Thursday, October 31, 2013

October Review

Happy Halloween!!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

that's me practicing the guillotine choke

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

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

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

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

I'll be posting my November fitness goals tomorrow.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

What Kind of Person do You Want to Be?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is where I started to over-think things.

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

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

It was my choice, right?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, October 24, 2013


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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 21, 2013


I've been sick.

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

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

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

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

Saturday, October 12, 2013

A Year Gained

Im 37 today!

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

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

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

Heres to another year! J

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Holy Sh*!

This morning I was at the gym doing my normal workout. One thing I was practicing today was my chin-ups. Aside from working on building my back and upper body strength, I use the assisted chin up machine.

me practicing my pull-ups (taken a while ago)

After I completed a couple of sets, I was talking to one of the trainers about how my strength has improved. He said that he definitely noticed a difference and thought that it was now time for me to move away from the assisted machine.

I kinda laughed in his face when he told me that. He was like, 'Come on. It's time to try something new. Challenge your muscles.'

I'm all for challenging my muscles. He said he would assist me by holding my feet and having me push off against his hands.

I didn't really understand what he meant. I jumped up and grabbed on to the bar. I crossed my feet together and then bent my legs. He held my ankles and told me to pull up with my arms and push off against his hands with my ankles.

I tried. It was terrible. I barely moved a millimeter! I started laughing saying that was the best I could do.

He didn't buy it. He told me that my legs were too lax.

I tried again. I did slightly better this time, but I still wasn't sure exactly what I was doing.

We talked about the movement some more. He explained which areas of my body I would be using. He explained how the muscles were working together. He told me I was bending my legs too much, kinda to the point where my heels were almost touching my butt. He told me to keep them firmer and straight.

It made more sense to me then -- so I went ahead and gave it another go.

This time, my legs were firm. I kept my posture straight. I pulled up ... and what do you know, I actually started moving. I was pulling up and I was actually moving!

I kept going. I looked in the mirror and saw that I was quite close to the top of the bar and my arms were bent (instead of pretty much completely straight like during my first attempt).

The image startled me so much that I exclaimed 'Holy Shit!!!' really, really loudly in the middle of the gym. My exclamation caught both me, H, and everyone else in the weight room off guard, and then I started laughing.

Unfortunately that made me lose my concentration, but boy was I happy that I gave that a go. H said he's work with me whenever I wanted to try and really challenge my muscles and work on building up enough strength to do both chin ups and pull ups (which is perfect as it falls in line with the challenge I'm doing with Marc and his gang) :)

It was a good day.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Mid-Week Motivation

It's already the second week of October -- let's stay motivated and make sure we reach our fitness goals by the end of the year!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Can it get any cleaner?

My theory about why I was in such pain yesterday has to do with what I've been eating lately. Although I have been true to the Whole Life Challenge and have been exercising daily, I've eaten out more than usual (because first my dad was visiting then my in-laws were here). Normally, I only eat out on Fridays (breakfast: an egg white omelet with mushrooms & dinner: a chicken avocado salad) - still all WLC compliant. Even all the meals that I've eaten out have been WLC-friendly. I looked at menus beforehand and chose restaurants that would cater to my dietary needs.

Despite making the effort, I've eaten more than I usually do and I think that the foods were just a bit more salty and oily than I'm used to. I think eating this way for about 3 weeks has had a cumulative negative effect on my body.

I don't know if this really is the reason behind the sudden increase in pain; however, it's the only real difference in my routine that I can think of.

I told D last night that I need to clean up my eating even more once his parents left (they left this morning). His reaction - how can you eat any cleaner?

You'd think that by following the parameters set by the Whole Life Challenge that I would be doing just fine. However, it's not that easy. Constant vigilance is still needed even when eating clean. There are two main things that I want to clean up:

First of all, portion sizes do matter. Although I did stop calorie counting once I changed my eating habits, I know that it is still possible to eat too much. For example, extra virgin olive oil may be a good form of healthy fat; however, putting 3-4 tablespoons, when really just 2 tsp. will suffice, does have an impact on health. Raw nuts may be good for you, but that doesn't mean you can eat however much you want (without consequences!)

