Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A Work in Progress





Workin' it Out
It's taking time, but the time is worth spending.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Injury Update

The news at the doctor's office wasn't as good as I had hoped. I'm still trying to process it all. The basic diagnosis is that I have a partially torn cartilage in my wrist. The good news is that it is only a partial tear. The bad news is that it's there in the first place!



Without going into too much detail right now, the basic thing is -- no lifting, grappling, pulling/pushing, any pressure and very limited movement for at least a month.

There were other more invasive treatment options available, but for right now this is what I want to do. I don't feel ready to try anything else. I'm going to stay off my wrist for a month and then reevaluate my situation.

Upon leaving the doctor's office, I felt a massive wave of panic. One month? What am I going to do? Sure I could walk/run, but what else? I need to do more! What about my MMA training? No grappling or contact - are you kidding me? That type of scenario just doesn't fit in my reality at the moment.

Eventually I calmed down and thought -- I'm going to see this as a challenge. This is the perfect opportunity to put myself to the test and see what kind of fitness plan I would recommend if I had a client who was in my situation. I've got to take that advice and apply it to myself.

The two key things -- keep moving and watch my nutrition.

I'm hoping to keep staying positive and see this as an exploration/an adventure into what else I can do. I thought a lot about Leigh and how she got through her recovery when she had her broken ankle. I think at the beginning of an injury it seems like the day you're fully back to the activities you love seems like an eternity away --- but it's not. The day does come. I just need to be patient until I get there!

Wish me luck! I have a feeling I'm going to need it!!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

A New Identity

I was so happy to receive this email yesterday morning:




I passed my Fitness Trainer final exam with a 91%. I had really worked hard on the exam; I'm so pleased with how I did -- and I'm super happy to have been able to turn my life around to such an extent that not only have I been learning how to cook and eat healthy and been working out regularly, but also that it has become an integral part of my life -- and of who I am.

It's a great feeling!


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Holding Still

The semester is winding down, so the next week and a half is going to be spent focusing on getting my students ready for their final exam.

Speaking of final exams -- I just submitted my Personal Trainer Certification final exam. I'm so nervous!! The last two sections of the exam were really challenging. I know I did my best, but the paranoid student in me is continuously second guessing myself. My main concern is - did I put enough detail?

Oh well. It's done now (yay!). All I have to do now is wait for the results.

In the meantime, there's much to be done!

The final exam was on my mind all day today. Even though I was stressed about it, I went to see an orthopedic surgeon about my wrist.

I thought the appointment would only take half an hour. Given that my appointment was at 11:30 a.m., I thought I'd be home by 12:30 p.m. or 1 at the latest.

That didn't happen.

He saw me at 11:30. After checking me he said that he wanted an MRI done. The fact that it's still hurting after 6 weeks (and of those six weeks 3 have been with rest, physiotherapy, and no strain) worried him. So I went for an MRI. I was in the MRI machine at 12:30 ... and I emerged at 1:15!! OMG. I'm not claustrophobic, but let me tell you, it was NOT FUN being in there for 45 minutes! The sound was so loud, and holding still for that long was a nightmare!

Anyway. I got it done. Results and a follow-up appointment tomorrow.

Time to go home -- shouldn't be more than 20 minutes.

How wrong I was! Apparently there was some sort of international conference in Kuwait today and many of the major highways were blocked off (so that the diplomats could have clear roads). It took me 1.5 hours to get home!!! I was at my wits end by the time I got here.

I don't mind the day passing by quickly and me being productive - but being stuck in traffic ... so not fun at all!

I had just enough time to eat a bit of lunch, do some work, and then get ready for jiujitsu class. Then it was back home to finish off my last bit of editing and submit the exam.

I'm so glad it's over!!!

I'm looking forward to staring a new day with that pressure off my back.

I'll leave you with a couple of pix from last night which is when I held my annual Secret Santa gathering. It was a lot of fun - a much needed break from everything else that's been going on!


I love the glow in the house during Christmas time! From the Christmas tree lights to the candles to the red and white all over the house - the house was definitely filled with holiday cheer :)



The gals and I in full Christmas spirit :)

Monday, December 9, 2013

Lost

I feel like I have no control over my time. I have no schedule, and I'm so busy with finishing up the last portion of my Personal Trainer Certification final exam that I have no desire to even sit down and come up with a schedule. I just want everything else to stop so that I can get my exam done and get on with my life.

No schedule = not feeling in control = general listlessness

I just don't feel like myself at all. I'm going through the motions of everything else except my studies right now. It's the only thing I'm concentrating on. My deadline is approaching, and although I finished a big portion of my exam a while ago, I left 2 sections for the end thinking that they wouldn't take too much time. How wrong was I?! Part of it is because I'm obsessing over details. I want to make sure I'm answering correctly and thoroughly. The paranoid student in me comes out -- and all those haunting memories of writing my PhD thesis and fretting over details are coming back.

It sucks.

The only training I've done is when I've left the house to go to a class. I'm so distracted that I have just been submitting myself to the orders of someone else. It's been helpful. At least I'm getting in a workout  plus relieving some stress.

However, a big part of me just hasn't been in the mood. When I was at my HIIT training on Friday, part of me kept thinking - You really should be at your desk studying.

Of course this stupid wrist pain is also bringing me down. No improvement. All this typing and sitting at my computer is not helping. I just want it to be fixed. The physio/IMS treatments are spaced out way too much, so I think that I'm getting as much benefit from them as I should be. Tomorrow I'm schedule to see an orthopedist - let's see what he says.

Yesterday during Kajukenbo class I was in a bad mood. I did not want to be there. I mean, I wanted to be in class, but I just wanted to do the work and go home - not talk or anything. There was one portion in the class when our coach was punching us in the stomach. Repeated punches with moderate intensity, then some single powerful punches, and then dropping tires on our stomachs when we were lying on the ground.

It hurt. Kind of. I was so focused on being in a bad mood and not wanting to be there that I just started straight ahead and took it all.

I guess the good thing is that I know that I can block out the pain if I want to.

Anyway - enough complaining and whining. A few photos of cheerier things that have been happening.

Qout market is something that started last month. It's promotes local produce and organic/healthy goods. This month's event was so lovely. I took a 1 hour study break to go check it out:



 I picked up some kale chips and a nutrition fact -- such a cute idea!



