Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I want it! Gimmee!

I want it sooooooooo bad. It is within my reach and I can almost get it but not....quite....yet. But I can see it. It's there. I am on the way.

ugh! But I want it now!

I have to say that I am totally stoked about where I am in my training right now. Not only am I happy with the progress I am making (specifically in the triceps and hamstrings department) but I am also getting such great feedback on the progress of my "clients" (people I boss around regarding their nutrition and exercise plans). They're doing awesome and it just energizes me to see their hard work pay off and hear them talk about their success.

I'm also entering a phase of just being more driven and focused than I have been in a while, which is a good thing considering that the holidays are coming up. This is a tricky time of year for anyone who is dedicated to healthy lifestyles, because of all the yummy goodies around and the societal pressure to over-indulge. It is the most important time to remember that food is not a treat, and not be tricked into thinking that you are "treating" yourself by eating Christmas goodies. They're yummy but they're not a treat. They're just food.

But this time of year is also tricky because of my wacky travel and workout schedules. It's the time when everyone schedules wrap-up year-end meetings, usually at lunch, so my lunchtime workouts get scrambled up. Then, I travel for Thanksgiving and Christmas and have to sell my soul to get guest passes at my sister's gym. And inevitably, I get sick and miss a few days. It's a real challenge to make it to January without feeling like I need to detox.

But this year, I am having a hard time seeing those things as obstacles. I am so close to my goal, and having such a great time getting to it, that I don't need or want a break from my regular routine. I know people won't understand when I pass up their holiday goodies or get up early to exercise on a holiday, but I just don't want to lose this momentum. And, I'm kinda used to people not understanding me anyway so that's no biggie.

I guess what it comes down to right now is remembering that there is life after the holidays. Specifically, there is January - a flood light of realization that those cookies and candy canes and second helpings of egg nog didn't leave once your Christmas guests packed their bags and headed for home. I'd like to skip that part and enter January a few steps ahead.

So, it's time to amp up the cardio and really lift heavy to maximize the gym time I do have this month so I can enjoy the holidays with my family and friends without taking a hit to the belt in exchange. I can't guarantee I won't eat a cookie or two, after all, I am human. But I am also going to spend the holidays increasing my running stride, improving my push-up, and keeping one eye focused on January. What's the point of busting your ass all year just to let it go in one month?

So, we're off! Race ya!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Ramblings Somewhat Related to Something Substantive

Well, there's good news and there's bad news.

The good news is that I've set a date. The bad news is that it's really far away! And, brace yourself, I am not exactly known for my patience.

July 2009 is the next available contest, so that's when I'll belly up to the bar and see what I'm made of. I suspect it will be a combination of guts and glory, and hopefully a little moxie. I sincerely hope we don't find out that I am made of anything consisting of a gooey center.

I'm a little bummed that I won't accomplish this in 2008. I like nice, neat, tidy goals that get accomplished and checked off within the course of a year so I can tear away the calendar page on December 31 with a flourish and lick the end of my pencil to chart the next year's new projects (watch for triathlons in 2009). But this particular goal has taken on a life of its own, so it shouldn't be a surprise that I've lost control of it a little bit. I'll choose to see it as a metaphor for the whole "fitness is a journey, not a destination" mantra. And in my case, I've taken the scenic route and stopped in the gift shop a few times.

So while I am slightly annoyed, I'm also glad to have a deadline, even if it is 8 months away. It gives me a lot more time to work on my strength, skills, speed, and agility, which I need. It gives me more time to obsess over my body, which I probably don't need. But, it also gives me something I need more than anything else- a reminder that I can be flexible, accommodating, and - dare I say it? - spontaneous in the way that I approach this goal. So it doesn't happen in 2008. No biggie. I can deal.

Because, to be honest, I am glad that I have 8 more months of training ahead of me. I am not ready for this journey to end.

Okay, so we all know that I will never really be spontaneous. But, my workouts lately have required some spontaneity as they more resemble a game of 5th-grade dodge ball than your run-of-the-mill cardio-and-weights routine. It's different from anything I have ever done, and while sometimes I truly question the sanity of my trainer, I am having a great time. I'm challenged, I'm sore, and most importantly, I am progressing in my overall goal of total fitness. Who would want that to end?

So today's blog is really just a collection of rambling thoughts...and that's kind of how this goal process has been for me. I've rambled through ups and downs, two trainers, a couple of injuries, a few set-backs, and two pairs of weight lifting gloves. And for the first time in my life, I'm cool with not racing to the finish line. I've found my stride, and I want to be in it for a while.

But that doesn't mean I'm taking it easy. Did I mention I've set a date? Let's quit yakking and get to the gym.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Sideshow Spectacular

I am starting to think that maybe Capt. Awesome is just messing with me.

In the past month, our workouts have gone from challenging to just plain crazy. Not that I'm complaining - I am loving the results and am making great progress. But every once in a while I think that he's fulfilling some kind of wacky dare to see what he can make me do next.

