You know when you just have One Of Those Days? You know, where one thing after another goes wrong no matter what you do and the stress levels just keep going up? Well, I had one of those days on Thursday. Train cancellations, a long and unexpected bike ride, forgotten pole gear and, most frustrating for me, I was so mentally drained by the time I arrived at EP that I couldn't deadlift.
And it hurt like hell.
I managed to do 1 set of ten reps at sixty kilos, but had to cut my second set short at 8 reps because I felt like my chest was going to give out and an asthma attack was the last thing I needed after everything else (yes, I have asthma). As I breathed through my spacer and took the time I needed, all I could focus on was that the weight was the same as last week and I didn't even do two full sets. On Thursday, given how tired and fragile I was feeling, this felt like a slippery slope that I was never going to be able to haul myself up from. Anger and stress bubbled up and I felt like a catastrophic failure.
Then Pat said 'Turn your camera on for your next exercise'.
The next exercise was a one-arm row. Last week I lifted 10kgs for this exercise, and I expected to start with that, but Pat said 'Grab the twelves'. EP doesn't actually have 12kg dumbbells, so I knew when Pat said 12kg he meant 12.5kg, so I got one, brought it over to the bench and he said he was going to film me. Still furious over not being able to deadlift, stressed after my bad afternoon and generally feeling unstable, I did not have high hopes for myself as I went into this exercise.
So, what happened? The answer is below.
Not only did I lift it, I lifted it well, with good form and the more reps I did (this is my first set of ten reps on each arm), the better I felt. Being able to lift something, to do something right, was a shining bright spot in an afternoon that felt particularly bleak. When we finished recording, Pat let me in on something I hadn't noticed before: "You do so much better when you're on camera; your whole form changes, your attitude changes, something comes over you and you just fight back and smash it!"
As anyone who has been reading and viewing since I started writing this blog will know, I do film a lot. Mostly I film for progress, to look back on what I've done and compare or, in the case of dancing, so I don't forget what I've done and can review my choreography and practice tricks outside of class time. I never considered if I did better on camera than off, or if it was even relevant. However Pat's encouragement (and Pat is someone who I look up to and respect, both as a trainer and as a friend) made me consider this: if I did better on camera, regardless of the reason or if anyone was going to see it, then the damn thing needed to be on from the very first lift!
Now, for those of you who are interested, I have dozens of videos that no one else is ever going to see. I publish a various selection here - triumphs and otherwise - but for every one video you see on this blog, I've got at least three more. Sometimes I watch them, something I show them to my family, or to Pat and Hilal, in the case of dancing videos, Kristy might see them, but what I choose to publish here I choose to illustrate the point I'm trying to make for a particular post. Maybe it's a 'Wow! I smashed my record!' kind of post, or maybe it's a 'I'm getting better, here's some progress' post, or maybe, like tonight, it's a 'Geez I'm having the day from hell but I still managed to lift something!' type of post.
The point of a video is not how many likes it generates. This may seem like an odd statement to make when I'm posting onto social media, but it's true nonetheless. When this journey evolves or settles, the likes generated will be irrelevant, but the videos will still be there to remind me of how far I've come and the journey it took to get there. I am a living, breathing, thinking, feeling human being and, for that reason, sometimes it's easy to forget that I started somewhere and worked up to where I am. A video is a solid, tangible reminder that it took WORK.
I don't know why I do so much better on camera than off. What I will say is that I am always the type of person who has performed better in front of an audience. I have always loved public speaking (no, not kidding, I really and truly love it), but have fumbled and stuttered my way through rehearsals only to win prizes and ribbons after having given the perfect speech in front of 500 people without so much as a flutter. I suspect I have a similar mentality when it comes to the camera, in that it becomes my audience, even though only a small portion of my videos are even actually shown to an audience, i.e. YOU. Perhaps the camera itself, for those moments it films, becomes my audience.
So, given Thursday is deadlift day, I think it's only fair to answer the burning question: did I achieve my goals for this week?
No, I didn't. My goal was three sets at 65kg, and I didn't manage to lift above 60kg. As mentioned above, it was incredibly painful at the time, but a good night's sleep and the benefit of hindsight have brought me the following realisation: I didn't manage to go above 60kgs last night, but I didn't go below it either. I didn't slip, I hit a plateau, and plateaus are a normal part of any journey, but especially ones involving health and fitness.
Next week is another week to reach 65kg, just because I'm on a level doesn't mean I'm stuck on that level forever. I had the day from hell and I still managed to lift 60kg! That's impressive. Not only that, but my weights went up in all my other exercises and I completed all my sets with ten reps, and I take that as a victory.
Now, my final video before I clock off for the night: dumbbell curls.
This is my third and final set or ten reps with 5kg dumbbells. Given the kind of weights I've been lifting, 5kg might not seem like a lot, but it's a big f***ing deal for this exercise. Why? Because I couldn't do a 5kg dumbbell curl with my left arm when I started FIRE. My right arm was fine, but my left arm is my weaker arm (my gumbie arm, as we say in pole dancing) and it constantly gave out usually abut half-way through my second set and I wouldn't be able to completely the curl. I'd stand there like some absurd bird with one good wing, trying to force my left elbow to cooperate and lift the damn weight! But last night I managed to do all three sets unassisted.
One thing I will say about the video is that my form is not great. As I tire, I start to use my back to hoist the weight, but this is something I will work on with Pat and Hilal as I continue with FIRE. However, I do manage to get the weights from my sides to my shoulder without my left elbow giving out and locking up halfway through, and my form can only get better from here now that I've noticed it.
And that's all from me!
You don't find the willpower - you create it.
Me With No Apologies.