A Good Old-Fashioned Good Day

September 26, 2013 at 10:29 pm

Hello, hello! I’ve been away for forever and a little bit, I know.

I had an exceptionally good day today and I thought, “Hm. Why not share this on the blog?” I’ve been meaning to get back in the proverbial saddle so why not do it when you’re in a particularly good mood?

My day started out with a killer spin class with Kate Hickl at Flywheel. I managed to snag a front row bike which always makes it that much more fun – I love seeing Kate rock it out and get in our faces. Her energy is infectious and always gets my day off to a great start despite the early wake-up.

Flywheel's very own Kate the Great! Credit: Flywheel Sports

Flywheel’s very own Kate the Great! Credit: Flywheel Sports

Right after class, I received an email saying my recent lab results were available online. Last Friday, I had my bloodwork done before work and I’ve been really anxious to see these results because they’re my bi-annual cholesterol test results.

To give you a quick history, I’ve had genetic high cholesterol since I was a senior in high school, but it wasn’t until it reached an all-time high (251 mg) in June 2012 that I started getting really serious about my diet and my exercise routine. I started going to the gym regularly to run and lift weights, taking barre classes, and cut out red meat, shellfish, most dairy, and some processed foods. In December 2012, I had my cholesterol tested again and found that it’d gotten a little lower (233 mg). Since then, I’ve discovered a serious fitness obsession and started strength training, taking spin classes, and doing yoga and pilates. I also cut back on drinking and went mostly plant-based. I feel so much better now than I did last December and I was really hoping my cholesterol reflected that.

Weirdly, it almost felt like I needed these test results to validate my lifestyle. As I’m sure anyone who’s ever made a major lifestyle change knows, you’ll always have friends, family, or coworkers who have to voice their objection. It wasn’t hard for me to ignore those objections, but I just wanted to know that I really was improving my own health and wellbeing. Well, validation given! I was absolutely psyched this morning to find out that my cholesterol had gone down to a nearly normal level (206 mg)! Yay!

This working out shit works!

This working out shit works!

Good thing #3 that happened today: I gave blood for the first time! At lunch, a friend told me about the blood drive my company was holding so I decided to head over after lunch and do some good. It was a little nerve-wracking and took a little longer than I expected (about 15 minutes for the actual donation), but I feel great about having donated. And I rewarded myself with some coconut water – yum.

In the process of giving blood. Not too bad!

In the process of giving blood. Not too bad!

Last but not least, I’ve been stressed about needing to find two roommates to fill the other two rooms in my apartment since both of my current roommates are moving out at the end of October. Yesterday, two of the girls who had come by to take a look at the rooms each decided to take one. A huge weight off my shoulders!

Oh and I almost forgot. After about a month without The Cinnamon Snail, I finally got to give them a visit at the Jersey City Farmer’s Market after work today! I picked up three doughnuts (glazed with coconut, apple cider, and chocolate) and a pecan turtle bar. Just the cherry on top of a fantastic day!

Vegan goodness. Yum.

Vegan goodness. Yum.

Sometimes it amazes me how the little things can add up to such a wonderful day! So important to remember to recognize those little positive moments in life. Have a Friday full of little positive moments tomorrow!

Getting Back From China

June 18, 2013 at 10:07 pm

Hi, blog. I’ve been away for a long, long time. Well, now I’m back from China! And this was me for the first 24 hours:

james-van-der-beek-crying

Pretty much. I don’t think I stopped crying on and off until at least three hours into the flight. Hot mess with lots of feelings, that is me. I don’t think my sister even knew what to do, except try to make me laugh by mimicking my ugly crying face.

So, yeah. I was in Shanghai, China for two weeks (May 29 to June 12) with my sister. It was a family-filled, food-filled, wedding-filled two weeks, and I loved every minute of it.

The Family:
Almost all of my extended family live in Shanghai, so every trip to China is special. I hadn’t gone for just over two years, and my sister for three, and this was the first time either of us has been to China without a parent. I think being able to be a part of that familial community as individuals was important for both of us and made it a unique experience.

Not to mention, I’ve always found it difficult growing up in the U.S. without my extended family. I used to feel intensely jealous of my friends who were close with their cousins or aunts and uncles. I still do sometimes around the holidays. I know my relatives are still my family, but it gets hard to remember that with so much distance between us. Being able to be close with my family for a few weeks was really meaningful, but made leaving really hard (and tearful).

This time around, we spent the majority of our time with my mom’s side of our family since the wedding was on that side of the family.

