Thursday, August 29, 2013

Why Fight?

When I embarked on my ventures into mixed martial arts, I did it just for fitness. I transitioned from the Les Mills Body Combat class to actually hitting pads with a trainer -- what a workout! Not only did it burn mega calories, but it also relieved a TON of stress. It was from that point that I started looking for more structured classes that involved actual impact vs. 'air' boxing. (Several years ago I used to go to a cardio kickboxing class, and I loved it!)

As I was on the search for a something that involved more contact, I had to step back and ask myself -- is this what I really want? Do I want to place myself in a situation where I'm going to get hit or that I'm actually going to hit someone else?

I read a few books by fighters, looking for their motivation behind fighting. Some books were well written and entertaining, but none of them really gave me the answers I was looking for. Why did they choose to fight? What was it inside them that said - ok let me go beat somebody up?

While I was reading and searching for answers, I was also training. Then all of a sudden, one day when I was writing in my journal, the answer came to me.

It really doesn't have anything to do with fighting at all. So many things inside me changed through my training. Starting with the discipline of training itself (regardless of what type of training, this is a big step), to mentally preparing for what was about to come (hit or be hit), to physically building the strength and stamina to go through with it (cardio, weights, yoga) -- it was all coming together in one perfect package.

Fighting has nothing to do with striking someone. It's about defending yourself. What GM Janice Somera said (as I've mentioned before) -- you've got to believe that you're worth defending.

Finding that belief itself has been work. It's taken self-analysis, self-confidence, and a lot of effort to hack away at years and years of accumulated negative self-talk and self-hate. It's been the hardest part.

The psychological training behind fighting has really been what has kept me interested. I've had to really work on clearing my mind. I've had to work on figuring out how to stand my ground - both physically and mentally. I've had to work on breathing through the fear that you start to feel when someone approaches you with a clenched fist.

The training I went through - both the Brazilian Jiujitsu and the Kajukenbo seminars - emphasized a very key point. You learn how to defend yourself so you never have to use it.

That knowledge that you KNOW that you can protect yourself, that you can hold your ground, that you can take a hit and then hit back harder is powerful. It helps you stand tall. It gives you confidence. It allows you to walk down the street without being afraid ... and isn't that what we all want? To not be afraid of life, living, loving?

I haven't found all my answers. I have a long road ahead of me in terms of my training, but I'm enjoying this path of discovery.

I have moments when it all seems surreal (am I really leaving the house in a Kajukenbo gi with a wooden stick in my bag? What in the world am I getting myself in to?), but when other people think I'm crazy for getting involved in MMA training, I know inside, I'm not crazy. This is how I choose to train. This is how I choose to get physically and mentally fit. Plus, I'm worth defending ;)

Me leaving the house for the last day of our Kajukenbo seminar series - I've got my stick in the bag, ready to do some weapon training! 

Kajukenbo Ohana Kuwait Team

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Mid-Week Motivation

"One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well."
Virginia Woolf

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


While I'm not necessarily looking forward to getting back to creating lessons plans and grading papers, I am definitely ready to get back into some sort of routine. I really, really seem to flounder without any set structure. I'm good at sticking to my schedule once I have an anchor (like my class schedule, which I can't miss). Otherwise, I have a tendency to let things slide, especially if I have nothing for which I really need to leave the house. Anyway. Just a few more days of summer vacation left, and then I'll be back to work.

So this week has been quite busy with my Kajukenbo seminar. Three Kajukenbo experts (Senior Grand Master Al Dacascos, Grand Master Janice Somera, and Grand Master Robert New) have been flown in from Hawaii to lead the seminar. We're meeting every night this week from 4-8, which is a huge time commitment (basically 3-9 p.m. including driving time). However, it's been really informative and interesting so far. We've learned about some of the history of Kajukenbo as well as the principles behind the fighting techniques. We've learned a number of those fighting techniques along with self-defense moves. I'll have more to say about all that in another post.

Since I've been busy each evening with the seminar, I've been skipping my morning workouts, mainly because for whatever training we do during the seminar, I want to be sure that I can give 100%. I know that hitting weights and doing endurance cardio will probably leave me exhausted. This is too special of an opportunity to blow by being fatigued! So, once again, I've had to adjust my schedule.

I'm really interested to see how things fall into place once I'm back into work. I'm going to stick with setting some general guidelines (e.g. 7 hours of cardio a week, 3 lifting sessions each week, 5 MMA sessions each week, etc.). I'm going to try to keep it as realistic as possible. I mean, no sense in setting yourself up for failure, right? It's going to be hard deciding how much to do and when -- I don't think I'll be able to fit everything into my day. Not unless someone follows through with one of my birthday wishes to have an extra 3 hours added on to my day!

