Monday, December 31, 2012

Looking Back at 2012

I have to say, I've had a GREAT year!

A lot of things came together for me this year, and the most rewarding thing is that it all came because of my hard work and effort. I feel like a lot of the projects that I started many years ago finally came to fruition. The best part is that I feel like I've grown and my attitude plus outlook on life has changed so I am actually able to enjoy, appreciate, and celebrate these accomplishments. The former-me would have still been sullen, moody, and unfulfilled. I still have a lot left to accomplish, but I am ready to continue working hard and enjoy the process.

My 2012 highlights:

1) I got my PhD!!! After 4 years of research, writing, (crying), and lots of travel to and from Canterbury, Kent (England) - I am finally Dr. PlumPetals :)


May 2012

2) I am ending the year at my lowest weight and smallest size out of the past 7 or 8 years (maybe longer?). I lost a total of 13 kg (27 lbs) this year and dropped 4 dress sizes - All through pure hard work and effort.


December 2012


3) I've only ever had two things on my bucket list - see Madonna in concert & visit Rome. This year I did both! [I know, it doesn't sound very ambitious, but those are the only 2 things that I really wanted.]


Madonna concert in Abu Dhabi (UAE) - June 2012


Me heading to the top of St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City (Italy) - July 2012

4) I've been extremely phobic of dogs since I was 4 years old (I'm talking full blown anxiety/panic attacks - crying, racing heartbeat, etc. not to mention the screaming). Since last summer I've been working on just being calmer around dogs ... and this year, I finally pet one.


 Me and Otto in Le Marche (Italy) - August 2012

5) I got my first race bib and medal for running a 10K (though I didn't run the whole thing, but still - I did quite well, especially with no training!) I also completed my first fitness instructor training and am now qualified to teach Zumba!! :)






6) I started CrossFit and am ending the year lifting heavier weights than I ever thought I could (110 kg back squat; 120 kg deadlift were my biggest records of the year).



120 kg (264 lb) Deadlift - Sept. 2012

7) I had a fabulous year of travel - Argentina, Uruguay, England, the States (brief stop), Mexico, Italy, the UAE (twice), Bahrain, Bangladesh, Germany, India [5 new countries to add to my list]

8) My eating habits have completely changed. I am so much more conscious of what I'm eating and aware of how my body reacts to different kinds of foods. I've been experimenting with different recipes and working on making them cleaner and healthier - it's taken some time and effort, but it's been worth it!

9) I finished New Rules of Lifting for Women. This was the first time I started a program and stuck to it until the very end. If you're just getting started with weights, I highly recommend it. I was able to see my strength increase dramatically. It was a terrific program that increased my love of lifting weights and also gave me the confidence to try CrossFit.

10) My increase in confidence has to be my biggest achievement of the year.  I am not always overwhelmed with feelings of insecurity, doubt, fear, and hesitation. Those feelings still exist, but I have a much better grasp of how to handle them and how to move forward.

Seeing my progress in weight loss has definitely helped me in all other areas of my life. The confidence alone has been quite a transformation. In addition, learning how to face my fears - even if it means failing or stumbling along the way - has been an important process for me to go through.

I hope that all the things that I learned and achieved in 2012 will help me continue to move forward and do even better in 2013.

Wishing everyone a happy and healthy new year!





Sunday, December 30, 2012

Gym Stuff

As I've been sorting through my things, I've been putting my gym stuff - clothes, equipment, bags, etc. - to one side so that I can properly go through them. OMG. I've got a lot of stuff. Just to give you a brief idea, I've got 6 gym bags (not including anything for swimming or yoga), 4 pairs of boxing gloves, 12 pairs of hand wraps, 6 jump ropes, and 3 pairs of Zumba specific trainers ... for starters!

I like my gym stuff. I like having equipment that's mine, that I can clean and take care of, that I know I have without the worry that once I get to the gym someone else will be using it.

Like everything else, this is an area that I need to streamline. I bought a whole bunch of gym clothes earlier this month but I didn't throw out  many. The old ones are obviously too big for me so I need to make sure that things that don't fit - even if they're in good shape - are thrown out.

I definitely started Operation De-Clutter this year ... 2013 has to be the year that I make my house clutter-free. There's just too much bloody stuff.

What's the point of having it if I'm not using or enjoying it or worse, not taking care of it?

Anyway.

UFC 155 was on early this morning - started at 6 a.m. I didn't start watching until 6:30 ... wow that was a lot of blood before breakfast. Still, I have to say, I thoroughly enjoyed the Lauzon & Miller fight. I've watched fights before, but this was the first time I really got into it ...

My training schedule for 2013 is insane. I've got a lot of things going on and while I'd like to do everything, I need to be realistic. There's no point scheduling things in and then not having the energy to complete everything with 100% commitment. I want to do it all, but I know I can't. Reality sucks.


Saturday, December 29, 2012

Still Getting Sorted!

I didn't make it to the gym today. I try my best to workout even when I've got terrible cramps, but today it just wasn't happening. My cramps were excruciating (to the point of almost passing out). Add the fatigue of only getting 3 hours of sleep from the night before ... it just wasn't happening. I don't like taking days off from the gym, but sometimes that's the way it works out. I know I have the discipline to keep up with my routine. Today my body said no so I listened. So, I took it relatively easy through the day but did manage to get quite a few things organized.

Clothes
I'm still sorting through clothes. I really didn't know I had so many. I feel like I've been throwing clothes out for months. Actually now I'm giving away my clothes from last winter and I'm also letting go of even more summer/fall clothes that I clung on to from before. Slowly but surely I'm getting the hang of this. What was wonderful was fitting into several clothes that I had bought ages ago and fitting into them with some room to spare. Some will be taken to the tailor to be altered, others can be worn as is, and some need to be donated as well.

2013 Goals
I also sat down and worked on figuring out my goals for 2013. I've signed up for Rebecca's 13 in 13 challenge (click here to join) to help me stay focused next year. I've come up with 10 goals so far; I need to figure out 3 more. I'm trying to be as specific as possible, and I'm also writing down consequences for not reaching any goals (if that happens).

Food Plan
My menu for the week has been written out. I have two social events next week that I have to work around, but other than that, it should be a smooth start to 2013. As always, planning is key!

Nutrition Studies
I have been a total slacker when it has come to my Specialist in Fitness Nutrition course (through the International Sports Science Association). I finally sat down and went through the module and completed the first quiz:




I'm such a nerd (and proud of it) :) So, it's a good start. Completing this course is definitely a goal for 2013!

I'm struggling with structuring my workout schedule for next year as timings are changing for some of the classes, and they're clashing with other classes ... I really need to figure out what I'll be doing and when ... and in a way that doesn't leave me broke!


Friday, December 28, 2012

Adrenaline Perhaps?

I went to bed a little after midnight and woke up at 3 a.m. I'm talking wide awake, ready to go running type of waking up.

WFT?

I tried to relax and just loosen up to fall back asleep, but it didn't happen. So at 3:45 a.m. I got out of bed. I commented on a few blogs and then went about doing a few things around the house. It sucked. I really wanted to be curled up in bed and asleep. Why was I awake?

