Jul 14, 2014

It (was) my birthday, and I'll blog if I want to!

I'm 27!  I can't believe it.  I feel old and young at the same time.  Yold.  Yes, I feel yold.  I love blended words if you didn't know (chocoholic, smog, spork, grapple, sexcapade, guitarthritis, freegal, and the like).  Also, this song was apparently #1 on July 7, 1987.  Heart and I go way back.  Maybe that's why I love this song, so much.  Perfect "belting in the car, and I don't give a damn if you're watching" song.  Oh, and it used to be the ringtone on my flip phone.

26 treated me well.  It was full of new books to read, new physical challenges, a switch to continual positive body image, maintaining relationships with just ever lovingly people, getting more settled into my condo, and growing more confident in my career.  And most importantly, a change in confidence and opinion of myself, that opened me up to a world of positivity, ability, appreciation, and love.  Here's to hoping 27 is even greater!  It's amazing to me how relieved I feel almost all the time.  I've been awakened.
I am typically neutral, lukewarm at best, about my birthday.  It's usually just a day, to me.  But in my new phase of life that is embracing how awesome I am and NOT trying to fly under the radar all the time, I am happy to celebrate a day of me.  I am all about new experiences and challenging myself, but still comfortably.  I chose to organize a community service event and then head to Findlay Market and Washington Park in the afternoon.

The place I chose is called Lighthouse Youth Services and they are based in Cincinnati, OH.  I didn't realize how expansive their services reached.  Last year, as in 2013, I worked on MLK day, which has always held a special place in my heart.  (I've been known to geek out and drag my sister around her current city of Atlanta looking at historical sites, or to give speeches in college).  That day, a resident made me cry, and I felt like such a failure.  I then vowed to not work on MLK day from there on out, but to keep it as a day of service.  For this year, a friend had told me about an Human Rights Campaign (HRC) sponsored event that focused on making care packages for homeless youth and teens, particularly those in the LGBTQ community.  It was a fun day, I was mistaken for a lesbian by an old grad school professor, and reconnected with a college friend. 

This time around, all the information I got ahead of time is that we would be helping to prepare a farmer's market and maybe meet some of the youth that receive benefit from LYS.  I invited a whole bunch of people (another insecurity I had to face...that I was putting people out by merely FB inviting them to an event), and only about 4-5 people had gotten back to me.  Ended up being 9 people.  A motley crue of my cousins, friends from grade school, high school, college, and grad school, and former work friends.   

The coordinator explained that the school that the market benefitted served at risk youth, and offered a consistent place for them to go to school vs the norm of being shuffled around and also their schools being shuffled around.  My heart swelled when I heard that.  It's a low paying pipe dream of mine to do something more "non-profit"-y with my life and career.  Right now, I am driven by student loans and a comfortable lifestyle.  Still love my job, it's just a different focus at this point in my life, right now.

We ended up picking eggs from the chickens in the homemade chicken coop, weeding the plots (it's organized in a way that people can come and pick their own vegetables and herbs), moving some dirt, and harvesting basil.  I held a chicken, ate a fresh paper, and I had great joy watching my friends and family dedicate some of their time.  It's a passion I want to share with others, and I am glad these people were able to share it with me.  It's so much easier to want to do kind things when you have friends next to you.

Steve, the coordinator, even made me a dirt cake (gummy worms, fake flowers, and all) and kale smoothies.  A really joyful morning, and it ended up being a beautiful day.  I got a few different shades of brown and a little burned on my shoulders, but it was totally worth it.
Yep, a real chicken!  I clearly enjoyed it.  Not sure about her, though.  And Kate's creepy eyeing in the back.

Friends hard at work, weeding in the garden.

Dirt!  I was fooled at first, but quickly realized they were oreos.  Okay, not that quickly, but I did realize it.

Group shot.  From left to right: Kate (we go way back to grade school), Elizabeth (we sat right next to each other for 2 years in grad school and I lived in her basement for over a year), Amanda (one of my closest friends who came in town from Bowling Green, OH to spend the weekend with me), Seve (the coordinator), myself, Betsy (a high school friend that I just recently reconnected with and who I didn't realize I missed), Amanda (or Chanda Bear, my cousin and former roommate), Tracie (my cousin, and Amanda's sister; we are the ultimate foodies in the family), and Ryan (Amanda's (new) husband and friend I've gotten to know over the past few years)
Findlay Market is always fun, even if it is hella crowded.  Enjoyed organic cashew chicken salad, brown rice and sweet potato salad, blue cheese cole slaw, bubble tea, and a paneer wrap.  Followed by a visit to Washington Park, where there is a water pad, giant jenga, and food trucks.  Totally loved watching my niece and nephew play in the water, timidly and shrieking with laughter.  Also had the most freaking delicious ice cream waffle sandwich.  Marty's Waffles...perfection.

A full day in the sun followed by tacos at Tacocracy in Northside (also freaking excellent...duck, short rib and mac n cheese, curry chicken and paneer, homemade guac and queso) and of course, ice cream at Aglamesis afterward.  So much Cincinnati, so little time.  It was truly a beautiful day, in all senses of the word, and I was surrounded by those near and dear to me.

