Training #39 – Have a little faith in me

Monday morning, training with J. Today J prepared and presented the sequence counterpart to last Monday’s lower body routine, of which I am still obsessed and thinking about all the time. And only partly because I can still feel the icepicks in the sides of my ass from those curtsey squats. Who knew there were muscles buried so deeply in the glutes that the regular renditions of squats and lunges and all the other happy leg stuff did not reach? Obviously I did not.

Today we used dumbbells and stretchy bands and TRX straps. We worked arms and shoulders and back and it seems like those biceps and triceps got more attention than usual. Legs of spaghetti last Monday, arms of lead today. But it is all so very good.

I cannot even begin to try and remember all we did today, so this List may have to be completed once J updates my official List for me. There were push-ups, though … the bane of my exercise existence right now. And rows. And other stuff, but the order eludes me as well as the names. But it has occurred to me more than once training recaps are less about the exercise and more and more about all the feelings and emotions and ideas stirred up, brought forth, and jotted down here for future reference. Since I am so not an expert on this exercise and fitness stuff – most of the time I feel fortunate to get through a couple of sets of the series in the hour allotted to our training sessions – I do not want to even attempt to express any sort of technical knowledge, detail, or advice. Suffice to say it was a lot of fun, as always, but I can feel the puzzle/challenge aspect of a couple of these things for practice on Wednesday.

So I returned from lunch and J had updated my List. Here’s what we did today:

A1 DB 1-arm Row
A2 Band Alt Speed Rows
A3 TRX Pushup
A4 2-band Speed (controlled) Chest Fly

A1 DB Pullover
A2 Band Speed Lat Pulldowns or Leg Assisted TRX Pullups or TRX Ys
A3 DB Chest Press (30⁰ Incline or Flat as Plan B)
A4 DB Chest Fly (Flat Bench)

A1 Alternating DB Shoulder Press
A2 Band Pull-Aparts
A3 1-arm Zottman Curls
A2 Speed Band Curls (alternating simultaneous)

A1 DB Seated ͞Hang and Bang Laterals Raises
A2 TRX Facepull Field Goal
A3 TRX Triceps Extensions
A4 Speed Band Triceps Extensions

It was/is a lot to do as a stand-alone upper body, but J has written these as sequences for each block to be done with other things, such as alternating with a lower body sequence.

And thinking of an hour of training, I wonder if I would actually collapse into a sweat-soaked heap if I ever tried doubling up a training session. J can make this stuff as intense as I want or need it to be, and it would be no big deal for him to have me tapping out early whenever he wanted to get rid of me early during our normal sessions. And he is very kind to me in this regard, because in the months we have worked together I have bailed early precisely once, the day after Thanksgiving, and with the first low blood sugar incident from training. Well, there was the other time when I had to excuse myself briefly to vomit, but I came back and finished our session. Like Christmas and the gym being closed does not count as a rest day, that excuse-myself-to-vomit does not count as a bonk and tapping out early. (For someone who does not like measurements, I sure keep track of my odd statistics.) Usually by the time we’re finished I am pleasantly overloaded both mentally and physically, so my imagination does not need to extend to explore the suckiness of 2 hours of training in one sitting. I have nothing to prove to anyone and work plenty hard.

Another matter about the training and such that has lately floated and become a semi-formalized idea in my head is scheduling for practices. Our sessions are on Monday and Thursday, and up until last week I have tried to replicate what we did on Tuesday and Friday, filling in Wednesday and the weekend with other Lists that catch my fancy. However, after mentally and kinda/sort physically limping away last Monday, I switched things up and did something else on Tuesday, upsetting my basic framework and need for order and routine in my universe. Because I was not willing to subject myself to all lower body all the time on Tuesday, and my brain has also intermittently nagged at me that I am neglecting something or many somethings because there are Lists I like so much more than others and tend to gravitate toward them first, over and over again.

But now with whole stand-alone upper and lower body routines, I will incorporate the lower body sequence List into a weekly practice schedule … for this week, anyway. Tomorrow I’ll indulge my current obsession with the lower body, and on Wednesday I will practice what we went over and learned today. Thursday is training day again, so Friday I’ll repeat today’s workout again, Saturday will be Thursday’s routine practice, and Sunday I will select some other full body List for my lighter Sunday practice. This is my plan for this week; I may return to flying by the seat of my pants and impulse deciding what to do every practice day when I get to the gym next week. And in the bigger picture, I’m certain the only thing that matters is that I show up and do something, just about anything with my existing level of consistency. My neurotic need for order sometimes tips out of control and I find myself wanting to plan, plan, plan everything in my life. Except there is no way to stick to such plans much of the time; the work-life balance has far too many variables too much of the time.