The only family members I didn’t get to see this time around were my stepcousin and her husband and my cousin and his girlfriend, both on my dad’s side of the family.

The Food:
On the flight to Shanghai, my sister asked me, “What’s the first thing you want to eat when we get there?” I said, “Shengjian baozi,” and she said, “Me too.” Our aunt (who we stayed with) had the same thing in mind! Shengjian baozi galore! These are my favorite and I couldn’t get enough, especially since they’re something you can’t (at least I can’t) find in the U.S.

I indulged in some other old favorites too!

Stinky tofu

Stinky tofu, usually sold at urban markets or food stands

xiao-long-bao-zi

Xiao Long Bao Zi (soup dumplings): the ones in China are, of course, unrivaled

Yangmei: a sweet fruit

Yangmei, a sweet fruit which is also sometimes called the yumberry!

Zong Zi: sticky rice wrapped in bamboo leaves, which are traditionally eaten around the Dragon Boat Festival (June 12th this year)

Zong Zi, sticky rice wrapped in bamboo leaves. These are traditionally eaten around the Dragon Boat Festival which fell on the last day of our visit (June 12th) this year

I  tried some new-to-me foods too!

cows-head

A cow’s head, which was not my favorite – the texture of the meat just tastes fatty even though you’re not eating fat

dragonfruit

Dragonfruit, which has a crazy-looking exterior: hot pink with green leaves growing off of it. The inside is a lot more bland though. I can’t even describe what it tastes like, because it kind of just doesn’t have a flavor

purple-mangosteen

The purple mangosteen, a weird-looking little fruit with white segmented flesh inside. It tastes kind of tart and citrus-y, but more importantly, doesn’t this fruit look like something out of a cartoon?!

purple-mangosteen-bottom

And this is the still crazier bottom of the purple mangosteen. My sister and I almost couldn’t believe our eyes!

Not pictured: chicken kidneys, which I was just eh on.

Oh, how I love authentic Chinese food.

The Wedding:
My cousin got married on June 10th and my sister and I were bridesmaids!

Not a lot of time was spent doing wedding prep (about a day or so in all), but the day of the wedding was exhausting. We were go-go-go from 7 am until midnight or so. We had so much fun observing all of the Chinese customs though! I’ve only been to one wedding in the U.S. before so I don’t have much to compare it to, but as far as I know, it was vastly different.

Traditional Chinese wedding decorations in my cousin's apartment

Traditional Chinese wedding decorations in my cousin’s apartment

It meant so much to me that my cousin chose my sister and I to be her two bridesmaids though. We’ve always been the closest with her of our six cousins so it was really fun to be a part of her special day.

Bride and bridesmaids messing around with some table decorations before the wedding!

Bride and bridesmaids messing around with some fun table decorations before the wedding

All in all, a great trip. I already miss my relatives and can’t wait to go back.

Self-Reflection: The Difference A Year Makes

May 3, 2013 at 7:29 am

I guess this posting once every two or three weeks thing is just… my thing now. I think I’m okay with that.

My last three weeks of workouts!
Monday, 4/8: Rip Ride (6:30 pm with Christianne, 60 min)
Tuesday, 4/9: Uplift Strength (6:30 pm with Liz, 55 min) – I loved this class. It was really upper body heavy, which is exactly what I wanted on the warmest day so far this year. Tank top season, here I come!
Wednesday, 4/10: Reinvention Chair (6:30 pm with Rachel, 55 min) – My first class with Rachel at Chaise23! She has so much energy and I was sweating like crazy with the small specific movements.
Thursday, 4/11: Flybarre (7 am with Kara, 60 min) – I’m quickly learning that any class with Kara is killer. This one was murder on my legs, but hey, that’s what I came for!
Friday, 4/12: Rest
Saturday, 4/13: Rest
Sunday, 4/14: Rest

