Tag Archives: fitness

The Heal Thy Steff Plan: The Victoria Model v2.0

I try to learn life lessons where I can, but I’m not sure what to glean from spending $95 on a massage, then sleeping on my arm wrong.

Sometimes, maybe there isn’t a lesson. Sometimes, maybe life’s just stupid.

Ignoring the “Oops, I did it again” sleep and all, the massage was awesome. I’m still in a frustrated headspace, though. This weekend, some game-planning’s goin’ down.

See, like the ever-smart pragmatist I try to be, I realized the year-end was upon us and I’ve begun trying to make all my leftover medical benefits vanish by way of use, rather than time running out on me.

I took this shot near my home yesterday. Had a 4km pre-breakfast sunrise walk. Beats the shit out of walking to a bus stop on a busy thoroughfare, like I’d be doing back in the city in the morning.

Hello, beefy masseur. Howdy, Mr. Chiro. Bonjour, acupuncturist. Allo, physiotherapist. Holy fuck, look at that crowded calendar.

Thus begins the 10-week intensive Heal Thy Steff regimen. Oh, and I’m signing up for yoga at the end of the month, and I’ve just joined the gym. I’ll continue with my avid walking/cycling life as well, with my last bus ride having been in July.

It’s about to become a very anti-social, very focused, and very broke end-of-year for me, but with, I hope, fantastic results. I’m imagining myself starting 2013 in the best mind/body place I’ve been in for a few years. But I’m under no illusions that this will be an easy time of life management or physicality. Time to get my game on.

Last year, when I did something similar, I spent my funds completely differently — on experimental stuff on the other side of town, after which I’d get home tired, often soaked, and frustrated. This time, I’m doing more traditional treatments I know have worked for me before, and I don’t need to spend 70 hours a month on the bus to make it happen. Instead, everything’s within 2.5 kilometres of me.

I’m switching chiropractors, which is the one big risk. The guy I’m with has worked with many Olympians and is incredible, but he also causes a lot of pain. I’m in constant inflammation, and I’m just wondering if someone else who uses the same techniques can be a little more forgiving with my body. The worst thing is, his time management sucks. Out of about 15 appointments, only 3 times have I gotten in with less than 15 minutes’ waiting, and at least 5 times I have waited 45 minutes. I know I’m not some big fancy rich person or anything, but my time’s valuable to me, too.

And given I’m cycling 30 minutes/9km each way to his appointment, that’s adding up to about 2 hours of my time, not to mention the half-hour I have to stretch after all the cycling’s done, or that I usually justify this time/effort spent as a reason to order bad food on my way home. Add to that the money I’ve spent on the session, and suddenly it’s a black hole of time and expense, and usually ends up making me bitchy.

So, Olympians or no, I’m moving on to someone closer, whose bio sounds like he has a similar life/wellness perspective as what I’m hoping to attain.

Any way you slice it, this plan I have in mind will take tremendous discipline, a lot of work, a lot of money, and a lot of patience. It’s a huge commitment, and one I’ve not been ready to make before now. In 3 weeks, I’ll be meeting with a prominent physiotherapist who’s got an amazing background, and I will be getting a program started with him.

It also means I put writing on the back burner once again.

My recent birthday, and getting my new driver’s license, has opened this realization that I’ve been on this five-year journey through a lot of levels of pain, and I’m fucking tired, man. It needs to end. If it means I throw EVERYTHING at this, for one amazing 10-week period, and see where it gets me, then so be it.

Five years ago, I got my driver’s license photo back and this massively fat face was peering back at me. I’d just quit a job that had sent me spiralling towards depression because my employer was a toxic, negative hag who had high turnover with good reason, and went back to a job I’d always enjoyed (and am still at). I chose to do something about that depression by way of exercise and eating better, and adopted a lot of good habits, worked crazy hard, and lost 85 pounds in the next year (but gained 10 back immediately, and maintained a 75-lb loss for the next 2+ years) before blowing my back 4 years ago this month.

