Thursday, training with J, and confession time: (1) I typically have to go my Fitness 2016 page to figure out what number this session is, and (2) my counting skills under fatigue are not trustworthy. There. Those 2 items off my chest and I feel so much better. The first is small cakes and not a big deal; it’s hard enough keeping track of what day it is much less where I am in the training session count. The second, I have created new rules for myself, because I do lose count on the second side of the same exercise and frequently short myself due to fatigue or brain fade, maybe both. New rules are start with the left side (typically weaker of the 2) and when in doubt on counts, do 5 more. Simple, really. This will either make me try harder with focus or possibly, probably doing a little extra work on the second side.
Since I am being particularly candid this morning, truth be told I feel better to be back to talking about exercise and training and not talking about work, entitlement issues, or friends who hate that I am evolving in an unexpected direction. I can tell you how much I dislike walking lunges in post after post after post, but I feel sort of whiney talking about my challenges at work. The “should” factor comes into play there, in that I “should” be better at handling situations where people suddenly tell me in intimate detail about who they really are and how they truly feel. But even after being part of the workforce for as long as I have been, people are still capable of surprising me with how little I actually know. I know there is a whole wide swath of stuff yet to learn, but some things I feel blindsided by because it’s so weirdly out of step with my own value system.
Another thing I love about training days, besides the actual training itself and downloading my brain full of thoughts here on the blog, I love the reactions from my nearest and dearest about what I did and learned on Mondays and Thursdays. Even review days – and J framed today as a review day – offer a lot of intriguing new thoughts and ideas. Today was no exception.
I emailed copies of my List to my fitness buffies. My friend A was like “oh my goodness! That’s a lot!” and friend J responded with a “F**KING LOVE IT!!!” text. A is just now getting up and getting moving after a 3+ year hiatus and 100 lbs. gained from health-related issues, so for her, it is a lot. Friend J is finding his way back to old-school weight lifting and really likes running through my lists on his own so he can speak more authoritatively in offering opinions. M listens, nods, says that’s great! To M anything that keeps me focused and going to the gym and now the yoga studio for pilates is a Very Good Thing.
I love that my friends are on all levels of the health and fitness spectrum, from M who runs 18+ miles daily and J who is in the gym 2+ hours, 6 days per week doing various weight training things, to A and others who are just finding their way to rebuilding their stamina via walking and water-related exercises. My friends who do yoga are numerous, and a few of them plan to join me for pilates on Sundays. Their reactions to my resistance training have interesting, because many do yoga because they either cannot or afraid of injury doing other things. I get it and do not try to proselytize the joys of the gym. The fact that they are moving about at something for their health is what matters most to me.
J and I were discussing my current schedule of 6 days at the gym, Sundays at pilates. I am not sure as yet how well it will work without an actual day off of everything, so it continues to be a trial and error type process. J himself has been hitting the gym pretty hard on his own workouts and it shows, and he too has been experimenting with rest days and listening to his body. His is probably a lot more sensible and trustworthy than my own, with it’s “we want suuuugggar!” whines. My new plan feels more balanced and less guilt-inducing about the dreaded, dreadful core work every day. The latest Lists have been multi-layered and quite frankly consume more time than previous versions, so I am having to create the discipline to get to the gym by 5:15 so I can ensure I am done and leaving by 7-ish. If past experience is any indicator, I will become more time efficient as my competency increases, so before too long I will be done with warming up and full sets in about 90 minutes. Until then, I will just have to arrive earlier and be as efficient as I can be getting my shit done. The pilates class, while only once a week, is pretty intense with regard to direct core work. While it advertises as a full-body workout, I can tell you from experience it is more like 40 minutes of core and 20 minutes of everything else in a room heated to 95 degrees. Love it or hate it – I mostly kind of like the challenges of it – this is what I need.
And if I find this schedule does not work as I hope, I can always mix it up, change it up once again.
This is today’s big honking list of exercises – J truly outdid himself on this one:
A1a Assisted 1.5 Squat
A1b Assisted 1-legged Squat
A2a Dual Cable Triceps Pressdown
A2b 1-arm Reverse Grip Triceps Pressdown
A2c Rope Low Pulley Overhead Triceps Extensions
A3a Seated Lat Pulldown
A3b Reverse Facing Seated Pulldown
B1 Assisted Split Squat
B2a Straight Arm Pulldown
B2b Rope Facepull
B3a 2-arm Row
B3b 1-arm Row
B3c Alternating Archer Rows
B4a Hip Dominant Resist Rotation Press (lead leg closest to cable)
B4b Hip Rotation
B4c High-to-Low Hip Rotation
C1a High Elbow Concentration Curls (facing machine)
C 1b Low Biceps Curl (facing away from machine)
C2a Decline Chest Press
C2b Chest Fly
C3a 2-legged Cable Romanian Deadlift
C3b 1-legged Cable Romanian Deadlift
C3c Glute Kickback
In our hour we went through 2 sets of the entire A and B blocks and a single set of the C block. Poor C block always gets shorted on time. But since the single leg RDL is a current nemesis, I am okay with that. Besides, I can always get to the gym early, early in the morning and lay claim to the Freemotion machine and do full sets on all blocks of this workout.
There was some tricky new stuff snuck in there – the 1-leg squat is different and requires a brain reboot. But I’m kind of excited about the challenges they present. Doing 2 sets of 3 different tricep exercises – by the second go-round over the rope low pulley overhead tricep extension – my arms were so DONE with all that and refused to go past 6. Been quite awhile since I have had that sort of involuntary rebellion in my muscles.
