Saturday, March 30, 2013


This morning I weighed in at my lightest weight that I can ever recall ... and it put me at a solid 30 kg (65 lb) loss since I started taking losing weight and getting healthy seriously. I've only got 10 kg (22 lbs) left until I hit my goal weight -- it's so close - so very, very close. I just have to make sure I stay focused and disciplined. It would be easy to kinda rush the process but cutting my calories drastically, but that's not the point of my efforts. I will continue eating well and exercising hard and hope that I can continue to push forward and lose that 10 kg within this year.

I'm very happy.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Friday Five

I'm back! I've actually been back for a while now but I just haven't been able to bring myself to blog or get on the computer. I figure Friday Five is the best way to kinda catch up on what's been going on with me lately.

1) My Dallas trip - Flying to the States for only 5 days was quite a long journey to make. Still, the conference was really good and my presentation went well. I got to meet up with some friends -- including a friend of mine that I hadn't seen in 23 years (yes, that's right, 23!!!). We were separated during the 1990/1991 Gulf invasion/war ... and thanks to Facebook we were able to reconnect. Since he lived in Dallas he came to visit me. You'd think that after 23 years we'd struggle to find anything to talk about, but the 2 hours we spent together were great! It was quite a treat :)

I went to the gym only once while I was there, but I walked outdoors every single day. It was nice to take advantage of the fresh air and at least some greener/scenery - a good change from Kuwait.

I managed to stay on target with the Whole Life Challenge on all the days except for the last day which is when I was traveling back to Kuwait - no way to properly plan - a 10 hour flight, a 14 hour layover, followed by another 6 hour flight. I didn't eat badly (though I did have a slice of carrot cake in London when I was catching up with a friend; didn't finish it though coz' it wasn't that good) but I didn't follow the plan exactly. The challenge is about being aware of the choices you are making. Given the circumstances, I did the best I could.

Me in Dallas, TX (March 2013)

On my first day I ordered an egg white and spinach omelet (it came with mushrooms and tomatoes); when I asked them not to bring any bread they surprised me with 3 bananas! The bananas were my breakfast for the following 3 days :)

2) General Thoughts about Eating - There were 2 days in Dallas where I ate badly ... badly in the sense that because I wanted to stay on track I only had a banana and 2 dates plus maybe a handful of nuts all day; on one of those days I also had a plain grilled piece of salmon. I felt sick.

It was stupid of me to do that. I know the purpose of the challenge is not to starve yourself because that's not healthy. Still, I couldn't bring myself to eat anything that was off plan. It was stubbornness and stupidness on my part. I should have eaten.

Food = fuel. No food = no fuel = crankiness, dizziness, and general yuckiness!

As I said, it wasn't smart.

As soon as I got home I got back on track. Cleaner than clean eating; making sure I ate properly and ate to fuel my body. It's been much better.

However, before I got to that point, I hit a really low point. (This is kinda linked to #3.) I don't know if it was jet lag, the long travel, getting my period, or the general depression that I was feeling, but my body felt sick. My body felt hungry and starved for energy. I couldn't really put my finger on it and that's when I decided that I needed to eat something and I mean really eat something -- not a binge, not a treat, just food that I wanted.

By the way, upon returning from my trip, I weighed myself the morning I arrived and saw that I had gained 3 kg (6.5 lbs). Again, I don't know if it's because of all the factors I mentioned above, but those were the facts and it pissed me off. Could one day of bad eating really have caused that gain?

I went through a really frustrating few days. I was just feeling off ... and that's when I ate. That morning I had a coffee (with milk); I had an omelet for breakfast, a salad for lunch, another salad for dinner, but then I had 2 mini sliders, including the bread, plus I had a brownie for dessert. (The foods I underlined are the ones that weren't whole life challenge friendly)

I didn't feel guilty about it at all. In fact, I really enjoyed my meals and I felt good. It really felt like that was what I needed.

When I woke up the next day, I felt great. I think part of my funk was low blood sugar and general low blood pressure. In any case, after I ate that meal, I felt really good and I was ready to attack the last 3 weeks of the Whole Life Challenge.

Since that day I've been totally on point. I've lost the 3 kg; in fact, I've lost 4.5 kg (10 lbs).

 One of my latest salad creations - featuring grilled chicken, baked tomatoes, and French beans -- recipe coming soon, I promise!

3) My Mental State - I have not been in a good state mentally. I really feel like I've been in quite a funk since the end of February when my kickboxing trainer went on vacation. Without a routine and with a 10-day holiday, I just didn't seem to be able to find my own footing. I was exercising daily, and I was sticking to the Whole Life Challenge, but my body wasn't responding ... and for sure my mind wasn't focused at all. There were a lot of things going on in my mind - partly to do with negative self-image, stress about what to do with my training, stress about my upcoming trip, wondering what to do next with work ... and then most of all, an upcoming 'anniversary' of a really traumatic event in my past. I don't like to give the date any significance and I try not to think about it ... but inevitably it seems like around this time of year, my mind really takes over my body and I just start to shut down. My insomnia was back. My stress levels were through the roof. My anxiety was out of control.

I was miserable. I really do think that was part of my weight gain. Not that I was eating out of misery - in fact, I didn't touch a single thing during even my worst bouts of depression. I exercised daily and I ate right ... but my body just seemed to be holding on to my fat - perhaps as a type of insulation against all that shit that was surrounding me.

I don't know. All I know is that once things started settling down in my mind, the weight started to come off and I was feeling lighter - lighter in the sense of no burden on my shoulders as well as physically lighter.

