Saturday, August 30, 2014

Looking Forward

I can't believe the summer is almost over! It's going to feel so weird for me come September that I'm not heading back to Kuwait University and preparing for class ... I'll miss the interaction with the students, but I don't know if I'll miss much else!

So last night I went and checked out a nearby Martial Arts center. They offer Muay Thai classes which are what I've been looking for.

The place is not too far away and the best thing is that they have early morning classes, which at the moment are probably best for me in terms of my schedule.

The classes start at 6:30 a.m. This means a very early start to my day - which I don't mind - and driving on my own (Yikes! I haven't done that yet!!) to the center. What I really like about the morning Muay Thai classes is that they're followed by Yoga! I've been wanting to reincorporate yoga into my routine and this would be awesome. They've even got a yoga class called Yoga for Muay Thai. I'm really interested to see how that class is.

Now that I've found this place, I feel like my schedule is falling into place and September looks promising.

As I mentioned yesterday, I definitely want to make sure I get enough sleep so that I can put the most into my workouts.

September will be my first full month in London. I want to make the most of it!

Between the workouts and the Whole Life Challenge, I think it's going to be a great month!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Getting used to Sleep

Ever since I was a baby, I have struggled with sleep. My nights were restless. I could never seem to relax enough to get a full night's sleep. Most of the time it was 4-5 hours of restless sleep. At the worst of times, it was 1-2 hours of restless sleep ... and I've gone through periods of time when I wasn't getting any sleep at all, just surviving on 10-20 minute power naps during the day -- and sometimes not even that.

After I cleaned up my diet and increased the intensity of my workouts, my sleep got so much better. Suddenly, I was able to get 6 hours of sleep without any trouble. The more I lifted weights and did my MMA training, my sleep would increase to 7 and sometimes even 8 hours a night. My whole lifestyle changed as I ate earlier dinners, slept earlier in the night, and woke up feeling refreshed with a good 6-7 hours of sleep a night. I would fall asleep immediately, sleep soundly throughout the night, and wake up ready to go.

What a change.

It felt amazing. I started to understand why people loved to sleep so much! Getting those hours of proper rest changed my day and of course they changed the energy I could put into my workouts.

In yesterday's post I wrote that I was feeling out of sorts. I think a lot of it has to do with not getting enough sleep again. Part of it has to do with all the travel. London to Las Vegas & Los Angeles and back ... followed by London to Bangkok and back. My body has been to too many time zones in a short period of time. For the past few days I've been feeling like I'm jet lagged all day.

These evening training sessions are not sitting too well with me. I just haven't figured out how to organize my food, training, and sleep in a way that will help me get the most out of it all.

Last night I finally got a good night's sleep. I got just about 8 hours and it made such a difference.

I've realized that I've got to make sleep a priority. During my insomnia, a 5-hour night would be an amazing night for me. However, now my body knows what it feels like to get 7-8 hours. I think I've become one of those people who says that they can't function on less than 8 hours of sleep a night.

I think with my current schedule getting that much sleep each night will be tough, but I do want to see how I can manage a full 8 hours of sleep during each 24 hour period.

This means that while I'm figuring out my schedule for September, the first thing I'm going to be blocking off is my sleep time. It's got to be sleep first, food second, and activity third (not to mention research, writing, errands, etc. etc. etc.).

I think for my birthday I'd like an extra day of the week please!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

General Update

Things have been ok over here. I'm slowly getting into my new routine. I've got a martial arts place that I'm going to check out tomorrow to see how I can incorporate some Muay Thai into my routine. I'm enjoying my Jiujitsu practice, which I'll be doing 5x a week now, but I really do miss punching and kicking! I hope this new place will have what I'm looking for.

I haven't lifted weights since I returned from Bangkok. I've got my routine all written out, but for some reason I just haven't been able to muster up the enthusiasm to lift -- something very strange for me.

I think part of it is that the Jiujitsu training has been late in the evening. I don't seem to be getting home before 9:30/10:00 p.m. This has thrown off my eating and sleeping schedule. So I'm a bit out of sorts.