The last four years have been a repetitive story of rehab and fall-backs, including me regaining weight (it was 25 lbs when I left Vancouver, spiked to 35lbs after, and now is at 28lbs regained, so…).

All this culminated in this year’s decision that the city was killing me and I needed a slower pace of life that would be kinder to my body.

So, I sit here now, typing in my pajamas before a day of working from home, which is some 7 or so blocks from one of North America’s best urban ocean stretches, where I find my soul and refill it often.

I have come a long, long ways in the last seven months since my move.

It’s why I’m ready to make the commitment now, despite the fact that the fat, long-injured girl deep inside me is scared as hell about what it’s gonna feel like to go hard and face all the things that emotionally come with rehabbing your body after injury.

I suspect I’ll get bored of being in all the same neighbourhoods by the end of this year, since I’ll be in a 3-5km radius for much of the winter months, until Victoria is bike-friendly and pretty and warm for cycling again, but at least I’m close enough to never have an excuse to not cycle to appointments, since it would amusingly take about 3 times as long to bus as it would to cycle.

I’m scared and excited, but either way, time to go to the next level of Steff v2.0: The Victoria Model.

Let’s do this.

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Riding the Wave: Back at It

It’s been a day filled with plumbing excitement. I returned home last evening to find some other tenant’s mystery filth backed up in my bathroom sink.

18 hours later, it’s as good as new, and was even cleaned by the handyman. A year ago, I’d be waiting for a couple days or more, since, hey, bathroom sinks aren’t as important as kitchen sinks, and they didn’t rate the same service by my slack-ass jerk of a former landlord.

In little things like how my building is maintained, my life has changed from night to day in a year.

Sure, I need little things yet… like, you know, friends. But I know me and I’ll get ‘em. And I’ll get ‘em when I’m feeling better about myself than I have been before now, and I’ll net better quality people, because that’s what happens when you’re in a better place in both your life and your mind. It’s always about quality for me.

Who I am *right now* is much, much closer to the person I’ve been trying to get back to for quite some time.

My health’s improving on every level. I think know I bottomed out with the move here, but that was after what had been the most difficult year of my life. So, naturally, one has a little nuclear fall-out dealio with that.

But if this is how much everything has improved since July 1, then I can’t wait to see what’s ahead.

September 1st is my six-month anniversary of becoming a Victorian in this fine town, and the first four months were rife with a great deal of pain and injuries. I had a whole lot of painkillers for three-plus months there, people. Now I take maybe a pill a week. That’s, you know, improvement — or great restraint! But, no, it’s improvement. I just don’t need it because I’m just “regular sore” now and I’m woman enough to handle it.

I’ve gone from, in the third week of April, barely getting through a 5km bike ride without back twinges to being able to cycle 35km/130 minutes in an evening and just being ass-draggin’ wasted-tired, not crippled.

I’m trying to be active daily, usually walking 5 kilometres or cycling 10 kilometres, or more, a combination of both, every day. I’m using my balance ball chair for watching TV most days (but took the back off, because that’s just counterintuitive!) for an hour or more, I’ve phased in some weightlifting.

Now I’ve discovered I’ve healed my badly injured-and-then-reinjured-in-a-biking-accident shoulder on my own mostly, and I’ve gone from being unable to do a side plank AT ALL in the last three years to being able to do one for more than 30 seconds yesterday.

I’m only now returning to the level I was at in late 2009 in what I am able to do, but I’ve gained weight.

Now I’m past the “painful incapable stage” where I couldn’t DO anything, but I’m in the Oh-Fuck-I-Hurt stiff-ass sore-everywhere phase one gets into after they’ve started firing on all exercise gears. At least I’ve worked up to this stage slowly, so it’s only the first day or two of trying something new where it hurts. Today is residual pain from rediscovering planks and push-ups, but it’s not “something’s wrong” pain or over-inflamed, so I know it’s all good.

