Well HELLO! Let’s catch up!

Whoa, whoa, whoa.

Literally WHO IS THIS!?

I figure there is no better time to [finally] blog again than when I am home sick with COVID. *womp womp* Is this what it takes for me to get my blogging act together??

Yes, actually, it definitely is.

I am very grateful to say that I have only been moderately sick with flu / bad cold symptoms this week. Started with a mild cold, then to a high fever, lots of fatigue, and all that traveled down to lower respiratory symptoms, which is where I’m at right now. The pesky (to say the least) virus appears to be making its rounds a little more again where I am. I hope you and yours are staying well ♥︎

Anyway, onto more exciting things. Let’s catch up! At the end you can find a montage of photos and videos of life recently.

Easter

He is Risen! Happy Easter season! And almost May!

I keep telling people that, starting from Easter weekend, it’s like all my weekends are going to be filled with plans after plans all the way until mid-June. And then it feels like the year is pretty much over at that point. It might as well be Christmas already; that’s how quickly it feels like time is flying.

I had the opportunity to spend Easter in Boston with my beloved friends who are still living up there since we all graduated college. All of my closest friends are still the ones I met through the Boston University Catholic Center (and now their new friends who they’ve made since then!). If you are a seasoned reader of this blog, you know I am pretty obsessed with them.

To love Him more and more

This is my petition to Jesus for this year especially. It’s simple and it has always been my petition, I guess. But more explicitly now, I desire to love Jesus more and more deeply, truly, and completely from all those small and perhaps imperceptible places of reservation in my heart. I am a slow work in progress, but He is helping me a lot.

What a pitiful state of humanity to need so much help just to love Jesus who has Loved us to death, but thankfully, He doesn’t mind us asking for the help.

Work

Can you believe I’ve been working as a doctor of physical therapy for 1.5 years already!? Neither can I.

I am still working at an outpatient orthopedic clinic, helping people with things you’d expect: neck, low back, shoulder, elbow, hand, hip, knee, ankle, post-op rehab, concussion (a fave of mine to treat!), headaches, vestibular dysfunction, balance/gait dysfunction… The list goes on. I’m learning a heck of a lot, and I hope to continue becoming the best clinician that I can be.

Training

Well this week training has been a big wash due to having COVID and not really loving the feeling my trachea gets when I try to do any sort of physical activity. Just these past couple of days I have been able to do some lower intensity KB things with lots of rest in between sets. I am grateful for that.

Otherwise, I am still training with kettlebells at home, though I recently joined my high school friend’s gym that he owns to start picking up the barbell again and to use other pieces of cardio and conditioning equipment that I don’t have at home. I am indebted to KBs and all my friends who have taught me how to use them, because they certainly have made me stronger and faster in ways that 6+ years of working out on my own could hardly do.

What am I training for? As cliché as it sounds, I really am training for life and work. My struggles and successes with strength and aerobic training (mostly strength though…aerobic I need to work on) help me to truly understand what I am asking of my patients and to give them the best cues for motor learning. It also makes my actual physical job easier!

I train 3-4 times per week for 15-60 minutes, depending on how much time I have. Making it work!

I would do another Spartan race perhaps… (I did a Spartan Beast (15 miles!) back in October and I am just now realizing that I never mentioned it on this blog! It was a grind but it was so fun.)

Eats

Check out the video below for a peek at some of the things I’ve been eating. I would no longer call myself a “healthy living blogger” based on the merit of my nutrition, but I would call myself a “healthy living blogger” by virtue of how much I don’t overanalyze my food anymore. I think it’s relatively nutritious, but ask a registered dietitian. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Oh, I do still love peanut butter and banana though. And dried figs with Greek yogurt. Some things don’t change.

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Here is the little spring montage covering life as of late. I created this because my media storage on WordPress is nearly full. I used to embed my Instagram posts on here to spice things up with media, but I decided to make my Insta private because creepy accounts/people abound on the interwebs, and it’s not worth it to me to keep my profile public, since my goal is not to grow a huge following. Instagram is way too palatable and addicting of a platform (as opposed to WordPress) with all of its algorithms that draw cool people, yes, but alsoooo unwanted eyes, so I’ll just keep the bubble closed.

Hence, a montage here to keep things exciting. Enjoy!

When I am not sick at home and when I am working, life is quite full to the brim. I expect that to be the same moving forward into spring and summer, but with Sunday school being over, I hope to add a couple more posts per month to this ol’ blog (which is 9 years old this year!). No promises, but I’ll try! I still love doing this.

Thank you, as always, for reading.

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So tell me:

What is a highlight of your spring so far?

Have you returned to any activities recently as things have opened up more?

Anything exciting coming up for you in the month of May?

Weekend in the Life Vlog (hi!)

Hello!!

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…

Enjoy, and hope to write again soon 🙂

here is the link if the embedded video is not working!

Hope you are all safe, healthy, and joyful in this time. ♥︎

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. ♥︎

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 🙂

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 Océane 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 — 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?