Monday, September 15, 2014

Cooking Fest!

The weekend plus Monday were full of errands, training, and a ton of cooking! I spent pretty much all of Sunday in the kitchen preparing for the upcoming week and making some new Whole Life Challenge-friendly foods. It was a lot of work but also a lot of fun! I'll be posting recipes soon, but in the meantime, click on the link below the photo for the recipe for my homemade granola (gluten-free, sugar-free, totally natural, and suitable for paleo too).

Friday, September 12, 2014

A Full Week!

It has been a FULL week for me.

I started off the week still feeling quite achy from my workouts from last week. Part of it was from my general training and getting back to  my weight lifting, but most of it was me still recovering from the MetaFit training course! I think I did a few too many burpees, squats, and lunges -- my left knee was feeling terrible!

I approached my workouts with caution, but was happy that I didn't feel any major pains.

I just focused on active recovery on Monday with a long walk.
It's just as well I didn't do anything major because Tuesday ended up being a LONG day of workouts.

I went to a 7 a.m. Yoga class at the martial arts center. Then I hit the weights and did a MetaFit class at my local gym, followed by 2 hours of Jiujitsu in the evening.

Wednesday was my first evening Muay Thai class. It was fantastic! I had such a good time :) It felt great to work up a sweat hitting pads again. That class was followed by Yoga for Muay Thai. I left the martial arts center feeling relaxed and totally stretched out, which led to a great night of sleep.

Thursday morning I was back at the gym for weights and MetaFit and then a really intense session of Jiujitsu. I'm preparing to take my blue belt test soon, so I've been drilling my moves quite seriously.

Today I attended a 6:30 a.m. Muay Thai session followed by another hour of yoga. Plus tonight I've got Jiujitsu again.

Filling up the Mini Cooper with my Muay Thai gear and yoga mat.
Glad I didn't get a Smart car!

It feels fantastic to be able to fit in 3 1-hour yoga classes in my week. I am SO stiff. Not doing any proper yoga for 10 months has really had an impact on my flexibility. I'm hoping that continuing to do the classes will really help me loosen up.

Aside from Jiujitsu I don't really have anything else scheduled for this weekend. I may try to fit in either a MetaFit session or just some walking. We'll see. Rest is definitely on the agenda! The Whole Life Challenge starts tomorrow!! I can't wait :)

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Liberating and Empowering - Part III

"I was doing this for ME."

That's what I wrote at the end of my post yesterday.

I'm going to eat what I want.
I'm going to do what I want.
I'm not going to do anything I don't want to do.

Me. Me. Me. I. I. I.

Selfish isn't it? Or is it?

Do you think it's selfish to put yourself first?
Do you think that finding time to exercise and eliminating certain foods from your diet is a selfish thing to do?

I spent many, many years putting myself last. Everyone else was ahead of me. I didn't want to upset anyone or make them uncomfortable. I went along with what they wanted.

After all, when you go have the low self-esteem and low self-confidence that usually accompanies a large waistline, the last thing you want to do is ostracize yourself by putting yourself first.

So you eat with your friends. You skip your workout to socialize. You indulge your host by eating just one more. I show a carefree attitude and eat the third/fourth/fifth slice of pizza … and at the end of the night you can go home having had a ton of laughs and a great time … until you step on the scale the next morning and feel like shit because once again you didn't show discipline, and the number on the scale shows it all. The clothes that may feel just a bit too clingy remind you of it the whole day. You're in a bad mood. You can't concentrate at work. Your friends/colleagues ask you what's wrong and you snap because you really have nobody else to blame but yourself … It just feels crappy.

Perhaps this will sound like an exaggeration to some people, but I know that I definitely felt like this on more than one occasion.

Let's look at the 'selfish' scenario.