Monday, 4/15: Flybarre (7 am with Khori, 60 min) – Killer class! It felt so good to work hard after three days of rest.
Tuesday, 4/16: Rip Ride (7:30 pm with Kira, 60 min) – Kira was on fire! Awesome class with incredible energy. We went almost fifteen minutes over and my heart rate monitor read 748 calories! Now that’s a workout.
Wednesday, 4/17: Flybarre (7 am with Todd, 60 min) & Uplift Workout & Wine: Book Club (6:30 pm with Shannon, 55 min) – I decided to take Flybarre on a whim the night before. And with serendipitous timing, I got my favorite mat! It turned out to be kind of a gross morning but Todd’s energy is infectious and got me going. On the flip side, I’d been planning to go to Uplift’s Book Club for a few weeks now but didn’t finish the book (Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In), unfortunately. It didn’t matter too much because the whole discussion ended up being more about feminism and our own experiences than anything else. It was an empowering night with the badass women of Uplift!
Thursday, 4/18: SLT (6:30 pm with Liz, 50 min) & Flybarre (8:15 pm with Todd, 60 min) – I met Liz at Uplift last week and really wanted to try her SLT class. She hit the core hard, as every SLT class does. My class with Todd after was excellent as always. I left especially happy after because Todd pulled me aside at the end to tell me how much I’ve improved since I started going to Flybarre. Always nice to hear!
Friday, 4/19: DJ Ride (8 pm with Dyan & Kira, 60 min) – Two of my favorites teaching together. Um, yes, of course. Not only were they hilarious together, but having a live DJ there took the energy over the edge. Loved it!
Saturday, 4/20: Flybarre (8:15 am with Kara, 60 min) & Uplifting Strength (9:30 am with Michelle, 55 min) – Oof. I’m gonna have to try to get into Kara’s 9:30 am classes on Saturday from now on because the 8:15 class is seriously stressful. Last week, my train was running late and they gave my mat away. This week, I managed to get off the train and call around 8:12 so I kept my mat but I rushed in last minute at 8:16. Oh well. Still a fantastic workout! I followed it up with Michelle’s strength class at Uplift, which was killer. She threw a lot of moves I hadn’t see before in there. Love!
Sunday, 4/21: TRX/Stretch (9 am with Katherine, 60 min) – My first time at Pedal NYC through the Classtivity passport and my first time trying TRX! I got a good workout in, but it was kind of hard to start because um, I have some serious trust issues and didn’t trust the skinny yellow straps. Also, I was a little hungover and a lot tired. But no accidents were had, so I may just venture back into TRX territory soon!

Monday, 4/22: Rest – This day was such a fail. I’d planned to go to 7 am Flybarre but couldn’t get up. Then I wanted to go to 6:30 Refine after work, but I missed the bus and knew I couldn’t make it after that. Whoops.
Tuesday, 4/23: Flybarre (7 am with Shay) & Uplifting Strength (6:30 pm with Liz) – I love Liz and her Uplifting Strength class. Girl knows her stuff. Thos class really effective and I like a lot of the moves she gives for the cardio tabata drills. We did half-burpees with a push-up for tabata which was fun. And we did 3 1/2 minutes of plank and plank variations at the end for abs. I didn’t think I’d make it but I actually had to cheat surprisingly little. Yay!
Wednesday, 4/24: Nalini Method (6:45 pm with Rupa) – My first time here, courtesy of Classtivity! I bought a LivingSocial deal for five classes here a while back so I’ll be back soon.
Thursday, 4/25: Real Ride (7 am with Kristen) & Flybarre (7 pm with Todd) – I have no idea why I hasn’t been back to Kristin’s class since the very first class I ever took at Revolve. That class had been awesome and so was this one! We rode Carson Pass and I had so much fun.
Friday, 4/26: Rest – I woke up late and missed Michelle’s Uplifting Strength class. :( Yeah, the alarm has not been my friend lately…
Saturday, 4/27: Zumba – I was visiting my parents so I went with my mom to her Zumba class which was… not a workout. I thought I was doing okay following along, but it just didn’t get me sweating.
Sunday, 4/28: Rest

I realized something yesterday that struck me as kind of weird. I did Flybarre in the morning, but didn’t book a class after work because I had the feeling that it was going to be a long day. Sure enough, I got stuck at work until 6. For my Jersey-commuting self, that’s basically the worst time to be ready to leave the office for a workout. It’s too late to get to a 6:30 class, but too early for a 7:30 class (I’m highly impatient and hate waiting). Anyway, I was kind of antsy from work and knew I didn’t feel like waiting an hour and a half for a 7:30 class. I spent a few minutes looking for a class at 7, but couldn’t find anything so I decided to just go straight home from work. This is when the kind of weird thing happened. I got on the light rail to go home and took out my phone and kept looking up classes at 7:30 that I could go to. I just really wanted it to work out. I didn’t feel super stressed or like I had a ton of energy to burn off either, so I have no idea why. I just really wanted to even though I knew I should just go home, save the money on the class, and relax.

