Sunday, April 17, 2016

Fat Girl On A Bar: Exercise Sweet Spot

I admit it! My running friends sometimes made me want to bury my head in a pillow and yell "NO MORE." Now don't get me wrong I am proud of their accomplishments and yes impressed at their dedication. What I couldn't get was the love that was so strong they wanted everyone to run.

Now I get it. Cause trapeze. I am obsessed. Officially. I read blogs about it. I read articles about it. I pin exercices that show how to prepare for the perfect inversion. I've got a scary recollection for the moves (doesn't hurt that I've watched trapeze for two and a half years). If you're around, I'm going to talk to you about trapeze. I'm also going to say "Hey if I can do trapeze? You can do trapeze. What are you waiting for? It's amazing. Go check out a show. Hey have you heard of Canopy? What? You need a place to send your kid? How about you? I'm pretty sure I'm annoying as hell. And I'm also certain my friends read my posts with the same "Oh god here she goes again" that I used to kind of thinking about the running posts.

I remember awhile ago having an online conversation with some women about motivating oneself to exercise. Most of us would go strong for awhile and then it would just taper off until we cycled back around to being the January gym people. I like running well enough (and yes I am running again) and I actually enjoy using the elliptical but neither activity created a passion that could push through mid year ennui. Once June hit, I was content to sit by the pool and read. Screw sweating. Screw making my lungs scream for air. What would motivate us? It's a question I've thought about awesome.

Here's a weird factoid about me. I'm an exercise science geek. I don't know tons but I've loved learning the little I know. I'm also utterly fascinated by sport psychology as well. I'm not so interested in famous athletes. It's a job to them and while they may love their job getting paid can no doubt push one through the ennui. What I'm into is why the average everyday person becomes an athlete. What makes a woman get up at four am to run everyday before work? Why does my friend bike for miles everyday? Why does that cool old dude at the Y swim laps for hours?

Is it the desire to be healthy? To fit a societal acceptable standard of beauty? Maybe but that certainly doesn't motivate me. And when I read these people's stories, there are these elements but there is also love and passion.

I'm calling this the exercise sweet spot. For me it's trapeze. I don't know what else but love could push me to get back on a hard ass bar when my knee pits are SCREAMING and then slam those said kneepits back onto said bar again. What else could make me wake up with rope burn and have me showing up the next week glad the old rope burn was gone because I was likely going to get some more? I've been doing trapeze since January and it's honestly been really hellish sometimes. Physically and emotionally. It's hard. The hardest exercise I've ever done. It's become a game to see where the bruises show up after class. I'll walk out of the bathroom from my shower and H just shakes his head. It's also emotionally hard. I am not a natural. Every move I do is hard earned. I've cried after sobbed. I've had to work through my perfectionist mentality, my insecurity, and my really effed up body image. I can't even imagine what shit is coming down the road.



I am in love. I love that feeling when a move clicks. When I'm doing something like holding all my body weight on my arms with my legs off the bar stretched out behind me. Or when I'm hanging on the bar with one foot on the rope and one knee hooked over. I feel beautiful and strong in those moves. And I'm starting to see that when I look at pictures of me on the bar. I don't see someone gross but someone who is seriously bad ass. I like that feeling.

Today during open studio, I practiced a sequence that involves a move that is not just hard for me but scares me. It's the only move that scares me. I'm not scared of the bar at all. I have a healthy respect but there's no fear. I don't mind being up a little high. I don't mind falling. But this move when I did it wrong drove the bar so deep into my thigh muscle I was in pain for a week. Every time I did it after that and it started to hurt I'd do a controlled fall. That wasn't going to work if I had to learn to go from that move to another move. Today I did it over and over and at the end, I slammed into the last move while my classmates erupted in applause. For a few seconds, I felt like a million bucks. And then I thought "Hell if you can do this one you can do spear." Which of course I couldn't do. But knowing that I can do the other one makes me feel like there is a chance I can do this other one too. I am never without motivation. Never without a goal that I need to pursue. Working for everything makes trapeze exciting and dynamic.

And trapeze drives all my other exercise. I am running and doing elliptical to yes lose some weight (I'm hauling a lot of fat onto those ropes) but also to increase my endurance and my cardio strength. I work on my abs and shoulders and my arms because I need these body parts to be strong. I'm excited/terrified because I'm taking an conditioning class with my trapeze guru, Ann. I think she may half kill me but I know I will be even more kick ass when she's done. It's all about trapeze baby I answer when people ask me what motivates me to go the Y almost every day. I'm in love and the honeymoon period ended after the first class. Bruised knee pits get you over any romantic notions you might have. Trapeze is a hard mistress but it's worth it when I feel strong, confident and beautiful flying with those white ropes and black bars.

