Feb 22, 2018
When I find someone who can help me get to where I want to go and is willing to school me in how to get there, I know that the universe is offering me something that I have to grab onto with both hands and say, yes to right away.
This is how I feel about my strength trainers. Chris and Bertina are overflowing with discipline and knowledge about how to build a stronger body, and I am diligently mindful to try to absorb as much as I possibly can with this amazing opportunity that I have right now to learn from great teachers.
By the way, I am so proud of them, so let me just show them off for a moment!
See what I mean? The best.
This morning, Bertina returns us to plank back up on the barbell to accomplish 3 sets of 45 seconds. But something is off, I falter on the second set and collapse after 20 seconds, while Bertina powers on to finish her 45. Where is my head? What is wrong with my form? I can’t tell what’s going on.
Although we are not moving in this plank, Bertina and I are both out of breath. We break away from the exercise between sets to recover while sitting. Today, she teaches me to quiet my mind and focus on my breathing while we rest, giving our entire system a chance to renew itself for the last set. We stay there for a few minutes quietly and I manage to let go of the memory of the last effort and head back to the mat.
Bertina hits the stopwatch and we are back up above the weight. I feel great and I let myself stay in the moment not thinking about the time. Learning to let go of the past even in small increments is an important lesson for me. I have a tendency to want to dissect a failure, but I am discovering what I really need is a kind of freshness to start over again.
Freshness is needed because now we are planking again, but this time one-handed for 30 seconds each side. Bertina and Chris know that I love the bad-ass visuals of these kind of Rocky moves. It’s challenging, but it’s doable- a good confidence builder. I highly recommend taking pictures of yourself doing this, admiring them and then daring to dream of yourself accomplishing all the hardcore physical moves you’ve ever seen. Why not me?
Okay, let’s jump, she says and my curiosity about what I can do today is fanned. I head up to the fiftieth skip on the jump rope feeling out any possible tension in my back. I am gleeful when I realize it is loose and ready for more. I continue jumping until at 120 reps Bertina tells me to save my strength. I think that I am finally really recovering now from my nerve injury and might make my birthday goal of 250 reps in 150 seconds after all!
B and I switch over to a lower body workout bending down to the floor for suitcase squats. Chris is right there checking that our backs and shoulders stay in alignment, just holding the hand weights by our sides while we move up and down, but not engaging the upper body in any movement. Again, all this is prep for the moments when I am holding more than ten pounds in each hand and will be depending on my form to make it back up to standing without tearing at a muscle.
Next Chris coaches me several times how to jackknife over my straight legs in a sumo stance without hunching my shoulders on the return. My trainers are always reminding me that the issue at hand is not the weight. As Chris said this morning, “If I know how to walk, is there a question how far I can walk?” Get the basics down and the challenges ahead become progressively elementary.
As we finish up with more sets of side lunges and courtesy squats, the time has flown by yet again, and I wonder why this is my fastest hour of the day. Chris and Bertina present me today with an authentic, ghetto chic Junior’s Gym shirt for which I have been waiting months to arrive. It needs a little tailoring in about 6 different places, but it’s going to be awesome!
I also receive a few packets of protein to mix in my shakes as Chris gives me a serious talk about protein and my diet. He asks me how much I weigh and he calculates that I am going to need about 110 grams of protein every single day.
He counsels that to eat that much protein I have to take supplements. There’s no way around it. He stresses to me that one of the hardest things that you have to do when you work out is eat enough of what your body needs.
You said it, brother. Eating is one of the hardest things that I do every day. I can’t stand to think about food. I loathe cooking it. Something about it gives me nausea. I eat because I need to, but not because I want to.
Additionally, I am already addicted to a high protein, high fat diet and have been for years. I love the way eating protein keeps my thinking sharp and fuels the creative side of my brain. Carbohydrates on the other hand are dulling for me and result in pervasivly cloudy thinking that mucks up my writing and general attentiveness.
Having said that, there is a possibility that I have had too much of a good thing. High protein diets do take appetite away over time and keep me in a state of ketosis, which although I love it for stimulating my brain is probably party responsible for losing some of my curves in the past few years.
It may be time for a change.
Finally, I want to say a big thank you to my friend in Beirut who was this month a different kind of coach for me. Strength in Curves was my online journal these past six months but was un-indexed by search engines and password protected. The site was alive, but floundering without attention. Some of my articles were half written, without blog headers and much supporting photography. I hadn’t yet created a primary menu for visitors. It was going to take a mammoth effort to pull it together if I was ever going to open it up for sharing.
Then the right energy and friend breathed new life into the project. I was inspired by his own decades’ long dedication to his personal strength and workout program. I was buoyed by his belief in me, having known me since university, and greatly encouraged by his enthusiasm. It took a few weeks of daily toil, putting everything else aside, but then it was suddenly looking reasonably presentable and I knew that I could take it to the next step.
So I want to say thank you for helping me and believing in me, dear friend.
You were the other coach that I needed right now and I will always appreciate all that you did to make this come alive.