Friday, December 28, 2007

Boxing Day Sales

I'm all for Boxing Day. If you can challenge the lineups, sure, get the deals and come home a happy camper. But there should be a rule that it's ALL on sale, not just some stuff. As it is, it's not on all sale. So, you get to the store, see something, ask how much, and, alas, not on sale...but you buy it anyways, because it's not going on sale: it's Boxing Day, for crying-out-loud. If it's not on sale now, who knows when it will be!

Enter Boxing Week. Yes, a whole week, dedicated to sales that DIDN'T occur on Boxing DAY, when the masses come out and anything that was bought at regular price on Boxing Day is now ON SALE! Did I not learn this lesson years ago? Did I not get taught this valuable lesson before? How could I have reached this point in my life and not be annoyed by this enough to learn my lesson?

Ok, I'm actually only down $25, what I can tell. It could be more, but I'm basing this on two items. Yeah, two, give me a break....isn't it the principle?

And you know the only logical thing to do is, right? Go right down there, buy the items I purchased and return them back. If you haven't done it before, don't knock it until you do. Sure, I'll probably waste my time is several lineups, but, again, it's the principle.

I'm going to have to remember next year NOT to buy anything at regular price. Maybe that's the one thing I forget each year....hmmm....I'll have to work on that one.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Google, My Car and I

I love Google! Really, it's the best invention ever!

Sure there are other search engines, but nothing beats Google. It's become synonymous with living in the 21st century. Everyone Googles, everyone but perhaps my mom. But everyone should.

I'm only singing my praises because my it helped me change my headlight bulb today. The bulb blew out on the weekend and if I left it to my husband's devices, it would not get fixed until I get a ticket (are there any cruisers out there giving tickets to broken volume controls on TVs?...)

I didn't want to be that guy on the road, the one you flash your lights out to code "hey, get your lights fixed, you moron; I can't see you!". I was ready to raise my hand in salute to the oncoming traffic, to signal my sheepish gratitude to all who flashed me. Yes, I know, I know, but my husband hasn't gotten around to it....

But neither was I going to be the wife who was going to wait for him to do so (there are sooo many things I'm still waiting on around the house!). I thought I could ask my dad to help me, since he's done it before, probably (mine's can't be the first bulb to burn out). Instead of rather help me, though, he'd probably do it himself while I stood idly by. But I couldn't get hold of him, so off to google I go.

I probably should correct myself here, but I found my answer through google but, really, at the website. Here, you can ask a question and the answer is written out in plain english, written by self-acknowledged experts around the world who thought they could shed some light (haha, pardon the pun) on something confusing.

So, after calling my local Honda Parts & Service to see if they were indeed open and they had a Civic '95 bulb for me to buy, at just under $11, out in the snow I went.

On my drive back, I psyched myself up to getting this job done. I read the instructions over and over in the car, memorizing each step, in case someone at the shop asked "you know what you're doing, little lady?" or something condescending like that. I parked the car in the garage, and rolled up my sleeve. Prepare to get your hands dirty, the instructions say. Hmm, I don't like that part. Here goes....

I fiddled around under the hood a bit, working without a light. Besides, the instructions say I can't see a thing anyways, and that I have to feel around. So much for staying as clean as possible.

First off, I have to say I don't know how big burly mechanic hands can get in between the steering fluid compartment and the headlight. My little hands could barely get in there to remove the plug. I then removed the rubber covering but had trouble visualizing the metal clip that's supposed to swing open when I press on it. My husband did come in the garage and provide me with an industrial light to see, which helped me see what the heck he did when he unclipped the metal pin for me. Thanks, I'll take it from here....

I'm sure if my husband tried to do this, he'd put his filthy hands all over the halogen bulb, which you're NOT supposed to do, as the oils will cause it to die prematurely and perhaps even explode violently. He'd probably just grease the whole bulb, thinking I was just being my plain old anal self. I gingerly placed my hands back in that little crevice to align the bulb properly, then reversed the procedures accordingly.

Another adjustment or two, the bulb was fixed! Perfectly aligned, shining brightly in the garage, my husband giving me the thumbs up. I was expecting him to call me a grease monkey or something like that, but he didn't. He's just probably shaking his head again, at my impatience of getting things done fast and doing them myself to spite him.

So, I'm damn proud of myself, and eventually called my dad to brag. Thanks, Google, for being there when we needed you. Now, I can flash my lights at the other morons on the road: Just Google it!


Here's the instructions I followed, if anyone needs it:

I just read that part about removing the steering fluid compartment out before working so it's easier. So that's how those big hands get in there!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas.....bah, humbug?

Merry Christmas, everyone! Ok, it's actually the end of Boxing Day, but it's still Christmas season.

Shopping was brutal this year. I mean it, I am DEFINITELY going to have to start shopping for everyone come January for the next Christmas in 2008! I can't do any of this last minute business again! But actually, it's not the shopping that really kills me, is the lack of preparation. You see, shopping would be sooo much easier if I had a plan. Yes, a plan. If I think someone needs, say, a hair dryer, bam, I go get one and strike that name off the list. But can I plan? Can I decide what to get people first instead of wandering up and down aisles hoping that the perfect gift will just jump off the shelf and scream "Pick me!"?

So most of my gifts this year were more of the "this will do" variety. A little thought being infused in the gift, a six-degrees-of-separation connection was made between my favourite people and the inanimate objects that spoke out to me from the shelves, and almost everyone got a gift. There's always someone you forgot to think of, and it hits you square in the forehead. Flick! Ouch! I actually have a couple people I forgot...maybe more, but I don't want to think of who else I missed.

What sucked this year most is that I didn't have absolutely knock-out gifts for everyone. I like to think I do each year. I did end up giving my dad exactly what he wanted (a leather case for the GPS he bought a couple of weeks ago --- how could I not? He kept on telling me that he saw it at Best Buy but it was $50 so he didn't get it). The only "wow" thing I could think of getting my husband was a universal remote control. Yeah, I know, talk about a sucky gift! It wasn't even one of those Logitech computerized remotes that can do practically anything (I don't doubt it could even flush your toilet for you...). Nope, it was just a simple device, and it's not like we needed another remote to add to the 5 or 6 we already have. I was actually hoping that this remote would help solve the volume control problem we've been having with the other two's been almost a couple of years, and I still hate having to get up and adjust the volume on the TV set. It was a hint, I guess, to my husband to get that volume issue fixed. Subtle?

But what I really should have gotten for him, if I bit the bullet, was Guitar Hero III. He has become absolutely obsessed with this game in the past couple of days, having played it on my dad's Wii and spending a few bonding hours with his friends last night on a PS2. I was thinking of getting it for him, but I didn't know if it was worth investing in PS2 accessories when Wii, XBox and PS3 are so popular these days.

