Monday, September 26, 2011

Focusing on my Thesis

Fire Up for Fall - Week 2

Signing up a bit late for the Fire up for Fall Challenge made Week 1 fly by! Things have been hectic in general. Most of my days have been spent writing, editing, and stressing over my writing and editing. My workouts have had to be modified to suit this upcoming deadline. It's been tough ... but I'm coping (somehow). This will actually be my last post until Oct. 1st. I'll be available on email, but I won't be blogging for the next few days -- No, I'm not 'falling off the wagon.' I just need to focus all my energy on my thesis at the moment.

Part I: My motivation picture for this week


What have you done this week to help you achieve your goals?
1. I've been working endless hours on editing my thesis
2. I experimented with quinoa for the first time and loved it!

What have you done to make yourself feel fabulous?
Hmm fabulous is a bit of a stretch this week as I'm feeling really stressed out ... but, despite the stress and anxiety and an insane amount of craving of junk food to soothe my anxiety I did not give in ... I guess that's a good thing (can't wait till the cravings completely disappear though!!)

What is your talent? What are you good at?

I'm a great party planner and gift shopper :)

What's been the highlight of your week?
A bit of down time with my mom. She's done her PhD so she knows what I'm going through. For the past few weeks it's just been work, gym, and home to write -- no friends or social life, so a chance to relax with my mom was definitely a highlight.

Fun Question: What's your guilty pleasure TV?
I'm a big fan of police/crime dramas like Criminal Minds though they sometimes give me nightmares.

At the moment I'm keeping it light and am watching Monk. I only recently started watching the series (even though I know it's been out for years) and I absolutely LOVE it. I can relate to his OCD/phobias as I have a few quirks of my own ...

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Quinoa with Veggies

Last night I experimented cooking with quinoa for the first time. I've heard about the nutritional benefits of quinoa before but have never cooked it because it's just not easily available here in Kuwait -- I actually brought my stash in from London. Their prepackaged portion and preparation guide was perfect to help me prepare a quick meal.

Before getting to the recipe, a big of info about quinoa that I wanted to share.

I've know that brown rice is better than white rice because of the extra refining process that's involved with white rice, and I had heard that quinoa (which is actually a seed and not a grain) is healthier than brown rice - but I wasn't sure in what way. I found this great site that breaks
down the nutritional info of white rice, brown rice, and quinoa and compares them side by side. I am aware that the site focuses on cooking quinoa in general, but I checked the info against a few other websites, and they all seem to yield the same results (the site I linked up to just presents all the info in a clearer manner).

Overall, quinoa is more nutritional than brown rice ... and both are better options to white rice.

Okay, back to the recipe -- first of all, I know that prepackaged foods should be avoided, but you know how hectic things have been -- it's been the easiest way to make sure I stick to healthy eating habits while working through this editing hell! Anyway. The prepackaged quinoa was excellent - quick and easy to prepare. I added it to a few sauteed vegetables, and the meal was delicious!

After taking this picture I realized that most my meals look the same! The packaged mix of broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots has saved me this past week and a half in terms of veggie prep. However, I'm looking forward to getting back to more unpackaged, natural foods soon. I did add some diced yellow bell pepper as well as a 1/2 a cup of peas and broad beans for variety.

1 package quinoa
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped onions
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon garlic (or 1 clove of garlic minced)
2 cups mixed frozen vegetables (half thawed)
1 diced bell pepper (I used yellow for some added color)
1/2 cup frozen peas and broad beans

1. Prepare quinoa as per package
2. Saute the onions in the sunflower oil until lightly brown
3. Add the spices and stir
4. Add the vegetables, stir, and put cover the pan while the veggies cook for 5 minutes
5. Add the quinoa and mix well

Nutritional info (calories per serving/recipe serves 2)
395 calories
13.5 g. protein
67 g. carbohydrates (14.6 fiber)
10 g. fat (1.1 g. saturated fat)

Saturday, September 24, 2011


Today hasn't been that great of a day. I've just been feeling blah all around - sitting at your desk for endless hours trying to edit will do that to you I guess. Yesterday I spent almost 2 hours editing just one page ... so you can imagine how I'm feeling with this 200+ page document sitting in front of me. I just want to hit the delete button!

