Time flies when you’re having fun! And also not having fun!
Life is full to the brim, friends, and I know that maybe only a few people will read this now, but I do still love writing/blogging. But I also love vlogging. So to say hello again after 6+ months of not blogging at all, here is a video of a “weekend in the life” as of November 2021.
I started editing it back in November and have not had the opportunity to finish it until now. Pretty on par with my track record for blogging this year…
Happy Sunday evening! I am currently typing this while being serenaded by my dad singing karaoke in the living room, and I would not have it any other way.
Today we are gonna take it back to a topic on which I have not focused in a while, the one that pretty much started this blog 8(!) years ago. The topic is weight and body image.
I’ve gained maybe 10 lbs more or less since moving back home to NY, which I suppose is a combination of less walking, more lifting, honestly more stress eating at times, and definitely some stress from work.
I have not stepped on a scale in 2021 I don’t think, and I am not very interested in doing so, because it’s not going to be helpful for me to live a healthier lifestyle. But I know I’ve gained weight due to the fact that I am not getting more than 5-6 pullups despite consistently practicing them. I’m getting stronger but I’m also just getting heavier. Measuring progress through my fitness has been helpful, because I am interested in my performance and how I feel.
True, there are many times I eat dessert many days in a row and really don’t feel too hot. But a mark of my health to me at this time is how I am able to…
note the results of a decision that I made (e.g., feeling bloated and ready to nap vs. being energized to fulfill my responsibilities / workout)
recognize why I made that decision (e.g., because it was a social celebration? because I was just stressed? because I felt like I needed to help finish food?)
make the same or a different decision again when faced with a similar situation
It has taken many years (almost a decade) to be able to look at my eating habits objectively and subjectively with a mindset of both healthy critique AND grace given to oneself. I believe this has to do with the fact that I am at a weight that allows me to have energy for all the things I need/want to do (i.e., lift kettlebells well, do burpees smoothly and quickly, be on my feet all day at work) and also allows my body to go comfortably between mealtimes without thinking about food too much. Feels like what people would call a “happy weight,” which might be stated as “set point” in literature that I won’t go into here.
That being said, I do recognize that discipline around food ought to be practiced when accompanied by virtuous reasons (e.g., allowing oneself to feel uncomfortable in this one facet of life, honoring hunger cues, making eating choices for a long life). And I do think that if I were a little lighter, I could do more pull-ups and run faster, and the only person who can help myself with that is me at the end of the day.
However, though this dynamic between enjoyment and discipline, grace and healthy critique, in my fitness and food journey, still mildly pushes and pulls into less virtuous areas of thought (i.e., just wanting to look better and maybe see my abs a bit more), overall I am grateful to say that it has been freeing.
I think it has been the fruit of a lot of honest conversations with myself and with God. And for you, it might be conversations with yourself, a trusted one, and a healthcare professional. That’s where I was too. It’s been a constant confrontation of things I don’t like about myself, my situation, what I have to do, what I don’t want to do… Digging into those parts, with help, and rooting out brokenness in seemingly unrelated areas of my life that were certainly affecting my relationship with food and fitness.
I know some, maybe even many, people who are reading this are not in a good headspace right now, and it might not help for me to say, “Things will get better. Keep your head up,” but in case it does, just know that there is a way out. Better yet, there is Someone who wants to meet you exactly where you are, first and foremost, and then bring you out of there.
Here to chat if you need. Thank you for reading and supporting me. ♥︎
Now that we are almost halfway through 2021, I figure it’s a good time to check in again.
On the for real though, I thought about coming back to blog at least ten times in the past three months, but it was one of those things that felt too far gone to just pick up again because thinking about how much I could say was too overwhelming. It still is, but what can ya do?
