Dark Tree

Typing this morning really is taking some thought. It is, I’ll grant you, a bit uncomfortable to sit here for too long, and my back is very much aware that a shittone of exercise happened yesterday, but does not seem that fussed generally about it. That means getting up every ten minutes or so, walking around and realising that not having the Gym may have been the change in approach I’d been looking for all along.

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There are some things to note in yesterday’s 900 calorie day: pretty much all of it was in Zone 3 and 4. This is not a /flex effort, but a push towards stamina and endurance. If I’d remembered to take the belt off post-cycle, the 32 minutes in Zone 1 wouldn’t have registered. Two minutes in Zone 5 was very much planned and pushed too, which is proof that if I get there, I can stay there.

However, this is really not a sprint. Theoretically I may be here until September, considering my particular health issues. If I push too hard now or injure myself, that’s really not ideal. Therefore, there has to be a balance between keeping momentum going and feeling as if I’m not stuck in a bottle, which is of course exactly where I am. Balancing everything however is part of the skillset. I have got this.

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The balance comes with writing, poetry, pushing myself into the garden, outside to walk (and maybe run) and to maintain a modicum of sanity in this sea of potential stress. Once exercise becomes part of the game plan, completed without thought, it will be easier. When I can wean myself off the stuff being used to cope with trauma that will help too: far too much sugar, not nearly enough vegetables.

We’ll start fixing that tomorrow. Today, I have written work to collate and compile, next week to plan, some thought to be given to a new poetry project, and Spring Cleaning to continue. I am staggered at anyone sitting inside on a Sunday at a loss at what to do right now. I’ve never been busier, and actually that’s no bad thing, because it means less brain space available with which to lament current circumstances.

Maybe all this shit has been happening for a reason.

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I am feeling oddly calm this morning, as if everything is as it should be, even the inability to type.

I’ll work around it, and everything else.

Dollar Days

Today, this seems strangely appropriate.

If anybody wants me, I’ll be trying to spawn the perfect Civilization: Beyond Earth map and trying not to think about anything else except a victory.

Summer of ’69

A lot of people right now have an inordinate amount of free time on their hands. How this equates in terms of action covers the entire range of human experience: people learning to draw, posting pictures of their First Loaf as if it were an offspring, others rediscovering their childhoods in a haze of gauzy, soft focus photographs. It is at times like this I am REALLY pleased Facebook never became a Thing.

I exist in other people’s lives via photographic memory. However, with very few exceptions, none of those people currently are a part of my existence. There was an extremely intentional effort to remove nearly all of them when it became apparent that the means by which I’d formed relationships was effectively broken. None of them were an issue: this was all about me.

Nearly two decades on I’m still attempting to piece together how this all works.

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At some point, inevitably, past and present will collide.Β This will undoubtedly coincide with me publishing something or turning up somewhere where a member of the past life sees me and works out we knew each other. I’m really hoping it takes place in relation with my work with Mind or Time to Talk, because then they’ll understand that really, they weren’t the problem. Nobody else was ever the problem back then.

Taking ownership of my mistakes has been an important and significant step forward. Of course, it doesn’t negate what happened or somehow lessen the impact. Other people have carried friends through their lives from childhood. It has taken me over 50 years to even feel remotely comfortable in my own skin. I don’t regret what’s been left behind, and as nobody has ever contacted me feeling the same way, I assume the same is true for them.

There’s been one attempt, when we were on holiday in California. If you’re reading this now, and there’s a good chance that is indeed the case, I’m really sorry. I was an idiot, and the relationship should never, ever have taken place. Nothing to do with you at all, and 100% entirely my fault. So much of my life before counselling now makes sense: how I was influenced by circumstance. How I took advantage of other people.

At least now I understand why all this happened in the first place.

I Do Like to be Beside the Seaside

I am wondering if I could make a walk to the coast count as Government Mandated Exercise as the weather gets better. If running was possible I could easily do it, but that’s not quite achievable as yet. These legs are still suffering after Monday, if truth be told, but that means we have stronger muscles and more stamina, both of which are no bad things.

The numbers look great too.

Having my heartrate registering on the app in front of me is an extremely potent motivator. It allows brain to work in the zone and grants a greater awareness of how hard is hard. It has certainly made a difference with the bike work over the last week too: I’ve gone from struggling in sweet spot training to being oddly Zen-like last night, sailing through the transitions without a thought.

One should FTP test about once every couple of months, but if this training becomes academic it could come sooner, or I could at least take the longer SST (Sweet Spot Training) test, which at 85 minutes could well be the stamina upgrade required. I’m running the 45 minute one at 110%, so if I go back to 100% that should allow me the legs to manage the extra 30 minutes on a bike.

Really need to sort out some new playlists for this as well.

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Planning my own workouts is the brain stimulation I never knew I needed.

