Training #51 – Breakaway

Monday morning and training with J. Mondays are always hold a bit of surprise potential, because the appointment before mine can be a bit hit-and-miss. Her appointment begins at 5:15, so technically I should be 6:15, but she prefers to end by 6 so my time begins at 6, then there is someone immediately after me at 7. After so many months of training appointments on the same days and at the same times, I have learned who my schedule neighbors are and mostly what to expect from them and how it potentially impacts me. That said, it still surprised me this morning when J strolls into the group fitness room where I warm up at 5:45, as his usual lady was a late reschedule.

Weird, I know, but these recaps tend to have minds of their own about what details to overshare. But since it seems like frequently I get extra training time or chatty time or a chill, no rush session because of reschedules or late cancels and such. I am so spoiled.

What we did today:

Incline DB Press
Floor or Bench Alt Step Offs (planks where you move one leg out then back in)
Alt DB Curls
Alt Chopper Sit Ups (sit-ups where you alternate arms reaching across)

1-arm DB Rows
Standing DB French Press
Tubing Squat and Rows (red)
Low-to-High Band Choppers (yellow)

Seated DB Shoulder Press
DB Bent Over Laterals
DB RDLs
Plank off DBs

Okay, we are venturing a bigger toe into the ab-land waters. And it’s fine, because the core work is not quite as dreadful as it once was. Either I’m growing up about it and not allowing it to freak me out with dread, anxiety, insecurity, hatefulness, or the pilates I have been doing has toughened me up for it. Either way, it’s good and getting better.

J has definitely been thinking and dreaming big for me as well. With the floor or bench alternating step-offs – on the List J has it on the bench, but I am not yet confident enough to try that and will stick with the way we actually went through it today on the floor. Apparently one advances and makes this harder by using a bench and then the instability ball … we will leave those advance for another time. Since the feet are elevated on the bench or ball, I genuinely wonder if I am being negative or merely practical in my visions of face plants and chin scrapes/rash from falling face first off the bench or the ball if I tried to elevate my feet on either and then alternative moving one foot off, one back on? From the floor it was actually seems a little easier to be moving legs than plank holds in any fashion, because then I am counting reps versus wondering how much longer until my alarm says I can collapse in a heap.

Which brings us to the infamous sit-ups. Thing with the sit-ups – I think and feel if we had tried these earlier than now I would have been so demoralized and depressed by process I might still be traumatized about core exercises. Which is probably why J has held off on doing a lot of core-focus until now, sort of lulling me into a false sense of focus on upper and lower body and conveniently forgetting that I even have a core. But oh well; we are here now and may as well get busy. I for one feel like a stomach is kind of necessary, therefore its muscles should be healthy and strong.

Whenever I have thought about sit-ups, crunches, or anything other ab-like exercise, there is this shuddering inside and my brain screams in imagined and anticipatory agony. I have the sense memory of my lower back hurting more than my abs working. Some things my brain simply goes into revolt over, and sit-ups have had that potential.

I have no idea what other clients do/are doing, but I regularly see people using the crunch tables spread throughout the gym. Once upon a time I have tried them myself with little results, because they just felt wrong to me. These are a staple that I remember from high school and various PE classes on my long and winding road to a college degree, and I have never liked them, never found them particularly user friendly or effective. Probably I have somehow been doing them wrong all these years? Ya think? (And then I remember why I engaged J in the first place … how quickly negative girl peeking under her door of her box can influence my positivity buzz.)

Anyway, we did a few sets today, and yes, I  really, Really, REALLY need to enlarge my nemesis stable to accommodate all this new stuff that must be practiced more to build baseline strength and ability. That said, my back feels fine and my abs feel like they have been working or crunching something. All very good.

The nemesis stable, though – some of the new stuff is not that new, but it is sort of foundational underpinning for a lot of other things. The push-ups, for example. It’s been a year this week, and I still struggle to finish my max reps. I am doing much better, but the struggle is real and continues. Now that we are introducing things like push-up framed planks and such, I recognize how important it is to not ease up on the extra practice.

