Sunday, September 30, 2012

Get Fit, Feel Epic Week 4 Summary

It's been a good week! I had a lot going on with work, family stuff, preparing for birthday celebrations, and of course exercising/eating right. While I did have a few opportunities to grab some power naps on some days, most of the rest of the week felt rushed.

Still, I've stayed on task in terms of my workouts and my clean eating, and I'm still feeling great.

I weighed in this morning and lost just under 4 lbs this week (giving me a grand total of 11 lbs lost from starting the Whole Life Challenge). My body is really responding well to all the dietary changes (imagine that!) and I've enjoyed making them without feeling that I've been sacrificing anything. If there are moments when I think about bread or cheese or milk, I know that it's really because they'd be slightly more convenient to grab and eat vs. chopping up veggies to make a salad. Still, I haven't slipped even though there's been a bit more temptation around with D's birthday recently.

I never thought I'd make it this far so easily -- it just goes to show, you can do anything you put your mind to. Life does change -- things get better. It's so worth the effort!

Week 4 (Sep. 24 - 30)

1) C25K: I started Week 5 this week. It went well. As always, it's the voice inside my head that falters a bit, but luckily I seem to be discovering a second stronger voice in my head that tells me to keep going!

2) Nutrition studies: I finally started Chapter 1. It's interesting. I'll keep plugging away at it.

3) Core work: I did my core work everyday except for one day. It's going well, though doing push-ups at 5 a.m. isn't that fun.

4) Balance: I made it to two Body Balance classes this week and I've done my morning yoga each day. It's going great :)

5) Gleason's boxing: I didn't do any of the boxing work this week, but I did do all the core work for Week 2. We've just started boxing classes at the CrossFit Box, so on Saturday I had my first lesson there. I haven't figured out how I'm going to incorporate both trainings or if I'll drop Gleason's and stick with the classes. I'm still trying to decide -- but even though I didn't do Gleason's, I did get 1 boxing training session in - love it!!!

Week 4 Challenge: Try Something New
Well, this week marked a few new things for me - I hope they count. First of all, starting Week 5 in C25K was definitely a new format of running for me to try. I started the new boxing lessons, and I'm feeling like a new person with all the changes in my eating habits -- that's definitely the best new discovery of the week.

On to Week 5! 

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Emotional Stress

There have been a few family issues that have been stressing me out lately. I guess that's what's been keeping me from sleeping at night. This afternoon things kinda came to the point where I had to confront the issue head on -- it felt terrible. As I was dealing with it, I kept looking at the clock, noticing that it was getting closer and closer to the time I needed to start getting ready for CrossFit.

Part of me just didn't want to go. I really felt like I was an emotional wreck - unfocused, crying, feeling down in general ...

But I also knew that if I didn't workout, I'd feel worse. It would be good for me to take all that angst out on the weights.

I wasn't entirely convinced as I left the house. Then I made a huge mistake of checking my email right after parking at the CrossFit place - there was an email related to what's been going on and it had me completely burst into tears. I gave myself a few minutes to kinda let it out and then collect myself and then into the Box I went.

We had a bit of time before our workout started, and instead of isolating myself (like I wanted to do) I just chatted with the rest of the team, and before long I started to feel better.

During our skipping warm-up I finally managed to get a few double-unders. I've been struggling to get them over the past week or so. Our warm-up was intense - The quote "Our warm-up is your workout" is no joke when it comes to CrossFit! It included squats, hand-release push-ups, burpees, tire flips, crunches, and more ...

Then we worked on our skills. I was working with M on Cleans & Snatches. I'm still struggling with Cleans big time. I just can't get the movement smooth yet ... the snatches, however, are going well. I just need to keep my focus.

Our WOD was intense - deadlifts (60kg), burpees, and push presses (10kg) -- Reps increased in sets of 3 - so 3, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18 reps of each exercise. I didn't finish (did the 18 deadlifts and then stopped after 9 burpees). I wish I had finished, but I tried my best.

This week boxing classes have started at our CrossFit box -- and my first lesson was today right after the WOD. Man, I was knackered! Still, I love boxing and I really wanted to do it, so I just got to it for another 45 minutes. It felt really good.

I'm so glad I had dinner prepared because I didn't get home until about 9 p.m. and I was starving!

I had to deal a bit more with the family situation after I got home, but at least I managed to de-stress through the workouts so it wasn't as bad as before.

Sometimes things just don't feel right, but you gotta push through anyway.

Starting Week 3 of the Whole Life Challenge -- I've managed to earn full points + bonus points so far. It's going well :)

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Final Decision

After my dilemma about what to do about what to do about tonight's dinner and receiving everyone's comments, I made a decision -- and that was to stick to my plan.

D and my guests were for the night were 100% supportive of my efforts on this challenge (and my health/fitness goals in general) so they made it really easy for me. It was really a decision I needed to make for myself all along. I know that there is no reason to stay off track for somebody else ... but still, I hesitated. I just glad I pushed through as the night was so enjoyable - and we all enjoyed our food.

I kept it really simple last night though there were things that were really tempting. I had bought special crackers plus truffle dip and balsamic cream from Italy. I had been saving them to use for tonight and I was gutted to read the ingredients that included some things I couldn't have -- so I skipped them. Also, when I was making dessert - a creamy chocolate mousse-type dessert, I was really, really tempted to have a taste. Still, even when some got on my fingers, I just washed it off. It was tempting, but it wasn't necessary - and for right now, I'm sticking to only what's necessary.

For dinner I made my Insalatona di Cupra - and for my salad, instead of using corn and mozzarella cheese that featured in the main salad, I subbed them for a yellow bell pepper and half an avocado. It was good, and while they enjoyed their chocolate dessert, I had some of my PBD bites for my own treat.

And that was that.

I have not been 100% on track with this challenge for two weeks straight. As I wrote in my WLC-specific blog, what I learned the most from this is that even when decisions are difficult and situations are less than ideal, it's still possible to stay on track.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Not Enough

Today is the second day in a row where I'm starting it with less than 3 hours of sleep at night and ending it with just about 1,000 calories eaten -- both those things need to change.

I'm struggling in both areas and right now I'm just too tired to think about them -- I may post about it later. At this moment, I just know that I need more sleep, and I need to eat more.

Cutting out all the processed foods, dairy, sugar, etc. means that my calorie intake from my 'normal' foods has been greatly reduced. Now even when my meals are substantial (e.g. 1 cup of egg whites + 1 whole egg & mushrooms + tomatoes for breakfast), I'm struggling to eat up to 1,000 calories.

I simply have NO appetite. I'm still eating when I'm hungry, but I'm just not feeling as hungry anymore. I don't really want to eat just for the sake of hitting a number. At the same time, I do want to make sure that I'm eating enough so that my body has the nutrients it needs and that I have the energy I need to carry out my workouts.

