When I began this post before work this morning, I had some specific things I wanted to talk about. Then I got to the office (a rare Tuesday appearance) and found even more to talk about. How to choose, how to choose. But it’s me. I routinely write long posts and include everything spinning around inside my head. Why stop now? Away we go!
Unicorns and rainbows are the lexicon for the good stuff in life. Maybe nothing mainstream, or even high priority, breaking news. Simple things that are deeply meaningful to me that have happened to or for me or someone close to me. As I remarked to trainer J after yesterday’s recap, open a vein and glitter falls out. It this context, glitter bombing is good, because it is a wonderful thing to feel happy and content.
One of my besties had an awful, unfortunate experience yesterday, and this after a truly horrific entire month of May. Where I have had to live with negative girl, she has anxiety girl. When this unexpected and uncomfortable interaction occurred yesterday, not that long ago it would have resulted in a panic attack. Not really her fault; triggers and behavior patterns are part of each of our lives, some far less desirable than others. However, she’s been doing the hard work to overcome and break this particular pattern, and yesterday, she had her first genuine triumph. Rather than get upset and panic, she stayed calm, recognized the wrongness of the situation, and got justifiably angry instead. Still calm, she handled it firmly and professionally, and then took the necessary steps to file a formal complaint to ensure it does not happen again to someone else. The situation has been resolved to her satisfaction.
I am not sure my vocabulary is expansive enough to express how proud I am of her for handling this without meltdown or guilt after the fact. My hope is this success bolsters her confidence and self-esteem and the feeling of this success stays with her into the future. She reacted appropriately and kicked ass. So very pleased for and proud of her.
The law firm’s fiscal year ends June 30, so it is a busy time for me closing the books and getting stuff ready for the tax accountant, etc. July is also when year-end reviews are conducted, promotions and salary adjustments announced. This also makes it a busy time for me. This firm utilizes a performance review process I personally and particularly hate – the self evaluation. Those were due on July 7, and I procrastinated, wrote, edited, rewrote mine, and finally emailed it in at 5 p.m. the day it was due. I am typically not like this. Typically I am get it done, get it turned in, cross it off my to-do list person. But self-evaluations … ugh. I hate them.
However, knowing this is what they do, I have kept track of good things I have done or accomplished since joining the firm. The list seems modest to me, but singing my own praises is extraordinarily unnatural and foreign for me. I had to keep it objective and not fall all over myself apologizing for pointing out what an amazing addition and how smart they were to snap me up. *shudder*
I had no direct reports this year, having fired my former receptionist recently and just hired another. I did, however, have to provide input on the legal assistant’s reviews as well as write evaluations of my bosses as bosses. Surprisingly not at all awkward for me, because anything I would say in an evaluation I have said to their faces in meetings or put in writing through the months. But the senior associates and I share responsibility of compiling the evaluations for the partners and just present it to them as a package. Needless to say, this whole process consumes a fair amount of time. It all has to be done by the end of the month in order for bonuses earned to be paid and salary adjustments to be updated in the payroll system in August.
My review was this morning, and it went better than I expected. Of course, I have a lot of trepidation going into these things, even though it has been decades since I received anything close to a detrimental or negative review from any employer or boss. Negative girl still has real estate in some domains, I suppose. Partners had very nice to absolutely glowing things to say, gave me a surprising bonus (because I just got one), and rather than a salary adjustment, agreed to absorb the cost of changing my health insurance plan for M and I. While I am not so altruistic that I work for free, cost of health insurance continues to increase and psychologically I would rather not have to contribute to that premium. So that was wonderful. I do work very hard here, and my employers cannot be faulted for their generosity toward their employees. Unless you are extremely greedy and stupid employee, which I am not. Anymore I never cry at work, but they were so kind in their review I did get emotional and a little teary. Much better than the alternative of not being able to control the waterworks because I am so angry.
In yesterday’s recap I spoke of my allowing external measurements to control my feelings about my better health quest. The scale, the statistics on my judgmental heart rate monitor, the food tracking, even the amount of weight I am moving about to and fro in the gym – all those numbers tend to stack up and become distressing if I allow it. After a couple of weeks of battling the scale and preparing to chuck it into the trash from simple distaste for what it says to me repeatedly, I hopped on this morning with a better frame of mind and it said nice things – down 2 lbs. No idea where they went, those 2 lbs., but okay, looks and sounds wonderful today. And if they mysteriously reappear at some point in the future, I will not die from it or probably even be horrifically disappointed. The equation of food and weight and utilization through exercise and the day-to-day business of living remains this big giant mystery. Far better to take it on faith that I’m doing what I should be doing and release any worry over the final outcomes. And stay off the scale as much as possible.
I have been experimenting with adding vegetables to afternoon protein shakes, only I pulverize them in the Vitamix at home and then put them into a shaker bottle to consume at work later. J had mentioned frozen broccoli, which I tried over the weekend in lieu of spinach, and it was surprisingly okay. No real flavor, the broccoli is just bulkier than the spinach. I also tested frozen green beans, because I do not care for the way they taste when prepared and served per package directions, and again, it was okay. Not an “oh goodie! Raw vegetable-infused protein drink!” type experience, but not terrible either. When you’re mixing with fruit as well the vegetable flavor is neatly hidden beneath the berries.
Not yet ready to follow trainer J down the vegan path, but I am definitely eating more vegetables these days and I suspect that may be part of what is finally nudging the scale along again. I am perfectly fine dropping weight in quarter pound increments as long as I remain healthy, but I really wish body would broadcast its intentions so I learn to manage my expectations. I have done well with no goals, so perhaps it is time to adopt a no expectations mindset to match. From there I can be truly amazed at how much progress I successfully achieve.
