Working over the summer with Ruth while my regular trainer is gone has been an eye opener. Ruth mixes it up every time I train. I am rarely on machines -- except for the gravitron and the leg press -- but am instead focusing on strengthening my core. And I am so much stronger!
We continue to mix in heel lifts and toe lifts done on the stairway for strengthening the quad and the calf muscles. The side plank and the raises I do from my back actually work now, too.
But the biggest surprise of all are the leg lifts done on my side -- I can feel both my abs obliques engage as I lift.
I am reading a book about why it is so hard to change behavior over an extended period of time -- it's called "Switch -- How to Change Things When Change Is Hard." The war between the two parts of your brain is described as the elephant (change is too hard, it's exhausting, so just stay the same) and the rider (change is good and has long term benefits even if hard to see right now). Setting a clear unambiguous and achievable goal seems to be part of the key to successful change. For me, I'm working on one simple goal this month: adding a visit to the Y on Wednesdays, even if I do nothing but ride the exercise bike while I'm there. More on this later.