Monday morning and training with J. We are in the process of going through Dr. Spencer’s training plan for me, which is very different than what J and I have been doing. Still good, just different. J also adds in these active rests between exercise each exercise and keeps this in the ballpark of the peppier pace I’ve grown accustomed to trying to maintain.

This morning we did the following List (J’s additions are italicized):

A1. 1-arm DB Row (35 lb. DB, 4 sets, 8-12 reps)
A2. Bench Reverse Crunch (3 sets, 8-12 reps)
B1. Cable Seated Row (90 lbs., 4 sets, 8-12 reps)
B2. Anterior Reach (3 sets, 8-10/side)
C1. Wide Grip Front Lat Pulldown (90 lbs., 4 sets, 8-12 reps)
C2. Band Horizontal Hip Rotation (“Choppers”) (3 sets, 12-15 side)
D1. DB Pullovers (25 lb. DB, 4 sets, 8-12 reps)
D2. Seated DB Biceps Curl (15 lb. DBs, 4 sets, 8-12 reps)
E1. 1-arm DB Rear Delt Row (10 lb. DB, 3 sets, 8-12 side)
E2. Plank on DBs (2sets, 20-30 seconds)

This new body part splits thing is quite interesting. Of course, I am not practicing the training stuff we are doing right now on my own just yet. On my own I am pursuing J’s version of the same sort of thing, because there is a lot on those lists yet to learn and to master. Plus I have had the desire to try for 4 sets rather than just the usual 3, so in some ways it will be a game of beat the clock this week. Everyone needs a little challenge once in awhile.

In some ways the training of the last 9 to 12 months has turned me into this big giant confidence monster. And I kind of like it. This past weekend I did our favorite standard dumbbells versions 1 and 2 for maximum sets. It was tiring in the nicest possible ways, and my butt feels unforgiving for what I have put it through, but oh well. Between the curtsey lunges (mind overtook fingers and typed cursey lunges, which seems to be the way mind is viewing them) and the walking lunges – believe me, my glutes and legs in general have good reason to be unforgiving.

Then yakking with my friends on Saturday night – a few of them do crossfit and others do strength or resistance training of some fashion, or they run – of course we were talking exercise and training, comparing notes, talking about our gym experiences, high fiving on my potential hit on from the lab last Friday (see this post about that), laughing uproariously because I am still not sure it was that. In general we were talking about our routines and our training partners, and I was sharing how busy J is right now with one trainer out for a few months and him taking over a few of her group sessions as well as some of her individual training clients plus his manager asking him to do more coverage when other trainers are also out for scheduled things, etc. All this in addition to his own full roster of training clients and classes. One of my friends asked me what I would do if J had to trim his client list to accommodate all this other stuff going on in my gym right now (this has happened to her twice in 2 years), and I assured her with absolute confidence that I would be in the first “safe” lifeboat of clients he would keep. Without hesitation, doubt, or even a remote quiver of concern about it, I assured my posse that if J were forced to shed clients, my name would be among the last of the clients he would cut.

They were giggling at me, at my unshakeable and emphatic faith about this, remembering all too clearly a year ago and my agonizing over getting fired for client incompetence. I laugh about it now, too, because I have grown more stable and firm in my belief that our training partnership and its very solid foundational ground. Not because I am the “fun” client to train, or because I pay my training fees without a peep when it is time to purchase the next block of sessions, but because I show up on time, I work hard during our training hours, and I am in the gym regularly and consistently working at what I am learning. Okay, maybe I’m a little fun to train, and sure it must be nice not to have to “sell” me on the value of his services. But really, essentially it is because I am fully engaged in our training, take it seriously, and am trying to improve and get better at it.

Still, confidence monster says I have to take credit that I am kind of fun to hang out with during sessions. Our conversations can be entertaining, because it seems the TMI feature of my personality has been eliminated. While I am typically aware of who is around and perhaps able to overhear our idle chit-chat while I am slogging through whatever and J’s trainer eye is fully engaged, I have no particular filter about what comes out of my mouth or personal details I share with him. And very occasionally I wonder if I should have said that … *laugh* But oh well; he is an adult and surely has heard worse than my not-very-racy life and times. But I am also interested in J’s life and times outside the gym and actively listening to what he shares with me. Today he was telling me about a 21-year-old bottle of scotch I had given him (passed on to me last year when my friend died) and I had asked if it was good. And in that moment, I knew that there will be friends all over the world reading that and tearing at their hair, wondering how I could possibly voice such an inane question. It’s a 21-year-old McCallan, yes, but to me, non-drinker who dislikes the taste of alcoholic beverages, it is nothing more than overpriced lighter fluid (which, as friend J phrased it once when I said that about some glorious scotch he loves almost more than life itself, such blasphemy could earn me a special place in Hell and then I would learn the real purpose of lighter fluid … yeah, friend J takes his booze VERY seriously *laugh*).