Today I ventured forth on my first legs workout for the body part splits. And it went surprisingly well. I am not sure why I say it that way, except this is a new style of training for me and I have been somewhat hesitant about venturing forth and trying it out on my own. Plus those seemingly endless walking lunges – they are exhausting all on their own. But I had been chatting with friend J last night about other matters and it came up, and he strongly encouraged me to give it a try on my own. Per his reasoning, if I got skittish and felt like it was not working, I could easily switch back to familiar territory of another List. After all, it’s been months since I have a genuine, freaked-out meltdown about gym stuff, so maybe I was due. Ha. Ha.
Sorting through my Lists this morning, J skipped over to check in with what I was working on. Tuesday is leg day anymore, and while I felt a little hesitant about this Dr. Spencer version of legs, I really wanted to overcome whatever was wigging me and not be such a baby about it. I have not felt like this in months, and I have no idea where this sudden gym crazy came from all of a sudden.
I figured out that on the squat machine, the number 13 plate is actually 160 lbs. That was a surprise to me, because I did not have any particular problem with that weight. Same with the leg presses at 250 lbs. Neither of these machines will qualify as the easiest things I will do today, but it was not this big giant struggle and wondering if I am crazy to try and repeat this on my own. It went fine. Once I got started, everything was fine. The anterior dives, the 3 point touches, even the bench planks with the glute kickback worked out well, although my legs, hips, and ass muscles are all talking at once right now. The swearing in my head did not start until the walking lunges, and they seemed endless because I was using the short route that requires 4 sets of out and back to make minimum reps.
And I feel ridiculously proud of myself for *mostly* getting through this entire list on my own without varying from weights I had used in training with J. By the time I got to the hamstring curl machines I just could not face figuring out the adjustments for some relatively new machine, so I pulled out the mat and the stability ball and did hamstring curls that way. Since they were not on the List of the day and I was substituting, I did a lot of them, like 30 per set for 3 sets. Between sets I dragged body off the mat, where it wanted to just stay sprawled out and recovering energy, and did crunches on the instability ball. Going rogue, off the List, but oh well. I am such a rebel.
But the very BEST part of the whole day? Working on the nemesis stable and planking on the dumbbells and actually getting each one elevated off the floor for a hot nanosecond.
Let me back up to put this into context. A few weeks ago we were working on the body part splits in the normal fashion, and J showed me how to plank on this pair of 5 lb. dumbbells. Changed my life and the way I look at planks, because suddenly it was not so awful on my hands and wrists. But J wanted me to try lifting said dumbbells off the floor, and it was so not happening. And it IS damn hard, so I was not desperately crushed about my current inability. I am barely strong enough to support myself on a single hand and lower myself down to elbows on the mat from this position, much less lift a 5 lb. dumbbell in any sort of controlled fashion while planking.
But I have been working at it. Mind is ordering body to do this, and body is laughing hysterically in response. So it is as much an exercise in patience as anything else. In prior attempts I have gotten the dumbbell to scooch forward half an inch, but until today that was about as close as I came to actually successfully lifting it. Until today. Today I actually got it up off the ground that half inch (I am guessing; no ruler available in the moment to be sure) before immediately plopping it back down. Both sides. Once. And it was glorious. As I said, not pretty, completely without control, but at least I am making some tiny half-inch progress toward someday.
Hey, it’s the little things that make me ridiculously happy. I thought I was pretty happy about successfully leg pressing 250 lbs. for 12 reps per set for 4 sets, but then that half inch thing happened and the leg press was so 8 hours ago.
Perplexing to me why I was suddenly nervous about doing this List today, but whatever cropped up inside my head, it subsided completely once I got started on the work. It is as if I stepped off the curb and into an alternate reality where I methodically follow my List map through the range of things I do, most of which I know pretty well. I think the way it is written and done, I have some fear of giving up too soon with such a big portion of the same exercise all at once. Until now everything has been broken up into more bite-sized pieces, and suddenly I am doing something really hard, then something that seems not so bad, then back to the challenging part, and back and forth until its all done. Without J standing there to keep me on track, I have the occasional niggling fear that I am about to revert to former patterns and habits of abandoning experiences. But I did not. I am adapting and becoming someone with new persistence and better habits. Progress.
I am truly, madly, deeply in love with that alternate exercise reality. It is a mostly happy place, and I only say “mostly” because even I have my moments where I do not want to work that hard even though I know it is very good for both the body and the soul.
There are things in my life I am enormously proud of – my children, my relationship with M, my ability to earn a living and be the sole financial support for us at this time in our lives, the friendS I have retained through the years, the overall person I am despite the hardships and handicaps I started out with in life. But now I am pleased and not-so-secretly proud of my persistence in this realm where I have never, ever in my life felt successful before – exercise. I am still not graceful, and the buffies in the club have
little nothing at all to fear from me, but I am going every day and I am trying working hard at improving. On its own merits that is intensely satisfying in ways previously not imagined. Taken in the context of the myriad of big and small ways its has transformed my whole world, it is truly priceless. M still talks about running this way, and finally, I get it. Certainly better now than never.
Talking to friend J on the phone last night,
he was grilling me we were talking about exercise and all the other stuff going on in our lives, and I shared with him trainer J’s comment about the positivity (“This is the longest crescendo of positivity I’ve ever witnessed ….”) in my recent posts. Friend J referred to it (my relentless escalation of positive commentary in recent months) somewhat derisively as “glitter bombing” and now I have delightedly adopted that as my new happy-happy-joy-joy expression. Totally love it. Really, it truly is the little things in my life that make me so ridiculously and relentlessly happy.
And somewhere in upstate New York, friend J is reading this post and face palming for supplying me with yet another phrase he already hates.
Happy Tuesday everyone!