The only thing that I could think of was that I haven't exercised in the evening for the past 2 weeks. Maybe it was the late workout (ending at 7 p.m.) that had my adrenaline going? I know that when I started CrossFit I would be exhausted at the end of the day but after only a few hours of sleep I would be wide awake. My Coach told me that it was the adrenaline ... if this is the case, then I need to figure out a way to at least make up for the sleep somehow. With the workouts I have planned, I will not be able to survive on just 3 hours of sleep.

I am determined to get my minimum of 6 hours of sleep and eat regularly/properly. I've found myself feeling a bit too hungry between meals. I haven't counted calories in ages, but a run down of my calories yesterday (600-700 calories consumed by dinner time) made me realize that I need to definitely add more protein to my diet. I don't like feeling weak, tired, and hungry - obviously that is counter-producted to me getting in good workouts.

Back to the drawing board.

An hour of cardio scheduled for the day - and then, I plan on just vegging!


Thursday, December 27, 2012

Getting it Done

This morning did not go as planned.

I really have to be careful with my new morning routine. I've realized that unless I get ready to go, I get lazy and feel like putting it off for later (and run the risk of not going at all).

I did not feel like going to the gym this morning. I was still feeling tired from the night before. Although I slept relatively early, I had a very restless night. For the past two nights I've been having very, very vivid dreams that have been disturbing/upsetting. I normally have quite vivid dreams and remember them upon waking. However, these dreams have been different. I've been waking up feeling a bit anxious or upset. Anyway.

So this morning I did not go to the gym. I felt like I needed some time in the house to catch up on things (blogs, next year's budget, continuing my unending list of things to do, work on my new schedule etc.). I sat down with a cup of green tea and go to it.

I definitely felt a bit better after getting a few tasks done, like I was finally getting on track, but I think that battling my procrastination tendencies will be my main focus in 2013. I know it can sound like I'm energetic and always on the go, but I can be quite a slacker sometimes!

Today was my last day of work for the semester. Since I work in a government institute we follow a different schedule from the American/British schools here so our holiday doesn't usually coincide with Christmas (though I do get the day off). I don't go back to work until mid-Jan!! :) With this much time off I'd usually travel, but given that I've just come back from a trip, there are no travel plans. I'm glad to be staying put as there is much to be done at home!

After getting home and having lunch (leftover shrimp and vegetables cooked in coconut milk) and doing a few more tasks, I started to get lazy about working out.

I told myself that I could always just workout at home, but I knew inside that my efforts would be half-hearted.

I wanted to exercise, but I just didn't feel like it -- does that make sense?

I was reading some blog posts and then one of Norma's posts came up - "Expect to KICK ASS and then fucking DO IT" and "Start fixing it NOW" are the two sentences that stuck out the most for me ... so even though it was 5 p.m., I quickly threw on my gym clothes, grabbed my gym bag, and headed out in hopes to catch the 6 p.m. RPM class.

I made it. I did it. I felt great.

It was just one of those days where I needed a little extra push. Luckily I got it (thanks Norma!) and going to an exercise class was perfect to help me stay focused and get a good hour of sweat on.


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Morning After

My Christmas was unusually quiet this year, but to be honest, as much as I love the season and all the festivities, it was just how I needed it to be this year. Still, all in all I had a lovely day. Although I love to cook, I had all 3 meals out today, but they were all kept light and relatively simple. The best part about that is waking up the morning after (today) and feeling really good and not worried that I'll have to throw in a few extra intense hours at the gym to try to burn off what I ate.

I was thoroughly spoilt this year - I'm not sure what I did to deserve it, but I was totally thrilled and very moved/touched/thankful (and tearful)!

So, the first thing I did this morning was put on these:




and head to the gym. I've always wanted a pair of Asics and now I finally got them! I absolutely love the colors, and they were really comfortable to run in :)

I had a good workout (only treadmill today for 3 km and then Body Balance - love that class!), did a bunch of other errands and things, and then headed home to play with my new gadget:



I was totally shocked when I saw this. I've been talking about wanting to buy one of these in the upcoming year - something to kinda keep me motivated with my writing and research (because I'm feeling really de-motivated right now) - and now I've got it! I tell you, I immediately wanted to head out to a cafe and get some writing done! I'm super-psyched and I hope that I do the present justice by getting a lot of writing done (or at the very least, some more blog posting while I'm away from my desktop) :)

My eating is back on track in terms of following the Whole Life Challenge guidelines. There are a few Christmas chocolates around the house and they're quite tempting. However, I've kept a jar of raisins next to the bowl of chocolates, so whenever I feel tempted to eat one (if I'm in that area of the house), I just grab a raisin or two.

I know I could hide the chocolates or throw them out, but I don't want to. I want to be able to exist in the same house with a few Hershey's kisses without feeling the need to eat them. I think the raisin jar is a good solution until I figure out how to build up more discipline.

I have some exciting fitness plans/news coming up -  it's all in the works at the moment and I can't wait to share. Fingers crossed it all falls into place. So excited! :)


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

I didn't have any big celebrations planned for Christmas this year - just catching up with a few friends throughout the day. It was lovely laughing and chillin'; however, all of the social visits involved meeting up in food places - breakfast, lunch, dinner, coffee. So, before I got started on any of that, I headed to the gym.

I had a great workout this Christmas morning - I completed 5 km (half on the treadmill and half on the cross-trainer) and then did FRAN - a CrossFit workout that involves 3 rounds, 21 reps, 15 reps, then 9 reps of thrusters (I used a 20kg/45 lb bar) and pull-ups (I used the assisted pull-up machine at a 43kg resistance). Obviously the workout was scaled, but I mainly did it coz' I hadn't done the workout in a long time and I wanted to warm my body up for the movements -- it was really good. I felt great after the workout. Here's a pic of me after my 5 km :) 


I went to a new place for breakfast - The Early Bird. Actually, the restaurant has been around for years but I've never been. It's run by 2 Americans and has a great reputation for serving American breakfast food. It's a small place (about 8 tables) and is really, really popular. There was an endless number of people just streaming in and out. 

One thing about American restaurants is the American-sized portions. As yummy as the pancakes and waffles looked, there was no way I could eat them (though my friend had a pancake - he ordered a single one even though they normally come as a stack of 3 and he said the 1 was more than enough). They had a healthy section of the menu - I ordered the eggwhite omelete that was made with onion, tomato, and spinach. I told them to hold the bread. All the regular egg dishes came with a side of hash browns, sausage, and bacon as well as the bread. This one, however, didn't. 

I was thrilled with my order. It was delicious - so fresh, light, and tasty! It was perfect for a post-workout meal. I was really pleased with my experience! 

