Thursday morning and training with J, and it was review day! I love review day. Review day for me means doing things I already know I know and learning to do them better. And so it was today.

What we did:

Bench supported single-arm row
Bulgarian split squat – right leg
DB chest press
Bulgarian split squat – left leg
DB pullover

Sitting shoulder press
Sumo squats
Sitting bicep curls
Romanian deadlift
Tricep extension

What started this was a stiff-feeling neck and right shoulder on Tuesday. I thought perhaps I had slept wrong, but it got stiffer and more awkward as the day progressed, which I then attributed to being in a car for a long commute to and from San Francisco. Wednesday it was better, and then it was kind of worse, and I began to wonder if I was shrugging or worse with the rows or other shrug-temptation exercises.

Then while composing a text to J about my shoulder/neck stiffness and possible wrong-doings on my part that could be causing it, my office phone rang and I scrunched the receiver on my ear between my shoulder and boom! Epiphany alert! Yep, I was on the phone considerably more than usual on Monday with various vendors and property management personnel about a larger office space we are pursuing. That it had not even occurred to me before that moment my phone habits are the likely culprit makes me a bit of a dumbass. But oh well – changed ears for the balance of the day and shoulder/neck pain decreased significantly.

I did slightly revise and send the text to J, reporting that yes, I am a dumbass about this stuff. But it was enough for him to decree that a row review is in order, which expanded to review day. Again, I love review day.

But then today, neck still stiff, feeling as if I now have an ice pick in my left ear and something trapped and pounding to get inside the left side of my head as well as the stiffening neck and shoulder, my throat starts feeling ticklish on the same left side, and I wonder if maybe my allergy/sinuses are acting up. Final straw was one of the associates said my neck (left side) looked kind of swollen. That was the final straw. Phone consultations with non-Kaiser primary doc and I have a z-pack for the almost certain sinus infection I have brewing. Within a couple of hours after taking the 2 tablets for today I am feeling significantly (like 80%) better.

Maybe I’m a dumber dumbass than I even realized. In my defense, I’m new to this “listen to your body” experience and I am rarely sick. And other than the neck and shoulder ache, which are likely still aggravated by the telephone, I have no fever or other signs of illness. Allergies are common for me this time of year, but so is a head cold if I am going to catch one. Hopefully I get to bypass it this year with this treatment.

Anyway, review day also discloses I was committing form fraud by using the wrong arm to row with in comparison to where the anchored-on-the-floor foot – they are supposed to be on the same side. So much easier when doing them correctly. I have had some confusion with them the past few occasions they have been on the List of the day, but I think I have casually observed someone else doing them that way and thought it was appropriate. Oh well – reeling me back in when I wander so far off the reservation is a big part of why I engaged a trainer in the first place.

And J had me using a 35 lb. dumbbell. I thought it a big deal last week when we graduated to 30 lbs. (mostly I have been using 20 or 25 DBs), but I feel incredibly proud of myself for coping with the bigger DB. While 15 reps remains a pipe dream for a future practice, I did manage 10 once J demonstrated proper form and got me back into appropriate alignment.

Bonus is I did not feel badly, guilty, or even stupid about my faulty form. Mostly I am thankful for review day and getting back on track. My lack of negative girl kickback is a MAJOR big deal. I might be dumbass about some things, including the bench rows, but I do learn once corrected. And it is just one of those things – no harm, no foul, nothing broken or terminally injured. Let us move along and savor the heavier weight I am capable of yielding. I might not use it every time I do this List, but it is nice to know I could if I wanted to do so.

