Monday morning training with J. It’s a nice way to start the week, especially since I had such uneven and truly crappy periods in the weekend. Weekend ick was mostly self-created drama, although I think everyone everywhere I went throughout my all-day Saturday errand day was feeling cranky. I started a post to recap the weekend last night, but in the end I tabled it until this morning for one big giant recap. Monday and Thursday exercise recaps have become “let’s talk about feelings and fitness” posting days. Since I cannot seem to separate one from the other, it is sort of a no-brainer anyway.

Besides, while J is a training rock star, I am improving and have less and less angsty drama to report each week. But I love this recap tradition; it brings up all sorts of stuff that I may or may not share otherwise. Plus, other than work that I cannot discuss in such specificity, I can bore y’all ad nauseum with my fitness and healthy eating adventures.

As a public service announcement, though, I must confess there is even less exercise, fitness, diet, good health, etc. stuff than usual.

But let’s recap today’s training session first. We were upstairs revisiting the Free Motion cable machine. After today’s run-through, I am determined to be sporting big girl britches and get myself upstairs and test driving it all on my own. I think, anyway. Either way I have committed myself to cables this week, because I have been slacking and not visiting them fairly in my rotation. Today’s List:

A1   1.5 Squat
A2  Triceps Pressdown
A3   1-arm Lat Pulldown
B1  Split Squat
B2  Facepull
B3  1-arm Row
B4  Hip Rotation
C1   1 arm 1 leg Cable RDL
C2  2-arm biceps curl
C3  Chest Press

Pacing on this was pretty brisk, and other than the 1 arm 1 leg cable Romanian deadlift being my newest nemesis, the training session as a whole went really well and was hugely encouraging. However, this version of the RDL feels eerily similar to the 1-leg Bulgarian split squat and I eventually conquered those, I will do the same with these … and all the other versions of the single leg everything on all my List rotations.

Today’s RDL just feels so different. Perhaps it is the cable machine or feeling tethered to something, but it was not quite the same as any of the other versions. I’m actually a little eager to try it tomorrow so I can see if I can pinpoint what feels different and incorporate J’s cues into a better performance.

I have had to remind myself a lot over the course of the weekend that there is no race to the finish with this exercise and fitness stuff, because there truly is no finish. It says something about my backsliding state of mind that not only did I have to repeat this to myself but that friends who randomly got in touch over the weekend felt compelled to remind me as well. I have done a lot of good for myself since lurching off the couch and throwing myself into the gym quest, and my tribe or village of friends and coaches deserve ginormous slices of gratitude pie for being so patient when I am going through one of my periodic meltdowns.

Thing is, as bad as this weekend seemed to me, it was nothing like the epic meltdowns happening almost daily 6 months ago. And this time I am pretty certain of its origins and how my responses to the building crescendo could have minimized it further or avoided it completely.

The following is from a draft post I began on Saturday morning:

I took M and buddies to their entry point for today’s run, then stopped at the gym for my own workout.

I confess to spending less than an hour. I confess to feeling like an utter failure today, shedding tiny buckets of unnecessary tears on the short drive home and into this post. Maybe this is the one post I write this year that does not get published.

What is the problem today? No clear idea. My nervous system is fried and my gym crazy has simply gone crazy. The noise, the people, the distraction of everyone doing their own thing and being outside my routine and my comfort zones. It makes me feel weak, negative girl gets on her megaphone and helpfully reminds me that I am weak. I want nothing more than to crawl back into bed and hide under the covers.

And this is what I got written last night before deciding to incorporate it into this recap post instead:

Okay, that was then, Saturday morning around 9 a.m. Since then? Saturday got better, and worse. It was the energy in the air, I think. Everywhere I went was mobbed with people in bad moods. I got run into by another shopping cart (no apology issued), was snapped at by some man because I was not getting my milk out of the case quickly enough to suit him, and flipped off – really, flipped off – for daring to open my car door at the precise moment some other customer pulled up and wanted to park in the vacant spot right next to me. Since I was near the further corners of the parking lot and there were vacant parking stalls all around me, I wondered if there was something special about that spot to make a man sport that gesture at a woman getting into her car.

