My fitness journey started with a little Beyonce.

Wow, it’s Thursday already. On Monday I thought to myself, “Hmmm feels like this week is going to be kinda long.” Wrong.

Moves.

Tuesday – 100 burpees throughout the day + upper body workout

*10 burpees between each exercise

Wednesday – active recovery day

  • some walking
  • Blogilates’ extreme abs 3 (done virtually with my friend Dom!)
  • stretching and foam rolling
  • some dancing
some tulips from my walk

Beyonce and the start of my fitness journey. I started gaining interest in fitness as a sophomore in high school. My cardiovascular health was never really great, so I had very humble beginnings that started with 15 minutes on our basement elliptical. Running a mile was a sTrUgGLe for me at this time as well.

As I was still just starting out my training, if I was feeling spicy, I would do a few rounds of Beyonce’s “Move Your Body” music video dance (which is really fun btw) to get my heart rate up. Yesterday I wanted to do it just for fun on my active recovery day, and I just remembered how I used to be winded at the end of it when I was in high school.

Not that I’m super fit (especially cardiovascularly, which is still a weak point for me), but this is all to say that you should never be ashamed of where you are in your fitness journey. You are not pathetic if you can’t run a mile without stopping, do a pushup, do a squat, whatever. You are not pathetic if you get winded with 15 minutes of elliptical like I did in high school. There are benefits to increasing cardiovascular endurance, but start and build up safely and consistently from where you are. That’s perfect.

Johnnyswim. Do you guys know this artist? It’s a husband and wife who make sorta folksy-pop music that is really beautiful. Their new quarantine project is called “Songs with Strangers,” where they select a person on their Instagram Live each week. In ONE DAY, they write, produce, mix and release a new song with the help of that person (usually the person just contributes their story, which becomes the basis of the song lyrics), who ends up getting half of the rights to the song. And let me tell you, these songs are wonderful. Here’s one of my favorites:

It’s also awesome that they’ve been posting the full 7-8 hour Instagram live videos of the entire process. Musicians are amazing.

So tell me:

What do you like to do on rest days / active recovery days? (Sometimes I don’t walk or really do anything. Yesterday was still pretty active!)

Do you remember some things you found difficult at the beginning of your fitness journey?

Do you like Johnnyswim? Are there any cool celebrity quarantine projects that you fancy?

I love Boston.

It’s too early in the week to be this emotional!

Essential physical therapists. Last night, my latest clinical instructor sent me photos of herself and other PTs decked out in PPE (personal protective equipment) up the wazoo. She and several other PTs have been working at the Boston Hope Medical Center, a field hospital at the Boston Convention and Events Center that is running solely for the treatment of patients suffering from COVID-19. She updated me on how life has been working in a field hospital, which she says has been “amazing and interesting,” but she also hopes that it is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

MDs, nurses, PTs, OTs, RNs, SLPs, military personnel, and so many other health professionals are all working together day in and day out, which we all already knew, but I feel a renewed and deepened sense of pride in the profession of physical therapy, which yes, is an essential service for people with acute respiratory illness.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Marathon Monday in solidarity. Yesterday was Patriots’ Day in Boston, which is always the day of the Boston Marathon. The marathon has been postponed to September for obvious reasons, but Boston finds a way to grow stronger through this iconic event, even during a pandemic. For one, my BU PT classmates (all scattered across the country now) posted photos and routes of their short or long runs on a shared google drive, so that we could support and inspire one another in light of the circumstances.

I am blessed to live near downtown Boston, so I ran 2.62 miles there (total coincidence that it was exactly 1/10 of a full marathon) to the finish line on Boylston Street and then back home.

Some people were at the finish line waiting for their loved ones to finish the marathon, which several people unofficially ran yesterday anyway. What spirit!

Side note: I did not love running with mask. I would take it off when there was not a person in sight, but would put it back on when I approached people. Just a little extra cardiorespiratory challenge, but I suppose I can suck it up (literally) and offer it up for those with COVID-19.

Moves.

Saturday – Yoga video and walking.