I think sometimes it just happens that way.

4) Getting Back into It - I landed in Kuwait at 7 a.m. on Thursday (March 21), came home from the airport, showered, changed, and went straight to work to teach my 10 a.m. class. That day I was totally shattered, but I made sure not to nap. My main task was to go to the grocery store and make sure my fridge was restocked with all the necessities. I did my minimum 10 minutes of stretching and 10 minutes of workout as needed by the challenge and that was it.

I thought that I the jet lag would really drag me down (given that I was dealing with an 8-hour difference) but I think I've just been so crazy busy lately that I didn't suffer from any jet lag at all!

Here's what I've been doing:

Friday: 3 km walk
Saturday: 1 hour yoga on the beach; 1 hour spinning class
Sunday: cardio, MMA training, & weights in the morning; 1 hour spinning class in the evening
Monday: 100 burpees plus other conditioning exercises in the morning; CrossFit in the evening (yes, I restarted CrossFit)
Tuesday: cardio, MMA training, & weights in the morning; 1 hour spinning class in the evening
Wednesday: Day 2 of Week 7 of C25K which means 26 minutes straight of running (felt awesome!!!); CrossFit in the evening
Thursday: cardio, MMA training, & weights in the morning; 1 hour spinning class in the evening
Friday (today): 2 hour outdoor bootcamp (featuring yoga, Zumba, core/conditioning exercises, and some fitness challenges)

So as you can see, I have been BUSY and I feel great. The exercise has helped elevate my mood and of course it's also helped me drop the weight. I actually wasn't exercising to lose the weight. I was just enjoying getting back into a routine and being active. I'm feeling much, much better. Whew!

Here are a few fitness pix from throughout the week:

MMA training - working on my elbows and right crosses & testing out my new UFC 4 oz. gloves - love them!!

I was very proud of my 3 sets of 10 reps of 50 kg (110 lb) front squats

Tire Flips at CrossFit Q8 (so good to be back!)

My prep for this morning's boot camp & a few pix from the workout (that's me in the front with the light purple top - shakin' my ass!) :) 

5) My Goal in terms of Moving Forward: 

(I'll be visiting your blogs and commenting soon!!)

Monday, March 18, 2013

Motivation Monday

It's no secret that the past two to three weeks have really been a struggle for me. I just felt bogged down with a lot of stuff and found myself kinda going through the motions and doing things that I felt I 'had' to do versus really wanting to do them.

In the end, I told myself it doesn't matter. I have to think about what I REALLY want - and that is to get healthy and lose weight. I know that I've made a lot of progress recently, but I still have a long, long way to go. I do not want to move backwards (though my scale has hated me this week). Still, regardless of what happens, I know I need to stay focused, patient, and determined.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

48 Things Friday - but posted on a Sunday

I stole this idea from Amanda and Norma's blog

1. Were you named after anyone? No
2. When was the last time you cried? March 13, 2013 :(
3. Do you like your handwriting? Yes, though not when I'm frustrated and grading papers; that's when the red ink on my students' papers look like someone possessed has scrawled all over them ;) 
4. What is your favorite lunch meat? None
5. Do you have kids? No
6. If you were another person, would you be friends with you? Yes :)
7. Do you use sarcasm a lot? No, not a lot
8. Do you still have your tonsils? Yes
9. Would you bungee jump? Yes
10. What is your favorite cereal? I don't eat cereal, so none
11. Do you untie your shoes when you take them off? Yes
12. Do you think you are strong? Yes (finally!!)
13. What is your favorite ice cream? Belgian chocolate by Haagen Daaz
14. What is the first thing you notice about people? Their smile
15. Red or pink? Both, though I marginally prefer pink
16. What is the least favorite thing about yourself? Physically my abdominal region; Emotionally - I'm too sensitive and I take things too personally
17. Who do you miss the most? My mom - Kuwait isn't the same without her here
18. What is the technique that you need to work on the most? In general - my procrastination; gotta stop! Physically - my push-ups and pull-ups
19. What color shoes are you wearing? Black Reebok sneakers with a hit of lime green and turquoise
20. What was the last thing you ate? Tuna fish salad (bell peppers, tomato, lettuce, walnuts, and olive oil)
21. What are you listening to right now? Wasted Years by Maroon 5 (iPod is on suffle)
22. If you were a crayon, what color would you be? Dark purple
23. Favorite smells? Carolina Herrara perfume (the classic one) & Eternity for Men by Calvin Klein (yum!); freshly brewed coffee
24. How important are your political views to you? Quite important, but I tend to keep them to myself
25. Mountain hideaway or beach house? Beach house
26. Favorite sports to watch? UFC, American football, soccer, baseball (though I prefer live than on TV)
27. Hair color? Dark, dark brown
28. Eye color? Dark brown
29. Do you wear contacts? Yes
30. Favorite food? Baked salmon and sweet potato
31. Scary movies or happy endings? Happy endings
32. Last movie you watched? Red Belt
33. What color shirt are you wearing? Black
34. Summer or winter? Summer (though I would actually prefer spring/fall)
35. Favorite dessert? Brownie a la mode -- you get both the chocolate & the ice cream
36. Strength training or cardio? Both though I love strength training more
37. Computer or television? Computer
38. What book are you reading now? Got Fight by Forrest Griffin
39. What is on your mouse pad? Plain grey at home; Purple at work
40. Favorite sound? Good music or silence or when I'm in Bangladesh, the sound of my grandmother cooking in the kitchen
41. Favorite genre of music? I like everything! Rock, alternative, hip-hop, house, Latin ...
42. What is the farthest you have been from home? El Calafate, Argentina
43. Do you have a special talent? No
44. Where were you born? Kuwait (but I'm from Bangladesh)
45. Where are you living now? Kuwait
46. What color is your house? White, blue, and beige
47. What color is your car? They say it's champagne colored; to me it just looks like sand (I really wanted a black car, but in Kuwait's heat, it's just not practical!)
48. Do you like answering 48 questions? I would have preferred 50 ;)

