Self-Improvement

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Veterans. Giving thanks for all those who have sacrificially and faithfully served our nation to preserve our freedom.

Moves.

  • Friday morning swim with Abby. Swimming is probably the best workout I get these days, which is expected, because as I’ve been saying, air is more of a premium in this activity.
  • Saturday upper body strength
    • 3×15 TRX rows, 3×10 alternating atomic / pike pushups
    • 3×8-10 lat pulldowns, 3×1 min. plank
    • 3×10 bicep curl to OH press, 3×10 single leg box squats (R leg kicked back for balance only)
    • 3×10 DB shoulder abduction to horizontal abduction (raise side and then bring front), 3×8 weighted pistols on L leg only
    • 3×7-8 bodyweight dips
  • Sunday rowing
    • 5x500m row, 12 pushups between sets
    • 2×10 light L leg press (R toe contact only)
    • 10 minutes of abs (15 rounds of 30 sec on/10 sec off)

I was hungry and sluggish at the end of that last one, but it felt great to get the heart rate up!

Officially a stress fracture. Although I have known in the depths of my heart that I had a stress fracture in my femur, I only just received the official diagnosis from the orthopedist this past Friday.

*Orthopedist walks into room*: “Alison! You win the trophy! You have a stress fracture!”

Me: *kinda confused at his reaction* “Really!? Wow I wasn’t actually expecting to have one (at this point, because I am in virtually zero pain these days).” *laughs because shocked but also relieved and kinda still confused about why he’s smiling so big*

He seemed impressed that I self-diagnosed myself, especially since my stress fracture is in such a rare spot (the shaft of the femur), but he also knew that I am a PT student, so #ifyouknowyouknow.

His prescribed precautions: Crutches for one more week (unless it starts to hurt again). No running/super high impact exercise for 3 months. Biking and rowing are okay if it does not hurt. Strength training can slowly progress from light weight on machines and then free squatting in a month.

Honestly, the ramifications are not as bad as I thought for having a tiny crack in the strongest bone in my body. I am just amped to get the crutches outta my life by the end of this week! My left leg is going to be 2 inches larger in diameter by the end of this though, because it has literally been pulling most of the weight.

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Self-improvement. While my best friend and her husband are celebrating one whole year of marriage and adulthood stuff, I have been realizing more and more ways in which I am a) not a real adult yet, despite being > 18 years old; b) an uninformed potato. To combat my ignorance, I have started:

  • praying about little ways by which I can educate myself more without being overwhelmed with doing ALL THE THINGS and while still maintaining my priorities
  • listening to podcasts (various news, Stuff You Should Know, Freakonomics)
  • writing and (actually) checking my to-do list throughout the day
  • trying to shave off time from thinking “what should I do,” and just doing something

Date day. Food, studying, and Mass — the usual, but so much better with this sweet fella! We went to Gene’s Flatbread Cafe in Chinatown for their famous lamb cumin hand pulled noodles, and ooooo baby those noodles were doughy and delightful. The broth and lamb were so flavorful!

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“It was a v good day.” - @the_johnle

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Followed by conversation + studying at Starbucks and then Mass. Thank you for a wonderful day, John!

Hype girl. Shoutout to my friend, Megan, who will say to every person (when I am present): “alison underscore grooves… her instagram and blog game are SO STRONG.” Megan — you are the best hype girl out there. Thank you for the support! ♥︎

Brother. Happy 26th birthday, best pal. Miss your guts!

So tell me:

What are some ways you seek to self-improve currently?

Do you listen to podcasts (any recs)? What did you do this weekend?

Veganism. Also, humility.

Veganism? Don’t get too excited now.

My friend Zoe told me that she watched the documentary called, “Game Changers,” which is about how a vegan diet has transformed athletes’ performance in a positive and tremendous way (in addition to lowering blood triglyceride and cholesterol levels). As a result, she and some of her friends are doing a 7-day vegan challenge.

This got me thinking… I’ve neither watched the documentary nor ever considered veganism for myself, but I have wondered whether I could sustain that kind of diet.

Resource-wise: 100% yes in a city like Boston or New York.

Enjoyment-wise: Sure. I really enjoy the taste of well-seasoned bean and tofu dishes. That being said, I would miss dairy and eggs a LOT. More than I would miss meat probably. Then again, restaurant food would never be the same, and I would really be bummed out if I couldn’t have salmon or eel sushi. Or like, 25 cent chicken wings.