The frustration has me in an overall funk.

Still, no choice but to just keep on working. I keep telling myself, 6 more days ... just 6 more days.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Fire Up for Fall - Week 1

You already know that I've got a lot going on right now ... my mind is always rushing at 1,000 miles a minute and I feel like I've been on the verge of a panic attack for the past 4 weeks. Still, I'm focused on my goals and I am determined to see them through to the end.

A fellow blogger mentioned the Fire Up for Fall Challenge. She said participating in challenges like these has helped her stay on track, so I thought I'd give it a go. The challenge is hosted by Rebecca at Weight Wars.

Part I: Motivating Words


What are your goals for the Fall Challenge? (List your 5 or more goals)
1. Finish my PhD (I hope to submit my thesis on Sept. 30th! Then I'll have to prepare for (and pass) my viva!)
2. Hit the gym at least 5 times a week
3. Complete phase 2 of New Rules of Lifting for Women
4. Lose 10 pounds by the end of this challenge
5. Experiment with some new healthy recipes
6. Organize my home office as it has been severely neglected while I've been working on my thesis!

Why have you chosen these goals?
As I'm nearing the end of my PhD (I hope!) I feel like it would be helpful to have a focused challenge - with a support group - to help me get back on track as so much of my life has been put on hold in order to finish this task.

Losing weight has always been a goal of mine. While I'm glad that I've made some progress, for the past year I've hit a plateau - and my workouts, though regular, have been completed more on autopilot than with actual enjoyment. I'd like to get that enjoyment back and really focus on losing weight versus just maintaining (which has been my minimum goal this past year). Part of achieving this has to do with me being more careful about what I eat - and that's where the cooking goal comes in J

As for getting organized - I'm dying to get my hands on all the tasks that I've put on the sidelines these past few months/years ... I think getting all my stuff sorted will really be cathartic!

What have you done this week that's made you feel fabulous?
I had traveled for about a month and was afraid that I would have lost the strength that I had built up before traveling. I was following the New Rules of Lifting for Women (NROL4W) program and completed phase 1. I decided to use the two challenge workouts at the end of the phase as a baseline test, which I could then use after I came back from my travels to assess where I stood. I completed Part 1 on Monday and Part 2 on Thursday and was VERY pleased that I had not lost any strength and was even able to improve on all the exercises (except for 1). I'm so relieved that all the travel didn't have a negative effect on my weight training - that definitely made me feel fabulous!

What do you think will be your biggest challenge in reaching your goals?
Time management. I tend to take on quite a lot and don't always have enough time to finish my tasks. I procrastinate a lot!! Also, even though I hope to submit my thesis at the end of this month, there's still a lot of preparing to do for the oral defense. So it's going to be tough balancing studying, having a full-time job, spending time with family, working out, and socializing!

Fun Question! Where in the world do you live? What's amazing about it?
I was born and raised in Kuwait but I am from Bangaldesh. I now teach English at Kuwait University. Hmmm, what's amazing about it? Hard to say. I moved back to Kuwait (after studying and working in the States) for family reasons ... and I guess I just got settled. However, after working here for 11 years, I think I'm pretty much ready to get out!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Baseline Test Part 2

The first baseline test totally wiped me out. Me legs and torso have been unbelievably sore! I had to take 2 days off just to recover.

Today I went in to complete the second set of exercises so that I could compare my reps with what I completed back in August. Here are the results:





Dead lifts




Shoulder press




Lateral pull








Swiss ball crunch




Again, I'm pleased that I was able to improve on all the exercises except for the lateral pull. I really found myself struggling with that exercise.