Like in many previous years, my dad and I trudge over to an electronics store to spend our Boxing Day morning. Getting on in years, we haven't gotten around to attacking any 6am lineups. We walked through the doors almost 5 hours later, only to find that many of the things we were secretly hoping were still available were, obviously, gone. We made a pact to come again next year and see if we could bring home something decent with us.

Browsing around the store, I come across a Guitar Hero III bundle for PS2. It's not on sale, there's a pile in the corner, and another pile at the end of the aisle. Hmm.....should I call my husband?

I could hear a shrill of delight as he casually says, "It's your decision if you buy it". Hmm....yeah, right. But how could I deny his inner child?

I brought it home for him and his thankful eyes and shy grin was thanks enough for me. As we speak, he set up a TV in the garage and is jamming away at the guitar while he and his friends also play some rounds of poker. He says they're having way too much fun; I think most of them are there for the guitar and not the poker.

I'm returning the remote control the second I have the chance to do it. I figure that I may still get that volume control fixed anyways. After all, my Guitar Hero out in the garage thinks I'm a pretty cool wife, and I'm not beyond using a little a bribery to get what I want.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 16, 2007


I can't sleep. It's 4am and I can't sleep.

My husband isn't home, out to Whistler for an overnight trip to go boarding tomorrow. I'd be in bed by now if he were here (yeah, sorry, nothing salacious!), only because he hates the sound of the tap, tap, tap of me on my keyboard as I send off an email, write my blog, or, gasp, browsing on Facebook. I'm alone, the kid's asleep, and I'm awake.

I'll probably only get 2, maybe 3, hours of sleep before the parade breaks loose around here and Sunday morning gets heralded in by rice krispies and a yet another round of a favourite Pixar DVD.

My husband isn't gone for overnight often, at least not recently, so I feel like Kevin from the movie Home Alone. I laugh when I think of myself running around the house with my arms flailing in the air above my head. It would really be nice to not do anything maternal around the house, and just act like a kid.

Now I'm really dreaming...I guess I should lie down and at least dream in bed awake!

Christmas Shopping & Politics

I FINALLY started my Christmas shopping today! Yay! I actually hit Metrotown, probably the busiest mall at anytime of the year. But I did something smart! I hit only one store and stayed there for 2.5 hours, browsing around and picking up some books for the kids I need to buy for.

One thing, though, I did shop at Chapters, and I couldn't remember why I shouldn't have. After the fact, now, I do (after a little research). Not so smart, after all: principal shareholders of Chapters support Israel Apartheid in the Middle East by financing "lone soldiers" who wish to serve in the Israeli military without having any actual family in Israel. Palestinian civilians, including children, have died at the hands of the Israeli military, driven out of their homes, and thousands remain in captivity. These shareholders have managed to influence Canadian policy on the Israeli war.

Now, I don't pretend to know the whole story. I am a victim of self-centred egoism, worrying only of my current needs, what I should've needed in the past and and what I really need to happen in my future. The world is so much bigger than myself, but "Current Events" actually turns out to be History, because, frankly, I couldn't care less, so I thought. That does need to change. For me, the term Current Events has always meant Social Studies from high school, and since it was never my strength, I've come to alienate myself from it. My mere action of switching stations while the World news is on TV indicates my subconscious fear of war, military regimes, and murder; to ignore the issue should be deemed unethical.

So does this mean the presents I have under my tree will ultimately fund the gun, the bullet, that will cause the untimely death of a Palestinian, perhaps a child? I shudder to think, extrapolations and impossible algorithms aside. Yes, I've contributed to the consumerism of the Holiday Season without any ethical guidance. Will I return the presents? No...they're wrapped (my practicality is blunt, sorry). Whether it's a sin or not, it was an unknowing sin, and although I don't claim to be eternally righteous, nor am I wicked. My sins are not deceptive or habitual, and I repent often (already fulfilling my Advent obligation just a couple of days ago through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, being a practicing Catholic).

Don't barrage me on making Christmas political. Remember, I'm the self-confessed egoist. I'm simply expanding my emotional attachment to all things mistletoe and Baby Jesus and making sense of it all. Perhaps by reassessing my place in the world and how I belong, I may come out a changed person. And change really is good....right?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


I want to become a photographer.

Let me backup just a bit.

Years ago, I took a photography course with my cousin, Jennie, at Langara College. It was fun, having never taken a course like that before, and with someone I know. (I usually go and do things crazy like that on my own accord, like when I took a sketching class....that was fun too, even when alone). She was using her new Olympus camera (this isn't the cousin who works for Olympus) while I was using my dad's old Canon from the early 80's. Film photography, not digital. We had studio time, evening time outdoors and darkroom time, and I really got my feet whet. I was really proud of all the photos and slides I developed, and had been meaning to enrol in another course or two.

Then life happened.

I don't know....I seemed to have forgotten about my f-stops and depth of field and white balance and exposures and such. It's totally escaped me. It's escaped me for a long time. I was meaning to brush up on my photography before I had know, so that I, too, could take those oh-so-cute baby portraits. Did I manage to do that, all whilst being a mom? Nope...who had the time?

Now I wanna make time. All this dSLR thinking has gotten me to believe I could pursue this again, this time with a digital camera as my arsenal. Nevermind that I would need a dSLR, but could I do this? I don't want to change careers but I would really like to pursue a life-long hobby. Knitting doesn't count (ok, so I can knit...I'll pick it up again when I'm 90). This I could do, couldn't I?

An old friend of mine from university has a website displaying many of his photo-art, and it's just great. He seems to really enjoy it; if his photos tell me anything, they tell me that. What really encourages me are not the fabulous nature shots but the personality of his little boy shining through the portraits he takes. The joy he captures of his son and wife have really touched a chord with me. And this is a guy who's really, really busy, already a doctor yet still going to school, and he's able to love not only his job to do well in what he does but he marries his family with his hobby, photography. [If you happen to be reading this, Don, by chance, you will remain forever admired in my books]

Langara has a Basic Digital Photography class starting Mondays, January 14, for 12 weeks. It's essentially the digital class of the Basic Photography I took with my film-based SLR. Doesn't hurt to take it over again, since I've already forgotten most of everything. Maybe I can convince my cousin to take the course again with me, or perhaps someone else who may secretly desire becoming a photographer too. Who knows...maybe I'll finally complete that much desired Photography Certificate I wanted years ago.

Now, I only need a camera.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Digital SLR

So, I have a cousin who, basically, works for Olympus (ok, really, a cousin's cousin, but relatives are relative, aren't they?). She's gotten me to check out the Olympus digital SLRs and I'm getting quite intrigued about cameras again.
I think I really enjoy the research and the comparisons, but the toys are nice too.

