Wednesday, October 31, 2012

One year ago

One year ago, I woke up from what was supposed to be a hysterectomy to relieve me from the terrible pain of my uterine fibroids, to find out that the surgery wasn't successful; the fibroids could not be removed; they would remain & continue to multiply/grow and I would have to just suck it up and deal with the pain.

It was terrible, and I had a really tough time coping with this news. I was angry. Very angry. I went through huge bouts of depression and fury. [I still have the occasional bout.]

There were a few days where I just threw my hands up in the air and said: Fuck it. I don't care. However, out of the past 365 days I'm happy to say that most of those days were spent physically healing, getting on track with my diet and exercise, and fueling myself with determination that I will find a solution to this problem and when I do, I'm going to be in terrific shape to help the healing process go by quickly and smoothly.

I know that I was able to physically recover from this past surgery much faster than the previous one in 2008. This was simply because I had been working on improving my health and fitness; I saw the benefits as doing simple things like hoisting myself out of bed and lowering myself down onto a chair were not as difficult as before. It was still challenging, but imagine if I hadn't taken care of my health ... if I hadn't lost some weight ... if I hadn't done any strength training.

It was seeing these results that made me think - Fine. I may not be better, but I'm going to ignore this problem and keep exercising/eating right until I reach my goal. Even if I have a uterus that is the size of a woman's who is 6-months pregnant (very irritating when you're NOT pregnant!!!), I'm not going to let that be a reason for why I can't lose weight, become fitter, and thinner!

It's been a slow process, but I'm finally making really good strides and moving forward.

I still have daily pain, and some days are terrible. I still feel upset, but those moments are temporary because lamenting on my situation won't make me better.

I am finally ready to start researching further options to take care of this problem. I think I will try acupuncture for some pain management, because I really don't want to be taking pain killers if I can help it. Plus I've got a few numbers of some doctors in London and the States who I'd like to check with and see if they can help or at least advise.

I will continue to cope and make the best of the situation for now, but I really would like the problem to be solved. I can't believe that in today's day and age a handful of fibroids and adhesions are going to keep me in this much discomfort for the rest of my life.

So, it's time to tackle this upcoming year so that next year's post will be even more positive and have some good news.

In the meantime, I'll be exercising, eating right, and working on staying positive.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Liebster Award Nomination

I was really surprised to hear from Dani at That Fitness Chic about being nominated for this award - I'm honored! Thanks so much Dani! The Liebster Award is an award for bloggers with less than 200 followers that you enjoy reading.

The Rules
- Once you're nominated, write 11 facts about yourself.
- Then, take a look at the 11 questions the person who nominated you asked and answer them.
- Get your thinking cap on and come up with 11 questions of  your own for your nominees to answer
- Then choose the 5 bloggers you want to nominate (they must have less than 200 followers) & let them know they've been nominated (there are no tag backs - you can't nominate the person who nominated you).
- Complete this post and then link it to the person who nominated you (in the comments of their blog).

11 Facts About Me

1) I'm from Bangladesh, was I was born and raised in Kuwait, and lived/studied/worked in the States for a total of 11 years (3 years as a child in Kansas while my mom did her PhD & the remaining years studying/working in Rochester & Binghamton, New York)

2)  Teaching is my passion. I can't imagine doing anything else. I am currently teaching English at Kuwait University. I would love to get involved with some sort of fitness/nutrition instruction soon.

3) I recently got my PhD in Applied linguistics (focusing on the relationship between culture, globalization, and learning English) from the University of Kent in England.

4) I love to travel and try to go abroad as often as possible. This year alone I've been to Argentina, Uruguay, Mexico, the US, England, Germany, the UAE, Bangladesh, Italy, and Bahrain.

5) I love shoes and currently have over 200 pairs!

6) I recently became a Zumba instructor! I haven't started teaching yet, but I hope to start soon.

7) I listen to music whenever/wherever I can. Whether I'm at work, in the supermarket, or doing errands, I've either got my headphones on or the music blasting.

8) I have several fears/phobias/anxieties, but I've been working on trying to get past them. For example, to get over my fear of large bodies of deep water, I took deep sea diving lessons and became a PADI certified diver. This summer I got over my fear of dogs, something I had been suffering from since I was 4 years old. So even though I'm still a little anxious about some things, I'm working on it!

9) I enjoy all sorts of fitness activities. I'm currently involved in CrossFit and boxing. I'm also working on my running, though it's what I struggle with the most at the moment.

10) I'm an insomniac. I'm lucky if I get 5+ hours of sleep/night. I really struggle to get enough sleep and feel rested through the day. It's frustrating.

11) On September 15, 2012 I signed up for the Whole Life Challenge which ends on November 10th. So far I've got a perfect score. Changing up my eating habits has helped me see the progress in terms of weight loss that I've been waiting for! Feeling great!!

Dani's 11 Questions
1) You have one week to live. What do you do first? Burn my diaries! (Then go fly to see my parents)

2) Saturday or Sunday? Saturday

3) You can go back in history and stop one thing from happening. What do you choose to stop and why? The invention of guns/firepower -- there's just too much war/destruction/senseless killing because of guns. 

4) How long do you wait to show someone you're dating your blog? Two-three weeks.

5) Favorite Disney princess and why? Cinderella -- because it was a pair of shoes that changed her life (and I love shoes!!) 

6) Whose commercials are worse: Old Navy or Flo at Progressive? (Had to look these up since we don't have them in Kuwait) Progressive

7) Tell me your first memory. I have a vague recollection of when I lived in Kansas as a child and sitting on the grass under a big tree with my mom and having lunch. I must have been around 4 1/2 or 5 years old. Living in Kuwait now there's hardly any grass, hardly any trees, and I miss my mom ... that memory makes me feel warm inside.

8) A Genie gives you three wishes but you have to use them on other people. What do you wish for?
a) To get rid of all my mom's stresses; b) To help my brother lose weight; c) To help one of my friends who is in financial difficulty and has a family to take care of

9) You get cast to be on the Amazing Race - who do you pick as your partner? I'd choose my best friend of 20 years from high school. She and I have worked out our strengths and weaknesses and know how to keep each other calm in stressful situations. Also between us I think we know 8 languages. I think it's better to go with a friend than a significant other because couples tend to bicker too much and they begin to resent each other for no reason (even if it's temporary I wouldn't want to go through that).

10) Tap dancing monkey or penguin? Monkey :) 

11) You're having a bad day, what drink do you get at the bar to make you forget? I'm afraid water is my only choice for this one ;) 

My 11 Questions

1) If you could live in one country other than the one you're living in right now, what would it be?
2) What's your specialty dish?
3) What's your favorite way to unwind?
4) What movie could you watch over and over again without tiring of it?
5) If you could learn one language that you don't already know, what would it be?
6) What type of exercise would you like to try that you haven't already?
7) What are the top 5 songs that would feature in a soundtrack of your life?
8) Why do you blog?
9) If you had to choose another profession besides the one you're currently in, what would you choose and why?
10) Do you have any fears/anxieties? What are they of?
11) To date, what is your biggest accomplishment?