A self snapshot of my brother and I on our morning drive to work


A glimpse of an overcast morning in Kuwait - water towers, mosque, and date palms


The Christmas tree is up! Aside from my gloomy mood, it feels quite festive in the house!


Thursday, December 5, 2013

Studying

I'm taking it slightly easy on the exercise front while my hand heals. I'm using the time to focus on finishing up my Personal Trainer certification. The deadline is approaching and I still have some essay questions to complete. The thing that sucks is that I've been sitting at my desk for the past 9 hours and not only is it annoying my back, but it is also aggravating my arm/wrist. It's time to get up and do some stretches.



I spent most of today researching medical articles that looked at the link between cancer and exercise. It's been really interesting. It hasn't been proven that exercise can prevent cancer, though there are some studies that have found that it lowers the risk of suffering from cancer (often because exercise is associated with other good habits such as eating right and not smoking). What they have found is that participating in exercise reduces stress and increases strength, both of which contribute to a better quality of life as well as improved recovery in general.

I know that when I went through my second surgery, my recovery process was greatly facilitated by the fact that I had been exercising and that I had developed so much more strength. The recovery was still painful, but I was up and about a lot sooner than my first surgery.

Exercise -- there really aren't any disadvantages!



Another crockpot meal tonight - garlic lemon chicken. It was alright. Not picture-worthy though.

Wish me luck on my final exam!!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Training with an Injury

Injuries suck.

I'm feeling so grumpy about it. I mean, I know that complaining isn't going to do me any good, but what can I say? I'm grumpy! All I want to do is hit the gym and lift some heavy weights. However, I'm trying to be sensible about it.

The weather in Kuwait is stunning at the moment. Cool mornings and evenings, warm afternoons, bright sunny skies -- really, really lovely.

Since I couldn't really do anything intense in terms of exercise, I decided to take advantage of the lovely weather and head outside for a walk/run. I had to even be cautious running because I was supposed to keep my arm as still/straight as possible. I'm sure I looked weird on the track having one arm dangling beside me -- but in any case, I went. I half walked half ran, worked up a good sweat and at least felt a bit less grumpy having gotten in some form of a workout.

Today I went into Jiujitsu class. I haven't been in a BJJ class since the end of September. I was SO HAPPY to be back!! My instructor already knew about my injury so I just took it easy and did what I could. I wrapped up my hand really, really well so that my wrist remained stabilized. I made sure not to fall or be grabbed by my right wrist. I did what I could to take the proper precautions and train safe while still being as focused on the moves as possible.

There were 2 other girls in class. They were new. One of them said she had come to Kajukenbo to watch a class and had seen me train before. Small world!

We learned a form of defense against a headlock. It was really cool. I love how the instructor breaks down the move and the builds it up. It's so interesting -- plus it's fun to do! I was totally beaming after class! (Plus I came out totally injury free; no swelling or pain - yay!)

Tomorrow I'm supposed to do weights, but I know that my routine (deadlifts, rows, bench presses) is totally out of the question. I'm thinking of maybe another run and/or some stability exercises (with a Swiss ball or Bosu ball). We'll see.

I had a big shop today. It's nice to have my normal foods back in the house again. Tonight I'm trying out a chicken dish in my crockpot. I'm still not 100% convinced about the effectiveness/efficiency of a slow cooker. I mean, yes, the meat becomes tender, but it still takes time to prep everything before putting it in the pot. If I could literally just throw in the protein and vegetables (without sauteing/browning or whatever) then I may be more convinced. For right now, I'm still trying to make up my mind.


tonight's dinner - slow cooked chicken drumsticks in tomato and onion sauce 

Monday, December 2, 2013

My Wrist

I had an excruciatingly painful session with my physiotherapist today. Tears sprung to my eyes more than once. There were definitely points during the session when I thought, 'Screw this, I'll just deal with the injury; the treatment is too painful.'



this is how my hand/wrist looked on Friday 


Part of my physiotherapy involves undergoing IMS - intramuscular stimulation (this is a great article explaining the basics of how it works). Basically needles are used to release tension/tightness in the muscles. By loosening the muscles in my forearm (and even upper arm), enough space should be created so that my wrist can be relocated in its proper place.

I had my 3rd IMS/physiotherapy treatment today, and it was really brutal. Tears sprung to my eyes, but I just grit my teeth and kept telling myself - if you want to continue MMA training, then you're going to have to deal with a lot more pain than this!



some of the needles in my forearm

So, my recovery seems to be taking a long time. I am not allowed to lift heavy things or do any pushing/pulling movements, so grappling practice and weight lifting have been ruled out for a while.

I'm not taking that news well at all!

Still, I know that I need to give my wrist a chance to recover. I'll be trying to do what I can to make sure I keep as active as possible.

In the meantime, I'm rocking a brace both day and night to help stabilize my wrist. I guess there will be a lot of cardio and core work in the upcoming weeks!


Sunday, December 1, 2013

Attitude

I remember back in college when one of my friends was getting ready to go on her first date ever. She was nervous and excited. When I asked her if she needed anything, she replied, "Yes. A way to lose 20 pounds in the next 3 hours!"

We chuckled about it, but that statement has stuck with me.

Whenever I have an event approaching - my birthday, a party, someone's wedding, I usually know well in advance that it's coming (especially if it's an annual event like a birthday). Knowing in advance means that I have the advantage of actually being able to plan and prepare for whatever I need to achieve before that date. Whether it's writing a paper for a conference, buying a present for a birthday, or losing some weight to fit into a particular dress for an event ... I have opportunities to work in a systematic way so that I am not frantically rushing to get things done at the last minute.

That's at least ideally how it should be.

However, procrastination is more my reality -- although I am getting better at not waiting to get things done until the last minute.

Up until last year, I was really was a big time procrastinator. I'd spend so much more time thinking and planning than actually doing. That would always leave me rushing to get things done at the last minute. An event would be coming up and inevitably the night before/the night of, I'd be upset that I hadn't worked harder to lose weight so that I would feel good about myself that night.

Although knowing the 'deadline date' in advance does give you time to work towards your goal, I think you can get sidetracked by the 'one won't hurt' mentality. Taking one day off from writing won't hurt, waiting one more day won't hurt, eating one piece won't hurt ...

If it truly is 'one', then sure, it won't hurt, but what I've seen is that one often turns to two which turns to three and so on.

