Saturday, March 6, 2010

When the student is ready, the RIGHT teacher will be there....

I get asked all the time, how did you find the right trainer....truth it was pure luck...

In yiddish, there is a word...B'sheret...something that is meant to be! Sometimes life just puts people in the right place, at the right time and it all comes together. That is how I view being paired with my trainer, Guilherme Paraiso. Most of you in my life know him as Gui (prounced Geeeeeeeeeeee (with the long e sound), some of you know him affectionately as "Torture Boy" (depending on the day I mentioned him *smile*). Working with Gui is one of those happy accidents that later feels like something someone had a greater hand in!!!!!

As I mentioned yesterday, I had no plans when I joined the club to work with a trainer. I felt I was in no place physically to even consider the option, and also wasn't ready to look that incompetent to another human being. I had had very bad experiences with my physical therapists years ago and had no real desire to repeat any of that.

Even though I knew that a free session with a trainer was part of my club membership, I hadn't acted on it, so I figured it would quietly sit. So when I got the first email from Gui, introducing himself and suggesting we meet and talk, I was hesitant at best. But never one to turn down something free I went with it. Thinking, ok...this person will see how bad my leg is and how fat I am and tell me there is nothing they can do and that will be that. I should have known better just from the few emails we exchanged prior to our meeting. From the first time I mentioned my "challenges" (while trying to come up with a date that worked) he was already sharing that he had worked with other clients with similar challenges and acted as if they were nothing to worry about. He at least had me intrigued.

On first glance seeing him at our meeting, I have to admit, my thought was "oh great, just what I expected"...young (25), not bad looking, obviously works out...yup...he ain't going to have a brain in his head! I was wrong!!!!! I was so wrong.

We chatted for about an hour, and as much as I wanted to stay guarded and not put myself in a position to end up spending money (knowing trainers work on commission and that was his job, to sell me thing) it didn't happen. He put me completely at ease and more than that, he made it clear he believed all my challenges could be overcome. And I put him to the test on that right away, as we talked about the benefit of protein powders it became evident I wasn't going to be able to use LTF's brand or any easily obtainable on the market because of the artificial sweetner most contain, but he vowed to find one (and did a day later). It was clear he felt my goals were obtainable, but more importantly, in just that one meeting, he made ME consider maybe they were! I am still not sure why I took the leap that day, but I did, and agreed to give training a few tries. Coincidentally, it was black friday and the club had a "buy 3 get 1 free" on training just for that day, so decided to commit to 4 sessions, one a week, to see what happened.

Whether the path we took from there was necessary or not seems to be where we have differing views. Gui tells me he "tricked me" into comfort by starting out in the pool, I personally think it was necessary (as much mentally as physically) but for the next 4 weeks we worked on strength and balance in the pool. The water is an environment where my leg and the nerve damage are less of an issue because of the support the water provides, as well as the fact that if you fall over it hurts a lot less!!!! I feel safe in the water and those four weeks gave me the chance to build up trust in him, trust in my body and a bit of strength to move on to the hard work. We also in that month worked on what I was eating, when I was eating and some other lifestyle issues and in those 4 weeks I dropped 14 lbs.

Although I felt great success from that time, I don't want to make it sound like it was easy. I struggled with the simplest exercises and found a frustration I didn't know possible in how little my body could do. Things that others would consider easy, walking the length of the pool holding an exercise band up, were monumental tasks for me. But looking back, I can't say I ever felt judged or made to feel inadequate for any of it, and that is probably what kept me moving forward more than the number on the scale or the changes in my body. I dreaded each session when we started, there were many times if I hadn't already paid for them I wouldn't have come back, but somehow Gui kept me coming and kept me from killing either of us. And when the month was over, I knew I wanted to keep going.

At the end of December we left the pool (I still miss it some days) and started working out "upstairs" (LTF is two stories and the exercise equipment is all upstairs, which was an issue for me also, as I didn't do stairs at that point so the elevator was my only choice).

To say we started out slow would be an understatement. I look back now and can't believe how little I could do (which is saying a lot since I don't feel now I keep up very well). But again, I was never made to feel any less than anyone else in the gym. And if anything Gui went out of his way to keep me motivated, even between sessions. Whether it was a surprise visit while I was slugging along swearing at the treadmill, or an email reminding me I could do it, he always seemed to show up when I was ready to quit (at times it was a little eerie how he knew) and kept me on track. He still does!

The first month upstairs was really hard, my weight had plateaued, my balance was horrible, my frustration with myself was over the top and I had no intent of continuing another month. But then we hit the day that made me realize this could really change my life, the day I regained something I thought was gone for good!

This is going to sound so stupid to someone who has never been disabled, but we spent one entire session teaching me how to walk up and down stairs. I felt so dumb at the time, I felt like I was wasting his time and skills, I felt like everyone was watching the cripple on the stairs, I felt frustrated and angry at 39 years old I was having to learn how to do such a simple task. But for as hard as that day was, and as dumb as I felt it was also the the day that I got my life back. That day Gui's persistence and patience gave me what I needed more than anything, a victory that changed my world and set the clock back 14 years. 

No weight we have lifted, no machine we have used has taken more for me to do physically and mentally than climbing up and down those stairs for 45 minutes. But at the end of it I had found things I cant put value on. I had my freedom to go anywhere without having to fear if there was an elevator or not, I had found an immense amount of confidence in what my body could do when pushed, and more importantly I knew that the promises Gui had made to me in that first meeting to help me slay my dragons were more than sales talk and that I truly found the lifeline I had been looking for for 14 years. Someone who could help me get back some of what I had been robbed of.

I am now a little over three months into this these workouts. Working out with Gui has not gotten any physically easier (he tells me it never will) and I can't lift 100 lbs, or get low enough in a squat or figure out lunges. But it is now something I look forward to and miss on off days and more importantly something I see immense value in now. I have made great progress and have a body now that I trust most days. I have gained the balance and strength to start wearing (small) heels to work, I can walk the length of the airport terminal at MSP without being out of breath or in pain, I no long cower away from going out with friends because I wont be able to keep up and I don't cringe if it is raining or snowing out because I fear walking on a slippery surface.

It sounds so cliche to say meeting someone has changed your life, but I can't think of much else I can say that explains the difference finding the RIGHT trainer has done for me. It would be easy to debate if I had been paired with another trainer would I have had the same outcome, Gui would probably say yes, I would probably say I don't think so. Either way, I am really glad I didn't have to find out!

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