Second, I need to eat more greens and raw vegetables. Most of my food is cooked instead of steamed or raw. Although I eat a lot of vegetables, there's still not much green on my plate. This is something I want to change.

I'm hoping that with these two dietary changes in place, along with continuing to drink 3-4 L of water a day and get a proper amount of sleep, things will start to improve.

In the meantime, the research for some sort of cure/solution to my pain has begun ...

Monday, October 7, 2013

Negotiating Pain

I had a terrible day on Sunday. From morning until night, I was in excruciating pain (details of my health history here). It was hard for me to get up from sitting position, and it hurt to walk. I was really frustrated. Part of me felt like I jinxed myself because I gave a health update and brought the whole situation to the forefront of my mind. Sounds silly, but the question that kept going through my mind was - Why now? The pain has gradually been getting worse over the past 6 weeks, but this was the worst it has been in months. I'm talking nearly going to the hospital and wishing I was crazy enough to cut myself open and just take the damn fibroids out myself. Yes. Drastic, I know. But I swear that's all I was thinking.

There are many emotions that can revolve around experiencing pain. Sadness. Frustration. Anxiety. Irritation.

My main feeling: Anger.

I get angry because I feel like I've worked too damn hard on my health to be suffering from a health consequence.

I know that I can be stubborn sometimes (or maybe a lot?), but that stubbornness really comes out when I'm put in a situation that I feel like I can't control - one that I desperately want to control.

I try to focus on thoughts of not being defeated - This will not get me down. I will not stop. I will keep going. It's only pain. I will not be defined/constrained/limited by this. {At the same time, it really fucking hurts.}

I know that before when I would experience terrible, terrible cramps, my inclination would be to just curl up in a ball, try to sleep, and just wait for the feeling to pass (assisted by lots of painkillers). However, slowly, especially as I started signing up for classes like cardio kickboxing, I started to work through the pain. I'd have to really force myself to get up and go for my workout. Once there, I would just get on with my workout. It wouldn't always be comfortable, but it was never totally impossible (except for once. Once it was really, really bad.)

So in my mind I was trying to convince myself to do a bit of exercise. Perhaps once I started moving and got into something else, it would distract me from my pain.

I did my Sunday circuit at home (I forced myself; it was really tough and not enjoyable at all - I skipped the burpees).

The big test came with Jiujitsu class. I really, really wanted to go, but I knew that it would be tough. All that moving around on the ground, swinging your arms/legs around -- ugh. Today was not the best day for it at all.

However, I love Jiujitsu. I've paid for the classes. I really like the instructor, and I didn't want to miss his class. So, I got ready and I went. I ended up being the only one in class (again). I was actually ok with it because I felt like I couldn't really focus on anyone else. He did have another guy come in - someone to assist him - and we practiced together.

The warm-up was tough. Sitting on the ground and doing the stretches was really painful. Yet I refuse to show weakness (though at one point tears almost sprang to my eyes). I didn't want him to know I was in pain. I didn't want to admit that I was feeling sub-par. If I had had an injury or it was something serious, then I would have said something. But this was just pain. It's not like the fibroids were going to burst (if only!) or anything. So I just got on with it.

By the time we started practicing techniques, I was all warmed up and I could feel my adrenaline building. I think that's what helped me get through the class. It was great. I'm so glad I went.

Unfortunately, within half an hour of cooling down and heading home, the pain came back. I almost couldn't drive home. I was so miserable. (Maybe I should have started exercising again!)


Sunday involved several painkillers. I called my acupuncturist to set up an appointment for pain management. She can't see me until Oct. 22!!! I'm on the wait list in case anything opens up, but in the meantime, I'm going to have to see how I can get on -- and try to stay off the painkillers.

