By Steve Sharpton, Parsons Training Center, Tucson, Arizona
August 18, 2016
I don’t think there should ever be a day where you don’t believe some changes need to be made. I think my biggest vice is malaise, for I often times get used to doing something and I start to enjoy it too much. Call it the ill effects of my slight obsessive compulsive nature, whatever…I just think there are days where I love the idea of consistency. I think this is why my weight keeps stagnating, my running keeps getting stilted and I keep yo-yoing in effort. With so much chaos in my life these days, falling into a routine of complacency is normal so to speak, for it is a much better alternative to the constant survival mode I have been in. I am still finding ways to deal with this problem, for I often times feel a little intimidated when I keep seeing all of these motivational videos that keep telling you to do this and do that, when in reality they are just fluffed up messages telling you to run yourself into debt and such. Yes, traveling would be great in my life right now, but as of today I got ten bucks in my pocket and that is it. How the fuck am I gonna get anywhere with that? I often times think these videos are just tripe created by credit card companies to keep us buying into consumerism, needing credit cards to supplement our YOLO tendencies. I guess it might be my curmudgeon nature, the struggles of a former life where I let myself be held captive by food and complacency and this desire to die young. Well, none of that is happening now, for it seems like I might be living far longer than I expected…and that is the tough part. The lack of work and the lack of money kind of makes these messages rather asinine to me, for it is obviously geared toward trust fund kids that have no qualms of living off others. Well, I have a little something called pride and I hate that mentality. I hate the fact I have to ask for help in this time of need for myself. I mean, one is not a real man if they cannot pay for themself right? It is embarrassing and destructive to my pride and self esteem…because how can I ever really repay this? I’m 38 and the kind of nonsense happening should not be. Who the hell is gonna want me in regards to love, work and whatever else happens when one has been beaten down do much? It’s frustrating so to speak. And so, that is why I am begging for averageness right now, something consistent and safe that I can build on. It’s one reason why I get a little overwhelmed with these motivation videos…reach for dreams, fight for your dreams, don’t let anyone stop you or get in the way. Fight! FIGHT. FFFFIIGGGHHTTT!!! Fuck, I’m just hoping for a stinking job right now so I can look my damn mechanic in the eye, knowing I actually paid him back for the work he put in my car. I just want to be fiscally accountable for once. Either way, it can be quite disconcerting when low paying jobs are passing on you. It used to be so much easier back in the day, when really greasy food would knock me out cold and alcoholic hangovers would help me forget fact life was hard. I was in a dream world that was crumbling around me and I was never aware of it. I’m not going lie…this is the worst spot for me in the last four years. I could harp about my problems on social media all day, but unlike most people I have a blog.
Why do I mention all of this stupidity going on in my life? It’s because I have been stress eating….a lot. It seems like the damn Pringles are always on special at the store next to my house, and I always seem to get a few cans. And then I started making special trips to Walmart to buy these vegan friendly Veggie Straws, which are also always on special. It seemed to happen every couple weeks, where I just couldn’t control myself. And then there is that dread on some days, where the heat is so awful that I don’t even bother peeling myself out of my chair to go running. I’ll admit, I probably got too deep into fake meats and such, eating Gardein Meatballs every week and making special trips to Natural Grocers to get some Beyond Chicken. This has pretty much happened for more than a month now, where I felt the stress really hitting me. I think in a lot of ways as well, I became a little too complacent in my working out. Let’s face it, the gym and the weights were the only thing I have really looked forward during this tough time. With my running being stunted by some sore ankles and congestion that doesn’t want to go away, doing some weights has helped me forget the anguish of not being wanted. I wish I could translate that feeling in other avenues, but when you feel trapped by the almighty dollar, considerations have to be made. Anyway, I have been on a pretty consistent roll in the gym as of late, getting stronger and maintaining a good all-around regiment that has helped me stay strong while also giving me a shred of confidence in my life. So it came as a rather surprise to me that my squatting is once again going by the wayside. The issue has always been my ankles, especially on my left side. I thought I had kind of corrected that problem, but once again, after doing some heavier weight training on the front and back squats, the issue is coming back. It might have something to do with all of the sitting I am doing these days, not working my body enough during the day time to keep the muscles used, stretched and relaxed.
So once again, I have to start lowering the weight on my squats. I kind of hate it in a way, because a 240-pound man should be able to work weights heavier than 165 pounds. But I have to address the issue again. As the weather will eventually get lower, I have to start fixing my ankles again or this will seriously affect my running…and especially my weight lifting. This time I will try to utilize the “plate” theory that seems to work for so many these days. Essentially, I will start putting plates—most likely the 25-pounders—under my heels and strictly watch my feet, knees and depth. I have to reestablish my muscle memory again due to the fact I probably fell back into bad habits again. Or maybe it was the fact I was trying to improve my weight, needing a win in some shape or form just to say I had one. While I am doing that, Jon has pretty much ordered me to start working on my wide grip bench pressing more. I have been doing a more close grip approach these days, lining up my arms with my shoulder width and doing that. That was how I have been able to do heavier weights. But now I have to go low again to work on this form, which is something that is not very pleasing to me. Fortunately, I managed to stay on a pretty good course with my dead lifts and my hang cleans. The dream of doing clean and jerks and snatches will have to be put on hold again until I fix these foundation issues.
