Thursday morning training day with J. As an extra happy bonus – it was re-signing day for the next block of training. It’s a strange sort of challenge to drop a chunk of change on something that is for me and me alone; M and I typically find it awkward to spend money on ourselves for things outside of basic needs, desires, necessities. Thankfully M has become a fan of my gym training, seeing that I am going consistently and developing better habits and greater self-discipline with improving my overall health. Hard to argue with my diabetes turnaround and improving outlook.

Today was cable machine review day. We went over the following:

  • A1 Straight Arm Pulldown
  • A2 1-arm Row
  • A3 1-arm Press
  • A4 Seated Leg Press
  • B1 Facepull
  • B2 Hip Rotation
  • B3 Cable RDL
  • C1 Alt. Cable Lat Pulldown
  • C2 DB Seated Overhead Press
  • C3 Bodyweight Bulgarian Split Squat

It was “let’s go even slower and more controlled than usual” day today. The straight-arm pulldowns came back with a vengeance, but I kind of like the new challenge. Stand taller, stand straighter, and automatically tuck in those tummy muscles … oh boy. Tomorrow when I’m running through this whole routine again on my own I will either be longing to go back to my swirling planks on the ball or madly in love with these new bad boys; there seems to be little gray area in between.

The leg press machine is back in working order … quite possibly it has been up and running for weeks for all the notice I have taken (been busy in other areas of the club). We revisited that, did 1-1/2 presses and then learned about 1/3, 2/3 presses on top of that. Between the press machine and the Bulgarian split squat finishers, legs were well heated and crispy this afternoon in the nicest possible manner.

Interesting thing about individual arm/leg exercises also discussed today. J noticed and remarked at the very end that I seemed to do fewer reps on the Bulgarian split squats, and now I’m not sure if I miscounted and actually did so or not. But it is a trend I have noticed in myself in the past. Before I would start with my weaker left side, so that if I fatigued and shorted it would be on the stronger side. But then I began alternating starting limbs between sets, because I know I lose count, miscount, or just completely forget I am counting and the second side (usually left) suffers in the overall exercise rep totals. So if I alternate starting legs between sets I can usually ensure both sides are worked closer to equally. I thought this was my own little eccentricity – I believe myself an super special snowflake in this regard – only to find that J and others suffer from a similar affliction. I had no idea that I was so normal in this regard.

All in all, a very chill and informative review session.

Chatting with J as we moseyed along through today’s session, I realize that I have A LOT of choices in routines every day. I think because I am typically at the gym everyday, I have lots of potential to get bored if I did the same routines we go over in sessions for all the days inbetween. Most of the time I do session, then I practice what I learned/we reviewed the next day, then choose something else the third day. This sort of sidestepping variance allows me to keep going without growing weary or starting to second guess myself on a single program.

I have no particular program focus; I am the antithesis of following a specific program and pursuing goals and all the things usually discussed and desired by clients of personal trainers. But as previously discussed extensively, I am a bit of an atypical training client. Every training day is a fun new thing. Sometimes J actually adds new things, sometimes he mixes it up and tricks my brain into believing it is something new and even more interesting. All good things. Part of me has been afraid that this is all there is, that I am taxing J’s creativity in preparing new workouts for me to undertake and master. Truth is … icebergs are very big things and I am barely skimming the surfaces of what exists for me and my interests. Intoxicating sort of exciting to imagine.

Friend J texted me earlier to ask about kettle bell swings of all things. He frequently will ask me off-beat questions about my gym interests and activities, so I was not especially surprised by the question (no KB swings on my programs, probably ever according to J). As always, though, I was curious as to what inspired it this time. Apparently the gym he has been using had some kind of KB class today and there was a line of women doing these things swing things and he said it was like watching a line of Barbie’s bobbing up and down and it was disturbing. I fear I have infected him with my fear of the KB slipping and flying across the room. But it makes me laugh that a lot of what we discuss now is about movement, exercise, and books on diet, exercise, weight and power lifting. I must have been a very boring conversationalist before I started on this leg of my present adventure through life.

Chatting with him and other friends about exercise, I have come to realize that the classics (squats, lunges, curls, presses, etc., etc., etc.) are classics for good reason. While there zillions of alternatives, I kind of like that I learned and am still mastering the basics of a squat or a lunge and then J adds all these interesting modifications. I rarely feel as frustrated as I did at first, because I now have enjoyed some successes and have real hope that the practice will allow me to improve. I smile now when I think back to months ago when we started and how scrambled and confused I would get when switching between the various things like squats and deadlifts and lunges. Each has their own particular form characteristics and at first they all melded together and had to be separated as I tried to move along and keep the cueing straight.

