Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Last Day

Today's the last official day of the week long break. I've still got the weekend ahead, but today's the last working day that I have off ... part of me wanted to just chill at home and relax. However, part of me also thought - today's the last day I can get a nice, long, no-rushed workout in before my crazy schedule starts again on Sunday.

I didn't get to the gym till about 8 a.m. I was just going to do a short warm-up and then do weights, but H, one of the trainers who I used to do a bit of boxing/kickboxing training with said he'd put the bag up for me.

He asked me what I wanted to practice, and I told him my roundhouse kicks needed some major work - especially with my left side. I just wasn't getting my foot positioning right or my hips to open up enough. So he stayed and worked with me --- kick after kick after kick ... 1,000 per leg. He held one of the bags against his leg for me to practice -- it was not in a good state after I finished.

Afterwards he told me to kick him - shins, thighs, torso and then arm. Holy shit. His arms were harder than the wall. He is rock solid muscle. My shins were (are) mega-sore!!

So I did that for an hour and half ... for a split second I thought about going home, but then thought, No. I've got time to spend at the gym today. I really should hit the weights since I'm already behind with my training schedule.

I finished Workout A2 of the Fat Loss II program in New Rules of Lifting. The push-presses are definitely challenging, but I felt nice and strong with all the other lifts.

One of the highlights of my day was slipping into a new pair of jeans. I haven't worn this size jean since 1996, and even then I only fit into them for 5-6 months. I've never worn a size smaller ... so that's something to definitely aim towards!!

I spent the rest of the day chillin' with friends, in particular my new little sweetheart Dani - he's one week old :)

Tomorrow's my weigh-in and February reflection post. I'm feeling optimistic. 

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Not Another Change!

I totally freaked out when I found out kickboxing was cancelled for tonight and that my trainer was going on holiday for 2 weeks. TWO WEEKS??!!! {I need to cry a little.}

I woke up this morning thinking that even though it was still a holiday that I was going to get back to my regular routine - morning workouts at the gym; evening workouts at ClubFit. I've got tons of work to take care of in the middle of the day ... so yes, back to my normal routine.

Body Balance was amazing as always. I really needed to stretch my hips out as I think walking/jogging outdoors on the pavement has caused a different type of soreness. Nothing painful, just a bit stiff.

I got home and sat down to get some work done ... and that's when Marc messaged me.

While I'm not in a total panic, I am feeling a little frantic. I cannot go for 2 weeks without any MMA training. Shadowboxing can only take me so far ... I've got to come up with a plan ASAP.

I know on some evenings I can hit the track and work on my running. Perhaps I'll go spinning on the other days ... there are some options, but I'll need some time to figure it out. What a relief that the food aspect is taken care of with the Whole Life Challenge.

I'm trying not to freak out. I'm glad I've learned to roll with the punches a bit more and not totally break down when changes in my routine come up, but I have to admit that I'm kinda getting tired of them.
We'll see what happens.

Today's Workouts
Stretching: Body Balance (1 hour)
Burpees: 100 {challenge total: 2,040/20,130}

Today's Food
Breakfast: Coconut cinnamon paleo pancakes
Lunch: Leftover fisherman's pie
Dinner: Chicken with vegetables
Snacks: 2 dates; a cup of green tea; 1 orange

By the way, I have been updating my Whole Life Challenge blog on a daily basis. I haven't managed to post a VLOG each day, but I'm still posting. If you're interested in updates, you can check out today's post here :) 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Number

Being on holiday has really thrown me off my normal routine, but what the heck, a change in routine is good once in a while. From tomorrow things will start to go back to normal, so I might as well enjoy the bit of extra time to relax and kinda do whatever I want.

Last night was a movie night. I have sat down to watch a movie in quite a while - let alone two movies. The urge to munch on something was high, and the urge to indulge in something sweet was even higher.

I did not give in, but boy was I tempted. What adds to the temptation is that I've got 4 bonus points to use up with the challenge. That basically means if I eat something off plan, it won't take away from my score ... but the thing is, it's not about the number. It's not about having a perfect score. It's about what the score represents. I don't know if that makes sense or not.

I mean the thing with the Whole Life Challenge is that it's a virtual challenge. It's based on an honest reporting of your daily habits. People have said to me - So you can cheat - and all I could think of was, in the end, who am I cheating?

If I eat a chocolate bar and 'cheat' by saying that I had a perfect eating day, who is really affected? You think the organizers of the challenge care? It's me and my body that are affected by the extra sugar, the unnecessary calories, and whatever other preservatives etc. are in the chocolate. So I ask again, who exactly would I be cheating?

When I weighed myself this morning (yes, I weigh myself every morning; it helps me keep things in check) I saw that I had lost 200 grams since yesterday. The amount actually isn't important. What was significant was that it took me into a new weight range.

I had to close my eyes and take a moment.

Yes. It's working. The hard work is paying off. It's tough sometimes, but that's ok. 

Let me tell you, I doubt I will ever get tired of saying - My weight is at an all-time low today. I hope that I can say that every morning, even if it's by 10 grams. It's about working towards moving in the right direction. It's about knowing that what I'm doing is right.

And for those days when the scale doesn't move or shows an unexplained increase, that's when I have to dig even deeper and tell myself - it's ok. Just keep going. There is no reason to stray from the plan.

So yes, the number this morning made me feel good that I didn't munch on anything while watching 2 movies yesterday. The number this morning made me feel ok with not having a special treat for breakfast (even if it was something small like milk in my coffee). Does it sound extreme? Maybe, but for now, I know that this is exactly what I need to be doing.

Today was another no-gym day. Instead I hit the track by my house again and walked for 3 km. I came home and did some burpees - I'm still so behind on my burpee challenge - and then stretched.

