Thursday, May 31, 2012

Too Cheesy for Me

Last night I went to a restaurant with a few girlfriends of mine (all from the gym). None of us had been there before and we were eager to try out their extensive menu. We ordered a few starters to share - calamari, grilled mushrooms, and mini risotto balls. We then each ordered our main - I ordered pasta with grilled eggplant. Other orders on the table were shrimp risotto and pizza.

I know, it sounds like a lot of food. There were a lot of us there! Anyway. I was really surprised about how the appetizers were prepared. The calamari had huge dollops of may dropped all over them (why not just leave them to the side?), the grilled mushrooms were topped with tons of cheese and garlic, and the risotto balls ... well, all I could think was, where's the risotto? This is just fried cheese!

Seriously. So much freakin' cheese. Don't get me wrong. I absolutely LOVE cheese, but this was too much. Besides I don't think the cheese enhanced any of the flavors. Rather it just made everything taste of ... well, cheese!

My pasta with eggplant was excellent, once I removed the two inches of cheese that they had put on top of the dish. Even after removing it I felt like there was too much of a cheesy taste.

Nobody else thought that it was too cheesy, though I do think that most of their meals looked like they were heavy on the cheese. I will probably try this restaurant one more time but next time ask them to hold the cheese and see if it makes a difference.


I'm finally on summer vacation!

To say that our last day of the semester was tedious would be an understatement ... but, it's over and now I'm free until September. I am so happy!

Most of my day was spent at work today and then I caught up with some more (endless) errands.

I've been trying to focus on my Mexico paper, but I'm just not in the mood. I'd much rather be reading blogs than articles on qualitative research :)

Still, I took time off from working out in order to get my writing done so I better get to it, otherwise sitting at the desk will just lead to the negative consequences that I posted about a few months ago ... and I definitely don't want to be spreading in that direction anymore!! 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Triple Play

I still haven't figured out my sleep patterns yet. I know a lot of people who say that they can't function on less than 8 hours of sleep. Honestly, I can't imagine getting 8 hours of sleep on a daily basis - a DAILY basis! I've pretty much been good with 4-5 hours, though now I'm realizing that 6 is probably ideal for me. I do go through some periods when I am utterly exhausted and sleep for hours on end, but those occasions are rare. In any case, my point is - I went to be early yesterday, hoping to get 8-9 hours of sleep. After 6 hours I was already awake. I tried to go back to sleep, but I couldn't. Even though it was only 4:30 a.m., I got up. It's usually distracting thoughts that keep me awake -- and this morning my thoughts were about my workouts for the day.

Earlier this week I made a list of the workouts that I wanted to accomplish for the week. I didn't schedule them for any set days because I knew my week was going to be quite hectic. However, I did know that I'd have to do some planning in order to get them all done. Taking yesterday off from the gym and rushing through my workout on Sunday left me feeling a bit anxious - will I be able to complete everything?

It's those thoughts that kept me from falling back asleep. I was to have breakfast with a friend at 9, so that meant that I'd need to be at the gym early if I wanted to complete both a weight training workout plus cardio.

I was at the gym by 6:15 this morning. I had a lot I wanted to get through.

Workout 1: Weights
I am very happy and proud to say that today I finished the last workout of the New Rules of Lifting for Women (NROL4W). I'll write a separate post about the program itself. All I'll say for now is that it was a 7 stage program that I started in July last year. Today marked the final workout, and I am super, super proud of myself for starting something and actually finishing it! Now I need to figure out what kind of weight training I'll do next!

Workout 2: Cardio
This morning I also did Day 2 of Week 1 in C25K. I just really want to finish the first week of the program before Saturday, so I've got to figure out when I'll squeeze in that final day. I'm updating my C25K stats here.

Workout 3: CrossFit
Yes. I was 3/3 today. My goal was to complete 2 CrossFit sessions this week. I knew I had to go to today's session because the chance of me making it to tomorrow's session is slim. Pre-travel errands always get in the way. Today's session was really good. Our WOD was AMRAP (as many rounds as possible) in 15 minutes -- 10 deadlifts (40 kg/88 lbs.)), 10 box jumps, 10 plyo side to side push-ups, 10 hanging leg raises, and 20 ab crunches. I managed to complete 6 rounds.

I didn't feel too bad at all after the three workouts. I'm really pleased that I got them all in. Now I've just got one more session of C25K to do this week and I'll have hit my goals :)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Physical vs. Mental

Those cramps that I was so happy not to be feeling yesterday came in today with a vengeance and had me doubled over in pain. This time I'm determined not to let it get me mentally down because it can be so demoralizing and depressing. I want to keep the physical pain separate from the mental anguish. When the two go together, I really do fall into a miserable state.

I think making this distinction was a very important step for me, especially when I know that this pain is something I'll have to endure on a regular basis. I know that some days (like today) the pain will truly be too much for me to push through. On these kinds of days I plan on resting and making the best choices possible in all other areas of my life.

I've definitely gotten better at listening to my body. Sometimes there's a fine line between feeling pain/discomfort but pushing through any way and feeling pain/discomfort but knowing it's time to back off. I can't always tell the difference. I do think that it's easy to fall into the trap of backing off without giving it your all. Still, I'm trying. I know that I would much rather be exercising than resting, so I'm going to do whatever I can to make sure that I get my workout in whenever possible.

The other part of this lesson is what I mentioned above - distinguishing between physical pain and mental anguish. I need to keep the two separate. Falling into depression and remembering all those things that brought me down post-surgery is dangerous. This time I'm trying not to let my mind wander into that dark place. I feel pain. Fine. I feel pain. I do not need to let the negative thoughts add to the pain.

I know that I cannot keep letting myself spiral downwards on a monthly basis. It takes way too much effort to pick myself up again. I don't want to waste that type of time anymore. There are so many other things that need my attention.

Today marks the start of my attempt at this new attitude.

When I woke up this morning, I was in so much pain - I couldn't even rank it on a scale. Still, I put my clothes together in my gym bag, just in case. I took it easy leaving the house and told myself - get some errands done. They'll be a distraction. If I can make it to the gym, great. If not, then at least get other things done. That's what ended up happening. I managed to cross of eleven things on my list of things to do. I rested this afternoon, and then made some Marrakesh Vegetable 'Curry' as well as some quinoa mixed with peas and carrots for dinner. I did have to take 6 painkillers to get me through the day, but other than that, I feel like I accomplished a lot. I'm taking my final 2 painkillers now and heading to bed for an early night. Fingers crossed that I feel both physically and mentally strong tomorrow.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Falling into Place

I wasn't sure how today would turn out, especially since I had a rough night with cramps that kept waking me up every hour. Still, I'm thankful that they're not as bad as they've been in the previous two months. It's still incredibly uncomfortable and quite painful, but I'm not doubled over in pain. I'm definitely counting my blessings for that!

However, aside from that, the rest of today was pretty good. I wrapped up my final grades for the semester. It's always such a good feeling to turn in the student folders. The semester doesn't end until Thursday, but at least the main work is done.

I got several errands crossed off my to-do list today. It was all a matter of sitting down and getting them done. Most exciting of all is that I finally got my driver's license!!! Let me clarify. I got my license years ago, but it expired in April 2011. I had never even thought to check when my license would expire, but when I did happen to take a look at it in November 2011, I was mortified to find that it had expired in April. Still, I was in the middle of PhD hell at that time and I thought, screw it, I'll take a risk. I know, I know. Terrible. Still, I did it ... and today, I finally got my new license (and it expires in 2022, so if I'm still blogging in ten years, do remind me lol). Anyway. This was on my list of things to do at the beginning of this summer challenge. I very, very, very happy that I'm finally driving legally ... now I just need to take care of my car's registration papers. I think it'll have to wait until after Mexico. One step at a time!

