Training #71 – If you want to be happy

Monday morning, training with J. Since I leave for vacation tomorrow night, it’s a short week at the gym and a single training session this week. I feel ridiciulously sad about it. I tell myself it is only one session (out of an entire year thus far) and probably (hopefully) the only 5 consecutive days out of the gym this year.

Am I addicted? Or obsessive? Entrenched? Inflexible? (About my habits in this context, although this will be 2 weeks of no Friday night yoga and I miss that as well.) Perhaps I am on all counts, and no one will ever be successful convincing me this is a bad mindset to foster. Maybe I am just someone who really needs structure and consistency in my life. Say it with me – structure and consistency. Yes, I am this insanely routine and boring in my life and lifestyle that I am saddened by having to cancel a regular Thursday training session (first this year) and miss another 3 days of regular practice, another yoga class, and my weekly pilates class. Laugh if you must. This is my exercise routine now and I truly do cling to it.

What we did today:

DB Bent Over Rows (25 lb. DBs, 3 sets, 8-12 reps)
Triceps DB Extensions (10 lb./12 lb. DBs
Mini Band Kickbacks (3 sets, 30 reps)
Mini Band Abductions (3 sets, walking back and forth across the room)

Seated Cable Rows (extra stretch) (purple tube band, MAX)
Bench Triceps Dips (3 sets, 10-12 reps)
Front DB raises (10 lb. DBs, 3 sets, 10-15)
Pushups off Bench (

 1-arm DB Rows
Standing DB French Press
Tubing Squat and Rows
Low-to-High  Band Choppers

There are so many reasons I love training days, but the most specific is the learning new things, updating old things I mostly think I know, and feeling more in control of my exercise pursuits. I recognize that I have successfully transitioned from someone who worries obsessively about doing everything right to someone who has a whole library of choices, enough to routinely get the names mixed up when hearing them spoken out loud. In the context of Lists, I pretty much know which is which. In the context of J announcing this is what’s next, sometimes I get similar sounding things confused. Various ways of doing squats, rows, plank-like things, etc. I imagined there are far worse things I could be doing wrong.

Because I am leaving on vacation tomorrow, this is a super short recap. I have much to say about the individual exercises, only no time to devote to the actual writing of the recap. A couple of points I do want to note, because it will be another week before I revisit this List – the tricep dips and pushups are hard. I am a bit disappointed on the pushups after doing them for … forever … but oh well. Disappointment is a transitory emotion and these days it’s not lingering with me much at all. Someday the pushup muscles will be stronger, the bones and joints and all that stuff that works together to make for really good pushups will be all better, stronger, more cooperative on demand. Until then, I will struggle. I will rest pause as frequently as needed. I will listen to the popping noises and evaluate whether it’s a something of concern or just something my joints do as we begin. Eventually I will get there and do my full reps per set without a pause. And the brow-furrowing noises the body makes will fade.

Tricep dips will get better. I learned today how and where to put my feet, how much bend should be in the knees. Having not revisited this List in awhile and not done these in weeks, I suppose mind is entitled to have forgotten some of the fine details. When J is demonstrating, unless I make him go through an entire 50 rep set I do not capture all the form in the watching and listening to him detail what should be working, where I should be feeling, all the things to avoid in order to not harm myself in the process. But the correction is good – gotta keep that trainer eye in focus – and I cannot remember when the freaked out “I’m an exercise idiot!” thoughts and feelings faded so completely.

I know I will grow stronger and improve with these. Not to the point of doing them on some stand thing in the big boys gym section, where I saw someone doing whole body tricep dips with his feet off the ground, but I will improve on doing them on the bench as time passes and consistent practice ensues.

The change in my own mindset sneaks up on me at unexpected moments anymore. That I am far happier, more peaceful, have boatloads more energy each day is apparent in my day-to-day life. Yet there are a lot of exercises on a lot of Lists that still vex and challenge me. But when I do not want to be vexed and challenged by things like tricep dips or bench pushups (or any other stripe of pushup) on any given day I choose another List. When I was working at the same couple of Lists (ala last quarter of 2015), it was easy to get bored or frustrated when an exercise did not work out the way I expected. Now, not so much. Every now and again I substitute, but I dislike doing that, because every list has at least one least favorite item on it.

