Monday, March 28, 2016

It's Just a Number

Just when you think things change...

A while ago, my BFF asked me about the blog and what was happening with it, and I responded that I didn't really have anything to write about anymore...no races to run, no specific goals that were worth documenting the journey towards.  However, deep inside there was something that had been really bothering me and this blog is as much therapy to me as anything else, so here I am.

To those people who don't know me all that well (and even those that do), I appear to be someone who has fully embraced a healthy lifestyle...I eat well, I exercise faithfully and I'm pretty fit.  What people don't see is the long and winding road it's taken for me to get to this point physically and more important, mentally.  Coming from someone who was obsessed with her weight, counted calories constantly and started her first diet at the tender age of 12, it's taken a lot of work to get past the battle with the scale.  One of the key things that really changed how I felt about the scale was weight training - in the past few years since I started lifting, I stopped looking obsessively looking at the scale and, truth be told, smugly thought to myself that I was "over" the scale and worrying about what number I saw.  Or so I thought.

Earlier this year I did a fitness assessment with my personal trainer.  It was a six stage assessment testing such things as strength, flexibility, power, core endurance, strength endurance and balance, and when my trainer suggested we do it, I thought sure!  Why the hell not?  What my trainer neglected to tell me was that I would have to get on a scale as he needed my weight in order to do some fancy pants calculations.  Honestly...if I could have run out of there I would have.  But I had committed, so when it came time to get on the scale I sucked it up and did it...however, the part that I'm ashamed of and really angry at myself is that I just didn't get on that scale and own whatever number I saw, I acted like a mewling kitten and whined, snivelled and all in all acted like an absolute asshat in front of my trainer.  Even thinking about it now, I'm mortified but I couldn't shut myself up and made the weighing in a big deal, even though it totally wasn't and he probably wouldn't have thought twice about it if I hadn't gone on and on ad nauseam.  And as soon as I walked out of the gym, I calculated what I weighed in pounds because the scale was in kilograms.  And to be honest?  I didn't like the number I saw.

What followed was like a train wreck.  I kept hassling my husband...do I look fat?  Am I getting too thick?  Is the strength training making me too blocky and big?  I kept looking at myself in the mirror and thinking maybe I needed to lose some weight.  What I was happy with before the weigh in, wasn't OK after the weigh in and all the stupidity surrounding the scale came back in a huge rush.  Somehow my self worth was once again tied to my weight...hello, old demon...can't believe I'm seeing you again.

The next week I went back to see my trainer and got the results of my fitness assessment back.  After hearing the results I was even more ashamed than I was right after being weighed...not because I did poorly, but because I rated excellent or very good in every category except one (darn weak glutes!).  I was mad at myself that I had beat myself up over a number on the scale and was ashamed of and berated the very same body that I should be pretty darn proud of...I came in at excellent for my age group for strength.  Not bad for a wee slip of a thing!  I was so focussed on that stupid number, I negated every physical accomplishment...this body can lift heavy, sprint fast and run long.  Sure, I'm at my heaviest weight ever...I gots me some quads now and I can't fit into a lot of my clothes anymore because my arms and shoulders have widened and gotten bigger.  But I'm also the strongest and best shape I've ever been in and the scale is just one measurement, not the only measurement.

So here goes...a recommitment to myself to not let the scale mess with my head again and treat my body with kindness.





Sunday, February 21, 2016

Carpe Diem

Holy.  It's been a long, long time since I wrote!  And a long, long time since I updated my blog...I still have stuff from 2013 on here!  Egads.  It's interesting for me to look at the blog now because in the beginning, it was all about food and running...and while those things are still a huge part of me, my love of strength has become central.  While I still love to run, building muscle is where it's at for me, at least for now.  Methinks a blog refresh is in order!

