Thursday, February 19, 2015

You never walk out of the gym and say, 'I shouldn't have gone.' Taylor Kitsch

Yesterday, I went to the gym for the first time in a very long time.

I went armed with A Plan from the GT for a relatively simple workout that I knew I could complete, without getting too fancy. A good transition back into gym life.

I headed out to hit the gym at their slow time of day, as this is particularly popular gym with the after-school/work crowd, and my brain was not ready to deal with that, in addition to my own feelings about getting back to fitness.

My strategy for the day was just to disassociate from all the other people in the gym, retreat to my own little bubble, and get the work done. Cue my new wireless, bluetooth headphones.
Sidenote: for anyone who has NOT tried bluetooth/wireless headphones yet - DO IT. Seriously, it's life-changing freedom from being tethered to your music-providing device.

Earbuds in, "90's Top Tracks" queued up on Spotify (yeah, I figured a throwback to well-known tunes might be fun), and I hit the treadmill for a 10 minute warm up walk.

The gym was relatively quiet and the walking allowed me to get out of my own head a bit and warmed up. Trust me, Blogland, you're your own worst enemy. For me, I knew that task #1 was to stop the nervous and doubtful circles my brain was going in, so I could get in the groove and have a productive workout.

After my warm-up (and rockin' on to some awesome 90's Blink-182 and such), I started in on a workout that looked like this:

4 Sets of 5 Reps, Each:
Standing Military Press (15# DB's)
Stiff Legged Dead Lifts (2, 25# DB's)
DB Row (15# DBs)
Push Ups
Squats (2, 20# DB's)

I actually really like lifting heavy stuff, and it felt really good to get sweaty again. None of this was too hard, or out of my reach... and realistically, I could've done heavier weights, etc. but the goal of today was to just get into the gym and Do. Work.

I'm happy to report that I was able to get through all my sets, feeling good. Then, onto the treadmill for 25 more minutes of walking, followed by 5 minutes or so of stretching.

Once I jumped back on the treadmill for my walking time, I felt good. The gym had started to fill in with the after school crowd and I was feeling a little self conscious. I did spot this one gentleman in the gym I found particularly inspiring. He was a large guy (300-ish pounds) and he came in with a mission. As a trucked along on my incline treadmill, I watched him go from weights to machines and go through his routine, with a steady sort of resolution. He took some breaks in between, but just kept going. I remember when I used to have that kind of dedication, regardless of what anyone else thought, and I wished I'd stopped to thank that guy for reminding me!

So, BlogLand, I'm officially back at it. I've recently (3-4 days ago) transitioned to using a Standing Desk for work time, which has been awesome, too. No more tight hip flexors! On the other side of that though, it's definitely a transition, moving toward standing most of the day. My hips/legs are tiiiiiired. I didn't think I'd need to, but I'm definitely interspersing those sitting breaks.

Today, though, the standing desk was a relief... I woke up stiff and a little sore from working out my legs yesterday, where they haven't really been for a while. Instead of being faced with that awful moment where you have to sit into a chair (complete with the Oowwwwww-groan), I just walked up to my desk and stood there. After an hour or so of standing and moving around, my legs felt 100% improved by the time I needed my sitting break.

For today's activities, I think 30 minutes of light stretching yoga is in my future, then back to the gym tomorrow for Round 2.  I can do this. I've done it before, I'll do it again.... just need to keep telling myself that.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

“The man who removes a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.” ~William Faulkner

Hello BlogLand, 

It's definitely been a while. A good friend of mine reminded me that I used to find a lot of freedom in blogging my trials and tribulations of my fitness journey, particularly because it helped me feel like I wasn't going it alone. So, I'm back. I'm starting back at the beginning physically, working through some mental hurdles, but am in it for the long haul. I look forward to re-connecting with the Blog-o-Sphere again, as you all have no idea how much inspiration I took from knowing you'd all be here at the end of the day, while I recounted my tales.... So, as they say.... We will begin... at the beginning.... 

Vermont (and New England in general) is experiencing one of the harshest winters in recent memory. So for me - someone who's trying to convince herself that getting back into exercise is FUN - outside hasn't been a great option. When you know the run is going to be difficult, you exponentially increase that when you realize that today's high is 2 (literally 2) degrees BEFORE the windchill.
I've found all manner of excuses to not do anything, as a result.

Finally, yesterday, I decided it had to stop.

I realized that I was right back to square 1 again, hating the way I looked, despising the way I felt after minor exertions like climbing stairs, and longing for the days when "hard" was a 14+ mile, 8 hour Spartan Beast..... not a 30 min walk/jog. While I can give you all the legitimate reasons in the world that I find myself back here, I could think of no good reason that I should allow it to continue. If I learned nothing else from my journey a few years ago, it was that I could change things. If I did not do anything, that in and of itself was a choice, and I knew what the result would be: Continued unhappiness. OR... I could make a choice, like a did a few years ago, and decide that I would begin moving forward, however slowly.

