I believe there are two periods in life, one for the bike, the other for becoming active on one’s work.

Bernard Hinault, French former cyclist (1954-present)

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+mindset+

We dream of having a clean house – but who dreams of actually doing the cleaning?  We don’t have to dream about doing the work, because doing the work is always within our grasp; the dream, in this sense, is to attain a goal without the work.

Marcus Buckingham, British writer, motivational speaker, business consultant (1966-present)

My all-time favorite Disney movie is the 1950 production of Cinderella because I have always felt a spiritual connection to the titular character.  Like Cinderella, cleaning meant getting on your hands and knees to wash the floors with a rag, and not with a smart robot vacuum, let alone a Swiffer.

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A Millennial Thing

I would say that a characteristic of millennials is that our childhoods are a mixture of old and new traditions.  Many of us grew up doing things that our parents did, but we also got to experience never before seen technological advances.  While many millennials may not clean with a rag anymore, I feel that its existence is something we can all relate to.

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The Backstory

Growing up, I dreaded frequent cleaning days.  A typical cleaning day began at 8:00 a.m., and was spent reaching for every little nook and cranny in the apartment, while we collected a pile of dust, hair, and other unidentifiable objects that camouflaged with the hardwood floors.  Starting the job was always hard because who doesn’t like sleeping in on a Saturday?

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Efficiency: Cleaning with Rags

If you think about it, vacuums and Swiffers are physically unable to clean the hard to reach corners because its rigid designs can only fit a certain size or larger.  In a fast-paced society, it’s only practical to clean the floor with a rag because if you use a device, then you will have to go back again with a rag to clean the areas that the vacuums weren’t able to reach.

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Looking Back

Today, I still get down on my hands and knees to keep my home clean.  It has positively contributed to my obsession with +perfectionism+ over the years because who doesn’t like living in a clean home free of dirt?  I know I do.

Besides the dirt, cleaning is cathartic because as I clean the floor, I also feel like I’m doing a spiritual cleansing.  When I pour my energy into getting rid of the physical markers of uncleanliness, I release any negative energy that has built up within me.

I will admit that at times, I do feel annoyed towards the process.  However, my aching back and sweat face is but a small price to pay.  Looking at my sparkling windows provides such a great feeling of satisfaction that my pain is forgettable.

Beyond just the physical and spiritual reminders, cleaning has been a valuable tool to getting things done.  You never want to do a shoddy job with a vacuum cleaner, but a thorough one with a rag.  It’s better to get it right the first time, rather than go back to fix the mistakes that the lazy method has caused.

xoxo,

the girl who used to think of her mom as Lady Tremaine

IMAGE CREDIT: Tonya’s Touch

+leg day+

A bear, however hard he tried, grows tubby without exercise.

A. A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh (1926)

Ever since I began my new and specialized workout routine catered to my gym goals, which were briefly mentioned in +air+, my perspective on life changed.  First and foremost, I began to love Mondays because Mondays were always leg day.  I chose Monday as the designated leg day because I would start off my week with a challenging and fun workout, as opposed to arm or shoulders, which are very week – raise your hands if you have noodle arms 🙋🏻.

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As I love football (soccer in America*), and used to dance, though I’m slowly getting back into dancing again, I’m no stranger to being active on my feet.

* NOTE: even though I was born and raised in America, football has always been a sport where you kick a ball with your feet across a field to score a goal, and it’s understood internationally as such, so we as Americans should also acknowledge that what we call football is more akin to rugby or something.  I wouldn’t know, as all I know about American football is that as a New Yorker, I should support the Giants.

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However, incorporating new machines and routines to my leg day workout opened my eyes to how much room for improvement that I have.  Below is an example of a leg day routine, though it may change by week, so my muscles don’t get used to doing the same thing and stop improving

  1. Cardio: two 15-minute interval run on a treadmill on an incline with a two-minute break in between
  2. Smith Machine: three different types of squats (4 sets)
    1. No added weight: 20 reps
    2. Light weights: 15 reps
    3. Heavy weights: 12 reps
    4. No added weight: 20 reps
  3. Leg Extensions: three sets
    1. No added weight: 20 reps
    2. Light weights: 17 reps
    3. Heavy: 15 reps
  4. Seated Leg Curl: three sets (similar to leg extensions)
  5. I can’t remember the name of the machine but I do the same set routine as leg extensions
  6. Abs: three sets, minute break in between
    1. Plank – minute
    2. Crunches – 20 reps
    3. Bicycle crunches – 20 reps
    4. Leg raises – 20 reps
    5. Side crunches with a medicine ball – 20 reps on each side
  7. Cardio: rowing for fifteen minutes

