Category Archives: Healthness

Hey, I’m a fitness instructor, actress, and woman. I have plenty to share on the subject

Bucket List Item “Triathlon” Crossed Off

We all have things that either are officially written down or unofficially stored in our minds as “bucket list” items!  These bucket list items can range in variety from extreme sports (sky diving) to DIY skills (woodworking) to physical disciplines (martial arts) to cooking (make a three layer cake) to travel (visit all 50 states) goals.  It’s normal to have a range and variety of bucket list items and mine have always included completing a marathon and a triathlon.  (I think an Ironman might be on there as well…shhhh).  So, these bucket list items float around in our minds and we sometimes work intentionally toward them or a series of events might ignite them or perhaps they are spontaneously achieved – this is the story of how I achieved bucket list item: Triathlon! BREAKUP THERAPY = BUCKET LIST CHECK LIST I’ll have to take you back to this time last year.  I was in the aftermath of a breakup and was looking for productive engagement.  I was heartbroken and hungry for healthy distractions.  So, I lost myself in capoiera classes, summer movies in the park, boat rides on the Hudsoncookinglots. of. cooking., and then I thought to myself – triathlon!  I threw a post on Facebook inquiring as to the process of engaging in the famous NYC Triathlon and immediately learned that it was a  week away and that volunteering for it would guarantee my entry for the following year.  I signed up to volunteer and one week later found me ringing a cowbell and cheering on triathletes in the rain – it was a glorious time!  Soon after, I paid my $300+ to secure my guaranteed entry (volunteering essentially exempts you from having to win the lottery process for entry) and soon after that, began training with my gym’s triathlon team, Full Throttle!  Suddenly, I was rising at 5am to run, swim, and bike and it was quite brutal (the getting up part, mostly!)  And so, it looked like I was on my way to this triathlon goal. TRIATHLON TRAINING: NOT SO MUCH Well, there’s more…there’s always more…haha!  So, triathlon training took a break with plans to resume in the beginning of the year.  Finances shifted – for the worse – and for budgetary reasons, I decided to pay for the luxury of training with a team when the race grew closer.  Months passed and I hadn’t really trained on my own as I should have been doing – I was dawdling – I’ll admit it!  I was comfortable teaching my fitness classes and felt that the race was far away enough to relieve me of any urgency.  In the back of my mind, I also had the security that I had purchased insurance and could always, if absolutely necessary, be back out and be refunded.  Well, with the triathlon three weeks away and without so much as a decent bike ride or swim under my belt, I decided to look into this little refund policy.  I was aghast upon learning that the refund of $300+ required filing a claim that would only be assessed after the triathlon date.  And so, there lurked the very uncomfortable possibility that I could file a claim, the triathlon would pass, I would not compete, my claim would be rejected, and my registration fee would simply be a nice tip to NYC.  And so, in true Chinese fashion, to not waste that hard-earned registration fee, I finally committed to making good on my place in the 2015 NYC Triathlon! IT’S REAL: THIS IS REALLY GOING TO HAPPEN And so it began – I had to get serious about training!  Luckily, I have some triathletes in my church and I consulted with them, confessing that I was desperately unprepared and had three weeks to change that.  The notable pieces of advice that I received were to swim in open water, to ride outside, not to worry if I didn’t have biking shoes, not to introduce anything brand new into my regimen at this point, and not to worry. With my mind more at ease, that week, I began swimming and biking outside.  I was not concerned with the running as I regularly run and have run many a race in the past.  I was not, however, familiar with open water swimming, biking for long distances, or outdoor biking.  I will skip ahead to the race, but first, I want to share some anecdotes from my Triathlon learning curve!
OPEN WATER SWIMMING I’ve always been a decent swimmer.  I come from a past where I swam on the high school swim team, lifeguarded during summer breaks, and taught swim lessons for extra cash.  Open water swimming, on the other hand – and open water swimming in a wetsuit, at that, are veery different!  I was instructed by the triathlete in my church (We shall refer to him as “the Ironman” from here on out) to be sure to take a trip(s) out to Coney Island and swim in Brighton Beach.  So, the next Sunday, I donned my swimsuit underneath my church clothes and headed straight to the beach after service.  I disliked open-water swimming immediately because 1) you can’t see anything in the murky water so it’s disorienting and actually frightening!  2) there is no touching the ground or resting and so you are committed to swimming to your destination 3) the sensation of not touching any ground, having zero ability see your surroundings, and knowing that creatures could be nearby is truly unsettling and uncomfortable.  I swam a second time with my wetsuit on and felt more comfortable snug in a suit, but the lesson here was that open-water swimming in NYC still certainly is not my preference! LEARNING MY BIKE’S GEARS An angel gave me a bicycle – a Specialized Sequoia bicycle
(a very good brand) – allowing me to have a major component of competing in a triathlon and essentially making such even a consideration for me.  The challenge then became: understanding this new bike.  I had no recollection of gear shifting.  And so, here I was with a gorgeous 21 speed bike and no confidence in the operation of it.  I was told by the Ironman to take a ride and be sure to use all my gears, to practice shifting up and down on a flat road and going uphill and downhill.  And so, I made it a point to take a 27 mile bike ride for the first time in my life during which I would 1) get the entire mileage of the race (25miles) under my belt and 2) become proficient in gear-shifting.  Let me give you an example of how far I was from gear-shift proficiency!  In the months that I had had that bike, I never shifted the gears from the state they were given to me in – I simply did not know where to begin!  And so, whenever I had to go up a hill, I would actually get off and walk the bike up when I had a bicycle perfectly capable of handling the hill!  I truly did not understand how to shift the gears up and down and which hand to shift with.  Even when I took my long ride and finally figured out how to shift to the small gear for uphill riding, I then didn’t know how to shift back up to the larger gear.  And so, I actually stopped by a bike shop and asked the guy, “How do I shift my gear back up?”  He looked at me like I was an alien [understandably] and used his hand to push the gear shifter on my left handlebar very far in (farther than I naturally pushed it) and took the chain to the larger gear.  And I was off to complete my 27 mile ride!  I had a blast and it was positively exhilarating to ride all those miles.  I have gained the joy of outdoor riding from this experience, for sure. TRIATHLON MENTAL FLOSS One of the advantages of training with a team for events such as a triathlon is the comfort of thoroughly understanding everything.  A coach’s job is to ensure your complete preparation, from physical to mental, filling in every blank and checking for gaps in your preparedness.  When prepping as an individual, your information comes from a combination of research, official race information, and then the advice of everyone and anyone that you talk with about it – everyone will have advice and opinions if they’ve done it before.  As you can imagine, I certainly felt lacking in this area and one of the biggest helps to me was when the Ironman took me out to the race course one-on-one and toured me through the race, event by event, doling out relevant advice along the way.  With knowledge of the lay of the land, I was so much more at ease.  One piece of advice I embraced: carb-loading!  I made a pizza date at my favorite joint: BSide Pizza and chowed down the night before.