*sigh* Saturday was a crappy, crappy day. And I admit to taking it personally and feeling like it was me and my stuff poisoning my universe.

Now it is Easter Sunday – Happy Easter to those of you celebrating this holiday.

I am not celebrating so much as I am hiding taking a break from my regularly scheduled activities. Because honestly, I think maybe my own piss-poor attitude is escalating everything around me into an emotional crisis. Yes, that’s eerily similar to me taking it personally, yet me taking responsibility for taking it personally.

M had a wonderful Saturday run with his friends, and I am genuinely happy for him and smile appreciatively in his joyous description of their adventure and sharing of photos he took. I, on the other hand, was stuck with the other 90% of the population that is far less pleasant. This morning, while I was sleeping the fitful nightmarish sleep that says something is definitely off with me, he was crashing around the house trying to get out for his run and losing things, running late, later, latest, only to finally leave around 6:20 (he gets up at 4 to be out of here by 5 a.m.) in an off-kilter mood and start. I stayed in bed, half asleep the whole time, until after 7. After mulling it over throughout much of the week, today was a day off from the gym.

And if I slowed down long enough to give it a second thought, I would be wracked with guilt. Silly guilt. Ridiculous guilt. Please cut-out-my-brain-so-I-stop-thinking-about-it guilt.

So I spent the morning doing the decluttering and deep cleaning the kitchen, much of the afternoon vacuuming, dusting, cleaning the rest of the public rooms of the house. My shower is squeaky clean and my shower doors are sparkling. I think I may have donated enough kitchen stuff to stock another kitchen … or 3. And while M and I were at Macy’s Saturday night we found ourselves looking and eyeing even MORE pots and pans and things we absolutely, positively do not need. I must stay away from housewares departments and stores. Unfortunately I shopped last weekend and had $60 coupons to spend. One meat slicer later – a much coveted item on M’s shopping list – and we are on our merry way.

So yesterday was all about shopping – groceries and farmers market and everything else. Today was cleaning, decluttering, and trying to turn off my brain completely. The cleaning and shredding and decluttering was a smashing success. My brain’s off switch? Not working out so well. It’s when I think I don’t want to think that the thinking goes into weapons of mass destruction overdrive.

In a nutshell, my resolve with negative girl fell apart Saturday morning and she lost her shit and went bananas. I spent much of the weekend trying to make it stop, shut down the voices whispering and overcome the insecurity and anxiety that accompanied those thoughts and ideas. Intellectually I know I am not failing on every single change I have tried to implement in the last bunches of months; no medication is a Very Big Deal to be celebrated. I have enjoyed amazing success and did not fall into a bag of cookies or a box of donuts in my funk. I restocked the crisper with fresh fruits and vegetables, cooked more chicken, and actually meal planned. OMG, in my funk I am getting more organized, but that is still no reason to encourage such mood-killing funks to overtake an entire weekend.

There were no snarky interactions with old friends; if anything I was greatly entertained by friend J drunk texting me off and on Friday night. Even M agreed that a rest day from the gym was in order, replaced with a cleaning frenzy day instead. I apparently need to keep myself busy when running from my own damn crazy brain.

And this, for me, is where I sit pondering today. Balance, elusive balance.

I believe with my whole soul that my daily dose of gym exercise is the core of my better health endeavors, and no way, no how am I giving that up. However, the longer I go without scheduled breaks from the gym the more difficult I find it to actually take a much-needed break. The Type A-/B+ of my personality is the same way about work, and I will keep going until 60+ hour weeks are the norm and neither I nor anyone else in my household is having much fun in my absence. When the kids were younger and required a full-time mom, it was easier to balance my work schedule, their activities, family time, M time, and me time, because in truth I am a huge proponent of me time. How can I possibly be good to or for anyone else if I do not schedule in a sliver of disposable time to do whatever the I want on my own terms? I am selfish enough to recognize this is a need for me, and I refuse to apologize for it.

But as strange as this sounds, in my efforts to improve my overall health and wellness with the exercise and dietary changes, I have actually been neglecting myself and some very basic needs. I have been blindly reprioritizing things I love that will recharge me in favor of other things I really want and need, particularly the last couple of months. I have been getting up early and going to the gym daily. I have been a lot focused on my eat-more-protein quest and healthier eating as RD has been training me to do. I have been working what feels like non-stop, aided by M’s own spike in daily mileage and hobby coaching activities. I have seen and spent time with my kids and other friends, but apparently not enough to impact my growing addictive focus on other pursuits and priorities.