Shortly, I expect to actually enjoy working out without being apprehensive about what The Day After will bring, and I see myself being pumped about lifting weights and doing plyometrics.

Diet? I’m conjuring a plan to increase my meat and vegetables, and cut out carbs but I’m not too optimistic there yet, and I think this is the week I get serious. No more chocolate and other treats, no more fucking around with monster portions.

There gets to be a point where you’re working too hard to keep blowing out your diet. Like that time I cycled 35 kilometres from out of town to home, for more than two hours of cardio, then ate a whole commercial small pizza with a bottle of wine? Yeah. Talk about oxymoronic. But it was delicious and well-earned. Just… you know. Didn’t change anything, and I coulda.

I know people panic about getting everything right all at once, and I know it’s awesome result-wise when you do, but I’m just not that person. I can’t make radical changes all at once.

The moving-to-a-new-city thing was radical enough for one season. Yet, I’ll be phasing in new changes weekly. Little things here and there. Like, I’m considering going cold turkey on butter/margarine for a month. If I do it now, I can have it back for my birthday… Ooh.

So this is where I’m at, people. I’m working a lot. Exercising a lot. Changing my mind and body, if not yet the diet. Sort of figuring out where the hell I’m headed, but liking the view as I go.

It’s pretty much a deeply personal time as I kind of clue into a lot of things. But it’s a good time. Now and then, I’ll share some with you.

Hope you’re doing well too.

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Getting it Wrong Means Knowing How to Get it Right

The older I get, the more I see the adage of “darkest before dawn” being a truism.

A certain Zen-master sensibility takes over as I age whenever the fit really hits the shan.

Oh, wow. A gnarly wave of suckage cresting on the right. Head down, hang on, and pray, woman.”

When I had that almost-a-major-setback with my back the other day, I went to some pretty fucking dark places. It’s been one hell of a rollercoaster week for me, and I’m done, man.

Done on a few levels, that is. I think I’ve hit a major turning point with my back. The almost-major-setback, it turns out, was that I had been doing a very important stretch wrong. Ever so slightly wrong, too.

There was a miscommunication in having the stretch explained/digested, and as a result I was extending backwards instead of forwards, causing a minor  compressing of the spine — but after a week or so of the compression, kaboom. Yowch. Something slipped as I started to pedal my bike and I went to That Dark Place.

And this stretch, the difference in placement of my tailbone is all of, say, 1 horizontal inch. It’s really not a lot, but that angle changes shoulder-level by about 30-degrees, just enough to fuck a girl up.

For me, this incident is a reminder on a number of levels.

  • Close often isn’t good enough. Which is, you know, not good enough.
  • When you’re doing yourself harm, it’s not always apparent until it’s too late.
  • Know the result you want, and how to recognise it.
  • Attention to detail is time well spent.
  • Attempt to undo damage all you like, but if you ain’t gettin’ it right, then you’re makin’ it wronger.*
  • Solutions tend to reverse tides in a hurry. Step 1. Act. Step 2. Worry only if it motivates you to do Step 1.
  • I am a tough bitch.

It wasn’t that I wasn’t working for wellness. I was. Daily rehab and stretching.

I was just doing it wrong. One small part of it. No good deed goes unpunished, as the cynical old bastards always say.

And this too shall pass, say others. With stretching apparently down, it seems like the mix is right and it will settle.

Life comes with interruptions and setbacks. If we can’t take them for what they are, an opportunity to adjust our thinking and try another tack, then we’re destined for a pretty bumpy journey.

What solves other lives ain’t gonna solve mine. It’s not a one-size-fits-all dealio, so there’s a lot of bump-in-the-night that we each need to do to get there.

I’m coming up on three years with this back injury, and it’s the first time I’ve ever nailed this particular stretch that releases this particular combination of muscles. That other old truism, never too late to change, appears to be indicative of my rehabilitation, too.

Believe? Why not. Sure, I believe.**

It’s fitting there’s sunshine today. I could use a little basking in the light.