Along with my adventures I had my first attempt at making coconut milk and coconut flour. It was time consuming but not difficult.

pure organic coconut flakes 

coconut milk

coconut flour

Finally, a bit of a flashback. My best friend finally sent me some of the official pix from his wedding in Germany (back in October). Here's a collage of me giving the speech & one of a moment of laughter :)

Giving the 'Best Woman's' speech at my best friend's wedding - October 2012 (Berlin, Germany)


Today's Food
Breakfast: Banana + 1 tablespoon of peanut butter + 2 dates
Lunch: Tuna fish, black bean, and avocado salad
Dinner: A whole life challenge-friendly version of Fisherman's pie
Snack: cup of green tea & 1/2 cup of pineapple

Today's Workout
Cardio: 3 km walk
Burpees: 60 {challenge total: 1,940/20,130}
Stretching: 15 minutes

Monday, February 25, 2013


This is a total self-indulgent blog post!

The plan for the day -- shopping with my best friend.

I feel like I haven't had a full day of just fun in a LONG time. I've been busy with work and so focused on making sure I get my training in that my social engagements have kinda been pushed to the side. Even when my friend and I were making plans in my head I was wondering - when will I workout? What will I eat if we're out all day?

I had originally planned on going to the gym early and banging out a mega workout -- instead I ended up sleeping for almost 8 hours! After waking up, I knew that I wasn't going to be able to get in the workout that I wanted, so I switched it up and did a 45 minute at home - mainly conditioning work (skip rope, plank, crunches, squats plus some shadow boxing) and did my 15 minutes of stretching.

With the workout out of the way, I felt much better. I still wasn't sure what I was going to eat, so I had a banana and some peanut butter before leaving the house and kept my fingers crossed that I'd find something that was Whole Life Challenge friendly.

The other 'concern' I had was about the shopping itself. I LOVE to shop, but I've been so focused on my training that I haven't gone shopping in ages. Part of my resistance is that I feel like I'm still between sizes. I've emptied out  more than half my closet since the end of the last Whole Life Challenge (after which I had dropped 4 dress/pant sizes). I haven't replaced all the clothes. I'm kinda 'wearing out' what I have left and trying to make do until I get to the States for a big shopping spree. However, I am struggling. My trousers and skirts are falling and my tops are looking shapeless ... but still, I'm just at the beginning of the Whole Life Challenge - should I buy clothes already?

I weighed myself before going out and was so happy with what I saw (weight-loss update will have to wait until the end of the month but let's just say I'm enjoying waking up each morning and saying - I'm at my new lowest weight!!) that I thought - I definitely deserve some sort of reward. I'm going to buy myself a handbag. No size issue there :)

It ended up being a mega-successful shopping day. The first thing on my list was to buy some sort of storage/shelving unit for my gym stuff. My home office is beginning to look like a locker room! I found something, but it won't be delivered until March 7th, so I'll have to be patient.

Although clothes weren't really on my list, we decided to check out some stuff in Espirit. I found tons of things that I liked (lots on sale!). I didn't go too crazy (2 dresses, 2 skirts, and 4 tops - that's not too crazy, right?), and love what I bought ... but what I loved most of all was asking 'Could I get this in a smaller size please?' I am not wearing the smallest size that I've worn in forever. During my last shopping trip I was picking up XL's when I was down to L's ... and this time I was picking up the L's when I was fitting into mediums - felt great.

For lunch we went to Carluccio's and I enjoyed an amazing vegetarian antipasti as well as their seafood salad. I asked the waiter a bunch of different questions about how the food was prepared and what was in the dressing. He was great about answering my questions and going back to ask the chef for things he wasn't sure about. What a relief - a good meal, and totally clean!

My final treat was something that I had been wanting for a long time -- a Coach handbag. I've just been holding off because I've never found one that I was totally blown away by. There was always something just a little off. Today, however, I found one that I fell in love with -- and this was my reward.

So, it's been a really rewarding day. I had a great time, I totally stayed on plan. I feel relaxed and content. It's been a good, good day :)

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Tap Out or Push Forward?

I woke up around 4 a.m. today to catch the preliminary fights before UFC 157 started at 6. I never thought that I would be so into MMA fighting and the UFC that I would wake up that early on my holiday (especially when I could have just recorded it and watched it at a more normal hour) ... but I wanted to catch it live.

There were some good fights on, some kinda boring ones, and then of course, the first women's UFC fight - Ronda Rousey vs. Liz Carmouche. (Summary of the fight can be found here.)

Rousey and Carmouche square off

Rousey after the win

I was rooting for Rousey. I definitely wish the fight had lasted longer than it did, but in the end, I'm glad she won. There was one point when I thought she was totally going to tap out. Her opponent was on her back, basically almost choking her with her legs wrapped around her face ... all I could think of was - Wow, you really need to dig deep and believe in yourself (or at least tap into some inner stubbornness and/or rage) and say No! I am not giving up. I will fight, and I will win. 

Ronda Rousey

That's what I admire most, not just about this fight, but about fighting in general. It's not just about physical strength, it's about mental strength too. Even when you're getting punched in the face, you've got to believe ... you've got to know that you can survive and push through. That's what I want to achieve.

I'm a bit behind on workout and food updates. Everything is going well. I'm on Day 9 of the Whole Life Challenge already ...

Friday's Workout
3.5 km walk + 15 minutes of stretching

Saturday's Workout
1 1/2 hours of cardio kickboxing + 15 minutes of stretching
60 burpees

Today's Workout
5 km walk/run intervals + 15 minutes of stretching
10 burpees

Click here for today's Whole Life Challenge VLOG & update :) -- My food updates for the past few days are listed in the corresponding days.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Week in Review

This past week has been pretty good. Last Saturday, February 16th, marked the first day of the Whole Life Challenge. It's gone well so far - I've met my targets each day. Although this is not a weight loss challenge, cleaning up your diet as much as I have will inevitably lead to a drop in weight. I'm pleased with the way it's going so far; however, I know my weight fluctuates a lot in a month so I won't mention any weight updates until the end of the month.

I came down with a cold/flu/minor bronchitis this week, so my energy levels have suffered a bit. Still, I managed to workout each day - though just for half an hour on Thursday. I'm seriously slacking in my burpee challenge. I really, really need to get with it! The other thing that I haven't tackled is Week 7 of C25K.

