Sunday, May 18, 2014

A Change is Gonna Come: Pt 1/Getting Fit at Home

Remember Anne Hathaway's debut?

The Princess Diaries?  The invisible girl with a retainer and unmanageable hair, who had never been kissed?

Remember the transformation scene?  When she suddenly realized she was beautiful (had been all along) and now everyone else saw it too.

That's what the gym did for me.

Last May, I hit the ground running.  I studied, without realizing it, and learned how to transform my body.  I studied form and muscle groups and I asked questions and practiced in mirrors.  I noticed plateaus and burst through them.  I added plyos when needed and one day I remember I walked into that big gym and it didn't scare me anymore.

I arranged my day around my gym session.  Only one hour at a time, I went it to do work and got it done.  On bad days I made myself venture out onto the main floor, outside of the crossfit room.  Where the heavy weights were.  Where the men were. And worse, the sports bra clad women.

I didn't see a significant change on the scale, but I did in my clothes.  Suddenly, my quad was cut.  And so were my delts.  And I knew what that meant.

My knee started popping so I did some research and realized I was overworking my quad and underworking my hamstring, and so I increased my deadlifts.

Which killed my lower back.

So I dropped weight, increased reps and bought a foam roller.

Guys, this made my heart beat.  This was how I took care of myself.

I had a few run ins with the trainers out there.  And by run-ins I mean: I, the invisible Mia Thermopolis, Anne Hathaway, Audrey Hepburn circa Sabrina, 1954, caught the eye of the trainers.  I only mention this because they were who I was scared of.  The ones who were supposed to know what they're doing.  I needed to stay away from them, just in case I messed up.

We don't mess up publicly around here.  No sir.

We mess up privately and then correct ourselves, so when we debut in public no one ever knows.  No one ever knows.

(Yeah.  Um.  Except for the unwed pregnancy bit.  But we won't talk about that.)

But they saw me.  Over the course of the year there were more than a few, actually.  Saw me, approached me, praised me.  It made me proud to know they thought I worked hard.  And that out of all the people they might notice, I was one of them.

There was one day, a few weeks ago, when Larry and Emily came and watched Judah for one Sunday afternoon while I hit the gym.  And I hit it hard.  When I got there I realized the place was almost empty.  An athlete's mecca, if you will.  I thrive in the emptiness because (see above) I don't have to hide.

And there was the sled.  Already loaded with about 100 lbs.  Already tied to a battle rope.

Just asking to be pulled.

That was the day I knew I had transformed.

Feet braced, hand over hand, pulling that sled across the gym floor.  Engaging muscles to pull faster.  Tossing rope length to the side.

Then April come along, and I quit my job.

It was a necessary move, I believe, but that one letter of resignation has sent our little world into true upheaval.

There's much more to tell, much more serious aspects of this change.  But the one, which is bothering me most tonight is I had to quit the gym.

The new job is out of county and so mine and Judah's day increased by upwards of two or three hours each work day.  My gas bill doubled.  And this will all barely be absorbed by the pay increase.  I am away from Judah 10 hours every day and when I say that out loud it makes my stomach hurt.

There is no time for the gym.

And even if there was "time", I still wouldn't pick Judah up after a ten hour work day and stick him in a daycare with girls who in the past have let him cry for 45 minutes straight.  No sir.

So I've been problem solving.

Seriously.  This is causing me anxiety and the way I deal with anxiety is by going to the gym and now I can't go to the gym and... phew.  The cycle is exhausting.

My first thought is: I've lost my means of self care.  My second thought is: I don't want to get fat again. And my third thought is: WHY DID I QUIT MY JOB.

Good news is I know how outlandish all three statements are.  I also know how much power I have over all three concepts.  And here, I will document my journey to finding the solutions.

Initially, here are my thoughts.

1. Self care is self care and if your means of achieving it don't adapt to a lifestyle change, it's probably not as effective as I think.  My self care is my alone time when I accomplish something.  When I move shit.  A gym membership owns no rights to that concept.  Also, I'm creative.  So over the past few weeks, as the budget has allowed, I have accrued some at-home work out tools.  Including resistance bands, jump rope, slam balls, and ab rollers.  I need to acquire some heavier weights -- which means I should probably be perusing some yard sales.  But for now, burpees it is.

2. I have been fat.  I have.  I look back on pictures now and I almost don't want them to exist, because I am not that person anymore.  Just this Friday night, after an evening of celebrating birthdays and graduations, I walked up on an old friend I hadn't seen in six months or so.  And she said, "it's so good to see you.  You are so SKINNY!"  The face I made was probably atrocious.   Because, I am not fat.  But I am NOT skinny.  But that was her perception of me.  Who I am now is not the same as who I was before.  Also, this fear completely denounces the power behind diet and the foods we choose.  Diet (as in, lifestyle of eating) has always been my weakness.  Now, when my strength cannot be as conveniently utilized, it's time to clean up my kitchen.  To make the harder choices so that the little bit of exercise I accomplish will be effective.

