Thursday, November 29, 2012

Five Days Straight

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

I am absolutely LOVING it!

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

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

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


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

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

A few pix taken yesterday:

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

Reasons to be fit: [Loved this]

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Trial and Error

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Getting Organized

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

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

It's a constant battle.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Back to Life

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

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

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

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

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

I went on 2 major shopping sprees.

My first priority - new gym gear!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Taking a Break

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

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


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

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

Monday, November 19, 2012

Under the Weather

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

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

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

No Excuses. 

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

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Feelin' it!

Today, my legs are sore. More specifically, my quads are sore. The good thing is that they are nowhere near as sore as my legs were after the 10k in February. After that run I could barely walk for 2 days. This is more like a post-crazy, intense workout sore & I definitely like this kind of sore ... though I'm ready for it to be over.

I had a great boxing session today. I still need to work on quite a bit of my technique, mainly my upper cuts, but some of my punches are getting really good. Something new we did today completely took my session to another level.

We practiced defense, but not me in gloves and my coach with the pads coming at me ... no, this time he put on gloves too.

Let me tell you. It is completely different when you see a fist (albeit in a boxing glove) coming towards your face. It's scary.

I hated that I felt intimidated and scared, but that was the reality. Coach's glove tapping at my gloves, coming at my head - jabs, crosses, hooks, uppercuts -- and I had to defend myself.

No real punches were thrown, but light contact was made and that initial light contact took some getting used to.

We only did 4 1-minute rounds of this ... but it wasn't enough for me. I wanted more so I asked Coach to practice some more with me after class.

I loved it.

I like the challenge of having to get over that fear. Of being able to look your opponent in the eyes, predict the punch that's coming, defend yourself, AND strike back.

It was so cool and damn tough.

I'm still scared and my first instinct is still to crouch down and put my hands over my head - but that's the best challenge. Facing that fear and hitting back.

I can't wait for the next class!

In other Women's Fighting news -- Ronda Rousey has been signed the first UFC women's champion.

Can't wait to see her fight!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

First Race Bib & Medal

This morning I woke up at 5 a.m., stretched a bit, had a banana with 1 tablespoon of peanut butter, then left the house at 6:45 a.m. to the Marina Crescent for my first 10km race!

This is not something that I had really planned on doing, and I definitely didn't train for it. However, I had heard about this run - a half marathon & a 10km - and since it was for charity (providing insulin pumps for kids) plus since 2 of my teammates from the CrossFit team said they were going to do it ... they convinced me to go along. One of them is a runner. The other one is training to be a runner ... and then there's me, who still can't run a straight 5km yet, and whatever running I do is on a treadmill.

Still, since I did do a 10km (also with no training) in February of this year I thought I'd go for it. I'm much stronger, healthier, fitter, and thinner/lighter now -- so even though it would be tough, I still wanted to give it a go. Plus having 2 teammates to encourage me made all the difference.

Unlike the run in February, the weather today was fabulous. Nice, crisp cool air in the morning and just the right temperature during the run.

I had a great time and I definitely improved in all aspects - endurance, the amount I ran in one stretch, the number of walking breaks I took - tried to keep them really, really short, time it took to complete the run (I think it was 1 hr. 15 min).

I will definitely start training for next year. I've got to get outdoors and practice running on the pavement. I figure if I could complete this without proper practice today, with practice, it should be a lot better!

A few pix of the day:

The race bag I received yesterday

Goodies inside the race bag - A Nike dry-fit t-shirt, my wristlet, a box full of raisins, cranberries, and nuts, some sunblock (which I neglected to use!!) and most importantly, my Race Bib! 

Me and My CrossFitQ8 Gals after finishing 

All smiles and sweat at the finish line!! :) 

My first Race Bib, Finisher's Medal, and Race Wristlet :)

So happy!!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Much Better

I can't tell you how good it felt to send off my document at 6 this morning. What a huge weight off my chest!

