Thursday, June 20, 2013

On Reunions and Rubber Bands

Beast Mode Day 6 was something that I had been looking forward to for two days. No, 6 is not my lucky number, nor was I expecting confetti this day. Nope, Day 6 was worthy of more than confetti, and it certainly did not have anything to do with luck. Allow me to explain…

On Monday (Day 4) I get a text from my drill sergeant, AKA Joe Rose, in the evening with the most simple sentence, “1 foot in front of the other.” How did he know that at that precise moment I needed it more than ever? That began a texting session about exercise, diet, and rest days. Everything he began texting to me made so much sense that I found myself chuckling a few times thinking, “Duh, what is wrong with me that I don’t think about this already?” Then I saw the meet-up suggestion pop up on my screen and I froze.




Look, don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind walking around my neighborhood; I see it as a punishment to my neighbors for not saying “hi” to me for the last 10 months I have lived here. But this was unchartered territory that he was asking me to swim in. I froze—not gonna lie. My first response to him was that I had a graduation to go to on Wednesday night and that this week was very busy for me, but that I would be very happy to get together next week. Why did I say this? What would change in a week that would make me braver than this week? UGH!

His response was clear and I got the message…he told me that we could do a lunchtime session or wait until next week. It was my choice, he said. My initial reaction was to respond with ‘next week’ as the best possible time to meet up. However, that is not what my fingers typed. I agreed to a lunchtime session because my brain was telling me not to make excuses because excuses don’t get results! We booked our workout and all I knew was that he needed a line in the ground to work me to death for 30 minutes.

Have you ever had a line in the ground consume your thoughts for 36 hours? That was all I could think about! “Ok, I am sure he’s not going to kill me,” I thought. “Maybe something will come up and he won’t be able to make it,” I hoped for. “I don’t have the right shoes, plus, what am I going to wear?” I asked myself. “What the heck is a ‘curve ball’ that he is referring to, and why why why did I agree to this?”  Every time I looked down and focused on the crack in the sidewalk, I would wonder what I was going to be doing with a line in the ground.

Then Day 5 (my “rest” day) a text arrives that tells me that our plans had changed. Wooo freakin’ hooo! Uhm, I celebrated too quickly before reading the rest of the text that told me that only the location had changed. Instead of meeting at a park, I was to meet him at The Training Zone in Costa Mesa. A gym? Me, step foot in a gym? This guy has his fools mixed up if he thinks that I am going to be strutting my stuff in a gym…in front of a mirror? Rewind, he never said there would be a mirror, but I see all those FB posts people put up when they work out in gyms and there are mirrors in the background. No way. This was not going to end well!

I didn’t want to stress about it too much on Day 5 because I really just wanted to focus on what I was eating, what time I was eating it, and how my body continued to react to this new schedule and these new food combinations. On the horizon, however, was the pending doom of going to the gym with someone I haven’t seen in 25 years.

Beast Mode Day 6 arrived (did I think I could stop it from coming?). Fear. Paralyzing fear. Have you ever felt it? It wasn’t like I thought something could possibly go wrong, it’s just that I despise the unfamiliar, and a gym is very unfamiliar. I took Lola to an appointment we had scheduled for her summer school enrollment and all I could think of was that in two hours I would be working out in front of a huge mirror. Wait, what was that I was feeling near my sideburn? Sweat? I was sitting in an air conditioned office and the mere thought of sweating in front of a mirror made me begin to sweat.

I didn’t need a gym…I needed a psychiatrist!

