Saturday, November 30, 2013

Before, During, and After

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

Me & Benny the turkey :) 

Thanksgiving 2013 - kept it simple this year

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Holiday Food

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

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

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

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

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Random Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Work Continues

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

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

I think we can all see where this is heading.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 21, 2013


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Every little effort helps!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Earning my Yellow Belt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Getting back to the test:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Focusing on my strengths is what helped me go through.

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

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

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

I barely remember anything else.

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

It was really something.

Now -- on to working towards the purple belt!

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

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

I have a yellow belt in Kajukenbo!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Collateral Damage

Consequences. Consequences. Consequences.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 4, 2013

Now not Later

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Use it or Lose it

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

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

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

The same realization came to me again at Kajukenbo tonight.

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

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

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

Saturday, November 2, 2013

HIIT with Ray Elbe

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

Yesterday, I decided to check it out. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 1, 2013

November Goals

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, my goals for November are:

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

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