Fitness: Random Things

I’m so excited about these things and I’ve shared with my boyfriend who thinks it’s adorable I get excited about pushups but also is like “honestly, this girl has to make me watch every thing she does at the gym?????”, so I need to share somewhere else.

1) So I literally always sign up for the Cherry Blossom 10 Mile lottery (or miss the lottery date and grumble about it later), and I’ve never gotten into the race until now! So April 2013 I will be running the Cherry Blossom 10 Mile race – I should probably start building up mileage now. And buy new sneakers – I’m ashamed to say that I use mine for both running and lifting and have had them for over a year! And they aren’t really running shoes, yikes. No wonder my knees hurt, I’m terrible.

2) Pull-ups. They have haunted my dreams for the entire year (ish) I’ve been lifting and recently I’ve been able to do like 2 of them in a row. And 5 chin-ups in a row. Excuse me if you’ve heard all this before I’M JUST THAT EXCITED.

3) Push-ups. I’ve always been able to do like 10 push-ups in a row (well what I thought were decent push-ups), BUT recently I’ve been doing legit chest-to-the-effing-floor push-ups. It feels so weird like my elbows were unable to bend past 90 degrees before but now it’s like bam bam bam push it out. I credit these push-ups the boy told me to do, where one hand was propped up on a dumbbell or medicine ball and the other was on the floor. I did these probably 3 sets of 10 (5 on each arm) about 3-4 times and like magic, chest to floor push-ups.

Like this, but usually I used a dumbbell so my hand was higher up.

4) Power cleans. I’m kind of obsessed with them. I love the clanging sound the weights make when I clean the barbell up to my shoulders. I also feel badass doing power cleans in a weight room full of men doing bicep curls and quarter squats. Speaking of which, I was asked by a gentleman “yo watch me squat 3 plates” while he proceeded to move his knees about 2 inches. Not sure if he was trying to impress me or be facetious.

5) Pushing myself on weights. I was too ambitious when I started lifting and suffered a little bit of bad form on my squats, and had no idea how to even deadlift, so I had been slowly deloading and easing the weights back on. But it has been a little too slow, as I have been upping my weights faster now and pushing myself. Added 5 lbs on bench when I’d been stuck at the same weight for literally 8 months. I was too scared to increase it, and I had been focusing on pushing the bar lower to my chest. I’ve been deadlifting now, and started at a respectable weight but I’m excited to push the lift further and further. I love squats but it has been the lift that has troubled me the most actually! Between trying to squat low enough and not have my knees collapse inwards the progress has been slow. Shockingly my push press has been going up fast and my shoulders started out so incredibly weak (like can barely press 5 lb dumbbells weak). I have been rocking my rows as I want those pull-ups so badly!

Enough of an update on my workouts. I’m happy with them and I feel badass, which is one of the reasons I push myself at the gym!

First: Blog Award (??)

So apparently someone (Thank you Miss Smelling the Honeysuckle) liked my wee slightly relevant blog enough to nominate me for  a Liebster Award and want to know more about what’s going on in my crazy head! Shocking, but very sweet.

What is the Liebster Award?

“Liebster” is a German word that means sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing and welcome.

How it works:

1. Add the award icon to your blog

2. Link to your nominator to say thank you

3. Each blogger should post 11 facts about themselves

4. Answer the questions the tagger has set for you and create 11 questions for your nominations to answer

5. Choose 11 up-and-coming bloggers with less than 200 followers, go to their blog, and tell them about the award

11 Facts I’m not sure you need to know about me:

1. I will watch anything on Food Network (whilst eating food myself), even reruns.

2. I’m really picky (euphemism for pretentious) about music – I only listen to male indie bands (having female vocals is acceptable but they cannot be the only vocals I hear), remixes of said indie bands, or electro-house. The last time I listened to top 40s was 2008 (?) and I have no idea what’s totes pops right now.

3. I love trying weird and creepy foods (hello brains and weird organs only Asians eat), but will NOT EAT MUSHROOMS. I draw a line somewhere people.

4. I wanted to be a fashion designer for the longest time and design/sew my own clothing and accessories from time to time still.

5. I am caffeine-free, no tea, no coffee, no sodas. I drank 1/3 a cup of coffee once a work and ended up laughing until I cried at some poor girl I liked to make fun of.

6. I’m super sweet and nice to people I like but 90% of my humor and jokes are based off of making fun of and judging people. I’m snarky, deal with it.

