Thursday morning, and no training with J (vacation this week) and therefore no training recap. However, I was back to normal and at the gym this morning, working at my List of the day practice. And thinking, always thinking.
Today’s List was all about legs and abs (see here for the actual exercises). In some ways it was really, really tough and got me thinking about whether all Lists are created equal. (My final analysis … probably not.) It felt really challenging today and I am not exactly sure why, but I suspect it is more about new-ish exercises, return of things we’ve done before, and primarily increased weights.
I also added a little of my own filler because standing around doing the rest between sets felt really awkward and caused me to feel anxious. I know, me and my first world problems, but I am not great at the simultaneous multitasking required to work my List of the day and do the navel-gazing necessary to manage my anxiety. Trust me, I took plenty of rest pauses as I moved along, but I was practicing my crunches on the instability ball between the squats and the Romanian dead lifts and then reverse crunches (hate, hate, hate them) between the RDLs and the walking lunges. Would these have been J’s choices for filler? (And where is my WWJD bracelet this week when I really need it?) No idea. But left to my own devices I have to make it up as I move along. The crunches on the ball I like because now that I have discovered how to crunch my abs and not use my back it feels kinda good. The reverse crunches – I still kind of suck at these and am determined to make friends; they are resisting my overtures thus far, so trying continues.
The walking lunges – we just increased dumbbell weights from 15 lbs. to 20 lbs. in each hand, so I expected them to be more challenging. On the side lunge and pulse, though, I think I may have been using too heavy of a kettlebell. I got through the first set, but about halfway through the second set I was just done with the pulsing. I was disappointed in that, so much so it did not occur to me until just now to switch to the lighter KB. Next time I will remember.
My bigger successes today were with updated, early list exercises – the double-banded glute bridge and the push-up position planks. The glute bridges we worked at a lot in 2015 and have set aside through much of this year. They returned a couple of weeks ago with the double mini bands to make it more challenging. Frankly, just doing the glute bridges with proper form is damn challenging enough. But I’m getting better at it. I went through 3 sets of 30 today thinking nothing but pelvic tilt and tight-tight-tight abs along with the glute squeeze all while pressing out against those double mini bands. It is probably even less fun than it sounds, and believe me I’m feeling every single one of those bad boys in my abs. Going slowly, thinking about it every single one of them and I think I mostly have it down now. Resisting the urge to arch my back while elevating hipbones seems to require all my unoccupied focus.
The push-up position planks – I think I’m getting better. List says 20+ seconds, so I did 2 per set of 30 second holds, hoping that if I collapsed I would make it past the 20+ seconds mark at least 1 of 2 tries per set. Surprisingly, I did okay at 30 seconds; the dumbbells that keep my wrists straighter make a huge difference to me. Again, the cueing soundtrack in my head about tightening abs and keeping hips level … I still hear it now. To distract myself I started pondering whether or not anyone has ever had their lower legs put to sleep while planking with double mini bands wrapped around them (not removed between the glute bridges and the planks; huge hassle to get them off and back on). I was trying to decide whether or not it would be more embarrassing to be trying to stand up on completely numbed lower legs or explaining what I had done to myself to cause this issue. At the end of the 3 sets, I decided both were equally bad and thank goodness no such problem actually befell me.
Clamshells and band rotation presses seemed almost easy-peasy compared to the rest of my practice. Almost. I hesitate to every say anything exercise is easy-peasy because J could be reading and deciding to clobber me with something a lot more challenging.
But back to my original thoughts about whether Lists are created equal.
I tend to think of it as comparing apples and oranges, because various body parts have different functions and attributes and by design different levels of strength and weakness. Just like me and all the other tribe members. I do so admire the power lifting ladies, but their focus is different than my own. I’m chasing better health, which is in my case not just a nice euphemism for losing weight, something that came up yesterday in a FB live conversation with Dr. Spencer. Better health is a big giant mixed bag of goodies that does include weight loss, but in the priorities list it is most definitely lower on my list of things I think about in the bigger exercise picture.