It's been raining non-stop all day today. I kinda like it though it was a nightmare to drive in. On my way to the gym this morning the clouds broke and the peeking sunlight was absolutely stunning - lovely start to the day :)




Monday, December 24, 2012

I tried

As I mentioned yesterday, I'm hoping to incorporate morning workouts into my daily routine from now until September. The one thing that I didn't plan for was how this affects my breakfast. I had originally planned to make my omelet muffins on Sunday and have a couple each morning for the week - however, I just don't feel like eating that much right before heading to the gym. I'd eat them afterwards, since they're a really good source of protein and vegetables, but I usually don't come back home after the gym (heading straight to work, doing errands, or just chillin') ... so I have to figure out something to eat right before my workout and then something for right after that will hold me over until lunch.

My morning workouts won't be super intense, but they will be complete workouts. I'm still saving my energy for my afternoon training sessions which will always be more intense (CrossFit, kickboxing, or boxing). At the same time, I don't want to take it easy in the mornings because if for some reason I can't/don't make it to my afternoon sessions, I don't want to feel like I didn't have a proper workout.

In terms of food, yesterday I had 3 dates before heading out to the gym and then I had a banana and 2 more dates after my workout. Today I had 2 dates before my workout, and since I had a bit of time before I needed to be at work, I stopped at the PQ (my regular haunt) and had an omelet (they're fantastic about catering to your dietary needs - cooked in olive oil, hold the sauces/cheese, and use egg whites) and some green tea.

So far, this has worked out well ... I'll just feel more comfortable if I have a more sustainable plan. I really don't want to be buying my breakfast each day. We'll see. For now, it's working.

This morning's workout was good - 20 minutes on the treadmill again. I'm slowly trying to increase my jogging so that I'm back to where I left off with the C25K. Although I know I completed the 10K a few weeks ago, I know I didn't run 5K straight, and that's something I still want to do (and then work up to 10K straight of course).

I followed this with 20 minutes of jump rope - with very little rest in between. I'm getting so much better at this. I can easily do 200 skips without stopping. I've also been working on doing one-leg skips as part of my boxing training which is also improving!

I then did 20 minutes of bag work. I didn't punch hard because I had forgotten my wraps/gloves [hadn't planned on boxing this morning] but I did focused on form and technique. I practiced some of my kicks as well.

I then went on to 20 minutes on the cross-trainer (increased the intensity a bit more than yesterday) and ended with 50 crunches, 50 Swiss ball crunches, and 100 leg raises (50 per leg).

I had a short but exhausting day at work and was absolutely starving by the time I got home. Luckily I had leftovers from last night's dinner (baked white fish with tomatoes & a crispy cauliflower, sweet potato, and kale salad).

After eating, however, I suddenly felt sick. I had been having cramps all day anyway, but this was different - it felt like food poisoning & my body reacted as if it was food poisoning.

It was terrible. I was bewildered because I ate exactly what I had last night - surely it couldn't have been food poisoning!

The thing that I was dreading most was not going to my planned CrossFit session in the afternoon. I've already missed so many classes with travel etc. that I really didn't want to miss another one.

I rested for a bit, took a 20 minute power nap with the hope that my stomach would settle down.

I felt a bit better but still quite queasy and definitely unsure about whether or not I should go to the class ... still, I forced myself to get dressed and go. If I felt really bad, I could always stop and come home. [I'm trying to keep that Plan for Success attitude at the forefront of my mind.]

As luck would have it, class was cancelled (due to a car accident and an injury - nothing too serious thankfully). The Coach had actually called me but I was in such a rush to get to the Box that I hadn't answered and thought I would just talk to him when I arrived ... the joke was on me!

Anyway. I guess it just wasn't meant to be. I was disappointed that there wasn't any class, but I was also a bit relieved that I didn't have to workout when I wasn't feeling 100%. Hopefully everything will fall into place next time!


Sunday, December 23, 2012

Nine Days

So, there are 9 days left in the year and I really want to end the year on a very high note. It's been a positive year so far, but I know that I've been slacking a bit lately in terms of being careful with my eating. My workouts have been fine, but even they haven't been 100% on track because I've had to made do in between my travel schedule. In any case, this is no time to make excuses. It's time to get focused and make sure I do what needs to be done to feel good at the end of this year.

I was up at 4:30 a.m. and ready for my morning yoga by 5. I haven't done my morning yoga routine in a long time ... it's definitely time to get back into it. My body felt stiff but I know after a few days of practicing my poses I'll regain my flexibility.

I then headed to the gym at 6:30 a.m. Although I worked out while on vacation I still felt a bit out of sorts, especially given the exhaustion I've been feeling over the past 2 days. So, I decided that this morning would kinda be a warm-up workout - a few exercises for different parts of the body to get the ready for more intense workouts. I started with 20 minutes on the treadmill. I mainly walked, but I threw in a few 1-min jogs ... they weren't difficult, but they weren't easy either. As I said, my body has been feeling really stiff. I need to work on that because I don't want to lose all the progress I made so far with C25K.

I then did 20 minutes on the cross-trainer. This felt much better, and I was satisfyingly sweaty after the 20 minutes.

I followed this with a short weights circuit - 3 rounds, 6 reps each, empty bar (20 kg/45 lbs) - deadlifts, squats, dead rows, military press, cleans, and pull-ups on the assisted pull-up machine.

I then did 100 ab crunches & 100 oblique crunches.

I had a good cool-down stretch, including some back extensions which I don't do nearly enough of, and then went on with my day.

Although I took it easy, my body immediately responded to the exercise, which makes me feel great.

I'm hoping that I can incorporate a morning workout from now on since my teaching schedule will be changing starting in January. I really enjoy hitting the gym first thing in the morning, especially because if something happens to come up, I don't feel bad because I already got my workout done.

Part of my errands today was to buy my groceries for the week. Now my fridge is stocked with lots of fresh vegetables and fish. The only day I won't be cooking at home this coming week is Christmas, but I've already made plans as to what and where I'll be eating on that day so it should be just fine :)


Saturday, December 22, 2012

Sleeping

I had every intention of working out yesterday ... and today ... but I found myself caught in a deep sleep instead. Part of it is jet-lag and part of it is probably the lack of sleep and exhaustion from all the wedding events. In any case, as guilty as I feel about not working out these past two days, I do not feel bad for sleeping because, let's face it, I really don't sleep enough.

So, hopefully after a good night's sleep tonight I'll be good to go and ready to attach the rest of my semester and the rest of this year with energy and enthusiasm.

Today's main plan was to catch up on blogs (I believe I've made it to everyone's blog who posted in the past week), update my list of things-to-do (slightly intimidating with how much stuff I need to get done), and plan my food for the week.

My menu and grocery list are complete. I'm all set for food for tomorrow so now it's just about getting organized and putting the plan into action!


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Back from India

I got back from my whirlwind trip to Goa for part 2 of my best friend's wedding. It was my first trip to India and though I was really eager to explore the city and the villages, I didn't get a chance to do any of that since we were so busy with events related to the wedding.

Before I share a few pix of the trip, let me talk about my food and exercise ... I went to the gym 2 days out of the 4 that I was at the resort; I swam 2 days, went for a walk each day, and danced each night -- so I had plenty of activity.