It's tough for me to say this, but I think I'm going to take the next week off from weights. I wanted to start Phase 2 of the NROL4W program this week, but I am just way too tense about finishing up my thesis. It's due on the 30th ... not much longer to go. I really need to make that a priority. I'm not too worried about cardio because, like I realized this past Saturday, I can work in cardio at home without having to stress over driving to the gym etc. So, I'm straying from my original plan, but it's what I need to do for myself right now.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Lentils with Veggies

In yesterday's blog post I mentioned having food pre-prepared so that when I get home from work I don't have to worry about what to eat. Well, this week's lunch worked out really well. Of course food eaten fresh always beat eating something that's a few days old, sometimes things get so hectic that I just don't have the luxury. This week's mass production was lentils. I made 4 servings of lentils - and on each day I steamed some veggies to add to the dish, so at least they were fresh. To add a bit of a different texture to the veggies I'd lightly spray a nonstick pan with nonfat cooking spray (1 short spray) and heat the veggies in the pan to crisp them up a bit. I know this means that I had the same thing for lunch 4 days straight -- but lately I'm choosing boring + healthy over creativity.

(I know, not the most flattering photo - but I promise it tastes much, much better than it came out in the photo!)

1 cup red lentils
4 cups water
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1 large tomato, cut into wedges
1 jalapeno, diced
2 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves
salt to taste

1. Wash the lentils thoroughly
2. Put lentils in a pot, add the water, turmeric, and chili powder (and salt if using) and simmer for 40 minutes
3. Add the tomato wedges and diced jalapeno and bring the lentils to boil. [The longer you let it boil the thicker the mixture will become] (5-10 minutes)

For the vegetables:
1. Steam the vegetables
2. Spray (just once) a nonstick pan and add the veggies to crisp up (2-3 minutes)

Serve veggies on top of the lentils.

Nutritional info (4 servings)

183 calories
13 g. protein
31.5 g. carbohydrates (15.5 g. fiber)
0.8 g. fat (0.15 g. saturated fat)

Mixed vegetables (1 serving)
40 calories
1.5 g. protein
6.1 g. carbohydrates (3 g. fiber)
0 g. fat (0 g. saturated fat)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Food Choices

I have a friend who told me her favorite food was salad ... and her favorite dessert was any type of fruit.

Now I like both salad and fruit - but it would be a stretch to say that they were my favorite food and dessert.

I often envy those people who have a natural taste for all things fresh, natural, and healthy for them. I know that in some cases it has to do with environment. For example in my household, food was a treat, a reward. You did well in something and you got whatever food you wanted. Weekends were marked with a break from the regular food we ate during the week and they featured pizza or a burger or some other form of junk food. So I guess some of that behavior (and taste) is learned.

However, not all. This friend of mine told me that her brothers and sisters love fried chicken and burgers and tons of sweets. They all grew up in the same household, eating the same sort of foods -- but while they were happily munching away on the crispy skin of fried chicken, she'd be peeling the skin off (she'd actually just be having it grilled if there was an option) ... for her, it came naturally. She just didn't have the taste or inclination towards those types of foods. Does she not eat junk food? Yes, she does - but the number of times she has it in the year compared to all the other foods is insignificant -- because she's never had an inclination towards those foods. Her eating junk food is not the same as me eating junk food. It doesn't have the same significance. She's never been overweight (not even slightly). She's always been health conscious and enjoyed healthy food way more than junk food. For me, it's the opposite -- and because of that, I am much more aware of what I eat.

My diet is not perfect, but it's much, much better than before. I'm happy to say that I don't even remember the last time I ate junk food - must have been somewhere around 3 years ago ... I don't miss it. Partly because now I'm vegetarian so the options are limited -- and also because I know if I wanted a veggie burger or fish sandwich, there are are much better and healthier (and tastier) ways I can make something similar at home and enjoy much, much more.

Even at times of stress or when things are really, really hectic (like right now) I've found the key to be having easy to prepare foods at home. Often I'm starving by the time I get home from work -- and that's when the risk to eat something unhealthy is highest -- but I almost always have something ready to eat in the fridge. A lot of times I'll go straight to the kitchen after entering the house, put whatever food I've got prepared in the oven and set it to heat as I go wash up and change. It's made SUCH a difference.

Preparing food in advance and having to already portioned [even my freezer is stocked] is great for those times when I'm just too busy to take the time to prepare something from scratch. It's my new version of fast food :)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Blaming it on the Baseline & FMM

I finished my workout 2.5 hours ago and I'm still feeling a bit shaky ...