Last Sunday I went to the grocery store without a menu or list. I bought the ingredients that I normally buy, but somehow it just didn't come together for me. I felt out of practice.

Yesterday I got back in the kitchen with some mega veggie prep and lots of proteins in the oven. It felt good! Now all I need is a good night's sleep.

Practicing my Triangle Choke

Tuesday, August 26, 2014


It's been raining buckets here in London. I mean serious, serious rain. I used the rain as an excuse to catch up on some much needed rest yesterday, but today I soldiered through ... packed a spare pair of sneakers and another set of clothes in my gym bag, picked up my umbrella, and headed off for the gym.

I was sure that our coach wouldn't hold MetaFit outside. I mean, it was raining after all.

Silly me.

Push ups, squat jumps, plank, etc. etc. You name it, we did it - out in the rain.

I have to admit, they were right. After the first 10 minutes you're drenched with a combination of sweat and rain and it really doesn't matter anymore.

Anyway. Since a number of members at the gym had been nominated to do the Ice Bucket Challenge, our coach decided to help us out after class.

I didn't think it would matter so much because I was already wet, but boy was I wrong. It was FREEZING! You can't see the lumps of ice fall on my head, but trust me, they were there!

I know a lot of people think the challenge is stupid and there is a lot of criticism out there about the challenge. Well, you decide for yourself. In my opinion, anything that raises awareness of any type of charity is good. At the very least, we had a good laugh.

If you've got time, pop over to my Whole Life Challenge blog and read my post about chasing perfection -- and while you're over there, think about joining me in the challenge as well!

Wondering About Chocolate

I don't know what happened to me yesterday, but all I wanted was chocolate. I'm not talking about wanting a tiny piece of just a taste of chocolate. No, I wanted full on chocolate - big amounts and large satisfying chunks.

I can't believe how antsy and restless that craving made me. I was grumpy and annoyed that I didn't have any. My mind kept racing about how I could get my hands on chocolate. It was pouring down with rain all day yesterday so I wasn't about to get out of the house just to buy chocolate. I couldn't just order from a delivery restaurant and have them only bring me chocolate.

Instead of seeing it as a sign, I just saw it as things being stacked up against me.

What in the world?

The only chocolate that was in the house was Bendicks mint chocolates, which is basically an after dinner mint with a thin layer of dark chocolate around it - so little chocolate that it barely makes a difference.

I skipped dinner and 4 of those instead (200 calories).

Today's reflection about my mad craving has nothing to do with the calories/sugar/fat of chocolate. It has to do with figuring out what triggered such an insane craving.

I haven't put my finger on it yet. I wonder if it was just a bad combination of being hungry, lazy, and bored?

The good thing is, not having any proper chocolate, or anything sweet really, in the house helped me avoid a massive binge.

It worries me that I still have these uncontrollable cravings where I just want to stuff my face and to hell with the consequences.

It worries me that I can even say 'to hell with the consequences' which is exactly what I was thinking yesterday.

I wonder if it was because I couldn't have any chocolate that it intensified the desire.

So many things to wonder about.

My biggest downfall to date is still my sweet tooth. Even though I know how bad sugar is for you, the logic hasn't been enough to curb the cravings.

My discipline of not buying sweets for the house is what has saved me from gorging in sweets so far.

I'm just wondering when my thoughts will catch up to my behaviors.

This change sure does come slowly ...

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Attitude for Success

I spent so much time - months/years - lamenting over all the things I couldn't do that I never thought to look at all the things I could do. That negative mentality really held me back.

As soon as I started focusing on all the things I could do, I started taking more chances, pushing myself more, and living life more fully.

I wrote a blogpost about having a Can vs. Can't mentality in relation to doing the Whole Life Challenge. Do check the link out :)

Saturday, August 23, 2014


I joined MyFitnessPal about 1 month ago (you can add me: PlumpetalsFit) and I have to say, I quite like it. I don't completely rely on the numbers they give in terms of calories consumed (I overestimate) and especially not on calories burned (I underestimate), but I do like the fact that it is easy for me to track and I can get an approximation of how many calories I have consumed.