Time-wise: Probably not too different from my meal prep currently.

Desire-wise: The kicker. I honestly need to educate myself more on the benefits of veganism and sustainability in general, because I think the main reason I would switch would be for sustainability reasons (from what I hear). But I would first want to find ways to practice more sustainability through a diet that still contains animal products, because other than the sustainability question, I have no qualms about including animal products in my diet; I rather enjoy it and find that it fuels me well for my fitness goals currently.

Humility. Two days ago I realized I did not fulfill my civic duty by sending in an application for an absentee ballot to NY for general elections, and I felt pretty bad about it. I need to educate myself more on my world and politics especially. It’s one of my least favorite things, but it’s extremely important.

Then I also fell down half a flight of stairs on my butt for no reason other than I slipped. A lot of people were present, and I was mortified BUT the femur is a-okay.

Life isn’t about counting our mistakes and accidents, but I hear two imaginary red buzzers going off for these two situations, like I’m being rejected America’s Got Talent.

Whisper Wednesdays. My dear friends Ben and Casey have been hosting something they call, “Whisper Wednesdays,” in which they invite friends to come sit in their living/dining room in front of their real, wood-burning fireplace (in a Boston apartment!) and do whatever work they need to do. Last night was my first time joining, and was lovely! I just wanna be like Ben and Casey when I grow up.

Moves.

  • Tuesday: I was on the verge of going mad because I stayed still studying all day and I just needed to MOVE, so I did 5×10 step back “burpees” in the dark on the esplanade at like 5pm before my pediatrics lecture. And then I modified this HIIT yoga when I got home.
  • Wednesday: 45 min assault bike workout. A questionable decision regarding the femur, but I felt GREAT afterwards, and I’m fairly sure the doc said I could do bike and rowing workouts…

Happy Thursday!

So tell me:

Are you vegan? Why or why not?

What is a topic on which you feel you need to educate yourself more?

Any embarrassing moments recently? #solidarity

Two Women Helping Me to Be a Better Woman

Moves. A super quick upper body workout before class (I got to the gym fairly late).

  • 4×15 TRX rows, 3×8-10 body weight dips
  • 3×6-8 lat pulldowns (I did one set of pistols but discovered that my left leg was smoked just from carrying all my weight lol)
  • 3×8-10 horizontal rows
  • 1×10 plank walkout to elbow plank to push-up (from @daniellegertner)

One passionate and courageous woman. I am blessed to have many friends who are extraordinary women in different ways. I am convinced that God placed every one of them in my life for a distinct purpose, to help me grow and vice versa.

One of these women is my friend, Elayne, a fellow DPT student and lover of all things health and happiness. Her passion and courage in everything she does is unlike anyone’s I’ve known (closely) in my life. She is currently doing a project on diversity in the PT/healthcare world and eradication of unjust biases in society.

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throwback to first year of PT school studying medication suffixes

Yesterday in class we were discussing healthcare provider bias towards people who are obese, and the way she presented her research findings was awesome. I truly felt like I was being called higher to reflect on how I view others either implicitly or explicitly. Elayne is never afraid to call people to betterment, and she works hard to know what she’s talking about, and then she talks about it well. I was challenged in the best way not only to self-assess my biases (as both a PT-to-be and as a Catholic Christian), but also to likewise find passion and courage to call others higher for the sake of what is good and true.

One empathetic woman. Last night I cooked and ate dinner with my friend, Kelsey, a fellow Catholic friend and lover of all things beautiful. We cooked some Italian chicken (i.e., dumped Italian seasoning onto chopped chicken breasts), peppery parmesan quinoa, and roasted veggies and ate it all in bowls and talked for hours.

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throwback to Christmastime 3 years ago

Kelsey and I discovered that we have been experiencing a lot of the same internal struggles and realizations, and how wonderful it was to have shared our experiences vulnerably and to leave knowing that we are not alone. It was a night filled with empathy, awe, laughter and prayer, and I was inspired to continue rejoicing in God in the little moments and to have childlike faith.

These are just two of the many women in my life who call me to be better, and thank God for that.

So tell me:

Who in your life has called you to greatness and excellence? In what ways?

Spontaneity

Moves.