How do you manage to fit everything in? Do you find that inevitably you need to leave something out?

I'll leave you with a few pix from the Kajukenbo seminar plus a video of one portion of the Kajukenbo black belt test that took place on Saturday. Talk about intense!!

The Kajukenbo Ohana Kuwait Women's Team

Grand Master Janice Somera and I

One part of the test was to defend yourself from attackers - the SGM was calling out the defense strategies, and the candidate had to perform them against his attackers. I can't imagine remembering all the sequences plus performing them that effectively with such speed ... I see a lot of hours of practice ahead of me!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Blogging and Decluttering

I never thought I'd be writing a 645th post -- but here I am. I'm so glad I've stuck to blogging even though there have been periods of silence. I know that blogging daily isn't 'necessary', but I do feel it helps me work on untangling some of my thought processes. Plus remembering that I'm writing a health and fitness blog helps keep me in check with my actions in terms of exercise and food!

This morning I sat down and looked at my blog reading list. I noticed that there were several (I'm talking around 30) bloggers who hadn't posted in over six months; some hadn't posted in over a year. There were also some bloggers that I had in my bookmarks list but not in my blog roll. I didn't even know I had that discrepancy. I was so happy to read quite a few success stories and several that were still working hard to stay on track and keep moving forward. At the same time, out of the bookmarked blogs (I think there were around 150!), about 70 hadn't posted in over six months. It just goes to show how time-consuming blogging can be. So, I've cleaned up my blog roll - deleted the ones that haven't posted in ages, added a few new ones, and incorporated those that I thought were already on my list.

I try to be regular in my reading and commenting, but that also takes time. However, I am working on it!

I don't always get around to replying to comments bloggers leave after my posts, but I really, really, really appreciate the comments and encouragement. It's what keeps me moving forward. I'm going to try to get better at doing that too.


I've talked about de-cluttering many times. I feel like getting rid of my 'stuff' - the actual stuff around me - has been both a cathartic process as well as a symbolic one. Before I used to hide behind my things (especially my shoes). I found satisfaction in shopping (in excess) and building comfort around me by surrounding myself with things I loved, or at least things that I thought I loved (and needed).

As I've been dropping weight, I've also had an easier time dropping the excess stuff. I feel like I've been de-cluttering for months (and I have). Each time I've been getting more ruthless - no, I don't need that. No, I won't wear that. No, that just doesn't have a place in my life anymore.

It's felt great. I'm still continuing. This summer was a huge success. I took 4 suitcases full of clothes for charity. I also got rid of 60 pairs of shoes and 40 handbags. It felt great. I was holding on to so many of these things ... for what purpose, I don't know. Now I'm finding it much easier to let go.

I feel bad that I wasted money on buying so much. It's the same way that I feel bad when I think about how much time I wasted not exercising or eating right. I'm not dwelling on it, but I'm using those feelings to remind myself of where I want to go ... and how I don't want to be anymore.

It's been a rewarding process.

The goal is - keep things (including people) that are useful and positive in your life & drop what isn't useful or helping you reach your goals.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Fighting it Out

I seem to be teetering between being courageous and feeling apprehensive about being courageous. I think the bottom line is that I know I want to be, and so I'm going to keep working towards that.

This mental flip-flop that I've been going through as well as my search for resolve have both reminded me at how much effort - constant vigilance - is required in this quest to get healthy. There is so much more than just the physical weight loss that I need to tackle. However, it is getting better.

I had an a-ha moment a week or so ago that I didn't write about because it didn't really have to do with physical fitness. However, I realize that it did have to do with being healthy - mentally healthy. I was caught in one of those situations where one of my friends said something to me that caught me off guard. It wasn't negative towards me, but it was something this person had kept hidden from me (there's way too much back story to get into right now, so a piecemeal summary will have to do for now). My first instinct was to Binge on Negative Thoughts (something I wrote about back in April).

However, I quickly stopped myself and said - No. This person did not say/do X to you because you're overweight or because you have no value. This person said/did this because that's the kind of person THEY are. They are the kind of person that feels the need to be shady, sneaky, evasive, or unmindful of my thoughts/feelings/time. It has nothing to do with me.

I don't like that my first reaction is still one that is negative, but it is something that I'm working on. Plus I'm not saying that this person/these people are bad; their priorities and focus are just in a different place. It has nothing to do with me.

Today was Day 1 of a Kajukenbo seminar series that is being held here in Kuwait. It was a really great experience for me, especially given all the things that I've recently been going through. We went over a few self-defense tactics during the seminar. One thing Grand Master Janice Somera said really resonated with me - it was about believing in yourself and believing that you are worth defending.

