used to it. I completely understand that, because it really was not that long ago when I was training with J on Thursdays and maybe trying to recreate the week’s List from home. She knows how much priority I have placed on practice, practice, practice to see if I can improve with the exercise and admires my efforts, especially now since she has tried one of my J-created Lists. Being a single mom with 3 active boys, life is busy. And believe me, I know quite a bit about not being ready to try new things in the health and wellness realm. I will be here should she ever change her mind.

Friend S is presently living in Australia with her husband and misses home and all the friends she has here. Think giggly valley girl expression of “OMG, you’re obsessed!” and you get S and I on the phone a few times a month. But she has known me long enough to understand the near cellular level transformation required to get me into this type of habit with the exercise and is an unfailing cheerleader. On top of which, she has been a very kind and supportive ear when I have wavered and waffled. Not precisely tough love – she’s far too kind and nice for that – she listened while I expressed doubts about my ability, my commitment, my being a good candidate for personal training, my boredom with cardio, my anxiety with everything and offered nothing but kind, practical, advice and encouragement. When I consider the toxicity of other pals, this is refreshing. I know the first few months she wondered if I was trying too many different options for exercise (between the training, the bikram, the self-directed cardio) all at once and perhaps burning myself by trying too hard to overcome my anxiety and gym crazy.

In the trenches of trying to get over myself and my crazy brain, I sometimes forget to highlight or mention enough how my tribe of positive, encouraging people rush to my defense against the ignorant who freak me out in the gym and happy dance with me after my successes.

None of this friend group ever suggests I am overtraining, or should take a rest day unless I want to take a day off. It would be some alternative universe if they were ever to say anything negative about my arms growing too muscular (because they are not) or to express dismay at my weight loss or lack thereof. As the months – and I cannot believe it has been months now – have passed the biggest concern expressed is about warm-ups and cooldowns, and even that has been mild curiosity and encouragement to ensure I care for my joints and muscles to avoid injury now that I’m finding my exercise groove. I have grown more and more aware of warm-ups and stretching and trying very diligently to listen to my body in its sensible moments. J wrote out a warm-up program for me awhile back and I have been faithfully following it every single day. Sometimes I tweak it by adding or substituting exercises, or I go upstairs and use an arc trainer to get blood moving before I actually warm up. But I feel really, really good from daily practices and the weekly sessions with J the majority all of the time, and I have grown almost militant in protection of my training days and non-training days practice times. The majority of my support system understands and encourages these behaviors, and I know I am very, very fortunate to have them in my corner. I do not take it for granted and yet fail to call attention to their kindness and good deeds frequently enough.

I know I don’t say it frequently enough publicly, but I appreciate everything you all do for me to keep me moving forward in this process. THANK YOU!

This morning, working hard at these things I know, I feel the weight of both my good fortune and my hard work. After this much time of doing various variations of these exercises, I have ways that I start and perform each, and it is not-so-secretly gratifying to find out I have not developed or adopted bad  habits that J must now break with me. In fact, I seem to have acquired good technique from my days of practice. My Bulgarian split squats, I am always so busy paying attention to what my knees are doing it is sort of wing and a prayer that the rest of my form is holding together. This morning J remarked I had adopted some attributes that he did not necessarily teach and they were good things. When he first began talking about it my mind immediately braced for what I might need to change, but then it evolved into his actual observation. I suppose the weeks of doing them nearly daily as part of my warm-up and then frequently in the lower body sequence has paid dividends. They are still one of those things I kind of like because they were initially so challenging and now it has become a go-to for maintaining my perspective. I can definitely feel it in my legs when I have been doing them, though. A warm-up set and then any of the sequences where they are included and I have what feels like legs of mush for the balance of the day.

Same with the single leg Romanian deadlifts. I have made progress even I can see and feel. While balance issues tend to become more and more apparent as I fatigue, I am improving. And as J put it this morning, I need to learn to suck it up when I get fatigued and keep going, keep trying. Maybe he did not put it in those precise terms, but that’s what my brain heard and interpreted, because I frequently think the same thing as I get tired and grow more frustrated struggling to finish the sets. These are things I despaired of ever getting right, and I am slowly, steadily building my abilities. I do not wish to ever become overconfident, but I am super pleased that I have come this far with them. J demonstrating them with relative ease and catching glimpses of others doing them in the gym used to make me inwardly sigh with despair. Now, I admire their form and abilities and feel some certainty I too will get there someday as well.

Progress on a previously unimaginable scale.

J was telling me this morning about a client he is working who is actually trying to gain some weight and add muscle to his frame. With the early level of success he is enjoying the ladies in his midst are starting to take notice and compliment him on his efforts, which is gratifying for anyone. But I guess he had asked J if bulking up and adding muscle helped with the ladies, and J replied that the confidence that comes with being more comfortable in how he looks and feels plays a much larger role in attractiveness in social situations.

I do not disagree with J; genuine self-confidence is alluring and admirable. But it is the way our discussions evolve that just as frequently sparks whole other perk-able topics a few hours later when that part of our discussions crosses my mind once more.