Despite the cramps and extreme bloating (I can go up almost 2 dress sizes when I've got my period, that's how bad the bloating is!), I went to CrossFit. One of the main motivations was that our Coach has started a group on Whatsapp (free text-messaging service) so all the CrossFitters are constantly in touch. It's hard to back out of exercise when you've got that kind of reminder right in your face - Class is on at 4. Don't give up. Try your best.

So I thought, what the hell. Let me go. If there's anything that makes me feel too horrible, I can always stop.

Luckily, I didn't have to stop. Everything was fine. Our WOD was not bad - though the total of 45 burpees definitely felt like torture. We did 15 bench presses, 10 burpees, 15 pull ups, 15 burpees, 10 push presses, and 20 burpees. I got through it, but of course I still have a lot of room for improvement.

Although I did feel uncomfortable (in terms of my cramps) after the workout, mentally I felt good. I'm so glad I pushed through and I went. I showed up. That was my important accomplishment of the day.

Other big news -- D's graduation present to me has finally arrived --- Tickets to see Madonna in Abu Dhabi!!! :) I have been wanting to see Madonna ever since I first heard of her in the 80's. It has been my dream, and finally it's going to come true :) Everything is in place, tickets, hotel, visa, and now the concert ticket. We've been waiting anxiously for them to arrive. I had tears in my eyes when he put them in my hands this evening. Excited doesn't even begin to cover it :D

I wrapped up the evening with a night out with some girl friends. The weather was perfect. We went to a little cafe on the seafront. It was so tranquil. It was just what I needed.

That dizziness is starting to disappear. I can't wait for it to be completely gone. 

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Getting off the Merry-Go-Round

When I was a kid, one of my favorite things in the playground was the merry-go-round. Not the type with the horses. No, the ones that were just the flat surface with bars to hang on to. I remember the rush of being on it while it was being spun - faster, faster, faster -- and then of course it would come to a stop and we'd jump off ... only to be hit by dizziness that threw us off balance but exhilarated us at the same time.

I think that's the best way to describe how I've been feeling for the past 2 weeks. I feel like I've been on a whirlwind journey for almost 5 years - working, writing, researching, analyzing - and now it's over. I hardly remember life before my PhD. Even though I did have fun, socialize, and hit the gym regularly over those years, it was on a different timeline. I remember there were many, many times when I'd be out with my friends and I'd have my alarm set, reminding me that I had to get home and back to work. It was a completely change in lifestyle ... and now I've gotten off the merry-go-round and I'm struggling with that dizziness - feeling exhilarated because of what I've accomplished yet dizzy and lost because I forgot what it's like to have a non-PhD life! I feel relieved that I'm not alone in this (I found a few links like this online), but I am eager for me to find the next phase of 'normal' in my life.

I think the consequences of this 'dizziness' is evident in the way I've been eating and exercising over the past 2 weeks. I'm making an effort, but it really does feel like it's been more of a superficial one. I thought I had lost my drive for exercise, but I know it's not the case. I think I was just exhausted and in need of a change. Catching up on sleep and actually taking some time to just rest has been good for me. I am eager, though, to get back into the swing of things. However, I don't think it's likely to happen until after I return from Mexico -- which is one more thing standing in the way of things getting back to normal. Don't get me wrong, I am totally excited about the trip. I'm just also eager to see how life will be once I'm back.

So, this is the final week of the Ready for Summer Challenge. My goals for the final week are pretty much the same as last week. Here's my review of week 9:

1. Weight loss goal: To lose a total of 15 lbs by June 3
Weight loss to date is 9.5 lbs. I have no weigh in to post today. I doubt that I'll have reached my 15 lbs mark by the 3rd, but we'll see. I'll weigh in next week.

2. Non-scale goal: Get through my list of 'things to do'; work on my Mexico paper and my Italian
I accomplished quite a few errands, but I'm sure I could have done more. One thing I definitely did was catch up on some sleep and that's a huge NSV for me! I've started working on my conference paper and spent about 2 hours studying my Italian. I need to put in more time as I've forgotten a lot more than I realized.

Since I'll be traveling on Saturday I've made a very concise list of errands that need to be tackled before I travel. I hope to make it through the list by the end of Friday.

3. Exercise: Complete workouts 3 & 4 for NROL4W, swim once, 4 hrs. of cardio, start CrossFit
I completed the two weights workouts. I didn't swim. I did, however, start the C25K program. I only finished Week 1 Day 1, but at least I got started. I've started a separate page to keep track of my progress. My cardio was pathetic this week. I think I only managed an hour of focused cardio.

I'm happy to say that I started CrossFit. It's intense, and I love it! I did two sessions this week.

Exercise goals for Week 10:
Finish NROL4W (workouts 5 & 6)
Complete 2 CrossFit sessions
Finish Week 1 of C25K (days 2 & 3)

I've kept it simple because I think that's all I can realistically manage. I did workout 5 of NROL4W today, so I've just got one more workout left :)

4. Nutrition: Eat as clean as possible
My eating could definitely have been cleaner! This week - refocus. Be sensible!

Basically for this week - I've got to get a handle on that dizziness and find my footing. There are several things that I need to get done -- and I think the poster below says it perfectly.

Have a great week everyone! 

Saturday, May 26, 2012


Just when I thought this week couldn't get any more bizarre and off-track food poisoning this afternoon kept me from CrossFit ...

That's all I have to say for now.

Tomorrow is the start of a new week. I'm determined it's going to be better. 

Friday, May 25, 2012

Stayed Seated

This week has been totally upside down.

I didn't do my usual Friday workout of Combat, Pump, and Zumba. My shoulder pain is what mainly kept me from going - there was no way that I could do right hooks or clean and presses/shoulders. Once I decided not to go to the first two classes, I knew it was very unlikely that I would get to the third. At one point I thought I might battle the weekend crowd at the gym and do some cardio ... but seeing as it is almost 8 pm now and I've barely moved from my desk, that's not happening.

What can I say? Completing my abstract the upcoming Mexico conference as well as replying to several important emails took precedence, which basically means that I spent most of my day seated in front of my computer. Not ideal, but that was my reality today.

I do have to say that after resting the whole day and taking 2 painkillers, my shoulder is feeling much, much better ... hopefully I'll be completely ready for CrossFit tomorrow :)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Back to Normal

I went to bed last night at 2:30 a.m. and woke up at 6:00 -- 3.5 hours of sleep. Great. So much more 'normal' than the 8 hours I got yesterday. I actually wasn't tired when I got up. I think I was still a bit giddy from last night. The only thing that worried me was that I knew I had a long day ahead of me.

My students had their final exam today. It went smoothly; I'll find out their results (computer graded assessment) on Sunday. I hope they did well. I'm so glad that the semester is nearly over!

I  met with KD for our usual Thursday fruit salad lunch. It was a quick one because I needed to get home and get ready for my second day of CrossFit.

Before class started we were all standing around and chatting a bit. We got on to the topic of our age. Now, yesterday when I was in the class, I looked around at the other 8 girls (including the coach) and thought, damn, I must be the oldest one here. Most of the ladies are slender/athletic looking. It was hard not to let that get into my head, and I tried not to let it screw with me mentally. I knew that I would try my hardest. I knew that I had a lot of work ahead of me. I knew that I could put in the work and effort. Still, seeing others move with so much more ease (part of which has to do with not having as much weight on their backs) did make me feel a bit self-consicous. Then today, hearing all their ages, all in their mid-20's with one who was 31 ... and then me at 35 (though it was nice of them to say I looked like I was in my 20's, and I know this is because of my chubby cheeks lol). I just told myself, age is just a number. I've never had a problem with my age before. I'm not going to let it psych me out now. I just had to remind myself that this is my personal journey about me improving my health, strength, and fitness level. Focus. Don't distract yourself. Focus!!