I remember not so long ago, I definitely didn't believe that. I had to chip away at that negative thought bit by bit. It sure didn't come naturally. On most days I lived on the 'fake it till you make it' mantra. Slowly, as I set goals and accomplished them, I started to believe in myself more.

I still get a bit shaky. I still look around for approval - from friends, from coaches, from everyone really. I still feel like I'm on the outside of the fitness world, even though I know I've accomplished so much (again, it has to do with reactions/actions/statements of others). It's ok though. Coming to terms with all of these things is part of the process.

So, I'm still working around all these thoughts. I imagine that this will go on for a while as there is not simple solution. The important thing is not to give up -- to keep moving forward and fight it out.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Searching for Resolve

This past week has been really difficult - from dealing with the loss of my aunt to facing a terrifying situation to just generally feeling out of sync. I've had so many thoughts and emotions running through my mind, but one of the main thoughts I woke up with this morning was about Tuesday's Kajukenbo class when I froze in the middle of the surprise attack sequence.

I realized that at that moment when I was attacked, my first thought was - I don't care. Let them attack me.

What a horrifying thought.

I have been doing all this self-defence and fighting mostly because I don't want to feel vulnerable or scared. Most of all, I don't want to be a victim. I do not want to see myself as a victim anymore.

I was mortified that after training for so many months, that was still the first thought that popped into my head. It was the first time I was put in such a situation, but still - why did I slip into being helpless? Why didn't I react?

I know that I reacted to the attack once I was rolled on the ground. The Jiujitsu training I had been doing automatically kicked in and I was able to escape. That in itself was a bit of a relief, but the fear was overwhelming.

I woke up this morning realizing that I didn't want to be the victim. I didn't want FREEZE to be my first reaction. I'm doing my MMA training to learn how to defend myself, to build my confidence in terms of knowing who I am and knowing that I am able to stand on my own two feet.

Maybe I needed that incident to happen at this particular time (when I'm feeling emotionally vulnerable as well) for me to realize what I really want. I know that after training in Vegas, I was really pumped about continuing to train. However, that was more about the physical side - getting the techniques right and becoming strong. Today's realization was more about what it actually means to me. How training in MMA was not to fight, but to be able to defend myself if I needed --- and most of all, to be able to stand in full confidence knowing that I don't need to fight because I already know I'm in control.

This is my goal. This is what I'm training for. This is what I discovered of myself this morning.

Then I saw this video for the first time -- it's amazing. It brought tears to my eyes because it moved me so much. So much of what Rener said rang true to what I was feeling and experiencing.

Please take a few minutes and watch this video - it's incredible. (If the video link doesn't work, check Gracie Bullyproof: Austin's 1 week transformation on YouTube or on my Facebook page Plumpetals Fit).

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Mental Flip-Flop

I've once again hit a plateau. I've been +/- 2kg of my current weight for the past 5 months now. I just can't seem to get a handle on it and push through. I think a lot of it has to do with my disrupted schedule - from out of town visitors, to general stress, to traveling for about 11 weeks. Although I did lose some weight while on vacation, it still isn't the lowest weight that I reached a few months ago. It's really getting frustrating, but I know what the solution is -- I need to clean up my eating and I need to make sure my workouts are efficient and effective.

One of the things that I think has really affected me is going back to a sedentary lifestyle. Aside from the conscious effort I make to workout, I have relatively no daily activity. It's so different from the time I spent in New York this past summer where I was walking at least 5 miles a day, not including the workouts I was doing. That extra activity helped me come back without gaining any weight. However, being home and not getting in those extra miles has now had a negative effect - I need to rectify that now.

There was a time when I would spend 4-6 hours a day at the gym. Yes, that's right, 4-6 hours a day. Although I was active, I wasn't really losing weight because I was either cutting my calories way too low or eating the wrong things. Sometimes (often) it was a combination of the two. Although it may sound like it should have worked, I know now that simply eating the wrong things (regardless of quantity) just doesn't work for me. Rice and bread will leave me bloated for days.

My recent funk hasn't helped. I've been working out but my heart hasn't been in it; my food has been 80-85% clean, but that's definitely not clean enough ... it's time for me to get a grip and focus on the task at hand. Complaining about it isn't going to help. Spending too much time planning without implementing isn't going to get me anywhere either. I know what I need to do. Now I just need to stop stalling and get on with it.

I seem to have lost a bit of confidence in my ability to reach my goal. At one point I was really enthusiastic. I believed I could do it, and I was excited about reaching my goal. Today, and over the past few days, however, I just feel like the goal is far away.

This mental flip-flop is annoying, frustrating, and exhausting. Yet I know that I'm the only one in control.

I saw this quote:

I had the motivation -- it got me started.
I've formed the habit - I'm keeping on going.