My nominees

2) Jenn @ Day #1 Again
3) Rebecca @ Weight Wars

Monday, October 29, 2012

Get Fit, Feel Epic - Final Post

Wow, I can't believe it's the end of the challenge. A big thank you to Rebecca at Weight Wars for hosting this challenge & for introducing me to so many great new bloggers!

So here's how the challenge went.

First of all, even though I did not set a specific number of pounds to lose by the end of this challenge, I am going to share because I'm super pleased with my progress.

Since the start of this challenge, I've lost 7.5 kg (16.5 lbs) and 4.8% body fat. I've also dropped 4 jeans sizes!! I can no longer wear any of the trousers I own. The just shimmy off my hips. I won't be measuring myself until the 1st of November, but the proof is in the clothing!

I'm super-excited about this progress and I know it all has to do with the changes I've made in my eating habits as part of the Whole Life Challenge (you can read about my experience in the challenge here)  -- as well as all the exercise I've been doing.

Unfortunately, that's as far as the good news goes because the rest of my goals weren't really reached :/ I did well in most of them, but I wasn't able to complete them in their entirety.

1) Complete the C25K program - I'm close. I managed to get to week 7, but didn't finish the whole thing.

2) Complete 4 chapters of my Fitness Nutrition Certificate studies - I only managed to get through the first chapter and start the second

3) Work on increasing my core strength every single day - I was quite good at this, especially in the beginning of the challenge. However, as things got busy, my focused time on core work got pushed to the side and I was just doing as part of my regular exercises (e.g. crunches during CrossFit or plank during Body Balance etc.)

4) Do a minimum of two yoga/pilates/Body Balance sessions per week - I was pretty good at this too. I think over the past 8 weeks I only missed 4 classes. I also incorporated a yoga routine for my mornings which I've been pretty good at following. I'll definitely keep it up.

5) Complete my 4 week Gleason's boxing training program - I'm on Week 4 now. Again, I got side tracked but mainly because I started taking actual boxing lessons. So even though I didn't complete the plan, I didn't stop boxing.

I think I made a good attempt at completing my goals. I'm definitely going to keep working at them until I complete them. In the meantime, however, I end this challenge knowing that I've made some huge changes in terms of my lifestyle, particularly the food aspect. I'm eating incredibly well, losing weight, getting stronger, and having a blast while doing it.

What more could you ask for?

Onwards and upwards :) Thanks for all your support blogging community. You guys keep me motivated and moving!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Stronger Legs

I started writing a blog post yesterday but got distracted and didn't complete or post it. Oh well - it happens. Things have just been so busy around here. Even though it's a holiday I've got a bunch of research and writing to do. It really hasn't been much of a break, but just the fact that I don't have to go to work and deal with any lesson prep/marking is a blessing.

I've been feeling a bit stressed with things that I need to get done so before I started my day yesterday I took 45 minutes for myself and had a great yoga session. I was totally calm, relaxed, and focused. I took my time with the different positions and just enjoyed feeling my body loosen up. I wish I could do that every morning, but 15 minutes will have to do!

Later on in the day I hit the gym. After a 30-min cardio session (including 15 minutes of running in intervals) I went up to the spinning studio for RPM class. It felt so good to get on that bike and pedal. What felt even better was that I was able to put the resistance to a much higher resistance than I ever had before. My legs felt nice and strong. It felt AMAZING! I definitely want to try to fit in at least 1 RPM session a week -- scheduling is always the issue.

Today I did a bunch of different cardio exercises. I've been doing some running everyday as part of this week's specific challenge in the Whole Life Challenge. While the running has been going well, it has also been a bit draining and I'm kinda tired of the treadmill.

So today I did something a bit different. I did 2 km on the treadmill (including 10 minutes of straight running - legs definitely felt nice and strong during this run too! So happy!!). Then I moved to the rowing machine, which totally kicked my ass! I managed to do 2 km in just under 10 minutes. I then got on the bike and cycled for 2 km. I didn't like the bike at all. The pedals didn't have any straps so my feet were just resting on the top. Plus the seat was at a slightly downward angle so I kept slipping forward and having to slow down/stop to readjust. Luckily 2 km didn't take me very long to complete (I think it was 5 minutes or just under). I ended with the cross-trainer and did 4 km on that to complete 10 km of movement for the day. I ended with 15 minutes of good stretching.

So things are good on the movement front for me.

My appetite is back. Yesterday I had a crazy craving for meat -- so I had some grilled lamb kebabs for dinner. Then I did something that totally surprised myself. I ate chicken! I haven't had chicken in 5 years! For some reason I was just ravenous -- so I ate! It was all lean, all grilled, definitely all Whole Life Challenge friendly! I think I just needed a change of taste. I've been eating so much fish lately - I was tired of it. The change was appreciated.

I was a bit worried that I would feel terrible after eating so much chicken & meat after such a long time ... but luckily I didn't. I was definitely full after eating, but I didn't feel bad or over-stuffed. I felt a bit heavy ... but by morning I was ready to eat again!

I guess that's just the way it goes sometimes!

I'll end with a recent pic -- The first ClubFit t-shirt I bought was an XL, but what I ended up wearing was a Medium -- that's how deep body image distortion goes. Hope I can get over it!

Supporting Club Fit (Kuwait) [proceeds of t-shirt sales go towards breast cancer research]

Friday, October 26, 2012

Different Day, Different Struggle

Today, I did not feel like eating at all. I had 0% appetite. There was absolutely nothing that appealed to me and everything I ate today was simply because I knew I had to eat -- that plus the fact that I was feeling a bit light-headed and was shivering (despite it still being hot here). Maybe I'm coming down with something, but it was probably a bit of low blood pressure + low blood sugar. It may also be a bit of stress. I've got a deadline coming up for a writing task and to be honest, I just don't feel like doing it - but I have to, so I will, but I'm grumpy about it!

Today would have definitely been an easy day to just skip from the gym. Aside from my excuse of not feeling well, it's a cultural/religious holiday today (the first one I'm celebrating without my family being here) and I guess that has me feeling a bit homesick and sad to be without my parents.

Still, I'm closest to being at my lightest weight in 6 or 7 years so ...

I headed to the gym. I set up a 5km goal on the treadmill and just zoned out to my music. I did a total of 15 minutes of jogging (not consecutive minutes) and walked the rest. My legs felt heavy in the beginning, but around 10 minutes in they started to loosen up, and by the time I had been on for 20 minutes, I felt good. My legs are still sore (still from Wednesday's CrossFit workout??) but the running/walking on an incline definitely helped stretch them out.

I feel like I've definitely been struggling a bit these past few days. Perhaps it's just a bit of fatigue. Nonetheless, I have never once thought about giving up or quitting. My attitude is different now. It's been developing into one that's much more aggressive about taking my health seriously and eager about making strides in improving my fitness level. It's still tough. I obviously struggle, especially with self-doubt, during a lot of workouts ... but I think it's time to look at some of the positive achievements that I've made over the past few months. My lifestyle and attitude have changed so much - and I love the change.

