Monday morning, training with J. I must confess I was not feeling much like it this morning, kind of low energy funked out, just not wanting to be at the gym and pushing through to some other level.

But what I know is that no matter how crappy or cranky I feel walking into the gym, I will feel better after making myself get busy with my training session or my practice. Even if I have a craptastic feeling training or practice performance, my outlook and my attitude will be better. Whether it is because I count on that to become reality or blind faith that makes it so, it happens every time. My occasions of feeling less than stellar when I arrive for training are rare, but they do still happen. Shaving sleep, as I have been the last couple of weeks, is not my friend.

Today was all about shoulders and refining form. What we did today:

A1. Seated (slightest incline) Shoulder Press (DB) (15 lb. DBs, 4 sets, 8-12 reps)
A2. Band Low-High Chopper (3 sets, 12-15 reps)

B1. Incline Bench Press (DB) (30 lb. DBs, 3 sets, 8-12 reps)
B2. Band High to Low Chopper (3 sets, 12-15 reps)

C1. Standing 1-arm DB Snatch (15 lb. DB, 3 sets, 8-12/side)
C2. Band Horizontal Chopper (or Resist Rotation Press Hold) (3 sets, MAX)

D1. 1-arm DB Lateral Raise-“Throws” (10 lb. DB, 3 sets, 8-12/side)
D2. Band ABC Band Extensions (3 sets, MAX)

E1a. Rope Facepull (40/50 lbs., 3 sets, 12-20 reps)
E2a. Band Pull-aparts (3 sets, MAX)  OR
E1b. Machine Rear Delt (3 sets, 8-15 reps)

I am super-duper happy about today, and not just for overcoming my initial cranky. One of the amazing things about training, even after this much time and twice weekly meetings, I learn new things about the exercises we have been doing for many, many months there are still refinements and adjustments and improvements to be made. Or even heavier dumbbells to be utilized. Despite sometimes (still) feeling like refinements and adjustments and improvement should not be needed after this much training and practice, it is somehow gratifying to know that there is still more learning to be done. I certainly do not expect to be perfect at this stuff, and even now I get mixed up with my footing or stance.

But oh well. My inability to remember details varies from day to day, session to session. I view this ability to accept this without a complete, total, nuclear bomb-level freak out as pretty wowy thing. In some ways it’s a big part of why I feel successful with sticking with a consistent exercise routine this time around.

Part of this I attribute to J, a year-plus of sessions, and a genuine trust in his skills and abilities as a trainer. I work hard ever week, for sure, and the day I stop learning something in our sessions is the day J will likely fire me or set some different objectives and a new direction. But that is truly a long way from here and not something I dwell upon.

As the hours in this day have passed, I can feel my upper body and shoulders expressing themselves. Not badly, no whining or complaining; just kind of like “we know what you did to us this morning and are reminding you of it.” Such is what happens just about every day no matter what I do or am doing. And it feels extraordinarily satisfactory. Anymore, I have more anxiety about what happens if I don’t do something exercise-like every single day.

I love the way body feels. And despite it’s recent glitches in memory, I love the way mind feels sharper and more awake and alert.

On the shoulder press, J and I did a standing version for the first 2 sets to take look at my shoulder mobility. It is not quite there yet, or not to the point that I can perform the movement correctly without doing a bit more back bend than is appropriate for correct form. We switched third set to the seated shoulder press and all was well. All was not terrible or bad as far as the standing version, but for right now the seated version is at the present time safer for me. It was an intriguing review and test for me, and I find myself ridiculously happy to have tried it and learned this new thing about me and my progress. There will come a time in the future when I may do better with the standing version, but that time was not quite today. J told me the first day we met that there are so many different ways to perform exercises, so I am not at all worried or thinking I have failed or even faltered.

The band low-high choppers have been vexing me lately, most likely because of my improper foot placement. I have no idea when I mixed them up – probably sometime in the last month since the last time we went through this particular List. It is obviously so much better when feet are positioned correctly.

So the standing 1-arm dumbbell snatch was the first of 2 new exercises that seemed complicated and different. While J was away on vacation, I went through this routine and ended up dropping down in weight to get through the series. At the time I turned to friend J for advice and he was all about lower weight, slower movement, listen to body, etc. So that”s what I have done and it’s been okay. Reviewing today, J recognized what I was doing wrong in going too far back. Now that I have a better handle on the basic movement pattern, I am far more excited about this and looking forward to Wednesday to try it again. A new favorite may be born. Or maybe I should allow myself a favorite (or 2) per list. It my List, I can have a favorites stable as well as a nemesis stable.

We did band horizontal choppers today I am certain, but they are not terribly memorable in my mind. I think probably paired with the dumbbell snatch my focus was still on all that entailed while doing this chopper part of this sequence. Doing low, high, and horizontal choppers does tend to kick-ass on elevating the heart rate.