Then there were the planks on the dumbbells. J wanted to see if I could plank on dumbbells from push-up position and alternate lifting the 5 lb. dumbbell under each hand. It was not a successful experiment. My brain went into full-on lockdown revolt and I could not figure out how to get the an arm to support me while the other lifted up. So that was kind of a bust, although I appreciate that J had enough curiosity to try it out. What I did discover about this, though, is how much better I liked the planks holding onto the dumbbells. Form felt so much more optimal – I could keep my shoulders directly above the hands versus struggling valiantly to get myself positioned that way with hands flat on the floor or resting on a bench. It’s taken me all day to figure out why I like that better, but I think my wrists are happier being straight supporting myself versus when hands are flat and wrists are bent.

The little professor in my head is plotting another go with these at Wednesday’s practice. Maybe we shall slip some 5 lb. dumbbells into the mix before we get to planks on dumbbells. Maybe those will find there way to other lists, other plank-like things to see if it makes it any easier or better for me. Perhaps a new monster has been created and released into the wilds of the gym.

And did I mention that I have a couple of callouses on my hands/fingers from holding onto weights and such? I am not-so-secretly kind of pleased that I have been working hard enough to develop such tokens. I do not expect my little prideful moment to last long – the minute one of those bad boys turns into a blister I will be very mad at myself for not breaking out the gloves. I used to get similar calluses on my palms from my rower and finally invested in a pair of fingerless gloves to combat the problem.

I actually had to look up what a standing DB French press actually is, because while I was present and doing the work through 3 sets of each block this morning, it was so 6 hours ago (at the time I wrote that paragraph) and I had forgotten. I cannot recall what J called them or if he even gave them a name, but as soon as I googled and saw the set-up picture I remembered. It was likely the high school flashback that blocked my memory. PE in my school days was not an easy, pleasant, or fun experience, the younger me being even geekier, clumsier, and more socially awkward.

The stretchy band squat-to-rows and low-to-high choppers are familiar and were mostly manageable; we have done similar things on the cable machines. One thing they do tend to do, especially the low-to-high is elevate the heart rate, which is always a good thing for me. I am mostly doing well not obsessively checking my heart rate monitoring watch, but I do look at it lately when I’m feeling winded … which is like every single day anymore. But all good. I figure if I am still standing, moving, and working at the List of the day while dripping sweat and breathing hard it is a Very Good Thing.

It was a good training session, but something truly unexpected would have to happen to make me say otherwise. I have sort of gone to sleep on how exciting teaching days can be, especially now with this frame of reference that does not lend itself to panic over not getting it or feeling weak and wrong about my gym abilities.

Acknowledging that I have changed over the course of the last year is not anything new anymore, but it leaks out of me in tiny ways I do not even notice. Chatting with J last night after confirming my appointment time, I made the comment that he has the best clients. A year ago, I would have brushed it off as not applicable to me, and meant it as he has the best other clients that are not me. These days, I still think he has the best clients at our gym. I see the rest of the tribe more sparingly with my early morning practices, yet the ones I do see are working hard. Plus as noted above, my scheduling bookend members plus the many others I see working with J throughout my mornings and times I am in the gym seem to be improving and advancing along at their own pace as well. It’s gratifying to blend in with the rest of the members. Through the year many of the faces remain the same, and I am happy to be among them.

What we are doing right now with training, it’s a combination of stuff I know and layers of new challenges. I am ridiculously pleased lately with my adaption and learning. My stable of nemesis grows and grows because we are adding new challenges and weightier exercises. Adapting, learning to do them correctly, proficiently, and competently takes time and focused practice, and I don’t seem to mind it much anymore. My fascination with the process is flourishing.

Many of the exercise I do now have been part of my rotation for many months. I can do them, and I can recall how mightily I struggled with many of them. But now we add a little bigger dumbbells, and with that comes other challenges in set-up and other fine details to remember to avoid injury. I am not freaked out by it. In fact, I am almost concerned about my general lack of freaked-out-ness. Negative girl’s influence cannot be underestimated.