Aside from my own attitude, something that has helped has been surrounding myself with positive people, those who are either in a very similar place to where I am or those who get the process. Not everyone has been encouraging or accepting, but many people have. Plus now, after sticking with the Whole Life Challenge for 41 days, they can see that I'm serious - that not only am I doing the work, but I'm seeing the progress too. I was getting really frustrated at first, but I guess patience and persistence are needed with both the effort I put into my exercise as well as the approach I take to dealing with circumstances in life in general.

All these new realizations make me feel positive and optimistic. I'm hoping these attitudes will surpass those of apprehension and self-doubt.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Getting it Done

I definitely felt sore today as I headed to the gym. My quads were burning from yesterday's burpees/workout. Still, at the very least I had to get my 10 minutes of running done as part of this week's Whole Life Challenge task. I also wanted to finish Week 6 of C25K.

Of course the voices of doubt sound immediately (will they ever stop?) and from the beginning my legs were feeling like cement bricks. Still, I'm glad the voices that reprimand me and urge me to just push through are louder than the ones of doubt. So I just put my headphones on and started.

At around 11 minutes of the first 15-minute run segment I started to feel really unsteady -- but instead of stopping, I slowed down. I told myself - Just keep going. It's ok if you slow down, but don't stop. 

I'm continuously amazed (and irritated) at how I can fluctuate between determination and doubt, between enthusiasm and apathy. If I know I want to do this, then why the hesitation? Why the voices of self-doubt?

I know I'm willing to work for what I want - I show up; I never give up - yet there seems to be something inside me that is preventing me from giving my all.

I think part of it is linked to fear of failure - I don't want to get into something that I know (think) I won't be able to do ... but I don't think that's the whole story.

There's something deeper inside that I still need to work on so that I can really dig deep and find out what I'm capable of. As always, the journey to physical health is not just about actions - it's about thinking, knowing, and believing in yourself as well as the process.

Still, I'm trying to focus on the positives versus the frustrating points.

I completed Week 6 of C25K. I'm ready to start Week 7 and can't believe I'm getting so close to actually finishing the program. It's exciting and intimidating! I'm just done with Day 41 of the Whole Life Challenge and I'm doing great!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Falling into place

Tonight I went out to dinner with some very good friends of mine. We went out for Japanese food. Part of me was relieved because I knew that I would have some WLC-friendly food options. At the same time, I love maki rolls and sushi -- but would it be worth using bonus points for a bit of rice?

In the end, I stayed true to the challenge - ordered a salad with no dressing (I had actually taken my dressing) and had some sashimi. I asked the waitress tons of questions about my food. She eventually got the idea of what I was looking for and was really accommodating in terms of explaining which foods had sugar/soy etc. so that I could eat without worrying.

It takes a bit of planning, a bit of question-asking, and a bit of decisiveness, but overall I'm not finding it too difficult to maintain my eating patterns even when I go out to eat. It's a good feeling.

My day in general was good -

I got a bunch of work done in the morning and then headed to the gym. It feels great that I feel confident enough now to warm-up for a few minutes on the treadmill and then jog for 10 minutes straight without too much of a mental hassle. I can't wait until I can increase that time - slowly but surely.

My cardio was followed by another great Body Balance session. I can't emphasize how much I love this class. The stretches are amazing. Plus, the flexibility gained from this class helps me so much not just with my other workouts but just feeling/being flexible in my daily tasks as well. I highly recommend some sort of yoga/stretching/balance class - it has made such a difference to my day!

Late that evening I went to CrossFit.

As soon as we walked in we started with our warm-up: 30 burpees, 30 jump squats, 30 hand-release push-ups. Burpees are still torture to me, but I have to say I think I'm getting better at them! I'm usually out of breath by the first ten, but I just keep trying to push through. This was followed by 30 pull-ups.

We didn't do any strength training today and instead went straight to our WOD which was some insane circuit of squats, deadlifts, cleans, and thrusters. Thrusters have become my nightmare! In between each weight exercise we did burpees, push-ups, squats, and crunches. I must have counted close to 200 burpees yesterday. Insanity!

I definitely felt my cardio getting better but I was disappointed in my performance with the weights. I should have pushed harder. I put the bar down a couple of times, especially during the later rounds (I lost track of how many rounds we did - maybe 5 or 6). I should have held on for longer and pushed harder. Will have to work on it.

So great day in terms of food and fitness -- and to top it all off, I got some great fitness swag :)

A new UFC t-shirt, wrist wraps (which will be great for CrossFit), and a new pair of boxing hand wraps:

The Ultra-Metabolism Cookbook by Mark Hyman and a tank-top that reads "Train to Win" :)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Feeling Proud!

I bloody well did it! I got my butt to the gym, got on the treadmill, cued Day 2 of Week 6 on C25K, warmed up for 5 minutes and then jogged for 20 minutes straight!

I have been feeling so intimidated by this 20-minute run, and now that it's done I have to say that I can't wait to get back on the treadmill and see what else I can do.

Music was definitely important during my jog. I also told myself not to look at the time or the distance or any number - just face forward and jog until you can't jog anymore ... and then dig deeper and finish the 20 minutes.

I did it! I am so happy.

The only issue I had during running was that my pants kept inching lower and lower! Well, my clothes getting too big for me are just another sign that everything is working out just fine.

I was on the treadmill for a total of 50 minutes - of that time I jogged for 20 minutes straight and then jogged for another 10 minutes at different intervals (sometimes just for 1 minute, sometimes for 2, sometimes for 30 seconds). So I jogged a total of 30 minutes. I'm so proud of that number!

On the C25K screen it said: "This is it! the big 20 minute run. Know that you are ready and the only thing you need to do is break a little sweat."

That's what I kept repeating to myself - You are ready for this. You can do this. This is just jogging - not anything tough like burpees for 20 minutes!

I also thought about a lot of people who inspire me, including many bloggers out there who are either already comfortable with their training or are on their way there -- I thought about Norma, Jenn, Kris, Caron, Tim, Rebecca as well as a few others who have been working hard and also helping me stay motivated (whether they know it or not). The last thing I would have wanted was to attempt Week 6, Day 2 and come back and say - I couldn't do it. No! I didn't want to let myself down or give others a chance to shake their head and say - Tsk tsk. If only she had tried harder.


I actually felt a bit emotional after finishing my run. I felt like everything that I've been doing - the early morning yoga sessions, the time at CrossFit and Body Balance, and most of all, the change in what I've been eating - has culminated in this success.

I'm not done - not by a long shot, but each success like this makes me feel a bit more confident. It makes me feel optimistic. Most of all, it reminds me that what may have felt like a sacrifice at one point or another, was totally worth it -- no slice of cake, piece of chocolate, or bowl of pasta will ever make me feel as good as I did after I finished running today. Why would I want to change that?

There's still lots to do, and I'm going to continue workin' it out!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Picture-Filled Post

Today's post is part of this past week's Get Fit, Feel Epic summary.

1) Post-Workout Photo - Ok, this is a dreadful photo - I look so sad, lol - but it's after a 1.5 hour workout.

2) A piece of fitness equipment - I've got a sort of mini-gym set up which is great on days when things get a bit too crazy and I can't make it to the gym. I've got just enough to do some weights, some cardio, and the latest addition, a Bosu ball -- absolutely love it!

