14 Jul

Lifting Heavy Things

I did a good thing, so I’m just going to take a minute to pat myself on the back.

I had my first of three job interviews this morning (this one in Oceanside).  I didn’t get notice until yesterday evening, so I had less time to work myself into a tizzy.  Never fear, my body is very efficient at tizzy-working and I was running at full by the time the interview rolled around today.

(It went fine.  I don’t think they saw me sweating.  I probably talked too much.  Whatever.  As good as can be expected.)

So, post tizzy-inducing-interview, I drove home and promptly hid myself away to cat-nap.  I didn’t sleep well last night (the majority of my night was spent dreaming about chasing an unobtainable Disneyland parade) and worry makes me shut down.  Sometimes I can power through it, but that involves caffeine and sugar, and sometimes makes me grumpy.  Trust me, taking a re-set nap is better for everyone involved.

Anyway, getting to the good thing I did: I went to the gym.  I have a writers group to get to at seven tonight and normally I’d think, oh, I certainly can’t fit the gym in the middle because I will sweat and have to re-shower and it’s all this work and blahblahblah.  And then I thought, Katie, that’s ridiculous because you have loads of time and these are stupid excuses (thank you, Gretchen Rubin!).  So, I want to talk about the gym because that’s one of the habits I want to hold onto even when I start teaching again.

My husband, Bob, and I used to have a pretty good gym routine.  He’d record all my lifts, help spot me, and we’d take turns resting while the other one lifted.  We’d ride together and encourage each other.  The trouble that always happens is, if we’re a unit and one of us is sick, unmotivated, tired, laden with homework, working late hours (and so on), it’s more likely that the other won’t go that day.  And then we’re sabotaging each other without meaning to.  This time, when Bob started back at the gym, I sat back for a couple weeks and watched him build his routine.  I’m not going to pretend that’s the only reason I sat back (speaking of no motivation), but it seemed to work out pretty well.  He established a routine that depended only on him.  He only has to worry about recording his own lifts and does not need to wait for his wife to put on her shoes.

When I started back, I thought about asking him for help to figure out what heavy things I needed to hoist over my head, but then it occurred to me: he found this out through the Internet, which means I can, too.  And as I thought more about it, I realized just how separate a project this should be.  I started keeping track on my phone, like he does, and quickly found I do not care for it. So, I made myself an exercise journal:

Exercise log

Not pictured: Workout C.  Totally pictured: Watermelon.

It may look a little bit like a toddler wrote it with her left hand and you may wonder why it has white-out everywhere, but that was me trying to re-purpose something I already had instead of running out and buying a fancy new journal.  The blue around the boxes are a special little treat I give myself when I get home from the gym.  If I improved from last week (because some exercises are each week, some are only once a week), then I get to outline it in blue.  After today’s success with almost improving in every category, I thought maybe I should have a reward lined up for being able to highlight the entire day blue.  Gretchen Rubin says the rewards need to be in line with the habit.  So, a reward for lifting is not food.  It isn’t a piece of cake because “I’ve earned it.”  No, we didn’t “earn” all the cake we’ve already eaten in our lives so far, so what makes us able to earn it now?  So, maybe a new pair of yoga pants, because I only own one pair (“What kind of woman are you?!”) and it’s stupid to keep washing the same pair several times a week.  We’ll see.

Now, I know my husband prefers the three-set method on lifting.  I absolutely see the merits of it and will most likely switch over to that method after I get used to lifting again, but this is my source material here: The Ultimate Beginner’s Machine Workout for Women.  It’s on bodybuilding.com.  I can totally be that girl: “Oh, I got my routine off bodybuilding.com.  Yeah, I visit that site all the time.  You should try it.”  Snort.

I don’t feel like an “ultimate beginner” because Bob and I have spent time in the gym using free weights in the past, but if I’m by myself I get a little nervous about dropping something on my face.  This takes away the fear-factor and allows me to push and pull heavy things until I’m sweaty and want to go home.  So far, so good.

Anyway, I think I’ll periodically snap a picture of this journal for accountability’s sake and to show off my sweet muscles.  Or whatever.  And to remind myself of something I read the other day: Treat exercise like a gift to your body and not a chore.  You’re rewarding your body with endorphins and strength, not just getting sweaty and tired.

Which means the next time I’m struggling through a set, it should be perfectly acceptable to shout out to my muscles, in the middle of the gym, “THIS IS A REWARD!”  Those buff guys will get it.

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