Tomorrow I will probably do a full body dumbbell List, which is my go-to when I feel that deer-in-the-headlights feeling of being unable to make a decision. But who knows – that’s still 10 hours away and I may change my mind when I get to the gym in the morning.

Vacation days will be interesting with the practice. I have my minibands and associated Lists, and I will bring my red stretchy band and the door hanger that will allow me some versatility to pursue other things. However, the hotel does have a fitness center with one of those multi-purpose machines, dumbbells, and bench available, but according to the website it is only open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. WTF? This is definitely a hope for the best, plan for the worst situation, but since I am not typically an afternoon exercise enthusiast, I cannot see me returning from Stead and heading to the gym. Hopefully they have come to their senses and allow guests 24/7 access. If not, oh well. I’ll bitch about it online and hope for better next year.

Mind is settling down and accepting that vacation happens and I am not going to lose everything I have gained for a few days away from my usual stomping grounds.

Thing that is sticking with me lately, if only because friend J recently remarked upon it, is that unhitching my wagon from the whole specific goals thing has been enormously helpful in a lot of aspects of my life. As friend J put it to me, the whole “beauty contest” aspect of diet and exercise has made been an absolute right choice for me to the point of admitting, yet again, that trainer J was right. Trainer J was nudging me in that direction at first, then more strongly encouraging it as we got to know one another better. There are times now that I musingly wonder if it was my whining and crushed looks that caused him to speak a little more intentionally about being a goal-less client and realize it does not matter at all. As my training partnership has broadened, I see the wisdom in his perspective and advice. Plus I have a blast in our sessions each week. Never underestimate the power of having lots of fun doing good things for yourself.

So here I am, a year later, working at getting to the gym every day and still trying to strengthen my discipline bone with regard to the healthy eating component, only the next battle in that ongoing war is going to have to begin next week, once this vacation this is over. But I have a lot of thinking going on about the diet, the exercise, the consultations with my village. I am inching closer to the right eating prescription, and perhaps once I get into that groove I can withstand develop more endurance with all the stressors and events of life.

This morning I was reminded that I am still succeeding, even at times when I do not feel successful or am not visualizing my efforts or myself in that light. Work is good and satisfying most of the time, but the days before a vacation always feel so pressured and rushed. Probably I mostly do this to myself and have not yet figured out how to break myself of the habit. The firm will continue in my few days of absence.

Sometimes I look up from my to-do lists and action items and realize it’s after 8 p.m. and I am just finishing an abbreviated training recap. And I also realize … there is so much vibrant color and joy within the confines of a Monday. The Wedding is concluded and I cannot exactly catch up on missed sleep, but my energy feels good and I am so damn HAPPY with my day today.

I have this ongoing hope everyone else gets to say that – and genuinely mean it – at least some of the time.

2 thoughts on “Training #71 – If you want to be happy

  1. Triceps dips and push-ups are my arch enemy in which I will conquer one day. Being a former Navy girl, I am embarrassed I cannot do more than 7 regular push-ups, but that is better than none that I could do 2 years ago. My trainer (a Marine) has me rotate them, between regular, knee, bench and low bar and I am getting better. He had me do the machine today for the triceps dips and I was able to take the weight down to 135 where a month ago I was at 180 and couldn’t go down further. I will say he added in the ab machine (huge thing, I don’t know what it is called) that I haven’t done in some time. When I started off doing it, he had to have his foot on the bottom of it to help me get it up with no weights. Today, I was able to do it all by myself for all 3 sets and that was at the end of the session. Keep up the awesome work! You are doing spectacular!

    • Thanks for reading and the really terrific comment! I sometimes feel the “shoulds” on the darn pushups, because they seem to have been with me since almost week 1 (it’s been 14 months) and I still struggle with all variations. But oh well. One leg everything are now better, still imperfect but capable for much of the time. I just keep trying, pushing through with practice. I’ll get there.

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