We did several warm-up exercises and then focused on finding our max for deadlifts.
I managed 60 kg (132 lbs). I tried 80 kg (184 lbs) but barely made it off the ground ... definitely a goal to work up to!

Our WOD:
Ball to wall throws/squats [throw a 3 kg ball high up the wall and squat low as you catch it] plus jump rope

As one person was doing the ball to wall throws, the rest of us were jumping rope. We did rounds of 40, 30, 20, 10 ... by the last round, those squats were really burning my calves.

It doesn't sound like a big workout, but OMG - it really does get you breathless, especially given that in between you're jumping rope while the other members are doing their ball to wall throws.

My shoulder is a bit achy. I think it's from yesterday's pull ups. It doesn't feel serious, but I need to make sure and rest it a bit.

I'm still feeling a bit flustered, and even though I did set up a schedule for myself, I don't seem to be having much success sticking to it. The thing I seem to need most right now is rest, so I'm just focusing on doing that at the moment. I'm still working out and watching what I eat (though I'm still eating too much) but I'm not sticking to any strict schedule. With just over a week left in the challenge I'm not sure if this is the best strategy, but it's all I've got to give at the moment.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Awesome Day

I woke up at 8 a.m. today.
I got a total of 8 hours of sleep!
As someone who suffers from chronic insomnia (average of 4 hours of sleep a night, 5 if I'm lucky), 8 hours is phenomenal. Even D said he was shocked at how deeply I was sleeping this morning.

I got up and made scrambled egg whites with a bit of tomato salsa and 2 slices of wholewheat toast.

I had a few errands to run today, but then I decided, the hell with it. I'm staying home.

So I stayed home, put on Private Practice, and continued going through the mountains of papers in my office. As more and more papers were put into the recycling bin, the better I felt. It was so cathartic.

For lunch I had some quinoa with red bell peppers and grilled sweet potato.

At 4 p.m. I left the house and headed to the CrossFit training center.

Yup. Today was my first proper CrossFit training day.

I had no idea what to expect.

I got to the building and went down to the basement.

The floor had been covered in the foam mats that are normally found in the weight-lifting section of gyms and there were all sorts of equipment around the room. It was such a stark contrast from my regular gym, which is all shiny, clean, and organized. This was rustic and gritty. I loved it.

So, here are the details of the workout (skip if you're not interested in the details):

Warm-ups involved jump rope, walking lunges, and jumping on one foot through a ladder type rope that was placed on the floor.

We then moved on chest presses (I pushed 40 kg (about 80 lbs) for the last 3 sets of 3 reps) and pull ups with a resistance band -- talk about new experience!! It was a bit scary to be honest - step on the resistance band with one leg, cross the other leg over, and then jump up to the bar and hope that the band helps enough to help you do the pull ups. I don't think I did very well, but I tried and completed all the sets.

After doing that I understood why I've read in some CrossFit sites - My warm-up is your workout. We were already working up a sweat but we hadn't even started the WOD (workout of the day).

Today's WOD - 15 minutes, as many rounds as possible - 15 high intensity push ups, 15 burpees (ugh), 15 some form of ab crunches (I forgot the proper name), and 10 jump squats. We completed almost 3 rounds of all the exercises.

The 'After Party' was 3 minutes of box jumps.

It was great. I loved it. I struggled with quite a few things, particularly the burpees. I definitely wasn't as  fast as I would have liked to have been. Still, I'm trying not to get frustrated and just remind myself that today was the first day and I'm going to keep working at it to see the improvements that I want.

I only had an hour before heading over to KD's (my body pump instructor) house for dinner. I was looking forward to some time to just chill and have fun - plus eat! I was starving by the time I got there.

The last thing I expected when I walked through the door was a massive banner and balloons everywhere that even had my name printed on it ... all saying congratulations. I was moved beyond belief. Everyone had their glasses raised and were congratulating me ... I was speechless and so touched. It was perfect.

All my life I've done things for others, arranged surprise parties, looked for ways to make them feel special, etc. I've done it. I've enjoyed doing it.

This is foreign territory to me - having someone put so much care and thought into arranging something so special for me. All I could think was - What have I done to deserve this?

I felt really, really loved ... and so very content.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Cement Feet

I slept through my alarm today, and the only reason I got out of bed when D did is because the housekeeper was coming in today and I wanted to tidy up (lol) before she got here (I know, sounds crazy, but I knew she'd faint if she saw my mountain of laundry that had not been put away)! Actually, one of the reasons why I didn't feel guilty about skipping the gym yesterday is because I knew I'd have the house to myself, unlike today when the housekeeper would be in. I generally don't like to be in the house while she's here, so it was a bit of extra motivation to get out of the house and go to the gym.

I put on my gym clothes but remembered that I needed to fill in my online visa application for the UAE. It took an hour to complete. By the time I was done, I so did not want to go to the gym. I just didn't. I'm still feeling tired and lethargic - what the hell is wrong with me?! I really cannot understand my mood lately.

I finally made it to the gym but I had 0 enthusiasm or motivation. When I bumped into KD (the body pump instructor) she said she was surprised. "I've never seen you like this." She couldn't believe it. One I'm at the gym, I usually get into the swing of things. Not today. I was literally dragging my feet that felt like they were made of cement.

Two other trainers also noticed the difference in my demeanor and enthusiasm -- they all reckoned (as did D) that I've underestimated what a toll the past 5 years of research has been. My body is telling me to slow down. The trainers were trying to reassure me that I should take it easy. Resting would do me good. Sleep. Eat. Slow down. Everything will be there after you've rested and eaten properly.

It makes sense to me, but I find it hard to pay attention to that kind of advice when I've got certain goals I want to hit. Knowing that I'm traveling again is both good and bad. Good in that I know I want to get in as many good workouts as I can before I travel because I probably won't be exercising while I'm away. Bad in that I just don't feel like I can get into a good groove when I'll be off sync again, so why bother.

My mind never rests. Ugh.

Plus, to add to this feeling of dread, little things were going 'wrong' -

Got on the treadmill - realized I had forgotten to put on my heart rate monitor.
Put on my heart rate monitor - a minute or so later the sensor stopped working and my heart rate didn't register.
As I got to the end of my warm-up, I pressed the button to decrease my speed and the touch screen had stopped working.

OMG - I was so frustrated. I kept thinking that if one more thing went wrong, I'd just pack my stuff up and go home. (Though I also realize that my mind greatly exaggerated the annoyance factor of these incidences. My mind was really messing with me today!) Anyway.

I managed to do 1/2 km warm-up followed by Workout 4 of Stage 7 in NROL4W - squats (2 types), shoulder presses, step ups (ugh), and lateral pulls.

I kept telling myself - Come on. You can do this. Don't give up.

It was hard though. I struggled. I had to talk myself into doing each rep. It was such a mental battle today. I've never had to convince myself so much to get a workout done. Although I was pleased that I finished the whole thing, part of me still felt detached and was like, 'Whatever. I'm tired. I just want to go home.'

I had wanted to start the C25K program today, but I wasn't sure if I'd be able to. Still, as I finished up my last set of weights I told myself -

Stop whining. Get on the treadmill and do this!

The post that Blog Wobble wrote yesterday really helped me get through the workout. (Thank you!!!) I kept telling myself, for goodness sake, it's day 1. You can totally do this. You're just making it more difficult for yourself.