I feel like over the past 18 months, I've been much more consistent in my good habits. I've been doing more than thinking/planning. Things haven't been perfect, but I've had many, many more good days than bad. I'm happy with the habits I've developed, and I feel positive about the things I have to still work on. Sometimes it does get overwhelming, but not to the point where I feel like I can't push forward and accomplish my goals.

This positivity is something new for me, and it's a feeling I'm really enjoying.

For the first time in ages I'm not approaching the end of the year thinking - what have I been doing? Why haven't I worked harder? Why am I so far away from my goals?

Shedding that negativity and dread is helping me stay focused and will hopefully help me end this year on a high note.

I started off this month with a great morning workout -- weights (whatever I could manage with my wrist) + HIIT. In the evening I had Kajukenbo where we started learning new things for the purple belt -- exciting!


back at the gym


Saturday, November 30, 2013

Before, During, and After

If everything related to Thanksgiving was just limited to one meal, then it really wouldn't be a big deal. I had a great plan for Thanksgiving day. My meal plan was good, my portions were what I imagined them to be, and overall I'm really happy with how everything turned out. So the 'during' part of Thanksgiving was great.



Me & Benny the turkey :) 


Thanksgiving 2013 - kept it simple this year


However, the parts I did not account for or really think about were the before and after.

The two days leading up to Thanksgiving were really hectic. Final touches on the menu, organizing the house, doing the shopping and prep work, and of course cooking -- it all really kept me busy.

Then there was the grazing --- that was my downfall. A little taste here, a little there --- tasting different combinations -- ya, it wasn't good. I'm sure I consumed a lot of extra calories with all that nibbling. So that was the 'before' part.

The 'after' -- well, as you can imagine, there are leftovers. The first thing I did was get rid of as much of the 'naughty' stuff as I could. The other things, e.g. roasted sweet potatoes and turkey, well, that's not too bad to have around at all.

In terms of being healthy, I did alright. I had a lovely, lovely time. Plus, as much as I love cooking my healthy dishes, it felt really good to get back into the kitchen and just cook a feast. I thought I had lost my touch, but I was happy to find that I hadn't.

Now that the month is over, it's time to kick it into really high gear, navigate all the social activities of December, and end the year lighter than what I was when I started!

Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Holiday Food

I found myself shopping for groceries I don't normally buy today. The shop took ages because I couldn't remember where things like mayonnaise and evaporated milk were located. It felt strange to buy these things in the first place. I wanted to put a sign on my cart saying - it's not for me, I swear! It's for the holidays.

Every year I throw a Thanksgiving dinner. I keep track of my menus so that I make sure I don't have the same exact foods each year. However, this year as I was going through my menus I thought - No, I won't be serving that; oh my god, that's such an unhealthy recipe; there's no way I would cook/serve/eat that, so not this time.

This year, I'm keeping it much leaner and healthier. Right now the unhealthiest thing on the menu is the stuffing and the mayo for the deviled eggs. The really deadly part will be the dessert. I'm keeping it very simple for the dinner party, but holiday treats that I'm baking for others means that temptation will be lingering somewhere around the house. At least it's for other people so the food will be out of the house quickly.

I'm pleased with my menu. Most of the stuff is from my regular dinner rotation. I'm just adding a small twist to keep it festive. The only issue I need to look out for is overeating, but I'm hoping that just putting one serving on my plate will help me avoid that obstacle!



Saturday, November 23, 2013

Random Thoughts

The Weather
Yesterday morning it was chilly enough for me to finally wear my Uggs. I was happy to finally be dressing for winter. The cool, crisp air was very refreshing. Today, however, it feels like summer again. I'm totally loving the clear, blue sky and sunshine; however, I'm definitely ready for cooler temperatures.

An Outdoor 5K
It was an absolutely lovely day to head outside for a walk/jog. However, 2 km into it and I was regretting wearing a heavy sweatshirt (because who expects such warm weather the end of November?). Anyway. It was good for working up an extra sweat.

Today's outdoor training was mainly to accompany my brother during his first 5k. We walked most of it, but I also got him to jog a few portions of the track. It was his first time jogging in ... I don't know, years probably. I'm very proud of him for completing it. We now have a baseline time to go by. Hopefully each time we do it we'll get faster and feel fitter.

Since I was going at a slower pace than I would normally go, I focused a lot on my posture, form, and alignment. It was hard work! Still, I know that you've got to practice these good habits in order for them to occur more naturally.

Brazilian Jiujitsu Practice
D & I are starting more focused Brazilian Jiujitsu training in order to prepare to test for our blue belt next summer. We did a few hours yesterday and almost 2 hours today. It's tough with my wrist injury, but I wrap it up pretty tightly to help me keep it as straight as possible --- I can't wait until the wrist is popped back into place! I'm tired of wearing a brace!!

The Holidays are Here
I've been seeing a lot of posts about the holiday season weight gain. It's definitely something that I'm conscious about too. When I look back at the year, I can see that I've been quite dedicated to my food and fitness, and although I've been social, my socializing has been limited compared to how my end of the year calendar is looking. The dinner parties and events start from this Monday and go on until Christmas. I will definitely have to be cautious about how I proceed.

It sucks that it is so easy to gain weight and so difficult to lose it; however, that's the reality. Instead of fearing it or complaining about it, we can just tackle it. The good thing is, we all know that the end of the year is tough. So, if you've really been good at your diet and your workouts throughout the year, then the discipline that you've been developing over the past 10 months should hold strong and help you get through until the new year without any weight gain. This is the mindset that I'm trying to hold on to.

January Jeans Club 2014
I'm joining a bunch of other bloggers in the January Jeans Club (hosted by Marion at Affection for Fitness and Satu at BodyCapable) and pledging not to gain weight during this holiday season. I know that I've worked hard - I don't want it to all go to waste just because I ate badly.



Earlier this year I was really excited to be wearing a pair of size 10 jeans. Then, as the year went on, those jeans started getting looser. At one point, I was told that they were looking quite baggy so I thought that I would finally go and try on a pair of size 8s. It felt totally surreal to even think about, let alone pick up and try on a pair of size 8s.

I was nervous as I put them on and surprised that I was actually able to do it (though with a bit of pulling and maneuvering). However, they did not look good. Although I could do them up and move around/sit down etc. in them, I wasn't comfortable, and more than that, they just didn't look right. It looked like I had squeezed myself in them, and I had!