7. I never wear real pants (i.e. ones with zippers and buttons). I recently bought a pair and it freaked me out. Jeggings and dresses (NOT AT THE SAME TIME), all the way.

8. I drink a gallon of water a day and even get up in the middle of the night to drink water. I’m obsessed with H2O.

9. I have a tattoo (shhh don’t tell my mom) that says “ad adstra” in lettering I designed. Short for the Latin phrase, ad astra per aspera – through hardness to the stars.

10. I grew up dirt poor and on free food and charity clothes but turned out okay. I splurge and am not thrifty at all but have a better grip on finances than many of my friends in their early-mid twenties.

11. I am like the most awkward human being ever. Or so I think. Until I have a few drinks at least – then I’m your long lost BFF who wants to hang out forever and ever and ever.

Questions for me from Smelling the Honeysuckle:

  1. What sweet/chocolate can you not resist? I’m not a huge sweets person but I’d have to say, gelato? I find myself eating out of a pint of ice cream every night. So I guess I like it.
  2. Poirot or Marple? Ok, honestly I had to google this one. Still no idea but apparently they are characters in mystery novels. I can’t do mystery novels, or suspense, or anything slightly scary (I’m looking at you Harry Potter, yes, even with the poor writing).
  3. Spring Flowers or Autumn leaves? I don’t think we have a huge spring in DC – usually it just oscillates between too-cold-for-May and why-am-I-sweating-in-March. I love autumn though but it’s been so hot this year.
  4. Autobots or Decepticons? Am I terrible for having to google this too? I’m not super into pop culture. I’ll pick Decepticons b/c the good guys win all the time. 
  5. Favourite movie? Amelie. It makes me warm and fuzzy inside.
  6. Your happiest memory? Ummmmmmmmmm going to Italy and Croatia with my boyfriend this spring. Or my year in London. Or going to Greece/Istanbul. TOO MANY TO CHOOSE FROM.
  7. Favourite alcoholic/faux alcoholic tipple? Oh god, I’m going to expose how much of an alcoholic I am aren’t I? I love Pinot Gris for a casual wine with dinner, or a nice IPA beer for casual happy hour. For more aggressive drinking I go for whiskey ginger or vodka soda? For fancy schmancy I ain’t paying the bill drinking I get some sort of martini or margarita.
  8. What type of car do you drive? OMG I DON’T DRIVE I EPITOMIZE AWFUL ASIAN FEMALE DRIVER.
  9. Which is better Christmas or Birthday presents? I usually say no to either and just get what I want when I want it….
  10. Describe your favourite night out. Delicious dinner out with copious vino, then (not too full) dancing with great music at a not-too-divey bar, or if we’re feeling nostalgic, a club. Feet don’t hurt despite being in heels, not cold despite being in short skirt. Drunk food afterwards.
  11. City or countryside? I’ve lived in a city for the past six years and cannot imagine living in the ‘burbs, but there is something rustic and beautiful about the countryside. I hate nature though so I’d vacation once a year in the country to hike and not camp but live in the city.

Ok those were super long answers to those questions and revealed to myself that I 1) drink too much, 2) might be nearing too old to party, 3) don’t want to grow up, and 4) might be a weirdo.

I’m kind of scared of nominating people (I KNOW ITS THE RULES PEOPLE) (hello social anxiety even on the internet).

The Other “F” Word: Failure

This post is more a rambling for my own sanity. I’ve hit some testing times in my life and while it’s irrelevant for the purposes of this blog, nobody’s life is all cookies and rainbows all the time, and this has kind of dampened my spirit for quite a bit now.

I’m not quite a full-fledged type-A personality; while I have the ambition and aggressiveness, I like to think that I’m fairly laid-back and not competitive at all. However, I have been raised all my life to do well in school, go to a top university, and find an acceptable job after graduating with honors. I say acceptable job, because I was raised to be close-minded and to think that a nice middle-class white-collar profession was the only option.

I’ve pushed myself to accomplish all of that – straight A’s, top 10 student in high school; graduated from Georgetown with honors; worked in consulting.