So I did it. I didn't have any problems, but today was definitely a mind over matter type of day. I had to talk myself through the whole process (don't give up, just keep moving, this is not difficult, only 30 seconds left etc. etc.) In any case, I finished Day 1. Now I just have to keep moving forward and hope that my mind catches up.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Feeling Frantic

I didn't go to the gym today. At one point I thought I'd make up for it by doing a workout at home, but that didn't happen either. I feel slightly guilty, but maybe not as guilty as I should feel for skipping a workout despite all my good intentions to stick to the plan I created earlier this week. I just didn't get around to it. I stayed home in the morning and started going through the mountains and mountains of papers that I've got in my office. The piles have been driving me crazy. I keep putting it off and once I got started in the morning, that was it. I couldn't stop.

Dragged myself away just to go to work and teach my last class of the semester (yay!). Then I came back home and picked up where I left off. I'm not sure I can explain how many papers I've got. It's insane. Four years of research, data notes, drafts of articles etc. etc. are completely overwhelming me.

I took a break to work on something for my supervisor. It ended up taking quite a bit longer than I had anticipated but I had to get it done today.

The only time I left my office was to go into the kitchen and tidy up in there. Things had been washed but not put away. Dinner had to be cooked, and then of course everything had to be washed and put away. I know this is daily stuff that people go through but today it felt overwhelming.

To add to it all, I'm tired. I don't get it. I haven't felt this tired in a long time. Still, I felt like today was one of those days where even if I had made it to the gym, my workout probably would have sucked. It's better that I stayed at home was and was actually productive in doing something.

I'm just starting to feel a little frantic now.

I feel like I've just been coping for the past few days instead of being fully engaged with what I'm doing. I don't like this feeling. At the same time I am feeling really overwhelmed. Not only do I have so much to do, but most of the tasks require a lot of time. From past experience I've seen that I overwhelm myself with tons of tasks and in the end I get so flustered and frantic that I get nothing done at all.

I need to get a grip. I just have to tackle things one at a time and steadily make my way through all these tasks. I know I'm being really whiny today. I really don't feel like myself for some reason. As I said, I need to get a grip!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Off Sync & Week 8 Summer Challenge Update

Sundays just don't seem to agree with me. I really had trouble getting motivated to do anything all day. Ironically, I had everything planned out for the day. I had my gym clothes laid out, my work clothes ready, my fruit for the day was washed and ready in a ziplock bag, I woke up on time etc. etc. Still, I felt kinda lethargic, tired, and worst of all, bloated. In fact, I actually feel like I'm PMS'ing though I shouldn't be for another week. With the travel and stress of the past week and a half I guess I wouldn't be surprised if my cycle shifted - again. Who knows.

I restarted my morning gym routine. I did the 3rd workout in Stage 7 of NROL4W. I've only got 3 workouts left of the program, and I'm pretty sure I'll be able to finish it before I travel again. I did well, but I felt the lethargy kinda slowing me down. I hope I do better tomorrow.

It's the end of the 8th week of the Ready for Summer Challenge.

I was late posting my update for week 7 so I don't really have too much to add for this week.

It's been taking me some time to get back into the swing of things so I'll keep this entry brief.

1. Weight loss goal: To lose a total of 15 lbs by June 3rd
My total weight loss since start of this challenge is 9.6 lbs. I've just lost a little bit since I returned from London. Seeing as I've been eating a lot and not exercising, I'm just glad that the number hasn't gone up!

Week 9 plan:
Keep working towards reaching that 15 lb loss!

2. Non-scale goal: Finish grading; Organize bookshelf; Catch up on blogs
I finished grading my last set of papers for the semester!!! What a relief! :) 
I also managed to catch up on commenting on blogs. 
I've started organizing my bookshelf, but it's not complete yet. I'm getting there. 

Week 9 plan:
Start the paper for the conference in Mexico
Start brushing up on my Italian for this summer's trip to Italy
Make a big dent in my list of things to do (try to accomplish at least 2 things a day)

3. Exercise: Week 8 goal: 4 hrs at the gym; finalize workout schedule
I managed my 4 hours at the gym - 1 hr. swimming and 3 hrs. Combat/Pump/Zumba
My workout schedule for the next two weeks is set! 

Week 9 plan:
Complete workouts 3 & 4 for NROL4W
Swim once
Get in 4 hours of cardio
Start CrossFit

4. Nutrition goal: Make healthy choices/keep water rat a good level
I struggled with my water in London and it took me some time to readjust after returning (my bladder wasn't too happy at first!). Now I'm back to 3.5-4 L of water a day. 
My food hasn't been good this week, but that all changes from right now. I don't know why I've been crazy hungry lately. Still, yesterday I sat down and made my menu for the week plus stocked up on some fresh fruit and veggies. Hopefully the week will go well. 

Week 9 plan:
Try to eat as clean as possible. 

Saturday, May 19, 2012

One by One

Today has been all about me getting things done. My list of things to do is as long as it has ever been. It feels like every time I cross one thing off I add three more. Still, today I definitely made some progress.

I've finally caught up on all the blogs of those participating in the Ready for Summer challenge (at least those who linked up for Week 7) and I caught up on the other blogs that I follow.

I also finished grading my last set of papers for the semester - definitely a huge relief. I've just got 2 more weeks to get through before summer vacation!

My post-travel laundry is done (though I still have to put it away) and my bookshelf in my home office is starting to look so much more organized.

My biggest success of the day was finalizing the menu for the week and getting the groceries done. I had Jenn and her blocks of food in mind as I did today's shop. The fridge is now wonderfully stocked with lots of fresh veggies and fish.

Week 8's challenge is about coming up with a focused plan to help make sure things stay on track. This has come at a perfect time for me as I have exactly 14 days before I get on a plane again. I want to make these next two weeks count.

I've mapped out my workouts for the next two weeks - including 2 NROL4W workouts and 4 CrossFit training sessions starting from this coming Wednesday :) I've also targeted two errands/tasks to complete each day. I've tried to balance them out so it doesn't get too overwhelming. I've also outlined my food for each day as specifically as possible though I have left some of it flexible because as you know, sometimes things just come up. I've also included my lesson plans etc. for work. Plus, even though my thesis has been written, there are a few tweaks that I have to make so I'll be working on as well as my presentation for the conference in Mexico.

Lots to do, but I'm looking forward to getting back into some sort of routine and seeing all these tasks crossed off my to-do list, one by one!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Back into It

Friday schedule: Body Combat, Body Pump, Zumba - 3 hours back to back; 1350 calories burned.

At first I felt hesitant about whether or not I should do all three classes, but I've learned from the past that this hesitation needs to just be kicked in the ass! 

It felt good to be back in the gym and doing the workouts again. 

In particular, the highlight of my day was going into the Body Pump studio to find this on my bench (sorry for the blurry photo): 

There was also a doctor's coat on my bench. KD, the Body Pump instructor, pulled me to the front of the class (OMG I was so shy and totally blushing!!) and congratulated me - it was so sweet though and presented me with the doctor's coat. Everyone applauded and congratulated me. I was embarrassed but happy at the same time :) We did clarify that I had not become a medical doctor, but I did wear the coat for a few minutes of the warm-up track (made even harder to get on and pull off coz' I was so sweaty from Body Combat). Here's a photo that we quickly took after the workout (at this point I had completed 2 classes, so excuse the dazed/sweaty look, lol): 

In yesterday's post I was wondering about whether or not I should do CrossFit because I still haven't finished NROL4W. I'm almost done with the New Rules program though so I've decided that I'll start CrossFit training from next Wednesday. I'll be able to squeeze in 4, maybe 5 sessions before I travel next. Still, I won't be gone for long so I can rejoin when I return - and then it'll be about 6 full weeks before my next trip (yes, quite a bit of travel this summer). 