Sleep is just as important. It freaks me out when I don't get enough rest (especially on CrossFit days) because I know I need to be rested to have a good workout.

It's really frustrating, and now I'm thinking about seeing a doctor about it. I just can't afford to be so tired that I miss a workout.

Today I headed to the gym to start Week 5 of C25K. It went quite well. I was tired (only 2 1/2 hours of sleep will do that to you) but I pushed through anyway. All the runs were fine and the walks in between were just enough to recover. Even though I managed to get through Day 1 of Week 5, I wonder how much better I would have done if I had gotten enough sleep?

I need to find a way to fix this.

In other news, today was another perfect WLC day :)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Convenience of Carbs

Thanks for the comments on yesterday's post. I know that it doesn't seem like a big deal - it's not like I'm debating whether to have KFC or McDonalds, but more like salad with corn or without! - but there was just something about being in that situation that made me feel uncomfortable. I actually lay in bed thinking about it for at least an hour last night! Still, I think I've made my decision - we'll just have to see what it is on Friday!

I had a good day today in terms of exercise. I did my usual yoga and abs routine at 4:30 this morning. Today, as part of this week's mindfulness challenge with the WLC and just because I've been really wanting to, I focused a lot more on balance. I did quite a few poses on my tiptoes - from just standing and raising my arms above my head, to coming down into squat position, then on just one leg, etc. etc. Each time I started to shake I tried to mentally focus and talk to myself. What is going on? Why are you shaking? How can you move your body so that you can balance more (e.g. a lot of times I turn my feet outwards, but turning them inwards could help me gain more balance)? So on and so forth. I know a lot of it has to do with core strength but the other part is definitely to do with concentration. I need to find it in me to be still (in my mind and in my body). It was a good exercise; I continued this focus in my postures during Body Balance class today. My flexibility has definitely improved. I'm finally able to do the prasarita pose with my forearms and elbows plus forehead fully on the floor. Man what a stretch! It felt amazing!

Here's a picture of what it looks like (though I also had my forehead down on the floor):

I then had CrossFit in the evening.

Our warm-up was: 1 minute each of
- tire flips
- hanging leg raises
- burpees
- kettlebell swings
- hand-release push-ups

Just that alone had me dripping with sweat!

Then, I did snatches for the first time! I definitely need practice, but I think I did alright for my first go. I did many, many practice reps and ended up snatching a final weight of 30kg (66lbs) though I was much more comfortable at 25kg (55lbs).

Our WOD was another killer:
21 thrusters (25kg)
21 pull ups
21 deadlifts (50kg)
21 burpees

That's all that was written on the board. As we looked at the workout we were all kinda feeling intimidated. Each exercise at 21 reps - that's a lot!

That's when our Coach added two more rounds -- same exercises at 15 reps each then 9 reps each.

All of our jaws dropped. It felt impossible. It was taking a bit of time to set up all the stations and as each minute passed, the anxiety towards the workout kept building. We were all nervously looking at each other - first of all wondering how we were going to survive the first round, let alone the other two.

After a while the Coach said that me and another girl could stop after doing two rounds. It was at that moment when I thought, 'Hell no. Why shouldn't I finish the last round? If others can do it, so can I - even if it kills me.'

I'm so glad I completed the whole WOD. My hands are totally calloused; some skin has even ripped off, but I feel good. It was tough, but I tried and completed the workout. The only way I'm going to improve is if I keep on working at it. Just gotta make sure that my hesitant thoughts don't get in the way of my potential achievement.

I've also started finally started my Fitness Nutrition coursework - very interesting. So far it's all kinda the obvious stuff (eat less, move more) but they're getting into the scientific reasoning behind why it's important and how it will affect your body. I'll share what I'm learning as I go along :)

I've definitely hit my stride with my eating. I'm beginning to see that a lot of foods, namely carbs (bread, rice, pasta), were eaten because they were there and because they'd add a little something to my meal ... and most of all, because they were convenient.

For example, I was in a rush yesterday morning and I couldn't decide what to eat for breakfast. I didn't really want a big breakfast, but I didn't want to skip it either. Before, having a bowl of cereal or grabbing a slice of toast would have solved the problem. No stress. No worries. Just quickly fix and eat.  Similar issues come up with other meals too. For lunch I had smoked salmon with a few cucumber slices, and a bit of whole grain mustard. It wasn't the most fantastically delicious meal, but it was fine. I got my pure protein in as well as a few veggies. I know in the past I would have eaten that along with a slice or two of whole wheat bread. Having the bread wouldn't have been the worst thing in the world - but it was unnecessary. It is unnecessary ...

I think that's what I'm learning most through this challenge. I can do without so many of these things that before seemed like they were an essential component to my food.

Last night's dinner was grilled shrimp with bell peppers and sugar snap peas. It would have been the perfect filling for a shrimp fajita. All I needed was the tortilla wrap, maybe a bit of sour cream, and then some salsa ... but I didn't need it. The shrimp/veggie combo was enough.

Before understanding that it was enough, however, I hesitated and questioned if it would really be enough? It's this mental obstacle that has to be overcome. Not having a bit of bread or something else along with the meal wouldn't mean that I'd be starving! It wouldn't even mean that my meal was incomplete. I just didn't need it, and the food tasted absolutely fine.

This whole exercise of being aware of what you're eating, why you're eating, how you're eating, etc. has been so good so far!

Day 12 and I'm feelin' fine :)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


It's D's birthday on Friday and I'm having a tough time figuring out what to do about food on that day. The focus of the day definitely won't be on food - I have other stuff planned for us - but part of the day will be about food. We're having our best friends over and he's requested one of his favorite meals, which actually happens to be a tuna fish salad (not the kind that involves mayo or another other creamy dressing). The whole meal will be healthy, but they'll include some ingredients that are not allowed on the Whole Life Challenge.

The Whole Life Challenge is not about perfection. It's about being aware of the choices you make on a daily basis.

I know that the homemade dinner I have planned for us is not unhealthy. However, as I said above, it'll have some ingredients in it (such as mozzarella cheese) that are not allowed on the challenge.

At the moment, I've earned full points on each day of the challenge and also have 3 bonus points. These bonus points are to be used to make up for any points that you may have missed. So technically if I join the group and eat what they're eating, I will break even because the 3 points I'd lose for food will be made up with the bonus points. Does that make sense?

I know it's not all about the points, but for part of me, the points matter.

I don't want to lose points unnecessarily. I already know that the changes I've made in this challenge are ones that I like/agree with/feel good about -- there's nothing that I'm craving - no sugar, no cheese, nothing. So I'm not worried that if I have a bit of something that I'll want to eat more of it the next day. I think I'm officially over that.

So here's the dilemma:

Do I just enjoy the day with D and our friends and not worry about food (because despite the forbidden ingredients it will still be quite healthy)?