But today was fun. Again. As always. What can I say? I am pretty easy to wow when it comes to training days, and I am typically in a good mood to start out with as well.  Today we went through back and biceps, and there was a few significant things worth highlighting.

The rows with 35 lb. dumbbells … maybe arms will be next body part to be unforgiving. I got through my sets of at least 8 reps, and I will drop back to 30 lbs. and maximum reps next I do them. Reverse crunches were intriguing, but so hard. Yet, it is so gratifying to know that I am stronger now, even if this ab stuff vexes me endlessly. I will get there, able to do these, and I will understand the entirety of it. Eventually. My new favorite word when it comes to training: eventually.

We ventured out into the more serious weight room to use the cable rowing machine. That was interesting; I am accustomed to the way an erg rowing machine feels and this is actually very different. More weight, obviously, and the little handles thing we used is a vertical hold rather than horizontal like a bar. I get the basic concept, but it will take me a few (dozen) more times to feel completely comfortable that I have the motion down correctly and am doing it right. I was listening to and feeling the back muscles working, but again, the motion is different than other rows we have done and it will take some time to acclimate.

Then … almost my favorite … the lat pulldown machine. This one is a single cable and used with the big wide bar. I have used the double one in the other room and enjoyed it, but this one was a single stack of weights and the hand positioning was much wider and felt completely different. If J had not told me what it was called, what muscle group should be working, I would have never guessed it was even in the same family as the other machine it felt so different to my arms and shoulders. Different neutral, neither bad nor good.

I have to stand on tippy toes to reach the bar, which is fine; I can do it. But at one point between sets J had switched the weight pin to show me how it can pull him off his feet if he is not paying close attention putting the weight stack down (because of course J moves LOTS more weight than I do). So when it was my turn to pull the bar down, it would not budge. Seriously, I thought I broke it somehow, or maybe it was stuck or something (but not really – my immediate reaction was that I had broken it). Nope, J had it set for 200 lbs. and I could not get that thing to move. The sense of “OMG! I’ve BROKEN something the first time I used it!” is not to be underestimated. I had a flash vision of me ostracized to a 24 Hour club somewhere because I could never, ever return to the whole chain of gyms much less my home club. I would be branded as that destructive member who breaks the weight machines.

And somewhere deep inside the recess of my brain where negative girl dwells, she smiled that evil smile of glee and laughed very loudly. Bitch.

On to the pullovers, which today was my absolute favorite. Maybe my arms had more oomph today, but usually moving the 25 lbs. to and fro becomes more challenging as we get deeper into the set. Today, though, it went smoothly and with no drama. I mentioned it to J and he said to tighten the abs and lats even further on the pulling up and over part, which did make the weight feel a lot heavier later in the set. But still good, all very good.

And for once I had minimal resentment toward the bicep curls. Honestly, I am the only person I know who is not crazy in love with these things, but there you have it – I do not enjoy or even like them all that much. For now, they are tolerable. But I was feeling very focused and as into them today as I ever get, because the whole day just seemed to be surfing on the happy buzz tide.

The 1-arm delt row was new and fun to learn. I always like new stuff where I can actually feel the difference between it and its similar set-up cousins. And while he snuck the planks in there on the written List, we did not do those today; next time, for sure. But those are coming up this week, because my I already have my List of the day planned for my 4 gym practice days this week. I am not sure yet who is teaching pilates on Sunday, but I will do that or yoga on Sunday. I feel as if I may finally be making some inroads on the ab stuff and need to keep the pressure and practice on it to at least stay even.

Thinking more about it now as I was writing this recap, I was kind of wrong about arms – back is the next body part to be cranky. And boy howdy can feel those cable rows and lat pulldowns squeaking back there. But oh well. Body is generally forgiving and will get over it, usually much sooner than mind lets go of such petty crimes.

One of the really cool things about blogging as long as I have been now is looking back and seeing where I was, what I was doing, what I was talking about in a prior year’s entry. It is telling, how different my headspace, how firmly entrenched I was in my positions and feelings and absolutely paralyzing fears regarding the exercise and the gym. No predictions about where I might be a year from now, because imagining being where I dwell right this minute was out of my reach a year ago. But I’m here. I’m hefting supersize (to me, anyway) dumbbells and idly wondering when in the future those might evolve into the newest normal.