My main meals have been good; however, I still struggle with snacking. Even if I snack on 'healthy' foods - such as nuts or dates, they still have a lot of calories and are ranked high on the GI index. I really need to get a hold on that.

As I prepare for both the upcoming week and the Whole Life Challenge (which starts on September 13th and I urge you to virtually join me for the challenge - read more about it here), my main goal is to avoid snacking and divide my proper meals into smaller portions. When I was on the challenge, I was a lot better at doing this. I would make a bigger portion of lunch or dinner and then I would divide it into two. I'd eat one part for dinner and the other part the next day for lunch - sometimes even for breakfast!

Adjusting the way I thought about meals, e.g. a snack doesn't have to be carrots and hummus or some fruit, it can actually be a smaller meal, helped me eat in a way that was more fulfilling and gave me longer-lasting energy.

It sounds so logical when I typed that out -- why haven't I followed the strategy?!

The thing is, at this point, I really do know better. It's time for me to stop being lazy and just do the things that need to be done.

I know that working out is not enough - I've got to eat right. Eating right 85% of the time isn't cutting it for me. I've got to ramp it up to 95-100% of the time. I know I can do it -- I've just got to get on with it!

So I guess I'm back to my old good habits -- planning, tracking, eating, exercising, drinking water, and sleeping. Gotta get to it!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Right Back into It

I think my jet lag has worked in my favor this time -- well, slightly.

I did not get much sleep on the plane, so I was more than ready to hit the sack soon after I got home (just before midnight). I slept so soundly that I woke up refreshed at 6 a.m. and I was ready to go.

I mainly took care of a few errands, did a ton of laundry, and got in my workouts.

I was debating whether or not I should lift weights. In the end I ended up doing just over 3 km on the treadmill before MetaFit class. As exhausting as all that jumping around was, it was the perfect way to get right back into my fitness routine.

Although I started to get more tired towards the evening, I powered through and got to Jiujitsu class in the evening.

I am so determined to make the most of each day in terms of my workouts and food -- I just feel like no matter what kind of routine or plan I set for myself, inevitably something will come up. With that in mind, I want to focus on the day ahead and give it all I've got.

Speaking of giving it all I've got ...

Another round of the Whole LIfe Challenge begins on September 13, 2014. I've done the Whole Life Challenge several times over the past 2 years and I've always been so happy with the results. Aside from the 8 weeks of the challenge, I've found that the results are long lasting because the good habits you develop over the course of the challenge become part of your routine. It's been the main thing that has helped keep me from straying too far from my goals.

The big question I have for you is -- are you brave enough to try it out?
For more information, you can check out my blog post:

And if you feel like you're ready to join, then copy and paste this link: -- and follow the prompts to complete the registration process.

(Early registration $39/GBP 24; regular registration feel $45/GBP 27.5) The official website has answers to many frequently asked questions (

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Return from Bangkok

I'm back from my two week trip to Bangkok, Thailand where I went to see how my brother has been doing. He's been in the hospital there for a month now. In fact, he just came out of a second surgery this  morning during which the doctors have been working to remove a tumor from his spine which has compromised his movement.

There are still many unanswered questions in relation to his condition. For now, all I have to say is that he's recovering and the doctors are working to help him regain his mobility.

The trip was a rather stressful one. It wasn't at all like going on a vacation as it was filled with worry and endless hours at the hospital.

I stayed in a hotel very close to the hospital, just a few minutes walk. I was lucky in that the hotel served a breakfast buffet every morning and it had a cute little cafe that served the most delicious salads. Although I did snack a bit, my main meals were pretty much the same each day and I returned with a 1 kg loss. The hotel also had a gym, which I took advantage of. Plus, since I was in Thailand, I had to check out some Muay Thai training. I would have loved to have done more, but at least I got in a few lessons. My Muay Thai coach in Kuwait actually has an affiliated training center in Bangkok so he hooked me up. The gym held a fight night while I was there so I even got to see my first live Muay Thai fights!

Now I'm back in London and really hoping for some uninterrupted time to establish a routine! The biggest distraction now is my worry for my brother, but we are continuing to stay positive and hope for the best!

