Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Day of Relaxation

The weather here is absolutely stunning and I'm so glad to be done with my thesis submission so that I can actually sit outside and enjoy the weather without having to rush home to do some work!

My workouts for the day were really good -
Half an hour of cardio warm-up -- including more jump rope
Body balance -- which was particularly challenging as this choreography involved a lot of arm/shoulder work ... and after yesterday's weights session, all I can say is OUCH!
Boxing for an hour ... I really don't like doing my boxing training after body balance, particularly because balance class ends with 10 minutes of meditation. It's a bit disconcerting to go from lying down in the dark to throwing punches ... but like yesterday's post - I just have to suck it up!

I had a really good training session. No bruises or blood this time, but lots of core work - twists and turns - plus focus on form. Boxing once a week isn't enough. I need to squeeze in at least 2 hours of practice before meeting with my trainer on Wednesdays. Don't know where I'll find the time!

After my workouts I got the chance to sit outside for a few hours -- absolute bliss (even though I did have student essays to grade in front of me). Still, I think it's beginning to sink in, and I don't want that feeling to go away!

In the evening I went for a 5k walk on the Mishref walking track. After doing the 10k last weekend I've decided to really focus on improving my run - or probably more accurately, start running. I know I do cardio at the gym and have been trying to work on my running on the treadmill, but it made a huge difference 'running' outdoors. So, I'm going to try and go to the outdoor walking track at least twice a week, if not three times. My goal is to just do 5k outside and build up until I can run the whole distance. I may try to use the C25K program as I know several people have had success following that plan ... we'll see. For now I'll just keep track of how fast I'm going and keep trying to increase my speeds as well as my jogs with each attempt.

So that's it from me. I'm hoping that this newfound relaxation will help me sleep (it still hasn't happened yet ... only managed 3.5 hours last night -- ugh!! It's getting tough to handle).

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Suck it Up

Today has been a hectic, yet relaxing day at the same time ... does that make sense?

First of all, you'd think that I would be able to stay in bed and get a good night's sleep after submitting my thesis -- ya, that's not the way insomnia works.

I had nothing prepared for my class so I had to take some time to get that done, even if it was going through old files to look for lessons to recycle from last year ... but that totally threw me off schedule.

I didn't have time for breakfast, so I quickly put together a protein shake and grabbed an Eat Natural bar. Ate half the bar on the way to the gym ...

Had a terrific weights workout. I'm making good progress through my NROL4W. I did my entire workout in the big weight room today! I love how strong I feel each time I increase my weights. Today one of the trainers decided to stay with me while I was working out and he said my form was excellent and that I was doing really well -- it was good to hear, especially with the doubts that I've been having lately about pushing myself etc. For one of the exercises - cable reverse woodchops - I complained that the handle hurt my wrist and asked him what I should do to stop the discomfort, also wondering if it had to do with the way I was gripping the handle. He took a look at my wrist and the handle and realized that the only problem was the proportion of my hand to the handle -- two things which couldn't be changed, so his advice to me was. Suck it up.

I had to stop and laugh when he said that ... because it hit me that, yes, I just have to suck it up. There are going to be parts of exercises that hurt (not in an injury hurt way, but more of a challenge hurt way) - such as squats!! You just have to suck it up and get through them anyway.

My matrix of squats and lunges went really well after the weights workout. It's fantastic seeing the effects of my weight training pay off in other areas - my poster is straighter, I can lift things easier, my legs and arms are definitely stronger.

I had my protein shake and the rest of the Eat Natural bar on the way to work ... it was an absolutely gorgeous day, so after work I met a friend for coffee. We sat outside and enjoyed the warm sun + cool breeze ... it finally started to sink in a little that I didn't have to rush home and do some writing or data analysis ... it was good to just be able to enjoy the moment without the lingering guilt that I should really be doing something else!

Once I got home I only had an hour to turn around and head back to the gym for Zumba. Had a bowl of vegetable soup, got changed, and headed out again.

Since I didn't have time to prepare dinner beforehand, I resorted to getting food from a company called 'Diet Care.' All their foods are made with low fat ingredients etc. and their calories are specified on the top of the box. Although I think the concept is great, I have realized that not all their stuff is as nutritious as it should be -- but still, for today I was more concerned with eating something that wasn't high in calories (and was quick). So, even though it was carbs, I had a 310 calorie meal of pasta with some mushrooms.

Ugh. No protein today!! Well, hardly any protein ... not good. I didn't even hit 1,000 calories today, which is not good on a day that I worked out for 3 hours ... but still, it's just one day. Having a few hundred less calories on one day isn't going to kill me. It's the way the day turned out so I just had to suck it up and roll with the punches!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Week in Review

Last week was definitely a big week for me - I did two things that I'm really proud of.

First of all, I completed my first ever outdoor 10km group run (more like walk/jog).
Secondly, I completed my PhD!

The soreness of Saturday's 10k has gone, but the relief of completing my PhD hasn't set in yet ... all in good time.

A few days ago I posted about not feeling confident/motivated. I stayed on plan - ate well all week and did several workouts, but there was a certain amount of energy lacking. I'm sure part of it is definitely related to my insomnia. Part of it is also just general stresses in my life ... I just felt like I was dragging a bit this past week, so it was no surprise (but definitely a disappointment) that I didn't lose any weight this week.

Just gotta stick to the plan and not give up. I'm definitely on the right track though things still need a bit of tweaking.

