Friday, January 31, 2014

Fitness Fun

A friend of mine posted this on Instagram and it made me laugh! (By the way, I'm PlumPetalsFit on Instagram -- look me up if you're on it too!)

My Fitness name turns out to be Hot Ass -- Hmmm not yet, but I'm definitely workin' on it ;) 

I practiced with Mikey today -- the latest member of the family :) He took the ground and pound like a champ! ;)

Ya, it was a pink training day today.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Morning Workout Mishaps

I love working out in the mornings. I usually have the gym all to myself, or at the very least, there are only a handful of people around. I like the 'me' time before I get thrown into my day. I liked the idea of getting my workout over and done with just in case something else comes up during the day or I start to feel lazy. It's all good stuff.

The empty gym at 6:45 a.m. 

A few things that I need to work on:

1. Have my gym bag, work clothes, and work bag plus post-workout food ready the night before. I've been good at having most of my stuff ready. However, most just doesn't cut it. I don't like being frantic and rushed before leaving the house. I really need to have it all prepared beforehand to avoid the morning chaos.

My morning prep 
Yes, it bugs me that my gym bag is not a shade of green to go with the gym outfit. 

2. When it comes to work clothes, I need to make sure I have all the necessary components to my outfit, because if I've forgotten something, I'm outta luck. A couple examples of things that happened to me this week:
- the pair of shoes I chose for my outfit matched perfectly -- but somehow were too big on my feet! I was slipping and sliding in them and ended up stuffing Kleenex in the toes to help me stay in place.
- the early morning haze turned into stormy clouds and I got caught in a downpour of rain while wearing a silk dress and sandals! Had I been home, I would have definitely opted for warmer clothing and my Hunter boots!

Tuesday's shoes -- love them, though after 6 hours of being on my feet - following 'leg day' at the gym, I was more than ready to kick them off! 
I may keep a spare more comfortable pair in my office at work. 

3. Since I'm not having dairy or processed foods during the WLC, my post-workout meal hasn't been the easiest to decide. I want something easy to carry, easy to eat, and filling. So far I've either been having my eggs and avocado mix or chicken with mixed vegetables. I eat half of it while I'm in the locker room and the other half after my class. The food would taste better warm, but right now I'm just eating it cold. It's all I have the time/facilities for. I'd like to think of something a little more enjoyable. For right now though, 'food is fuel' is my mantra.

Standing and Eating - A terrible habit of mine, but one I've been engaging in a lot lately.

4. I need to have my routine set. Since my time is limited, I really don't have the luxury of coming up with an impromptu workout plan. I think this will be better from next week. This week was all about testing out my timing and my energy. I now know what time I need to end my workouts by in order to have enough time to shower, change, eat, and drive to work in time for my office hours/class. I also feel a lot better since I've incorporated my sprint/HIIT training with the C25K program. I also think I'm doing alright for my weights -- I'll know more after my doctor's appointment on Saturday (wish me luck).

All in all, this first week of getting back to my gym routine followed by heading to work has been good. I definitely feel energetic after my morning workout, though I also feel really hungry throughout the day. I need to be careful of exactly how much I'm eating and make sure that I really am using food for fuel and not consuming unnecessary calories.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

When I Can

As much as I have wanted to blog daily, for the past few months I just haven't been able to. Things have been busy. It's not just work, it's everything. There have been a couple of stressful family things that have been looming over my head since November and I don't seem to have been able to move past them. It's a waiting game -- and waiting makes me anxious.

Anxiety makes me lose sleep (more like restless sleep - waking up several times during the night) and feel like I can't breathe.
Restless sleep and that type of stress makes me feel fidgety all day.

It's not a good cycle.

The Whole Life Challenge has been great in helping me stay on track with my food and exercise, but even though I have been working out daily and eating right, my weight has stayed the same. I don't know if it is because of the stress or the tense sleep that my body is not reacting the way it should be (at least they way I think it should be reacting).

In any case -- I'm doing what I can, when I can.

I'm loving the fact that I can hit the gym early in the morning again. Since I don't teach until later in the morning, I can be at the gym by 6:45 am and get in a nice 2 hour workout before going to work. I've also been going to my Kajukenbo training, so my workouts have really been making me feel good, even though I am desperate to pick up some weights!