Anyhoo...it isn't that often that I get the itch to write, but I was inspired today.  When I was six years old, we were offered the chance to take piano lessons after school.  All my friends were doing some kind of dance or music, so I asked my parents if I could take lessons.  Now I know this is odd as (OK, stereotype coming here) a lot of Asian parents push piano on their kids, but my parents didn't really want me to take piano lessons.  Thinking back, they are incredibly practical people and didn't see a "purpose" for the piano...and also being an immigrant family, money was pretty tight and there was no extra for lessons or buying a piano for me to practice on.  We weren't well off by any stretch, so now that I can see things with some maturity and understanding, I get it.  Anyways, I finished the first grade and remember practicing my fingering on a piece of paper with the keys drawn on it or...and this memory makes me laugh and feel sad at the same time...on a toy piano that I had been given as a birthday gift from a friend.  Some of the keys didn't really work, but that was all I had and ya gotta do what you gotta do.  I absolutely adored playing the piano during lessons...there was something about the ability to make music that I loved even when I was so little.  Sadly though, because we didn't have a piano and money was tight, I couldn't continue on with lessons so I was forced to give it up.  It was weird because for years after that, even though I only had taken some very rudimentary lessons, I would love to tinker with a piano if one was around.  I recall being at a friend's house and while the other kids were playing in the next room, I was in the living room at the piano, tickling the ivories...or trying to!

So that was when I was 6 years old.  Fast forward 40 years, and never having learned to play stuck with me...truly one of my life's biggest regrets.  For years I talked on and off again about taking lessons, but life was insanely busy and I never followed up.  About five years ago though, one of my friends was moving and asked if Hubs' church would want to buy her piano...I jumped at the chance to buy it, and into our house it came.  Now you're thinking, well she must have taken lessons right away, right?  One of her biggest regrets, right?  Nope...that piano has sat collecting dust since.  Until now...Hubs was taking a course for the past year, and while it was tough it made him realize how much time he wasted doing nothing productive when he wasn't studying!  He's always wanted to take guitar lessons so...you can guess what's coming...he signed up for guitar lessons and I got off my duff and signed up for piano lessons.  We signed on at our local Tom Lee and are able to go back to the back to the same teacher and had our first lesson this past Friday!  My first musical piece...Jingle Bells!   And tonight...for the first time ever...I played a song from start to finish.  It was a bit halting and I made some mistakes, but after I finished my heart literally burst with so.much.joy.  I actually got a bit teary because it's been something I've wanted to do for so long and I was finally doing it.

So, the purpose of this post isn't really to tell you all about my sad childhood.  Ha!  It's to say that it's never to late to learn or do anything, and if there's something that you've always wanted to do or achieve, what's stopping you?  Sure, it's likely going to take some time, work and effort, but think about what you're going to get from it on the flip side. 

Now...heading off to play Jingle Bells one more time before bed. 



Sunday, October 25, 2015

Skinny Bitch

"Real women have curves!"

"Real men like curves, only dogs like bones!"

"Did you see the ass on her??  She needs to put down that sandwich!"

"Selena Gomez, fat shamed!"

Body shaming.  Man, this one gets under my skin.  Whenever I see this type of stuff on social media, it makes me just want to scream and throw things.  It is never, ever, ever OK to make comments about someone's body.  Ever.  It is never, ever, ever OK to call someone a skinny bitch or that only dogs like bones.  Ever.  It is never, ever, ever OK to tell someone that they are fat or say "you have such a pretty face but..."  Ever.  I've been on both ends of the body shaming game and I can tell you, neither side feels great and it's this kind of stuff that perpetuates body issues for women.  Oh...and for the next person who chooses to body shame me?  I will roundhouse kick you into next week.

My body, my business.  Your body, your business. 

The End.





Sunday, October 18, 2015

Why I Love Race Weekend

Ahhhh...

That's the sound of me relaxing on a beautiful Fall day in little old Victoria.  This doesn't happen often...usually there are things to do, people to see, runs to be run, food to be cooked...not today though.  All things have been marked off my to do list for the weekend and Hubs isn't home as he's studying for an exam (poor little bugger!) so I decided you know what?  I'm going to make myself a big pot of tea, relax and do a little blogging. 

So last weekend was the total opposite of this weekend...the GoodLife Victoria Marathon was on and as usual, I volunteered to help out.  Every year I look so forward to this weekend...volunteering for the race is one of my absolute favourite things in the whole wide world to do, and it is such an amazing, incredible, joy-filled weekend.  Now why you ask?  What makes this weekend so fantastic?  Read on, dear readers...read on.

