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?

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?

Ya Ever Wanna Crush Things With Your Bare Hands?

Moves. 45 minutes on the assault bike (a fitting name for it). I basically did my own spin-class-style workout to my “werk” playlist on Spotify, doing a variety of sprint intervals, recovery songs, and endurance/tempo songs.

I ended with songs from the Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse soundtrack, and I felt like I was INVINCIBLE. My favorite songs are “Memories” (a slower, moody, lyrical hip-hop type of vibe) and “What’s Up Danger,” which I have expressed to my friends is a song that makes me “wanna break things and throw boulders while wearing a Mulan-in-armor-esque type of costume.”

…Which explains the title of this post. Side note: Highly recommend the movie if you have not watched it yet — a very well-done cartoon!

Femur felt fine after the workout, but I still need to make a doc appointment to get it checked out for real.

Spontaneous conversation. My friend asked me if I wanted to hang out / study with her on campus yesterday. When I got there, we initially had our laptops open to do some work, but she asked me how I was doing and asked specific questions about my life, opening up a lovely, spontaneous conversation about deeper things than I was expecting for a rather normal Tuesday afternoon. She showed genuine interest in me, which was so touching. I forgot how much even a brief heart-to-heart can refresh my being. Thanks, Lauren ♥︎

Punctuality. I was late to ^^^said meet-up with Lauren, about which I NEED TO BE BETTER. I am punctual for class, work, and meetings with professors/bosses, but when it comes to casual meet-ups with friends, it’s like my brain cannot get my body to move and think fast enough to be on time. I always leave too late and overestimate my ability to get done what I want to get done. But I do not want to keep taking advantage of my friends’ / family’s time, because that ain’t right.

Stuffed cabbage rolls. I made these babies for the first time ever, which was super random; I’ve literally never eaten a cabbage roll in my life, but I had beef… I had cabbage (#cheapestveggieindaclub)… Cabbage rolls! My Ukranian roommate saw me cooking them and said, “I have never seen anyone in America make these.” I enjoyed them! Baby meatloaves in a blanket!

Quote. I pray every day, but it has been a long time, it seems, since I smiled during prayer from the depths of my soul. But yesterday, I could not help but (soft) smile, and this quote was part of the reason:

Prayer is nothing more than a friendly conversation with the One whom I know Loves me. — St. Teresa of Avila

Hump day already, baby! Let’s get it.

So tell me:

Do you ever feel like you could crush things with your bare hands because of a super intense workout song?

When was the last time you had a refreshing spontaneous conversation?

Punctuality — great at it or struggle with it?

Have you ever eaten stuffed cabbage rolls? 

We Finished the Spartan Sprint Race!

This weekend was all kinds of wonderful!

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for one, Friday started with overnight oats in an almond butter jar — always the best

And I hope you all share the same sentiment. Shoutout and prayers for your fathers and all fathers, alive and gone. Super special shoutout to Pop! Much love to my hero.

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I think this is from Father’s Day last year!

Friday

I posted this “half a week in the life” vlog in the morning! Then I worked all day in the lab, with a nice outdoor lunch break in there. Lunch was a hodgepodge of snacky foods because my fridge stockpile is depleting.

carrots and hummus, three hard boiled eggs with sriracha, Mary’s Gone Crackers, grapes

Coming home from work was just a wee bit rainy…

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All I needed to do was shampoo and rinse.

Soon after coming home, I quickly ate leftover roasted brussels sprouts straight from the fridge before a FaceTime date with one of my best friends, Emma. She’s one of those people who you can’t help but love and admire — truly a sweet and holy soul.

I wanted something sweet but also somewhat nutritious afterwards, so Amanda’s banana bread mug cake with extra peanut butter and lots of Greek yogurt came to the rescue.

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Saturday

On our last day before the Spartan Race, Ben and I did a short and simple 16 minute workout with some foam rolling in the morning.

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Next on the agenda for me was spiritual direction, which was more beautiful than I expected it to be, as it always is. I went to Mass directly after, and then walked to The Clayroom for a date with my girl Colby, who’s in Boston for the summer!! I ate a ham and cheese sandwich + grapes on the way there.

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I ♥︎ sandwiches – delicious, filling, portable, versatile

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The Clayroom is a pottery painting studio that Colby found after we decided to do an indoor activity given the rainy forecast on Saturday (it never even rained). We loved it!

First you choose your own piece of pottery (varied prices depending on the piece, plus a studio fee).

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And then you paint it as you please, pay for everything, leave your piece there, and pick it up a few days later after they’ve fired it in the kiln!

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Colby chose a big plate to paint for her dad for Father’s Day. Apparently he likes to grill, so she made him a very impressive “King of the Grill” plate. How sweet!