As for food, all I can say is, I ate. I tried the things I wanted to try and made sure I didn't eat anything that I didn't absolutely want to taste. That being said, I definitely ate more and less nutritiously than normal. I am not looking forward to getting on the scale. However, I'm not home, and as much as I love traveling and exploring, I am very happy to be back under my room and am looking forward to getting back in control with my food and exercise. I am determined that this year will end on a high note - now I've got to do the work to make sure that happens!

The resort I stayed (The Leela) at was absolutely stunning - my idea of paradise on Earth for sure! I definitely did not want to leave! I spent my days at the resort - walking, swimming, lounging, working out - and evenings with friends at wedding events. I don't normally get the chance to dress up in some of my traditional clothes, so I took this opportunity to go all out for the wedding. It was fun :)

Here are a few photos! Enjoy (am looking forward to catching up with everyone's blogs)!

The view from my room:



Me on the balcony:



The golf course:


The view from breakfast & where I'd go swimming:



I took the wedding as an opportunity to put henna on my hands and wear some bangles - very traditional in Bangladesh.



Entering the reception area - a bit of a Bollywood pose ;)



 My traditional outfit - called a lahenga - designed and created by a friend of mine in Bangladesh.





Saturday, December 15, 2012

Too Much

I heard about the Connecticut school shooting last night, but it wasn't until this morning when I was watching the news and that I got to hear more details ... and then all of a sudden the tears just started falling down my face and was crying uncontrollably.

It was just too much to take.

Seeing the parents breakdown was absolutely heartbreaking. It's a pain that I cannot even imagine.  Seeing the children being led away from the school and then trying to make some sort of attempt to process what happened was devastating.

I'm a teacher.
I taught in New York for 3 years.
I have been through a Code Black at the middle school where I was teaching (luckily it turned out to be nothing serious).
I have been violently attacked by a student at the high school were I taught (not so lucky this time and very, very scary).

It saddens me to think that a place that is supposed to be safe becomes one that is filled with fear and apprehension. That is definitely how I felt after being attacked.

How do you recover from something like this?
What are the solutions? How can something be done now, not after months/years of discussion and debate?

There is just too much on my mind to write anymore about this or write about anything else ...


I'm off to Goa, India today for part 2 of my best friend's wedding (same one who got married in Germany).

I'll catch up when I return.

Stay safe. Show compassion. Take care of yourselves and one another.




Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Feeling Good

Today was one of those days where everything just seemed to turn out well.

I wore an outfit today to work that got several, several compliments - simple black bootleg trousers from the GAP and a sweater top from Top Shop (which is in the smallest size I own at the moment!). Some of my colleagues, who see me on a daily basis, didn't just make a passing comment about how I looked or my weight loss, but were surprised at the transformation. I hadn't realized the outfit was that flattering, though I admit that I felt good in it (it's the trousers and 5 inch heels that I think really did it!). Of course the compliments made me feel good.

I was a bit annoyed that I missed Body Balance class since I didn't finish work on time, but that gave me the chance to quickly meet with one of my friends who happens to be one of the top Muay Thai guys in Kuwait. I'd love to train with him, but I know I'm not ready ... yet. In the meantime he gave me some tips on how to strengthen my wrists because I feel like that's where I need the most work (along with staying firm in my stance) in terms of boxing/kickboxing.

I then had a few hours at home to catch up on some work as well as relax before heading out to kickboxing class.

For the past 3 weeks only me and one other guy have been showing up for kickboxing. It's been quite a challenge because we hold the boxing pads up for one another. Boy do my shoulders get a workout when he hits those pads. There were some punches last night that I thought were really going to take my right arm off. Still, it made me stand firmer in my stance and really focus on steeling myself to receiving the punches - definitely a good arm and shoulder workout! We also did a lot of moving pad work - the coach had me all over the gym floor. It is quite a challenge to stay strong in your stance, continue focusing on the power behind punches, as well as keep your guard up - not to mention make proper contact - as you're moving around so fast. It was a great drill. Some of my punches have really improved, though I seemed to be struggling with my left hook today.

In the middle of it all (I'm backtracking a little), an much anticipated package arrived for me.

I'll be traveling for part 2 of my best friend's wedding (the same friend who got married in Germany back in October). Since this ceremony will be taking place in India, I asked one of my friend's who is a fashion designer in Bangladesh if she could pick up an outfit for me. Instead of buying one off the rack, she asked for my measurements and designed and tailor-made an outfit for me. I asked her for the outfit 9 days ago so I was really tense about her being able to finish the outfit (she was embroidering stuff by hand) receiving it on time. It was supposed to arrive tomorrow, but - thank you DHL - it arrived today!! I was so nervous about it fitting right, especially since I just texted her my measurements, but it fit like a glove and I have to say, I felt like a princess. I'm so excited to be wearing the outfit next week!! [Pictures will have to wait until then.]

My day finished off with a lovely dinner with friends I hadn't gotten together with in a while. We went to a steakhouse, and had steak as well as baked parsnips. I think I can officially say that I am no longer a vegetarian (or pescatarian) as I've had meat 3 times already this week! We'll see how that pans out. Anyway. It was a really satisfying, good day :)

My outfit for the night - loving my new Desigual coat and Dune polka-dot heels (though they are hidden by the trousers).




A closer look at the shoes :)




Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Stretching and Desserts

I went to Body Balance class yesterday after almost one month. My legs were so stiff and sore, particularly after all that rowing on Sunday. I had a bit of difficulty with the standing stretch poses - variations of the warrior pose - but I pushed through. A lot of people think that body balance will be an easy stretching class, but I'm telling you, 15 minutes into it and I'm already sweating. By the end of the 50 minutes, I'm totally ready for the 10 minutes of relaxation and meditation.

I feel bad that I've been neglecting my yoga and stretching lately. Aside from post-workout stretching, I haven't been doing anything else ... I need to get back into it.

I totally felt the impact of yesterday's class today - my legs felt great. I feel like the class totally worked off the stiffness that I was feeling before and loosened up my muscles. It was a much needed stretching class!

----

Last night I hosted my annual Secret Santa evening. It went really well. The appetizers and main dinner were all featuring healthy foods, but the big question was dessert. So, before my guests came over I sent out a group text asking about dessert. Usually everyone says they're on a diet and don't want to have any dessert, so I wanted to know beforehand - no point having sweets around the house if nobody wanted them! They all said they wanted dessert mainly because they thought I made excellent desserts (wonder where all those gained pounds came from??). Anyway. It was definitely nice to hear that they enjoyed my cooking/baking, so I obliged.

They came. They ate. They enjoyed, and then the rest of the desserts were packed up in a box and given away.

Secret Santa Stockings - Just waiting for Santa


Dinner - featuring lots of grilled lean proteins


How's that for a stocking to be stuffed? ;)



Monday, December 10, 2012

Before It's Too Late

When I started the Whole Life Challenge, I got a lot of negative/critical reactions to the changes that I made in my eating habits. It took me a while to get used to it as well as to learn how to react to the comments people were making, but I did learn eventually.

At that time I was focused on committing to the challenge and seeing how things changed in my life - my mentality, my body, my strength, my emotions ...

