To any and all readers outside the US, July 4 is Independence Day here, and I wanted to choose a song title that reflects that for today’s training recap. In no way do I wish to be exclusionary or offensive; it’s just a unique day and celebration for us. And … to prove I am in my darkest hearts a really mean girl, I sent this country music song to friend J, knowing (1) he HATES country music, especially this particular style of country music, (2) he is hungover after a wild weekend, and (3) in his bleary-eyed and weakened state he would not be capable of resisting the urge to open it. The text I received in reply completely, totally makes my week:

Screenshot 2016-07-04 08.10.31

We shall now continue with our regular training recap program.

So it’s a holiday, yet trainer J and others were in the gym working away with clients. I went for a rare, midday appointment, because I am never in the gym at this time of day. But really, it was for the luxury of being the final appointment of J’s workday and therefore a nice, leisurely session without feeling pressured by his next appointment, so I brought him a Jamba Juice because sometimes I am nice. There were a few new things on today’s List, too, so the extra time is always helpful.

Our List today:

  • Triceps DB Extensions
  • DB Bent Over Rows
  • Mini Band Abductions
  • Mini Band Kickbacks
  • Seated Cable Rows (extra stretch)
  • Bench Triceps Dips
  • DB Alt. Upright Rows from hang
  • Pushups off Bench
  • 1-arm DB Rows
  • Standing DB French Press
  • Tubing Squat to Rows
  • Low-to-High Band Choppers
  • Seated Alt DB Press
  • Alt Band Archers
  • DB Clean and Press from SB
  • DB Overhead Flyes

I began my day with a yoga class with some of my friends. It was 60 minutes of stretching in the hot room and an unusual way to start my day. But it has its benefits and made me happy; yoga is as much a social event as an adventure in exercise anymore. We had breakfast afterwards, and it was not that hard to resist the allure of pancakes or a waffle and going for a heart healthy egg white omelette instead and some fresh fruit (love my strawberries).

From there I did some work-work at home and then met with J for our Monday training at noon. And it was so much fun. It was exhausting. It was hard work. But it was still so much fun. I love training days. But regular readers already know that.

Most of the new exercises are probably manageable on my own in practice. A few – those tricep dips – I may be working up to the rep range. Or taking a rest pause (or 2 … or 3) during the set to make it to the minimum rep range. But along with other things that bug the crap out of me because of my present inability to just do them smoothly and without a lot of in-my-head profanity, I am determined to overcome them.

And I just realized that J may have removed the t-stabs from this List. Not crying in my broccoli (sorry, eating dinner as I type this), but I do remember having issues with those bad boys and figuring they were going to take some work.

A big perk today was meeting this power lifting lady that J has been coaching for a couple of years now. A few months ago he had shared her recent triumph with a new PR at a show, and I was dazzled by the mere idea of a woman my age doing such a fantastic feat. I mean, how many women do I know that can deadlift 292 lbs.? Precisely zero, until today. I think I may have been a little awestruck, because I know what it’s taken to get me to where I am and cannot even fathom the idea of doing what she does and has done. While I do not aspire to the same lofty goals, I can definitely appreciate the discipline and effort involved and I am hugely impressed by someone starting at the same place I did and now being so competent and strong to do that sort of lifting. Frankly I still look at the big bars and wonder how people heft them to and fro without any weight on them much less actually use them.

So that was a big thrill for me. I was already in a very cheerful mood – I’m probably going to burn for how much I enjoy tormenting friend J – and being introduced to her made it even better. I love my regular people role models. I am evolving into a total fan-girl.

As for my own evolving exercise complexities, the latest block series we’re doing – some of it is new, some of it is stuff I know. But done faster, with different weights, quick-quick-quick makes it feel like a whole new cardio-like workout. But each block is only 4 exercises long, 4 blocks per list, and somehow it seems easier and more pleasant to go through this way. Or maybe it’s just my excitement and sometimes relief when a block is finally done and I can move onto something else. I do notice the time it consumes, though; my efficiency with the new world order as well as newer exercises makes my overall pacing slower. But from prior experience I know I will improve, get better, and the timing will settle down into a more manageable period of time. I think with the 2 hour block I am pushing myself to allocate I will be settle into and be able to do my 3 sets.

