Training #33 – When you believe

Monday morning, training with J. A bit of a chill session, part review, part mixing it up and making something new. All of it was simply wonderful. And I know I say that every week, and I know I mean it ever week. I should try to find new and interesting ways to say it.

What we did today:

A1 Anterior Reach
A2 Swiss Ball Bridged Ham Curl
A3 Swiss Ball Glute Bridge
B1 TRX Upper Body Sequence (Row, Y, pushup, bicep curl, tricep extension)
C1 TRX Overhead Squat
C2 TRX Skater Squat
C3 TRX 1.5 Bodyweight Squat
D1 B1 TRX Upper Body Sequence (Row, Y, pushup, bicep curl, tricep extension)

Possibly someday, long into the future, I may start feeling training days as a bit of a yawn, but that day is absolutely not today. In fact, training days are high points of my week, something I look forward to, and important enough that I still have the occasional nightmare that I have overslept and am going to either be late or have stood up J completely. It’s makes me feel anxious just recalling it now. But today I was perfectly on time to warm-up and put my phone and headset away in my locker before we got started. We ran through the new things however many times (I lose track easily), and all was/is well in my training world.

We have not visited TRX in awhile, and it was fun revisiting after so many weeks have passed. The pushups are finally coming along. New object of my vexation – because there is always something every Monday and every Thursday – the TRX tricep extension. I have apparently forgotten the complexities and weirdnesses of doing tricep extensions standing up (versus lying down on the bench). I’ll get it.

But the pushups – the pushups seem so much better than last time they were in the rotation. I am so thrilled. I had hoped to finally, FINALLY conquer these sometime this year, and I finally feel like I am doing them right. It was amazing! Truly, it’s the little things – single-leg everything, TRX pushups – that make me so happy.

Yep, on the exercise and training, it feels as if I am finally making progress even I can see and accept as real. J has been present for months now watching me run through workouts twice weekly and can tell when I have been practicing, which is hugely gratifying. I am accustomed to and comfortable with our interaction, yet it is always going to be gratifying when I have practiced something enough to be more visibly proficient enough to have him comment upon it. That said, I had a moment this weekend when I looked at my arm (to point out to M the mosquito bites I had somehow acquired) and noted that my upper arm had this new, visible crease. And while I am only a tiny bit hesitant to put it this way, the whole of both arms definitely look bigger and more toned. And that’s without the benefit of no less than 6 mosquito bites on my right arm.

So that was something new. And it made me feel awesomely powerful. For me, that’s saying a lot.

Yesterday, yoga was as much about socializing with my friends as it was actually attending a class. All this one-legged balance stuff that I bitch and moan about my weeble-wobbling has improved my balance in standing poses, all the squats and lunges and everything else have helped me enormously in the hip-dominant lower body stuff as well. I definitely felt stronger and more capable in many of the postures, although as I said my shoulders ached because of using them in different ways. A good overnight sleep and I was fine this morning and ready to do whatever J had envisioned for me.

There is progress, even if I walk through my days in this hazy fog about what all the squatting and lunging and pushing and pulling and lifting and please-don’t-let-me-drop-it-ing I have been doing in the gym through the last several months truly means, other than a genuine key to my present diabetes drug freedom. Believe me, that is a big  giant key worth ever single drop of blood, sweat, and tears through the last several months. Truly, it is finally paying off in ways I can see and can feel.

Since I am basically thinking about feelings and such today …

There have been a few events over the last week that have started me down the rabbit hole of thinking about … everything. C’s marriage was a wonderful event in our lives, but emotionally draining in the kindest, gentlest, happiest of ways. A dear friend had surgery nearly 2 weeks ago, but last week her mother and youngest daughter were involved in a horrific accident that resulted in hospitalization for injuries and extended healing for broken bones and replacement knee and a totalled vehicle. Because a 20-something was texting while driving. Both events, while disparate, have me thinking about my own reactions and ability to be there a supportive influence for family and for friends.

My basic mantra of “I want you to be happy” still rings as genuine, sincere, and true much of the time. I would love it if everyone enjoyed a greater measure of happiness in their lives, on their own terms, and even if those terms are foreign to me or ways that I could not or would not accept for myself.