I also desperately need to get my eating on track. My crazy huger has subsided, but I have yet to do a proper shop and load up on good fruits and veggies for us. It's on my list of things to do and hopefully something I can tackle tomorrow. 

I'm still trying to catch up on the blog reading/commenting. Slowly but surely I'm making progress - though that stack of papers to grade is calling my name. I'm not sure how much longer I can ignore it!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Regrouping - still

I was starting to get a bit frustrated at myself because I feel like I'm taking a long time to get over this trip. A bit of refocusing from a friend helped me realize that it wasn't so much that I've been away for 7 days but more that I've actually been away from this type of life for almost 5 years. I was starting to get alarmed that I was feeling so tired and so hungry all the time and then I realized, I think this is the first time in 5 years that I feel relaxed and calm. I know I have things to do, but I know that they don't need to be done now. It seriously is a new experience/feeling for me so I'm trying not to get too worked up about it and instead just enjoy the ride.

As I said above, I have been ravenously hungry since I returned. I haven't eaten junk food, though I have had a few small sweets, but I've been eating. I am constantly hungry. I felt alarmed this morning so I got on the scale, thinking that the number would jolt me back to reality. Instead of seeing a gain, I saw another half pound loss. Seriously? How is that possible? Although it was great, as I was in the middle of my 2 scrambled eggs and toast this morning (a much bigger breakfast than I usually have, but not unhealthy) I stopped and realized what was happening. I'm now 3 kg (7 lbs) down from the plateau weight that I had been holding on to for a year and a half. I haven't been at this weight for so long and now I think my body is sending these crazy hunger signals in a panic, probably interpreting it as starvation. Normally, or perhaps I should say, previously, I would eat and eat until the crazy hunger subsided. I'm doing the same now, but I've noticed something very different -- instead of eating scrambled eggs, a panini, a bag of crisps, a bit of chocolate and some crisps I am now getting full on scrambled eggs,  a salad, some fruit, and veggies and rice (though I've still been having something sweet too). I'm still eating, but what I'm eating has changed. I didn't even realize that I had changed my eating habits, it just happened. I'm sure this is what has made the difference. The amount of times I'm eating is the same, but the portion sizes along with the ingredients and preparation are completely different and I think that's what is making the difference.

I do need to be careful though because I don't want to go back to my plateau. I only have a short time before I travel again; I've got to hit my goal!

I went back to the gym today and was so happy and overwhelmed with the excited response of the trainers at the gym. Big hugs, huge smiles, and lots of congratulations and compliments (including that I looked like I had lost weight and trimmed down quite a bit). My favorite was my boxing coach who greeted me with 'Dr. Boxer' :) Loved it!

I had mainly gone to the gym to meet with KD to catch up and lounge by the pool. I brought my workout clothes just in case I felt like doing some cardio on the cross-trainer or something but in the end we ended up swimming a few laps. It was my first swim of the season. It felt so good in the water. It also felt so good to feel how my arm strength made a difference in my movement under water. I am so, so pleased when I see how my workouts make a difference in my daily life.

I will workout in the gym for sure tomorrow, but in the meantime I'm still trying to figure out my routine for the next few weeks. Another thing to add to my dilemma is that I spoke to the CrossFit trainer today and she has officially started holding her training sessions. I really don't want to wait until I get back from Mexico to start. At the same time, I really want to finish my NROL4W program before starting something new ... I just can't figure out if it's worth starting now or if I should hold off ... too many decisions to make!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Catching Up

It's amazing how even being away for just one week can kinda throw me off balance. Plus, I'm always surprised at how tired I am after coming back from London, even though the time difference is only 2-hours. In any case, I could barely get myself to wake up this morning and don't even get me started on how tough it was to drag myself into work. It was particularly tough because I knew that all I was going to do that day was sit in a room for 2.5 hours staring at my students while they worked on their final writing assessment. Proctoring tests SUCKS!

I had lunch with friends to catch up on my trip and then eventually I made it back home where a bunch of emails and general paperwork needed my attention. I barely made a dent and before I knew it, it was dinner time.

I had pasta for dinner, something that I try not to do because I find it sits heavily in my dinner, but it was the easiest option - that's when the alarm bells started going off.

I have to fix my routine now because not having a schedule is never good for me. I get careless with my eating and portions and I get lazy with my workouts.

I didn't go to the gym today. I really needed another day of sleep, but I hope to be back into it tomorrow. Not sure what I'll do at the gym because I still haven't planned it out -- so gotta do that now!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Rehydrating and Regrouping

I landed this morning at 6:30 and was at my desk at the university by 9. It was painful to say the least as I was already exhausted from the long last day in London and of course the flight. In any case, I survived. Plus it was wonderful walking into my office at home and seeing balloons and flowers from D, and my BFF who works with me also surprised me with a gorgeous bouquet of tulips. I'm so blessed.

I didn't post for the past few days coz' things were crazy busy in London. It was awesome catching up with old friends and shopping of course! I walked for hours and hours each day and felt good in terms of my stamina and comfort with walking around - didn't even give it a second thought. It just reminds me of how all the exercise and strength training has so many benefits, particularly when it comes to lugging around heavy shopping bags for hours not to mention carrying a 20 kg suitcase up and down flights of stairs at the train station with ease ... yes, with ease :)

I was quite good with my general exercise and food habits over the past week, but I really struggled with my water intake. I was drinking about 4 L of water a day here, but in London, I was lucky to get 2 L ... sometimes less. I was just on the go all the time; I'm paranoid about having to use a public restaurant, and it was so cold!! Anyway. I'm trying to make up for it now, but I know my body suffered.

Today is all about rehydrating and regrouping. I've unpacked but I still need to put a few things away and of course do laundry. I also need to come up with a new exercise routine for the next 17 days, after which I'll be traveling again for just under 2 weeks.

It's the perfect time to also do my Ready for Summer challenge update - I'm a bit late this week, and of course I'm behind on commenting on all your blogs. I do apologize. I'll catch up soon, I promise!

Week 7 Progress and Week 8 Plans

1. Weight loss goal: To lose 10 lbs by May 8 (loss since the challenge began = 7.84 lbs)
I forgot to mention that when I weighed myself on May 8th, I had lost another pound. So, I didn't quite hit the 10 lb mark, but I did make it to 8.84. It's not too horrible. I weighed in this morning (had to check even though I know I was all bloated from traveling and had just eaten breakfast) and the scale showed that I had lost another 1/2 lb. I'm always hoping to at least maintain when I travel, so I was really happy to see that I actually managed to lose some weight, even though it was very little. It makes me feel good that I did not deprive myself of anything in terms of food, but I made sensible choices and watched my portions (though I didn't watch these very carefully). I had some chocolate each day that I was on vacation, but imagine something like a 2-finger Kit Kat bar, not a whole tub of ice cream or anything like that. It definitely made me feel a bit more confident in terms of being able to control my eating habits and that I can modify what/how much I eat without being too paranoid about calories etc. It was definitely comforting.

Week 8 plan:
Although I am weighing in weekly, I'm not setting a weekly weigh in goal. Now, my next goal is to lose a total of 15 lbs by June 3rd. I don't know how reasonable it is about 6 pounds in less than 3 weeks. I will try though. We'll see what happens! 

2. Non-scale goal: Pass my PhD defense
I did it!!! It gave me great pleasure to introduce myself as Dr. PlumPetals on Saturday :) It was a HUGE non-scale goal for me ... in fact I think it's one of the most significant things I've ever done in my life. 