Today's goal was to repeat the Challenge workout I did before I traveled to measure how much strength/stamina I may have lost/gained (or maintained) over the past month.

Just like last time, the goal was to see how many reps I could do within two minutes.
Here are the results:













Seated row




Step up




Prone jackknife




I was very pleased to see an improvement in all the exercises.
The squats weren't difficult, but after about 1 1/2 minutes I slowed down in order to maintain form. The push ups --- 40 is awesome, but I'm sure I should have been going deeper. They're so damn tough! The seated row wasn't a problem except for the last 15 or so ... keeping the same momentum and watching my posture started to become challenging. To my surprise I really struggled with the step ups. I don't know if it's because my legs were tired from the squats, but after the first 20, my pace dropped WAY down ... not easy at all! Finally, prone jackknives. I did them in 3 goes: 20/20/10 ... I'm happy with that. They're still a very challenging exercise, but I'm very pleased with how far I've come with the jackknives.

I had wanted to do some cardio after the weights, but I was too knackered. So aside from my warm-up 15 minutes of cardio, I just focused on strength training today. I'll be doing Challenge B either on Wednesday or Thursday ...

Before I sign off, Kenlie's FMM this week is about charity. I didn't write a post specifically about it today, but I've linked up to a post a wrote a few years ago from my other blog (where I write about general stuff not focused on fitness).

That's all from me. Gotta get to work!

Motivation Monday -- Giavanni Ruffin

I found this video of Giavanni Ruffin on Alwyn Cosgrove's blog. I was totally inspired - his athletic ability is amazing. Watch the whole video - it's worth it.

"When you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, then you'll be successful."

I also came across this quote. I looked online but couldn't find the source for it (if anyone else has better luck please let me know) -- when I read it, it made total sense to me:

Don't trade in what you want most
for what you want at the moment.

These two quotes really hit me hard. I know what I want. I know what I have to do to get it and I'm working on it every single day ...

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Staying Focused

My medical results from my London check-up arrived in the mail today. I have been trying hard not to think about the fact that I need to have another surgery because I have enough to focus on at the moment. It's hard because I feel the discomfort all the time and the painful abdominal cramps every once in a while - they're not easy to ignore. Then you add the physical evidence of my medical condition [I know I'm being evasive, just don't want to get into it at the moment] and it becomes even tougher to ignore. In any case, I have to push it out of my head. I can't afford further distractions at the moment - the voices in my head are distracting enough!

The report went into a lot of detail about my overall health evaluation and I'm so happy that I've got the results in black and white as well as red, orange, and green. I'm glad that most of my results were in the green (very good), with just a few in the orange (can be managed) and the only thing being in the red was related to my weight. I should be (am) very grateful that the one thing marked in red is actually one thing that I can control. As I bring my weight down, the diabetes risk goes down significantly as well. The fear of getting diabetes (because most of my family members have it) has been a major factor in trying to lose weight.

At a time when I don't want to worry about anything more than I have to I was glad to have my results because it also gave me the chance to focus on the positive aspects. My fitness tests results as I had said before are excellent. I beat all the predictions that they had made for my age, weight, and family history. Plus, since the last body composition analysis I've lost 6 kilos of fat and gained 7 kilos of muscle - that's also helped boost my metabolism. These are all good things.

For now, I have to be satisfied with exercising whenever possible and on days when I can't, just being extra conscious of what I eat. Life happens, there's no avoiding that ... I've become much better at rolling with the punches (and throwing a few of my own) to make sure that I continue to move forward. The only satisfaction I am going to get is from me knowing that I am always trying my best. Anything else - well, that's not even an option.

Keep. Moving. Forward.

Veggie Scramble - Quick Lunch

Another day spent at my desk trying to get some work done ... needed something quick and easy (and filling) for lunch, so I decided on a veggie scramble.