I am continually surprised about how zen I feel anymore about new stuff. My lists are growing and I find myself happier and more relaxed about getting to the gym and running through the List of the day. Sometimes I feel inefficient, as if I am not peppy enough in my efforts because it takes so long to get through the blocks. But I comfort myself that efficiency comes with familiarity, and I am slowly, slowly learning that I have to understand and feel capable with the exercises to get through them smoothly and in a particular stepped-up cadence. That said, I no longer feel guilty, like a failure or a loser at this exercise game. It was a pleasant day when I came to the startling conclusion that I had consciously excluded such terms from my vocabulary. I no longer speak to or shred myself so viciously, and even my self-reprimands are reserved for actual missteps or wrong-doings.

Progress.

The first blocks of sessions when I consulted with TM, he told me that things change, sometimes in big and dramatic ways, but usually in tiny, baby steps than sneak by while I am busy with other aspects of my life. This period seems to be part of the tiny, baby steps. As we have previously discuss, typical processes like goals and weight and measurements have not been good for me, but just lately here I think my nervous system is calmer, stronger, and possibly able to handle it in a mature and grown-up fashion. But then I start wondering why I would add another layer of monitoring? I may start using the scale. Or I may not.

But I still remain mostly doubtful about tracking food. With RD’s imminent departure I have been contemplating my alternatives and am not wildly crazy about any of them. Sticking with real food, eating more protein and plenty of vegetables and fruits is presently the best course of action.

Food is so damn complicated. I will get there.

I am gaining strength, getting fitter. My overall health continues to improve, so much so I wonder if there is some other shoe out there in the far distance waiting to drop. But I will not allow myself to fret or even really think about it, merely enjoy the big and little successes as they come along. Next month is full labs and a consultation with endocrinologist, so we shall see what he has to say. Part of me is hugely impatient for my slip to arrive so I can get it done and find out about the progress in the last 6 months. Patience is still not a virtue I possess.

On the fitness front, though … I am toying with a couple of other ideas. Still toying, no final decisions made just yet, but always thinking and pondering possibilities.

For a little while now I have been taking Sundays and doing Pilates or a yoga class instead of the gym. But after a few weeks of group classes, I’m feeling a bit restless again and contemplating more gym time. At the same time, I kind of get why I need a break from the gym as well and I do enjoy the yoga class I take on Friday nights. While I might like to do more yoga, it’s not really feasible with my work and gym schedule. Giving up morning practices has become the non-negotiable issue for me, unless we’re going on vacation or I’m ill or something along those lines. Anymore there is this sense of my days being incomplete if I have not done my time in the gym. And I am really happy that this addiction has taken hold within me.

Bikram yoga I like in part because of its predicability. It’s the same 26 poses in the same order every single class. And once a week, it is like going through a familiar List but never practicing it enough to become remotely competent at it. Plus its summer, super hot outside, super hot inside the class.

But … and isn’t there always a “but” in such paragraphs? I am considering adding a little extra time to my mornings, maybe arriving earlier since staying much after 7 and actually practicing alone is not really for me. I would much rather arrive even earlier than 5:30 than stay after 7, for reasons I cannot really puzzle out right now. But oh well; just another facet of my healing crazy brain. Either way, arriving at 5 instead of 5:30 is a very different than adding a 90 minute yoga class to the end of my day.

The reason I’m contemplating adding a little time to my gym time is for some cardio. Yes, I hate it. Yes, it is insanely boring to me. Yes, this is not particularly my idea. However, while I can push myself and my resistance training to get my heart rate up and such, I’m not sure I am building adequate endurance with the resistance training alone. M is big on endurance. M would love it if I would ride my bike with him on his 20 mile daily runs from time to time (so not happening). But still, maybe I could explore it. A little. And probably hate ever single second of it. That said, I adjusted to going to the gym every day and became addicted. The same could happen with an extra block of cardio.

Maybe.

I’m still mulling. Despite everything we chatted about today during our session and beyond, I neglected to discuss it with J for his thoughts. Because I’m still conflicted. And honestly, if I have an extra 30 minutes at the gym a few mornings each week there is my nemesis stable to work at and to practice. That sounds far more intriguing than going upstairs into cardioland.

I do not need to make decisions about it tonight or even this week. But I’m thinking about it and maybe test driving an earlier schedule to see how it works for me.

This is a fun week; I have some little surprises brewing. I have had to get uber creative about all the details for things coming up this week and next, but it is coming together. July is also sneaking up on me, which has an impact on my workload and schedule.

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