I have never considered myself particularly obsessive about goals and objectives in my life, but I can clearly see a pattern emerging of allowing myself to adopt more obsessive and addictive behaviors if left to my own devices and without restraints. Self-employment is not exactly tougher than I anticipated, because I have enjoyed a relatively soft and easy landing with a couple of solid, long-time side gigs that have morphed and evolved into the backbone of my little business. And because of many years of having side gigs in addition to a full-time job, working a longer work week seems perfectly normal to me. My law firm job is presently ideal, and my bosses there are quite delighted with the work I do and my flexibility with in-office scheduling and willingness to adjust and be physically present more often if the needs of the firm dictate it.

Same is true of the gym and the exercise. Way back in May 2015, when M and I rejoined the gym, I had no grand designs on becoming a buff bunny or even much willingness to commit to more than a few sessions with a trainer. My fuzzy thoughts at the time were maybe if I learned to use some the machines correctly, maybe I would keep up with it and actually use the gym more than I have in previous tries with prior memberships. While I am still not a buff bunny and still have no aspirations in that regard, it has now been 10 months since I began training with J, and I have just passed the 6 month mark of daily gym visits. Since the beginning of the year, I have missed gym check-ins and practices exactly once per month during 2016, and I believe it has been exactly 6 since October 2015, and one of those days was Christmas.

For the most part, I enjoy my work/job and have done a complete, total 180 on exercise. Work is … well, work some of the time, but it’s a puzzle and a challenge that engages and energizes me for the most part. Exercise, fitness offers different sorts of challenges, and it seems to be growing more complicated and challenging in great ways as I delve deeper and learn more. Still, too much of too many good things does make me even more boring, if only to myself, than is typical. I have been feeling the stress of boredom that comes with redundancy or fatigue and am now starting to recognize when it is time for me to slow down, take a break, perhaps reexamine my choices with List of the day or weights I am using.

J and I were talking this morning about being selfish. Unless I am hurling that word at M as part of an angry, frustrated tirade (and no, over the course of our long relationship those dramatic, painful to remember type fights have been few and far between, but words spoken to each other were so awful they are indelibly etched into each of our memories), it’s not something especially negative. For M and I, we recognize our life and lifestyle are rather selfish and perhaps even self-indulgent, but we also feel we are at points in our lives that being so is acceptable. The kids are grown and living their own life’s adventures; our parents are all gone. If ever there was a time to carve out me/us time, it is now. And we are enjoying every single second of it. Friends have spoken somewhat enviously of M’s apparent freedom from indentured servitude (aka: a job) and freedom to run on the weekends or meet with friends during the without any apparent consequence. I find it puzzling, but then again, this is our life and how it has been structured, with me at the helm of its design.

Because I want M to be happy, of course I encourage him to pursue his life’s hobby of trail running and hanging out with his running buds talking running and such during the week. If there is something I want him to participate in with me, I simply let him know that we have something else going on and I need him to be present. Call us crazy, but communication tends to smooth a lot of emotional lumpies for us.

For his part M has never come right out and stated that I should get my ass off the couch and into the gym, but he has pointed out the benefits of regular exercise and its impact on my overall health. With regard to work, he knows I enjoy it, am very good at it, and sees no harm in my purusing and regulating it. Through the years I have worked long hours, nights, weekends, all while juggling family commitments and priorities. Now, if I want to work as much as I work and spend as much time at the gym or doing yoga, hanging out with my friends, blogging, or even lying on the couch engrossed in a book while binge listening to something on television he has nothing negative to say to me about it. The television show … maybe. But in my defense sometimes it changes programs while I am not paying attention.

So I do not feel selfish about my choices. I feel fortunate to be with M and have built a marriage that empowers me to be as selfish as we wish within the framework and safety of our relationship.

In our world, pursuit of happiness does not necessarily equate being completely altruistic about personal wants and desires. If that makes us selfish, so be it. There is no neglect of our responsibilities, no malice in our hearts toward others. We love our family and our friends, are there for them when needed. If that’s selfish, then yes, we strive to embody it.

