Archive for 'My Fitness Updates'

Birthday Thoughts!

Birthday Thoughts!

Posted on 24. Nov, 2009 by .

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I didn’t really plan on writing this post (or doing anything for that matter) on my birthday but I received this e-mail this morning and it touched me in such a good way that I just had to share it with you.

The e-mail began with the saying,

“Don’t just count your years, make your years count.” – Ernest Myers

This quote really hit me. It got me to thinking if I really am making my years count. Sure, I watch what I eat and stay fairly active but what else am I doing with my life that is worth mentioning in this book that I call – MY LIFE?

And then, the e-mail went on to say this:

“What matters most in life is often viewed as peripheral to the things that we usually focus on. Passion takes a backseat to production, wellness to working, and balance to busyness. The old adage that “life is not a dress rehearsal” is so true, and yet we act to the contrary by putting off what is truly important or indulging in things that are not. On your birthday, stop focusing on your age and start meditating on your life at this exact moment. How can you make it better? During the next year, reshuffle your priorities. Spend more time with family and friends, take care of your body and health by eating right and exercising regularly, and offer to help others in need. Discover what matters most to you, and make your daily life a true reflection of those ideas, beliefs, and attitudes.”

Wow! It doesn’t often happen that I get touched by an e-mail message this way but this one really hit me to the point that I just had to tell everyone about it.

So, in the next year, I pledge to call my family more often, spend more time with family and friends (and my dog), spend less time in front of the computer, take more leisurely walks, laugh more, take more vacations (even if it’s just 3 hours away), and participate in at least 3 fundraising events. I have so many other things in mind but then I would be late for my dinner with friends..haha. I have to keep my pledge now right?

I hope you enjoyed today’s post and for those of you who I already spent time with today or already called, facebooked, twitted, and e-mailed me with your birthday wishes, thank you so much! I really appreciate having you in my life.

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My RKC Experience

My RKC Experience

Posted on 31. Aug, 2009 by .

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Things are still a bit of a blur to me as I write this post. I just came back from the Russian Kettlebell Certification (RKC) in San Diego this past weekend. I’ve got to say that I haven’t experienced a more thrilling, satisfying, emotional, tiresome, painful, gratifiying experience than this event. I thought that I had a very good idea of how this weekend was going to take place but it was much much more than I expected.

Forgive me if parts of this post do not make sense. I still haven’t fully woken up and recovered from everything that took place during the RKC. I’d like to write this article by detailing (at least the stuff that I remember) the RKC on a day to day basis and what was going through my head during those days.

Day 1

The first person who greeted me was my instructor/mentor and Master RKC, Mark Reifkind a.k.a Rif. It’s nice to see a familiar, smiling face (especially if it’s the face of the person who taught you everything you know about kettlebells) in the midst of all the nerves that have been building up inside me from the night before. The first thing that he asked me was: “Who’s your team leader?” Snap back to reality…I was so worried about the snatch test that I didn’t even think to find out who my team leader was.

Me with my instructor/mentor, Mark Reifkind aka Rif, Master RKC

Me with my instructor/mentor, Mark Reifkind aka Rif, Master RKC

Later on, I found out that it was, Doug Nepodal, Senior RKC. Who is he? He’s the guy who wears a kilt so if you see a guy who’s wearing one, that’s him. Ok, that shouldn’t be hard to find. I went off to register and find the guy wearing a skirt.

More details in between but let’s skip to the dreaded snatch test.

The first day starts with the snatch test. I have one chance during each day of the certification to pass the test but I didn’t want to give myself that option. I have to pass this test today!

Ok, my turn…damn…I can’t believe I am in this moment right now…if only I could pinch myself and find out that it’s all but a dream (or nightmare).

Never mind…it’s now or never.

Go! one, two, three….I put the bell down on the 60th repetition. Shake it off….last 40 reps…done in 3 minutes, 59 seconds. Yes! I now feel a burning sensation in my throat – where’s the water cooler?

Erik, one of my team mates asked how my hands are. I said, “They’re fine.” I looked at my left hand and saw two torn callouses. Wow, I didn’t even feel that. My right hand was good.

I’m glad that was over. A big sigh of relief escapes me.

The first day is all about Swings and Turkish Get Ups (TGUs). I’ve never done so many swings in one day. To top it off, everytime somebody makes a mistake, you have to get up from the teaching position (belly down and on your elbows – like a kindergarten kid) and do how ever many swings they tell you to do – I need the practice anyway – bring it on. Pavel passes by as I perform my swings. He says, “Nice!” I hear hallelujahs in my head.