The longer I wait to get it done, the more I dread getting on that treadmill. At the same time, I really want to finish the program. I don't get how I can want something so bad but not go forward with it - what is wrong with me? I need to get to the gym one day and just do it! I've got a few days left of this month. Hopefully I'll get one of the three done.

I wrote two long posts this past week - one about my workout habits and the other about how people in general have been reacting to my weight loss/eating habits/exercise routine. Most of what I was writing about had to do with how other people interpret what I'm doing. I have a few more thoughts on this topic so I'll probably have at least a couple more posts looking at this perspective and more importantly, how it has affected my progress to this date.

I think the main thing to keep in mind is that losing weight and getting healthy is an ongoing process. Even those who have worked hard and reached their goal weight have not suddenly stopped and gone back to eating the way they did 100 pounds (or more) ago. To change our bodies, we have to change our habits; to change our habits, we have to change the way we think and the way we act.

Yes, there is a lot more I have to say about that, but I'll save it for another post.

I hope everyone has had a good week. Less than a week of February left -- how have you been doing in terms of working towards your goals for the year?

Friday, February 22, 2013

Friday Five - Highlights of My Week

Friday Five - hosted by Jessee's Spot

Five Moments from this Week 

1) What I tried for the first time: Core Domination & Destruction 
I had been wanting to try this class for a while. I finally got a chance to try it. While we didn't all the exercises pictured below, the exercises shown are similar to what we did in class. It was brutal & fantastic!

2) What I accomplished this week: I've been studying to become a Specialist in Fitness Nutrition through the International Sports Science Association of America. This week I completed the last of the six quizzes that are part of the requirement - all of which I completed with 100%. Now all I need to do is complete the final exam!

3) What song helped me pick up the pace during my cardio sessions: Raindrops (Encore Une Fois) by Sash! Featuring Stunt

4) What I'm looking forward to most: I've got the whole of next week off as Kuwait celebrates its National & Liberation days. I've got tons to do, but I'm hoping I'll get some down time as well to just chill and hang out with some friends.

The Kuwait Towers at Sunset

5) What Quote Inspired Me:

Different Points of View

Most of my friends do not go to the gym or workout. This makes the whole weight loss thing a lot more difficult.

I know that in the end it is about me and the choices I make. Nobody is forcing me to eat unhealthily, nobody is forcing me to have a big bowl of french fries. It is all up to me. What I am saying is that obviously resisting food has been difficult in the past - if it wasn't, I wouldn't be overweight. So being in situations where people are not struggling (and are eating whatever they want) can be challenging.

Another thing that's frustrating is when people comment about how much I go to the gym, but I haven't lost the weight yet. I see some people look at me skeptically thinking - seriously, you workout 5-6 times a week and you're still overweight? How is that possible?

I've said before that I'm embarrassed to tell people how much I workout because I don't feel like the pounds I've lost reflects the number of hours I've spent working out ... but this is my reality. I do work hard and I try my best when it comes to controlling what I eat and how much I eat.

The thing is, if you've never tried to lose a significant amount of weight (particularly trying to shed that last 30 lbs or so), it isn't easy to understand that it does go beyond just dropping a 200 calories in your daily diet and increasing your daily calorie burn by 300. The math is there. The formulas are there. However, our bodies are different and they react differently. There are all sorts of factors - genetics, metabolism, water intake, stress, sleep etc. etc. I'm not saying it's impossible. I'm just saying, it does go beyond the numbers.

When I get together with my friends, the subject of food/exercise often comes up. I've heard a lot of 'why don't you just ...' advice. For example, 'Why don't you just go on a liquid diet' or 'eat only salads' or 'get liposuction' - yes, somebody actually suggested that.

I really don't understand comments like those. I don't think there are any long-term quick fixes. Does that make sense? I mean, I know there are lots of fad diets that can help you drop quite a bit of weight in a short amount of time, but are they sustainable? I really do want to adopt a lifestyle change where I don't fear food, I can enjoy what I eat, and I am sensible.

The most frustrating thing about trying to lose weight is that the results aren't immediately noticeable. That means that you have to be really, really patient both with yourself and with comments that may come from others.

This is something that has definitely been on my mind since I took my 'Before' pictures for the Whole Life Challenge on Sunday (Feb. 16). I've dropped about 30 kg (65 lbs) since my heaviest and I still have a long way to go.

I'm so glad I'm not in the frame of mind anymore where I would fill myself with self-loathing, furstration, irritation ... basically play the victim. That type of mentality doesn't help at all.

I'm frustrated, but I'm not giving up. Instead of letting the frustration weigh me down I'm using it to fuel my fire. I want to succeed. I will work to succeed, and more importantly, I will not do things that will prevent me from succeeding.

It's taken a while to get used to the different points of view and the different types of advice/suggestions people throw your way ... but now I know that I am strong. I just listen, smile, and do what I have to do.

Be patient. Be persistent. Stick to your plan!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Resting when Rest is Needed

This morning when I woke up I knew there was no way I was going to hit the gym for my weights workout. I had coughed through most of the night and didn't feel well rested at all. I needed to rest, so I stayed home and rested. I was so glad that today marked the start of a 10-day holiday for me (Kuwait's National & Liberation Day celebrations) though of course it was an annoying way to start a holiday ... still, I had the opportunity to rest, so I did (not the sign of an exercise addict, right?).

I started to feel a bit better in the afternoon, and thought maybe, just maybe I can go to the Core class. By 5 p.m. I realized that I would be pushing it if I went. At that moment I decided - ok, get up - do something at home. I grabbed the Bosu ball and my foam roller and got to it. One of the requirements of the Whole Life Challenge is to do a minimum of 10 minutes of stretching/mobility exercises a day and 10 minutes of something active. I knew I could bang out at least 20 minutes.

I got it done - nothing too strenuous - just enough to get my body moving, work up a bit of a sweat, do some great stretching.