And how does all this relate to training days? Only peripherally. In most ways M embraces that “happy wife, happy life” maxim, but our basic life values are in alignment. We were talking about hiking, and I am not wild about the idea of going on a weekend death march hike with M again anytime soon. While I am in much better shape from training with J and my daily gym practices and would probably be far more capable physically, hiking in the mountains is not something I particularly enjoy. Having to be outside in long sleeves and long pants in the heat of a northern California summer to protect my skin from the sun and a bug net over my head to avoid the mosquitos and flying bugs getting into my mouth and up my nose is not my idea of fun. M can go out and run mountain trails with friends old and new on one or both days of the weekends with my full favor and blessing, and I will stay in my nice air conditioned gym wiping down equipment and get my exercise that way.

Chatting with J this morning reminds me that it certainly helps that I have a village of emotionally and mentally healthy individuals coaching me in front of and behind the curtain.

J is a skilled trainer, very patient and kind, and the big-brained, scary smart variety of person I truly enjoy. That said, where he truly shines is in his ability to read a client and successfully engage them in the exercise programs he designs. Looking back, sometimes it has felt like he’s had to puree and spoon feed me every single forward change, but I have never gotten a whiff of frustration, resentment, or boredom from him leading me through our work together. For me it’s been the science and education, the why of it all. The teaching, the review weeks, the technical review weeks, the mix-it-up-and-try again weeks – it’s a layering process where  I learn something new each and every time. It would have been really easy for him to show up and walk me through the List and series of exercises this week and actually be doing his job, but I can almost guarantee I would still be shooting insulin and taking diabetes-controlling medications daily. I am 99.99% sure I would not be getting much use of my gym membership after the first few sessions, either.

TM’s fine hand and the work we have done over the course of several years is coming to greater fruition right now. Our prior years and all we have worked at together is not to be discounted, but this year is a banner year in that I am shedding the “shoulds” with regard to not just diet, exercise, and work, but also in the broader spectrum that encompasses my life. Negative girl still lives in my head, and while I can still hear her voice much some of the time, for the most part I have stopped listening to her messages. More important than that, the black-and-white version of the way things are now, the way things will be into the future she preaches and screeches have never been applicable to anyone else so why would I hold onto that scale and apply it to myself?

RD has become this amazing ally in my quest for improving my overall health. There are times I feel like a petrie dish for his experiments in working with clients, and I am happy to be his lab rat. Being a Kaiser guy, he has a basic protocol to follow to get the diabetic into a pattern of healthier food choices. If anything is explained to me with enough detail and reasonable reasoning, I am usually willing to cooperate and go with the program. However, if it feels like we are going through the exercise of tracking food because it says so on your checklist, I am unlikely to play the game. The difference between me and possibly the majority of his patients, I am going to be open about my unwillingness to comply with the protocol and my reasons why. Most people, I believe, nod and smile and pretend they have every intention of following the RD’s food choice recommendations and go home and back to whatever unhealthy eating contributed to the diabetes in the first place. If I plan to go forth and keep on sinning, I am at least not hypocritical about it. These days I eat healthier than I perhaps ever. Lots of vegetables and fresh fruits, adequate amounts of lean protein, healthier carbs than just endless amounts of breads and cereals.

Overnight success happens about as frequently as someone wins a big lotto jackpot, possibly even less than that. With the exercise, with the job, with relationships, I have learned that success and forward progress is a series of tiny changes. It is the steps forward, backward, sideways that allows most of us to measure our progress in life.

Maybe I have always been at least a little brave, but I feel braver now. Confidence has not come from my willingness to admit or ability to accept my failures; confidence for me is coming from slowly and surely learning to believe in and embrace my successes.

Faith is an odd concept to me. I find it a relatively simple thing to have faith in others, until something happens or demonstrates that my faith is misplaced somehow, but in myself? A lot more challenging.

Progress happens, and I am feeling it. Seeing it. And maybe, just maybe, I am believing it. Most definitely I am living it.

I love this progress stuff.

 

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