Break time – before you go on your break, you have to earn it first by doing a workout. This is the first time that I can say that I don’t look forward to break time…lol.

Practice time for TGUs…how come no one’s paying attention to me and my partner? Nikki Shlosser, one of our assistant RKCs, said that if we get ignored, that means that we’re doing them right. Ok, I feel a little better now.

Lunch time – I’m so tired that I’m not even hungry but I need the food for energy so I eat anyway. The rest of the day went by with lectures on a lot of topics that I’ve never even thought about before. I’m seeing training in a whole new light.

End of first day: I came back to the hotel room and my niece asks me why my eyes are red. My sister says that I’m so dark – not tan, dark. My dinner was Hawaiian Pizza and half a Pizookie from BJ’s – I just spent a crazy amount of calories, I can afford it…LOL.

Day 2

I woke up feeling like somebody just beat me up the night before. I proceeded to the hotel gym to at least release some of my muscle soreness. If I were to get through the rest of this day, the foam roller will surely help.

The second day is supposed to be the hardest of all three days – that was nice to know especially now that I’m sore and tired from the previous day. I can do this!

Lecture goes on about cleans, presses, and the goblet squat. I’m not very proficient with my cleans and presses but the squat is my favorite exercise until….workout #8. I have one word for this workout – BRUTAL! It’s a ladder wokout of alternating goblet squats (holding a 12 kg KB in front) and swings but you can’t get up until everyone’s down or until the leader (Yoana Snideman) says the number of the rep – please stop talking and say the number already…lol. I thanked the person who invented the foam roller.

Time for the snatch lecture. Does this mean we’re doing snatches later? Why did I even ask?

Before the day ends, we all perform workout #10: the VO2 Max Snatch. Snatch for 15 seconds, rest 15 seconds, switch hands and snatch for another 15 seconds. Total time: 10 minutes.

Wow, I succeeded (not survived) day 2, I should be ok now. But then again, we still have all day tomorrow.

Day 3 – Last Day

I kept waking up all through the night because every time I moved, I felt the pain. Alarm clock goes off at 5:30 a.m. I’d better wake up already. At the pace that I’m moving, I need all the time that I have….gets off the bed and walks like an old woman on crutches…limps to the bathroom. I considered using the foam roller at this time but I don’t think that I can even prop myself up on top of it at this point.

We get a little break this morning. We have a marketing lecture with John Ducane for 2 hours. Ok, that won’t be too bad.

Next up, technique testing – NERVES! Ok, I passed it. I’m good now…NOT. I still need to teach a “victim” (definition: a person who volunteered to be taught like a potential client). I heard that some people have passed everything but fail the teaching part. When will this end?

My partner, Mandy, and I had a victim named Tom who does KB swings during Crossfit. We had to undo some of his bad habits but he’s a fast learner. I liked this drill. It gave me tons of ideas of how I can teach my potential clients. The victim gets asked if he would hire me as an instructor. I was hoping he would say yes.

Are you getting the drill now? Teaching the victims was not the last test. The RKC saved the best for last – The Grad Workout! We had to perform swings, cleans, presses, and hold the KBs overhead for the length of a football field. The other end of that field never looked so good.

One more set, I can see almost see the end.

I finally reach the other end of the field. I still have all my body parts right? All my limbs are still attached? I’m still walking and talking. Except for the exceptionally painful soreness going through my body, a few blisters and a couple torn callouses, I made it!

Tears of joy well up from my eyes….why am I crying? I should be jumping for joy. I see that some of our assistants are wiping their eyes as well – ok, it’s not just me. I’m such a cry baby. We’re still waiting for some of our team mates and the rest of the class to finish. Go Mandy, Go Kristen, Go Tyson, Go Kyle…come on…you guys can do it. I didn’t expect this to be a very emotional moment but it was. After all, we all have endured tremendous amounts of physical pain and emotional roller coaster.

Me with Pavel Tsatsouline himself after I received my certification

Me with Pavel Tsatsouline himself after I received my certification

What an experience! I will never forget it for the rest of my life. As my mentor, Rif, said, “you would have enough stories to tell your grandchildren.” The RKC has made me a better trainer (to myself), better instructor to others, and a much better person.

