Saturday, February 28, 2015

Mike made me do it.

In my last blog, I wrote about the need for a support system.  Having people to stand by you, to cheer you on, to encourage you, to make you laugh when you need it and to hold you up when you're down.

One of the key people in my support system has been my personal trainer.  I've had three.  After a few months with the first one, our schedules were not a good match, so I got a new trainer.  Mike was a young, good looking guy.  We clicked immediately.  After our first "getting to you know you" session, he had me lifting weights, barbell presses and a whole variety of other weights.  I couldn't lift my arms.  "You did a really great job today, Tracey.  I'm proud of you," he said.

I can remember thinking, "He's proud of me?  Oh my God, he's proud of me.  I did it!"  I felt  a giant surge of confidence, like I might actually be able to do it.  I started going to the gym at least three times per week (something I was not doing previously).  Mike asked me how my nutrition was and I said, "I am not going to use that stupid app.  So don't ask me to.  I know how to eat right, I just need to do it."  The focus of my sessions with Mike was all exercise and endurance.

After the first weigh-in, I lost 9 lbs and I was beginning to lose inches.  I was encouraged.  I really enjoyed my time with Mike.  He was so funny, always cracking jokes.  He pushed me to do things that I did not think I could do.  I would look at him, shake my head and say, "No, I'm not doing that."  He would shake his head, point and say, "Yes.  You got this."  I would do it and he'd say, "See? You got this."  He started having me bench press weights and do dead lifts.  We started bench pressing just the 45-pound Olympic bar.  I couldn't do at first, but he helped make sure the stupid thing did not crush me and I got through it.  When he graduated me to lifting without his help, he'd say, "This is all you."  He knew exactly what I needed to do to see improvement.  He gave me routines to practice on my own.  Some of the exercises were so hard, that when I did them, I heard him saying, "Trace, it's all you.  You got this."  I still hear him sometimes.

I wrote about the Rugged Maniac in a previous blog entry.  I was so grateful to Mike for believing in me and for giving me the confidence to complete the race.  If it weren't for him, I don't think I would have even gone to the race, let alone finish it.

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
2 Timothy 4:7

In the fall, I started working evenings, so I had to juggle my appointments with Mike and figure out how to get to the gym.  I wasn't getting home until about 7 p.m.  I finally learned to stop making excuses for not working out.  I was at school for close to 12 hours and still made it to Best Fitness every day.  Mike was flexible and let me know if a later appointment opened up so I could get my session in with him.

Our family planned a trip to Disney World for Thanksgiving.  When I started packing, I realized my clothes were too big.  It was a really good problem to have.  I went to Kohl's and bought a couple things, packed what I could find at home that would work.  I was so excited and grateful to Mike.  Our family had an amazing vacation.

On Thanksgiving I got a mixed up text message from Mike, meant for someone else.  He told me he wasn't feeling well. I  said, "No worries."  We came home on the 30th.  Monday evening I went to the gym to workout, grabbed my card from Mike's drawer, did one of my routines.  During one of the exercises, I remember thinking, "I need to talk to Mike about this one because it doesn't feel right tonight.  Not sure what's wrong...if I'm doing something wrong or what."  As I was putting my card away, Ashley grabbed me and said, "I need to talk to you."  She brought me into her office, had me sit down and told me that Mike got sick last week, was in the hospital over the weekend and died the night before.  I really can't remember anything she said after that.  I was in shock.  Numb.  Mike was 24-years-old.  What do you mean he died?  This is not a funny joke.  What the?

Somehow I got home, told my husband what happened.  Mike was my trainer.  I spent 30 minutes with him each week.  None of my friends, family or coworkers knew him or was friends with him. I felt like I was all alone with my grief and that no one could possibly understand what I was going through.   At work the next day, I cried on and off all day long.  The other counselors had to cover for me because I could not function.

The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces. 
Isaiah 25:8

While my relationship with Mike was strictly professional, he helped me believe in myself.  By this point, I had lost 40 lbs, which I attributed to Mike.  Losing him made me wonder if I could continue without him.  Mike reminded me so much of my oldest son.  He had an amazing sense of humor.  He was so witty and made me laugh.  I talked to him about my kids and he talked to me about his parents.  He loved them both so much.  One time he told me he went to the store to buy his mom flowers, "Just because."  I thought that was so special.  

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother."
Ephesians 6:1-2a

As I had become accustomed to working out later, I went to the gym every night after dinner.  I'd try to get through the routine...and I would cry.  One time Ashley saw me and pulled me into her office to let me get it out.  She was amazing.  Another time I saw someone who looked like Mike and I thought, "This was some stupid cruel joke," then he turned around and I saw it wasn't Mike.  And I cried some more.  I could not listen to the playlist on my phone because the songs reminded me of Mike.  In an effort to find new music to workout to, I thought disco music would work, so I made a "Bee Gees" station on iTunes Radio.  Do you know what songs come on the Bee Gees station?  Love songs.  How about these?

How can you mend a broken heart?  - Bee Gees

How can you mend a broken heart?
How can you stop the rain from falling down?  (tell me)
How can you stop the sun from shining?
What makes the world go round?
But we could never see tomorrow
Would you believe that no one
No one ever told us about the sorrow (so)
Help me mend my broken heart
...I just wanna live again.

Everything I Own - Bread

Is there someone you know,
Your loving them so,
But taking them all for granted?
You may lose them one day
Someone takes them away, 
And they don't hear the words you long to say

I would give anything I own, 
I'd give up my life, my heart, my home
I would give everything I own, 
Just to have you back again;

Mike was gone.  Listening to these songs made me sob.  It was like poison.  I knew it wasn't good for me, but I couldn't help it.  I listened to one after the other.  Eventually I was able to make it through a workout without tears and I created a new playlist (minus the Bee Gees).  The staff at Best Fitness helped.  Nastasha, Ashley and my new trainer Dmitriy have been amazing.  Nastasha has been a shoulder to cry on when I could not pull it together.  Without Ashley, I would have quit. She helped me to keep my focus, to put one foot in front of the other.  Dmitriy has been great too.  I'll write about him in another blog.  

Since Mike died, I've turned my pain into motivation.  I am determined to achieve my fitness goals.

The Lord is close to the broken hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
Psalm 34:18

Michael Cobian

Michael touched so many lives and meant so much to so many people.  He will be missed.
I hope he is watching over us.  That he can see how much I have accomplished and is proud.

When I do the Ride to Remember in September, I am doing it for him.

May he rest in peace.