Wednesday, July 10, 2013

On Why I Hate My Trainer. But I Really Love Him. Or Maybe I Love To Hate Him.

About BEAST Mode Day 20.

I would like to find the person who invented treadmills and hug him/her. To take it one step further, I would like to find the person who invented treadmills that incline and beat them…yes, I did say “beat them.” And while I’m on the beating path, let’s also seek the person who invented medicine balls, boxing gloves, and resistance bands. I would like to get them all in a room, ask them for their motivation behind their inventions, and then (without warning) thank them for their inventions with a good, old fashion beating with my chancla.
Last Wednesday I went to work like any other normal Wednesday. My training was scheduled for the middle of the day, so I had arranged with my co-worker to be able to take an extended lunch. I said to Dennis, “I just need an extra hour to get there and get back. I have a lot of comp time so it won’t be an issue.” He looked at me as if I had just spoken in a different language, one that he didn’t understand. You know that look. It begins with what can be perceived as an understanding look, moves along to the confused look, and ends with a WTF look! He replied, “Girl, take an extra hour and a half. Do not come back here without a shower!” This is why I love where I work. There is 149 percent support for the journey that I am on!

It was time to get ready to leave and I quickly got dressed in one of the back rooms and walked towards my car. On the way to the parking lot, a student I had not seen all summer asks me if it was my day off. I thought it was kind of strange to ask that because I don’t typically show up at work on my days off. I said, “No, I am just on my way to lunch.” She responded, “Oh, it’s because you usually dress in business clothes and today you are in that.” I quickly responded, “This? Oh yeah, sorry. I am on my way to see the personal trainer.” What came next was the most profound reaction I have had to date. She was drinking one of those Naked juices that looked like one of my green smoothies. She opened her mouth so wide that it began to drool out of the side of her mouth. Her head moved as if she had just gotten pegged by a dodgeball at full force. She chuckled, although I still don’t know if it was because of her embarrassment at having green drool land on her white tank top, or if it was because the thought of me going to see a personal trainer was the funniest vision in the world.
I just left her there in mid-thought and continued walking to my car. It was the most self-reflective 200 feet I have walked in my life. I wondered if this was everyone’s reaction when I tell them that I am on this journey. I wondered if secretly, faces across Orange County suddenly found themselves covered in green drool from learning that I am finally doing something to take control of my health. Then I got in my car. I stopped wondering, suddenly, because ever since I began this journey, everything makes me cry and I didn’t want to cry.

It took me 45 minutes to get to the Training Zone. Have you ever driven the 55 South, until it ends, in the middle of the day at the beginning of summer? If you have, you will know that you can get out of your car and get to your destination faster than you would if you waited for traffic to clear. “Eyes on the prize. Eyes on the prize. Eyes on the prize,” is what I kept telling myself when the moments began ticking away and noon was quickly approaching.
Noon = The Wicked Hour.

Have I told you that the Training Zone is located in the same lot as a pancake house? Have I also told you that the Training Zone is located in the same lot as a liquor store—one that sells delicious Twinkies and Chocodiles and Hostess coffee cakes? Focus, Lorena, Focus. This is why I call noon “The Wicked Hour,” because so many other forces are pulling at me as I walk from my car to my destination. It’s like the moment I get out of my car the pancake house slings its web at me and lands on one of my legs, then the liquor store lings its web at my other leg, and they are both tugging at me in different directions trying to win my love. But then I look behind me and see my destination and I am awaiting some more web slinging to occur.
I’m waiting. I’m still waiting. I wait another second or two until it hits me like a bucket of cold water on the hottest day in the 909…the Training Zone doesn’t sling webs. They don’t go after your limbs and try to convince you that you need them in order to be happy, they let you lead yourself there with the very core of your heart that knows that the changes that happen within those walls are lifelong changes—the kind of change that is going to last longer than the taste of sweet, warm syrup hitting the tip of my tongue or the temporary memory of my childhood that the bite of Chocodile will provide. And so with this newfound respect of my fat little heart, I walked with an extra bounce in my step right into my session with Sean.