Sunday – 100 burpees throughout the day + this fun workout (that included some of said burpees) with my kettlebell:

  • Squat clean and press (both hands on the KB) (3×12)
  • 10 burpees
  • Mini modified pull ups using the footboard of my bed (3×10)*
  • 10 burpees
  • Single arm KB cleans (3×10 each arm)
  • 10 burpees
  • Double KB swings (3×10)
  • 10 burpees
  • Asymmetric squat creeps (the last exercise in this link except with only one KB) (3×14 total, switch arms halfway)
  • 10 burpees

*I made this exercise up in an effort to mimic some sort of pulling motion. I might post it on my instagram story later. It looks silly, but it worked my lats. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Monday – 5.2 mile run

Gosh, I love Boston so much. I’m not leaving until July, but my heart is already breaking a teeny tiny bit.

It’s funny. I remember a very distinct moment in high school when my parents and I were visiting my brother (who went to Northeastern University) in Boston. We were driving behind Boston University’s campus on Storrow Drive. I looked out the window and thought, “Eh, I think I could do without a city like Boston.” Literal FOOL, Alison. I love being proved wrong by God in the best way possible.

I hope you are all having an excellent week so far.

So tell me:

Do you have a city that just steals your heart for one reason or another?

Any inspiring COVID-19 stories you’d like to share?

If you’ve been exercising recently, what have you been doing?

Hi, Happy Easter and Passover!

For Passover: I’m sorry I am late in wishing this to all my Jewish friends! I hope you all had a wonderful celebration.

For Easter: I would say, “Sorry I’m a few days late,” but NAY Easter is an OCTAVE, so we are still going as if it’s Easter Sunday. He is risen! He is risen indeed!

Feasting. This past week has involved celebration in the form of FaceTime/Zoom “gatherings” with loved ones, delicious food (desserts, particularly), and solo dance parties to happy music. I kicked it off with homemade carrot cake, of which I have eaten a slice every day since I made it. Yesterday I also made these banana bread blondies with brown butter frosting, which rocked my world. I’ve been sharing, but let’s be honest, a majority of the carrot cake has entered my gullet.

Fruitful. I felt that I was really falling in love with Christ in the days leading up to Easter. His perfect Love for us is unlike anything else; it is truly everything good. I am grateful that the extra time to pray, due to current circumstances, made Holy Week especially fruitful this year. Goodness gracious, He loves you so much! YOU.

Sardines. I have been eating tinned sardines in olive oil on sourdough toast with some tomato sauce, and it is just delightful. I don’t buy fish for myself besides canned tuna, because I look at the price and think, “eh, omega-3’s can wait” (for real though, don’t neglect omega-3 fatty acids in your diet). But my mother was very kind and sent me a Costco shipment that included a large pack of tinned sardines, and I feel like I’m eating a luxurious Mediterranean meal with those little fish. Tinned fish = luxury, who would have thought?

But seriously, have you ever tried smoked trout?! 😮 Luxury.

Day in the life. Really not that exciting. Praying, walking, cooking, eating, studying, FaceTiming / Houseparty-ing people (to chat or just do work in solidarity), moving and grooving, applying for jobs. I am looking into some volunteer opportunities to start moving outwards.

Moves. I posted this on my instagram story, but today I did 100 burpees, spread throughout the day in sets of 10-20. I now have a goal of becoming more efficient with my burpees (as I once was when I was a wee lil blogger) and to build up more stamina. In order to do this, I am going to do 100 burpees every other day until May, aiming to increase speed and the number I do within each set, but always prioritizing form and listening to my body.

I have one friend who is going to take on the challenge with me (s/o to you, Victor!), some friends who will do some iteration of the challenge, and several friends who shared with me their own ways of staying active at home. I love solidarity!

Otherwise, I’ve been doing whatever I feel like doing that day. My 35-pound KB has been a great addition to my “home gym” (i.e., 5lb dumbbells and a resistance band). Running outside has also been a weekly thing. One of my professors proposed a “Marathon Monday Run” wherever we are this coming Monday in honor of the Boston Marathon that has now been postposed to September. We will just walk/run however long we want and share our pics and maps with each other. More solidarity!