*If you’re a grammar dork who wants to point out that “wronger” isn’t a word, well, duh. Go back to satire school.
**By the way, not for nothin’, hockey fans, but I hope Vancouver’s Canucks can learn a little of what I’ve learned this week, that a lack of success doesn’t mean failure, it means it’s time to adjust strategy. Getting outcoached is a shitty way to lose a series.
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Building Blocks: Mastering Less as More

It’s been a long week and you’re probably wondering how it went, given my dreaded Month of Suck admission last week.

I’ve spent this past week slowly recalibrating myself, lowering my expectations, ditching my guilt, and focusing on the individual steps to take rather than being overwhelmed by the bigness of my journey…

Found on SciFiTV.com.And it’s been much, much better.

My workout with Le Physique’s Nik Yamanaka last Monday was really an empowering start to my week. She was empathetic, didn’t dwell on my admitted failings, changed the game up a little, challenged me, and provided great positivity, support, and encouragement during the workout. She also brought The Funny, and we like The Funny.

It wasn’t that she was babying me, not by a long shot. She pushed me enough, and god knows I felt it the next night as the Screaming Thighs of Fury set in a day after the epic “Let’s try some lunges” experiment, but she didn’t push me past what I could take.

Who cares about the Screaming Thighs of Fury, though?

Face it, anyone who doesn’t have killer-sore legs after doing their first-ever triple-set of lunges is probably immortal. We don’t like those people.

We really, really don’t like those people. But I digress.

Aside from letting me ditch my guilt and shame by playing me her version of the “everyone has reversals” record, Nik also provided a lightbulb moment when it came to stretching.

I think I know better than most people the profound difference that can come from tweaking a stretch angle by a few degrees, so I was really surprised to find that, a) I’m still being uber-overzealous in my hamstring stretching, b) it’s probably a huge part of why my hamstrings never stretch out, and c) it’s likely instrumental in why I have recurring back issues on a small scale all the time.

Nik drove the point home that the hamstring is a very gentle stretch, and one of the most important ones we can do. She said to wait while the hamstring naturally extends itself. Stretch the leg to the point of feeling it, hold, as it releases and resistance lessens, extend slightly further, hold, repeat, etc.

Okay, whoa, hold them technique-horses a moment.

This needs saying: I’m not a licensed kinesiologist, I’m not edumacatin’ you on stretching, and you shouldn’t be doing anything by way of my limited explanations here. This was a trained professional explaining the best way of stretching for MY body. Your body is a whole ‘nother thang, and this is why certified personal trainers are a wise idea for anyone embarking on a new life of fitness: Because every body responds a little differently.

(But if you’re like most people, you probably should be stretching those hamstrings more, honey.)

Anyhow, that slight adjustment, less-kamikaze approach has been making a difference in my legs and back this week, but there’s another stretch that’s proven monumentally important to me, now that I’ve been hearing Nik’s voice in my head all the time: “Drop your shoulders. Drop your shoulders.”

I’ve always had my shoulders up too high during stretches — and now I realize my stretches are probably largely responsible for the “tension headaches” I get, or at least as responsible as other things, like carrying too many groceries or wearing heavy shoulder bags.

By keeping my shoulders down during the stretches, I’ve greatly reduced the headaches that were seriously cramping my style. Whew. Fantastic.

So, where didn’t my week go as ideally?

Well, everywhere, of course.

But “perfect” wasn’t my goal.

Sure, I didn’t exercise the “Full Nik Yamanaka Kicking-Ass-And-Taking-Names” routine, but I decided to cut myself slack and instead just focusing on Doing it Right and Feeling Good Later. Nik seems to approve.

I still haven’t stretched often enough, eaten as well as I would like, but I really don’t care.

I really don’t — because I’ve done everything better, I feel better, and I know I can still do better.

The difference is, this time I feel like doing better isn’t going to kill me. I don’t feel the dread and fear I was feeling for a while, when I kept paying for my efforts with negative fall-out (thanks to the trifecta of overdoing it, poor sleep, and bad stretching.)