1.  The Runners
For the past three years, I've been so incredibly fortunate to be able to hand out medals to the finishers.  It was something I'd specifically asked to be a part of...a few years ago when I unceremoniously passed out with 1km left in the race, the volunteers were so wonderful and caring to me I wanted to give back to the event.  Well even though I'm volunteering and giving up my free time, I think I'm still getting the better end of the deal because seeing those runners coming towards me and getting the opportunity to be a teeny tiny part of their whole race experience truly fills me with so much happiness.  There are many, many reasons why people run...some are doing it purely for fitness.  Some are running their first 8K, half or full as a bucket list item.  Some are doing it as a celebration of life.  One woman particularly struck me because as she crossed the line she was ecstatic and said joyously "today, I'm two years cancer free".  Seriously, does it get any better than that?  So many incredible stories.

2.  The Spectators
One of my favourite moments of the day is when I first arrive to the race in the early morning hours.  Medal set up starts at around 6am, so at this time of year it's still dark and cold but there's a palpable feeling of excitement in the air.  As I walk towards the race from my car, I can hear the sound of cowbells ringing, the hum of the generators and the chatter of excited runners heading towards the start line.  It always strikes me because even that time, there are scads of people who have come out to watch the race and support their loved ones, sending them off with a last hug and kiss before they leave it all out there on the race course.  In the past when I would run this race, the streets were lined with people all along the course cheering everyone on and shouting words of encouragement.  One particularly poignant moment I was lucky to witness was this elderly gentlemen participating in the 8K who had clearly had a stroke.  As he wheeled his walker across to get his medal, not only did his family cheer him on yelling "go Grandpa!", but so did everyone else in the crowd.  Not gonna lie, I may have gotten a little teary seeing that and I'm fairly certain I wasn't the only one.  Pretty effing awesome.

3.  The Volunteers
One of the reasons why I return every year is because of the other volunteers.  Many of the volunteers are returnees, so I see the same familiar faces every year and have become pretty friendly with the medal crew.  This year I also volunteered the day before the race and ended up helping to set up the fencing on an absolutely miserable day...the day started off all fine, but within a hour of so the clouds turned black and sheets of rain and then wind befell us.  Everyone stuck it out even though we were all drenched and shivering...we kept at it and would talk longingly about what we were going to do when we got home and it felt great to be part of such a team.  At the end of the day when we were getting sent home, all the volunteers huddled together and did a team cheer!  Cool.

4.  The Race
One of my favourite things that people ask when I tell them I've done a race is "did you win?"  Hah!  Well, a race isn't a race without a winner, and this year there was drama at the finish line.  In the marathon, the lead man was on pace to set course record and way ahead of the second place man, but unfortunately ran out of energy (fueling/nutrition is so incredibly important) and ended up collapsing with 300 metres go to, crawling towards the finish line.  He didn't finish which was absolutely heartbreaking after such an incredible effort, but just shows you the strength of the human spirit to keep going on when your body has given out on you.  In a later interview, he said that this race didn't break him and he's going to come back and kick some ass and I think he might just do that.

5.  The Community
You know saying "it takes a community to raise a child?"  Well, it takes one to put on an event like this.  I love how everyone pulls together for an event like this and the sense of inclusion is what gets me every time.  People assume all runners are lithe, gazelle-like runners with hardly any body fat.  Nope...runners come in all shapes and sizes.  Tall, short, heavy, thin, muscular, lean, old, young, male, female...you name it, I've seen it.  Anyone can be a runner and I love how inclusive and accepting the running community is, and people cheer just as hard for the marathon winner as they do for the last finisher. 

6.  The Hugs
There is absolutely nothing better than hugging a sweaty, stinky, exhausted but elated runner after you medal them.  Nothing.

I can't wait for next year already.

Friday, October 2, 2015

My Shit Fuck Day


Warning:  there may be some swearing.  OK, OK...for sure there’s going to be, so if you need to avert your eyes because that’s not your bag, then I totally understand.  For those of you who don’t know me, I’m a petite five foot nothing little Asian girl with a mouth that could make the saltiest sailor blush.  It’s like swearing is my superpower...Superman has X-ray vision and superhuman strength, I can take down any mere mortal with some of the language that spills out of my mouth.  Now I’m going to hold back a bit today, but words are going to be said.