Saturday, March 16, 2013


It's 9:00 a.m. on March 14th, 2013. My flight was supposed to depart for London at 8:45 a.m., but obviously it's delayed. The new departure time is 10:30 a.m., so right now I'm sitting in the lounge catching up on commenting on some blogs and also scheduling a few blog posts for while I'm away on this trip.

I've got quite a few drafts of blog posts that I've written over the past several months. For most of them I've forgotten what the post was about. I decided to have a look, so I cliked on this post 'Confidence' -- before writing anything, I took a look at what I had already written (back in September 2012). So much of it is actually relevant to how I've been feeling recently (negative, cranky, frustrated). There are two links that I referred to within the post. I'm so glad I clicked over to them because they were good reminders of how far I've come and that even though I have a long way to go - I can do it.

One of the links refers to my time in Mexico when I was invited to deliver my first keynote speech at a conference. That's quite relevant for me now as I'm getting ready to give another big talk in a few days in Dallas, TX.

In any case, I thought this was a good post to finally publish now. It does worry me that I still have so many of the same concerns - will they ever go away? At the same time, I hope that in a few months time I'll be able to look back at this post and think once again -- look at how far I've come.

September 2012
There are some days (many days) when I just feel blah. It all starts with having to get ready to leave the house. Whether I'm going to work, to the gym, to a friend's house, or just to run errands, figuring out what to wear is a pain ... because I still have issues with how I look. The reason why I take so long to get ready is because I don't like what I see. I feel fat in everything. I'm fiddle with my clothes a lot - not because they don't fit - but because I just can't seem to accept the way they look on me. I feel like people stare at me and think, 'She really should have stayed indoors.'

It's really tough to struggle with inner voices that cut you up into little pieces (and then the inner, inner thoughts that are jealous of those little pieces and say - you'll never be that small - you'll always be chunky pieces) ... see what I mean! It's hard to stop those voices.

I made a major breakthrough after my PhD defense and came to a realization in Mexico that I think was really important to understanding myself more. It's these small moments that I hope will help me reach the big changes that I desire. I recognize that these voices are negative and bad. They're not helping me achieve my goals. Yet I cannot deny that they are there. They won't simply disappear with the snap of my fingers. Still, I think acknowledging that they are there and that they are unhealthy is a good first step. The other major accomplishment is recognizing that I deserve more/better ... and that I'm strong enough to reach those goals, no matter how long this discovery process may take.

I think the next step is to tackle these negative voices. I'm pleased that they do not happen as often as before, but they still happen - and I need them to stop. Part of this is linked to behavior. If I want to stop feeling/being fat, then I've got to stop acting in ways that will keep me fat - e.g. eating crap and skipping the gym. It's simple. There's no point in whining about not losing weight when I've just behaved in a way that sabotaged myself by eating crap.

Positive Thoughts + Positive Actions = Positive Outcomes

This is something I have to do for myself. Even if every person in the world said something positive about me, it wouldn't matter unless I believed it for myself. This belief is what I hope to gain over the next six weeks.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Jet Lag

The journey that was only supposed to take 26 hours door-to-door ended up taking 36 hours! Exhausted is an understatement!

Everything was smooth until Chicago -- I had a 3 hour layover. Plenty of time, right? Well, not with only 2 border control officers out of 68 counters working to process around 800 passengers. It was the worst immigration experience I've ever had. Standing in line, watching the clock tick, realizing that I was going to miss my flight was torture. Still, there was nothing I could do.

I have to say, the British Airways & American Airlines staff were incredible. I was sorted with a hotel for the night and a $50 voucher for food.

My flight was at 6:30 am which meant I'd have to catch the 4 am shuttle. I barely slept coz I was too tense about missing my flight.

Anyway. The journey is over.

I showered and changed then decided to take a walk and explore the neighborhood. I then spent the next 5 hours shopping :) I'm actually just trying to stay awake until 8 pm and doing whatever I can to stay awake. The jet lag really does feel like torture.

I haven't had anything to eat all day. There was nothing I could eat at the mall. I was too tired to try to think of modifications and I knew I didn't want to break my Whole life challenge nutrition ... so no food yet. I'll eat something soon.

And then I'll sleep ... I can't wait! :)

Friday Five - Things I travel with

Friday Five - hosted by Jessee's spot!

There used to be a time when I would pack my gym clothes in my suiticase, thinking/hoping/believing that I would exercise while traveling ... a lot of times, it didn't happen.

Now, however, my gym gear is the first thing to go into my suitcase. It's not always easy to get a workout in, and there have been many times when I have not been able to do the workout that I planned, but just like at home, you can always do an 'in-hotel room' workout. Even if you don't have a lot of space, you can do squats, lunges, tricep dips, etc.

For today's Friday Five, I'm listing 5 fitness related things I always travel with:

1) My jump rope: Usually a hotel will have a gym with enough space to practice skipping.

 2) My Reebok sneakers: To be honest, these aren't the best sneakers for running, but they are one of my most comfortable and they are very light - something that is important to consider when traveling.