Weight loss progress:
Feb. 5 - 60 lbs. to target weight
Feb. 12 - 56 lbs. to target weight
Feb. 19 - 54 lbs. to target weight

Sunday: Weights (NROL4W 3A2 - 1 hour)
Monday: Rest
Tuesday: Weights (NROL4W 3B2 - 1 hour); Treadmill (30 min light); Zumba (1 hour)
Wednesday: Boxing 1.5 hours; Treadmill (20 min light)
Thursday: Treadmill (30 min); Zumba (1 hour)
Friday: Cross-trainer (45 min); Zumba (1 hour)
Saturday: 10 km support run (1.5 hours)
Total: Just over 10 hours

Food: {obviously repeated meals over the days}
Breakfast: oatmeal; cereal; cheese & tomato sandwich
Snacks: protein shake; cottage cheese with cashews; chocolate pudding (fat free); After Eight

Daily averages:
1,400 calories
90 g. protein
183 g. carbohydrates (20 g. fiber)
40 g. fat (8 g. saturated fat)

This past week I made it to the gym, but I didn't put in as much effort as I should have. My goal for the week seemed to be just to make it there ... but as I can see, it's definitely not good enough.

Even in terms of food - I ate a lot of the same things just because they were quick and easy to prepare. This week it was definitely just about eating something (healthy of course) rather than really thinking out and enjoying my food.

Last week I wrote about drinking more water -- except for 2 days (when I drank just 3 liters of water) I managed to drink 4 liters (135 ounces) of water.

Plan for the week:
Continue to drink 4 liters of water everyday.
Continue to try and increase my protein intake and lower my carb/fat intake.
Put more effort into my workouts.

Consistency is key ... so just gotta keep making sure I'm doing everything I can to stay on top of things. Change won't come without the effort.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Rest and Recovery

Today was a much needed day of rest after yesterday's 10k. My legs were definitely feeling the impact of walking/jogging/running on pavement versus the treadmill - it does make quite a difference.

I would normally do my week in review today, but I'm going to save it for tomorrow as the main thing I have to say for today is ...

I finally submitted my PhD thesis!!!!

I'd like to say that I'm totally relieved but it really hasn't sunk in yet ... but perhaps a good night's sleep is finally in my destiny.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

From 0 to 10K

I did it!

Remember that run I wrote about a few days ago? Well, after exchanging a few emails with one of the runners who is doing the 240 km (I still can't believe it), he finally convinced me to just give it a go.

So I thought to myself - ok, let's do this. Ever since deciding, I tell you, I have been a nervous wreck! I was just filled with so much fear about not being able to do it even though I wanted to try so bad.

I set 3 goals for myself:
1. Finish. Even if you have to crawl. Just finish.
2. Try to finish within 1 hour 40 minutes.
3. Try not to come last!

I guess my main goal was #1 - just finish no matter what. The other two would have been bonuses for me.

Before I tell you how it went, let me just show you what kind of day it was weather-wise. (I hope the sound is ok in the video.)

It rarely rains in Kuwait -- but of course, today, it was pouring down! I mean, non-stop stormy rain ... for a while it looked like the run wasn't going to happen ... but it did ... and ...

I finished!
I completed the 10 km (6.2 miles) in 1 hr. 27 minutes (so within my goal time).
I didn't come last! (mega grin from ear to ear!)

The whole task was a challenge for me. It's easy to do 10 km on a treadmill in the gym when you're there on your own time ... but this involved putting myself out there - running (walking/jogging) in public, with a group, on Gulf Road - OMG - talk about anxiety!

Plus there was also the mental battle with myself - trying to jog a little further than the last time, maybe a little faster too. Telling myself that I could do it and that there was no reason to give up ...

When I think about where I was early-December - the first time I was able to go back to the gym post-surgery - it was good to feel like I've come far, especially because I've been so down lately. Anyway.

I did it! Now to keep on moving forward and striving for more!

A few pix:

The six amazing runners approaching our starting point -- at this point they have just finished 120 km out of their 240.

The group of us before starting the run. (I'm in the front with the pink NY Yankees cap on.) [Organized by Aymstrong.]

Me in the RunKuwait t-shirt (I'm so glad I had 4 layers on under there - it was freezing!):

Friday, February 24, 2012

Changing things Up

I think I'm going to have to change things up in my gym routine soon as it is becoming just that ... a routine. This week in particular has been a bit hard. I've had so many other distraction that my workouts have been ... well, I guess overall they've actually been good, but this week felt a bit more like I was there so that I could just get the workouts done rather than really wanting to be there. That kind of distraction really affects my effort -- I've always told myself, if you're making the effort to go to the gym, then put in 100% while you're there. I usually do, but this week felt like I was kind of hanging around the 70% effort range ... I definitely need to step that up next week!

I think part of my issues this week has been an overall feeling of lack of confidence. For some reason (perhaps insomnia related) I just feel like I was dragging all week. I pretty much got everything done that I needed to, but it was all just with the mentality of pushing through. I'm so tired of pushing through, but I don't feel like I'm in enough control of my life to do it any other way at this point in time. So I think this feeling has just been dragging me down a little. Unfortunately that just means that each time I leave the gym and feel like I didn't give it 100% makes things worse -- Why didn't I go faster, hit harder, push heavier? I seem to be struggling to do it on my own. Maybe it's time to invest in a personal trainer? The thing is, I like my routine so I don't want to do somebody else's program. I just want someone to encourage me and push me through my program instead of changing it up ... We'll see!

