Sunday, March 1, 2015

Prioritizing

I used to be one of those people who waited for the start of the week or my birthday or the start of a new month/year to start something new. It took me a while to realize if I wanted something, I had to start working towards it from that moment. If I knew my goal/desire/objective wasn't going to change, then why wait? What was I achieving by stalling? Even though I do believe that having a plan is essential to helping you achieve your goals, I came to realize (the hard way) that I was often using the planning stage as a way to procrastinate. I'd tell myself, first I've got to do X, then Y, then Z ... and then something else would come up and I'd get distracted and tell myself - ok, I'll restart on the 1st of the month. The cycle would continue.

Though I firmly believe in starting to work towards your goals immediately, I still find the start of a new month to be a time to reevaluate how the past month has gone. Reevaluation is important, because the last thing I want to do is waste time doing something that is not helping me reach my goals. Too often I have found myself sticking to my plan - a plan which looked good on paper, but was either difficult to implement or sustain or just wasn't helping me get the results I wanted. Taking a moment to take stock is important. Sometimes I find my plan is working just fine and I can continue on the track I've been on. Other times, revamping is necessary.

So today, on March 1st, I'm taking a bit of time to regroup and set new plans in motion. With all the travel and chaos of the 1st two months of year, I feel it's necessary. After returning from Bangladesh, I hit the ground running - and that was a great way to start. However, I felt like I lacked a bit of structure. It's time to get some structure back. There's a lot I want to achieve between now and July -- I have to make sure that I'm 100% on task (leaving room for some flexibility of course, as I wrote about yesterday).

In order to do this, however, I have to figure out exactly what I want.

Funnily enough, the basic components of living a healthy lifestyle are easy now. I mean, I've been trying to lose weight and get healthy for a few years now. I don't need a book to tell me what's healthy to eat and what's not. Same thing with exercise. I know I need to be efficient with my workouts and choose exercises that are effective (weight lifting + HIIT = magical combo for me).

That's the easy, basic stuff. Now I'm ready to start looking deeper. More on that tomorrow ...



Saturday, February 28, 2015

Constantly Seeking Balance

I had some work to do yesterday morning and that kept me from getting to the gym. As the hours went by, I started to feel more and more anxious - the day was passing, I still hadn't got to the gym, plus I had Jiu-Jitsu training in the evening. I knew I'd feel bad if I skipped my workout, but I was worried I'd feel tired if I did go, particularly as it got closer and closer to my evening training time.

In the end, I went to the gym. I did my warm-up, strength training, and stretching and I shortened my cardio portion. Making a few changes to my normal routine helped me get in a good workout but not exhaust myself to the point of being unable to train effectively in the evening.



As someone who likes consistency and routine, I don't like it when things don't go according to plan. However, the past few years have taught me that although having a plan is important, getting thrown off track when unexpected things come up is not going to help you reach your goals. The ability to be flexible is essential. This is where having your goals down in writing can help.

So  many 'off-plan' things have happened in my life over the past 3 years. In order to get through it all, I've had to adapt. It didn't always come easy. In fact, it still doesn't come easy, but I know it's the only way I can make sure I continue to move forward and not get stuck like I used to before.

There was a point in time when any little thing would throw me completely off track and that would lead to a terrible self-destructive cycle.
One unhealthy meal = complete failure -> might as well eat anything -> if I'm eating anything, then why exercise -> weight gain -> feeling terrible -> eating to comfort myself ... ... ... I'm sure you see where this is going.

It was so silly of me to let small things derail in such a way. I think being wishy-washy about my goals was what aided in this out of control spiral of behavior.

My only goal at that point was to lose weight. However, not having a structure or proper understanding of how to lose weight meant that I was easily discouraged.

Now, I'm happy to say, things are different.

I've got my goals in place with a proper strategy. More importantly, I've got back up plans. If I don't get to the gym, I've got workouts that I can do at home. If I have a limited time at the gym, then I know what kind of exercises to focus on to ensure that I still get an effective workout in a short amount of time. If I'm in a hurry and don't have a lot of time to prep/cook, then I've got a list of very easy, healthy meals that I can quickly prepare.