Being me, I see pretty people and think they are so pretty, and that’s about the sum total of my thoughts about them. When I was single or married and separated, I might see attractive men and think they were attractive … and so out of my league … and that would again be the sum total of my thoughts about them. If I have occasion to interact with anyone, their attractive factor tends to be on a sliding scale, going up, Up, UP if they have intelligence, charm me in some way with their personalities (could be something as simple as what they find amusing), and demonstrate good character. However, as we all tend to present best versions of ourselves upon meeting others, the possibility always exists they are not quite as bright as I had hoped, they possess personality quirks that really irritate me, and their character proves to be questionable.

Notice I mention nothing about physical attributes? But again, I seem to be one of those utterly inside-out sort of people. External beauty fades, or never existed in the first place. Of course, as I age I am not above about accepting gratuitous flattery, provided it is delivered in a way that makes me smile. Occasionally I am told I look younger than my 54 years, and recently I was even told I do not look quite old enough to be my 29 year old son’s mother, which was delivered by a charming young bartender who evolved, for the 90 minutes or so we were there, into my new best friend. He made us laugh, though, and made a nice, memorable mom-son lunch that much more so. Definitely earned his generous tip.

Related to all that jazz about physical appearance and such, J brought up that if we looked at our individual BMI calculations, he and I would both be classified as obese. I was actually quite shocked, because J is bulky with muscle not fat. His comment reminds me yet again why I am infinitely better off not weighing, measuring, or tracking such health indicators. Using my meter and testing my sugar several times daily is enough, and even though I know one heavy meal is not going to send me back to the diabetes drugs tomorrow, I am very conscious today of not losing my mind and letting it torpedo my overall efforts. I have been working toward convincing myself to give up at least a couple of my 4 or 5 times daily testing to merely a fasting and before sleep reading and on those occasions when I feel weird. We shall see what the RD has to say tomorrow before I decide further.

Progress is also that I am not freaked out about no visible external changes to my body. Not that I really notice anyway; I depend upon my clothes and M to tell me if something is different. For right now, right this minute, I am enjoying my daily exercise and my basic eating patterns. I always hesitate to say “daily” exercise because I do take a day off from the gym sometimes. But they seem so infrequent that daily is the easiest term without lengthy disclaimers to keep me absolutely honest.

I was updating my eating plans and recognize my meals and meal planning are pretty basic, too. Chicken and hard-boiled eggs, a little pork, occasional beef, lots of salads, nuts, fruits. I have tried a couple of different squashes – both okay, nothing world expanding. I find that garbanzo beans taste good in salads, I still like beets (M’s arch nemesis, almost as hated as much as pop tarts), and a couple of other bean mixtures that tastes perfectly swell mixed with salad greens. I have also experimented with some new recipes and homemade salad dressings. Other than J’s baked bananas with lime and cinnamon, no spectacular new meals or foods to report. In fact, looking back at the basic outline of meal consumption the last couple of weeks I find I eat the same meals, over and over and over again. And I am fine with that. Until RD or someone else convinces me that I need more of some particular food I am okay with eating the same foods repeatedly.

Yet another friend tells me it’s my thyroid that makes me think cilantro tastes like soap, and I am curious about what the RD has to say about that possibility. As it is, there is no pressing need to add cilantro to my diet, but M has been lobbying hard for me to try to learn to like avocados well enough to eat them. I am a tiny step closer, now having heard from someone I trust that she understands the soap taste and it is the cilantro. We shall see.

All in all, it has been a fantastic day. Raining outside again here, and other than being concerned for the suede flats I’m wearing, I do not care much at all. We need the rain, and I have my own type of sunshine beaming outward from feeling very positive, energetic, and upbeat about today’s session.

J used to joke that the suckier his workouts were for me, the more gleam he got in his eye. These days, I’m not so sure that is precisely true. I’m stepping up. I’m getting better at this stuff. I’m definitely challenged, but not feeling as if I might actually perish from the exertion of trying to get through a single set of a single workout. Maybe the gleam in J’s eye is being eclipsed by the determination in my own.

Or maybe the future is so bright we both need shades.

4 thoughts on “Training #23 – What a difference you’ve made in my life

  1. I agree that cilantro tastes like soap, it’s horrible! I also used to dislike avocado but have gotten used to the taste since marrying C who loves it. I won’t pick it over other favorite foods but will eat and enjoy if served.

    I’m a bit more diversified now but during my grad program I rotated 3 meals for 2 years and never got sick of them.

    • I am vindicated! M still doesn’t exactly get the cilantro, but he loves avocados so much and wants to add them to so many meals that I’m trying to like them. They are okay – not a favorite, not a first choice, but okay. I tasted it tonight, and it’s okay – not the soap taste so it must be the cilantro. I may just have to slowly build up to eating it more.

  2. You are killing it at the gym! I’m super impressed with the throwing up and keeping going. I had a trainer years ago who said if I didn’t throw up by the end of a session he wasn’t doing his job. Needless to say he didn’t last long as my trainer because I hate throwing up! J and D must be related (maybe it is a secret trainer thing they learn) – the harder D pushes me the more evil his grin. Which just makes me push harder. 😉 I totally get the cilantro thing! But I love avocados – yum. Do you have a favorite salsa? You can try mixing a little of it with the avocado – that is my quick guacamole receive!

    • It’s not the first time I’ve vomited after a workout, but definitely my first during. Food and eating right is an ongoing struggle, hence my sticking with the same foods, day after day. But I recognized the queasy tum this morning and knew it could go either way. Afterwards I just felt enormously better. It was a glorious day all around; so much good stuff.

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