I don’t write reviews on Yelp. I probably should. It could easily replace Disneyland as the “Happiest Place on Earth” because it just feels right to be there. That is, until I watch Seans fingers begin to push buttons on the treadmill that he shouldn’t be touching.
Huh? Que? What is this feeling in my legs? Is this thing going up? Why is that number higher than a 1? Incline? Is that even legal? Doesn’t this guy know I don’t walk hills? Ok, what did Joe tell him…maybe he shared with him my discussion with Tish on Sunday about my unwillingness to hike up hills. It’s only five minutes into my workout and I already want to go home!

As I am walking on this torturous device, Joe’s wife (Crissy) arrives to join us for our workout. It was so nice to finally meet Joe’s wife. We had met through Facebook before that day, but meeting her in person and thanking her for her continued support was a great feeling. But there was no time for anything because Sean moved me along to my crazy stretches that still test every muscle in my feet to hold up this little body of mine.
Lift one knee with my hands while the other leg holds my weight. Walk forward and do the next leg. Keep doing this until I reach the end of the carpet. Ok, now turn around and do it all the way back again. Sound easy? Try it…I dare ya. You will be surprised the amount of focus that it takes to keep good posture, relax my face, and remember to switch legs. I still mess up every time and I still laugh at myself when I almost fall over as if I had a tall IPA in the car before I walked in.

What came next is still a blur to me. I probably should have written this blog right after I got home, but I don’t know if there would have been a clean version to put out because there were many times during this workout that I wanted to punch something. Or someone. So, I am going to give you a glimpse into the memory of a workout that still won’t leave me.
Rewind to a week ago before Sean knew that I used to play sports. That was a different Sean. He was  Sean who enjoyed getting a sweat out of me with tasks that were relatively moderate. Now let’s fast forward to a Sean who now has knowledge that at one point in my life, regardless of how big my body was, I was an athlete. You remember the torture he put me through last week when he made me throw the medicine ball against the wall? Then I am sure you can imagine my fear when he walked over to the medicine ball again and showed me the next exercise on his list.

“I’m just going to roll this to you and I want you to pick it up and throw it right back at me. Throw it with everything you have,” he said. From behind him I can hear Crissy say, “Throw it like you want to hurt him, Lori!” She’s my kind of girl. She knew exactly what I wanted to do. I pick up the first one and throw it. Hard. I can hear it land in his hands with that little smack that gives me satisfaction in knowing that it I gave that ball my all. The fourth, fifth, and sixth throw were still pretty good. And then it happened: butter. My arms turned to butter. Bending down was easy, but throwing that medicine ball with all of my might became so difficult that I wanted to just walk it over to him and say sorry for wanting to hurt him with the first few throws. One would think that he would see the anguish on my face and call it, but he just kept rolling it. And rolling it. And rolling it. And I kept throwing it. And throwing it. And throwing it, until I thought my arms were going to stay attached to the medicine ball on the next throw because I could no longer feel them.
“Ok, go get some water.”

When I get back to him I see him adjusting the levels on the “bench of DEATH” that we use to do my couch sit-ups on. As I wait for him to adjust the height of the backrest, my mind rewinds to the first day I had to do them and suddenly recall that it was never that big of an incline. To make matters even scarier, Joe lets out a chuckle and says, “That backing gets lower and lower every week until one day it’s going to be flat!” Instead of agreeing or disproving us, he says, “Ok, you know what to do here. Give me twenty.” I gave him twenty and rested for one minute. And immediately had to give another twenty. I hate sit-ups. I lose my mind because I always forget to breathe, and I am sure that the faces I make on the way up are not something I want to see anyone else make.

I don’t even have time to think about how tired I am because Sean has disappeared and I know what this means; he is going to come back to me with something round and painful. It was smaller than a medicine ball, and looked like a soccer ball wrapped in duct tape. He places it down in front of me on the ground. “Ok, I want you to put both of your feet on the same side. Next, you will lift your legs over the ball and put them on the other side.”
If my stomach were flat, and on my best day, this exercise would still be difficult. My stomach is not flat and it didn’t feel like it was my best day. So when I begin to complain and say to Sean that I couldn’t do it anymore, it was as though it went in one ear and out the other. “I. CAN’T. DO. THIS!” I get out in between breaths and lifting my legs. “Yes you can. You’re doing it,” he says without skipping a beat. Tears are starting to form in the back of my eyes because my mind keeps telling me to quit, but my body obeys the command to give just a little more. And then it was over. The ball was taken away and I put my emotions back in check. “Go ahead and grab some water,” Sean said as he put away the ball.

