Names have been changed to protect the innocent.
This workout gig is sometimes way challenging. I mean, I know that it's SOOOO good for me and helpful. I can admit those great benefits NOW while I'm cozy in my bed and hammering out this story, but at the time of forced exertion, I really just want to swear spitefully and spit or something. Usually, I just end up dripping alligator-tear-sized sweat globules all over everything. And it's pretty gross. I hear that some women "glisten". That's not me. I sweat hard. And sometimes it gets in my eyeballs. And it uber annoys (uber as in a lot, not uber like the ride). And I just want to scowl...but I don't. I actually smile through it. And I tell myself (in my head) that it sucks...but I say out loud that I LOOOOOVE it. Even the exercises/sets/reps that I would rather kick in the teeth (if they had them). And I cheer on my fellow paying-for-torture victims, I mean, friends...and then, YES (fine), I leave and I'm all glad that I did it (and that it's over) and the other satisfying junk. But I KNOW you know what I'm talking about.
So, this is the story of a girl who was once very athletic and mesomorphic, who is now the mother of three, who went through some SERIOUS post-partum and stuff, who also had attachment/rejection/abandonment issues, who consequently had issues with food, who then had weird disassociation issues with food, who then faced other life things, who then AGAIN turned to said weird food issues, who then realized on her own that she could be/do better, who tried (seemingly) a billion things and wished for better, who, then, felt defeated, who then started training, who then flopped, who then was insane and out the gate trained for a flippin' half marathon, and then did it, who, then, proved to herself that this flabby body had some strong stuff underneath and decided to cultivate that slowly, but steadily...because it's hard. Way hard. Because if anyone is going to fix THIS (motioning to all of myself), it's going to be me. My way. My terms.
#it helps to see the potential
Once upon a time, my ex-man and I decided that we were going to join a big fat gym and the spiffy membership included a Hot Jock trainer (he really was both Hot and a Jock). My then-man was the type that was super dynamic and athletic-like, and could easily build muscle and so, the Hot Jock focused most of his energy with him. I think he pretty much wrote me off. It was awkward for me to be in that environment when my "official" training experience in a gym was directly relational to building stamina and strength to be a better competing athlete. It was weird and awkwardly intimidating to be in a room with men and women...many of whom were there to meet-market in workout clothes...I just kinda went covert-shy and tried/prayed to be invisible. When Hot Jock actually got around to working with me one-on-one, he realized that I had an unusual flexibility (thank you, years of dancing), and was ironically strong (thank you, Hawaiian genes). Oh, and that my style wasn't to swear at him and be a witch with a B. I remember seeing his handwritten notes after a couple of sessions that said I was in poor physical shape...but it had been scratched out and written beneath it was "great potential - great range of motion and endurance. Easy to work with." So there was something to me...even if he didn't see it at first.
#totally NOT one size fits all
Bodies come in all shapes and sizes. There's not one perfect type/kind. It's funny, because I guess looking at me, there are often assumptions that I can't do...whatever. But, given the opportunity, one will discover that there's a LOT I can do. For instance, carry my side of the couch up two flights of stairs one handed. Or, still do a back flip on a trampoline. Or, still carry ALL of my mother's groceries in from the car up the stairs in one trip. I can still pick up my 15 year old...and can fireman hold my man...just for fun. I could probably also rip a car off of my kid if the adrenaline was sufficient...or detach someone's face if my off was pissed enough. But that doesn't happen too often, so I can just talk about that, not actually show my Hulk. Not today, at least. My previous point is that in a world of skinny, I have come to realize that my inclination or propensity is not ever going to be twiggy. When I get there, it will be hella strong, but not thin-like...and I would rather be the former than the latter. I would rather do 5 pull ups than be 95 pounds. Just sayin'.
#David Lopez @ VCF3
When I met David (name NOT changed, because, well, he's rad and has been a huge supporter) (Except, I'm going to call him Super David...and initialize his name for the rest of the story (SD)), it was at a baseball field years ago. His wife and I had been friends during our high school years and I LOOOOVE HER which also made me easily befriend him. Our (then little) boys were on the same youth league baseball team, which meant we would have at least two days a week gettin' together and chattin' it up. During that time, I learned that SD had been a trainer for 8ish years at a large gym in the area and had decided to go it on his own. My past-experience with Hot Jock had admittedly left kind of a bad taste in my mouth for trainers. But I sincerely trusted SD, because contrary to my externally-based former exposure, I knew what would be different is that HE wouldn't judge me or write me off for not being in elite-fit shape. I knew he would be tough on me and push me to places that would work me out of my comfort zones, but he wouldn't break me in the process for his own amusement. I also watched him work with his children, which gave me a perspective of the kind of responsible, deliberate, but with a sense of humor person that he was. I made a choice and I gave him a shot.