Surprisingly, I have become more and more okay with that.

My posts the last couple of days have reflected the amazing, positive, uplifted type weekend I enjoyed. In actuality, things have been amazingly great all over my world of late. And lest you think I have become Mary Sunshine with nary a sad or negative thought in my head, banish that idea completely. There are still plenty of moments of swearing in frustration, snappishly judgmental thoughts, and M is not always safe from the idea of pillow-smothering to get my way. I have emails and texts and phone messages from friends and associates that make me shake my head in bewilderment followed by metaphorically throwing up my hands in disgust. These things are part of who I am, or perhaps who I was is more accurate, and will likely always be somewhat woven into the fabric of my day-to-day life. However, my reactions and my attitude have changed, improved dramatically from the standpoint of less anxiety, fear, and overall stress. I still care what others think or say about me, but I believe so much less impacted than this time last year.

Progress!

I speak of exercise a lot because it’s had such a dramatic influence upon me. All my life, I have never been athletic, good at sports or anything else where physical dexterity was concerned. My lack of coordination as well as body shame and desire to be completely invisible to the world made trying to learn how to improve about as realistic as climbing Mt. Everest in a tank top, shorts, and flip-flops. It seemed so hard to master deliberate and physical tests, and I lacked the emotional and mental framework to persist in pursuit of mastery. Giving up and pursuing other sedentary habits that were more suited to me was easier. And safer, so much safer. Whatever empathy and ability I may have to read other people, it feels 100 times easier for them to read me and all my discomfort and insecurity.

This time is different. We are 5 months into a new year and I am already at training update number 39, on top of the many I did last year before I began counting. It is still a brand new feeling of competence to pick up a weight and use it. The genuine joy I get from doing my daily List has expanded my horizons in the most unexpected ways.

As commenter SAK reminds me, I am gym people now. The sentiment makes me smile, every single time.

I have always been at least above average intelligence and able to figure things out well enough to maintain a good GPA. Once I entered college (the first time), a whole different world opened up for me and I was suddenly less an average duckling on a small little high school pond so much as one of many, many species of duck on the open ocean. Entering the workforce at 18 it did not take me long to figure out how to quietly become the best at my low-level job classifications and trade or promote up to jobs with better pay, more interesting work, and a lot wider range of opportunities. Unfortunately the trade-off there was not continuing my education, which at that time I did not really need to make decent money and increase the depth of my resume.

I was 48 before I completed my degree, and by that time I held the title of chief financial officer at a small consulting firm. The education merely validated that yes, I know what I am a professional who knows my business.

Using that analogy, I sometimes idly wonder what I will be like at 60 if I were to continue regular, consistent training. Not so much what my body might look like, but if I can stay off the needle and the diabetes drugs. If my bone health can remains steady. The weight I am moving up and down or back and forth matters less to me and my ego than my overall better health. Resistance training thus far has kept me focused and interested and challenged, thanks to J and his experiments and continuing to pursue and hone his coaching craft. Things are very good in my gym and exercise world, and it transitions outward to the rest of my life.

The associate change we made at work – I have been rather shocked at the impact on the mood of the entire firm. As a whole, everyone is helpful and supportive and gets along very well, even with her in our midst, but since her departure we have had a much better, lighter, more cohesive and cooperative vibe going. Interviews are being conducted for new associates this week, and we have decided to hire a couple of interns for at least the summer months as well.

My own little part-time business is booming right along, and I have found that the world does not end, cash flow does not wither and dry up, and clients do not look elsewhere if I have to juggle or take some extra time to get the answers they need in favor of not working 60+ hours per week. If anything, they are happy to hear I am pursuing a better work/life balance. Because it is not like I am taking days to get back to them with answers, but there are no more emails timestamped at midnight or 3 in the morning.

With M’s increasing running mileage and having so much fun training and running with his friends each week, he has expressed concern that our time to do fun stuff together is suffering. It’s not, or I would be squeaking loudly about it. But it has brought up that we are pretty into our groove of work and hobby pursuits – me with my gym time, he with his running – and maybe we should try to ride our bikes or go on a death march hike at some of the places we have enjoyed.

