Training #80 – Just the way you are

Monday morning, training with J. And it was FABULOUS. Now, I have had all sorts of questions flittering in and out of my mind about why I characterize it that way, but I am just jettisoning those silly attempts by negative girl to turn me to the dark side. It. Was. Fabulous. Great way to start my week and end my Monday writing this recap post.

Today was kind of a teaching day, but not exactly. There were a few new things – a new machine, new adventures with stability ball – but for the most part it was stuff I know in a new and different order with the new goodies sprinkled in for variety.

Leg day. Oh my – I love leg days. Really, I do. I will bitch, moan, complain, and whine that I don’t wanna do this, that, the other thing, but honestly, I really love leg days. Probably more than the other body parts. And since I am typically at pilates on Sundays, sometimes at the all-abs-all-60-minutes guy’s class, it’s nice to do something non-ab on Monday. I survive if we do, of course. But leg day is a nice change.

What we did today:

  • 1-legged leg press (7 sets, 10/side, 170 lbs.)
  • Stability ball glute bridge (3 sets, 12-15 reps)
  • Stability ball hamstring curls (3 sets, 12-15 reps)
  • 1-legged Romanian deadlift with kettlebell (3 sets, 8-12/side, small black KB)
  • Machine hamstring curl (3 sets, 8-15 reps/side, 20 lbs.)
  • Quad extensions machine (3 sets, 8-15 reps, forgot to look at weight)
  • Dumbbell power squats (3 set, 8-12 reps, 20 lb. DBs)
  • Bodyweight Bulgarians (3 sets, 12-20/side)
  • Adductor machine (3 sets, 12-20 reps, forgot to look at final weight)
  • Stability ball lateral squats (3 sets, 8-15/side)

Love, Love, LOVE this new List. While I can barely sit still for the stiff kind of soreness in my legs and glutes, I also cannot wait for Wednesday to try it again on my own. Feels as if we are starting another new series of something, and I am very excited. I am fine floating about in between with older Lists of bodypart splits, but new stuff is new stuff and it’s exciting in its different-feeling challenges.

So it has actually been awhile since I have ventured out and mucked about with the leg press machine. The 1-legged leg press is something we have done before, but after a week or 2 passes I have a hard time recalling where I was last with weights. Since it has now been more like 2 months since I used this machine, I took a random stab at the weight and hoped it was not embarrassingly too much. However, since my mind is stuck at 2-legged versions are always 60 lbs. heavier than 1-legged, I did not think I was too far off the mark with the 170 lb. setting. It did raise a little eyebrow with J, and I would have happily jumped up off that seat and moved it down if needed. Fortunately I did not embarrass myself with being overly ambitious, and the 170 lb. setting was just about right. I have been doing other leg stuff after all, and I felt like it was in the ballpark of what I had done last. Then J says … we’re going to do 5 sets of 10. Ummm … okay. This is the first time ever we have done 5 sets of anything, so in my mind this is a new chapter in our most current training volume. But I did 7 sets of 10, so I am enormously proud of myself in this effort.

The stability ball glute bridges were only introduced in recent weeks, and of all the glute bridges on all the Lists as well as those seemingly endless sets in pilates class, this version is far and away are my favorite. However, I do need to put the focus and practice on with these. I cannot put my finger on it precisely, but I do not feel quite as efficient at them as possible. Thinking about it off and on today in anticipation of writing this post, I think it might be the foot position, it that my feet and knees should be more tucked in during the bridge part. These occur on other lists, and it surely won’t hurt me to run through in warmup tomorrow, while it’s fresh in my mind and I am mildly obsessing over it.

Then there are the stability ball hamstring curls. I do not hate these, and they are not quite nemesis stable level of difficulty, but I absolutely know where I am faltering with them and must intensify my concentration and practice to overcome what I perceive as sheer dreaded lazy on my part. Again, it’s all about the tuck and that that little curl to get the most from my effort, but they look weird in my head and feel weird on the floor and I have to just get over it. I do not even realize until I feel the relief of being done that my effort has been less than pure, and by then I definitely do not want to get back into it and try again.