My question is -- now what? Why am I floundering? How can I find that stable footing again?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Mid-Week Motivation

"You have to have confidence in your ability and then be tough enough to follow through."
Rosalyn Carter

Tuesday, August 20, 2013


Ouch. Ouch. Ouch.

That's all I could say with every step I took today. I didn't want to move. I walked around all morning and afternoon like I had something seriously wrong with me -- but it was just the impact of yesterday's workout. It was definitely a 'good' sore vs. an injury - but crazy painful nonetheless. I used to think images like these were cheezy -- but today I think there's nothing more accurate!!

My only thought was - how will I make it to Kajukenbo in the evening? The thought of walking down the stairs was painful enough, let alone the thought of running around during training.

Still, I went. I had to go to get over what happened last time. I didn't want my fear and hesitation to build. I already have enough trouble getting into the right mindset before my workout. I still have doubts and worry that I won't perform well or make it through class (will I ever get over this self-doubt??).

As my luck would have it -- legs were the focus of today's class. OMG.

There was a tiny part of me that wanted to protest - I did legs yesterday; I'm SORE!!!

However, I'm glad that the main part of me focused on thinking - SUCK IT UP! You're here to train. It's just muscle soreness. You're not injured.

So I went on. I kicked and kicked and kicked.

Then it was time for me to hold the pads so  my partner could have a go. After doing the first part, she was wiped out and had to take a break. That's when the assistant coach grabbed the pads and said, ok, you kick again.

So while others were resting (alternating between kicking & holding the pads), I was kicking the whole time - side kicks, low kicks, high kicks. I just tried to dig deep and keep kicking. At one point, I just stopped feeling and was kind of on autopilot, though still focusing on getting my form right and putting some power behind my kicks --- my high kicks definitely need work. They didn't feel high at all.

This was followed by squat holds against the wall, with our arms held straight out in front of us, for what felt like forever. I kept trying to center my focus, but it was tough.

Today was definitely filled with mental and physical challenges - trying to push through the pain, trying to keep the bigger picture in mind, and doing my best during training practice.

Overall, it was a good, challenging day.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Powering Through

The thoughts of my experience from yesterday still lingered this morning. They were unsettling. I really want to get over my fear. Usually I jump right into it - no fear, just brutal confrontation. Apparently this time I'm not feeling so brave. I know that I will continue to face/fight my fear, but I think the emotional impact associated with this one is a bit more intense than my other hesitations.


I have 2 more weeks left of summer vacation. Part of me just wants to stay at home, relax, organize, and veg on the couch. Another part of me thinks - this is your opportunity, hit the gym for long, long workouts.

I'm doing neither. I've already started to wake up at 4:40 in the morning (I'd usually wake up at 4:30, but the extra 10 minutes is coz' I'm on holiday lol). I had started my morning yoga routine, but during my days of mourning, I didn't do anything much at all. So today felt like more of a fresh start (sometimes it feels like I'm always starting over).

I was in my gym clothes by 5 a.m. (to do my yoga), so there really wasn't much reason for me not to head out of the house soon after I was done. The only thing that held me back was my own listlessness. I wanted to go to the gym, but I also wanted to stay home. I found it ironic that at one point I was commenting on fitness blog posts yet I was contemplating not going to the gym and maybe just doing a little something at home.

Man, sometimes my head is really messed up!

In any case, I finally made it to the gym and started my workout by 9:30 a.m.

Today's focus was weights -- squats, deadlift shrugs, split squats, and step-ups (4 sets of 10 reps for each exercise). It's been a long while since I've done any of those exercises. I already feel sore - I'm sure I'll feel it even more tomorrow!

My cardio sessions were good. I didn't do much, just a total of 30 minutes. This evening I plan on doing some BJJ training.

On a side note, the MMA training room is coming together! I'm excited :) I'll post pictures once it is done.

I wore my new Saucony sneakers today along with my new Under Armour training gear. I love the little lace detail! 

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Fight, Flight, or Freeze

"Sit down on your knees in the front of the room. Put your hands on your lap, palms face down. Tilt your head downward. Close your eyes. Breathe. Wait."

I had to follow these instructions today at Kajukenbo class. I didn't want to do it. Coach knew I didn't want to do it. Although the main reason behind me doing self-defense/MMA is to face my fears and be able to stand my ground and protect myself, I still get scared. Most of that stems from when I was attacked when I was much younger. For years I never gave my back to anyone. I never sat with my back to the door; I always felt nervous when people were walking behind me. I've gotten over that now (though typing it out has made my pulse quicken).

I've been working through my apprehension of being attacked from the front - grabbed, choked, hit. I've gotten much better at that as I've learned to fight back.

