Friday, December 12, 2014

Tough Weeks

Last week was a really tough week for me - one of the toughest I've have since I moved to London. Very little went according to plan. A huge part of what was me working to finish my writing for a deadline. Writing is such a big struggle for me. More than anything, the thing that really throws me off with writing is that you can't plan when the ideas are going to start flowing. Even if I schedule 4 hours at my desk, there is no guarantee that my thoughts will come together in the way I want them to within those 4 hours ... and more often than not, after 4 hours at my desk, I'm just getting warmed up.

Since I had a deadline to meet, I had to make my writing a priority this week -- this meant everything else took a back seat.

That alone was annoying.

Add to that the fact that I wasn't feeling well at all - terrible symptoms as a result of iron-deficiency anemia which is all linked to my health history. It has been a terrible week -- pain, dizziness, and nausea topped the list of my symptoms ... and believe me, they were enough to make me just want to stay in bed and not come out at all.

I didn't hide away, but I definitely wasn't as active as I wanted to be -- when simply moving from a seated position to standing practically had me passing out, I knew that it would not be smart to push myself. Sometimes you just have to listen to your body! So, last week was very calm in terms of training -- I made it it a few Jiu-Jitsu sessions, but even then, I spent most of my time on the mats doing light drills and observing -- no sparring at all.

I started this week feeling better. I was taking an iron supplement and making sure to eat properly and drink lots of water ... I was back at the gym and everything was fine ... until Wednesday night when all of a sudden I had extreme chills - was shaking uncontrollably, was feeling nauseous and extremely ill ... it was terrible. It was shocking at how I went from feeling absolutely fine to incredibly ill.

I was in bed for the next 33 hours. I couldn't move. I had no energy whatsoever. I got up once and took a shower and made something to eat -- I thought that maybe if I tried to move about a bit and get some food in my system I would feel better, but no ... I had half a bowl of oatmeal which gave me just enough energy to crawl back to bed and that's where I stayed until Friday morning.

Today, physically I'm feeling a lot better -- it's just my head that's feeling a bit fuzzy, not really sure how to describe it. I'm going to try and make it as much of a normal day as possible and hope that whatever it was that affected me (I suspect it was a side effect of the iron supplements which I don't normally take because I've had bad side effects from them before) is no longer an issue.

So, lots of obstacles lately, but I know I've just got to keep pushing along and do the best I can.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Don't Touch

When my little brother was almost 2 years old, he was incredibly curious. He wanted to get his hands on everything - and more than that, he wanted to put everything in his mouth! My mother was constantly running after him saying, 'Don't touch. Don't touch.'

One day, we saw my brother standing in front of my mom's dressing table, eyeing her glittering bottles of perfumes and clasping his little hands to his chest, shaking his head left to right muttering to himself, 'Don't touch. Don't touch.'

It was the cutest thing.

Those shiny bottles looked so tempting, but he knew better -- and all he could do was keep repeating to himself - 'Don't touch. Don't touch.'

It is with that mentality that I will be approaching this coming week. I've got a bit social weekend coming up ... and while I don't plan on 'going crazy' when it comes to the food, I know that there will be temptations. The best thing I can do is tell myself 'Don't touch' throughout the week so that maybe, if I feel like it, I can relax that discipline over the weekend.

My main goals for this work week are:

1) Eat clean - All meals should follow the whole life challenge guidelines and/or the Gracie Diet guidelines.
2) Eat every 4 1/2 - 5 hours -- no snacking in between.
3) Drink 3-4 L of water each day.
4) Exercise a minimum of 1 hour each day (3 lifting sessions, 2 HIIT sessions, 2 Jiu-Jitsu sessions this week)
5) Stretch daily
6) Track daily
7) Most importantly: Saying 'Don't touch. Don't touch. Don't touch.' to all those oh-so-tempting foods!

In addition to these tasks, I will try to do as many of my 'additional 50 Day Goals' as possible. The complete list is here. Let's see how many I can get done!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Hello December!

Here we are ... the last 31 days of the year. I can't believe it! When I look back on the past 11 months, a lot has happened. It's actually overwhelming to me to think of everything that has happened this past year ... but I am feeling truly blessed and happy.

Now that Thanksgiving is over and the leftover food is either packed up, given away, or thrown out, I am focusing on getting staying focused over the next few weeks. It will definitely be a challenge as there are many social events, in fact more social events over the next month than there have been in the entire time that I've been in London!! My focus on those occasions will definitely be on the company vs. the food. I've eaten enough good food. I have no cravings for anything ... and I think that's a great way to approach this food-focused festive season!

My goals for the month:
- Not gain any weight!!
- Continue to follow the basic guidelines of my 50 Day challenge -- I've been ok with most things but my tracking has been terrible. I need to refocus on that.
- I'm putting my muay thai on hold for the next 2 months while I focus on building a bit more muscle and improving my Jiu-Jitsu techniques.
- Blog and comment on blogs regularly.
- Work on my flexibility daily.