Do I make a separate meal for myself so that I don't lose points? [and hope that he and our guests understand and don't feel like I'm serving them something that's unhealthy!]

I could make the whole meal WLC-friendly, but I want to make the salad the way he likes it and not substitute the ingredients. It is his birthday after all. Plus, it's a damn good salad!

I know it seems like I'm making a big deal of this; to be honest, it has been on my mind a lot. I want to do what feels right to me ... I just haven't figured out what the 'right for me' move is.

Aside from this dilemma all is good. The menu for the week is planned and the fridge is stocked with fresh produce. Tonight's dinner is grilled shrimp with bell peppers and sugar snap peas - I can't wait :)

I did Yoga + Abs this morning & then I went to RPM class after ages tonight - it felt so good to get back on that bike!

Day 11 of the Whole Life Challenge, and I'm totally on track! :)

Monday, September 24, 2012

Manic Monday

Am totally exhausted today so this will be a quick post.

Up since 4 a.m. - had a short but sweet morning yoga + abs workout and then it was time to rush, rush, rush. I had lots to do around the house, prep for work, teaching (where a student annoyed the hell out of me, and in the end she was in tears - aggravating!), and conferencing with students.

I did manage to get some time for myself and hit Body Balance class - I really needed it. My limbs have been feeling a bit tense/taut. I felt much more relaxed after the class.

Back home with more things to do, namely dinner to prep. I've realized that unless I've got dinner ready on CrossFit days, we end up eating late, and neither of us likes that.

Today's CrossFit session was an absolute KILLER!!

5 minutes of jump rope
4 rounds of: 3 burpees, 6 hanging leg raises, 8 jump squats

Workout 1: Minimum 6 rounds of - 
10 jump pull-ups
10 burpees
20 jump squats
20 high pull deadlifts (20 kg bar)
120 skips

I managed to finish 7 rounds.

Workout 2: 15 minutes AMRAP
30 plate thrusters (used a 10kg plate)
30 lunges
30 tricep dips (body weight)
30 hanging leg raises

I got to 5 rounds.

Workout 3: (Yes, 3 - damn we were tired and dripping with sweat!)
1 minute burpees
1 minute squats
1 minute hand release push-ups
1 minute plank
1 minute crunches

It was intense!! It was so exhausting, but when I look back at all I did, I feel good :)

I still have a lot of improving to do, but I'm just going to keep pushing!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Get Fit, Feel Epic Week 3 Summary

I have to say, I'm feeling quite 'epic' :)

It's been a good week. I'm now starting week 2 of the whole life challenge (Day 9 summary here), and it is going so much better than I had hoped. I was so worried about what I would eat and how I would manage without diary, sugar, etc. but I have to say, I don't miss it at all. Over the past week I've had a few seconds of a craving - for a nice latte or for an After 8 mint chocolate - but they've literally just lasted a few seconds. I just moved on and stuck with the program.

This past week I've lost 4.5 lbs. During the week the number actually dipped lower, but I wasn't upset at all to see this number early this morning. I'm eating healthy and I'm eating well; I haven't been hungry at all. My meals are probably a bit repetitive or somewhat similar each day, but it doesn't matter. It's tasty enough to keep me going and definitely healthy so it keeps me feeling good.

Week 3 (Sep. 17 - 23)

1) C25K: This morning I went to the gym to do my final day of Week 4 only to find that I left my headphones at home. Shit. I felt like it would be impossible to run without my music; I'm so dependent on my playlist. I ummed and aaahhed for a minute and so and then told myself - 'Shut up and just do it already, you big whiny baby.'

So, I put my phone on the treadmill console and cued up the program. I already knew what I had to do - 5 min warm-up, 4 min run, 2 min walk, 6 min run, 3 min walk, 4 min run, 2 min walk, 5 min cool down. I set up the machine and I got to it ... and I did it! It wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be. I wish that self-doubting/excuse-making voice would just die already, but she's stubborn. I guess I'll just have to learn to ignore and push past her.

So, this week I only got in 1 session, but with it I completed week 4! I'm so happy that I'm halfway done. I'm actually looking forward to Week 5. I really feel like the strength I've gained from CrossFit is helping me move better!

2) Nutrition studies: Ummm - nope. Haven't started yet. I've been working on a research paper (related to my PhD research) plus grading papers. I really need to make more of an effort to at least start!

3) Core work: I started off strong, but then only managed 4 days instead of 5. It's not like I'm not doing any core work (like we're getting core work done at CrossFit and Body Balance), but it's the 10 minutes I want to focus on in the morning that just doesn't seem to be coming through on the weekends. Again, a bit more of an effort needed here.

4) Balance: I've been doing my 15-minutes of yoga each day and I'm loving it. I'm already feeling myself become more flexible. I also made it to one Body Balance class this week.

5) Gleason's boxing: I started Week 2 and I'm hoping that soon I'll be taking specific boxing lessons at the CrossFit box ... but we've still got to figure out the timings.

Week 3 Challenge - Rebecca set up a mini CrossFit workout:
10 burpees
20 squats
30 push ups

I did this today - round 1 completed in 1 min 35 seconds; round 2 completed in 1 min 55 seconds; round 3 completed in 1 min 45 sec.

The challenge for week 4 is to do something I've never done before ... am not sure what task I'll take on, but I'm sure it'll be interesting :)

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Understanding Pain and Limitations

Last night I felt an excruciating pain around my left shoulder blade. It traveled up to my neck and even down to the top of my breast-bone. I couldn't move my neck at all. It was so bloody painful.

I got about an hour of sleep because I just couldn't find a position that I could like down in without pain. I was pretty much in tears.

Despite the terrible pain I didn't think that it was a serious injury. I just felt like I had either pulled a muscle or sprained a muscle.

The only thing I could think of was the soreness I felt on Wednesday (from having my head in an awkward position for a few hours - long story) that was perhaps exacerbated by the fact that I didn't help it heal along with the 50kg bench press yesterday.

Of course my first thought was - Will I be able to workout at CrossFit today? I would be gutted to miss a session, especially when I feel like I've been making progress.

I started taking an anti-inflammatory medicine and using the massage ball to loosen up the knots. Whenever I did that, I felt better for about an hour before the pain would come back.

Luckily by early afternoon I was feeling a bit better and I managed to take a nice, deep 1-hour nap after which my muscles felt much more relaxed.

I did end up going to CrossFit. Our Coach modified some of the exercises so as not to aggravate the pain, though it was definitely much better than before. I used the foam roller for the first time - loved it! I felt like it really worked my muscles/tissues. It definitely helped.

Today's workout:
Strength focus - military presses - struggled at 30kg without using my knees & tire flips - love them!
We also did deadlifts - 3/minute. I lifted 90kg (198lb) and managed to complete 26 in 10 minutes. Doesn't sound like much, but let me tell you - it's heavy! I was dripping with sweat after I was done.