Not only did I have great experiences that day, but I was bestowed with beautiful gifts.  Amanda painted me 2 paintings.  One entitled, "Thy Body a Temple."  It speaks for itself, and she said she was inspired to paint in based on my new relationship with my body. 
How freaking talented is she?
And she also recreated a picture I took in Beijing 8 years ago.  And it's beautiful.  Elizabeth gave me a lovely inscribed necklace that states, "Stronger...than yesterday."  It's a Crossfit thing, but it also happens to be a Britney Spears lyric.  Which I love! 
Isn't it gorgeous?  I am absolutely in love with it.
Perfect gifts.  Other people were also kind to me for my birthday, too.  A slew of things including an Ariel shirt, an "It's a Small World After All" Chinese doll, a homemade snuggly owl blanket, and I think I'll use my money to buy a Harry Potter LEGO set. 

I took my actual birth date off, and was invited to lunch by my cousins, Tracie and Amanda.  They are my closest cousins, and just like having a couple more sisters.  We were essentially being punked by the Vietnamese restaurants in Cincinnati (first one said, closed "7/4-7/13," the second said, "Closed all summer," and before we went to the third one, their phone message said, "We serve lunch Thursday through Friday."  We ended up eating at Yardhouse at The Banks, and had a nice view of the river and KY.  I got roped into a dinner with people I don't even know, by my parents (I don't want to talk about it), but then spent the rest of the evening scrapbooking in solitude.  I'm so grateful for that day, and felt ZERO guilt for taking a vacation day.

Lastly, my coworkers made me these adorable red, white, and blue strawberries and got me a card.  How sweet?  I'm okay with being acknowledged these days, and in the best ways possible.
This image was found on pinterest, but this is what they looked like.
It really would be selfish to ask for more, wouldn't it?  But I will quote this great Josh Radnor film, "Happythankyoumoreplease."

P.S.  So sorry for the weird formatting.  I'll never write in Word first!

Jun 5, 2014

"Titanium" by David Guetta, feat. Sia (as covered by Boyce Avenue)

This song.  Just :::sigh:::.  The original is an all-time favorite, and this version is kind of how I sing the song in my head.  Cause while I love David Guetta, the lyrics are more subtle to me.  Also, I love Boyce Avenue and covers.  They are superb.  The lyrics from this song are so empowering, and it is one of few songs that I do not ever turn off when it comes on.  I am always in the mood to hear it.  It makes me feel fierce and like I could conquer anything.

Hold on, singing break!  :::sings::: "...I'm bulletproof, nothing to lose...fire away, fire awaaaaaay!  Ricochet, you take your aim!  Fire away, fire away (insert dramatic facial expression)!  You shoot me down, but I won't fall!  I am titaaaaaannnniuuuuummmm!  You shoot me down, but I won't fall!  I am tiiiitaaaaaniiiiiiuuuuum!"

Anywho, a while ago, this article came out, called "Why I Don't do Crossfit."  I stupidly clicked on the link, but didn't/couldn't read the whole thing.  I have read anti-Crossfit things before, but for some reason, the way this article was written really crawled under my skin.  So much to the point, that it is annoyingly popping up in my head at least once a day.  So.annoying.  Part of my issue with the original article is how it was written.  So attacking.  It paraded as a, "my personal opinion about a particular sport program and why it doesn't work for me," kind of post, but was really, "these is my one experience, and can I convince you that this entire movement is harmful to the greater public, and you're an idiot for doing it" kind of rant.  It really should have been titled, "Why NO ONE should do Crossfit.  Ever."  I also tried to read other reactionary articles that highlighted the positives of Crossfit, but the ones that really stuck out to me were the ones that asked for a solution and critique.  Such as...

"Crossfit Bashers, Can You Be More Constructive?"


"200,000 Thank Yous and One Request"

And in accordance with the request to educate; here is some basic information about Crossfit (What is Crossfit?) and (Beginner's Guide to Crossfit).

I do realize that I risk being injured.  And probably will be at some point, but with a fixable, acute problem.  But I also realize that I risk injuring my body indirectly by treating it poorly (running only sporadically, having too many cheat days, fueling the negative relationship I had with food and nutrition) with much more long-term effects.  No thank you.  I live in the fucking United States of America.  I have every opportunity at my fingertips.  Why am I going to waste such fortune being a fat, unhappy, tired, cranky person?

One thing that I did not realize about Crossfit, is that this is the first time in my life I have ever been a part of a close-knit community that shared a common bond.  I never belonged to a church or a sports team or a support group before.  This is my first religious experience, in a figurative sense of the word.  I never understood the benefit of such a bond.  And more than that, I didn't realize I was missing out on anything.  I love talking to my coaches and catching up with my fellow Crossfitters.  I've done the gym thing before; in college I would go at 600am so no one would see me and I wouldn't have to torment myself watching the sorority girls on the ellipticals.  I never would have used a thigh machine or anything that made me feel the least bit vulnerable with anyone within 50 feet.  Not here.  Part of it is my age, and coming into my own, but the other part is that this environment is conducive to trying new things, counting on the positivity from others to reach for the sky.  Here, within these walls and with these people, I am encouraged, openly, directly and indirectly, relentlessly.