It has been awhile since the 1-legged Romanian deadlifts appeared on a List. But that’s okay – I have not missed them terribly. I genuinely despise the cable version – damned thing always seems to topple me forward most of the time and I lack whatever it takes to not let it and it remains my arch nemesis. But with the dumbbell and today with the kettle bell – not so bad. Yeah, balance is an issue, especially at first. But I’m better, infinitely better, at these than when they were first introduced. Today we used one of the little black KBs, and I have no idea how much it weighed. But it felt kind of good to be working at balance this way. I had a light (mostly) hand on a piece of equipment for balance, and for the most part it was more security blanket than anything. I will get back to not needing it so much.

Then J demonstrated and introduced me to the hamstring curl machine. In truth, I don’t think I have ever noticed anyone actually using this machine, but maybe I just blocked it from memory. Or more likely, I simply don’t pay attention when I’m in that area. But anyway, it is complicated. It has all these knobs and such to adjust, but I think once I do so and figure out how it’s supposed to be set for me it will be fine. But for today, it was just new and different and strange. By the time the third set came along, I could barely bend my knee to heft those weights, so I was doing something.

The quad extensions machines – not a fan. Not for the usual reasons – it is really hard for me, my brain projects all sorts of crazy silliness that make it harder – but because the machines itself seems complicated. Again, all these little knobs and adjustments to move to and fro and seriously, who can immediately remember where things are supposed to be set? I know I will feel as if I am reinventing the wheel for however long it takes to get over what seems like a memory block, but oh well. If it takes me a few tries to get it right every time I use it then it takes a few tries. Perhaps I will remember to take pictures or write it down for future events.

Had a nice set with the dumbbell power squats today. Nothing crazy on the weights, so my hands were not feeling tired along with my legs.

We did the Bulgarians with rear foot resting on the quad extensions machine, so that was different (that pad was round and spins, whereas benches are flat and stationary. The Bulgarians themselves have gotten mostly easier, but the swivel feature of the pad was a bit off-putting. I will adjust. I learned to do these without a stool or other equipment to maintain my balance so I can learn to work with a mobile pad beneath my elevated back foot.

The last series included the adductor machine, which I am very familiar with even if it has been at least a month since I used it last. Again, forgotten what weight I was using, but I started light, J increased it, and by the end of 3 sets I was definitely feeling it. While I have no strong preferences between the convenient once downstairs or the other one upstairs, I suspect we each have our preferences based on personal factors unique to each of us. For me, the one downstairs is better because it’s convenient and familiar; I spend far more time on the first floor of the gym than I do the second. I do think I need to work on my leg routines that include this machine, though; there is something about it that makes me wonder if the weight is too much when I get tired or if I am just freaking myself out because the whole List went well.

Final exercise of the day was another new one, the stability ball lateral squat. I dislike the lateral lunges so I thought these would be disagreeable as well. Not exactly disagreeable, but let me tell you I can feel that work in my side hips 12 hours later and I suspect into tomorrow. I will see on Wednesday if the feeling still holds, but I actually kind of liked these for mysterious reasons. Maybe I’m just a glutton for punishment? The angle of the elevated leg on the stability ball and then the bended knee into the squat just feel easier or better somehow than when I am doing lateral lunges. The name perhaps? Label anything a lunge and I start groaning and resisting on principle? Whatever it is, and it could be just that I was in the mood to be agreeable to new things, they were fine. Kind of intriguing even. I find myself wondering about trying them without holding on to the column I was using for balance.

And that was the fabulous Monday training day.

After a few weeks of lower energy training sessions, I started roaring back last week and have been feeling far more energetic and normal today. And I’m so glad; I was starting to feel rather flat about my exercise endeavors. Not want-to-quit kind of flat, more low-energy, less enthusiasm, bah-humbug store of attitude creeping in. I have had some nagging issues – friend J and his black dog, big life altering changes for my kids on the horizon, too much work and not enough vegging-with-a-book sort of down time. All are things I do to myself, with my expectations and hyper-responsibility complex. This weekend I completed a boatload of work-work and got it out of my hair once and for all, made some decisions on a couple of ideas pinging-and-ponging inside my head, had some serious conversations and air-clearing with friends, and essentially let go of most of what has been weighing me down.

Periodically I get obsessive without even realizing I am doing it. Then it’s off me and I wonder how I could let it go on so long until it snowballs into a bothersome thing.