As noted above, I have my practices planned for the remainder of this week, and I have back-up plans just in case equipment is occupied or some unusual occurrence befalls me at the gym. At 5 a.m., it is less likely but it does occasionally happen. But I am taking it for granted my alarm will go off at 3:45 and I will be strolling through the front doors of the gym tomorrow morning around 5 and going through my List of the day. It has just become part of my routine.

The days of contemplating quitting every single day are so far behind me I barely recognize that version of me. I was listening to Queen this weekend and thought this song perfect for where I am in my forward progress with exercise. It makes me happy to know that I think that, every single day, and how feverently I mean it. Maybe it’s my little plea to the universe to keep me safe, keep me from doing something stupid and falling prey to injury. I suppose I am enough of a fitness hobbyist now that I have developed my own little quirks related to my practices and training sessions.

And that, dear friends, is a Very Good Thing.

On the rest of the diet and overall health front, not everything is unicorns and rainbows. Sad, I know. But I am soldiering onward. Because it is MOSTLY extremely good.

Met with my newest Kaiser doctor today, to discuss test results and just how I am doing in the overall better health quest. The good news is my diabetes remains very well controlled without any drugs, and my A1c turnaround is nothing short of amazing to him, so that was super nice to hear. However, my thyroid seems to be wonky – something my former endocrinologist was watching but not yet to the point of action necessary.

Anyway, the new doc. He is very nice, but looks really, really young and does not have the doctor-ly confidence of someone who has been practicing awhile and has a lot of experience under his belt. And I have absolutely nothing against young. J is young. RD is young. I believe Dr. Spencer is also young. But unfortunately, I am finding myself more and more jaded about my numeric sequence in the whole Kaiser machine. If nothing else, I am enough of a spoiled princess that I require a bit more personalized service when it comes to my better health quest, and I am willing to put financial resources to acquire good advice and assistance that will help me move forward to improving and enhancing my overall health.

So today we discussed various things, including the thyroid readings. I need to have another ultrasound done (waiting for that referral to appear so I can schedule it), get my mammogram (oh joy), and get an eye scan. My blood pressure was mildly elevated this morning – I was a single point outside the normal range on the second reading – so I should keep an eye on that. Apparently my social anxiety is alive and well in new surroundings and with a new physician. What does that mean, doc? Do more cardio? Eat even less salt? Learn to like and drink red wine? Ugh.

I wanted to talk with him about what else I could or should do to drop weight. I mean, I get that it’s a number on the scale, but if Kaiser is going to give me grief about it, surely there should be some help to figure out how to get that scale moving, right? I exercise pretty vigorously every single day, far more than the “30 minutes of walking most days” recommended guidance given. My calorie count is pretty minimal – M thinks the 1200 range is too low and may be the culprit for my recent string of low blood sugar incidents, although he agrees limiting my carb intake is probably a good idea for me – and yet I am exchanging the same few pounds every so often. And this is why I have a hate-hate relationship with the scale. For the record, today I was down 3 lbs. from my last visit.

Dr. Spencer had suggested I discuss a low dose of a weight loss drug as jump-start solution, but today’s doctor would not even consider it – outside of Kaiser’s protocol because I am apparently not obese enough. That’s a good thing, I suppose. And he also suspects my wonky thyroid might be the next issue impacting my lack of scale movement. Okay, I can kinda/sort work with him on that, in that I will use the Kaiser resources that benefit me and leave the rest.

With that in mind, I am going to get my ultrasound done at Kaiser and then take the scan results to my former endocrinologist and ask for his opinion and thoughts on the topic. I get that I have insurance, but I have a high deductible plan. I do get some discount for services like labs and ultrasounds when they are done at Kaiser facilities, but some prescription drugs (when I was taking them) and visits with my physician do carry a pretty close to full retail fees until the deductible is met, and some of the items I used to have utilize for my diabetes management were actually more expensive at Kaiser pharmacies. So I have decided for the time remaining with Kaiser, I will utilize the services like lab tests, ultrasounds, mammograms  and such, but I will pay my physician fees to my former endocrinologist for thyroid diagnosis and medication, if needed, because I trust his judgment and expertise. It’s only a few more months; no way I will meet my Kaiser deductible unless something catastrophic happens (let us all knock on wood and pray nothing bad befalls me or M), so I will use my healthcare dollars more strategically. Which is today’s plan, anyway.

In the bigger picture, though, I am in overall good health, much better than this time last year. I will get to the bottom of the thyroid, continue my practices and training with J, and keep plugging away at my meal planning and real food eating with Dr. Spencer.

Not obese enough … hearing him say that still makes me smile. Kind of made my already excellent day just that much better.

Happy Monday everyone!

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