I'd also like to add this week's 'Post to Myself' as an NSV. I have had such trouble being positive. It takes a lot of energy to find the good in what I've done ... in any area of  my life. That sounds like such a depressing thing to say, but it's true. I wrote this post back in August 2011. It was so difficult to even 'fake' writing something positive and cheerful. It's not that I don't notice the good around me, I do. I guess I have just found it difficult to find the good in me. Anyway. As I wrote in my post on Saturday, I would not have even been able to write this post a few weeks ago. Feeling that confidence and determination was good for me. I just need to hold on to it and keep it as a reminder that struggles do not equal failures. 

Week 8 plan:
Finish grading the last set of essays for the semester (thank goodness!)
Organize my bookshelf in my home office
Catch up on blog post comments

3. Exercise: Walk as much as possible; workout at least twice in Canterbury/London
I worked out at the gym 3 times during my stay in Canterbury and did a ton of walking for the 3 days that I was in London. 

Week 8 plan:
Finalize my workout schedule for the next 17 days.
Try to get in at least 4 hours at the gym before next Sunday's weekly check in

4. Nutrition goal: Make healthy choices/keep water at a good level
I tried to make healthy choices while I was away and at the same time, I did eat whatever/whenever I wanted. It was actually quite a pleasant surprise to see that I wasn't craving anything - fries, crisps, soda, etc. Nothing was a craving so I felt quite relieved. The main thing I struggled with, as I mentioned before, was water.

Week 8 plan:
This week will be tricky because there are a number of celebration lunes/dinners so I have to make sure that I continue to control what and how much I eat. 
Get my water intake back on track
Plan the menu for the week and stick to it

So that's it from me right now. Again, I do apologize for not commenting on recent blog posts. I'll catch up on that over the next few days (I hope).

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Post to Myself

Dear Me,

 I know that a few weeks ago you wouldn't have been able to write this letter. Yes, just a few weeks ago... but now look where you are.

You have come such a long way ... Such a very long way, especially since 1990 when you started to face many challenges.

You have been physically abused, emotionally abused, taken advantage of, told you were worthless, no good, and would never amount to anything. You have been afraid of so many things - getting close to other people, trusting other, letting yourself be loved, taking chances, believing in yourself.

No more. No more.

You are stronger than ever before.
You are faster than ever before.
You are smarter than ever before.
You are surrounded by more supportive people than ever before.

The journey is not over, but that is actually the good news. Now you can go forward with newfound confidence and belief in yourself. There is still much work to be done, but you can do it - you have done it! Keep moving forward but now slow down a little. You know now that you are strong. You know now that a bit of pain and struggle does not mean things are impossible.

Enjoy the process. Take in the view. Breathe. Be fearless.



It all still hasn't hit me yet but I guess that's normal since it is an almost 5-year chapter of my life that has come to an end. The whole experience was surreal and the whole 3-hour ordeal was over in what felt like 15 minutes. I was so pleased and proud of my their response to my writing and they way I handled their grilling (their terminology). I feel like most of the past 5 years has been spent doubting my capabilities and feeling like I wasn't smart enough to pull this off. Having two experts in the field praise me so highly has given me a much needed boost and I can finally say that I do feel proud. I did earn this.

This feeling reminds me of the song by Kate Earl - Learning to Fly.
I've always wanted to reach a moment where I could feel this type of pride. I am so thankful for how it has all gone. I am so thankful that I feel I have earned this moment.

Learning to Fly - Kate Earl

I've made mistakes 
But I won't be ashamed 
It feels like fate is lifting me 
I can't seem to keep my feet on the ground 
I no longer hide 
So I let the sun wash over me 
Cause there's no darkness left to hold me down 
And I feel it's light 
And I found the spark that was missing from my life. 

I've earned these wings I was not born with them 
And it's no accident 
How I walked through the rain and the fire 
Cause it taught me how to love 
It taught me how to fight 
And finally I'm learning to fly 


Listen to it if you get the chance. Off to the gym this morning for a final workout before leaving Canterbury. I'll be in London for a mega-shopping spree, so that will count as both my cardio and weight lifting for the next two days :)

Thursday, May 10, 2012


This is it. I'm nearing the end of this long journey. I'm so nervous about the outcome of it all. Went to the gym this morning.

Did 45 min on the treadmill, followed by some lunges, squats, ab crunches, and push ups. Yes, I'm a glutton for punishment! My food was alright for the day. I ate at the hotel - continental breakfast: lots of fruit, some yogurt, and a mini blueberry muffin; had some vegetable curry and rice for lunch (needed something to warm me up and soothe my throat); will have a salad for dinner. It's been rainy here and I think that has led me to feeling a bit ill. I had a slight fever this afternoon plus a sore throat. I took some Nurofen and am feeling better now. Well, better except for te insane amount of noise going on in the hotel. I really hope it dies down soon. Of all the nights, tonight I need some sleep! A huge entourage also checked in with tons of screaming, rowdy kids. They drove me out of the hotel lounge where I was doing some work. I will cry if they are checked into rooms near mine. So I'm a bit on edge. Going to try to relax and just ignore the pounding bass that is coming through the walls! I may not blog tomorrow. We'll see.

Wish me luck! :)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


Even though I've come to Canterbury many times, I still struggle with deciding how to plan my day. For the most part each day is planned around university events - meetings with my supervisor, research seminars, etc. Since the timings vary each day, I don't really get the chance to set up a regular routine.

So each morning I ask myself - workout now or later? What should I eat for breakfast/lunch/dinner? Sleep erly or veg in front of the TV or study some more? This morning was no different. Even though I had a general plan in mind last night, this morning I questioned myself. I like having a plan. Making schedules and lists are cathartic. Why is it that I still question myself?

I drive myself crazy. It makes me feel that no matter how proactive or energetic I act, inside I'm still a procrastinator and lazy.

I was up by 6:30 this morning. I really wanted to sleep more as I was still tired, but at the same time I knew that ifi didn't get up, my whole day would be thrown off.

So question 1: sleep or get up? I got up.

Question 2: Workout now or later? After reading a few blogs I got my butt out of bed and decided to exercise now (thanks for the motivation fellow-bloggers!). But before going to the gym ...

Question 3: Breakfast now or later? If I have breakfast now it'll end up being something from the room, ie junk food. Forget it. Breakfast later. I went to the hotel's mini gym and did 6.5km on the treadmill plus some good stretches (my back has been a bit achy after all the travel). Then on to my day. I stopped by the supermarket and bought a banana for breakfast, had some green tea at the university, met with my advisor, and then had to decide about lunch.

Question 4: Big lunch or something simple? I've decided to have a proper lunch and a light dinner while I'm here. A small bowl of penne arrabiata with a side salad (dressing on the side) - love the light lunch portions some restaurants do! Dinner was a salmon avocado salad (side salad serving, not a dinner salad). Between lunch and dinner there was a few hours of work accompanied by some peppermint tea (was so tempted by carrot cake but resisted) and a bit of shopping. I was thrilled to buy clothes 1-2 sizes smaller than the last time I was here. I didn't buy a lot, just some summer clothes (though it is cold and gloomy here). So a full day for me.

Now I just have to decide - Question 5: Do some more work or go to sleep? I'll have to let you know tomorrow!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Planes, trains, and automobiles

I made it to Canterbury safe and sound. It has been a long day though the journey itself wasn't too bad. The 6 hour flight was smooth. The flight was half empty. It's always nice when there's nobody sitting next to you. The only down side is that the woman sitting behind me coughed throughout the flight. Seriously. There may have been a maximum of 5 minutes of silence throughout the whole flight. I felt bad for her, but I felt bad for me too! There's only so loud you can play your iPod before it starts interfering with your sleep/rest! No problems at border control; luggage was waiting just as I got out. Train/taxi/train/taxi - my usual journey from Heathrow to Canterbury. I'm cold, hungry, and tired. It's too early to sleep so I'm going to curl up in my pj's, order some room service - I'm thinking a nice bowl of tomato soup will warm me up, and then read until I fall asleep. I'm glad I have two full days to rest and focus before the big day. The silence is calming.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Mentally Preparing

After Saturday's RPM class I decided I wouldn't go to the gym anymore before traveling. First of all, RPM still causes me a bit of lower abdominal pain (because of the fibroids). There were some parts of the last three tracks that I struggled with. Aside from the pain, I'm just feeling very overwhelmed at the moment. I'm distracted and I'm stressed. On top of that, I'm not getting any sleep (only 2 hours last night) and my migraines are back.