So sometimes you have crappy days.  Awful days.  Days where you would like to turn back the clock and start again because it sucked that bad.  These are what I like to call “shit fuck days”.  Monday was absolutely a shit fuck day.  I was feeling pissy because I seem to have been felled by a raging case of plantar fasciitis which makes me so angry…seriously, no one looks after their body more than me.  I do mobility stuff, I foam roll, I stretch every night without fail, and I have a team of what I like to call "staff" that look after everything below my neck so I can keep injuries at bay.  Nothing makes me more angry than being injured, and I was just getting through another round of my recurring rib issues. So stifling my pissiness, I slapped a shit eating grin on my face and went on with my day where the shit fuck continued on.  A massive dose of crap hit me as the day started and coloured my whole day.  Now most people tell me I always seem so calm.  Well, not on the inside!  Angry, upset and frustrated beyond belief, I made it through the day without killing anyone but it was close.  I had a session at the gym that night with my trainer, so even though the last thing I wanted to do was to work out (whiskey, anyone?), off I went.  Because squats and deadlifts, right?

I’m not gonna lie.  I was totally not in the mood.  My trainer is hilarious and keeps me entertained between sets with funny anecdotes of his life, but even that wasn't enough to make me want to go.  It's like he has ESP though or something because that session he was pushing me to up the ante so to speak, and wanting me to really lift and kept asking "is that heavy enough?"  I was still pissed off and mad but it was exactly what I needed!  The more I lifted, the better I felt and the pissoffedness I felt that morning was slowly dissipating with each rep.

And then a miracle happened.  As we headed up to the chin up bar, my trainer said "so you're going to try a bodyweight chin up".  Struck with fear, I doth protested and stared pleadingly into his big blue eyes with the saddest little face I could muster but he was having none of it.  I got my sad little face up on that stool and to my total surprise, was able to bang out a rep!  I admit...it wasn't a full chin up from a dead hang as my elbows were a bit bent, but it was pretty damn good for a first try.  A real chin up is within my grasp, I can feel it!!  It's been 15 months of building up enough upper body strength to heft my substantial body weight up but it's so, so close.

So what started off as a total shit fuck day ended up to be a pretty fucking awesome day because truly, truly...lifting heavy shit cures all.

 

Monday, August 3, 2015

#hardcore

Sometimes the world works in funny ways.  Back in the winter, the bootcamp I had been going to for the past eight years decided that they would no longer offer outdoor classes...it had been a few years coming as they had always talked about cancelling due to low turnout in the winter months, but continued to hang on until this year when they finally pulled the plug.  Now the group of ladies that I work out with are at once, awesome and amazing...we've been training together for about three years and I have to say I love these ladies.  Love.  We were all pretty upset that they were going to break us up because it's pretty hard to find a group of women who support each through thick and thin and that we're all on the same wavelength when it comes to our health.  We're all fairly different as far as personalities go but each have our place in the group and have nicknamed ourselves the #hardcore girls.  Now how did we get this name?  Well one morning in the dead of winter when it was sideways raining and our trainer didn't show up, we were all huddled underneath the eaves next to the stinky washroom at Esquimalt Lagoon doing wall sits when one of the girls said "wow, this is really hardcore!" and the name stuck.  So anyways, faced with the possibility of having to break up, we immediately pulled together and found a new trainer. 

Sadly, that didn't work out on a few fronts so we had to pound the pavement again, and managed to hook up with our current trainers who we absolutely adore.   The main trainer is awesome...she just started her own company and we all love her and the other trainer that works with us.  Classes are very tough with a good variety and the personalities have just meshed so we're all incredibly happy...I guess sometimes things just really work out for the best!  The #hardcore girls have really cemented as a group and we've transcended from being just some rando ladies that work out together to really being a close knit group of friends. 

One morning after a particularly kickass session, we were doing some stretching when the conversation turned to how we've all encountered people who criticize our love of physical pursuits and call us obsessed.  We commiserated with each other as we've all encountered the negative Nellie comments from many people around us (and disappointingly, we discovered that most comments came from the very people who you would think would or should be a source of support), and some of the girls piped up with why they loved to work out...one commented that she loved feeling strong, that one day she opened a jar that her boyfriend couldn't open and that made her feel amazing.  Another girl said that she loved the feeling of confidence that came from being fit.  The head trainer said that she loved having muscles and muscles she definitely has...incredibly strong with an ass that could crack walnuts (this girl can farmer carry two of those massive water jugs, no problem), she just qualified for the Canadian national team for kettlebells.  As I listened to the comments around me, I started to think...why do I love fitness so much?  What is it that compels me to love working out?  What the?!

