Monday, April 30, 2012

Taking a (Painful) Break

I didn't go to the gym today. I just couldn't.

When I woke up this morning the migraine that started two days still hadn't let up, my throat was sore, I had a runny nose, my back was killing me, and I had the worst cramps ever. (Not to mention all the aches from yesterday's crazy workout). I normally try to push through the cramps, but it was the rest of the symptoms that made me think otherwise this time ... and seeing how the cramps and dizziness worsened over the day, I know I made the right choice.

So since I didn't workout today, let me tell you about yesterday.

I started Stage 7 of NROL4W yesterday. It's the last stage in the program, and I have to say, I am so proud of myself for sticking to the program over the past ten months! When I looked at Workout 1, I thought it wasn't going to be too bad. OMG - I can't even explain the type of sore I'm feeling, but this soreness is definitely a good type of sore.

2 sets of squats/8 reps each - set 1 @ 50 kg (110 lbs); set 2 @ 55 kg (121 lbs). I really tried to squat as low as possible. It was a bit of a struggle to stand up, especially with the last two reps, but other than that it was fine.

Alternating 4 sets and 20 reps of lunges (rear foot elevated on step) and push ups. I held 10 kg (22 lb) dumbbells in each hand for the first 3 sets of squats and then 12.5 kg (27.5 lbs) dumbbells for the final set. I'm really feeling the after effects of 80 lunges/leg today! OUCH!! I did all 80 push ups on my knees. I dropped all the way down for all of them, but the last 4-5 were a bit of a struggle.

Alternating 4 sets of 20 reps of barbell deadlifts and dumbbell bent-over rows. For the first 3 sets of deadlifts I used 30 kg (66 lbs) and for the final set I went up to 35 kg (77 lbs). I know that I can deadlift more weight ... but 20 reps is a LOT of reps. I struggled towards the end, but I did complete it. I used 7.5 kg (16.5 lbs) dumbbells in each hand for the rows, and then 10 kg (22 lbs.) dumbbells for the last set.

I underestimated how intense the workout was going to be. I worked up an incredible set, and I was also amazed at how high my heart rate got, particularly as I did the last few reps of each set. Still, overall it felt great, and I definitely felt strong.

I had intended to do workout 2 today, but I clearly need a day of rest before continuing the next weights workout.

On a side note, the in-laws and my parents came over for dinner tonight. To change things up I decided to cook what D and I would normally have for dinner to show them how we've been eating lately. So instead of the typical 7-8 dish spread that I would have made, I grilled some salmon and made a few veggie side dishes. Very low fat, but lots of flavor. It turned out really well -- but now I'm knackered. Taking another two painkillers and heading for bed now. I hope these cramps subside. Ugh.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Week 5 Update - Summer Challenge

The hectic-ness of last week carries on into this week. I feel like lately I haven't been able to catch my breath. I am happy that I'm making my workouts a priority, but to be honest, it does get difficult when trying to squeeze everything else into my day as well. I feel like I've been living moment to moment (appointment to appointment) instead of really living. I'm wondering if that time will ever come!

Week 5 Update:

Week 5 was really busy for me. I had the 3-day conference at the beginning of the week, followed by the arrival of my in-laws. Since they've been here, we've been out every night. I ended up eating out every single day, sometimes twice a day, which is a HUGE change to my normal routine because at most I eat out twice a week. Even though I did manage to go to the gym 6/7 days, my workouts were shorter and not as intense. On top of everything, all the evenings out = late nights = not enough sleep = not as much energy as I would have liked for my workouts.

So overall, I survived the week, but it was a struggle.

1. Weight loss goal: To lose 10 lbs by May 8 (loss since the challenge began 4.84 lbs)
I'm disappointed to report an almost 2 lb gain this week. It is clearly a reflection of all the eating out I've been doing this week. Even though I tried to make good choices, I know I consumed more calories than I normally do. I'm trying not to let it frustrate me too much - two things that I'm keeping in mind are that TOM is around the corner and that this week's weigh in showed a 2.8% loss of fat, so despite the weight gain, the fat has been replaced by muscle. I know that's good, but as I've said before - I just want the number on the scale to match the measurements/progress. I would have normally measured myself today, but I'm going to wait and do that next week. Oh well. Nothing to do but keep moving forward.

2. Non-scale goal: Make it through the week!
I did indeed make it through the week. I did manage to get an errand or two done as well, but most of my days were taken up by the either the conference or my in-laws. Now I desperately need to finish preparing for my viva.

3. Exercise goal: I am happy to say that I did meet all my goals in terms of exercise this week.
- Weight training: Finish NROL4W Stage 6 - DONE!
- Cardio: 5 hours (including 1 10 km session) - DONE!
- Abs etc. exercises: 2,000 reps - Ummmm, no. Only managed 1,000 reps this week
- Crossfit: Complete first session - Yes, DONE! :) 

4. Nutrition goal: Be vigilant of what I eat/drink
I tried ... but I need to try harder. I ate a LOT of carbs this week. I was terrific on the water (still hitting 4 L a day). I did manage to eat some fresh fruit 5/7 days ... I'm still trying to go for 7/7!

Goals for Week 6: 
Although I hit all my exercise goals for the week, it's obvious that unless it's accompanied by careful monitoring of what I eat, doesn't matter. This week is filled with dinners/lunches with my in-laws, so I know the food aspect of my week will be a struggle. Hopefully I can get some more time in at the gym ... we'll see.

1. Weight loss -  Try to lose the 10 lbs by May 8th
2. Non-scale goal - Finish reading through the remainder of my thesis (4.5 chapters left -- I gotta do it, my viva is in 12 days!) Try to get more sleep.
3. Exercise - Start NROL4W Stage 7; Get in at least 6 hours of cardio (including 1 10 km stretch); Do 1,500 reps of abs/thighs/butt exercises (of some variation) over the week.
4. Nutrition goal - Streamline my foods to be more wholesome/raw/fresh; increase protein intake; cut down dairy intake.

That's it for this week -- on top of all that there are papers to grade and lessons to plan ...

We've been asked to share a motivational photo/quote this week. I used to have a Motivational Monday post, but I got side-tracked with all my other posts. Maybe I should restart that ... in the meantime, you can check some of the previous posts. This is my motivation for this week :)

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Me, Myself, and I

Me: 4:30 a.m. - I can't believe I'm up this early. It's Saturday. I'm tired.
Myself: Get up. Start your day. You have tons to do. 
I: Ugh. Fine. Ouch. My thighs are sore. OMG my shoulders! I can barely move my arms.
Myself: Suck it up! Just move, you'll loosen up. 

Me: I have 1 hour left to do to meet my cardio target of the week; I've also got 10 km to complete. Shit.

Myself: Go now. Get it done. 
I: But I'm tired. I can go later in the day. My body is sore. Shouldn't I listen to my body and rest? Rest isn't bad, is it?
Myself: *Eye roll* 

Me: Hurry up and make a decision about what you want to do. You've got breakfast with the in-laws and parents at 9:00 a.m. Are you going to work out or not?

Myself: Go now. You know you'll be tired later. Get it over and done with. 
I: {As I grumpily put on my gym clothes} I don't know if I can do 10 km today. I can barely walk. Besides. Saturdays are usually my day off.
Myself: You already took Wednesday off! Just go and do what you can. Aim for an hour, and then if you're really sore/hurting, you can stop. You have to complete the first hour. 
I: You're a militant bitch.
Myself: *Smug smile* 

Me: 6:15 a.m. - Lovely having the gym to myself early in the morning.

Myself: Get started. Stop wasting time. 
I: Maybe I should use this time to organize my gym locker.
Myself: Stop procrastinating and get started!
I: OKAY! Stop being such a bully. 

I get on the cross-trainer and start. My legs feel like they're made of cement. It is SO hard to move them. I just want to cry.