And as for the request to advocate...from all sides, I see benefit from incorporating Crossfit into my life.  My strongest argument for the haters is my testimony.  My story.  My success story.  I only advocate for what I believe in; it's a small list of what I feel incredibly strong about, and Crossfit/fitness/healthy eating is one of those platforms I choose to spend my energy and intelligence towards.  I've done this for a year now.  I was never an athlete before; I never enjoyed physical activity (except walking and bowling).  My transformation is only just beginning.  I'm shedding these pounds, the shame and embarrassment, the fear, the insecurity, the anxiety.  Even I can't argue with myself that this is working!

My second strongest argument would be, try it!  Try it with a credible coach who knows what they are talking about, listen to what they have to say, treat fitness as a multi-faceted dynamic, and first and foremost...LISTEN TO YOUR BODY.  Sometimes it tells you you're tired, and you can argue with that.  But you should never argue with pain.  That is your body's way of telling you that something is wrong.  My coaches are always receptive to my questions, my concerns, and my aches and soreness.  Never have I ever been made to feel like I should already know how to do something or deal with something.

As I was struggling to process through this stupid article and figure out why it bugged me so much (mostly I thought it had to do with my former instinct to be defensive), I reached out to a friend, who kindly reminded me that I do this for me.  I love it.  I see and feel benefit from it.  I am growing stronger and just in general because of it.  I have to be okay with others' opinions, no matter how ill-informed they may be.  I have to do this with such conviction that it doesn't matter what other people say about it.  I do it for me.  Solely.  I can't convince everyone, or do I need to, right?  It's just difficult when you love something so much and want to share it with your loved ones, friends, acquaintances, anyone who will listen, but it is so inaccessible to a lot of people, or seemingly so.  If I were to identify the top criticism of Crossfit, they would be that it is too expensive.  I pay a pretty penny for my membership, but from that I don't merely get access to their equipment.  I also get quality coaching from a caring, knowledgeable group of people, I gain friendships and bonds with others on similar journeys, I build camaraderie with these people, and I get to come do something fun (mostly) 6 days/week.

My friend also reminded me that no system is perfect and that some people just focus on the imperfections.  Sometimes I can't believe how much I love Crossfit and how much I have changed my eating habits, that I ask myself, "Okay, am I just doing this blindly, or do I really think eating grains, sugars, etc is bad for me?"  And the answer is always, "Trust your body.  You tried these changes, and they are working.  Never have you ever felt better in your life."  I know what it feels like to abstain from grains and processed food, have a cheat day, and feel like I am hungover because of the vast effects.  I know what it's like to eat empty calories and feel hungry all day.  I know the difference it makes when I eat whole foods, drink water, and eat enough food on a regular basis.  I'm not a brainwashed schmuck whose coaches control her with a marionette.  I am an intelligent woman who is part of the weight epidemic.  I choose to listen with a grain of salt to some of what my coaches say.  I choose to listen earnestly when they have a critique for my form or endurance.  I choose to push myself under the guidance of these well-informed teachers and visionaries. 

Let me put it this way.  I am almost always in the bottom half of the class when it comes to anything that requires running, doing things fast, or pushups and pullups.  I am not a competitive person.  I do not ever care what my score is.  I don't ever care if I am the fastest.  I look at the scores to gauge a general time frame or weight range, but that's it.  I don't fit into this mold of a typical athlete.  I truly believe there is no mold for the perfect Crossfitter, not physically anyway.  Anyone who is open-minded, willing to learn, supportive, kind, a team player, and leaves their ego at the door is suitable for Crossfit.  There are so many elements to it, that something, could benefit just about anyone.  IF you choose to let it affect you in such the positive way.

Back to those song lyrics ("You shoot me down, but I won't fall.")  The "you" in this song has been personified by a few different entities on my journey to fitness.  The biggest offender is myself, my fear and self-consciousness.  I get in my own way to success.  I am learning to do that less and less.  Now, I guess another contender might be the people who can't see Crossfit for what it is, but rather for its flaws and imperfections.

So there.  That is WHY I DO CROSSFIT

Sing it, Sia!  I mean, guy from Boyce Avenue!

"You shout it out
But I can't hear a word you say
I'm talking loud not saying much
I'm criticized
But all your bullets ricochet
Shoot me down, but I get up!"

May 28, 2014

"Steal my Sunshine" by Len

This video brings me baaaaack.  Such a dumb song, but how many songs have the word "sun" in it?  Plus, I'm being unabashedly ironic.  This will be my last post about the "Sun's out, Gun's out" challenge.  It wasn't as challenging as it was presumed to be.  In that I didn't step up to the challenge as much as I wanted to.  I did frequent the box more, and I have consistently cooked good food for the week, saving treats for the weekend.  I'll skip the food pictures, this time, too.

As it draws to an end, I have to reflect on why I was interested in the challenge at all.  Or why I am even at this box at all.