For today, 45 minutes on the cross-trainer followed by Zumba class. My new shoes are working out great :) [Very much unlike the New Balance sneakers which were so painful that they brought tears to my eyes. Disappointed in that purchase! For now I'm sticking to my original New Balance trainers -- but am in desperate need for a replacement pair!]

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Giving In

I gave in last night and took two sleeping pills. I was just absolutely exhausted and drained ... I didn't want to, but I was desperate. Although I did manage to get almost 6 hours of sleep, I was still restless (work up 5 times during the night) and didn't feel all that rested once I woke up ... I just don't get it. I'm so frustrated!

Today was an easy day, mainly because I was insanely sore after yesterday's boxing workout. I could barely move my torso - coughing/sneezing hurt like you can't imagine! When I walked into the gym my trainer saw me and started laughing because he knew exactly how I was feeling. He was like - your posture is perfect now! - And I thought, well of course it is. I can't blood move my torso!! My knuckles hurt too! In any case - it was a painful but good type of sore.

I warmed up on the treadmill for half an hour and then went to Zumba class. I just needed to dance off all of this stress -- plus having my new Zumba shoes helped cheer me up! {Yes, I'm that person who buys the accessories to match the workout ... why not? Plus you know I'm a shoe addict!}

Love them!! {Um, I bought Zumba socks too - I know, insane, but I couldn't resist!!}
The shoes actually made quite a difference. They're light and slide easily on the floor, making some of the moves much easier than before.


I received a few compliments today on how I was looking more toned and trim. I don't really see it when I look in the mirror, but it's always nice to hear others say something positive. Hopefully I'll be able to see what others see one day - for right now, it's just me and my Zumba shoes.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Planning Ahead

On days that are going to be especially busy I do tend to worry a bit of how I'm going to accomplish everything I need to do as well as stay on track with eating right and working out. It takes a bit of planning (which sometimes takes quite a bit of time in itself) but it is possible, and after my day yesterday, I know it's totally worthwhile putting in that extra bit of planning, no matter how tedious it may seem.

The main thing I had to keep in mind for the day is that I was
eating out with friends at night. We were going for sushi, which for me is pretty much the only place I don't mind eating out. However, I know that sushi isn't as healthy as some of us would like to believe - I think there is a way that you can eat healthily (avoid deep fried rolls, stick to sashimi, stay away from the ma
yonnaise based sauce, ask for low sodium soy sauce etc.), but you have to watch what you order. {Here's a good article on Healthy & Unhealthy Sushi ingredients.} In any case. I knew I'd be eating out so I wanted to watch my calories for the breakfast and lunch and enjoy dinner without overdoing it. Anyway. With that in mind, I adjusted my food accordingly and managed to enjoy all my meals without a problem.

My workout didn't go as planned. I had originally planned a light cardio warm-up, body balance class, and then some boxing training - wasn't sure if I'd have the trainer with me today, so I was just going to do some basic footwork and core strength training. Just as I had finished my cardio warm-up, the electricity went out in the entire gym. Luckily it didn't affect me much because I was done with the machines --- I was ready for Balance class. Unfortunately, nobody showed up for class today so it got cancelled ... so I went on to do my boxing training. I first started with the jump rope -- I don't know how I'm going to manage to jump for 6-minutes in a row. I find it TOUGH!! Still, I know that the only way to get there is to practice, so I did. I jumped and I jumped and I jumped. I went at it for 20 minutes (though probably only jumped 10 of those 20). I just had to keep pushing myself. It's like I had a constant monologue running through my head - Come on, jump! Keep at it. Don't give up. You think you're tired, but you're not. You've got to push through etc. etc. etc. -- It was both mentally and physically exhausting ... but I'm determined to complete that 6 minute stretch. I don't know how long it'll take, but I'm going to to keep trying until I get there! After about half an hour of my own training I met up with H to do some proper training ... and He.Worked.Me.Out! OMG - punch after punch after punch -- I had my hand wraps on, but when the skin peeled off my knuckles and I started bleeding a bit (how hardcore does that sound? lol) I put on my gloves and really went at it.

Throwing a few punches may not seem difficult, but it really is an amazing workout. Everything matters - your stance, your poster, firm core, concentrated movements etc. It is not easy, but it felt incredibly good to hit something. Very cathartic indeed! Anyway. After an hour I was done. what I really wanted to do was lie down right there and then on the gym floor lol - I was very happy to have booked a massage for that afternoon. I felt like I really needed it!

So, a good day overall. Still didn't manage to get a good night's sleep. I think it's got to the point where I'm going to need to take something tonight so that I can actually sleep for 5 hours. That's all I'm asking for ... 5 hours of sleep. We'll see.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Challenging Yourself vs. Fooling Yourself

I took the day off from the gym yesterday so that I could catch up on some of my errands and hopefully ease some of the stress that I've been feeling and finally get a good night's sleep. Totally wishful thinking on my part. I'm just glad that I have the next 6 days off of work. Hopefully I can get some rest -- the insomnia is now starting to hurt. Right now I'm existing on 2-3 hours of sleep per night for the past week and the occasional 10-15 minute power nap. I'm definitely hurting!

Still, life doesn't stop nor do the workouts!

NROL4W - Workout B2 today.
It went quite well. I really, really enjoy lifting weights, and I do like seeing myself get stronger each day. Since this program is only 3 sets of 6 reps I feel like I can push myself a bit more in terms of trying a heavier weight though I am being careful - don't want to risk injury.