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I’ve gotten questions about my use of the Smith machine because many do think that it can be useful and counterproductive, but to me, it’s a godsend.  Without a Smith machine, I can barely hold up the bar, let alone lift it, so to have the assistance when I squat is extremely helpful.  I know that I can have someone spot me constantly, but sometimes I feel self-conscious when I work out and don’t appreciate the feeling of dependence.

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Clearly, even if my goals are to tone my muscles and improve on my endurance, I still have a long way to go.  The cool thing about going to the gym is the humbling experience of realizing that you can always improve.  It may sound like a blow to your self-confidence when you see fitter people out there, but the only person you should compare yourself to is yourself.  Now I can confidently go the gym with my imperfect body because I know that I improved from a month ago, and I’m fine with that.

xoxo,

the girl who used to think running was enough

IMAGE CREDIT: Odyssey

+air+

“To enjoy the glow of good health, you must exercise.” – Gene Tunney, American professional boxer (1897-1978)

NOTE: This will probably be the first and last Sunday post, but I just had to schedule one for Sunday because I’m brimming with ideas and excited to be back to sharing them to the world.  x enc

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An issue that I’ve struggled with all my life is my endurance.  My muscles rarely get to feel the sore and satisfying feeling of a good workout because my breathing hinders my progress.  Running can be a struggle because sometimes I feel like I can barely breathe.  I never really thought much about it and would just take a minute breather in between, but then in the recent months, something strange happened.

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For about two hours a day, five times a week, my friend and I exercise at the gym.  Along with daily cardio and ab routines, each day is targeted to a specific part of the body, e.g. Monday=legs, Tuesday=shoulders, etc.  While the framework is the same, our routines are different, as we have different body goals – here are some of our differences.

What I do

  • More cardio and abs
  • Reps catered towards endurance
  • Lower weight classes in consideration for my noodle arms

What my friend does

  • More time spent on the target body area
  • Reps catered towards strength
  • Higher weight classes because I am the only one who has noodle arms

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However, three months ago, my friend would comment on my blue lips while we worked out.  At first, I didn’t think much about it, as I didn’t feel any other symptoms.  As a side note, I suffer from migraines and tend to get bad cases of vertigo.  A little while later, I would get dizzy during my workouts, and was unable to tell if I was standing upright or if everything was perpetually sideways.

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Fast forward to the visit to the doctor’s office, he put me through a stress test and other evaluations to see if there was a problem.  My results all came clear – I was pleasantly surprised to find out that in terms of health, my heart was like a professional tennis or basketball player.  Just to be safe, he also checked my oxygen absorption, and my absorption percentage actually went up during exercise.

He concluded that I probably just had an endurance problem, something that I already knew.  This made me frustrated because how could I condition myself when my breathing couldn’t sustain my workouts?  It was like a case of the chicken or the egg and I wished that I could get a concrete answer.

The doctor’s solutions were to spend each day, workout day or not, practicing breathing exercises.  He even recommended tai chi because the movements encourage practitioners to open their lungs.  He also suggested that whenever I felt dizzy or tired during my workouts to pause and spend a few minutes practicing my breathing exercises.  From his words, it was clear that there wasn’t one quick solution, and it would take a while before my endurance would improve.

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Denouement: Looking back, I understand why I wanted an easy solution, considering as this was a problem I had all my life.  However, I also laugh at myself because the first rule of working out is to keep in mind that results don’t happen overnight – it’s a journey, and fixing my breathing endurance issues also fit into that category.  Though if anyone has a solution they recommend, I would love to hear a few because I am lazy 😏.

xoxo,

the girl who like a good workout

IMAGE CREDIT: Houston Indoor Rock Climbing Gym & Activity Center

+protein+

“All you need is love.  But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.”Charles M. Schulz, American cartoonist (1922-2000)

If you follow my social media handles (nudge, nudge!) you’ll notice how much I love food.  I get excited about all things food related – cooking, eating, taking pictures, trying out new food, etc.  Not to perpetuate stereotypes, but I would love a boyfriend who’s willing to take me on food adventures, as my broke college wallet cannot buy anything that I want to try.

