Growth this year so far…

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).

Felt good to dance again ๐Ÿ™‚

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 โ€” His desire for you โ€” 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)?

WEEKEND IN THE LIFE VLOG {winter 2021}

Happy snow day if you’re out here in the northeast!!

I made a vlog this weekend, so I’ll let it do the talking. We’re talking addictive candle scents, mac and cheese, burpees, and COVID vaccine.

Click here if the embedded video isn’t working.

Enjoy! Would love to hear your thoughts ๐Ÿ™‚

Revisiting body image and my current fitness “routine”

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 Ocรฉane talks a lot about the 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 โ€” a year of getting stronger and feeling better in my workouts than I ever have โ€” 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 ๐Ÿ™‚ )

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?

Working on sleep discipline + an overdue Christmas vlog!

pray.

I have come to the acceptance that I’m naturally a night owl, but I think it’s less of some hormonal / physiological thing and more of a vice…

People have said that going to sleep is like accepting that the next day is beginning, which can be daunting or undesirable for people who are tired and want to “rest” (i.e., do things besides the thing they are required to do the next day). Which is SO ME.

I know that I stay up too late on weekend nights doing things like learning Kyle Hanagami dances, watching Youtube videos of fitness/food influencers, or talking to friends. Anything but sleep and wind down. And then I complain of not getting enough sleep, at no one’s fault except my own (usually).

I made a resolution a while ago to be silent by 10pm, but I’ve become very lax with that, partially because I became lax with the accountability of it to my friend. Will be reinstating that now. But something that I keep thinking about is taking at least 60 seconds to check in with God when I am really tempted to open up a new tab on my browser at night… to just tell Him what I’m really feeling and what it is that I really want to do with my life at that point. Because no decision is isolated, and my decisions at night definitely affect the next day, and I would prefer to have healthy, productive days.

Working on it.

eat.

My brother and his gf brought over the new Korean chicken sandwiches for us to eat from Shake Shack yesterday, which were very tasty! I air fried some frozen curly fries on the side, which hit the SPOT. Few things beat a crispy, seasoned curly fry.

Made my own special sauce in the ramekin there: light mayo, ketchup, vidalia onion dressing mixed together

I became hypertensive for a short time after this meal, I’m sure.

move.

I did a fun running circuit workout last weekend. That’s right, I said FUN. It was 3 laps of running around the neighborhood (~1/2 to 3/4 mile each), followed by this circuit:

  • 10 pushup burpees
  • 15 pushups
  • 20 v-ups

Repeat with 2 laps + circuit, then 1 lap + circuit.

Was a chilly but lovely time.

groove.

I totally forgot to share this Christmas vlog that I filmed three weeks ago now… But in case you want to join me retroactively on my Christmas day festivities, please do!

https://youtu.be/bFjdzJc-Mq8

I hope your 2021 is going well (or as well as it can be) so far ๐Ÿ™‚

So tell me:

Do you have trouble with sleep discipline?

Curly fries, regular fries, sweet potato fries, or tater tots??

Solidarity!

pray.

A big thing for which I am grateful these days is the solidarity I feel with my family, friends, patients, colleagues, role models, and strangers quite honestly during these times…and just during life in general. I am realizing more and more that one of the things that ENERGIZES me and gives me motivation is knowing that there are others who are laboring and toiling alongside me (in the theoretical sense, not the physical sense because…you know).

I have been praying a lot about the Holy Family (i.e., Jesus, Mary and Joseph) being with me in my mundanity and also in the stresses of work. I imagine their humble yet incredibly loving actions in their daily work, and that brings me a good deal of consolation.

Pin en Moyers
painting by Mike Moyers

eat.

I made these pumpkin cheesecake crumb muffins this weekend, and they are perfectly sweet and moist. A good crumb wins me over every time.

move.

Workouts continue to be planned approximately 5 minutes before I do them depending on how I am feeling and how much time I have. Last night I had 40 minutes from start to finish, so after a warmup, I did 5 rounds of 10 KB snatches on each arm (35#) followed by a 15 minute HIIT:

3 rounds (30 sec hard work // 30 sec rest):

groove.

I put up some Christmas lights this past weekend inside and outside the house, and it’s really quite pitiful humble, and I call the decor setup my “frat house festivity,” but seeing even just a glimmer of cheer makes me happier than Christmas decorations ever have.

Also, I tried to learn this Kyle Hanagami choreo to the song “Monster” by Shawn Mendes and Justin Bieber, and I’ll say it was moderately successful, though I don’t look as good as these dancers, and there are a couple links in the choreo that I have not gotten down. But learning choreo again made the dancer in me very happy!

This was a quick post, but I have been wanting to pop in for a while now! Hope you guys are having a marvelous week so far ๐Ÿ™‚

So tell me:

What is something that FIRES YOU UP to keep going when things feel like a drag?

Are you decorating your house for any of the upcoming holidays?

Crumb topping – yay or nay?

Do you ever watch videos a million time to learn the dance (“yes,” say all the Tik Tok fans of the world)