Steely Dan & My Old School is a great song to listen to at 5:15 am. Not sure why, but it works. So does Pink Floyd, Eddie Money – or any other song blasting over the speakers.
Yesterday and today I managed a full 20 minutes on the torture device that disguises itself as an ellipical "walker". In reality it is a bucking bronco, trying to dislodge me from its flanks. Or maybe it's an earthquake machine, a physical representation of Plate Tectonics in action. I look like a sailor recovering from my off-shore leave as I lurch across the deck that carries me nowhere. Certainly it’s cousin is the fun-house floor.
Besides the challenge of staying upright, the machine takes perverse pleasure in sucking all the air from my lungs. I sound like a freight-train chuffing along about 2 seconds into the 20 minutes. I am amazed that anyone can read while navigating these shifting sands. It takes all my non-athletic skill to stay upright as I reach for my towel to end the thunderstorm of sweat pouring off my face and neck.
Today I was able to do all two sets of 12 reps with the full amount of weight on ALL the machines. Except that blasted "Overhead Press". It really should be named the, "I laugh-in-your-face, you will never raise your hands above your head with 30 pounds, you stupid red-headed girl" machine. But the evilness known as the "Pull your hands/elbows together as if you think praying will do any good machine" or as it’s labeled, the “Chest Press” has been conquered. For today. At a measly 30 lbs. I'm going to wait and see how we get along for 5 days before considering increasing the weight so I can feel like a loser all over again.
Today, as I filled out my progress card, I realized I’ve been doing this for a month now. The first week I started contained Christmas Eve/Christmas Day. The second week had New Years Eve and New Years day – when the Y was closed. Besides those times, I have been faithful. 5 days a week I am up and there. I’ve made the routine work for me, and I’ve been harsh with myself. There is no good reason except certified illness to miss one of the five days. If I miss a weekday, I must make it up on Saturday or Sunday.
I’ve stopped putting roadblocks in my way. Showering there just seemed like a hassle. But since I go so early in the morning, there’s no reason for me to not come home and slip back into my “normal” morning routine. Shower, wet hair wrapped in a towel, bathing beauty style, while I eat my breakfast and read the newspaper. I have had to abandon my morning writing time, but have become diligent about writing at night when I don’t have other obligations.
But there is more than “me” in this effort. Once again, I am so blessed with amazing friends. I have my own e-trainer, the lovely SLuciferi, and a cheering team consisting of Didi-bo-Pimp-Daddy, Dilly, and C. Horsey. Their encouragement and suggestions are further reinforcement to stick to this.
For years, I kept saying to myself, “I’d work out, if there was someone to work out with me.” I find it ironic that now I want no one near me while I’m working out. You stay in your space and I’ll stay in mine, is my motto and demeanor at the gym. So far, the glare of concentration, the closed eyes, or staring at the ground have worked well to keep everyone away. But I think most of the 5 am’ers are like me. Except 90% of them are serious athletes. “SERIOUS, SERIOUS, SCARY IN SHAPE, RUN FULL OUT ON THE TREADMILL FOR AN HOUR” insane type “in-shape”. A few of them have begun to give me the high sign with their chin when they see me heading from the bike or the elliptical over to the circuit. I like to be vain and think it’s because they are impressed with my commitment and steadfastness.
When I first began, SLuciferi, encouraged me to take measurements and track my weight. I’ve done neither of those things. Her thinking is that I will be inspired to see the change. But I’ve been down this road before. For me, discouragement comes from NOT seeing the scale change, for not getting a quick enough “reward” for steadfastness and dedication. So I’ve decided to let different numbers encourage me. The numbers I am tracking, I spoke of at the top of this post.
Except for my upper body – I’ve improved my weight and ability to complete reps on all the circuit machines. I’ve increased my endurance – slightly. I have set goals of being able to cycle/elip for a half hour with a heart rate of 93-153 bpm. Right now I’m at 142 for 20 minutes, and I started at 90 for 10 minutes.
Currently I can leg press at 110 pounds. I am happy with that number. Most of the other leg stuff hovers around 50 pounds. I’d like to get that up to the 90-110 pound range there too. I refuse to become discouraged about my upper body strength. I’ve never had it. I can feel my form getting all “wonky” on the 2nd set of reps. I am going to concentrate on improving form – and ease of completing the task rather than the amount of weight, for the time being. Another tip she gave me is to not “zone out” while on the machines. To make the first set quick and swift. Then really think about what I’m doing on the second set, to think about what muscles I am using and what they are telling me. This suggestion fills me with endless amusement.
When I get to those second reps you can bet I am thinking, “What the ‘f’ am I doing here?” And my muscles are quite clever in the way they signal to me which ones I am using. I have no idea how I could ignore the “Hey! You! What the hell brought this on?” message they are sending me, accompanied by little jolts of voltage. But I whisper, “Shssssh! Look how sleek and strong you are becoming!” “Look how great you are performing!” “You are becoming stellar performers, and soon EVERYONE will be able to see your beauty.” It hasn’t shut them up, but it has seemed to pacify them somewhat. Or at least they haven’t gone on strike!
I know there’s one more component I haven’t mentioned. It’s one I don’t want to face. It’s one that calls for more discipline than I am willing to employ. Every morning as I spend my time at the Y, I hear EliteR’s words about “negative net calories” being the key. Over all, I do a eat healthy, well-balanced diet. But I am NOT “expend[ing] more calories during physical activity than … [I] take in through eating”. I’ve been pondering this too every morning as I try to stay on the Plate Tectonics Replica. Why expend all of this energy – literally to only go half-way? My current forty minutes of exercise is only expending around 300 calories. Not even one bowl of cold cereal and glass of milk for breakfast. I’m unwilling to go too far into this … I am not willing to radically change the way I cook and eat and enjoy food. I am however willing to think about portion control. To be more observant about quantity. We’ll see where I am in April. After the week in Memphis and the 10 days in England. Maybe the answer is to add another exercise two or three nights a week. I don’t know how reasonable that is with my current schedule. I know I’ll have to find a way to keep exercising while traveling for work. When I stay in larger towns, the hotels usually have some form of workout room. Usually a bike. Maybe an earthquake machine. In the smaller towns, I guess it’s walking the parking lot.
In the meantime, I want to thank “Team Mit”. Thank you for the ideas, the support, and encouragement.