Brazilian Jiujitsu (BJJ) was taking it to another level as I was putting myself in a vulnerable position - on the ground with an opponent on top of me.

The control I've learned through Jiujitsu has been amazing. My heart still races, but with each technique I learn, my confidence grows a little. I feel like I'm improving -- and that sense of control that BJJ provides and the knowledge of how to use your body to protect yourself has made it such a rewarding experience.

So front attacks and being mounted are two things that I've steadily been working on ... but allow someone to attack me from the back? You've got to be kidding me?

It was really hard for me to walk up to the front of the room and sit down. I didn't want to close my eyes. I didn't want to be there.

I wanted to run.

The attack came suddenly - one of the girls grabbed me from behind, like a bear hug (the coach was instructing the 'attacker' about what to do, so it wasn't random).

I froze.

For several seconds, I was absolutely still.
I couldn't move.
My heart was racing. Flashbacks were flying through my mind at a million miles an hour.
I could hear voices in the distance, instructions from the Coach as to what to do, but I couldn't hear it. I couldn't hear anything.
I lost touch with reality. I didn't know where I was or what was going on.

She pulled me to the ground, and that's when in a flash I was out of there. I turned inward and crawled out.

Again, I heard voices around me, but I couldn't hear. I was shaking and I had tears threatening to fall. Coach said I did good, but I was too overwhelmed. I didn't feel it. The flashbacks were still haunting me - the feeling of being attacked was too raw.

I was shaking so bad I could barely untie my belt. I had tears of fear in my eyes.

As emotional as it all was, I was also frustrated that I could be so vulnerable. I know that this is the first time I've ever put myself (been put) in such a situation, but still. I feel like I've been working towards getting over my fears for so long ... will it ever end?

My Coach's words, "Let's break this" rang in my ears. Of course I want to break through this fear, but I have a feeling that I have a long way to go.

I'm trying to stay positive and remind myself that this was the first step. I took it. I survived. I may have faltered a little, but I survived.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Some Breathing Room

I was woken early Wednesday morning with a text from my mom with news that my aunt (her sister) had passed away. I knew that when I last spoke to my aunt on Sunday that we were saying good-bye - that I would never speak to her again or see her again as she had been slowing withering away in the hospital for the past few months, the cancer finally spreading to all parts of her body. Since Sunday what I wanted to do was just hide in my room and stay away from everything and everyone, but I decided no, my aunt was a lively, strong person - always approaching each day with strength and determination. So I went on with my day, my errands, my workouts. After speaking to my mom on Tuesday - which was my aunt's birthday - she told me that my aunt had lapsed into a coma and that the end was probably near. You'd think that given her deteriorating condition that it would not come to much surprise, but the level of emotion that rose up from inside me was like nothing I had experienced before.

I usually try to be strong, but this time I didn't try. The news of her death was very difficult to take. Part of me wanted to blog because I find this so cathartic, but in the end I couldn't bring myself to it. In fact, I shut myself away from all social media, all people, everything. It was enough having to send a few emails to notify her friends. It was enough having to deal with condolences messages that felt like such a heavy weight on my heart.

Aside from a visit from her two best friends who live here in Kuwait (at one time - for about 12 years - we all lived in Kuwait together), and D of course, I have completely withdrawn.

It's actually felt good.

It gave me the breathing room that I needed.

There are no words to describe how important my aunt was to me, absolutely no words, so I spent the last 3 days mostly in silence.

I our culture, we allow 3 days of mourning over someone's death and then we are told to move on with our lives ... because that is really all we can do. Death is inevitable, and life goes on. Clich├ęs, but they're true. It's not about forgetting the person you've lost. It's about realizing that there are other things that matter too - that your mourning should make you neglect the rest of your family, your own health, your other responsibilities. I like this tradition.

Today is the 3rd day and I've emerged - slightly - from the shadows. I still don't feel like talking to anybody, a lump has been lodged in my throat but I'm trying to breathe through it. I haven't seen anybody either ... driving has been out of the question as I've been too emotional. However, slowly but surely I'm moving on with things.

Food on Wednesday wasn't good - I ate pizza and a few mini sandwiches. I didn't really think about it or feel guilty about it. I just ate and then I stopped. The other days my food has been pretty much back on track.

I haven't left the house since Tuesday, so no gym, but I did some Jiujitsu at home with D. It helped me take my mind off things and made me feel a bit better.

Today there's some construction going on in our house. We're converting one of our rooms into a MMA practice room; that should be a nice distraction.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

San Francisco Update Part 2 - Following My Passion

"You're crazy for working out on vacation."

I cannot tell you how sick and tired I am of people calling me 'crazy.'