I felt good after that, followed by a hot shower ... and what made me feel even better was that after getting out of the shower I got a message from Marc saying that the Core class was cancelled - yay! So I didn't miss out and would have probably had to do a workout at home anyway! :)

I haven't had much appetite for the past 2 days but I'm trying to force myself to eat 3 meals just so that I make sure I'm still nourishing myself. Today didn't go too well - kinda skipped lunch - but I'm working' on it.

Yesterday's Workout
MMA training: Cardio Kickboxing (1 hour)
Stretching: 15 minutes post-workout
Burpees: 30

Today's Workout
General workout: 15 minutes Bosu ball workout
Stretching: 15 minutes

Yesterday's Food
Breakfast: 1 banana and 2 tablespoons of peanut butter
Lunch: 3 omelet muffins & 1/2 avocado
Dinner: Baked salmon & steamed veggies
Snacks: 4 dates, 1 orange, green tea

Today's Food
Breakfast: 1 banana and 1 tablespoon of peanut butter
Lunch: grazed on some raw nuts, had a few dates, had some hummus
Dinner: grilled chicken
Snacks: 3 cups of green tea

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Exercise: Affection or Addiction

I recently got a few messages and emails stating a 'concern' (some sounded like criticism) about me exercising too much. I've even gotten this from my family. Mentions of being an exercise addict and suffering from exercise bulimia have been brought up ... I thought I'd address these 'concern's in this post.

I love working out. 

I've always enjoyed exercising and trying new physical activities. I haven't been good at them, but I've tried. It's my eating habits that have been all over the charts.

There was a time, around 7 years back, when I would hardly eat anything (maybe consume 500-600 calories a day) and would exercise desperately trying to shed weight.

That formula didn't last.

Then I started counted calories (but not watching what type of calories I was eating) and tried to burn off all those calories and get into a negative calorie for the day -- eat 1,000 calories, burn 1,200 calories. Then one day I fainted in the gym locker room.

I've starved myself - eating 2-3 apples a day - and not exercised at all. That, also, was not a smart move.

... and yes, I've binged and purged. In fact, I've hardly eaten (like just a plain salad) and then purged.

It was sick. I was sick.

For me, my main issue was with food. I just didn't know how to eat right. I wasn't getting the balance right, and worst of all, I was impatient. I wanted to just eat salads for a week and expect that my weight would drop and my body would finally be the shape I wanted it to be.

Of course that's not reality.

It took me a while to get to where I am now:
Phase 1: Exercising so that I could eat (Exercising regularly, but still eating crap and not caring about quantities)
Phase 2: Exercising regularly and limiting my portions, but still not watching what I ate
Phase 3: Exercising regularly, limiting my portions, and cleaning up my food a little
Phase 4: Exercising regularly, increasing my portions a little, and cleaning up my food a lot
Phase 5: (Where I think I am now) Exercising regularly, eating reasonable portions, and eating clean a LOT more

The one thing that has been consistent is my exercises, but not losing weight goes to show that without eating properly, all my hours at the gym didn't make a difference at all.

People are different. D exercises 3 times a week for an hour, he has cleaned up his eating a lot, but he'll still have a small dessert after dinner each night; he'll eat some bread and some cheese; he'll enjoy some pasta once in a while -- and he continues to lose weight consistently each week.

That doesn't work for me. It's a fact. No need to complain. I just need to accept it and move on.

What's more is that I know I need a combination of exercise & eating healthy. There are some people I know who can cut calories and drop weight without ever stepping into the gym. That does not work for me.

As I said, people are different.

I think some concern has come up because of me being cranky when I don't get to go to the gym and because I'm working out even though I'm not feeling well at all.

Yes, this could be the signs of an addict, but I'm not addicted, and here's where the difference lies.

  • If I'm tired, I will rest. 
  • If I'm really ill, I won't workout.
  • I don't workout with the same intensity at every single workout. Sometimes my workout will be a 1/2 hour walk, whereas other times it will be 20 minutes of HIIT, or 2 hours of cardio and weight lifting ... it depends on how much time I have and how much energy I have. 
  • I don't exercise solely to burn calories; I exercise because it makes me feel healthy, strong, and confident
  • I don't exercise to balance out my food; I exercise and I eat. I don't compare the calories between the two. If I'm doing both right, then I am being healthy (and I think the weight loss will occur naturally)

There are a few things that may not be 'normal' for everyone, but these things have become part of who I am right now:

  • Not getting to the gym does make me cranky - not because I have an irrational fear that I will gain weight because I missed 1 or 2 workouts. I get cranky because I didn't get my way ;) If I wanted to go to the gym but something came up, that would irritate me - but I won't skip something important because I had to go to the gym. By exercising regularly, I know that missing  a few workouts won't be the end of the world.
  • I do schedule a lot of things, particularly social events, around my gym schedule. First I have my work schedule, then I have my gym schedule. Then comes everything else. I don't socialize as much as I did before, but I still see my friends. I do arrange our meetings around my workouts, not because they're not important, but because right now, working out and reaching a healthy weight is a top priority. I have to make certain sacrifices. 
  • Sometimes exercising when I'm not feeling well -- I think I've improved in this area. When I'm tired, I'll modify my workout. If I'm sick (like my bronchitis in January), I won't workout (I took 12 days off!!). If I'm injured, I won't workout - or at least I won't stress the injured part of my body. However, there are times, like now when I have the sniffles, when I'll push through. I don't feel like I'm unwell enough to not workout. I'm not feeling 100% but I can still workout ... and since I can do it, why miss it? 

My exercise routine right now is quite packed. I try to hit the gym in the mornings at least 3 times a week, and I try to get in an evening workout 5-6 times a week. While this looks like I'm working out 9 times a week, I should make it clear that I do different types of workouts at different times. I workout the way I do because this is what suits my schedule and my interests at the moment. I want to do MMA training - those classes are in the evening. I want to do weight training, but if I'm doing MMA in the evening, then I have to hit the gym in the mornings. You get the picture.