Then I put myself to bed at 9pm, setting the alarm for 4am and popping a sleep aid chewable for good measure.  The next morning, I rose right on time, had my breakfast, and I was out off to the races!  The hushed activity on triathlon morning is like none other – crowds and cars walking quietly, hurriedly in the dark, at 4:30am, is something you don’t often see.  72nd street near the River, where everyone was setting up their bicycle stations, was flooded with lights, activity, and music, setting the stage for what was about to take place!  I had my bags meticulously packed with every item I believed that I needed for my race and checked against the athlete’s packet checklist.  I set up my bike exactly how I needed it for my biking, my clothes for changing, my nutrition in my bike satchel and inside my tri-top pockets, and everything else I left in a bag right next to my bike.  I kissed my bike good-bye and headed off to walk the mile up to the swim start, carrying my wetsuit, goggles, and cap.  I walked with the crowd up to swim start and quietly, as the sun rose, the army of 4,000 triathletes made its way to 99th street, where an MC would entertain us with live ongoing commentary and cue our starts. FRIEND/ FAMILY SUPPORT Another advantage of racing with a team is the built in cheering squad and support system.  When competing as an individual, you may know some other competitors, but not necessarily.  I did not make a big hoopla around this event because I truly was not sure what my performance would be and approached this as more of an individual goal rather than a public affair.  I wanted to compete privately and announce my completion publicly.  However, just by chance, in chatting with one of my mentors from church, she asked to cheer me on.  I was certainly open to that and started setting her up with the Ironman’s advice on spectating.  I equipped her with a sign with my name on it and my volunteer’s cowbell from last year and she was all set to cheer me on!  At this point, I was genuinely excited about the race.  I had gone from truly being terrified to truly being excited.  After some solid, albeit brief preparation and now with even a support in the crowds for me, I was ready to be proud of my endeavor.  There is true joy that bubbles over when you see familiar faces in the crowd.  I gave Betty a big ole hug and was absolutely elated and humbled by her rising at such an early hour just to support me.
You can tell how happy I was to see my friend!
You can tell how happy I was to see my friend!
TRIATHLON PLAY-BY-PLAY So there I am, standing in my corral, with my 35-40 year old cohorts and I’m just taking it all in.  I’m watching the other swimmers head down the Hudson.  I’m chatting with a few people that I know who are competing.  I’m scanning the crowds for my friend and before long, we are on our way! I’M NOT CRAZY ABOUT SWIMMING We are ushered onto a barge on 99th St about a dozen at time.  Suddenly, it’s our turn.  The feeling as you sit on the edge of the barge is not unlike that of sitting inside a seat on a roller coaster.  You wait in line for a while, the line moves you closer and closer until you are next, you sit in position and ready yourself for takeoff, the emotions felt are a mixture of excitement and anxiety and surrealism.  That’s exactly how I felt sitting on the edge of the barge, feet dangling over the Hudson.  I thought to myself, “This is really happening, we’re going to jump in in a matter of seconds and our race will have begun!  And they counted us down and just like that, I pushed myself into that water and into the Hudson!  I can say that overall, I did not enjoy the swimming.  I was not scared or panicked, but I did feel that it took a long time, I felt people pawing at me, I was also guilty of pawing at others, and it was difficult to swim straight!  I ended up completing the swim in 25 minutes, but certainly wasn’t swimming straight and nonstop, so I know I could have done better.  It just felt like it was taking forever!  You know that feeling when you’re waiting for something to be over and you’re either counting down the distance or the time?  That’s what I was doing and it doesn’t help to make things pass any faster!  Finally, I made it to the exit barge and grabbed the hand of a volunteer/lifeguard and was done with it! I’M A TERRIBLE TRANSITIONER At least when it comes to transitioning barefoot on rocky pavement!  They told us that the pavement would be swept and vacuumed and that we wouldn’t experience issues traveling barefoot on it.  However, for 1.15 miles – yes, that’s how far we had to transition for – I was wincing and walking gingerly over what felt like glass to the bottom of my feet.  What a nightmare!  Virtually follow T1 here and imagine it being filled with rocks – these people must honestly have feet made of steel.  And so, the deal is that I took 19 minutes to transition.  That is a record long time…haha!  Folks were literally baffled by how long I took.  I got questions such as, “What were you doing, hanging out?!”  “What did you do, crawl through transition?!”  One friend was frightened for me, thinking that something had happened, an accident of some sort; because the only other time he had seen someone take that long to transition, that person had suffered hypothermia and was forced to sit under a heat lamp for over 10 minutes before they allowed him to move on.  Unfortunately, I could boast no such story other than, “The pavement was rocky!”  haha!  Now I know that these transitions are supposed to happen quick, quick, quick!  And apparently, you must turn off the nerve-endings in your feet to make that happen.  Now I know. I LOVE BIKING Alas, we move on to my new favorite sport: biking! I absolutely killed it on the bike, keeping up an 18mph pace and making up for what I had lost in transition.  This huge grin on my face is real:
A shot of me biking that I'm too cheap to purchase
A shot of me biking that I’m too cheap to purchase
I was absolutely flying the entire time and the magical moment for me was when a dude turned around on his bike, pointed at me and revealed, “You’re my pacer!”  I was pacing after him, but we took turns passing each other and let’s just say that I was the last one to pass him. 😉  That was definitely a moment of validation right there.  For the first 5 miles on my bike, I was moving at 18mph, a speed that I had never even reached previously.  My legs were already experiencing a subtle burn and I thought to myself that there was no way that I could keep this  up for 20 more miles.  But at the same time, I could not allow myself to slow down.  I needed to know that I was pushing myself.  That was important to me.  And so I kept booking it and gradually 5 miles become 10 became 15 became 20 and I had never dropped under 17 mph!  I must say, I was impressed with myself!  Mentally and physically, I was fresh during the entire bike ride.  I was passing people consistently, cheerily chanting variations of “left,” “on your left,,” and “passing” (bike etiquette for passing on someone’s left).   I even made light conversation and cheered on those I passed, I was feeling so good!  I honestly have fond memories of this bike ride and will remember it forevermore! I RUN WELL…UNLESS I’M RUNNING AFTER 2 OTHER EVENTS
the Running Event of the 2015 NYC Tri
the Running Event of the 2015 NYC Tri