Our WOD: 3 rounds @ 21x15x9 reps
- Overhead squats
- Hand release push-ups --- but I did crunches so as to take pressure off my shoulder blades
- Burpees (without push-ups for me)

Felt good!

Today is Day 8 of the Whole Life Challenge and marks the start of Week 2 of the 8 Week challenge and I'm absolutely loving it. I've earned full points each day and also got all the bonus points for the week.

I've started to wonder a bit about how things will be once the challenge is over, but I'm trying not to get ahead of myself. I just want to take it one week at a time and survive the 8-weeks. Then I can figure out what habits I want to keep/change/omit. For now, I'm hoping for another perfect week!

Friday, September 21, 2012

What a Nag!

Day 7 of the Whole Life Challenge, and I'm doing great. I've earned full points for each day, and I'm feeling fine except for one thing that has nagged me all day.


These are the date/peanut butter/coconut bites (DPBC bites)  for last night's dinner party dessert. They're made with all natural ingredients and are permitted by the WLC. They're small little round treats that taste really good ... they're allowed ... so why not have them?

I did have them. I had two yesterday (1 for the first taste after making it and the 2nd after dinner) and I had one this morning.

I still want more though.

I spent most of the morning at my desk doing some research/writing and in the back of my mind all I could think of was those yummy DPBC bites and how much I wanted them. The voice in my head kept nagging - Go on. Have one. What's wrong with having one? Go on. You know you want one. 

What a bloody nag.

Aside from that one with my morning coffee, I didn't have any others. I like them as they are a yummy small snack to have just before a workout for a quick boost of energy, but they're dangerous. They're dangerous because I know that they're easy to keep eating (actually not that easy; they're quite dense and a bit chewy) -- but they bring on an M&M mentality - not just eating and finishing 1 M&M at a time, rather eating them by the handful thus consuming pointless calories ... just coz' they're there.

That's the only reason this nag has reared her ugly head. They're in the house. I'm here. They're here. There's nothing stopping me from getting up and grabbing one ... but seriously, for what? To satisfy some false inner craving? I don't need one. The nag thinks I want one, but I know I really don't.

Where does this nag come from? Will she ever leave? Will she ever stop whispering in my ear encouraging me to have 'just one' and coming up with all the excuses for why it's ok and 'one can't hurt'?

In the end, aside from 5 pieces (to have 1/day over the next 5 days) I packed up the rest of them and took them to the CrossFit Box to share with the rest of the team. Aside from licking what was left on the spoon, I didn't have one. I resisted not because of the calories or anything like that. I just wanted to push past that voice. It's an illusion. It's a bad habit that's rearing her ugly head.

I don't want to get into the habit of eating something just because it's 'allowed'. I need to develop more control than that, and from there I hope to progress to the point where I don't even think twice about things like that. Baby steps.

In the meantime, I achieved two more Personal Bests today at the CrossFit box:

50kg bench press and 100kg back squat!!

The bench press was tough and I know I need to work on that more. The back squat -- well, 80kg was my max a few weeks ago. I knew I could do more, so doing 90kg was fine. When I put the extra plates on for the 100kg I told myself not to think about it. Our coach said it would be the record for the women ... everyone was watching. I definitely had to block all that out. It was just me and the bar. I focused, I pushed up with the bar on my back - easy. Now to go all the way down, and I mean all.the.way.down. There was a fleeting thought of - Oh shit. What if I ... - then I stopped. No point in completing that thought. The only way is up. The only way is up! I tried to brace whatever core muscles I have, I dug deep, and I pushed up. Done. Whew.

Concentrate. Stay positive. Try your best.

It felt great.

Today's session:
Strength and Conditioning
- Overhead squats (tough; am a bit wobbly, but towards the end I was getting better) 6x6
- Bench presses
- Back squats

WOD - 1 min/3 rounds
burpees, ropes, bench presses, leg raises, ball to walls

Followed by a few other exercises (e.g. squats, push ups, plank, etc.).

I stretched out a bit there and then came home and did 15 minutes of more focused stretching. The muscles around my shoulder blades are a bit sore, but nothing too bad.

I'm ready for dinner!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Please Pass (on) the Cheese

I love to cook.

I've always enjoyed trying new recipes and creating new dishes. On top of that, I've always loved to entertain. I wanted my friends and family to enjoy the food I prepared.

What better way to make something tasty than by adding cream or cheese or extra butter or sugar ... I'd prepare something - let's say roasted vegetables -- and then to make it 'delicious' I'd mix in grated cheese. Or perhaps I'd be making a curry - and then add a few dollops of cream to thicken the sauce. It had to be done. That was the only way my food would come out delicious.

How things have changed.

As I've been taking the time to pay more attention to what I'm eating, I've also been taking a look at how I'm preparing my food. Buying fresh ingredients is definitely a start, but even then, once you add cheese or cream, it negates all the freshness and deliciousness of the food in the first place. I really didn't think food could be tasty otherwise.

As I said, things have changed.

Now I'm letting the ingredients speak for themselves. Olive oil, garlic, ginger, salt, and pepper are my staples now. I add in other spices as necessary, but I found that these are all that I really need.

Last night I hosted a dinner for some of the CrossFit girls. It was the first time I was having them over so of course I wanted everything to go smoothly (though I'll want that whenever someone comes over!). Cooking healthy wouldn't be a problem because I know we're all being conscious of what we eat ... but would I be able to make it Whole Life Challenge compliant? No dairy, no grains, no sugar, no preservatives ... that's a lot of restrictions. Should I impose those restrictions on my guests?

At the same time I thought - how great would it be for me to be able to pull this off; to have a dinner table covered with food that was healthy and delicious - and of course Whole Life Challenge compliant - so I wouldn't have to think twice about what I was having.

So I went for it, and I must say it came out really well. I focused on fish and vegetables (the entire menu is here). For dessert, the girls bought me a bouquet of fruit and I made tiny peanut butter and date bites. One of the girls had made paleo sweet potato brownies -- but I didn't have any because it had honey in the ingredients. Still, the other girls enjoyed it, and it looked delicious.

I'm glad things have changed. I'm eating well; I'm enjoying my food ... and I'm still seeing my weight drop bit by bit. I'm determined to keep this up.

Day 6 of the Whole Life Challenge - definitely a success!



Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Moderation & Deprivation

A common thought process that I've seen in blogs - and that I have had myself - is about trying to eat in moderation. Usually the argument goes:
1) Life is too short. I don't want to feel deprived.
2) If I deprive myself of it, I'll crave it, and then I'll binge.

I was thinking about the two words - deprivation and moderation - earlier today. Some meanings of deprived were: lacking the necessities of life and the condition of being without, especially of economic or social necessities.
Moderation came up as the avoidance of extremes of excesses; being within reasonable limits.

For me, when I read the definition of moderation, I think it makes sense. Just have a little; balance it all out and everything will be fine.