So, I joined a gym that was 3.1 miles away from my house. I figured, Step 1: Eliminate the Excuses. If it was "too cold" to walk or run outside, now I could go to the gym.

Included in this membership (I prepaid 4 months to get the special... because again, I figured, no excuses if it was prepaid...), was a "fitness consultation" which was explained to me to be a quick orientation to the gym and a general plan of attack, given to you by a certified trainer. So, hearing the word "free" and always looking to get some advice, I scheduled that immediately - for Today.

Today, as my appointment approached, I was equal parts excited and nervous. It's been a while since I've been in a "traditional" (vs. Crossfit, etc.) gym, but I was looking forward to meeting with a trainer and getting some tips for where to start. For anyone who's gotten fit "AGAIN", it's a really daunting process to know where you WERE.... versus where you ARE.  Personally, I look at things and my brain is still trained to think, "you can totally do that"..... when the reality is far from that.

SO, I gather up my sneakers and water bottle and head off to meet trainer Natalie. Natalie was SUPER PERKY. You know, the kind of person that you can just see the exclamation points when they talk?

Natalie tells me that what we're going to do is determine my baseline, by doing a basic fitness assessment. The words "fitness assessment" strike a bit of fear into the heart of my inner Fat Chick, but I figured that it's fair that Natalie would need a starting line, from which to base my "plan" on. So, I agree and off we went.

..... and then it went straight to hell...

So, all of you who were less than svelte in your youth will probably understand the horror, when I tell you that Natalie's "fitness assessment" was really just a version of that horrid fitness test you had to do once a year in gym class. Public shaming of the fat kids, as I recall it (probably with a bit of a bias..).

First, she had me sit and do the V-sit, or sit and reach, test. Shockingly, I'm not bendy. Whether we want to attribute the tight posterior chain to sitting in an office chair too much, or just my lack of pursuit of flexibility.... nonetheless, my results were dismal. But, with a perky smile, Natalie marked them on her sheet.

Next, we moved on to a wall-sit. Surely, I thought to myself, I'd be able to do better on the wall sit and at least put up a number that would convince her that I was not lying about my former athletic pursuits. I sat until my quads burned and my knees quivered. And then a little longer.
She smiled, and marked that on her sheet.

We moved on to push-ups (standard style, NO knees), where I managed like 1.5 and was thrilled, and then onto a traditional plank, where I again felt like I must've posted a respectable number.

Last, we did a 3 minute step test. Literally, step up and down on this block for 3 minutes, so we can see your active heart rate. Again, I didn't think it was so bad? I had stepped up and down with a steady rhythm for 3 whole minutes, had not keeled over and died... so... victory?

Natalie trots me back to the office to go over the results. This is where my day got super awesome....

Natalie then spent the next 15 minutes telling me that on their scale of "Excellent" to "Very Poor" I had literally hit "Very Poor" across the board. She literally told me my results on EACH exercise, then reiterated it was in the "Very Poor" category and I had some work to do.

Thank you, Natalie. I was unaware that I was ridiculously overweight, needed to work on that, and was currently in a place that already made me feel slightly out of place, being filled with fit people and all. THANK YOU for making that acutely clear and bringing that to my attention. Perhaps it would've gone unnoticed.

But, she tried her A-game in saving the consultation by trying to sell me $1000 worth of personal training sessions.... mostly because the $400 package "might not really be enough to get me totally on track."

Being an expert at sucking up the Inner Fat Chick freak-out, I thanked her for all her help and assured her I would be in touch.

I then ran for the car to have that freak out.

BlogLand, let me be clear. I understand that as a trainer, one might need to get a baseline to understand where your client was and be able to instruct appropriately. However, I'm pretty sure that if you truly wanted to motivate said client - rather than just sell training packages - you might forgo telling them that they're beyond rock bottom. I am 100% certain that the fastest way to get unfit people to NEVER go back to your gym again (even though they are the ones that need to), is to point out just how glaringly unfit they are. Surprise! - they know that. BUT, they have crossed your threshold anyway, and are trying to change that. YOUR job is to then encourage.... not to use your "assessment" time to make them feel defeated before they even start.

After telling me that I scored "very poor" in all categories, Natalie made sure to note that I should work hard, and in a couple of months, I should likely see transition into the "poor" category..... WOOOOOOO. There's motivation for you.  *sigh*

However, although today I have learned that my goal is to go from "very poor" to just "poor", I know I've done much harder things, and I'm much stronger than her wall-sit or step test could measure. (Sidenote: I'm 100% sure I could've back squatted Natalie.)

With that in mind, I contacted my ever-awesome GT (Guru Trainer) for some support and A Plan. Despite Natalie and her hot pink lightning bolt pants, I'll be back at the gym tomorrow. Whatever workout the GT hands out, I'll get it done. I've done it before, survived and will only come back stronger.

So BlogLand, I guess the moral of today's story is.... Whoever or Whatever your "Natalie" is, that may make you feel like you can't...... they lie.

You can. I can. One foot in front of the other.