3) Where you sleep - This is where I barely sleep. Despite how comfortable my bed is, my mind doesn't seem to want to stay here for very long!

4) Favorite Movie - I love tons of movies - this is a glimpse of my DVD collection at home. If I had to choose one movie, I would choose Amelie. I absolutely adore everything about this movie.

5) Source of Inspiration - There are many people who inspire me, but one thing that I draw from daily are motivation quotes. Here are a few of my favorites.

6) Something that makes you happy - I'll go really superficial with this --- SHOES!! Here's a glimpse into some of my shoe closets (yes, I have more than 1).

7) Nature - I don't get much exposure to nature here in the desert of Kuwait, but my travels have taken me to some spectacular places -- Argentina this past January was phenomenal:

Walking the trails along Iguazu Falls up North

Hiking in the Andes mountains

Glacier trekking on the Perito Moreno Glacier down South

Horseback riding in El Calafate

8) Something you've grown or created - My Weekly Menu Board & Calorie Chart - Writing out my menu at the start of the week really helps me stay on track. I've also written down the most common foods I eat and broken down their nutritional components so that I can always guesstimate how much I'm eating in each meal.

9) Something you really should stop - Munching on Nuts - Even though these are raw/unsalted/challenge-approved, I still reach for a few every once in a while just for the sake of munching rather than if I'm really hungry or I really want to eat them.

10) Something new that you love - Being a certified Zumba instructor :) - I have to admit, I still feel a bit giddy when I get to say that I'm some sort of fitness instructor. Me? A fitness instructor? I know I have yet to teach a class, but I've done the certification course. I know I have the fitness level to do it -- it just shows how much I've turned my life around, and it feels great!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Another Busy Week & GFFE Week 7 Summary

I barely remember anything from this past week except that it was stressful.

I think you can tell from my last few blog posts that having my dad here has not only changed up my schedule, but it has also wreaked havoc with my emotions.

The one thing I have realized is that I haven't figured 'it' all out yet. My lifestyle change is still a work in progress. The good thing is that I'm enjoying the process. It's been tough. It's been challenging. Above all, it's been rewarding. I'm now definitely more proactive in making positive changes in my life. I have more focus. I have more direction.

However, there are still lots of things that I need to work out - and most of them are emotional.

My lifestyle has changed. I have changed. So what does this mean? Does it have to mean anything?

I've heard that there are some people who worry about losing weight because they have always related to being overweight. That has been their identity and they fear not having that to fall back on.

I know that I don't have that fear, but I seem to have something else that is making me feel anxious.

I guess part of it is that even though I am making these changes for myself, and I am beyond happy with how things are going, I am still worried/concerned/aware of what others think of me. Perhaps the recent negative/ambivalent/somewhat unsupportive or enthusiastic responses towards my new lifestyle change has made me feel a bit hesitant or doubtful ... I don't know. I'm trying to figure it out.

Nonetheless, despite these issues that I need to work on, I know one thing is for sure -- I workout every single day and I eat well at every single meal.

Regardless of what else is going on in my life, these are two things that I do not want to compromise on - no matter what the cost.

I hope that I remain successful in these two tasks.

This week just flew by, but here's my Get Fit, Feel Epic Week 7 Update:

Week 7 (Oct. 15 - 21)

First of all, although I didn't set a weight target for this challenge, due to my progress in the Whole Life Challenge, I've been steadily losing weight. I lost another 2 lbs this week, making it a 15 lb. loss since Sept. 15th. I'm really happy about that & hope that I continue in the same manner!

1) C25K - I really, really wanted to complete Week 6 this week but it just didn't happen. I was achy all week from intense CrossFit workouts and I was never in a mentally focused place to give that 20 minute jog it's proper attention. I really hope that I push through and do it this coming week. There's not much time left and I still have 3 weeks of the program to complete!

2) Nutrition Studies - I got in one study session and managed to complete the first of 4 sections that I wanted to get through by the end of this challenge.

3) Core work - Better than last week. I managed 2/5 core work sessions. I really need to hit 5. Without a stronger core the rest of my workouts are suffering!

4) Balance - I attended 2 balance classes this morning but my morning yoga has been sacrificed while my dad has been here. I've been doing my daily 10-15 minutes of focused stretching, but I can't wait to get back to my regular yoga routine.

5) Gleason's - I'm halfway through week 3. I think I've just got 4 workouts left of the entire program. I should be able to finish it by the challenge. I had two proper boxing training sessions this week and part of the Gleason's routines were combined with those ... it's going well. I wish I had more time to focus on it more though.

This week's mini-challenge was to come up with a photo collage of different things. I will upload that tomorrow.

Dad is leaving tonight so we've got some last minute things to do ... and then I have to take him to the airport around 1 a.m. to catch his 3:45 a.m. flight. What a dreadful time! Not sure I'll get any sleep tonight (but what else is new?!)

Hope everyone has a terrific week!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Trends of the Past

Today didn't go exactly as planned.

A friend who I had not caught up with in a while asked to meet up, and we ended up spending 4 hours together. Then my father needed some help with some errands, so that took a few hours out of my day as well.

I ended up being late for CrossFit, which I was a bit disappointed by, but y'know, family comes first. Still, I made it, and my Coach made me do 7-min of straight burpees pretty much as soon as I walked in. I managed to do 80. That's by far the most I've ever done in a row. After that I had a 45-minutes boxing session, which felt great as always.

My thoughts for today were centered around how much past habits, trends, and experiences influence how we are at the moment -- and wondering how possible it is to move away from the negative things that have happened in our past in order for it not to lead to a negative present/future. A lot of these thoughts definitely stemmed from my conversation with my friend this morning as well as having my dad around the house and all the conflicts we've been having over eating patterns.

I spent many years being haunted by my past experiences. Whether it's because of what someone somewhere said to me - being teased, being hurt, being betrayed ... there have been life circumstances - certain childhood traumas, going through an invasion/war ... as well as family habits - using food as reward and celebration and not focusing on healthy eating habits.

I feel quite overwhelmed when I think about those things. There is so much that happened in the past ... but that's the thing I need to remember - it was the PAST.

I'm in a different place now.

In fact, I'm in a really different place than when I first started this blog just over a year ago.

Seeing these changes have been positive. They've given me the confidence to keep moving forward and not look back. So what if things happened to me? I'm not saying that they're not significant events - I've had different levels of trauma and abuse - but what's been the biggest change has been letting go of the fear that has been associated with those events.

They are in the past. I no longer need to be afraid of them because they've already happened -- and here I am. I have survived.

It's so easy to blame the past for how things are going right now. There may be some factors at play, but I don't want to get caught up in the fact that since chocolate was used as a reward when I was a child I need to have it now to celebrate because it brings back positive memories.

That's bullshit.

I'm an adult now. Surely, my thinking process has changed beyond the immediate gratification that we desire as children.

The switch in mentality didn't happen overnight. It's been a long process and not always a conscious one. In fact, the changes in my habits now didn't result from me directly thinking about the relationship between my past & present.