Then I saw him toying with the resistance bands, you know, the elephant tails I keep complaining about. I could not believe it when he chose the thicker of the two and showed me how he wanted me to do the next exercise. He didn’t, however, tell me how many I had to do. Being the ever-so-diligent-and-obedient woman I am, I said, “You didn’t tell me how many to do.” I then hear him say, “Ok, then, go ahead and give me thirty.”
If you have never felt the burn in your arms while working with resistance bands, then you probably are wondering why I am even whining. I know, I should quit the sniveling. It’s not like I was climbing a mountain or running a marathon. I determined on #13 that resistance bands were indeed the enemy. The burn I was feeling in my arms was quite possibly enough to make me go crazy. I asked, “How did you all of a sudden turn into Mr. Thirty when everything we did last week was twenty?” Crickets. Sean looked at me and smiled. I want to be a little bug in his head and figure out what he had in mind for the next exercise.

“Twenty one, twenty two, twenty three…twenty nine, THIRTY!” I wanted to make sure that everyone in Orange County heard that one because no way, no how, was I going to give one more repetition. Butter arms.  “Go ahead and get some water,” Sean says, as he disappears for the final time.
If you’re keeping count, he’s already disappeared two times. And both times that he came back, he returns with innovative ways to make me sweat and want to cry. Pink boxing gloves? Is he really walking towards me with pink boxing gloves in his hand? I could not believe it. I have never boxed in my life, let alone worn PINK boxing gloves. Where was I?

I slip my hands into the gloves and it felt so natural. As he places the Velcro over my wrist, I lose myself in all the boxing movies that I had watched growing up. Suddenly I am Mickey Roone in “The Champ” and Ricky Shroeder is going to show up in my corner to root me on. Sean says, “Ok, you are going to give me 50 cross punches with everything you have. You can make any faces you want because nobody is watching here.” I look around the room to see if there are any cameras. He sees my fear and assures me that there are no cameras in the gym. I say, “Are you kidding me? Don’t you know that TMZ is always watching me?”

And I begin to punch. Hard. Twenty get done. Thirty are done. Forty—easy, peazy. FIFTY, done! “Go ahead and sit down and catch your breath. I need you to remember to breathe,” he said. How the hell am I supposed to breathe when all I am thinking about is trying to figure out If he’s making me punch more than fifty punches?

“Alright, back up and give me fifty more.” Was he kidding? Am I being punked? Does he know that I just sat down after giving him fifty punches already? Did he care? Did I have a choice? Yes, I had two choices: I could give up and thank him for the sweat running down my back, or I could get up and get through the fifty more punches like a big girl. What did I choose? My body chose for me. I really, really hate when it does that. In my mind, there was no way that I had fifty punches to give. I wanted to cry. I wanted to kick everyone something. I wanted so badly for this to be over and go home and read a book—or write a blog.

My body stood up and got in position to give Sean fifty more. I groaned as I crossed my punches; left arm punching into his right hand. Right arm punching into his left hand. I wondered if he knew what was going through my head? I wanted to find that little space in the middle where I would miss his hand and land squarely across his face. In that moment I could only think violent thoughts. I wasn’t even paying attention to the count. I was sure at that point that he knew I wanted to punch him because my punches were all landing in the center—he was smart enough to not wait for my punches to land, but to follow them and make them land. FIFTY! “Ok, go ahead and sit down.”

I was so proud of myself. I was done. My workout was complete and I could have my protein bar and relax. I said to Sean, “Is today because I wrote about you in my blog? I promise not to write about you anymore!” He laughed a little. Does he laugh like this in real life, or do I just imagine him laughing at me because I don’t think I was joking in that moment.