1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic (minced)
1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
4 mushrooms (diced)
1 cup frozen vegetables (I used mixed cauliflower, broccoli, and carrots)
1/3 cup egg whites
1 tablespoon of medium salsa

1) Heat oil in a non-stick pan
2) Add minced garlic, cumin, and a splash of water
3) Add diced mushrooms and thawed mixed vegetables -- cook for 3-4 min
4) Add egg whites - let it stand for 20-30 seconds
5) Add salsa and then scramble

Nutritional info (1 serving)
230 calories
18 g. protein
28 g. carbohydrates (9 g. fiber)
4.4 g. fat (0.5 g. saturated fat)

It was quick, easy, and very filling!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Still -- Scratch that: Not Standing Still

This is the blog post I wrote at around 6:30 p.m.

I did not make it to the gym today even though I had already taken yesterday off as a rest day. I just could not tear myself away from my writing. I definitely made a lot of progress (finally) on my thesis, but still.

I know that I said I wouldn't be too hard on myself for the next two weeks in terms of getting to the gym because of my upcoming deadline. Until October 1st, the PhD has to take priority. I know that skipping one workout in the grand scheme of things is not the biggest drama in the world - and it's not like I added insult to injury by eating crappy food.


I've read other people's blogs when they say that they couldn't make it to the gym and I know what I think to myself - Why not? How are you going to make progress if you don't make changes in your behavior?

Today I'm thinking those thoughts about myself.

I have to move on. Dwelling on this is not going to help me burn any extra calories or get any more writing done. Think bigger picture, right? Not exercising today does not mean not exercising ever. It just means that today it didn't happen.


Even typing those words irritates me. My exercise goal for this week (according to my new plan) was to hit a total of 8-10 hours of exercise. I only managed 5 this week (9 if you include Thursday night's dancing, which was definitely some serious cardio!) Granted I gave myself an 'out' by saying this 8-10 hours was the ideal ... but I don't like the idea of giving myself an 'out' ... this is a very important goal -- I guess for the next two weeks the goal of finishing up my thesis is more important.

Gosh I sound like such a drama queen. Well, the day is pretty much over over here. Tomorrow is another day, the start of another week.

It is now 8 p.m.

I couldn't stand the fact that I didn't get a workout in today. I thought to myself, 'I may not be able to fit in the time to drive to the gym, workout, shower, drive back, and still eat an early enough dinner (we're looking at least 2 hours) BUT I've got everything I need to do a good workout at home.

I've got my jump rope (not this one which sucked) for cardio, my resistance bands for - well, for resistance training of course, and my sit-up bench for my core work ... and even without those things I've got a bunch of exercise DVDs that I used to use ... and even I didn't have any of that, I know that there's a ton of stuff I can do at home without equipment (like the Dreaded Workout I did while I was in London).

Anyway. The bottom line is that I wanted to workout. I could not let myself NOT workout. My irritation towards not exercising would have interfered with my studying. It just goes to show that if you really want to do it, you'll find a way. The PhD is definitely a top priority, but it doesn't mean that I can't fit in some sort of exercise. Something is better than nothing.

So what did I end up doing?
I've been trying to work up to 6 minutes straight jumping rope (part of my boxing training program - not professional, just for fun) so I had another go at that. I did the total 6 minutes but not in a row - The longest I could manage was 1 min 15 seconds ... who knows how long it'll take me to reach the 6 minutes!
I followed that with a 50 minute workout (using this DVD), and ended with 50 sit ups on my ab bench.

Total time: 1 hour

NOW I feel like I had a really productive day.

Smiles all around!

Friday, September 16, 2011

From Bike to Dancefloor

I definitely started off in a bit of a funk yesterday, but I'm pleased my mood didn't linger. I got to work early and actually managed to get quite a bit of reading as well as writing done before class. It was my first official teaching day. I tell you, I'm sure glad I got out of that funky mood because standing in front of 34 19-year-olds at 8:00 a.m. is not easy! Anyway. It wasn't a long class since we're still kind of in orientation mode, so I was done with work by 9:15 a.m. (yes, you read that right!) and had just enough time to run to the bank (which didn't end well) before heading home to study.