It was just about what I wanted NOW and what I needed to do to get it.

It was only after that realization that my current goals were so important to me that I decided to just move forward and work towards them.

It was this movement that helped me leave the past behind.

What happened before will always be a part of my life, but there is no need for it to be part of my present or future, especially not in a way that is negatively affecting my quality of life.

The difference between my dad's attitude towards food and mine has really illuminated how much I've changed ... for the better. I'm happy with those changes even if it means that I'll have to continue saying - No, I don't eat bread. No, I don't eat sugar. - Maybe one day it'll sink in, and even if it doesn't, I've realized it doesn't matter.

I'm living this life for me.
Right here. Right now.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Making Peace

Today my motto was to just let bygones be bygones. I was getting too worked up with the food conversations with my dad. There are so many other things for us to focus on. I just have to bite my tongue and let it go, or as I did this evening as he was describing some sort of fried white flour concoction he ate earlier in the day, I just got up and left the room.

I've got to let it go.

In the meantime, I had a great workout today.

It's days like today that I realize why a popular CrossFit saying is "Our warm-up is your workout" -- our warmup today was:

50 burpees
50 deep squats
50 crunches
50 hand-release push-ups

Then we worked on strength training, though I focused more on practicing my technique for snatches and cleans. Cleans are definitely one of my biggest nightmares.

It takes a bit of mind over matter when working with lighter weights and focusing on technique. I want to lift heavy. I love lifting heavy, but I know lifting heavy with a bad technique is just going to be dangerous for me in the long run ... so I lifted light, I lifted several times, and I focused on trying to let it go.

It's also tough sometimes watching these girls who are 10 years younger than me, with flat abs, and fitness/healthy/running backgrounds ... and then there's me.

Still. I show up. I try. I can't get bogged down in those details, though sometimes it is hard ... Gotta shake it off.

After our WOD - which was 5 rounds of 10 deadlifts (120lbs) + 10 overhead squats (45lbs) + 10 burpees, I had my boxing lesson.

It's tough to box after CrossFit coz' you're already achy and sore ... but once I got started, it felt great. Boxing is exhausting but it's exhilarating too.

I'll leave you with a couple of photos from tonight's session :)

Friday night boxing @ CrossFit Q8

I really need to work on keeping my guard up!

By the way - today marks the end of Week 5 of the Whole Life Challenge. It's been going incredibly well :) You can check out my progress here.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Haphazard Day

Stress continued for sure.

Busy day at work followed by more doctor's appointments and a bunch of errands with dad. He's doing better after his fall, and his general health is ok.

Of course one of the main issues as a diabetic patient and a kidney transplant recipient has to do with food. He's terrible at taking care of his food. He eats whatever he wants whenever he wants. He has no discipline whatsoever.

What makes it worse for me is that he always talks about food and jokes about the food that I prepare saying - Oh this would be so much better with butter or cheese on it. It pisses me off like you can't imagine. I don't care that he's only joking - the food preparations that I grew up with got me to where I was - overweight at 13. Seriously? It's so hard for me to stay sane. I respond to his comments without being rude - just telling him the facts. What I'm doing is not punishment or unhealthy. I'm finally taking a stand and taking control of my life. I can't even begin to explain how frustrating it is, but I wrote about it a bit in my Whole Life Challenge Blog.

Still, to be honest, it upsets me. Today we went to the supermarket and I saw that he picked up a small Toblerone bar plus a pack of caramel sweets. In the car he offered me some caramel sweets, and I said No thank you. His response was - it's just a bit of sugar. I ignored it. When I was giving him dinner options for tonight - chicken with vegetables, stir-fry fish, etc. - he said he wanted pizza. We had pizza in our house tonight, but I didn't partake in any. I was happy with my leftovers from yesterday.

I don't understand how he has criticized me so much for being overweight and not trying hard enough to lose weight and now that I'm finally doing what I HAVE TO DO to reach my goals he's not being supportive. I don't get it.

It's really irritating me. I love my dad, but I can't stand his eating habits at all. I think he has a total disregard for his health - and I have said this to him directly - but somehow it doesn't phase him.

I don't expect him to eat the way I'm eating, but at the very least he should be happy and proud that I've been so disciplined instead of finding negative things to say. It's bad enough I have to deal with this from others, but from family - it pisses me off even more.

I was actually feeling a bit tired and worn out from my previous workouts and almost didn't make it to the gym, until I read Norma's post about today being her 'rest' day and Jenn's video on CrossFit -- that was enough for me to get my ass to the gym.

My workout was a bit haphazard. I really wanted to do Day 2 of Week 6 of C25K, but the way I was saying 'ouch, ouch, ouch' as I walked down each step, I didn't think today was the best day to go forward with my first 20 minute run. When I do it, I want to do it confidently. I was not feeling confident today. So, I got on the treadmill for 20 minutes - mostly walking but a few jogs here and there; then I worked with a trainer for 30 minutes just focusing on my posture, form, technique, and grip with weights; then I channeled my inner Norma and on behalf of her rest day did 20 minutes on the cross-trainer [I haven't been on the cross-trainer in months; it felt great!]; and then just as I was getting ready to leave I saw that Zumba class had started, so on behalf of Jenn (since she mentioned going to Zumba tonight) I went in for 20 minutes of the Zumba class. I didn't feel like staying for the whole class, but I knew a bit of ass-shaking would make me feel a little less stressed.

So, 1.5 hours of different exercises. Not my ideal type of workout, but I got a good sweat on and felt better about having worked out.

I'm so glad it's finally the weekend! Trying to stay positive and focused.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

This Week's Trend

Ok, so the trend for my posts this week is definitely stress.

Everything seems to be happening at once - being busy at work and having my dad here + dealing with his health stuff. I don't feel like I've even recovered (or completely unpacked) from Berlin!

Still, it's going ok. I'm trying to be more efficient in how I'm planning my day - preparing meals in advance (chopping extra veggies while waiting for things to cook plus having the menu for the week planned is a huge help).

I need to get more sleep. Either I'm up (early in the morning or late at night) finishing my work or I wake up in the middle of the night feeling stressed about unfinished work. This is by far the unhealthiest thing that's happening in my life at the moment. I really need to get a grip. I have, however, managed to take a bit of a nap each afternoon. I think that's the only way I've been surviving my day at the moment.

Exercise is going great. It's my one escape from everything else that's happening in my life. Instead of stressing over how much time it takes to get to the gym, change, workout, shower, change, and get home, I just take it in stride and be selfish about that "me" time.

Body Balance was terrific today. I love seeing how the strength I'm gaining from CrossFit is helping me move deeper into poses and just get more from the workout in general. During the last 10 minutes of meditation I pretty much fell asleep on my mat, lol. I didn't even realize when the class had finished!

I'm glad I managed some rest today because I sure did need my energy for today's CrossFit WOD.

We worked on overhead squats and clean & jerks. I know I can lift heavy; I just need to work on my technique now. I need to brace my core more and concentrate on adding more energy to my lifts. It's going to take practice. I just have to figure out WHEN I can practice without it impeding on my workouts.