I say worked because recently (not as recently as I’d like to think, fuck you time) I found myself, the not quite over-achieving-but-definitely-still-achieving-something moderately-hard-but-not-lazy-worker, unemployed. After days (let’s be honest, I’m still not over it) of being shocked, indignant, furious, depressed, and all of the emotions one can muster when sitting on the couch watching TLC and eating rotisserie chicken dressed in her boyfriend’s t-shirt. I cursed myself for not quitting earlier; I tossed and turned at night, too angry to sleep; I cried in the evenings after spending all day responding to caring texts and phone calls. I am not a quitter, and I am certainly not a failure – I never let those negative thoughts creep into my head. I am capable, strong, and I made the best decision given my circumstances.

And all along the way, life went on. I pulled myself together. I went to the gym and on my runs. This is a blessing in disguise. I found inspirational quotes to quell the panic squeezing my chest, the dull ache in my head, and the general unhappiness with my life.

Oh believe me, I had and have nothing to be unhappy about – I hated my job. Hated it to the point where that negativity and unhappiness seeped into all aspects of my life. All I could do was bitch about work and be miserable and pick fights with my boyfriend who only tried to cheer me up. At points I cried every night not wanting to sleep and then wake up to go to work. It got better, or so I thought – was it really just me growing complacent?

Now I have the chance for a new beginning – I’m still young, I only spent two years in an industry I learned that I could not spend any more time in, that led to a career path I was not excited about. I want to wake up excited; I want each day to be a new adventure; I never want to feel bored; I never want to stop feeling young; I don’t want to imagine the future and dread it. I think about my boss, and how pathetic he was, and how he used the mere fact that he was my boss, that tiny bit of power, to control me. It was a terrible environment to be in and I hope my friends who are still stuck there can get out.

So here’s to new beginnings and moving on – embracing challenges and fears; putting myself out there and being okay with the unknown. And maybe things have to fall apart before they can rebuild into something better. If I had stayed working where I was, I would be unhappy, but would not have had the time to soul search and job search. I could have become more complacent and wasted more time there. I felt forced to quit (and I AM NOT A QUITTER ARGH), but I cannot truly move on unless I live in the present, and not be anxious about the future, and regretful about the past.

I don’t know what to do with myself. I’m completely lost. What do I do with my life?

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Something good did come out of this though – I can work out now in the afternoons and feel stronger, more focused, and less rushed than when I was fitting everything in before work. I figured out after months how to finally deadlift using a regular bar (shhhhhhh trap bar isn’t cheating) and deadlifted my bodyweight already. I’m squatting heavier than ever; I linked 5 chin-ups in a row; I even managed 2.5 pull-ups (the .5 is from the jump propelled first one!). I’ve increased my running mileage ever so slightly, turning my “usual route” from 4.5 miles to 6 miles and feeling amazing. My butt looks fantastic.

I still have things to be happy about and accomplishments to be proud of. I just hate feeling useless.

Food: WIAW Eating (Pigging) Out Edition

Well I was going to post about the deliciousness I’ve eaten (out) in the past few days – but it doesn’t really fall under healthy holiday recipes, since none of it was healthy and none of it was cooked by me. So I’m just going to use this old badge and be like, yeah it’s totally still fall, in fact it was like 70 degrees for the past few days around here.

I need to eat meat everyday. Not every meal (though preferably lunch and dinner please), and while out and about and wanting to buy a snack, I always lament the lack of meat snack shops. I’m a naturally super hyper person – I remember the last time I drank about 1/3 cup of coffee I ended up laughing until I cried at a meeting at work (NOBODY ELSE WAS LAUGHING). Sugar has the same effect on me, so when I do bake or buy sweet treats it’s always just for my boyfriend to devour and me to bask in the happiness of other people eating!

One of my favorite meat fixes is going to Korean BBQ. I don’t do it nearly frequently enough, partially because it involves a drive, and partially because it’s a salt bomb. Seriously, this was two days ago and I’m still dehydrated. So worth it.

Bulgogi and boneless ribs cooking

Bulgogi, boneless ribs, and my personal fave, spicy pork belly

I’m not Korean, so I guess that’s my excuse for getting the same things every time I go to Korean BBQ! Also these three choices are universally adored even if one is a picky eater. We brought a vegetarian here once after clubbing, even he enjoyed the food (bibimbap with no meat), but the sight of raw slabs of oh-so-delicious meat grilling creeped him out. Anyway, the thinly sliced bulgogi has an amazing marinade on it and you have to gobble it up fast before it over cooks. Along with the mini hunks of steak (boneless ribs), it’s dipped in an indescribable sauce that’s zesty, sweet, and savory at the same time. And the spicy pork belly, oh my, it just sizzles in the spicy sauce and all the fat becomes melt in your mouth ecstasy. God I’m hungry again.