I bought (or rather, my dad bought) a camera for my birthday earlier this year: a Canon SD730. It's a nice little camera. I wanted something a little smaller than my previous Canon A80, which I bought back in 2003 in a sweet ebay deal. The battery compartment on that camera crapped out on me (what do you expect when a two year old drops it?) and I hadn't bothered to get it fixed yet. It had great little manual controls that produced great photos, even if it was only a 4.0 mp camera. The fact that it could accomodate additional add-on lenses was attractive, yet I should have also reconsidered the reality of actually purchasing these lenses; I never got around to requiring additional lenses.

So although my little point-and-shoot camera is still very nice, that dSLR itch I had a year ago is coming back to haunt me something fierce.

Digital SLRs have really come down in price, and we're talking including lenses (none of this "body only" crap...most consumers are buying their first SLR, and I would think most would not have spare lenses hanging around). There are "prosumer" models, of course, that still run in the couple thousands (or more...though I refuse to find out!) but I'm only considering the novice/advanced photographer models.

I did take a couple of photography courses, which I absolutely enjoyed. The creativity was freeing and boundless...and I'd like to capture that again (no pun intended). We worked with film and not digital, though, so I would like to explore not darkroom photography (though fun) but working on my photo editing skills on Photoshop instead. Enter stage right the digital camera...but who will be the shining star?

I'm a Canon girl. Maybe always will be. But I tend to, on occasion, be dizzily persuaded in other directions before my senses come around (in all aspects of life, not just my shopping skills). Here's what I'm up against: Canon EOS Rebel XTi, Nikon D40x, and the Olympus E-510.

Now, I have only started my research, and it's a toss up still. Canon and Nikon being what they are, dependable, reliable and better upgrade path, the E-510 is gaining much attention to it's improvements, like dust reduction, IS, and noise. So many things to compare!

Great, just what I need....another reason to spend countless hours at the computer. Like I don't do that already.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Identity Theft

So it finally happens....I become an official victim of identity theft.

I got a call Sunday afternoon from a Visa rep from my bank saying they wished to discuss the recent transaction actiivity on my card and to call them 24/7 when I receive the message. Well, it snowed something wonderful on Sunday and I was busy building a snowman with Gabe, so I didn't actually have time to look at my phone until the early evening and notice the voice mail.

So these criminals (I say plural, since in my overrun imagination, there's a circle of thiefs infiltrating through hundreds or thousands of fake credit cards in the province alone, never mind the nation) went on a $1400 spending spree on my card in the previous 2-3 days. A couple of grocery stores, Linens N Things, Canadian Tire, and obviously some gas purchases (since they were driving throughout the Metro to buy all these things!).

Good thing my bank is on top of this. $1400 is really unusual spending for me, well, at least in one weekend. Perhaps if it were one major purchase, then maybe it wouldn't have been flagged. Maybe it was the $1 purchase at the Chevron that tipped them off (they say thieves try the card at the gas station self serve to try the validity of the card). I wonder what was bought....I mean, the almost-$500 at Canadian Tire would be awesome for Christmas gift giving! And I wonder if they bought some tasty Malibu with the $200 at the liquor store? I mean, really, if they wasted it on something like sambuca, I'd be terribly disappointed. And Linens N Things...I hope they were at least decent sheets they bought, with at least 220-thread count. If not, they're the ones that got ripped off.

So the card is cancelled and I cut up the card I had in my wallet (yes, I had the card, so they actually duplicated the whole darn thing for their use!). I'll be getting another card at the bank on Friday, but I'm wary on using it at all for the Christmas Holiday shopping. I guess it's a cash-only Christmas. A very Charlie Brown christmas, indeed. Sorry, Family!

Friday, November 30, 2007

End of Bootcamp

It was the last day this morning. I haven't kept up with the blogging, simply because, if you've been reading my blog previously, I gave an account of what happened every single day, and, well, having done that, it doesn't make for a great blog on a continuous basis.

So I've done the 2 weeks, and T'ai's indicator for success were those nasty pushups, and I have to say that I disappointed myself. Having done 26 at the end of the last bootcamp, and having done only 16 only 2 Mondays ago, I actually did ONLY 22. Better than 16, but a bit off from 26. Shoddy, I know. I can't make excuses but if I could convince myself, I actually am coming down with something (judging from all the sneezing and watering eyes yesterday---and I hardly ever sneeze!) and that my upper arms are really sore. I did call it this morning, that I didn't think I'd do too well at the pushup challenge. I'll just have to keep on doing some pushups everyday.

So where do I go from here? Well, I've finally gotten my gym pass at work, and if I can get to work at 5:15am and work out for an hour each morning, maybe I'll achieve a level of fitness to rival that at bootcamp. I can only hope. I have good intentions, anyways. I just have to take baby steps, that all. I watched yesterday's Oprah episode, and folks who have been losing hundreds (literally!) of pounds each, so surely that can inspire me to slim down another 6 or so.

Yup, I weighed myself this morning, even after the tall nonfat vanilla latte that T'ai treated us to this morning, and I weighed in at 126lbs. Since the beginning of Oct, I've lost (according to my own digital scale at home), about 12 lbs in under 2 months. Throw in a week-long cruise vacation, and I guess that's pretty good. I actually don't care if I lose any more weight, as long as I tone up a bit more. I can still see some room for improvement, around the middle, and, well, my butt could use still a bit more of a lift. I'm not there yet, maybe I won't ever be, but I'm started to feel more comfortable with my body looking almost like it used to 4 years ago.

And with body, comes the mind and spirit. Going to acupuncture and massage therapy once a week has seemed to relax me a bit, and I'm starting to take care of the whole package. After attending a Stress Management hour session at work this week, I really do need to continue not compromising myself too much. I need to attend to my needs too, even though I want to please everyone. Again, it's a work in progress. Hopefully I'm doing a good enough job along the way.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Eating on Day 1

Having gone through one whole day of this plan, I find I'm constantly thinking of when to have my next meal. I mean, it takes me 15-30 minutes to totally consume one meal (at work, chatting, reading, working simultaneously) that I really need that meal in 2.5 hours! It's wierd.

Maybe it's because that salad I had today was really only half of what was suggested. I substituted a metabolically equivalent portion of yams instead of that salad. You would too if you saw the size of this salad. I don't MIND salad, but I do mind eating a whole acre of grass. I bought one of those salad packs at Superstore, the one that comes in a bag. Not the really big one but one that should last a few nights, if you were having small salads. Well, T'ai's plan for that meal was for the whole bag, according my weigh scale. Yuck! If I tossed in some French dressing (my favourite!) then maybe I'll eat it all, but just balsalmic vinegar (no olive oil)...ewww. Hence, the yams.

So tomorrow's prep wasn't bad. I just cooked up some green beans and some corn. Everything else I had already cooked up the last night.

Just having my hot-water herbs before I call it a night. Good thing....I didn't want to get distracted by a snack!

Yet Another Boot Camp...With a Twist!

