Nicaragua is in the midst of turmoil and change. The day’s political events around the country are dramatic and unpredictable. On a local level, we are entrenched here in Granada with roadblocks surrounding us on all sides. We are preparing our house for a national strike that will stop all transport and most economic activity for 1-2 weeks. School is let out at different times each day, but is kept open thankfully so that the kids have some normalcy in their lives and graduate on time.
Whenever I feel that we are in precarious position as a family, I do one more thing to get ready for whatever outcome that potential danger presents. I feel that acting in preparation allows me to breathe more deeply after it’s done. But honestly what I think really holds me together is being able to go each day to my local gym and do what I need to do to push my body, sweat and tire myself physically to relieve as much angst as I can that I am holding inside.
Noticeably, I am spending a lot more time at Junior’s Gym than ever before. Either I am incredibly disorganized or I just really need this time there, but each morning I can easily spend two hours at the gym putting my head and body together.
It’s true that there is a element of disorganization with my workout. I am still very cautious about injury and I avoid overly sophisticated combination movements that might trigger a relapse. I dedicate myself to a target muscle and carefully focus on my alignment before moving on to a new exercise. It’s very safe and super inefficient.
Having said that, doing it every day does have an efficiency in creating positive results that I never knew before my injury when I was spending half my workout week in yoga. I have definitely become stronger, fuller and curvier in the last two months by focusing on strength training. Since these were my fitness goals all along, I can’t not fail to see the silver lining in what I have learned about my training as a result of being injured. Continue reading “This is my happy place.”
As of this week I am back at Junior’s Gym here in Granada, Nicaragua on my own, without a trainer. This is a good challenge for me.
Bertina, Chris and even Junior’s Gym trainer Guadalupe (more on Lupe later) with whom I should be training this week are all there! But they are tucked into my favorite section of the gym where I have no business being because my physical therapist has given me a limited list of about three exercises that I am authorized to do none of which includes weights.
Without a trainer, I am…sipping smoothies in the back of the gym, chatting up the other members I never get to talk to, typing a love letter into my phone, and chilling in an ugly green plastic chair with my feet up. Well, not all of that is true! I’ll leave you to you imagine which parts are or aren’t. Continue reading “If I want it back (and you know that I do), you can believe that I’m going to get up and work for it, baby.”
Happiness matters to me. My health matters to me. I want to feel energized and strong. It’s not youth that I want. It’s more mature than that. My youthful emotions were mercurial. My adult emotions are goals and choices. I choose to feel amazing.
It’s what I want for myself, it’s what in the end, only I can give myself.
My fitness journey began with a physical goal of achieving strength and the figure that I felt better represented who I wanted to be. When I thought about all that I wanted out of my new body and what I supposed it would bring to my life, I didn’t factor in the emotional joy. Continue reading “The happiest days are these.”
Sir Roger Bannister, the first man recorded to have run a mile in less than four minutes passed away yesterday in England. Up until the year that he broke through the four minute barrier in 1954, the athletic and scientific world hotly debated whether a four minute mile could ever be broken. Most people concurred that it couldn’t be done.
But when Sir Roger succeeded in shaving less than a second off of the four minute mile in 1954, additional athletes immediately followed his example in achieving the same feat. Their training had not changed so much from earlier in the year, however their personal dream immediately became more tangible.
I am starting to think that we stare at our own four minute miles every day. Continue reading “Four minute miles all over my body and you asked for it: my training week in pictures.”
Am I going to stay up? Or, give up?
Today, I held a two minute plank in a full-flexed, push-up position. I didn’t hold two minutes because I set out to push my own limits of what I could do. I was tricked into staying up by my yogi, Ronn who is the official timekeeper of everything we do in class.
Of course, there were signs that things were not right. My arms were excessively shaking and I had to deliberately contract my abs to support my frame. I theorized that I had miscounted on the number of diverting Happy Birthday songs that I normally compose to people that motivate me, but everyone had all been sung to and we were still up in the hold.
I looked back over my shoulder at Ronn to see what was up and saw him focused on his breathing, totally concentrating in the effort. I was right at the edge of my ability. I felt that I could choose to collapse on a whim. There was nothing left in me to stay with him.
Oh my gosh, I thought, am I going to stay up or give up?
Continue reading “Remember When We Were Lions”
Sunday, February 18, 2018. 07:30
As I crawl forward on my forearms and toes inching ahead to the end of my mat, Bertina reminds me to keep my back straight, no rocking from side to side. The motion is meant to be small and deliberate. I picture a line of barbed wire running just above my back and I am a soldier (or an escapee!) squirming under a retaining fence in the dead of night. I hear Bertina coaching: focus on control, speed is secondary.
When we finish a minute and half of sneaking forward then backward, I am not sure if my uniform might have been shredded on my mission, but I do know that I was gratefully diverted from planking at the far edge of my mental and physical ability.
Forty-five second planks once felt like an eternity; then the minute became standard. Now Bertina is steadily moving us past the minute mark to keep me challenged. She opts for exercises where I am in a plank, but distracted by small core movements that require my concentration and additional muscle groups (like sliding a weight from one side of my body to another while in a push-up hold, awesome!). Continue reading “Something just for me: targeting small movements for big improvements.”
One ten-day trip to the States and I am feeling like I am back at the beginning. Of everything. Not just my fitness routine, but rediscovering my whole purpose of being here in Nicaragua. It was a whirlwind adventure to California and we were immersed in family and culture until the very last moments before checking-in to depart. There was no physical time or mental space for yoga, planking, meditation or strength training. It was a complete break from the normal Granada routine to which I have spent months dedicating myself.
Upon our return to Granada, my son and I arrived with hacking chest colds that required 15 hours nights of sleep and a lot of convalescing around the house. I felt emptied out, the house was too still, there was no routine yet reestablished and I sensed it intensely: I had lost my Granada groove. I felt like panicking. Was this culture shock? Was this being sick? I couldn’t see the color of my city, I couldn’t feel its natural beat that has long kept my own internal rhythm steady. For five days, I wavered on the brink of despair. Why couldn’t I see the glow of my life? Continue reading “Month 5: Navigating the Holidays”
Today, I am back in the gym with Chris and Bertina, but feeling so different than a week ago. For one part, I am physically just feeling better having finished a round of brutal antibiotics in the Cipro family that I suspect were almost more damaging than the typical tropical infection they were intended to eliminate. The medicine had given me constant nausea, insomnia and anxiety so although I was really hungry I could barely eat. But this Tuesday I started the day without any pills and I was hopeful that I would have more physical strength than on Sunday.
My trainers are waiting for me on the steps in front of the gym smiling. How did you feel from Sunday? Bertina asks. Great, I say. It was hard but it was awesome. Chris shakes his head disapprovingly. We didn’t work her hard enough, he says. We want sore butts. Continue reading “Day 9: Get your curves back, resistance bands at Junior’s Gym.”