Myself: Are you serious? You've just started and you want to cry? Keep moving!
I: I can't. I'm tired. This hurts. It's impossible. 
Myself: Of course you can. Your legs will loosen up as you warm-up. You'll feel so much better soon.
I: I don't think I can manage an hour let alone 10 km. It's just too difficult. 
Myself: Seriously? And you think you're going to be able to do CrossFit? You can't move for a measly hour? Suck.It.Up!
I: *grumble*

I hit 2.5 km and I'm starting to feel a bit better though I was struggling. My heart rate was higher than it usually was at this intensity. Still, I pushed through.

5 km rolls around and I'm feeling much better. My legs still hurt like hell, but it's getting easier.

8 km and I'm excited. The 'finish line' is just around the corner.

1 hr & 15 minutes; 10 km -- done. I finished both my cardio and distance target for the week.

Myself: See, aren't you proud of yourself?
I: {Reluctantly} Yes.
Me: Can't help but smile.

I'm glad that I pushed through and did the 10 km. At the very least it just proved to me that I can do it. I am all for listening to your body; at times rest is definitely important. I do think, however, that sometimes you can push through and achieve something you didn't think was possible.

Despite the headache that my inner dialogue gave me, I have to thank "Myself" for sticking to the plan and pushing 'Me' to get the task done.

The only question I'm left with now is -- Will this soreness ever go away?

Friday, April 27, 2012

My Aching Thighs and Shoulders!

I'm not sure how I made it to the gym this morning after yesterday's CrossFit session. Actually, getting to the gym was not a problem. I guess I should say - I'm not sure how I made it through today's workouts because my thighs and shoulders were on fire!

I did my usual Body Combat, Body Pump, Zumba Friday routine. Both Combat and Pump classes had lots of lunges and squats - they did not help my aching thighs one bit. Plus all the punching in Combat followed by chest presses, tricep presses, and push ups (to name a few) that were targeting my shoulders/arms -- OMG. I wanted to stop at one point, but I didn't. Zumba was my treat of the day, especially since I missed both classes during the week. So, I got a mega-workout in today ... but let me tell you about yesterday.

I got my first taste of CrossFit yesterday.

We met in an outdoor field and were introduced to the basic idea of CrossFit and shown some of the basic moves. None of us (7 girls) had ever done CrossFit before, which was a relief for me because I was nervous. We had two coaches - F, who I mentioned in my post at the beginning of the month, and YAB, who professional competes in CrossFit competitions.

We started off with some jogging, rudely interrupted by burpees! Have you ever done a burpee? To me, it's a form of modern-day torture. It really is a challenge (for me) to put all the movements together - jump down into push up position, pull your knees in to your chest quickly, and jump back up. Try doing three of those after being out of breath from jogging and then continuing the jog only to be interrupted again by burpees. I wanted to cry (in a good way, kinda).

The when did a combination of some other moves - squats, push ups, leg raise holds, followed by another jog. We did walking lunges, deadlifts, and more sprints, burpees, and other jumps.

Since this was just an introductory taste, we didn't use any weights. It's amazing how much of a workout you can get without using any weights at all!

All in all, I loved it! It really got my heart rate going and challenged my body to MOVE. Those quick shifts from one position to another are themselves a challenge enough. This is definitely something that I want to continue doing. I think once my PhD is completely out of the way and I finish my NROL4W weights program I will be able to devote time to CrossFit. I can't wait :)

By the way, CrossFit Regionals are happening right now.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Polar FT60 Heart Rate Monitor Review

I love my Polar heart rate monitor :)

I bought the heart rate monitor over two months ago.
The only reason I waited so long to put it together is that I felt that there were too many steps to get it set up. I was wrong. It was really easy to follow the step-by-step set up instructions. I think the fact that I had to lie down for 3 minutes for it to register my resting heart-rate made me procrastinate (yes, I'm that restless!). 

The heart rate monitor comes with an instruction manual, chest strap, transmitter device, and watch. 

1. Set up, once I actually got around to doing it, was easy.
2. The display is clear and easy to read.
3. The chest strap is not uncomfortable.
4. Figuring out/remember what the buttons are for takes a bit of getting used to, but after using twice I had no problems remember it at all.
5. I found the calorie count to be more accurate than what is displayed on the actual cardio machines.
6. It divides your workout level into 3 categories and tracks how long you've spent in each category (easy, medium, challenging workouts).
7. It tells you how you're doing in terms of attaining your weekly goals (which you program into the monitor before using).
8. Each week it prompts you to update your weight so that it can provide the most accurate readings.

1. It doesn't have a stopwatch. It does keep track of how long you've been working out, but it doesn't have a separate stopwatch function.
2. You need to wear the watch; you can't keep it in your gym bag, even if it's close by. This main affects me when I'm boxing because it's uncomfortable when you're wearing hand wraps plus boxing gloves.
3. You can read the calories burned + heart rate at the same time. You have to scroll to a different menu.

So as you can see, not that many cons. I highly recommend it. It may seem expensive at first, but I think it's worth it.

Hope that was helpful - if you have any specific questions, feel free to ask!


Skipping Zumba today for my first Crossfit session! You already know how much I love Zumba, but the session is at the same time as the Crossfit training so I'm going to have to miss it :(

I am, however, SO excited about trying this workout, but I'm nervous too. Will I be able to manage? All I keep reading/hearing about Crossfit is how intense and tough it is. I'm all for intense and tough, but am I capable? I guess we'll find out tonight.

Here's a video I found about Zumba vs. Crossfit. It made me laugh - had to share :)

<iframe width="420" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

An Off-Routine Day

Up at 4:30 a.m. this morning to get some fresh wholewheat banana nut muffins in the oven just in time for my in-laws to arrive -- yes, I scored major non-fat brownie points for that ;)

I've been on the go ever since.

First of all, I just wanted to thank everyone who commented on yesterday's post. I definitely realize I was over-thinking the situation, something that I commonly do when I'm feeling a bit stressed - I just pick on one thing that unsettles me and obsess over it. The welcome basket was much appreciated, and in the end, I knew that I wasn't giving it to them with any bad intentions at all ... after all, they're on holiday!

I guess for me the concern stems from my own insecurities with food. Lately I'm so much more aware of what I eat, even when I'm on holiday. That's not to say I don't indulge and treat myself; I do. I guess what scares me is that I have found it to be a slippery slope -- it's when the once-in-a-while treat becomes an all-too-frequent occurrence that makes me panic. It just shows me that I still have a long way to go when it comes to how I view and handle food.

Most of today was spent at the embassy applying for my new passport - my 10th passport. I'm so fed up of going through passports so quickly because of all the visas I have to get. Still, I'm glad I get the opportunity to travel!

Speaking of travel, the most exciting news of the day was that I've been invited to be a keynote speaker at a conference in Mexico this summer!! I'm SO excited - I've never been to Mexico, and although I've been invited to give a lecture once before, this is the first time it's as a keynote speaker! Now I have to start figuring out what to say ;)

Other than that, I've just been busy doing errands and trying to catch up on some rest. Yesterday's mega-boxing workout followed by 5 km has left me feeling crazy sore. Needless to say, I did not make it to the gym today, but I hope to make it up later in the week.

On top of not going to the gym, today was a carb-filled day. I didn't overdo it. I just ate more carbs than I normally do. I did, however, also eat fruit - which is something, as you may have guessed from my weekly summer challenge updates, I have been struggling to do.

So, yes, overall, today has been an off-routine day!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Enabling (part 1)

I did something terrible today and I feel absolutely horrible, and I mean really, really horrible. The thing is, I don't know what I should do about it or if anything needs to be done.

My in-laws are arriving from London tomorrow. Each year when they arrive, I make them a welcome basket full of goodies to munch on throughout the day. They stay at a hotel when they come here (lucky, aren't I? Though they are lovely, but still, you know how it can get with visitors in the house for an extended period of time!). Anyway. Since they stay at a hotel, it's nice to have something to snack on instead of having to go to a restaurant or raid the minibar.