When people ask me about motivation, I tell them find your exercise sweet spot. Push yourself outside of your comfort zone. You may have limitations due to your body for sure but I bet that within those limitations there might be more options than you imagined. And if the first thing you try doesn't work? Try something else. It's okay I think to not love a exercise. Trapeze isn't for everyone. I totally get it. I can even get why. Sometimes I wonder what the hell is wrong with me that I love it so much. But there's likely going to be something else. It might be swimming, yoga, pilates, Tai Chi, karate, biking, that HIIT class at the Y, belly dancing, hooping, I could go on and on. But I think and believe that if you can find something you love it will push  you past the midsummer slump.

Friday, April 01, 2016

Fat Girl On A Bar: Two Steps Forward One Step Back

Some days I have to remind myself that even "normal" people have ups and downs.

Trapeze sucked tonight. Not because of anyone in the class or because of the teachers. It was the same group of awesome people. The same amazing teachers. It sucked because of me. I take full responsibility for the shittiness of the evening.

The whole week conspired against me. Things started off fine. I felt motivated to get shit done. Cleaned the house. Wrote an article. Made phone calls. But underlying this was some worry. Worry about my daughter's hip. Worry about my son's weaning from his epilepsy meds. And then the Wellbrutin left my system and things went to hell.

What I thought was a panic attack was actually how I feel when the hyperactivity hits hard. I didn't recognize the feeling because it's been a long time since I felt it. As in since I started taking Wellbrutin. I placed an order for my refill and hit the Y hard. That helped but it still didn't make things totally okay for me.

I debated going to trapeze. I hurt my knee a bit when I hit the Y. I was tired. But I also could feel that skin crawling thing starting to eat at me and I knew I had to do something to work through the itchiness. And I wanted to push the weight of all that worrying off my body. I needed trapeze for the relief it gives me.

I went.

It was a rough night. I felt like I was off for the whole hour. I couldn't get the moves. I felt awkward and weak. I tired to hold onto the small victories. Hey look I managed to do on ab/pull up thing one time. I ALMOST got spear when no one was looking. Look at that my foot touched the bar even if I didn't get up on the bar. Yeah yeah I sort of managed one hip hang without driving the bar into my thigh. But there was so much that just felt like failure. It's been twelve weeks and I can still only hop onto the bar. I'm the only person who still can't do spear. I never managed to go from one hip hang to catcher's hang because I used all my strength to get into the hip hang. By the end of the night, I was covered in sweat  and I ached everywhere but without any feelings of success to go with the pain.

Tonight I almost broke into tears during class. I felt utterly mortified as I told the guest instructor that I felt like a failure and I could hear the tears in my wobbly voice.

"Don't cry" I told myself sternly.

Tonight I just wanted to run from the class. I usually like hanging around and chatting. I tried to fake it, showing everyone the neat video I took of Jude. But it felt stilted. Fake. I just wanted to be alone. I walked home taking the long route so I could have some extra time.

The voices taunted me all through the dark.

"You're such a failure."
"What makes you think you're even remotely good at this thing? Why are you even bothering?"
"Here's another shitty thing you do that you can add to the list of shitty things you do badly."

I started to count my steps. Anything to just quiet them. I wanted to cry but nothing came because I felt a little numb.

I didn't cry until I got home. And then I sobbed. All this work and nothing to show for it, I lamented. My precious beautiful girls all told me about their own moments of feeling this way. H talked to me and hugged me. I felt safe. I felt like I could feel like a failure in my home and not actually be a failure.

The thing is that I think it's going to happen. I'm going to have days when I feel like a failure. I have to learn to roll with those punches. But I also decided it was okay to cry and rage. The frustration is valid. It does suck that you can work out every day, do tons of strength exercises and still not be strong enough to do what others around you are doing. I get the idea that you can't compare yourself to others but I also think that at times it's kind of a pretty normal thing to do.

What I don't think okay is holding onto that feeling. So I cried and I wallowed. I even felt sorry for myself and ate an extra Cadbury egg. I totally forgot all this shit and watched Supernatural.

And now? Well now, I'm like...

"You got what you needed from trapeze tonight."
"You are getting stronger."
"You overcame your fear and did a fucking one hip hang.
"You did some kind of scary ass pull up/ab thing more than one time."
"You totally nailed back float. Again."
"You know how to do candlestick and you like it."

Trapeze is something I love. I also love my class, and I don't want competition to mar how I feel about these women. I realized that part of what drives me to compare myself is that I have this fear that they're going to super out pace me and leave me behind. It's a ridiculous fear of course but that doesn't make any less valid. Tonight I realized I need to let it go. I am lucky enough to have these ladies on the road but really the journey we take is going to look different to each of us. I need to let go that we're going to share everything.

It's okay to have a shitty night. It's also okay to not how to do things. I believe I am going to get there. I believe because I can do shit that I wouldn't have even imagined possible in January.  I never thought it was going to be easy. But that was and is part of the appeal. The work is more important than the designation.