So for me, the logical step was just to slow down for a bit and concentrate on relaxing. I also know that the more flustered/stressed/exhausted I get, the more likely it is that I'll lose my concentration at the gym and wind up hurting myself. That's definitely not something that I want to happen at the moment. So yesterday and today were all about getting ready for tomorrow's trip.

I'm teetering between excitement and completely anxiety/paranoia. This is 4 1/2 years of research and writing that's going to be judged. I have no idea what they're going to ask. I'm nervous that I haven't prepared enough but at the same time, I know what work I've done ... I guess what I'm feeling is only natural. Anyway.

Not much to report from me on the health and fitness front. I'm working on keeping mentally calm and focused right now. My bags are packed; I'm all checked in on-line. I just need to get on the plane and get through this next phase.

Will blog from Canterbury next :)  

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Week 6 Summer Challenge Update

When I got on the scale this morning, I was absolutely dreading it. Although I knew I had been more careful with my eating over the past few days, I was still haunted by the fact that I ate out every singe day for the past two weeks. Surely that's going to show up on the scale. The only thing that I had going for me was that the TOM was practically over so I should have dropped some of the extra water weight that probably added to last week's gain in the first place.

Here's where I stand:

1. Weight loss goal: To lose 10 lbs by May 8 (loss since the challenge began 2.84 lbs)
I could not believe my eyes when I saw that I had lost 5 lbs this week. I knew that some of the extra water weight would drop, but I didn't think it would be that much. I was really happy to see that. With this loss it puts me just over 2 lbs away from my goal. If I'm really, really careful, I should be able to do it. If not, I know I'm close.

2. Non-scale goal: Finish reading through the remainder of my thesis & try to get more sleep.
I finished reading my thesis but that came at the expense of getting sleep. I am insanely critical of my writing. I can't tell you how many times I've just wanted to hit the delete button (actually, there have been a few times just before a big assignment was due that I did in fact hit the delete button!). So the fact that I've read my thesis and I actually like it and don't want to just burn it makes me feel better. I hope that I'm not being foolishly confident. I know that any piece of writing can be improved, but I've made peace with what I've written. Now I just need to defend it well!

I just wanted to add something else to my NSV for this week - I measured myself this morning. If the weight loss wasn't enough, this was definitely the non-fat icing on my cake. 
Although I didn't lose inches everywhere, I didn't gain any ... and more than that, the most significant losses were 1/2 inch on my arms, 1/2 inch around my bust, and 3 inches around my waist! I'm definitely very, very happy with those numbers!

3. Exercise: Start NROL4W Stage 7; Get in at least 6 hours of cardio incl. 10 km; Do 1,500 reps of abs/thighs/butt exercises
I started Stage 7 -- am totally loving it! I love seeing how strong I've gotten, though I have to say, the workouts have been much more challenging than I expected! I got in my 6 hours of cardio (just barely) but didn't manage the 10 km stretch. The most I did at one go was 8 km. As for the abs ... um, I didn't get to more than 500. Doing that many crunches etc. during that time of the month was a bit ambitious!

4. Nutrition goal - streamline foods; increase protein; cut down dairy
I just had to try and be as smart as possible when it came to eating this past week. I watched my portions and tried to make healthy choices ... I did alright with my protein but could have had more. My dairy intake was about the same this week. I don't really know why I put that as a nutritional goal as I don't feel like it affects me negatively. I'll have to to rethink that goal. 
Oh, and ironically, for the week that I didn't mention eating a daily serving of fruit I managed to eat 1-2 servings of fruit every single day! I used it to help counterbalance all the other meals that I was eating out. I've found a fruit salad at a restaurant here that I absolutely love. I had it 3 times as my main meal (twice for lunch and once for dinner)! 

So, overall, it's been a good week given the circumstances. Although I didn't hit my targets in exactly the way I wanted to (i.e. more exercise/more clean eating) it did make me feel better in that I was still able to have some control when 'life' got in the way! I hope I can keep it up.

Goals for Week 7:
This week will be tricky as I'll be traveling for almost the whole time. So I'll keep my goals simple.

1. Weight loss - Try to lose the last 2 lbs. and maintain during the week while I'm away
2. Non-scale goal - Pass my PhD defense! It's on the 11th, so wish me luck!
3. Exercise - Walk as much as possible; do at least 2 hotel workouts (more details on that in a later post)
4. Nutrition goal - Try to make healthy choices; keep your water intake at a good level

My overall challenge for the week will just be to cope with traveling, the stress of finishing off my PhD, and being out of my daily comfort zone. I came across this quote and thought it was quite appropriate.

I just have to say, I'm loving this challenge. You guys are amazing cheerleaders! I feel like I have such an amazing supportive network now. It truly makes a difference to my day. Thank you for all your encouragement and positive thoughts! Good luck with Week 7!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Getting Ready

Panic is definitely setting in.

I woke up at 4 am without my alarm - there was just so much that I had to get done. I managed to get a bit of marking done before having to leave the house at 5:45 am to take my in-laws to the airport. At least that's one major distraction out of the way. It was nice having them here, but I think I was a bit to stressed out to fully enjoy them being here.

I was back at my desk by 7:45 and grading papers plus preparing my lessons for next week's substitute teacher. It's one thing when you go in and teach your own class - all the details etc. are in your head - it's something completely different when you have to write down all those details for someone else to follow. I do hope it goes smoothly.

I worked until around 11 am and then headed to the gym for RPM class. I wanted to get in my hour of cardio. I hadn't done RPM in quite a while. I've always found that the class helps me zone out a bit. It's not like Zumba or Body Combat where you really need to pay attention to all your moves. RPM relaxes me (that is, if you don't count being totally out of breath and drenched with sweat) :)

Back at home and at my desk. Still trying to prepare my lessons for work plus get through a few tasks that I have left in preparation for my defense. I definitely feel like I don't have enough time to get everything that I need to get done finished. I have started packing for my trip. The good thing about going to the university is that I'm going as a student - so jeans and casual tops are totally fine! I just have to choose something nice and comfortable to wear for my viva. Overall I'm trying to keep the packing light since I definitely want to fill up my bag with lots of shopping!

I'm dreading the weather - rainy and cold. I am glad, however, that a light-weather jacket that I bought from the GAP that stopped fitting me 2 years ago now fits so nicely! It's even a bit loose so it'll be great for layering up. Definitely an NSV for this week. 

Friday, May 4, 2012

Trying to Gain Control

I leave for London in three days. OMG - 3 days. I'm starting to freak out. I have so much left to do and not nearly enough time to do it all. I'm trying to tackle each thing one at a time; I really don't have any other choice.

Ironically, before when things would get hectic, the first thing that would get dropped from my schedule would be my gym time. Now, however, it's the one thing I really dread dropping from my scheduled. I do recognize that sometimes things are crazy busy and I just can't make it to the gym - I used to feel incredibly guilty, but now I don't feel that much guilt. Sometimes you just have to take care of other things - as long as that's the exception and not the norm.

There are also times (many, many times) when I use the gym to procrastinate and put things off. I know that a 1-hour workout should suffice, but I stay for much longer because I just don't want to get other things done. It may sound like a 'healthy' way to procrastinate, but when I'm putting off important things, it actually just ends up adding to the stress sometimes.