After a year of steady, consistent exercise, I’m relieved I did not falter in my resolve. Does not mean I can now get sedentary and enjoy the fact that I accomplished this feat, but it does mean I can relax. A little. When I started last October, I thought I wanted to go 100 gym days straight before taking a rest day. Christmas sort of screwed me out of that. In January I thought I wanted to go with only a rest day every other week, because after being in the gym every single day for 3 weeks straight I start getting a little tired of being there and it shows in my form and performance. Doing pilates on Sunday has changed that dynamic for me, and while I am periodically inclined to just take a break from both, I do so without any guilt of self-chastisement. I never advocate this for anyone else; the standards I myself pursue are for me and me alone. Some folks are happy with their progress going to yoga or the gym once or twice a week, and I applaud them for going and doing as much as they feel they need or are capable of making work. For me, though, to be consistent means being obsessive and addicted to the routine. I know myself quite well and always feel the allure of stopping and cannot allow such thoughts to take root.

It occurred to me earlier, as I was simultaneously grimacing and grinning from the soreness in my glutes, that quote about “pain is inevitable, suffering is optional” is definitely true with my better health quest. Yeah, trying for the focus and the fortitude to keep going when all I want to do is stop and go home is painful in ways other than just the physical exertion. However, allowing myself the luxury of a piss poor attitude toward it does not make me (or anyone else who has to be around me) feel any better. Exercise got better, became less awful once I got over the idea that it could be easier or is easier for other people. Every week J reminds me that even for him, awesome trainer that he is, his own workouts are tough as well.

I just love that. Not that I want him or anyone else to have to slog through workouts the way I do sometimes, but more the fact that it’s not always easy or pleasant or that much fun for they who seem so much more knowledgeable and experienced. It is no wonder so many of us fall for the marketing that promises amazing results in 10 minutes per day for 3 days per week.

Not every session is rainbows and glitter-bombing unicorns. But I have stuck with my early morning practices and exercise schedule because it does provide me with a baseline good day. I tend to feel more energetic and focused by being in the gym and doing something, but I’m super happy and obnoxiously cheerful when I have had a particularly good, challenging morning wrestling with a List.

I was pondering feeling good this morning while drinking my breakfast smoothie. I think a couple more weeks of this and I’ll be back to eating a regular salad or protein and vegetable for dinners instead of a second protein shake. I am down a few pounds (4.9) since my last weigh in, so that’s something. More than anything, I’m glad I don’t chase the weights and measurements, because I’d be depressed about now that I did not have more to show for eating this way. Jeans just out of the smaller size box are loose tonight, and I am wondering if buying a new pair is next on my horizon.

Tomorrow I have an appointment with my endocrinologist, and I’m excited to see him. My A1c is still in the good range, although higher than last time, and I want to ask him about where the line is between going back on oral meds lies. There are drugs that could potentially help me drop some weight faster, but I’m somewhat reluctant to ask him about that. I rather like my drug-free state right now, and if this is the weight body is happy at and we stay here forever the world is not going to end for me. My vanity less connected with how I look so much as how I feel and wether or not I can continue to train with J and to practice and to try to build some flexibility with a couple of yoga classes each week. It seems to me that as long as I am taking teeny tiny baby steps to somewhere I am satisfied and I need not borrow trouble or anxiety by thinking something may be amiss at some point in the future. Here in the present, I’m feeling amazing and doing well with the different Lists in rotation.

Anymore, I believe balance is not elusive so much as out of reach because of my own inability to relinquish my death grip on the status quo. Sometimes I think I need to just let the crap I’m juggling all fall so I can reorder, regroup, and get shit done and put away. If only I could learn to do that before a funk, a mini-meltdown, a minor existential crisis, or all of the above all happen at once. But that’s not me, not how I’m wired. And TM, as talented and amazing as he is, cannot rebuild me into that model of what I perceive as perfect normality. Nor would he ever bother to try. It sounds like a cross between a personality transplant and a lobotomy to me, so I will have to just continue to endure my periodic overwhelmed low tides with energy and enthusiasm. I need to be more accepting of my human frailty.

Right now, in the present, everything is going very well for me, just the way I am. No worries, very happy.

2 thoughts on “Training #80 – Just the way you are

  1. Good health, feeling great and the bonus of yet another smaller size says more than pounds on the scale. You have accomplished so much!
    Susan

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