On Monday morning, I had my Strength Training session with Luke Davey at Breakaway Fitness in Berwick. I was faced with numerous barriers on the drive to UFT PLAYgrounds this morning…the rain, low visibility, heavy traffic, being nervous, a couple of errands, last Thursday night’s terrible workout session…but I managed to push through all of these and let them go. I don’t give up very easily despite my never-ending mental struggle. What’s the worst that can happen right?

Right off the bat, I knew that this would be a much better session today. I felt like I was connecting better socially with Luke, I was saying hi to a few of the trainers at UFT and I was feeling better about myself. Focus on the positives. Plus it was a much quieter time to train as well. Morning sessions clearly work better for me so it was a good choice on Luke’s part to change the time for me. Nobody wants to see me as an emotional mess plagued with negative thoughts. I have to try and leave all that anxious bullshit at the door which is really difficult for me sometimes but just gotta keep trying. https://www.facebook.com/breakawayf…

WARM-UP…I started my sessions by doing 3 rounds of 10 “Good Mornings”. I was overthinking my form a little at the start but slowly improved and focused on bending from the hips. And I also did 3 rounds of 10 back extensions. My legs and knees were starting to burn a bit but otherwise I did heaps better than last time.

DEVELOPMENT…Back to the deadlifts. Today I did 5 rounds of 5. My form really has improved tremendously and Luke gave me plenty of constructive feedback about it. That made me feel awesome. Here I am doing 85kg deadlifts and despite feeling a little fatigued, I really smashed them out. I took my time with them, making sure I corrected myself before the next rep. I was deliberately being mindful about keeping my shoulders pulled back, bar close to the body and chest straight. I’ve certainly come a long way since I started doing this.

WORK-OUT…Another really tough workout today. I had to do 21, 15 and 9 reps of the following: 20kg deadlifts, ring rows, (two minute rest), 20kg deadlifts and butterfly situps. I was really starting to feel it during my 15’s and after my rest. My arms were burning so much especially doing the ring rows. I was gasping for breath and feeling a bit light headed at times. I was also worried about throwing up.

Part of me felt like I should raise the red flag up at Luke and yet even if I wanted to, I was too exhausted to speak. I didn’t want to come across like “Poor Michael” either. But even though I struggled hard and had to slow down and stop a few times, I wanted to prove it to Luke and myself that I was finishing this damn workout. I ended up getting a time of around 13 minutes and 20 seconds. I AM NOT A FAILURE. I AM NOT WEAK. I WILL NOT GIVE UP!

On Tuesday afternoon, I caught up with my friend Mandi Herauville at Enterprise Eatery in Berwick. Of course, I didn’t realise that the cafe closed at 3pm and here we are just chatting away as they’re trying to shut the doors. But I’m really glad that I made the time to see her. I need a good laugh and to release some stress before my session with Brendan. She’s still in the process of painting the walls of her gym at The Yard Strength & Fitness and she wants to do something unique with the colour scheme compared to other gyms.

Later that afternoon, I had my first remedial massage appointment with Brendan Rose at MyoMAX. I was physically shaking like a leaf as I grabbed the clipboard and started filling my patient info form out. Funnily enough, filling out the form proved to be a good distraction. The nervousness was more about this being a new experience for me and not really knowing what to expect. I bumped into Joseph Coverdale and Michelle Newman in the waiting room, returning smiles and awkward glances. https://www.facebook.com/Myomax/

In the treatment room, Brendan made things as comfortable as possible for me. Though I was slightly self-conscious about taking my shirt off in front of him, I managed relax as he assessed where my tightness and soreness in my muscles was located. Doing a squat in front of him, it was clear that I was really stiff in my hips and found it difficult sinking my butt low to the ground. This was obviously a lot different to the relaxation massages I’ve had in the past. This was a much more personalised service.

Some of his questions felt like curve-balls. I decided to just be honest with him, even if that meant saying “I’m not sure”. Why should I feel guilty about not knowing an answer? But it was good that he made the effort to ask about my personal life and get to know me better. I trusted him enough to let my guard down a bit without being an emotional mess. You can only keep that “brave face” on for so long.

As for the needles and the massage techniques, it wasn’t nearly as bad as I was expecting. Brendan was very careful and gentle about it, assuring me that it wouldn’t hurt. He even played Nickelback’s new album on his tablet to help calm my nerves even further. The only thing that I’m really worried about is the financial cost of these treatments but I’ve already discussed it with Brendan. I’d rather be honest than pretend I’m fine. But I would definitely return to him. He did an excellent job today. https://www.myomax.com.au/

On Tuesday night, I went to my Body Combat class with Cinamon Guerin at YMCA Casey ARC in Narre Warren. Despite feeling very drained, I somehow had the physical energy to do pretty well tonight. For once, I decided to stand directly in front of one of the mirrors. I’m not sure whether this was a good thing or a bad thing, though it did inspire the thought that I need to go shopping for more form fitting workout wear. It’s time to rid myself of those large baggy clothes.

I felt really good during the first half of the workout, especially doing those side roundhouse kicks and jab boxes. Then it got ridiculously hard for me during the second half where we had to quickly shift between doing squats, back lunges and front kicks. I got really uncoordinated and found it difficult to keep up but I just did what I could. Most people were fatiguing hard at this point but I felt great afterwards.