The bottom line is -- there should be no excuses.

That being said, my routine is far from steady, my strategies are far from perfect.

I feel like I'm still constantly negotiating and looking for the right balance of things I want to do and need to do. At the very least, I need to make sure that whatever I do is helping me reach my overall goals. Anything else would really be a waste of time. As for the details ... well, as always, I'm workin' it out ...



Tuesday, February 24, 2015

A Few Adjustments

As I headed to the gym yesterday, it dawned on me that although I had been focusing on my Jiu-Jitsu vs. going to the gym for the past 3 months, there was another reason I did not make it to the gym ... and that's the weather.

I know. I know. There are far colder places than London, and I don't have it bad at all. However, for me, it's cold.

As I walked to the gym yesterday, wrapped up in 3 layers and still freezing, I remembered how uncomfortable it was. There's nothing enjoyable about walking in slightly drizzly, windy weather to get to the gym ...

After getting to the gym and taking off all those extra layers, I immediately regretted not having brought a second pair of trainers. I didn't like wearing the same trainers that I had on outside (coz' it had been raining) for my workout. Also, I regretted not bringing another layer to wear inside the gym. The gym wasn't heated. The barbells and dumbbells were freezing - making it uncomfortable and difficult to grip.  Plus it felt like it took forever to warm-up.

I had already decided that I wasn't going to workout outdoors in the cold weather. I didn't want to dread going to the gym for a workout. Maybe that sounds like a copout, but whatever. The bottom line was that I needed to workout, so as long as I made it to the gym, I was ok with not doing the outdoor MetaFit workouts.

The bottom line is, although I had a good workout yesterday, there were definitely parts that I did not enjoy. Anyway. There is a positive spin to all of this complaining.

First of all, today - not only did I wear my regular outdoor layers for my walk to the gym, but I also wore a thin thermal shirt that I was going to keep on during my workout. It helped big time! Wearing 3 layers to workout wasn't ideal, but at least I wasn't cold, so I didn't have that as a distraction.

I also wore regular sneakers to walk to and from the gym so that my indoor workout trainers didn't get wet.

I got to the gym a bit earlier so that I could take some more time to warm-up properly and not feel the biting cold. This helped a lot. The barbell was still cold, but not as cold as before. I could wear gloves, but I really don't like wearing weight-lifting gloves. I prefer the cold bar.

The outdoor MetaFit session was on when I was leaving the gym. It wasn't too cold or windy today nor was it raining - actually, the sun was out ... and I thought to myself, I could have joined this class. That made me revise my 'I'm not working out outdoors in the winter' statement to one of - If I think I can manage it, I'll do it. Had I not already completed an intense HIIT session indoors, I would have joined in today. Maybe I'll join in the next class. We'll see.

The bottom line is that it's important to be flexible. I love having a routine, and if you see me in the gym, you'll see me writing down my progress in my fitness journal. However, I've realized that things don't always go according to plan. Instead of throwing in the towel, you've to make adjustments to make new circumstances work in your favor. The things I was complaining about weren't really a big deal. They were minor annoyances which were easily dealt with after making a few adjustments. I know that there was a time when I would have been hung up on all the negatives and things that weren't going according to my plan ... but having that stubborn attitude didn't get me far at all. Making a few adjustments made a huge difference and helped me get in another great workout.


staying warm in the weight room with 3 layers of clothing 



post-workout fuel - salmon burgers on a bed of spinach with some cucumber and avocado
I've decided that I need to eat more raw greens -- this salad was perfect for that! 




Monday, February 23, 2015

New Beginnings

I woke up 45 minutes before my alarm this morning. I don't normally laze in bed, but I just was not ready to get up. Staying in bed is definitely the first risk of going off track with my day. As 7 a.m. rolled around, I started to think - It's so warm in bed. Do I really want to get up now? Maybe I need more sleep. - The little voice in my head would not stop! Luckily I shrugged it off and was out of bed and ready to start my day just a few minutes later.