This next two weeks of boot camp is going to be challenging for me. Not only do I need to attend another 10 days of grueling (but fun!) exercise each morning but I have to restrict myself to a very particular meal plan. I guess it's a "diet", per se, but I think, socially, that word has been given a poor rap. Last night I had to prepare today's 5 meals, and then some, and there's so much to eat! I think people at my work will think I'm crazy, eating all the time!

Today's menu:

7:00 am - bowl of slow-cooked oatmeal, protein drink, Udo's oil
10:00 am - egg white omelette, 1-1/2 red bell pepper, hefty handful of peas, Udo's oil
1:00 pm - tuna, 1-2 slices of bread (healthy kind), totally obscene amount of salad, Udo's oil
4:00 pm - 1/4 zucchini, 1/2 c. rice, 1/2 chicken breast, Udo's oil
7:00 pm - protein drink, bit of broccoli, some acorn sqush, Udo's oil

You see the trend with the Udo's oil, huh? At high levels of intake, Essential fatty acids help increase the metabolism and facilitate weight loss. It's a fat that's not used for energy, but rather for rebuilding at the cellular level (hormonal, structurally and electrical -- ie. our brain and CNS -- functions). Two teaspoons at each meal. Gotta love it!

Preparation for the all those foods is crazy! I was cooking up a storm, prepping and storing, and cooking some more. You should see my fridge! I should take a photo one day and post it. I had to go buy more storage containers!

Hopefully I'll only have to prepare really big like this at the beginning of the week, then do little things over the course of the week. I couldn't do that each night!

And preparing ahead for my meals will ensure my success. Eating is no problem....but it's when you don't have the right kinds of foods in front of you that cause you to lose focus and binge-eat. I just have to convince myself I can do this, I can do this, I can do this.

I met my fellow bootcampers this morning, about 18 of us, 4 were absolutely new. Some were returning. We did laps around the gym, and did some "army maneouvres" like knee lifts through ladders, "tires" (ie hula hoops) and hurdles. Running with weights and doing walking lunges back and forth. I met Jacqueline, who's on her 4th bootcamp but her last one was 2 years ago. We did our pushup challenge and I only did 16, and not like the 26 at the last challenge. Oh well. Let's hope I improve.

Here goes Day 1...

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Herbs & That Spirulina!

I tried the spirulina when I arrived home from my acupuncture appointment yesterday. I have not heard of this thing before, and now I know why the word isn't circulated freely amongst the population: most would prefer to have never met it before.

Spirulina is blue-green algae that is energizing and full of essential vitamins, minerals with apparently many health benefits including boosting the immune system and even fighting cancer. One serving (1 tsp) has the anti-oxidant value of 3-4 servings of vegetables.

That said, when you open the powder for the first time, all you see is a fine, really green powder. REALLY GREEN. Mossy green. Think a dark peat moss, ground up. Lovely! What have I agreed to?

Melissa said it's best to drink it mixed in a strong tasting juice like pomegranate or cranberry and not in water. Ok. That already goes against T'ai's recommendation to avoid juices. But since I don't actually start the nutrition plan until tomorrow, I'll take the juice.....this must tastes ghastly in only water!

So I pour myself a glass of strawberry/kiwi juice (the only juice I had on hand) and put one teaspoon of the stuff in and quickly mixed. What was a pinkish red colour quickly turned to green slime. Seriously, green slime. Moldy, green slime. And clumpy, much like when you try and mix up hot chocolate powder and it doesn't quite dissolve as well as you like. Yeah, but this sure ain't chocolate!

Can it taste just as bad as it looks? Worse!

Who can drink this? Everything I've learned about food, how it tastes, how it looks, doesn't come into play here! Danny came back into the house after being outside for a bit, and I quickly had to hide the stuff, for fear I'd have to explain myself to him as to why I'm drinking what resembles raw sewage.

I finished the glass, in rather large gulps, all while trying to disengage my tastebuds, and without hurling. I looked back at the empty glass, smudged up with green swamp water. If the herbs are the ones I was forewarned about the digustingness, then I'm really up a creek without a paddle. A green, slimy creek!

I tried the herbs later in the evening and it's actually not that bad. I taste a bit of ginger, which I'm not fond of, but it's not overpowering. I could do that. I can't do the greens. I'll have to keep it in the fridge with the hopes there isn't an expiry date this century. Maybe someone will find it and posthumously esteem me to be an actual health guru. You'd really have to be one if you took that crap.

I'll try again tomorrow.

Acupuncture and Me

So I went to the acupuncturist yesterday afternoon for my first official visit. Melissa was going to keep it simple today, probably since it was my first time and all. We discussed a little about how I was feeling since I last saw her, and I told her it's been a pretty easy week for me. We discussed some of the nutritional guidelines she suggested in a PDF she sent me earlier, like switching to a more natural sweetener like stevia, the herbal tea she's prescribing, and the spirulina stuff.

She gave me some samples of the stevia, which I haven't tried yet. It's commercially available in pharmacies as "pure" or with "filler" so you can use it somewhat similarly to regular sugar. This stuff is super sweet, apparently. One single serving packet with "filler" (inulin fiber, if you're curious) is equivalent to 2 tsp of sugar. You can get the liquid stevia in a purer form and actually need only 2-3 drops to sweeten your coffee! It has 0 calories, no impact on glycemic index and is sooo much better for you than sugar and way better than those artificial sweeteners like aspartame found in Equal or NutriSweet (which has been linked to it).

To give you an idea of how sweet it is I found a recipe online for 4 dozen chocolate chip cookies and it requires only 1/2 teaspoon of stevia powder!

I'm considering switching over eventually....when I can handle all the other changes in my diet well enough. :)

I didn't have to disrobe for the session: I just rolled up my pants to my knee. Melissa started with my left leg, asked me take a deep breath in and when I breathed out, she popped the needle in. Having had taken blood tests, donated blood and even taken a flu shot just the other day, it was actually a joke that people are actually scared of acupuncture! There's no pain, just a tiny prick, not even like that of a blood lancet where it's quick but quite sharp.

She asked me if there was anything I left, like numbing, tingling, warming, anything but not pain. Hmph, I felt nothing. I was hoping it was because I'm not in tune with my body yet and not that I was really a skeptic. She dropped another needle in the soft tissue between my index finger and thumb on my left hand...still nothing. But once she did the same for the right hand, I started to feel a warming crawling up my arm. It wasn't strong, but it was surely there. She says that's good, and that she could still that my body was already responding to before that moment.

I think she put 3 or 4 in each leg and one on each hand. Then she moved to the head of the bed. Um, where was going to put it? On my face?

She found a spot on my scalp but, funny, I didn't feel a thing.

She left me alone in the room for 10 minutes, to dream about things, relax. Take myself somewhere, she said. I listened to calming Orient music in the background, as the heater she placed by my feet warmed be up....