Pretty much what I had for breakfast each morning - scrambled eggs, raw veggies, smoked salmon -- I had the occasional slice of bread -- oh and fruit each morning

I had this delicious Nicoise salad almost every single night while in Bangkok. 

I had to walk through this ancient Chinese cemetary to get to Fighting Spirit Gym for early morning (7 a.m.) Muay Thai training. It was creepy but also beautiful.

Me and fighter Zidov Akuma

One of the fights during Fight Night at Fighting Spirit Gym

I only had time to exercise in the mornings, so I'd get up at 5:30 a.m. and hit the gym -- it wasn't always easy, but it was definitely always worth it!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Moment by Moment

I'm writing this post from Bangkok. I'm here to support my brother during his treatment/recovery. We received an initial diagnosis 2 days ago ... But there are more details to work out.

When I first heard the diagnosis, I immediately went online to start researching the condition -- but then I stopped. There was just too much info out there and I didn't have enough details to really know what I was looking for. There were good statistics and scary statistics -- I thought it was best to hold off on doing more research until I had more answers ... As of right now, we're still waiting.

It's been hard to stop my mind from wandering. For the past two days I've just concentrated on things one task at a time. Wake up. Work out. Errands. Pack. Cook. Eat. Sleep.

The fact that I'm here in Bangkok feels strange. I think it's because I'm not on vacation. People ask me - business or pleasure? Neither really.

It felt strange seeing my parents sitting outside the hospital waiting for me. The last time I saw them was when I dropped my brother off in Bangladesh for treatment -- and that was just a couple minutes of tearful hugs.

Now here we are.

I don't know what to make of all of this -- seeing my brother in a hospital bed; tubes attached to him; unable to move his legs -- though a tiny bit of sensation has started to come back.

We're all trying to be strong. Trying to stop our minds from wandering. Trying to take it one moment at a time.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Progressing despite Disruptions

My acceptance of chaos as the default status of my life has been the only thing that has helped me keep pushing forward over the past few years. I still make plans. I still have the intention to do certain things -- but then life happens and it is just chaos.

I've said it many times before, I don't function well without a plan. I like having a routine (not just for food and fitness, but for everything), and I like being able to stick to it. More than anything, the plan helps me measure my progress. Did I get things done? Have I accomplished anything within X amount of time? Or did I waste the past day/week/month/year sitting on the couch waiting for the perfect circumstances.

Not having a plan/routine stresses me out. I don't feel like I have any control over my life -- and the temptation to just say 'Fuck it' is really high. Things aren't going my way now so why bother?

Luckily, I those silly tantrums only last a short amount of time and I can move on. Some days it's easier to move on than others. Still, I move on.

My whole plan for the end of July (after returning from vacation) was to spend my days eating right, working out, and planning a good routine for August. I talked about gathering my tools for success - joining Weight Watchers, joining My Fitness Pal (I'm PlumpetalsFit if you want to add me), making sure to wear my FitBit every day. I also talked about researching food plans and trying to come up with some sort of eating program that will help optimize my training and break through this wretched plateau I'm stuck on once again.

Of course after all that, I am not preparing for yet another trip abroad. I do love to travel - however, this trip was unplanned and isn't really for pleasure. I'm anxious about it as I am worried about my brother's condition and I do hope that some breakthrough will be made while I'm there.

In the end, it's family first.

So, that's life. I'm getting on with things as that really is the only way. Of course I will plan (hahaha) some sort of fitness regime to follow while I'm abroad, but in the meantime, an update on how things have been progressing after my move to London in terms of my fitness.

I really have not had a proper weight lifting session for almost a year. After dislocating my wrist in November and going through a long healing period, my weight training recently has been more about recovery rather than increase in strength.

After moving to London, I set up a program to cover some basic lifts. My goal was to work towards rebuilding the strength I had when I was doing CrossFit regularly.

Today was my last training day of my program, and I'm quite pleased with how I've done. Given my circumstances (moving to London, going away on a 2 week vacation, then a 3 day weekend, and dealing with family stuff), I am happy with my progress.