Did I mention that my appointment at The Training Zone was at noon? I took Lola home at 11:00 and ran in with her to get dressed into appropriate attire. I didn’t even know what to wear. I felt like such a freak for even making such a big deal about it. Should I wear black pants or navy pants? Should I wear my Pumas or my Chucks? What am I wearing as a top? I don’t have anything “gym worthy” to wear, that is, until I found a t-shirt with the tag still on it at the back of my closet. I must have been saving it for a special occasion because I bought it before I graduated from CSULB. I didn’t think it would fit me so I always shoved it in the back of the closet. Today it fit (after I stretched it out as I walked around the house—let’s keep this real!) and it was as close as I was going to get to “gym casual” for my session.
It turns 11:15 and I run out the front door. The gps was set on my phone and I was well on my way to The Training Zone. I am about ready to exit the freeway but I am stuck in traffic. I hear my phone go off, indicating to me that I have a text message. I don’t typically check my texts when I drive, but I was still holding on to the hope that Joe would change his mind and have to cancel on me. The text read, “Behind the pancake house.” Of course my fat eyes only read pancake house and I thought it was an offer for lunch. Upon closer inspection of my phone (making sure I wasn’t putting anyone in danger by viewing it) I realized that it was his way of giving me directions on how to get to the gym. Nope, no luck on reaching a cancelation verdict.

Joe 1
Lorena 0

I saw the pancake house. It’s a good thing I never smelled it, or what comes next in this blog would be a restaurant review in which I discuss the creamy goodness of buttermilk pancakes and the sweet, warm, syrups that were on the menu. But I didn’t have any pancakes. So if you are reading this, you will be treated to a story of my first training session with Sean Canova…

I walked in and Joe immediately greeted me with the most genuinely happy greeting I had heard in a long time. We hug (this was a 25-year reunion, after all) and he proceeds to introduce me to the owners of the gym, Sean Canova and Trevor Duncan. They were very friendly and welcoming. It almost made me forget to look around and notice that one wall was a big, huge mirror. My worst dream had come true! But I was on a mission to learn from everyone and I knew that I had to push past this mental breakdown I was about to have because of the mirror.

Disclaimer: I am not typically this awkward in social situations. I feel as comfortable in a bounce house with my kids as I do at a draq queen/king show. For some reason, the mirrors kept getting my goat and I was determined to get past it. I was taken to a room that had several treadmills in it and I stepped on it while the buttons and levels were set for me.

Cake. Walking on this machine was fun—it didn’t seem like I was going to have to work too hard. Then the first bit of evidence appeared. Slowly, but quickly enough for me not to be able to react to it, my temple and nose became very sweaty. I couldn’t believe it! I was walking at a slow pace in an air-conditioned room. What was wrong with me? From the outside looking in (did I mention that I was walking in front of a huge window that anyone could have stood in front of to watch what I was doing?) one would have thought I was walking across hot coals with the amount of sweat that was falling down my face. “It’s ok, you should be sweating. Go ahead and jump off. Let’s go,” Said Sean as Joe was finishing up his trot on the treadmill next to me.

We stepped out onto the main floor. I was half-expecting to watch some sort of video to be shown how to work out, or maybe even be asked what type of exercise I had done in the past, but I had to remind myself that I was in a gym, not in my doctor’s office; this was serious business…run by serious men…and I am seriously preparing myself for a 10k in October.

And so we got down to business.

The first exercise Sean had me do required the coordination of Lynn Swann. I had to lunge forward with one leg and twist my upper body back towards the leg that was behind me. Sounds easy? Probably. Was it easy? Absolutely not by any stretch of the imagination. I couldn’t get it right. The goal is to twist your upper body towards the side of the leg that is in front of me, and that, ladies and gentlemen, requires coordination. I lack coordination, obviously, because I had to keep starting over until I got it right.

We moved on to using a stick for some stretching. This seemed easy enough, however, the stretch that I felt with these exercises was significant enough for me to know that I would be feeling it the next day also. But the show must go on and after five repetitions of each stretch I was ready to move on to the next move; Sean called it the ‘walking knee flex’ while I call it the ‘Baloo-one-foot-in-front-of-the-other’ move.