3) My iPod nano and headphones. I can't travel or workout without music, so this is a BIG must have!

4) A workout routine: I've found that having a list of exercises that you can do in your hotel room can help stay on track because you really don't have an excuse. Circuits are definitely the easiest thing to do. I don't always follow the same routine - it depends on how much space I've got as well as what time I'm working out. I really don't want to disturb my hotel neighbors by jumping up and down at 5:00 a.m.! Here's a good list to follow.

5) A small gym bag: This may seem superficial and unnecessary, but there have been quite a few times when I wanted to go down to the gym and I just had too many different things to carry - my water bottle, hotel key, towel (just in case they don't have one at the gym); iPod, phone, jump rope ... you get the picture. So now packing a small bag is a must for me. It's just so convenient and easy now!

I sometimes take my heart rate monitor as well, but it's not a must for each trip.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Here We Go

I woke up at 4 a.m. in order to get my mobilization and workout done to meet my Whole Life Challenge daily requirement. I know it sounds obsessive, but to me, it was definitely dedication. I have no idea how things are going to go in terms of me staying on track with the Whole Life Challenge, but I know that I'll do my best. My updates on the WLC haven't been as consistent as it was the first time around, but I have still been tracking my food and my workouts. You can read about it here if you'd like.

So I worked out and showered this morning, not rushing, but definitely moving quickly because I was leaving for the airport at 6 a.m. As I was getting ready, I got an email saying that my flight was delayed by 2 hours. Normally I would not panic. It's inconvenient, but there's really nothing I could do about it (I don't get people who get angry at airport/airline personnel - there's nothing that can be done to bring the plane in faster!!) anyway. The only reason I did feel panicked this morning was because I only had a 1 hour layover ... which means that I would miss my connecting flight out of London. I was not happy about that at all. It was already bad enough that I would be arriving at my destination at 11:30 p.m. (new city, late night - not a good combination) but now ... what was going to happen?

Anyway. Everything got sorted out at the airport. I've been rerouted and the connections are not bad. I am arriving later than originally planned, but still, I'll get to where I need to be (and hopefully I'll get there safely).

If I take into consideration check-in time, transit time, and flying time, my journey involves 28 hours of travel (not including immigration, getting my luggage, and getting to the hotel). Ya, it's going to be an exhausting day! \

Hopefully I'll get a chance to blog over the next few days, but just in case I'll have a few posts scheduled.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Changing My Mind

I went out with some friends a few days back. As usual, my exercise habits and eating changes came up. Somebody asked me how long I was going to keep it up for and whether I would stop exercising and eating right once I reached  my goal weight.

To be honest, this question bewildered me. Why would I stop doing something that was working for me?

Before I could respond, another friend of mine said - 'This is her lifestyle now.'

It made me happy to hear that. Yes, it is my lifestyle now.

I exercise regularly and I love it. 
I eat healthy and I enjoy it. 
These are things that I don't plan on ever changing. 

There are, however, times when things get a bit frantic. In fact, looking back at my blog posts over the past few months it seems like things are frantic quite regularly - things always seem to come up. I guess this is the good part of it being a lifestyle. The good habits are part of my routine. I'm not always be able to execute them perfectly, but I know that I'll try and that they are part of my life. The panic of not being able to do the workout that I had planned on doing is slowly subsiding. There's always exercise that I can do at home. It's always about making the best effort in whatever situation you're in.

That being said, the past three weeks have been tough for me. I thought I'd be ok without my regular gym routine, but it hasn't worked so well for me. It's actually not the physical aspect of the workouts that have been problematic - it's the mental one.

My mind is stuck.

I know that this frustration is stemming from a whole host of other stresses - work, my upcoming conference, old memories haunting me, people hurting my feelings or pissing me off ... it's all been happening one after another for the past 3 weeks and I'm totally mentally exhausted.

My workouts have been consistent, but I haven't been enthusiastic, and I know that I haven't given 100% (I hate that).

My food has been 'fine', but I haven't been eating cleaner than clean (which is what I wanted) or even eating regularly at all (grazing on nuts, a tablespoon of peanut butter to get me through the afternoon etc.). Even if my food is clean, I do not believe this is representative of healthy eating.

My sleep has been fine, though I've been restless on many nights and have had nightmares on others. I'm tense, and I feel it in my sleep.

This just goes to show, you can have good habits, but it doesn't mean that they're always healthy -- whether you like it or not, even more has to change.

I wonder what it's going to take for me to get out of this mental slump. I've been so annoyed and irritated. Of course none of my recent habits is helping me lose any weight. I've been gaining and losing the same half kilo (1 pound) for almost 3 weeks now. I know it doesn't seem like much, but it's on my mind. Perhaps I'm just latching on to it because that's what I tend to do when I'm stressed - find something to obsess over to distract me from 'real' issues ... and yes, I do know what the issues are, but I don't feel like dealing with them right now. I don't have the energy to deal with them right now.

Perhaps this trip is coming at the best time for me. It'll give me a chance to get away from it all and come back jet-lagged, but hopefully refreshed too and in a better mood. We'll see.

The bottom line: Regardless of your mood, there's no excuse to sabotage yourself. Don't eat junk (it'll just make you feel worse) and do some exercise. More often than not, it will make you feel better.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Powering Through

Things have been so hectic for me lately, I really don't feel like myself. I feel like I'm just going through the motions of my day. It's not a good feeling. Still, I'm pushing through. No other choice, right?