The thing with being so distracted in a task like that is that I find it tough to get back to a routine. I know that when I'm busy I make do - exercise when I can, eat as good as possible. I keep up my good habits, but I also get a bit careless. I don't exercise with 100% effort or I do something 'easy'; I don't enjoy the food I eat and sometimes (often) just throw a bunch of ingredients together just for the sake of eating something.

I know these aren't the worst things in the world, but they bug me and I know it's something I want to work on.

Today was a totally get back to normal type of day - I went out for breakfast with D. I had my usual Friday break fast of smoked salmon, a bowl of hummus, and a plate of chopped cucumbers and tomatoes plus a cup of green tea.

I finally headed to the supermarket and restocked the fridge. That always makes me feel better - lots of fresh veggies and lots of fish all waiting to be cooked! They had a major stock of Egg Whites come in so I was thrilled. I'm stocked up until the 1st week of January :) No protein problems here!

I spent a bit of time this afternoon tidying up. It felt good to see things in my home office start to take shape again. This project, however, will take quite a few days.

Then I headed to CrossFit. We did pure strength training today -- man was it a workout!!

The good news -- I did about 40 double-unders!! Again, not in a row, but they're getting much, much better. Each time I succeed I get a bit more confidnet. I just have to balance that confidence with the feelings of frustration of not being able to do more. Patience. Patience Patience.

Our strength training was bench presses, but on the floor instead of on a bench. Being in the CrossFit Box where we're all on the floor covered in our (and who knows who else's) sweat has helped take some of the edge off my germaphobia. Today was another test to that. It felt a bit strange doing bench presses off the floor. I had never done them before. I worked my way up to 60kg (132 lbs) but with some assistance. I'll get it on my own soon.

Our WOD:

6 rounds
Barbell rows: adding weight at each round; I got up to 55 kg (121 lbs) [8 reps; only 5 the last 2 rounds]
Push-ups: 10/round [I did a total of 45 on my toes! The most I've ever done - I surprised myself!]
Pull-ups: with a band, but getting better [10 reps/round]

As always, there are some WODs that don't sound like much but are killers!

I've got something exciting going on tomorrow -- stay tuned :)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Back to Normal - Tomorrow

I was at my desk at 5 a.m. and I didn't get up  until 7 p.m.

I am absolutely mentally exhausted.

Today is the first day in about 10 weeks that I did absolutely no exercise.

I had a few sticks of celery this morning with 1 tablespoon of peanut butter and some raisins plus a cup of coffee --

Aside from that I was just consumed by stress and the adrenaline of almost getting this task done - and it is almost done.

Actually, it's done but it's due tomorrow so I'm going to hold on to it and give it a once over in the morning before submitting ... and then I'll be back on track with everything ... This is the price of procrastination.

I really need to fix my schedule so I don't pull crap like this anymore.

As I said, back to normal tomorrow.

Now, fingers crossed for a good night's sleep!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Exercise Classes

Today was a good day in terms of exercise. I've definitely found that on days when I'm scheduled to workout in a group or class the chances of skipping the workout are really small, even when I'm crazy busy like I have been these past few days.

Lately CrossFit and boxing have been the two main classes that I rarely miss. We're a small group, 3-5 people, so your absence is definitely noticed when you don't make it. Plus you miss out the training for the day which kinda puts you behind the next time you show up.

Zumba, Body Balance, and RPM are the other classes I try to attend as much as possible. I don't feel as much pressure to attend these classes because there are usually a lot of people, but I have found that people still notice when you're absent. People ask where you've been if you've been gone for a while. I don't exercise for other people, but the last thing I want is for people to think that I'm lazy!

I know a lot of people who can't stand going to exercise classes. They find them intimidating and impersonal.

I love them as a change in my routine, as a way to just a workout done with someone else leading the moves so I don't have to think too much, and for the group support.

It may be intimidating at first, but I've found that when  you're committed to a class, people notice. That's when they offer you encouragement and support - and definitely praise as you get faster, stronger, and more flexible.

I got a lot of positive comments after Body Balance class today. Not only about the weight loss, but also how my posture and flexibility had improved. It felt great getting those compliments.

Boxing class was good today too. I find that the hour goes by really quickly - wish the class was longer.