I tried it. It didn't work. I thought it was working, but it really wasn't. Part of it was because my concept of what was moderate was so skewed. I was obviously eating a lot because I was gaining weight. Moderation for me would have been one (or two) slices of something instead of three.

That's not moderation. That's still too much -- it's still nearing excess. In the scheme of it all, and given my ultimate goal of wanting to lose weight, even one slice of certain somethings would be too much.  As an overweight person, obviously my perception of what is moderate isn't right.

I realized that the big changes I wanted to see would only happen if I made big changes in the way I ate and exercised.

The changes didn't all come at once. I am always trying to be within reasonable limits, and soon my craving for something sweet after dinner went from a big brownie, to a small slice of cake, to half a bar of chocolate, down to an After 8 after dinner mint.

I didn't think that was too bad ... however, even with my nightly 40-calorie After 8 dinner mint I realized that some of my friends were having dessert once a week ... even once a month. How's that for a different perspective of what moderation is? See, it's all about perspective, and I think for me, until I recognized the folly in my perspective and came up with a strategy to really have control over my eating habits - long term, not temporary - I would not see the changes that I wanted to see.

I have to wonder what would have happened if I just stopped all together. Would I have felt deprived?

The definitions of deprivation really have to do with dealing with not having something essential. It is obvious that having something sweet is not essential to live. I don't think I ever felt like not having something would make me feel deprived. I wanted to eat what I wanted to eat simply because I wanted to eat it! There was no thought of future consequences. If I was really conscientious about how I would feel in the future, wouldn't my thoughts have turned to how difficult it would be to burn off those calories in that pizza, cake, ice cream, etc. instead of I may want to eat it later ... does that make sense?

Again, it's about perspective. This quote really struck me when I saw it:

I really want to be healthy, strong, energetic, and thin! If that's really what I want most, then I have to behave like it.

I'm convinced that the idea of deprivation, when it comes to wanting to eat food, is an illusion. It's an excuse for not wanting to try harder. I don't want to make that excuse for myself anymore. Participating in this Whole Life Challenge has really shaken my perspective. I'm on Day 5 of no dairy, no grains, no starch, no sugar, no preservatives --- I have to say, I don't feel deprived at all.

Side note:
My mornings of yoga are going great! I'm really enjoying that 15 minutes of calm, peace, and quiet -- helps me get center for my day before I start rushing around like a mad woman!
I didn't do abs this morning, but I will do them tomorrow for sure.

Good CrossFit session today - 
I worked on my pull-ups (still struggling, but maybe making a tiny, tiny, tiny bit of progress) and I tried ring dips (with a band) for the first time. Man I need to work on my upper body strength!!
For weights I did dynamic sumo deadlifts (70 kg) and dynamic box squats (40 kg).

Our WOD was
120 skips (or 60 double unders, but I'm not at that level yet!)
50 hand-release push ups
40 knees to elbows (hanging from the bar)
30 push presses (20 kg)
20 pull ups (did the best I could with the band)
10 cleans (20 kg)

Day 5 of the Whole Life Challenge complete and I'm doing great (my progress info here)!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Crazy Busy

I was so busy yesterday that I didn't even get a chance to update my blog! I was on my feet from 4:00 a.m. and didn't stop until 11:30 p.m. Within that time I managed to get my morning yoga and core work in, plus a body balance class, and then finally a CrossFit session.

I'm glad I'm getting my yoga and core work done in the mornings but it seems like once the day gets started, it's can be difficult to fit it in. Today's active workout has been more of a make-shift workout. I really wanted to make it to the gym for some cardio, but the way my day was unfolding, I knew it wasn't going to happen. I settled on a quick stairs workout instead. I haven't run the stairs in ages! It really tired me out. It was just enough to get my heart rate going and work up a good sweat.

My calves have been unusually sore recently and I think it's because I've gone back to work and been spending extra hours on my feet - in my 4-inch heels (not wedges, proper stiletto-esque heels). It's the only thing different in my routine - walking up and down several flights of stairs plus the few hundred meters to and from class plus standing and walking around for the 2-hour lecture period of my classes ... I'm not counting this as a workout. I'm just noticing that there's a bit of extra soreness that I haven't felt in a while. I'm not giving up my heels (I've already sacrificed my nails and the smoothness of my palms) so I hope my calves adjust soon!

Everything is going well in terms of the Whole Life Challenge. I have to say I've surprised myself so far. Dropping sugar, grains, starches, dairy, as well as all processed products is a lot to do overnight -- but I did it, and I haven't strayed.

To be honest, it hasn't been hard. All I've had to do is take a bit more time (though that can feel like an obstacle at times) and be more conscientious of what I'm eating -- that's the whole point, isn't it?

Anyway. More on that another day.

For more details on my Whole Life Challenge progress, check here :)

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Get Fit, Feel Epic Week 2 Summary

I weighed myself this morning - exactly the same as last week but another 1.6% down in body fat percentage. I know the numbers are probably not accurate on the scale, but still, even if it's half that amount down I'm happy. I just gotta keep working on bringing my weight down as well.

This morning I also tried on 'the dress' -- it fits better than ever before but still not well enough for me to wear it out comfortably. I've got 2 1/2 weeks to work on fitting into the dress - that's not much time at all, so I'll have to make each day count!

Day 2 of the Whole Life Challenge went well (more details here). A few cravings for something sweet, but I didn't give in. I've realized it's when I'm home and bored/restless that I start thinking about something to munch on. Luckily I have tons to keep me busy. Forcing myself to stay out of the kitchen is a great way to stop procrastinating as well!

I had a good 1-hour boxing workout today. My shoulders and shoulder blades are so sore now. It feels good though, especially seeing the force behind my punches increase as I continue to get stronger through CrossFit. I love seeing how all the different exercises keep coming together.

This past week was much better than last week in terms of working on my goals.

Week 2 (Sep. 10 - 16)

1) C25K: Finished Days 1 & 2 of Week 4

2) Nutrition studies: Still haven't started yet! Need to get a move on with this! This is going to be the toughest one for me to handle especially as my students' first batch of graded work will be turned in this coming week!

3) Core work: I wanted to do this 5x/week, but I only managed 4 days of focused core work. I need to make sure I do at least 5 days!

4) Balance: Am still successfully spending 15 minutes each morning stretching and doing some yoga. It feels great. On the two days that I missed my morning stretch I made it up later in the day.

5) Gleason's boxing: I've completed Week 1 plus I've done a bit of extra training -- absolutely love it!

Week 2 Challenge - Make your goals visible.
I've made a daily checklist for me to go through to ensure I get through my plan for the day. It includes the things I need to do for the Whole Life Challenge as well. It's not as creative as I would have liked it to be, but I know I could have (would have) spent a whole day doing something fancy and I just didn't have the time. As long as it works I guess it's ok!