Loss. I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the continued suffering and pain that so many people are facing in this world. It hit a little more closely today when I learned of the passing of my mom’s cousin in France from COVID-19. He was a doctor, about the same age as my parents, and he leaves behind his wife and children, who are about my age. One of my friends’ grandmother is also suffering now from COVID-19.

May we rest in the peace of Christ and never cease hoping in Him. Thank you always to those who continue to sacrifice themselves on the frontlines and for those who continue to work in any field at this time. Praying for those who are hungry, lonely, heartbroken, ill, lost, or in danger in any way at this time.

So tell me:

Did you celebrate Passover or Easter? What did you do?

How are you keeping sane and/or staying active during quarantine?

Are you interested in joining the burpee challenge!?

Little Things to Say “Yes” to Today

Moves. This week has been a very fun week of workouts so far. It started off with smashing a whole bag of white cheddar Popcorners, what? an outdoor HIIT workout at an empty park on Monday morning. I made sure I didn’t have to touch any public equipment for the workout.

Monday: 3 rounds (30 sec on / 30 sec off)

  • Double unders
  • Kneel to tuck jump
  • Alternating side shuffles
  • Fast feet to crossover (do whatever agility exercise you want!)
  • Broad jumps

Tuesday: Run (~2 miles) + H I L L S (5x up a massive hill) with my friend, Henok. He crushed it, and I mostly died. Is it weird, though, that I prefer to do hills because it’s more of an excuse to take breaks and not run for as long?

I also did a virtual Zumba workout with some pals at night, which was hilarious and so fun. *shoulder shimmy*

#distanced

Wednesday: Some walking, a couple 10-minute yoga flows in between study sessions, and a brief upper body workout with attempts to mix it up a bit.

Happy Triduum! Although these days leading up to Easter and Easter itself are looking quite different this year, perhaps this is an opportune time to see and experience God in His Death and Resurrection unlike any other time before. Allow Him to enter into the recesses of your own home and room. My friend Kelsey wrote a beautiful reflection on this image on her blog.

I just ran into maybe eight friends at a local parish all lined up (6 feet apart), receiving the sacrament of confession through a window, which was pretty sweet.

Bone in, skin on chicken thighs. Boi, you best get some if they are on sale at your supermarket. I had forgotten about the juicy glory of chicken thighs. And the skin! Honestly, I didn’t get the skin as crispy as I wanted, but the flavor still provided. I used an eyeballed seasoning mix of paprika, thyme, oregano, salt, and pepper on the skin AND underneath the skin. Give it some love.

Yes. I have been reflecting a lot on little ways of promoting self-discipline, self-betterment, obedience to God, whatever you want to call it. There are thousands of ways we can say yes to becoming the men and women we are created to be today. Because what if this is my last day? Not to be morbid, just to be real.

Here are some ideas (mostly for myself, but perhaps for you as well) of how to say little yes’s to the true, the good, and the beautiful:

  1. Sitting with my roommate in the kitchen for dinner instead of by myself with my technology in my room
  2. Taking out the recycling / trash now, not later
  3. Taking 60 seconds to think about what else I need to do before immediately picking up my phone to check notifications / Words with Friends (haha)
  4. Likewise taking 60 seconds to think about whether I’m actually hungry or just bored before picking up a snack
  5. Stretching or doing a little yoga instead of going on phone during my work break, even if it’s just for 5-10 minutes
  6. Getting out of bed when my first alarm goes off, not 20 minutes later
  7. Listening to a wholesome / educational podcast instead of just music during a walk (or just not listening to music at all and listening to the sounds of the world around me [not much right now though] or my own thoughts)
  8. Actually stick to the to-do list I made last night
  9. Send that text message to the person who I said I would stay in touch with
  10. Pray for that person who I said I would pray for, now, before I forget

Just some examples! And please know that I have only tried implementing these in real life with maybe 50% success rate. Always a work in progress.