On the other hand…haha…the run…haha!  Yes, the run…was. brutal.  I am a runner.  I enjoy running.  I take 8 miles run for my personal workouts.  I love to join the Nike Run Club anytime I’m available for an even longer run – say 12 miles.  I am a runner and when I race – I am even moreso!  But, when I hit that pavement after hopping off my bike, my butt felt funny, sort of tight, my body felt heavy, and I was just tired!  I saw the Ironman and his daughter within the first 1/4 mile and they cheered me on heartily and I desperately embraced each of them, unabashedly confessing “I don’t want to do this anymore!”  They laughed at me and shoo’ed me onward.  But I was telling the truth!  I really couldn’t fathom how I would move my legs for 6 miles – I felt like I was moving in slow motion – it was worse than jogging – this felt like the slowest I had ever run – I can’t even respectfully refer to what I was doing as running – it was like I was just moving my legs in place – no exaggeration.  Luckily, I had my iPhone strapped to my arm and it spoke realtime metrics to me, citing my pace as 9:45ish to begin with and I committed to staying within the 9:00 minute range.  This would typically be a shameful race pace for me, but running after 2 other events was a whole other ballgame that I quickly adjusted my expectations for.  Gradually, the miles ticked themselves off: 1 mile down and a water/gatorade station, 2 miles down and another hydration station…and so it went, with the occasional sprinkler to break up the heat – which by the way, at that point was a sweltering 80+ degrees with a potent humidity.  I will tell you that the cheering fans were my saving grace during this run.  I made eye contact, I cheered back, I got them to say my name – these volunteers and friends and family collectively gave me enough bursts of energy to carry me over that finish.  I imagined that they were all there for me – playing [favourable] mind games with myself! “I’M NEVER DOING THIS” AGAIN BECOMES “WHAT NEXT?” At some point in the marathon and it happened again here with the triathlon, I asked myself the question:
Exhausted as I finished up my run
Exhausted as I finished up my run
“Why did I ever get myself into this?!” and then swore to myself that I would never do it again.  I remember it very clearly from the Brooklyn Marathon a few years ago.  Around mile 20, at my breaking point, I was both unsure whether or not I would finish the race and committed to never doing this to myself again.  That moment came back during mile 3 of the triathlon run when I was utterly exhausted, unsure of my capacity, and swearing to never ever ever do such a thing to myself again.  I’m not gonna lie: expletives were definitely a  part of my inner script at that point and I was just dying from the inside out, outside in.
Finished with the 2015 NYCTri
Finishing the 2015 NYCTri
Fast forward 3 miles: The spectators are thick at the last 1/2 mile and the cheers are loud.  I push myself across the finish line, arms up, grin wide and pose for the camera.  A few steps later, they knight me with a medal.  A few steps after that, someone is taking my timing chip off of my ankle for me.  A few steps after that, I’m offered a buffet of fruit, bagels, chips, drinks, etc.  And it is a GOOD time!  The pain is gone, the suffering is over, the insane feeling of accomplishment wells up within me and this little thought creeps into all the hubbub, asking, “What’re you going to do next?!” Auggggh!  How dare I even bring such a thing up!  My friend Betty likened it to birth and I imagine it’s a perfect analogy.  She said that while you are in labor, in the midst of the most excruciating pain of your life [cuz you are pushing a watermelon out of your vagina], you swear that you will never ever entertain another child.  Yet, as soon as that child is in your arms, you are in the equivalent amount of bliss and yes, ready to do it all over again.  Well, I cannot promise anything, but I am 100% glad that I went forth with competing in the NYC Triathlon and I’m happy with the turnout and everything that I learned along the way.  If there is another in my future, it will certainly be even better and if there is not, then there will certainly be more experiences to be had!  Btw, here are my final results: I finished in a total of 3 hrs, 12 mins, and 42 secs.  I took 25 mins to swim, 19 mins to transition (haha!), 1 hr, 26 mins to bike, 4 min, 33 sec to transition, and 55 mins, 43 secs to run.  It wasn’t terrible, it wasn’t the best, but it was decent.  I will debrief and talk about what I learned and would do differently, but this is what my final numbers were!
LESSONS LEARNED The importance of Nutrition: I had never been concerned with nutrition in the past.  I would accept the occassional electrolyte packed gel or gummy from the Nike Club because they were complimentary and absolutely yum!  But never have I ever purchased them because I was really never working out for long enough that I needed to have sustenance on-person.  I was always working out for 1-2 hours at a time and then close enough to a gym or home that I would be able to simply eat afterward!  In a triathlon, however, (competing for 3 hours) and in triathlon training (riding for 2+ hours), that shot of nutrition staves hunger pangs and injects you with energy.  It is necessary.  And so I started to use nutrition in the form of nuun tablets, gels, and gummies during my training, during the race itself, and afterward, when I continued riding for exercise. Biking & Gear Shifting: As I mentioned, I had no idea how to shift between my three front gears.  I received my bike in the middle gear and rode it in that gear for the better part of a year.  Once I started actually training for the tri, I knew that I had to maximize my bike and started learning all the gears.  It took one ride for me to understand how to operate my back derailer to fully use my front middle gear.  It took another ride for me to solidify that.  It took a third ride for me to start to shift the front derailer and I had to stop off for a real-time demonstration to shift it back once I had shifted it to the smaller gear.  By the end of that ride I had used all of the back gears and two of the front gears and I felt ready.  Add to that one gear adjustment at my local bike shop set and I felt like I was ready.  And indeed, while I was on the road during the tri, I was a master shifter!  I was shifting however I needed to keep my cadence high high high; I took every uphill like a champ in my smallest gear; and I took every downhill like a speed racer in my largest gear.  I shifted gears to gain traction when passing and finally felt “at one” with my bike and it’s mechanisms! WHAT I WOULD DO DIFFERENTLY Swim harder: I was swimming crooked and into people and not pushing myself the way that I was on the bike event.  I finished with a decent time, but I could have shaved some time off with a little more focus and intention. Transition Faster: I took 19 minutes during T1.  That is just unacceptable.  People go through full hair and makeup in 19 minutes.  People warm up from hypothermia in less than 19 minutes.  I definitely need to suck up the running on rocks aspect of the race or really have some water shoes waiting for me to run in.  Probably both! Run Faster: I was lethargic during my run.  When I think about it, I didn’t train very hard for my run, so I probably would have done better had I done that.  So, I would train in running and I would simply run faster, pushing harder. Listen to Music: One thing that really really really helps me and I understand it to be illegal, but I’ve done it during other races and I know that it injects me with so much energy….is music!  When I run w/ my music, I am literally dancing and pumping my arms.  And this is supported by the fact that during the tri, anytime I passed a live DJ, I was able to break into dance, but the music always passed quickly since you were running and it was right back to mundane soundtrack-less running.  sigh.  So next time, I would stow headphones on myself and pop ’em in for that boost. Rally a Crowd: I really competed in this race very privately.  I didn’t want to have folks come out and then perhaps do poorly, perhaps not even finishing.  It was a possibility in my head!  And so, rather than risk public humiliation, I kept the entire endeavor under wraps until I could no longer contain myself: I ended up posting two days prior to the race.  But if there’s a next time, I’m gettin’ a party together! So, that’s all folks,  if you want to compete in a tri, go ahead and give it a tri…haha!  get it?!  I hope that you learned from my experience and I look forward to hearing about yours!