My last post was published just before Lent. Those 40+ days were lonely at times as I gave up videos, music, and podcasts (except for the daily “Bible in a Year” podcast, because I didn’t want to be 40 days behind on that). I found myself really being averse to silence, trying to fill it with other things like calling friends, playing Words with Friends, or just scrolling on social media instead. But I really tried to embrace that silence and talk to God more about everything, and it was a very rich time. Giving Jesus a chance is the best decision you will make, day in and day out, no doubt.
I feel like I’m finally getting into the swing of things with work now as well. My colleagues do feel like a family, and I believe I am growing in confidence and competence overall, which help foster a positive feedback cycle. So many people are teaching me nuggets of wisdom, whether they know it or not. I am definitely still asking questions and trying to figure out what the heck I’m doing sometimes, but I am grateful to be serving others in this profession of physical therapy.
I’ve had the privilege of visiting some of my friends’ babies in Boston a couple times since February. You read that right. I have (several) college friends with babies now. I don’t think there was a time for me to process that this the new norm, so it just is. I am somewhat stunned still, because I still feel like I’m the 14-year-old baby sitter coming over for the evening when I show up to their houses. But I am also incredibly joyful that this time has come. Cool auntie Alison is HEREEEEE.
Kettlebellarmine (aka my 35lb KB that I named last year when I got it during the lockdown) now has a 97lb/44kg friend that I have named Goliath. Swinging kettlebells has continued to be an excellent way for me to grow in strength, motor control, and patience above all.
Occasionally, I’ll bust out some dance moves and grooves, like this one time I choreographed a little bit to “Name” by Justin Bieber and my fave girl Tori Kelly (in many ways, I’m the same 2015 Alison).
I am thankful to have had more opportunities to see family and friends as people become vaccinated and feel more comfortable going out into the world within < 6 feet of each other. Hugging people is just the best. I never thought I was a physical touch kinda gal until last year. *slaps your shoulder as I laugh*
The biggest area of growth has been in my desire for God, to just be with Him. Something a friend recently told me was that my desire for Him is only ever a response to His first desire for me. By no means does this mean that if you do not desire God, He must not desire you. Rather, it is one’s prerogative to choose to just listen for His call — His desire for you — in the first place. If you even at this moment have the desire to know what He’s all about, that’s Him inviting you. He is the most unimposing host.
Happy May! Holy taquitos, it might as well be the Year 3000 (@jonasbrothers); time is flying so quickly. Here’s to more blogging this season! *clinks a glass* that’s probably filled with nothing but water
So tell me:
How have you grown this year so far?
What are some highlights of the spring time for you (if you’re reading from the Northern Hemisphere)? Or the fall for you (Southern Hemisphere friends)?
My creativity juices for a fun intro are not flowing, so let’s just get right into it!
Without a doubt, starting my physical therapy career in a full-time outpatient orthopedic setting has thrown my schedule for a loop (as if my schedule has been consistent in the past 24 years of my life anyway). I am extremely grateful to have a job that sustains me at this time and for it to be something that allows me to help and interact with others through movement.
I’ve been tired though. That’s largely my fault because I am still working on sleep discipline, but it is safe to say that my mental output these days is higher than it’s ever been, which in turn affects my physical output. My physical output is nowhere near 18,000 steps per day and working out at a high intensity in Boston most days, but I am moving all day and my sympathetic nervous system is ON more often than not.
I have gained a few pounds since moving home to New York. I say that with as much objectivity and neutrality as possible; it’s just a fact. This is due to my overall lower physical energy expenditure and likely a few nights of stress eating if I’m being entirely honest. I would genuinely believe that there is some muscle mass gain in there too, but I can’t say for sure.
However, since moving to New York, and since quarantine started in March 2020, I have also become physically stronger and more capable in many ways that I have never been before. To name a few… With the introduction of Kettlebellarmine (aka my 35# KB) + Sunday swings, I have learned movement patterns that I have not before. I have identified weaknesses to address that make me stronger, safer, and more stable. I can sustain a higher energy output in my workouts for a longer period of time. I can do pull-ups for reps (albeit no more than 6-7 on a good day) at my heaviest bodyweight ever.