Our WOD was alternating thrusters (ugh) and burpees with a 10 kg plate.
Round 1: 30 each (I lifted 25 kg)
Round 2: 20 each (I did the first 10 @ 25 kg and then dropped to 20 kg, which I used for the remaining rounds)
Round 3: 15 each
Round 4: 10 each
Round 5: 5 each

50 deep squats
50 crunches

My upper arms and shoulders are so sore! It's a satisfying sore though.

I still feel like I can do better and push harder. I wonder what it is that's holding me back. It's got to be in my head. I feel like knowing that I'm sleep deprived and stressed is making me 'think' that I don't have the energy to do this. Yet I also know that I do. I really try to psych myself up before class - I have to figure out a way to dig deeper.

I just have to stay confident and not let frustration derail me.

Did great with food today - made a coconut shrimp curry with bell peppers, eggplant, and sugar-snap peas that was so good! I can't wait to have it for lunch tomorrow. At least that's one less meal I'll have to cook (though still have to make something for Dad and D).

The adventure continues. Gotta keep making right choices and moving forward.

Fingers crossed for a good night's sleep.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Stressful Day

I've had another incredibly hectic day.

I was up at 2:00 a.m. (only 3 hours of sleep) mainly because I was stressed/anxious about things that I had to do during the day --- partly related to work (papers to grade/presentation to prepare) but mostly related to my dad's hospital visit. I couldn't stay in bed so I just started my day just after 2 a.m.

The good news is that everything that needed to get done today did get done. However, it came with a lot of stress and anxiety throughout the day.

I spent 4 hours with my father at the hospital. He's doing ok, but he could be better. On our way home, as he was coming up the stairs, he fell.

I'm not a parent, so I don't know how it feels to see your child get hurt ... but what I do know is that when I saw my father on the ground, my heart hurt so much - it was unbearable. I immediately ran to him and helped him up. He was quite shaken and unfortunately also cut up and bruised a bit. We cleaned up the cuts and I bandaged him up ... but I was shaken for the rest of the day. I didn't want to let him out of my site. Strange how the roles reverse as we get older ...

By 3 p.m. I was so exhausted that my body was hurting and shaking from lack of sleep and stress. I tried to lie down for a bit and did doze for a few minutes ... but it wasn't enough.

My biggest worry - I wanted to get a workout in, but would I be able to?

After de-stressing a bit with D, I pulled myself together and got in a Zumba workout. I felt much better after that - a good ass-shaking usually does that.

Despite all the stress I felt today, not once did I think about turning to food to help me cope. There's nothing that food would do to help make my day any easier ... I just stuck to my usual plan. It's starting to feel normal for me now, and that definitely feels good. I didn't have much of an appetite, but I made sure I ate. I don't want to get into the bad habit of skipping meals and letting my emotions dictate how and what I eat. Stuff happens all the time; I just gotta learn how to deal with it in a normal way. No more excuses. I'm enjoying my newfound health and wellbeing way too much to throw it away.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Full Day

I feel like every minute of my day was filled with something to do ... though I did manage to take an almost 1-hour nap this afternoon. My Coach said that I should schedule it in like an errand because not getting enough rest is affecting my performance.

Work was hectic. I lost all my files from my flash drive (damn computer virus on my work computer) and I had a massive stack of papers to grade that took me 4 hours to get through - I hate grading! Worst part of teaching for sure.

I went to Body Balance class to de-stress and get a proper stretch - something I really missed last week.

I spent some time with Dad, in between marking papers, washing the dishes, preparing our lunches, and prepping for dinner ... and then I headed off for a much needed break to CrossFit.

There's no doubt that I was tired, but I wanted to workout -- hmmmm little did I know our Coach was going to attack us with a 40 min WOD (3 WODs back to back).

It's always the initial fear factor of once you hear what the WOD is going to be that makes me hesitate. I think to myself - Will I be able to do this? It's really a lot. I'm not sure if I can handle it.

Our WOD:
Round 1:
Snatches + Burpees (4/8/12/16/20 reps alternating between the two exercises)

100 single jump rope skips

Round 2:
Cleans + hand-release push-ups (4/8/12/16/20 reps alternating between the two exercises)

100 single jump rope skips

Round 3:
Push press + pull ups (4/8/12/16/20 reps alternating between the two exercises)

That was our workout AFTER our warm-up (burpees and pull-ups, 5 rounds, though I can't remember how many reps each) and our strength training -- deadlifts - of which I managed KG140, but off a box, not off the floor; I tried KG150 but didn't get as straight as I would have liked to. Gotta work on my grip.

What was more exhausting that the WOD was being stuck in traffic for an hour and half on my way home. I was almost in tears from exhaustion, hunger, and frustration of just being stuck in traffic.

At a quick dinner - so glad I had prepared my salad beforehand - took a shower and then headed to bed.

So as I said, it's been a full day!

Didn't get my grading done so it'll be an early morning for me tomorrow for sure!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Busy, Busy Times & GFFE Week 6 Summary

This past week was insanely busy. Talk about things being off-schedule!

I was in Berlin until Monday, and then I got straight back to work. There were several birthday celebrations in the evenings. Plus there was the weekend of Zumba training ... to top it all off, Dad has come from Bangladesh to stay with me for 10 days. He'll be without a car so I'll be ferrying him around plus having to think of his meals etc. (most of them will be like mine anyway) and just take care of him in general.

I'm so glad that I've been learning to let go of control bit by bit otherwise these changes in my normal routine would have really thrown me off!

I didn't write too much about exercise this past week because there have been other things to post about, but in general it's been going well.

I've exercised everyday - whether it was cardio, CrossFit, Zumba, or yoga.

I'm down another 2 lbs this week (making it a total of just over 13 lbs lost in the past 4 weeks). I'm fine with this steady weight loss. I just need to keep it up.

I went in to the gym this evening. I haven't been there for quite a while at that time of night and I was so happy with all the reactions. Before when I'd disappear from the evening gym sessions (coz' I'd be going early in the morning) people would sometimes comment and say - Where have you been? Did you get lazy? - which meant that though I was exercising, the effect wasn't noticeable.

This time, however, it was. Aside from the lbs dropped, I know my body shape has changed because of CrossFit. It's great. Plus the change in diet - dropping sugar, preservatives, grains, starches, etc. - has given me an extra bounce in my step. The reactions were incredibly positive - all saying how the difference was noticeable and that I must have been working hard etc. etc.

I won't deny that it's always nice to hear compliments. Regardless of physical evidence - numbers on the scale, inches lost, or even smaller dress sizes - hearing someone else give a compliment feels good. This time, I was able to proudly say Yes. I have been working hard -- because I have.

No doubt there's a long way to go, but I'll get there.

This week's Get Fit, Feel Epic Challenge Update:

1) C25K - I started Week 6 but only managed Day 1. The next run is going to be a big one - 20 minutes straight. I'm trying not to psych myself out of it. I'll definitely be putting together a kick-ass playlist for that run! Wish me luck!!

2) Nutrition Studies - I read a bit more of chapter 1, but I haven't made enough progress to make me feel confident that I'll finish the 4 sections that I wanted to complete by the end of this challenge.