Hilarious Analogy on how we beat ourselves up

WhatExerciseIsAbout I just did it today.  I was home last night reading an awesome book, (check back in for that forthcoming book review!) – and overindulging in some delicious Trader Joe’s dark chocolate covered almonds, chocolate cookies, & some croissant.  My justification whilst said indulgence was taking place was that I would be running 12 miles the next morning and so, “eh-go fer it!”  This, in essence, however, is symptomatic of what a Greatist article describes as self-abuse.  Check it out.
Jeanette Beating Herself Up
Jeanette Beating Herself Up
As the custodian for your body, you’re responsible for its care—just like you’d be responsible for a child that you’re babysitting. Imagine finding this kid knee-deep in candy bar wrappers, halfway into an all-out candy binge. Caught red-handed, this kid looks up at you, terrified, ashamed, awaiting punishment. What do you do? Do you yell insults at the child? March him or her over to the treadmill to run off every last calorie? Of course not. You’re not Mommie Dearest. With that in mind, let any name calling and punishment stop. You will treat yourself with the same compassion you would treat this child.
This is so exactly what I have always done and am getting better at not doing to myself.  I indulge and immediately go over the most rigorous form of calorie-torching physical activity that I can afford to “erase the evidence.”  Only when I’ve completed my self-inflicted torchure do I feel relieved and redeemed and like I can start on a clean slate.  People, I don’t work out because I enjoy it.  Honestly, it’s not for the high or joy of it – it’s for the elusive goal of achieving body perfection.  I’m still workin’ on it – there will be a huge blog post about it when that happens, but don’t wait by your inboxes.  I say that to demonstrate that I’ve always been in a  bad eater/ over exerciser vicious cycle that this article described to a T.
It can be easy, post-gluttony, to beat yourself up. Things like “no self-control,“ “lazy,” and “gross” can get thrown around. Maybe you run five miles and end up making yourself sick. Or swear off eating for an entire day. It’s super easy to treat your body to all types of abuse post-gorgefest, but here’s where taking a step outside yourself is critical.
I’ve evolved though, and am happy to report that I am in the driver’s seat with my eating, compared to confused and out-of-control eating in the past.  I also indulge with pleasure, versus feeling guilty during and especially after indulgences in the past.  And while I still derive a twisted sense of satisfaction in “working off an indulgence,” I think there is a certain level of healthy balance in that behavior.  I’m  much more at peace, aware, knowledgeable, and in control of my diet than ever before, but this article certainly offered me a spot-on illustration that inspired this post. Read the full article

The EveryGirl’s Guide to Diet & Exercise

I’m a big fan of all of the following:
  • Maria Menunos
  • practical weight loss
  • good television hosts
  • inspiration/encouragement/positivity
And so, when Maria came out with her recent book: The EveryGirls’ Guide to Diet and Fitness, I was actually in need of some fitness inspiration and snatched it right up!
Maria: Before & After 40-lb weight loss
Maria: before & after 40-lb weight loss
Let me begin by asking you “Did you know that the Maria that we see on TV today is 40 pounds slimmer than her former self?!  I was impressed to learn that she was formerly much rounder before she slimmed down on her own, but wait, it. gets. better! My biggest takeaway from her story was the fact that Maria was always happy – round or thin.  She was also successful – round or thin.  Her decision to change her lifestyle was for the purpose of better health and in the process, she found her muscles. But I was inspired to learn that Maria won a beauty pageant and a hosting award before she ever even counted a calorie!  And then, when she decided to change her lifestyle, she opted for small changes over a long haul and thus, has never had to look back!  Immensely interested, I read the bulk of her book during the course of my plane ride from NY to LA and the following are my cliff notes.  Take from it what you desire! My approach to this book, as is the case with many books that I read, is to simply walk away with a few concepts affirmed (because nothing is new anymore, it’s more about at which turn you heard it that it stuck) and resolved to incorporate into my life.  Take away as much or as little as you’d like from the the following solid advice from Maria’s book: The EveryGirl’s Guide to Diet and Fitness! the fifty year plan This is something that Maria and her partner use (I believe it was his invention) to gauge whether or not any behavior is sustainable.  Whether it’s leaving dishes unwashed or inhaling junk food or not moving, putting your behavior under the lens of a fifty-year projection will give you insight to make the judgement call on what type of behavior should be edited out or implemented.  So Maria encourages us to “get on the fifty year plan!”
log 1 week of food This is one of Maria’s keys to shaping up her diet anytime: in the beginning of her journey and whenever she wanted to achieve a new level of fitness.  She personally wears a FitBit wristband to log her activity and sleep and endorses the MyFitnessPal app as an effective tool for food journaling. From this, I was reminded of the effectiveness of MyFitnessPal when I used it and have committed to logging my food and exercise everyday.  It’s a free app and Maria even recommends this as a tool.
Chinese people love their hot water!
Chinese people love their hot water!
drink hot water
This is an interesting tip that actually reminds me of my parents and Chinese culture in general – the older generations love to drink boiled water (gwun soi).  Maria swears by the effectiveness of drinking hot water – she says that she and her partner dropped weight as soon as they incorporated this into their lifestyle.  I don’t know if there is science behind the benefits over drinking hot water – especially over cold water – but this is something that I haven’t and probably won’t do.
always be exercising This is great and is a step up from her first tip to “always be moving.”  I’ve heard another version of this before: “fidget.”  And I read somewhere that Jack LaLane used to do pushups while he was waiting for the elevator, etc.  And one of my fitness friends recommends habits such as doing calf raises while waiting in line at Starbucks. I have taken this to heart and have started to take the stairs in my building more, have swapped my Metrocard for a Citibike Membership, have opted for the “harder” route, in general, whether that meant taking the stairs, walking, standing, or calf-raising in line.  What I’ve found that it does for me is keep me in a constant state of motion, where a little bit of sweat is normal, where I’m more so in a state of activity rather than a state of rest – and so it’s easier to just keep moving.  I love this concept.  
bond over fitness
Maria talks about inviting pals over for a basketball game, having a meeting while hiking, and basically swapping activities in for our default form for socializing – eating and drinking – both of which are healthy lifestyle dangers!   I have long adopted this way of being.  As a spin instructor, I extend an open invitation to anyone I feel compelled to do so to.  I also love to do fun activities with friends – movies in the park, working out together, attending church together – and we’ve all got to eat! but even then, I love trying out themed places and healthy places and maintain a balanced mixture of activities with friends.     
try not to eat after 7pm 
Maria advocates this and I am far from this.  This is apparently something that she practices in her lifestyle and I agree that lighter eating at night is certainly the protocol, but if you are hungry, you’ve got to eat – just lightly.  She has a saying, “Sleep it off,” and I agree that many times, sleeping early can nip midnight snacking and hitting the sack can stave the munchies.  Ultimately, if you’re logging your food, however, the one and only rule is staying within your calorie limits, whether it’s 7pm or 11pm and I believe you can’t go wrong based on that.
This is ok - just earn it!
This is ok – just earn it!
earn your food I just did this when I worked out like a maniac yesterday and kept saying to my spin class “Earn your BBQ!”  It feels good to go into some planned overeating knowing that you worked out to create a calorie deficit and will work out the next day to address any difference still residing.  It comes down to science and calories-out must exceed calories-in to lose weight and must be equal to maintain weight.  Snacking counts, free samples count, and fortunately, exercise counts!  I love the feeling of chowing down on a healthy meal when I’m famished and sweaty after a workout!  I think it’s important to hold off on eating until you can get to a healthy meal and then eat up, cuz you “earned it!”
soup before meals
This is an easy habit that anyone can incorporate into their eating routine.  I personally love to load up on vegetables so am not holding myself to practicing this – I would rather chow down on extra salad or cooked veggies over soup and they both accomplish the same goal: filling up on low-calorie food items.
Below are Maria’s phases and steps that she realized she took – upon looking back at her gradual weight loss – to get to her current fabulous state.  She has broken it down and I think this is solid commonsense advice that you already know but may engage with because of her presentation.  Check it out!
This woman's worked hard and accomplished a lot - and so can you!
This woman’s worked hard and accomplished a lot – and so can you!
  1. set a deadline
  2. weigh yourself
  3. buy a journal
  4. log a week’s worth of food
  5. review and assess
  6. cut back slowly
to avoid overeating:
  • talk a walk
  • drink hot water
  • sleep it off
  • munch on something better
  1. weigh again
  2. go back to journaling
  3. fine-tune your diet
  4. exercise
  5. drink lots of water
  6. rejoice and reward
  • eat mostly foods from the ground
  • eat only when hungry
  • eat only as much as you need in the moment

