Update to Cycle 3 review: Stepping up, being tired and my wonder woman zone

So I got off my arse and did my final workout for Cycle 3 just now. I did the Super Sweaty Saturday Live from yesterday. Well, I’m sweaty alright. Anyway, honestly my heart sank when Joe Wicks cheerfully announced that the were stepping things up today and were going to be working for 40 seconds and resting for 20 seconds. I wondered if I could just quickly set my own timer and try and work on 30/30 but that seemed like too much of a faff so I thought I’d just see how I got on. Then Joe said how tired he was and how he needed the workout and later on in the session he talks about how exercise always gives energy rather than take it away. So I spent the first few minutes, the entire warm up basically thinking about that my reaction to the ‘stepping things up’ and the point about being tired and therefore needing the workout. I don’t like stepping things up. Stepping things up usually means that I can’t do them. I think over years of PE at school, exercise classes, the gym the language of stepping up has come to mean making it so hard I can no longer do it. I realised I don’t think in terms of stepping it up when I teach or when I am doing anything other than exercise. I think in terms of progressing or sometimes in terms of working a little harder but never in terms of stepping up. I completely understand that this is a language thing going on in my head and that it’s a bit silly but my brain is conditioned to think that ‘step up’ is not for me. ‘Step up’ is for fit people who ‘do’ exercise and fitness. ‘Step up’ is not out of comfort zone it’s out of the zone you’re in when you’re out of the comfort zone. ‘Step up’ is not nice territory. ‘Right then’ said me to me ‘Let’s not step things up then, let’s just stick a toe out of our comfort zone and see what it feels like and if we don’t like it, Joe and his 40 seconds of burpees or whatever can go take a running jump’. So that was the stepping it up sorted.

As I ran on the spot for the first exercise I was still thinking about being tired and how I have been all week and the extent to which that’s just an excuse and I really should just get over myself and get things done. As I went through the exercises I kept coming back to that thought. And I think there’s an element of that but for me there are three distinct types of tired. One is just lack of sleep, general busyness tired and for that sort of tired exercise always helps. Usually though with that sort of tired I also know that, keep it in mind and motivation isn’t an issue. Then there is the tiredness that comes with anxiety, too much busyness, high stress levels and idiocy and a system running on high alert for too much of the time. Here motivation can be hard and it is a fine balance between whether exercise will help or make things worse. Sometimes I won’t know until I try. Sometimes exercise is exactly what’s needed and it feels good to do something with the excess adrenalin. Sometimes though it seems to add to stress and I get panicky. Bizarrely even the calmest yoga sequence can make me panic when I’m like that. And the third sort of tiredness is the depression tiredness which is hard to explain to anyone who has never experienced it. It feels like I physically cannot get off the sofa. It feels heavy and dark and overwhelming. I am sure exercise would help but it’s impossible until that depression tiredness lifts and the only way to make it lift, other than just wait it out, is to move, which feels impossible. Sometimes I can go for a walk or do some gentle stretches and when I can, I can then often progress to something else like a run or HIIT quite quickly, even on the same day. But often I just can’t move. So tiredness is not just one thing and whether exercise helps or is even possible really depends on the type of tired for me. Sometimes of course I am also just lazy but that’s another story.

I put music on for today’s session. We moved the CD player into the back room (where we have all our exercise stuff) last weekend and I wonder if it might be a game changer. There was random dancing in the rest breaks yesterday which just made the whole thing fun and somehow feel less like just exercise and more like just being silly but today the music actually really helped with the workout. I noticed it most on the upper body exercises or those that require some sort of upper body strength. For example for both the Mountain Climbers and the Plank Jacks I can’t normally do 35 seconds before my shoulders cave in – Or I can do so if they are the first exercise to really put pressure on shoulders but not if they come later in the sequence. For the first round today I managed the Mount climbers by just focusing on the music and the rhythm of that. I managed the Plank Jacks with just one brief shake off of the arms in the middle. In the 2nd round I had to shake off the arms for both once but that was the only break and it was less than 5 seconds. I suppose the music just shifts the focus or gives the brain something else to hang on to and makes it easier to just push through. It helps build that mental strength I always think I don’t have. When running outside it’s easier to distract yourself and keep going. In our little exercise room I am finding other ways, music is clearly one but facing the Dopey medals on the wall helps to motivate to work just that little bit harder, facing the generic medal hanger with everything else on serves as a reminder that I can do this and sometimes watching the birds come and go to the bird table on our back fence is a nice distraction.

About half way through the workout I decided I didn’t feel quite right in my vest. I have been doing my workouts in shorts and sports bra but I only have one pair of shorts so today had cropped running tights on and initially felt odd without an actual top. But half way through I ditched the vest. It wasn’t uncomfortable or anything, it was just that I was in my wonder woman zone. It’s that zone, often but not always exercise related, where I am working really hard but with absolute certainty that I can do it, that there is nothing that can derail me from what I am doing and that what I am doing is right. It’s that being unfuckwithable that I’ve talked about before but that feeling/ state of mind comes after having completed something in the wonder woman zone I think. It’s all nonsense really but I still think there is something really powerful about exercising just in shorts/leggings and sports bra. I don’t care what I actually look like doing it. That’s so totally not the point. It’s about how I feel and when I am gritting my teeth to get another push-up done (off my knees, people, off my knees, don’t get excited) or trying to suck in the oxygen to go full sprint on the spot for the last 10 seconds while Dolly reminds me to pour myself a cup of ambition, then anything more than a sports bra just spoils the vibe. Like I said, wonder woman zone.

Wonder woman zone and medal inspiration from a few days ago. Didn’t think to take a picture today.

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