I didn't post my numbers last week, so here's my chart so far:

Feb. 14, ‘12

Feb. 21, ‘12

Dead row/squat

25 kg

35 kg

Single leg squat



Wide grip lat pull



YTWL dumbbell



Swiss ball crunch



Prone jackknife



Lateral flexion



Prone cobra



Interval training (15 min)

1.65 km

1.68 km

Part of Workout B includes HIIT after the weights workout. I've been doing ok, but I don't know if I'm pushing myself as much as I could ... again, finding that balance between challenging yourself and doing too much is tough when you're working out on your own. Still, today I pushed it a little more. I guess the trick is to just keep upping the intensity whenever I can and take it from there. Last week I did 4 1-minute jogs/sprints at 8.5 km/hr. This week I did 2 @ 8.5 and 2 @ 9.

On the note of running and challenging yourself ... there's a 10K coming up in a few days that one of my friend's is running. Actually, what he and 5 others are doing is much more amazing than the 10 km run -- they're actually running 240 km (from the north of Kuwait to the south -- that's just under 150 miles)!! It's estimated to take approximately 50 hours - can you imagine?

You can read a bit more about the run here.

Well, on the 25th there's a 10K support run that I'd love to be a part of. This is exactly the kind of thing that I want to do ... eventually. Well, actually I want to do it NOW, but I don't think I can. I've been going back and forth between challenging myself to do it or just waiting for another time when I'm better prepared. The 10K is not the problem - it's the running that's the problem. If you've been following my blog, you know that I'm not a runner. At the moment I can't even run 1 km! I don't know what's holding me back from pushing myself to run more ... I mean, I am trying little by little, but maybe I need to take it to another level. If it's something I really want to do, then don't I have to try harder? The thought of "I can't" is constantly lingering in the back of my mind ... I need to get rid of that thought, but it's so much easier said than done! In any case, I feel really disappointed in myself for not being in the shape I need to be to run a 10K. I workout for hours ... but running, aargh! Anyway. The only thing holding me back is me ... so I just need to push forward and challenge myself.


So, this morning - weights, a bit of cardio, physio for my knee, a good cool down session and then off to work ... then went back to the gym this evening for 3 km on the treadmill to warm-up before Zumba. Don't know how I'm pushing through without much sleep ... I'm definitely knackered now ... perhaps I'm exhausted enough for some sleep tonight?!

Monday, February 20, 2012

FMM - Travel

I've had quite a productive day - finally! Thought I'd take a break and participate in Kenlie's FMM!

1) Where did your most recent trip take you? I just got back from an amazing 3-week trip to Argentina. Absolutely fabulous!

2) Is there a place that you'd like to visit that you haven't yet? If so, where? The first place on my list is Italy! I can't believe I haven't been there yet!

3) Do you travel lightly, or do you cram as much into your luggage as possible? I used to travel with a TON of stuff. I've become much better, though I still find it quite challenging. It's especially tough when traveling for different types of weather. This past trip to Argentina ranged from insane heat to freezing temperatures - and pretty much everything else in between. So I had beach wear as well as glacier wear! Not easy ... Although I manage to only travel with one suitcase ... inevitably I bring back a second! (It's the shopaholic in me!)

4) Do your eating and exercise habits change when you travel? If so, how?
I try to incorporate some sort of physical activity when I travel. If there's a gym in the hotel I'll use it. I also do sit ups, lunges, etc. in my room. I don't exercise daily, but I often find that my days of travel are much more active than my non-gym days here in Kuwait! As for food, I try to eat in moderation and be sensible, but I also don't deprive myself of anything. For the past year and a half I've managed to travel (for weeks at a time) and not gain any weight or even lose a few pounds, so I'm pleased with how I've managed to sort out my eating habits while away.

5) Tell us about a place you've been that you'd like to go back to.
Definitely Argentina. The country is so massive and there's so much left to see. I'd love to go back to France, and of course I'll go back to the States any time!

6) Do you prefer to travel at a certain time of year?
No - I'd travel any chance I can get!

7) If you had to choose, would you go to the beach or the mountains?
Beach/cities -- I don't mind some quiet time, but I don't do too well in isolation!

8) Have you ever needed a passport to travel?
I got a passport soon after I was born! My first 'signature' is a fingerprint! :)

9) Do you collect anything in your travels?
I used to collect mugs, t-shirts, keychains, and other trinkets like that. Now I'll look for a unique piece of art or perhaps some sort of unique kitchenware -- something that I can actually use.

10) Where do you plan to go next?
My next trip is probably London, but that'll be for my PhD. For vacation, perhaps Sweden, Norway, and Italy? We'll see!

Ok, your turn. Answer this week's topic on your blog and then come back here and Kenlie's blog to post the link.

Gearing Up!

Today was a much needed day of rest. I'm sure that part of my insomnia has to do with all the tasks that I have yet to complete ... after yet another practically sleepless night I thought - Ok, it's time to get some of this stuff sorted. Hopefully it'll alleviate some stress and I can finally get some sleep ... and that will hopefully boost my workouts as well - Fingers crossed!!

Today turned out to be the perfect day to stay home and catch up on my work because I was greeted by the arrival of a few packages.

First of all, my New Balance sneakers finally arrived. For some reason, they don't seem to sell New Balance shoes here anymore. I ordered my first ever pair online - risky move, I know - but they fit like a dream. I have since totally worn worn them out. I wanted the exact same model again, but of course this time they didn't have my size. So, I've taken a bit of a risk (again) in buying this model ... I hope they are comfortable. If they are, you can be sure that I won't be waiting long to order a back-up pair!