Fitness and Faith: for optimal results, approach as prescribed!

I’ve noticed for some time now, that when I am speaking about God or Christianity, that I can often use exercise as an analogy.  It struck me the other day because I’m on a training regimen with so many components that building them into my lifestyle is the key to it’s existence and success; just like my faith.  I’ll unpack that a bit for you, along with some other correlations that I find helpful. IT’S A LIFESTYLE: To me, there is a 3-Pronged approach to creating a lifestyle: habits, schedule, community.  Neither faith or fitness is something that you can implement part of the time and experience measurable results.  Your faith and your fitness, if you want to be a warrior in either, have to be lifestyles that include daily practices, recurring calendar appointments, and people. for me: this means that I have certain habits that I do daily: I drink [a gallon] of water a day, I cook my own meals, I pray as soon as I wake up, then I eat breakfast.  I also have chosen to be a fitness instructor so that exercise is literally a non-negotiable appointment on my calendar several times a week.  “Church” is also on repeat in my calendar.  It’s the people who have people at the gym and church who are more apt to stick with the program.  Don’t be a loner in a  lifestyle that you want to go after.  There’s still much more to improve upon, but I live fitness and I live in faith.  They are lifestyles. THE PAIN BECOMES GAIN: When you lift weights, you are literally tearing the muscle fibers.  Muscles grow larger and stronger when they repair themselves after being torn; so, the situation has to get worse before it gets better.  Interesting, huh?!  In the same way, God grows our character through trials: periods of loneliness during which we grow closer to Him, temptations that strengthen our character, hopelessness that sends us into intercessory prayer.  On the other side of this: we are physically stronger from pushing those weights, feeling that soreness, and bearing that pain.  And we are spiritually stronger from the trials that we have endured. for me: this means that I am exhausted at the end of a weight-lifting session, but then I get to see and feel the growth in my muscles and I witness progress with the amount of weight I can lift.  I feel accomplished when I move up the weight rack!  In my spiritual life, it means that when I look back at the bleak times in my life, I can appreciate how far I’ve come, and I can see the contrast between that and a life with God’s presence in it. THERE IS A DEVIL TO RESISTshieldsofstrength2 Both faith and fitness require staying on the narrow path in order to achieve the results or the life we want.  These narrow paths are choked by temptations that we must resist.  In fitness, it’s chocolate cake, alcohol, and french fries.  In faith, it’s sex before marriage, gossip, and unforgiveness.  It is in the resisting of these temptations that we can experience the fullness of the body and spirit that we are seeking.  Resisting temptation also becomes easier over time. for me: this means that my home is filled with healthy food and Bible verses.  I don’t bring things into my home that will thwart my goals.  I admire and drink from sources that are respectable leaders in both industries so that my mind stays on track. ACCOUNTABILITY IS KEY Group fitness classes and community worship simply have better success rates than going at these things alone.  Even if we’re talking about one additional person, having someone to go to the gym or go to church with will oftentimes mean the difference between doing it or not.  Announcing that you’re going on a diet or surrendering something to God increases the success rate as well.  Man was not made to go at life alone; hook up with a buddy for the things that are important. for me: this doesn’t necessarily mean that I have a buddy to do everything with, but it does mean that I become related to the people around me: trainers, students, fellow gym rats, pastors, fellow church go-ers, in order to build a community and have accountability. shieldsofstrength3IT TAKES FAITH, TRUST THE PROCESS Anything worth having is worth waiting for, right?!  It’s usually around after one month of compliance with a diet and exercise plan that I begin to notice results.  That’s one month of just eating and moving in faith.  In the same way, we have to take a leap of faith to jump into a life with God and be vulnerable in order to experience His fullness.  We have to move into his calling, sometimes against all logic, without seeing any hope, and just believe that He is for us. for me: this means that I operate on faith and that I gobble up fitness success stories and testimonies from faithful Christians to fuel that faith.  I live my Christian life based on principle, not emotion and I eat for nutrition, not to feed my feelings. These photos are from Shields of Strength, a company that has fused faith and fitness into fantastic jewelry designs.  I love the concept, obviously, and shall be buying one!

Eat food. Mostly plants. Not too much. That’s it!

FoodRules I just read this book by Michael Pollan which is really just a collection of one-liners to help us remember how to eat: “Eat food. Mostly plants. Not too much.”  Those are the seven words that Michael Pollan has boiled “eating right” down to!  The journalist was inspired to get to the bottom of the web of food information and misinformation bombarding us.  He explained that after extensive research on any topic, he historically finds himself overwhelmed by much more information.  In the case of researching eating, however, he found that the information grew increasingly simpler and more stripped down…until he could literally sum it all up in the aforementioned seven words. This book is a collection of “rules” aggregated by the author from sources that range from family sayings to academic papers.  Think along the lines of “A moment on the lips, forever on the hips.”  The sayings fall into three categories: What Should I Eat?, What Kind of Food Should I Eat?, How Should I Eat? I really loved some of these, and we’ll see how many of them stick in my memory.  Just to be safe though, I’m listing some of my faves for your amusement.  Enjoy!

What should I Eat?  Food.

  • It’s not food if it arrived through the window of your car
  • It’s not food if it’s called the same thing in every language (cheetos, big mac, pringles, etc)

What kind of food should I Eat?  Mostly Plants.