3. I still don't know the answer to this one.

So, if there are any of you who have thought to yourself "I need to work out", or "I should get to the gym" or even said to me, "I wish I had your motivation"... take a deep breath.  You don't need to do anything.  I would recommend it.  And as I embark on this journey of staying fit at home, maybe we will find some motivation together.

Once I started training my posture changed, my skin changed, my body composition changed, my sleeping changed.  Overall, the way I viewed myself changed.  Like a year long transformation scene.

I'm still choosing my theme music.  

In conclusion.  I had a wild hair the other day and started researching the simplest way to get certified as a personal trainer.  I have some pipe dreams I'm entertaining.

Question is: would you let me train you?

Monday, May 12, 2014

six months ago

November 13, 2013
There are so very few witnesses. 

So very few who see, understand.  Who know without me saying.

I am trying, but my thoughts are spinning and I know if I don’t flesh them out, they will just lose momentum.  And come crashing down.

We have to choose, the movie told us, to live each day like we were getting a second chance.  Like we were given the opportunity to do it all over again. 

We thought it was going to be a sappy, Christmas-time chick flick.  And it ended up being a movie about family.  About second chances and the consequences of our choices.  The things we value too much to ever change.  The time we so often take for granted.

So I woke up this morning and deliberately chose.  I asked for help telling a better story.  To do better.  And I just don’t know if it was the asking or the choosing, but today has been better.

I’ve spent a lot of time lately ignoring some anger.  Or, rather, pretending I’m angry instead of sad.  Because there’s this big, gaping hole.  Hollowed out, not so smoothly.  And I really only notice it at night and when the wind blows and it hurts… not at all unlike the gap from a lost tooth.  Or the place where your coat folds away from your neck. 

Light would catch this abyss and be lost in it, drawing my attention.  But you can’t think on something too long, too hard, without beckoning it; and so I would just shake it off.  Blink.  Keep going.  To beckon it, would be to beckon the sadness.

And not just the sadness.  The embarrassment.

Do you know what I mean?  Heartbreak doesn’t just make you sad.  It doesn’t just make you angry.  It embarrasses you.  Me.  Because heartbreak means someone cared less than you did.  Once again, maybe for the hundredth time, you invested yourself poorly.  You loved and they found you unlovable. 

This should be a testament to them—those who don’t reciprocate.  But it never is.  It’s a reflection of you.  Me.  And all that is not worthy and all that was wasted and all that still hurts.

But just like everything else, it’s not the only thing that hurts.  It’s just what people ask about. 

And I’m choosing to forgive and slowly, daily, the hollow place is shrinking.  We are learning to do it this way.

But what I want, despite hollow places and heart break and embarrassment and achy loneliness, is to live a good story.  To create magic and moments and build a family regardless of our demographic.  Despite our missing pieces. 

I miss being part of solutions.  I miss big hugs and teaching boys how to shake hands and I miss fractions and sight words.  I miss feeling bold and brave and being the one who loves those embarrassed and unloved.

I didn’t stop loving. 

But I am still searching. 

Trying to find coveted balance.  Trying to grow myself.

I am a builder and I feel like I ran out of bricks.

And all I want is to build a life where Judah knows how to love others and never questions that he too is loved.  I want to be patient and creative and considerate and to use the pain from these hollow spaces to propel us forward into bigger, better things.

But some days, I just sit.  I don’t know what else to do.
I don't want to depend on anyone else.  On charity or child support or hand outs or favors.  I've worked too hard and too long and built our way out of rented rooms and food service jobs to this, where we are now.  
But today... on the days I sit, thinking about how unless someone thought to ask, all of this goes unwitnessed...
I just pray for a witness. 
Wherever he is.  Whatever he's doing. 

May 12, 2014

Sometimes words are meant for later.  They're built and constructed for a later time and are meant to sit and wait.  Age and ripen.  Until we (I am) are ready.

Until I am ready to say them, own them.  Until I am ready to make them real, in the open space breathing on their own.

So some night, when I sit down in desperate need, the words are already there.

I have not been able to expel them, because they're sitting, waiting patiently to be retrieved.

They've been whispered, only to be owned.

And I sit at my kitchen table, in the dark with the baby in bed and the fan whirring and the hollow sound of a slightly deflated basketball hitting the pavement outside my door, and find what I needed to say has already been said.

And I take a deep breath, ready to share.  You're ready to hear it now, the words from six months ago.

I feel some sadness.  The words from six months ago, ringing painfully true tonight.

There's little, if anything to add.  Except that the sadness is tinged with delight at knowing the life, which exists in the words I've been given.

Only something truly alive could wait so patiently.

I wrote this morning: I feel as though I am staring at a pile of bricks.  Not broken or destructed, just a pile.  And how I build from this point forward will make all the difference.

So.  It's time to build again.

I am a builder.
And all I want is to build a life where Judah knows how to love others and never questions that he too is loved.  I want to be patient and creative and considerate and to use the pain from these hollow spaces to propel us forward into bigger, better things.