Ban chan and side salad you eat while drooling over and waiting for the meat to cook

Since we’re all about balance, they do give you salad to eat while waiting for the meat to cook, and a variety of ban chan, and lettuce leaves to wrap the meat in. And rice. And steamed egg. And tofu jigae. Even the fermented soy paste and dipping sauces are perfect, probably because they are super salty. It was all so so good – stuffed and reeking of grilled meats, we were happy.

As if that wasn’t enough gluttony (no never), I had the pleasure of eating Italian food for the first time since I was in Italy 7 months ago. My boyfriend is half Italian and there are restaurants owned by family and is very critical of Italian food (as he should be). So we don’t eat Italian, and definitely not in DC, which is like disappointing. I’ve been to the expensive and famous Italian eateries – looking at you Cafe Milano and Acqua al Due and the Hamilton – and it’s all been like a shitton of pasta with like four sad pieces of shrimp or sausage in it. Don’t say I don’t know how to order Italian food either – people seem to think its just omg stuff your face with pasta. No. I hated pasta and Italian was low on my favorite cuisines list until I went to Italy and tasted real fucking Italian food. People here don’t know what they’re doing. End rant.

So I met up with a friend and we went to a new to me Italian restaurant tucked away between Logan circle and Mount Vernon. It was not the right neighborhood for delicious Italian food, as we were heckled and harassed on the way there, but they got great reviews on Yelp and I wasn’t going to let some catcalling stop me from eating.

We started with riesling, obligatory bread and olive oil, and unpictured beef carpaccio. It was elegantly presented with noodles of fennel and sprinkling of parm, but the beef was not flavorful at all. Texture was great, but over-dressed with lemon-truffle dressing. I was getting hesitant about the main course.

Black Ink Taglierini with head-on shrimp, cherry tomatoes and spinach

This was my order, Black Ink Taglierini with head-on shrimp, cherry tomatoes and spinach. One of my favorite pastas is squid ink anything, it brings this great salty umami flavor. OMG THERE ARE MORE THAN 3 SHRIMP IN THIS. And head on, no other way to eat shrimp. It was delicious and there actually was a good ratio of cherry tomatoes and spinach to pasta in there.

Spinach Pappardelle with chicken, wild mushrooms and cream sauce

My friend ordered Spinach Pappardelle with chicken, wild mushrooms and cream sauce and since sharing is caring and that’s why you always order different things, I tried some. I hate mushrooms with a wild, nightmarish passion, but the handmade pasta was light and the cream sauce delicious. More wine was in order, and the service was perfect.

So if you’re ever in the DMV area and want legit Italian food, go to Tortino Restaurant.

This is just a week of unavoidable dinner obligations – like dinner/happy hour date with my boyfriend tonight who has been working late and I’ve been stuffing my face without him all week, and my grandmother’s 87th freaking birthday tomorrow night. I know everything will be delicious, and if there’s one thing I have ZERO SELF CONTROL or MODERATION over, it’s food. And that’s kind of my trademark – people know that if they want a recommendation for awesomely mouth watering food, I got the hook up, and if they want someone to pig out (and do eating contests) with, I’m their girl.

Fitness: Before & After Pics

I’m usually extremely hard on myself at the gym – to the point where it is borderline counterproductive. When I first started lifting as my main workout lover October/November 2011 I had no gym membership. I was staying over my boyfriend’s apartment frequently so used the weights in his building’s gym. As I was pretty weak, the limited selection of dumbbells was enough for me. I wanted to get stronger so badly, and read up on so many different exercises for each muscle group that I could do with dumbbells. And I did them all during every workout, over and over again.

So so wrong.

A few months ago, after lifting consistently for around 8 months, I struggled with balancing and recognizing my own successes and gains and comparing them to stories of people whom I’d read about on the internet, via various forums. The already gorgeous woman who transformed into an actual fitness model in a matter of weeks. Girls my size who posted before and after pictures of their toned, bikini or underwear-clad bodies on transformation forums, claiming it only took a few months. Then there was me – I’d been lifting what I thought was the right way, compound lifts, as heavy as I could, deloading and working on perfecting my form, eating tons of protein and my idea of healthy. Where were my results? Where were my 1.5x bodyweight lifts and defined muscles?