I wasn't sure if I was going to go to the gym as I was really feeling the effects of Wednesday's workout as well as my weight training on Monday ... but I thought I'd just leave it up to my body to decide. I knew I'd be dancing later on that night at MD's party so I knew I'd get my cardio in one way or another.

I ended up getting about six hours of studying done (very happy with that) and felt ready and rested enough to make it for RPM class which I absolutely love!! I was totally energized after class - though my legs were a bit shaky ... still, I put on my dancing shoes and headed out. Most of my friends from the gym (including some of the trainers) were there and we were all on the dance floor getting our second session of cardio on (4 hours of dancing in 5-inch stilettos - it was quite a workout)! It was a much needed break from all this studying and the stress!!

Thursday, September 15, 2011


A few hours after I posted yesterday's entry, I started to feel really down. I could see where my negative thoughts were going to take me and I really tried to control them, but it didn't work. This is not the first time when I've felt a crash i n emotions after a really good workout - or usually a really good few weeks of working out ... it's the frustration that sets in. It's the 'I can't believe I work this hard and I still look the way I do.' It's the fact that a lot of times I don't tell people how much I exercise because I'm embarrassed that I workout for hours and I am still so overweight.

How do you come to terms with those thoughts?

Over the past two years I have made a very conscious effort to change not only my behaviors, but also my thought patterns. Achieving this was not easy, and finding the right balance was even harder. Still, I started with cutting down my food portions and upping the exercise. I reached a point where I was barely eating 1,000 calories a day (there may have been a few days where I barely hit over 500) and I was exercising almost obsessively - 3 hours was minimum (some days I went up to 6 hours). I now know that the way i was behaving was unhealthy, but I definitely chose to ignore it at the time.

I did not work on my thought patterns at all. I had one goal - lose weight, and I was going to do it no matter what.

It was through that obsessiveness that I lost 22 kg (around 48 lbs) in 15 months. I felt great about losing the weight. I felt great about buying clothes that were smaller in size. I felt great about the reactions I was getting from others towards my weight loss ... However, I don't think I actually felt great about myself ... y'know, inside my head, inside my body. It was just a physical change ...

..... and sure enough, the weight started to come back. Not too much, but enough to make me start to panic.

By this time the pressure of my PhD was increasing, my stress levels were through the roof, my sleep was practically non-existent. I was still controlling my calories (around 1,100-1,300 a day) and I was still exercising - but everything was forced. I didn't enjoy my food. I enjoyed working out, but now with the same amount of enthusiasm or energy as before ... that's when I hit my plateau.

I managed to lose some of the weight I had gained, but then I hit a certain point and I was just stuck ... and I'm still stuck there. I'm almost 7 kg heavier than I was at my 'lightest' back in July 2010. I have not been able to come down. I'm still bloody stuck.

It's frustrating. Have I made progress? Yes. I've lost some weight. I've lost some inches. I've definitely gained muscle (which I know weighs more). I've reevaluated my eating and am focusing more on nutrition vs. calories (though still counting). I'm working on the mental aspect of this whole process, but I feel like I'm failing miserably.

I just feel stuck.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A bit much perhaps?

Today was one of those days when I went a bit psycho on my workout. As I was preparing my gym bag I could not decide what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to do some cardio, and I wanted to swim, plus there was weight training, and Body Balance class ... I just couldn't decide, so I thought I'd just prepare for them all. I ended up packing so much stuff up for the gym that I actually needed to take two gym bags (and that's not even including any toiletries as I already have those in my gym locker!) Anyway.

It's a good thing I was prepared for all sorts of workouts because my routine went like this:

Cardio warm-up: 1 km -- I'm a bit frustrated that I still can't (or am afraid to try to) jog the 1 km straight, but rather am still completing the 1 km with a mixture of walking, jogging, and sprinting.

Weight training: Workout 8B -- Like my training on Monday (which I posted about yesterday) it went much better than I had expected. I was able to complete all the reps at the same weight/resistance as I did before I traveled. Though I have to tell you, starting from last night when I got into bed, my abs were burning! Damn those prone jackknives ... and then this
morning, the walk down the stairs made me realize how stiff/sore my thighs were feeling. Nevertheless, I was going to complete the workout - lunges and all!!