The bottom line:

I love to exercise. Exercising makes me happy, healthy, and confident -- how can you not do something that has such positive results?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Core Domination and Destruction


My nose is still stuffy; my throat is still sore. I must have used 100 tissues today - so bloody annoying. I'm just relieved that it's all kinda staying in my head region - no cough or respiratory problems. Whew.

Today's aim for my morning workout - just do something, even if it's a slow walk on the treadmill.

I did a 10 minute warm-up and then decided that I'd give Workout B of the NROL Fat Burn II program a go. I knew that if I missed it, then it would be really tough for me to complete this phase of workouts before leaving for the States in March.

Me getting ready to do the Bulgarian split squats w/push press - tough stuff!

The workout was tough. I made the mistake of not reviewing the exercises before getting to the gym, so I wasn't 100% sure about what some of the exercise moves involved - not good planning on my part. It definitely added to the toughness of the workout, I guess coz' I wasn't fully concentrating/focusing. Anyway. I only managed to complete 4 out of the 6 exercises of the day (deadlifts, push-ups, pull-ups, and Bulgarian split squats with a push press -- tough!!). I could have pushed through and completed the last 2 exercises, but I felt tired so I decided to use the last 15-20 minutes to just stretch.

Work was exhausting mainly because it's the last day before my students' big test tomorrow so we had a lot of material to review and I had 100s of questions to answer (literally 100s).

I came home to no lunch being prepared -- well, D suggested that we have the leftovers from yesterday, which I thought I'd have for lunch today, as dinner today, so there was nothing ready for lunch. Without thinking too much I just grabbed a fillet of salmon out of the freezer and put it in the oven - a dash of olive oil, some lemon, salt, and pepper - 30 minutes later, and it was done. I was fed.

I wanted to sleep a bit in the afternoon, but I couldn't so I just rested.

The big question - do I go to Core FX tonight? That's the class I wanted to try on Sunday but didn't make it coz' of my stupid sniffles.

So, I texted LJ to see if she would make it ... no response from her. Then 45 minutes before class I texted her again saying that I assumed she wasn't going (and was held up at work hence no response) so I'd just stay home and rest.

At 5:30 she texted me saying she was going (her phone had died so she couldn't reply earlier). I was torn. I had just made up my mind to stay at home and relax ... plus, would I really make it to class by 6:00? It takes at least 20 minutes to get there, not to mention getting ready (plus who knows about traffic). I asked her what she thought I should do (especially coz' some classes just don't work if you come in late) - and she said Come.

So I flew!

Luckily the class that was in the studio beforehand was running late, so I didn't miss any of the class at all (got there by 6:10).


The class was basically circuit training - abs, weights, cardio, medicine ball stuff, burpees w/deadlifts, steps with shoulder presses ... I tell you, I had not worked up that intense of a sweat for that duration of time in AGES.

It was so tough, but so awesome! It was just LJ and I plus Marc our trainer. He had a blast torturing us -   dominating us - which led to the change of class name from Core FX to Core Domination (and then I later added Destruction) -- he totally pushed us and it felt great.

Ironically, while I was working out, I didn't have any sniffles or anything like that. My throat was a bit dry, but other than that, no signs of illness.

In the beginning Marc did yell at me (yes, yell). He was like, "Who says you're sick? Who put it in your head you're sick? I don't believe in illness." So I yelled back - I'm here, aren't I? lol -- it was a nice little banter and energy boost for me.

So, I survived my first Core Domination & Destruction class.

I'd love to make it to the class at least twice a week. Let's see how it works out.

Today's Workout
Weights: NROL Fat Burn II Workout B1 (1 hour)
Stretching: 15 minutes
General workout: Core Domination & Destruction circuit training (1 hour)
Burpees: 20

Today's Food
Breakfast: 2 omelet 'muffin's & 1/2 avocado
Lunch: Baked salmon with some tomato
Dinner: Same as yesterday - a whole life challenge friendly version of Shepherd's pie
Snacks: 4 dates, 1 cup of green tea

Clic here for today's Whole Life Challenge VLOG & update :)

Monday, February 18, 2013


Ok. Instead of taking you through my day, I'm just gonna start backwards.

I just got back from kickboxing class. I went even though I still am not feeling 100%. However, since it's mainly just a sore throat - no sniffling, sneezing, coughing etc - I thought, this is ok. I can suck it up and just go through with it.

Plus, LJ, the other girl who goes to kickboxing class, sent me a message earlier asking if I was going to be there. At that point I still wasn't sure, but since I left her on her own for yesterday's class, I really wanted to make an effort to go there.

Working out in a small group definitely gives me an extra push.

Groups are great because you establish a rapport. You also have a bit more accountability - like if you skip a class, the trainer and your partners are there to ask you why and tell you off it it's not a good excuse (all in the name of wanting the best for you of course). Anyway.

What I didn't know is that LJ got held up at work and I was the only one in class -- my first one-on-one training session with Marc. Boy did he work me hard! It was great. We went straight through the hour with just 3 1-min rest breaks -- worked on all the punches, elbows (love 'em), knees, and kicks as well as self-defense. The hour flew by!

I felt fine except for a bit of extra dryness in my throat.

So glad (as usual) that I made it to the class.

The rest of my day was fine. A bit tiring - lecturing for 3 hours with a sore throat is not fun.

Hoping for an early night tonight - definitely need some rest.

Today's Workout
MMA training: cardio kickboxing (1 hour)
Stretching: 15 minutes

Today's Food
Breakfast: 2 omelet 'muffins' & 1/2 avocado
Lunch: leftover veggies from last night's dinner & 1 omelet 'muffin'
Dinner: a whole life challenge friendly version of Shepherd's pie
Snacks: 1 banana, 3 dates, 1 cup of green tea

Click here for today's Whole Life Challenge VLOG & update :)

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Pouting, Crying, Laughing, and Pouting again

When I returned to Kuwait in 2000 after living in the States, I lived at home for a while. Since my mom didn't drive, I would drive her to work in the mornings. Just before dropping her off, I would hold her hand and kind of 'whine' to her and say, 'Mom, I don't wanna go to school' - mimicking my middle school/high school days (incidentally, she's an English professor at the university as well) - and she would say, me neither.