3) Core work - Again, not good this week, which is a shame. I've been getting some core work in daily through my other exercises, but not focused core work like I was doing at the beginning of this challenge. That changes in the morning!

4) Balance - I've been really good at maintaining my yoga practice in the morning or at the very least doing some deep stretching each day (it's also part of the WLC). I didn't have the time to attend any balance classes this week as I was stuck at the university - either teaching or in a meeting. Hopefully I'll be able to make the class tomorrow.

5) Gleason's - I didn't do any boxing this week. I just got too caught up in the other workouts. Plus doing Zumba this entire weekend kept me from boxing lessons. Hopefully this week will be back to normal.

This week our challenge was to do push-ups each day. I took it easy because my coach told me not to overdo it and save my strength for class. I wanted to work up to 30 push-ups by the end of the week.

Monday: 10
Tuesday: 12
Wednesday: 15
Thursday: 20
Friday: 22
Saturday: 25
Sunday: 30

They were a combination of knee push-ups and full push-ups as well as a few hand-release push ups (CrossFit style). I can definitely see my increased strength helping out with my push-ups ... though they're still difficult and I don't feel very confident doing them.

So, this coming week is going to be crazy again, especially with dad here, but I'm determined to make the best of it :)

Saturday, October 13, 2012

It's Official!!

I spent the last 2 days dancing my ass off and training ... to become a Zumba instructor!!!

Day 1 Zumba training:

Day 2 Zumba training:

Officially a Zumba Instructor! 

This was the best birthday present ever!!! Can't wait to teach my first class :)

Friday, October 12, 2012

It's My Birthday :)

I'm 36 today and feeling happier and healthier than ever!! I bought a dress yesterday that is in a size that I haven't been in 7 years. To say that I was thrilled is an understatement.

There's been a lot going on, but I'm going to save my big news for tomorrow night.

I've enjoyed myself thoroughly today and have appreciated all the efforts of my friends to help me have a brilliant day and keep it Whole Life Challenge friendly.

More tomorrow.


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Facing Fears

I woke up this morning still feeling grumpy over last night's cake decision. Again, it's not about the cake, the calories, or the challenge ... it's about the decision itself and the thought process behind it.

I tried to let it go and tell myself that it's not a big deal. I'm not going to binge; it wasn't a trigger food; I'm not craving it; the healthy lifestyle that I've no adopted is not going to fall to pieces, etc.

Still, I obsessed over it for most of the day. I talked to D about it in the evening and I found it really difficult to explain what exactly was bothering me. Then it hit me - it has to do with fear.

I'm finding it difficult not to think ahead and wonder how my life is going to change (if it's going to change) after this challenge.

To be honest, I don't see myself stopping the habits that I've been building over the past few weeks. I guess what I fear is other people's reactions -- will they be ok if I'm not eating the same way as them or drinking with them?

I know it's silly to think about others, but the social scene is a reality that I'll have to face. If the choices I've been making (the good ones) are the ones that I'll be continuing, then both my friends and I have to look at the changes I've been making as something beyond a game -- it is really turning into a lifestyle change.

I've heard that sometimes people are afraid to lose weight because they don't know how they will feel being a normal size.

I for one don't have that issue ... but perhaps one of my fears is that after the actual challenge is over, what will I be able to use as an 'excuse' for leading a healthy lifestyle.

This evening as I attended another birthday dinner with some friends, there was more cake as well as 100 questions about this 'diet' that I'm following and how a cheat meal once in a while is ok.

It's basically the same stuff that I discussed in my blog post a few days ago. The thing is, I know the answers -- but in reality, sometimes I just don't feel brave enough to say them out loud.

I need to figure out a way to vocalize more. I don't want somebody else to be associated with a lapse in my diet. I need to take responsibility for my choices - for what I want to have and what I don't want to have. I cannot afford to be afraid; being afraid has held me back before - it's not going to happen again.

Ok - enough of that. I really do need to move on and let it go.

There was another birthday dinner tonight. This time I took my cue form what one of Norma's friends did a while back - she brought her own food to the gathering. I asked the hostess beforehand if she would mind if I brought my own food - she said it was fine, and immediately I felt better. She actually had cooked a lot of good vegetarian food - but there was also a lot of bread, different types of dressings, and cheese. So, I'm glad I took my own tuna/avocado/black bean salad; I enjoyed my meal while they ate theirs. Of course at the end of it there was cake -- and while I did blow out the candles, I politely refused a piece.

They did ask me more about this 'diet' that I was following. I tried to clarify that it wasn't a short-term, quick-fix diet. I'm doing this for 8 weeks to see how I feel and what habits (if any) I can sustain for the rest of my life. It's not always easy to explain, but some get that it's all about the choices I'm making. I'm not looking for a cheat meal or a relaxed day. I know that I want to give it my all.

Anyway. Tomorrow's my birthday and D has something very special planned -- for me, I just want to have fun, hang out with my good friends, and stay WLC-compliant :)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Lessons Learned

Tonight was the first day of birthday celebrations. Despite eating meals out, I stayed on track in terms of points for the Whole Life Challenge. I chose the restaurants with the intention of staying on plan. Everything was fine until the end of dinner when they brought out cake -- I really didn't want to eat any cake. I had no desire to even taste the cake ... but the looks on everyone's faces guilted me into having a sliver. It was such a small piece that it really wasn't worth sacrificing a point for at all.

I should have been stronger (especially after what I wrote about 'just once piece' in yesterday's post)!

This has nothing to do with the calories or the cake or anything like that. It all goes back to making a choice.

So far, the points that I've lost on this challenge (wedding meal and birthday cake) were done in situations were I actually could have taken more control but possibly at the expense of other people's feelings.

I haven't figured this part out yet, to be honest.

I know what I want, and I know what's good for me ... and I know that sticking to what is good for me should be a priority ...

I've written about this before - about other people's feelings and how they shouldn't get in the way of your goals/priorities. I'm really trying to do this. I've been rather successful, but I felt like I failed at this tonight. I shouldn't have eaten that bit of cake.

I also, however, could not stand the idea of disappointing my friend who had bought the cake or the friends who had come out that night to celebrate. For the wedding, would it have been worth it to hurt my best friend's feelings (as well as his bride's feelings) just so that I could stick to my plan? Part of me thinks it would have been ok. Another part of me is not so sure.

Ugh. Anyway. Tomorrow is a new day. As disappointed as I am in myself for being indecisive and wavering with my focus, I'm not going to let eating 2 inches of cake throw me off track (especially psychologically).

Onwards and upwards! 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


We're nearing the half way point of the Whole Life Challenge and I thought I'd share a few reactions I've had to what I've been doing.

"I couldn't do what you're doing."

About a month ago, I didn't think I would have made it this long without dairy, sugar, grains, or starches (and of course preservatives/artificial additives). I was worried that I wouldn't be able to show enough discipline.

I'm glad I've proved myself wrong.

My response - You can do it if you want to and if you put your mind to it. All it takes is a bit of discipline, organization, and dedication. That's it.

"You're crazy." 