Other than that I spent my day stuck in traffic for about a total of 3 hours - maddening - and at my desk for 8 hours - just as maddening. I can't wait until I get this piece of writing done.

Food was alright today. As always, planning is key. I didn't really feel like thinking about cooking, and actually felt a bit irritated as I was chopping veggies for tonight's dinner, but I got it done. I really need a better back-up plan. I haven't even had time to go and do a proper grocery shop - must get on that. Still, an impromptu prep of some veggies - eggplant, cauliflower, sweet potato, bell pepper, and peas (I've never tried this combo before) cooked in some olive oil, onion, garlic, ginger, cumin, and curry powder & a piece of grilled haddock and I was good to go with leftovers for tomorrow!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Busy, Busy

I didn't get around to posting yesterday - and today's post will be short too ... I'm really caught up with my research writing at the moment and can't really concentrate on writing a proper blog post.

I just wanted to assure you that I'm still working out and eating well.

I've tried a few more things - a bit of dairy (nothing too exciting), a bit of cheese (the only thing to date that I did enjoy eating), and a bit of chocolate (I actually prefer the cheese). None of the non-Whole Life Challenge foods appeal to me so I feel quite relieved about that.

So far this week I went to RPM class on Sunday - my legs felt really nice and strong; I hit up Body Balance on Monday morning and then CrossFit in the evening. I love seeing my strength improve but some of the WODs still really intimidate me! Today was mild - just focused on practicing my double-unders. I'm finally managing to get the occasional consecutive double-unders, but it is a very, very rare occurrence. Still, practice makes perfect, so I gotta keep practicing!

Short and sweet for today. I'll leave you with some motivational words.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Rest of My Life Challenge

The Whole Life Challenge is over - and now it's time for the next phase: The Rest of My Life.

I'm sure that I'll continue to enter small challenges - virtual and real - because I find that goal setting really helps keep me on task. However, aside from that I need to set some goals/guidelines for myself so that I continue to work hard and move forward.


Fitness related

  • CrossFit - My coach has suggested I start training for a competition early next year. Although this slightly intimidates me, I think having a target (and a bit of pressure that others will be watching me) is good for me. It'll help me push a bit more and hopefully take my strength to the next level. Goal: CrossFit 3x/week
  • Boxing - I definitely want to incorporate more boxing into my schedule. Right now my sessions are a bit sporadic and that doesn't sit too well with me. I've confirmed a Wednesday night session, but I'd really, really like to get in two other sessions. I just don't know when/where. This needs some work Current goal: Boxing 1x/week; Final goal: Boxing 3x/week
  • Cardio - I need to finish C25K!!!! I'm so close to finishing, but I just haven't found the time to get to the gym to do it. I know that's a silly excuse, but it just takes so much mental energy to work up the courage to run that unless I'm mentally ready for it, it seems useless. I need to push past the fear and just do it already! Goal: Finish C25K by the end of this year! Also, we use the row machine in CrossFit quite a bit -- I need to improve my technique and time, so Cardio Goal 2: Row 500m in under 2 min by the end of the year.
  • Zumba - I did the training last month and have hardly done anything with my certification. I need to work on my routine and find a place to teach, even if it's just once a week. Goal: Come up with 2 set routines by the end of November. Find a place to teach by the end of December.
  • Skills - There are a few skills I really need to work on to help me improve my overall fitness - tricep strength; back strength; core strength; my jumps (box jumps/double unders). I'm working on a plan so that I can spend 15-20 minutes working on these skills a couple times a week. Goal: Fit in regular practice at least 5x a week
As you can see, there's a lot I want to do -- scheduling may end up being a nightmare!! 