Before I got to that point, however, there were two things that were driving my efforts to lose weight 1) diabetes and heart disease run in my family and I am absolutely petrified of being diagnosed as diabetic 2) my self-esteem and confidence was suffering.

I'm still really afraid of being diabetic, particularly because I believe that following a healthy lifestyle can prevent the illness. Following the Whole Life Challenge helped me get things more in line with living that healthy lifestyle, and though I am still worried about getting the illness (after all, it is hereditary) I know that I am in a much better place to help myself minimize the chances of getting it.

One of my friends had quite a few things to say about my eating changes - you don't have to be so drastic, you should treat yourself once in a while, etc. etc. More than that, she kept asking the details about the diet. 'What diet are you following?' I always clarified this with - It's not a diet. It's a choice. It's a lifestyle change.

Still, I don't think the words really sunk in. It was still seen as a diet. It was seen as restrictions. It was seen as deprivation.

Recently, this friend said the doctors think she is diabetic. They want her to go off all sugars and carbs for one month and retest her to see if it was just a temporary situation or if it was something more serious.

I immediately felt a bit of panic. It can happen to anyone, at any time.

I also thought: Start now. Start now. Start now.

Don't wait until it is to late to make these lifestyle changes. Don't wait until you are forced to make the changes. Do it while you are still in control, while you still have time to figure out what works and what doesn't, while you can adjust to the new lifestyle without the pressure and anxiety of illness hanging over your head.

Change, no matter what kind, always takes some time getting used to, but you have to believe that you are strong and resiliant ... and there is no way not eating a piece of bread or some French fries will harm you. There are so many things in life that we do not have control over ... but food is not one of them. There are so many good, delicious, healthy foods out there ... it's just about trusting yourself and knowing that you are strong enough to do it.

Don't wait. Start today. Start right now.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Rowing

When I woke up this morning all I could think about was how poorly I did on that row machine yesterday. Trying for sub-2 minutes and getting 2 1/2 minutes sucked.

I know that I was tired, and I did try ... but still, I knew that if I wanted to achieve that sub-2 min row, then I'd have to practice.

So, this morning I got up, finished the bit of work that I had to do, and headed to the gym.

I had boxing scheduled for the evening so I didn't want to overdo it. I decided to practice 2 skills - jump rope and rowing.


My workout in the morning was: 
200 jump rope skips followed by a 500 m row. 

I repeated that 5 times. 

My fastest 500 m row was completed in 2 min 5 sec. 

So bloody close! 

I'm amazed at how exhausting rowing is. The first 300 meters is fine, and then the fatigue starts to set it. All of a sudden you're looking at the bar in front of you thinking, pulling it shouldn't be hard - and then you go to pull it and think - why is the bar so heavy?! 

Getting the coordination and technique right is essential. I don't think I'm rowing efficiently. I'm sure that if I work on that I'll be able to shave those extra seconds off. 


In the late afternoon I headed to boxing class. We had a really good session. I'm enjoying the mini sparring bouts that we're doing. I'd actually like to focus on that more because I think it'll help me improve my reflexes and actually think more about what I have to do. There was one point during the sparring session that the coach was punching (lightly tapping) at my gloves which were guarding my face and all I kept thinking was - what the hell should I do? He's punching at me ... and that's when he told me to focus on what areas of his body were open (his abdominal region) and go for that. Once he said that, it clicked and I was able to work on reading my opponent more instead of just focusing on defending myself. 

It was a good lesson. 

I love bag work/pad work, but I think it's only sparring that will really prepare you for thinking on your feet and landing good punches. 


My legs are incredibly sore from today's rowing. Who would have thought that just under 13 minutes of rowing would leave me so sore. I felt a bit wobbly in my high heels in the evening ... but that sore feeling is so satisfying! 


Saturday, December 8, 2012

Finishing What I Started


I had a killer CrossFit session today. By the time I got home I was just aching to go to bed. 

Our warm-up was some frantic combination of lots of burpees, hand-release push-ups, thrusters, ball-to-walls, etc. For strength training I practiced snatches again as well as front squats. Then it was time for a mind-numbing WOD: 

50 burpees (25 with a 10 kg plate that I'd raise above my head as I came up from the burpee)
40 pull-ups (I'm still doing a modified version)
30 deadlifts
20 box jumps
20 hand release pushups 

The workout actually called for 30 cleans instead of deadlifts, but I was too exhausted to do them. So after I finished my WOD, I took about 30 seconds/1 min rest and then took the weight off my bar and did 30 cleans. 

I never really thought that I'd go back to complete a workout. I mean, I did the exercises. Sure I modified them for what I could do, but I did the workout. Still, as I was huffing and puffing and sweating up a storm, I went back and completed the needed exercise. I just didn't want to allow myself to not do it. 

Does that make sense? 

I know everybody has their own level of fitness and we can't all be the same/do the same things. Still, at that moment in time I didn't want to be the one who didn't complete the workout because she didn't try. Anyway. 

So I'm glad I went back and did the cleans ... and then I practiced my double-unders ... and then Coach had me row 500 meters in an effort to complete it under 2 minutes (I failed at that miserably and did it in 2 min 30 seconds). 

By the end of that, I really was totally wiped out. 

As I said, once that I was done I just wanted to shower and get to bed! 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Success all Around

I spent 11 hours on my feet cooking and preparing for yesterday's dinner party. Usually, even before the guests have arrived and definitely by the time they have left, I am exhausted and my feet, legs, and back feel like they're on fire ...

Not last night. I was really surprised at how relaxed and good I felt even after doing all the tidying up etc. after the night was over. I'm sure it has to do with both the weight I've lost and the strength I've gained.

It was just great to see/feel yet one more aspect of my life that has been positively affected by all the effort I've been putting in to taking care of my health. I mean, I know that all the changes have been good for me, but it just gives a bit of extra validation when you see/feel it in action.

So, the belated Thanksgiving feast was a success. My friends' reaction to the spread, especially the 24 lb. turkey, was one of completely surprise and awe - just like me during my first Thanksgiving celebration. It was something that we had only really ever seen on TV ... and then to experience it ... well, I'm glad that I was able to share that joy with others.

The dinner featured turkey, sweet potatoes (just baked with olive oil, salt, and pepper), string beans (lightly sautéed in olive oil and garlic, chick peas in tomato sauce (a touch of Bangladesh), quinoa stuffing (made with zucchini and mushrooms), and a few other dishes.

I did my best to keep it healthy and guilt free, and I do think I did a good job :)



I didn't make it to the gym yesterday, so I wanted to make sure I did some exercise today.
I headed to my regular gym (The Palms) for a cardio session. It felt really, really good to just put my music on, get on the cross-trainer, and move. I didn't have to worry about weights or punching anything -- my upper body got some much needed rest. It felt great :)


Thursday, December 6, 2012

Belated Thanksgiving

I was away for Thanksgiving so tonight we're having a belated Thanksgiving dinner. I absolutely love Thanksgiving. I remember when I was really young I'd always want to have Thanksgiving dinner at home, but it wasn't something that my family celebrated ... so when I got to the States, I was beyond excited.

