Training #24 – Ode to joy

Thursday morning training with J, and I assure you this is a session recap. Eventually.

It has been a quite a week for me. I always hate to say it’s been a busy week, or that I am just really busy, because to the best of my knowledge most people who work at a job or jobs are probably over scheduled or over to-do listed or just extraordinarily productive and manage to live their lives without much brouhaha over their busy-ness. It may just be from working or associating with a lot of helicopter mom types who go on and on about their kids and lives and how busy they are all the time. As if the rest of us are sitting around twiddling our thumbs because we have no children underfoot to micromanage.

In my mind we prioritize what is most important to us as individuals. Yes, especially if we are parents still raising kids we should prioritize our families. However, I grow weary very quickly of being told by other mothers that they have no time to devote to themselves because of their children and prioritizing their activities. I’m 100% accepting of that, having been in your shoes at another point in my life. However, please cease the condescension about how much “free time” I have for the gym and exercise now that we are empty nesters. Someday you may regret not prioritizing your health over sitting on the sidelines during softball and soccer practices.

Yes, it has been kind of a weird day today, but I find anymore any contact with the assistant at my former firm brings out the snarky worst in me. The rant section of today’s recap is now concluded.

In today’s session with J, it was upper body mini band day, something new and fresh out of J’s test kitchen. What we did today:

  • Triceps extension
  • Biceps curl
  • Front shoulder raise
  • Lateral shoulder raise
  • Rear shoulder fly
  • 1-arm overhead press
  • 1-arm lat pulldown
  • 1 arm row
  • 1-arm chest press

I love a vast majority of the lower body mini band exercises (glute bridges are so not my favorite), but this was our first endeavor with using them for the upper body. As I said, this is something new and fresh out of the J test kitchen, which is cooking with gas lately. The new creation is pretty sweet. I know when we go on vacation next I will take just the mini bands and my cheat sheets and I will have a full body workout available to me.

Maybe the universe does listen and send us what we need. This morning I woke up with the alarm, feeling a little tired and kind of cranky with a tinge of negative about the day ahead. Typically I am very excited about training days. Usually I am predisposed to being happy and anticipating learning or reviewing or whatever is on the agenda. Training days are a higher energy version of myself. Today I was just sort of the blechy-blah version of me, but I thought I would fake it until I warmed up and made the energy happen.

Only I didn’t really have to fake it. Today was teaching day, which tends to go at a slower pace and demonstrates again that I’m really quite an earnest exercise idiot trainee if nothing else. I also learned today that I do not do well with trying to mimic as if in the mirror; I have to stand right next to J and try to mimic exactly or I get confused. Holding the mini band in my hands and manipulating them correctly … well, without my pictorials and right in front of me I had to ask J repeatedly to demonstrate things again and even then I had to readjust the band in my hands to get it positioned correctly.

There is a sense of … something good … with the training process in general, maybe the mini bands in particular. Mini bands are not the normal, typical, what is presented in glossy magazines, or even what I ever anticipated learning from a trainer. If I really thought about what J would be teaching me, I figured it would be something to do with the big machines in the weight room or the bar things or the dumbbells. The stretchy bands, TRX, and now the mini bands are like extra rich cheesecake (and truly, I am not a huge cheesecake fan, but it seems most appropriate for this analogy).

And today was just right, just slow enough, low-key enough to make me feel reconnected to my body and my life beyond grief week, work overload, exercise fatigue, and carb-OD malaise from all of the above. My shoulders and arms ache in the best ways, and I am looking forward to tomorrow and returning to the stretchy bands. The mini bands upper body do require some practice, but I am not sure if they will be something I drag out at the gym periodically. However, this weekend while M is out on his adventure run with friends on Saturday, I may be indulging in a veg-fest TV binge on the couch with my mini bands in hands.

The week has been mostly good, just tinges of sadness for a challenging week every year and a steady drumbeat of work keeping me hopping yet not in its usual linear format. Paid employment job is settling with the return of a paralegal and I find it simpler to stick to my typical part-time hours schedule rather than the full-time plus I have been doing. But with that I am amping up on another project, only that client is on the other side of the world and our communications are sort of hurry-up-and-wait back and forth.

Recent rains have triggered allergy responses from my sinuses, and I am again caught in the vicious cycle of having to take allergy medications to get through my days which then make it difficult to get a decent rest overnight resulting in coffee or other stimulants AND allergy medications the following day. I am also not eating as well the last week or so, and I must take control of that with both hand and get myself righted. So not only am I tired, stretched with work, eating crappier food, my contractor working at the house makes me feel constrained on practice time. Twice this week I have been woken up by the alarm from a still deeply asleep state, something that has not happened in months. I think nothing says progress like dragging my sleepy, sorry butt out of bed and pulling myself together for the gym.

