Training #43 – In the summertime

Memorial day, and training with J. It’s Monday, I had no plans … other than training. A chill morning, feeling a bit disconnected with the long weekend. But even disconnected in this context is a pretty good and great thing; relaxing and recharging the batteries was in order.

Today was a combination of review of things I know done on machines rather than with dumbbells, TRX straps, or stretchy bands. Maybe just because it is all new, but the machines are different. Not a bad thing by any stretch; I think my preference is simply for what I know well. I like the basics without machine aids – the squats, the rows, the lunges, the presses. Possibly because that’s my roots, where I began. Cables also offer me intriguing things, and now the introduction to the actual machines for individual body parts offer yet another option. When the fitness room is busy, I can escape upstairs and go through my full-body practice.

Thinking about exercise and such, I recognize that the resistance training is always going to be my priority. Partly because it is what got me to the point of kicking my diabetes meds to the curb, but also because of how competent it makes me feel. Next month marks a year of training under J’s tutelage, and I have learned so much and come so far. I think a little branching out and doing the Pilates class on Sunday is a good thing – since in reality I dread doing dreadful core work at the gym – and perhaps adding a yoga class for its flexibility would be good as well. Time will tell.

It feels as if I am stepping up and toward some different place with my training. I cannot precisely describe it in words, except to say I want to take it more seriously than I have been to date. Which sounds so strange to me, as I actually  never thought I would get to the point of liking exercise as much as I presently do. I am at the gym consistently every week. I am putting in the time to train with J and to practice every week, only now I am wondering how much genuine effort I put forth. Am I going through the motions and taking it for granted? Or am I again overthinking this and worried about problems that are imaginary and all in my head?

I had a rare opportunity to chat with friend J via skype this morning and as always our talks included discussions about fitness and exercise. Like M, he has been watching me and my progress with training this last year and is both thrilled and amazed that I have kept my head down and stayed consistent with it. Because M lives with me and his fitness and training efforts take a completely different focus, my pursuits and energy expenditures are different. Once upon a time I would have felt and likely said they were less than his and meant it in a very dark and negative tone, but those days are behind me. Any pursuit or interest that gets me up off the couch and moving is a Very Good Thing.

Friend J is a former long distance runner, then a serious cyclist, then a weightlifting competitor of various types. Now he is back to weight training just for the fun and challenges it presents and looking forward to getting back to cycling once more. He has a keen interest in my progress and what sort of things I am doing in the gym. My descriptions of today’s adventures with machines was characterized as disappointing and what “doddering old ladies” do in the gym. M was rolling on the floor with laughter at friend J’s characterization, and I was amused to realize he did not automatically lump me into the “doddering old lady” weight class. Sometimes he just does not think about or realize how his frankness sounds in my ears.

But it is true that I did not come home with my shirt soaked with sweat and feeling as if I had worked very, very hard as I have routinely felt the last couple of months. This is not me discounting the effectiveness of the machines J demonstrated and taught me to use, more that teaching days and review days mean different things now than they did a year ago.

I have grown up quite a bit since then.

I am starting to explore the concept of training intensity and what the long series of reps and weight of the weights mean to me. Whereas before I was always thinking of surviving the minimum sets, I am now starting to think about perfecting higher reps and striving to maintain a consistent level of effort and energy through each set of exercises. It is a very subtle change in my thinking, but one that I am far more cognizant of while moving along through a practice. It feels as if I am approaching a maturer mindset through the process. And I must admit it has had an overall positive effect on the elusive balance in my life.

Or not. Maybe I see shades of gray where everyone else is black and white, but I am okay with that. The better health quest is unique to each of us, and what I need to get through my List each day is never going to be precisely what the person next to me requires. It has been awhile since I have had the desperation to just get through and be done with my List of the day, and I like that the process of completing a List is smoother and more focused rather than just a desperate desire to finish and escape the confines of the gym walls.

Never much of a risk taker, I have been experimenting with different types of exercise with the Pilates classes and the contemplation of reintroducing a Bikram practice into my week.  Pilates classes 3 times a week was simply too much for my system – I came away with a feeling of exhausted burn-out rather than the satisfied elation I typically feel after a strong effort with practice or an immersed training session. It is far easier for me to step back and away from the effort as simply being too much for me with my work and life schedule rather than seeing myself as a failure for being unable to maintain that level of energy output.

I also find it strange and an adjustment to not be in the gym every single day. This morning it felt as if I have been gone for 2 weeks – and I was just there on Saturday. Like everything, it is an adjustment for me and did not cause ripples of angsty anxiety. Mostly it was a curious thing, a curious feeling.

Addiction to exercise is a real thing for me, and something I have zero regrets or concerns about. My mind and emotions have been progressively settling down and turning more confident and positive. My brand of gym crazy still strikes, but I see the same familiar faces and feel more sure of myself and my footing with the equipment. Saturday I was asked by 4 different people how much longer I might be using the Freemotion machine, and I did not have that panicked feeling that I should just stop what I was doing and let them take over for their own practice. My own library of Lists is now deep enough that had the FM machine been in use, I would have simply gone to another cable machine or back downstairs to do something else.

I still dislike the volume of people that sometimes appear in the group fitness room. This morning there were multiple trainers working as well as others just pursuing their own practices. There is one family that I see frequently on the weekend, and there always seems to be some discord in their communication plus they spread themselves out over the entire room. I’m toughening up in my ability to ignore the negative vibe they give me. Even if I cannot hear the exchange over the music in my ears, the gestures and expressions on their faces are rarely happy.

So even if I cannot clearly recall all we did today, I feel great about my effort and the things I picked up from the review day with new equipment. I am happy to be part of the doddering old lady class of people who use weight machines, and now I know the proper form to ensure I am doing so correctly.

As I wrote about last week, my mental and emotional health muscles seems to be growing stronger, healthier along with the rest of me. The list of things I fear is still very, very long, but my ability to learn is fading as an anxiety trigger.

It’s been a really good, really nice, relaxing, low-key holiday weekend. Work starts again in earnest tomorrow, and I am looking forward to it. Normal routines and life is a welcome process for me.

Yep, negative girl remains locked up and mostly silenced. I feel so amazing about where I am right this minute and the illuminated path that lies in front of me.

Things truly are great in my little world.

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