This is one of the comments that annoys me most. Why am I crazy? What is crazy about making a decision and sticking to it? I've found it a bit hard not to get annoyed or snap at those who have reacted this way. Would you tell someone who has given up smoking or doing drugs or some other addictive, not-good-for-them behavior (such as eating unhealthily!) that they were crazy for making a lifestyle change? Why are bad eating habits viewed so differently?

My response - I'm not crazy. I'm just taking one more step and cleaning up my eating and working towards my goal of wanting to be healthy, which is a goal that I think is worth 'sacrificing' a bag of chips or a chunk of chocolate for.

"One bite won't kill you."

It's never about just one bite. When I politely declined to taste a piece of cake, the response was one that looked at me as if I was paranoid that 1 bite would make me put on weight. It wasn't that at all; it's not even that having cake would have cost me a point in the challenge; it's not even that I feared one bite would lead to several more bites. I just didn't want any. Full-stop!

My response - No, it won't kill me, but I don't want any. I have no desire to taste something just for the sake of tasting it.

"It sounds like punishment to me."

In the beginning, I was very apprehensive. I didn't view it as punishment, but I did think that I was making a big switch over night. I think it boils down to what is important to you. Changes won't happen without some hard work. I was going to also write 'and with some sacrifices,' but it really hasn't been a sacrifice. It's just been a change. Plus the rewards for sticking to the program are unbeatable. It may be difficult in the beginning, but it's worth it in the end!

My response - It's not punishment. It's a conscious change that I've made to better my life. Anything that will help me improve my health can't be/isn't seen as punishment.

"You must have a lot of time on your hands."

I do have some time on my hands, but more importantly, I make the time. It's worth it to wake up a bit earlier and make sure that I have a healthy and filling breakfast. It's worth buying fresh vegetables each week to make sure that my meals taste good (that also helps it not feel like a punishment).

My response - You've got to make time for what's important to you. Usually preparing healthy foods takes a lot less time than you realize. It's about having healthy ingredients on hand and pushing past the urge to open a bag of chips (which shouldn't be in the house anyway!!) and grab some fresh ingredients and start chopping. Preparing a salad at home will take less time than driving to a drive-thru, ordering, and collecting your meal. Plus, think of all the time saved at the gym for not having to work off thousands of empty, unhealthy calories!

I didn't wean myself into these changes. I just did them, and I've survived so far. If you want to do it, you can. I'm doing this challenge on my own, for myself. I have several people around me who support my decisions and are rooting for me. I have some others who are shaking their heads thinking that I'm doing this as part of a fad diet or as a way to really cut calories. It's unfortunate that they don't see the real reason behind what I'm doing ... I'm sure they'll be able to see the reasons once they decide to actually take care of their weight and view these questions from a different perspective.

There is no quick-fix; there is no magic pill. You've got to make the changes and believe that they will work and that it's worth the effort. I think shifting the perspective from looking at these changes as a 'sacrifice' to that of an 'investment' in health is a good first step. The bottom line is - you've got to be dedicated and disciplined.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Back from Berlin & GFFE Week 5 Summary

I had a terrific time in Berlin. My best friend's wedding was terrific. My speech went really well!! I met up with tons of friends that I hadn't seen for years, and I danced my ass off that night! The weather there was a bit to cold for my liking, but it did feel good to inhale some cool, brisk air versus the dusty air in Kuwait!

I wish I could write that I came back without losing any World Life Challenge points. Out of the 4 days there, I stayed on track the whole time except for the wedding day dinner. It wasn't even that I wanted to eat what was being served or was craving anything particular -- I just didn't want to be rude or fussy. Plus pulling out some tupperware with my own food in the middle of an elegant wedding may not be the most appropriate thing to do - I'm sure the bride would not have approved!

So, aside from one imperfect meal/evening, I was really good for the rest of the days. I mainly ate at the hotel; the waitresses were fantastic at answering my questions about how the food was prepared and for making substitutions when I asked for them. I have a few more details in my Whole Life Challenge blog if you're interested.

Being away from home was quite an experience in terms of keeping up with the challenge. It took being aware & vigilant of what you're doing and what you're eating to a whole other level. There are definitely quite a few things that I learned while being away but I'll save them for another post.

In the meantime, here's a quick Week 5 Summary for the Get Fit, Feel Epic Challenge:

Week 5 (Oct. 1 - 7)

1) C25K - I finished Week 5 this week. It went well. Before I did the last day, I decided to just run without really concentrating on the time or distance. On that day I ended up doing 2 sets of running - one for 12-min and another for 13-min (with 2 min walking in between). I was so proud of myself! That's the longest I've run at one stretch! I was really happy. I start Week 6 this coming week. There are some big runs scheduled but I'm telling myself - Don't think. Just do it!

2) Nutrition Studies: I only studied one day this past week. It's going very slowly. I have to come up with a better plan so that I can get this done!

3) Core work: My core work sucked while I was away. I'm getting back on track with that from tomorrow.

4) Balance: I've been doing at least 15 minutes of yoga each day. I made it to two Body Balance classes last week as well as my morning yoga. I didn't do yoga in the mornings in Berlin, but I did make up for it during the day.

5) Gleason's: I've had 1 boxing session with a trainer this week & I finished Week 2 of Gleason's ... so on to Week 3!

Week 5 Challenge: 
Make a fitness routine based on your favorite TV show.

Well, I'm currently watching House ... so I decided that for every time House and his team get a diagnosis wrong (at least 4-5 per episode) I'll do 10 sit-ups. I watched at least 1 episode a night, sometimes 2 -- so i was doing 50-100 sit-ups per night. :)

So now we're on to Week 6. I've got tons coming up this week and it's my birthday on Friday, so I'm wondering how all my fitness/diet plans are going to pan out - we'll see :)

I'll leave you with a few photos from Berlin:

Me at the Brandenburg Gate:

At this point I had already walked 12 km that day ... the hotel was about another 2 km away and I just didn't want to move anymore. I was tired and cranky but for some reason it just made me giggle uncontrollably. Even though the stoop was a bit wet, I had to sit down and take a break - I may be smiling, but I was not amused at how a little stroll ended up taking so bloody long (plus I was freezing!!)! 

D & I near Checkpoint Charlie:

This is not the dress, but it's a new one I bought (in 1 size smaller than I was wearing in June) for the pre-wedding drinks reception:

Me and my best friend (the groom):

Now I'm back home & back to my routine (landed at 6:30 a.m. and was in front of my class lecturing by 8 a.m. - I'm exhausted!) There's lots of work to get done!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Morning Yoga

I've been really good at starting my day off with 15 minutes of yoga. I thought I'd share some of the basic poses I do. I don't do all of these each day; it all depends on how much time I have.

I start of with some standing deep breathing:

I then move on to the standing reed pose:

Next comes the sun salutation (which I absolutely love) [Sometimes I'll do this routine a few times in one session]:

Then I practice some balance poses:

After that I do some floor work - including cobra pose, bow pose, and camel pose:

Some of my other favorite poses are:

I also sometimes do some basic static stretching - hamstring, quads, biceps, and triceps.

Doing yoga each morning really feels great. I highly recommend it - just 15 minutes each day :)