Today when I went to the grocery store I almost had an anxiety attack. This basket of goodies that I make them is usually filled with all sorts of chips, chocolates, and biscuits. All their favorites that they don't normally eat when they're home.

Am I hypocrite for buying this stuff and giving it to them?

These are things that I don't buy anymore. I don't even remember the last time I sat down and had a bag of crisps on my own. These are things that I tell other people not to eat, not to buy ... don't tempt yourself by having junk in the house. Since it's the advice I give, it's also something I try my very best to live by (and I'm happy to say I'm successful 99% of the time).

I feel like I'm doing something wrong by buying these things for them. They're not binge eaters. It's not like they're going to sit down and eat everything in one or two days. They'll eat it over the next two weeks, and in between they'll go swimming, they'll go for walks ... They'll have salad and fruit etc. during breakfast and dinner ... this is just a treat.

To me, when I write all that stuff it just sounds like I'm making excuses, like I'm trying to feel less guilty for giving my in-laws unhealthy food.

I don't know.

When I got to the checkout counter I felt ashamed. I felt embarrassed. To me all I kept thinking was - The guy at the checkout till must be thinking, 'Seriously? Who eats this much junk?' Yes, I know it's not for me, but still, I really did feel ashamed.

I don't know if there's an easy answer to this, and for those of you who are reading this post I do hope you'll share your opinion. It's like when people come over for dinner, do I make dessert? I make GOOD desserts - brownies that melt in your mouth, cheesecake that brings silence to the room as each person enjoys each bite -- but I don't feel like I can/should make those anymore. Is this goody basket the same? As someone who is trying to lose weight, is it right for me to buy/prepare unhealthy foods for others?

I just can't wrap my head around it. Maybe I'm over-thinking it. I guess since it's been such a long time since I bought any of that stuff that I'm having difficulty processing it. I know that I have a difficult time resisting chips and chocolate, so I've just stopped buying them.

In the end, I know that I am responsible for my actions - what I eat and how much I eat is my decision. However, to what extent am I responsible for what I provide for others? Am I being an enabler? Or am I just making a big deal out of nothing?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Quick Update

These past two days have been FULL - out the door by 6:30 a.m. and back home around 7:30 p.m. It's been tiring, but the days have been good.

Sunday - Completed Stage 6 of NROL4W. There's only one stage left. I haven't decided whether or not I'll start it before I leave for London and then complete it after I get back or just wait until I get back ... we'll see. I've been working on this program for ten months now. I think I'm going to start a new tab on the blog solely about my progress through this strength training program.

Monday - Completed 5 km in 48 minutes; Of that 5 km I jogged 1.5 (though only half a km at a time). I'm slowly easing myself into it.

Busy days in class. I've got to finish preparing my students for their test (the day after I return from London) before I leave for my trip so they've had a lot of work to do, and I've had a lot of lesson planning and lecturing to do!

The Conference:
The conference has been great so far. It's about Globalization and English/English Literature, which is right up my alley as my PhD thesis is about the impact of globalization on attitudes towards learning English in a Kuwaiti context. The talks have been interesting; I feel like it's come at the perfect time to help me refine and strengthen the arguments I've presented in my thesis. One more conference day left.

I'm really glad I've started using my Polar heart rate monitor. I'll write a product review for it soon. I've realized that I'm not burning as many calories as I thought I was. I'll have to really watch my calorie intake. My water intake has been on point and my calories have been pretty good considering I've been eating lunch out these past two days. We'll see how it all totals up in the end.

Gotta get some zzzzz's!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Week 4 Update - Summer Challenge

I started the day off feeling very stressed. I've just been looking at this week with such anticipation ... it's never a good thing. I had to remind myself, I am in control. I planned as much as I could in advance for today. I am in control. If there is something that is not in my control, then I don't need to worry about it.

Week 4 Update:


1. Weight loss goal: To lose 10 lbs by May 8 (loss since the challenge began 4.84 lbs)
Only down 1/2 kg (1 lb.) this week. I feel like I've fallen into the 'slow and steady' weight loss category, which is fine, but I can't deny that I wish I could see the number move faster! Total loss for the challenge - 5.84 lbs. Just over 4 lbs to go in the next two weeks.

2. Non-scale goal: Make it through my list of things to do; prepare for/pass my PhD Viva
I finally made some more headway into my errands. I still have so many to do :( Having to teach the extra 23 students for the whole week really did throw me off in terms of how much prep I did for class etc. Hopefully things will normalize this week as I'm back to teaching just my class. 

I managed to get through chapter 4 of my thesis, but I didn't complete chapter 5 or start my data task. (Feeling so frustrated writing that!)

A bonus NSV -- my size L Nike DryFit capris are now too big :) I slipped on a medium (that I had bought once by mistake) and it fits really well! Super pleased about that!!

3. Exercise goal: I had another great week when it came to making it to the gym.
- Gym 6x/week - Done!
- Weight training 3x/week (4 is possible) - Done! In fact, I did 5 weights sessions this week because of the trail run of Body Pump 81 with our trainer KD.
- Cardio 6 hrs/week (10 if possible) - Done! I managed 9 hours of cardio, so close to 10!! I've mentioned my 10 km November run before. I won't be focusing on any official training until after I return from London. For now, I'm just going to work on my endurance. This week I did 10 km on the cross-trainer in 1 hr. 18 min. I also hit a personal best of running 7 1/2 min straight. I'm getting closer to a sub-8 min kilometer!
- Abs focus 3x/week - Done! I did abs on my own twice and I did 2 abs blast classes (ouch!)

4. Nutrition goal
- Drink 3.5-4 L water daily - Done! In fact, except for Saturday I drank 4 L of water easily!
- Eat at least 1 serving of fruit daily - Do I really have to answer this? Only managed this 4 times this week :( It should be so easy ... but for some reason, I'd rather eat nothing than eat fruit even though I do actually enjoy the taste. I just can't explain it, but I will get this right!
- Greatly reduce wheat/grain based carbs during dinner - Done! I had bread only one night this week and for the rest of the days I just had lentils, veggies, and salad.
- Track food & water intake on a daily basis - Hmmmm My original intention was to write everything down like I was doing before. Have I done that? No. Have I been watching what I eat and monitoring my water intake? Yes. I think that will have to do for now. 

5. Mini-challenge: Pay it forward - You can read about it here :)

Goals for Week 5:
I seem to be doing well on the exercise and nutrition front, but honestly, just those two things take a lot of time! Grocery shopping, preparing the food, cooking, cleaning up ... Getting my workout clothes together, going to the gym, working out, showering, getting ready ... these take so much time. It's totally worth it. In fact, I'd happily give up a lot of other things just to be able to focus on my exercise and nutrition without any distractions. Unfortunately, that's not reality. I'm having such a lot of trouble getting other tasks done. I'm just tired. By the time I'm home at the end of the day, I am tired.

So, I'm modifying some of my goals for this week because I know it will be hectic with the 3-day conference, my in-laws coming, and the new CrossFit training session. I'm just trying to be reasonable and realistic. We'll see how it goes.

1) Weight loss - Same as before. Just keep losing some weight; no pressure on a number as long as it's a bit lower than the previous week and that I'm on my way to losing the 10 lbs by May 8th.
2) Non-scale goal - I only have one major task that I want to accomplish this week and that is to get Survive! I'm not putting any extra pressure on myself to get anything other than doing things that need to be tackled immediately. I'm even putting reading my thesis on the side until I get to the weekend. Sometimes (usually, actually!) I get more things done when I'm under a lot of pressure than when I have some time to play around with.
3) Exercise - Finish NROL4W Stage 6; Get in at least 5 hours of cardio (including 1 10 km stretch); Do 2,000 reps of abs/thighs/butt exercises (of some variation) over the week; Survive my first CrossFit session!
4) Nutrition goal - I clearly have not allocated the time to write everything down. However, I do feel like I have been sensible ... so I'm going to stick to my current goals but modify the last one from 'track' to just be vigilant of everything that I eat and drink and continue to make sensible choices so that I can achieve my goals.