Are you the least bit curious as to why I called it by this name? So you know Baloo and his now-famous song ‘Bare Necessities’ when? Well, I did the next exercise with this song going full blast in my head. Did I mention that there was a huge mirror staring at me? Ok, picture this…I was supposed to start with one leg and bring my knee up as far as I could while my arms held it up. Then, when I finished holding this one up, I would continue one step forward and bring my other knee up and hold the pose. Was this a real exercise, I wondered. Wait, have I already mentioned the big mirror? I was laughing at myself internally because I couldn’t find my balance despite my feet being larger than average.

When we moved on to doing different exercises with the band, I took it as kids’ play. A band? Are you kidding me? I’m supposed to put this band under my feet and act like I’m lifting barbells? Did I mention I was STARING at myself in a huge mirror? And then there was the rowing with the band, the curls, the side twists…I never had any idea that this contraption could be used to aid in the training process, but I was hooked! I began to get a little more comfortable with Sean (and a little sweatier) as the exercises were explained in detail and I was able to learn from watching him do them first. I was actually happy about the way my body felt after doing each drill.

That is…until he had me do couch sit ups. Sit ups? Was this guy crazy, or something? The last time I did sit ups was in high school and Ms. Sperry kept making me do them over because I could never get a full one in. No way no how I was going to do a sit up in front of Joe or a mirror or any other strangers. I knew what my face was going to look like. But the command was delivered clearly, “Put your chin close to your chest. Come up slowly, tighten the tummy area, and remember to breathe as you are doing these,” stated Sean. Sure, easy for him to say as he stands there while I give my final breath. But I did what he asked and I was proud of myself for having accomplished what I didn’t think I could do.

Sean had me rest for a few minutes while we discussed nutrition (this is where I lose my damn head) and Joe came over to join us. I realize that there is so much to learn about basic nutrition and timing of my meals, so I listen attentively as my master and my drill sergeant are speaking to me about this. It’s as though my brain is opening a cavity wide enough to store this jargon; glycemic index, resting heart rate, core body temperature, etc. Then I dared to make a statement about how I have been consumed with what to eat, when to eat it, and how to go about my day while maintaining my metabolism going. This is when the quote of the day rained from the heavens…

I was warned that the quote I was about to hear was so overused that it was almost a cliché. I still listened as though the Dalai Lama was about to impart invaluable wisdom to me and only me. “HE WHO FAILS TO PLAN, PLANS TO FAIL.” There. Simple. One sentence that told me very clearly that I had to lay out the foundation for my nutrition. I was responsible for planning out meals that contain fiber (because it keeps my body working to break it down), that are not highly processed, that don’t spike my blood sugars and bring me down crashing quickly. It was almost too much to bear, until Sean said to me, “Ok, so Wednesday is our day and I will see you back next week.”

Mind blown. Was this the plan? I believe that I walked into this gym for my curve ball, and that is exactly what I walked out with. Wait, I should mention that I also walked out with a bungee rope and an exercise list that will take me through next Wednesday.

It is three thirty the morning after and I still can’t stop thinking about how cool I am that I have a list of exercises to perform daily.

If you would have told me a week ago that I would have agreed to do a 10k, I would laugh at you.
If you would have told me a week ago that I would be walking into The Training Zone and staring at myself grimace in a mirror, I would tell you to check your medication.
If you would have told me a week ago that the proposition I placed on FB would turn into a “THING” with a mind of its own, I would have said to you, “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”

But the fact is…I did agree to do a 10k. I did walk into The Training Zone and stare at myself grimacing into a mirror. This has turned into a “THING” with a mind of its own…and I do got time for that!

Life is good…and I don’t plan to fail.


  1. Congratulations Lorena, you are on your way!!! I am so inspired by your posts about your journey. I really mean that. Keep moving and keep writing. Doing this is the ultimate gift to yourself. Sharing it gives hope to many who are starting out, one foot in front of the other.

    1. Thank you so much, my friend, for your awesome words of encouragement. This is definitely a life-changing process that promises to teach me many lessons along the way!