Sunday, March 10, 2013

One of those days

When you were a kid, did you ever wake up the morning after your weekend ended, get ready to go to school, only to realize that you had completely forgotten about the homework you were assigned to complete over the weekend?

That was me this morning.

No workout for me as I sat down at my desk at 5:30 a.m., scrambling to get a stack of marking done before class. It totally slipped my mind.

The rest of the day has been filled with work and some pre-travel chaos. I'm really stressing over my upcoming presentation. The thing is, I have so much other stuff that needs to get done too. In any case, I've got my to-do list. I'm just trying to strike things off it one by one.

I did the bare minimum when it came to exercise today -- 100 burpees plus 10 minutes of stretching. With everything that's on my list of things to do, this may just be the best I can do for the next few days. We'll see. 

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Week in Review

This week has been a tough one in terms of getting over a mental funk that I feel like I've been wading in for the past ten days. I know a lot of it has to do with my change in routine - although I've been exercising daily, eating clean, and getting plenty of sleep, I haven't felt like myself. My mood has been off. I've been cranky and kinda sad/dejected.

The problem is, I haven't learned how to just focus on one problem and solution. Instead, one thing goes wrong and I seem to spiral into a pit of negativity that involves not feeling good about myself, not feeling wanted or appreciated by others, and just generally feeling out of place.

It's been one of those weeks where because I want to eat healthy but don't really care about cooking I'll just eat plain tuna from the can. That's what I did for lunch today. Tuna straight from a can. Half way into it I added a bit of mustard but other than that, it was plain tuna - food as fuel, right?

I know this is temporary. I'll definitely get over it. The quote that Norma posted today helped me put a few things in perspective:

"I don't believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can't find them, make them." (George Bernard Shaw)

So this week, I'm going to either find the circumstances that work for me or I'm going to make them!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Friday Five - Week in Review

Friday Five - hosted by Jessee's Spot

1) What I tried for the first time this week: A Yoga Headstand - with assistance :)
You can read about my first Yoga on the Beach experience here.

2) Where I went this week: My friend Ghadah had the opening of her art show this week.

The two of us at her show.

A close up of my heels - love them, though they are not the most comfortable to walk in!

One of my favorite pieces of the night - The Release

3) What I wore throughout the week: Dropping down another size means a few new outfits. I wore a new outfit to work each day this week. I'm not sure all the styles suited me, but I tried them out.

I never thought I'd wear a dress that was entirely green -- well, I did, and it was actually quite well received! (Espirit)

I bought this green top last week, but the trousers were bought about two months ago, though it was the first day I was wearing them. The trousers were way too long and baggy. After coming home from work I put them straight in the charity bag. They were not comfortable at all! 
(Top: Espirit; Trousers: GAP)

This was such a spring outfit! I loved both the top and the skirt, but I was wearing a tank top underneath that was too big so I didn't feel like the top sat right on me. 
(Top & Skirt from Espirit)

This is a dress that I bought over a year ago, but again, it was the first day I wore it. I never thought I'd wear a print like this. It was actually ok, though I did feel a bit self-conscious about it. Still, it was really comfortable. 
(Dress from Monsoon)

4) What I'm excited and relieved about: My upcoming travel to the States has me feeling quite nervous in terms of sticking to my exercise and eating routine, plus continuing with the Whole Life Challenge! However, today I decided to look up the hotel and I was really thrilled to find something they offered called Lifestyle Cuisine Plus. They cater to all sorts of dietary modifications. I'm hoping that they can help me pack a lunch to take with me to the conference - that would really be amazing. I was pretty sure I'd have some options, but seeing that I have so many makes me feel much, much better!

5) What Quote Inspired Me: I've been in a bit of a funk this week. I've really had to dig deep every day and just keep putting one foot in front of the other. I wholeheartedly believe in pushing forward, but I also think it's ok to step back once in a while and take a moment to breathe, to grieve, to cry, to scream ... but then just get back and keep fighting.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

A Smile and a Thing I Love

I had a mini-photo shoot with a friend of mine who is an artist. She's starting an Instagram series (#asmileandathingilove) featuring portraits of people with something they love. I had the honor of being her first portrait. It was the highlight of my day. Here's the pic :)

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

An Unexpected Surprise

Okay, there are actually a number of things going on. I was going to start on a kind of negative/frustrated note, but something unexpected happened so I'm going to start with that.

The Unexpected Surprise
I had no plan for the gym today. I normally do Body Balance on Wednesday mornings, but because Marko is on vacation I won't be doing the class for a while. Since I was in a funky mood (more on that later) I told myself, just workout for an hour - regardless of what type of workout/how intense.

I got on the treadmill set out to walk for half an hour. After warming up for 5 minutes I felt like I was ready to jog. So I started jogging --- ten minutes later I was still jogging ... 15 minutes later I was still jogging! Seriously?! I haven't done this in a months! At that point, I knew what I had to do - finish Day 1 of Week 7 of C25K! I wasn't listening to the program, but I knew what the day involved - 5 min warm-up, 20 minute run; 3 min walk; 5 min run; cool down with a 5 minute walk.

So I did it. The only thing I did differently was walk for 1 min between the 2 run groups and cooled down with a 4 minute walk.

The important thing is that I did the run. I felt good during the run. It wasn't fast, but it was a steady pace. My heart rate stayed at just about 162 (it used to go up to 178!!) so I was pleased with that. When I was done I didn't feel breathless. I felt really good.

What a relief.