For the sake of my story, I have to air my flaws, one of which is that I fall straight on my face at being consistent in fitness. I'm REALLY good with things that I'm good at. But this is not one of those things. I admit that I will go all-in HARD...and then my life interferes and distracts me...and then it becomes super easy to justify not going, or not doing, or getting stressed out and not eating rabbit food, but instead, being content to eat almost a whole bag (fine, A WHOLE BAG) of something deliciously salty...or delectably chocolatey...or perfectly cake-like...or cinnamon-roll-like...or something irresistible like that...you know, hypothetically. Part of the experience of fitness is purely mental. It's a LOT work, a greater part nutrition, and an even more epic part mental. It's a butt kicker...I mean, brain? kicker? Whatever, you know what I'm trying to say. The challenge is more expansive than JUST limited to the physical. So, falling back into known habits, it's common. Justifying the quit is typical. And my reasons WERE good: I was finishing my first master's, I was dealing with some hell-ey things at work, I was getting sick, my kids needed me...I couldn't keep things together, so I cut out the workout part of my life. Because I could. And while a part of me wallowed in guilt, another part of me was happy not to have to get up at 4:30am to drive to a workout...but rather, happier to wrap the duvet over my head to have an extra few minutes of morning nap time before I went to work. It would only be for a little while. I thought I would pause for a month or so until things calmed down. So, yeah...I paused...
For, like, a YEAR. Seriously, don't judge me.
What I appreciate most about SD is that when I reached out to him, hesitantly, humbly, he was cool. He wasn't an elbow-face because I had been gone for so long. He didn't ask me how many boxes of peanut butter crunch cereal I had eaten for dinner in the last month. He didn't try to break my face on the first day. And he didn't make me run around the adjacent building pulling a sled with a 45 pound weight on it straight out the gate...no, he waited a few months for that one specifically (and it was brutal, but I did it - and he totally knew I could, even when I didn't know I could). He flat-out accepted that I was at a completely sub-level compared to everyone else and he gladly worked with that. I don't think everyone is that patient...or that understanding. Again, Hot Jock blew me off initially...and what was (gratefully) obtuse in this moment with SD was that I was inclined to try harder because I knew I could trust his judgment and his expertise.
So, another flaw is that I am guilty of sometimes letting myself off the hook. My excuses play into that. They're my mechanisms. I recognized that, and planned accordingly. To prevent my own sabotage, I recruited a personal support fail-safe: my little brother. The valedictorian. The track sprinter and hurdler. The 18 year old with, like, 7.4% body fat...it's way mis-matched. We can't complain to each other the way I could with someone my own age, or whatever, but this has been surprisingly better. It wasn't about being physically similar, rather being present for this torture, I mean, experience together. I would HAVE to go if he was there, right? Right. Even if he kicks my tush in everything. Even if he can do 100 pull ups (jerk). Doesn't matter. Going. Doing.
I have to throw in that SD is a bad ass. I mean, he's this ex-marine guy...he's the kind of guy that is waaaay nice, but you don't want to cross this guy or give him reason to be mad...EVER. The outcome for you would be painful and just very bad. You would end up being the one peeling yourself off of the wall. When he means business, HE MEANS BUSINESS. It's funny, because when my brother first started, on the way home from his first workout, he was a little scared. He asked questions like, "Has he ever yelled at you??" And my answer was simple: No, I've never given him reason to.
So, SD does super early (5am) classes. He does the night class (6pm) on Monday and Friday (which ended up being more friendly with my schedule). On Tuesday and Thursday, it's another trainer...and this is where my story begins...I mean, like, with a point, begins.
I've already established that the fitness/training relationship is initially very awkward. For good reason. You're putting EV-RYYY-THING out there...and trusting that they 1) won't roll on the ground and laugh at you while pointing, 2) won't break you for their own sick and twisted amusement, and 3) will know how to modify moves in the event that your legs, knees, back, shoulders, coccyx, gallbladder, or your face, are/is broken. And interfacing with a substitute...(while great because you don't miss a workout) presents some challenges for one like me. I mean, it's fine, but it is "interesting".
SD was doing something one particular day when I had started coming to the evening classes. I didn't realize it until it was too late. When I walked in with my brother, I looked at her, NOT SD, then I looked at my brother like, 'who is this lady?' And then, I made the unforgivable mistake - I made eye contact. UGH!!!
It was a Tuesday. Not SD is a sickeningly super cute lady. It's difficult not to describe her in a not-nice way, because the truth is that she's way nice. And her workouts are good stuff...but to add to the drama of my story...and to clearly articulate my unreasonable (meh) annoyance, I must go back to the beginning where I didn't care that she was nice. In my mind, she was only about trying to kill me.