I'm starting the month eager and optimistic -- and I hope I end the month (and year) successfully!!

Friday, November 28, 2014

Friday Five - Happy Thanksgiving!

It's been another busy, busy week.

I spent 4 days down in central London. Even though I live in London, staying central as a bit of a holiday treat was lovely -- not having to worry about taking the tube back home and lugging all the shopping at the end of a day of endless walking! I had a blast - a reunion with some friends I hadn't seen in 4 years, lovely dinners out, enjoying the Christmas lights (though I really didn't want to think about Christmas until after Thanksgiving), and just the general vibe of the city. Despite being gone for such a short time and to such a short distance away, the disruption to my routine had an impact ... and it was a struggle to find my footing after getting home.

1. Celebrating with D at Fortnum & Mason

2. I loved this hat from Hunter -- though I was advised against it, particularly near banks

3. I can be such a tourist! I spotted a couple of Paddington bears around London -- and of course I had to get a photo!

4. Reunited with friends -- had a fab night and terrific meal at Kettner's -- I highly recommend the restaurant - everything was delicious!! 

5. After being off my game for the 4 days in London, I was more than happy to create a clean Thanksgiving meal -- cajun crusted turkey breast over parsnip puree along with roasted sweet potatoes and steamed string beans and carrots. It was filling and delicious (and I woke up the next morning weighing 1/2 a pound less!! I was thankful for having eaten a light meal!) :) 

I've actually got a big Thanksgiving feast planned for this coming weekend ... I'm hoping I can be just as disciplined, particularly around the desserts. Will try to focus on the company and not the food! 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Friday Five

I can't believe a whole week went by without me posting. That was not my intention -- but this week didn't coincide that well with my good intentions. I felt rather off sync throughout the week. It's amazing how one or two out of the ordinary events can throw me off my groove. I really do need to learn how to be less reliant on having a set schedule.

Here are the top 5 things that got me off my A game this week -- Although the week didn't go according to plan, it wasn't all a failure. I tried my best to learn from each incident - and I hope that the lessons will keep me moving forward.

Last week I found myself spiraling downward into a really dark head-space. I let one little incident consume me and fill me without doubt -- doubt of things I've accomplished and doubt of what lies ahead in my future. It was not good. The scariest part for me was that I could feel myself sinking into the quicksand of negative thoughts. In the past, not only would I not have control over these thoughts, but I would also fully believe in them and allow myself to get pulled down. This time, it was different. I knew better. It was a true struggle within. On the one hand, I felt suffocated. On the other, I was trying to coax myself out of the funk. I was 'happy' that I could recognize what was happening and that I really didn't want to go there. I knew that I could pull out of this and that it was foolish to allow one little thing - that really didn't have anything directly to do with me - to throw me off my course.

I had one day of pure darkness, but I didn't allow myself to to remain there. I kept rallying, and that's what led me to reassess a few things.

While I was trying to figure out how to get out of my funk, one thing became clear to me -- If I was doubting my abilities/potential/skill, then I obviously wasn't working hard enough. I know that may seem like I'm being hard on myself, but if I'm 100% honest with myself, I know I can do better. There are little things here and there that I let slide. In the desire and attempt to try and do it all, I can't always give 100% of myself to each thing that I try.

My biggest priority at the moment is to fine tune my Jiu-Jitsu training so that I'm ready for LA in January (assuming I get accepted -- I haven't found out yet; regardless, it's best I start my training now so that I'm not caught off guard later on). That means extra time on the mat, extra time studying my moves, and extra time drilling. The last thing I want, as I mentioned before, is to feel unprepared or unsure of myself because I didn't give all my efforts into my training. It's important to me, so it has to be a priority.

With that as my main goal at the moment, I've had to sacrifice other things, namely my Muay Thai training at the moment. It really, really makes me sad to not pursue this line of training at the moment, but it is just for the moment. Hopefully once I know more about what's happening in January, I'll be able to work Muay Thai back into my schedule. Right now, all roads lead to Jiu-Jitsu -- and that means working on my endurance, strength, and flexibility through specific Jiu-Jitsu related drills and more mat time.

In addition to training, of course my food has to be looked at. Coming off the Whole Life Challenge has been tricky. It's amazing - I can be SO disciplined on the challenge - not even think of things on the forbidden list, but once I'm off, things change. I haven't gone totally out of control, but I have probably eaten a bit more than I should have and I've definitely given in to my sweet tooth. Another thing that set it off was having people over during the weekend -- although the main meal was clean (and whole life challenge friendly), there were desserts ... and instead of throwing them out (which I totally should have done), they were eaten ... in addition to that, some other changes in my week's schedule meant that my weekly food prep didn't get done ... and that has had an impact. Again, it's not that the foods have been horrible -- but I think that being on the Whole Life Challenge and totally cutting out all sugars, preservatives, etc. etc. changed my body chemistry. I feel the difference between my homemade granola and the one bought in the store - obviously the store bought one, no matter how organic and how 'clean' still has other stuff in it. All these little things add up -- and now they need to be subtracted. It's just not worth it. Food prep has to be a top priority -- even before my training actually, coz' I can't train right if I don't eat right.

