Wisdom from a quarter of a century

May all the souls of the faithful departed, through the Mercy of God, rest in peace. In memorial today of all those who gave their lives for the freedom we have in this country.

Quarter of a century! Which means I’m closer to being 30 years old than I am to being a wee high school grad. Before all you 30+ year olds start coming after me, I am not suggesting that there is anything wrong with this! We all go to die one day ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

a recent photo of my unmasked face, in case you were wondering

I have not done one of these “things I’ve learned” posts in a while, so to celebrate turning a ripe but fresh 25 years old today, here are 25 things, both serious and jovial, that I have learned in my 25 years of life:

  1. Vulnerability is extremely powerful, for better or for worse.
  2. It is very possible to be great friends with people who vehemently disagree with you on important topics.
  3. If you squish a grain of white rice between your fingers enough, it feels like you’re making a mini mochi cake.
  4. Your brain really is still developing a LOT in your early twenties so chill o u t and remember that you still have a long way to go.
  5. The music you listen to on a daily basis really does shape your daily disposition, for better or worse.
  6. In the words of Olaf the snowman, “I like warm hugs!”
  7. No human person is immune to any certain emotion, sin, circumstance, or bad habit except by the grace of God.
  8. The voice message feature on iPhone is very useful for when you have a bunch of things to explain that are too much for just texting but you don’t want to alarm the person by *gasp* CALLING during the daytime.
  9. Aligned with popular practice but contrary to what I used to prefer, a hot cup of tea in the silence of the morning is quite peaceful and is now one of my favorite things.
  10. I have an issue with procrastinating going to sleep on time because I am not ready to start the next day, which really starts when you go to sleep the night before.
  11. Motor learning principles help with SO MUCH in the realm of movement, strengthening, skill learning, rehabilitation, and honestly just life. Specificity, intensity, frequency, feedback, external focus… all of it.
  12. It is possible to become significantly stronger and to improve functional motor patterns using one kettlebell for a whole year.
  13. The weather really is a hot topic, no pun intended.
  14. Communication is one of those things that is mighty scary until you do it enough that it isn’t… but then you have to remember that it’s still scary for some people.
  15. Dancing is one of the best gifts I have received; it brings me so much joy.
  16. Taylor Swift, by many objective measures, has very well-done music, but I still don’t love her music.
  17. No matter what age a person is, there still always exists a sense of “what in the world is going on?” regarding SOMETHING.
  18. Talk to someone in person before you assume literally anything about what they are trying to say on social media. And really speak to them with clarity and respect, because it’s easy to keep assuming what they are saying even after the conversation starts.
  19. It is possible and rather helpful to ask God for the grace to be humble enough to ask for His help.
  20. That “real quick” thing will always take longer than I think it will.
  21. By the same token, it is really impressive what you can get done in an 8-hour period of time when you’re really under pressure.
  22. Say the motivational quote or cliché that you think everyone’s already heard before, because there is chance that the person who needs to hear it may not have heard it before or may have just never applied it to their life sincerely.
  23. Simple does not mean easy.
  24. Keeping a clean beach towel in the car is helpful for at least 5 different types of emergencies, not to mention a helpful backrest for ergonomics.
  25. God is faithful, He is enough, and He the answer to everything. I honestly could not fight those statements even if I wanted to.

That list was hard to think of, but fun and good to make! Hope you learned a thing or two, no matter what age you are. Would love to learn from you as well! Drop a piece of wisdom you’ve learned in your years thus far 🙂

Have a wonderful week, friends. Thanks for being here. ♥︎

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?

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 🙂

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)

“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?