Now I think “doing better” might even have me feeling better overall.

Working out through my pneumonia recovery has proven challenging, but I’m finally at the point where pushing cardio may still have me spent and asleep on the sofa by 8:30, but a good night’s sleep recharges that battery, and I find myself with more to give the next day.

That’s a new thing — having more to give — and a good thing.

Will I manage the Full Nik Yamanaka Kicking-Ass-And-Taking-Names program this week?

No, probably not, but I can get closer, do it better, feel stronger, and have the feeling that I’m adding to success rather than kicking myself when I’m down.

I’m listening to my body with exercise, and soon I know I’ll be listening to it for food, too. That’s always a 1–2 thing for me — I get the exercise sorted, then figure out the food.

All in all, it feels like the pieces are falling into place — or, rather, that I’m kicking ass and throwing them into place.

This week, less has been more.

By doing less and feeling like I’ve executed it better, or more well, or more promisingly, the emotional gains and the confidence I now have in going forward is both a pivotal and welcomed change in my life.

I knew I’d get here, but it was just such a rocky road with so many obstacles, and me with my lack of objectivity at the time.

Recalibrating, lowering expectations, and focusing on technique but working through obvious pains while trying to reduce unnecessary pain, have been a key in my week of regrouping.

Going into this week with a little less fear and a little more confidence will be a nice change, provided I remember that it’s doing less, but doing it better, that’s being my “more” right now.

Baby steps, baby.

Le Physique is in Leg-And-Boot Square, in Vancouver’s False Creek. Nik Yamanaka is co-owner, and was the BCRPA Personal Trainer of the Year for 2008. Le Physique tailors a program to meet your abilities, goals, and lifestyle. They can’t do the work for you, but they can tell you the tweaks that will help you meet your best performance and give you the mental tools and simple practices that might help you attain the success you need. You can listen to Nik talking about training in this radio interview here. You can follow her/them on Twitter, too, by clicking here.
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Bouncing Back from The Month of Suck

If you enjoy this, or any of my posts, please hit the “like” button at the bottom, because sharing it on Facebook helps me get readers, which is kind of the point. Thank you for your support!

October was My Month of Suck.

Things went badly at the end — personally, financially, physically, spiritually.

Times like that, my struggle is with Emotional Eating. Growing up, if there was something we’d celebrate or mourn, we’d do it with food.

At 37, it’s still my battle.

Another struggle is the pressure I put on myself and the self-damning I do when I don’t meet those lofty standards.

What happens when I get angry or disappointed in myself? I eat.

When I eat, what happens? I get fat or feel like it — equally dangerous to morale.

My first mistake in October was not saying sooner that I’d bitten off too much, regarding my post-pneumonia recovery.

The problems with me getting something like pneumonia is, it’s easy to think the pneumonia’s just some “thing” I’ve created to get out of shit, regardless of how sick I actually was.

As a kid, yeah, I was in and out of hospitals, but I was also a lazy kid who loved the excuse of illness — I hated exercise. When it came to exercise, I was happy to play the “I’m too sick” card.

The last five years, the greatest “getting fit” struggle I’ve faced was overcoming “I Can’t” and those old excuses.

In so doing, when I thought I couldn’t do something, I often did better than I expected. When I thought I was too weak, I was strong. If I wanted to improve my time in how long it took to cycle someplace, I did. When I thought I was too tired or too sore, I proved I wasn’t. That’s how I lost 70 pounds on my own.

Sure, I beat “I can’t,” but I’m still not an “I Can” girl — and that’s what I want to be, via my work with Nik Yamanaka from Le Physique.

I want say “Sure, I can do that!” without blinking. Now? Not so much, more like “Maybe?”

A lot has to do with the “I Can’t” Girl legacy.

In October, when I first thought I was doing too much too soon, I didn’t take a break — I didn’t want to use the “I’m not well” excuse or to make allowances for being sick or recovering. I didn’t want to admit I’m weaker or less strong.