Crazy for exercising on vacation.
Crazy for exercising intensely.
Crazy for lifting weights so religiously.
Crazy for lifting such heavy weights.
Crazy for not eating bread, rice, pasta, or potatoes.
Crazy for doing the Whole Life Challenge twice and giving up sugar, preservatives, dairy, grains ... and continuing to follow that eating pattern 80-90% of the time.
Crazy for waking up early to go to the gym.
Crazy for sleeping early so that I can wake up early and go to the gym.

Crazy. Crazy. Crazy.

I'm getting used to it. I can shrug it off. However, it still upsets me.

Where were these people to say that I was crazy when I smoked, when I wasn't getting more than 2 hours of sleep a night, when I ate so much and moved so little during my vacations that I'd come back 10-20 lbs heavier than when I left?

I could go on and on (perhaps I will in another post), but for now, this is about San Francisco and I'll start with what I learned.

What I Learned

I enjoy working out (ya I think we all kinda knew that).

Working out on vacation wasn't seen as a task. I took opportunities to workout in new places and try new things. I enjoyed feeling good. That didn't mean I didn't do fun things. It just meant that I prioritized what I wanted to do - places I wanted to visit, foods I wanted to eat, activities I wanted to participate in. Just because I exercised everyday that I was in San Francisco doesn't mean that I am crazy. It means that I did what I enjoyed.

So what I learned was - I should do what I want to do. What other people think of my habits should not (does not) matter to me. I do not judge them for the decisions they make or their actions. Therefore, they should not judge me on mine.

As we rounded up our vacation, D and I both learned that we enjoyed doing these various activities. It was fun to stay active. It was great mingling with new people who shared similar interests. It was wonderful bonding over new adventures together.

The most important thing - we learned what made us happy together.

I'm not sure what else could beat that kind of vacation outcome!


There wasn't much I wanted to do in San Francisco. I mainly wanted to take in the city - see the Golden Gate Bridge, walk around, catch a baseball game, and just chill.

I did exactly that (plus all my workouts of course, hahaha.)

I passed by both a CrossFit box and a Jiujitsu place - neither of them looked appealing to me, so I skipped training there and stuck to the hotel gym. Our hotel gym was small, but the one next door at the Four Seasons was MASSIVE (over 3 floors). They had a boxing studio which I took full advantage of!

I loved this boxing studio - wish we had something similar in Kuwait!

My other workouts were normal gym workouts - cardio, weights, mini-CrossFit WODs, stretching, and some Kajukenbo practice.

A typical day at the gym for me -- yes, even while on vacation! 


Out and About in San Francisco

D & I at a Giants vs. Mets game

Visiting the Golden Gate Bridge - with the traveling tapestry (#thetravelingtap4 on Instagram)

A major highlight of my San Francisco trip was meeting blogger Kim (she used to write at Forty is the New Fabulous) -- we've kept in touch over the years & I was thrilled when she drove up to meet me. We had a great night out. It's wonderful when you online connections turn out to be great real-life connections too!

Who says I only go to the gym? LOL -- D caught this candid shot of me wandering around San Francisco. It was a bit too cold for my liking, but I had a lovely time.

Next Stop: NYC! 

(Link to: San Francisco Update 1)

Monday, August 12, 2013

Let's Get Re-Started

I've been back home for a few days now. It's taking some time to adjust. First of all, jet lag is such a pain! NYC is 7 hours behind Kuwait, so my wake/sleep patterns are quite messed up. I'm slowly readjusting, but the process has not been fun. We've also been celebrating Eid here in Kuwait (marking the end of the month of Ramadan) so there hasn't really been much of a schedule, especially since D has been home. Even though the holiday is over from today, I am still on vacation until the 1st of September so I've been trying to work out a schedule that will see me to until the start of my new semester.

Let's get the big news over and done with. My goal when I left Kuwait at the end of June was to come back from my 6-week vacation 5 lb lighter than when I left. I know that I worked out quite a lot while I was away, but I also ate quite a lot (and not always on plan). So my final result is ... I lost 4.5 lbs. It's not the 5 I was hoping for, but it's better than coming back having gained weight. I'm really regretting eating hummus last night with dinner - should have known better than to eat something that I know bloats me before weighing in! I'm also regretting pretty much sleeping and not getting much movement at all since being back. I'm sure that hasn't helped with my weight. I haven't been completely sedentary though. D and I came back with some awesome Dollamur mats which are perfect for practicing Jiujitsu. We've been training for about 3 hours each day for the past 4 days. As intense as Jiujitsu can be, you really don't work up as much of a sweat or burn as many calories as doing some focused cardio. Anyway.

Today is the start of a new week. For this semester my work week will start on Mondays (not Sundays as they did last semester) so I'm more in sync with most bloggers in terms of their weekend/work week & weigh in day. I hope that will help me keep focused as well.