Chatting with Cinamon after the class always puts my mind at ease. It’s just so easy to talk with her about anything from my mental struggles to the progress I’m making with my fitness to reality TV shows. She’s a great listener and gives great advice. She also makes me laugh which is exactly what I need more of in my life. http://w3.lesmills.com/israel/en/cl…

On Thursday morning, Mum and I attended a Morning Melodies function at the Olinda Creek Hotel in Lilydale. Unfortunately, I was in a really negative and irritable mood not helped by checking my bank balance. It just resurrected a lot of guilt and shame from my endless debt cycle and spending too much money. It got me down because I really wanted to have my credit card paid off by now (end of June) but alas it’s just going to take a bit longer. I just have to remember that it could be worse. I WILL pay that credit card off.

Watching the performance by Dennis Rea however seemed to lift my mood a little. He played an hour’s worth of classic cover songs by artists such as Elvis Presley, Neil Diamond,  Marty Robbins, Johnny Cash and John Paul Young. Mum told me that her father, my granddad, used to play some of these songs to her when she was a young girl. After the show, I was practically venting to my Mum about all the things that have been bothering me lately which kind of helped in a way. I needed to get it out of my system. I enjoyed some beer battered fish and chips as well as a passionfruit cheesecake and a regular latte. https://www.olindacreekhotel.com.au/…

On Thursday night, I attended my first ever Life Drawing class at Oak Hill Gallery in Mornington. It’s been nearly 10 years since I last did any sort of life drawing at TAFE so I really wasn’t expecting great drawings tonight. The moment I walked into the gallery, it was a bit of a mad panic getting all the equipment and materials ready. I had to reacquaint myself with an easel and using charcoal as a drawing medium. The gallery space was also quite squashy and with about 6 other artists in the room, everyone was up close and personal.

Tonight’s model was local Mornington-based artist Billy Nye who’s work I greatly admire. We had the fireplace and heater going as well as some smooth jazz and romantic songs playing while we were busy drawing. Each drawing is timed at 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes or 20 minutes so the idea is to work quickly, loosely sketching out the structure of the pose and working in the details. My style seems to be very expressive with a focus on bold linework. I still need to improve on my composition and scale of the body parts but overall I think I did alright for my first class. http://oakhillgallery.com.au/2017/0…

On Friday morning, I had my second Strength Training session for the week with Luke Davey at Breakaway Fitness. I decided to surprise Luke with a small birthday present. My biggest concern was that he’d take it the wrong way. My intentions are always good ones and honestly this was nothing more than a random act of kindness. I’m a caring person and I care about my personal trainer so I wanted to do it. Thankfully his reaction was a positive one, he was taken aback and didn’t expect it.

I feel like I’m in a much better headspace than I was last week at UFT. Switching to morning sessions has obviously been a worthwhile decision in terms of my mental health. I’m connecting better with the other trainers. I’m letting go of negativity. I’m trying hard not to overthink too much (easier said than done!) and I’m also bonding better with Luke. I even decided to try and be more interested in his life instead of being consumed by the awkward silence. And it’s genuine as well. It just takes confidence and self belief to be able to speak up for myself.

WARM UP…Today I started my session by doing 4 rounds of 12 single-arm bar bell rows and 4 rounds of 15 resistance band stretches through the upper back muscles. The second part was a lot harder though. I did some YTW shoulder exercises on the bench. Basically I had to make a “Y”, a “T”  and a “W” using my arms for 3 rounds of 10 reps each. I was fatiguing very quickly even during the first round. My shoulders were burning and I found it difficult keeping my arms up. But I reminded myself that there’s no shame in struggling, being out of breath, panting or fatiguing. This was a new exercise for me so I should be proud regardless.

DEVELOPMENT…Back to the bench press again, this time doing 5 rounds of 5 reps. Today I was focusing more on correcting my technique rather than how heavy the weight was. This was definitely a source of frustration for me as it’s a lot of things to remember and it takes me a while to get it. Making sure that the bar path was in a straight line. Keeping my elbows in close to the body. Rotating the forearms inwards. And tensing up the back muscles. All while lifting the bar up and down.

Eventually I got there though and made some significant improvement. Seeing Luke’s face upside down actually made me laugh. It’s like those funny faces in the World’s Greatest Shave ads. And it’s exactly what I needed today to keep my mind focused on the workout.

“All your life, scramble and scurry. Take your time, rather than hurry. Never too late to write the best of your story. Remember to breathe or else you’re gonna be sorry. Life’s no race, it’s a companion. Always face with reckless abandon. The ticket to life as my mother once told me. Stick with your pride and you’re gonna be lonely (gonna be lonely)”  Nickelback – After The Rain (2017)

“So here I am. I’m back at it again. So much time I’ve wasted. Sitting on my own hands. Nothings gonna stop me. From doing what I love. With determination. Running through my veins. Running through my veins. It’s now or never. This is my second chance. I’m not ready to give up. It’s not my time. There’s no more excuses. That will change my mind. Don’t look back”  Driven to the Verge – Persistence (2017)

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