Gosh, looking at all that makes me feel a bit nervous. I'm just hoping that my previous experiences of being more productive when under pressure will come through for me this week!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Paying it Forward

finally caught up to commenting on all the bloggers who linked up to the Summer Challenge. I felt kind of strange talking about Week 4 when we're pretty much done with it, but still, I wanted to show my support. I tried to comment on other blog posts as well, not just the Summer Challenge update, but couldn't do that for everyone. I hope that I can get around to the posts sooner next week.

This week's mini-challenge was about paying it forward

I'm not sure how I do this actively at the moment, but I have started looking into getting a certification in nutrition and fitness and maybe one day work up to be a trainer of some sort. It's been a dream of mine for quite a while though I've never vocalized it before. I guess I'm just afraid of putting it out there in case I don't succeed. However, I really, really want to be able to pay forward the things that I have learned by being more involved in health and fitness. So I guess this is the way I can pay it forward in the future. 

As for right now, I think the best I can do is continue to comment on blogs and communicate with others who are struggling to lose weight. For me, having a supportive community - whether real or virtual - has been incredibly important. I know that I don't want to let myself down, but I also know that I don't want to disappoint anybody else who may be rooting for me or at the very least watching my progress. 

Aside from the blogs, I also try to be friendly and approachable at the gym. I think this is important because I know how intimidating the gym can be. You walk in and see already super-fit people running on the treadmill and lifting lots of weight; you see them doing the classes with lots of gusto and energy; you see the trainers having a good relationship with these people and wonder - where do I belong? How will I ever get there? 

I think by being an overweight person who enthusiastically hits the gym and is not afraid to sweat, to try, to stumble and pick myself up can hopefully take the fear and intimidation out for some people. When I'm in the classes, I try to put my all into it, and people have commented/noticed. I've had several people, especially new Zumba-goers, come up to me and compliment me on how well I do in the class and they have said 'I could never do that' or 'I don't think my body can move like that' - to which I can say. Yes it can. It will. You just have to try. If you don't try or if you don't keep coming and practicing, you're right, it won't. Stick to it, and there will be a change. Even if you don't do the exact moves, at the very least, shake your ass :) 

There have also been a few times when I've stopped doing whatever I was doing in a class to help someone else with an exercise. This is a tricky one. I know nobody wants to be told what to do and nobody wants to feel like they are being criticized/watched. At the same time, I know that when there were exercises that I struggled with, I would have loved it if someone would have come up to me and given me a suggestion or some advice. I try to frame it like: I used to have a lot of trouble with that exercise, but then I tried it this way, and it slowly got easier. Usually I've gotten a good response, but at the same time, I don't want to step on anybody's toes. The fact that they're at the gym at all is a huge achievement. 

So that's my contribution to paying it forward in terms of health and fitness. I hope that I can continue to do so in a more significant way as my own health and fitness improves.

Catching Up

I feel like I've been trying my best to 'slow down,' but I've found it to be rather challenging when there is just SO much to get done. This week I felt like I was constantly on the move. I had very little down time, and although I wasn't rushing as much as usual, I was never still.

Today is my day off from the gym and boy do I need it to not only rest my aching muscles, but also to catch up on so many other things.

A big part of my day has just been catching up on things that I've been putting off or just haven't had the time to get around to. One of the things that has been draining me with all the workouts has been the laundry!! Ugh. I go through at least 8 workout outfits a week, and sometimes with multiple t-shirts (for those great days when I work up such a sweat that I can't continue unless I change). It just all adds up and I absolutely hate doing laundry, particularly when some things have to be hand washed! However, one amusing thing is the way my boxing hand wraps look - I thought to myself this morning: It looks like a really colorful mummy has unraveled in my bathroom! (If only I had my turquoise and yellow ones hanging as well!)

I've also had some grading and lesson planning to complete. This past week has been busy, but this upcoming week is going to be even busier, and that makes me really nervous. Actually, there are a few things that are making me a bit anxious about the next two weeks.

There are three major out-of-my-routine things that are happening next week -
1) A 3-day conference that I have to squeeze into my day
2) My in-laws are arriving from London for ten days
3) My first CrossFit training session is scheduled for Thursday

To cope, I've got to come up with a modified workout & eating plan. Since I'll be done with Stage 6 of NROL4W tomorrow, I think I'm going to take a break from weights until Thursday's CrossFit session. Hopefully that way I'll be rested and able to give my all during the training, because from what I've heard about CrossFit, I'm going to need as much energy as possible.

Instead of doing weights this week I'll just focus on cardio for Monday-Wednesday. I should be able to work in two boxing sessions. Unfortunately I won't be able to go to Zumba until next Friday (if I survive CrossFit).

I'm glad I'm already in the habit of going to the gym early because I can still managed to get my workouts in before teaching/the conference. So, I think I can handle problems 1 & 3 with some planning and discipline.

Having the in-laws around will be more challenging because we basically eat out every night. Again, hopefully I can control the eating part and make sensible choices. Eating out at night also means late nights, so I need to make sure I get enough rest too.

In the end, as always, it's about balance. I need to take the time to find a way to balance it all ... now I just need to find the time to take the time!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Moments like these ...

Finally, the end of what has felt like a chaotic week.

Today's workouts:

Body Combat, Body Pump, Zumba -- all one after the other -- a total of 1430 calories burned.

Needless to say by the time I got home, I.Was.Exhausted!

Doing 2 cardio classes with a weights class in between is quite intense, but I like this routine. Combat allows me to practice my boxing moves and get some additional footwork in; Pump is a chance for me to loosen up all my muscles - though this time I upped a few of the weights. OMG, my muscles were screaming during the shoulder and bicep tracks! By the time I get to Zumba, I'm tired ... but once the music comes on, I forget about the pain and just start dancing. In fact, I found that burned 70 more calories than last night! I knew it was my last workout of the week, so I had to make it count!

Tomorrow is my day off from the gym -- definitely some much, much needed rest. I know that I've put in the effort this week, but I am worried that it won't show on the scale come Sunday morning. I'm trying not to get ahead of myself, but I can't help it ...

It's moments like these that I have to keep reminding myself of -- because of course, just before or right after a weigh in you think, 'Did I do everything I could this week?' 

I ask myself this question several times during the week. Every Sunday (and really everyday) I want my answer to be a confident Yes.

I know that each day is not the same as the other. Like yesterday, I knew I was tired. I tried my best, but I knew that it wasn't as good of a workout as it could have been had I rested. Perhaps not having done the evening session would have been better for me - who knows?

The idea of taking a day off, or skipping a workout in order to rest and reenergize, is scary to me. At the same time, I know that there have been times in the past when taking a day (sometimes two or three days) off have really helped me get that extra energy boost that I needed to have a good workout - particularly when it comes to lifting weights. Anyway.

I know I hit all my workout targets. Now I just need to make sure that I eat well and get some sleep. Hopefully the scale will show me some love on Sunday. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012


Short post today.

I think the stress/work/workouts of the week have finally caught up to me.

I'm tired.

Still, I did manage to hit the gym -- twice, but I have to admit, my energy level was not as high as it normally is.

Morning workout:

1 km warm-up -- for the first time I warmed up for 1 min 15 sec and then jogged the rest of the distance (a total of 7 min straight). It's the first time I've ever jogged that long without taking any breaks. I just kept telling myself: You can do it. There's no reason to stop. Nothing bad is going to happen to you. Keep moving!

Weights -- I completed Workout 5A of Stage 6 in NROL4W. It went really well. I've definitely noticed an increase in my strength.

Boxing -- Today's focus was mainly footwork and shadowboxing. My arms needed a bit of a rest, though shadowboxing works up just as much of a sweat - especially if you throw in jump rope and jumping jacks in between rounds!

Evening workout:

Abs Blast -- Half an hour of the abs class. It's tough, but I desperately need it! It's much easier to do the class than motivate myself to do abs on my own.