I say no thank you to the pizza and drink water all night. I want to laugh with my friends, but I'm actually feeling a bit resentful that they can enjoy themselves and not worry. Still, I soldier on. I continue this for a week and I start to get used to the detox from processed foods and sugar. I feel more energetic and boy does it feel great to see the numbers dropping on the scale. The extra energy helps me with my workout so I've an extra spring in my step. My clothes are getting a bit loose, I'm starting to see the positive effect of sticking to the changes I decided to make and I'm proud of myself. I'm happy with what I'm accomplishing -- I am focused at work, I am cheerful around friends/colleagues and I am eager to keep this euphoria going … so I continue.

Does this sound like an exaggeration too? Perhaps, but it accurately describes my experience.

Taking that first step to decide you want to make a change and then following through can be scary. It's all new territory. If you worry about what others will think and say, then it is only adding further pressure to an already daunting task.

It's ok to say No. It's ok to be 'selfish.' You need to be selfish if you really want to make a difference. The most important thing to remember is that this selfishness is temporary.

The beginning of any journey is always challenging. The differences you want to see and feel will not happen overnight. I've found that the resentment and frustrating comes a lot sooner - and lasts much longer than you'd like - than that happy spring in your step. The thing is, if you don't go through that tough struggle in the beginning, you won't get to that happy place.

A bit of struggle is part of the process.

A bit of selfishness is an essential ingredient.

Once you find your groove, things really will fall into place. The happiness and energy that you will get from the empowering feeling of knowing you've been disciplined - and it is paying off - will be contagious.

People will come around. They really will. And if they don't? Well, that's another benefit of feeling empowered -- you won't care. You'll realize how important it is to have supportive people around you. They're the ones that will continue to encourage you. They're the ones that will want you to continue to work to be the best that you can be -- and you'll see, sometimes that will mean encouraging you to be selfish!

Now I have friends who will ask me - Are you sure you want to eat that?
I know that they will ask me that because they know how hard I've worked and how tough it has been … plus I've given my friends permission to smack me if they see me going off track and regaining the weight I worked so hard to lose.

Take a chance. Put yourself first. You'll find that the positivity you gain from finally doing the things you've always wanted to do will spread to others around you. You'll feel liberated that you're not trapping yourself in the expectations of others. You will feel empowered knowing that you can help yourself and go on to help others.

Go on. Be selfish.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Liberating and Empowering - Part II

Yesterday I mentioned the Whole Life Challenge --

I know I've been mentioning it a lot lately, partly because it's starting on the 13th of September and mainly because it really has had a massive positive impact on my life. There's still time to join me and a few other members of my team (along with thousands of people worldwide) in this 8-week challenge - one that literally changed my life and may change yours too. Read more about the rules here and if you're interested, register for my team here.

What I really want to talk about in this post is what elements of the challenge made me feel liberated and empowered.

First of all, the discipline of following a challenge for the entire 8 weeks was definitely empowering. I committed to something and I stuck to it. Once I got it in my mind that I was going to do this, nothing changed my mind. I was not tempted by any foods. I was not swayed by any friends. I was fully focused. I may not have been perfect, but any imperfections were a result of my own choices.

Understanding that it was all in my hands was the second empowering discovery. I got rid of all those notions of having to eat a certain thing or a certain way to satisfy somebody else.

My family doesn't eat the same way I do.
I don't want to be a rude guest.
I don't want to be the one to spoil the mood at the party because I didn't eat/drink with them.

While these may be challenging situations, they are still manageable. You just have to understand and accept that the decision to make the change may be slightly uncomfortable (and often just to yourself). Don't let these types of thoughts (excuses) get in the way of what you really want to achieve. The discomfort is often just temporary, and usually it is because what you're doing is something new and not because it is actually physically uncomfortable.

There was a time when I was cooking different meals for myself versus others. I would go to parties and family gatherings and politely decline food. I would go to restaurants with friends and be one of 'those' people who asks questions about ingredients and food prep before ordering.

Did I get criticized? I sure did! Many, many people were negative and critical. They would make fun of me. They would tell me, 'Go on, just have one.' I was told I wasn't fun anymore. I was told that I was being too strict. I was told I was crazy (the label I hated the most).