The KEY to the progress I’ve made in certain areas of my fitness is to do HIGH QUALITY movements with HIGH ENERGY output, whether it’s explosive tuck jumps or a standard plank. Natacha Océane talks a lot aboutthe difference between rate of perceived exertion (i.e., how hard a workout FEELS to you) vs. measurable exertion (i.e., how hard you are ACTUALLY working), and I’ve been focusing more on exerting as much measurable exertion as possible by giving myself plenty of rest days between intense workouts, adequate rest between sets, and plenty. of. food.
My workouts program consists of: “whatever feels like the just-right challenge today.” Just-right challenge = hard enough that I have to involve my brain in the quality of my movements, but not so hard that I am stopping frequently for breaks / feeling like I’m compensating a lot.
Some days the just-right challenge is a high intensity workout with burpees, KB swings, snatches, sandbag squats. Some days the just-right challenge is holding a couple planks and hollow holds. All is beneficial for my fitness overall, and I have come to love and look forward to every single day of training because of how flexible I have been with myself. My workouts are anywhere from 15-90 minutes long, but usually around 30-45 minutes is the sweet spot, not including the warmup.
To be fair, several things have fallen to the wayside because of my training style these days. Endurance? What is that? HEAVY lifting? Can’t do it right now without a gym. And not willing to spend an arm and two of my legs for more home exercise equipment right now.
My fitness goals?
I do have a goal to increase my single arm hanging grip strength. I am a dense person for my size, so holding myself with one arm for any length of time is hard for me.
I also have a goal to actually train core more specifically and more often. I kind of stopped doing ab workouts because…I don’t really know. I felt that I was getting enough through functional training, but now I would like to build up true endurance and strength of those muscles again.
My right glute medius and my left rotator cuff need some HELP, bro. Weak weak weak. And my body is feeling the negative effects of that weakness. Good thing I train my patients to strengthen / heal these areas every day, because now it’s tiiiiime to take some of my own medicine.
Lastly, and most importantly, my goal is to promote longevity of fitness in my life. Especially as I work as a physical therapist now, it is more evident than ever that nothing is a given, and some things in fitness are just not worth it. I want to be able to use my limbs and core functionally for the rest of my life with as few repercussions as possible, which does start with training the body well, but not necessarily training harder.
In terms of body image and nutrition these days, I have had some tough days recently in which I feel like a fluff ball, particularly in my lower half where my genes love to store energy. But I have noticed in this past year — a year of getting stronger and feeling better in my workouts than I ever have — that I have really let my body consume the energy that it needs. I don’t track calories but I am guessing I eat well over 2,500 calories on most days, and my body feels really great with that. I have at times tried seeing if I could do with less food (as a mental exercise rather than for physical change), and my workouts quite honestly feel worse when I do.
(You might feel GREAT with lots of energy in your workouts with way fewer calories than this! Awesome. Lots of olympians my size eat fewer calories than me it seems. This is just where my body and mind feel truly well. Also, I’m not a dietitian, so don’t take my nutrition habits as a suggestion for you 🙂 )
It’s always a journey, but I feel like I am able to function at work, at home, and in my workouts with the mental and physical output that I need with this pretty hefty amount of food that I eat on a daily basis. Consuming a good amount of carbs at pretty much every meal is also really important for me. People can tell me otherwise, but I’ve tried to eat fewer carbs at many points in my life, and I just don’t perform well in my workouts either that day or later in the week.
I’m not “tight”, my hips are wide, and FaceTime loves to highlight my double chin when I look down at my phone. But as far as I’m concerned, my body is out here thriving (though sometimes just surviving, as we all are), making progress in fitness, and working to heal others every day, so that’s a gift and a big win in my book.
So tell me: Have you noticed any changes in your fitness / body image recently? How so? Why do you think so?