Since I wanted to work on my running/sprint work on some mornings, I decided to restart C25K. I had made such good progress with the program and then I stopped a week before completing it - such a shame! In any case, I'm starting from Day 1 again and during the run portions I'm running faster than I had before, and including 20-30 second sprints in some segments. It's been tough, but it feels so good once I'm done!

Saturday, January 25, 2014


I don't know where the days are going. I seem to be doing something every minute of the day. I was hoping that this semester would be easy, especially given that I've taught this course for years and last year my lesson plans/power point slides were really good. However, I found out last week that the book that we're using has been changed -- that means that all my plans from last year are useless. I mean, a few things are salvageable, but it still means putting in several hours a week preparing for class.

Last week I got back to my Kajukenbo training. That felt really good. The class is full of new faces - all new to the class. This whole week I was the only yellow belt that showed up, so I was used a number of times to demonstrate some of the moves. There are a few things that I'm good at and others that I struggle with. Thursdays class involved kicks -- my kicking sucks. I just have no power behind my kicks. I left class with tears in my eyes, totally dissatisfied with how I performed in class. Even my coach's words of encouragement didn't lift my mood. I know I'm hard on myself -- I get frustrated. What can I say?

On Wednesday I started my morning gym routine. I'd like to hit the gym 4 times a week plus do my Kajukenbo 3 times a week. I still have my Brazilian Jiujitsu training to work into the mix - I haven't been able to do that so far. However, I'm meeting with my coach next week and we'll see what can be arranged.

It felt great to get back to the gym albeit still very frustrating because I can't use my arms/upper body. On Wednesday I focused on legs (what else could I do?). I really pushed myself and I was pleased with how my workout went.

However, when I woke up on Thursday, I could barely walk. Every step was painful (the good, but torturous kind of pain). I got myself to the gym and got on the treadmill. Somehow I managed to push out an HIIT workout. It's been a long time since I've sprinted. Given how sore my legs were, I don't know how I stayed on the treadmill. After that I decided to do some core work - plank, crunches, reverse curls etc.

Again, I'm frustrated because although there are lots of exercises I can do without my arms, I feel like it's a bit of overkill on my legs. I know that I'm just getting back into the routine, so initial soreness is to be expected, but what about later? Suppose I still can't use my arms for another month? How much leg work can I do while still being effective?

That night at Kajukenbo, as luck would have it, we ran, worked on sprints, and did all sorts of leg exercises plus focused on kicks.


It was hard enough going down the stairs to get to class, but then to focus on legs? It was tough. Really tough.

I know that added to my disappointing performance. However, I don't want to make excuses. I don't want to say that my kicks sucked because I was sore. I need to find a way to get past this.

I need to find a way to schedule my workouts so I'm not exhausted and that I can give 100% in whatever I'm doing. I haven't figured out how to do this yet.

To help me get over my frustration about class, my brother was kind enough to be my tackling dummy this weekend. I feel much better now that I've put in a few more hours of practice. I still have so much further to go though. It's ok - I just have to keep at it.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Back to Reality

The last few days have been a bit of a blur. That always happens after I return from a holiday. However, now that the semester has started, I feel like things are going to be a lot better since I'll actually have a bit of a routine to follow. Boy have I missed having a routine!

The past few days have been about slowly readjusting to being back home. Dad is here again -- I'm just glad that each time it's getting a bit better in terms of his and my arguments about food. I'm definitely getting a lot stronger when it comes to ignoring what people say and just brushing off food-pushers. It's a necessity. When it comes to eating right for your health, you've got to put yourself first. If I look back at last year, I can see that I was really disciplined for most of the year. However, those days when I was not disciplined caught up to me, even though they were in the minority. That realization is something that I need to keep in mind. I know that despite my good intentions, I did not end 2013 the way I had wanted to in terms of my weight. Whether it was the holiday season, the travel, the monthly bloating - whatever. I don't think there is any excuse for my weight to have gone up that much -- but it did, and I felt terrible. Now that I've been on the Whole Life Challenge for 11 days, the weight is consistently coming off and I'm feeling good. As soon as I get back into my regular workout routine, I know I'll feel even better.