  • Drink the spinach water
  • Don’t eat breakfast cereals that change the color of your milk
  • Make water your beverage of choice
  • the fewer the feet, the better the meat (i.e.: plants have one leg; pigs have four)
  • Eat all the junk food you want, as long as you cook it yourself
  • Enjoy drinks that have been caffeinated by nature, not science

How should I eat?  Not too much.

  • better to pay the grocer than the doctor, or the farmer than the pharmacist
  • drink your food and chew your drinks
  • treat treats as treats
  • no snacks, no seconds, no sweets except on days that start with “S”
  • try to spend as much time enjoying the meal as it took to prepare it
  • look for someone to eat and drink with before you look for something to eat and drink
  • leave something for Mr. Manners
  • better to go to waste than to go to waist
  • place a bouquet of flowers on the table and everything will taste twice as good
These are just some of the rules that resonated with me.  You may enjoy an entirely different collection, but now you get the gist of the book.  Many of them are playful, even somewhat chiding.  Many of them are a part of my lifestyle already or encapsulate a belief I endorse.  The rules that I will try to keep in mind are the ones regarding treats, eating with others, and eating slowly: areas that I could use improvement in.  I personally am trying to “drink my food” and it’s a great practice!  Try chewing your food so well that it’s nearly liquefied before you swallow it.  It sounds unappealing, yes, but makes for a very mindful meal! Get the book here

Get Fit New York!

Get Fit New York just had the pleasure of interviewing two Olympic athletes who live and train right here in NYC!  Lalonde Gordon of Trinidad-Tabago (2nd from R)  and Paul Kim Williams of Granada (far R) sat down [on the ground] with me to divulge their Olympic stories.  Then I took it to the gym w/ their strength and conditioning coach to see how I’d measure up next to these guys.  They were extremely gracious in sharing their experience, they were gentle on me during their workout, and they really showed both their humility and their athleticism between their interviews and workouts…I was and remain in awe! For those of you who don’t know, I have just launched my very first fitness web series, titled Get Fit NY!  We profile the fitness culture in NYC to spur its residents on to the incredible events and opportunities pulsating right here in NYC!  We release new videos every Wednesday, so you’ll have to wait to see our interview w/ the Olympians.  But for now, you can get caught up on the past three episodes right here!

But WHY is it bad for you?

To articulate the reason behind many of our beliefs is more of a task than we may be equipped for.  I know that I postulate, parrot, and practice many things that society feeds me, and I believe that we all are, to some extent, a retainer for popular opinion.  The areas in which our beliefs are shaped are vast, influenced by commercials, literature, news, hearsay, and celebrities.  Whether you believe that buying is better than leasing or that organic is better or that bpa-free water bottles are the only way to drink, I would challenge you to explain.  This is why 5-year-olds get on people’s last nerves when they ceaselessly asky “why, why, why?’  It’s because they’re exposing the fact that many of us DON’T KNOW WHY! Well, to end this rambling, I’m going to attempt to retain this information that I’m reading currently about why we are to avoid certain additives in our foods: msg, aspartame, trans fat, etc.  I once read that the best way to retain information is to pass it on, and so, thank you for helping me retain this! ASPARTAME:  This is an artificial sweetener.  It’s your “Equal,” “Nutrasweet,” etc, and is believed to be carcinogenic and bad for your brain, physically and emotionally.  It resides in diet drinks, diet gums, and things labeled “sugar-free” HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP: This is a highly-refined sugar, taken from corn, not the sugar cane at all.  It’s cheap to produce and packs more sweetness than real sugar, so this is a business “do” for manufacturers of everything from cereal to bread to candy.  However, the health costs include diabetes, weight gain, and bad cholesterol (LDL). MONOSODIUM GLUAMATE (MSG): This is an amino acid used as a flavor enhancer.  It’s an excitotoxin, meaning it excites the cells to the point of damage or death.  It turns off the “I’m full” function, explaining the usual accompanying weight gain.  Known as a major player in Chinese food. TRANS FAT: This is used to enhance and extend the shelf life of food products.  Through hydrogenation, the molecular makeup of fat is altered, turning unsaturated fat into saturated fat and effectively, That our body has a difficult time digesting these unnatural fats is slightly better than the fact that trans fatty acids lower the good cholesterol and raise the bad cholesterol as well.  This is found in shortenings, margarine, any fat that is solid at room temperature and effectively, deep-fried foods, as they are usually fried in these. COMMON FOOD DYES: Artificial colorings are used in fruit juices, soda, salad, dressings, etc, and are a frivolous hazard to our bodies.  Blue dyes abound in sports drinks, red dyes in maraschino cherries, yellow dyes in mac and cheese, just to scratch the surface.  These dyes are actually banned in certain countries: Norway, Finland, etc. These are just 5 of 10 of the top additives to avoid listed in my latest Hungry For Change Newsletter.  I cannot go any further…not because it’s emotional for me…haha!  But I’m just out of time.  Continue reading on your own and I know that I’ll be reading them labels with a much wiser eye now and I hope you will too!  

Lincoln Tunnel Challenge 5K

I’ve heard about this race for several years now and I always got pumped about the idea.  Finally, this year was the year!  It was a spontaneous decision, made about 1 week before the actual race, only upon seeing the banner hanging above the tunnel as we drove through that Sunday.  I immediately got pumped and by week’s end, my rooommates and I were officially in the running! SAVED BY AN INSIDER TIP! I was torn by one issue, however, which pitted my competitive side against my nurturing side.  There were two waves of runners: the “under 25 minutes” and the “over 25 minutes” group.  The competitive streak in me always chooses the more difficult option, the road less traveled, the result that will make for a better story!  But, my conscience wouldn’t let me shake the idea that I should be running with my roommates who I encouraged to do it in the first place and who could use the morale support.  Then, lo and behold, as I expressed my woes at my bib pickup, I heard that I could actually run both, as they started at different times and it wouldn’t be a big deal.  What a concept!  And so, my plan was to run at 8:00am and 8:45am, satisfying both my competitive streak and conscience! RUNNING SOLO! So, Sunday morning, I was out of the door at 7:20am and jogged down to the tunnel, arriving around 7:40, ready to rock and roll!  There were about 4,000 runners that day and the bus parking lot across from the tunnel was filled with vendors, music, and people milling around, buzzing with excitement and energy.  I was busy taking photos and videos and chatting people up and then joined in the group stretching session.  Suddenly, it struck me that it had been a really long time since I had arrived.  I checked my watch: 8:15!  The first wave was supposed to take off at 8:00am!  O.M.G….I think I missed my race!  The commotion in that parking lot and lack of a central focus had completely distracted me and I was essentially mingling with the 8:45 wave!  I sprinted over to the starting line and took off…all alone!  What a difference from the image in my mind!  Within the first few steps, I wondered if I should just forgo the first run and be early for the second run.  But I decided, as always, to try and stick with the plan and run my heart out right then and there. WORTH IT! It was incredible to zip through the tunnel without a crowd to slow me down.  And so, I videotaped and kept myself entertained during the first race, sometimes cheering on the stragglers that were still running, and the whole while, fist pumping to my music.  I loved seeing the “light at the end of the tunnel” and it was surreal to see it while not in a car.  When I crossed the finish line at 40 minutes, I knew that having started at 18 minutes, that was a kickass time, but everyone else must have thought that I had run a 13 minute mile…haha!  I was literally the second to last person to cross the first race’s finish line, almost actually missing the finish line, as I didn’t realize it was further away than I had thought!  My second run w/ my roommates was a casual one since the pace was much more slowed and I was chatting with them and others the whole way.  The crowd was so thick that mostly everyone followed a group pace, so it might have been a blessing that I had had the freedom of running my first race at my true pace.  We met up at the end, grabbed the free Nesquick giveaway, and headed home!
Jeanette, Kate, & Mike: back on the Jersey side, post race!
LESSON: I love racing.  I observed a dramatic change in my energy and demeanor and mood during that race and have concluded that racing accesses a part of me that lights me up.  I think that I get high off the excitement of a race.  I enjoy the athleticism, the challenge of making a good time, the satisfaction of passing opponents, the festivities, the post-race free snacks, and even the private rituals of getting dressed as if on mission.  It’s really quite awesome and now I understand why people get addicted to racing and competing.  Now I understand why some people do marathon after triathalon after ultramarathon.  I think that I’m going to keep running races this year until I qualify myself for the 2013 NYC Marathon.  Running has proven to be great for my body and now I know that it’s also great for my spirits.  Racing also brings out the crazywoman in my because I videotaped everything…even running through the tunnel!  Make sure to watch it!