The second complicated and different exercise on this list is the 1-arm DB Lateral Raise “Throws” that inspired a whole series of emails back and forth with friend J while trainer J was away. It gave him a tiny taste of what J goes through every week with probably all his clients. I over-corrected on the keep the arm in front of the body and the shrug, my old friend, was coming to call again. We went through it today and I now have a much clearer understanding of where I was going wrong and why. I think is my second new favorite, because I feel so much more successful with it.

The ABC band extensions are challenging. Flat out, they take a lot of whole-body type energy. I feel especially weak at these, like my max – shooting for, hoping for at least 8 – is kind of a wimpy effort on my part and typically includes a heavy-breathing rest pause to finish what my judgment says is an appropriate set. While I am mostly succeeding in removing my self-reproaching judgment from the exercise equation, I am not 100% at the effort just yet.

While I have been doing the rope facepulls (on the cable machine) for several months now and for the most part I feel pretty successful with it, going through it today I find that I need to step up my game and reevaluate my focus on what seems like zillions of small movements involved while going through these. Whether it was these or a combination of everything we did today, I can still feel them this many hours later. And I am still thinking about them, this many hours later. It’s always the deceptively simple movement that end up sticking in my mind long after the session or the practice has concluded.

Or perhaps they could have been coupled with band pull aparts to make me feel like I did some really good work. I do love these things, because it’s just feels like a nice long stretch at the end of the List.

Wednesday I will try the rear delt machine upstairs. J tells me that machine is functional even while out of service; I do not require the front chest pad. Hopefully I will remember all its fine little details as well.

I do love my training days, and I really love review days. Every week as I am writing these recaps I idly wonder if J gets bored going through the same Lists with me and his other clients. Realistic, practical me believes yes, he must on occasion, because no one ever loves their job all the time. Or maybe it’s other aspects of the job – the staff meetings, the management practices, the other bullshit that comes from being attached to a larger corporate environment – that make his job a less happy place. However, as time has passed I have softened my stance that I could never do that job. While J and any other trainer in the whole wide world has nothing to fear from me becoming competition in that line of work, I am a lot less hard on myself about being a potentially undesirable client. There has been a good long stretch of me going to the gym consistently week after week, and I do not typically miss or reschedule our appointments and honestly do not care if J requests a change for his convenience. If my workload and schedule allows it, I’m perfectly happy to meet earlier or later so he can bunch sessions together. I just do not want to be requesting frequent reschedules because I’m in a princess mood.

Over the weekend there were emails and conversational threads with a few friends about my exercise habits, about being “born again” with regard to getting off my ass and moving. They were not being snarky or condescending, merely complimenting me on my discipline to change my lifestyle. My friends are kind much of the time, but they are really kind and complimentary sometimes when I least expect it and possibly need it most.

There is an element of my personality that has become rather obsessive about the exercise. It is not a standard I hold anyone else to, just as M, who is Mr. OCD when it comes to his running and this mileage, holds me to the same standard he has established for himself. M has always told me to do just a little something everyday exercise related and build upon it. Looking back through my extensive library and archive of Lists gone by, I can see how far I have come and how progress I have made with these exercises.

Way back when I started, goals were a popular topic. What are your goals? just about everyone asked me. And I, with my deer in the headlights expression, was ashamed to admit that I had none. It has been literally months since anyone has asked me that in those terms, and I myself rarely use the term as well. Different objectives, I might say. Or occasionally, in an unguarded moment, I might use the “goals” word.

I remind myself at least once a week that better health is a lifelong pursuit, that there is no tipping point where I am successful and can stop the habits I am trying to implement. Occasionally, very occasionally, it’s difficult not to look at my calendar and feel disappointment that I had a bad day with my better health pursuits. Or strings of less desirable days.

Such is the case with eating. Today started out well, fell apart at lunch and into the afternoon, and was fine for dinner. Since this happens to me a few days per week, I cannot classify it as just a bad day. I try hard to avoid making excuses for myself, because I am a grown up and know what I need to be doing and start to wonder about my own level of commitment when I am consistently not doing it.

Work is always going to be work, there’s always going to be a jiggle-juggle going on with deadlines, priorities, law firm work versus self-employment work. It is quieting down and today was mostly fine. I also recognize G and K’s wedding is next week, there is a little (or a LOT) of social anxiety attached to the social commitments and events attached to that, and then M and I are going to be gone for several days at the air races. I know I have some anxiety about my clients and work kinda/sorta suffering in my absence, and I also know it is completely unrealistic and likely baseless. Majority of my clients will muddle through without me for a week, because I have work-arounds planned for things that would typically happen in my absence. Or I will jump on my laptop in the evenings to ensure payrolls get process and people get paid on time. Point is I have plans and contingency plans in place, and in a pinch they know they can call/text/email me and I will respond as quickly as I am capable. Finding a quiet place for a phone call with loud aircraft flying immediately overhead is not the easiest task, though.