Food related
  • Plan my menu in advance -- planning has really been the key to keeping me on track with my eating. It helps me with my grocery shopping as I only buy things that are needed for that week's meals and it helps me when it comes to figuring out what to eat (because that inevitably leads to munching)
  • Figure out what to keep/omit in my diet -- I'll be playing around just a little with some of the ingredients that I left out for the WLC just to see how they make me feel and whether or not I really miss them. The main thing in this category is dairy and grains. Will having a protein shake on weight lifting days help or hinder me? Will having a quinoa salad once a week have an impact? I don't know. I think I need to figure these things out and then make a decision for myself as to what I want/don't want to have in my diet. 
  • Eat clean all the time/eat mega-clean 90% of the time -- I was looking up info on Eat Clean vs. Paleo. I'm actually surprised at how many things are considered eating clean (e.g. a bit of dairy, whole grains, and legumes) vs. Paleo which is a lot stricter. Eating clean will be easy considering what I just went through the the WLC (the same as Paleo except we were allowed beans & legumes). I'm definitely sticking to eating clean all the time and limiting my dairy/grains/legumes intake 90% of the time. this is the plan - we'll see how it goes.
I really liked this chart:


  • Set aside 3 days of 4-5 hour stretches for pure writing/research/academia -- After getting my PhD I've been dragging my heels with this and seem to only be writing when I'm under intense pressure of a deadline. I need to set aside some dedicated time if I really want to pursue this and move further in my career
  • Learn more about health/fitness/nutrition/physiology -- I've totally neglected my nutrition studies. I need to get back to that and finish the certification and then move on to learn more. I've developed not just an interest in this field but also a passion. I'd love to do more in the fitness industry itself, but for right now I just want to learn as much as I can ... maybe one day I'll figure out a way to give more back

  • Continue daily morning yoga for at least 15 minutes a day
  • Mediate for at least 10 minutes a day
  • Go to at least 2 Body Balance/Pilates/Yoga classes a week -- even though I can exercise on my own, having someone else guide you (and provide variety to your routine) really makes it go easier
  • Take time to connect with friends and family -- I've always been a good 'keep-in-touch' person, but lately I've been neglecting to return emails on time
General goal for body, mind, and soul: Get 6 hours of sleep per 24 hour period. I had originally wanted to make this goal 7 hours of sleep, but it just hasn't been possible. I really, really want to work towards getting 6 hours, even if it's just 4 1/2 hrs at night and a 1 1/2 hr nap during the day. I can't keep up all this activity without proper rest!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

WLC Results

Today was my first day off the Whole Life Challenge. To be honest, it turned out to be just like any other day ... I was trying to figure out something that I might want to eat - a little taste of something ... but there was nothing. I just went about my day as usual. It did feel a bit strange. I mean, I know I've said that the progress I've made has been reward enough, but there was still something inside that felt like I should have some sort of treat ... At dinner there was a lot of food and that's when I 'strayed' - I had a tiny corner of bread, less than an inch, 1 French fry, and less than a teaspoon of garlic sauce ... no big deal. I didn't particularly care for any of the foods; I could have definitely eaten more if I wanted to, but I didn't. I guess I just tried it to see if my tastes had changed -- and I'm pleased to say they have!

Dessert was on offer and I declined - just sipped on my water and felt absolutely fine.

The Whole Life Challenge was exactly what I needed to take that next step in my health and fitness progress. There are a lot of people who eat clean and exercise regularly; there are many others that do either one or the other; and many, many others who don't do either.

Before the challenge I definitely fell into the middle category - exercising, but not really eating as clean as I could/should have ...

Dropping the grains, dairy, sugars, etc. made a massive difference. I exercised everyday for the past 8 weeks, though some days it was just for 20 minutes (10 min of active workout + 10 minutes of cool down). In the beginning I was watching what I ate AND counting calories. By the middle of the challenge I stopped counting calories because I realized I was eating so healthy that in the end it didn't really matter if I had 1 or 2 servings of what I had cooked. Though I didn't count my calories, I did watch my portions. I always measured how much oil I used, and I didn't overeat - ever. I stopped when I was full.

I ate 3 full meals a day - e.g. eggs for breakfast, tuna salad for lunch, fish and veggies for dinner - lots of lean protein, lots of veggies. I sometimes had a few snacks during the day - banana, apple, grapes, dates, peanut butter + celery, raw nuts and raisins. If I didn't feel hungry, I didn't eat.