Here's my chart (these are not all the exercises I did nor are they listed in the order of my program) --
4 sets x 10 reps each

London Fitness Progress
7 weeks 

Start Weight
End Weight
20 kg
70 kg
Deadlift (quads)
20 kg
55 kg
Deadlift (hamstrings)
20 kg
50 kg
Chest press
20 kg
30 kg
Cable chest flies
Low row
13.5 kg
31.5 kg
Incline chest press (db)
5 kg/hand
11 kg/hand
One point row (db)
5 kg/hand
8 kg/hand
Push press
20 kg
30 kg
One arm shoulder press (db)
5 kg
9 kg
10 kg
25 kg
Lateral pull
31.5 kg
Cable pull downs
13.5 kg
40.5 kg
Row (db)
5 kg/hand
9 kg/hand

I still haven't reached the heaviest weights that I lifted before, but I really am quite happy with my progress, especially because I confidently completed all of the reps in excellent form but with some difficulty. I know that I was pushing myself, but I also know that I'm ready to move on.

I'm looking forward to continuing to build my strength.

After today's gym session of lifting, boxing, treadmill, and stretching -- loving my new Nike leggings - the color cheers me up :) 

Friday, August 1, 2014

Where did the Week Go?

I can't believe it's Friday already! I actually didn't realize what day it was until I read somebody else's blog with the same opening statement! I was like what?! How did that happen?

It has been a busy, busy week. A quick update:

1) Weight training: I only got 2 weight sessions in this week, but they were both really good. Ever since I came to London (and also during the time I was training on vacation), I've been rotating 3 weight lifting routines (5 different exercises in each routine, 10 reps each). I'm so happy to see progress! I have one more weight training session left of this program before I move on to something a bit different.

2) Cardio: My cardio has mainly been walking and circuit training through MetaFit class. I did a couple days of HIIT training on the treadmill, working in a few sprints, but it's still not easy on my knees. I so desperately want to run, but I keep getting knocked back. I think I need to continue to work on strength training and hopefully that will have a positive impact on my running.

3) Jiujitsu: I finally restarted jiujitsu training this week! I was so happy to get back into it, but not so thrilled to be training in a gi. I just don't find it comfortable. Still, the two sessions were really good. We worked on rear naked chokes and triangle chokes - some of my favorite moves :)

4) Weight Watchers: My first weight watchers weigh in was frustrating. I lost 1/2 kg. I wasn't surprised. I had 3 meals out during the week so I'm sure that didn't help. This week they started talking about pro points but it all sounds a bit complicated for me for where I'm at. I'm sticking to the simple start plan until I see a bit more movement with my weight.

5) My Food: The biggest effort I've made this past week as to cut down my dinner portions. Even though my dinners are clean and healthy, I know that I need to watch how much I'm eating. I've been doing that, but I've been going to bed hungry, and I really hate that feeling. Still, I survive through it. I'm going to keep at it for a while and see where it goes. The discipline has to pay off at some point.

6) Tracking: I wear my Fitbit to track my steps and I've been logging into My Fitness Pal for the past 2 weeks now. I don't rely on the numbers they give for calories burned during activities, but tracking food has been good. I've connected with a few people on My Fitness Pal -- if you're on it, do look me up! I find the extra connection helpful and motivating!

7) Update on my brother: He's still in hospital. There's still no confirmed diagnosis. Today, for the first time after his surgery last week, he was able to move his legs a bit (after an aggressive treatment with steroids). I'll be flying to Bangkok next week - I'm just too far away from my family during such a stressful time. Applying for my visa too huge chunks of time out of my days this week. It's always such a frustrating process. If you don't have to apply for visas to travel, count your blessings!!!

8) Final thoughts: I was so hoping to fall into a more normal routine starting August 1st. However, with my upcoming travel, it looks like that is not going to happen. I know that several blog posts ago I accepted the fact that my norm was to have a chaotic schedule, but still -- the lack of routine is so difficult to deal with. I'm trying to stay positive and keep working at it. Regardless of what's going on, the basics never change -- eat healthy and keep exercising.