Is this what they always meant by “happy weight”?

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. β™₯︎

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 πŸ™‚

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 OcΓ©ane 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 β€” a year of getting stronger and feeling better in my workouts than I ever have β€” 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 πŸ™‚ )

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 πŸ™‚

So tell me:

Do you have trouble with sleep discipline?

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

“I need You desperately.”

These titles are sounding more dramatic with each blog post, good grief.

pray.

One of the things that I have been praying under my breath (and mask) during the work day β€” when I feel like my sympathetic nervous system is at level 10,000 as I run around to different patients, manage customer service, perform interventions properly, and document all the things β€” is:

“Lord, I need You DESPERATELY.”

A lot of my prayer, any time of day, has involved some sort of plead for help from God, because hot dang, the days can be long and hard. I cannot do it alone.

But I am hangin’ in there!! My colleagues, family, and friends have been incredibly supportive and loving, and the Lord is for SURE sustaining me.

eat.

Thanksgiving is coming up, holy tamales. My brother’s girlfriend ordered the Blue Apron Thanksgiving dinner for us, which involves a cheesy cornbread and an apple peanut PERSIMMON crumble (!!???). How cool!? I love love love cooking Thanksgiving foods my own way, but it’ll be fun to do something new this year. #2020 mix it up ya know?

In terms of things I already have eaten, last weekend for my brother’s birthday, I made wagyu beef burgers (from frozen; I ain’t that skilled) from a Costco kit that included brioche buns, bacon, and truffle butter *drool face.* Also these peanut butter s’mores bars, which were killerrrrr. He let me keep half, so I had a tasty dessert the whole week.

I had so much fiber last week, my poor organs. But my happy cardiovascular system.

move.

Moves just happen when they happen, but quite honestly I feel as powerful and strong as ever! Every repetition is focused on high quality contraction and motor control in order to maximize the efficiency. It’s still just me and Kettlebellarmine (my 35# KB) and my pull-up bar.

I definitely need more sleep too, which will help my workouts to feel a little better. But here’s a recent leg workout I did that got me sore:

  • 3×10 Bulgarian split squats with pulse at bottom (each leg)
  • 3×8 squat with tapbacks // 3×12 KB swing to reverse swing
  • 3×8 lateral step downs each leg

That’s the extent of my workout volume these days. Work tuckers me out enough, and I’m still going on walks. Like I said, life is about just moving when I can and quality>quantity!

grooves.

I have been obsessed with watching Cimorelli videos in my free time. They’re a band of sisters who are incredibly girly and screamy but also so loving and supportive of one another and others; they’re just wonderful. They have beautiful voices, beautiful faces, and beautiful souls, and they make me feel like I’m part of their family, which sounds cheesy as FLIP, but ya girl can use as much ~community~ as I can at this time of COVID. I’m sure you feel.

I hope my American friends have a fantastic Thanksgiving, even if it’s low key, even if you’re alone, and even if you’re working. I am thankful for you reading this β™₯︎

So tell me:

Is there something you say under your breath to keep you going on the stressful days?

Any plans for Thanksgiving?

What are some ways you like to exercise when you’re tight on time?