In the past few months, I have felt this incredible weight lift off of me, and it continually dissipates.  I had no idea how BIG this pressure was that I put on myself for the dumbest things.  For not being already perfect.  (I won't go into how I discovered this except to say it happened in a Target parking lot and I screamed at my sister about snow).  I spent a long time, 26 years too long, imagining that I was reaching for this unattainable goal, and that the only reason I wasn't reaching it was that I simply was not doing enough or trying hard enough or that I simply was not good enough.  As you may have surmised, this lead to a lot of guilt and sadness.  Guilt and sadness that became a norm for me.  Guilt and sadness that I had no idea I carried.  Guilt and sadness that I tried to consume.  Guilt and sadness that I tried to account for.  Guild and sadness that kept me shut off from being my true self and giving relationships 110%.  Guilt and sadness that motivated me to lash out at loved ones for not fitting into the "perfect" squares I had dissected everything in my life into.  My health was no exception.  I have been overweight most of my life.  I was born at freaking 9lbs5oz.  Big baby.  In some crazy, delusional, sounds like a teenager, gotta get out of my head, way, I thought I deserved being overweight, or rather staying overweight.  I didn't imagine that I deserved happiness until I was happy with my body.  I volleyed between tricking myself into thinking that I accepted myself the way I was and not being able to look in the mirror without crying or being embarrassed.  That's fucking stupid.  Which I knew, but made myself the exception for some reason.

I have a wonderful family, but being the 3rd and youngest (by 7 years) daughter of immigrant parents, body image just didn't come up a lot.  At least not in a positive way.  It's part of the Hong Kong culture to comment on other people's bodies and weight.  Me, being very much internally American, was very sensitive to this.  I didn't grow up with the tough skin that my parents had.  Where they give zero fucks what other people think of what they look like, it dictated a lot of opinions about myself.  There is so much more I could go into, but suffice it to say, I am finally growing up (or at least starting to) at the ripe old age of 26 and almost 11 months.  The older I become, the more I realize I do not know, the more I find out about myself and the world around me, and I am not so staunchly set in my ways.

Even though I feel freer now, and I am embracing aspects of myself I didn't know I should be proud of, I still have to talk myself into being nice to myself, quite often, actually.  It was SO ingrained in me, that it is taking a lot of rebuilding and kind words to myself to reach true happiness.  And I am also consciously reminding myself that it is a journey to happiness.  I kept waiting to just achieve happiness or health and then go on about my life.  False.  There will always be an insecurity or slip-up, but that's okay.  Accepting that is part of the journey, too.  It is so nice to laugh authentically, make comments without constantly censoring myself and editing my speech, to stick to my opinions, and to act confidently.

My doing Crossfit is so interrelated to this journey of self-discovery and acceptance.  There is no way around it.  Sure, there are other methods or instigators, but I truly believe it would have taken a lot longer to get there without Crossfit.  In a certain, cheesy way, Crossfit has saved me.  I repeat, Crossfit has saved me.  At a time, in which, I didn't even know I was drowning.  Crossfit was there for me.  Which leads me to celebrate my Crossfit-a-versary.

(yeah, I am not the kind of girl who wears makeup to the gym on a Saturday morning or wipes the sweat away; putting it all out there!)

Last weekend, on the Saturday before Memorial Day 2014, I completed a Hero WOD.  Well, half of one.  It was Murph.  I did half (800m run, 50 pull ups, 100 push ups, 150 squats, 800m run).  One year ago, I did this workout as my first ever true, Crossfit workout.  In 2013, it took me 50:00, and this year it took me 35:44.  I still did banded pull ups (last year, they were ring rows), but I didn't feel like I was going to die when I finished this year.  I think I will make this a tradition.  There are still a lot of goals I want to reach (I just found a list I made in January, that said I wanted to get double unders, toes to bar, and handstands...ha!  Might be wishful thinking, although the double unders are riiiiight there), but I have never done something for a whole year to benefit my health or to make a positive change in my life (except for schooling, which is finite).  I freaking love Crossfit, and in particular, I love my box, my coaches, and my fellow athletes (did I just call myself an athlete?  17 year old Angie on the bowling team and student council would be shocked).  I have truly dedicated and supportive members at my box.  I don't care if I've said it 100x, I'll say it 1000x more.  The affection I have for the positivity and self-love I feel within the walls of Crossfit Cornerstone can never be praised or appreciated enough. 

In this past year, I've grown muscles in my body that I didn't know I had.  I've gotten looks and comments from family members and friends seeing how my demeanor and my body have changed for the better.  I have become a friendlier, more outgoing person.  I do not hide from myself or others like I did in other gym settings.  I am more secure as a person, and feel less defensive.  I challenge myself every class I go to, to push a little harder under the guidance of my coaches and my instincts.  I climbed a rope (from laying on the ground).  I can walk up walls.  I've gotten my first sport related injuries (mostly bruises and scars).  I've been the slowest in class.  I've been the second to slowest in the class.  I've lifted heavier than half of the women at the box that day.  I've lifted way less than I could.  I've fallen on my ass.  I've dropped barbells on my head.  I've hit myself in the chest with a barbell.  I've fallen to my knees.  I've vomited after workouts.  I've stopped using an inhaler post-workouts.  I've had sweat dripping into my eyes.  I pushed a freaking truck!  And I've asked for help and advice, earnestly.  And this is just the beginning of the rest of my life!  I can't wait to see what it holds, and I am excited to meet and re-meet this Angie that is constantly growing, changing, and improving.