My only regret is that I forgot to take a picture with the rest of our team, team leader, and team assistants. So, I’d like to end this post with a sincere appreciation for the all the assistance that our super cool team leader, Doug Nepodal, and our motivating assistant RKCs, Nikki Shlosser, Delaine Ross, and John Devitt, provided to all of us. To all my team mates, I thank you for all the support and I appreciate the camaraderie that we have developed in such a short time.

Here’s to the whole team…

  • My partner: Mandy
  • Joy
  • Kristen
  • Tyson
  • Erik
  • Jason
  • Al
  • Keith
  • Kyle
  • Louie
  • Manny
  • Neal
  • Rick
  • Roger

Power to us and power to the people. We have all made it!

On the side lines, I wouldn’t have made it without the support of my friends, TT friends and twitter peeps: Liz, Porsha, Donna, Gurpreet, Sally, Milan, Crystal, Lilian, Tabitha, Mike Z (stbf), Alex (roundballnz), Fred (fred0828), strongsarah, Greenteagirl, that70sgrl, sandierpastures, Gail, and many others. If I failed to mention you, I’m sure that you know how grateful I am to you.

Of course, it wouldn’t be right to end this post without thanking my husband, Anthony, for all the support that he has given me during this big transition in my life and our lives. From California to Kuwait, I want to thank you for everything and for believing in me. Come back whole. I’ll be waiting for your return in December. I love you, baby!

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Big Announcement…

Big Announcement…

Posted on 05. Jun, 2009 by .

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Remember that exam that I told you about a few days ago? Well, the result is in and I am pretty damned satisfied with myself. While this is something that will change my life, it just might change yours as well. That is, if you keep reading my posts and don’t get bored…lol.

So what is this news? Today, I am officially a certified personal trainer. Yep! You read that right. I have been so inspired by my own transformation and even more so by other people’s transformations that I want to do this for a living. I am doing a complete 360 degree turn and changing my career into becoming a fitness professional (I put in my two weeks notice at work yesterday). Oh, those video series are no joke! Those are the same principles I live by to make all the decisions I make in my life.

I believe that this career found me because I wasn’t even looking for a new one. I thought that I would be happy with working in the cancer research field for the rest of my life but then this great new thing happened to me. I can seriously say that I can do these – help people reach their fitness goals, live healthier lifestyles, realize their full potential – for the rest of my life and not complain one bit about any aspect of my job. I know there would be times when it would be challenging but I know that in the long run, it would be a rewarding experience — for me and for those whose lives I touch.

What does this have anything to do with you? Well, when I started blogging about fitness, I always wanted to do some instructional exercise videos instead of writing about them. But, my big issue with that was – I was not a fitness professional. I wasn’t qualified to teach other people how to do exercises for which I am not even sure if I am doing correctly. So, now that I have learned so much (I believe in continued learning though), I can then pass on that knowledge to you – as a professional. This doesn’t make me any better than other fitness bloggers out there as some of them have wwwaayyy more experience than I do but now I am more confident in sharing my knowledge with you. Fitness has always been a part of my life – I just never occurred to me back then that I can have a fulfilling career with it.

Now I know and I hope that you will stay with me in this journey. So, I guess you will be seeing more videos of me in the future – which can be a good thing or bad thing – depending on how you look at it…lol.

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Back to Regular Programming…

Back to Regular Programming…

Posted on 03. Jun, 2009 by .

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By next week, that is. I just wanted to do a quick post this week to tell everyone that I’ve had a crazy, hectic schedule this week preparing for a big exam (which I will tell you about after I pass it…haha). Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten about my blog and all of you who have been following my updates and fat loss strategies religiously.

I seriously have lots of ideas for future topics but just haven’t had the time to write them out and post it here. If you guys miss me so much, make sure to follow me on Twitter by clicking here. I can update that from time to time since it only takes a few seconds to do so.

See you all next week, keep your workouts tough and keep eating clean (I still do even though I’ve been busy)!

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How to Workout at Home

How to Workout at Home

Posted on 27. May, 2009 by .

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Lately, I haven’t felt the need to go to the gym because I’ve been training with my beloved Kettlebells which I let gather dust for quite sometime. I also decided that I’m going to get my Russian Kettlebell (KB) Certification in August so the heat is on in terms of preparing for this gruelling and demanding task. I also haven’t been wanting to go to the gym lately, not because I don’t feel like it, but because:

  • It’s been so nice outside here in Cali lately that I’ve been doing some of my workouts outdoors. My favorite workouts have been doing HIIT at a nearby park and KB swings.
  • My dog has been left by herself all day that I couldn’t bare to leave her alone for another hour and a half (I go to the gym after work).