Somewhere since starting my quest for better health at the end of last year I stopped reading for pleasure; everything has been for work, or in pursuit of my diet and exercise goals, or other blogs, or to be better at the blog somehow.

I crashed hard this weekend and realize definitively I am way out of whack in the balance department. So I had my painful come-to-Jesus meltdown and faced off with negative girl and got her secured back into her box.

I met TM and his partner for kava on Friday night and that was fun and very relaxing. There’s something about sitting in the shop just chatting about anything and everything completely unrelated to me and my issues and my pursuits that is liberating. It makes me wonder if I am not actually listening when other people talk to me? (No, I am listening and responding appropriately; I just fail to recognize that sometimes being a caring and supportive friend has its own cost when my emotional batteries are on life support.) Saturday was terrible – like running a gauntlet of Christmas shopping on Christmas eve with every other last-minute shopping – but Sunday was a recovery day, even if I did not recognize it clearly as such.

Cleaning can be very meditative and so satisfying; there is nothing better than looking around and seeing order instead of chaos. I am pretty far from a neat freak by anyone’s standards, but clutter can drive me to the point of obsessive insanity. So much better now that everything is orderly and put away.

And I sat in the family room with the slider screen open (while the oven cleaned itself) reading one of Scott Abel’s diet books (Cycle Diet). Let me stress this is NOT one of my RD’s recommendations (as he told me strongly in an email exchange yesterday), and J said almost the exact same thing only when we were talking about it this morning. I reassured both my interest was purely curiosity, a peek into the world of how weightlifters (Abel’s target audience for this book) feed themselves. Plus I just find Abel’s books to contain a lot of helpful, interesting information and stories. Yes, I have been reduced to reading a weightlifter’s diet book for fun; don’t hate me because I’m nerdy that way.

While my geekness is descending to new depths, I enjoyed the break from what had become my daily grind. And it was evolving into a 7-day grind of exercise, work, healthy eating, more work, and then more work all over again. Lather, rinse, repeat.

So it’s time for a new grind.

Exercise is still happening, so is my healthy eating eat-more-protein regimen. Also not negotiable is training with J, sessions with TM, and probably meetings with RD (once I figure out how to make it happen legally within the Kaiser system). Work, however, will have to be adjusted. My planner brain is already generating ideas to keep my workaholism in check. The fact that this happens regularly, once or twice a year, means I have quite a bit of experience with dialing it down.

Obsessive much, I think? About work, periodically, yes. About exercise and health? Maybe as well. The work obsessive is not a new thing, though, and all too easy to fall back into without even noticing that I am doing it. The exercise, diet, and better health seems to require more stringent monitoring to stay on the path. I am okay with that, but I must make myself stop applying some unrealistic standard of perfect behavior to my efforts, or I will always inevitably fail, fall flat, and disappoint myself.

One of the things about this weekend’s negative girl escape from captivity is that it shows me that there is still a big slice of insecurity between here and where I wish I was dwelling emotionally and with confidence right this minute. Another of J’s training tribe has been posting gym check-ins on Facebook (and FB luddite me had no idea one could do such a thing). I find it endearing, since J has introduced me to this other member, and I really hope and cheer silently that he achieves all the goals he is pursuing. He and J were both in the gym doing their workouts yesterday whilst I was at home hiding hanging out and cleaning on my R&R day. I cheered them onward from my silent perch, yet I felt terribly guilty for not participating and doing my own workout on Sunday. Never mind that I am not competing with anyone. Never mind that no one CARES if I take Easter Sunday off from the gym and exercise. Never mind that I am being ridiculous in my reflexive guilty feelings. The feelings are still real and need to be dealt with one way or another.