My biggest problem is still the amount of sleep that I get ... I need more sleep. I really, really need more sleep. That's something that I'll continue to work on.

So, without further ado, here are a few pix to illustrate my progress over the past 8 weeks.

First of all, my weight, measurements, and fitness achievement (did the same workout today that I did 8 weeks ago and compared my progress). Here are the results:

I am incredibly pleased with these results. Of course I wanted to lose exactly 10 kg, but I really can't complain. I was so happy to improve on my baseline test as well. Maybe I'll do it again in 8 weeks to see how I compare!

Here are a few more pix for you :)

This is a pic of one of my closets before the challenge:

I went through and tried on all the clothes; they were almost all way too big. Some of them fit ok, others finally fit right. Here's what it looked like after the purge:

Here's the first stack of clothes that I'll be giving away. I still have 2 more closets to go through!

I feel really shy putting up these progress photos, but this is just to demonstrate the change over the past 8 weeks.

I still have a long way to go, but I am even more determined than before.

It's not easy, but at the same time it's not difficult. You just have to make the decision to make the change and then DO IT. Stick to the plan for 8 weeks. You need to be patient for the progress to occur.

Patience, persistence, and in the words of Norma - constant vigilance :)

A huge shout out to Jenn for getting me involved in the challenge and for putting me under your affiliate. This is just what I needed to take me to the next level.

Stay tuned for post-Whole Life Challenge plans ... coming up tomorrow!!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Seeing Progress

Today is the last full day of the Whole Life Challenge.

Aside from any weight loss, inches lost, fitness improvement, what I am really proud of is that I stuck to a plan for 8 straight weeks. In the past I've given up too easily - started a diet only to stop after not seeing any improvement after 2 weeks; starting an exercise program then stopping because I got bored etc. etc.

Now I know that they were all excuses (I knew that then, but I was living in self-denial).

Waking up one morning and dropping all sugars, grains, starches, preservatives, and dairy from my diet and sticking to it for 8 weeks sounds insane. Still, I woke up and I started, and I didn't look back.

That's all it takes - focus, determination, and a whole lot of organization!

I spent a LOT of time planning for the first two weeks. Now, things are second nature. I know what things I can/like to munch on if I get a craving for something crispy (walnuts w/raisins, and celery with a bit of raw peanut butter and a few raisins are my favorite snacks); I know what to eat when I want something wholesome; I know what to eat when I need a quick, light lunch ... it all took some time to put together -- but what's 2 weeks of careful planning to the rest of my life (is that too dramatic?) that's been made so much easier?

It's worth the time and effort. It's a bit tricky at first, but it IS possible.

I used to exercise a lot (still do) but changing how/what I ate was absolutely key in dropping the weight.

I don't even remember the last time I was the weight I am now -- maybe 7 years ago, maybe ... anyway.

I'm going to post my progress stats and pix tomorrow. For now I'm just going to say that I'm feeling really happy and proud of completing this challenge.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Workout at Home

As soon as I got to my desk at 5 this morning I knew that I wouldn't be leaving the house. There was just so much to be done. So another day of working out at home.

Aside from my basic yoga stretches that I've been doing regularly, I warmed up (dynamic stretching) and did a combination of the following:

15 forward jabs (per arm)
15 upper cuts (per arm)
15 hooks (per arm)
50 front kicks (per leg)

15 squats
15 walking lunges (per leg)
50 ab crunches
15 glute raises w/1 leg raised (per leg)
15 side leg raises (per leg)
50 sec hold plank position

Repeat 3x

Cool down stretches

It doesn't take long, you work up a good sweat, and you basically have a full-body workout - no equipment needed.

All you need is commitment and some good music!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Clothes and Cardio Kickboxing

I decided to take some time to go through my clothes ... wow. I emptied out more than half my closet. There were some items of clothing that I bought in August (still had tags on them) that are already too big for me. I was really surprised.