There are lots of things I need to work on, and I have quite a few goals that I want to reach by the end of May. I'm still working out the details. For right now, at least until Dad leaves, I'm just doing what I can to eat healthy and get in my daily exercise. My workouts have been ok - I need to step it up a notch (or three!).

It felt so good to stock up on lots of greens and proteins. My home is a total Eat Clean zone! 

On Saturday there was a competition at our CrossFit box -- I didn't participate, but I did judge. It was fun -- I can't wait until my wrist has healed enough for me to get back to lifting weights! 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Holiday Recap

No matter how old I am, I think I will always cry when I say good-bye to my mom. The people at the airport/on my flights must have thought I was suffering through some enormous tragedy because I kept welling up. It was so hard for me to leave her behind --- yet I was ready to come 'home.'

My trip to Bangladesh was great. Despite the horrendous political situation, I enjoyed my time there. My only regret was not being able to spend more time with my mother and my grandmother. Still, I had fun.

Here are a few pix from my trip:

We took a day trip to a nearby village where we have a farm. I got to pick some fresh fruits and vegetables - something that I definitely don't get to do in Kuwait! Farm to table indeed! 

I love CNGs and rickshaws! I didn't get to ride in a rickshaw this time, but I enjoyed my jerky adventure in a CNG :)

I got to meet up with some old friends. These are the girls that took me in and helped me adjust to life in Bangladesh when I was there during the 1990/1991 Gulf War. 

My mom and I *love her*

My grandmother and I *love her too!* 

This is the rooftop of our apartment building -- and it was my gym while I was in Dhaka. Mom and I would walk in the evenings. I also did sprints and other body weight exercises in addition to running stairs every once in a while. 

There was something so simple and charming about the markets in Dhaka. Perhaps it can be seen as primitive -- but it was something I loved to see - shopkeepers with their wares. 

There is so much to say about my country. It's one of those places (like Kuwait) that you just can't understand until you actually go and visit. The first thing that will strike you is the absolute poverty and the endless number of people on the street. It's poor and it's crowded.  Yet once you get past that (and it does take some time) a different type of beauty is revealed.

Something about my trip really struck me this time. I just felt so appreciative of everything I had. Even though my country is in turmoil at the moment, I felt an enormous amount of love for Bangladesh. It was a good feeling. It felt like home. A few years ago, a heart-breaking survey revealed that it was the worst country in the world to live in -- how sad. However, another survey revealed that it also had the happiest people in the world -- that's the country I saw during my trip to Dhaka this year. I hope this happy spirit, despite the poverty and corruption, continues to thrive.

Monday, January 13, 2014


It's day 6 in Bangladesh and things are going great. The first two days had me a bit alarmed because I had to visit family members who I hadn't seen in so long -- and the way we celebrate is through food.

Lots of food.

Rich food.

And to make it worse, delicious, delicious food. Our family has been blessed (cursed) with the talent of being amazing cooks.

I ate a lot more than I thought I would, but I also enjoyed the food a LOT more than I thought I would.

It felt like I was home.

However, after 2 days, I was done.

The Whole Life Challenge started, and I was determined to stay on track as much as possible. My mom has totally been my hero helping me stay on track -- cooking me separate food, making sure I have everything I need, and most importantly, having my back when it comes to defending my food choices. It's been a relief.

I'm on Day 3 of the challenge and it's all going well.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Putting the Plan into Action

I had good time this morning as I researched different yoga poses to do for the Make a Change challenge. I came across the website Yoga Journal and spent ages browsing through the links. The site is terrific. It breaks down the poses by type and then for each type it gives you a variety of exercises with their explanations. I knew of a lot of the poses, but seeing them on the screen really helped me put together a plan of different yoga poses that I want to practice while my wrist heals.

Having my list as well as the MMA drills that I wanted to practice (bjj, kajukenbo, and kickboxing skills) made it much easier for me to get on the mat and actually workout. I hope that this will be enough to get me through the next 2 weeks while I'm away.

I leave for the airport in 2 hours -- time to get everything else sorted!