Eating them is no longer an option. Understanding them is a work in progress. Not checking Facebook ever again holds quite a bit of appeal. Then again, being the good person I think I am, I should be am delighted about my J-tribe members going to the gym and checking in and doing their own practices. I am supportive. I am happy. I want them to be successful and achieving all their goals. And somewhere inside the recesses of my crazy brain is knowledge that I should not feel guilty; whatever their accomplishments, and I want them to be amazing, I work as hard as I work at my exercise and fitness for my own benefits. It has zero to do with them or anyone else; I have nothing to prove and need only depend upon my own opinions as measures of my success or failure.

Except crazy brain seems to not have gotten the memo. I am influenced by the opinions of others, and since I have a rock solid group of people I can absolutely trust to tell me the truth, I will be fine if I listen to them and block out everything else. Facebook. Pinterest. Glossy magazines beaming headlines at me from the grocery store checkout lines. Other gym members. Even old friends with their own biases and issues that impact me in bad ways.

My confidence mostly increases with each session and each week of practice that passes, and I am oh so slowly learning to trust myself to return to the gym if I take a day off from practice or take my lumps and learn lessons about carbohydrate hangovers. Then I have a setback day or weekend and find myself eyeing my place in the world and wondering if I have been jettisoned back to squarer 1. I learn and relearn things with each new rendition of the various exercises and the various practices throughout the in-between times. I fall a little more in love with the exercise, the movement, and the possibilities the stretch out in front of me. Every week I discover new things and learn from the from the books and articles and information I read.

So no, definitely not standing atop square 1 once more.

I am going to put forth more effort to read for fun and for pleasure, on topics of interest to me. If that means diet strategies for weight lifting eating, so be it. But I doubt I will be venturing forth anytime soon into glossy magazines or Pinterest articles on diet, exercise, etc. Food porn? Maybe, and then only pictures from people I know personally. The posed and perfect pictures I see online make me feel inadequate and as if I am falling short continually. So like Facebook, I think further limiting my exposure to stuff that makes me feel insufficient is a Very Good Thing.

And speaking of Very Good Things, J and I were discussing french fries this morning. While I eat potatoes from time to time I have not had fries in months. They are, in my vernacular, a gateway food that cannot be stopped with a single fry dipped in ketchup. And J created a new term to describe these types of things: Pandora’s pantry. Love it! A perfect, succinct description of anything that is a gateway food for me, meaning I simply have to just say no to them or I will find myself diving headfirst down the rabbit hole of poor food choices, belongs in Pandora’s pantry. French fries are one of them. Certain types of snack crackers and other carby delights fall into the same cupboard. Sugar, chocolate? We should not ever go there. Waking up those tastebuds is asking for trouble, and I fear it like a one-way ticket back to diabetes drugs dependency.

Being a personal trainer is in its way a tough gig. Working with and around a client’s individual psychology and nutrition seems to be part of the gig, far more than just motivating to get them into the gym, to keep trying and pushing to finish out their reps and sets. There is a lot of metaphorical hand-holding going on in the trainer/client relationship. Our free-ranging conversation over the last week has hit upon balance in life more than once, and I think this week’s title is appropriate. Sometimes we do get caught up in the day-to-day of work and/or other worthy pursuits that we forget to build time for building other things in our lives. More food for thought on that still being gnawed upon in my head right now.

I’m getting it, slowly. The good news is the time stretches out between meltdowns and negative girl escaping from captivity. The better news is I know I will get back to the gym and do battle with my crazy brain on the gym floor. The best news is I am improving at the things J is teaching and growing less dependent and blowing up his text with anxious questions or concerns. It’s taken several months, but really, whoda thunk I would ever get here?

Not I, said this clueless training client. But I’m learning that I am more capable than I ever realized or dared to hope. And that’s truly something worth celebrating.



One thought on “Training #25 – Live like we’re dying

  1. Everything you have accomplished is worth celebrating. Look how far you have come in the time we have been friends and you have brought me along for the ride. It’s a funny world where I look to you as my goal for going to the gym as I barely make it 3xs a week but you feel guilty missing one day. You are an exceptionally strong woman and with that comes the pressures you put on yourself and others put on you.

    In the last year you have started your own independent business, started and succeeded at the gym, had both kids get engaged, come off of your insulin and so much more. But it’s easier for me to say it because I am looking up at you.

    Just remember the glass isn’t half empty or half full….it’s totally refillable. And remember your friends have your back no matter what. And we are only a call or text away at all times.

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