So, I took off the jeans and easily slid into my 10s. Oh well, not yet -- but I'm getting closer.

I know that there was a time when I'd go clothes shopping and the fact that I couldn't fit into the size that I wanted to fit into would lead me to binge eat. After all, I was already fat, so what did another burger matter?

Now my attitude is totally different. First of all, I don't worry so much about the size. I think about how something looks. I know that there will be some trousers that I'll have to buy a size 12 in because of the material and cut and for others the 10 will actually be loose. That's just the way it is. There's no denying that the number does have a bit of an impact (this summer I tried on a DKNY dress in a 'small' -- I thought the label was wrong! I ended up buying it because seeing that 's' really made me happy - mind games!) -- but it's not everything.

It's the effort that matters. It's the attitude that matters. It's the reality that matters.

So, I've been the same jeans size for most of this year, but that's ok. I'm continuing to work towards those size 8s!



Friday, November 22, 2013

The Work Continues

I was almost going to entitle this post -- Starting Again. However, that wouldn't have been accurate. Every day is part of my weight loss/get healthy efforts. I either contribute to my end goal in a positive way or a negative way. There's no starting again. This is my only life. Each day counts.

After my great results of the Whole Life Challenge, I allowed myself to not be as strict with my food. I had some milk with my coffee, some cheese in my omelet, a bit of chocolate as a dessert.

I think we can all see where this is heading.

A little bit here and a little bit there starts to add up. Sure, a 50 calorie piece of chocolate won't hurt, but have one for 7 days and you've just had 350 calories, which is about the same as one of my small meals.

Actually, that reminds of me a conversation D & I had last month. During the time I was really sick in October, I was eating, but I barely had an appetite. One of the things I didn't have at all was a snack. Usually in the afternoon I'd have 2-3 dates with a cup of green tea or I'd have a handful of raw mixed nuts with raisins plus I'd have fruit.

As a result of not eating much, I was losing weight. I was definitely happy with the number I was seeing on the scale, but I knew it wasn't 'real' weight loss. As soon as I went back to my regular eating, that weight would come back.

After I started to feel better and my appetite returned, and I started to eat more (as well as move more), but the weight didn't come back on. I was still slowly losing.

The biggest change: I didn't go back to having those snacks.

A few dates, some nuts, and some fruit -- I was looking at maybe 300-500 calories a day depending on how much I ate/which fruits I ate. Plus, a lot of that was sugar. Sure it was natural sugar, but it was sugar nonetheless. It definitely was not good for me.

So, I was doing alright, but after the challenge, I started to see some weight fluctuation -- and not in the right direction. My short trip to Dubai involved quite a bit of indulgence, and when I came back, I was mortified by the number on the scale.

I didn't go overboard and gorge/binge, but I had a bit here and a bit there ... and as I've already said, those little bits add up.

After I got back, I was immediately back to my regular healthy eating. I was watching my portions, not snacking, and definitely increasing my movement.

Each day I've seen a steady loss of weight. I'm sure this is mainly due to the fact that a lot of the foods I ate were quite salty, and of course there's the bloating with having things with gluten in them.

The bottom line is, eating all those little things can add up --- and eliminating all those little things can help you lose weight.

I'm definitely not 100% back on the Whole Life Challenge way of eating, but I am 100% conscious of what I am eating and how much I'm eating. I've felt great this week - lighter and more energetic (though  my sleep hasn't been good for the past week - more on that later).

Also, after 6 weeks of not going to the gym (that number makes me want to cry), I went back yesterday. Although I have been working out - my MMA training plus outdoor walks/jogs - it wasn't the same as being back in the gym. I definitely missed it.

I'm a bit frustrated because I have to take it kinda easy while my wrist is healing, but I was still able to do some weight exercises. I stuck to light weights and focused on form and worked on really going deeper into my moves (e.g. really, really low squats and lunges). I can't wait to get back to my normal self!

In the meantime, the work continues -- every day counts.




Thursday, November 21, 2013

Alignment

A few weeks ago, I was practicing Jiujitsu, and I experienced a terrible stomach cramp during one of the moves. After it eased, I tried the move again, and I experienced the same excruciating pain. It was temporary, but I knew that something was wrong.

Since I thought it was related to my fibroids, when I went to my next acupuncture treatment (that I'm using for pain management for the pain caused by the fibroids) I told my acupuncturist about the stomach cramp.

She examined me, in particular my lower back and my hips, and she discovered that I my general alignment was off. I was slightly leaning more to my right side. The reason this misalignment wasn't causing me direct pain is because I've been kind of leaning to my right (like when I sit and type) for a long time, so my muscles have kind of been 'learning' that type of posture.

She did a bit of IMS (intra-muscular stimulation), which is bloody painful (though only for a few seconds) to try and loosen up my muscles, and she gave me a few exercises to do to help me straighten up my posture.

After a couple of weeks of trying out those exercises, I'm beginning to loosen up a bit and straighten out.

Since she helped me with that problem, when I went to see her on Wednesday, I decided to tell her about my wrist pain. I was sure it was just a sprain although my wrist did look slightly deformed (my bone was jutting out - though I wasn't sure if it was my bone or just that my wrist was a weird shape in general -- that's how bad body image can get!).

It turns out, I wasn't imagining it -- I had dislocated my wrist.

Unfortunately, I waited so long to tell her or anyone about it that my muscles have kind of stiffened in that position, so she was not able to immediately pop it back into place. She's working on loosening up my muscles. I hope that she'll be able to pop it back in after just one more session. It's rather painful.

The thing that I've learned from going for acupuncture treatment as well as a bit of physiotherapy is that muscle memory really matters. I've always thought about muscle memory in a positive way (keep doing certain movements and you'll start to do them automatically - with weight lifting and with MMA training). However, these treatment sessions have made me realize that it works the other way too.

The repeated actions of sitting leaning a certain way or even just crossing my left leg over my right, has resulted in the development of my muscles in a certain way.

The reason why we're working on my spinal alignment as a result of a stomach cramp is because having my back straighter and my muscles properly balanced will take pressure off my body. This will in turn reduce some of the pressure around my abdominal area -- which is already cramped up because of my fibroids.

It was really interesting. I think I've always had fairly good posture, but I know it can improve. So now I'm really paying attention to how I sit and stand. I find myself automatically leaning to the right, but now I can correct it so that my shoulders are more square instead of lopsided.