My new Polar heart-rate monitor also arrived! I've been wearing a standard heart-rate monitor for when I do cardio on the machines, but I have nothing to measure how many calories I'm burning during classes like Zumba or RPM -- hopefully this will help!

I also got a few new gym t-shirts, sports bras, and a neck pad for the barbell for when I do squats (I would use the one at the gym, but I've seen all those sweaty guys use them - eeew.)

Of course a bit of non-fat icing on the cake was a new pair of heels - just in time for spring (which I hope is around the corner!) :)

So, after a day of rest, productivity, new gym gadgets, and shoes ... I'm hoping for a good night's sleep and a fresh start tomorrow!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Trying to Warm Up

Although I did get about 5 hours of sleep, I feel like I struggled to get started all day today. I guess it's normal to feel like that at the start of the week. I just didn't feel prepared for the week at all.

It's mornings like these that really bring out my indecisiveness. First I was debating whether or not to go to the gym ... since I didn't take a day off last week I contemplated taking today as a rest day. At least that would have bought me more time in terms of getting ready for the week.

In the end, I went. I knew that if I didn't go my routine for the rest of the week would get messed up.

I did NROL4W - Phase 3 Workout A2 today. I definitely felt improvements from last week's workout. I managed to knock some more time off my 1 km warm-up. I also increased a few of my weights ... I have definitely run out of weights to use in the studio - I'll have to go into the main weight room for the next time I do this routine. The matrix of squats and lunges were also good. I'm getting used to the jumping, and as I said in a previous post, my legs definitely feel stronger!

I finally re-started my physiotherapy for my knee. I need to make sure I do the exercise at least 5 times a week.

I have felt a bit more pain than usual today. Maybe it has something to do with yesterday's RPM class? I'm not sure. I'll just keep monitoring how bad it gets. I'd give it a 5/10 at the moment. I do find it quite distracting and uncomfortable!

In any case, I'm glad I completed my workout. The day did start to improve with a good session with my class and then a yummy salad for lunch, and then work work work.

I do feel like I'm in a bit of a funk and just trying to push through my days ... I know that's probably not the healthiest of attitudes right now, but it truly is all that I can manage at the moment.

Eating right and keeping on moving ...

Spinach Chick Pea Salad

I'm not a fan of making salads, but today I was just in the mood. I just grabbed a few things out of the fridge and started to chop them up ... this is what I came up with.

1 hard boiled egg
1 1/2 cups chopped spinach
1 medium red bell pepper diced
3 large mushrooms diced
1/2 cup chick peas, rinsed
2 tablespoons feta cheese
12 halves walnuts
2 tablespoons Ken's low calorie raspberry walnut dressing

1. Combine all the ingredients together!

Simple enough directions ... but you've got to make sure you have enough time to wash and dice all the veggies.

It came out much better than I thought it would. I hadn't intended on adding the boiled egg (I don't even remember the last time I ate a boiled egg ... plus it's usually just egg whiles for me, but today I ate the yolk too). I was also hesitant about adding the feta and walnuts, but they really did add flavor. All in all, quite delicious and very easy to make!

Nutritional info: (1 serving)
383 calories
24.3 g. protein
48.1 g. carbohydrates (11 g. fiber)
32.9 g. fat (6.5 saturated fat)

Week in Review

Yesterday was a tough day. The lack of sleep and my stress really brought me down. I was literally having trouble staying awake the whole day ... you may be thinking, well why not just sleep? Two reasons, I had a ton of things to do, and if I could sleep that easily, I wouldn't have insomnia.

I did, however, manage to take a 12-minute power nap. I know that sounds crazy, but it did help me get through the day.

I've had a lot of stuff on my mind lately and I know a lot of that has been keeping me distracted. I did manage to take the first steps in resolving some of those issues yesterday {I know it's a bit vague, but I'm not ready to share it all just yet}. It must have helped some because I finally managed to get 5 hours of sleep (of which 3 were uninterrupted). Hopefully things will continue to improve.

Despite the exhaustion, I did go to the gym. I decided to keep things 'simple' and just do an RPM class. I haven't been to class since the 29th of Oct -- pre-surgery. I was definitely a bit nervous as to how I would feel ... but it went quite well. My legs actually felt really strong so I didn't find the actual pedaling or intensity to be too difficult. I started to feel a bit of pain towards the end of the workout. Unfortunately I did feel it worsen a bit later in the evening. I'll have to reassess whether this is something that I will continue. It did feel good doing a different form of cardio though.

So -- my week in review. I think I did pretty well. Dropped another kilo this week. Not much, but as long as I see those numbers keep going down I'll be happy.

Weight loss progress:
Feb. 5 - 60 lbs. to target weight
Feb. 12 - 56 lbs. to target weight
Feb. 19 - 54 lbs. to target weight

{When I write those numbers down, the journey feels overwhelmingly endless!}

Sunday: Weights (NROL4W 3A1 - 1 hour)
Monday: Cross-trainer (1 hour); Treadmill (30 min)
Tuesday: Weights (NROL4W 3B1 - 1 hour); Zumba class (1 hr)
Wednesday: Boxing (1/2 hour); Body Balance (1 hr)
Thursday: Cross-trainer (1 hour); Zumba (1 hr)
Friday: Body Pump (1 hr); Zumba (1 hr)
Saturday: RPM (1 hr)
Total: 11 hours

Breakfast: oatmeal each day/yogurt and granola on one day
Lunch: salmon sandwich (The whole week! It was quick and easy - plus had to use up the fresh salmon!)
Dinner: vegetable soup; spicy salmon (no potatoes); shrimp stir-fry; veggie scramble
Snacks: Protein shake; low-fat organic raspberry yogurt; cottage cheese with cashews; homemade gluten-free banana nut muffins; chocolate pudding (fat free)

Daily averages:
1,450 calories
88 g. protein
172 g. carbohydrates (19 g. fiber)
41 g. fat (10.5 g. saturated fat)

In terms of working out, I think I'm doing quite well. I'd like to add another hour or two of cardio into the mix as well as at least one more yoga/balance/pilates class -- I just don't know if I have the time! I definitely feel like I'm getting stronger - makes such a huge difference to my workouts.