Zumba -- I'm so glad Zumba music invigorates me, but like I said earlier, I was tired today and I know that I didn't move as quickly or enthusiastically as I normally do.

Still, I survived the day (and the week). I'm so glad tomorrow is Friday. I've got a big workout planned, but then a day of rest. I can't wait (neither can my body)!!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

An Abnormal Day

Staying up late last night made it hard for me to get out of bed this morning. I was already quite exhausted from yesterday's double workout. Once I was up, however, it was pretty much non-stop ... I wouldn't say I rushed around, as I have been trying to slow down a bit. I think it would be more accurate to say that I had a FULL day.

At the gym today was more of an active recovery day. Just 20 minutes on the treadmill - working in a bit of a jog here and there, and then to try something new, I did the rowing machine. I really liked it. I think the different type of movements for my arms and legs are good. I only did 15 minutes today, followed by 10 minutes (not straight, unfortunately) of jump rope.

I met KD, our Body Pump instructor, at noon to go over the new choreography for the new Les Mills Release, Body Pump 81. I was really touched that she asked me to join her as she went through the choreography and give my feedback. I thoroughly enjoyed it, even though I think a few tears instead of sweat fell during the lunges and shoulder tracks!

So, that was it for me. I wouldn't normally have done a weights workout today, especially since I did one yesterday and I have one planned for tomorrow, and Friday - 4 consecutive days of weights! Still, I used a light weight today just to go through the tracks versus really working out hardcore like I hope to do on Friday.

Another unusual thing about today is how much I ate. I didn't eat anything unhealthy, but I ate a lot more than I usually do. I had scrambled egg whites this morning, lentils with veggies in the afternoon, and my spinach/tofu/mushroom creation for dinner. Snacks were a banana, protein shake, and 1/4 cup of Greek yogurt. A bit of mint dark chocolate for dessert. Overall, I didn't eat horribly, but I do feel like I ate more than normal - but I was hungry! I think it's all the weight training. I'm pretty sure things will get back to normal tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Dear Runner

This morning when I checked my email, the first one I got was from Aymstrong, the hosts of the Kuwait Marathon. I love how they started off the email with 'Dear Runner.' Ok, so I'm not a runner (yet), but it gave me hope. It gave me that extra bit of spark that made me think - Yes, I want to be a runner. It doesn't matter how long it takes, I just want to eventually be able to run.

I had preregistered before. Today's email was the official registration (payment etc.) to confirm your place. So I've done it. Now all I have to do is train for it. What was interesting to find out was that we will be running in the desert, so on sand. I've never run on sand before! I'll have to train especially for that for sure!

Today was another full (and fulfilling day).

Early morning workout - I finished Workout 4B of Stage 6 in NROL4W. I've just got one more round left (Workout A5 and B5) and then I'm on to the final stage. The next round is a bit different - I'll be using a lighter weight (the same weight I used for round 2) but doing more reps - and in some cases, as many reps as possible before stopping). The highlight of today's weights workout: Using a 20 kg. dumbbell for my two -point rows! I absolutely love how you can see an increase in your strength as you follow the program.

I had a bit of time left, so I had half an hour of boxing practice - for the last 10 minutes DB came in to spar with me. I've never sparred before. He almost punched my face! Damn! Have to keep my guard up. I tell you, it's intimidating when someone is coming at you with boxing gloves on! So different from my trainer holding the boxing pads and letting me hit. You've got to be quick on your feet, defend yourself, and attack! I was DRENCHED in sweat by the time we were done.

Class was great! We finished up the debates; the remaining topics were:
- Should parents be punished/penalized for allowing their children to become obese?
- Should fast food be banned in schools as well as in the surrounding areas in order to promote healthier eating habits?
- Should anorexics (if admitted to the hospital for an anorexia-related illness) be force fed through a naso-gastric tube (against the patient's wishes)?
- Are advertisers justified in airbrushing and photoshopping their models to look flawless and skinner than they actually are?
- Should warning labels be put on fast food, just as they are on cigarette packs?

We had some really great discussion. What was most interesting was our discussions related to how personal opinion/what one thinks is right is cannot always be implemented for a whole host of reasons. What also became apparent was the influential nature of profit and the distinction between individual responsibility for one's own health and what we expect the community/society to do to help individuals along the way ... very interesting indeed!

A bit of rest. Lunch was some lentils with spinach, celery, and tofu -- yummy, but so unappealing to look at. I couldn't bring myself to post a photo!

In the evening I went back to the gym -- 2.5 km light cardio, half an hour of abs blast class, and finally Zumba ... and ending the night at a friend's birthday celebration - smoked salmon over a bed or rocket leaves (lemon dressing on the side) and lots of water. Even though it was a birthday, we all agreed on no dessert, not even cake to share. It helps to be around others who are watching what they eat.

Oh, I finally used my Polar FT60 heart-rate monitor! It was great to see how many calories I burned during weight training as well as during boxing. I had a rough idea before, but now I have a better idea. I burned a total of 630 calories (half from boxing) for my morning workout, and another 650 calories from my evening workout! I'm liking the heart-rate monitor so far - hopefully it'll also help me track my calories more accurately.

Off to dream about running now ;)

Monday, April 16, 2012

Busy Day!

I've been really good at getting my workouts in over the past few weeks. I am so desperate and ready to see a change in my weight that it is my absolute priority. I'm not one of those people that can just cut down on calories and drop some weight. I have to do both - cut calories (eat healthily) and exercise.

However, the downside of making sure I'm at the gym for each workout is that a lot of other tasks get left undone. I've been postponing several errands/tasks for ages -- I can't do it anymore. I've got to get a move on and get things sorted.

So, this morning, instead of rushing out the door at 6:30 this morning, I stayed home. I had already woken up at 4:40 a.m. (yes, I'm an early riser; blame the insomnia) and I didn't need to leave for work until 9:20, so I had a good chunk of time to get stuff done. I tell you, it felt great emptying boxes, throwing stuff out, putting things away etc. My dining room (which hasn't been used in forever) is no longer the storage space it had become (it has been neglected since just after Christmas!). It now looks clean and fresh! I'm so pleased!

Of course in between sorting out the dining room I was doing the dishes, figuring out what to cook for dinner, and putting the things that were in the dining room into the storage room -- in other words, I may have had 4 1/2 hours this morning at home, but I did not get a chance to just sit and put my feet up (will try that the next time around!)

Work was terrific today. Dealing with 43 students in one class can be daunting, so I decided to do debates in class. The focus -- health and fitness! All the students I work with are 1st or 2nd year medical students, so health and fitness is right up their alley. Most of the class was spent with them preparing their arguments - we only had time for one proper debate. The question was: For most illnesses, if a patient smokes or is overweight, more often than not, one part of their prescribed treatment will be that they should quit smoking and lose weight. What if the doctor prescribing the treatment was overweight and/or a smoker. Does the doctor have the right to give this advice? Should doctors be required to be non-smokers and of healthy weight?

We had some great discussion over this question. Most students immediately said YES - Doctors have a responsibility to be a picture of good health and be a role model for their patients. The group that was arguing NO (they didn't have a choice, I assigned each team which side they would be arguing) had a bit of a tougher task to convince the audience of their point, but they did a really good job. They focused on the fact the primary task of a doctor was to help the patient, so even if his personal habits are bad, as long as he is not compromising the care/treatment of the patient, it shouldn't matter.

I could write about this for ages, but this was the gist of the debate. It was great to see the whole class engaged in the discussion. Both sides argued their points well -- and what was interesting was that when I asked the same question at the end of our discussion, instead of the majority saying Yes, the reaction was about half/half.

Stay tuned for more debate topics :)

After class I rushed to the gym - got in my 10 km on the cross-trainer. I'm not officially starting to train for the 10 km until mid-May, but I am going to try and see what I can do to somewhat prepare. It wasn't difficult, though about two hours later my legs felt quite sore! I did 15 minutes of abs and that was it for the day.

