‘The trick to forgetting the big picture is to look at everything close up.’
Sometimes I’m not sure what’s worse to look at. But we start where we can, with what we can deal with. There are limits for now. I’ll start with my training, a reasonably safe subject. There’s been a slow, post-holiday return to the gym, which has been getting tougher all the time. Or perhaps I am getting slacker, who knows?
I’m trying to get my head round the looming reality that I need to quit drinking for a month, and step up my exercise activity while I’m at it. I go through phases of being excited about this and dreading it. Particularly the early starts: if I want to go in the morning now, it will need to be at 6:30 am. This will get harder as the seasons change. Already it’s darker at 6am than it was two weeks ago.
Most mornings, I really don’t want to get up just before six, but something is forcing me out of my bed. It’s my brain, operating my reluctant legs like the Numbskulls. Until I actually enjoy getting up at stupid o’clock to kill myself in the gym, then I will pretend that I do. When you’re flooded with happy chemicals at the end, you don’t know the difference.
The other folk that train at 6:30am are mainly men of varying levels of super fitness. So I am always last. And always the chubbiest. But it’s not something I think about while I’m there, especially when the workout has lots of reps and lots of rounds. It can be an endurance test. And you don’t think about the size of your gut in these situations. Neither does anyone else; everyone too busy trying to get through the horrible bits, everyone in their own private hell.
It was a seven round sweatfest this morning, but tomorrow is a lifting day. This is much needed. The rubber mats and barbells only finally went in while I was away. There was a smidgeon of deadlifting in a class last week, but this one is the most fun: highest total score of back squat, strict press and deadlift.
Anyone who lifts weights knows there is much joy to be had in practicing these lifts and gaining a PB where possible. Especially that beautiful deadlift. Women I urge you, go to a class and learn to deadlift. It truly is the most joyous feeling of strength and power, and the heavier you can lift, the better it gets. I’m not saying it’s better than sex, but it’s almost certainly better than some of the sex you’ve had.
Even if some of your lifts are a bit rubbish (I strict press like a girl), it’s still fun seeing how much you can lift and how strong you can get. And getting annoyed when you’re tired and you just can’t get that extra five kilos. It’s a test of strength, but only against yourself. When you feel out of sorts and grrrrr, it’s a way to step out of your conscious, turmoil of a mind. Getting completely physical and fierce. Just you and the barbell.
Singer, poet and general man of iron, Henry Rollins sums it up well here:
I don’t quite have his level of zen with the iron, but I’ve had moments of completely focused, in the zone lifting, where I don’t feel like myself at all. More Spartan Queen than middle aged mum. I need some of that strength just now.
Whatever it is that floats your boat will give the same feelings of endorphin rush, but the lifting feels particularly powerful. I think it may be more so for women. We are surprised to discover that men get part of their confidence and strength from doing this stuff, so we can have it too. It’s like having a secret power; the knowledge that you are strong, that you can take care of yourself and others.
So in the morning I will go to remind myself of this. There’s discombobulation in my life right now, and getting properly fit and strong is going to help with that. At least it will help me pretend that I’m strong when I need to be and really don’t feel it. Instead, I’m a little off kilter, skewwhiff. I guess I just need to keep remembering to ask myself ‘what would Queen Leda do?’
Until next time,