Part of me knew that I wasn’t following a strict meal plan, you know, the chicken, brown rice, broccoli deal, and that definitely contributed to my results. I love food. I’m a foodie. There was no way I’d give up stuffing my face with deliciousness and go to eating bland repetitive meals. I would just work out that much harder (too bad things don’t work that way).

I was upset at seeing no changes in the mirror, and no changes at the gym. And then I saw these pictures from my senior year of college, just a few years ago.

Now in no way am I saying I looked fat or terrible (I was like a size 2 at the time) – It’s just an eye opener for me to see the proportions of my body so different. I worked out sporadically, but I also drank way too much and ate fast and fried food nearly all the time. My style was also “OMG the shorter, tighter, and shinier the better!”. With time (or age), I realize clothes that actually fit, and fit perfectly (instead of way too tight) can actually be more flattering. I still love short and tight (Sorry shiny, you are NOT my friend), but no longer buy things that are 98% spandex and two sizes too small.

Belly button out and about

Belly button out and about

I thought I was rocking the shit out of this dress. In reality it’s way too tight, as you can see my gigantic belly button clear through the satin. It did not help that the event included a large, multi-course meal and copious amounts of booze. I was sucking it in with all I had too. My limbs were skinny but I was sometimes self conscious that I had no waist or that my midsection kind of looked the same thickness whether you were facing my front or my side. I wish I could go back in time and tell little me that this outfit was not flattering!

So I tried on that same banging bandage dress.

SO much better

SO much better (also super classy bathroom shot)

It took comparing myself in the same dress to realize that my lifestyle change HAS led to visible physical changes too. I tried it on during an ordinary day, in which I had no workouts, and ate 3 meals and a variety of snacks all day. I know it’s a terrible iPhone picture without flash in vastly different lighting, but even my silhouette is improved. P.S. the unevenness past my hips is because its a bandage dress and not smooth. I don’t even have a camera let alone the ability to photoshop. The dress is no longer straining across my belly button and actually fits!! I have a vague idea of my weight (only for hitting bodyweight on lifts), and it hasn’t changed too much in the past 5-6 years. Everyone knows weight isn’t a good indication of health blah de fucking blah so I won’t get into that.

But I have a waist!! Someone even commented when I was out shopping (for running belts…in a 50’s housewife dress) that I had a tiny waist. Who me?? Never thought I’d hear that compliment!

Food: WIAW

So I loved doing this so much the last time that I’m going to keep doing it! I’ve been playing the part as the meal-planning, grocery-shopping girlfriend and actually enjoy doing it (probably because I’m opinionated and want to be in control, ha!).

Let’s back up to dinner.

Somedays after work we like making elaborate meals to show off our culinary prowess to the other – sadly I have about three knockout recipes up my sleeve and having lived together for 9 months now (!), those have been used so many times. A simple favorite and moderately balanced meal for us is to grill up a piece of protein and roast some veggies.

Example:

That is grilled lamb with balsamic glazed carrots. I love lamb and don’t utilize it nearly enough! We rotate through our favorite combinations of chicken, steak, tofu, shrimp and a variety of roast-able veggies – while it offers variety, it does get boring eventually.

I had the genius idea of making quesadillas last night for dinner. Grilled buffalo marinated chicken stuffed with tomatoes and cheese in a hearty wrap. I always spend 20 minutes in the grocery store picking out ingredients like wraps! I always want the ones with the best stats and which taste like real food.

Yum.

Leftover buffalo chicken was combined with eggs, tomatoes, and cheese to be used by me in a giant breakfast burrito. Ummm…I am still so full from this. What is wrong with me? I used to be the girl who could easily crush more than one Chipotle burrito at a time – I even did a 2 pound burrito eating challenge at my office and finished second (and ate some brownies afterwards…and dinner). My appetite used to be ferocious and impossible to tame – I could eat and eat and eat. Now I’m defeated after a measly breakfast burrito??

Unrolled – look at the mountain of filling!!

Defeated me 😦

I used to be in a relationship with a guy who was very very unhealthy. He was before we met, and by the end of our tumultuous relationship, had gained quite a noticeable bit of weight (my friends would comment). We weren’t living in the same city, and every time he would come visit me, it would be a whirlwind of binge eating and partying. A typical day would be eating cold pizza (purchased drunkenly in the wee hours stumbling home), then burgers for lunch (he was obsessed with burgers), a couple burgers and fries for a snack, ice cream or a milkshake, more burgers for dinner with beer (sometimes ordering enough food for four), and then drinks and more drinks at a bar/club. Once I literally gained 10 pounds after a week of his visiting.