Now I’ve paid for it through too sore muscles, too tired body, and the emotional fatigue that comes from the too-much-too-soon lethargy one suffers after trying to bounce back post-illness or injury.

***

Today I see Nik for the first time in two weeks. She knows I’ve been ass-kicked by both life and myself of late. I think I really need a session to get my head from Where I Was last month to where I’d rather be now.

For me, returning to anything after injury or illness is a struggle. The longer I’m out of the game, the harder it is to get back — especially when my body doesn’t like the pace I set, since I normally like to take my angst out on a workout, but my body doesn’t like that approach.

That said, almost every time I “return,” I do too much too soon.

I warned Nik that a former chiro labelled my tactics as “KAMIKAZE”. I mean, I know I do this shit.  I told her, “I know this about myself, I’m gonna be careful”, but, boom, there it is: History repeating.

This time, my bounce-back wipeout coincided with Heavy personal stuff on a few levels, and a bout of food poisoning, all within 10 days. I got knocked on my ass — hard.

Coupled with emotional baggage and the caloric hell that is Halloween, it’s been a doozy of a three-week stint in which I’ve been visiting all manner of feeling like a Failure.

We’ve all been there.

Still, I know my abilities and what I’ve learned about my food relationships, and my physical accomplishments with cardio and strength-training over time.

Believe me, I know. That’s why it’s so hard to accept such a rocky return.

Up side? Nik’s got a crash course in Steff’s Fitness Foibles 101 — my determination, roadblocks, how connected food is to my emotions, how I pay for my stubbornness.

Down side? It’s a disheartening start to what I hoped would resonate with awesomeness from the get-go. I have to recalibrate my expectations, and I will.

The I’ll-take-it side? I’m reminded I’m not God, I’m not even immortal, and while deities might allegedly be able to create whole worlds in seven days, we take longer to create what we dream, and more realistic aspirations make the road less arduous.

***

I’ve had a hard time writing this piece. I’ve started it six times now.

Why? I despise admitting that I’ve failed myself, but it’s more disheartening that it came after I tried too hard and hit the wall, only to fall back into old habits just ‘cos I emotionally roll that way.

That’s what I had a hard time with: feeling like I was being punished for working too hard. It’s tough to swallow that you’ve achieved what you wanted to do, but then suffered consequences as a result — and then revisited bad habits of old out of weakness.

To whatever end, it all comes back to listening to the trainer when he/she says “Listen to your body.”

They don’t say “Listen to your neuroses.”

Woefully, my neuroses speak loud and clear. Listening to that’s hard not to do.

And sometimes we don’t understand our bodies. Don’t understand? Or maybe we just don’t listen. Success usually isn’t a switch we can flick on overnight.

Some learn these lessons harder than others.

My lesson is in finding a middle ground between what I want to be Tomorrow and what I’m able to be Today, and for me it can be the hardest part of fitness.

Part of a trainer-trainee relationship comes from learning where you’re at with each other, and the trainer knowing when you’re really trying or when you’re just phoning it in. This is a tough beginning, and I know Nik’s being challenged with having to interpret that about me. I can respect that.

Still, my journey’s not just the physical roadblocks I have to contend with. I know I’ll be in a difficult place emotionally for a while, so my food struggle will be tough. That’s when training will be good, and social media/blogging also helpful, so I can get advice, support, friendly prodding, and experience accountability to others.

Because I can’t work out at 100 per cent, I’m learning I never overcame my food demons, despite having lost 70 pounds.

I didn’t. Food’s the devil, always was. This is the reality check I needed.

Waiter, there’s a fly in my aspiration soup. Check, please.

Yet, Food Demons can be beaten into submission. People do it all the time.

And, pneumonia can only hamper my efforts for so long. I’ll get there a little more each week. I’m just impatient.

***

So, today? Training looms.