I was thinking about something, when she walked in again. Was that 10 minutes?

She wiggled the needles a bit and then left me alone for another 10-15 minutes.

I swear she walked in after 5....though I couldn't figure out what I was thinking about when she interrupted me!

I must have been at the verge of falling asleep, because I'm sure I was thinking about something. Melissa routinely finds people asleep when she returns, some fallng asleep as the first needle goes in. I'd hate to be found snoring!

At reception, I paid for my treatment, my herbs, and the bottle of spirulina, and left relaxed and calm. Little did I know that it would backfire later that night.

I was driving to a friend's house with my two-year old son in the back and it was just raining down like I haven't seen in a while. With him screaming at me to change the CD in the deck to me concentrating on the road, I just lost and and was screaming at the top of my lungs, not really at him, but to the world in general, I guess. I screamed so loud and verociously that I screwed up my throat. I pumped the music really loud to drown out everything, my son, even my own thoughts. Everything today, the calmness, the zen, the relaxation, right out the friggen window.

Where's Melissa now?

Saturday, November 17, 2007

My Customized Nutrition Plan

I went to see T'ai on Wednesday and we sat down and selected foods I like to eat and he would customize a 7-day nutrition plan for me to follow until I reach my goal.

He suggested I write down what my goal(s) are exactly, so that I could visualize it better and succeed, so here they are:

1. To fit back into my size 4 pants.
2. To have more energy.
3. To reduce body fat to 20% (I think I was 18% 10 years ago)

He would normally have taken 5 days or so to customize the plan for me, but he really wanted to give it to me by the weekend so that I could review it, go grocery shopping, and start on Monday, the first day of the next bootcamp.

Yup, another bootcamp!

At the time, I hadn't registered yet, and I still wasn't sure if I was going to. It was only a 2-week camp, which cuts the camp price in half, and it was going to be held indoors, which could be a good or bad thing. I was getting used to running in a larger expanse of area instead of running in circles in the gym, like a little mouse, and the cool air was rather refreshing after a few minutes exposed instead of the stiffling indoor air (plus it's rather bright, which really wakes you up, unfortunately).

I swung by his office Thursday evening and picked up the completed plan. I have to weigh everything first until I get used to eyeballing the amounts. I've got a select choice of proteins, starches, and fibrous carbs to eat from, and he's compiled the meals for me for all I have to do is follow the items and measure the amounts. I included bread and pasta in my plan, as I probably can't get away with avoiding them altogether. I do have a non-flour Squirrelly type of bread I bought that I stuck in the freezer. And I can also cook pasta for the family, and eat some of it too. I am not to cook with any oils, and apparently they're toxic and cancer-causing (I haven't checked the claims, but I hate frying things anyway). I will continue to use 2 tsp of Udo's Oil as my fat at each meal and having a protein shake in the morning and in the evening. My steel-cut oats I've been having each morning

I'll be eating salmon, cod, pork, sirloin, extra lean ground beef, chicken breasts, corn, peas, green beans, broccoli, red peppers, brussel sprouts (yes, I like them!), asparagus, zucchini, snow peas, mixed greens, white rice, bread, pasta....and maybe some others I can think of right now. It's a good selection, and he's mixed it up for me during the 7 days. Remember: I have to eat 5 times a day! 7am, 10am, 1pm, 4pm, 7pm, and go to bed no later than 10. I would follow the plan until I reach my goal, and then continue eating similarly with other foods until then. I do get one day break, Extra Variety Day, where I can eat something I consider a treat and not feel guilty about it. So, if I plan on attending a party or something, then I can prepare for that by strictly following my nutrition plan in the days leading up to the event. So I can have my cake and eat it too!

But the only way this plan will work is if I prepare my meals ahead of time. I need to prepare and portion out my meals so they're ready to go and I won't have to think about it much. Just grab and go. Each meal is about 1300-1400 calories.

So, I signed up for the 2-week mini boot camp on Friday. I had to: I don't have a plan of attack in regards to my workout, since I have my application for the gym at work is still on hold. That one day of working out at the gym on the cruise ship led me to believe that I forgot what to do with all those Apex machines and free weights. I'll have to do some more research and muster myself a plan, so until then, I figured I had to sign up for the next camp. This nutrition plan won't work as well if I'm not exercising at the same time. And with 5x/week, I'll really see results. In fact, T'ai is expecting a change in my physique even after 2 weeks of boot camp. Hmm, we'll see. But given I'd been loosely following his recommendations during the last camp, and I got great results, we'll see what we get with actually being strict.

T-2 days....and counting.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Back to Reality: where do I go from here?

The Caribbean vacation was so much fun, I'm finding it hard to believe that I have to come back to Vancouver and re-experience the mundane I have always without palm trees, tank tops, flip flops, and buffets.

Eating was a challenge on the ship, but I didn't go too overboard (pardon the pun!). I hesitated to weigh myself after the trip but did anyway, at Danny's urging. He, apparently, lost 2 pounds, whereas I have gained 3. I attribute this not to gaining fat, but losing some muscle, as I was only able to hit the gym once at the beginning of the trip. I did some pushups this morning to gauge my upper body stregth....only 17. I think I could've done more, but I didn't press it (another punny!)

I returned from the trip on Sunday evening, and with the Remembrance Day stat. holiday Monday, I also had yesterday and today off from work. Back to the grind tomorrow.

You may notice that my title for this blog has changed. I originally started this blog as a Boot Camp journal. Now that I've finished boot camp, I find that I am actually on a journey to better health and wellness, and it doesn't stop at Day 20 of boot camp. I have realized that my physical health is one of utmost importance, for we only have one body, and we must take care of what was given to us. But most importantly is the balance between physical and mental health. I've come to realize that my emotional well-being is one that needs the most help, and like yin and yang, it was tied in with my physical health. I'm the first to tell you that I eat when I'm bored; I don't eat to be full. I also eat to serve my self-pitying phase I go through each day. It's my guilty pleasure for all the guilty things I did or plan to do. My sin, if you will. So in addressing my physical, I address my emotional. This is where my Boot Camp blog ends and my Journal of Life blog begins.

So, I will continue to express my worries, my complaints, my victories, my successes and my failures, in all I do. I invite you to sit and listen for a while, if possible. Many of you have enjoyed reading my little boot camp escapades, and it's given me much joy in sharing a bit of my life. I like to think that I may have been a writer in a former life, and blogging seems to give some purpose to this current existence.

You may come to the conclusion that I'm actually nuts, after listening to me for a while, or worse, STILL think I'm nuttier than you already thought. So be it. I'm all about being honest to one person only.....and that's me. And isn't that what it all boils down to?

I'll keep the image of those blue jeans above as the emblem to my blog. It'll serve as a reminder for the Start Line of this marathon I've started.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Boot Camp: Day 20 & Post-Camp Evaluation

The last day!!!