I'm really struggling with what to have for lunch these days. After finishing at the gym I only had 40 minutes before I had to head out to get my mom from work ... I had a cup of rice with some veggies in the freezer, so I just defrosted that and inhaled it before rushing out the door. I try to be prepared, but sometimes it just doesn't work ... to rectify that, however, I have a big pot of lentils cooking right now. I'm going to throw in some veggies later. I know that the recipe is low calorie and can be measured up and frozen for future rushed afternoons!

Back home to prep for dinner, grade papers, and catch up on a few emails.

Dinner tonight is tofu with bell peppers -- I'm cooking this up for the first time. I'll post the recipe etc. if it turns out good.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Week 3 Update

I woke up this morning feeling heavy. Ugh. Never a good feeling, especially before a weigh in. I know it has to do with dinner last night. I didn't eat much, but I did have hummus, and that always causes me to feel heavier than normal.

My workout this morning was good. I'm really close to finishing Stage 6 of NROL4W. I've got 3 more workouts left in this stage. I'm happy with the progress that I've made so far. Today, I used 50 kg (110 lbs) weights for my split squats :) Yay!

Work, unfortunately, was a bit chaotic. Three of our teachers were out today for some reason or another -- two of them are going to be gone this entire week, so guess what that means? One of their classes is going to join mine for the rest of the week. I've gone from a lovely class size of 21-students (an absolute dream compared to previous semesters) to 43 students ... back to the drawing board to do new lesson plans for the week!

Anyway - on to my Week 3 update.

1. Weight loss goal: To lose 10 lbs by May 8th
This week I lost just over half a kilo (1.3 lbs), for an overall loss of 2.2 kg (4.84 lbs) since April 1st. I haven't set weekly weight loss targets - I just want to make sure that the overall number keeps going down and that I hit my 10 lb loss by May 8th. I'm taking it one gram at a time.

2. Non-scale goal: Make it through my list of things to do; Prepare for/Pass my PhD Viva
I'm still trying to make it through my list of things to do. I have made some progress in that area, but I'm ashamed to say that I haven't made as much progress as I have wanted to. The things I have done however are - finished reading through/commenting on the first 3 chapters of my thesis; sorted through my final batch of clothes; donated all the charity goods; commented on blogs, so all in all, not bad.

3. Exercise goal: I did really well in terms of exercise this week. I'm pleased to say I hit all my targets.
- Gym 6x/week - Done!
- Weight training 3x/week (4 if possible) - Managed 4 sessions (3 NROL4W and 1 Body Pump)
- Cardio 6 hrs of week (10 if possible) - Completed just over 8 hours of cardio this week
- Abs focus 3x/week - Did abs 3 times this week, including the ab blast class!

I actually have a new exercise goal to add. A few days ago I was debating whether or not I should register for a 10k run in November ... and finally decided to do it :) I just registered, so training for the 10k is an additional exercise goal. However, I don't plan on starting it until I come back from London. It's just not feasible at the moment to start a regimented program, but I'll see what I can do during my normal cardio sessions to start preparing :)

4. Nutrition goal
- Drink 3.5-4 L water daily - Done!
- Eat at least 1 serving of fruit daily - Ugh. Only managed 4 days of fresh fruit out of the 7. Must keep working on this!
- Greatly reduce carbs during dinner - Done. Only had carbs (wheat/grain based) once for dinner this week; the rest was lean protein and vegetables for the most part
- Track food & water intake on a daily basis - I'm being vigilant, but I still haven't been writing it all down. I'm too busy/tired with all the exercise!

Overall, not too bad for week 3. My goals for week 4.

1) Weight loss - just keep losing some weight; no pressure on a number - I just want to see the number go down.
2) Non-scale goal - Finish reading/editing chapters 4 & 5 of my thesis; I have a major task of organizing my data charts. I MUST get a start on this in order to get it done before I travel in May; Organize my bookshelf; Get my car papers done!!
3) Exercise goal - same as before; still try to get at least one class of pilates; body balance; yoga in
4) Nutrition goal - same as before

Hope everyone has a fantastic week 4!


I've been trying my best to make the rounds to all the challengers - not just to their Challenge update posts, but to their regular posts as well. It's made for some amazing reading -- there's a lot of pounds being shed out there!

Reading blogs from so many different people has had a bigger impact on me than I realized. The main thing is - you know you're not alone. There are other people who are working hard and trying to fight this weight loss battle.

If you haven't struggled with a weight issue, then I don't think that you know how hard it is to lose the weight. Sure, eat less, move more. Yes. We know. The thing is, it really isn't as simple as that. There are other issues that have to be dealt with. Reading about how others deal with their weaknesses and struggles has been eye opening. It has given me the motivation to keep moving forward, and there are also some posts that remind me of what not to do -- it's all part of the learning process.

I've been blogging for ten months now. There are some blogs that I was reading before this challenge started, and I'm glad to see that some of those bloggers have joined this challenge as well.

Each blog has been inspiring/motivating in some way or another. It's tough to narrow this post down to just a few mentions, but here are a few that particularly stand out.

I've been reading Kris' blog Trying to Tri for some time now. Her workout routine is amazing -- she works HARD. Reading her breakdown of her goals and how she reaches them (amid her busy, busy schedule) is truly inspiring.

I've also been reading Jillian's blog at I'm in love alright, with my crazy, beautiful life. If it's possible for charisma to translate through the Internet, then I've got to say, Jillian wins the prize! I can relate to a lot of the struggles that Jillian has been going through. Still, through it all, she's trying.

Some newer finds through this challenge are:

Treadmill Hiker at February Fitness Project is working on just just losing weight but also changing her lifestyle in a way that is reasonable. The motivation pictures she posts are truly motivating, and I find that I can relate to a lot of her blog posts.

Blog Wobble - how can you not love a blog with that title? Her posts are not just weight updates, but also updates on how this weight loss journey is a journey of discovery.

The first thing that struck me about Finding the Not So Big Jo is her infectious smile. She's got a lot going on, but is still taking steps towards her goal!

Reading Caron's blog (at At Goal Weight Watcher) reminds me that even once you've hit your target, you've got to work hard to keep it off. It does get a bit easier, but it will always require some time and effort.

There are so many others that I love to read and that continue to inspire and motivate me. Thanks for taking the time to visit my blog and comment on my posts - it means a lot!

Good luck with the rest of the challenge!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Just do it or don't?

I got an email today saying that pre-registration was open for a running event that will be held in November. This is being organized by the same group that did the 240 km run across Kuwait (it took them around 50 hours!). At that time they had organized a 10 km support run to go along with them for a short distance. As someone who hasn't trained for any sort of run at all, I faced a dilemma - do I go for it or do I train and wait for the next opportunity? In the end, I went for it and completed the 10 km; half walking, half jogging.

This running event consists of an ultra-marathon (100 km); full marathon (42 km); half marathon (21 km) --- ya, not doing any of those -- plus a 10 km run and a 3 km fun run. This event is different as you actually have to register and pay to join ... not like the one I did just for the heck of it ... so the question is, should I register and go for it?

I wrote recently about my desire to run. I would really, really love to run -- I just don't know if I have it in me. It's been taking me forever just to run 1 km! I knew for the last event that I could walk (and I did), but this one seems like a proper run.

The good thing is, I have time to prepare. I have 7 months to train for the 10 km. I have no problem trying to train for it ... but the thought of committing and not being able to deliver in the end makes me really anxious.

In looking for inspiration, I came across this Nike quote:

I wholeheartedly believe that quote -- that doesn't take away the nervousness though!

So, just do it ... or don't?

Friday, April 13, 2012

Oh My!

My usual Friday routine is 15-30 minutes of cardio warm-up (either treadmill or cross-trainer) followed by Body Pump and then Zumba.

Today I decided to change that up a little.

When I wrote my review of the week I did feel like I needed to change up my routine, especially because I feel like I'm losing/gaining the same few pounds over and over again. I want to break through is plateau in a BIG way ... and break through it for good!