“Ok, last fifty. One last set and then we are done here.” At this point my ears were deceiving me. Did he just say one more set of fifty? Didn’t I just do TWO sets of fifty? Was this chap out of his mind? Butter arms. I didn’t even know how I was going to lift my arms to get my backpack on, let alone give him fifty more cross punches. But there was that challenge again and my body doesn’t do well with giving up.
Thirty. Thirty nine…FIFTY! Suddenly I was no longer Mickey Rooney, I had graduated to Super Mex status and was Julio Cesar Chavez (because my face is not as pretty as Oscar de la Hoya). And I was a champion. I felt like a champion. I couldn’t believe that I had done this without killing Sean or killing myself.

The gloves came off and my body was overwhelmed with emotion. My eyes were full of tears. I am not quite sure why this happened; perhaps it was because I conquered the lazy demons; perhaps it was because my body had been pushed to the point of breaking; perhaps it was because the words that Sean had said to me earlier wouldn’t leave my thoughts, “It will never be harder than it is right now. It will get easier and we will bring you back up, but it will never get harder than it is right now.” And that, ladies and gentlemen, is a parting wisdom from a man who believes in my success.

Until next week, stay away from those Chocodiles…and give me FIFTY!
Life is good.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

On 4-Milers, My Pantry Cleanse, and Superman...yes, Superman!

On BEAST Mode Days 17, 18, and 19.

When I was a child I remember going to Mile Square Park to look for guppies in the lake, play a little bit of soccer with my siblings (as all good Mexicans do), and sit around waiting for my mom to serve me a torta the size of football. I remember water balloon fights, watching archery, going down the one hill on my skateboard without a helmet, and carving Mick Jagger’s name into every tree in my path (ok, this last one may warrant its own blog post. You’ll have to wait for that one!).
I am sure if I really think about it I must have looked around and watched people as they walked by me in their neon Dove shorts and requisite leg warmers—you know, getting a fashionable workout on. However, I never thought of the park as a place for me to exercise at. Fast forward to the adult me; I still didn’t see the purpose behind driving to a park just to walk around in a big square without having easy access to get back into my car quickly.

I should probably explain; it’s not that I have social anxiety and hate to be away from my car. It’s just that the farther and farther I walk away from my car, it is that much farther that I have to walk just to get back to it. I never saw the point…until three days ago on BEAST Mode Day 17. This was supposed to be the big day when members of team L@s Muert@s had agreed to do an early morning (7:00 a.m.) walk at Mile Square Park.
I arrive on time. Yes, I’m being serious. Actually, no, I’m not. I arrived early. I kept hearing in my head a line that I read on Angel Ortiz’s Facebook page that said something like, “I grew up with the mindset that if you are not early you are late!” I was early. I looked around and no one was there yet. Woohoo! That meant that no one was going to show up. I could go home and make breakfast and call it a day. As luck would have it (and I have been finding this to be the case more often than not, lately), I stare straight ahead and there is Joe walking towards me with a grin on his face as if he knew I was thinking that I had gotten out of it. His friend, Tish, showed up to walk with us also.

We stretched, chose a direction, and began his pedometer. In the beginning it was really easy. He asked us to stay on the grass to give us a little more resistance in our walking. Uhm, ok, did he not notice that the grass was wet because it was 7 o’freaking clock in the morning? We walked. And we talked. And the next thing we knew we were at the two mile mark and he asks me what I want to do. I was feeling like a champ. I was keeping hydrated with the water in my backpack, only by now it felt like the water I was drinking was going directly to my socks because our shoes WERE SOAKED FROM WALKING IN THE GRASS! I get it that my shoes are from Wal-Mart and they only cost $9, but aren’t they meant to stay dry?
Tish began to talk about the paths that she walks on and the inclines that they contain and it makes me feel a little better that I don’t walk with her regularly. Three mile hikes, really? Who has time for that when I can walk on flat land? “Not me,” said the little voice in my head. Listening to her speak was distracting me from the distance we were going. Although I had never met her before, she spoke to me as if we had known each other for years. I liked her!