2011 Men’s Health Urbanathalon & Inaugural Brooklyn Marathon

Several years ago, I came across this race and petitioned all of my friends to get on board with me.  And then I balked at the $100 registration fee and backed out myselfThen, the following year, they weren’t doing it in New York again!  The next year, again, no New York.  Finally, this year, 2011, it was back!  And I was ready!  I signed up for the Urbanathalon and the Brooklyn Marathon straight away because I wasn’t about to let the opportunity slip through my fingers again and I had a loose plan to use these races to raise money for the school in Nepal I had helped!  So, there I was, all signed up and ready to go!  That’s the crucial first step necessary to commit yourself and get the ball rolling, not unlike booking the plane ticket of a trip.  I operate on a “Bite off more than you can swallow, and then trust that God will help you chew” mentality.  And so, not having ever done anything like this or having the proper running gear or having the time to train did not phase me in the least.  All I knew was that I wanted to do this and so, I took it one step at a time.  Just like when you’re driving, you never see the whole road, but as long as you have headlights lighting the first few feet of your path, you know that eventually, you’ll get to California! And so, my next steps included training, therapy, and gear! TRAINING: A combination of the NIKE Running Club, the NY Running Company, the iMapMyRun App for my Droid phone, Hal Higdon’s book, Marathon, and just general surveying and researching were responsible for building a strong training regimen for me.  I knew that most marathoners followed marathon training schedules and so I decided that this would be the best way to structure my training.  And since the Urbanathalon would take place in the midst of my marathon training, I was killing two birds with one training regimen!  The week I returned from Nepal, I had already begun running w/ the NY Running Company just to get in the mix with the right people, information, etc.  I ran with this club and the NIKE running club, simply to give me more scheduling options.  Someone put me on to Hal Higdon’s book Marathon and in here, I found my marathon schedule!  I inputted all the runs into my calendar and was looking at three weekday runs (5-8 miles each) and one Saturday run (13-20 miles) every week.  The long runs are the ones in which running partners are so necessary.  It’s physically and mentally so helpful to be flanked by runners when you get to those double digit mileages. It stuns me when I think about running an average of 13-16 miles on Saturday mornings during the course of my training.  I remember the first time I hit 16 miles, I thought that my legs were going to give out.  The girl I was running with was going for 18 and I was gung-ho, ready to rev, right behind her.  But I was all bark and no bite, as I started waning after 13 miles, whining by the 14th mile, sputtering at 15, and literally limping by the time I stopped at mile 16.  I told her to keep going, save herself, as I needed to recover and walk the last two miles.  It took two miles for my legs to feel again and I suddenly understood the concept of training your feet and legs to simply endure such impact.  The second time I hit 16.5 miles, it was part of a 19 mile run and I just couldn’t do it anymore, once again!  My legs were jelly as I rounded the 16th mile and I just had to walk.  The funny thing is that I had an appointment scheduled for when I estimated that I would be done running.  So, in order to maintain that time, I had to take a taxi back to Niketown, the start and finish point!  I always laugh about people carrying metrocards w/ them when they run, just in case, but now, I get it! My life really started changing once I was well into my training.  I started thinking about running as a means of transportation.  When running 8 miles on a regular basis, so many places suddenly fall within the circumference of your running regimen.  I don’t remember how it began exactly, but I started combining my training run with appointments for that day.  For example. I ran to Hoboken to meet girlfriends for pizza.  One day, I ran from 42nd St to 34th St to get my nails done and then ran to Mott St to get a facial and then ran to 21st St to take a spin class.  With my little pocket on the back of my pants to hold my credit card and metrocard, I was unstoppable!  The craziest undertaking was when I ran to Hackensack to get my hair cut…9 miles away!  I arrived to all these places sweaty, but not stinky, and giddy off of the unorthodox intersection that I had found between life and training! Another reason why long runs are important are simply to learn what works for you through trial-and-error.  Every detail counts when you’re going to be at something for 26.2 miles!  For me, I learned that my must-haves are: an ipod shuffle, proper running pants (w/ a pocket in the groove of your lower back), proper sneakers (love my Nikes), gloves (w/ a key holder are great), a mile-tracker (my Droid works, a watch is better), a headband (since I had bangs), and if running to a specific and unfamiliar address, the navigation function of GoogleMaps. THERAPY: I tore ligaments in my ankle two years ago.  I hate to admit it, but it’s true when people say that your body’s “never the same” after certain injuries.  I wasn’t going to let that stop me from signing up for these races, but I also had to be smart and manage my limitations.  I started visiting the physical therapy office in my gym when I felt pain after an 8-mile run one day.  Andre instructed me to stop running for a week and even entertained the thought of my not running the Urbanathalon.  I rejected that notion violently, but agreed to pause running for one week.  After reassessing the situation, we settled on a regimen of daily ankle-strengthening exercises and weekly physical therapy visits, concluding with Andre wrapping my ankle in preparation for my next-day long-run.  I was grateful for the graciousness and attention that I received from West Sides Sports Med.  They were truly instrumental in my success, physically and mentally.  I was wailing during a portion of all my visits, as Andre would massage deep into the scar tissue on my ankle, but coming from Chinese descent, part of me took solace in the belief that the pain signaled progress! It’s so important to be verbal about something that you want to glean information for.  I must have spoken about needing therapy or recovery and lo and behold, someone recommended the reflexology spa that would soon be responsible for helping me recover after my long runs and both races!  While I was putting my body through all this trauma, it really helped, both mentally and physically, to have someone tend to the resulting inconsistencies and imbalances.  Again, I was in serious pain during this time.  I would be squirming as the massage therapist would knead the pressure points in my foot that corresponded to muscles in my back, hips, legs, etc.  I had white-knuckle grips on that chair, but it was good, it was all good! GEAR: I knew that I needed a the right gear.  And I knew it wasn’t going to be cheap.  But being Chinese and a creative, I didn’t exactly have the money or the mentality to throw all my money into this personal project.  I bought gear on a need-to basis little by little, but can say with confidence, that there is value in the right gear.  