Just that little incident made me realize how easy it is to get thrown off track, even when you've got the best of intentions! My excitement from yesterday hadn't dissipated, but still … the warmth of my bed nearly eliminated any chances of a successful, productive day.

Luckily that was not the case.

I made it to the gym for my morning workout. It had been a LONG time since I had been to the gym. In fact, I can't even remember the last time I did any weight training - probably sometime back in November or December. I definitely missed it.

After being away from weight lifting for so long, I was nervous about getting back into it. I was not looking forward to the soreness that was sure to follow in a couple of days. I was also not looking forward to noting down how much strength I had lost due to lack of training.

Still, I knew that the only way to rebuild my strength/muscle was to get back to it, so that's what I did.


back at the squat bar

The workout went a lot better than I thought it would go. I'm doing each exercise for 4 sets at 10 reps each. With the high number of reps, I wasn't expecting to be able to go super heavy ... definitely not at first. That being said, I'm pleased with how much I was able to lift today ... and I'm eager to see how the rest of the program goes.

After my lifting session, I got on the treadmill for an HIIT session. I decided to give the C25K program another try - after all, I was so close to finishing it before. I'm disappointed that I never completed it. I'm going to see how it goes - I hope my knees hold up. For today, it went well. I didn't go super fast on my jogging portions, but it was fast enough for me to be a bit breathless at the end. I'll keep upping the intensity gradually as I proceed through the program.

I ended my training with some core work, Jiu-Jitsu drills, and yoga. I had not done a deep stretching session in a long time and it felt really good. Even though I have been stretching daily as part of the whole life challenge requirements, today I spent 30 minutes stretching and using my foam roller. It was heavenly!

So my first day on my new routine went well. I was on point with my food plus I managed to cross off quite a few things on my list of things to do.


my foods for today
tea and dates in the morning, chicken, avocado, and sweet potato for lunch, shrimp lettuce wraps at night, coconut water and a banana muffin as a snack
(recipes for my meals to follow soon - they need a bit of tweaking first)


Sunday, February 22, 2015

Excited

I don't remember the last time that I was so excited for a new week to begin. The past month and a half has been so busy and stressful (both good and bad stress) that I just haven't felt like I've caught my breath. However, now, I finally feel like I've gotten over my jet lag and I am ready for my life to begin! I spent quite a bit of time yesterday and today working on my schedule - fitness, food, academia, errands, etc. etc. My days will be jam packed, but I can't wait!

I can't believe that I returned to London only 4 days ago! At least this time around my jet lag worked in my favor. My days have been really productive - de-cluttering, organizing, and planning. I've even started working on my research again (never thought that would happen, at least not so soon!). Here's a glimpse of this past week:

a bit of food


 It felt so good to get back in the kitchen! I got back to my food prep routine, and I have quite a few new recipes planned for the near future. 



a bit of fighting


Although I've been on the mats helping with the classes each day since I returned, today was my first day back on the mats for my own training. I must say, it was a really good session. I'm really looking forward to upping my game! 


a bit of fun


A friend of mine (who I knew from Kuwait) is leaving London for Seattle. She threw a 'The Brits meet the Yankees' party -- how appropriate for D & I (although technically I'm not an American)! It was great to enjoy a night out on the town! 


I've had a strange surge of energy. I'm not sure where it came from. All I know is that I'm going to capitalize on it! 

Here's to the start of what I hope will be a great week! 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Grounded

We're starting the 8th week of 2015 -- out of the first 7 weeks, I spent 1 1/2 weeks being ill and 4 weeks traveling. Although the days feel like they have been flying by, at least they've all been productive days - except when I was ill ... that sucked! In any case, as much as I enjoyed being in LA and with my family in Bangladesh, I am more than ready to put my suitcases away and enjoy being grounded for a while!