And then we hit the three mile mark and I can almost smell the apples in my car. I know. This sounds totally stupid, but apples have suddenly become my best friends. I carry them in my backpack. I have them in my drink holder in my car. I have some in the fridge at work. I am going to name my next kid Apple. Ok, now I am taking this a bit too far. No more kids for me!!!!

Three and a half mile mark. Joe’s phone is about to die and we can no longer listen to music as we walk. Listening to the music helped keep me from talking, which in turn kept me from huffing and puffing. So we began to talk again, but this time it was about breakfast burritos. WHY? Why did they have to mention breakfast burritos when I am trying to focus on the apples in my car? Cruel world just take me out now!
The distraction that the breakfast burrito caused me was enough to get me around the last bend of the park without feeling like I was going to pass out. Our pace picked up a little bit. It was the home stretch. All I needed was a few more feet and I would reach my destination, and then all of a sudden Joe and Tish say, “This is our car.” It was over. The four miles were done. I was sweating like I had just ran a marathon, and my head was spinning with emotion over having completed the four-mile journey.

It was such an incredible feeling. I hugged Joe and Tish and walked to my car very slowly. As I opened my car door Joe and Tish drove by me and honked, waving a final goodbye. That’s when I got emotional. I opened my car door and sat down. I started to go for my apple when I realized I JUST WALKED FOUR MILES! I couldn’t believe it. I get lazy to drive four miles, let alone walk four miles. I knew that I probably could not do it every day. But I did it that day, and that’s all that mattered!

BEAST Mode Day 18
I was feeling a little brave from the 4-mile walk the day before so I figured it would be no problem to walk to work. It’s just under two miles from front door to front door. What’s two miles when I just finished walking four, right? Wrong! So, so wrong!

There were three things that I did not take into consideration before making the brilliant decision to walk to work:

·         I had to walk by a Jack in the Box on the corner. God was good to me that morning because he placed blinders on my eyes so I wouldn’t look that way. He should have plugged my nose, too, because the scent of hash browns almost did me in!

·         I sweat like a pig. Did I really think I was going to be able walk to work without sweating and then work a full 8-hour day in the clothes I walked in? Ugh. That was a major fail for me that day.

·         If I wear walking shoes to walk, why did I wear my famous indoor soccer shoes (Pumas) to walk to work? Can someone please tell me how that little bit of logic flew out the window?

By the time I got home from work in the evening, my arches were screaming at me. I strolled home slowly (because it was hotter than Hades outside) but that didn’t stop the pain from creeping in on me. In typical Lorena fashion, I ignored it and focused on the rest of the family’s needs for the evening. I knew I wasn’t going to walk the next day.
I let the soreness linger in the back of my mind when I went to bed that evening. “Oh, no, this is not going to slow me down,” I thought. I know myself very well; if I lost the motivation to get up and move, it will be lost forever. I fell asleep a little sad that evening.

BEAST Mode Day 19

There have been very few times in my life that I have opened my mouth (or sent a text) and later regretted my actions. But I am about to tell you about one of those times.
On Tuesday Joe sent me a text asking me how my revamped “pantry of sin” was treating me. You see, I have a pantry at work that I keep snacks in. Before this journey began, I had candy, chips, saltine crackers, granola bars (the kind with chocolate chips), and a few more snacks that maybe I should keep to myself…lol I was returning to work after a 12-day vacation, and knew that if I wanted to remain successful on this journey, the “pantry of sin” needed a cleanse of its own.

My office is on the second floor of a two-story building. Right beneath my office is a dumpster that is used by the school cafeteria, which is also beneath me and I can smell the fries cooking all day. Whoa, lost my train of thought for a moment. Back to the pantry…so on the first day that I returned, I ceremoniously threw away the snacks off the balcony and into the dumpster. Goodbye Pringles. Goodbye Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Goodbye full-fat saltine crackers. Goodbye Quaker Oats granola bars with the yummy chocolate chips. Hello apples. Hello Pop Chips. Hello non-salted trail mix.
Then I asked the question about the pain in my arches. I regretted the question as soon as I hit the send button. Somehow I knew that he was going to come back with one of two answers: lay off the walking, or “here are some alternative exercises you can do instead of walking.” (un)Lucky for me that he came back with BOTH answers.