I’m so thankful that I am both in a healthier relationship now with my current boy, and with my body. No one forced me to devour as much food as him but I got caught up in all of it and fell into the most unhealthy period of my life. I am so much more stable now and happier from it. I’m cooking more, and getting better and eating delicious things.

I hope I digest this burrito in time to go on a run (and use my new running gear!) later today!!

First: Sweat Pink Ambassador

I know I’m a totally newbie blogger but I recently applied to be a Sweat Pink Ambassador and was accepted!

 

I love the idea of being part of a diverse community of like-minded, supportive, and active individuals – the pursuit of that is what brought me to start blogging in the first place. I still have a ton to learn about blogging, and even about myself, but I hope and think that I am going on the right track. I am inspired by the story of the ladies behind Fit Approach, FitFluential, and everyone else who figured out how to create a life and career revolving around their passions, whatever those may be.

 

I’ve always struggled with a sense of self, and sometimes regret not following or discovering my passions earlier – then I realize that I’m still in my 20s and it’s okay to not know what I want to do in life yet, despite what external pressures want. I have friends who are happy and love what they are doing right out of college; and I have others like me who struggle with balancing passions and a desk job that just doesn’t cut it. I’m finally accepting of the fact that I love fitness and healthy living – I talk about it all the time in real life, I blog about the parts I talk about already and the parts that I feel weird sharing out loud. I love teaching and mentoring, despite being in my 20s and having few years of real life experience, I think I have a unique story to tell and a distinct voice.

 

This blog post is going all over the place, but today has been full of soul-searching so to speak. I had applied for a job at Lululemon (love their brand, corporate philosophy, and community involvement), and the manager interviewing me today loved her career in retail. I love building relationships with all types of people, whether we have something immediately in common or not. I’ve overcome my social anxiety (thank god), and gotten over the fact that I’m never going to be anyone but my own awkward self. I felt so drawn to the idea of being able to share ideas and learn new practices on a daily basis with an ever changing group of like-minded, smart, and passionate people. I want that in my own career – working a desk job has become so detached from human interaction (not just my own desk job experiences), and removed from any sort of physical activity or even mental stimulation at times.

Call me whatever you want. I’ve heard it all when I first told the people closest to me that I wasn’t feeling the type-A personality brutal climb to the top of the corporate ladder. They resigned me to being lazy or unambitious – what is lazy and unambitious about wanting to find balance between work and life? Between duty and passions? I’m actually the one taking a risk here – I congratulate everyone who is happy with where they are, I really do. I want that too. But the path for me is harder. I don’t accept mediocrity in other aspects of my life, why should I accept mediocre levels of happiness and satisfaction?

Umm…that was a slight tangentially related detour! We’ll be back to regular programming soon.

 

Fitness First: 5K with my brother!

I first welcome myself to the 21st century with the purchase of my new Macbook Air! My old Dell from five years ago was slow and on its last legs but I couldn’t bring myself to buy a new laptop when my old one still functioned. The second I arrived home for Thanksgiving it decided to simultaneously never hold a charge again and be very particular about the angle at which the charger was inserted. I had to say goodbye.

Being home for the week and surrounded by pantries and fridges full of snacks (hello dark chocolate covered pomegranates and smoked salmon), delicious home cooking by my grandmother and mother, and parties with family friends and relatives focused on pigging out has been hard. In an effort to promote healthy eating and exercise amongst my thin but secretly unhealthy folks I signed my little brother and I up for a local turkey trot. I’ve also been cooking healthier breakfasts and lunches for whoever will eat them, such as egg and veggie scrambles and baked salmon instead of the sweet bread and carb laden meals they usually eat. Typically nobody is up until lunchtime and then the rest of the day is spent eating, napping on the couch, and more eating. I convinced my 13 year old brother (not an easy feat) to get up early and run a 5K with me, promising him feasting and napping later.

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I promise he was happy about this

He’s 13 so his default facial expression is one of complete pain and misery – he chose to come to the race with me, and definitely was not dragged there despite what his face says! The race was local, well-organized, and about 800-1000 participants. We were able to register the morning of and duck inside the church which was sponsoring it for warmth before the race. I had not “raced” (I say that loosely because I am slow) a 5K since my first one last November. It was only around 300 people and I remember being freezing and overdressed at the same time, starting out too fast, and floundering. I ran with my boyfriend, and was a huge baby about it. We finished in about 27:30, exact time forgotten. I remember my 5K split during my recent 10K was about 25:XX, and seeing as I have not been running consistently since then, was aiming for that pace.