  • Core and grip strength work at rock climbing (no actual wall climbing for now) + 15 min single leg assault biking on Thursday
  • Rest day Friday
  • 20 min HIIT workout Saturday
  • Swimming and aqua jogging yesterday

Less pressure. Because I have limited options with what I can do for my workout, I feel less pressure to choose the “perfect” workout each day. It’s very literally a matter of, “whatever I can do, I will do, and I’m happy with that.” It’s freeing, and I’ve found it to be a blessing in disguise with this femur fiasco.

MRI. I got one on Friday morning at 6am and I swear I was falling asleep in that large, loud tube they put you through. It was my first MRI ever, and what an interesting experience it was! They gave me a blanket to stay warm, large headphones to block out the noise (with the option to play music for you but I declined because I wanted to try to nap for the 30 min I was in there), and the machine is a painless, loud as heck, gentle giant. I’m glad I went in feet first though, because I think my slight claustrophobia would have freaked me out a little bit. Results will come back tomorrow I hope!

Spontaneity. I made a spontaneous trip to Providence, RI this weekend to visit my friend Zoe, who was hosting essentially a Catholic women’s brunch at her apartment. It was totally off brand for me to make a decision like that so last minute, but I was feeling good about the amount of work I had to do, and how often do I get to do spontaneous things like this? Making plans also helps me to actually get work done rather than derp around because “I have soooo much timeeee.”

Brunch was a blast! It was a super girly Pinterest-y thing to start, but then we started talking about farts and that’s when the real party started. I made little ham and cheese crescent rolls, and boy do I love pillsbury crescent rolls. Buttery, pillowy goodness.

Also spontaneous? Getting burgers, fries and shakes last night with my friends Abby and Joy. It was good for the soul.

Monday, here we come!

So tell me:

What was the best spontaneous thing you’ve done recently?

Have you ever gotten an MRI before? Did you enjoy the experience?

What did you do this weekend?

Both Mental and Physical Healing

Moves. Some random single leg burpees with no rhyme or reason right before dinner in my apartment room.

Less mobility and the mind. This period of limited mobility has been difficult, because besides the high impact workouts, I can’t just pick up and even go on a nice brisk walk (one of my favorite things to do). Stairs are a hassle and taking the elevator to the second floor is more of a norm. People drive me places (so grateful!). Such is the nature of healing an injury in your leg.

But I’ve reflected a bit on how my mind has actually healed a lot in these past few years. When I was a freshman in college, I would likely be in a BIG tizzy if I were in my situation today. When I came to college, I did 50 squats every day while brushing my teeth. I only took the stairs. I could count on one hand the number of times I took the bus / train. My step count would be well over 10,000 every single day. I would do burpees as a study break. And this was not even including my formal workout. I fueled myself well, but I knew that I was moving so often.

Let me tell you, I’ve been moving a LOT less these days. I do what I can, and I stay active, but my body hasn’t experienced a “formal” workout in forever it seems. Bummed? Of course! But I have so much to explore in terms of what I can do with 3 of 4 limbs. I can put a lot of my mental effort into thinking about my…plank and pushup form. My left hip hinging motion in a pistol squat. Breathing when swimming.

I have so many resources available to me, so there is no real reason for me to complain. I can also be grateful to say that it’s temporary; not everyone can say that. And I can still eat to my satisfaction. Might be less than usual since I’m just not expending as much energy, but sometimes it’s the same amount of food as before my injury, and that’s okay. It helps me get out of the mindset of “workout = must eat more food, no workout = must eat less.”

“Why does Janice’s face look like yours?” Real quote from one of our (*cough* Asian) students in dance class last night. Like, what!? Boy, in that case, my face looks like yours too! It was comical and I’m not actually mad at this 5 year old boy, but Janice and I have definitely received a lot of comments and questions about our ethnicity and/or relation to each other, especially in St. Louis this past summer (I love STL but it truly has a different demographic and… disposition). Diversity (and general manners? even in adults, lemme tell ya) is a work in progress.

Halloween. I do not have a costume, but one of my favorite embarrassing costumes from the past is a flamingo one year. Oh, and a toucan the next year. Costco apparently stocked up on exotic bird costumes back in the day.

So tell me:

Do you ever have mental struggles when required to back off from exercise / movement?

Do you ever face comments of ignorance re: ethnicity / religion?

Are you dressing up for halloween this year? What are you!?