Thursday, January 28, 2016

The matter of wimpiness

I got my baseline fitness taken at HCFit today. I had to do as many of this or that exercise in a minute. Pushups were good- I could do 28 pushups in a row! Then I had to pause a bit and then strain to do another 5, one at a time, before the minute was up. I felt really good about it. There were  a couple exercises I was not so pleased with myself over. During one, shoulder press maybe, I actually said, "Uhhg, so wimpy!" which the trainer Jake immediately refuted. 

I don't say I'm wimpy in this or that moment to be defeatist or self degrading. I don't say it to comment harshly on being weak. wimpy and weak are not the same. Wimpy is a useful word. I use it to note when I stop, or slow, or want to stop, due to willpower as opposed to physical ability. It's the difference between "I can't keep going" and "I don't want to keep going." 

Head game is a huge part of any physical activity, and building willpower is as important in strength training as building muscle. Lots of early attempts at physical fitness are thwarted due to people not getting past the deficit in willpower, which is usually more significant than deficits in physical ability. 

It's the reason why couch-to-5k was such a great program for me. It takes you by the hand and has you verrrry gradually build up running time. In my opinion, this is to help you grow how much you think you can run and how much running you can expect yourself to do faster than how much you can actually run. 

In my experience, once you build up a baseline of the headspace or of this kind of willpower, you can start really working physically, because this is when you can push yourself to your physical limits instead of your perceived limits.

Since I started last week, and since I'd been toying a bit with pushups the week or so before, I have a pretty well developed willpower when it comes to pushups. I really did go as far ad I could today, and it felt good. In a few other exercises I could feel that my lack of ability to make myself do more was hindering me even though my physical ability wasn't. That is wimpiness. And that is one of the things I'm training to work on. 

There's nothing wrong with me calling that out, noting where I'm weak mentally or physically to mark the achievement later when I find I'm stronger.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Back to the Blog: re-up

I haven't posted in... several years. In fact I just posted a couple times then never again. But my quest to become a physical badass hasn't lagged all that time.

Okay, it's lagged most of that time, but not the entire time.

So where are things now? Halfway through my May challenge. Last November I decided to give myself a challenge like the marathon was for me. A couple years ago I trained for six months and went from not being able to run 3 miles in a go  to running more than 26. Suddenly one of my life goals of being able to casually run for 40+ minutes is slam dunked (I mean, maintaining that is another story). But how did I achieve that much finally? There were a number of things, but I believe a clear deadline had a lot to do with it. And that's something I can give myself for my strength goals. So last November I decided to give myself 6 months, or until the end of the first week of May, to a) get ripped, and b) have established strength training as a permanent part of my lifestyle.

I know, it's not as well-defined a goal as "run 26.2 miles in one go" but it's something. Do I have specifics like being able to do 200 push-ups or finally being able to to pull-ups or anything? No. I just want to be ripped. I'm working toward being able to do pull-ups and lots of push-ups, but I think specifics may get in my way here. We'll see, I guess.

What have I done so far?

For one, I joined a bootcamp gym, which is centered on group HIT classes. The first week I went 3 days in a row, and 3 months later that's still my best streak. I'm supposed to go a minimum of 3-5 times a week, as in only 3 days as a regular thing is insufficient. If I want to utilize my membership [read: make it worth anything at all] I need to start working it into my weekly routine. Which means ultimately putting it into my actual work/school schedule. Tough. Tough scheduling-wise, and also tough physically. This place makes me feel like a wimpy noodle of whinyness. Also, making this really happen is going to require me to get an inhaler, but dealing with my health care is a whole other drama.

Another, though technically part of the first, is that the gym came with a nutrition program, which is basically the most intense diet I'll ever do. Just working myself up to approximate some of the features in this diet has been a process for me, and after 3 months I still haven't gotten into it enough to actually log my meals/calories reliably, nor actually contain my "break" meals to one day a week. But the changes in my diet and the way I approach preparing and consuming food have still been large, the largest waves in any part of my life since I began the May challenge.

So, I have done not really anything at all physical in the past month. At all. I didn't visit the gym once. My substantial dues totally un-utilized. I have been particularly angsting about this this past week, and sort of came back to myself.

And decided to re-up.

Your life is every day you live it. If you want something to be part of your life, a part of your daily lifestyle, you should be doing it today and tomorrow.

A couple days ago I tore out the pages of a calendar and taped Jan-May to the sliding mirror-door of my closet. A brilliant stroke, if I may say. It is at eye-level or above, is impossible to ignore, and visually lays bare how many days I've spent and how many I have left. As of yesterday, I had exactly 15 weeks, or 106 days. Next Tuesday is the 100 day mark. yikes

These past few days while angsting about all this I did not go to the gym, or go running, or even do my Batman abs workout. But today I did start the onehundredpushups program, complete with updating their log. I also started lunges and squats. Not only were all three doable, they were practically easy, which is great. On Monday I'll do Day 2 of those programs, perhaps while I'm hanging around CSUN.

ALSO, today I looked up door frame pull-up bars and decided that tomorrow I'm going to go around to a few sporting goods stores to buy one and also some resistance bands to stand on. Even if I can't go to the gym, I can still work towards pull-ups, and I can't believe it's taken me this long to realize I should just get that infrastructure to be able to do it easily at home. Being able to do pull-ups has been one of the major goals since the beginning.

To sum up: I started a 6-month strength-training challenge 3 months ago, petered out immediately, and then just now have gotten a fresh wave of motivation and enthusiasm. I joined a gym I'm not currently going to at all, a diet I'm only partially following, and have pretty much not done anything else. But starting a couple days ago, or today really, I'm getting myself back in gear. Let's hope I keep it up.