I had to steel myself against these criticisms. I had to be strong. I tried to explain what I was doing, but very few people understood. Well, actually they just didn't take the time to really listen. For the most part, I just smiled and politely declined.

I did find myself socializing a bit less once I started the challenge. It was a bit sad, but honestly, I was so busy with everything else in my life and the challenge (planning food, grocery shopping, prepping, cooking, exercising, eating right) that it didn't matter. The best part was that each week I was noticing a difference in myself. I was getting stronger, leaner, and finally thinner! I knew this wasn't a weight loss challenge, but the consequences of cleaning up my diet and being disciplined was showing in the exact ways I wanted them to show.

I was loving it!

Didn't go to a party and have a slice of cake or a glass of wine? No problem! I was dropping dress sizes! :)

Here's the good news -- after some time (actually after the 2nd time I did the challenge), people started getting it. They started to see how I maintained most of the changes I made on the WLC even after the challenge. They started to see how it really was a lifestyle for me - not just a trend I wanted to follow.

I mastered the art of rejection -- I would call hosts beforehand and explain to them that I was doing this challenge and to please not be offended if I didn't partake in the food/drink and that I would come just for the company. I would ask those I felt more comfortable with if they would mind me bringing my own food. I had people wondering what it was I was eating so I would invite them over and cook a Whole Life Challenge friendly FEAST -- and they would see it all in action.

Can you see how this was all liberating and empowering?

I was no longer a slave to food. I knew I had the strength to say no. I was living my life the way I wanted to and I didn't look for anybody else's approval.

It was fantastic. I chose the direction that I wanted to live my life and I went ahead and did it … and those that loved me most were so supportive. As for those who criticized … well, to each their own, right?

In the end, it doesn't matter. I knew I had to continue what I was doing because I was doing this for ME.

More on that tomorrow …

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Liberating and Empowering - Part I

Recently I've used the word liberating quite a few times in comments I've made on blog posts. I think that's the one word that best describes how the weight loss process has been for me. Liberating -- and if I had to choose another word, empowering.

Changing my attitude towards health and fitness came gradually.

For me, it was weight lifting that really got me started. In the beginning, I would tentatively hide up in the women's area of the gym and pick up the weights -- and by the end of just the first phase of the New Rules of Lifting for Women program, I had seen a lot of progress. By the end of the whole program, I felt … you guessed it - liberated and empowered!

For me, what really helped was making note of my progress. I had my fitness routine written down, and  I made sure to write down what exercise I was doing and what resistance I was using. This way I had a record of what I was doing so I didn't need to restart the program from scratch. More importantly, each time I was able to lift a little more, I felt great.

It felt amazing to go from doing a 12 kg back squat to an 80 kg back squat -- and eventually to my 105 kg 1RM (which I haven't hit again in a while). Just writing that down gets my adrenaline going.

It makes me KNOW, not just believe, that I can do whatever I set out to do.

If you read through my blog, you can see that I had many, many struggles. I still do. However, I've seen what I can accomplish. I know what that accomplishment feels like. More importantly, I know that I can do it. The only thing standing in my way is myself.

It's amazing how quickly those negative thoughts can multiply and get in the way of real progress.

This is when you have to be strong. This is when you have to free yourself from doubt and push through -- know that you are strong. Know that what you dream for yourself is possible. Know that the temporary discomfort and doubt is just that -- temporary. You need to just stick to your plan and keep moving forward.

I still walk around the gym with my chart and my pen. The system works for me, so I've stuck to it. I feel that over the past 6 months I have lost a lot of muscle/strength. I want that back. I've lost some muscle definition and just overall, I'm not feeling that lean and strong. It's frustrating because in some ways it does feel like a step back. However, I've spent long enough organizing my plan and writing things down. The time to act is now. I'm doing great with my exercise -- now it's the food that has to follow. This is definitely where the Whole Life Challenge is going to come in.