Body image is such a strange thing. I mean, I see the numbers going down on the scale (am at my lightest weight in about 7 or 8 years I think at the moment) and I feel my clothes getting looser ... but when I look in the mirror, I don't see it. I mean, occasionally I'll notice that my arms are getting thinner (like yesterday when doing tricep extensions) and my legs are getting a bit more shapely ... but I don't see the significance of 26 kg loss (57 lbs) over the past 3 years [8 kg/almost 18 lbs of which is just in the past 8 weeks]

Isn't that sad? Will I ever get over that hesitation to accept that my body is changing? Surely that is a form of confidence that will be good for me to develop.

I am thinking more positively. I am definitely more focused on my goals, more driven, and also more confident (even if scared and intimidated sometimes) about my fitness level and workouts ...

I guess the bottom line is that there's more work to be done. A lot more work.

That's ok though. I'm ready for the challenge. I know that I've done really well over the past 2 months. I am eager to continue with this progress.

People keep asking me how I'm going to reward myself after the Whole Life Challenge. They're all thinking about food - pizza, brownies, wine -- A food reward is actually the last thing on my mind. There's nothing that I'm craving - how awesome is that?

After today's closet clear out, however, I will be rewarding myself with a shopping spree in a few weeks. I am a size that I've never been before, or at least it's been so long that I can't remember. However, I know dropping another few pounds will help me fit into that size more comfortably. Let's see how it goes.

In other news, today I went to my first cardio kickboxing class at my friend's gym - Club Fit Kuwait.

It was really good. We practiced a lot of different punches/techniques. I have no doubt my shoulders will be on fire tomorrow.

With CrossFit, my other gym training, boxing, and now this, my schedule is getting a bit overcrowded. This is on top of my job and my research ... I really don't have enough hours in the day. I guess it's a good thing I only average about 4 hours of sleep a night, hahahaha. Actually, I shouldn't joke. I need more sleep!!!

Anyway. As the end of the Whole Life Challenge approaches, I'm trying to find a way to organize my time, figure out my training schedule, my life schedule, and my eating plan.

There are a lot of decisions to be made in terms of eating. I could just stick to what I'm doing now. I'm wondering if I should add a bit of dairy back into my diet ... I don't know. It'll be a bit of trial and error. No matter what I do decide, I know that there will be certain things that will never be a part of my diet - fried, fatty, preservative-packed, sugar-stuffed foods are not entering my mouth ever again. I think with that resolution alone I'll be alight -- but I know myself & I think more specific guidelines will be helpful for me.

That's it from here -- I leave you with a picture from today's kickboxing session.

I was holding the pads at this point. Let me tell you, holding your arms up in that position for 5-10 minutes while someone is punching at them is not easy!!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Back to Normal - Kinda

Up at 3 a.m. [just over 3 hours of sleep total]
Didn't stress about it since I had so much work to do - just got down to it.

Had the oven on at 5:15, had my first attempt at omelet muffins in the oven by 5:30. Breakfast was ready by 6 (2 whole eggs, 3/4 cup egg whites plus different diced veggies - bake 30 minutes). They came out really well.

Work was a bit chaotic as my students have their midterm exam tomorrow. I managed to calm them down a bit. I don't think they realize how much teachers worry about how well they're going to do. I definitely worry for them!

Spent 3 hours working on my research/writing (had a fruit salad for lunch) then headed in to the gym.

Pain was at about a 6/10 today -- much better than yesterday, so I just powered through.

The lack of sleep started to catch up on me, but I managed to get out 30 minutes on the treadmill followed by some work on my triceps, back, and my pull-ups.

I have to say, I like the way my arms are starting to look!

Made a yummy grilled salmon salad and vegged in front of the TV for an hour.

It's just past 10 p.m. now and I am knackered!!

Off to bed in a bit - hope I can make up some of the lost hours of sleep from last night.

Only 3 days left of the Whole Life Challenge!! You can check out that blog for more of my ramblings :)

Omelet Muffins (w/mushrooms, bell peppers, and tomatoes)

Monday, November 5, 2012

Take Time to Bother

Decisions. Decisions. Decisions.

Do I go to Body Balance today?
I'm still not feeling 100%. Plus I may need to stay a bit longer at work so I'm not sure if I'll make it. Should I even bother?