On to week 3!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Diet vs. Lifestyle

One of the first things I read this morning was this post by Marion. I was extremely touched by her shout-out and happy to be found as someone who perseveres versus someone who started and gave up which was the path I was on for many, many years.

Today is the first day of the Whole Life Challenge.

When I was explaining the challenge to one of my friends, she commented - wow, that's quite a diet. I had to clarify and tell her that this wasn't a diet, it was about changing the way I eat. It's about changing something in my lifestyle.

There was a time when I barely exercised, and when I did, I know I didn't put in 100% effort. I wasn't consistent with my workouts and my eating had not changed.

Slowly but surely I started to enjoy exercising and I went to the gym regularly -- but my eating habits didn't change ... and neither did much of my weight.

Of course the winning combination is exercise properly and eat properly ... and I mean really properly. It's that extra effort that has been lacking. It's that extra bit that I know I can do, but am unwilling/scared/lazy to do ... that is changing now.

Another comment about the WLC was -- you're starting in the middle of your weekend? Why didn't they just wait until Monday for the start date?

I love that the challenge started in the middle of the weekend. It's precisely the 'tomorrow' attitude that I have had many times in the past that has been holding me back. Start now. START NOW.

The chocolate, the candy, the slice of pizza - it's unhealthy now, so start making healthy changes now. It's about knowing that you're strong enough to make those changes at any given moment, and you don't need to wait for a special day or a special time. Every single day we have the ability to make a choice that is good for us ... it's something I've written about before.

Although I have known all of this, it is only now that I'm feeling confident enough to take that next big step. I do hope that finally eating cleaner and really thinking about what I eat (and how I prepare my food) will help me reach my goals. I don't want this to be a temporary change - I want it to be a lifestyle.

I've started a separate blog just to track my progress on the Whole Life Challenge. You can read about it here.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Whole Life Challenge

Here we go! I've registered for the Whole Life Challenge with Jenn, and I am super-excited to be competing in this challenge alongside her as well as thousands of other people. I'm representing our CrossFit Box (CrossFit Q8 - the only official CrossFit Box in Kuwait) this year - hopefully we'll have more participants next year.

So, what is the Whole Life Challenge? 

Well, it's an 8-week challenge where we're all required to do 4 things:
1) Daily workout for 10 minutes (purposeful, active workout) [worth 1 point]
2) Daily stretching for 10 minutes (deep stretching) [worth 1 point]
3) Daily intake of fish oil [worth 1 point]
4) Follow the nutritional guidelines [worth 3 points]

The nutritional guidelines are:
- no grains or starches
- no corn or soy
- no sugar or sweetener of any kind
- no dairy
- no alcohol, soda, or juice

Breaking any of those nutritional guidelines results in a 1-point deduction with a maximum of 3 points to lose/day.

Of course there are other details, but these are the basic guidelines. There is also an opportunity to earn bonus points through specified workouts and daily reflections.


I've been trying to mentally prepare for this challenge for the past two weeks. I'm not worried at all about the first three components. I pretty much already have them as part of my daily routine (now I have to make sure they are part of my daily routine). It's the nutritional component that worried me.

Upon reading the list of forbidden foods I thought - seriously? How will I do this?

Over the past two weeks I've been watching what I eat to see how much would change over the next eight weeks. I didn't realize I consumed so much diary (especially cheese) or how much sugar was in so many foods (even something like canned crab in water contained sugar).

That's really what this whole challenge is about - AWARENESS. 

I know I've tracked foods before, but I never looked at them in that much detail.

Something that Michael said during the Challenge Kickoff really struck me:

“It’s not about losing weight as much as it’s about becoming the kind of person who gets to say how it goes all the time. That you say what the results are gonna be and you can easily make the choices that come with getting the results that you want.”

After reading that, I no longer felt afraid. This is all about choices. Life has always been about choices. When it comes to food, I am always in control of my decisions ... there is nothing to fear. This has nothing to do with deprivation -- I see it more as empowering.

I am so excited for the challenge to begin!

We officially start tomorrow with a universal baseline workout and then entering our measurements and other stats.

Let's Do This!

Thursday, September 13, 2012


I wanted to post more yesterday but I came down with a terrible migraine and just could not stand to be in front of the computer to write up a post.

Luckily I woke up this morning without a headache -- very pleased about that.

Yesterday turned out to be an easy day for me. I did my 15 minutes of yoga + 15 minutes of core strengthening work in the morning. Later on in the day I went to Body Balance. I'm still feeling a bit stiff - I can't wait until I regain my flexibility.

Today I headed into the gym to do some cardio. I was really feeling hesitant about doing C25K. After my performance on Tuesday and my failure to run 6-min straight, I was feeling really apprehensive. I dilly-daillied next to the treadmill for a bit -- putting off getting on the treadmill and hoping for some sort of motivation from somewhere. Even when I got on the treadmill and started, I didn't want to do it. I just wanted to stop. At two minutes of my walking warm-up I thought, this is ridiculous. I don't want to do this ...

... but that's not the truth. I do want to do this. I want to be able to run. Bloody hell. What's wrong with me? How come I want this so bad yet I'm not willing to put in my 100% effort? That doesn't make sense. I know that the only way to improve is to keep practicing. Even if it's difficult now, if I keep practicing, it won't be difficult later. I kept repeating all those positive mantras to myself, but really just sounded like 'blah blah blah' in my head. So strange.

On the one hand I totally de-motivating myself and on the other I was scolding myself for being such a slacker.

Luckily the latter voice won the battle, and by the time my 5-minute warm-up had finished, Voodoo People by The Prodigy came on and I was good to go for my 4-minute run. This time I decided to run at 7.0 km/hr instead of 7. After all, I'm trying to work on endurance vs. speed.

Four minutes done without any trouble. Now I had 2 minutes to gear up for the 6-min run. Shit. Will I be able to do it? All I kept thinking was:

I knew it was true.

I just had to keep going -- so I kept repeating that line to myself, and Adelante by Sash! came one and i was good to go.

I couldn't help but smile a little as I heard 'Walk' -- I had done it. Stupid mental block! Now just one more 4-min running segment done and I would be finished with Week 4, Day 2 ... so I got it done.

I was so happy once I finished it. I have to remember why I started this and what it means to me to be able to succeed at this. Almost one year ago, after my surgery, the recovery was so painful that I could barely walk ... with all the bad news I received after the surgery, I just became so depressed. This past year has been all about finding mental strength. It's been so much more challenging than working on physical strength (though no doubt that's been damn tough too).

So, 6-min may not seem like a lot, but for me, each little step feels like a big accomplishment. I just have to keep the positives in mind when I approach the treadmill again.

After C25K, I went to the assisted pull-up machine. I know it's not the same as doing pull-ups, but I really wanted to practice my form and just get used to the movement.