It does seem to be the stars and moon are aligning in signs that it might be time to take a day off, and I ruefully wonder how going to the gym became so reversely complicated from even 6 months ago. This morning as J and I were finishing up we passed another trainer and her client on the way out and the client was lamenting that it had been a long and busy week, she was tired and had not gotten to the gym. She had that uncomfortable, I-hate-being-here expression that almost made me flinch. I remarked to J that that was me not all that long ago, and he responded by look at me now, having to be talked into taking a day off.

My oh my how things have changed.

I find myself paying more and more attention to my posture and ways that I type and utilize my computer. At home I am using the treadmill desk about 70% of the time – pretty much anytime I am reading or composing on my keyboard. Anything that requires actual handwriting or signatures I do at the table. For as much keyboarding as my work entails, I worry a lot about carpel tunnel. I set my alarm to get up and move about every hour or so, but I do have periodic weird cramps, pain, and numbness in my arms and hands. I suppose getting older makes me more cognizant of the aches and pains and their origins.

That said, I feel lots of new and interesting things emanating from my muscles and joints and such that are not negative or concerning. More of that make-me-say-wow! type experience. I’m definitely stronger and have new little creases forming in my limbs that illustrate off my changing muscles. I feel more confident in my ability. If J wins the lottery tomorrow and leaves training behind to go traveling the world in search of greater enlightenment I will be fine; I have a nice handy tool box of exercises to perform to keep me moving forward until I adopt another trainer. Not that anyone is saying that will happen. After the RD leash was lengthened this week – RD was rather indignant that he did NOT fire me and I can reach out to him at anytime – I have been thinking about these things. Maybe progress is that I am not pre-panicking over something that does not even need to be on the radar at the moment. It could also be the sense that my session bank must be dwindling and will need to be refreshed at some future point; hopefully J will remind me rather than just let me fall off the calendar.

This week has been the most challenging on so many fronts. Self-employment work projects are draining the majority of my focus, work at the house seems to be consuming the rest. My practices and training are not suffering noticeably yet – I am far too engaged in protecting that part of my life to let it get too encroached upon – but the processed food and crappy carbs I have been consuming completely eliminate the convenience of it. RD may have lengthened my leash prematurely.

What seems shiney and new for me? Knowing this negative energy and the old feeling of sadness, the feeling of being stretched and drained, mentally and physically, is temporary. Maybe I take a day off from the gym and recharge before I burn out my focus and lose my resolve. Maybe I spend part of the weekend cooking  and restocking my freezer with healthier meals that I actually like and know what is in them rather than eating processed foods that now make me feel like a toxic slug. Maybe a yoga class and sweat out toxins. Maybe just a mental break from work, because even with a flexible office hours and working from home schedule, work is still work, even when I enjoy it as much as I do, even I need a break from it from time to time.

My fatigue is temporary and can be rectified with even partially implementing any one of these potential fixes.

Definitely less coffee is on my horizon. I went from no coffee or tea at all for months to the 2 or 3 cups of fully caffeinated coffee consumed every day this week. That alone has made me a cranky camper when the caffeine high ends. Stimulants are not my friend; back to exclusively decaf for me.

Definitely a trip to the grocery store and/or the farmers market for more fruits and vegetables, since the refrigerator is basically bare because we have been trying to eat down the crisper last week before restocking.

Definitely something fun that is not work or exercise, both of which tend to makes me feel some vague sense of guilty or badly for feeling incapable of mustering a high percentage of genuine effort when that is my choice of activity.

As I have been working away at writing this post, way out in the distance of my thoughts I hear a voice in my head trying to inspire guilt for not planning to put this new workout into service tomorrow. I typically try new routines in the next practice after training day, but I think not this week, instead going back to stretchy bands and another lower body sequence – no firm decisions as yet.

But your guilt tripping is not working, negative girl; I am so not listening to you and your bullshit.

Since we started the sequence aspect of workout writing, part of me has learned to wrap my head around the idea that I have an assortment of workouts to keep me focused, interested, and moving along in resistance training. I seriously doubt J cares if I appear at the gym to utilize my mini bands and the gym’s floor space or if I am there to actually use the gym’s equipment. What matters is I am trying to be consistent in my practice and to at least try and continue to pursue mastery over the workouts or the sequences of workouts.