Things are good with me, this week at least. Despite work drama and headaches, the heartache of people I love dearly, I am in genuinely excellent spirits. Our deck is done. I have updated my training session bank. M is off running on Saturday and I shall be free to pursue M-free activities or hang out without guilt. Practice tomorrow through the weekend, training again on Monday. K and I have plans to meet a Chicago Fire banquet coordinator to potentially plan and book the date for rehearsal dinner and will stay to enjoy dinner together on Tuesday.

I am lately particularly enjoying the work of the daily exercise, which is up there as surprising things I never thought I would hear myself saying and meaning. It ranks with my characterizing training and practice as fun. J was joking with me on Tuesday that he didn’t think Monday was all that much fun, to which I replied he didn’t get to do all I got to do. Sometimes I actually wonder who works harder at this training stuff – me during the hours we spend together or him writing the programs and then figuring out how to demonstrate and cue so I get it. I am finding a routine in my newly recognized pattern of 2 consecutive days of a program is about enough right now before switching to something else. Warm-ups – I can go weeks with the same warm-up daily and not think twice about it. But if I do the same program or series of sequences too continuously, my brain starts getting lazy and bored and form falls apart because I suddenly have the attention span of a gnat.

Perhaps this is a new phase of training? I remember last year drilling for weeks on PT basics A and B, and it was a very good thing. I also remember thinking that I had to practice whatever program we were working continuously or I might never get learn and escape that particular ring of exercise suckiness. How far I have come in just a few months.

There are zero regrets about what I have learned and how much I continue to learn, and I keep realizing how amazing it is that I have stuck with it this long and am still focused and pursuing it so purposefully. Frankly, I am glad to have been bitten by the exercise addiction bug, because life is better with a lot more energy and balance to match. I feel like I know a lot about each of the workouts on the sheaf of papers I retain in my bag, yet not completely mastered everything on each. But I keep plugging away and will eventually get there. Now I am sure that this is a circular process and not a point-to-point journey.

My next hurdle is counting reps, counting sets, staying on track with it, developing the mental discipline to ensure I stay even on my individual sides process. I am fairly easily distracted, losing count from the silliest things. Consistency and staying focused has been an off and on issue, but I notice myself losing track of whole sets lately and am resolving to try and stay more mentally aware. Not to a panic or worrisome degree, but just a reminder that I need to keep track better. I am an accountant, for goodness sakes; counting to 10 (or 15 or 20 or 30) should not be this big of an issue.

From all this healthier choices stuff … clothes are piling up on the bed in my guest room. Too big clothes. Summer clothes. Winter clothes. Jeans. Khakis – I have like 10 pairs of khakis in a range of sizes and wonder exactly when I acquired all this stuff. This week’s Very Big Deal in clothing is that a pair that were too small 2 years ago fit snuggly but buttoned and zipped last summer and now fit … loosely. When did that happen? I still don’t really see it, but hey, I’ll accept the reward from my hard work.

So I have developed a system of graduated a little bigger, too big, and time to donate the overly larger large clothes. Some of my gym clothes are now finding their from the too big box into the donate box, and I’m not sure if I am happy or sad or just end of an era nostalgic. Since I see me every day in the mirror and otherwise, I don’t notice the subtle changes and contouring in my shape and size. However, this morning I was noticing my forearms. I remember several months ago J was demonstrating curls of some sort and there was this clearly defined crease and muscle on his forearm (which is now even larger than back then) and my arms did not seem to have one of those. But now? I can see that muscle on my arm more clearly, and the arm is now sporting very faint muscle creases along the sides.

It truly is the little things on this journey that make me smile and appreciate my efforts. Progress.

Food choices continue to be on autopilot this week. I have been very busy with work so eating the same stuff day after day. No ill effects from Tuesday’s cheeseburger, but no big plans to partake of junk food again until maybe next month.

It was a really fabulous training day. Getting up early every morning has become part of my routine, and I find myself looking forward to morning practices to sort of juice my zen before the workdays and woven into the fabric of most weekends. Looking at my calendar today, it has been just about 6 months of consistent practices, yet it certainly seems so much longer. The time is still short enough, the lifestyle changes still new enough to feel tenuous and fragile. So I will keep plugging away at it, and occasionally be plagued with nightmares of being late or having overslept and missed my morning exercise window. Crazy brain is calmer but apparently not completely disabled. That’s okay, though; slow and controlled is the message of the day.



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