I Am That Girl Now

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Bless us, every one

Holy crow, folks, my shoulder is-- I hesitate to say this-- feeling okay. I got the shot and started taking the horse pills last Tuesday, was feeling a lot better by last Friday, and a week later it... it feels like a shoulder. There's still a bit of what my doctor called "crunchy" noises, a bit of the click & pop when I rotate my arm, but no pain. WOO!

I'm still planning on being cautious, but dammit, I want to do something. My Hub is working out a lifting plan that will make it so that I get used to how things work re: the upper-body stuff, but lift light (and ice before and after), only going heavy for squats and possibly deadlifts. I'm planning on taking another look at the assisted pull-up machine, because I want very much to be able to do proper pull-ups and push-ups by the end of the year.

Speaking of squats, I was up to 85 pounds for my work sets this last time. My Hub asked me if I wanted to take it back down after the first set, to which I replied, "No, I'm planning on kicking this thing's ass, don't mess with my plan." And I did. Ha! That said, I'm pretty sure that's still going to be my max for this next workout. Alas. I yearn to be able to put one of those big-girl weights on each side of the bar, and the 25 pounders are the first ones that look like big-girl weights.

Speaking of girls, there's almost always one or more other females in the freeweight area at our gym. Even better for my poor self-esteem, all of us look like regular gals, not like shiny perfect gym-rats. As winter ends, the skimpier gym-wear is coming out, and I find myself fleeing the areas where all the skinny, shiny, blond-y people congregate.

I am slowly becoming infatuated with the freeweight area. It's starting to feel like a familiar, comforting dive, like the skanky neighborhood bar where you know everyone, or the table at the edge of your high-school lunchroom where all the freaks & geeks would hang out. The skinny pretty people are regarded with scorn in this area. And, like every other freaks-and-geeks congregating area, there are endless varieties of snobbery in the freeweight room, so everyone can feel superior to everybody else no matter what they're doing. I am currently operating on the "I'm doing compound exercises, which are superior to the doofy little single-muscle bicep curls that this other chick is doing" superiority complex, along with the "I am using freeweights, which are superior to using those damn machines" superiority complex. More common is the "I can bench more than you!" superiority complex, along with the "I look better than you do" superiority complex, but you also get the "my sets have more reps than your sets" superiority complex, the "supersets beat simple sets" superiority complex, the "my workout has more obscure and cool-looking exercises than yours" superiority complex, and of course the occasional guy who seems to feel that there is a contest occurring on who can grunt the loudest when lifting. Everyone gets to exist in their own little bubble of superiority. It's glorious. Then everyone rolls their eyes at the occasional Barbie-doll impersonator wandering in from step class to find the water fountain, and we are all joined in feeling superior to THOSE people. Ahhhhh.

Also: it has giant fans. No other area in the gym has giant fans, apparently because cardio must be as sweaty as possible.

I told my dad all about my adventures in lifting heavy weights, and it seems to have scared the daylights out of him to hear about his baby girl doing such a thing. "Don't get hurt," he pleaded, several times over the conversation. "Be careful. Don't get hurt." Poor Dad. I feel bad about freaking him out, but... dude, it is completely awesome to lift heavy things. It makes me feel so damn POWERFUL.

Bonus: of all the damn things, this is actually increasing my flexibility. For years I've avoided squats, or done wacky versions, because the tendon behind my ankle is so inflexible. I nearly cried from fear when I got into the power cage for the first time, but my Hub got out a 2x6 board and had me prop my heels on it while I squatted, and it worked. This last time, my fourth squatting session, he had me try a set without the board, and while I couldn't go as low as I wanted to, it was still significantly lower than I could before. Hooray! This builds strength, balance, and flexibility; what more could a girl ask for?

If work is slow today, which I hope it is, I'm going to spend a quality amount of time learning from the great Krista over at Stumptuous. If you haven't read Krista's stuff, DO IT NOW.

My Hub has started to feel vague yearnings toward running a 5K. Since his last flirtation with running occurred right before the cold weather set in, it occurs to me that running is a seasonal thing, a yearning that strikes us when the amazing Chicago spring starts up. Spring in Chicago is... oh, man, it's wonderful. Our winters start out mildly cold and then kick our ass for all they're worth in January and February-- snow and ice and temperatures that make you want very much to curl up in a cup of hot chocolate-- and then at some point, every March, it just stops. Bam, one morning you wake up and it's fifty degrees out, and birds are singing and rabbits are chasing each other across the courtyard, and that's the morning we just say "wow, we totally need to go for a very, very long walk."

In other news, mindfulness meditation continues. I have got my ass out of bed at 5 AM every morning this week, spread out our thickest yoga mat on the floor, popped on my headphones, made sure my Hub wasn't going to interrupt me with thrashing around on our squeaky bed or stomping out of the room to go pee, and flopped out on my back to close my eyes and ponder my body parts one by one for forty-five minutes. This is harder than I thought. I had several times this week where I was missing the whole lower-back/upper-back/tummy/chest/neck/head/whole body section, because my brain apparently went into outer space somewhere after pondering my pelvis. I'd suddenly hear the ending parts of the meditation and think "fuck! have I been asleep?" and then realize that I couldn't remember anything for the past twenty minutes. Whoops. I've managed to stay more or less aware for three out of five days, though, so, yay.

I'm not very good at this. I am, however, dedicated to making it through the first eight weeks, because the point (as they say so many times in the book) is to just do the damn thing, whether or not you think you're doing well, whether or not you think you're getting magical benefits out of it. I know that I need to work on my concentration and my ability to let things go, and this is the first mental exercise I've ever had that has led me to connect those two problems and think that maybe, just maybe, I could fix both those things at once.

So, week one is almost over. I do the body-scan meditation every morning in week two, and then in week three I get to move up to some yoga. I think it's week five when I try sitting meditation. Whee! I'm scheduled to start whittling down my Zoloft at the beginning of May. Lots of light, good weather, and I'll have been working on mindfulness meditation for eight weeks; just gotta make sure I'm back off caffeine by then (some Cherry Coke Zero snuck in there; why don't they make a caffeine-free version of THAT?) and I should have the best chance I possibly can of getting through the transition without having my brains fall out.

Sugar has also snuck back into my diet. (Shh, don't tell my Hub.) This has had the predictable result of making me more anxious and putting a few pounds back on my ass. I'm going back to the anti-sugar hypnosis mp3. Might as well; worked the first time.

I read a lot of blogs, most of them by womenfolk and many of them feminist, and as link led onto link yesterday I ran into an oldie but a goodie: Hugo Schwyzer's post about "pleasure, feminism, food, and sex". Worth reading. I'm still mulling this one over in my head, since the concept of "pleasure = penalty" is one that I've taken for granted for much of my life.

Another link I'm mulling over: one of Krista's "rant(s) of the week", this one by guest Gus Sonnenberg on his "daddy fitness" workout, designed to keep him able to do the things he really wants to be able to do. What do I really want to be able to do, physically? Walk all over the damn place. Tote groceries up stairs. Put boxes on shelves. Lift heavy objects off the floor without hurting myself. Give my nieces and nephew piggy-back rides. Paddle a kayak. I'm sure I'll think of more... it's something to think about, definitely.


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