I have and continue to learn so much. While he mostly tries to conceal it, J is continuously amused at my concern over being fired as a client, but at the same time he gets that it is a source of genuine distress for me. Now that I finally seem to be gaining some traction in my consistent exercise efforts, my anxiety presently seems to be directed toward losing ground and falling back and even further behind my initial starting point out here on my own. Not all the time – I do not typically obsess over the “what if” possibilities for when J elevates to his next career level. Possibly, probably irrational fear, but I’m also the woman who is terrified of frogs, toads, and any other slimey, ugly, hopping backyard creatures. My confidence and maintaining my health gains on my own is tenuous at best; it feels like at about the infantile rolling over stage of development if that. Yes, I could probably continue on my quest all on my own, at least for awhile. Or at least enough time until I interview, try out, and adopt another trainer.

But not for a really, Really, REALLY long time (I hope). I am so not ready to be on the loose in the gym by myself just yet. So why worry about it, right?

Mostly I am not. Mostly I am pretty zen about it. Mostly. Some days I’m a bit wiggier than others. But today is a good day, and while wigglier in following the trains of my thoughts in this post, I am not particularly focused on that outcome.

I am, however, plotting the balance of my week and what to do about gym rest days, eating more protein, and building in some fun or at least something other the work into my week.

Perhaps my biggest issue this week is lack of balance?

This is a recurring theme, the quest for balance. I get tippy too far in one direction or the other and I become a lot more susceptible to negative girl and the voices in my head. My anxiety starts increasing, my irrationality begins to peak, and I my general level of nut-ball crazy becomes more and more apparent to me. The cycle is not so pretty.

I did not have an appointment with TM this week, but the seeds his planted about my fears leading to a predisposition to disappointing others has been looming large in the back of my mind. Undoing patterns of behavior is never simple or uncomplicated, and this one is like a weeds that continue to recur despite being dug up and around and pulled from the soil. In my weaker, more self-loathing moments I start to contemplate full-on excavation of my psyche to shed those booby traps still buried therein and waiting to happen. For the most part I am battling back with complimenting myself, accentuating what I am doing right, but I seem to be tipping awkwardly under the weight of work and other issues in my work-laden, emotional life this week.

For another year, the grief and sadness has mostly subsided. And this year was different, because the exercise and better food choices improve my overall outlook as well as my physical health. All these years there have always been people who care for and about me, who reach out and touch during this month knowing I’m a little (or a lot) tender and limping. Even they remarked this year the energy is different. Maybe I’m sad, but my resilience is more apparent, the muscles I am building are not just in my limbs.

My quest for better health is a process that never really ends. I have more refinements ahead with my eating and exercise habits, and I can and will succeed with it.

Despite my allergy woes right now, I am essentially a pretty healthy person. With the alterations in my lifestyle, my overall health has improved dramatically. It makes it easier for me to have hope, to believe there is a different outcome available for me. I have been sad, miss my child, feel overworked and eating crap because of it.

Hope is a powerful emotion. Like faith, it is not based in the practical or the scientific or anything that can be theorized, tested, proved. For me, hope has been something the keeps me moving forward – kicking, screaming, clawing my way forward and away from the despair that has pursued me nearly all my life.

Today was our first new things, new ways of doing things in a little while. Cables were new, but similar. However, the mini bands and how hands must be manipulated is very different. And it reminds me of our initial forays and everything was brand new.

 

Driving home tonight I was thinking how different life is now, how different *I* am now. I am pretty sure I do not still have that I-hate-being-here expression when I walk through the gym doors every morning. The fear that I would never get the exercise stuff when I began with J … somewhere along the line it was replaced with real, abiding hope.

 

It was a good day, a good week despite the lumpy-bumpy in my various states of fatigue. But tomorrow is a new day. It brims with hope and opportunities.

Ode to joy – giving thanks for another day, another year and getting through my 20th year of March madness. Being grateful, and thankful, for all those in my life who make it as rich and as fulfilling and as mentally, emotionally, and physically healthy as it is becoming.

3 thoughts on “Training #24 – Ode to joy

  1. Hi J,

    Oh wow just wow, I started reading your blog oh I don’t know about end 14/ beginning 15 and have read your journey highs, lows, work, kids, young friend etc etc but this🖕🏻post just shows how far you have come, how much you gave to your quest to keep going and progress to the point that even at times you had that meh moment you found your inner grit and endurance. well well done and deserved, remember I have said before you are the sum total of what you deserve which is yourself.

    Take care

    Char

    • Char, THANK YOU for your kind comment. It has been quite a time in the blog, and it is good to document my progress 2 steps forward, 3 steps back sort of progression. But I am still up on my feet and meandering along, mostly forward, sometimes backwards and sideways. All is good in my little world. Hopefully your own forays into the gym are going well?

  2. Hi J,

    Thank you very much for asking, it is still early days for me and I am going through my own evaluation phase of using equipment that I believe will be a benefit. Glad to hear all,s well

    Take care

    char

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