Thankfully I felt better today. No painkillers necessary. I did get a good night's sleep, and although I was busy all day, I tried to keep my stress levels low and relax as much as possible. Only mild exercise today (walking plus stretching).

It's now really time for me to come up with a solution for this pain. I don't want to have another day like this at all.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Health Update

Before starting the Whole Life Challenge, I decided to go to the doctor to get a complete physical as well as complete blood work.

She started with a physical exam. As I was lying on the table and she started to press on my abdomen, I saw an immediate look of concern show on her face. I quickly responded and said, 'I have uterine fibroids.'

She looked completely taken aback and responded, 'but they're so massive.'

It was hard for me to hear, but it's something I already knew.

I feel them all the time. Whenever I wear a dress and see the bulge around my lower abdomen, I get so frustrated because it makes me look like I don't exercise -- but I do! Anyway.

I had to go through the whole explanation again as to what I've been through and where I stand now. She kept saying that it was really, really important for me to get it taken care of. I honestly don't know what to do.

I am kind of ready to start exploring my options for surgical treatment in other countries, but the thought is scary. I don't want to have to go through surgery and recovery again. I just don't. At the same time, I don't want to continue with this pain on a daily basis (it's been quite bad for the past 6 weeks; I have to get back to my acupuncture. I just haven't had time).

Other than the fibroids, my physical health was fine.

My blood work came back and everything was "perfect" (thankfully) except for my iron levels which she said were on the lowest point of the spectrum. This is mainly because of the fibroids. Since I don't want to go on iron tablets (bad side effects), she's told me to try to eat red meat at least 2 times a week. I have no problem with that!

It's a relief to know that there's nothing major wrong. Although I still have this health condition hanging over me, I'm continuing with what I decided to do in November 2011 - do the best I can to be as healthy as I can. It's all I can do right now. I may not have a solution to the fibroid problem, but I know that I can try to get stronger so that my recovery is less painful, and I can continue to eat as healthily as possible so that I minimize other potential complications from the surgery (if there is one).

Friday, October 4, 2013

Change of Sight; Change of Mind

This post is kind of a continuation of what I wrote about last Saturday.

I asked my brother a week or so ago if he wanted to go to the supermarket with me. He said no because he would find the foods there too tempting. Even though he wouldn’t buy anything (because I wouldn’t let him), the sight of the chocolates and everything else would be too much for him at this point.

A few days ago we were out and I stopped at a grocery store. I totally forgot about what he had said. We went in and he saw a huge display of Reeces Pieces peanut butter cups. He was like – oh man! I wish I hadn’t seen that.

Again, he didn’t buy anything, but I could understand the feeling – seeing something you want but knowing you can’t have it/shouldn’t have it. It takes a while to get used to (just like seeing that person you’ve always had a crush on walk away with somebody else – heartbreaking).

It made me realize how much my sight has changed. I don’t even notice these things anymore. I know that there’s a massive chocolate display up at the supermarket I go to regularly. I wouldn’t be able to tell you what’s in it. I just walk right past it. These things just don’t catch my eye anymore, and I’m so glad particularly because I do still have a sweet tooth. I know that I won’t give in to random temptation of going out and buying a chocolate bar. That doesn’t mean that I still don’t feel tempted or have cravings.

I’ve learned to say no. I’ve learned to ignore them. I’ve learned to blind myself to all those unhealthy things.

How did it happen? Practice.

It starts with a determination to change – to tell yourself No. I’m not going to have that anymore. Then it goes on to remapping your path to the destination you want to reach. This is even a remapping of how you approach the supermarket. Write down what you need. Go to exactly those aisles. Forget everything else.

There’s no reason at all for anybody who is trying to lose weight to go into the chocolate or chips aisle. None. Perhaps it’s different with people who have kids – I don’t, so that’s not an issue for me – but I know that you still need to be in control of how you shop and what you buy.