In terms of food, for the amount I'm working out, the calorie allowance is quite a bit higher, but I cannot imagine eating more than I already am. I've really made an effort to track all my calories and diligently focus on nutrition. I'm still not eating enough fruit -- I hope to add that into my diet. I also really, really, really need to eat more protein. I'm struggling with this!

I'd still like to lower my carbs and saturated fat intake. They're not horribly high, but still, I'd like them to be a bit lower. This week I ate quite a bit more bread than I usually eat -- all those salmon sandwiches! I'm sure cutting those out of my diet will help cut the carbs ... maybe I can even add a bit more salmon to increase my protein.

Plan for the week:
As I mentioned in yesterday's post, this week I will definitely focus on staying more hydrated. I'm going to try to drink 4 liters a day.
I didn't take any days off from the gym last week, so I may take a day off to recover this week.
I'm going to try and add some fruit to my daily diet and see what I can do about lowering my carbs and increasing my protein.

Here's hoping this week shows even more progress!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Still Struggling to Sleep

Another restless night - I'm not sure if I even got 3 hours. I'm very frustrated. I know that I have a lot of things on my mind and my stress levels are quite high at the moment ... not being able to sleep just adds to the frustration and stress. So much for having a restful weekend ...

Each week I'm trying to figure out how to make simple changes to my lifestyle that will enable me to get healthier. This week my goal was to increase my protein intake. Since I don't eat meat - red or white, it does become a bit more of a challenge. I do eat fish, and I know that fish is a great source of protein ... it's just that it can get a little bit tiring. In any case, I definitely upped my protein intake this week, but it is still a work in progress.

This week my focus is going to be on making sure I'm drinking enough water. I think I'm quite
lucky in that I don't struggle to drink water as many people seem to do. I drink at least 3 liters (100 ounces) of water a day without a problem at all. However, I do think that with the amount I've been working out lately, I should try and increase it to 4 liters (135 ounces) on a daily basis.

Recommended water intake on a daily basis (drink more when exercising):
2.7 L (92 ounces) per day for women
3.7 L (125 ounces) per day for men
If you are overweight, you should drink an extra 8 ounces for every 25 lbs. of excess weight.

These are just recommendations. The numbers will vary depending on your daily routine, your nutrition, the climate you live in, etc. I would just use these as a rule of thumb rather than a strict guideline.

Still unsure of how much water to drink? You can use an online calculator to help you out:

Something I read that I really took to heart: If you're thirsty, your body has already started to become dehydrated.

This week I'm going to try to drink at least 4 liters (135 ounces) of water per day [pure water, not fluids, e.g. coffee, milk, juice etc. ... just water.] We'll see how it goes!

A few articles I read on water & weight loss:

Friday, February 17, 2012

Not Enough Sleep

I didn't sleep well last night -- I don't normally sleep well anyway, but last night was terrible. I got about 4 hours of mega-interrupted sleep. I was waking up every 15 - 30 minutes. I don't know what was wrong because I was definitely very tired by the time I got to bed ... I was not a happy camper when I woke up this morning :(


Despite the lack of sleep I still made it to the gym this morning. Warmed up with 20 minutes of cardio - am still working on picking up my running, which is slowly but surely improving. Within the 20 minutes I ran/jogged for 5 1-minute intervals. I hope to keep improving on this. Then I went to Body Pump class followed by Zumba class.

Two hours and 20 minutes of exercise ... on probably just about two hours and 20 minutes of sleep!

I've got a ton of work to do, so gotta get to it and push through the sleepiness and exhaustion.

Shrimp Stir-Fry

I have been obsessing about getting more protein lately. So last night I thought I'd make a shrimp stir-fry. Lots of veggies + 200 grams of shrimp = delicious!

The photo shows just a small portion of the stir-fry served on a low carb spinach tortilla. I had intended on having the stir fry in a wrap but in the end decided against it. The calorie info below does not include the tortilla.

It did take some time to dice all the veggies, but it was totally worth the time. The different flavors and textures came together really well.

1 tablespoon sesame oil
1/3 cup onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon ginger powder

mushrooms (100 g. diced)
zucchini (85 g. diced)
broccoli (40 g. diced)
carrots (90 g. thinly sliced)
bell pepper (140 g. diced)
1/3 cup corn kernels
200 g. shrimp

1. Heat oil in a wok
2. Add diced onion and garlic and cook for about 3 minutes
3. Add the vegetables and saute for 5-7 minutes
4. Add the ginger powder - mix well (can add a dash of water)
5. Add the shrimp and saute for another 10-15 minutes

It's as simple as that!

Nutritional info: (calories per serving/recipe serves 2)
225 calories
20 g. protein
20 g. carbohydrates (5 g. fiber)
8.5 g. fat (1.2 g. saturated fat)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Figuring things Out

I went to bed last night feeling very achy and old. I was relieved that most of the stiffness in my neck and soreness in my lower back was gone by the morning - thank goodness for Deep Heat! Still, I didn't want to take any chances so I skipped my workout this morning (I only had one hour of cardio planned) in order to rest my neck and back a bit more. It's still not feeling 100% better, but it is slowly improving.