More on that tomorrow

Monday, September 8, 2014

Settling Down

This past weekend felt very hectic for me. Although I was very productive, I didn't feel like I had much of a chance to relax and rest -- and boy, after the week of training I had, I definitely needed the rest. I had a few aches that resurfaced and I wasn't too happy about feeling my knee pain resurface ... gotta get back to doing my physio. I shouldn't have slacked on that so much.

In any case, I definitely feel like this is the first week that I actually have a proper schedule. I used to be teased in Kuwait that I had a membership to at least 3 gyms/training centers (I think at one point it was 4) at the same time while some people can barely keep up with one. Well, it seems like 3 training centers is what is in my English future as well. I've officially joined the martial arts school for both Muay Thai and Yoga; I've got the Jiujitsu classes, and of course I've got the gym where I'm doing weights and MetaFit.

I know it sounds like a lot, but they actually all really compliment each other. I do the MetaFit classes right after doing my weights, so a good dose of HIIT after lifting. As I've probably mentioned before, I need to build my strength and cardio endurance in order to do well in my MMA training ... and yoga is the perfect way to stretch out after all those classes.

At first when I looked at my schedule, I felt like I needed to add something to my Monday routine since I didn't have any classes scheduled.

Now that I've gotten through the day, I have to say - Thank Goodness!!!

Monday is definitely a recovery day for me. A bit of stretching and walking is good enough for me. It gives me a chance to get some errands done, get my food prep done, and work on my research, which I have totally been procrastinating with!

So, things are falling into place and that makes me really happy.

I spent quite a bit of time getting my menu prepared for the Whole Life Challenge. I can't wait for it to begin. I'm definitely ready to get back into a more disciplined routine. There's still time to join my team if you're interested. You can read about it here and you can check out that blog in general for tips on working towards getting yourself ready for the challenge. With all those holiday celebrations coming up  and 2015 right around the corner, this challenge comes at the perfect time to help refocus and push forward to achieve all those new years goals that were set on Jan. 1st. Time is flying -- gotta end the year on a high note (and lower weight)!

Friday, September 5, 2014


By the end of BJJ class last night, I was feeling totally spent. The previous days of training had caught up to me. All wanted to was to get a good night's sleep.

I may not have slept for long, but I did sleep soundly, and I was ready to get up and go when my alarm went off at 5 a.m.

I already had my gym bags (yes, bags) packed, my clothes had been laid out -- I just had to eat a little something (a small salmon burger - just the patty that I made yesterday with nothing else and half a cup of green tea plus my vitamins), get ready, and head out the door.

Then came my first big challenge -- my first solo drive in London!

I took lessons to drive on the 'other' side and I've driven around a bit with D in the car with me ... but this was the first time I was going out on my own. Luckily, at 6 a.m. the roads are quite clear, so I got to my destination without any problems. Yay!

So what got me out of bed so early in the morning?

Muay Thai training!

I was so happy to finally be able to make it to a class. I have been missing it so much, and I really felt like it was what has been missing from my routine.

The class was great! The people were friendly and welcoming. The workouts was challenging and fun. I worked up a great sweat and boy did it feel great to hit pads after such a long time. Yes, I was definitely happy.

After Muay Thai there was a yoga class, so I attended that. I was told that on Fridays they focused on flexibility -- that perfect for me. I haven't properly done a yoga class since October. Boy was I stiff! I tried my best with the poses. It felt so good to stretch out -- definitely something very necessary in my fitness routine. I'm excited to track my progress over the upcoming sessions.

My second big challenge was getting back home! I left the martial arts center at around 8:45, so it was kind of rush hour. There were so many more cars on the road. There were a few tense moments (roundabouts and narrow roads with cars coming from the opposite direction as well), but I survived (as did the other drivers on the road) :)

I entered the house sweaty and grinning from ear to ear -- now that's the way I like to start the day!!

my Hayabusa bag and equipment all ready to be taken out the door