 I knew that I was not going to be able to stop walking because it was my only form of exercise. I needed to keep my body in motion or else I would pay harder when I go see Sean, the trainer over at Training Zone OC. No way, no how. Have you read about the beatings he gives me? This was not an option for me. Joe knew that I didn’t want to lose out on my hour of cardio, so he assigned me two exercises to do: bicycle crunches and the “Superman” were what he prescribed as my workout of the day. Are you kidding me? Bicycle crunches? Lift my legs in the air? Me? Has he lost his mind? Then he wants me to do the “Superman” as if it were something that my body naturally does?
All day at work the thought of doing these exercises plagued my mind. How am I supposed to do these? Will he really know if I don’t do them? After all, can’t I just say that I did them and talk about the muscle group that I worked with these exercises? I’m sure GOOGLE is good for at least a bit of explanation on the benefits of bicycle crunches and the “Superman.” But then I said, again putting my foot in my mouth, “I’m going to have my kids take pictures of me doing this so they can crack up…lol” What was his response? “Blog it!!”

Here are the pictures of me doing the bicycle crunches. I died halfway through the first set of 25. My legs were going to fall off, my head was spinning because I couldn’t keep an accurate count, and the thought of having to repeat it was nauseating. I let my legs rest for thirty seconds and up they went again. My legs were going every which way making sure that I got those pedals turning. What was I thinking? Walking was much, much easier than what I was subjecting my body to.

(Wolife thought it would be fun to jump on my stomach while I was doing this.)

The next thing I knew, I had finished six sets of 25. I couldn’t even feel my legs anymore. My hips were screaming at me to get up off the floor. But then I turned over. I needed to get these “Superman” exercises out of the way. Did I say that the bicycle crunches were hard? They were child’s play compared to having to hold my legs and arms up in a Superman pose while simultaneously planking on a yoga mat. I am pretty sure I wasn’t doing them correctly. But to be quite honest, I had no idea what I was doing because I COULDN’T FEEL MY ARMS AND LEGS ANYMORE!
With sweat rolling down my face and my body screaming “Mercy” in several different languages, I realized that I should not have said anything about my arches. I should have just sucked it up and taken a leisurely stroll around my neighborhood. No one would have been the wiser. I could have posted a Facebook update letting everyone know I walked around the block that day and I would have fooled everyone into thinking that I was sweating. But no, I let my fingers do the talking for me and ask for an alternative beatdown.

Here is the picture of me doing the “Superman” with Wolfie helping me. This was towards the end when I couldn’t hold my arms up anymore. He was laughing at me in the beginning, but by the time he saw I was “in it to win it” with this exercise, he was saying, “Good job, mommy!” That’s my boy!
I learned my lesson that day. Somehow, from somewhere deep within my body, healing promptly arrived to my arches. By the next day my arches were completely pain free. I like to think that I willed myself to get better, wanting never ever again to do those darn exercises.
With healed arches and a new appreciation for floor exercises, I walked into the Training Zone OC to meet with Sean. But that was on BEAST Mode Day 20, and that workout gets an entry all on its own.

Life is good. Enjoy the journey.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

On Medicine Balls and TWENTY Counts...What The????



This post is about BEAST Mode Day 14

Last week I left you hanging. Sorry for that. I remember writing about my adventures at The Training Zone with Joe, and I stopped short of writing about my experience with the new and not-so-easy-on-me Sean. It has been five days…I think I have recovered enough to write about it.

It was the second day in a row that I found myself walking into The Training Zone. This time I brought my own towel, my own water, and a backpack with my protein bar and carb boosters (you can’t be a super hero without the right tools, right?). It was a quiet hour, as it was just me, Joe, Sean, and a very pretty client who was scheduled at that time. Wait, I haven’t even mentioned how excited I was to see Sean back in the gym.