Even though I'm still on holiday, I'm going to try and get into a proper schedule so that readjusting to my work week won't be too difficult. I really need to take advantage of the extra time I have to get some more work on my Personal Trainer Certification done. Once the semester begins, things will get hectic.

I sat down to try to figure out my schedule -- it was insane. Conceptually I had filled up my 24 hours. Practically, I knew I would need something like 36 hours to complete everything I had to do. For me, finding chunks of time to complete my tasks is difficult. Like I may have 3 hours throughout my day to study, but what I really need is 3 consecutive hours in order to make any real progress.

Instead of an hour-by-hour schedule, I'm back to the checklists that worked so well for me at the beginning of the year. So, I've set up my checklist of things I want to accomplish by the end of the month. I'm also rejoining my 13 in 13 updates. For this month the goal is to get outdoors in August. Ironically this might be the toughest one as the 125 degree F weather (mid-50s C) makes the outdoors so unappealing, but I'll think of something!

I've done my best to read and comment on blogs that are on my reading list over the past few days. It has taken quite some time. I think I got to everyone's blog, but if I didn't get to yours, then I apologize. The oversight was definitely not intentional.

My specific August goals: 

1) Weight loss: End the month lighter than what I started
2) Exercise: Complete 30 workouts including at least 4 45-minute long yoga sessions
3) Personal Trainer studies: Complete 4 quizzes
4) Cooking: Try 1 new recipe & Post 1 new recipe
5) Academic: Work on my chapter outline (still, ugh)
6) Burpees: Continue working towards the ultimate goal of 20,130 (boy do I have a long way to go!)
7) Home organization: Reorganize my bookshelf; rearrange my office furniture; fix up jiujitsu room
8) Yoga/Stretching: Do yoga/deep stretching for at least 15 minutes daily
9) Food journaling: Begin food journaling daily
10) Blogging: 5 posts a week + regular reading/commenting

That's it! My goals are down in writing - let's get to work! 

Back in Kuwait & Ready for a Routine 

Monday Motivation

"It's important that athletes can compete on a level playing field. And youngsters coming into the sport can know that if they are working hard and training hard, they'll see a true reflection of where they stand and what they can achieve worldwide and not be swayed by people who are cheating."
Paula Radcliffe

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Las Vegas Update Part 2 - Guard Up!

Las Vegas was all about UFC Fight Week, the fan expo, and UFC 162. If it wasn't for these events I'm not sure whether or not I would have liked Vegas. However, for this trip, I know that UFC Fight Week was awesome & I would definitely consider flying over to do it again!

My workouts in Las Vegas were split between training with professional fighters and hitting the gym.

The free gym at the MGM Grand was a basic cardio room. I got there around 7 a.m. and it was already packed!

I was quite amused to be staring at the Hooters hotel while on the cross-trainer -- that's something you definitely won't see in Kuwait!! 

I discovered a second gym which was much nicer - free weights, more cardio machines, and a variety of general weight machines. I went there for my remaining weights workouts. I can't resist a good squat bench! For $10 a day it wasn't bad at all.

A squat bench and free weights plus lots of cardio options -- awesome!

Now for the real stuff -- training with the professionals!!

My training in Vegas was mostly focused on Brazilian Jiujitsu. It was such an awesome experience. I was absolutely giddy with excitement. I wish I had some shots of me doing some of the actual training, but here are some pix of fighters I worked with.

I attended a 2-day seminar by Ryron and Rener Gracie -- isn't this picture amusing? ;) 

Me & Matt Hughes

Me & Khalil Rountree (he was main fight for Tuff n Uff & he won!)

 This is my favorite picture of the whole summer - messing around with BJ Penn after training!

 Me & Forrest Griffin at the UFC party

The main fight: Silva vs. Weidman - UFC 162

A glimpse of the fan expo - it was so cool!

There were quite a few celebrities at the fight, and I got a great view of many of them since we were in the 3rd row - Mike Tyson, Steven Segal, Usher, Edward James Olmos, Kim Coates and Theo Rossi from Sons of Anarchy to name a few ... I was smiling the whole night :)


What I Learned

I love MMA training. The training sessions were tough; they really made me test my physical abilities in a different way from cardio and strength training. After each session, I felt empowered and strong. Upon leaving Vegas all I wanted was to get back home and get into proper training as soon as possible.

I realized that if I wanted to achieve any level of proficiency in MMA, then I was going to have to train more like an athlete. This meant really focusing on good nutrition, proper/efficient workouts, and adequate rest. It's a combination that I have known is necessary for a while, but this time I felt more serious about it.

I wanted it, and I am willing to work for it. The intention itself was very powerful for me. I left Vegas with a renewed sense of determination and a big smile on my face.