Well let's be honest...when I first started out, it was all about looking good.  I wanted to be skinny, I wanted to fit into certain types of clothes...it was all about the esthetics than being healthy.  Then somewhere along the way, things changed.  Now let's be clear...working out is hard work.  Really, really hard work.  I would definitely say that all my life, I wasn't a confident person.  Always worried about what people thought of me, worried that I was never good enough, and having relationships with people who weren't good for me really took its toll.  But when I started to work out, something changed for me.  When we try hard things and go on to achieve those hard things, it makes us believe in ourselves in a way that we didn't before.  When we do hard things, it gives us confidence and a sense of self reliance that maybe didn't exist before.  When you're at the 35km mark in a marathon, ain't no one going to come save you and get you through those last kilometres except yourself.  When you're at the bottom of an effing heavy squat and your legs feel like they're going to give out, it's only you that is going to get you up and out of that squat without bailing on your ass.  Maybe it's doing a perfect push up from your toes or walking once around the block without stopping...it's whatever "hard" means for you.  Since I started running and lifting, I've changed profoundly as a person.  Sure, I like being healthy and fit and physically I've changed immensely...I can run fast, lift heavy shit and have the quadzilla thighs and guns to prove it.  But it's way, way  more than that...it's the mental side of being physical that is life changing and the part that I'm "obsessed" with, as the haters like to say.  I feel strong and I feel empowered, and all the physical stuff is just the icing on the cake.    I really like who I am and for the first time in my life I can say that and mean it.

#hardcore girls, for the win. 

Friday, May 29, 2015

Day 16 - When in Rome...

First day in Rome!  Now it's interesting to me because I had all these ideas of what these cities were like and of course, none of them was accurate.  Rome is a big city and kind of reminds me of a bigger version of Vancouver except with cobbled streets and ruins and basilicas interspersed with modern buildings and stores.  I like it!  I sort of expected Rome to be more like Florence I think, a bit smaller for some reason.

Anyways, we got on the train this morning (with some luggage debacle but it worked out) and got to Rome around 10am and started our tour of some of the sights.  First stop was Circus Maximus...now it's funny because I must have blanked right out because I couldn't remember having seen this today!  I think I thought it was just a ruin but not Circus Maximus type ruin.  Ha!  Anyways, you couldn't really see much.

Next stop...the Colusseam!  humming with people, we took a quick lunch break and then got whipped in as we had a group reservation.  now one thing that is amazing about these tours is that you never have to wait...we've been jetted in on all the venues where there are lineups...the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Accademia to see David, the Colusseam...well worth the cha-ching tour price (trip is costing is a bomb!).  Anyways, we has a local guide tour is through the place and I was just astonished at the size and scale...just massive, and it would be an achievement for modern day builders, let alone ones from back then.   I had another of those pinch me moments!

After the Colosseum we headed to the go through some of the Catacombs...not for people who are claustrophobic!!  Dark, a bit dank but very interesting.

We headed back to our hotel and for checked in and settled down to very important business...finding a place for dinner!  Tummy seems to have settled down so we wanted to have a very special dish for dinner, cacio de pepe.  Rome is famous for this dish and we found a place that was very well reviewed and a hop skip and a jump away from here.  We had the concierge call for a reservation for us and off we went to La Carbonara.  we got in early as our reso was at 8:30 but we got in at 7:30 as we walked past to check out he location and confirm the reservation and they had room which was awesome!  I has spaghetti
Carbonara and Hubs had the cacio de pepe...both spectacular.  Mine was smoky and creamy while Hubs was perfect.  So good.  We ordered a fish special which we thought was panfried but turned out to be deep fried (ugh) but after we peeled off the batter, fish itself was good.  Anyways, we had what we came for and it was a meal to remember for sure.

Last day in Rome and last day of four tomorrow...what a whirlwind, amazing, pinch me I'm dreaming kind of trip.  Tomorrow is the Vatican, St. Peter's Basilica, Sistine Chapel, the Pantheon and Spanish steps...and finally a Farewell Dinner before we head out on Sunday.  feeling sad about leaving, but also feeling excited to head home!