I also took some time to practice my cleans. I had one of the trainers work with me to help me position my arms. I find the posture for cleans to be very awkward. I can't get my elbows high, and I feel like I'm leaning too far back and not resting the bar on my collarbone properly ... We did several sets (just with a 20 kg bar) and I felt much better with the movement once I was done. With some more practice, I'm hoping I'll get better.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Ensure Success

A good reminder:
The only way to ensure success is to make sure you keep working at your goals. Every single day.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Get Fit, Feel Epic Week 1 Summary

I've had a busy, busy day - pretty much non-stop since 4:15 a.m. Apparently 4:00 a.m. is my new wake-up time regardless of what time my alarm is set for. I'm just gonna roll with it and hope that on days I feel really tired I'll get a chance to take a nap.

I focused on cardio at the gym today - a boxing session followed by C25K. I started Week 4 of C25K. I'm embarrassed to say that I couldn't complete the 6 min straight run. I'm so disappointed in myself. It's only 6 minutes, what the hell?! I stopped at about 4, walked for a bit (around 35-40 seconds) and then picked up the run. I even had trouble completing the last 4-min stretch ... I did make up the jogging time I missed by doing it even during the cool down period ... but that's not the point. I need to be able to run at a stretch ... it was disappointing.

I experimented with 3 new ingredients tonight for dinner - spaghetti squash (Loved it! Was totally fascinated at how the squash really did come out spaghetti-like!), red snapper (impromptu purchase at the supermarket today, but it looked so fresh - had to try it; it came out quite good sautéed in tomatoes and onions), and finally purple potatoes. I loved the color of the potatoes - I cooked them with mushrooms and they came out quite well. It was a really filling, low-fat, low-carb meal for under 500 calories.

Ok, now for my Get Fit, Feel Epic update.
I've been so busy trying to get used to my new schedule that Week 1 kinda passed me by. I didn't get much done in terms of working towards my goals ... I'm a bit late writing this post, but here's my update:

Week 1 (Sep. 3 - Sep. 9)

1) C25K: No sessions completed
2) Nutrition studies: Haven't started yet
3) Core work: From Sunday I started doing a core workout in the mornings. I've managed to do it each morning since. I do 500 reps of different exercises (e.g. 100 crunches, 60 second plank pose, 30 push-ups - broken into groups of ten - and so forth). The routine varies each day. I plan on doing this 5 times a week.
4) Balance: From Sunday I started doing 15 minutes of yoga first thing in the morning. It feels really good to start the day with some deep breathing and good stretches
5) Gleason's boxing: I completed Week 1, Day 1

Week 1 Challenge - Do something that makes you feel fabulous.
Well, I already wrote about it in my first Get Fit, Feel Epic post -- D and I have really started to invest some time and money into getting healthy. I'm really happy we've taken this step.

So not a whole lot done in week 1, but we're already 2 days into week 2 and I've made progress in some more areas, so hopefully my week 2 update will be better (and on time).

The Week 2 Challenge is to find a way to display our goals so that we stay focused. This is perfect for me as I really need to be more focused and organized with me time -- there's so much going on. I want to do it all, and I know I can, but I need to get organized and be reasonable with my time.

I'm a bit behind with commenting on blogs -- I'll get to them soon!

Will end on a silly/amusing anecdote - was heading out this morning and as I picked up my Everlast boxing bag I noticed that it went perfectly with my outfit for work. Had to snap a shot :)

Fingers crossed for a good night's sleep!!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Moving Along

Last night I took a swig of NyQuill before going to bed. To be honest, it wasn't really for my cough. I was just desperate for some decent sleep. I know this could be a slippery slope I'm headed down, but for now, I'm just pleased I got a solid 3 hours, plus another 1 1/2 tossing and turning a bit. I was wide awake half an hour before my alarm, tried to relax, but only managed to stay in bed for another 15 minutes before getting out of bed.

The early start to my day (4:15 a.m.) meant that I had plenty of time to do my yoga and abs workout this morning. The yoga feels so good. Just taking a few minutes for some deep breathing helps relax me. Of course a lot of that relaxation is out the window as I'm trembling doing the plank pose or stiff during push-ups, but I'm hoping for improvement and balance over time.

I met my class today - 32 students (all female) cramped into a classroom that really should only have 22 students ... I feel bad for them. It must be so uncomfortable, but we'll have to make the best of it. Easy stuff for the first day ... I finished early enough to head straight to the gym for Body Balance class.

I love Body Balance. I haven't been to a class in months, and I was definitely feeling stiff ... but all that stretching was much needed. I'm hoping that going to the class at least twice a week will release some of the stiffness/soreness from CrossFit as well as help me gain flexibility and balance to help me with CrossFit (and other exercises). It was a great hour.

I thought about doing C25K after the class, but with CrossFit in the evening ... I thought I'd be pushing it. Hopefully I'll manage a session tomorrow.

I only stayed for the strength & conditioning portion of CrossFit today coz' I had to go pick D up from work. I asked the coach to text me the WOD so that I can complete it on my own either tonight or tomorrow.

For our warm-up we jumped rope and I got quite a few double-unders. I have yet to get any consecutively, but I'm pleased each time I do one.

Strength training today was 5x5:
Cleans - I only managed to get up to 35 kg. (I have a LOT of difficulty with these; I just can't seem to get the shoulder shrug right)
Front squats - I went up to 55 kg though it wasn't my max
Sumo deadlifts (my first time doing these) - I ended at 60 kg without any problems.

So that's it for today. I didn't get in all the exercise that I wanted but at least I managed quite a bit.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Mishaps are Routine

I think one of the only ways I made it through the past nine months is by finally accepting the fact that no matter how well thought out or planned my routine is, some sort of disruption will happen.

Before, I used to want to control my day so rigorously that I would have major anxiety attacks or get incredibly frustrated, irritated, and angry that things weren't going my way. That feeling of no control was terrible. However, I found myself in that situation often. It's during those times that I found my fitness and nutrition took a back seat.

As I went through my final year of my PhD, I realized that I had to give up that control. Just because I made my PhD a priority didn't mean that I was giving up or ignoring my fitness and nutrition goals. They could go hand in hand - my routine may not go exactly as planned, but there were still ways that I could get around it.

I think that was one of the biggest breakthroughs I had in terms of working taking care of my health as part of my lifestyle and not just something that happened 'when the time was right.'

There was never a perfect time. Errands always had to get done; the house always needed to be take care of; friends and family always need to be given some time ... that's life. In the middle of it all, there's the constant care that needs to be taken towards my health.

Indeed it is constant. I believe I make better choices now, but they do not come naturally (yet). I have to pay attention to what I eat, and I know that just watching my food alone won't work for me - I have to exercise if I want to see a difference.

Since the beginning of this month I've been trying to come up with a schedule that will reasonably accommodate all the things that I want/have to do. This past week was a bit of a trial run - getting timings right, figuring out more efficient ways of doing things, trying not to procrastinate so much ... There's still a lot of tweaking to do, but there's no more time to try - I've got to get on with it.