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Registration/finish area

My enormous baby brother (seriously cannot believe he is so much taller than me now!) and I stuck together for about the first 2 miles. The course was deceptively easy, with the first 1.5 miles seemingly entirely downhill, and then the rest entirely uphill. I somehow missed the 2mile marker and had a slight feeling of panic and I was unsure if I could maintain the pace for too much longer. I let my brother zip off ahead of me and pushed through until the end, even trying to race a woman at the finish (she beat me…).

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Yay we finished! Now time for food!

So proud of my baby brother! He said he really wanted to stop and walk towards the end but a sweet woman running beside him encouraged him to keep on going. Aww.

The race did use chip timing but the results are not live yet, so I can only give estimates. I think he ran a 24:40 ish and I ran a 25:30 ish. Met my goal and got a good sweat on with my brother.

PS: I wish I were faster, but then again, who doesn’t????

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Celebratory hot pot meal – non traditional Thanksgiving but I guess it’s because we’re Asian??

We had some friends over for hot pot because why not – a healthy, delicious, and interactive way to celebrate Thanksgiving! The best thing we ate was fresh sliced lamb and spinach, cooked in the spicy hot pot broth and dipped in a spicy peanut sauce.

Other than our local 5K I’ve been keeping active despite having access to only the neighborhood roads to run on, a set of 10lb dumbbells, and a yoga mat. I’ve actually woken up sore a few days this week from impromptu HIIT workouts that I’ve come up with on the spot, and too many chaturanga push-ups during yoga.

I hope everyone else had happy and healthy holidays with the people they love! What was the best thing you ate over Thanksgiving?

Food First: What I Ate Wednesday

So after reading everyone else’s posts every Wednesday about all their eats, I decided to jump on the bandwagon and do my first WIAW. It’s a particularly good week to start because I’ve had some great home cooked eats (that I actually documented with my trusty iPhone camera).

Breakfast of champions was a few pieces of chocolate leftover from a pinata my boyfriend bought for me to destroy in the courtyard of our apartment building for my birthday. Adorable, and filled with at least 6 bags of different candies – skittles, Reese’s, two types of mini snickers, kit kats, and hershey’s kisses. Neither of us have huge sweet teeth (him more so than me even) and he promised to bring the candy to his sugar-addicted co-workers. Well four days later, the candy is still in our apartment (!) and it just happened to be one of those days where I just wanted to sit in fuzzy pj’s on the couch wrapped in a fuzzy blanket and eat chocolate until it came out of my ears. I restrained myself to three pieces with the promise of a hearty lunch/brunch.

I love breakfast foods. Or more precisely, brunch foods. We have cereal in our apartment but it’s usually something along the lines of Cinnamon Toast Crunch since I let my boyfriend pick out his faves – that usually means something along the lines of what a six year old would enjoy. I cooked up a twist on my favorite of over-easy eggs and bacon. I needed something heartier to fuel my workout (I’ve been eating lunch/brunch early so I can digest and go work out early in the afternoon) and topped a piece of whole wheat bread with some salad greens. The eggs (topped with blue cheese) went on top and bacon on the side. Warm, gooey and delicious!

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Two over medium eggs topped with blue cheese crumbles cooked in bacon fat, bacon, whole wheat bread with salad on top.

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Look at that yolk!

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So good.

Post-workout (the usual full body weights routine of 2 exercises each for chest, back, shoulders, legs sprinkled with some abs and other randomness) is a protein shake. We’ve been out of protein powder for so long but finally restocked with this:

ON Pro Complex in Vanilla. Mixed with a bit of light vanilla soy milk and water. Result looked like regular protein shake.

As the weather has finally cooled down, I’ve been loving thick soups/stews – broccoli cheddar, deconstructed chicken pot pie, chicken tortilla, beef chili, creamy seafood, and this concoction – chicken corn chowder, served with crispy garlic bread. Usually I require two bowls of soup to fill me up, but one bowl of this was plenty!

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Creamy corn and chicken chowder with carrots and onions.

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Homemade garlic bread. So garlicky!