Do I go to CrossFit today?
Again, I'm still not feeling 100%. I've got cramps. I'm cranky. I know that burpees and other jumping exercises will be tough and uncomfortable. Should I even bother?

The answer to both questions: Yes.

I didn't come up with that answer from the start. I ummed and aahhhed a lot and then decided - y'know what, pack your Manduka mat & yoga clothes and put them in the car. If things work out, go. If not, well, then they didn't work out.

In the end, it worked out. Of course it did. Why do I even hesitate?

After coming back from BodyBalance I felt much better. I struggled with a few poses that I normally don't have any difficulty with, but still, I went and I tried, and I'm glad.

With that attitude I told myself - go to CrossFit. Just do the best you can.

I went. It was tough. I didn't enjoy the burpees at all (but then, I never do) -- but I got it done.

I know that I've written before about my indecisiveness. I wonder why I haven't gotten over it yet? Why do I still have doubts as to what the right choice is? The answer is clear. It's always clear. I always know what the healthier food choice is. I know that exercising, even a little bit, is better than no exercise. It's always worth the effort, and I always feel better after having made the right (obvious) choice ... yet I still hesitate.

This hesitation is really starting to irritate me. Will it ever leave? Will the thought of - Let me just push through - ever go and I just do it naturally?

By the end of today I had one motto in mind: Plan for Success. 

Pack your gym bag and take it with you. Take the time to prepare healthy meals/snacks. When you've planned for success, there's a much, much smaller chance that that you'll make a bad choice.

(PS: I know I'm really behind on commenting on blogs. I'll get to them soon.)

Sunday, November 4, 2012


Today started off really well --

I did my yoga this morning, which felt much better than yesterday.
I then received feedback from my supervisor that the writing I've been working on was really good.

The main task for today was to set the menu for the week and stock up the fridge -- did both of those - and then I had some errands to run. That's when things kinda started going downhill. I was stuck in traffic for ages; my cramps started to get worse, and then I just started losing my energy and feeling completely drained.

The rest of the day crawled by. I managed to get my minimum 10-minutes exercise in for the Whole Life Challenge, and after that I spent most of the day whining - did a bit of work, but mainly counted the minutes until I could just get to bed.

What annoyed me was that after all the menu planning I just didn't feel up to cooking what I had planned for dinner (too much prep). However, the good thing is that with a fridge stocked with only healthy ingredients, pretty much any combination of foods will be healthy. Not bringing any junk food in the house whatsoever has been a really helpful to staying on track. Though I have to admit, I wish I had enough will-power to just say no if there was a bag of Doritos in the house. Why is it that even knowing how unhealthy they are I'd still probably reach for them? Oh well, that'll be something to work on at another time.

Shrimp over some sauteed sweet potato, bell peppers, sugar snap peas, and mushrooms for dinner tonight. Filling and comforting.

Been on painkillers since yesterday. I hope today/tomorrow will be the last day I'll need them. I want my energy back! 

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Trying to be Optimistic

I woke up at 4:00 a.m. this Saturday morning. Nothing too unusual about that, but ideally I would have liked to sleep in a little more given that it's a weekend. Still, my desk was beckoning so after my yoga, which didn't feel as good as it did yesterday, I started to work.

I kept telling myself - come on. Get through it. Just put your head down and work ... however that forced determination and hope soon turned to bitterness, angst, and stress.

On top of all that, my pain, which has been at about a 9 for the past 3 days, finally went through the roof today. It was hard not to take a bunch of painkillers and just lie under my comfortable all day.

It really was a shitty day.

Still, I'm getting better and better at compartmentalizing my moods. It's almost like when I'm in a shitty mood eating right and exercising are a way to tell my negative, moody self 'Screw you. You're not going to get me down. You're not going to make me binge. I'm stronger than that.'

I didn't binge. I didn't eat off plan. I actually didn't eat much at all because I was feeling crappy, but I did have 3 small meals and munched on a few raw nuts and raisins while working at my desk.

