Training #42 – Amazing Grace

Thursday morning and training with J. It was a super chill session, for which I am actually quite grateful. I mean, I could always speak up and say “it’s been a long, hard week; let’s take it easy,” but I never do that. On the other hand, I probably don’t really have to speak up and say that; J tends to graze through my posts here, sees me in passing at the gym most days, and can probably pretty accurately guess with a curious glance how intensely I am pursuing practices. This is one of the things I genuinely appreciate about him.

So today was more review day with the Free Motion machine upstairs. We went through the original List once again with some refinements and subtle position changes and a couple of new things. Since I do not prioritize the cables as much or work as hard often at those Lists, this was a lighter day than the last several.

I am starting my holiday weekend a bit early, if working from home on a Friday can be classified as a day off and starting the weekend early. Things in the office will be very quiet, with the majority of the staff either out or leaving early for the holiday weekend. This has been quite a week on the work front, I have had an auditor here most of the morning.

But back to the exercise. I am sort of exploring my thoughts and feelings about how much is too much or if there is even such a thing as too much. And I am not speaking of over training, because on my very best, most intense days I cannot fathom approaching such a boundary. I would be lying on the floor sound asleep before reaching anything close to over training.

This week has leveled out as the days have passed. Seeing TM over the weekend, meeting with RD on Tuesday, Pilates on Tuesday evening and again tonight (and let me just say – that shit is HARD!) mood and other things and the emotionally troubling relationship events in my life have faded and lost that desperate craving for resolution. Absolute reality of what I can control is limited to my own thoughts, feelings, and actions, and with that comes my reactions to other people and their behaviors.

My quest and struggle for balance continues, and will likely always be with me in one form or another. A better memory might really be nice as well.

To the best of my recollection, what we did today on the Free Motion machine included:

Squats
Lat pulldowns, single and double arms
Chest presses
Straight arm pulldowns
Split squats
Rows – regular, single arm, archer
Bicep curls – upper and lower positions
Single-leg kickbacks
Single-leg Romanian deadlifts

As I said, it was quite a chill session. I worked hard, learned new things, refined my form and technique. Always I love, Love, LOVE review days. In every training session I get food for thought, as evidenced by my perking, thinking face. In fact, I have of late been wondering if sweat head is not so much from the physical work I am doing versus the huge amount of brain cells I am burning thinking about all the small maneuvers of my limbs involved to make each exercise happen. Then I get home and realized those sweat-soaked clothes tell the real story of the level of my actual practice efforts. Just like I do not measure my success or progress with the amount of weight I am moving, I also do not worry at all about how much I am sweating (or not) during my practices and training sessions.

Exercise has provided an outlet for thoughtful processing about my life and times. Work. Relationships. Hopes and dreams. And of course my little head games to get shit done.

More than all that, though, is how I think, how I process, how I feel my way through my life. So many I know, have known, are driven by the same sort of negative emotions. People are stressed, depressed, anxious, fearful – all emotions and the accompanying behaviors I understand. Depression is not something I typically suffer from, but I have my funks and have written a great deal about my battles with anxiety and fear (and primarily just about my own brand of gym crazy).

I am nearing my first anniversary of training with J … as marked by our first meeting. Whatever I am doing right now, whether I am refining my technique or working out how intense and/or how frequently I exercise, it has done amazing things for my mental health and the way my head and thinking work. Success is measured on my own terms, not by the scale, not by the tape measure, not even by the things I can now do that once seemed so far out of reach for me. I am healthier, yes, but I am infinitely happier and more restful than I have been. Perhaps ever. In my own skin, just as it is right here, right now.

But with those type of happy realizations comes this even deeper understanding that stopping now or into the future is never going to be an option. J once characterized exercise as a big giant iceberg, of which we were barely skimming the surface. I may not always be doing resistance training as I am right now, but I will be exercising in some manner and form to keep moving along and enjoying life as I know it right now. I know there is no room for excuses or reasons or negotiating away from regular, consistent exercise for as long and as much as I am capable.

When I began with J our standing time was Thursday mornings at 8:30. His regular 9:30 appointment is a charming older gent that always makes me laugh and smile. He was away for a bit for health reasons, and now he’s back. Out paths crossed the last couple of 8:30 appointments and I realize it is another highlight to my whole training experience. I have no idea about what his life is like, but it’s nice to see him in the gym.

Negative girl has been trying her best to make me turn my head and look back over my shoulder, at the time that has passed thus far and what I have squandered. I am not listening and I am not looking back with regret, yet another wasted emotion for a life lived to the best of my ability. My litany of mistakes could consume way too many gigs of memories and consume much of the balance of my life to write. Right now, in the present and into the future, my gaze is forward and on the possibilities that exist for me.

It was a great training day, tomorrow will be practice and quite probably a go-round with the lower leg series that still has be in its fascination thrall. But because I have extra time, with my planned work-from-home day, I may have opportunity to try a few things we did today that both fascinate and vex me.

J had an interesting observation about exercises that are hard to do, and at first I misinterpreted his meaning. We were working on the single lead Romanian deadlift with the cable, and as has been typical, I was losing my balance frequently. He showed me how to do this with the rear foot resting like a kickstand, and was explaining how to train myself incrementally to balance rather than training me in how to fall over. Repeatedly.

Instead of grasping what he meant, I was instead thinking about how I become too affixed to and addicted to the props I use and must take off my training wheels before I actually feel absolutely ready. When he clarified what he meant, I absolutely got it. But it reminds me how easy it is to misunderstand with sloppy or lazy communication.

I am still struggling with these single-leg cable deadlifts and they are rapidly elevating to the top of my list of things to do a few of every day until I develop more mastery. But I want to do them correctly, not train myself how to fall over repeatedly. I love the way he explained that to me in ways I can absorb and understand.

My growing confidence comes from a strong understanding of what I am doing, why I am doing it. I experiment with form as we move along as well as listening to J’s cueing and corrections, and I learn as much from doing things incorrectly as I do from repeatedly working at doing them correctly. As the weeks have passed I have gotten better at judging patience and cadence, going slowly to learn form and technique and then pepping up the pace to increase heart rate.

The richness of my life – it’s abundant, has always been abundant. And I have to hope to always feel this optimistic and satisfied with every single one of my individual days that lie ahead. Regular, consistent exercise sharpened and enhanced that perspective. If I never lose another pound, never develop the skill to lift another ounce of weight, the perspective I have gained and the new friends I have made are worth all the sweat, pain, and teeth-gnashing frustration.

Imagine that sort of progress, for sure.

 

 

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