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I chose a pasta bowl (functional for the many things I eat in bowls) that I decorated with some doodles on the outside and something that might look familiar on the inside…

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The colors will be more vibrant once they’re fired in the kiln. We’re going to pick them up later this week, so I’ll show you our final products after that!

It was great catching up with Colby and having some good ol’ arts and crafts time with her. 🙂

At night, Casey, Ben and I had a slumber party so that Ben and I could carb up and also be ready to leave early in the morning the next day.

Ben made us a delicious dinner of cacio e pepe, cured meats, caprese, and toasted focaccino bread.

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I LOVE CARBS.

No slumber party is complete without braiding hair.

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We were planning on turning it in early, but we didn’t get to sleep until around 11, with a 5:15 AM wakeup just around the bend.

Sunday

I was on breakfast duty in the morning, so I brought all my favorites for a nice pre-race meal.

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Two slices of pb banana bread for all.

Casey wished us luck, and then Ben and I departed for Treasure Valley Scout Reservation, which was a little over an hour away. We were both feelin’ excited and nervous on the way! I said I would have nervous poops, but Ben thought I said “foops,” so now we’re dubbing nervous poops “foops.”

I’ve talked about bowel movements a lot here recently, I’m sorry.

When we arrived, there were already racers from earlier heats trekking through the obstacles, and the festival portion was bumpin’.

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The weather was pretty perfect for a race — overcast, not too hot, not too cold. Maybe just a little muggy, but not too bad.

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We warmed up, made sure we were just hydrated enough, and then lined up in the corrals for our 10 AM start time.

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so happy and clean before the race

Ben: “Let’s do a serious face.”

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Me: “This is as serious as I’m gonna get because I can’t stop smiling.”

Ben: “Oh c’monnnn!”

Me: “Fine.”

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The thing to shout at a Spartan Race is “AROO!” so the start line announcer rallied us up to chant “I AM A SPARTAN” and “AROO AROO AROO” several times before he yelled “GOOOOO!”

Guys, this race was so much fun!! The volunteers and other racers were enthusiastic and encouraging, the trails and obstacles were challenging yet fun, and there were just enough water stations.

The course was 5.1 miles, filled with:

  • muddy and rocky trails through the woods
  • GIANT hills
  • deep and sticky mud pits + giant hills up which you had to carry sandbags and buckets of rocks
  • barbed wire crawl
  • short and tall walls to climb over
  • an inverted wall
  • a traverse wall
  • a tire flip
  • a couple sets of monkey bars
  • a spear throw
  • a sandbag pulley
  • a rope climb
  • muddy water pits
  • a line of burning rocks to jump over at the finish!

For every obstacle you fail, you have a 30 burpee penalty. #yikes. I only had to do 90, which I’m proud of, considering I honestly thought I would have to do 300.

I was most concerned about the running because of my hips, but running through the woods was slow enough, and the damp soil helped absorb a lot of impact, so my hips felt great! What didn’t feel great were the uneven paths that torqued my right knee quite a bit, but I think I just need to ice and nurse it a bit this next week.

My favorite obstacles were actually the big hills, traverse wall, and the one set of monkey bars that I surprised myself by completing. The spear throw was my least favorite because I’m bitter about having very little hand-eye coordination.

The rope climb was another {bittersweet} favorite. I hadn’t climbed a rope since elementary school, I think. In the race, I used way too much arm strength since I didn’t know how to do the J-hook with my feet properly. I was *this* close to ringing the bell at the top, but my arms were absolutely fried (I was on that rope for a good two minutes), so I just started slipping and rope-burned my way down in failure. Womp womp.

It was sweet though, because the rope climb is one of the last obstacles on the course, so a bunch of people were watching and cheering me on from the sidelines. I mean, it was humbling to disappoint all of them when I didn’t make it, but it was still awesome to have people cheering for me.

Two hours and two minutes later, Ben and I crossed the finish line, muddy, sweaty, but full of joy! We downed water, a banana, and a Clif bar while beaming at the fact that WE DID IT and neither of us died/needed hospital assistance.

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In order, my goals for this race were to:

  1. glorify God
  2. have fun
  3. not injure myself seriously
  4. finish the race
  5. finish the race in good time

And I think Ben and I accomplished these goals, praise God!

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We got some swag upon finishing, including a nice medal, a T-shirt, some free food samples, and a beer. We hosed ourselves down, but Lord knows we would need a real shower later. Some of that mud was definitely commingled with some animal poop.

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Me: “I’m still really thirsty, which makes me want to drink this beer really quickly, but maybe I shouldn’t do that.”

I am so grateful that I got to run the Spartan Sprint safely and happily with one of my best buds. What a great experience!