My Catholic upbringing makes me dread facing people after I feel like I’ve failed them or myself, so showing up to see Nik will be a bit heavy at the beginning, but another part of me can’t wait to just get in there, see her, and turn the page on my October.

Something I’ve learned in recovery/rehab, and forgot until now: It’s best that I do cardio at the end of the day so I can recover after, rather than early in the morning, when it might take a lot out of me, since, frankly, post-pneumonic life isn’t brimming with energy just yet.

Sometimes we need to find new normals.

I’m finding mine.

***

Failure happens. We don’t choose when. Life’s tough, we deal where we can, and sometimes fall down elsewhere.

At the end, know what matters?

Not that I ate badly or didn’t exercise sometimes, but that I’ve been more honest with myself about food than I have in months, and that I’ve been active more regularly than I have in a while.

I’ve improved. That’s the point.

I haven’t improved as much as I’d wanted, as quickly as I’d hoped, but I know why I haven’t, where I can improve still, and now I’ll do better than I did last time.

In the end, sometimes just continuing to improve is the best result we can hope for.

For now? I’ll take it.

Le Physique is in Leg-And-Boot Square, in Vancouver’s False Creek. Nik Yamanaka is co-owner, and was the BCRPA Personal Trainer of the Year for 2008. Le Physique tailors a program to meet your abilities, goals, and lifestyle. They can’t do the work for you, but they can tell you the tweaks that will help you meet your best performance and give you the mental tools and simple practices that might help you attain the success you need. You can listen to Nik talking about training in this radio interview here. You can follow her/them on Twitter, too, by clicking here.

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Better-Faster-Stronger Steff, Day 1

If ever someone’s mentality was built for Kicking Ass and Taking Names, it’s mine.

On the outside, however, I’m more of a tribute to the StayPuft Marshmallow Man.

Inside, I’m G.I. Jane (with better writing).

Starting now, it’s onto Mission: Outside-Matching-In.

Found on MediaBistro.com, taken at a marathon.

I’ve managed to snooker a personal trainer who’s willing to make me into G.I. Jane–Librarian.  (But Imma be the Baby-Still-Gonna-Have-Back/Librarian Model, however. We likes a tushy.)

She works my ass out, I write about the whole experience, in short.

Meet Nik Yamanaka, my kicking-ass-and-taking-names trainer-extraordinaire from the Vancouver personal training firm Le Physique, located on the waterfront between Vancouver’s amazing Athlete’s Village and Granville Island.

Le Physique looks like a boutique gym, but it’s a place you go to be guided into a fitness program that is all about you. There’s a big difference between some quickie-certified “trainer” and a licensed kinesiologist like Nik, and I’m really thrilled to have the opportunity to work with her.

Someone like me, coming from a history of injuries, is right to be really scared (ergo cautious) about starting off a program of fitness. There’re a lot of little road-bumps I expect to crash-land into along the way — and that doesn’t mean I’ll have to stop the program; it means tweaking the program.

I’ve done it myself before, but it’s a lot more graceful (and less painful) when done with professional guidance.

There. That’s the deal, okay?

As this experiment goes on, I’ll be writing the real-deal experience from my side of the getting-trained situation.

Where are we at? Well…

Later I’ll measure myself, and those are numbers I’ll keep to myself, but for now I’m about a size 14–18, depending on who’s making the clothing and what it is, but usually a 16/14.

I’m 5’7 and I weigh 212. I was, at one time, more than 280 pounds. I say “more than” because there were several years I went without weighing myself and wearing a whooooole lot of Spandex-y leggings and muu-muu–y tops, back in my size-24 days.

The 68-pounds-at-least-lost is poundage I lost by myself, mostly without gym passes or trainers. During that time, however, I blew out my back and had to rehab my way through 10 months of oodles of pain, which taught me how to at least eat within my daily calorie limit and still lose weight without the endless cardio to compensate.

It wasn’t until I graduated from physiotherapy and started saw an ass-kicking kinesiologist for 4 sessions that my pain finally subsided and I regained strength of old.