The thing is, I also want to continue with my weight lifting routine. So often have I started a plan and then become frustrated after trying it for a few weeks and not seeing the results I wanted and then giving up. Not this time. Even though I want to change up my weight lifting routine, I am going to stick to what is outlined in New Rules of Lifting for Women (NROL4W). The slow and steady approach has been effective - I'm just antsy.

So, what can I do? I guess it's all about changing up the types of cardio that I do because I have some flexibility in that area.

This morning I went to the gym a bit earlier than usual and went to the 10 am Body Combat class. I haven't done combat in AGES. I could not remember the last time I was in the combat studio. With all the boxing training I've been doing lately (and totally loving it) I thought it would be great to attend the class for some added cardio + boxing ... and my trainer is the one who teaches the class so I knew he would be watching my form. {Before I left the gym he told me that my form was improving and he was glad to see me trying to keep my guard up at all times - I appreciated the positive feedback!}

I absolutely loved being back. I forgot how intense the class was - by the end of it, I was totally drenched in sweat. My t-shirt was literally dripping (gross, but satisfying too!) so I had to rush to my locker to change my t-shirt before Body Pump ... followed by Zumba.

Oh my indeed!

By the time I got home at 2 pm I was EXHAUSTED. I felt really, really good, but also really, really ready to just lie down!! :)

I'm so glad I booked a massage for this evening - I have a feeling I'm going to fall asleep on the massage table! It's a good way to end my workout week!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

You're Not Stupid

Another dusty, overcast day here in Kuwait -- out goes the chance of a swim this morning, yet again! I hope the weather cooperates soon! It seems like the days that I'm too busy to swim are the days that it's sunny outside.

I finished the third round of Stage 6 of NROL4W today. All the exercises were 3 sets of 6, so I told myself to swallow my fear and try and go for a heavier weight. I successfully did the dumbbell two-point row with a 17.5 kg weight (38.5 lbs.). Very happy with that. Plus I managed to push 77 kg ((almost 170 lbs.) for the back extensions! It was a bit tough getting started, but once I was in position, I was good to go.

On days that I've been doing the NROL4W weight lifting program, I've kept my warm-ups to a minimum. Five minutes of dynamic warm-up stretching followed by 1 km on the treadmill. My mission has been to jog that entire 1 km. One km (0.62 miles) doesn't seem like a lot at all, does it? Well, for me, it's the starting point. I want to eventually work up to being an actual runner -- my workout schedule is a bit too hectic at the moment for me to start the C25K program, so for now, I'm just working up to running/jogging the 1 km. I was making some progress with this, but then after my surgery, things kind of came to a halt. Since then, it's been really slow and steady progress. Then of course I injured my leg and all that came to a halt once again ... however, now things are finally picking up. This week was a good week. For the first time in forever I actually jogged at 8 km/hr for 4 minutes straight on Tuesday and today I managed to jog for 5 minutes straight. I would love to be able to complete the 1 km under 8 minutes this month all the while aiming to just jog the entire thing.

I wasn't planning on doing much else this morning since I wanted to come back in the evening for Zumba, and maybe even attempt the whole abs class that I tried on Tuesday (I don't know if I'm brave enough for that!). However, my boxing coach (H) was there this morning and although I hadn't planned on it, he said that the bag was up and ready and calling my name, so I went in for a quick 20-minute boxing session. My upper cuts need major work!

After working out, H and I talked a bit about my routine and he was very positive about all the progress I've made recently ... and then we came to the topic of food. The area I've been struggling with a lot is my protein intake. I'm just not getting enough. He emphasized over and over again - I need to eat protein. It's not just about the protein though, he emphasized that I need to make sure I eat properly all the time.

Marion @ Affection for Fitness recently asked a question about how many meals should be eaten per day. I guess this answer will vary depending on the individual and what kind of exercise they do as well as many other factors.

For me, I try to eat 6 times a day. When I say 6 times a day, I'm not talking big 500 calorie meals a day. No, it's not about entire meals - it's just about providing fuel for my body.

H went on about this for quite a while. He looked at me and said, "The good thing is, you're not stupid." I had to laugh when I heard that.

He gave examples of people who have been coming to the gym for ages, doing lots of cardio, but then eating crap afterwards or not eating anything at all. Surviving on coffee, a few nuts, and a salad is not enough -- he said it amazes him when people complain that they do not have any/enough energy to workout when those people are barely eating anything or trying to find good energy from junk food. It's called junk food for a reason!! Anyway. The bottom line is, it's about eating sensibly ... and as he said, I'm not stupid. I need to make sure I get on top of this nutrition thing in order to really maximize the benefits from all the hard work I'm putting in at the gym.

With the amount I'm working out, he said it was really important that I eat every 3-4 hours and never get to the point where I'm starving. I do try to do this, but I don't always succeed. He also focused on what I was eating for those 6 meals -- this is where I have to be careful. In the rush to make sure I eat something I don't think I always make the right choices. I mean, I never eat a candy bar or fast food, but sometimes I'll have a slice of toast with peanut butter (not a terrible option, but there are better ones) or a protein/energy bar (again, not the worst choice, but definitely not the best either). He told me that since I don't eat chicken/beef/turkey etc. that I should focus on fish. I need to make sure that with each of the 6 meals I get some source of protein.

There are about 130 calories (26 g. of protein) in an average sized grilled piece of white fish.
There are about 160 calories (3 g. of protein) in a Nature Valley granola bar.

After looking at it that way, the healthier choice is obvious.

Today, after my workout I had an omelette. I haven't had eggs in quite a while, and I was really desperate for a good hot meal. With the workout I did, an omelette (with bell peppers and mushrooms -- NO CHEESE) really hit the spot.

I need to spend this weekend coming up with some better food options for me. One of my goals for this summer challenge is to keep better track of my food; I still haven't started that yet. I know overall I'm not eating bad foods -- but now I'm wondering if I'm eating healthy enough.

Evening workout:
Half hour warm-up cardio
Half hour torturous abs class
One hour Zumba

Looking forward to tonight's shrimp stir fry.

Tuna Loaf with Caprese

This is a quick, easy recipe that can be prepared beforehand -- just take it out of the fridge 10 minutes before you want to bake it (while you preheat the oven), pop it into the oven for 40 minutes, and you're good to go! (The picture didn't come out too well - but you get the idea!)

Tuna loaf
2 cans tuna (in water), drained
2 slices whole wheat bread
1 egg
1 green bell pepper
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
dash pepper
1 tablespoon breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon parmesan cheese

Caprese salad
1/2 tomato
3 thin slices mozzarella
1.5 teaspoons pesto
drizzle olive oil
dash pepper


Tuna loaf
1. Crumble bread into a bowl
2. Add egg and mix well
3. Mix in tuna fish (I use my hands to really get the mixture ground up properly)
4. Add the bell pepper, parsley, Worcestershire sauce, and black pepper
5. Just before putting into the oven, sprinkle breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese on top
6. Bake for 40-45 minutes

Caprese salad (I guess this doesn't really need an explanation, but still ...)
1. Slice tomato into rounds
2. Slice mozzarella into rounds and layer on top of tomato
3. Drizzle olive oil on top and add the pesto and pepper

Nutritional info: (calories per serving/recipe serves 3)
Tuna loaf:
230 calories
33 g. protein
14 g. carbohydrates (1.7 g. fiber)
4 g. fat (1.5 g. saturated fat)

Caprese salad - recipe given is for 1 serving
145 calories
6 g. protein
6 g. carbohydrates (1 g. fiber)
11 g. fat (0.3 g. saturated fat)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Working it In

I knew earlier this week that today would not be a 'normal' day -- first of all, I don't usually work Wednesdays, but today my students have a test, so I have to go in. Second of all, I'm both taking my mom to work and picking her up ... and then taking her to physiotherapy later this afternoon, so my a lot of my day will be taken up just sitting in my car. The thing that has been worrying me is ... when do I fit in my workout? My plan for Wednesdays is just 1-hour cardio. So it was just about figuring out when to fit it in ...