So, for the next few days I've got a gym plan, but I've also told myself that it's ok if I don't make it because right now getting ready for my PhD thesis defense is really the most important thing.

Today, however, I did go to the gym and did what has become my routine Friday workout - Body Combat followed by Body Pump followed by Zumba. There was no way I was missing Zumba as this is the second week in a row I've only had time to go the Friday class. I think my body has gotten used to doing the three classes back to back, though I do leave the gym feeling exhausted, but very happy!

Tonight was the last night with my in-laws. They wanted to go to a pizza place. Of course I heard the word pizza and I immediately tensed up. I didn't get a chance to look up the menu online so I had no idea what I would order. In the end I told myself not to freak out - I could have a slice of pizza or some pasta - it wasn't going to kill me. I really do have to learn not to panic so much. Regardless of the circumstance, I am still in control.

I got lucky and they had a delicious salad - lettuce, red bell peppers, avocado, boiled egg, potato, and chicken. I asked them to remove the chicken (since I don't each chicken) and add some extra veggies. They were happy to oblige. I was a bit worried about the potato, but it was just 2 new potatoes boiled, so it wasn't a big deal. Overall, it was really yummy. Whew. No need to panic!

Tomorrow things should get a bit more back to normal in terms of eating ... well, maybe. As I said, I have a lot of work to do, so I know I won't be spending a lot of time cooking. We'll see how it turns out. I may have to rely on D to prepare dinner for us for the upcoming days! 

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Star of the Night

I had a busy day, though it was punctuated with periods of catching up with friends, so it didn't feel too stressful. I didn't do my usual morning workout because I really needed to get some grading done before heading to work, so I started to tackle that task. Work was fine - test day for my students, so all I needed to do was watch them. Boring as hell, but at least I managed to get a bit of marking done at that time too.

I headed straight to the gym after work - but didn't make it into the actual gym until 3 hours later because I met some friends at one of the restaurants in the gym complex and we ended up chatting. I had a delicious fruit salad for lunch :)

Once I made it into the gym I ran into more people that I hadn't seen for a while, including two of the trainers who have been away for the past month on holiday, so it was a big catch up session.

There are definitely some days (most days actually) when I just want to go in and do my workout. Today, however, I was in a chatty mood. I guess with all the running around with my in-laws and my other stresses, I just kinda wanted to laugh and unwind. It felt good.

I eventually made it to the cross-trainer and did a nice intense hour before having to get off and rush to dinner with the in-laws, my parents, and some of my parents' friends.

I wasn't sure how the night would turn out because it was going to be an outdoor BBQ by the seaside. It sounded good, but I wondered what I would eat. I had originally planned on making myself a salad or something vegetarian to take with me because I knew nobody would have brought anything other than chicken/meat etc. However, I didn't have time. So I thought I'd just wing it. See what there is; if there's something for me good, if not, I'll either wait until later or maybe have some bread (something that I definitely didn't want).

I was right - it was all chicken, meat, and hot dogs. I did regret not bringing something of my own because at that point I was really hungry.

All of a sudden, my mom pulled out a container with a chick pea dish that I absolutely love. She said she brought it especially for me since she wasn't sure what vegetarian options there would be tonight {by the way, when the others - the other Bangladeshis - heard that I was vegetarian, they were absolutely shocked! Meat/Chicken is such a big part of our traditional dishes. They just didn't understand why I would give it all up!}. Anyway. I was SO touched. She even said that she measured out one portion for me and had cut a carrot and cucumber salad (no dressing) for me to have.

I was so moved. *sigh* I love my mom :) She was totally my star of the night!

Picture taken at one of my pre-wedding ceremonies - me and mom

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Giving it a Go

I'm so glad I didn't have to teach today because after yesterday's late night, I really needed some sleep. That being said, I was up by 6:30 am anyway, but at least I had a bit of a relaxing morning instead of having to rush out of the house. In fact, I knew that I didn't have to rush out of the house for anything at all ... except for the gym.

I have a ton of work that needs to be completed before my trip to England next week. The anxiety about my upcoming viva is definitely starting to hit me. So I had to make a decision - stay home and work all day, go to the gym and then work, work and then go to the gym ... what?

Although I still wasn't feeling great, I knew that skipping the gym for a 3rd day would make me feel even worse. My plan was to do Workout 2 of NROL4W Stage 7. I felt a bit overwhelmed with it because the last workout was so intense. Would I be able to manage? I started to panic and then I just mentally shook myself and said - Go to the gym. Try. If you feel too terrible and can't lift weights or don't feel like walking/jogging, then don't. But at least try.

I'm so glad I did. I don't know where this positive inner voice is coming from, but I'm so glad it's there and it is courageous (and bossy) enough to speak up!

I walked my 1 km warm-up. Jogging was out of the question with all my bloating, cramps, and water retention! Then I headed to the weight room.

I bench pressed 40 kg (88 lbs) today!! That's the most I've ever bench pressed, and I was so proud!
I did low rows (55 kg/121 lbs); then 4 sets alternating 20 squats (with 12.5 kg (27.5 lb) weights in each hand and 20 shoulder presses with 8 kg (17.5 lb) weights in each hand. I struggled with the last two sets of shoulder presses and only managed 15 reps. My form just started to suck big time! Then 4 sets alternating step ups and underhand lat pulls. Simple exercises, but I tell you, they really wiped me out. The step ups got my heart rate so high, and I was only holding 5 kg (11 lb) weights in each hand. It was just the quick motion and the height of the steps I guess. The lat pulls weren't easy either. Since I was doing 20 reps, I only pulled 30 kg (66 lbs). The last few reps of each set were tough. My forearms were burning ... but I got through the whole workout, and although I felt a bit sick afterwards, I still felt good - does that make sense?

I wanted to get a bit more cardio in so I walked 5 km at an easy pace. I didn't want to push myself, but I did want to get my heart rate up and my legs moving.

So overall, I'm so happy I went in to the gym. I spent the rest of the afternoon at a cafe reading through my thesis, and I've made quite a bit of progress. I still have a ton of papers to grade (ugh, worst part of teaching for sure!!), but they'll just have to wait until tomorrow.

Had dinner out with the in-laws this evening. I tried my best to watch what I ate, but I know in the end I ate more than usual. I hope all this doesn't come back to bite me in the ass on Sunday - again! We'll see!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Easing the Pain

I was a no show at the gym today as well. The pain from my cramps has been increasing since February. Both last month and this month it has been so bad that I've felt very faint and vomited from the intensity. It's depressing to see my symptoms worsen each month ... and I know that my condition is not improving. I don't write about the pain each time I feel it because that would mean I'd be writing about it on a daily basis ... yes, I feel bad abdominal pain every single day. Some days are worse than others ... but at the moment, my hands are tied. I just have to deal with it as my ever-so-kind doctor said.

(I know that there are quite a few readers to this blog, so if you want an idea of what I'm going through, you can get the basic details here, and then read what happened here, followed by this post describing how I feel on a fairly regular basis, but I try to suppress it and/or just move forward.)


I would have liked to have gone to the gym, but I wasn't up to it ... I know I'll get back into it tomorrow. Exercise has become part of my routine/lifestyle now, so I'm not afraid that this is going to lead to a huge absence from the gym. I'm not feeling well. I need to rest.

The highlight of my day -- I finally had a terrific catch up session with my BFF. We haven't had a proper sit down in quite a while ... but today's 7-hour afternoon to almost midnight chat was a much needed, very cathartic and highly enjoyable break.  It was the best drug out there to help me get rid of the pain -- but also highly addictive ;)