I was nervous when I woke up, thinking of all the things I hoped to accomplish. I was nervous about finding out whether I'd actually be able to beat my 1-Mile track time and whether I'd actually do more than 4 pushups during my Strength Test. I was nervous about getting nervous.

When I woke up, I was glad that it wasn't raining. We were going outside to the track whether it was or not. I had gotten up earlier than I had on other days, about 4:35. I got sidetracked writing an email to that acpuncturist about gettting that free consultation, since FREE was while I was attending bootcamp, and, well, when I came home afterwards, I would technically no longer be part of bootcamp anymore. I shot off the email and realized that it was already 5:15!!! I jumped out of my seat and into the car before I knew it.

So, I made that last "tick" beside my name for attendance. 20 ticks in a row. Some didn't have as many ticks.

We lightly stretched and went down to the track to run a couple of times around for warm up.

Then the endurance begins.

Four times around the track. I called out to Tai each time I lapped: 2:29, 5:04, 7:39....I ear-to-pocket-ed the last 1/8th mile around that track, catching up to Pia, who I was closely chasing for most of the run, except for the last bit when she got a little farther than I'd liked. I almost caught up to her, by 1 second.....9:59. I crossed the finish line in under 10 minutes! I'd have been happy with 10:13, which would have improved my last run by 1 whole minute but I managed to still make it under 10! The euphoria was amazing!! From 11:13 down to 9:59.

We walked back to our mats on the other side of the school and I partnered up with Cathy, who I've been wanting to meet all camp. [Very funny lady, probably in her 40s]. Pushup time. Her best at the beginning of camp was 15....I encouraged her and she did 19. I managed to push out 26 pushups! Compared to 4, Victoria said I should win best improved! Everyone was laughing because there was such a difference! I've done pushups before but never that well. Sorry about the self-praising, but I was so happy!

We did out stretches and concluded the bootcamp, with some of us meeting at Starbucks, on Tai (how sweet!). I may have rethought adding the vanilla I usually have with my latte, but I think I deserved a little sweetness right now!

We all talked about camp, and what we did for a living, just plain chatting about anything, since we never have a real chance to chat during camp. Pia and her friend are going to do the springtime camp, in Mar or April. A few are doing the mini-camp starting the Nov 19. I haven't decided yet. Cathy is doing the Jan 28 camp. I'd like to do both: November because I'll be on the cruise, and in January, because of the Holiday Eating.

Right afterwards at 8am, I went to see Tai at the office to get my post-camp evaluation. I was excited to see what kind of results I got, since I can tell how my clothes are fitting.

Get this: I lost 12% body fat! I was 38% and now I'm 26%! I am now 130lbs from 135. I was 83.2 lbs of lean and now I'm 95 lbs lean! I gained 10lbs of muscle but lost 5 lbs overall. My metabolism has increased drastically. I can consume over 2100 without gaining weight, whereas before it was 1800. Tai said he was impressed with the results, though I thought he should've hit the roof! This was amazing!

So, I was thinking then and there if I should take the next camp. It's limited to only 30 and it fills up fast. I asked him about the meal planning and what he does for me. He said that it would be a 1.5 hr session, assessing the foods I eat and picking out the foods I like. It would cost $300. Suzanne told me at Starbucks she did the meal planning with Tai in the summer and it really worked, she just didn't stick with it this time, but would during the mini-camp in a couple of weeks. I him to sign me up! I figured, rather than spend $175 on a 2 week camp, I would put it towards the meal planning with Tai and see if I can actually push myself to workout on my own....I can't be taking bootcamp forever!!! Though it would be nice, it's not financially feasible.

So, this is my paradise. It's actually not Friday anymore, but Sunday, and I'm sitting here at 10:30 am at an almost empty internet cafe in San Juan, Puerto Rico, relishing my coffee and the crazy crazy weather outside. It's probably 28 degrees right now, at least....highest humidity ever too. I have to check out of the hotel room (scummy place....tell more another time) and head to the cruise ship terminal by 11am. I packed clothes that I couldn't fit in a couple years. I even tried on a dress I wore 7 years ago to Hawaii and I have it with me because it fit. I cried when I told Danny on Friday how well I did at my evaluation. I can't let this feeling go. It's the most amazing feeling in the world, to accomplish something like this. I so highly recommend this to anyone even remotely thinking about losing weight. It's not even about losing weight, so much as feeling good about yourself and feeling the difference and also seeing it in the mirror. And I did it not by starving myself, like I've done on so many occasions. I'm in paradise right now, and I never plan to leave.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Boot Camp: Day 19

Almost the last day!

We brought our stability ball today and did a bunch of exercises for triceps and our abs. We didn't break a sweat; it was so cold. Well, more windy, so there was wind chill anyways. I was sure it was going to rain on us today, but when I pulled into the parking lot and finally had a chance to look at the sky, away from all the street lamps, I could see hundreds of stars above coming into focus, and only whispy clouds blowing eastward. I literally shivered; the night/morning really was serene and beautiful when it's early like this.

We didn't warm up with a run, which is why I was cold most of the time. We warmed up using the ball, lifting it in the air and squating, and warmed up enough that I thought I should remove my fleece. One exercise with a partner was to hold the ball and trace Figure 8's in the air with the ball while the other person would tap/pound the ball in random spots, to throw the other off, in turn working out the arms and the abs. We did several shoulder and upper back exercises too. The ones we did at the wall I found very useful. If you stand with the ball on the wall, holding it with your palm only and move the ball up and down and side to side, with the shoulder kinda popped out of the socket, it helps the rotator cuff in the shoulder. Another one, hard to explain it, but if you lean your right shoulder/arm against the ball, which is up on the wall (you're facing left), and you move your bent right arm forward, without losing pressure on the ball, you feel something real strange in the shoulder too. They weren't difficult exercises but you do them long enough and the muscles start to burn.

There was one advanced move that he only shows to one-on-one clients, and it's when you're belly down, ball under your ankles and with hand weights, you do a pushup, then do a row with one arm, then a row with the other arm, all while keeping your balance on your ball.

Only one more day left, and it's a big day. Tomorrow, we run our 1-Mile again, 4 laps around the track, rain or shine. I think it would be a disadvantage, and a shame, if it were to rain. I really would like to get my Timex fixed today, so that I push myself a little harder to make sure I beat my 11:13 time I had at the beginning of camp. I hope I do well with my strength test and improve my dismal pushup count. Remember I did only 4 at the beginning of camp? I have been occasionally dropping down and doing pushups at the oddest moments, and manage to do 11-14 with not much convincing to do more. So, hopefully tomorrow, when I have to really motivate myself, I'll manage to do more than 14.

I hope it goes well, and I'm not too disappointed in myself. In any case, it's been all a learning experience, right?