I've said before in my posts that anything that disrupts any part of my routine can throw me quite off balance. I've been trying to work on this lately. Life happens. It doesn't mean other parts of my life need to stop, it just means I need to be flexible and not see one, two, or three obstacles as a sign that my focus on fitness needs to stop!

So this morning, instead of rushing to the gym at 6:30 in the morning, I got the chance to stay home --- it was quite lovely to be honest. The silence of the neighborhood, the overall tranquility, the extra time -- yes, it was terrific! I also managed to squeeze in an extra hour of sleep which felt fantastic after yesterday's long day/workouts.

Since I knew the rest of the day would be busy, I took the opportunity to get dinner ready -- tuna loaf tonight (will post the recipe) - low calorie and delicious. Can be kept in the fridge for the day, and will just need to be baked for 45 minutes tonight. Perfect for a hectic day.

I'm glad I had the chance to rest that extra hour because once I left the house, it was pretty much non-stop rushing around all day. I'm happy to say that I did manage to make it to they gym. As soon as my students finished their test I grabbed their papers, rushed to my car, and booked it to the gym. Although I knew I only needed an hour for my workout it's the other stuff that also needs to be taken into consideration in terms of how long the whole workout process takes - starting from the drive to the gym, changing into workout clothes, then the actual workout, followed by showering etc. etc. Anyway. I'm just happy that I managed to finish my 8 km on the cross-trainer and burn those calories. I didn't push it too hard today because I knew that I worked out quite a bit yesterday ... and I have a long workout planned for tomorrow too. I consider today to be more of an 'active recovery' day.

The highlight of my day was definitely the 1 hour I got to sit outside, enjoying the lovely sun and breeze, while mom was in physiotherapy. I've been reading through my thesis and I'm quite relieved that I don't hate it :) During the writing process there were many, many, many times when I just wanted to hit the delete button because I thought it sucked. So, yes, not hating what I've written has been making me feel better about my upcoming defense -- exactly one month from now!

Despite the rushed day, I'm ending it feeling positive and calm ... and hungry! Mmm that tuna loaf in the oven smells good :) Will post the recipe soon!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Cravings, Dust, and Hot Pink Shoes

Last night I went out with a few girlfriends. The weather has been absolutely gorgeous, and last night was the perfect evening to sit outdoors, chat, laugh, and enjoy some iced tea (unsweetened, of course).

I got home at around half past eleven and I had crazy cravings. I wanted to eat something - I wasn't sure what, all I knew was I wanted it to be yummy. Mmmm what I would have given to have some chips and salsa! Fortunately (unfortunately) there was absolutely NOTHING in the house to snack on. The closest thing to junk food in the house is a box of After Eight mints (40 calories a piece by the way). As delicious as After Eight's are, they're really don't work when it comes to satisfying a craving. *sigh* I'm glad that I don't keep junk food in the house - it's for days like this, which I'm happy to say don't happen often.

I know my will power hasn't changed as much as I would have liked it to ... I know that had there been some tostitos in the cupboard, I would have polished them off. I've definitely taken the right step by not having any munchies in the house. So, I drank some water, brushed my teeth, and eventually made it to bed.

I had mentioned in yesterday's blog post that I was thinking about going for my first swim of the season today ... You should have seen me walking out the door this morning. I had a long day ahead of me ... workout in the morning, work, errands, Zumba at night. I had my beach bag for my swim, my morning workout bag, my clothes for work, and another workout bag with my Zumba shoes and another set of workout clothes. I looked like I was going away for a long weekend! Anyway.

When I had looked out the window, it looked foggy outside ... but as soon as I stepped out I was greeted by dust. Yuck. Definitely one of the pitfalls of living in a desert country. This is a snapshot on the drive to the gym -- visibility was less than 100 m, really nasty (though do you like my boxing glove ornament on my rearview mirror?) :)

So, the swim was out of the question.

I went on to complete my NROL4W Workout A3. While my negative chin ups are still crazy difficult (I cannot lower myself down slowly) -- I can, however, hold on longer and even raise my knees higher, and today I even managed to bend my elbows a bit to lift myself up (just a tiny, tiny bit). I was so thrilled!

I was also so happy to have completed 4 sets (of only 2 reps each) of underhand lateral pulls at 55 kgs (that's 12 lbs)! I did my split squats with 40 kgs (88 lbs), and I know I'm ready to go for a higher weight. I am really pleased with my progress!

I left the house a bit earlier than usual this morning because I wanted the extra time in case I could have fit in that swim ... but since I didn't, I finished my weights workout a bit early ... and since DB (my favorite trainer) was doing an RPM class that morning I decided to join in for the first 35 minutes (would have done the whole class if I didn't have to shower, change, and get to work!). He had warned me that it would be tough after the squats I did ... and OMG - it was tough! My legs felt hmmmm what's the word? Something between 'solid' and 'heavy' - in any case, it was good to get in a bit of tough cardio in the morning.

Work went well. Errands were successfully completed -- including the purchase of my new running shoes!! Finally! I ended up buying the new Reebok zigtech shoes. We'll see how they turn out ...

Today seemed to be the day for hot pink shoes because this is what I wore to work today:

... and these are the new trainers that I bought :)

Talk about a pop of color! I do love pink, but I had not intended to buy these shoes in hot pink ... they just didn't have any others in my size. Oh well. I'm not complaining!

Ok, to wrap things up.

I did go back to the gym in the afternoon.
I did 5 km on the cross-trainer ... and then, I saw that the Abs Blast class that's held just before Zumba was still in session. Since I didn't do any abs in the morning (coz' of the RPM class) I decided to join them for the last 15 minutes.

I really wish I hadn't. I mean, I'm 'glad' I did, but from the 1st minute it was pure torture! Bicycle crunches -- my absolute nightmare!! Just when I thought it couldn't get worse, he was doing variations on bicycle crunches!!! WTF? We were laughing in class just because we were too sore to cry lol -- hmmmm should I give the class another try? The 15 minutes I did was SO painful!

I ended the evening with Zumba -- I love Zumba!! :) Although I was quite tired, I did put my all into the class and left drenched in sweat but really happy ... that is until I showered and changed and realized that I had to put my hot pink heels on again ... I do love my heels, but after such a long day and 2 hours of exercise, I just wanted my Havaianas!!

I think I'll sleep well tonight!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Finding the Time

I tried to follow the theme of 'slow down' from yesterday's blog post and think I did ok. I had quite a few calm moments through the day even though it was quite jam-packed.

For the past two weeks I've been completing 10 km on the cross-trainer on Mondays. Today, however, I felt like I needed to change things up a little, so I did my boxing training instead. H hooked up the bag for me and set me up with my routine and I went at it for 45 minutes. Boxing at 7 am was not easy, but by the time I really warmed up, it felt great! My form was much better than last Wednesday. I felt like I could move with/away from the bag better; my footwork has also improved a bit. I'd really be happy if I could work in my boxing training at least 3 times a week ... we'll see. Things always seem to be busy (even when trying to slow down)!

I'm really happy with the improvement with jumping rope as well - I still haven't hit my target of 6 minutes in a row, but I'm working on it. It definitely feels easier, which is not something I ever thought I'd say about anything related to jumping!

After the boxing session I got on the cross-trainer for 15 minutes, just enough time to finish 2 km. I didn't have enough time to do anymore ...

As much as I enjoyed boxing, I have to admit I felt a bit out of sorts not doing my usual intense cardio on the cross-trainer. I didn't like not spending that time on the cross-trainer ... at the same time, I did enjoy the boxing, and I know it is another form of cardio (and one with quite a lot of impact) ... I'm going to have to sit down and look at my workout schedule again ... if only I didn't have to work around time and energy constraints!!

The weather is absolutely lovely here ... I'm tempted to go for a swim - yet another thing to add to my schedule. We'll see if I have to time for the first dip of the season tomorrow :)