So, when I chose a Turbulence Training (TT) workout, I chose one that incorporated equipment that I already have and have bodyweight (BW) exercises (which are not as easy as most people think). Another main consideration for me was my Kettlebell training. I needed a workout that had KB exercises in place in order to avoid overtraining.

My criteria lead me to March Madness. I know what you’re thinking…it’s not March…haha. Craig released this workout this year in honor of athletes and it mimic how they train in the real world. I absolutely love this workout for the many reasons I mentioned above and also because I didn’t expect it to be so tough. Once again, my expectations from a TT workout were exceeded – I have yet to find a TT workout that didn’t challenge me.

Without further ado, here is how my workout went. I am now on my second week on this routine and this is workout B.

Warm-up Circuit

• 2 times through the circuit using a 1-0-1 tempo for each exercise.
• Prisoner Squat – 10 reps
• Jumping Jacks – 40 reps
• Pushup – 12 reps
• Split Squat – 10 reps per side
• Stick-up – 10 reps

Workout BKB-BW 10×20 Circuit

I went through this circuit 2 times through.

#1 Kettlebell (KB) Squat – 26.5 lb KB x 20 reps
#2 Extended Pushup – 20 reps
#3 KB Swing – 35 lb KB x 20 reps
#4 Walking Lunge – 20 reps per side
#5 KB High Pull – 26.5 lb KB x 10 reps per side
#6 Mountain Climber – 10 reps per side
#7 KB 1-Arm Swing – 26.5 lb KB x 20 reps per side
#8 Close-grip Pushup – 20 reps
#9 KB 1-Arm Row – 26.5 lb KB x10 reps per side
#10 Stability Ball Leg Curl – 20 reps

I’m sweating buckets after this workout but I feel great! Next week, I plan to go through this circuit 3 times through – wish me luck!

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Do You Worry About Fat Loss During a Vacation?

Posted on 11. May, 2009 by .

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The weather is getting nicer and a lof of people are either planning their vacation or have already gone on vacation. While vacation is supposed to be a fun time, a lot of people struggle with the idea of whether to continue their fat loss efforts during vacation time or not. I was in this same position myself as I just came back from visiting my in-laws in Louisiana.

If you don’t already know, Louisiana is home to a rich culinary, historic culture where you can find French, Creole, Cajun, and many other flavorful dishes which is an experience in itself. So, the decision to “let loose” for a little bit was a no-brainer for me. To me, this was one of those situations where I didn’t want to hold back because the chance to experience some of the best foods on earth may not happen again for a long time. At the same time, I knew that I could easily lose the weight that I gained from indulging in all the flavorful foods because I have my fat loss strategies under my belt and have access to them whenever I need them the most (which I will discuss later).

First, I’d like to share some pictures from the trip with you then we’ll delve into my fat loss strategies.

Fried Alligator

Fried Alligator

Crawfsh Etouffee

Crawfish Etouffee with Cat Fish

Oysters on the Half Shell

Oysters on the Half Shell

Pork Boudin and Hubig's Pie

Pork Boudin and Hubig's Pie

Shrimp and Grits from Emeril Lagasse's NOLA Restaurant

Shrimp and Grits from Emeril Lagasse's NOLA Restaurant

Duck and Egg Pizza with Truffle Oil also from NOLA

Duck and Egg Pizza with Truffle Oil also from NOLA

The Best Oyster Poboy and Gumbo from K'Paul's Louisiana Kitchen

The Best Oyster Poboy and Seafood Gumbo from K'Paul's Louisiana Kitchen

Cafe Du Monde - Home to the Best Beignets

Cafe Du Monde - Home to the Best Beignets

The Famous Beignets (French Donut) from Cafe Du Monde

The Famous Beignets (French Donut) from Cafe Du Monde

Of course, you might as well not go to Louisiana if you don’t party on Bourbon Street in New Orleans.

My Husband and I - Not Drunk Yet

My Husband and I - Not Drunk Yet..haha

The Hurricane from Pat O'Brien's

The Hurricane from Pat O'Brien's

They really are huge!

They really are huge!

Do you see what I mean now?

Do you see what I mean now?

The Hand Grenade - Claims to be the strongest drink on Bourbon Street

The Hand Grenade - Claims to be the strongest drink on Bourbon Street

There are lots of Daiquiri Shops in Louisiana, here is one of them.

Daiquiri Shops

Daiquiri Shops

I was awed by the historic architecture that lined the streets of New Orleans.