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Boot Camp: Day 18

It's Friend Day!

I finally got about 5 hours sleep again, which is not as good as the 7 I was getting at the start of bootcamp but way better than the 4 I had the other night. I did, however, snooze real late, until 4:57am, and shot out of bed after the
3rd snooze, afraid I'd be late.

I figured today would be a fun day, with some folks planning on bringing some friends. I apparently don't have least any real ones who would sacrifice some workout time together! It was an ongoing joke at bootcamp, when asked if we had any friends coming, and who found out they didn't have any true friends and this was just a test. We all laughed. I don't blame anyone for not coming. It's tough work, and well, I guess it's not for everyone and everyone's schedules and I guess I'm pretty proud of myself for doing this on my own gumption. This morning, there were a couple who's friends had last minute excuses for not getting up at 4:30. It was pretty funny listening to the excuses they came up with.

So there were 4 Friends that came. Two were invited by T'ai, and they were returning bootcampers. One has done 5 bootcamps and the other had done 9 bootcamps and currently holds the bootcamp record of 41 regular pushups. Amazing. I should have kept an eye on her form today....I wanted to see if she still had it in her!

We arrived at the outdoor location today, greeted by Drill Sargeant T'ai, all decked out in fatigues! It was pretty funny, but he looked pretty intimidating despite knowing that he really wasn't that way at all. And for you ladies out there, a uniform on a guy, and in this case, fatigues, makes for great eye candy. :) I should stop, before I get myself in trouble here! (Love you, Dan!)

We did four fartlek laps around the soccer field. I can't believe he asked for 4! At least it was around the soccer field and not the track.....that would be more brutal! Our medium fast group was not too big and we went at a good pace.

We returned to grab out hand weights and brought them to the tennis courts. Standing at one sideline, we would squat, place our weights down, run across the court, face the other way, do a pushup, run back to our weights, picking them up as we squat, then run it over to the other side, squat, place them down, and run back to the other side and do another pushup, repeating this several times, probably 8 times.

We went back and did some skipping with some ropes. We stood in a line, sorta facing each other, and pulled each others arms so that we were all supporting each other doing squats. We did some "moguls" and pulsed to Michael Jackson's Thriller (Happy Halloween!) since there were some skiiers in the group.

We went back and did a lap around the soccer field and returned to do duck squats and regular squats across the tennis courts. We took our mats and weights out again and did some tricep extensions, bicycles, crunches while holding our weights high above us, and some others I can't quite remember right now. Oh, yeah, we started out mat work with the dreaded 8-Count Body Builders.

Our last exercise before stretching was The Plank for one minute. I'm happy to say that I last the whole minute without breaking a sweat....though I was darn close to collapsing. Snap's "The Power" was pounding away, and I guess I reminiscing back to highschool to carry me the exercise. I've got the's getting, getting, it's getting kinda hectic...

Today was good. I guess T'ai had to show us off by making us work a good all-around 1 hour workout today, and everything feels good. My quads are killer!

I weighed myself this morning, after my workout, but before breakfast (my "dry weight"). I try not to, since it's really body composition (fat%) that will really tell me the truth, but I couldn't help myself this morning. I'm 129! I don't know how accurate a picture that is, but that sure beats the 138 I weighed at the beginning of bootcamp! We'll see on Friday what my body has really accomplished, when I sit down with T'ai and go over my post-camp evaluation.

Two more days until Puerto Rico!!!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Boot Camp: Day 17

Small group today. We were a bit chatty this morning, with a bit of friendly debate between T'ai and Paula on why marine-derived sources of EFA's (essential fatty acids, ie. omega-3's, -6's) are not as good as plant-derived. It was getting pretty heated, and one person even commented jokingly that she would really to exercise sometime soon. I would've liked to hear more, but I guess we did pay to exercise.

Warm up was 3 times around the soccer field. Because there were 7 of us today, and not the expected 5 people, T'ai modified the rest of our exercises. He didn't bring enough elastic exercise bands (the ones with the handles) for each of us, so we split into 2 groups, with one group using the bands to do squats and rows while the other group did something like Star Reachers (bend down in a squat and then come up, arms out at the side and up in a circle, reaching for the sky, and standing on your tip toes for calf raises, then reverse the movement to arrive at a tight squat again). We switched over a couple of times.

We did a few more band exercises. We linked two sets of bands together, with one person at either end. We challenged each other with some resistance training, pulling and tugging at the bands, trying to fool the other person and perhaps throw them off balance as they, too, are pulling tugging at their bands, trying to fool you. I was paired up with Lucy, but it wasn't very challenging because she seemed to want to follow where I was going, thus reducing tension in the band. Oh well.

We did some mat exercises, like crunches and bicycles and leg lifts and hip raises. A couple of us stood up suddenly (including me!) when T'ai mentioned, oh there's a mouse, as we watched it scurry away among the pile of leaves nearby. Eww, nasty!

Before we knew it is was over. It wasn't a terribly difficult day, but I was ok with that. I warmed up, not expecting I would since I was sooooo cold (but it really wasn't even a cold morning). I only had 4 hours of sleep the night before and I didn't know how I was going to wake up this morning. I did, obviously, and made it through another day.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Boot Camp: Day 16

My last week!

It was raining real hard this morning so we headed to the gym. We did a bit of running today, but I heard it's not as hard as doing it outside, as there are greater distances to conquer (ie. the track!).

For today's exercise, we were split up into 3 groups: Red, Blue, Yellow. We then were to run 3 times around the gym and when done, we would grab a coloured cone/pylon in our designated colour and head back to our mat and weights, where one person in the group would teach the exercise taped to the bottom of the cone. We would start and finish each exercise as a group, leaving no one behind, and count the reps together, or the reps don't count. Then we would run 3 more times around the gym, where another person in our 5-6 person group would pick up another cone for the next exercise.

Each group had its Achilles Heel, from what I could foresee; I was it for mine! We had quick-sprinting Judy on our team, and also feisty Victoria (for you filipinos out there, you know what I'm talking about if I say she looks like a female Dolphy! Just offence!). So I tried my best to keep up with the group, and I did rather well. Victoria, during some sets, was just not counting with the group, and is always a count or two ahead of the group; she finishes her reps much faster than us. [Aside: she's the one I drive behind when going home after bootcamp....she drives like she exercises: quick and full of energy....very unnatural, if you ask one should have THAT much pep]. We did 8-Count Body Builders, bicep curls, lunges, all in all about 8 different exercises. I think the running did me in more than the mat work.

Then we gathered in the middle of the gym, and did a whole bunch of ab exercises. I managed to do The Plank for what I thought was almost 2 minutes, but when T'ai mentioned "40 seconds left", I collapsed: I was so sure I was close to the 2 minute mark! I regrouped at the "30-seconds left" mark, and managed to make it until the end. I'm getting better at it, but I guess my lower back needs strenthening since that's what hurts most, not my abs.