I didn't go to CrossFit today and I am pissed that I missed it ... at the same time I do think it was the sensible thing to do. Instead I grabbed some hand weights and my kettlebells and my Bosu and did some upper body resistance & balance/abs exercises. It wasn't much, but I at least wanted to get in half an hour of exercise.

The main sign that things were really off for me today was the fact that my mood didn't really get better after exercise. I usually feel great, but today I just felt blah. I'm way too stressed about this upcoming deadline and my stupid pain.

I will not, however, dwell on all the negative thoughts that have been on my mind all day (it's amazing how sometimes 1 negative thought multiplies into 1,000) and focus instead of a some happy/positive things that have been happening lately.

First of all, today marks the beginning of the last week of the Whole Life Challenge. Once I put in my scores for the day I saw that I was ranked 4th out of 7,099 people participating internationally -- that's pretty good, isn't it?

Second of all, yesterday I got to try out my new boxing shoes during our session. They were great though I do need to get socks that go higher than my ankle.

And just for the heck of it, here's a picture of me in my Halloween costume. It's actually one I bought for last year, but given my surgery, I didn't go to any parties. This year I had a lovely time and though the costume was a bit big (had to make some adjustments), I'm glad I got to wear it (though now what do I do with it?!)

Tomorrow will be a better day. It has to be.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Exercise as Reward

I was still stuck at my desk for most of the day, but I managed to do a few normal things which made me feel better.

Yoga in the morning -- whenever I miss a few days of yoga in the morning (particularly on the weekends because I try to get a bit more sleep) and then I get back to it I remember why I love it so much. It feels so incredible - just 10 or so stretches and I'm totally ready to face my day. It's worth waking up 15 minutes earlier just to do it.

I gave myself a writing target and told myself - if I don't hit it, I won't be allowed to go for my boxing lesson which will be the last one for this month.

Let me tell you, I worked frantically to hit that target, rushed like a maniac to get ready for the class, and then took out all my frustrations on the boxing pads.

I came home, drenched in sweat, pumped full of adrenaline, and right after showering I was back at my desk to work for a few more hours before dinner.

Do what you need to do to get it done. It's not always easy, but it is possible.

Thursday, November 1, 2012


November 1st already. This year seems to be flying by.

Of course I had big plans for the day - I was going to do my yoga, have a good breakfast, get some work done, workout etc. etc.

Things didn't go according to plan and I started to think, 'Great. What a lousy start to the month.'

That's when I paused and thought, 'Actually, this is life. This is how it always goes. I should know this by now. Make the best of it and just move on.'

So I did.

I had tons of work to do. I find writing absolutely exhausting. The stress of trying to get it all right plus sitting at my desk for hours on end is not a good combination. So today I broke it up and every 1 1/2 hours I'd get up, do a small task around the house (e.g. fold the laundry) do 5 minutes of yoga stretching and then get back to my desk. I did this throughout the day.

Taking a break from my work helped me come back to my desk ready to go for another 1 1/2 hours.

After spending 9 hours at my desk, I was more than ready to do a bit of jumping around and work up a sweat.

I knew from early on that I wasn't going to make it to the gym, but I also know that I don't need a gym to get a workout done. There are tons of exercises to do that will make you break out a sweat and you don't even need any equipment!

Walking lunges, jump squats, burpees, push-ups, sit-ups, shadowboxing -- these are just a few exercises that you can do without needing much room or any equipment.

30 minutes of all that (ummm minus the burpees though) plus my Gleason's boxing workout and I was dripping with sweat and feeling totally satisfied.

It just goes to show - if you want to get it done, you will.

There really is no excuse to not exercising each day. Just freaking do it. You'll feel so much better after you're done!!

I ended with 10 minutes of yoga and I was feeling totally zen.

So things didn't go according to my initial plans ... that's life. I think that's the good thing about making eating right and exercising part of my lifestyle. It's always going to be there. Whether I'm eating at home, at a restaurant, or at a friend's house ... whether I'm working out at a gym, at the CrossFit box, or at home ... there's always an opportunity to make healthy choices.

Make eating right and exercise a typical part of your day. 

You can't go wrong.