Then I burned out on training, because I’d been doing 6–12 hours a week of working out for EIGHTEEN MONTHS. I’d been dumping cash I couldn’t afford into expensive rehabbing costs, chiropractic care that wasn’t effective, et cetera, for all that time, too, due to the high level of fitness I was pursuing.

What I never “got right”, though, was the food. Or the stretching. Or the precise technique.

Hmm. All I really got right was having the will to get it done. I worked through phenomenal pain. I screwed up a lot, sure, but I got it done, I proved a lot to myself.

The experience was really hard, though. Really, really, really hard. In every way.

It’s difficult to rectify why you’ve made so many grueling life-changes when all you keep being rewarded with are sports-related injuries, inflammation, and denied foods.

Then, it’s hard to get past the burden of being an emotional eater, like I often am, when this “healthier” lifestyle you’ve chosen cuts into enjoyment as much as the inactive life led before did — back when you got to eat at Dairy Queen.

Emotionally, starting this new journey with Nik has me coming from a place of fear. I think everyone knows what it’s like to worry that they won’t be able to measure up with what they once were — or, worse, that all their fears about how obsolete they are will be confirmed.

It’s the severity of that fear that changes for each of us. Me, it’s almost crippling at times.

Add to it the fact that I’ve  just gotten over six weeks of pneumonia, and, kapow! Scaredy-Steff right here, buddy. But here we go.

Fortunately, I have first-hand knowledge of everything I’ve been through and what it took to surpass.

I have the confidence of knowing that my trainer went to school for a good long time and understands not only the bio-mechanics behind working out, but the science behind sports eating (like, everything from portion-sizing for performance to what timely consumption of foods can do for us).

And, me, I have the eagerness to soak it all in. I want to learn why and how I paid so heavy a price as I bumbled through the loss of 70 pounds without any professional help.

In the end, I want to lose 50 pounds with Nik. The first goal is 35 pounds. I don’t remember the deadline we set for that, but, there you go: Numbers, since that’s all everyone cares about.

Get far enough on the journey and you realize numbers don’t mean jack when you’ve got the emotional issues kicking around still, so it has to be more than numbers.

So, for me, most importantly than the weight loss, I want to change my attitude about everything from what I’m capable of all the way through to how I feel about truly “healthy” food. I want to find the confidence and self-admiration I know I deserve to have, but that which the fat face in the mirror keeps me from really buying into.

In short, yeah, it’s about being better, faster, and stronger. It’s about saying I don’t want to experience crippling injuries or illnesses like pneumonia ever again. It’s about believing I deserve better than a life lacking energy or enthusiasm or a healthy body.

It was a baby workout yesterday, more for talking about process and where we’ll go with things. I’ll be a little less hands-on for Nik because I don’t need the motivation or constant overseeing others might require, and I do work really well alone — I’ve just done it kinda wrong and need to be righted upon my path.

Therefore:

I’ve been prescribed a cardio goal, a weight-lifting/plyometrics routine, and have been requested to resume my old rehab routine (which is about 30 minutes for a set) six days a week. I said I could handle it, and I know I can. I’ve also been asked to keep a food/activity journal that isn’t just a log of what I’ve consumed/burned, but also about the feeling that came as a result of each entry. I’ve done calorie-counting often, but I’ve never recorded how things made me feel before, and I’m curious if it changes the logging experience for me.

So, that’s where we’ve started.

Let’s see where the heck it all goes, shall we? Stay tuned. I’ll be doing weekly updates right here.

Le Physique is in Leg-And-Boot Square, in Vancouver’s False Creek. Nik Yamanaka is co-owner, and was the BCRPA Personal Trainer of the Year for 2008. Le Physique tailors a program to meet your abilities, goals, and lifestyle. They can’t do the work for you, but they can tell you the tweaks that will help you meet your best performance and give you the mental tools and simple practices that might help you attain the success you need. You can listen to Nik talking about training in this radio interview here. You can follow them on Twitter, too, by clicking here.

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