Swimming: It was too beautiful a day not to go
for a swim [doesn't the pool look inviting?]. I wasn't sure when I'd get the opportunity and I only managed to work in 3 swims this entire summer. I was determined to get into the pool -- despite my fears (laugh if you must, but there you have it!) Anyway. I managed 20 laps with just 1 minute rest after my 10th lap ... (total of 1/2 km) -- I wanted to stay and do more, but I wanted to get to Body Balance Class ...

Body Balance class: I'll have to post more in detail about this class at some point ... but just briefly this class is a combination of tai chi, yoga, and Pilates. I loved the fact that I could really feel the strength in my arms and legs when doing the Sun Salutation and other balance poses ... anybody who thinks that these types of classes are 'easy' don't know what they're talking about. You definitely work up a sweat - and by the last main track, my legs are shaking (but in a good way) ... and then comes the BEST part -- 10 minutes of relaxation/meditation. The lights go off, the curtains come down, you lay down with your eyes closed and the instructor calmly guides the meditation (people often fall asleep - snore even!!) It's incredibly relaxing and just what I needed today.

So, I managed to fit it all in - it was a bit rushed, and I definitely wish that I had had more time to lounge by the pool before rushing into the class. I probably won't do the combination of weights, swimming, and balance again as my arms were protesting quite a bit ... but overall I feel great.

Now to get some studying done!!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Feeling the Burn

I was back in the weight room yesterday and it felt great! I was a bit apprehensive at first about lifting weights for the first time after traveling - I wondered how much strength I had lost and was a bit afraid that I would have to spend a week or two rebuilding the strength that I had left off at.

I did some warm-up cardio - mainly at a steady level with a few high-speed sprints thrown in to elevate my heart rate. Then I proceeded to my weight training which was basically going to be a repetition of workout 8A.

I am happy to say that I didn't have a problem at all - even with the 3 sets of 15 reps prone jackknives!! I was stoked! I did a warm-up set for the seated row and for the squats before working out at the weight where I had left off ... it felt really good, and I felt really happy that I didn't struggle nearly as much as I thought I was going to. It reminded me of Alwyn Cosgrove's article on the benefits of resistance training lasting longer than endurance training.

I had intended on going to the gym today, but after teaching my first class of the semester followed by 2 meetings and a leisurely lunch with some friends I knew that it would be better for me to go home and get some studying done ... plus, by the time I got home my legs were burning from the squats and the step ups ... not to mention spending the whole day in heels after such a long time! Tomorrow I'm going to try and work in a swim! Fingers-crossed :)

Welcome Back Salad

This salad, as simple as it is, has become a huge hit in my house. It's now been nicknamed the 'welcome back salad' because it's something that I always make when my parents come back from a trip abroad ... and it's usually the first thing I make upon returning from a trip. I think it's the cool crispness of the ingredients and the different textures within the salad that make it delicious. It's so simple, you wouldn't think it was that big a deal -- but it always gets rave reviews, and at dinner parties, this is one salad that guests always go back for seconds (thirds, fourths ...)!

3 tomatoes diced
1 cup corn kernels (thawed, canned, or fresh but blanched)
8 large Romaine lettuce leaves shredded (quantity is really up to you - I'm not fond of lettuce and sometimes just use half the amount of lettuce (or none at all) and add 2-3 diced cucumbers)
3/4 cup low-fat feta cheese
3/4 cup fat-free Italian dressing (I'm working on a homemade version of this dressing to avoid the store bought preservatives, but for now, as a time-saver, the fat-free dressing works perfectly)
1/4 cup walnuts

Mix all ingredients together - add the walnuts at the end. If you're preparing ahead to serve later, I'd mix the tomatoes, corn, feta, and dressing together first and let the flavors gel together (keep it in the fridge). Then add the lettuce and walnuts just before serving.

Nutritional info: [serves 4-calories per serving]
212 calories
17.5 g. carbohydrates (5 g. fiber)
13.5 g. protein
11 g. fat (5 g. saturated fat)

That's it - a simple, fresh salad! Enjoy!