Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Mittwoch Musings

Wednesday; in German, "mid-week".  I have such a long list of things to do after work: stop by the craft store for yarn and embroidery floss, wash all the dirty dishes in the kitchen, make a braid out of the aforementioned yarn to act as fake hair for Saturday's folklorico performance, futz with "I'll Fly Away" for tomorrow's folk band rehearsal, cook Irish soup to use up leeks, prep a batch of yogurt, and...there must be at least one more thing.  I'm sure I'll find something.  I'll start doing all of these things in my mind during the drive home, so I can figure out the most efficient order for everything.

I could feel my legs reaching a state of total exhaustion during dance class last night.  I felt like crying, but I kept just pushing myself to do as much as I could, as well as I could.  Of course, I let myself rest when I really needed to.  Then I gave myself a rubdown with muscle salve right before bed.

Finding that point of fatigue and balancing upon it is a difficult thing.  I need to challenge my body just enough to encourage it to get better: construct bigger muscles, make more RBCs, utilize nutrients more effectively.  However, I shouldn't challenge it too much, which can cause injury, over-training, and overall discouragement.

There are times in the weight room where lifting to true fatigue happens.  I literally cannot do any more push-ups or pull-ups.  More often, though, I come close to it, where I psych myself out into not being able to complete the last rep.  This causes me to laugh at myself just a bit, and work on my mental game.  Or I realize that I could do more reps, if I give up good form.  I'm not so devoted to huge muscles at this point that I'm willing to trade form for reps.

This morning I focused on arms, with more sets (4), higher reps (8-12), and less weight.  I did one triad set of push-ups (on a bench), rows (cable machine setting of 11), and then 20 jumping jacks.  The next triad set was wide-grip pull-ups (60 lb assist), dumbbell shoulder flies (10 pounds each hand), and more jumping jacks.  I finished up with 8 minutes on the stationary bike and then some chest stretches.  Speaking of form, I discovered that I could make the pull-ups a lot more challenging by widening my grip and focusing on bringing the elbows straight down while maintaining an overall palm-forward arm position.  This really put the emphasis on my latissimus dorsi.

Experienced an interesting moment in front of a mirror yesterday.  I was looking at myself as I washed my hands, and though something along the lines of, "Ugh, my hair is a disaster.  My skin looks terrible.  I'm so ugly."  And then I thought about what I was thinking, realized that it was rubbish, and changed it.  "My hair could use a good brushing, and it'll be better when it's not at this awkward growing-out length.  I take care of my skin as well as I can, and it sucks being 34 and still having to deal with breakouts.  I'm really not ugly, even though I don't fit the media-sponsored model of 'pretty' these days.  What matters more, though, is the fact that I'm totally awesome."

You know how that mental game can prevent you from completing a rep?  It can also prevent you from being happy by spending too much time focusing on comparisons and what you think must be wrong with you.  It's a continual task, improving my mental game while exercising, and improving it while looking at myself in the mirror.  However, it is a task that gets easier with practice.

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