As much as I love teaching, there are definitely some days when I don't wanna go to school! Today was one of them (most Sundays are!) ... I wasn't nearly as prepared as I had wanted to be for the week. I mean I was in terms of my lesson plans, but I wasn't in terms of preparing what to wear, packing up my gym bag, fixing my lunch etc. etc. Makes me wonder, what was I doing yesterday?!

In any case, I somehow collected myself and managed to get out the door. I didn't have time to make my omelet muffins so I improvised and boiled an egg, sliced half an avocado, and half a red bell pepper - drizzled a bit of olive oil over it and sprinkled some salt & pepper. It looked primitive, but it was going to have to do for my post-workout breakfast.

the view from the treadmill this morning - gorgeous day - Feb. 17, 2013

The first thing I did at the gym was complete the baseline workout for the Whole Life Challenge. The purpose of this workout is to complete it again at the end of the 8 weeks and measure our improvement.  The workout was 11 minutes: complete an 800m run, 50 crunches, 75 squats, and 100 push-ups, then burpees in any time remaining.

Needless to say, there was no time remaining for me. I only made it through the 56th push-up.

There's room for improvement.

After I did this workout I went down to the free weights area to start my new weights program. This one is called the Fat Burn II workout (still part of New Rules of Lifting). The program is 4 weeks long which is perfect because I leave for the States in 4 weeks. If I stick to my schedule and not skip any workouts, I should be able to complete it before I leave.

The workout wasn't bad (3 sets of 12 reps): front squats, push presses, wide grip rows, dynamic lunges, and two new exercises that I had never done before: supine hip extension with leg curl and upper body Russian twist:

supine hip extension with leg curl

upper body Russian twist

I really liked the supine hip extension - it felt great.

Here's where the pouting began
After I finished my workout, I started to feel a bit nauseous and worn out. I took 15 minutes to stretch out really well and then headed to the showers.

By the time I got ready for work, I felt really yucky. My head was all foggy and my throat started to feel sore. I was so tempted to just ditch work and go home.

However, since my students have their first big writing test on Wednesday, I really wanted to be there to make sure they got enough time to ask questions and prepare for the test. So, I went to work ... but I had to cut class a bit short because I could barely stand.

I got home, had lunch (leftovers from last night - could barely swallow) and then went to bed.

Here's where the crying began
I woke up after about an hour and felt worse - dizzy and mega sore throat. Ok, I didn't really cry, but I did tear up because I DIDN'T WANT TO BE SICK!! What the hell? I wanted to try a new workout this evening, and I knew that with the way I was feeling, it would be foolish to go. Still, I wanted to go ... I was so darn cranky. To some it may sound insane or unreasonable, but I love being at the gym. It makes me feel good. It makes me feel like I'm really putting in the effort to achieving my goals - not just wishing and hoping. I truly feel miserable (and guilty and like a slacker and lazy) when I miss/skip a workout (for whatever reason).

Here's where the laughing began
D tried to get me to be reasonable and recognize that feeling so stuffed up and dizzy to the point where driving would be dangerous is a sure sign that I should not go to workout ... "Besides you worked out for almost 2 hours this morning. Do you realize that some people don't even do that in an entire week?" I had to laugh (a little).

Here's where the pouting began again 
Ya, ya - listen to your body, rest so that you can come back stronger, blah, blah, blah.
I know.
I (kinda) agree.
I still rested, but that doesn't mean I'm happy about it.

I'm still pouting, but I'm hoping that resting today and tomorrow morning will have me ready to kick ass at tomorrow night's kickboxing class.

Today's Workout
General: WLC baseline test
Weights: NROL Fat Burn II: Workout A1
Stretching: 15 minutes

Today's Food
Breakfast: Boiled egg with 1/2 avocado & 1/2 red bell pepper
Lunch: White fish with sweet potato & 2 tablespoons of hummus
Snack: 1/4 cup cashews, 2 dates, a cup of green tea

Click here for today's Whole Life Challenge VLOG & update :)

Saturday, February 16, 2013

How It's Been Going

I had every intention on doing a kind of 'week in review' on Saturdays - mainly so that I can keep track of how the past week went and make sure that I know what to focus on (give more attention to) in the upcoming week.

Honestly, things have been so busy for the past two weeks that it kinda feels like I've just been barely managing to post something on the blog and that's about it.

Today marks the first day of the Whole Life Challenge. For more details on what it involves, you can read an old blog post of mine here - everything is pretty much the same this year except that the point values are different. The nutritional guidelines, the main thing for me, are the same.

Nothing I did/ate was really any different from how I've been eating for the past several months now. The main thing is that I'll be extra careful over the next 8 weeks - though I guess I should be extra careful in any case. My main goal for the challenge is to break through this damn plateau that I feel like I've hit again. I know being more focused and vigilant is what I need to do. Being part of the challenge helps.

My workouts have been going quite well. I'm still working on adjusting to the changes in my schedule. I plan on trying out a new class called Core FX. It's supposed to be really tough. My kickboxing coach leads that class, and I know he'll be anxious to torture me (in a good way of course). I told him about the challenge, and he's seen how hard I've been working, so he's quite supportive and enthusiastic about helping me reach my goals.

I've been slacking at posting my daily foods and workouts like I had been doing for the past week or so, but I'm back on it today.

Quick mid-February update: 
1) Cardio sessions: 4/10 complete
2) MMA training: 9/15 complete
3) Weight training 6/10 complete
4) Flexibility focus: 3/4 complete
5) Nutrition quizzes: 3/3 complete {yay!! Plus I scored 100% in each one - I love being a nerd!}
6) Burpee count this month: 730 {challenge total to date: 1,730/20,013}

Overall I'm not doing too bad. I hope that I can complete hit the rest of my targets; over half of February is already over!

