Training #40 – The cup of life

Thursday, so training with J. But not yet. I am starting this post before our session, because I had to push it back from 7 to 8:30 to accommodate an early morning conference call I feared (justifiably so) would run late. Training appointments are judiciously guarded on the calendar, and I rarely allow anything to intrude upon the block of time I allot for it. The stress of being late or completely missing my appointment is huge. This many months of training with J and I still routinely wake up in the middle of the night feeling panicked that my alarm failed and I have overslept and will be late or worse.

Such is the nature of my hyper-responsible self. Because I had extra time between ending my phone call at 7 and training at 8:30, I was catching up on blog reading and emails. Friend J has been conspicuously MIA of late, and without even a murmur on these training recap posts, I assumed (correctly) that he has been bitten by the smitten bug for another exotic lady friend. Another story for another day, but all is well and happy in Zurich.

Being a later training session today had many positives and a single tiny negative that I failed to recognize until afterwards. My typical food consumption pattern was off today, and I naively assumed it didn’t matter. (Yes, RD, hanging my head in shame with that admission.) I wondered why I felt so fatigued so quickly and just completely fogged out toward the end and struggling to remember the simplest things I was supposed to be doing. Checking my blood sugar before leaving the gym showed nothing was terribly amiss at 72, but I just felt exhausted like I have not in months. Get home, drink more water, snarf down a banana, shower, more water followed by some plain chicken because I was suddenly starving. After about 10 minutes I feel much more energized and awake again. I had been kind of hungry when I got home, and that single banana completely woke up, revved up my appetite. Rather than starting in on the snacking with thoughts of pushing through until my regular lunch hour, I ate the chicken and drank some iced green tea, and I suddenly felt super energized and back to normal level of awake-ness without busting my calorie bank. This alone should redeem me with RD; given enough time and experiences I do learn to make better choices and decisions.

But back to training and what we did today:

1-arm DB row
Band row – speed set
R-leg bulgarian split squat with asymmetrical DB
DB chess press
Band chest press – speed set
L-leg bulgarian split squat with asymmetrical DB
DB pullover
Straight arm pulldown – speed set

R-leg anterior reach
R-leg curtsey lunges
Hammer curl
Band bicep curl – speed set
L-leg anterior reach
L-leg curtsey lunges
DB triceps extensions
Band tricep pushdowns – speed set
Alternating side lunch reaches

Let me just say upfront – the stuff we’re doing lately is completely, totally kicking my ass. Stepping up my game? Boy howdy. Loving it? Not precisely, but feeling challenged and energized by the challenge of becoming more competent. Those bands directly add some zoom-zoom-zoom to my practices, and they are all movements I am familiar with only at a peppier pace.

J is great about these new layers. He builds in a lot of options – high, low, middle band placement – and he demonstrated and had me try all sorts of variations today with the band speed sets between dumbbell exercises. While my List says 20-30s of band speed supersets, J says go until burnout. I kinda sorta hate it when he does that, because I always feel as if I am misjudging burnout and giving up too soon. Learning this variance has proved elusive for me thus far, and I am trying to really focus and really work at it when I am on my own and practicing.

While I knew the exercise learning curve would be steep, it is the what feels like billions of small details that are hardest to get through my very thick head. Working on it, almost constantly, and still forgetting or getting out of order in the moment merely reminds me now to keep plugging away, rather that desperate sighs and proclamations that I’m exercise stupid and will never get better. This many months and still when I am not in the gym, I’m frequently thinking about it on some level. Ah well; this is why I refer to it as practice rather than workouts. The days I start referring to my gym visits as workouts will be the day I have plateaued somewhere I intend to settle down and stay awhile.

Like M and his running, exercise has become more than just another hobby. It’s part of a life and lifestyle that is taking hold and has a life of its own. Friends ask me about it so frequently I think it should have its own Facebook page (assuming I ever used Facebook). And I am very grateful and very appreciative for being open to it consuming this much of my life, and for the many friends we have who are eager to share ideas and tips and just talk about it with me. One of my law firm associates was complaining this week about how hard it is to get back into exercise after an 8 months hiatus. Makes me realize my reasoning and plan to never cease is my better sense talking. I know how hard I have worked to get this this point with my training, and the idea of taking extended time off and restarting gives me the heebie-jeebies. I have struggled to reach this level of competency. In my mind, if I stop exercise something better be broken and healing. Because I have a healthy respect for injuries, I hope it does not happen … well, ever.

Of late I marvel at how much my life, my thinking has changed in the last year. I attribute a lot of that to TM, J, and RD as well as time spent here in the blog, writing and working things out. J asked me this morning if I have noticed anything feeling lighter. We do not speak of weight loss or pounds on the scale; it has not been something I can comfortably pursue or track. It was a curious question and brought to mind my tumble on Tuesday. In days past, not that distant of past either, I would have been mad at myself for being clumsy. I would have berated myself for being clumsy and awkward and ugly and stupid and every other negative epithet known to man. Not this time. This time I was upset and irritated, but hey, slips and falls happen to the best of us, even M out on the trail last week. Maybe I am not as light and airy and graceful as others I admire every day, but I am more surefooted and capable than I was 8 months ago. Maybe it’s not exactly lightness so much as energetic and focused, plugged into something new and curious. My body, such a big giant mystery for most of my life, is finally coming more under my direct control. Is it a choice? Or is this how it is with me? Once upon a time, I figured out that change for me starts inside my head, with the direction and methodology of my thoughts, and spreads outward from there into my limbs.

