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?

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?

“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 — 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 — 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 ♥︎

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?

Calling out the negative coping mechanisms for my stress without judgement.

pray.

…I would say that I should probably do more of this. Or at least do more silent, intentional prayer. I am definitely praying all throughout the day for my patients and for continual strength from God to do what I need to do, but to be with the Beloved in a quiet space is a rare occasion these days, and I know that it is in my control to change that.

What I think I really need to clean up is my night routine. The hardest thing these days is coming home exhausted and wanting to “turn my brain off,” so I turn to social media or talking to friends or watching an assortment of Youtube videos (other people eating or working out or talking about God usually). I KNOW THIS IS NOT THE ANSWER. But I’ve been doing it anyway in an attempt to fill myself.

Guess what. It’s not working super well.

My face is broken out in acne; my cortisol levels shoot me up at around 7am even if I want to sleep in; my workouts feel really difficult; I sometimes find myself stress eating. None of this is first-time experience, and I know that the sources are a) stress from work; b) lack of quality time with God. One of these can be changed, for sure, if I really want it. And I do.

I am grateful that, at this point in my life, I can call out these negative coping mechanisms of mine without being hard on myself. I am also grateful for these seasons of stress and adjustment that remind me of my weakness and the need to rely on God c o m p l e t e l y.

Something that helps me with bouncing back from negative coping mechanisms is to “just say yes to the next good thing.” Whether that’s putting down the phone at 9:00pm, taking out the trash the night before instead of almost forgetting in the morning, turning off the TV Youtube while I’m eating dinner, etc. Say yes to ONE next good thing. Just one.

eat.

The best thing I ate last week was chicken saag with garlic naan and basmati rice from a local Indian restaurant. My brother picked it up for us + his girlfriend on Thursday night, and we had a lovely socially distanced dinner in the backyard. It made for two delicious meals, which is the best 🙂

move.

I’ve still been loving the outdoor KB workouts on Sundays hosted by @kettlebellgains_apparel. I didn’t go this weekend because I needed a bit of rest (aka napped too long and was a sort of too late lol) and wanted to catch up with family over video chat, but most Sundays I try to make it down there for awesome community and HEAVY kettlebell work!

Otherwise, my workouts have been mostly strength/mobility-based and pretty low key. I’ve been telling my patients, “I work out so I can do this [physical therapy]!” And I mean it.

groove.

On Friday night, I got home late so I ran up and down the stairs blasting uplifting praise and worship to sing, dance, and work up a sweat ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ whatever works.

On Saturday, I met up with my apartment-mate from last year, Yuka! She loooooves NYC, so I gave her a little tour of some of my favorite spots, some new-to-me spots, and some of her requested spots. It was a day of 29K+ steps, lots of carbs, and good friend time! Masked and outdoors only, of course.

It was fun writing a good old blog post again. This always helps to ground me. Thank you, as always, for reading along on this 7+ year journey.

So tell me:

Do you find yourself using “negative” coping mechanisms at times? How do you try to bring yourself out of those?

What are some things that ground you during stressful/challenging times?

Do you like Indian food? Fave dish? What is the best thing you did this weekend?

Competence and Confidence

pray.

WOWEEEEEEE. What a week it has been! I finished my first three days of work as a physical therapist last week, and it was a TRIP.

I’m working at approximately 50% of a full caseload since they’re easing me into it, but the combination of new setting + learning the electronic medical record + remembering everything from my last three years of education + communicating with patients as they need… all after just putzing around for nearly 6 months of quarantine season… *internally combusts*

It has been a challenge to say the least. It’s objectively not anything crazy, but subjectively, I whispered under my breath every hour on my first day of work: “I’m dying.”

It’s really f i n e. Of course there is a learning curve, so I am trying to be gentle with myself. I was (and am) stressed though, and I acknowledge that. But this phase, too, shall pass.

Needless to say, a lot of my prayer has been focusing on the grace to do the very best for my patients and to sharpen my competence for them. However, I have also been praying for the ability to truly separate my anxieties and insecurities at work from a) my identity; b) my internal peace.

Let me know if there is any way I can pray for you as well! It is consoling to offer up the stresses of the day for others.

eat.

I made these apple muffins Saturday night, and they are excellent smothered in peanut butter + a glass o’ milk. But I’m sure you knew I was going to say that 🙂

my friend: “it looks like the golgi apparatus”

It doesn’t look pretty, but it’s tasty! I made homemade applesauce just for it (also because I bought apples in bulk and overestimated my ability to eat them all in a timely manner).

move.

I joined one of the COOLEST outdoor workout groups ever yesterday. It’s essentially a group of kettlebell lovers/beasts/experts led by Alex @kettlebellgains for a warmup, workout, and some straight up PR-hitting. I am NOT a kettlebell expert by any means, but after 6 months with just Ketllbellarmine (what I call my 35# KB) as my heaviest weight, I’ve become fond of utilizing it in different ways to build strength, endurance, balance, and coordination.

I found a few awesome people on Instagram who all went to this “Sunday Swings” session, so I asked if someone unexperienced like me could come, and they welcomed me with open arms! I felt so out of my league showing up there (after stalking some of the people who show up to this thing #musclesonmusclesonmuscles), but they were so supportive and fun, and I felt stronger and more confident than ever in that space.

Something in me knew that going to this workout group and doing my very best, despite feeling out of my league, would help with my confidence. And it did! I deadlifted a 220# KB for 4-5 reps x3, which I did not think I would be able to do. I also snatched 44# for a few reps, which was exciting.

I have NOT been feeling confident starting work as a physical therapist, and those feelings of insufficiency are affecting my performance for sure. So this KB class gave me a confidence boost that I want to bring into my professional work this week and going forward!

look at that KB!! they name it Wakanda

groove.

Today is my mom’s birthday! I cannot say enough about how incredibly generous and loving that woman is. I love you and appreciate you more than you know, Madre. ♥︎

MONDAY LET’S GOOOOOO!

So tell me:

How did you feel when you started working your first “real” job?

What kinds of things give you confidence?

Do you like working out with kettlebells?

What have you been cooking / baking recently?