The Frustration
When I weighed myself this morning (yes, I weigh myself every morning - not to be obsessive, just to keep myself on track). My weight seems to fluctuate so much throughout the month/week. After my Saturday weigh-in, I was up a pound. Today I'm down half a pound.

I know the daily weigh-in shouldn't (doesn't) mean a lot, but seeing the numbers fluctuate this way does  make it frustrating.

Again, the reason that I weigh myself daily is so that I can be alert of how my habits are affecting my weight and then modify things as needed.

I think I need to modify something a bit more - I wonder if it's because I've reduced my workouts over the past week (no evening kickboxing/core workout classes). However, my eating is really clean, and I'm still exercising daily -- perhaps it's just not enough for me.

I know I need to be patient, but I also don't want to kinda sit by the sidelines and wait for something to happen. Something inside me is telling me that further change is needed, so that's what I'm going to try to do.

Cleaner than Clean
I leave for the States next Thursday morning. I'll be gone for a week. I'm looking forward to my trip, but I'm absolutely dreading what it's going to do to my routine - workouts, food, sleep, stress. Quadruple whammy in my eyes.

This upcoming week is going to be really busy, just like this one. So, I've got to manage my time carefully. I need to make sure that the time I spend at the gym in the mornings (because I think I'll only be able to fit in one workout a day) has be be very effective.

In terms of food, I'm going to try to eat cleaner than clean for this next week. By that I mean the snacking on raw nuts, dates, and peanut butter has to either stop or be drastically cut down. I need to make sure that I'm eating good protein for every meal (and I need to make sure not to skip any meals) and that I increase my intake of greens, particularly raw greens.

This may seem like me being impatient - perhaps I am being impatient -- all I know is that I don't want to be stuck at a plateau. I want to keep seeing consistent progress.

I feel like I'm working really hard and doing things as they were meant to be done. Part of me wonders if the changes of the Whole Life Challenge aren't as effective this time because I was kinda eating that way 85-90% of the time anyway. Is that, plus the combination of my recent stresses, plus my reduced workouts all coming catching up to me?

In any case, something inside me feels like what I'm doing isn't working just right, so I'm trying to modify the plan. We'll see how it goes.

For updates on what I've been eating recently as well as my workouts & progress with the Whole Life Challenge, please follow this link.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Mid-Week Insanity

The past two days have been insanely busy. I'm talking being out of the house for 14-16 hours kind of busy. I'm exhausted so this is just a quick update.

Everything is going well. My eating has been a bit off routine in the timings of my meals but they've been on track in terms of being clean and whole life challenge compliant.

Yesterday I was late leaving the house - I mean really late. I'm usually at the gym by 6:45 a.m., but yesterday I didn't even leave the house until 7:45! I almost didn't go to the gym, but I knew that if I didn't go then, then I wouldn't get a chance to workout later.

I only had time to do 4 km on the cross-trainer, after that I had to rush to work - class, office hours, meeting, acupuncture, and another doctor's appointment (everything is fine - further update later) - and then home just in time for dinner ... though it sucked that nothing was prepared. The last thing I wanted to do was cook, but didn't have any other choice. Salmon and veggies are a great go-to dinner for me!

Today was a similarly hectic day. I did get to the gym on time, but I had a much longer workout so I didn't have much time to spare in terms of getting any extra cardio in or do my burpees. Some days are just like that. I did have a great weights workout though. I proudly sweated through my new t-shirt:

Office hours; class; research interview; conference on the role/place/situation of women in Kuwait (4 1/2 hours) - very interesting lectures and discussions; 1/2 an hour at home to quickly eat something (thank goodness some leftovers were in the fridge!!) and then head out to hang out with my girlfriends for a few hours.

So all good, just really busy. I'm glad that despite being busy I've managed to stay on track with my food. The only thing that I haven't liked is that I've gone hungry for a lot of the day. While I'm glad that I didn't eat something unhealthy or pre-packaged etc. I didn't like feeling so hungry. At the same time, I'm feeling kind of bloated - I don't know why. It's annoying. I wonder if it's just the stress that I've been feeling and the anxiety of my upcoming trip/presentation at the conference. I need to calm down and get back to my normal routine!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Just Get On With It

I had a terrific workout today - good cardio warm-up; great weight-lifting session - plus I wore my new 'Lift like a girl' t-shirt, which I loved :)

... then I hit a wall.

The exercise: 3 sets of 12 reps of T-push ups
What happened: I get to rep number 6 of set 3 & I stop. I'm tired. I sit up and look at myself in the mirror in front of me and say:

"What the fuck is wrong with you? It's just 6 more bloody push-ups. You're not going to break. You're not going to collapse. You know you are strong enough to complete this, so why are you stopping? Do you want to get stronger? Do you want to improve? Just get on with it. There's no time for stupid whining of 6 lousy push-ups. You are not weak. You are not exhausted to the point of injury. Just get on with it."

I completed the remaining push-ups, finished the rest of my workout (which included 60 burpees at the end - I have similar conversations with myself when I start to slow down with my burpees) and then felt great.

A lot of us talk about the mental struggle to push through with different aspects of losing weight/getting healthy.

Whether it has to do with running, lifting weights, doing burpees, avoiding diet soda, or even to just bloody get started ... sometimes there's that gap between what we really want (and we all want to get healthy, right?) and doing the thing(s) that we need to do in order to get there.

We are all so much stronger than we realize. It's a bit of mental fear that I think holds many of us back - can we run for just 30 more seconds? Can we lift just another pound of heavier weight? Can we bang out just one more push-up? The answer, I'm sure, is almost always yes.