Sunday, January 5, 2014

Make a Change

I was reading Deb's blog and she mentioned a challenge hosted by Fitness, Health and Happiness called Make a Change Challenge. The challenge is to choose something you want to change and follow through with it for 21 days. A lot of the people who are doing the challenge are focusing on dietary changes (e.g. no dairy, no soda, no gluten etc.). However, since I'll be doing the Whole Life Challenge from Jan. 11, I decided to focus on something else.

Since October I feel like my fitness regime has not been going my way. I have yet to fully recover from my bout of bronchitis that started in the beginning of October. After that, I injured my wrist.

I was determined to make the best of the situation and do what I could. I thought - ok, since I can't do my usual yoga poses, I'll do ones that don't require me to use my hands; I may  not be able to grapple, but I can still do different drills related to my MMA training.

I haven't done either.

I still stretch and workout regularly (almost 100% cardio), but I haven't been doing the things that I wanted to focus on. I've just been lazy. It's easy to walk, but it's not easy to get myself on the jiujitsu mats and do drills on my own (especially since they're challenging). I need to stop this. I need to do the things that intimidate me and make me a bit uncomfortable. There's no point staying in my comfort zone!

So, for the next 21 days (Jan. 6 - Jan. 21), I'll be focusing on daily yoga stretching and specific MMA drills. I need to make a list of them - I'll do that in the morning - so that I have a checklist that I can follow each day. The good thing is that I should be able to do pretty much all these exercises while I'm away on vacation too.

I know that having a plan will help me feel better and stay focused.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Thinking About My Trip

I'm a bit stressed over my upcoming trip. I think it's partly because I'm not even close to getting over my jet lag from returning from the States. Being sleep deprived in out of sync from any type of routine has me in a funk. Add to that my car being in the garage, the gloomy weather with a downpour of rain, terrible crams, my cough, and my injured wrist - to say that I'm grumpy is an understatement!

Shopping in preparation to travel to Bangladesh is always a bit challenging. People have requests for things that they'd like me to bring. I don't mind, but I asked them to let me know 2 weeks ago. I know that I'll get requests until the last minute. I know I can only do so much, but there's always the risk of offending someone if you don't cater to their wishes.

All I want to do is spend time with my parents and my grandmother. I'll be seeing them after 18 months -- plus this is the first trip after my aunt passed away. There are so many emotions that I'm feeling in relation to that. The fact that she's not there still seems surreal to me. I don't fully believe it. I think that I'm afraid that going there and not seeing her around the house and not hearing her voice or seeing her smile will devastate me. I don't want to go through it. In this case, ignorance is bliss.

All these feelings and thoughts directly manifest themselves in once again having a negative self-image. I don't feel like myself. I don't feel like I look like myself. I just want to jump out of my skin. I'm trying hard not to spit out negative comments about myself when I look in the mirror. I'm trying to tell myself to get a grip; I've moved past this way of thinking; I know better.

Yet I feel part of myself spiraling out of control. I'm nitpicking on little things that annoy me -- why didn't X return my call? Why didn't Y respond to my email? Why did Z forget to do the one thing I asked to be done?

It's be cause I'm ---- insert whatever negative thought you can think of.


I'm driving myself crazy.

I guess the fact that the other half of myself is trying to reign it all in and stay calm and collected is a good thing. I'm not bingeing on foods; I'm not taking any self-destructive actions -- I'm slowly treading on. Bit by bit. Step by step.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Video Highlights

A few fitness highlights from 2013

Meeting and Training with MMA stars in 2013

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Eating Out

I love to travel. I've been blessed with several opportunities to travel over the past several years and in particular over the past 2 years. In terms of that passion, ending 2013 and starting 2014 with travel sounded great to me.

However, travel is not always conducive to eating clean (or training dirty).

Over the past 2 years my eating while I'm abroad traveling has changed quite a lot. During most of my trips I have come back either maintaining or losing weight. Portion control, healthier substitutions, and regular exercise while being abroad have been my saving graces.

This past trip to Vegas was not as successful.

Even though I had an amazing time, going such a long way for such a short time was really tough to deal with in terms of general fatigue and insane jet lag. The lack of sleep 2-3 hours a night plus having a cold totally sucked. I found myself snacking more than eating proper meals.