Despite the aches, I went to the gym in the afternoon and managed to complete my 1 hour of
cardio plus Zumba class :) [Can you tell I'm loving the class?! I can't wait to get my new heart-rate monitor and see how many calories I'm burning ... with the amount that I sweat, I'm hoping it's at least 400 calories!]

So far this week has been great in terms of workouts.

This week I've also been keeping detailed notes about what I'm eating. As I wrote last week, getting back into the swing of things has taken a bit of time, but overall I'm doing quite well. I know that I've been eating properly, but I know there is room for improvement.

There are so many blogs out there about nutrition and diet ... people share their plans and their strategies (not always implementing them though) and others comment and ask for advice. I think the bottom line is that you need to figure out a diet and exercise routine that works for you. The other thing to remember is that change, particularly proper weight loss, takes time. You can't expect the ten pounds you drop in one week on a liquid diet to stay off forever unless you make changes to what you eat/how you exercise for the remaining weeks of the year (your life).

For me, even if I'm on a low-calorie diet, if I don't exercise, the weight won't come off. I'll lose a few pounds, but then I'll stop. I have to exercise. I absolutely have to exercise ... plus watch what I eat. I know some people who can literally eat whatever they want and not gain any weight. I am definitely not one of those people! I also know people who can just cut a 200-300 calories from their diet and start to drop pounds ... again, that's not me.

I have to exercise hard and watch what I eat.

It has taken me time and it has taken a lot of practice, and I still have not perfected my routine. I am, however, getting better.

This week I have been focusing a lot on what I'm eating to make sure I'm getting the right amount of nutrition. I really, really, really need to up my protein intake. I'm getting half the required amount -- the real struggle lies in trying to figure out how to add protein without adding the calories.

According to the NROL4W program that I'm following, I should be eating around 1,800 calories a day (on a regular day when I don't exercise) and about 2,100 on days that I do a hard workout.

Yes, you read those numbers right.

Even if I stuffed myself I don't think I'd be able to eat that many calories. In my mind, 1,200-1,500 calories sounds good to me. The number 1,800 sounds insane ... as does 2,100. In any case, I promised myself that I would trust this process and follow the routine and the nutritional advice as suggested ... but I am struggling. I would love to completely trust the process, but my mind just does not want to accept eating that many calories ... we'll see how it goes. The true test is in the scale I guess.

In the meantime, I'm just watching what I eat. I need to eat more protein and lower my carb and saturated fat count a bit more - they're slightly higher than I'd like.

I guess the weigh-in on Sunday will give me a clue as to how this is working.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Marrakesh Vegetable 'Curry'

I put the 'curry' in inverted commas because as a Bangladeshi, I wouldn't really refer to this as a curry (not much gravy) - but that's what the recipe I slightly modified this from (found on called it, so I have followed suit.

One of the main changes that I made in the recipe is that I dropped the amount of oil used (they used way too much in the original recipe in my opinion). I also omitted the spinach as I didn't have any at home.

Overall, it was really delicious. I didn't eat it with any bread/rice or other starch - just added 1/4 of fat-free yogurt to add a bit more protein and break up the flavor a bit. Chopping up the ingredients takes a while, but it also lasts for a few days, which is good because you can keep it in the fridge (or freeze it) for those days when you're in a hurry and can't be bothered to cook something healthy.

The protein content isn't as high as I would like it to be. Perhaps next time I'll have it with some fish to increase the protein but not add to the carbohydrates.

The picture below shows 2 servings of the curry plus yogurt.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
2 tablespoons curry powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
1 teaspoon chili powder

1 sweet potato (medium)
1 green bell pepper (medium)
1 red bell pepper (medium)
1 cup eggplant (diced)
1 cup zucchini (diced)
2 carrots (diced)
1 (15 oz.) can garbanzo beans, drained
2 tablespoons raisins

1 cup orange juice

1/4 cup fat-free yogurt

1. Heat oil and add onion, garlic, and spices - saute about 3 minutes (add one or two dashes of water to prevent burning/sticking to the pan)
2. Add all diced vegetables, except the zucchini, and saute for 5 minutes
3. Add the garbanzo beans, raisins, and orange juice. Simmer for 15-20 minutes, covered. Serve!

Nutritional info (calories per serving/recipe serves 6)
180 calories
5 g. protein
27.3 g. carbohydrates (6 g. fiber)
7.2 g. fat (1 g. saturated fat)

Quarter cup fat-free, plain yogurt
35 calories
3.5 g. protein
4.7 g. carbohydrates (0 g. fiber)
0.1 g. fat (<0.1 g saturated fat)

Stiff Neck

Last night after Zumba class I felt a sharp pain in the back of my neck. I don't know why or how it happened, but all of a sudden, I couldn't move my neck.

Unfortunately, I woke up this morning and still felt terrible. My neck is totally stiff. It looks like I have terrific posture until I start moving ... which is when I just look strange! Anyway.

My intention for Wednesdays was just to do Body Balance, but I really wanted to start my boxing training at some point ... so today was the day to begin.

I went to the gym this morning, did my usual 1 km warm-up, and then got started on my
boxing. It's been a long time since I trained -- at least four months, so I am basically restarting with the basics. Aside from attempting 6 minutes of jump rope (which I found very difficult), the rest of the workout was some basic footwork plus some shadowboxing as well as some core training. Not too difficult, but definitely important basic skills to master before taking it up a notch.