May 1, 2014

"Walking on Sunshine" by Katrina and the Waves

I absolutely loved this song as a child.  My sister loved it.  That's probably why.  Anyways, I miss the surprise and anticipation of getting letters in the mail and I am SO glad that the sun is out, now!  Yay, driving with the windows open and blasting my tunes.  I like that this nutrition challenge is 2 months long, because I don't feel as hopeless when I fuck up on occasion.  This is a smattering of the foods I've eaten.  I'll be sure to post the new recipes I have tried and liked.

Egg salad (which always looks disgusting in pictures), sweet potato noodle "pad thai" and blurry vegetable soup.
Egg salad again, but with crackers.  Panera Thai Chicken salad, and watermelon from Kroger salad bar.  Not a great nutrition choices day.

Scrambled eggs for breakfast, Wendy's bbq chicken salad (womp womp), and melon soup for dinner.  That my mother made.

Smiley hard boiled eggs decorated by my 4 year old niece and banana.  Chicken drumsticks and curry.  Grassfed beef burgers with lettuce and caprese salad.

Grainless granola (ground raw pistachios, raw almonds, raw cashews, mixed with coconut oil, honey, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, and ginger...baked low and tossed periodically, with banana and coconut milk.  Like "cereal."  Curry chicken and beef burgers again.

Berry Carrot Dream smoothie from Smoothie king (hold the turbinado) and chicken with broccoli slaw and Vegenaise.

Being ultra Chinese for this day!  Bubble tea for breakfast (so nutritious, right?), dim sum for lunch (turnip cake, greens, shrimp stuffed jalapenos, other things I don't know the English names for), and chicken with chestnuts and dried Chinese mushrooms (again courtesy, of my mother).

Grainless granola, watercress soup, and Against the Grains pesto pizza with paleo bison meatballs and pineapple.

Breakfast was strawberry paleo bread with bacon and pineapple.  Lunch was a salad with feta cheese.  And dinner was a bacon, basil, lettuce, and Vegenaise wrap with Chinese greens.  Followed by a few mini Easter chocolate bars.
I had taken a few days off work and kind of went on a free for all.  I had Skyline, Wendy's, ice cream from Aglamesis, Popeye's Chicken, and I think cheese sticks somewhere.  Oh and Froot Loops.  I didn't eat all of that in a few days' time; I just remember these things from the last two weeks.  But boy, did I pay for it.  I had the craziest dreams and was super cranky and sleepy.  Not worth it.  What I am realizing (and probably already knew) was that if I am going to eat a little junk, I need to pair it with good food.  Otherwise, instead of being coated by the good nutritious food that my body knows how to process, it wreaks havoc on my digestive system and makes my glycemic levels jump around.  Not pleasant.  Whatsoever.  On the other hand, I don't like to feel like I am wasting a good meal by just using it to prevent a bad meal from making me miserable.  So that, should, keep me from eating too much junk when I do decide to indulge.
Workouts have been good.  I PRed my snatch by another 5 lbs (1 rep max is now 80 lbs).  We've been doing a lot of pull ups, which I hope to achieve without the aid of a band by the end of this year.  Also worked on front squats (this video is a little too specific, in that, each person squats a little bit differently, but it does have some good tips), and pushed myself to go a little heavier, and to not be afraid to bail if I need to.  Also got three double unders in a row with two singles in between!  A new PR!  I would love to get double unders, consistently and soon.  I enjoy partner workouts and the camaraderie that comes from perfect strangers.  Crossfit would be a great icebreaker to use!  I've been told that I have good form for my cleans and power cleans.  And I was coached to "look up" when doing snatches, with a visual cue written in chalk on the ground in front of me.  That worked, too!  I hadn't been going as consistently as I wished, too, but that's over.  I'm back in.  I am surprised by how much Crossfit affects the rest of my life, too.  I couldn't quite articulate it, but this article sums it up nicely.
#6 is my favorite: They let go of judgement.
Anytime we think something about another person, positive or negative, we are making a decision about them that may not even be true. I made this mistake early in my CrossFit career when I thought I could determine a person’s strength based on his build. I quickly ate my words when a 5'5, 115-pound female competitor out-lifted everyone around her.

Some people who join CrossFit are indeed very fit and step into the gym with a certain bravado. For these individuals, I sit and quietly and wait for the moment when they become completely humbled by some unassuming veteran in the gym. It usually depicts a turning point in their attitude as they realize there’s no room for judgment in CrossFit; there will always be someone faster and stronger than you.