Pockets in your pants, pants that support your legs, gloves that keep your hands warm, underarmour that keeps your body warm, the right hat that keeps your head warm, sneakers that become an extension of your body…all of these things make a difference in the comfort of your run.  If you are tugging at your pants, have no tunes in your ears, have cold fingers, have cold air seeping under your hat, you are going to be miserable.  You want to get these things squared away so that your energy can be economized for the important thoughts…like running!  I am grateful to my friend who hooked me up with the pair of Nikes I used for everything.  I am grateful to my roommate to took me shopping for my prize pants on the eve of the Urbanathalon.  I am grateful to all the salespeople who helped me buy my gloves, hat, etc that made all the difference in my run and are not must-haves in my running ensemble. THE URBANATHLON: I came in 2nd place in my category, female women from 30-35!  I was in great shape for this run.  I remember flying past so many people and just feeling like I was on fire, it was incredible!  The adrenaline rush was nonstop and the energy was electric amongst all the runners in Queens on that forboding Saturday morning (it was raining and by the end of the race, snowing!)  I was definitely giddy from the beginning and you can tell in my video as I interviewed friends pre-race. I know for a fact now that I’m someone who loves doing these adrenaline-charged events.  This year will surely bring more races, another Urbanathalon, perhaps a triathalon, and perhaps one of those mud runs!  I was literally fist-pumping my way through many parts of the 9-mile run because I was comfortable and my music was good!  The obstacles were a challenge for me and I’m grateful that fellow competitors were so gracious as to give me a boost and help me over every one of those walls I had to climb over!  The monkey bars required three attempts for me and even on the last one, the supervisor just let me scoot past after having completed most of it.  The stairs at Citifield were fine, save for the bottleneck effect of all the runners squeezing into the skinny aisles between the bleachers.  There is a lot of upper-body training that I need to do for the next Urbanathalon and strategies that I can employ for certain obstacles.  But I was running safely, staying conscious of my ankle, and I made up for any deficit accrued during the obstacles during the running portions.  All-in-all, an awesome, awesome experience that I can’t wait to do again!  Especially since I’ve qualified to be in the first wave of runners next time!  woohoo! THE BROOKLYN MARATHON: With the Urbanathalon behind me, I couldn’t rest just yet.  I still had to continue my marathon training as the Brooklyn Marathon was less than a month away.  What was so great, however, was that I was confident now about the marathon.  I now thought of myself as real runner, a real athlete, a competitor who could hold a candle next to other competitors!  This was new for me, as I had only run cross-country in high school and a few races here and there prior to this.  Of course, I consider myself a fit individual, but I never quite considered myself a “runner”…until now!  I remember that I only had one opportunity to hit the 20-mile mark during my long run and I never did it.  It’s recommended that every runner run up to 20 miles before embarking on a marathon.  This is considered the perfect mileage in order to train adequately without over-training.  The adrenaline of race day will easily close the 6-mile gap between your training and your goal.  For me, however, due to scheduling constraints and a lack of running partners, I went into the marathon with only 16.5 miles under my belt.  It was nerve-wracking! As I mentioned before, one motivation for my running these races was to raise money for a school in Nepal!  This is what I did the night before the marathon.  It took a lot of time and effort, but it was the vision that I had for this marathon, so I’m glad that I followed through.  What’s great is that somewhere between Temples In Training and Run for Nepal and future races, I believe that this effort doesn’t have to end with me!  So even though I only raised $200, which will grant two students tuition, more money can be raised upon this platform! So, the Brooklyn Marathon, in short, was not the greatest experience.  I finished, but it took me about 5 hours and I overshot the finish and ran about a mile extra, which was mentally defeating and frustrating.  I also shot out of the gate way to fast, dooming myself by mile 7 for a painful remaining 19 miles.  It was definitely not what I had bargained for.  What I took away from this is that I have to learn to pace myself to run at reasonable pace from start to finish and also have to complete more miles during training in order to prepare my legs and feet for such extensive running.  I also realize that a marathon is not such a cardiovascular challenge for me, as I’m running slow enough to carry on full conversations.  So for the next one, the ING New York City Marathon, I would definitely like a group or partner to just keep myself occupied, as boredom is actually an issue for 4 hours!  My goal, in 2012 is to either qualify for the ING Marathon via lottery or charity or run 9 races in order to qualify for the 2013 ING Marathon.  And then, I will run it under 4 hours!  Mark my words!

Get in “SHAPE” with Me!

I am the face of “SHAPE’s New Workout Builder Tool!”  In short, I’m demonstrating 100 exercises which you can drag-and-drop into a playlist and when you hit “play,” I will lead you through to your fitness goal!  It’s all about interactive, portable technology, and SHAPE’s got it right!  Especially when they chose me! 😉
Screenshot: Shape Workout Builder Tool
Screenshot: Drag & Drop to create your "Workout Playlist!"
This was an incredible shoot.  I had so much fun.  We shot in Jersey City, for 3 full days.  I was so sore, let me tell you!  These shoots are actually very challenging because you have to execute the moves with an expression of ease and mistakes are expensive because your body tires with each take!  I was doing exercises that even impressed myself!  Be sure to check out the one-legged squat, the weighted push-up, the triple-stop push-up, and the dive-bomber push-up!  What, what?!  Amazing!  I admit that I was nervous about some of these exercises, but I had a lot of support from the crew and there were times when I had to eeeek out that last repetition and they would start cheering and clapping to squeeze it out of me! It was a great shoot and the first time that I asked everyone to pray on set with me afterward!  Check out that story in my keynote speech!  If you want to use it yourself, check it out here!  And since we shot for three days, I had plenty of time for fun behind-the-scenes shots, now included in my gallery! Fun Fact: This has always been a dream of mine, to model for a fitness magazine.  No exaggeration, I have a composite of my image superimposed on a Shape Magazine cover that I created as a visualization tool!  I bet it’s still lurking around in my hard drive somewhere, but I don’t even know if I want to reveal it.  The point is, I visualized and focused attention on this goal and it came to fruition in this project!  Praise God and Hallelujiah!