I started my new morning routine today.
I slept a bit better last night but still not nearly enough. I was up before my alarm went off at 4:30.
I weighed in the same as last week (frustrating!), but my body fat percentage was already down 1% from last Saturday. While I'm definitely happy with that, I really need to work on seeing both numbers go down. I don't want to stay at the same weight even if my body fat % is going down and muscle mass going up. I have to make some big changes to lose this extra weight!

The main change that I'm implementing in my morning routine is doing 20 minutes of yoga followed a core workout. It felt amazing to do yoga after such a long time. The ab routine was tough, but it just reminded me of how much more practice I need to do in order to build strength.

Mishaps of the day:
- D's car is in the garage so I had to take him to work and pick him up
- We had some new furniture delivered today which involved me moving out our old furniture, disconnecting all our media stuff, waiting for the delivery people, and then reorganizing everything ... it took 3 hours. I was exhausted. By the time I got everything in the house done it was time for me to get D from work ...

I was hoping to have made it to the gym but it didn't happen. That's just the way things go but I gotta make the best of each situation -- mishaps are definitely part of my routine.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Much Rest Needed

In addition to the 4 points mentioned by Ryan about improving performance, I'd like to add a 5th:

5. Get a good night's sleep!

I would have thought that after yesterday's very successful CrossFit session I would have slept like a log -- but I barely clocked in 2.5 hours. It was horrible. I just could not get to sleep. I was tired, had no worries, had just had a good day ... why couldn't I sleep. Screw you insomnia!

I was busy doing errands etc. for most of the day but did try to take a nap in the afternoon - I think I dozed for 20 minutes ... definitely not the type of sleep I wanted before going to CrossFit, but oh well. You gotta make do.

I could definitely feel the impact of the lack of sleep on my workouts. We worked on overhead squats - I only managed to get up to 35 kg. I am pretty sure I could have gone up to 40, but my mind wasn't in it and my shoulders were so achy. We also did the split jerks. I got up to 40 kg - tried 45, but failed. Again, I was just fatigued.

Our WOD completely drained me.
4 rounds, 1 min each
- thrusters
- burpees
- pull ups (just did the best I could)
- box jumps
- tire flips (love those!!)

I was totally knackered. I think I could have fallen asleep whenever I hit the floor doing those burpees.

Oh well. I'm just hoping for a good night's sleep tonight before the start of a very long week.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Feeling the Power

To say that I'm on a high is an understatement -- I'll get right to it.

I hit two personal records today: 

80 kg (176 lb) for my squats
120 kg (264 lb) for my deadlifts 

Deadlift - 120 kg (September 7, 2012)

I am SO happy and proud. I can't explain the exhilaration ... all I know is I want more.

I left our CrossFit session today with a new sense of determination.

All of the advice I got yesterday about pull-ups (so valuable by the way - thanks Ryan and Marion for your tips) has been on my mind all day today -- The bottom line is, if you want it, you gotta work for it ... and boy do I want it.

I still have to improve in every area. It feels overwhelming, but sitting here and only focusing on the difficulties will not make it any easier. It's a challenge and bit by bit it'll get better. I just have to remind myself that each action will have a consequence. It's up to me whether that consequence will be positive or negative.

The better you eat, the easier it'll be to exercise.
The more you exercise, the stronger you'll get.

With each achievement the desire to improve will intensify -- so I know that I want to eat even better so that the exercise can get easier and I can increase my strength.

Tonight was the first night I came home and thought - I'd so much rather do a pull-up than have a piece of chocolate. {I never thought I'd say that!}

I hope this determination lasts. Conceptually it all sounds good, but practice takes more time and effort -- still, it's in my hands ... plus I have an amazing CrossFit team inspiring me and cheering me on! {You guys are awesome CrossFit Q8!}

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Not Just Practice

I recently commented on Ryan's blog about still struggling to do one chin-up. I think the obvious answer that most people would give is - just keep practicing.

His response reminded me that it's actually about so much more than just practice. This was his reply:

Keep working at those chin ups and they will happen! :-) It took me more than 3 months of serious commitment, eating very well, exercising hard, just to be able to do 1… After you get that first one, they start to come a lot faster! :-)
1. Keep practicing
2. Be seriously committed
3. Eat very well
4. Exercise hard

I wish that just one component was the key to success, but that's not reality.

I know I workout hard. I'm definitely committed to that though I think I need to take it up a notch (i.e. complete all my scheduled workouts each week) to display serious commitment. I've been faltering a bit - partly coz' of travel, partly coz' of illness, and partly coz' things have just happened (excuses). I want to focus on minimizing/eliminating that faltering. The plan has been set, now I just need to follow through.

I'm not too worried about the exercise; my biggest worry is FOOD.

I'm just still struggling with the eating part. I've really cleaned up my eating over the past 2 years. I'm not doing horribly, as I've steadily been dropping tiny fractions of weight each day ... but I know I could be doing better. I know I could be eating cleaner. I should be eating cleaner.

Ryan's comment just reinforced what I already knew but needed to hear again -- all these components work together. My workouts won't improve unless I eat better, and I do want them to improve. Having a fitness goal has actually been great motivation to be more vigilant about what I'm eating. I have to think - If I eat that, will in make doing a pull up easier or harder?

Asking that type of question helps, but I'll be honest, it's doesn't always guarantee the right decision. An extra tablespoon of cottage cheese, another handful of almonds, a second or third square of chocolate ... they creep in. As one off incidents, they're not disastrous ... but they add up. Anyway. In preparation of the Whole Life Challenge I've been a lot more careful. I haven't made all the changes yet, but I'm gearing up for it - slowly cutting out or at the very least minimizing my sugar, dairy, and wheat/starch intake. The whole premise of this challenge is vigilance, and it's coming at the perfect time for me (but more on that in another post).

While things are starting to fall into place, it's still not anywhere near second nature yet. I'm constantly evaluating, reassessing, and planning. Now I've got to focus on implementing!

- Today's exercise: 
Today my goal was to get ease back into cardio. I wanted to finish 5km within 50 minutes and not stop because of my bronchitis. I'd throw in a jog or two if I felt up to it.

Result: 5 km in 47 min - it included a few 1-minute jogs, 1 3-min jog, and 1 4-min jog. Plus, no coughing fit or breathing difficulty! Yay! I'm relieved because next week I'll be continuing the C25K program and I did not want to redo any of the previous sessions. I'll definitely pick up from Week 4. A few more cardio sessions to warm-up and I should be good to go!

- Today's dinner:
Poached plaice (my first time poaching fish) with a side of a vegetable stew (made with sweet potato, tomato, mushrooms, sugar snap peas, and chick peas + a few raisins). Will post the recipe later.