St. Louis Cathedral

St. Louis Cathedral

French Style Building on Decatur Street

French Style Building on Decatur Street

If you want to explore the city from the water, you’d have to ride in one of these.

Steam Boat Natchez

Steam Boat Natchez

Overall, I gained 5 lbs in one week which is not bad when you look at all the foods that I ate…lol. Do I regret it? Not one bit. Do I think I could’ve done better in terms of choosing healthier foods and working out? Heck yes. I don’t deny the fact that I could’ve made better choices while I was on vacation but the point of the vacation for me was to enjoy myself and not stress out too much about what’s is healthy and what isn’t. Having said that, I had to formulate a plan to lose the extra weight that I gained.

Here is my plan:

  • My first strategy is to fast the Eat Stop Eat way twice a week. I must say that after I fasted once last week, I already lost 2 lbs!
  • Go back to my Kettlebell Training which blasts the fat and can make you really sore in as little as 20 minutes a day.
  • Perform High Intensity Interval Training in the afternoon. I will do these while fasting as well or during the weekend as soon as I wake up without eating any breakfast beforehand. If you want more background on fasted cardio, read this post from Rusty Moore.
  • Only eat starchy carbohydrates 2 hours after I workout.

These are some of my most effective fat loss strategies that has proven to work for me and work wonders to blast the fat especially in my problem area – the lower belly. Some of these measures may be a bit extreme for some people so this is not something that I would do on a regular basis. In the end, you have to decide whether the experience is worth it. Having said that, I do not always eat like this during my vacations but this trip was a BIG exception. To give you an example, I worked out in our hotel room and did not gain any weight (not even a pound) during our honeymoon in Mexico last year. I have got to say that I totally missed working out and eating healthy towards the end of our trip and in some ways, the foods were a bit too rich for me because I was so used to the wholesome goodness of fruits, vegetables and lean proteins. This is the point when I realized that staying active and eating healthy were already a lifestyle for me because I didn’t struggle with going back to my usual routine as soon as I got back to California.

In the end, the decision is yours. Find the right balance when adapting health and fitness into your lifestyle. The key here is lifestyle. If eating healthy and exercising regularly is something that you’re still struggling with then, you’ll have to do it more often so that you won’t have any trouble easing back into it after a vacation.

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My Second Turbulence Training Transformation Results

Posted on 31. Mar, 2009 by .

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Sunday, March 29, was the end of my 12-week Turbulence Training transformation. First, here are my stats:

Categories Starting Statistics Ending Statistics Difference
% Body Fat 18.65% 17.21% -1.44%
Lean Body Mass 97.86 lbs 96.86 lbs -0.76 lbs
Fat Mass 22.38 lbs 20.14 lbs -2.24 lbs
Total Weight 120 lbs. 117 lbs -3 lbs

Workout Programs used:

  • Fusion for Fat Loss with 3-minute Arms
  • Buff Dudes, Hot Chicks
  • 2K5

There are so many thoughts in my head right now about what I could’ve, should’ve, would’ve done if I were to do this transformation again because I know that I could’ve done better on a lot of aspects of this challenge. However, I will focus on the changes that I did make. After all, I was able to make a lot of good changes in terms of my nutrition and exercise.

I’ve got to say that at some point during the beginning of the transformation, I was confused as to whether I should lose fat or gain muscle as I saw some parts of my body being more on the “skinny” side which is really not the look that I was going for. So, I wasn’t able to really focus on one goal which may have slowed my progress in terms of my “physical goals” but I am still happy with the changes I’ve made. The one lesson I learned is: Whenever I was in doubt of my goal(s), I always chose to DO something instead of stopping whatever I am doing due to indecision.

This really is a continuous learning experience for me in a way that I have to constantly gauge my progress because I didn’t know how my body will respond especially since I haven’t experienced this level of fitness before. I realized that things were definitely less complicated when I still have a lot of weight to lose but it gets more difficult as I got closer to my body composition goals. Having said that, I know now that in order to make significant changes from this point forward, I also had to tighten things on the nutrition front even more.