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To see my love for food, here’s a strange story: from a young age, I would constantly develop random mouth sores.  Not knowing the cause, I would complain about the pain, but also how much I wanted to eat a certain food; it was mostly the $2 chocolate ice cream cone with rainbow sprinkles from the nearest Mr. Softee’s truck.  My mother thought I was just making scene to get ice cream, but we quickly discovered that whenever I ate something that I craved, the sores would go away.  There probably isn’t a correlation supported by science, but it always worked like a charm.

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Thanks to my genetics, I can eat whatever I want without outwardly showing any consequences.  However, in middle school, I went through a period where meat was nauseating, so I went on a vegetarian diet.  From this, my appetite shrunk dramatically, and I couldn’t eat as much as I used to.

Concurrently at school, my substitute teacher complimented how skinny my friend and I were, and we reciprocated the favor, as she was also very skinny.  Sighing, she said that at her age, her appearance could only be achieved through diet and exercise, as her metabolism, which used to be like ours, began to crash in her mid-twenties.  These two experiences opened my eyes to what I was consuming and the amount I was consuming.

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Earlier this year, I changed my diet to reflect my new workout routine because I wasn’t losing the stomach pudge that I wanted gone.  However, eating well is hard in college because your meals are dependent on the dining hall options or what you have in your dorm.  For example, my college’s dining halls protein option was almost exclusively chicken breast because while it was a healthy option, it’s very cheap in comparison to other cuts of meat.

Ironically, the first order of business in my new diet was to buy chicken breast; while I was sick of eating it, I did have a trusty method of preparing it.  I also stocked up on a lot of fruits and vegetables – they were my source of carbs, as I’m not the biggest fan of wheat or grains.

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The way I prepared fruits and vegetables basically describes a raw food diet, but I never called it that.  Calling something a diet makes it an obligation, and I think as humans, we just don’t like being forced to do something.  Also, this may contradict my foodie status, but sometimes, I go into periods of craving where I just eat one thing only.  Throwback to Argentina, when I would only eat salads with grilled chicken breast and freshly squeezed orange juice.

Here’s an example of a dinner after a workout, which eerily sounds similar to my Argentine diet:

  1. Take out a Ziploc bag of chicken breast from the freezer and let it defrost, unopened under the running hot water from the sink for five minutes. During that time, take out the lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, and any other vegetables from the fridge.  Take out a desired amount of each kind and leave it to the side.
  2. After taking out the bag, turn on your stove and oil a pan, lightly. I recommend using sunflower or canola oil because they have the highest smoke point temperatures.  Multiple studies have shown that cooking with olive oil is hurtful to your health because since it burns faster, it becomes a carcinogenic.
  3. When the oil moves like water, place your chicken in the pan and let it cook on medium high heat. Since the oil’s already very hot, it will help cook the meat, but it shouldn’t be on high because then it will just burn the outside, leaving the inside uncooked, and uncooked chicken’s dangerous to eat.
  4. Midway through cooking, you can lightly season with salt and pepper, if desired. Keeping an eye out for the chicken, wash the vegetables in cold water, and cut into the desired size before plating.
  5. When the chicken is finished, put onto the same plate as the vegetables, to the side, or on top, whatever’s preferred.
  6. Lightly season with extra virgin olive oil right before eating for flavoring, if desired. Pair with water because anything but defeats the purpose of working out.

I realized that the best way to approach healthy eating is to be as simple, or as creative as you want to be.  If you want to make a healthy raw food alternative to Nutella, then go for it!  If you’re like me and you’re content with eating lettuce straight up from a bag, that’s your prerogative.

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While I don’t have my large appetite anymore, I still retained my snacking habits.  At least three times a day, I feel peckish and want to eat something small.  To remedy this problem, I simply wash a bunch of berries in cold water and eat them, returning on the task at hand.

An accomplishment that I want to share is that I haven’t had soda in over a year now!  I only drank it because it would alleviate my painful migraines, but I quit, knowing how unhealthy high-fructose corn syrup is for the body.  I thought it would be a hard sacrifice because of my migraines, but it was actually an easy change, especially when thinking about the wallet that could not fund this expense.  One year later, I barely remember the taste of it and strangely don’t even crave it 🎉!

xoxo,

the girl who pairs food with ~iced~ water

IMAGE CREDIT: Pinterest