Anyway, if you told me a year ago that in a year, I’d be convincing myself out of working out, I’d probably laugh in your face and then feel bad about my level of fitness and go binge eat some chips. I definitely didn’t enjoy working out the way I do now, but at the time, I was working out in a gym alone and hadn’t discovered group fitness yet. I’m glad that I’ve made so much progress and don’t feel like I’ll be stopping anytime soon. Group exercise feels like an important part of my life now, which is awesome because I feel that it’s given me so much of the purpose that I was missing a year ago.

Self-reflective moment over.

On another note, my hip has not improved since I received the cortisone injection in my left hip two and a half weeks ago. My doctor said it could take up to a week to start improving, but could take up to two weeks. Today makes three weeks since I had the injection, and I’m sad to report that I’ve seen no progress. :( It still pops with every step I take when walking which doesn’t hurt, but is annoying. I was hoping to be ready to start running again sometime in May, so not seeing much progress is frustrating. Equally frustrating is the fact that my doctor explicitly told me to let her know how the hip was doing in two weeks. I called her office and left a message for her last week, but didn’t hear back. When I called again this week, I was told that she wasn’t in the office and would be back next week. Oy.

And lastly, I bought a $300 masticating juicer over the weekend! It’s the Omega VRT350. I almost couldn’t justify spending so much money on it, but then I realized that I probably spend that much money on juice in two months right now anyway. Sooooo yeah.

 

Juice prep: three apples, four stalks of celery, a few cups of spinach, half of a lemon, and a tiny bit of ginger.

Juice prep: three apples, four stalks of celery, a few cups of spinach, half of a lemon, and a tiny bit of ginger.

Using my Omega VRT350 to make green juice!

Using my Omega VRT350 to make green juice!

Excited to stock up on produce this weekend and try some more juice recipes!

And on another tangent, that is the Arrested Development box set on the right side of that second picture. I am PSYCHED for the season to start on Netflix at the end of this month – it will be awesome! Anyone else excited?

A Shot Followed By Spring Cleaning

April 10, 2013 at 9:59 pm

Spring weather at last! It just makes me want to get out there and run (but we’ll get to that later).

Short shorts season indeed. The ladies at Uplift know what's up!

Short shorts season indeed. The ladies at Uplift know what’s up!

Before I forget, let’s recap what will hopefully be my last few cold-weather workouts for the year:
Monday, 3/25: Flybarre (6:45 pm with Todd, 60 min)
Tuesday, 3/26: Rip Ride (7:30 pm with Kira, 60 min) – This class started out kind of rough for me. I got stuck at work really late and didn’t get to Revolve until maybe 10 minutes before the class. I rushed to change and forgot to put my contacts in… fail. My glasses were slipping so badly that I had to take them off during the first spin segment and then run out during the first arms segment to put my contacts on in the lobby. I was a little shaken but fine after that and Kira rocked it as usual!
Wednesday, 3/27: Flybarre (6:45 pm with Amanda, 60 min)
Thursday, 3/28: Flybarre (5:45 pm with Todd, 60 min) – This was a really awesome Thrift Shop-themed class! Lots of Macklemore and Flywheel was collecting donations for Housing Works. I’d planned to follow this one up with Kira’s Rip Ride at 7:30, but got called in to a work event as I was leaving Flywheel. Blah.
Friday, 3/29: Fly 45 (9:30 am with Kari, 45 min) & Flybarre (10:30 am with Kara, 60 min) – I was super excited for my first spin class at Flywheel and my first Flybarre class with Fly’s master instructor Kara! No disappointments here, both classes were amazing and left me wanting more. Just, uhhh, not that day.
Saturday, 3/30: Uplift Cardio (10:30 am with Steph, 55 min) – My first time taking Steph’s class at Uplift! It was crazy hard and I was out of breath the whole time. I almost passed out like five times, which is the sign of a good class. ;)
Sunday, 3/31: Body Ride (12:45 pm with Jason, 45 min) – I stayed out way too late the night before so I was a littttle hungover. Keep in mind that I don’t drink much anymore so hungover for me means a slight headache and being tired (which means not getting the full 7+ hours of sleep that I like to get). Still not the best combination with Revolve’s pulsing sound system… but I survived and felt good after!