Overall, this experience have been very rewarding for me. Health and fitness are two things that I intend to keep in my life and my journey does not end here. As one TT member, Shantay, said, “it’s a journey, not a destination.”

so, here’s my goal review:

Physical goals:

  • Get to 17-18% body fat or lose 8 lbs. during the first 8 weeks – yes
  • Gain lean body mass for the last 4 weeks – no

Behavioral goals

  • Eat 5 planned meals a day at an average of 1450-1500 calories a day – I had to increase my calorie intake to maintenance towards the end as I didn’t want to lose as much as I thought.
  • Perform 5 chin-ups and 3 pull-ups. – I can only perform 3 full chin ups and 3 eccentric pull ups (lowering part only for 10 seconds)
  • Perform my KB swings circuit, Total Body Ten, or other Bodyweight cardio and an abdominal circuit on my light days. I also plan to work on chin-ups and pull ups during these days. – I slacked on this towards the end as evident from the previous goal but this is worthy of a separate post in itself.
  • Allow myself only one “off” meal a week. – this is more like 3 moderate treats – did good but could’ve done better.
  • Increase weights even by a small amount on some (not all) exercises during every workout. If I can’t increase the weights, I will increase the reps. – Yes!
  • Eat less refined carbs (e.g. sugars, white flour, white rice etc.) and try new whole grains such as quinoa, spelt, couscous, etc. – Yes!
  • No cereals except for an All-bran cereal. – I have been cereal-free for 6 weeks!
  • Try at least (I’ve been trying a lot lately) one healthy recipe every week using natural ingredients. – Yes!

And now, for the pictures. The real evidence of my hard work.

Front View

Front View

Side View

Side View

Back View

Back View

Joining the transformation contest has truly been a big motivator for me. If not for the deadline and support, I probably wouldn’t have stuck to any of my goals long enough to truly see the fruits of my hard work. I encourage anyone out there who have been “thinking” of getting into shape to join one even if it’s just for fun. In the end, it’s not the price that matters but the valuable experience that you gained from it.

This transformation contest would soon be over, finalists will be announced, winners will be declared, and a new challenge will start soon after. Will you be up for it?

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The Girl Behind PathtoFatLoss.com

Posted on 10. Mar, 2009 by .

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Ok, I’m redoing my “About” page and so I’m re-publishing this article here. For those of you who haven’t had the chance to visit that page, here is your chance to get to know the person behind this blog. Thank you for your support.

Here is my background:

While I never had a problem with being overweight for most of my life, I noticed that I gained weight quicker as I got older. I was at my heaviest during my college days at 142 lbs. and I’m only 5’4″ (of course, the height hasn’t changed…haha). So, my quest to shed the fat started then but it was painfully slow. I started going to the gym 5 times a week before my very first class or sometimes in between classes. Although I lost 10 lbs just by doing this, the task got harder as I got closer to my goal weight which was 125 lbs.

Eating healthier was difficult for me. Besides all the junk food that they sell on campus and around the small college town, I was also a poor student. As we all know, cheap food is not always healthy. At the same time, my stress levels as a college student was high which probably contributed to my eating habits.

After graduating college in 2007, I decided that I was done doing everything by myself. I was able to hire a personal trainer for a month and saw some results but I was never able to keep them long enough because I quickly went back to my old habits. But, the real results came after I came upon Turbulence Training.

Turbulence Training contributed a lot to my previous and continued success in this weight loss endeavor. In the beginning, I mainly bought the e-book because I wanted to join the transformation contest that was going on at the time. After 12 weeks of hard work and seeing tremendous results, I was hooked!

My other influences include Burn the Fat Feed the Muscle, Eat Stop Eat, and a lot of support and advice from the Turbulence Training community. You can also see me in Sparkpeople. I keep a log of my workouts and nutrition there.

Today, health and fitness is a big part of my life and I intend to keep it that way for a long, long time. My short term goals include: get stronger during my strength training sessions by progressively increasing my weights even by small amounts, improve my endurance by trying other forms of cardiovascular exercises, add variety to my healthy diet by trying one or two new foods (i.e. vegetables, fruits, grains, etc.) each week. In the long run, my goal is to finally reach a body fat percentage that I am comfortable with. I’m still not sure what that percentage is yet but with all my short term goals in place, I will sure find out soon.

Please feel free to join me (comment, read, give feedback) in this whole experience and hopefully we’ll learn valuable lessons together.

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My Flat Abs Experiment

Posted on 02. Mar, 2009 by .

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Yesterday, I officially reached the beginning of the last 4 weeks of my Turbulence Training transformation contest. While I’m definitely liking the changes that I have made so far, there is always that one problem area that everyone seems to be complaining about – the lower abs. At 16.9% body fat (the last time I checked), I thought that I wouldn’t have this problem anymore but, unfortunately, I still do. So, it’s time to tighten the belt (literally and figuratively) and really focus on putting my goals into action and then some.