My biggest concern with my life and lifestyle as it relates to the exercise and healthier food choices, I am cutting myself way too much slack. I am accepting that it’s okay to cut corners and shorten my rep counts or toss out the fruits and vegetables in favor of white bread and peanut butter. Although I see the fine hand of negative girl threaded through my thinking, my battles to reach some level of discipline in this stuff were hard-fought and any real or perceived backslide is alarming to me. I feel as if I need to maintain some level of force upon myself or fall down and fail to get back to my feet after a genuine setback.

Sometimes I want to apologize for talking about this like a broken record, but I suppose it is part of my processing process.

M and I once own a 2007 Rav4 that was the same color and model as the 2013 I have now. We sold it in 2010 because after 4 years and 40,000 miles, it was still perfect. There was not a chip of paint or a scratch on it, and it was so perfect that I got to the point that I was afraid to drive it out of some neurotic fear of how I would feel when the first scratch or worse happened. I had a couple of other cars in between the Ravs – an old 4Runner that I loved, a 2012 Honda Civic that was a bit of disappointment – and now I have this Rav. And while I love my car and it is still very nice after these first 3 years, it will someday need something repaired or with acquire more chips (I presently have 3 that I know of for sure) or another scratch (there is 1 small one from a mishap with the garage door) or perhaps even worse. My outlook has matured over time and with other experiences, and I see my car simply as a tool to get me from point A to point B comfortably. I am also not as obsessive as I was with the first one about washing, waxing, detailing it. My present Rav is clean, M just waxed it a couple of weeks ago, and I keep the interior pretty neat and tidy. My efforts to keep it nice are good enough.

The exercise and lifestyle changes feel a lot like my first Rav. I feel obsessive and growing somewhat neurotic about it, particularly as it relates to the potential for injury. It does not feel detrimentally, and I do not foresee quitting on my horizon because I have developed a new strain of gym crazy. But I can still feel the contextual differences between being obsessive/addicted to the exercise versus very disciplined about my consistency. How much of that is eternal pressure from the wedding and vacation looming large in my head and how much is actual real free-floating anxiety is difficult for me to discern right now. The 24/7 tumbling churn of my thoughts is a challenge to turn off completely.

I really need to get busy with the books and such on mediation. Except I feel like I cannot get mind settled enough to actually become still with the reading. Mind is in a manic phase and snarfing down books and articles almost as quickly as I can download them into my reading apps.

The war with the scale seems to have been mostly neutralized. My daily weigh-ins have had the effect of removing the stigma of those numbers. I hop on, note the reading, write it down, and that’s about the extent of my thoughts about it. Until today, when I was in my endocrinologist’s office to review some bloodwork I’d had done a couple of weeks ago, and his scale  has me exactly 3.5 pounds lighter fully clothed than my scale first thing in the morning naked. Oh well; I know my scale is less flattering. Sure I will love it when the number drops lower, but until then, it is just a unit of measure that is subjective and mostly meaningless. The numbers I watch and concern myself with – blood sugar. Every day, at least 4 times daily, I’m looking at that and taking note of where I am and  whether or not I am falling off the wagon.

Thyroid is good, no worries there. Prior readings had Kaiser doc making noise about medication. Non-Kaiser endocrinologist says I’m fine for now. We will look at ultra sounding thyroid again in January to check on nodules that I have and had.

So, such is me and my first-world problems of the day. I actually had a glorious day that started out a little lumpy with a semi-alarming email from friend J, the session with trainer J, and a mostly upbeat workday and interactions with people I absolutely adore.

My take-away from review sessions like this mornings, when I somehow wandered away from basics I know I know – I have come a very long way not only in my physical strength and capability, I have developed a much better mental game where I can shrug off things that would have made me lose my mind at various points in the journey. I am still healthier and overwhelmingly happier inside my own skin because of the lifestyle changes I have successfully implemented. The rest will come eventually, of that I feel certain.

In the meantime, I am now officially 2/2 on the weekend’s lost and found. My missing credit card turned up tonight, tucked away in the pages of my desk calendar.

Sometimes I am just a loon. But I am a greatly relieved loon tonight.

2 thoughts on “Training #67 – Losing my religion

  1. I remember on a previous post you were thinking of salads in a jar. I recently saw a jar meant for that very purpose in the kitchen/ lunch box area of walmart. It looked like a wider shorter version of a refillable water bottle. It was plastic, not glass, and had a section for dressing in the lid. I think it also came with a fork that attached to the side somehow. It was around 8.00. I would think something likw like that would be available elsewhere.

    1. Thanks for the tip, Dawn. I did just get my canning jar yesterday. I paid a premium for a single jar, but why buy a dozen if I might not use them? Trial run with it may be tomorrow, assuming I get home early enough tonight to pull something together.

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