CrossFit changes people’s perspective of themselves and the world. I speak confidently to each of these points as just over five years ago, I was the one stepping into a CrossFit gym, looking like a deer in headlights. I have seen firsthand what CrossFit has done for my life and for me. Now, I’m lucky enough that everyday I get to wake-up and see what it does for others.
I feel so privileged to be a part of this kind of movement.  It is cultish.  "Drink the kool-aid."  But it is definitely something I can talk about with conviction.  It makes me a prouder person, and that is not an easy feat to accomplish.  I am frequently confronted with the challenge of becoming a more confident person, while also realizing how relative my place is in the world.  I already felt fairly confident, so this is very challenging for me.  Crossfit is one way that I can express those struggles and achievements.  I couldn't be more grateful.

I leave you with this; I wanted to share the wise words of a friend that I had in college.  We met because she started a club that centered on positive body image.  It was something that I really wanted to be a part of, but I lacked the confidence to really throw myself into it.   Of course, I felt like I was the fattest or grossest person in that group.  I went to Miami University, after all, and even when most of the girls aren't trying to, they are just those pretty kind of people.  But anyways, you get past those things and thought I am not close friends with this person, I still draw inspiration from her pictures and posts.  She is a yoga instructor and Lululemon ambassador in Seattle.

Dear friends, I have some important things to say!

YOU will *not* be more valuable or more loved or more successful when you're 5lbs lighter or "toned" or run 26 miles. You are worthy now, believe that. 

You CANNOT fulfill your body's need for nourishment by counting calories. Counting calories is a useless way to spend your valuable time and energy—focus instead on eating foods that make you feel good and help you live life to its fullest. 

If you're chasing an “ideal” body, you're NEVER going to catch it. Ever. You'll always be chasing, and it will always be running. Stop reading shitty deprecating magazines, stop comparing yourself to movie stars, stop assuming everyone on Facebook has a perfect life and you don't, stop weighing yourself and letting that number determine your success or failure. 

Someone else, who doesn't give a shit about you, decided to sell you ideas on what beauty is so that they could make money—don't be so readily convinced! Your ideal is *now.* Your beautiful reality is fully YOU. Be above all that bullshit, because YOU ARE!

Start striving to feel awesome. This means taking care of yourself, eating wholesome food and exercising. This helps you show up for your dreams and for those who you love. Start loving food, and it will love you right back! When you don't believe in restrictions, you stop the shame and the guilt, and you actually start eating what makes you come alive.

Happy trails, to you. 

Apr 15, 2014

"Here Comes the Sun" by The Beatles

My main man, George Harrison (I always like the quiet ones??).  My dad is from Hong Kong, and didn't grow up with tons of American music, but The Beatles he always knew.  And loved.  So, hence, my sisters and I also love The Beatles.  He has an unexplained affection for Glen Campbell, John Denver, and The Monkees that I do not share.  Well John Denver is okay.  Anyway, this song is picked in hopes of spring weather coming and staying.  Dear winter, get the fuck out.  You have long overstayed your welcome.  Don't let the metaphorical door hit you on the ass on your way out!

Just finished week 2 of "Suns out, Guns out!:  This week, it got easier to find the motivation to get to the gym.  4x total.

Food for the week:
grain free pancakes with Hormel bacon for breakfast and real maple syrup
paleomg.com grainless chicken tenders, crockpot veggie soup, and orange for lunch
Dijon marinated dover sole and stuffed squash.  Recipes courtesy of a cooking lesson with Keri, a woman who goes to my gym and often does the food for the chiropractor's office who also owns this gym.
bacon and pancakes for breakfast, PIZZA AND CUPCAKES for a coworkers birthday (I brought the fruit and veggies!), and soup and chicken tenders for dinner
Smoothie King Berry Carrot Dream, pancakes, and bacon again.  soup and pineapple and a piece of leftover pizza again, and just coconut water for dinner that night
toasted up the rest of the pancakes and made an overflowing 2 egg omelet with bacon and raw cheddar.  Yay big breakfast Fridays!

ordered in Thai food at work.  I was a good girl.  Spicy cashew chicken, hold the rice.

Splurged on nachos and shrimp basil pasta at Cheesecake Factory.  GOOD food to splurge on.  Not fast food shit.
yogurt and apple for breakfast, salad for lunch, sweet potato noodles made with Dan Dan sauce at my dad's restaurant. 
more freaking soup!, stuffed zucchini, and then goodies at book club (guac and plantain chips, fruit kebabs with greek yogurt and honey, paleo chicken nuggets, clean chicken buffalo dip with celery, and organic trail mix)
Pretty happy with how I ate this week.  Aside from the pizza!  I always have one cheat day.  It keeps me in line.  My cousin had a bridal shower, and I gorged myself on flatbread pizza and broccoli cheese soup with ice cream and cake. :)
This week's workouts were intense, but not with anything that was for time or as many rounds as possible (AMRAP).  It was more about form and mobility.  Which is the part I really like.  I PRed my snatch by 5 lbs (**new PR 75 lbs), and as a coach told me, there are no little PRs.  PR is a PR.  The snatch is the hardest lift for me.  I feel like my chest gets in the way and I just am too timid about getting under the bar.  The thing about these snatches is that they required a full squat when you catch the bar, instead of a power snatch, that requires only a partial squat (above parallel).  Brandon had said that the more skilled you are, that there will be less discrepancy between the full movement and the power movement.  Right now, I can do way more with a power movement.  Part of that has to just do with fear, though.  Given more time, I probably would have gone up even higher.  The thing I am proud of is that I have not been the last in every single work out, and that I didn't fall on my butt once during snatches.  I missed a couple maybe, but I reattempted.  

