Monday, May 23, 2011

Mind Games


186.6 lbs. Yep, the dreaded plateau. Snort. I’d eat plateaus for breakfast, but they lack fiber.

It’s May in Los Angeles and yet there was a woman wearing either painted-on jean or jeggings (Ugh. Just ugh.) and big FURRY white boots. Is the Clydesdale Look in this year? I can never keep up. They should get together with the women walking around with the gauzy little tops and huge riding boots.

Limits are like your muscles. They need to be stretched.
This is Ragen Chastain, who is a dancer and AFAA certified fitness professional. You can look at this picture and think, "I could never do that" and be right. You could also look at this picture and think, "Man, I can't wait to be able to do that" and be right.  (Ragen's blog about fitness at any size is www.danceswithfat.wordpress.com) I want to be able to do that.

Did you ever read Frank Herbert’s “Dune” or see the God-awful movie? I forget who handed the book to me, but the “Litany of Fear” from the Bene Gesserit really stuck with me:

I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.

One of my least favorite exercises is the Prone Leg Curl. There is a machine for a Seated Leg Curl, but for me (and I speak strictly for myself), the prone position is more difficult (could be because it isolates the muscles more than seated. I don’t know). I make myself do it because it is the more difficult of the two options and in the words of JFK announcing the race to the moon: “…We choose to go to the moon and do the other things because they are hard…”

I used to ski. Not well. I could zoom down the bunny slopes, but it would take me forever to get down the intermediate or advanced runs. Part was being out of shape (muscles weren't strong enough to hold the correct form), part was I fucking hate being cold, but also because I would not challenge myself by tackling those tougher slopes on my own. I’d bomb the bunny slopes at Pico Peak and keep doing the same thing over and over because I was afraid to push myself. I never improved and remained in my rut.

When Torquemada told me I should do an hour of cardio six times a week and vary my speeds on the treadmill from 3 MPH up to 5 MPH, I couldn’t see myself being able to do this without passing out. Running? Me? Are you MAD? They’d be cleaning barf off the treadmill 6 days a week and I don’t need the cleaning crew getting mad at me.

6 years ago, the last time I undertook a regular exercise program, I didn’t try to push past my limits. And I didn’t see the numbers drop.

Today, I pegged the weight stacks one level higher than I had last week (they’re not all in 10 lb. increments, so it could be an increase of 15 lbs.). My muscles burned like I had just gotten kicked by Mrs. O’Leary’s cow (reference to the Great Chicago Fire. I was on Jeopardy, remember?)  and they trembled at the end of the session, even when I was resting in between sets on the abdominal stack (all over, they trembled), but I pushed past my mental limit and found I had what I needed to move upward. THAT particular plateau was busted.

I hit the Rotating Staircase of Death again. While I don’t see myself able to pull off a chirpy little trot for a half-hour, I increased my speed from 33 steps per minute to 40. And I completed it. Again, muscles screaming and trembling but they came through and I completed 65 floors (or more. I think). I kept telling myself, "Keep pushing." 

Muscle definition is emerging. I have biceps. Guns, almost. We’re not talking the veiny, gross Madonna style arms, nor even the First Lady’s, but they’re not the flesh bolognas they were. I can actually see where my collarbones are, not just imagine them.

My legs always respond quickly to exercise, but the inner and outer thigh muscles always lag behind. Not this time. Those suckers are falling with the program. As is the butt. The Rotating Staircase of Death is like combining weight training with cardio for the hamstrings, quads and glutes.

The abdominals are still buried under The Great White Belly, but they’re able to work against greater weight.

I pushed myself. I pushed through all of my fears: of pain, of failure and of being judged harshly by others. I found success.

 One of the least favorite things I’d hear from the parental units (and some mean-ass teachers) as I was growing was “Not working up to potential.” Well, I am now.


1 comment:

Keep it civil.