Lighter? Maybe, maybe not; I am just not sure I can quantify it in those sort of terms. But I feel different. I feel better.

When J began working with me, I knew that the catalyst for my success or failure with exercise lay mostly with me, if I was ready to put forth whatever effort was needed to make it happen and make it stick. He clicked with me the way professionals who have to work closely with clients have to click to be successful, which surprised me a lot at first. Through the months our training partnership has solidified and strengthened, and the rest is training history. But besides our being similar and having some things in common, J is always learning, always exploring new methods and techniques to work with clients, a trait that makes a very positive impression upon me. I have run the gamut of emotions with him – from awkward, completely ignorant, absolutely gym intimidated trainee to improving client to true believer and fully committed to learning and practicing what he is teaching and demonstrating, week after week. I am invested, putting forth the time, the energy, the sweat equity to become more proficient at my exercise craft.

I sent this text to J this morning, after I concluded my conference call, because it very succinctly, precisely summarized why he is the best trainer in my gym as well as a good fit for me personally.

Text

Second paragraph is courtesy of makeitultrapsychology.wordpress.com.

The blog referenced in this text is Make It Ultra Psychology, and you can find the full post here.

I have come to accept that I have certain expectations from the experts in my village, that I need them to demonstrate some level of investment in me and my progress under their supervision. If I believed in myself and my abilities to do things completely on my own with the help of the internet, I certainly would not be hiring them for their expertise. And if I am just their patient at 7 a.m. on Thursdays I would not be engaged and either be giving up on the relationship or more likely whatever I am consulting them for in the first place. For the longest time I thought it was wrong for me to have such standards, and I faltered and failed routinely.

This time, this success, I have learned what I want and what I need and to not settle for less than that. Fortunately with J and with RD, I got the good one right out the gate. That they don’t mind working with me through my quirks and such is a huge bonus.

Whether I am 15 lbs. lighter than when we began or 15 lbs. heavier or exactly the same weight, my overall health has improved in measurable ways. I am off diabetes controlling medications and have maintained it for several months. More than that, I feel so much better physically from exercising as much as I do and eating as much better as I do right now.

But with the eating, there is still much room for improvement.

My attention is turning to RD and his efforts to help me rehabilitate my eating. Food, eating, dieting, meal planning – whatever term you use, my relationship with food and with eating is complex and not easy to refashion. It is not something I can spend 90 minutes on daily and call it good until tomorrow. Food and drink is required throughout the day.

Reality of being a well-controlled diabetic with diet and exercise alone is really starting to sink in for me. Yes, it’s been months, but it was years of pills and insulin and trying hard to control my food intake and eating before I got to my present reality. And now that I am here, there are new and different sorts of complications to manage. Episodes of low blood sugar have me thinking about what I eat and when I eat it before going to the gym and throughout the rest of my day. While today was not a classic low blood sugar episode, the symptoms were indicative of what typically happens to me when I go too long between meals.

When I was first diagnosed as a diabetic, I frequently waffled between giving up or cutting back sugar and carbs to not caring what happened and eating whatever I wanted. For several months I have been pretty good about sugary food and drinks, eating more protein, vegetables, fruits, and watching my carb intake. I will never be perfect at it, but I can acknowledge that I have made some good progress. But it’s time to get back to being a little more consistent, and if I don’t like something I should not try to force myself to eat it. Who cares if something is good for you if it tastes crappy to you or makes you feel yucky? Getting back to chicken and broccoli or chicken and green salads or whatever protein makes me happy today with lots of vegetables is not a terrible way to eat. It’s when I try too hard to try and to like too many other things that I get into trouble.

If care and feeding of individual selves came with us like a car’s owner’s manual, mine got lost somewhere in the shuffle to adulthood. I have experimented with food preparation and discovered a few things I actually really like, and a lot of things that were so bad they had to be pitched after just a couple bites.

I note that my eating is becoming an ongoing struggle that seem to have stepped up once more. Skipping meals leads to snacking and stress eating to feel better and regain some energy. Where I notice it most is in my practices, when I feel lethargic and unable to gain enough traction to even engage with what I really desperately want to accomplish. How odd of me to not have connected these things until today’s post training haze.

Despite all that … it was an uber productive and fabulous training session. I can feel the pull of things we did today tugging at my mind, whispering about trying this and that, the peppy pace, the stretchy bands, the different angles. I’m excited to get back to the gym and try it again.

But first, I think I’m back on lower body sequences tomorrow. That List still has me in its addictive thrall. But oh well. There are certainly worse things in life to be obsessed about.

My cup of life is nearly overflowing with lots and lots of great stuff, but I’m chugging it down and trying to not waste a single drop.

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