For the past 5 days my sleep has been breaking around 2 a.m. Last night/this morning I couldn't get back to sleep. What's ironic is that normally my mind is crammed with thoughts and stresses and worries ... but my mind was actually blank. I was even trying to come up with soothing, relaxing thoughts but it just didn't work. I thought that I'd have a good night's sleep coz' I had had such a good workout that day (weights, MetaFit, and Jiu-Jitsu), but I just couldn't relax and sleep. I think it has to do with all these extra chemicals in me. It's the only thing significant thing that I can think of. I'm hoping that cleaning up my food will sort my sleep out.

Rest and Reset 
This weekend, I'm hoping to catch up on my sleep, to solidify my plan for the upcoming week - particularly how to navigate through Thanksgiving!! - and enjoy a reunion with some friends I haven't seen in a few years.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Friday Five

First of all -- the 50 Day Challenge is still open. It is not a weight loss challenge -- it is just to provide some motivation to help stay on track through the holiday season. More details are up here. If you'd like to join along, please do -- it's not too late. You can join the Facebook page through this link:

On the page I'll have links to relevant blog posts as well as other notes and motivational posts. Every week on my blog I'll have a general post open for people to comment about how the challenge is going for them (particularly for those who are not on Facebook).

Here's a quick roundup of my week:

I tried renegade rows for the first time this week. They're part of my new routine. It's basically a push up but then when you push up, you also bring one arm up to do a row (hence the weights). They were not easy. I did 4 sets of 10 reps, but not all of the push ups were on my toes. 

I'm trying to take my Gracie Diet to the next level of trying only specific food combinations. This was my breakfast of chopped pears, cottage cheese, and a bit of honey plus some green tea. It was delicious and quite filling -- though I was hungry again after 2 hours! 

We had a great no-gi Jiu-Jitsu session last Sunday. I wore my new purple rashguard which I absolutely loved! A playful group pic at the end of our session :) 

One of my deal friends was visiting from Kuwait. We had a great time walking around London, browsing through Spitafield Market, and just laughing. It was a much needed break from my usual routine. Laughter is definitely good medicine! 

Taken at 5:30 this morning as I got ready to head out for my early morning Muay Thai session followed by yoga. It's never easy to get ready at that time of morning - particularly when it's cold, dark, and rainy outside -- but loving the sport really helps motivate me to get out that door!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Working without Numbers - Part 2

Calories in vs. calories out.

We've all heard it before, right? The numbers have to work in a certain way -- you need to burn more than you eat in order to lose weight …

Do you agree?

I definitely agree with the basic principle, but for me, it doesn't work that simply.

I feel like I've been experimenting with my food for years now. I workout regularly, I eat clean, but if it all came down to calculations of calories in vs. calories out and the number on the scale, it doesn't add up.

I sometimes wonder if there's a particular ingredient that I'm eating that may be healthy but still doesn't agree with me? I'm not feeling ill or bloated or anything. I'm not even feeling lethargic or fatigued. I'm just not dropping weight like I feel I should be. It's not about muscle vs. fat. I mean, I know I've put on muscle, but it's still not enough to justify the weight.

It's frustrating. I know that I need to keep tweaking my eating and my workouts until I find the right formula -- the one that works for my body chemistry and my activity level.

The important thing is to keep going.

I know that years ago I would have thought to myself - Forget this! If I'm putting in all this effort and not seeing any results, why should I go on?

This attitude is not helpful at all. Seriously. Who will you help/hurt by eating junk food and throwing healthy habits out the window just because the numbers don't always add up? This is why it's important to keep on Working without the Numbers -- it's the effort that matters.

Daily exercise is good for you.
Eating healthy is good for you.

The reason why the numbers on the scale may not be adding up is not because you're being healthy. It's going to be because of something else. However, there should be no doubt that exercise and clean eating are healthy habits that have long term benefits.

I know it's easy to get hung up on the numbers and feel frustrated. Trust me, I feel it more often than I care to admit ... but the important thing is to not give up. Keep going. Keep trying. Take comfort in knowing you're putting forth your best effort and the results will come. Suddenly you'll find that you've got a bit more pep to your step, you can finish that extra rep with better form, and those jeans suddenly have a bit more room in them. Success comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes.

Stay positive and keep trying. Don't get distracted by the numbers.