Thanksgiving brings back incredible memories for me. Since I was away from my family, my friends and their families opened up their homes to me. I spent Thanksgiving weekend at a different friend's house each year and I felt completely part of the family. It was so touching and I am so thankful for them for making me feel so welcome.

After returning to Kuwait - old enough to hold my own now - I told my mom. Alright, now we're celebrating Thanksgiving. And since then (2001), it's finally become an annual tradition.

This year I'm having the CrossFit team come over for Thanksgiving dinner. I've got a good menu planned (I hope) - including turkey, quinoa 'stuffing', sweet potatoes, and lots of veggies. The 'unhealthiest' thing on tonight's menu is stuffed mushrooms (has cheese) and the desserts -- which are being made at the request of some of the team members. I'd say 90% of the food tonight would have been considered Whole Life Challenge compliant, so I'm happy about that.

Fingers crossed it goes well. There's lots of cooking to be done. Hopefully pictures of a successful meal will be posted tomorrow :)


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Being Judgmental

The Grand Avenues opened in Kuwait a couple of weeks ago. It's a new wing that's part of one of the existing malls here. There were a few stores that I was really looking forward to finally having here - particularly Williams Sonoma & West Elm.



Aside from a bunch of retail stores came several new restaurants. All of which have caused a lot of excitement among many people I know -- but no excitement for me. The three main attractions are Olive Garden, Red Lobster, and The Cheesecake Factory.




Five years ago, I would have been really excited about having these restaurants here. They reminded me of my time in the States, particularly my college years when a trip to these restaurants was a treat (especially when money was short).

However now, it's a completely different story. All I could think was, 'Great, more new restaurants opened in Kuwait, and still no place for me to enjoy a healthy meal.'

I had/have 0 interest in going to these restaurants. That being said, today I reluctantly met a friend at the Cheesecake Factory for lunch. There are lots of things I could say about the restaurant, wait staff, and service, but this is not a review of that ... let's just talk about the food.

Already going into the restaurant I knew that even options that looked healthy would not be -- still, I was going to take a chance. Maybe, just maybe they'd surprise me.

I was debating between a veggie burger (which I would have eaten without the bread, cheese, and fries) and the lunch plate of salmon and vegetables. My friend got the veggie burger and I ended up getting the salmon. There were two types of salmon on offer - herb crusted salmon, served with asparagus and broccoli, and grilled salmon served with broccoli and mashed potato (so I was told). I decided to go with the herb crusted salmon.

When it arrived, the salmon covered in chopped parsley was balancing on a HUGE pile of mashed potatoes with 4 big spears of asparagus resting on the side and some cheesy butter sauce floating at the bottom of the dish. I asked for a separate plate and took the salmon off. I'm just really glad they didn't cover the salmon with that sauce.

Where was the broccoli? Why were there potatoes? Oh, she made a mistake.

I was not in the mood to argue (actually, I was in the mood to argue which is why I held back and just let it go). The asparagus spears, after wiping them down, were good. The salmon tasted like water. The parley looked like it had been soaked and just patted on; there was no flavor whatsoever. I only ate half of the salmon - such a shame. I did try a few spoonfuls of the mashed potato - dangerously delicious. I quickly pushed the plate away because I knew that there was a risk of making an excuse 'Well, I didn't really eat my main dish, so I might as well eat this.' I already felt slightly guilty for eating the bit of mashed potatoes that I did. No need to feel worse.

I was totally unimpressed. My friend said his veggie burger was ok.

Not worth going back for.

As for the cheesecake offers - their feature of the day was a 4-layered cheesecake (2 original cheesecakes and 2 chocolate fudge cakes) plus chocolate fondant in the middle.

I felt sick just hearing that. It irritated me that they'd put together that type of combo. What's more is that it's not even a small taster sized slice -- it's massive. Even sharing it among 4 people wouldn't split the calories in a way that it could be justified ... anyway. We just said no thank you and left.

*sigh*

Food, obviously, is still an issue for me. I've been talking about it a lot lately because it's something I have to deal with on a daily basis. Eating out - restaurant or at someone's house - will continue to be a challenge. I don't want to be a brat and I don't want to be seen as judgmental, but there are somethings that I just don't want to eat.

I've got a dinner coming up on Sunday and I know that the dish of the night will be pasta. I really don't want to eat it. I'm already anxious thinking about it because I know the host will say - it's just one night. But I don't want to eat it ... and I will probably end up packing up a little something for myself and telling her from beforehand. I don't want to insult her, but I'm nervous that she'll take it the wrong way. My body just cannot handle that kind of starch. I don't want to impose my eating habits on anyone else, but I also don't want to compromise all that I've been working for. We'll see what happens.

Great kickboxing session today :)




Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Working My Arms

I can really see a difference in the way my arms feel and are shaping up. It must be all the boxing. I was definitely feeling a bit of fatigue today after not only Sunday's boxing session, but also yesterday's practice with snatches. In any case, the training is going well and I really am enjoying every second of it. I love the sound of that hollow pop as my punch hits the pad. I can tell that my Coach is really pushing me, coz' he doesn't just hold the pads - no, he brings them towards me hard so I've really got to be ready to not only strike, but also absorb the impact.

This reminds me, I've got to get better at putting on my handwraps. I don't know why I haven't figured it out yet. It sounds silly, but I probably need to sit down and practice wrapping my hands. The last thing I want is to injure my wrist or fingers.

I also realized today that I think my 14 oz. gloves are too big. The extra padding is great, but for the first time today I felt like I wasn't getting enough impact - like the padding was actually getting in the way of me feeling the full force of the bag. I'll try a lighter pair of gloves and see how they work out.

For our warm-ups we've been practicing our skipping. My regular skips are fine (double-unders still suck - must practice!!). However, we've also been trying to skip on one leg. It's been challenging! Surprisingly I'm much better skipping on just my left leg than I am my right. It takes a bit of coordination and balance to do the exercise -- again, lots of practice needed!!


For the first half of the boxing session we focus on technique and skills. For the second half we've got a circuit workout. Today was 3 rounds/1 minute per exercise of:

Pad work with the coach
Bicycle crunches
Bag work - focus on hooks
Back extensions
Bag work - focus on explosive punches {one minute doesn't sound like a lot, but trust me, it is tiring!}
Jump squats
Moving push ups {I started on my toes, but finished on my knees - still, it's getting better}

:)






Monday, December 3, 2012

Working on Technique: Snatches

I went to CrossFit today after a long time. I think it's been about 2 weeks! I've still been working out daily (well, almost) but I just haven't made it to a CrossFit session -- and boy did it feel good (and tough) to be back.

I worked on snatches today. It's definitely frustrating when I know that I can lift heavy but am restricted to a lower weight due to lack of technique. It's understandable though. I mean, what's the point of lifting heavy when my posture isn't just right yet? Still, with lots of practice it'll get better - it definitely got better by the end of class.

When you look at the lift (start at about 45 seconds in this video), it doesn't seem that complicated, but there are so many things to keep in mind - get your grip right, position your hands properly, keep your abs tight, keep your back and shoulders in the right position, pull inwards, get up on your toes, lift the bar up - but more than that, pull your body under --- OMG, when I hear all these bits and pieces it gets really overwhelming. Try hearing all those instructions and then doing it! Anyway.