And that’s another thing I have to keep reminding myself when it comes to how much time my workouts are consuming each morning: I am doing 3 sets every day instead of my prior habit of 2 sets during the week and 3 sets on weekends. No matter how hard I work at this exercise stuff, I am apparently still capable of extreme doofus moments.

So funny (in the amaze-balls sense of the word) how things change. I love training days; it’s so gratifying to learn new things, have a mixture of new exercises and exercises I already know mixed up and fooling my brain into believing it’s a new List, or review day of Lists we have already gone through. I love it all. J is a fabulous trainer and wonderful company that makes the time pass quickly, of course, so that helps enormously. If he were grim and robotic and single-mindedly focused on critique and correcting every little thing, probably I would not enjoy it so much; it would be a death march under a sadistic commander. But he’s not like that, and I do very much enjoy our sessions. More important than that, though, is that I look forward to practice days. I am actually quite excited about tomorrow and being back in the gym and doing something, although I suspect t’s going to be the Leg list. Even working at my nemesis stable or Lists with more stuff I do not have an abundance of warm fuzzier for, being there and systematically going through my practice is still something I look forward to each morning. How cool is that?

The change in attitude comes partly from familiarity; I have achieved some success and mastery over lots of things. The relative intensity of pain associated with exercise these days makes it a lot more pleasant to return to try again. Even though the Lists we are going through right now each have some something that I struggle through, struggle with, swear profusely inside my head (because it’s rude to subject other members to my potty mouth while they are trying to do their thing). And yet as knocked down as I sometimes feel at the end of a practice, I can feel myself climbing back up and giving the List a hard stare while I formulate plans for our next go-round.

I could not imagine this happening for me. I swear, I was the girl who would say “sweaty and gross” holding her nose and gesturing toward the bathroom and the shower. Now, I come home every day and make beeline for the shower, but it is a new kind of gratifying to recognize those are MY clothes all drenched and sweaty and gross. Those are MY trophies of how hard I worked and the effort expended at this exercise stuff.

And that’s another thing – seems like the farther I get into this exercise stuff the sweatier my sweaty and gross becomes. I always thought the opposite would happen, that I would somehow sweat less. No idea where that thought came from, because M, very fit M, sweats buckets, even in the middle of our winters and in his cold gear. Sweats. Buckets. Drips on the floor type buckets. J says the same thing, that he sweats a great deal, and he is very fit as well.

It’s a new kind of crazy for me. It’s so not the me I remember and thought I knew so well. She was pretty swell overall, but I like me now so much better. And I say that with a depth of sincerity that still shocks the hell out of me. Is it really me saying so cavalierly that hey, I like myself so much better now? Is that me writing about coming home every day sweaty and gross, yet smiling and happy about it?

Who are you and what have you done with the real me?

Once upon a time I thought of renaming this blog to “Try Hard to Like Myself,” only that brought too many of my darker, negative, traumatic and terrifying memories that have shaped me to light. I realize there are always going to be Very Bad Things in my life that make me feel inhuman and ashamed. There are also always going to be events that make me wince and wish for a do-over. But since I cannot change the past and the history that has shaped me into who I am today, I have to keep my eyes forward and on the next big thing. Which could possibly be everything push-up. Or something else vexing me, like yoga. While not the strongest or most capable trainee in the gym, I like it a lot and therefore find it easier to overlook the gaps between where I am right now and where I will be next week, next month, several months from now. If I liked yoga this much, if it had captured me as completely as this resistance training stuff, I would likely be spending my early mornings in Bikram class not caring that I am not a naturally flexible, bendy person. While it is fine for a Friday night, or the occasional holiday morning, it’s not what makes me say wow! or my real, true exercise love. (It seems such a complete turnaround for me to even suggest I have a real, true exercise love.) My bread and butter is apparently going to be at the gym, and I’m okay with that. And to be absolutely transparent, I feel as if I can slack a little on yoga class and even pilates on Sunday in ways that I regret doing when I am in the gym and working at a List. Yoga is always a secondary practice and pilates is technically my respite day. Somehow it makes it okay to back off if I am not feeling it. But I try to ensure I have the energy and my head is in the mental game before stepping foot into the hot room. I am not always successful.