Out of the 5 days that I was there, I hit the gym twice and walked 2-3 miles each day. Still, it wasn't enough to offset the food. While I don't feel like I've lost all control, I do feel unhealthy. I just don't feel as light and fit as before I left.

The only thing to do really is get right back on track, which I have no problem with.

However, in 4 days I'll be on a plane again. This time I'll be heading to Bangladesh to see my family. Bangladesh will be tricky because the eating style there is SO different. Plus there are family expectations (though I've learned how to say no - firmly). Right now the political situation is not good in the country. There are lots of strikes (sometimes violent), so movement around the country will not be easy or safe for that matter.

Joining a gym or having a wide selection of foods is not a luxury that I'll have on this trip. It'll be interesting to see how I cope.

Working out in Las Vegas

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Hello 2014!

Happy New Year!!

The last few weeks of 2013 were really busy for me, as you can see from my lack of posting towards the end of the year. I just couldn't seem to find the time to sit down and write. On top of all that, I feel sick again and spent the last 2 weeks of 2013 with another bout of bronchitis (and it's still lingering).

I spent the end of the year in Las Vegas. D & I decided to fly out for UFC 168. Since we were there for UFC 162 this past summer, during which the outcome of the main event (Anderson Silva vs. Chris Weidman) was very surprising (Weidman won), we decided to go and watch the rematch. On top of that, Ronda Rousey, my favorite female fighter, was fighting (Rousey won, yay!!). The event was awesome, and although it was a very long way to go for such a short period of time, it was totally worth it!

A few highlights of my trip:

Meeting UFC Heavyweight Champion Cain Valasquez

Meeting Jessamyn Duke - Contender on The Ultimate Fighter Season 18 (TUF 18)

Meeting Shayna Baszler - Contender on The Ultimate Fighter Season 18 (TUF 18)

I met Grand Master Janice Somera earlier this year when she came to Kuwait to give a Kajukenbo seminar. Meeting her was really special for me as she somehow unlocked something inside of me that helped me dig deep and push forward, not just with MMA training, but with my approach to life in general. I don't think words can describe the positive and powerful influence she had on me. It was an absolute miracle that she was in Las Vegas at the same time I was -- being able to spend a few hours with her was a wonderful way to end the year.

Me at UFC 168

Team Rousey on board! 

So here we are, Jan. 1, 2014 -- I went back to my post from Jan. 1st of last year to see what I had written as my goals/expectations for the year. It was strange to read the goals. I feel like I accomplished a lot, but when it comes to actually looking at the list and ticking things off, 2013 was not a successful year for me. There are so many things I did not achieve (e.g. I gave up on my burpee challenge; I didn't run my 10km etc.) Is it strange that I feel like 2013 was a very good year for me yet I didn't achieve those goals? Maybe I need to keep track of all the things I did achieve that were not on my list of resolutions/goals:

- I became a certified Fitness Nutritionist
- I became a certified Fitness/Personal trainer
- I successfully completed the Whole Life Challenge twice (coming in 7th place and tied first respectively)
- I continued to consistently lose weight (though I did not reach my goal weight)
- I've made a lot of progress with my MMA training
- I feel like living healthy really is part of my lifestyle and I'm no longer frantically searching for the 'right way' to lose weight; I'm still tweaking, but I feel confident in knowing what I need to do and doing it

After writing all that down, I don't feel so bad. Of course there were many circumstances that I had not planned on during the year (illness, injury, out of town visitors, travel), but despite those, I think I did a good job staying on track.

I have only one overarching goal for 2014: Be healthy and happy. 

Each month I'll still be keeping track of my progress. Setting small monthly goals also helps me keep on track and keep moving forward.

Jan. 2014 Goals: 
(I'm still recovering from my cold & struggling with my wrist injury, so I don't think my physical activity will be too ambitious this month)

1) Daily stretching (minimum 15 minutes)
2) Complete 20 workouts
3) Drink at least 3.5 L of water on a daily basis
4) Post 2 recipes
5) Complete 1 abstract & sort through File 1 of research articles