Today's Workouts
MMA training: 1 hour cardio kickboxing at ClubFit
Burpees: 60 {challenge total: 1,730/20,013}

Today's Food
Breakfast: Omelet muffin with 1/2 avocado
Lunch: Tuna fish and bell pepper salad
Dinner: White fish with sweet potato and peas
Snack: 2 dates and a cup of green tea

Click here for today's Whole Life Challenge VLOG & update :)

Friday, February 15, 2013

Friday Five

I saw this idea on Pam's blog over at Empty Nest - it's Friday Five, hosted by Jessee's Spot. Since the end of the week gets rather hectic for me and blogging gets a bit challenging, I thought it would be a perfect way to round up the week.

Five Moments from this Week

1) What I Watched: I watched Top Chef Masters for the first time, and I really enjoyed it (though I thought the hostess, Kelly Choi was terrible). I'm so impressed with their creativity and skill! I love Hubert Keller

2) What I Ate: My last meal before the start of the Whole Life Challenge was sushi. I enjoyed some delicious maki rolls and made peace with the fact that there will be no more sushi for at least the next 8 weeks.

3) What Made Me Smile: I hadn't expected this extra bit of attention and affection from the Starbucks Barista. It was sweet :)

4) What I'm Working On: I just finished the break-in phase to this weight lifting program, so I'm working on organizing my routine for the following phase.

5) What Quote Inspired Me: 

Getting Sorted

The Whole Life Challenge begins tomorrow! I'm quite excited. I think it's just what I need to give me that push I need at the moment. Although I've been doing quite well since the end of the last challenge, I know I could have been doing better. The WLC is happening at just the right time.

This morning I enjoyed my last cup of coffee at Starbucks. I used to be a regular coffee drinker (with skim milk and Splenda) before the Whole Life Challenge. I liked my coffee milky and sweet, so instead of trying to do without the milk and sweetener, I just gave up the coffee. Now I just have a cup of green tea once in a while, and very occasionally a black coffee. This morning, however, I indulged in some Starbucks coffee.

D arrived from NYC this morning and brought me back some goodies! I can't wait to try them out in kickboxing class tomorrow.

He also got me my first foam roller - can't wait to put this to use :)

Today was a relatively easy day - just chilled, did 100 burpees as my workout of the day, and enjoyed some sushi as my last meal before the WLC begins. I talk a bit about menu planning/organizing my food for the week in today's video blog.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Bits and Pieces

After many, many, many years of self-loathing, rock-bottom self-esteem, and just general dislike of myself and a lot of things around me, I'm finally starting to come around. The change in perspective has been uplifting and rewarding. I still have a lot of work to do, but I'm getting better.

I've realized that I used to be stuck in a cycle of negativity. Now, I'm working on a cycle of positivity -- I don't let the amount of work that's left to be done overwhelm me. Instead I look inside myself and realize that I have the strength to work towards those goals. I have the discipline; I have the ability. I don't find the hard work frustrating or irritating (though I do get impatient sometimes, of course). It's a challenge. With each success, I feel stronger mentally, physically, and emotionally ... thus the cycle of positivity continues. (At least this is what I'm attempting!)

I've had a good day.

I wasn't sure what type of workout to do this morning, so I went to and took a look at what had been posted there. My left knee has been a bit sore for the past 3 days so I didn't want to do any running. I ended up doing the workout Jackie. It was my first attempt:

1 km row
50 thrusters (20 kg/45 lb bar)
30 pull ups (I used the assisted pull-up machine so that I can do proper ones)

The entire workout took just under 9 minutes (I think it would have been less if I had all the equipment in one place, but my gym isn't set up that way). I read that some people completed the workout in about 6 minutes! Wow! Anyway.

I was amazed at how high my heart rate got to. Just 9 minutes of exercise, albeit intense exercise, and I was dripping with sweat and out of breath.

I started my physiotherapy exercises - basically leg extensions - to help alleviate some of the pressure from my knee. I think the step-ups that I did on Tuesday aggravated my knee. Perhaps it was too high ... anyway, it already feels a bit better. Not wearing heels to work today also helped!

Afterwards I did 100 burpees coz' I'm really, really behind.

I had a chill day today; enjoyed the beautiful weather, got a lot of unexpected extra attention and affection from friends (even my trainer greeted me with flowers this morning!). It was lovely.

On a not so romantic note, I started to tackle "the room" that has all the stuff in it ... wow, what a task, but boy did it feel great to get that stuff sorted. Also, because I'm a little crazy (and nervous about being so behind on my burpees) I did another 50 burpees at home, making today's grand total 150! :)

And finally -- I just uploaded my first video log!! I feel like such a dork, hahaha, but I wanted to do something different as I record my progress through the Whole Life Challenge. You can check it out here if you want.

My regular posting of daily exercise & daily food will start from Saturday again. I've been on track with my meals and workouts but yesterday this arrived from D:

It was a lovely surprise. I really didn't expect it, especially since he's still in NYC (but will be back tomorrow!) Although it's all fruit, there were some chocolate covered banana slices, and I tried them. Yum! I've never tried that combination before. There were also a few dates covered with dark chocolate and nuts. Dangerously good. I had 2 and had to stop myself from devouring the rest! I'm really looking forward to being back on the Whole Life Challenge. I need it!

Hope everyone had a lovely, love-filled day :)

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Some Changes

The past few days have been a bit chaotic over here. There have been some changes to my routine, and as much as I've been trying to be flexible and just go with the flow, sometimes it really does just throw me off balance and I need a moment (or a few days) to figure out how I'm going to proceed.

So let's start with some big news.

Eating Habits
From September to November of last year I participated in an 8-week challenge called the Whole Life Challenge. I recorded my whole experience here. If you just read the last post of the 8-week phase, you can see that I had great results through the challenge.

The Whole Life Challenge is being run again, and I'll be participating again. It starts soon - February 16th, and I can't wait.

There are many reasons why I'll be doing this challenge again, but you can read about it on my other blog. Actually -- that's something else I'll be changing. This time I'm going to try something new and post a video log on my Whole Life Challenge blog site. We'll see how that goes. I've never done it before, but I thought it would be a nice change.

