The Psychological Component

Cleans are difficult.  Hang cleans are more difficult for me than regular cleans.  If you would like to see an example of a clean, feel free to check out this YouTube video.  It is a short one, I promise.  This is just to see what they look like.

There are many steps to keep in mind and for some reason yesterday, I flubbed most of them.  If I remembered to not jump out too widely, then I would forget to jump under the bar.  If I remembered to jump under the bar it was because I jumped wider than really is reasonable if you intend to stand up again.  I messed this up a million different ways yesterday, and it was a self perpetuating cycle.  I would make a mistake, then get a bit psyched out, which led to more mistakes, and so on.  By the last three, I had to break the whole maneuver into bite size steps and even those I barely did correctly.

I told our trainer that I’ve done cleans better than this before.  I felt like it was mostly my brain messing me up.  As I told our trainer yesterday, “This is mostly mental and the problem is I am crazy.”

Today was much simpler – shoulder press.  Take a barbell from the rack position, lift it over your head.  No jumping the feet, or getting under the bar, or squatting to remember.  Just lift the barbell.

When going for a new personal record, I try to pay as little attention as possible to how much weight we are putting on the bar.  The heavier we go, the more likely I am to psych myself out.  This is also why our trainer knows our PR but I try not to remember what they are if I can help it.  I don’t want to sabotage myself or have a preconceived limit screaming in my head.  Also, as I have stated before, I often tell myself that I cannot do it and when lifting weights, I try to listen to our trainer telling me I can, versus my brain telling me I can’t.  Our trainer is usually right about the can while my brain is wrong about the can’t.  The less information the brain has to sabotage me with the better.  See above: my earlier statement of me being crazy.

Today, our trainer told me that my PR was 100 for the shoulder press, so I am looking to get up to 105.  As we go up in increments from the 33 bar, I am noticing that this is getting heavy.  I get to around 83 pounds and the bar isn’t moving.  I tried it twice just to make sure.  After all, if my best is 100, surely I should be able to lift 83.  Alas, I couldn’t.  Which made me swear in frustration.

It is at this point that our devious trainer smiles and tells me he lied.  This weight is my PR, 100 isn’t.  All frustration leaves and joy replaces it!  Huzzah for me!

I am happy at this lie for several reasons.  One, I didn’t suck as bad as I thought!  Hurray!  I mean 20 pounds lower than my PR would have been something I would have obsessed about.  Am I losing muscle?  If so, why?  Do I need to change my diet?  Should I do a million push-ups a day?  And on and on and on…  Again, see earlier statements about my crazy.

However, holding steady I can live with.  Losing ground = bad, holding steady = good.  Also, our trainer took into account that I mentally psych myself out of a lot of the weight lifting maneuvers and gave me confidence going into the lift.  Normally I go into some of these lifts with a distinct lack of confidence, as weight lifting is still new enough to me that I worry over it.  Running, jumping, sit-ups, throwing a ball against a wall, jump ropes – yeah, I got it.  Barbells?  Maybe…  We’ll see.  Unless I already had it once in which case, I am pretty cool.  Not cocky, but definitely not freaked out or psyched out.

I know people say that honesty is the best policy, but I am happy that our trainer will work with our different mental ticks/defects.  It makes the process easier overall, I think. I said yesterday that most of the weight lifting for me was mental, so he found a way to help me compensate.  Effective.

Also, I’ve never been so relieved to hear someone say that they were lying!  Whew!

In other news, I have decided to combat the seasonal affective disorder that seems to cast its pall around this time of year by going outside as often as I can.  I am currently waiting for Will to wake up and then I think I am going to drag him to the woods for a walk.  This is also what I plan on doing in order to combat my desire for sugary things. 

From October through December, I normally bake brownies and cookies and treats.  Halloween is the first excuse – homemade pumpkin pie with real, steamed pumpkin!  Then Thanksgiving followed by Christmas.  I want to bake.  I think instead I am going to try to either run or walk.  Wish me luck.  I hope this year to avoid the three month “holiday” weight gain.  Again, I am somewhat ok with holding steady but I do not want to backslide.  I read somewhere that you can combat sugar cravings via exercise so I figure I will put it to the test.  I will let you know how it turns out.