So, on Friday, I decided that I will do a little experiment in answering the question:

What does it take to have flat abs?

Thus, “My Flat Abs Experiment” was born.

I don’t even know if this experiment will live up to its name because just like you, I still have a lot to learn even though I feel that I have learned so much already. But, to give some proof of where I am starting, I had my husband take a picture of my abs up close on Sunday morning, March 1st. Here it is:

My abs at 16.9% body fat

My abs at 16.9% body fat

I would post a picture with my face and all but it was Sunday morning. I just had breakfast and I wasn’t “groomed” or anything so, I didn’t want to scare anybody…lol. I think I will save the picture with all of my upper body at the end of this challenge. As you can see, while my abs are peeking through, I’d like to see a bit more definition.

My thoughts lead me to this…

While I have shared with you some of the things that I have learned throughout my fat loss journey, there are still some things that I either:

  • Haven’t talked about in detail
  • Haven’t fully practiced to see its full potential, or
  • Haven’t discussed at all

You see, I am an information hoarder (is there such a thing?). I’m basically saying that I like information – I like knowledge. But, more importantly, I like putting this knowledge into action. I’m going to be honest in saying that, like many people out there, I have a hard time sticking to the “action” part. For this very reason, I want to make a commitment to myself, to other TT Members and to each person who reads my blog that I will completely and wholeheartedly carry out my behavioral goals for the next four weeks.

Why just the next four weeks?

A lot of people have a tough time committing 100% self-discipline for long periods of time. Heck, even the Biggest Loser contestants lose their motivation even with $50,000 dollars at stake right? So, my plan is to complete this challenge in 4 weeks then, create a long-term plan that will work for me on a daily basis.

While looking at my starting goals, I found that there is a need to tweak some of them or add more to them in order to really see even better (hopefully) results. So, I made some actions more specific such as eating certain kinds of food at particular times of the day instead of saying that I will eat “clean.” However, I’d like to keep these changes to myself for now even though I plan to reveal them at the end of this challenge. Some of the concepts I’m trying to follow are from Turbulence Training, Burn the Fat Feed the Muscle, Eat Stop Eat, and Precision Nutrition. Some of my strategies are also pretty simple and available to the general public already just like this article from Project Swole.

As I finish writing this post, I’m excited! At the same time, I am also nervous. I don’t know how good I will be in terms of sticking to my goals but I’m hoping that making my little experiment public just might be the motivation that I need.

How do you think I will do? Please feel free to leave a comment or give me ideas. I’d love to hear from you!

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The 3 Rules of Goal Setting

Posted on 03. Feb, 2009 by .

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February 2nd marks the 4th week of my Turbulence Training transformation. This means that it is time to review my written goals and see how close (or far) I am to achieving them. This has gotten me into thinking about the time when I was just getting started in this fitness journey with the main goal of getting rid of the ever elusive belly fat. With that said, I didn’t have any clear goals in my head or in writing – I just wanted it gone- period.

But, If you’ve been reading other fitness blogs for awhile or if you’re a part of the Sparkpeople community, you’ve probably heard of the importance of goal setting (or writtten goals for that matter). After much resistance and laziness, I went ahead and wrote down my specific goals. To go even further, I wrote down the behavioral changes that I want/need to make in order to reach those specific goals.

Before I go into my review, just why is it so important to have written goals? In a nutshell, here is how I have benefited from it:

  • It gives me a sense of “goal reality” or in other words commitment. Basically, once my goals are written down, there is no turning back. I can’t say, “no, I didn’t say I was going to do that.” It makes me realize that I am accountable for my own actions.
  • It forces me to see where I am coming from. Because I have to know where I want to be, I need to know where I am at. An example of this would be in terms of body fat. For instance, if I started at 22% body fat then, I can say, I’d like to be at 17-18% within 12 weeks.
  • If I post my goals online such as here in my blog or in the TT Members Forum, other people hold me accountable as well so the probability that I’ll be compliant with my goals becomes high.
  • Just like today, it gives me a tool to assess my progress. It gives me an idea if I have been doing great or if I’ve been slacking.

