On December 8 I’ll be 40. FORTY. I’m kinda stoked to be honest. My 20s were a nightmare, my 30s really really hard. The 40s better deliver is all I’m saying.
In the countdown I’ve decided to do a little series of things I am grateful for, things I love, things that make me laugh or things I’m passionate about. Yeah, that’s right, totally making it up as I go along.
But today, first cab off the rank is a recent life addition. A revelation if you will. Something I did not see coming but am so so glad it did.
I’m six months in and a month into working with Pete the Trainer and can NOT emphasise how life changing it has been. I LOVE these guys – Pete, Meredith, Aeron, Christian and Wal. They work with peak athletes to sweaty masses like myself and do so with care, thought and genuine concern for your whole well being. There is not a grain of arrogance or ego or judgement, the whole culture of the place is “let’s make you the best you can be and help each other do the same in the process”.
In that 6 months I’ve lost about 5kgs, 8cm off my bust, 8cm off my waist and 4cm off my hips. It doesn’t sound like much but curiously I’m OK with it because it is the belief in myself that matters now. The weight will come off, mark my words, but to do that while healing my mind? GOLD.
So you beautiful outrageously fit and physically inspiring crew? I thank you. Do NOT ever under estimate the impact you’re having on people every single day.
This week’s training was sold to us as a “surprise”. I’m not sure about you but when someone promises me a surprise I’m hoping it involves air travel, ideally a fancy hotel, jewellery and eating enough food and drinking so much champagne my head falls off.
A “surprise” at 6am on Queenscliff beach was, I begrudgingly acknowledged, not going to involve any of those things.
Instead we got to do a 3.5 or 5km run, as many push-ups as you could do without stopping, 8x1minute sessions of sit-ups and, AND a 3.5 or 5km run AGAIN!
They didn’t tell us about the second run part until the second run part.
I decided to give it a red hot go and do the 5km run, after all that’s what I do at home and this was flat and I DIDN’T KNOW THEY WERE GOING TO ASK ME TO DO IT AGAIN.
I ran the 5km from Queenscliff to Shelley Beach and back .
in bang on 30 minutes.
I did the rest.
And then the last run? I did 1.5km. In hindsight I know I could have done the 3.5km and am annoyed I didn’t but hey, there’s always this week.
Saturday had us doing four circuits for eight minutes a piece. In those circuits you had to AMRAP – as many repetitions as possible. I’ve come to see that phrase AMRAP and heave internally. AMRAP is hard.
There was rowing and burpees – hands down on the ground, legs jump back, chest and hips down to the ground, push up, jump feet back to hands, trying to keep them flat, jump up then jump up in the air. DIE DIE DIE A THOUSAND DEATHS. Burpees are exercise hell and nirvana all rolled into one. A huge whole body fitness trip in one exercise while being an absolute hell ‘maybe I should just vomit now’ experience.
There was a kilometre run and kettle bell thrusts which sound sexy but involve lifting a weight (12kgs in my case but there are people in the room lifting 24kg ones) I liken to the ball from a ball and chain up and over your head then back down and back up and so on. There were box jumps, which are as ridiculous as they sound – a big box you are meant to JUMP UP ONTO. I step up because, quite frankly, falling arse over tit OVER a box is just too much even for me.
There was more running with pushups – as many sets of 200 metre runs and 10 pushups you could do in 8 minutes (4 sets + 150m for me) – but the absolute kicker? A 800 metre run carrying a sandbag on your back. I have no idea how much the sandbag weighed, probably 12 or 15kgs, but my GOD carrying it on my back? In the last circuit? After three other circuits? It might as well have been a chopped up corpse of a grown man such was what it felt like.
I started out OK but then, somewhere around 200 metres, I hit the wall. My whole body turned to lead. I let out a cry and came to a stop only to have this gruff panting voice bark at me from behind, ‘come on, you can do it. Don’t stop.’ One of the blokes was actually behind me. I put this down to the fact his sandbag was even heavier than mine and he’d been outstripping my effort on every other workout.
But then I was stuck. My body was screaming for me to stop but Brook behind me wouldn’t let that happen. So run I must and run I did. The whole way. Without stopping.
When I run I have to force the ‘well this is just fucking ridiculous’ thoughts out and replace them with idiotic lines like ‘my legs are like feathers! Light! Dancing on the wind!’ and ‘light of foot, light of foot’. I know. What an idiot. Needless to say my brain was following more ‘legs like feathers fuck off light as a feather you are a fucking moron light of foot light of foot this is fucking ridiculous what are you doing you idiot’ and less ‘ fast as a cheetah, light as a feather’.
By the time I ran back UP.THE.RAMP. to the gym and to its doors I was comfortable in the knowledge I was going to either vomit or pass out or perhaps both.
And then I realised something. There was still almost 2 mintues left for that circuit. I had run 800 metres with a sandbag on my back – after all the rest – in six minutes. SIX MINUTES.
This was both spectacular and fucking unlucky as I then had to see out to the eight minutes doing as many sit-ups as I could.
I admit I did just lie on the floor for some time trying to get some oxygen back into my body but I did it. 20 sit-ups.
What then unfolded was the realisation that me, lying on my stomach trying to roll a tennis ball around my shoulder joint is laughable when faced with Patti and Selma. Those girls mean that I need more basketball than tennis ball. There was much body-heaving laughter at this with the girls I’ve become friends with.
And you know what? Laughter after an excruciating work-out is as glorious as laughter through tears.
In that eight weeks I have gone from being unable to sleep on Friday night because of how anxious I was about going and the ‘what if I can’t do it’ mentality, to it being the absolute highlight of my week.
In that eight weeks I have come to truly appreciate that by the simple truth of me turning up, giving it a go and not quitting even when my legs are screaming, my arms are burning and my heart is about to stop it is pumping so hard that I can do it. I.CAN.DO.IT.
In that eight weeks I have, in one session, run six five-minute soft sand runs AND on three of those been able to push a little harder on the last minute.
In that eight weeks I have gone from being able to do three rungs on the monkey bars to going the entire distance – about two metres. Sure, that two metres (which I did FOUR times last Saturday) was using the outside of the bars not the rungs, but dudes, HANGING on, holding up my own body weight and FINDING MOMENTUM? So freakin’ proud of myself.
In that eight weeks I once stood, facing a wall, a weighted ball in my hands that I was meant to be throwing high above a line on the wall while doing squats and cried hot tears. Talking insulting words to myself about not being good enough and of being a total fraud for even thinking I should be there or could do it. I know that voice. It’s been with me as far back as I can remember. I don’t know where it came from or why it’s there. I know that doing this and doing Tough Mudder is a very big part of me kicking that voice to the curb. I know it will raise its head as sure as the son will rise but I also know I’m getting better at ignoring it.
In fact, in that eight weeks I’ve cried twice – the second time was last week but that was because it was, for me, a brutal training session coupled with being ‘one of those weeks’ where my body just felt like lead. That I can even recognise this is a grand achievement in my book.
In that eight weeks I have, with one other CrossFitter, lifted a tractor tire and flipped it. Many times. Fuck that was hard.
In that eight weeks I have remembered that doing this, while hard and painful, is fun and makes me feel so good both inside and out.
In that eight weeks I have not lost a pound. I am hoping now the thyroid issue has been identified and meds put in place that goal – to lose the 15 kilos putting me at risk of heart disease and diabetes and a life in loose fitting garments – will come into view.