After that, I did Body Balance class. It was nice to see some improvement since last week. I definitely think that my workouts and weight training over the past week have helped. I know it's early days still, but it's always nice to see some improvement in just a short time.

I also got to use my new Manduka yoga mat. I read that it was the best yoga mat out there, so I thought, why not. I needed a new yoga mat -- If I'm going to get one, it might as well be the best. I had no idea how heavy this mat was going to be (the mat + the canvas bag came to a total of 4 kg or 8.8 lbs.), which totally killed me on the international shipping and handling (paid more than the price of the mat itself!!! I have to get good use out of it!). Anyway. It was great. It really made a difference to my workout as I wasn't constantly afraid of slipping and falling.
I'll write a more detailed review of the mat in a separate post.

Another good workout day ... now I just need my neck to loosen up again!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Fulfilling Day

Today was completely jam-packed.

This morning I did Workout B in NROL4W Phase 3 for the first time. I'm definitely loving this phase.

In general I like working out alone - I'm not distracted; I don't feel self-conscious; I can completely focus on what I'm doing and take my time while I'm doing it. There are other times, however, when I feel like it would be great to have a workout buddy. I have lots of friends at the gym, but none of them workout the same way I do (and I don't work out the same way that they do). I know that I could workout with a trainer, but I really want to finish NROL4W - and I have a feeling the trainers would have me doing a lot more than what's in the program ... but for once in my life I want to finish something I've started. This is a long journey I've chosen, but I am determined to get through - even with all the obstacles, and there have been many obstacles - namely, surgery, travel, and the never-ending PhD. In any case, having a partner to workout with on days that I do weights would be great so that I could have someone check my posture, so I could have someone spot me when I'm lifting heavier weights, and so that I could have someone really push me.

To say that I'd like someone there to really push me is not to say that I don't push myself. I do try. Still, I know that I feel apprehensive about some things, and I'd really love to be able to keep pushing through that ... someone to urge me through that would be so great -- I wonder if Jillian Michaels is free to train me?!


Back to today's workout.

I did my usual 1 km warm-up and shaved off another 30 seconds. I am determined to run. I am determined to run. Even if it takes me a year to train, I really, really, really want to be able to run without it being such a struggle.

Then on to the weights workout:
Single-leg squats
Lateral pulls (wide-grip)
Back extension
YTWL (like doing the YMCA but with weights - and in the shape off YTWL)
Swiss ball crunches
Prone jackknives -- hello again my long, lost friend!
Lateral flexion
Prone cobra

... followed by 15 minutes of interval training.

I'm not going to go into all the details of my workout right now, but I just wanted to talk about 3 things ...

First of all, the wide-grip lateral pulls. I've been pulling 41 kg for the past few workouts. It's challenging. I can do it with good posture, but I don't find it easy. I had to wonder, will I never make it to the next weight ... the issue I had is that the next weight is 48 kg. That's a 7 kg jump! Seven kilos is no laughing matter -- would I ever be able to get there? One of the things I really like about only doing 3 sets of 6 reps is that you have a chance to take it to the next level. (This is what I meant about it being helpful to have someone to push you/encourage you). I knew that it was only fear that was holding me back from trying the next weight level. After doing 2 sets at 41 kg I thought - alright, enough is enough. It's only 6 reps. Surely I can try 48 kg for 6 reps. If it's excruciating or if I'm barely able to get the bar down, then I can change it back to 41 ... but at least let me try.

So I tried, and I did it. They weren't perfect (well, I maintained my posture, but couldn't bring it all the way down), but I tried. I just wanted to get it down to nose/mouth level -- and with a lot of determination, I was able to bring it down. So, next time, my goal is to aim for the chin, and then eventually the chest. Pulling at 48 kg was really difficult, but I don't want to go back to 41 kg again. I've had enough with that weight group.

The second exercise that gave me pause was the prone jackknives. Pre-surgery I had really improved since the first time I ever did the exercise. However, today was another story ... it had been so long since I had done the exercise. It's really challenging, and it puts a lot of pressure on your abs. With the pain I've been in, and of course my post-surgery tension, I had to wonder, would I be able to do it? The answer, of course, is yes. It's just about getting into the right framework. I've got to push the surgery out of my head -- I have fully recovered from the surgery. My incision is fine. That chapter of my life has ended. The pain, on the other hand, is another story ... but I'm fine with pushing through that as well. Anyway. Back to the prone jackknives -- I'm so happy that I was able to complete the exercise without much difficulty. It'll take some time before I'm back to doing 50 at a time, but I'll get there. I know I will.

Finally, there was the interval training.

I skipped the interval training after the Workout B's in Phase 2. I was just healing at that time and was in no shape to do the training properly. I'm a big fan of HIIT training, but I always wonder if I'm putting enough intensity during the 'high intensity' parts ... in any case, today I tried. It was only for 15 minutes -- 1 min hard, 2 min slow repeat. It was good. Perhaps I could have gone a bit faster during the 'hard' parts -- once again, that damn fear holding me back, but I'm pleased with what I did today. Next time, I'll take it up a notch.

Overall, great day with the workouts. I went back in the evening for Zumba class (loving it!!!) . So today I put in 2.5 hrs at the gym ... perfect just before dinner out.

Ok this has already become a very long blog post, so I'll post about dinner out later. It definitely made me realize something about my eating habits ... stay tuned :)

Hope everyone had a love-filled day!