Saturday I was telling M, very excitedly, do you see this new little round part at the top of my arm? I don’t think  that was there before. M, now accustomed to these conversations and new discoveries I am making, always nods sagely and reassures me that yes, he sees it, and yes, it was there before but not as prominent or defined. I am like – are you sure it was there before? I mean, it seems brand new to me. M assures me I have always had that muscle. This is one of my many quirky behaviors since starting my better health journey. I cannot even begin to remember all the times I would notice a little muscle on J’s arm or leg while he demonstrated an exercise and I would wonder if I have some tiny, invisible muscle in the same place as well. If I were anyone else I would likely be humiliated by admitting my ignorance, but I am so far beyond such concerns.

Poor M. He is probably wondering where I was when the basic anatomy section of brains was handed out. But really, I get that we were probably all granted the same standard muscle equipment. Now that I am taking steps to care for myself more proactively, my muscles are finally starting to show up a little more regularly. It’s like Christmas morning and I have new stuff to share.

Honestly, it’s the littlest, silliest things.

And it has been a most wonderful, rewarding day, the best 4th of July I have enjoyed in years. Got some administrative work for my business done and cleared for the month (invoicing for June work, paying business bills). Lots of fun today for M on a run with friends, me at both yoga with my pals and training with J. Good food for dinner (grilled steak for me, M had salmon). Now a nice, relaxing wind-down for our evening.

Holidays should always be this low-key and without the weight of expectations.

On the diet and eating front, I am reaffirming my commitment to healthier eating, eat more protein, working on carb cutting, and all the good stuff that I have kinda/sorta not been keeping up with as closely as I should. Today has been good – lots of fresh fruits, lean meat, and possibly a little extra dependence on protein shake supplementing, but oh well. Not every day begins with yoga and has training at noon, so I can be forgiving and not panic and freak out over my having to bridge some gaps for convenience.

The new diet/health coach I am working with suggested I have my thyroid checked, so that request was emailed to my latest primary doctor to order along with my other lab tests. My former endocrinologist that left Kaiser? He’s now partnering up with my former non-Kaiser endocrinologist, so I’ll be seeing him again fairly soon when I seek out second opinions on my diabetes management, etc. I suspect I may get some push-back from Kaiser on the thyroid thing, but my I have had ultrasounds for the last 2 years before this and know my former doc was watching the nodules contained therein. No action necessary as of last October, but I’m going to request the test to see what if anything has changed. The thing with Kaiser is that I’m really learning that I need to advocate for myself, so I appreciate my village and their advice on what things I need to request and fight for.

After all, if he orders the test, I can just take my results to my second opinion consultation with the endocrinologists and ask them what they think and get some direction for pushing for what I need to protect my health interests. It feels like dealing with Kaiser is more exhausting than working with J today, and believe me, I worked hard and was feeling it when I walked out of the gym.

It really has been a fantastic day and weekend for us, and I hope the same is true for all of you.


6 thoughts on “Training #53 – Only in America

  1. Good for you! Sounds like the exercising is kicking in those extra endorphins!! 🙂 You have me contemplating hiring a personal trainer – I’m 50 pounds over weight & am not doing a good enough job on my own in the gym. Enjoy your day & the week ahead!

    1. I highly recommend hiring the RIGHT personal trainer for you, and while I got extremely lucky getting matched with J, it does not always work out so well. In the past I’ve hired others and found the experience to be more detrimental than helpful, so definitely talk to them, ask if they have any sort of complimentary introductory sessions or small packages to test drive their services. If you know anyone locally who uses a trainer, ask for a referral.

  2. As I said before you and J are the perfect match for each other trainer/client wise and tribe wise. I think many people are afraid to actually work with a trainer ..that it would be to hard or you wont feel that connection. J always sounds like he has your best interest at heart and that he is not thinking about the next client, but is instead focusing on you and your progress. Your a good team. 🙂

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