I practiced and practiced - and I think it got better (was lifting 30 kg; around 65 lbs.) but I definitely need more practice.

The WOD today was 15 minutes AMRAP:
15 snatches followed by 15 burpees

I managed to finish 4 rounds.

By the end of the of the class, I was drenched in sweat. It felt amazing. The adrenaline after a CrossFit workout is indescribable.

I thing I'm struggling with most is the upward pull. I seem to be holding the bar too far from my body and lifting more with my shoulders instead of it being more of a smooth movement ... I guess I know what I'm doing wrong, but I can't seem to visualize it in comparison to what I should be doing -- maybe I should video tape my lift next time so that I have something to compare.

Practice. Practice. Practice.





Sunday, December 2, 2012

Stuff

I have so much stuff.

I feel like I've been throwing out/donating/getting rid of my 'stuff' for the past year, but still there's more.

Today I felt like I reached my breaking point.

I was going through my clothes - again - and all of a sudden I just felt completely overwhelmed. There were just so many clothes to go through. I just couldn't believe I had so many (where were they every morning when I struggled to figure out what to wear?!). I was irritated at myself because I knew that many of them were from years and years ago (I'm talking 8 or so years). I've hung on to them because they're still in good shape and because I thought - maybe one day I'll wear them again. I'd say 90% of my clothes have been worn well; the other 10% have either just been worn once or not at all.

As I was pulling clothes off the hanger I was getting frustrated. Most of the clothes were going into the donate pile, and as the pile started getting higher, I started to feel more anxious.

I don't know if I can explain exactly what was being anxious. I guess I felt like I was being really wasteful.

I know that the reason why I'm getting rid of the clothes (they're all way too big for me) is a good one. I'd rather just get rid of them and give them away than have them hanging in my closet collecting dust. I'm also glad that I'm getting rid of them because they're too big rather than too small. It's a sign of progress.

Still, I just felt overwhelmed. I guess it's because even after spending a couple of hours sorting through my stuff I still have much more ... and this is just my clothes!

I also have other bits and pieces - things I've collected (magnets, post cards, other souvenirs from travels) - that I need to go through. I just don't feel like going through them. At the same time, I want them to be totally organized and streamlined. It just takes so much time.

Maybe that's what I'm most annoyed about. If I had taken the time in the first place, first of all to be sensible and not buy them in the first place, and second of all, to put the stuff away in the right place, then I wouldn't be in this mess.

The same frustration applies to my weight too.

Maybe that's what is really bugging me?

If I hadn't gained so much weight in the first place - eaten right, exercised well - then I wouldn't be where I am today.

I know there's really no sense lamenting over the past. I know that I'm heading in the right direction now. I am happy about where I am now and I am optimistic about my future progress ... still, it doesn't remove the fact that there's still a lot of emotional stuff that I need to work through. Just coz' the weight comes off doesn't mean the emotional burdens that got me there in the first place have magically disappeared. I know that the stuff I have accumulated over the years is also a consequence of those emotional issues. There's still much work to be done, and I'm ready to do it (though I'm not saying I won't whine a little along the way).

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Fifty-Five Foods

Food, food, food.

Yes, it really all does come down to food.

For me, I know that unless I exercise AND eat right, I'm not going to lose weight. I know that there are some who can do one or the other or can practice some sort of moderation ... but that's not me.

I wrote about trial and error a few days ago and I think it's really important to sit down and figure out what works best for YOU. I have some friends who can eat whatever they want and not gain any weight. That's them, not me.

I think it's also important to realize that the TYPE of food matters. All calories are not created equal. A 100 calorie snickers bar is not processed in the same way by our body as 100 calories of broccoli.

These facts are obvious, but I think it's easy to get distracted by trying to find an easier way or a short-cut ... trying to make things more 'enjoyable' and making exceptions.

I know that for ME - it doesn't work that way. I'm not worried about going on a binge. I think I'm over that ... but I've realized that a little taste here and a small bite there can all add up, and the place it shows is on the scale (and my ass)!

So, my goal for today was to come up with a list of foods that I frequently eat.

Norma wrote a post a few days ago about her habits and how she eats the same things everyday (and is called crazy for it). However, like Norma, I've found that sticking to a routine is the best way to stay disciplined and constantly vigilant.

All of this takes time and organization - something that I've whined about a lot - but I also know that once it's done, it's DONE!

So, I sat down and made a list of fifty-five foods that I can easily prepare and eat without worrying. Why fifty-five? Well, I like the alliteration ;) plus that's more than enough to give me variety in my foods. The 55 encompasses breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack options. They're all reliable recipes that can be prepared without much difficulty.

I've also made a list of a few foods that are healthy but have a few ingredients that I don't want to make a regular part of my diet. For example, quinoa vegetable salad. I'm trying to stay away from grains but I think quinoa is fine to eat. At the same time, I don't want it as a regular part of my diet -- but once in a while (mainly for variety sake) I think it's ok for me to have it. Another thing on my 'on occasion' food chart is my spinach crustless quiche. This is really yummy and I wouldn't mind having it once a month/once every other month. These alternative foods aren't necessities -  just a few options so that I don't need to think too much about what to eat.

I've made the food plan - now I've got to stick to it. Let's see how it goes!



Thursday, November 29, 2012

Five Days Straight

For the first time, I had boxing training for 5 days straight. Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday (today) were 1 1/2 hours of pure boxing/power/strength and conditioning. Monday and Wednesday were kickboxing/technique/and a bit of MMA.

I am absolutely LOVING it!

I see a huge difference in my arm strength and power. Of course I still have a lot of work to do, but I've definitely been improving.

It's quite challenging focusing on your form and then adding the elements of speed and power to the movement. It's so easy to literally get thrown off balance and lose concentration. You've got to be quick, powerful, and accurate.

I've definitely landed quite a few good punches over the past few days. I'm looking forward to throwing many more solid ones.

---

This week I didn't get any CrossFit training sessions in. I was beginning to feel a bit frantic because I feel like I'm behind on my training, especially with traveling as well as not meeting this week. The main concern I had was that one of my kickboxing training sessions happens exactly during our class time. I don't want to give up either. I spoke to my Coach today and he was great about it. He said if I was learning and benefitting from kickboxing that I should keep going to the sessions and he would work out another time for me to train so that I don't fall behind and lose my strength/stamina/endurance.

I can't tell you what I relief it was to hear that. That extra bit of flexibility will really help me out. Can't wait to get my schedule sorted so that I can focus on doing instead of thinking/planning/hoping. At least I'm taking out my frustrations on the boxing bag :)

A few pix taken yesterday:

Heading out to ClubFit Kuwait for my kickboxing session - gotta have my Everlast bag!!





Reasons to be fit: [Loved this]





Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Trial and Error

The Whole Life Challenge ended on Nov. 10th. Since then, I've been experimenting with a few ingredients to see how my body/I react. For example, I added a bit of feta cheese to a salad, I had coffee with milk, I had something with sugar, etc. etc.

