Photographic Evidence

It seems we can work toward goals without understanding results. We can put in work each day with improvement taking place slowly. Working out in the gym has often felt this way from my perspective. One way to track progress has been taking body composition measurements. When measurements have been taken in my past they have been based on numbers. Another factor taking place was the measurements had never been taken with any consistency. They might have been taken once a year with past trainers. Bernard has done things differently in regards to tracking results. Similar to trainers in the past, he logs everything we do during each session, with the weight and repetitions being executed. Bernard has taken the tracking process a step further by using the measurement machine inside the gym. The machine provides us with all kinds of measurements on my body composition. However, the most telling thing provided by this machine has been photographs. It has been interesting to look at the numbers, as they continue to show our work paying dividends in most areas. For me, the numbers are more challenging to understand than the photos. The photos have been showing improvement that didn’t seem possible for me to make.

Our first round of measurements was taken last June. The machine was a unique experience my first time. It required balance and stability seemingly challenging for me to achieve. There was a circle in the middle of the room for me to stand on. Maybe reaching half of a foot off the floor with markings to indicate where my feet needed to be placed. While standing the platform was going to spin in a complete circle. There was another requirement of my arms being held out from my side at about a forty-five-degree angle. The most challenging of these requirements would be remaining still. Cerebral palsy can make it challenging to hold my body in a completely still position. Holding my arms in a specific position away from my body has always been hard. The longer the requirement to hold a position, the more nervous energy seems to infiltrate my body. During my first experience with the machine it took a couple attempts to get a solid reading. Instead of holding my arms out with hands extended, we had me hold my hands in a fist position. Holding the hands closed helped me maintain stability in my arms. After coming up with some helpful ways to get the pictures, I held as still as possible, as the platform rotated in its circle. We did get a good reading of measurements and a relatively clear picture.

Looking at the first picture we captured was surprising. There appeared to be a lack of stability in my body overall. It made me think cerebral palsy was winning the battle. The pictures showed me leaning to one side. My body was falling off center toward my right side. It seems I was leaning to the right in an effort to gain stability on the platform. My head was also tilted off to the right and cast downward. The picture was difficult to look at and the numbers reflected someone who had fallen out of shape. Bernard took the read out, going over it with me in depth. Listening to the information, while viewing the body composition was leaving me feeling numb. It felt like I had seen it all before, no matter what was being attempted, we couldn’t stabilize the body. But, before we walked out of the room, Bernard gave me some pretty strong goals. The responsibility of cutting down the weight would be on my shoulders. For his part, Bernard would continue working my strength and stability, always looking for new ideas that might help. When measurements were taken on that day we had only been working together three months. It was going to require more commitment on my part if results were to be achieved.

We set out to achieve the new goals set forth by Bernard. The measurements would be retaken in a couple months to track progress. For my part, it would mean making it into the gym more frequently. In order to experience more results my diet would also require some slight adjustment. We discussed manageable tweaks to my diet without setting out to change things drastically. Bernard was going to continue experimenting with different exercise routines. For the first time, everything done with a trainer would revolve around thinking about cerebral palsy first. Thinking about the new idea of everything revolving around cerebral palsy caused nervousness. It left me wondering how the sessions were going to take place and if results would be achieved. Bernard seemed to work more on strengthening the muscles in my core. Every exercise was focused on keeping my core engaged with Bernard reminding me to remain stable. All the focus on good posture during movements was tiring, it took extra concentration throughout each exercise. But, I trusted we might be on to something, because the program Bernard was working felt unique. Some things I had done before, however much of the ways in which we conducted the movements was new. It was all worth a good try to see if something new might yield better results.

Throughout all the creative movements Bernard was attempting, my task was sticking with the exercise that had been helping. It involved working on cardio workouts on days without Bernard. The cardio days began happening more frequently, finding the types of cardio exercise that worked best. Bernard was helping me understand the best forms of cardio where those requiring the most movements. It meant running and doing the elliptical machine, both calling on stability throughout the exercise. The stair climber would help with flexibility in my hips. I went about implementing more complex cardio machines to help cerebral palsy improvement. By the time, we did a measurement again it was December. The numbers had greatly improved. My weight had come down, which meant the increased cardio was working with an improved diet. Another major factor for my gains was the chiropractic adjustments. We had moved the adjustments up to twice a week from just once per week. It was helping me exercise more frequently by keeping my body in steady alignment. Everything seemed to moving in a positive direction. The pictures from December also showed improvement. There was more stability in my posture and the weight loss was apparent. However, the photograph didn’t surprise me at the time. It looked better, but my unstable stance was still apparent.

It wasn’t until we took measurements again last week that shock filled my emotions. The workout routine from Bernard had continued to become more creative. He introduces new movements frequently. Many of the new movements are unfamiliar to anything from my past work with a trainer. The interesting things about the new exercises has been most of them being core focused. Bernard has truly made an attempt to improve my stability. When we took the picture this week our results were overwhelming. We compared the picture with the first one taken last June. The difference was astounding to us both it seemed. Bernard seemed to feel good about the path he had chosen for our work together. For me, it was amazement at how sturdy my body looked. I would have never guessed we could have reached those kinds of results. It was clear from the picture that cerebral palsy was becoming less and less able to affect my functionality. The remainder of my session on that day felt like a wash. It didn’t seem possible for the picture to be real. So, when we got finished I looked again just to make sure. The shock and excitement continued for a few days over what we had accomplished. Bernard left the measurement room with excitement over our next six months of work, while I remained in shock.





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