Gains

I’ve been processing a lot of negative things on here lately (okay, not lately…since I began blogging), and I wanted to write something that’s (1) recent and (2) positive.  (Notice I didn’t say “interesting.”  Maybe I’ll be able to write about happy things in an interesting way if I keep practicing, but for now I’ll settle for develop an ability to write decently, period).

I’ve only recently developed a healthy addiction to exercise.  I was never athletic–I played field hockey outside of school when I was in middle school, but I don’t remember being particularly good or bad at it.  I took ballet/tap/jazz for ten years, but I was mediocre at best.  (It took me that long to figure out that ballet is an hour of pure pain that wasn’t mandatory).

I purged by exercising when I was sick.  As I got better, I’d go through periods in which I’d do cardio, but I was never really able to do it without it becoming a way to subtract calories.  Eventually, I treated exercise the way AA treats alcohol, and i just stopped doing it altogether.

I’ve been naturally thin forever, so I “got away with it.”  My husband always adored my body, so there was never any question of feeling unattractive.

When we broke up, however, I needed a hobby/outlet.  I was concerned that I’d have the same problem (especially since I was in a vulnerable spot and going through a lot of changes that were out of my control), so I went with yoga.  I had tried yoga a few times before, and I found it stressful.  It seemed like everyone but me was relaxed and peaceful–I was in pain and stuck in my head.  A friend suggested I try hot yoga; I tried it, and I loved it.  I liked it because there was no pretense of it being anything other than hard work.  I felt elated (although sometimes a little dizzy) afterwards.

Meanwhile, I ended up in a relationship with someone who used to be a personal trainer; he probably had about 7% body fat.  He started helping me with weight training.  Also, I moved into a house that was literally 400 feet from a gym that costs the same per month as one hot yoga session.  I switched over to weight training (no cardio apart from a short jog to warm up).

I got a little too into the “eating clean” aspect of things.  I mean, it worked for him, but it’s not for me.  After I broke up with him, I took a more balanced approach to getting in protein but still enjoying food.  (Okay, wine too).  Other than that, I’ve done very well with it.

I can’t say I enjoy the gym.  I look forward to it, I’m proud when I add weight, I feel awesome when I walk out, etc., but if it’s “fun,” I”m not pushing myself enough.

I’ve made a lot of gains in lower body.  I started in May with bodyweight (elevated front) squats, and now I’m doing them with a a 40 lb bar. I have gotten a lot of positive feedback on my butt from guys, which is weird, because I’m totally not there yet.  I’ve improved, but I still have a long way to go.  I think it’s more that guys like butts, period.  Also, the guys who are drawn to me tend to be the guys who like waifs, so basically any skinny girl in yoga pants does it for them.

Upper body has been much slower going. I haven’t added much weight, although I’m finally seeing a little more progress in pushups.  I do bent-knee pushups still; I’m not even close to doing “real” pushups, but I’m slowing increasing the number I can do in a set.  I don’t see a lot of progress, but in the last week, I’ve had a couple things happen that gave me a little boost.  First, I saw myself in the mirror with my shirt off, and it looked like I had that weird thing in the middle of my chest that my ex-boyfriend did.  I always thought that thing was weird, but I figured it’s a sign of good work on chest day.  Then, last night, I had a tank top on, and my ex (who was visiting our daughter) was like “whoa–holy arm muscles” or something like that.  I was like “wait, you can see the muscle?”  I assumed it was me imagining it–I was so chuffed.

Abs are…well, I’m never going to have a six pack–especially if acquiring one would require the sacrifices in pleasure that my exbf made (no alcohol, very few carbs, the same gross high-protein foods all the time).  It’s not worth it.  At the same time, I’ve gone a little overboard at times.  I distinctly remember having sex one time within the last couple months, looking down at my stomach, and being distracted by it.  I cut down on drinking and candy bars after that.  That’s a dangerous thing for me–the only time my stomach looks decent is when I’m very underweight, but I’d basically have to be orthorexic/anorexic in order to follow an “ab” diet.  I’m trying to just keep doing what I’m doing, but recommitting to not skipping abs at the end of my workout. Maybe I’ll surprise myself with what I can accomplish practicing moderation.

I come across like a gym rat (based on how I talk, not how I look), but I actually only work out 4 days a week.  I’d do it more if my child care situation was easier.  Ideally, I’d weight train 5 days a week and then do hot yoga once a week.  Even though it’s not fun in the moment, it’s still “me” time.

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