Take it one day at a time. Then move on to one week at a time. Pretty soon you’ll see that your sight does change. Your way of thinking does change. You’ve got to give it time though. You’ve got to be both patient and persistent. Don’t think of it as depriving yourself of ‘goodies.’ Think of it as being strong and mature enough to say no – I don’t need food to make me feel better (because we all know that for the most part, eating junk food does not make us feel better at all).

Make a decision to change and then give it all you’ve got. 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

It's Back

I've got a lovely achy feeling in my arms and legs from my weights workouts this week, and I absolutely love it. It's been about 3 weeks since I put in some serious time in the weight room at the gym. Getting back into lifting has really lifted my spirits. I've been feeling agitated lately, mainly because I haven't been feeling like I have had much control over my time. Taking some much needed 'me' time has helped.

warming up with 60kg deadlifts at the gym yesterday

Today I hit the pool to do some laps and soak up a bit of sun. It felt so good on my achy muscles. That was followed by a lovely yoga sessions which was the perfect way to end a hectic week and start the weekend!


If you haven't read my post from Tuesday 'The Only One' please do take a moment to check it out. Thanks :)

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Only One

Three weeks ago, on a Tuesday, I showed up to Kajukenbo class. We had had a particularly grueling session on the previous Sunday, and I have to admit, I almost didn’t go. My body was sore, and I wasn’t sure I could take another class like that, at least not so soon. Still, I went, because after all, the only way I can improve is if I show up to class and train.

I was the only one that came to class that day. That caught me off guard. I was afraid that the class would be canceled, but it wasn’t. I really appreciated the coach for training with me even though I was the only one there.

If I had thought the Sunday session as tough, this one was even harder. It was pure one-on-one practice, ending with sparring like I’ve never sparred before. I left bruised all over my body, but totally exhilarated because it was quite an experience.

 That following Thursday it really took a lot of courage for me to get ready for class. I was literally beaten, but I knew that if I didn’t go, the fear would build, and then it really would be difficult for me to go.

Unfortunately that day class was cancelled. We didn’t have class until the following Tuesday (so 1 week had passed since my one-on-one training session). That Tuesday, I was the only one who showed up for class again.

I’ll was so nervous because I knew what was in store. At the same time, I felt slightly more confident. We had another great training session. I got to take advantage of the one-on-one time and ask questions about different fighting techniques. The extra practice was invaluable, and once again, I was so happy that the coach trained me even though I was the only one.


Today was the first day of Ray Elbe’s women’s Brazilian Jiujitsu class (BJJ). I was really, really excited because it was an opportunity for me to actually meet other women who were interested in the martial art. Plus joining a course that involved training with a black belt in BJJ was sure to be an awesome experience.

I was the only one who showed up for the class. I was slightly disappointed because I really did want to meet others who shared this interest. Hopefully this was a one off incident and other girls will show up for future classes.

In the meantime, Ray and I had a great session – again, I’m so happy he still held class even though I was the only one. Although I’ve been doing BJJ with D at home, this was a different experience all together. We practice different Jiujitsu drills; he had me doing agility exercises – including cartwheels. OMG. When he said do a cartwheel I had to laugh out loud. I had not done a cartwheel since I was a kid! I am totally amazed that my legs left the ground and I didn’t fall over. I have to admit, it was fun J

The class wasn’t easy, but I enjoyed every single second of it. I left feeling like I had really accomplished something. I can’t wait to go back there next Sunday – even if I do end up being the only one.


Being the only one in class has a lot of advantages – one-on-one attention; more focused, intense training; extra practice time. However, it also has a few disadvantages.

MMA training for women in a place like Kuwait is tough to find. As far as I know, there isn’t any proper MMA training at all. There are just a few classes here and there, which is what I’m trying to take advantage of. My fear is that although I don’t mind being the only one showing up, the coaches may think that it’s not worth their time (or money) holding the class for just one person. I would totally understand that, but I would really find it devastating. In the meantime, Im going to keep showing up, and until other women join too, Ill be focusing on the advantages of being the only one.