So yeah, I’m starting to realize that there is no need for me to feel especially intimidated about the bump into heavier weights and I have absolutely zero shame or regret when I drop back into something lighter. Going forward into my own practices, my focus is going to be on form (of course) and then ensuring I make my rep counts. Sometimes J doesn’t specify, but when it is a new thing, either weight or a new and challenging exercise, his rep spans are either 6 to 8, 8 to 12, 10 to 15, or 15 to 20, and a few that are 20 to 30. Things like Sumo squats are in the 15 to 20 range right now – that 45 lb. KB we are using adds some challenge – and I would like to get to the higher end of that without my brain kicking up a fuss. I have been feeling a bit like a low-energy slacker this week (gee, I wonder why), only not really feeling much guilt about it, so that’s new for me, too. But right now I feel completely energized and hopeful and happy about my evolving capabilities. For the next few days, striving toward maximum rep counts for 3 sets will be my focus, but I will be listening to my body carefully and going with those impulses rather than being driven by my ego or my irrational fear of not following directions. All with good form, of course. And if I truly only can make minimums, it’s all I can do right now and I will not feel guilty or let myself get upset and obsessive over it.

The fine hand of TM plucking strings in my psyche is evident today. And I am so glad.

But all in all, it was another sweat-drenched session and I characterized it as “super duper fun” in a text to J. Really illustrative of how far I have come in these months of training and practice.

As the months pass I have become less and less interested in goals for the sake of goals. My overall objective has been to improve my health. Now that I am completely off diabetes controlling medications, it has become supremely important to me to stay that way if at all possible. I understand that things could change in spite of my best efforts, but if I ever have to go back on medication, it will not be because I failed to try hard to modify my lifestyle. Food and exercise seem to rank up there with work as big-ticket agenda items in my world right now. Since M is also running high miles, mentoring a couple of other runners, and hawkish about his diet, our values continue to align. In reality it seems my stepping up and doing more has benefitted our relationship; our diet and exercise habits are different, but our individual value and reasons for the pursuit are the same.

And I finally feel like I get his obsession and addictive behaviors with running. I thought I did when I barely exercised, but I have a much deeper understanding now.

The HRT medications are in the mail and I am impatiently awaiting them to arrive. I have high hopes of feeling less fatigued and stronger when things start to get back into a range of normal balance. Now that that little carrot has been dangled in front of me, I am impatient to get going and see what, if any, differences are discernible. Mostly I am hopeful. Before hysterectomy, I was so anemic there was much talk of blood transfusions on a couple of occasions when I could barely sit at my desk and work. By comparison, my current level of fatigue is not bad at all and has actually improved since I began the regular exercise routine. The idea that there is an even better standard out there … well, it’s hard to really imagine right now, but before my surgery where I am right now was impossible as well. That maybe I could feel more energized and stronger? Like a dream I dare not dream just yet.

RD has waved a white flag on my food tracking, says he sees enough patterns in my eating and knows me well enough to know that I am pretty much sticking with a baseline routine. I have done a lot of cutting from my diet, and other than poor planning on my part while out and about, I am doing very well on eating more protein as well as fruits, vegetables, plant-based carbs.

I actually feel pretty good about the food I am eating and drinks I am drinking. My body might want coke and sugar, but I mostly stick with water or sparking water. There were bagels and cream cheese in the break room this morning and I managed to pass by without partaking. It was not even that difficult, being quite satisfied with my own regular post-workout breakfast and the cup of decaf fortified with chocolate protein powder in my hand.

More than 12 hours later after today’s session ended, I still feel lingering euphoria of a super fun and satisfying training session. What List I choose to do (or not – practice is absolutely predicated on how I feel for the next few days) through the weekend has all sorts of little nuggets of excitement and cues to pursue attached to each. The thing I like most about training with J twice a week is even on review days there is always a new layer or nuance to something he initially taught me months ago.

Every now and again I have a wish for more time between sessions to practice something, but then I realize that there is lots and lots of practice days ahead of me and I can pursue whatever List I want whenever the mood strikes. And honestly, I need the second session to keep my mind from diving off the deep end and spiraling out of control left alone with too many choices for too long. Yes, I recognize that 6 days is not really too long, but I’m acclimated to the 2 practices, training, 3 practices, training schedule. I will be fine when I go on vacation or J goes on vacation or we have a sick day, but my creature-of-habit nature has found a nice pattern.

Things are good, and great, this evening. The z-pack is doing its work and I already feel much better and can breathe again. Progress.


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