My time in Vegas was occupied with Fight Week. I didn't see any shows, but I did eat at many great restaurants. As a fan of Top Chef, I was quite thrilled with how many of the chefs featured on the show had restaurants in Vegas. I took the opportunity to try several of them. My favorite was Joel Robuchon's restaurant at the MGM Grand - really terrific!

D & Me at Joel Robuchon

We had every intention of going to the Grand Canyon before leaving Las Vegas; however, I was so beat with all the training that the last stop I made was to the spa to be totally pampered before the next long road trip. Bliss!

Next Stop: San Francisco

(Link to: Las Vegas Update Part 1)

Saturday, August 10, 2013

LA Update Part 2 - Testing my Comfort Zone

Los Angeles was a great starting point for this vacation. The relaxed atmosphere and sunny weather  was perfect for getting over jet lag.

Cruising around Los Angeles

I used my jet lag to my advantage on the first day and hit the hotel gym around 6 a.m. Heading to the gym while on vacation is no longer a strange concept for me. I remember a time when I would pack gym clothes, with all the best intentions, but never make it to the actual gym. This time, however, packing an extra suitcase with just my workout clothes was worth it.

I wasn't impressed with the hotel gym. It was really basic, and I knew that although I could get a bit of resistance training in, it would mostly be cardio. With that in mind, the next day I head outdoors for a jog/walk around West Hollywood. Between the heat and the distance (6.5 km), I was wiped out by the end of that day!

Vacation Day 1 Workout

Caught mid-stride in West Hollywood

So, the gym and the outdoor walk were 'normal.' What was really exciting to me was going to Jean Jacques Machado's Brazilian Jiujitsu Academy. It was intimidating walking into an academy that I was completely unfamiliar with, putting on a gi (that I don't like wearing anyway), and then grappling with men I didn't know. I'm glad that D was there, even though we weren't grappling together. It was a really great experience. Even though it was just one session, I felt like I achieved a lot just by going there and doing it. I'm still working on facing my fears and building my confidence - this was a great way to test being outside my comfort zone.

My second big challenge was going to CrossFit. I really, really wanted to go to a CrossFit box while I was in Los Angeles, but I was scared. CrossFit is no joke. You push yourself to the limit - it challenges your mind and your body. Would I be ok going to a new box? Would I feel comfortable enough to perform? Would I be up to whatever WOD they had planned for the day?

I was really, really anxious heading to the Box. My heart was pounding, and there were a few times when I thought - never mind, I'll just turn back ... but I didn't turn back. I went in and gave it a go.

The people at CFLA (CrossFit Los Angeles) were great. Everyone was welcoming and friendly. We started with an outdoor run warm-up (run?? shit, will I be able to keep up) and got to know each other a bit before going back to the Box to continue warming up/stretching and of course our WOD.

Before doing the WOD, each one of us had to state our goal - whether it was to complete the WOD in perfect form, beat a certain time, etc. I said that I wanted to complete the WOD within 6 minutes. The coach said - no way, you can do it under 5.

Talk about putting on a bit of pressure, but it was exactly what I needed. I managed to complete the WOD under 5 minutes, and I felt great. Everyone was being encouraging and supportive. It was such a great atmosphere, and I felt amazing afterwards. My only regret was that I wasn't going to be in LA long enough for another CrossFit workout.

Partnered Sprints at CrossFit LA

I made it on the board & I beat my goal time of 5 minutes.

Me and Michael Stanwyck - one of the founders of the Whole Life Challenge!!

What I Learned
I need to trust myself more.

Dieting and exercise are so much easier once my mind was in a positive place. Even though I know that I am strong and capable, I am still not confident in my abilities. It is this lack of confidence that makes me think (know) that I am not pushing myself 100% yet. I wonder why I could not tell myself - set your goal at 4 min 30. So what if you don't make it; at least put forward a challenging goal so that you can push yourself.

I'm still hesitant, and I need to believe - without hesitation - that I am up to the challenge. Having a supportive environment is really important (thanks Dizzle Rivera for encouraging me & believing in me). However, I need to also provide that type of support to myself.

This is something that I want to work on for this next year. By next summer I want to be able to walk into any CrossFit box around the world and feel confident that I belong and am able to compete.


A few other pix of my time in LA.

Hollywood Boulevard -- I wasn't impressed

LA Street Food Fest -- not too many healthy options here, but had a great time nonetheless. Plus I got to meet up with a college friend (bottom left photo) after 10 years!

My childhood best friend and I reunited after 23 years!!

D & I at Spago

It was a sign! The UFC 162 poster was the first thing I saw outside my window every morning. Next Stop: Las Vegas!

(Link to: LA Update Part 1)