Thursday morning, training with J. Only I really did not want to get out of bed and actually go this morning. Tactical error on my part, in that I did not adjust the alarm for 5 a.m. (rather than the usual 4 a.m.) for my 7 a.m. appointment. Had I done that, I would have mostly slept peacefully until 5, rather than waking with the alarm at 4 and then spending another hour fretfully trying to sleep while worried about oversleeping and being late. That sets a tone that must be overcome to have a fantastic day.

I still felt late getting up at 4:45 and then leaving the house because I dilly-dallied and thought about all the reasons I did not want to go and it made my ass draggy getting myself and my stuff together. M was out already doing a local run with our friends were before they departed this afternoon, so they were already gone before I finally emerged. “Late” to me means arriving less than 30 minutes prior to our anticipated appointment time. I say it that way because Mondays are kind of squishy – sort of 6-ish rather than a firm 6:15. Today I arrived 20 minutes early, which still gave me plenty of time to warm-up and prepare, but I am a creature of habit. Plus I know when I was delaying my departure from home for no good reason.

The lack of enthusiasm about meeting with J this morning has absolutely nothing to do with J or the training itself. It’s all on me. And even then, it was not a serious “I don’t want to train with J today” sort of feeling, more that I did not want to get up and moving even though I was perfectly well rested. Nope, just a tactical error that started me off on the wrong foot. I have already adjusted my alarms for next Thursday so this does not continue to be an issue.

Missing training would have been a very short-lived comforting feeling. I would not have felt guilty so much as just mad at myself for being irresponsible and for foregoing something that makes me feel really good in so many ways – physically, mentally, emotionally. And that’s still an unexpected and surprising development still after this many months of regular training sessions with J as well as practice on my own. Overcoming my internal guilt mechanisms as well as my frustration and feelings of exercise inferiority has been a long, uphill slog, but it’s a war I’m winning, one day, one session, one practice at a time.

Today was review day. Monday’s lower body routine is brutal, and I had decided to do something else on Tuesday and return to it yesterday, so I did. And it went really well, but I can still feel that practice in my legs today, more than 24 hours later. J, having gone through the lower body sequences before springing them on me and other clients, knows very well how challenging it is for him and for we training clients. But I like the challenge. I like knowing that I can and will be following this one months into the future. Maybe not multiple times per week, but probably at least weekly until I conquer it more completely.

But today’s review was the FreeMotion went something like this:

A1 Supported 1.5 Squat
A2 Dual cable straight arm pulldown
A3 Tricep pushdown
A3 Lat pulldown
B1 Supported Split Squat
B2 Bicep curl
B3 Row
B4 Hip Rotation
C1 Chest Press
C2 Hip rotation
C3 Single leg anterior reach

Only it was much peppier than it has been to date. J has been working with me on pacing, stressing stepping it up to be precise, and I notice the difference and the go-go-go cue is in my head when on my own. It makes the routine feel completely different and boosts my confidence even further when I feel I am succeeding with the faster cadences.

J remarked this morning that negative girl (the voice of self-doubt and overall insecurity, promoter of guilt, anxiety, and fear) seems to be pretty well tucked away and out of sight, and it become truer as the days pass. Please do not misunderstand – negative girl is alive, well, and still bleating out her messages every minute of every hour of every single day. Along with more strength in my body, I have been developing my mute muscles and have acquired more ability to mute or at least turn the volume way down and not listen to her destructive messages. My systems are far from perfected; I still have a lot of seconds of doubt, insecurity, and indecisiveness in personal choices. But it’s not quite so much a conscious decision involved process to set aside my doubts, insecurity, and anxiety in favor of just doing what I know benefits me most. Today was the first in many weeks where I have had that “I don’t want to go to the gym this morning” type feeling; the rest of the time I get up, pull myself together, and get to the gym and into my practice. It feels like is my routine, my habit, and we all know I am slave to my routines and my habits. I am supremely boring and reliable that way.

Thinking more about negative girl, I am not always successful in what messages filter through and I allow to influence me, but I am getting better at resisting the self-destructive impulses. The difference for me now is a lot less fear. I am going to make mistakes. While being mostly self-sufficient in appearance and actions, inside I have suffered from almost crippling insecurity. These days, not so much, and I feel my outward zen togetherness now aligns more closely with my calmer insides. I am going to occasionally make big mistakes that greatly impact me or others around me. I am also going to make zillions of little tiny errors that are just momentary inconveniences. The months of working with TM have taught me new tools and ways to view my life with a more positive and forgiving frame of reference, and to avoid diving into an endless beat-myself-up loop over any misstep I may make.

I am far kinder to myself, more positive in my outlook toward who I am today than I may have ever been throughout my life. 

It took awhile to get here. I was fortunate with my drug regimen and getting off the needles and the pills so quickly, and it is the great big carrot dangling in front of me that keeps me going forward. I do not discount the regular consistency of training with J and then trying to replicate what I am learning in my own practices; if anything I need to be more lavish in my praise and gratitude for our training partnership. The exercise has given me confidence that I can learn and I can overcome my inclination to resist because the exercises are too hard, too painful to learn, too humiliating to try and to fail repeatedly until I gain some traction. And I am sticking with it, which is possibly the most amazing fact of all I have accomplished.

For the last 7 months I have been getting up and going to the gym every single day. I have my planned rest days every month, but for my purposes in this post I get to claim victory over daily gym visits.