Sometimes I do find that I have to dig deep to do that extra bit, but the rewards are so great once you've accomplished something you weren't sure you could do.

In the past year I definitely feel like I've tried to push my limits, and I've done well. I try to draw on those moments to keep me going with that momentum. I want that feeling of success and accomplishment after a workout. I want to feel proud.

I often find the mental talk and preparation is so much more exhausting than the physical workout. (You can read my Just do it post here). I guess that's because so much of my attitude drives my workout. When I'm feeling good and positive, I can perform better. I wonder if there will ever be a day when it comes more naturally? I hope so though at the same time, I wonder if the voices of encouragement and sternness in my head were to stop it would mean that I wasn't challenging myself anymore? Who knows.

All I know is that I haven't reached my goals yet. This means that I have to continue to work hard. There's no other way around it. I feel like I have to push myself. I have to be stern with myself in terms of discipline and pushing harder. I'm glad I've learned the difference between my mental scolding versus negative self-talk, which I felt was a big breakthrough for me.

I was talking to one of my friend's last night and I told him about me feeling anxious and he told me it was because I was at the breakthrough point. This is the point where I really have to be strong and push through because big changes are happening. I've got a ways to go to reach my goal, but at the same time, I'm really close. My exercise is in check, my eating is clean, my attitude is good -- it's all very positive. There's a combination of excitement and fear - excitement about all I've accomplished and being closer to my goal than I have in 4 years and fear -- fear about failure, fear about the unknown, fear about doubting myself, and most of all, fear that even after I reach my goals everything in the rest of my life will not fall into place in the same way. I don't know if that last part makes sense to anyone else, but for me, I know that so much of my life was preoccupied with thoughts of 'I'll be happy once I'm thin.' That type of thinking led me to focus just on one thing rather than dealing with other issues that were keeping me from being happy. I'm not saying that I'm unhappy. What I'm saying is that there are still things that I need to work on in my life, and that stuff will not be resolved by me being at goal weight. They're going to take some additional work. I need to accept that and remember that a bit of fear is ok, as long as it doesn't hold you back.

The bottom line: Take a deep breath and just get on with it.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Making the Best of It

I haven't been sleeping that well for the past 3 nights. I feel like my anxiety is coming back because I've got quite a few things to get done before my trip, particularly getting my presentation done. I've also got  an extra busy week coming up and I'm just wondering how I'm going to get everything done.

The only thing I can do really is try and tackle things one by one. I'm trying to stay focused and organized, but sometimes the rushing thoughts in my mind get the best of me. That makes me anxious. That keeps me awake at night.

Of course during this busy time the extra challenge for the next 2 weeks through the Whole Life Challenge is to get 7 hours of sleep within each 24 hour period. I've got to figure out a way to get my rest in ... we'll see how it goes.

This morning I woke up to a text message that really altered my plans for the rest of the day. I was annoyed and upset. I almost let it ruin my day. I had to really dig deep to let it go ...

I read that quote and I was ready to start the day.
I had a good breakfast - my coconut cinnamon pancakes with half a banana, a few blackberries, and drizzle of peanut butter.

I then headed out to try something new ... yoga on the beach. I was nervous about going to the class - y'know, doing yoga outdoors in public with a group of people I didn't know at all ... but I thought, what the hell. Why not try it.

I'm really glad I didn't call my friend up to check if she was going this morning (she's the one that told me about the class) because she didn't come to class today. I think if I had known she wasn't coming to class then I wouldn't have tried it.

I went and it was really good. It was totally different. It took some time getting used to the feeling of being outdoors and how the mat felt in the sand on the beach, but as the wind settle down, the sun started to just peek out, and the tide started to come in, I definitely felt better.

The poses were not too complicated and the instructor was really good. There were 7 students - 6 of us all doing this for the first time! After the class she said she liked to try out different yoga positions and one that she wanted us all to try a headstand.

I haven't done a headstand since I was 8 years old!! I was really nervous. Am I going to be able to get my butt up and support my weight? Well, with a bit of assistance, I did :)

After class I rushed to the gym and went to spinning class.

By the time I finished both those workouts and showered and changed, I definitely felt better.

Y'know, today things could have very easily gone another way. I could have just moped around the house, binged on something to try and 'comfort' myself, and just been grumpy all day, but really, what good would that have got me? I'm not totally over what happened, but I do know that I had a good day. I didn't do anything to sabotage all the other efforts I've been making to get healthy.

Today was also a reminder that as good as it feels to sweat it off at the gym and shed those pounds, there are other issues that I need to deal with, some things I need to make peace with. Getting healthy requires putting in the work not just on your body, but also on your mind. Yes, there's much, much more work to be done.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Friday Five - Week in Review

Friday Five - hosted by Jessee's Spot

Five Moments from this Week 

1) What I plan on using to help me stay on track this month: My monthly checklist has helped me a lot over the past two months. It's nothing fancy or crazy, just a simple list of the things I want to achieve and a space for me to write down what date I got each one done. I keep it on my desk so it only takes a few seconds for me to complete it each night. With the checklist right in front of my face, it's much easier to keep track of how I've been doing and what areas I need to pick up on. There are definitely some things that I've been slacking on. You can read about my plans for the month here.

2) What I cooked for the first time: I eat eggs/egg whites almost every single day. To change things up, I decided to try something like a paleo pancake. There were still some ingredients that I omitted because I wasn't sure if they were Whole Life Challenge approved. Overall, they were quite good, and I'm especially pleased that the coconut flour and coconut milk I made from scratch turned out really well!