Every little effort helps!





Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Earning my Yellow Belt

On Sunday November 10, 2013, I tested for my Kajukenbo yellow belt.

I had been preparing for this for a while, but after our break from training in October (when I believed I was ready to test), I felt nervous. I had been practicing, but I wondered, was I ready? I knew what I had to do, but would I be able to perform? All the doubts that I mentioned in my post 'Use it or Lose it' earlier this month came to mind again.

I was told on Tuesday the week before that I would be tested on the 10th. After that, the nerves really started to set in. Again, I knew that I was physically ready, but mentally ... well, that's where I was really tested.

I few weeks ago I wrote a post about why I decided to train in martial arts. Although I was interested in the physical challenge, what I really wanted out of my training was a development of my mental strength.

I wanted to be able to face my fears.
I wanted to be able to believe in myself enough to know that I could defend myself -- that I would fight for my life.

A few months ago when we practiced our first 'surprise attack', I practically collapsed. I panicked inside so much that I just didn't have the will to fight. I was ready to give in. (My full post about my experience is here.)

Slowly through training and a lot of self-analysis and self-discovery, I found a different type of strength and confidence. (See posts: 'Fighting it Out' & 'Why Fight').

Getting back to the test:

Stilling my mind before the test was SO difficult. I tried to relax my breathing. I tried to focus on the fact that I physically knew what to do - so there was no logical reason for me not to do well. My mind was filled with so many thoughts, my heart was pounding, my stomach was feeling queasy.

However, when I stood up to start, I was ready.

I just went into another zone and I got to it.

Fitness drills, Kajukenbo exercise/form drills - one after another, again and again.

To help me practice my actual self-defense techniques, 3 yellow belts from the men's team came (I am so thankful that they came to help me with my test). They would throw certain punches, and I was supposed to fight back -- and by fight back I don't mean mock punches. I mean really punch them, strike them, kick them, and take them down.

Having that authenticity really helped me because I could really go for it. It was then that I realized how much more of a reflex it was becoming versus movements that I had to stop and think about. That really felt like an accomplishment.

The real test for me started when we did the back grabs ... and then the dreaded surprise attack.

What I told myself was -- focus on what you know, not on what you don't know.

You know how to react.
You know what to do.
You know your body.
You need to stay in control.

It wasn't about an unknown person coming from an unknown area at an unknown time.

Focusing on my strengths is what helped me go through.

The surprise attacks were harsh. The guys did not go easy on me, but I fought back.

It was after that segment of the test that I felt really happy.
At that point I felt like regardless of the belt, I had achieved something great.

Going from not being able to even believe I was worthy enough to defend myself to actually doing it with conviction --- that was priceless to me.

I barely remember anything else.

However, I do know that when my coach told me that he believed I really earned my belt, I felt proud, and I felt like, 'Yes, I have earned this.' 

It was really something.

Now -- on to working towards the purple belt!



Taking off my white belt for the last time, wiping the sweat of my hard work on my belt, and doing my final salute


My coach retiring the white belt; blessing the yellow belt; putting the yellow belt on me --- 
it's official :)


I have a yellow belt in Kajukenbo!


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Collateral Damage

Consequences. Consequences. Consequences.


I'm trying to wade through the consequences of everything that has been happening lately. Some good, some not so good. When one thing has happened, something else has suffered. So even though there have been many positive developments, there has also been quite a bit of collateral damage.

#1: I've been busy & we've had out of town visitors
I don't even remember the last time I posted. All I know is that it's been a while, and I'm so embarrassed that it has taken me so long to actually sit down and write a post. Another set of visitors from London came to Kuwait to visit. It was really lovely having them over.

Collateral damage: My routine!!! Ugh. I swear it feels like I've had no steady routine since before the summer. This was the 3rd set of visitors we've had from abroad and as much fun as it has been, not having some sort of structured schedule has really made me anxious.

Collateral damage: My food and exercise. I've still been exercising regularly, but not as vigorously as before. Plus there have been a few too many rest days because I have felt like I really, really needed the sleep. Late nights and early mornings are not a healthy combination. As for food, well, I did the best I could, but eating out really does not suit me at all!


#2: I traveled
I took a short trip to Dubai. It was a lot of fun catching up with friends and just getting out of Kuwait for a bit. Plus, even though I've been to Dubai before, I never really did any touristy things. This time we went dune bashing, camel riding, and ATV-ing over dunes in the desert. Plus we went to the top (well, 125 floors up) of Burj Khalifa (tallest building in the world). Quite a sight indeed!



No matter how many times I saw the tower, I was mesmerized. 
Burj Khalifa, Dubai, UAE 



The camel & I -- this was after my camel ride (it was really bumpy!) 
I felt a bit bad for the camel, but we had a bit of a cuddle afterwards :) 
Dubai 2013


Collateral damage: The socializing and touring was accompanied by one too many indulgences that have shown up on the scale. It was definitely alarming (especially at how quickly I could break my routine, scary!). The good thing is that since I've been back I've been a lot more careful and the weight is already steadily starting to come off.


#3: Being sick
I know I fell sick in October -- and guess what? I have yet to have 1 cough-free day. I'm still bloody coughing.

Collateral damage: I'm annoyed and I feel shitty. I really don't want to go back to the doctor, but the way I've been feeling these past few days --- it looks like I'll be making an appointment soon. It's really terrible.


#4: Injuring my wrist
My right wrist has been really sensitive for about a month now. Twisting, turning, and squeezing movements are really painful. Other things, like punching, are not. I don't know what it is. I really hope it heals soon, but I may have to go see a doctor for this as well -- blah.

Collateral damage: I've been away from weights for over a month. Aside from one CrossFit workout in between, I haven't been lifting weights. Let me tell you, I can feel the impact! I feel like my body shape is just starting to fall apart. I need to get back into the weight room quick! I've been doing exercises like squats, push-ups, and other body weight exercises at home --- but it's not the same as lifting weights. Fingers crossed I can make it to the gym on Thursday.


So that's pretty much what's been going on with me. Tomorrow will be a much more positive post. For now, I just wanted to catch up!


Monday, November 4, 2013

Now not Later

This morning I had a few hours to finally get some errands done (including 4 loads of laundry!!). As I was putting things away, I found myself getting distracted and planning for things that I didn't need to focus on until a later date (e.g. worrying about what I was going to wear to work NEXT week). That's when I had to stop myself and take a step back to reassess what I was doing.