The treadmill is my best friend. I have decided since the very first session here that my favorite thing to do is get on the treadmill and work up a bit of a sweat. I wish I could put a computer on the treadmill and do my work from there. But alas, I was not allowed to stay on the treadmill because next on the list were my lunges and those crazy exercises where I pull one leg up and balance my weight on the other foot. I must admit that these have progressively gotten better since the first time I tried them. The first day I was in there, I could not keep my balance and kept falling over like a baby taking her first steps. I was bad! But this time my feet had an easier time keeping my body balanced; I wasn’t as shaky or afraid of falling over. Talk about a confidence booster!

What happens next is going to take you by surprise. Heck, it took me by surprise to hear him say it. “Ok, I need you right here to do your sit-ups. Give me a set of 20.” Let’s rewind back to the first session I had done with Sean—which was only one week previous to this. The sets consisted of repetitions of 5 (FIVE), not 20. My mind was doing somersaults and my stomach began to freak out, or was it the other way around? I have no idea. All I know is that I was given a directive and I complied.

“Three, four, five….eighteen, nineteen, twenty,” I counted out.

“Ok, take a minute and relax. You’re going to give me another 20.” I looked around. I honestly thought he was talking to someone else. Me, 20 more? I still had proof of the workout he sent me home with that specified reps of FIVE, and now he was giving me TWENTY?!?! Where was my benevolent trainer? Who took the kind, gentle trainer and replaced him with Mr. TWENTY?

“Good job, Lori. You got this,” I heard from across the gym. That was Joe. Doing his routine. Listening to Eminem while I was listening to my heart beat out of my chest. I couldn’t get distracted or show weakness because I didn’t want to start over.

“Eleven, twelve, thirteen…eighteen, nineteen, twenty,” I counted out.

“Yeah! Go ahead and get some water.” I felt dead. My legs moved because my head willed them to, and this exercise didn’t even have anything to do with legs! What was going on with my body? I couldn’t keep thinking about it because I was going to either throw up or cry. Or both, because if I threw up I would probably cry from embarrassment and I couldn’t throw up because Sean is putting up this new studio in the gym and how would that look? Really, think about it? New wood. A new window. New vibe. Nope, somehow I don’t think that getting sick in the gym would enhance the clients’ experience. And so I continued my workout.

Have you ever held a medicine ball? No? Me neither. Have you ever thrown a medicine ball against a wall? No? Me neither. Disclaimer: throwing a medicine ball against a wall shall not be compared with playing handball in a racquetball court with a tiny blue ball that weighs mere ounces. Nor should it be compared with throwing a soccer ball to your fullback when you’re too tired to kick it to the power forward. For some reason, a soccer reference that Joe and I had spoken about while I was on the treadmill made its way into Sean’s ear.

“Ah hah! I hear you used to play soccer. You remember this, don’t you?” as he gives me an example of how he wants me to throw the medicine ball against the black wall in front of us. “Go ahead and give me TWENTY.” What the? Where did this twenty figure come from? I wanted to remind him that FIVE was my lucky number but he beat me to the punch by reminding me to hold my posture or I would hurt myself.

“Seven, eight, nine…eleven, twelve, (breathe) thirteen…nineteen, twenty,” I said out loud for fear that nobody heard me and thought I was playing around. Because, you know, I make things look so easy and complete all my tasks with finesse (this is obvious sarcasm). My arms are Jello. My hair is sticking to my head and I could feel the sweat roll down my face. At this point my brain reminds my body that my keys are in my backpack by the door and I left my truck unlocked—always looking for that quick getaway!

“Ok, so now what you are going to do is stand sideways and throw it back at the wall, like this,” and he shows me an example again of what I should look like while doing these medicine ball exercises. “Do TWENTY on each side.”

Ok, where’s Trevor. Surely there must be someone in here who has not lost his mind. The day before, Joe worked me out like I had never worked out in my life. Sean was working me out like I was being punished for considering shoving a Reese’s peanut butter cup in my mouth prior to driving down there. Yes, Trevor, where was he? Every time I see him he is smiling and that must mean that at least he would see the benefit of letting me off easy. The seconds kept ticking away and I was still standing there with a medicine ball in my hands and a wall waiting to get beaten.