Hope you have a blessed Thursday!

So tell me:

What are some ways you can say “yes” today to be a better vision of yourself?

Have you been able to get any moves and grooves in these days?

How are you overall?

If you are struggling with disordered eating at this time…

Being pent up within four walls for weeks on end is not the most fun for a lot of people.

But if you are someone who experiences any sort of mental health issue to any degree, you might understand that an overhaul of routine and a severance of social gathering can be devastating.

To be completely transparent, my quarantine life has not been devastating, but I remember a time when this severity of change would have been so.

During Hurricane Sandy in 2012 (I think that was the disaster, but perhaps it was just a bad winter storm that I’m thinking of… but that’s not critical to the rest of this), my family and I were trying to keep warm and fed in our house with no electricity for several days. I didn’t exercise because it would be too cold and dark to do anything except sit by the fire, all while still trying to do some school work. Food involved things that were out of the ordinary — slices of bread toasted on a pan atop our gas stove (#lifesaver), canned soup warmed up in the same way. Not the usual salads and Greek yogurt bowls.

I didn’t have control of anything, and I was not really okay with it. Our priorities were really to survive (and we were doing a-okay, by the way; things could have been worse) at that point, but the desire to maintain my eating and exercise routines had become just as severe of a “need” in my mind.

I remember sitting in front of the fire one of those nights, and my dad said that eating a bit more would help us to stay warm (i.e., thermic effect of food). However, I suggested that maybe we should be eating less because we weren’t moving as much (i.e., burning as many calories as usual). It was a small sign of how deeply uncomfortable I was with the whole situation, even though it probably lasted less than a week.

It is now 2020, and we all meet a similar yet different situation.

Maybe you are frustrated that you can’t lift as heavy or take your favorite intense workout classes. Maybe you’re sitting for much longer periods of time and getting thousands fewer steps than usual (holla). Maybe your favorite produce or preferred types of foods are constantly off the shelves.

The extra time on social media (in efforts to gain a semblance of human contact) might bring an onslaught of advertisements for home workout programs and meal plans to “keep you on track.” There might be fewer distractions to keep you from falling into the rabbit hole that is the fitness industry, something you were great at avoiding for so long.

Maybe the shift in control of your life in and of itself throws you into a tizzy and causes you to more intensely cling to the things you can control.

“If I can’t do ______, ________, and ________, at least I can still count my calories and go on super long runs/walks. I can still have my six pack abs.” This is just an example.

I understand that there are people who can do this without compromising their mental health. In fact, there are people are taking control of their physical health to benefit their mental health during this time. But you — YOU — might need something different, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. And YOU are not alone in that.

You all know that I am a physical therapist to be, not a psychologist or eating disorder specialist. I can only give advice and counsel from my own experience. So I will offer four things for you today:

  1. Continue to seek help if you need it. For less pervasive and just pesky thoughts of disordered eating, reach out to a trusted friend or family member. For what you think might be a relapse, please reach out to your therapist or eating disorder specialist (or a new one), and I am confident that they will either provide or refer you to online services. I have heard of great success with online counseling.
  2. Find creative outlet. Draw, dance, sing, write poetry, knit, crochet, sidewalk chalk, blow huge bubbles (far away from other people), play an instrument, blog, journal. Use that awesome brain and body of yours to do some really cool and impressive things that are not fitness.
  3. Catch up with friends who care about you as a whole person. This might not be the ideal time to reach out to the friend who can primarily bonds with you over running or CrossFit. Talk with people who know other things about your life and who are likely to ask you about / listen to how your heart is doing at this time.
  4. Be gentle but very honest with yourself. No one is going to tell you to just be sedentary, eat dessert, and deal with your disordered eating that way. At least, no one should give that kind of ultimatum, even if that is what you need. Let yourself move, and eat well. But be very, very honest with yourself in how much the thoughts of fitness and food are pervading your mind. If it’s on your mind and making you feel anxious for most of the day and distracting you from other things, consider #1.

Be not afraid! We will get through this.