I can go on and on about the benefits of goal writing but there is no better way to find out about them but to do it yourself. On that note, there are three rules or characteristics that I’d like my goals to have. They must:

  • Be Realistic – if you wanted to lose 7% body fat and you’re pretty lean already, you’d probably only lose .5% body fat per week. So, if you have a 12-week deadline, that only sums up to 6%. I made this mistake myself so this rule particularly got stuck in my head.
  • Have a deadline – a lot of fitness experts emphasize this special point. This is because short-term goals such as those that lasts 12 weeks add up so that you’ll end up accomplishing your long-term goals. Of course, this will depend on whether or not you were consistent in the short run. The shorter time period is also manageable than a deadline of a year since life can get in the way sometimes. This also creates a sense of “urgency” in a way that you’ll think that you don’t have much time to slack off.
  • Be separated into physical and behavioral goals – this will be more clear in my review below.

Ok, so now that all those things are out of the way. Let me show you how I’m going to review my goals. This is the first time I am doing this so please bear with me. Here we go!

Categories Starting Statistics 4th Week Statistics Difference
% Body Fat 18.65% 17.71% -0.95%
Waist (belly button) 31.25″ 30.25″ 1.75″
Right Thigh 20.25″ 20.25″ 0
Right Calf 13″ 13.25″ +.25″
Lean Body Mass 97.62 lbs 97.10 lbs -0.51 lbs
Fat Mass 22.38 lbs 20.90 lbs -1.49 lbs
Total Weight 120 lbs. 118 lbs -2 lbs

First, a little background on my starting statistics:

My husband measured my % body fat yesterday and while calculating the new stats, I decided I’d calculate my starting one again. It turns out that I suck at math and my beginning % bf is actually 18.65% instead of 22.41% – what a nice surprise! So, I now have 17.71% for the current one. That is a difference of .95% lost in 4 weeks. I guess it’s not too bad since I’m so close to my goal. But, I’m still not satisfied with my abs so I’m thinking that I can still lose bf and see how low I can go before I can see my ab muscles a bit more. My new stats would mean that I can go a little more conservative on the fat loss side of the equation so I can keep as much of my lean muscles.

Goal Review Time

Physical goals (goals that are tangible or I can see and touch):

  • Get to 17-18% body fat or lose 8 lbs. during the first 8 weeks – I’m pretty close to 17% so I might go for 15-16% depending on how I look at that percentage.
  • Gain lean body mass for the last 4 weeks – I just might to try to add a bit more muscle while still aiming for fat loss. Again, this will depend on how I look at the end of the first 8 weeks.

Behavioral goals

  • Eat 5 planned meals a day at an average of 1450-1500 calories a day – pretty much on target
  • Perform 5 chin-ups and 3 pull-ups. – I can now perform 2 chin-ups while jumping off from the floor (not from the fully extended position) and 2 eccentric pull ups (lowering part only for 8 seconds)
  • Perform my KB swings circuit, Total Body Ten, or other Bodyweight cardio and an abdominal circuit on my light days. I also plan to work on chin-ups and pull ups during these days. – haven’t missed a day yet!
  • Allow myself only one “off” meal a week. – this is more like 3 moderate treats rather than one big “off” meal so I’m still doing good.
  • Increase weights even by a small amount on some (not all) exercises during every workout. If I can’t increase the weights, I will increase the reps. – Yes!
  • Eat less refined carbs (e.g. sugars, white flour, white rice etc.) and try new whole grains such as quinoa, spelt, couscous, etc. – so far, I have tried spelt and wild rice. I have quinoa but just haven’t gotten around to cooking it.
  • No cereals except for an All-bran cereal. – I suck at this one…lol. I switched to a Flax multigrain cereal but I don’t eat it as often as I used to so, I’m getting better.
  • Try at least (I’ve been trying a lot lately) one healthy recipe every week using natural ingredients. – Yes, yes, yes! I love this part. I have tried so many recipes that I’m getting so much variety and experiencing so many different, new flavors like never before. who says that eating healthy is boring?!

Previous workout (past 4 weeks):

TT Fat Loss Fusion Intermediate

Current workout (next 4 weeks):

TT Buff Dudes, Hot Chicks Workout Program

I also forgot to mention that on Saturday, my husband challenge me to do some push ups and I ended up doing 30 reps all at once. This is actually the first time I ever tried to do as many push ups as I can so I don’t have a base number to see if I progressed. But, I do remember not being able to do 10 reps consecutively.

Now, that I have reviewed my goals, I actually have a clearer idea of where I am and how much work I still need to do to achieve them. If you haven’t started writing your goals yet, this is the time to do so. You will be amazed at how powerful of a tool this simple act can be. If you have any questions or just any comment at all, don’t hesitate to contact me. Until then…good luck!

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