I remember when I did Toastmasters a few years back and I cried during my first speech. I absolutely hated speaking in public. I had this fear that I felt was insurmountable. The only tactic that worked was the old grade school, overused, over-prescribed tactic that teaches you to picture everyone in the room naked. Within two months of joining Toastmasters I was winning regional contests in public speaking. I know, I know, what does this have to with the workout session with Sean? Here it goes:

Using the same tactic of replacing one object with another (a clothed, intimidated audience member with a naked, unassuming audience member), the power is stripped of that which is holding you back from achieving the task at hand. For me, in that moment, throwing that medicine ball FOURTY more times seemed more difficult than singing the National Anthem, naked, in sweltering heat, while wearing a transparent trash bag. But what came next was genius; when I had to throw the medicine ball leading with my left arm, I replaced the medicine ball with Sean’s head…yes, Sean’s head was a medicine ball!

“Fourteen, fifteen, (I’m still smiling), sixteen…nineteen, twenty,” I counted. I walked over to get some water and came back read to go again. Only this time, I led the medicine ball against the wall with my right arm. It was Joe’s turn.

“Six, seven (that one was for challenging me in public to enter this 10k), eight, nine…twelve (I don’t feel my arms any more), thirteen, fourteen (that was for making me jump the day before while wearing pants that kept falling), fifteen, sixteen…eighteen, nineteen (just one more…this one for making me listen to Eminem while I work out), TWENTY!” I felt like Rocky Balboa reaching the top of the stairs. Fireworks were going off in my head. The ticker tape was falling from the sky because I had won the game and there were witnesses!

There was only one thing wrong: I wasn’t Rocky Balboa. I hadn’t climbed up any stairs, and the fireworks that I thought were going off in my head were really going off all over my body. How could I go on? Do people really do this voluntarily? If so, why? I found myself in a trance-like state walking towards my water bottle and towel. Butterlegs. That is what you could have called me in that moment and I would have answered to it like a dog responding to its owner’s whistle.

Out of the corner of my eye I could see Sean adjusting the orange band that we use for stretching and resistance. You remember last week when I wrote about the band the thickness of an elephant’s tail? It was still there. In the same place. Mocking me. “Ok, one last thing. Watch what I do and watch my posture,” as he showed me how he wanted me to pull the band towards my left hip with both hands…TWENTY to each side. I died. I secretly began wondering if I had brought any sharp objects in my backpack that could be used to “accidentally” cut all of the resistance bands in the gym. But there was not time for that. The longer I thought about ways to sabotage the last five minutes of my session, the longer it would stall just getting it done.

And so I got it done. And done. And done. And there I was again with that feeling of accomplishment that can only be achieved by completing a task that I would have never imagined completing before. I have no idea where the strength came from. I have no idea why my body kept going even though my mind was giving it excuses on why it should just collapse and give in to the fatigue.

Was it the chocolate protein bar that was waiting for me in my backpack?

Was it my desire to tell everyone that I made it through another workout session that pushed my mind to the point of explosion?

Or simply, was it just another day on this very public journey that taught me if I put my mind to something my body will comply?

Whatever it was, from wherever the motivation originated, I knew I was one day closer to achieving my goal. But there was one lingering question that I needed to ask. I walked over to Sean and Joe after drinking some water and reminded him that he sent me home with a workout that included only reps of FIVE and here he was having me do reps of TWENTY. I didn’t so much ask him a question but really stated a fact and followed it up with the requisite huffing and puffing. His response was quick and concise.

“Yes. It’s because I know that you will be able to do five at home, but I have no idea how your body will react to reps of TWENTY. That is why I have you do TWENTY here so I can make sure that you can do it and do it in a controlled environment.” There it was: simple, sweet, and kind. His response served as an affirmation that I am on the right path with the right people.

The road while on this journey may not always be straight: there may be a moment or two where I will find myself stray…and that is ok. As long as I remember that the straight road has people like Sean & Trevor, Joe, Ray, my sissy (Claudia), Maria, Vix, Linda, Juanito and the kids, and the rest of team L@s Muert@s to keep me motivated. We have a long, long way to go, but we trek together one day/one step at a time!

Life is good…especially when you are surrounded by good (magnificent!) people.