But the Spartan Race was the second best thing of the weekend. Mass that evening was the best thing.

After Mass, a bunch of us went over to our friend Austin’s place for dinner since he had a bunch of leftovers from a party. Free food is better than gold for us college students.

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delicious chicken drumsticks + sausage and peppers

Ben and I had been half-joking about ordering the Vermonster (a 20-scoop ice cream sundae) at Ben & Jerry’s with a bunch of friends after our Spartan Race, but we decided that our stomachs would much prefer a more moderate amount of ice cream (still recovering from Scooper Bowl, TBH).

Back to White Mountain Creamery then!

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I went here on Memorial Day with Casey and Ben, but I needed to come back with Rachel since the “Cookie Monster” (cookies and cream with cookie dough throughout) was on our food bucket list. IMG_9130

This stuff was dreeeeamy. As was the scoop of blueberry white chocolate underneath.

I went to bed last night feeling quite tired and achy, but my heart was so full.

Monday

I woke up later than usual today because a) SLEEP; b) I took the bus instead of walking because my knee is hurting, but I was still rushing to get out of the house. Breakfast was leftover green pancakes with PB&J, eaten on the way to the bus stop.

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I’m working until around 6 today, and then I desperately need to go grocery shopping!

Hope you all have a kick-butt Monday! AROOOOOO! (← I actually find saying that very dog-like.)

So tell me:

Have you ever run an obstacle course race?

Have you ever painted pottery?

One delicious thing you ate and one fun thing you did this weekend!

Marathon Monday 2017

PJ: “Marathon Monday is the most American day of the year.”

Me: “Even more so than Fourth of July?”

PJ: “Definitely.”

After this year, I can actually believe him. Marathon Monday, aka Patriot’s Day (technically, vice versa) was yesterday, and it was as awe-inspiring, patriotic, and fun as ever!

I’m sure many of you know that the Boston Marathon is a pretty huge deal, and we students at Boston University have the privilege of getting the day off classes watching the participants charge right through our campus.

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LOTS of police security

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If you missed coverage of it, here are 12 must-see things moments from the marathon. My friends and I got to see Jose Luis Sanchez (a marine who lost his leg and ran the race with a prosthetic leg while holding a LARGE American flag) run to the finish. It was incredible. Everyone who participated is incredible.

Marathon Monday is also a notorious drinking day for the young, 21+ adults of Boston, but that’s much less important.

My day started early with more peanut butter, banana, strawberry overnight oats (it’s good to be back).

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Then I headed to my friend Lauren’s place to watch them celebrate Marathon Monday the way young adults do 🙂

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applause for those leggings, please

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After a couple hours of hangin’ out, I headed back to my apartment to study for an hour and nap, because I have been the worst at letting myself sleep at night lately.

I woke up feeling refreshed and then scarfed down a quick lunch before meeting back up with the crew on their way to see our friend/Rachel’s boyfriend, Austin, at the finish line!

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As always, we had a grand ol’ time cheering on all the runners/cyclists. It’s not a Marathon Monday without losing your voice a little bit. But we were truly the loudest kids on the block when we saw Austin coming!

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Congrats, Austin!! He got pretty badly dehydrated but still finished in 3:45:15. What a champ.

The rest of us were just like, “Our feet hurt from standing. Let’s go eat.”

Afterwards, I went back home to study a little bit more and do a quick workout in the apartment:

4 rounds for time:

  • 10 pushup burpees
  • 20 jump lunges
  • 15 pushups
  • 30 mountain climbers each leg
  • 40 air squat to side leg lifts

It took just under 19 minutes to complete. That’s about the extent of my stamina right there.

Then I rushed out to meet PJ for dinner at Saloniki Greek in Fenway!

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It’s kinda like a Greek version of Chipotle or Subway, except a little more gourmet. I got “The George”, which had spicy Colorado lamb meatballs, charred eggplant spread, zesty garlic yogurt, secret sauce, greens, tomato, cucumber, Greek fries, and I added some broken olive tapenade, all in a homemade pita.

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It was giant and so delicious. I [slowly but surely, and very messily] finished every last bite. Thank you again for treating, PJ!

Of course, we had to end with dessert, so we went to Cafe 472 for frozen yogurt. I got the apple pie flavor with granola on top. This isn’t like other froyo, guys. This is more like a massive soft-serve-blizzard-type deal.

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I also finished every last bite of that. Look at this sunset we got to witness while we ate!

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Goodness gracious, I love you, Boston.

Hope you all have a great Tuesday!

So tell me:

Did you follow the marathon at all? What were your favorite parts if you did?

Best thing you ate yesterday! That pita for sure.