Sunday, July 13, 2014

Magpies on the fence....

I just got back from an eight mile walk around the neighborhood. It was a quiet pedestrian paced walk and gave me a lot of time to think. I thought about something that a friend said while we were climbing to the top of the incline. Every time I apologized for being so slow, she would say "Wherever I am, that is where I'm supposed to be."  Yeah, she is kind of zen like that. Me -- not so much but it can't hurt to learn from this and try to apply it to various parts of my life.

This led me to think a lot about the fact that yet again I am losing my trainer at the gym. This will be the fourth trainer that I have been with in the past few years. I started to think about what I have learned from each of them.

The first was Shelby. I liked Shelby and she definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone; however, my comfort zone was pretty small at the time. I don't think she ever realized just how small it was. I used to get so upset after stepping on the scale with her. Nothing we did together seemed to help the scale move. I logged my food, I did cardio every day, I did body pump classes and zumba, and I worked out with Shelby twice a week. I wanted to lift real weights but instead we did a lot of work on the bosu ball and with dumbbells. I kept at it as there is one thing about me - I do not give up easily.

After Shelby left that club, I spoke with the manager at the gym about getting paired up with another trainer. The manager made me feel like a total failure by telling me that after all the months of working with Shelby, I basically had failed by not having more progress on the scale. I didn't realize at the time that progress had been made in so many other areas but this conversation set me in a tail spin about my fitness journey. I never renewed my membership when it was up a few months later.

After that because of a fortuitous purchase of a Groupon, I discovered kettlebells. At my first official class (after the required "how to" class), I met Kristin. What can I say about Kristin? I quickly grew to like her. After a few months, we started training one on one once a week. We did a lot of kettlebell work in addition to the classes I was also doing. Kristin was with me when I started to run and do events. Because of Kristin, I did my first stair climb. She was with me at so many 5Ks and the 10K where I ran every step. We did several other stair climbs together. She was at the start and finish line when I did the Boulder half marathon. I cried when she hugged me at the finish line. I met so many great people with her. Kristin became and still is a very dear friend. I love Kristin even though she abandoned me (ok...she met a guy, got married, moved away and had a baby...all good things). Through Kristin, I learned how courageous I could be, how I could do anything I decided to do....except side planks....I hated those and would get so frustrated about them. 

Eventually, I joined the gym I am at today. I have loved the facilities since day one and a few months after joining, I started a team class. This class introduced me to circuit training and the idea that I could be physically strong. I liked it a lot but did become a bit bored with the same weight machines over and over again. I also got it in my head that I wanted to deadlift, that I wanted to work with free weights. Because of this, I decided to start working with a trainer again. This is when I met Travis.

As you know, I am an introvert. I don't take a liking to people very quickly. Travis, however, I immediately liked. Even in the first day training with him, I told him things that I never thought I would. Travis introduced me to a lot of things on the free weights and other machines around the gym. We also did a lot of kettlebell things, which I loved. I still had my moments of fear though...I remember him telling me to do Russian twists and I refused, basically in tears. I have no idea why, other than I had attempted them before and had failed. I rarely refused to do anything that he asked me to do so I am sure that it surprised him.

I worked with Travis twice a week for a few months. I remember that I had a session the morning after I was called to make my way home if I wanted to see my sister before she passed. I will always be grateful for his kindheartedness during this time. I doubt he will ever know how much it meant to me.

Then a bit over a month and half later, he told me he was leaving. It was, as dramatic as it sounds, devastating to me. I had finally felt like I was making some substantial progress at this gym and now the guy that had helped me realize so much of it was leaving. I really did not think that anyone could help me as much as he had. Before he left, he arranged for me to work with another trainer, Adam.

I hated Adam the first few times I worked out with him. He put me through workouts that just did not feel challenging. I was doing things like planks and glute bridges with him. What I really wanted to do was lift weights...heavy weights. I really thought that he did not think I was capable of much, that he was another in a line of people that thought all I was just a fat person that really didn't belong in the gym.

After quite a few sessions, things finally started to click with him. He started showing me the beauty and power of true weight lifting. I learned so much about the mechanics of the various lifts. Because of him, I was able to meet my goal of a deadlift in excess of 200 pounds. He coaches me through the various movements. He has helped me understand that it is not all about the number on the scale. Working with Adam, I don't feel like an old fat woman but rather someone who is definitely uncovering true strength.