Monday, 4/1: Rest
Tuesday, 4/2: Therapy & Rip Ride (7:30 pm with Christianne, 60 min) – This one is up there as one of the best classes I’ve ever been in. I felt so strong after my rest day, the room had great energy, and Christianne really pushed it. It was a really hard class (I was ready to be done after the first spin segment), but I loved every minute of it.
Wednesday, 4/3: Uplift Strength (6:30 pm with Chelsea, 55 min) – Fantastic class and evening spent with some serious inspiring ladies at Uplift! They were celebrating their first anniversary with champagne and treats. More on this one in a future Uplift review post.
Thursday, 4/4: Rest – I was not a happy camper. I’d planned to go to Chaise23 on my Classtivity passport but got stuck at work and totally missed it. Luckily, the folks at Classtivity and Chaise are absolute saints and let me try a class there again.
Friday, 4/5: Pure Barre (6:30 am with Jessica, 60 min) & Real Ride (5:30 pm with Steph, 45 min) – I tried Pure Barre on the Classtivity passport and thought I would love it since I love barre classes. I didn’t feel that challenged throughout the class though and really wanted a lot more after my impromptu rest day the day before. Luckily, Steph’s Body Ride still had some bikes left and I wasn’t too busy at work so I jetted out early to catch her Girl Power Happy Hour. Let’s just say that she had me when she started the class off with “No Scrubs” by TLC and then threw in my request, “Before He Cheats” by Carrie Underwood midway through. I love music I can sing along to!
Saturday, 4/6: Abs & Arms (8:30 am with Amanda, 50 min) & Rip Ride (10:30 am with Kira, 60 min) – I’d planned to go to Kara’s Flybarre class at 8:15 on Saturday, but unfortunately, the PATH train was running late (what else is new). I got there at 8:15 sharp but they’d already given away my mat. :( Luckily, SLT Soho had a spot left so I didn’t have to waste an early weekend commute to the city! It was a special Abs & Arms class with the proceeds going to S.E.A.K. Foundation. I do not lie when I say I still had trouble sitting up in bed this morning, a full three days later. It hurts so good!
Sunday, 4/7:  Flybarre (10:45 am with Ted, 60 min) & Cardio Chair Express (12:30 pm with Seiji, 40 min) – My first class with Ted at Flybarre! He led a seriously hard class with a lot of new-to-me moves! I especially struggled through the abs portion after my torture session at SLT the day before. I was able to reschedule my Chaise23 class from Thursday for Sunday when a last minute spot opened up. Full review of that studio and the pilates chair to come, but let’s just say that I loved it and have already planned my next two workouts there!

The workout plan for this week!

Monday, 4/8: Rip Ride at Revolve
Tuesday, 4/9: Uplifting Strength
Wednesday, 4/10: Reinvention Chair at Chaise23
Thursday, 4/11: Flybarre
Friday, 4/12: Rest
Saturday, 4/13: Rest
Sunday, 4/14: Rip Ride at Revolve or Rest (depending on how I feel)

As you can see, I’ve planned for more rest this week than I ever usually do. It’s because I’m finally taking care of my hip popping this Thursday.

A little background: My left hip started popping in October last year. I saw an orthopedist for it and she told me to stop running and recommended getting a shot to reduce inflammation. I wanted to try physical therapy first though, so I’ve been going to PT for my hip for the past two months or so. It hasn’t helped at all, which has been disappointing. I’m going to see my doctor this Thursday and expect to get the cortisone shot in my hip to finally reduce the inflammation and stop the popping – hallelujah! I’m excited it’ll finally be gone but also a little nervous. Big needles are not my friend. :(

Anyway, the last time my doctor suggested the shot, she told me I’d have to rest my hip for about three days after getting it. Hence, REST (aka catch up on Arrested Development time). But I have some grand ole plans for when the rest is over… running! I’ll definitely have to ease back into it since it’s been over seven months (WHOA), but yay! I’m very excited nonetheless. :)

Also, since I will be on prescribed rest this weekend, I’ve decided to also do a two-day juice cleanse! I’ve been trying to do one for a while, but I normally never want to put exercising on hold for it. The timing is especially perfect because my stomach has been acting up lately and I also haven’t been eating as well. Plus I’ve been excessively snacking on the weekends just because I have free time. Time to do something good for my body and get back on track!

Since I decided last-minute to do this cleanse, my options were somewhat limited. I looked into all the “buzzy” cleanses like Blueprint, Organic Avenue, Cooler Cleanse, etc., but finally settled on Terri, a vegan restaurant in Chelsea. I love their smoothies, juices, and wraps (their buffalo “chicken” wrap is one of my favorite post-workout meals lately!), so I have a good feeling about it. I’ll be writing a full review afterwards!

Terri's buffalo "chicken" wrap - that's the stuff.

Terri’s buffalo “chicken” wrap – that’s the stuff.

Yuuuum. I’m sure it’ll be hard to resist some of that Terri deliciousness when I go pick up my cleanse on Saturday morning. Bye for now!