"Okay, we're going to do squats on the BOSU ball but you have to balance this tea set on your head and sing 'Yankee Doodle Dandy'."

"Strap on these ankle weights, hold this medicine ball over your head, and jump over this bench while I let a starved lion try to bite your ankles."

"I want to see how many push-ups you can do in a minute. Wait - first I need to stack these monster truck tires on your back. Okay, go."

But I'm totally doing it. Part of it is pride - I just can't give up even when I want to. But part of it is because it's just plain fun. I love trying this wacky stuff and seeing how I measure up. I'm not doing all that well to be honest - most of the time my lack of athleticism becomes apparent very quickly. But I am giving it a good shot and trying to get better. Although I have to admit, I am getting pretty good at jumping rope with one arm tied behind my back.

The results speak for themselves. After a month, I am down another couple percentage points in my body fat, getting and feeling stronger, and definitely becoming more agile. I think it is feasible to be at my goal in a few months, and that is very exciting.

But the most exciting part is that I feel like I am actively working towards my Monster Goal - reaching my MGP. Yeah, it's the kind of goal that I'll always have. I don't expect to wake up one day and say, "well, here I am. I can stop now." But it is so much fun to take a few more steps each day towards being the best possible version of my physical self. I just can't find the words to explain how much I love that concept. And, seeing the small changes in my quadriceps make the 4:15 AM wake-up call worth it.

But while that's all well and good, one thing does loom in my head - the obstacle course. It's going to happen. I've set a date (finally) and have some time to work on my skills. And although jumping around like a crazy woman, running through hoops of fire, and juggling puppies while doing walking lunges is fun, I kinda need a master plan.

So, Awesome can bring the crazy, but I've got a challenge of my own for him: we're going to draw ourselves a little map from here to there. It can include starving lions and monster truck tires, but it has to get us there on time and in fighting form.

I'll be honest - my main motivation in creating a fail-proof plan is to reduce the level of public humiliation I am about to face. There is the very real chance for that at this shin-dig, and while I enjoy making my friends laugh, I'd rather they be laughing with me when I am lying on the ground in a puddle of shame. So when I tackle that rope wall or run madly towards hurdles, I want to do it with the belief that I did everything within my power to prepare, and any failure that occurs is just the wrath of a vengeful God, still ticked at me for something I've long forgotten.

But I've started going to confession just to cover my bases.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Out of the Closet

Wow, today was hard.

Monday runs are usually full of energy after two days off, so that was okay. But it was legs day, and after box jumps while wearing ankle weights and holding a 10-lb medicine ball, then 135-lb BOSU ball squats at the mercy of Awesome who refused to count reps that didn't break the plane (I did number 8 about four times...), then about a kazillion walking lunges and then 250 lbs on the leg press....I am beat. But I like knowing that I can squat more than my body weight. Okay, so only half a pound more, but still more. :)

My training is going well. Nutrition is great these days - it feels so good to eat clean, healthy, purposeful foods. Workouts are fantastic - Captain Awesome is getting tough and I am working harder than ever. I'm seeing the results and I feel great. And even more importantly, I am having a blast. It is so much fun to push myself to new limits and be rewarded for that effort. I am finally getting to a point in my life where regardless of how the numbers come out when I step on the scale or test my body composition, I know that the way I am living is the way I want to be forever.

And, I am glad to be "out". It catches me off-guard sometimes when people who have known me a long time are suprised by this endeavor. It's been a goal of mine for as long as I can remember, but I forget that I didn't start talking about it until relatively recently.

So this weekend when my mom commented that she was suprised I was so into this hobby, I was reminded that while this has always been on my mind, it is relatively new to everyone else I know. I was never athletic as a kid and shunned sports in favor of writing, theatre, music, and reaching new levels of brooding sarcasm. So to hear me talk about jumping hurdles and climbing rope walls is a little out of context for the rest of my family. I think they half expected me to teach history in a college somewhere and write scathing letters to the editor of the local paper pointing out grammatical errors for the rest of my life.

And that would also be fun. But no, I want to be a bodybuilder.

And the only explanation I can come up with is that this goal is hard, and the things people are used to me doing are easy. I write every day and love it, but it is more of a therapeutic puzzle than a challenge. Music and theatre were fun, but I didn't feel driven to become really good at them. As for brooding sarcasm and snark, well, I'll never be able to give those up.

But weightlifting is hard. Training is hard. Pushing myself to new physical limits is hard. Doing things that are difficult make me feel more alive, and that's how I feel when I work out. When I leave the gym and haven't completely exhausted myself, I am frustrated and disappointed. If I don't doubt my ability to drive home from the gym, I'm probably going to have a mediocre day.

There is a certain level of apprehension about being this open about my goal, the most obvious being that if I fail, more people know about it. But it also feels good to be "out". So... hi. I'm Heather, and I might not be what you expected.