He definitely has pushed me out of my comfort zone (which has grown quite a bit larger). I won't lie. He has made me cry on several occasions (the thought of jumping (broad jump, box jumps, etc) sends chills down my spine). BUT he has made me feel so accomplished as well. His continual encouragement and insights on things like bad days have helped so much. I feel strong and powerful. I am a weight lifter.

Yesterday, he told me he was only going to be with the club for two more weeks. I'm sad about this, but I am not devastated. I know that because of how much I have learned from him, I can lift on my own. If I do work with another trainer, I know what I want to learn from them and will be able to communicate it. I still have a lot to learn but am confident I can continue to make progress.

I do Russian twists on my own now. I can hold a side plank for at least 30 seconds. I have even progressed to jumping on a step raised up on four risers. Maybe in the next two weeks I can actually do a box jump. I am learning a lot about three things I need for success (Rest, eat well and enough,....and oh rest). In so many ways, I am grateful to all the trainers I have worked with throughout the years. Each of them have touched my life in very different ways. 

So, goodbye, Adam. I will miss you. I hope we keep in touch so that some day you will be able to see how far I have come on my fitness journey. Know that I appreciate everything you have taught me and will always be grateful that you believed in me. You have definitely shown me that it is not too late to be what I might have been. Thank you.

Side note -- What does the title "Magpies on the fence" have to do with any of this? Nothing. It was just one of the many things I saw on my walk this morning and I liked it. I'm a little crazy like that. 


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

From critical mass to alpha training...

I haven't posted in some time. Truth be told I was struggling. I had lost my confidence. I struggled at the gym. I was not sure about lifting. I felt old. I thought it was ridiculous that I was trying to be a weight lifter. I had no confidence.

Instead of wallowing in my self pity, I knew I had to do something to regain the confidence I once had. This was a very different reaction for me. It would typically take me days and days to recover as I would just wait to "get over it." This time I was taking steps to resolve the issue.

The first step I took was to take the day off and go to the Manitou Incline. I knew that getting to the top would be a great accomplishment. It is a tough hike but it is so worth it. That day I started later than I wanted to and it was hot. I went slow but I made it to the top. I had to keep reminding myself why I was doing it and reminding myself that I could do it. I wanted to cry when I made it to the top that I was now able to do this type of activity. There was a day that I knew I was at a point that I wasn't sure if I was going to be live much longer if I didn't make changes. Now I was climbing mountains.

The next step I took was to participate in an Alpha challenge at the gym. Well, actually I was already participating in a national Alpha challenge at the gym but this time I was doing a live challenge with others at the gym. It was a tough challenge with 3 events. The first was 1,000 meter row followed by burpees in six minutes. Your score was the number of burpees you did. I will admit it was hard. My hips were tight from the incline the previous day but I did it. I managed to finish the rowing second in my heat of four people but only got in 10 burpees. I placed 10 out of 12 in this event. Not great but I was doing it.

The second event was another six minute timed round of 5 barbell thrusters followed by 10 kettlebell swings. Your score was how many reps you completed in the time limit. I managed to get through six rounds, or 90 reps. I did more than anyone else in my heat...and as a matter of fact, finished first for the female in this event.

The next event was pullups, pushups and box jumps or step ups. Well, there was an alternative to do TRX rows instead of pullups and I took that alternative. You had to do four rounds of the three exercises. Your score was the time it took. There was a penalty for doing the simpler TRX rows but I still finished first in my heat and 6th in the event.

Overall, I finish 6 of 12 for females in the challenge but more importantly I had a LOT of fun and pushed myself. I was out of my comfort zone the whole time but I didn't let it bother me. I just did what I could and pushed through it. It was an amazing boost of confidence.

By the way, I was likely the oldest in the challenge by several years. Realizing this made me even feel more empowered. Also, the national challenge finish this past week as well. I was pleased to find out that I finished 71 out of 248 that finished the challenge in the "Masters division."

It is so crazy to realize just how far I have come. Not only physically but also in my ability to step outside of my comfort zone and push through things that would have seemed impossible a few years ago.

I am in a better place now. I am having fun lifting again. I still am working on form and can't always get things as quickly as I like when I am training with my trainer but that's okay. I keep working on it. I am researching things, reading a lot, watching videos.

Looking for the next time to be able to step outside of my comfort zone...and in the meantime I will be working on my pullup!