In that time, I have made some pretty significant progress … and I am consciously making myself omit any and all disclaimers and softeners of that statement. It does not matter one whit what steps forward others have made and how advanced or behind I am in comparison. Maybe another point of measurement on how far I have come is that I no longer beat myself up for not being further along, for not keeping up with the Jones of exercise. I was doing single leg anterior reaches this morning and succeeding more than failing. Yep, I get fatigued and I weeble-wobble. But oh well. I can clearly remember the days and doing these and weeble-wobbling on the first through the entire series.

I still feel super challenged on the TRX pushups, so much so I try to do at least 6 every single day to try and improve my performance. Part of it is confidence, I think; they seem so unnatural to me. So we were doing chest presses this morning and J remarked on how similar they were to pushups, and intellectually I get it, but for whatever reason it does not seem to translate well on the TRX straps trying to make those pushups work. Again, oh well; I will just keep working at it and trying for make my brain accept success when I achieve it.

Better health – first and foremost, this is my primary goal, maybe the only objective I have for this whole diet and exercise pursuit. This is a process that will last the rest of my lifetime, however extended or brief it may be. I am not chasing the fountain of youth, trying to turn back my biological clock, or even hoping to be mistaken for some gracefully aging beauty. Regular exercise, healthier eating, managing stressors in my life contribute to being happier and healthier overall. These are critical factors that truly matter to me, and to those closest to me, these are efforts worth of whole-hearted support and encouragement.

Early, early on in this process, commenter and friend SAK used to remind me that we are gym people now. We go, we work hard at our fitness proficiency, we belong there. And pulling myself together this morning and setting aside my disorganized attitude about the process, I recognize that she is really right. I am a gym person now. I get up and make myself go, even when I really do not feel like it. And not only do I feel better about it, I recognize that I feel as if I am missing something critical in my day when I skip.

This week I had to miss a morning practice on Tuesday. I did end up going on Tuesday evening, but it’s different and I was out of sorts at first, but I just ignored my brainwaves and followed my lists. Because it’s not my normal practice time. My groove is gym first line item on my daily to-do, not last thing I do after completing everything else. It turned out fine, but I like my routine. But this week has been an oddity, with the low blood sugar events and trying to figure out what to do, how to manage that. The hormone replacements are doing their job, and the low blood sugar is clearly stated as a potential side effect. My body is adjusting, and it did surprise even me that I was so calmly certain of it.

Things change, sometimes unexpectedly quickly, sometimes slow, slower, slowest speeds imaginable. I feel lucky. RD said yesterday that I was a pleasure to work with, because I think about his advice and am willing to at least try to implement his suggestions. That made me feel really good, and I stopped myself from protesting or minimizing his compliment. I accepted it graciously, and thought I have been pretty good about at least trying the vast majority of what he suggests.

Right now, with the week’s lows, we’re switching up my breakfast consumption. RD suggested an egg or even the oatmeal I typically eat after the gym beforehand, the protein shake in my bag for immediately after practice to stabilize my blood sugar. We have been down this road once before, but then the lows were while I was still on some level of medication and it was simpler to tweak that rather than mess with my eating. Now there is no more medicine, so I have to be willing to test drive other solutions. Not uber crazy about the idea of putting more in my stomach before practice, but I can adjust. I never eat so much in the morning that I feel stuffed to the gills, and I have eaten oatmeal prior to practices before without negative impact. For whatever reason it just feels so time consuming to put it together.

The rest of my eating is going pretty well. More fresh fruits, more vegetables, even some tofu and other vegan and vegetarian meals to round out my meals. Still not terribly precise. Still working on portions and schedules and eating only when I am hungry or set number of hours have passed. Snacking and stress still go hand in hand.

But I have come so far from where I started.

The ways in which the youth and beauty marketing machine has messed with my head and my thinking for so long are readily apparent in my slow and deliberate steps toward recovery, even if it seems it has been a pretty fierce battle to overcome it. I am not a natural athlete. If there were picture books with illustrations of the simplest movements I would not qualify even then for natural athlete status. This exercise stuff is dang hard, and just yesterday I was thinking again that the sweat dripping off my head is not so much from the exertion of moving my limbs so much as burning the brain cells to make my body move the way I learned on Monday.

The battles with myself are ongoing, frequently they are painful and seem to stretch into infinity. Every day it seems I remind myself that the war is long, and I am winning even if it feels like I have no visible progress to present to the superficial in my realm. I am far stronger and more resilient than I ever realized, and it enhances my current kinder, gentler, most positive outlook toward myself. I have long fought a battle of learned helplessness – a quality I absolutely despise in others – and I know now I am far from hopeless. In the last year I have learned that I am someone who can stick it out, tough it out. Maybe I’m not naturally talented, but maybe I have the grit and the fortitude to work harder and stay in for the long game.

And actually enjoy the challenges that come with the journey.

It turned out to be a fantastic day, despite the rocky start. Even a leaking water heater could not harsh my overall good mood, although I might be crankier if I had to pack half my bathroom to shower at the gym in the morning. Right now it’s just leaking enough to be annoying; it still produces hot water. The repairman will bring and install a new one tomorrow, and as far as appliances go there are other things a lot more costly to replace in this house.

Training days = great days! How could I possibly ever forget that.


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