I feel like I have so much going on in my life, but it's all things that I want to be involved in. I know the one way to make the most out of my day is to be more focused with how I spend my time. I know that I spend a lot of my time doing busy work. I need to be more efficient.

This attitude needs to translate into my workouts as well. The risk of taking on too many activities, even if I have the actual time for it, is that I get worn out. There really isn't any point paying for a class, attending, but only giving 60% effort -- and still leaving the class feeling exhausted.

One of the things that I've done, and this may sound strange to some, is that I've made rest a priority for me. In fact, on my monthly goal checklist, I actually have a place to record how many hours of sleep I'm getting a night.

For those of who have followed my blog for a while, you know that I have struggled with insomnia - sometimes only getting 2-3 hours of sleep a night.

Once I increased the intensity of my workouts (particularly through CrossFit) and I cleaned up my eating (no more unnecessary sugars and preservatives), I started sleeping much better.

Now I've found that if I don't get my rest, then I really struggle to complete my workouts. That's not to say that I won't workout if I've only gotten 4 or 5 hours of sleep. It's just that sleep is more of a priority for me, and it makes a huge difference in how well I complete my exercises.

So even though it may fee like a waste of time to sleep (that's the way I used to think before), I have found that investing that time to rest and recuperate is important because I can be more efficient and effective in my exercises.

Being efficient with my exercise is important too. I know that when I go to the gym to lift weights, I have to make sure that I'm lifting enough to challenge me and really stimulate my muscles. However, I also have to think about what other workouts I have planned for the day (or the next day) to gauge how much to push.

I used to spend a LOT of time on my schedule - figuring out when to do what exercises, how much to lift, how much time I was going to spend on my workouts ... Now, I still plan, but I try not to get distracted.

My main focus is to get my exercise done every single day. If I spend too much time trying to figure out the technicalities (should I do 8 reps today or 12), then I waste time, feel rushed, and end up not enjoying my workout and feeling stressed.

There's no point to that. Now I try to just get to the gym and start -- after that, the details will fall into place.



Sunday, November 3, 2013

Use it or Lose it

It's been 3 weeks since I've been to the gym. I've been doing my workouts at home, going for walks, or attending Jiujitsu class. My general endurance and stamina levels are fine. My strength, however, is another story.

Going to CrossFit last week showed me that I had lost muscle strength. I think I may have pushed just a little too hard - thinking that I could lift the same way that I did when I was lifting regularly. Three weeks of no lifting at all definitely had an impact on my strength.

It didn't take me long to realize that I was living proof of 'use it or lose it' -- I had definitely lost it.

The same realization came to me again at Kajukenbo tonight.

We haven't had Kajukenbo class for a month now. Although I have done some practice at home, and I've been going over some of the drills in my head, it wasn't until I got to class today and we practiced the moves that I realized how slow I had become. My moves were garbled. My reflexes were non-existant. It was difficult to face that reality, and believe me, getting your ass kicked (literally) over and over again is a quick jolt back to reality. It feels like I have a lot of work to do to get back to the level I was at before.

--- both for Kajukenbo and for my weight lifting.

The good news is that it's not an impossible task. All I have to do is get back to it and start practicing!




Saturday, November 2, 2013

HIIT with Ray Elbe


I've been going to a Brazilian Jiujitsu class run by MMA fighter Ray Elbe. In addition to Jiujitsu, he runs a combat fitness class for women on Fridays. 

Yesterday, I decided to check it out. 

Mind Games
I really enjoy trying new things, especially when it comes to different exercise classes. However, just because I enjoy it, doesn't mean I don't feel nervous before trying something new out. I feel apprehensive about my performance. I wonder what the other people in the class are going to be like. I wonder whether or not I'll be able to do the exercises. Worst of all, I feel really self-conscious. 

It always feels like no matter what I do or how much I work, I end up being the biggest one in class. After losing 33 kg (72 lbs) and still being the heaviest girl in class -- trust me, it's a hard pill to swallow. I feel like I always look like the girl who doesn't try or the girl who doesn't really care about being healthy or fit. It's tough. Getting over that mental hurdle and actually going is a huge battle that I continue to struggle with. 

Still, I show up.  I really don't know what it is in me that actually gets me through the door. I surprise myself each time I go. Even though I can't pinpoint what it is that drives me, I hope it never disappears and that I continue to show up and try regardless of my fears. 


Physical Fatigue!
There were 5 girls (including me) in the class (and yes, I was the heaviest one). It was basically an HIIT circuit training class - 4 groups of 4 exercises each; we did each exercise for 30 seconds, and 2 rounds of each exercises. So each exercise group would last for 4 minutes. 

Doing 4 minutes of exercise sounds easy, right? Ya right! He really pushed us to give it our all for those 4 minutes. No rest between each 30-second round, just go go go! Rounds 1 and 2 were fine -- then we got to round 3. By the end of that round, I was exhausted! I had to really dig to get through that last round. It was tough. Not only was I tired, but I found those exercises the most physically challenging. 

For me, what helped most was when he kept saying - It's a mental challenge, not a physical one.

This is something that I've seen over and over again. I know it's in my mind -- finding the strength to push through that is tough! I kept hearing his voice saying, don't stop. Don't stop. Don't stop, and I kept trying to stay in the zone and push through. 

In the end, I did the whole circuit. I didn't stop. I didn't give up, and I sure as hell didn't let the fact that I was the heaviest one there interfere with my enthusiasm and determination to make the most of the class. 


Learning to Push Through & Facing Fears
HIIT workouts are so exhausting! Who would have thought that 16 minutes of exercise could leave you so spent. Well, I know through our CrossFit WODs that the duration of the exercise doesn't matter as much as how intensely you perform each exercise. 

What was really great about this circuit was that it was all using body weight. We didn't need much space or any equipment. It just goes to show how you can always get in a good workout at home. You've just got to push yourself. That's definitely where having a trainer, plus a group of others, comes in handy. I know having Ray constantly pushing us to keep moving and keep going faster helped me keep moving and really trying. 

I know that the progress that I have made in the past year and a half with fitness has resulted in facing my fears. The whole task of just showing up to try something new is an example of that. I feel scared. Even now as I type this my heartbeat is quickening a bit because it is frightening. 