Dessert (or snack time) is a mini-cup of my favorite gelato – key lime pie. I cannot find this stuff anywhere though and I finished the last few bites when waiting for dinner to cook! The boy always has a pb&j (open-faced with a one-to-one ratio of peanut butter to bread), but he is trying to pack on some pounds. I apparently also eat everything and don’t save him enough! Oops.

Ciao bella key lime pie gelato! This stuff is hard to find.

Fitness: Equipment faves (and newbies)

I’m a pretty simple person when it comes to fitness gear – I have a pile of soft and worn free t-shirts from my high school and college days, and sadly (or disgustingly) very few bottoms to go with it. A few pairs of booty shorts that I now prefer over baggier athletic shorts, one pair of capri pants that I wear way too many times before washing, two pairs of outdoor running tights, a pair of yoga pants, and a pair of warm-ups that I wear over the booty shorts. Let’s not even get started on my pathetic excuses for sports bras – I can only use one of them when I run because even my non-significant boobs bounce too much in the others!

A very small collection of mediocre (at best) workout clothes indeed – mostly purchased on the cheap at Marshall’s or  TJ Maxx. I’d love to expand into enough workout clothes to cover my activity level – so at least a clean outfit for 5-6 days a week – that’s probably normal. You’ll laugh, but it took me over a year to buy some socks so I could stop stealing my boyfriend’s (which are too big for me).

Recently though, I gained a few integral “fitness” pieces, some which I am obsessed with and use on a daily basis, and others which I have yet to try out (but already love).

  • iPod nano – so I have an iPod touch which I had been carrying on runs but it was hard to pick the music I wanted. I can clip my nano onto my waistband and have both hands free. Also I can change the music using the Apple headphones. I can’t workout or run without music!

I’m sure you know what an iPod nano looks like. I got this one because for free because they recalled the original nano from like 2005 and I happened to have kept my original one. Yay free.

  • Camelback eddy water bottle – I am constantly thirsty and always drinking water all day, probably up to a gallon of the good stuff. Clearly I had no idea what I was doing since I was just reusing a plastic water bottle for months and months on end (cue the lectures now), and finally upgraded to a big girl sippy cup. I’m obsessed with it.

750ml because I already refill this thing enough times a day, couldn’t have gotten a smaller one. The liter sized ones are ridiculous. I also love green.

  • Reebok Realflex shoes – as I alternate between lifting and running, I needed shoes that could be used for both. I don’t run very long distances and I’m not a pro power-lifter (despite my best efforts), and being frugal, I did not want super specialized shoes for both. Usually I just bought whatever athletic shoes were in my size at discount stores but I shelled out for some Reebok Realflex shoes and love them for both running and lifting.

Realflex Run shoes. It’s fun to pick the rocks out of the bottoms too.

  • New Balance Minimus Zero – despite destroying my calves the first time I wore these expensive minimalist zero-drop shoes (my boyfriend and I bought matching pairs, which neither of us use very frequently oops), I feel like I’d love them if I properly built up the endurance and distance. Instead of stupidly running 4 miles the first time ever wearing them. Yeah. That was painful.

Sadly these only came in this color scheme at Georgetown Running Co. Disappointing I could not continue the green equipment trend.

  • Nathan Shadow Pak Runners Pack – this I haven’t used yet, as my boyfriend kindly purchased it for me as a surprise before I announced (after a dreadful run) that I was taking a hiatus from running. I’m also super happy he made the decision for me, since there are so many running belt options out there! The hiatus is no longer, though from when I received it until now, I have not gone on a run yet. But now I can bring my phone and keys on runs with me – usually I’ve been tying my keys to my wrist with an old stringy hair-tie.

In green, naturally.

  • ASICS Thermopolis LT Headband – another unused gift from my boyfriend. Before people go around thinking I’m a terrible, ungrateful person, I was gifted these only a few days ago and have not gone on outdoor runs yet! I needed a headband for a while, as my thrifty (but very creative) self had been using an old “headband” I fashioned out of the glittery waistband of some underpants. This is snug and warm my ears while simultaneously can keep the sweat from dripping into my eyes!

In black, so I don’t look like a complete crazy mess when I’m seen in public.

  • Harbinger Lifting Gloves – I know that some schools of thought hate on using gloves to lift, but I like them. They provide cushioning and protect my hands from the more textured weights. That way the pain of blistering my hands doesn’t interfere with the actual lift. These are also thin enough that it doesn’t affect my grip.

Basic lifting gloves. In black. Sadly.

So none of it is fancy, but it all works for me.