So I started thinking about whether or not to upgrade my bike to something more fleet of wheel. My lovely Elektra beach cruiser is rather limited as far as bikes go, but it’s happy little 3 speed has suited me well up until now. And biking is not really something I want to pursue with any level of seriousness. When it comes to exercise, I like the gym. I have surpassed getting used to being there and doing my time to looking forward to the time spent pursuing and perfecting my ability with the various Lists.

The carryover onto my bike riding is apparent, though. We were out and about tonight for a short ride and hills that used to vex me are now not bad, thanks to stronger legs. More cardio is probably in order if I wanted to go a lot farther or a lot faster, neither of which are currently on my radar. In the meantime, biking will happen for me on my beach cruiser and M either on his mountain bike or the Elliptigo. Thing is, I feel so much more competent and unselfconscious about being out and about. The Elektra looks bigger and heavier than her skinny-tired brethren on the bike trails, and M and I are obviously not serious cyclers. We ride for fun and recreation, more the tourists of the bike trail than not. Although M, with his endurance capacity, could probably cycle long and hard without much drama or trauma. It’s just not in my interest pool right now.

And that’s perfectly okay. The gym is my primary source of exercise and is serving me well.

Last week I got an email from my old friend who is so weight obsessed and body image obsessed. We have not communicated since the last incident with her unflattering comments about my arms – which, by the way, remain perfectly fine. The email was not completely unexpected, as I know she and her husband will be in town for several weeks this summer and there will be social events with many of our mutual friends. She asked me if I were still angry about her comments, because it would be awkward for me not to be speaking to her at social outings. After several days of thinking about a response, I finally replied that I was not angry, but our friendship seems to have reached its expiration date. I wish neither she nor her hubby ill will, yet I find her attitude regarding my weight and physical appearance far more bothersome and have zero desire to politely ignore it. I feel happy, confident, relaxed about who I am now, who I have always been, and I do not need or require her approval to feel this alive and this vibrant.

The deafening silence would be sad if I truly gave a shit about her opinion anymore.

Friends are not replaceable. Friends are added, friends deleted or remove themselves from my life. And once I would fret and worry and drive myself crazy wondering what I had done wrong, how I could make it better or rectify the situation. Thus far this year, I have simply let them go. It has not been easy, and I have had my doubts … about me more than about them. But I cannot deny that I feel lighter and happier unfettered by their judgment on who I am or should be, how I look or should look, what emotions I harbor or relinquish.

And I wonder how I lived within the boundaries of those constraints for so long. I suppose when you do something most of your life it feels comfortable, familiar, routine.

Forcing myself out of my sedentary cocoon and into the gym every day has broken down a lot of barriers that apparently quite naturally contained others. As my confidence and belief in my own ability has grown, negative girl has been neatly segregated and her bleating messages of fear, doubt, insecurity have grown into a fainter voice in my head. The friend referenced above and others I have turned away from sound eerily similar to the voices in my own head. Frankly, who needs that? Apparently not me, not anymore.

In this and in other exchanges with other friends, issues troubling to me have risen to the surface that I would tolerate or endure before this year. There is no need or reason to react to them with any immediate urgency, but my tolerance for bullshit and game playing is nearing its end. Depression, anxiety, other genuine conditions factor into these situations, but if I cannot cope effectively I do need to maintain some distance to protect all parties involved. Through the years TM has helped me formulate compassion responses to these types of situations, but I was always uncomfortable with implementing and handled it clumsily more than once. Right now, I feel so much stronger and more capable of being kind, being compassionate, and being safe and maintaining my self-respect all at the same time.

Big progress I did not foresee.

I have a good and generous heart; I do truly want people I associate with to find happiness and success in their personal endeavors. I do not wish to be judged, nor to judge others, but living my life, developing friendships and regard for others, reading blogs and trying to offer supportive comments sometimes means my judgment gene gets flexed and comes leaking out. My concern about it has lessened, and while I still have flares of “OMG, did I offend [insert name here] with that comment?” I suspect I always will, because it’s part of and ingrained in my character.

Today, I feel that is okay … I am a person of good character, and I am mostly very kind. Today, I truly believe that, too.

Today, I have a little faith in me. And damn, it’s surprisingly emotional to put into print and publish publicly.

But oh well. Here on the blog, I am always honest about what I think, how I feel. Even the really good stuff.

Happy Monday everyone!

 

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