The thing is, you really don't know how much you can accomplish until you try. You've got to just somehow find that belief in yourself and go for it. You can tell that I still have hesitations and doubt. A lot of times that belief in myself isn't there - but I'm determined to at least fake it till I make it. 

I know that the only way I'll improve is if I keep showing up and keep trying. I need to remember that it doesn't matter what others are doing, saying, or thinking. What matters is that I keep showing up and giving it my all. Slowly but surely, the results of my efforts will show. 





Friday, November 1, 2013

November Goals

I'm a bit behind posting this because I've been a bit distracted with the end of the Whole Life Challenge. If you have a few minutes, please do take a moment and read my final post on my experience on the challenge this year.

I'm really happy with the progress I made over the past 8 weeks. I had one goal for this challenge: break through the weight plateau that I've been stuck on (I've been +/- 2 kg) for the past 8 months. It's been so frustrating, but I was determined to use this challenge to help me break through it -- and it did!



I'm super-pleased that I finished the challenge with a tied ranking in 1st place. I didn't use any of my bonus points, so I completed it with a perfect score :)



The tough part starts now -- how do I keep up the motivation while not having the challenge to provide parameters for myself? It's strange because it's a virtual challenge anyway. I mean, technically, I could cheat (though I'd just be cheating myself so I don't see any reason to cheat), but I didn't because I wanted to be honest when I logged in my scores. Shouldn't I be able to do the same now? Just because I don't have to log in my scores doesn't mean that I 'need' to break all the rules ...

I guess it comes down to discipline and vigilance now -- along with the answer to 'How bad do I want it?' burning inside me.

Another thing is to focus on goals. October was a bit of a disaster for me in terms of tracking and working towards my goals. I mean, overall I think I had a really successful month. However, it didn't really go according to plan.

I want to be a bit more disciplined for these next two months. Although I don't think I can drop the next 7 kg (15 lb) to hit my goal weight by the end of the year, I will, of course, keep working towards it. Again, my main aim is to end each month lighter than when I started.

November should go relatively smoothly. We've got out of town visitors coming again, but they're only here for a short visit. I've also got a short trip out of Kuwait planned (though not confirmed yet). Aside from that, I should be able to stick to my plans.

My Kajukenbo training restarts from Sunday. It'll be nice to have that anchored in my schedule again. However, my Jiujitsu training schedule is up in the air, so I'm going to have to deal with that uncertainty.

Something else I did in October that I didn't think I could do was that I completed all the quizzes for my Personal Trainer Certification (scoring 100% in all of them -- I'm a nerd; I have to gloat). I've even finished the first part of the final exam. There is one more multiple-choice part as well as 6 essay questions. I definitely need to make some good headway with those.

So, my goals for November are:

1) Weight loss: End the month lighter than what I started
2) Exercise: Complete 35 workouts + 3 yoga long yoga sessions
3) Personal trainer studies: complete part 2 of my final exam + 3 essays
4) Post 2-3 recipes
5) Academic: Work on 1 academic journal article (complete 2,000 words)
6) Home organization: Clear out storage room & organize donation boxes
7) Daily tracking of food, fitness, and finances
8) Sleep: Get a minimum of 6 hours of sleep each night
9) Yoga/STretching: Do at least 15 minutes of yoga/stretching everyday
10) Water intake: 3.5 L daily

I've been bad at linking up with Rebecca's 13 in 13 challenge. This month we're focusing on kindness. I think it's a perfect theme with Thanksgiving approaching! Be kind to others -- and definitely be kind to yourself :)

Thursday, October 31, 2013

October Review

Happy Halloween!!!

Things have been busy over here! I really don't know where the week has gone. I don't even know where the month has gone!! Well, the end of the month is a perfect time to recap what's been going on and take a look at what's in store for November.


October in General
The two biggest challenges of October were my out of town guests and falling ill right after they left. I felt like I never really had control of my schedule. I was tired a lot. My flu progressed to bronchitis; it's 18 days later and I still haven't fully recovered. It's been a pain. I really struggle when I don't have a set plan/schedule. Add the illness to that --- ugh. I've spent most of the month feeling wiped out.

Still, I did try to keep active. Being on the Whole Life Challenge also helped me stay on track in terms of my food, so it hasn't been a total disaster.


My Weight
While I was sick, I really had no appetite. Still, I tried to eat. More importantly, I stuck to the WLC guidelines so that made sure I didn't eat unhealthily. I did drop a few kilos while I was sick. Of course it was great to see those numbers on the scale. However, I was worried that as I regained my strength and my appetite that I would also regain the weight.

I'm happy to say that wasn't the case. My goal of the Whole Life Challenge was to breakthrough a weight plateau that I've been stuck on for 8 months!!! I'm happy to say, that I've managed to do so. I'm weighing the lightest I've been in maybe 15 years ... I'm still not done, but I'm definitely inching closer to my goal.


My Training
My workouts have not been good this month. I haven't been to the gym since October 9th. I have, however, worked out. My workouts have mainly been walks, some home exercises, and jiujitsu practice. It really is all I've been able to manage while recovering from this illness. Even though I'm getting better, I'm still not back to my full training schedule. My bronchitis has lessened, but it's not gone yet. I still feel quite tired. Mentally, I want to go back. Physically, it's been tough.

I miss the weight room and I miss working up a big sweat after an intense HIIT cardio session. However, I'm still thoroughly enjoy ing Brazilian Jiujitsu training. I've been learning a few more intricate moves. It's been exciting!



that's me practicing the guillotine choke


A highlight from this week has been wearing a t-shirt back in July. I really liked it, but I was disappointed when I tried it on (after buying and getting back to my hotel) because I filled it out completely. It looked terrible on me. I shamefully hung it up in my closet thinking that I would never wear the t-shirt comfortably. Since I had lost a few kilos recently, I decided to try on the t-shirt before jiujitsu class last night -- and I was so happy! It was so roomy and comfortable (not baggy or loose, but just really comfortable). I usually don't like wearing men's cut t-shirts (they make me look boxy) but I didn't mind wearing this to class. It felt great. I knew that the numbers have been coming down on the scale, but it wasn't until I wore this that I really felt a physical change (well that and my jeans are now falling).


loving practicing omoplatas & super happy that my omoplata t-shirt finally fits well

I ended off the month with a workout at CrossFit Q8. It was great to be back, but I could really feel the impact of not having lifted weights in 3 weeks. It was tough. Still, as always, I leave the box smiley and sweaty ;)




There's a Halloween party tonight. I checked with the host beforehand about the food that will be served. Even though there are healthy options (gluten free foods, quinoa salad), none of them are Whole Life Challenge compliant. I asked if she would mind if I brought my own food, and she said it wasn't a problem. So it'll be grilled chicken, sweet potato, and some other veggies for my dinner. I've done this several times now. Remember, if your friends care about you, they'll understand and respect your choices -- so take a chance. Be healthy!