3) What top 5 songs helped me push through my workouts: Music is such an important part of my workout. I've got different playlists for different songs. These were the top 5 songs this week that helped me kinda push it a bit further - whether it was to run a bit faster, punch a bit harder, or squat a bit deeper.

4) What I finished reading: Chael Sonnen is an MMA fighter and part of the UFC. One of my friends was reading this book so I decided to read it as well. It was ok. The best chapter was the last one where I felt he really got into what it takes to being a fighter - approaching the Octagon, getting ready to fight, dealing with being hit - but other than that, it was kinda bland.

5) What Quote Inspired Me: 

13 in 13 Post#3: February Review & March Goals

Overall I think February went quite well for me. The two things that kinda threw me off guard this month were coming down with the flu (so tired of getting sick!) and the 10 day holiday over which I still worked out but not in my regular routine.

Of course the biggest change for me this month has to do with starting the Whole Life Challenge. You can read about my progress in my other blog that's just dedicated to my WLC progress here.

Due to the holiday there were a number of cancellations in my MMA training classes & I didn't go to the gym as often as I had liked but resorted to either working out at home or going to the outdoor track to work on my running so I didn't hit all my targets for the month. However, I do think I did a good job in some areas.

I'm glad the weight loss goal I set for myself for this year was to end each month lighter than what I started. My weight fluctuates through the month, especially right around the time I'm getting my period. However, things tend to normalize for me by the end of the month which is why that's the number I'm going by. Given the ups and downs on the scale it felt like I had lost quite a bit of weight this month, but actually in comparison to how things started off on February 1st, my weight loss has actually not been that much. Still, my aim is to make steady progress towards reaching my goal & not moving backwards at all.

Here's where I stand:

February Targets
Lose weight each month, no matter how much
1 kg (2.2 lbs) lost this month
1% loss of body fat
3.5 inches lost total
Burpees: 20,130 by the end of the year
1,040 completed this month
2,040 completed total
Daily stretching of 15 min/day
25/28 days completed
2 outdoor runs
3 completed
Week 7 of C25K
4 body balance/Pilates/yoga classes
4 completed
10 cardio sessions
8 completed
10 weight training sessions
8 completed
15 MMA training sessions
13 completed
3 nutrition studies quizzes
5 completed
2 new recipes
2 completed, none posted
3 chapters & 4 articles to read
AAAL Paper
¼ done
Organize bookshelf & cubbies
Bookshelf almost done

Losing a total of 1 kg for the month is frustrating to see, but it's ok. My body is changing, and I'm happy with the progress that I'm making. I just have to keep working at it.

I'm really pleased with my exercise for this month. I completed a total of 34 workouts, not including any days when I did a workout at home or did 100 burpees as my exercise for the day. I haven't worked out a 'category' to put those exercises in! I'll include something in this month's checklist. Of course C25K has still been an utter fail. I really need to put my fear and apprehension aside and just bloody well do it!

The checklist idea, by the way, has been terrific. It's so simple yet so effective. It's on my desk and at the end of each day I fill it in. I've got an immediate visual reminder of what I've accomplished and how much more I need to do to get to where I want to be.

The part where I struggled the most was with my extra academic stuff. I think I was caught off guard with the amount of grading that I had to do - that plus good old-fashioned procrastination has been my downfall. I have to get a move on with my work! This is something that I said last month ... I can't have myself repeating this at the beginning of April as well!

I am pleased, however, with the progress I made with my nutrition studies. The quizzes are all out of the way now it's just down to taking the final exam, which is 45 pages long! It's really detailed, mostly multiple-choice but also includes a case study and an essay portion. I definitely need to set aside a chunk of time to finish that off.

Our task this month is to try something new. I haven't decided what it is that I'll be trying. I have something in mind ... but I want to wait a little before I announce it. Many of my goals for this month are the same as last month, with a few modifications:

March 2013 Goals

1) Cardio Focus: 10 sessions [including 2 outdoor runs & Week 7 of C25K]
2) MMA Training: 10 sessions
3) Weight Training: 8 sessions
4) Flexibility Sessions: 4 [minimum 45 minutes each]
5) General Workouts: 5 [any other type of workout e.g. Core Domination; home workouts etc.]
6) Nutrition Studies: Complete the final exam
7) Cooking: No new recipes - but post the previously tried recipes on the blog
8) Academic: Complete the paper for the March conference; complete the outline for next month's writing task; read 1 chapter and 4 articles; continue research interviews
9) Organization: Organize the bookshelves, box shelves, and new storage units
10) Weight loss: End the month lighter than I started
11) Burpees: Continue working towards the ultimate goal of 20,130
12) Yoga/Stretching: Reintroduce yoga in the morning/complete a minimum of 15 minutes of stretching every day regardless of other exercises

My biggest challenge for the month will be fitting in those MMA training sessions since my trainer is on vacation and dealing with my trip to Dallas later this month. Not only will the travel disrupt my routine, but the jet lag also wreaks havoc with my sleep as well as energy levels.

I'm also nervous about how I'll manage to stay on track with the Whole Life Challenge while I travel. I will be out of my element and have no control over what I can eat since I'll be staying in a hotel (and I obviously can't pack food from Kuwait and carry it with me for a week!). I guess it'll be an interesting test to see how healthy I can remain while being away. I know that last year when I went to Germany, I managed to stay completely Whole Life Challenge compliant except for the wedding dinner - if I could do it then, hopefully I'll be able to do it now!