Exercise Routine
The biggest change is that I'm no longer going to my Taekwondo & Jiujitsu classes. There are several reasons for this ... first of all, I wasn't really interested in learning Taekwondo. I was mainly attending the class because the BJJ class was included with the TKD. The BJJ class was only around 20 minutes long, so it seemed a waste driving a total of 40 minutes for a 20 minute class. I also did not like working out in a Gi at all. It was uncomfortable plus I wasn't learning BJJ to participate in any competitions. Rather I wanted to learn the technique - if you're on the ground, how do you get out of that vulnerable position? In reality if that ever happened, a no-Gi situation is more realistic. There's a bit of other drama going on there too, but I'm going to leave that off my blog and just stick to these reasons.

I'm a bit bummed because I do want to continue with Jiujitsu training so I need to figure out how to go about doing that.

I'm also a bit frantic now because I now have 3 evenings free! Free time?! What in the world do I do with that?! In my mind, actually, it's not 'free time' - rather I see it as missing 3 workouts, and that makes me really anxious!

So, on Sunday I didn't do anything, but on Tuesday (yesterday) I went to RPM class. I'm not sure what I'll do on Thursday. I have to admit it is kinda nice having some time to spare in the evenings because before every single night was taken up by my workouts. I know I workout in the mornings so it's not like I'm not exercising on those days ... but still. I have just been getting so into MMA training that I don't want to give any part of it up.

In any case, I think the next week or so may be filled with some impromptu evening exercises/exercise classes until I can figure out exactly what to do.

Morning cardio & weights workouts are continuing (I'll be starting a new phase of New Rules of Lifting soon since I just finished the break in phase); Cardio kickboxing classes are continuing 3 times a week; I've got Zumba once a week, and Body Balance once a week ... so overall, it's not too bad. It's just about making peace with these changes and moving forward with a plan that will help me reach my goals.

On the Blogging Front
I'm blogging through a new account now, but if everything has been set up right, then my blog posts should still show up on your readers and still read the same ... At least that's what I'm hoping. We'll see how it goes.

Now I've got a proper email linked to this account: -- so you can contact me if you wish :)

Other Stuff
Work: The grading is piling up and it SUCKS!!
Home: I had a bunch of stuff that needs sorting. Instead of having it in different rooms in the apartment, I've put all the stuff that needs sorting in one room. Now that room is such a MESS that I don't even want to go in it, hahaha. The rest of the flat, however, looks terrific!
Academic: Making slow/steady progress here, but I need to sit down and really get some proper writing done
Health: I'm really, really happy with how the acupuncture has been helping with my pain management. It's made such a difference to my day. What a relief!

I didn't do a week in review for last week, nor have I been posting my workouts & food since Friday I think. Everything's been fine. I've just been a bit too distracted to sit down and properly blog.

Although things aren't the way I'd like them to be right now, they're alright.

I'm going to keep workin' it out :)

me muckin' around with my computer's camera - February 12, 2013

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Break In Phase Complete

Today I completed the Break In Phase of New Rules of Lifting.

Since I stopped doing CrossFit, mainly because of scheduling issues, I knew I needed to get into some sort of weight lifting routine. I had terrific success with the New Rules of Lifting for Women program. My confidence and strength both grew as I stuck it out for all 8 phases of the program (it took months - you can read about my progress here).

I had initially planned on restarting NROL4W, but then decided to just try the regular New Rules of Lifting. It doesn't specifically say that the program is for men (though it does have a picture of a man on the cover). In any case, I thought I'd give it a go, especially since D said he's also do the program.

I started the Break In Phase on January 13th and ended today, February 12th.

This phase involved alternating between two workouts - Workout A & Workout B - for a total of 12 sessions (so 6 sessions per workout).

This is how I did:

2 sets x 15 reps
Break in phase

Starting Weight
Ending Weight
Workout A
January 13, 2013
February 12, 2013
30 kg (66 lbs)
65 kg (143 lbs)
Static lunge w/bar
20 kg (44 lbs)
55 kg (121 lbs)
Two point dumbbell row; elbow out
7 ½ kg (16.5 lbs)
20 kg (44 lbs)
Push-up (20)
Swiss ball crunch (20)

2 sets x 15 reps

Starting Weight
Ending Weight
Workout B
January 13, 2013
February 12, 2013
40 kg (88 lbs)
65 kg (143 lbs)
Step up
6 kg (13.2 lbs)/hand; 16 inch step
8 kg (17.6 lbs)/hand; 20 inch step
Dumbbell one arm shoulder press
7 ½ kg (16.5 lbs)
12 ½ kg (27.5 lbs)
Close grip lat pull
20 kg (44 lbs)
41 kg (90.2 lbs)
Reverse crunch (20)

I'm quite pleased with my progress over the past month. I know that I can lift heavier, but doing each set for 15 reps added an extra challenge. I was particularly happy with my final weights for the dumbbell rows (I actually did manage to go up to 22.5 kg (49.5 lbs), but it wasn't part of this workout) as well as my one arm shoulder press.

I've found that my left arm is a bit weaker than my right arm -- though ironically I feel like I use my left hand/arm more -- I carry my bag on that side and usually carry all the groceries with just my left hand. Strange that it is weaker. The last 2-3 reps of certain exercises, like the shoulder press, were definitely tough, but I pushed through them.

One of the things that I love most about this program is the way they have it set up. Since I successfully completed NROL4W, I knew that if I gave it time and followed the plan, I would be successful at the Break In Phase. When I started I didn't set any particular goals in terms of what weight I wanted to end up lifting, but I knew I wanted to see progress ... and I definitely made progress!

In addition to getting stronger, I have also seen a change in my body shape. My back and shoulders are much leaner and muscular (not bulky). It feels great.

I'll be continuing with NROL though I may take 3-4 days to do some other lifting (focus on heavier weight and few reps; I'd also like to try and hit at least 1 or 2 PRs). I'll keep you posted.