I haven't been eating large quantities, and I've been trying only 1 or 2 'off-plan' things a day.

I've found that I feel the worst when I eat something with sugar. Whether it's a bit of sugar in some salad dressing or a piece of chocolate, I feel the impact immediately.

I've also found that dairy makes me feel heavy and bloated.

I haven't had any adverse effects from rice but bread, like dairy, makes me feel bloated.

Since I went off plan I gained 2 lbs. I pretty much gained that within the first week of trying these different foods. Right after that I traveled and I held steady at that 2 lb. gain.

As soon as I got back from my trip, I basically went back into Whole Life Challenge mode and I've already lost 1 lb. and I'm hoping the 2nd lb. will be gone by the end of this weekend.

I didn't panic over the weight gain because I knew that I was in 'experimenting' mode. Now I've switched that mode off and I'm back to eating normal.

I'm not looking to add things like flour and sugar back in my diet. I'm not looking to find an 'easy way out' or an 'excuse' to eat certain foods. I do, however, want to get a better idea of how my body reacts to foods. Cutting out everything all at once resulted in quite a dramatic change ... I guess I just wanted to see what works for me and what doesn't, especially because when I look at Clean Eating - which includes some dairy and grains - it seems quite lenient to me. However, I now know that even having a few grains or certain types of dairy will cause me to feel heavy. I know that I don't want that - so I'll just stay away.

I think the main thing is that I'm not going to panic. I know what I need to do. I know I have the discipline. I just need to put it all together and make it happen. If I could stick to a rigorous plan for 8 weeks, I can surely continue.

So, my trial and error period is over. I wish I hadn't gained the 2 lbs. but I'm happy with what I've learned, and I hope that as I follow my normal path I continue to see the progress that I experienced during the challenge.


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Getting Organized

I feel like I've hit the ground running. Yesterday was so busy getting back to work, tackling a stack of research papers to grade, plus taking care of other errands (and losing time being stuck in mad traffic) ... no time to ease into it.

I really need to do something about these frantic days. It seems like they happen more often than not. Basically this means I need to take another look at my schedule and get my food organized - as always. I just feel so overwhelmed. There's so much I have to do and I just don't know how to fit it all in ... and I'm not willing to give anything up.

It's a constant battle.

First things first - food. As long as my menu for the week is organized and my fridge is stocked well (with healthy foods of course) then at least that will be one thing I won't have to worry too much about. I've realized that I need to include food prep time into my schedule. That's something that I haven't done before, but I really need to as it sometimes easily takes an hour or so to chop up veggies etc.

Second - exercise. I've got either boxing/kickboxing or CrossFit scheduled everyday. Yesterday CrossFit was cancelled so I headed over to ClubFit for Kickboxing class. I'm not worried about getting my exercise in, but I need to do more focused cardio (cross-trainer/treadmill/outdoor running) and practice some skills + yoga/Body Balance. Getting in those extras is going to be tough, but I really feel a difference (negative) not including them in my routine.

Third - work/writing/nutrition studies. I figure I need to set aside at least 3 hours a day to take care of one of these tasks (not including the time I spend at work, of course).

Fourth - home. I feel like I've been decluttering for a year, and I have!! Still, there's more - lots more to get rid of. I know I feel better the more I throw things out. I just need to find a systematic way to tackle this and also finish each task I start. I have a bad habit of starting to organize something and then getting distracted and moving on to something else. Must. Focus.

Fifth - social. 'Tis the season indeed. Lots of socializing going on before people travel for the holidays. I need to find a way to spend time with friends and catch up with ones I haven't seen in ages without it feeling overwhelming. Basically with so much going on in my life I want to make sure that I take time to relax and enjoy.

So, lots to be done. I'm starting with writing down my menu, grocery list, and schedule.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Back to Life

I must say, I had quite a weekend! It was probably the most self-indulgent weekend I've ever had, but I enjoyed it thoroughly and I do believe I worked for it!!

I flew to Dubai with some girlfriends and had only 2 goals for this trip: See Jennifer Lopez in concert and SHOP! Dropping 10 kg over the past 8 weeks has left me in great need for new clothing. Pulling your pants up, tucking your skirts into your tights to keep them in place, and having your shirt hang off your shoulders is so not cool --

I'm happy to say I achieved both those goals!

A few pix of the J Lo concert (Dance Again Tour 2012, Dubai - Dubai Media City Amphitheater)








I could not believe how close we were! It was a fantastic concert! She was terrific, and her dancers were amazing (drool! lol)

I went on 2 major shopping sprees.

My first priority - new gym gear!!

I feel like I bought out both Reebok and Nike! I can't wait to hit the gym and try them all out. It was thrilling going from an XL to a Medium ... wow. I got quite emotional at times.



Day 2 of shopping was more causal/fun wear -- I was so happy I brought a 2nd empty suitcase! I needed it!




If you read this blog regularly you know that I'm a total shoe addict. So, Dubai Mall's Shoe Level (the biggest shoe store in the WORLD) was a mandatory stop.

I was in absolute heaven ... and those red fabulous heels on my feet are now comfortably settling in in their new home - my shoe closet in Kuwait :)


A stunning work of art - designed by Julian Hakes of London. I am so in love with them!



As soon as I landed, I weighed in -- nothing gained, which is a relief because although I was careful, I wasn't completely on plan. Still, I know my safe options - lots of grilled fish/meats and veggies. I didn't go to the gym and just hoped the hours of walking around the malls and dancing at the concert helped burn a few calories.

Now, it's back to reality and my regularly scheduled life. So after unpacking - it's straight to boxing class!

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving/weekend. Will be catching up on blogs soon :)


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Taking a Break

I left the house this morning at 6:30 a.m. and didn't get back home until 11:45 p.m.

I've been running around like a madwoman all day - busy with work, errands, boxing, and a few social things too (so it hasn't been all work).

Anyway.

Just a quick post to check in and leave you with some words of inspiration and motivation for over Thanksgiving weekend. I've got a lot of stuff planned for the next few days - including my big shopping spree - so I won't be around to blog. I'll be back to my regular blogging schedule on Sunday.

In the meantime, have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family and friends - stay healthy and be safe! :)








Monday, November 19, 2012

Under the Weather

I really feel like things have been moving non-stop for me for the past several months. Today is the first day that I started to feel really under the weather. I don't know if it's the weather change, the lack of sleep, the exhaustion ... or a combination of it all.

I knew I wasn't going to make it to CrossFit. There was no way I was going to be able to focus enough to lift weights in any way that would be meaningful. I didn't, however, want the day to go to waste. I knew I could squeeze out something. So, before thinking about it too much, I put together my own little  circuit of exercises.

5 rounds of:
100 jump rope skips
20 squats
10 burpees
50 crunches

No Excuses. 

That was it. I'm glad I did it, but after showering and getting into my lounge clothes I knew that I had had it. I am wiped out. I'm so glad I prepared dinner earlier today. Now I'm just waiting to eat, relax a bit, and hopefully go to be early and get a LONG overdue restful good night's sleep.