Second part of that work out was 10:00 of Turkish Get Ups/Wind Mills/Arm Bars combo for shoulder mobility and flexibility.  Loved having 4 different coaches this week.  I like longer workouts that focus on strength and mobility. 

Also introduced myself to the 600am Bootcamp class that Crossfit Cornerstone is offering.  Few participants so far, but that makes it more like a personal training session!  The one and only that I have gone to so far was a 25:00 AMRAP of 3 inverted burpees (I cannot do a regular hand stand, so it was a head stand, and it definitely was two separate movements, not one fluid movement!), 6 grasshoppers, 9 ball slams (but Megan wasn't strict with us catching the ball on the first little "pop"), and ended with a  combination of medicine ball squat clean/thrusters and throw/jog.  Finished with an extended stretching that included use of bands to stretch the hamstrings and a few yoga moves (cat pose and cobra pose).   All in all, I was glad I got up at 500am that day.

Aside from my food/exercise, I have been focusing on security and confidence.  I didn't realize it but I had this instinct to be defensive or to imagine the worst, most ridiculous reactions from people.  And that is highly irrational and just not helpful at all.  So, I am focusing on being secure in my actions and decisions and not jumping to the unwarranted defense.  Because quite honestly, my life is full of cheerleaders.  I am being very vocal about this with my family and myself, in the hopes that it doesn't just fizzle out.  I already felt a weight lift away from me after consciously making this decision.  It was wonderful.

This last Sunday was the last segment of the "Fit for the Kingdom" bible study lead by a couple at my gym.  Jayce asked this big question, "How does Jesus' crucifixion affect your life, really?"  A huge freaking question, right?  I told the story of when I lead a Christian Awakening retreat as a college student (ca 2007) for the seniors at the high school I had gone to (I don't really know why I went, but I was asked to by a former teacher, and maybe I had that zeal that I would change some teenager's life, that didn't happen I'm pretty sure, but it is always a nice weekend).  One of the teachers gave this talk, and posed the question, "How many people do you actually know that would die for you?"  She was clearly alluding to how Jesus made this huge sacrifice, blah blah blah.  I think it's a really unfair question, but it did make me think that there are entities and people that do things for me and that have set me up to take advantage of the opportunities in my life without my ever having asked for it or even appreciating it.  If I were the kind of person that also believed that Jesus had done so (I'm not sure I am, so don't ask yet), I would feel this incredible and overwhelming feeling that I could never repay that and that I would spend a lifetime trying.  Realizing the motivation that people do find from this story of Jesus on the cross, and when that motivation is used for good in the world, I find really fascinating.  And I'll be excited to continue the Bible study and get to know my fellow members more closely.

More than that, it made me see that despite the life I was born into, and that overwhelming feeling that I could never repay to the earth, to my family and ancestors, to society, to history, to God what I have been given, it doesn't mean I should stop trying or that life here is hopeless.  There was also talk of an asymptotic relationship (where we all got a lesson from the engineers in the group about what an asymptote is) where as you continue, it gets more difficult, but that you do get closer.  It made me see how much growing I still have to do, and that I will never really feel fully grown.  There is always going to be something to learn or something to know that will enrich my life.

I feel like I am at the dawning of something big.  As much as I would like that to be adopting a dog, it's not.  But something cool is gonna happen here, soon.  Hopefully learning to trust my instincts is going to pay off!

Apr 9, 2014


Next nutrition challenge at Crossfit Cornerstone is called, "Suns out, guns out!" (or "Sexy in 60" if you so wish).  It's a point system.  These are the rules:

It's a 60-day, points based challenge that begins April 1st and commences May 31st. Winner receives a pair of Reebok OLY shoes or Nanos of their choosing.
Here's how you get points:
1. Snap a before pic and post it to the Cornerstone Members page on Facebook (Not in the group? Let us know!) or privately email CrossFitCornerstone@gmail.com. 5 points.
2. Post a photo of every meal you eat to the Cornerstone Members Facebook page. 1 photo = 1 point.
3. Every hour you workout at CrossFit Cornerstone = 1 point. Hours calculated by the electronic check in system at the front door.
4. Last week of the challenge snap an After pic and post it to Cornerstone Members Facebook page or email privately to CrossFitCornerstone@gmail.com. 5 points.

Now you know the rules, we're going to help give you a boost during the Challenge! For 60 days we're offering a 6 AM Bootcamp class on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays.

So, there's that.  I am slowly getting into the swing of things.  You can post pictures of whatever kind of meal you had, but it does keep me from posting pics of "bad food."  I still snack in between the three meals (sometimes on pizza or oreos!), but at least 3 substantial meals are good.  My week one looked like this:

 For the first week, eggs was breakfast a lot of the time.  Even smiley eggs!