Strong

There was a meme that did the rounds back in late January/early February, which provided you with five images of an apple, from realistic to a white blob with another blob on top. On a scale of 1 to 5, I was asked, what do I see when thinking of an apple when my eyes are closed?Β Sometimes 1 is possible, mostly it is 2: visualisation is one of the skills I’ve been taught to deal with anxiety, and through yoga.

It makes meditation easier because if things can be placed inside your head, other stuff can be removed. Meditation really kicked off the ability to visualise better, if truth be told. My brain and I have a love/hate relationship on most days but once it was apparent it too can be trained like legs and arms? Everything has become considerably easier allΒ  round. ‘Listening’ to my body has become a really significant tool.

That article above confirms what I’ve been doing for some time.

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When I do a press up, I am thinking about arms and stomach. The arms, obviously, go without saying, but core muscles are incredibly important in not only retaining form but helping me when arms get tired, and they do. The erroneous assumption that it is just legs for running and arms for lifting held me back for close to a year. Everything in your body is inextricably linked to everything else.

Damage your thumb, and see how much you can do without it.Β Hurt a toe, and everything gets an awful lot harder. The body, as a well-oiled machine, is incredibly robust, and the fixation we all have on certain bits not working is all well and good, to a point. Yoga began the understanding of being able to isolate muscles, and make then work for you. Exercise has managed to reinforce that message.

It’s why, as I type this, I’m holding in my core muscles and squeezing them tight.

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Understanding why things are painful, and appreciating that the pain in my arse this morning is DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) and not anything sinister is really important. I worked REALLY hard on Monday and yesterday, as a result, my body needed a rest. Today, however, there will be exercise and lots of it, because I’ve not hurt anything. Your muscles are sore because you literally tore them apart to make them stronger.

I won’t be competing any time soon in anything. However, to keep mentally strong, the physical component of my life has become massively significant, and it is something that matters enormously. Being able to find your own space in a world where people talk like this guy in the video below is an interesting journey in itself. Not everybody is aiming for ‘shredded’ but it’s a useful aspiration to keep in mind.

It is also a entertaining counterpoint as a writer: I’m sure there must be other weightlifting poets out there, and maybe the task moving forward should be to try and seek these people out. Maybe the reason this path is so attractive is that it challenges people to look past my physical makeup and focus on what made that happen. There’s a lot of intellectual consequence still to explore.

That’s gonna be fun.

Ballad of the Mighty I

There is a remarkable amount of shit in my head right now. It is the logical progression of having to readjust everything that would normally going on into a new approximation of ‘normal’ including exercise, domestic responsibility and all the stuff I am now committed to as a writer. The constant background reminder, of course, is that it’s not just me struggling with the new Normal.

However, yesterday was a triumph. My arms hurt. I got a leg cramp at 5.45am because not enough water has been consumed and I am a doofus. All this concerted effort is indeed having an effect. I’m now back to proper recording of food on MyFitnessPal and then, new routine will eventually sink in. Also, needs to be a reduction in both tea and Mars Bars. One will be easier, the other considerably less so.

Today is a rest day for my body, anything but for my brain. There’s a phenomenal amount to do, and it is not going to complete itself.

Let’s roll.

Walk the Line

Progress is never an easy ask. A lot of the journey is adaptive reasoning: I can work harder, how do I work harder, this works, push here.Β Undoubtedly strength and body condition are crucial factors. However, when all is said and done, if head says nope, nothing will happen. This isn’t about being shouted at in a class for 45 minutes in the vain hope something will stick.

Last night my husband turned around post session and told me how proud of me he was: the biking exercise being used currently has a sliding scale of difficulty. That means it can be performed at between 90 and 110% of you calculated power. He’d seen me adjust that halfway through last night’s session, assuming I’d gone down. The last 20 minutes were pushed up, not down.

For the first time since starting this there is yellow zone without prompting.

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My sleep’s shot as a result, and it will take some time to get that bit of the equation back to normal, but this daily burst of exercise has effectively replaced walking, which needs to change. I have to go out today, and record it, plus every day going forward. Air pollution should really not be a problem either, the world around here is mandated silence. The only flights left leaving our airport are freight.

Today I need to organise a proper workout too: the weather is a bit pants here at present, so that means inside, with a couple of videos as accompaniment. I have a 12kg kettlebell with which to do some weights too, so there will be some time spent pulling together a single weight workout. Last week I burned as many calories without the Gym as I managed the last full week there was access to one, so effort’s not an issue.

My problem, undoubtedly, is planning.

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It’s not like I don’t have the raw materials at my disposal to make all of this happen either. As with everything else, planning is the key. It is also important I don’t let things like *cough* video games *cough* distract me from the path, which would be pretty easy right now. The hard work needs to be done first, and after that we’ll work on the other, more enjoyable things.

I’m planning to come out of this fitter than I did coming in.