I’m genuinely grateful to have transformed my mindset to the point where I typically enjoy not only my training sessions but also my practice days. That said, some are definitely better than others. Today was mostly so-so, but still at least 110% better than a year ago. Still, not every day can be rainbows and sunshine. What is intriguing to me today is that I am actually feeling fitter right now. My judgmental heart rate monitor (which suffered an unfortunate and very tragically terminal accident) was showing steady decline in my resting heart rate. When I woke up this morning my sleeping heart rate was either 61 or 69 – the wide disparity is because I forgot to write it down. Sitting here quietly at my desk and writing this it’s reading 70 BPM, so that sounds pretty good to me.
But I do not want to get lost in the weeds of technology and lose sight of just getting into the gym and hauling myself around to and fro. The measurements are gratifying – I recall when I started this it was 88 or 89 and I thought that not horrible, until M told me his was at 41 or something, at which time I crashed back to my own earthly reality. I freely admit it is nice to have some validation and tangible measurement that I am more fit than once upon a time. It solidifies my focus on continuing my march to at least maintain my gains if not move forward to a new plateau.
Another pondering in this morning’s slog was whether improving skills with body equates to better mind’s more positive outlook and attitude. Or is it better attitude and focus in mind equals improving skills with body? I know they go hand-in-hand, but could I have one without the other? Do I really want to try and experiment to find out? No thank you. I was working hard to keep myself focused on the exercise and distracted from thinking unproductive thoughts about how much I wished to be doing something other than the business at hand this morning. Still, I was amazed to look at the clock as I was finishing my last set to find that it was 6:50, reminding why I should always allot the full 2 hours and not dilly-dally at home and arrive later than planned.
The dilly-dallying at home this morning related to food and preparing meals. The only way I seem to be capable of sticking with my healthy eating resolve is to basically to eat the same template meals over and over and over again. It makes me hugely boring, but oh well.
I find my challenges with food so much more vexing than the exercise. Now that I seem to have worn a groove into my schedule where exercise happens, it’s not so problematic. Diet, for all my familiarity with what I should be doing and how I should be eating, remains an ongoing issue. Work gets overwhelming and I am eating more than I should of less desirable foods. Trying to eat lesser carbohydrates is an uphill battle for the carb-loving person. Trying to incorporate more protein – I’ve been at this for months and still feel as if I am falling short. But at least I do not have to count calories or weigh and measure food – I am now experienced enough to be able to eyeball and be close on quantities – it’s more keeping myself on track with the protein and carb balance.
For all my weenie-whining about it, though, I am making some slow, steady progress. It’s just frustrating that I make this so much more difficult than it is or probably has to be. Bad food habits are so hard to break. We have emptied our pantry of carby snacks more than once, and somehow or another these things seem to jump off shelves and into grocery baskets. M is a grown man, and I am not going to tell him he cannot have food he likes because it may be irresistible to me. If things are mostly normal and not terrifically overwhelming, I can easily resist. In this tenuous time with wedding (3 weeks away tomorrow) and the accompanying hoopla of social engagements ass well as work-related socializing … it’s crazy stressful for someone like me for whom socializing is like a third job that I am still undergoing on-the-job training to try and master. It is actually no wonder I am not eating chocolate by the pounds or drinking some of the booze that has found its way into my hands and then handed off to someone else in my own tribe.
Ugh. Boozy-schmoozy summer is winding down, thankfully. It has been a lot of fun overall, and I have had the good fortune to meet a lot of interesting people, make some new business contacts, and eaten some amazing bbq chicken and potato salad, which tasted fabulous and yet is ultimately crappy for me and my low-carb eating. Oh well. It’s almost over and should this happen again next summer (likely), I will hopefully have solidified my coping mechanisms and advance planning to get through it.
On the bright side, the swag I collect has been finding its way to good homes. And friends appreciate my sharing.