I also inadvertently scared J twice on the reverse facing seated pulldown. Sitting down on those stability balls is always a challenge, but doing it backwards while holding onto the cables this first time was different and unexpectedly challenging. First sitting down I nearly banged my head by plopping down rather carelessly and gripping the cables. Standing back up I nearly lost my balance by still gripping both cables and again nearly falling backwards and into the machine. J demonstrated the better option in that situation – letting go of the handles and letting the weights drop and clang – and then the safe way of releasing the cables and standing without potentially banging my head.
I guess I fall so often, bang my head on things so frequently, I forget that doing so in a place like the gym would be bad for business, make J feel poorly about the situation, and just thinking of the forms that probably have to be completed … yeah, I am paying more careful attention going forward, especially where those instability balls are concerned.
My workout library is growing by leaps and bounds and lends itself well to these amazing, freaking AWESOME days. I worked hard this morning, but I do a lot of mornings at this gym stuff. I’m still plugging away at the un-shrug on shoulder and upper body exercises, but I have made progress and improvements. Even hearing the word “shrug” spoken in passing in the gym has me reacting like Pavlov’s dog – are my shoulders pressed down and behind my ears – even if I am doing something completely unrelated. It makes me laugh every time it happens.
The best part of the consistent exercise is the overall lightness in all aspects of my life. Sure, I will feel crazy sometimes – I felt “late” this morning because I had only 20 minutes to warm up rather than my usual, comfortable half hour block (damn fluffbuckets and their desire to eat breakfast every day) – but for the most part I have the happy happy joy joy that I got my exercise done and over with first thing. It sets a good tone for the rest of my days, and sometimes I need all the good tone I can get from any and all sources.
Friends remark that I look good and better. At first I was a bit taken aback – did I look so awful before? But now I get that it is a subtle thing, that I am more relaxed and whatever anxiety and stress I am trying to battle or conceal is not taking a toll. There are also these tiny little curves and creases that I do not remember being there before. Last night it was my shoulders – did I always have that curve there? Little hollows are forming, new smooth muscles starting to peek out when I least expect it. Plus I am stronger; I can heft and schelp my own stuff without having to wait for M to do it for me or to help me. Height remains an issue; there are still step stools all over my house because of tall cabinets and high shelves where I cannot reach, and no amount of resistance training is going to make my arms and legs any longer. Ah well.
I have been reading all sorts of diet and nutrition books recently, some of which pains RD to no end. Mostly it is curiosity, and if I read something that sound realistic and potentially promising, I ask him about it. But seriously, if I do not read the copious amounts of unhealthy, unrealistic, and just plain ridiculously crappy information available, how can I truly be sure of anything? That and I like to know what other people are talking about in current diet and eating trends – it is rather scary what some people are doing in an effort to shed excess weight right this very minute.
One of the diabetes books I have been reading makes a good case for resistance training rather than cardio/aerobic exercise. From my experience with most doctors, including my own at one point or another, I thought cardio was the preferred method of exercise for diabetic patients. I completely understand that the medical professionals are doing everything they can to get people up off the couch and moving toward some consistent method of exercise, and their “walk 30 minutes at least 3 to 5 times per week” is them spoon feeding and pleading with patients to try and help themselves. I get it; I have been there, been that patient. None of my doctors speak to me about exercise in those sort of terms anymore.
I found it interesting that several diabetes-related books with sections on exercise encourage more muscle-building exercise first over cardio, because insulin resistance is the hallmark of type 2 diabetes and is enhanced in proportion to the amount of abdominal body fat to lean body mass. Increasing lean body mass is one of the best ways to lower insulin resistance, so the more valuable type of exercise for the type 2 diabetic seems to be muscle building exercise. The cardio is encouraged to burn fat as well, but if I can only do one, resistance training is preferred.
No one in my medical village has ever said such a thing to me in those direct terms. My present endocrinologist met me after I had already been focused and engaged in daily exercise for a few months. Same with RD. My prior endocrinologist last saw me as I was truly amping up my efforts, something he heartily approved of and strongly encouraged. But at the time I merely thought he was happy I was getting up and off the couch more purposefully.
While I may still pursue adding some dedicated cardio to my exercise habits for stamina and to be more pleasant company for M on the
death marches hikes he enjoys, any residual guilt I feel for not working more in that direction is now eased. My heart rate and breathing are impacted by what I am doing now, so 30 to 60 minutes of dreadmilling or arc training is not absolutely necessary to my better health quest.
And with that better health quest at the forefront of my mind, J was showing me body scans of a fat versus fit person this morning. If lumpy fat covered in skin is unattractive, seeing pictures of it on the body is so much worse. I am wondering if taping that to my refrigerator and pantry doors would help me refrain from making poor choices, except we seem to have thoroughly cleaned out our food storage lockers of less desirable foods. I know myself well, and I would simply stop looking at the photographs as I opened the door to get a cookie … if we had such things in the house.
RD is working on crafting a simple meal plan for me, something I can mix and match much like J does with the sequences and other Lists. Until that comes through, I find myself eating salad, chicken, vegetables. Occasional sandwich. Junk food Tuesday approaches, and fortunately I have commitments to self-employment clients next week. Thank goodness; I’m not sure I could resist the nachos on the taco truck menu.
Like this morning’s training, the pace of my day is briskly upbeat, and I can tell from my ridiculously excited positive outlook that a good day is to be had no matter what work may toss at me. Despite the periodic turmoil and friction of the last couple of months of dealing with errant staff members, it is still kind of nice to know people are capable of surprising me so completely. I have never, ever thought that I might know a lot, much less everything, but to be so surprised and shocked by behaviors … it was akin to having a bucket of ice water dumped on my head. I really do need to work on building up that cynical muscle.
But not today. Today is a fantastic feeling day, and I will enjoy it just as it is right now.