Then of course, I found out another issue about my fitness…my running may be stinking due to the fact I am not doing enough functional work at the gym. If anything, adding some consistency in my lung capacity might be hurting me, and while I have been doing pretty well in regards to strict weight movements, I really haven’t been doing any combinations. While I have started once again to work on my ankles, doing exercises that can help strengthen those pesky buggers and also strengthen some smaller muscles, I might have to start implementing my functional awareness again. It all happened in Tuesday afternoon when this was epiphany was realized. Now, I started my day like any other day of refocus, doing some light back squats and light bench press on a wide grip. Since I was going light on just about everything, I did seven sets of five for the deadlifts, back squats and bench press. I concentrated more on form, so even though the weight wasn’t hard, the rep counts were still a mountain. I did seven sets of 10 on the barbell rows, going light as well. So I opened the day rather smashingly, putting some zip into the morning and creating a workout that helped my body out but was also challenging. But that wasn't the end of my day. You see, I was the proverbial guinea pig later that day. It was an alien concept to me, but I liked the idea of doing a two-a-day in a weight training manor. Usually I do a weights and run two-a-day, so I had no idea what to expect.
So Jon was observing a new trainer named Jenny (who I knew I would like when she pronounced her name “Forrest Gump” style) and wanted to see how she would handle a client in his gym. So I was not really prepared for the work she was about to lay on me. Jenny started me off on something I had not done in a while and have already eluded to…functional work! I began the short sample session with three sets of jump squats, high steps, “butt kicks” and then some mountain climbers. I knew exactly what she was doing…assessing my ability, speed and agility in those three simple moves since she only had a short window to work with. Most good trainers can figure out what a person is capable of through those three movements, and I would like to think I made a good first impression getting pushed through that. While we were having some issues setting up a TRX movement, Jenny instead decided to do elevated platform push-ups and combine them with dead lifts. Of course, I was already dreading this, mainly because I had done so much arm and deadlift work earlier. But I did plow through it, because pride and self esteem was at stake man! I got some good depth on the push-ups, which is what Jenny wanted me to focus on while also getting some good straight dead lifts. She had me do three sets of these deciding on having me do 10 reps for each movement when I mentioned I had done so much earlier. I was sweating like a pig, and I still had some “renegade arm pulls” to do. What this is meant was I was in a plank position, using some dumbbells as my hand hold and then lifting them straight up. The trick of courses is to not turn your hips, which doesn’t help with your movement enough while also making it much easier to do. Like clockwork, I really had to watch what I was doing merely because I kept moving my hips, which Jenny of course kept pointing out to me. It became much harder when I stopped moving my hips. Anyway, by the time the 20-minute observation session was over, my butt had been thoroughly kicked, but it revealed a great truth to me once again. That I have to stop being complacent so much. That I have to change things up and move with the current. Well, a lot has changed on me the last couple days, and now all of these realizations at the gym are making me rethink so many big picture issues. I guess this means I will have to start thinking up some crazy functional stuff that will help with my lung capacity while also challenging me. Up to this point, I merely avoided these exercises because I didn’t want to infringe on the space of other people. But I guess I will have to now. It seems like every time someone new shows up at Parsons, they point out something I have been neglecting, typically for a long time.
It’s relevant to a lot of things that have happened in my life right now. I lost my unemployment benefits, which was sudden and a royal kick in the butt. So instead of patiently going after jobs I want to do, I have to start looking for work once again in areas I hate (i.e. low pay, low skill work that will wreck my body and in a lot of ways, my spirit). That’s where the self esteem issue comes in, mainly because I thought I was doing so well in the gym and it was the rock that was keeping me afloat in this crazy time. Now I realize I still have to make more changes, just like everything else that keeps transpiring in my life. Fortunately, this realization of change is not the only thing hitting me, for I now have to help a friend who asked me to help with her eating and health regimen. The downside of little money means I am back to the basics, so I can at least be a good example in the food department. Now I know I can be a good example in the fitness side as well, working on some things that will help fix my body up so to speak. Right now, I just have to fight through this storm once again. I just wish sometimes it didn’t have to be like this. I guess that is the downside of dealing with real life like an adult.
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Parsons Training is a Tucson leader in fitness and personal wellness training. Every personal trainer with this company designs and implements effective fitness programs for their clients; these programs serve as the foundation for good health, fitness, and wellness. Additional information about Parsons Training is available at http://www.parsonspersonaltraining.com
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Steve, a Parsons Training Client, went from 400 pounds to Running half-marathons, from lifting pizzas to lifting hundreds of pounds through training with us.