It's been hard to focus on any proper schedule for the past few weeks. Actually, I haven't really been following my normal schedule, in terms of being at the gym, since November. I've been training, but only focusing on my Jiu-Jitsu as I prepared for my Los Angeles trip (you can read about my experience here). The time was very well spent, but I have definitely missed being in the gym and I feel the impact of not having lifted weights properly for almost 4 months now. I'm really looking forward to getting back to my regular lifting routine!

During my time away, I actually did really well sticking to my good eating habits because I'm on the Whole Life Challenge. Instead of seeing it as a burden, I saw being on the challenge as an opportunity to really test myself and see how much of my change really has become a lifestyle vs. a temporary trend. I'm pleased it went well. That being said, I am definitely happy to be home and back in my kitchen, with my grocery shopping, food prep, and meals fully under my control!

Being grounded means getting back to a normal eating, training, work schedule. 

I arrived in London yesterday and pretty much hit the ground running - with just enough time to shower, do a bit of unpacking, and head straight to Watford Gracie Jiu-Jitsu for the Jr. Grapplers class. It was nice to see the kids again! :) 

Today has pretty much been all about organizing and getting myself sorted. My new workout routine is ready, my food plan is mapped out, my grocery list is done, and a terrifyingly long list of things to do has been written. Now I just need to get moving!


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Family and Food

I was contemplating calling this post Family Feud instead of Family and Food!

I love my family, I really do, but man I really almost lost my temper when dealing with things related to food.

I understand that a lot of social functions center around food and providing tasty food is a way for people to show that they care about you and that they want to nurture you. Trust me. I'm from Bangladesh. I think our national pastime is (force)feeding others.

Over the past couple of years, I've become good about dealing with food-pushers. I know how to talk to them and explain why I'm eating the way I am. I've also become better at negotiating social situations - some days I eat off my regular plan because I have chosen to do so; other times I politely decline. I've even become known for bringing my own meals (with permission from the host/hostess).

Still. It's tough.

At home, things are good for the most part. My brother and my mom get it and are 100% supportive. When I landed in Bangladesh, I saw that my mom had bought tons of filtered water for me and had stocked up on vegetables and proteins. As a back up plan, I had brought quinoa and my homemade granola along with me. My father, on the other hand, (who is diabetic) was very different. Despite him knowing that I do the Whole Life Challenge and what it involves, he still offers me chocolate biscuits (which shouldn't be in the house anyway), cheese, sweets, etc. I try to just let it go. I don't understand why he doesn't get it, but I have resolved to not let it get to me. It does get annoying sometimes, but for the most part, I'm able to let it go - not just with my father, but with other people too.

This time, however, I was caught off guard when we had a family gathering and people were bringing dishes over to the house. Although they had been told that I eat really simply now, it didn't really go as planned. My aunts brought vegetable dishes - but they were either cooked with cream and cheese or wrapped in pastry or something else. I refused to eat - politely of course!

Everything was fine until they started complaining that I was starving myself and that I became a very picky person.

I immediately corrected them and said that I'm not picky, I'm healthy. I also told them that since I mostly eat clean, eating things that are deep friend and coated with flour and cheese will surely make me sick - did they want that for me?

I was hoping that the logical explanation would help them see my way, but they thought that I was just being silly.

I was then called rude for not eating -- but I didn't give in.

I didn't care if they were my elders and all that stuff. They were being hurtful and at some point, I really do think, you need to take a stand. You can't be bullied (yes, bullied) to eat in a way you don't want to eat.

A few years ago, I would never protest.
Then, I found myself being more disciplined, but I would still bend a lot.
Now, I don't negotiate. I only eat what I want. Whether it is healthy or unhealthy, it's my choice and I refuse to be guilted into eating something that I don't want to for the sake of someone else's satisfaction. It's not about being rude or stubborn. It's just about putting yourself first and being happy with your choice -- I guess that's always the bottom line. Be happy with whatever decision you make. You're in charge. Take control.