There I was, one of a group of many struggling workout persons (ahem-victims) just trying to get through the reps properly without being killed. Remember when I wrote about Hot Jock? And the good stuff that I got out of the SD workouts?? I HAVE a really good functional and form foundation (more from SD than anyone else). I KNOW how to properly squat (even with a torturously heavy kettle bell). I KNOOW how to lunge (even though I would rather stick needles in my eyeballs than lunge...especially so when its also with an absurdly heavy kettle bell). I KNOOOW how to do freaking high-knees (even though I feel like an elephant doing high-knees with or without a kettle bell). I KNOOOOW how to do burpees (even thought I would rather lick my feet than do any likeness of a burpee). And even though I have complete malignity toward said exercises, I still DO them...willingly, fully, correctly...because I know why I'm there. It's like being a kid and having to eat your spinach (even though I love spinach - I get it, it's a bad example, but it's the only one I could drum up to illustrate my point!), they may not like it, but they'll eat it. So, here I am, doing my thing...minding my form, not doing it crazy fast (because I ALWAYS worry about giving it 100% at first and then being the limp noodle on the floor after the first rep...oh, and then not being able to use my arms or legs for at least 3 days thereafter...). From a self-preservation standpoint, I always push myself, but usually not toward immediate fatal fallout. Again, don't judge me.
When I got to the place where I was BURNING and taking it a little slower (to get through the whole session), she was all over me. And I nodded politely. Then, when I was burpeeing until my arms were shaky, she was all over me. And I smiled through a slimy, sweaty face...like my laundry lady who doesn't know/care what the love I'm talking about. And she wasn't, like, being a hole all over me, just giving me pointers and trying to make it better for me. Did she not get it??? I WAS TRYING TO BE INVISIBLE!!! But no, this lady was trying to be helpful! And FRIENDLY!! And TALKATIVE!!! DON'T TALK TO ME!!! Don't walk by modeling your well-sculpted shoulders!! Or your perfect bubble butt!! Or your, like, SIZE 00 waist!! Just let me be elephant-like by myself!!! STOP with your PERKY encouragement!! Do I LOOK like I want to hear your happy, ring-like voice telling me I can do it?!? So, I nick-named her (shamefully). PITA: Pain In The Abs.
So, talk points: 1) PITA, CLEARLY, based on the shape she's in, knows her stuff. You don't get shoulders like that from throwin' back Dr. Pepper's and toaster pastries. And I get that. SD also would NOT have asked her to sub for a class if HE hadn't have trusted her. I knew all of this. I just didn't care. 2) I am an outwardly happy participant, but inwardly? It's a war: I'm a complaining, insecure, grouchy worker-outer. These are my flaws. I'm just making you privvy to my honest madness. 3) MY attitude totally barred me from accepting her help - LEARN FROM ME, PEOPLE, PLEASE. And it's not because her advice and instruction wasn't true or valid or qualified...it's just that I was prideful and prejudiced and biased because (simply) she wasn't SD...and she wasn't what I wanted...and didn't know me...and there was no acceptable SD substitutions...and I didn't care. Pbthtt. In this instance, I didn't want or like change...so there. 4) I just wanted to complain because she was more better than me...I'm admitting it.
I sent SD a facebook message that night. To whine. Politely. And he patiently put me back on track. Because sometimes I'm a weenie. And I know it. The honest truth is that I would feel the same distrust and harsh suspicion for a different hairdresser, or a different dentist...even though I CHOSE to do it. I'm just stupid-lame that way.
I poked holes in my over-inflated ego. I did what SD said, and I stuck with it. I still prefer SD more than anyone else, but I've come to embrace everything that PITA has to offer, because, like I said, she's REALLY, REALLY nice. And trying to help me/us get better. And even though I was a jerk in my head and was secretly scowley, she let me be. But I know better. Just because it's a different style or approach or personal spin...it doesn't make it a bad thing. I get great stuff out of both trainers. Just in different methods and through different theories. Neither of them let me off of the hook, it's just one (SD) knows better what I'm capable of because of time and testing, and places emphasis on that potential. I've given him a chance and that flavor totally works for me. Also, the very thing that irritated me about being pre-judged by trainers is exactly what I was doing in reverse to PITA. My training issues have NOTHING to do with her...and making her the scape goat for my hissy-fit was just a launch pad to another justification. Only this time, it wasn't. Because I WANT to get better...and I need every ounce of help I can get. Including her's.
#break it down
I totally, publicly, sincerely repent of being mean...and calling her a nick-name...even though it was a really true and appropriate moniker. There was some SERIOUS pain in my abs, and an overabundance of burpees and lunges. It's the spirit behind it that was unnecessary...and unkind. I just got over myself because I knew if someone would have done that to me, it would have hurt my feelers. See??!? I'm not totally without a heart...and I know better.
The moral of the story is that my dumpy attitude contributes to my means of success. Sowing good things, brings good things in every way, shape, thought and action. Applying that mental piece in a positive way is vital. If I think it's a drag, it will become even moreso as a manifestation of my mental state. Mental is a powerful key to personal adaptation and achievement. Feeding positive thoughts into that machine is what will bring positive results. Anything negative becomes amplified. We become what we cultivate.
Love who you are. Be mindful of how you face personal adversity. Sow kindness. Give what you can to all things. Accept that some days, your best will be failure, but that will be a catalyst for growth, change and self-evolution.
Whatever your journey, you can do it...even if it means you have a few reps of burpees. You'll get through it. You may surprise yourself.