 Kale salad for lunch got old.  But Tabbouleh from Trader Joe's didn't!

Convinced my dad to use sweet potato noodles in some recipes at his restaurant, so I could still enjoy some of my favorites.  They're not real noodles, but they get the fix in!

Some nights I got lazy and had veggie blend smoothies from Smoothie King, instead.  Especially after 730pm workouts!

This sad day was free meals at an all day scrapbook event.  Kind of a splurge day.

This was the first day's dinner on 4/1/14.  Organic steak, baby zucchini with butternut squash, mushrooms, and onions (that I overcooked) and Against the Grain bread with Kerrygold butter.

Chipotle, pot stickers, butternut squash with eggs, tabbouleh with gluten free crackers, kale salad. 

Hard to see, but ice cream from Aglamesis Brothers, noodles and wontons, Hong Kong style from my dad's restaurant, and remnants of scrambled eggs.

First day's breakfast of organic eggs (still not sure which ones are the best to buy.  I should just go to the farm, really!), avocado, and Wholly salsa.
I only got two points for going to the gym, but so be it.  I did submit a before picture, which I will post at the end of the challenge, regardless of how close I still look to it.  It's like a Biggest Loser picture. :o)
Aside from this challenge, I have also started going to a Bible study at Crossfit Cornerstone (a lot of the members also go to the same church) that focuses on the life of Jesus Christ and was precedented by a viewing of "Son of God".  It was a pretty cheesy movie to say the least.  But I liked the stories within it.  I have some religious study background, having gone to Catholic school for 13 years, but I am not myself, Catholic, or associated with any church, for that matter.  I felt like I needed that background to understand the movie, mostly.  I am really enjoying getting to look at the human side of Jesus and the struggle that the disciples went through to be faithful to Him and to completely change their lives.
It gives me good motivation and inspiration to examine my own life and how I choose to conduct and regard myself and others.  It has really opened my eyes to how judgment influences opinion, empathy, choosing to do what's difficult, taking risks, and so on.  I really miss this type of examination of religious texts.  Perhaps when I feel up to it, I will explore options for Torah and Quran study in the area.
Life is good.  Life is busy.  Strength is growing.
Another update next week.

Oh yeah, food!!!

Oh, and as for that nutrition challenge back in January 2014.  I did okay.  I only lost 5 lbs, but I did lose my craving for sugar (or at least learned to manage it).  I don't have any bread, candy, pasta, canned soup, frozen meals, anything really that comes from a box, deli meat, "fake meat," canned vegetables, rice, or conventionally processed dairy in my pantry or fridge.  With the occasional exception, of course.  I eat out, and I have cheat meals, but they don't send me spiraling. 

I'm completely over diet soda (I used to be on the bandwagon, thinking it was okay, because it was calorie free) and fake sugars.  If I am going to drink poison, it might as well taste good, right?  Yay for the occasional (and I mean, one every few months) coke!  I try to avoid all sugar.  I don't eat many bananas.  I try to eat lower sugar fruits (berries, granny smith apples), or just one or two fruits a day at most.  It was amazing to me  how sweet granny smith apples tasted once I gave up all the sugary crap.

I added a bunch of recipes to my collection, too.  And I continue to.  Some are:

paleo chicken tenders
brussel sprouts and bacon
sticky coconut chicken
paleo Cincinnati chili
spaghetti squash pizza pie
buffalo chicken dip (my friend made this one: shredded organic chicken breasts, Frank's red hot sauce, organic cream cheese, clean ranch dressing, raw cheddar--thrown into the crockpot and served with celery)
grainless granola (gotta play around with this one)
grainless pancakes
beef sweet potato stew

Also learned that I love some products that are staples of my diet, now!

Raw, organic or grass fed cheddar (Organic Valley or whatever they have at Trader Joe's)
plantain chips
Salsa (all kinds!)
unsalted and unroasted nuts (pistachios, cashews, almonds)
bacon! (Hormel or Applegate Farms to avoid nitrates and added preservatives)
cage free eggs (still not sure which ones I should be buying.  Any insight would be helpful!)
clean meat (Kroger's Simple Truth has coupons and sometimes their chicken thighs, steaks, or pork products are on sale/clearance, and of course there is always the local farms!)
Grain Free pizza (Against All Grains, topped with Olli pepperoni and veggies from the salad bar at Whole Foods)

I'm learning to be obnoxious about what I put into my body, but also not beating myself up for the occasional slip up.  I did find it was easier to have a cheat meal at the end of the week vs. the beginning because by that point, I already had a good week of eating behind me.  Otherwise, I would have had to challenge myself to have a week of good eating ahead of me.  Oh, and despite recommendation from the head coach, I'm not into protein powder.  Plant based and organic or not, I just don't like it.  I'll have some plain greek yogurt in my smoothie (no more than a couple a week) instead, please. 

Definitely more expensive, and definitely worth the investment.  I want to do another cycle.  It will take more than a few weeks to rid myself of a lifetime of bad habits and regular sugar consumption.  So glad to be on this road to health that is ever changing and turning.  No quick fixes here, but lifestyle changes.