I'll be posting my November fitness goals tomorrow.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

What Kind of Person do You Want to Be?

The Whole Life Challenge is winding down, and I've been doing great. Before when I'd log in my scores, I'd get a bit frustrated seeing that I was ranked 4th/10th/12th (depending on the time that I logged in) even though my score was the same as the person ranked in 1st place. It's just the log in order that seemed to be recorded (so on a day that I logged in late, I may be ranked 15th place even though my score was the same as the person in 1st).

This system has now changed. Now, all the people with the same points are ranked the same, so I am now ranked 1st because I have earned the full amount of points possible to this point in the game.

I'm definitely pleased about that. Even though this isn't really a competitive challenge like that, the competitive nature in me comes out. If I'm tied for first, I want to see a 1 next to my name!

Here's something else that's considered in the score -- we have bonus points that we can use. They do not give you surplus points. They're 'banked' so that if you need them, you can use them.

I haven't used any bonus points. I chose not to use any bonus points, partly because I didn't want my ranking to go down.

With this new system, even if you use bonus points, you can still be ranked first because those bonus points go towards your total score.

So let's say I have a score of 500 using no bonus points and another person 'strayed' from the challenge 10 times (e.g. didn't follow the nutritional guidelines 10 times) but used 10 of his bonus points. That person would also have a total score of 500 (instead of 490).

So we'd both be tied for the first place ranking.

This is where I started to over-think things.

I felt a bit frustrated and annoyed at first. How come my ranking is the same as someone who used his bonus points? Technically, I should be ranked higher because I had no faults in my game at all.

I was frustrated because I've been SO sick lately, and despite that illness, I didn't stray from my diet at all, and I even made sure I made the effort to exercise though it was exhausting.

It was my choice, right?

That's what the challenge is ultimately about -- making a choice. The challenge hosts actually encourage us to use our bonus points because that really represents real life. Sometimes things come up ... just because you skipped one day of exercise doesn't mean you've fallen off the healthy bandwagon at all.

I know this, and I fully agree with this. However, I was still annoyed. I felt like my extra effort should be acknowledged in some way -- the fact that I haven't used bonus points at all even though I could have.

So I was whining about this yesterday thinking - man, I've got 18 bonus points, since my ranking won't change, I might as well have some dessert right? (I'm going on my 8th week of no sugar here!!).

That's when I thought to myself -- what is it that I want out of this challenge? With the amount of bonus points I've accumulated, I guess I could pretty much write off this last week of the challenge and 'splurge' a little.

However, that's not in line with my goals at all. I've been doing this challenge because I needed to 'reset' myself. I wanted to see if I could break through the stupid weight loss plateau that I've been struggling with for the past 8 months.

I've made really good progress. I've broken through that plateau (finally), and now I know that I need to keep at it in order to make sure that my improvements stick.

Though the challenge may be temporary, I want the results to be permanent (in terms of moving in the right direction). I want the health and good habits that I've gained through the challenge to be life-long changes. Sure I may have a craving for something sweet, but that's not what I want for myself right now. I'm doing this challenge to see improvements in myself. Cheesecake does not go along with that goal at all.

So even though everyone else at home had frozen yogurt for dessert last night, I had a few pieces of papaya and that was it. I didn't need anything else. The benefits I've gained from the challenge have to do with so much more than just a first place ranking.

There's one week of the challenge left. I've already reached the goal that I had told others I set for myself; however, I set a different goal for me personally and I'm really, really close. I want to end this challenge with a bang. I want to be super-happy and proud when I step on the scale next Saturday and know that I worked hard for 8 weeks straight.

So, I've decided that I want to be the person who gives it her all despite bonus points and rankings. The numbers don't matter in that sense. I'm not a person that is going to give up when I'm so close to the end just because technically I can. I'm going to see this through until the end. There's just one week left.





Thursday, October 24, 2013

Recovering

Thank you so much for your well wishes. I'm still coughing, which totally sucks. It's been 13 days now and I am so over this cold/flu/bronchitis attack or whatever!

In any case, I did start back with a bit more exercise this week. One of my motivating factors was my new pair of Asics running shoes. My former pair is totally worn out though I'm having trouble parting with them. I tested this new pair out on the track near my house. I wasn't able to run, but I managed to walk without too much difficulty in breathing. It's still going to take some time before I"m back to it full force.



I also restarted at Jiujitsu class this week. It felt so good to get back on the mats. Again, I had to take it a little easy, but I survived.

I also restarted my acupuncture treatment for my pain management this week. It's been a long time since I've been for a session. I'm hoping that it'll help ease the pain I've been feeling lately.

I have yet to get back to the weight room. I'm hoping I can hit the weights, even if it's a light workout, on Sunday.

In the meantime, I'm going to stay active but proceed with caution. Slowly but surely, I'm recovering.

Monday, October 21, 2013

MIA

I've been sick.

I started feeling ill about 2 weeks ago, and then it really settled in right after my birthday ... and it continued to get worse until it developed into bronchitis. I had a high fever that I couldn't shake for about 5 days. I was exhausted and doing really poorly.

I'm half way through a course of antibiotics. I'm improving, slowly but surely.

Just wanted to check in. I haven't been online since the 12th.

I'm going to try to go out for a walk today. Lately walking up even 1 flight of stairs has left me breathless for several minutes - it's been really depressing.


Saturday, October 12, 2013

A Year Gained


Im 37 today!

Ironically, for some reason from about January or February this year I got it in my mind that I was already 37so I feel like I gained a year hahaha.

I think in reality, because of sticking to living a healthy lifestyle being active and eating well I feel like I actually have gained a year.

The first thing I did this morning was head to the beach for our Saturday yoga class. It was a great class, and the highlight was being able to do my first solo headstand. It was awesome!



Heres to another year! J