We did a bunch of hip raises, bicycles, crunches (and holding them before releasing). When he called for stretches, I actually wanted to do more abs because it hurt so good. But I guess the hour went by fast.

Now, when would I have ever said that I want to do more crunches? Not ever....until now.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Boot Camp: Nutrition - Part II


So....yada yada....I started writing the "Nutrition-Part I" post on the 10th and now it's the 27th of October. That is probably way too much information for everyone, but I thought I should post it up anyways, since I took the time to draft this out.

For nutrition all these 3 weeks so far, I've been relying on 1-3 portions of protein drinks as my protein source. I don't have the Iso-Flex but plan to get it when I've finished the container I bought from Costco a couple of years ago; I'm halfway done. It's not of a terribly great quality, consisting of whey concentrate instead of manly protein isolate, but I might as well finish it since I paid for it. Otherwise, I've been grilling several portions of pork loin cuts, experimenting with "non-fat" flavourings like lemon, thyme, paprika, etc. I still need to find something I like.

I have been taking the Udo's Oil. I'm almost finished the 250ml bottle we received at the end of Week 1 and on Thursday I bought two 500ml bottles, to tie me over until I take my next boot camp (if ever?). I can also get them at Choices, and they have a pretty good price on them there (on sale right now, in fact). I haven't been as diligent at taking them with every meal, but I will try to be more so, since T'ai mentioned EFA's (essential fatty acids) also help in inflammation too. I heard it also curbs your appetite. :) So everyone needs omega-3's and -6's and -9s, and apparently we're usually deficient in omega-3's. I do highly recommend checking the product out. If you click on the link above, and you click "Back" or "Refresh", you'll get several testimonials flashing in.

I haven't been deleting my carbs, but I have reduced the breads I eat. I try to eat more fibrous carbs, but the preparation to cook each night is tiring, especially if I'm hoping to bed by 9:30.

Nutrition is work-in-progress. I don't want to call it a diet, because that's restrictive. I still do want to eat the things I crave, but I suppose it's learning to eat things in moderation. Besides, "nothing feels good as fit feels" keeps creeping into my head each time I want to sneak something "bad". Perhaps one day, when I have another kid, I'll be more encouraged to slim down faster, with more discipline, and maybe then I'll go on some nutrition plan that will help me enjoy quicker success, but until then, knowing that someday I'll just be gaining weight again because of another pregnancy, I'll just stay as slim as I can and perhaps be a "slim pregnant woman", rather than the rolly-polly kind I felt I was a couple of years ago. :)

Boot Camp: Nutrition - Part I

In the evening of Day 2 in the first week, we had a Sports Nutritional Seminar. I rushed downtown to VATA Brazil for 6:30pm (athletic store for women.....great gear), thinking there were going to be all the ladies there, and I was the first to arrive! And I wasn't even early....I got there right on time, thinking things were going to start away. Another person trickled in within 5 minutes. There were a total of 6 of us who showed up. I guess with many of the bootcampers having gone through it before, they didn't need to come.

T'ai presented some interesting facts to us. Having experience in the fitness and health industry for years, he had lots of information. We interactively participated in creating a chart of "Yucky" and "Yummy" proteins, carbs (both fibrous and starches). An eye-opener, for sure.

(but read on...your health may depend on it!)

He talked about the Insulin Index, a newer, lesser known index comparable to the Glycemic Index. The Index is based on insulin levels in the blood, rather than glucose levels. This measure can be more useful because some foods (like lean meats and proteins) still cause an insulin rise but contain no carbs, and also some carbs have a disproportionate insulin response (foods high in fat, or refined carbs cause a higher insulin spike than the G.I. Index implies). These types of foods aren't mentioned in the Glycemic Index.

Here are 3 P's to follow:

  1. Preserve
  2. Prevent
  3. Protect
  • Preserve...your health. You need to put back what's missing to achieve perfect health.
  • Prevent....fat storage. 'Nuff said.
  • Protect...your muscle. Muscle atrophy is a no-no. Muscle helps in the metabolism of fats. Protect it.

Proteins are composed of amino acids: non-essential aa's are ones the body can produce on its own. Essential aa's you need to provide through your diet. Proteins rich in essential aa's are the ones we need to eat.

And sorry to the vegetarians out there: you have a challenge! The best type of protein is from anything that swims, walks, or flies. Plant-based proteins don't cut it as well as animal-based, apparently. There are not enough quality essential amino acids, particularly branch-chain amino acids, to protect your muscle. Branch-chain aa's get metabolized in the muscle and not the liver, where they can be burned as fuel rather than make protein. T'ai was raised vegetarian but realized that he was not getting the energy necessary for fitness training and made the switch to eating meats. Strength Athletes as opposed to Endurance Athletes need more grams of protein because increased muscle metabolism.

We should be eating 5 meals a day. Not 3, with 2 snacks....but 5 meals.

There are 3 times during the day where we would particularly protein.

  1. post-exercise, since we need muscle-repair to take place. It'll also speed up recovery.
  2. your last meal of the day, eaten 2, preferably 3, hours before bedtime, since the body repairs itself during sleep.
  3. breakast. Your first meal of the day, and your body as been fasting for 8 hours or so.

And the best way to take in protein in quick is in liquid form, by way of a protein drink. More on that later.....

So, let's talk about that "Yummy" and "Yucky" chart I mentioned earlier. "Yummy" are foods that are acceptable sources, foods that don't spike up insulin levels, and is rich and pure, or something like that. Here are some of the things we came up wth as a group.

Protein sources:
Yucky: nuts, soy, yogurt Yummy: chicken (breast), beef (lean), pork loin, cottage cheese (it's only ok), whey protein (better to get whey hydrolysate rather than the whey concentrate because of higher-quality protein percentage...he recommended Iso-Flex as a top brand.

I was helping jot down the protein list while we were shouting out answers, so this isn't an exclusive list, but whatever I can remember.

Starchy carbs:
Yucky: white-inside potatoes, all breads, quick oats, instant rice, pasta
Yummy: sweet potatoes, yams, oatmeal (steel-cut or slow cook kind), brown or white rice, condiments in salad (including avocado, onions, celery, tomatoes), peas, acorn & butternut squash

Fibrous Carbs:
Yucky: fruit, carrots & beets (are ok, but should be consumed at end of meal to slow down absorption)
Yummy: spinach, kale, cabbage (red & green), peppers (all colours), broccoli, cauliflower, snowpeas,zucchini, spaghetti & zucchini squash.

Carbs should make up 30-35% of your meal, 5x/day, each meal

Regarding fats, the best cooking oil is water! Then flavour afterwards. Butter is better than margarine, but use butter or extra virgin olive oil if necessary.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Boot Camp: Day 15 - End of Week 3

Super cold and frosty this morning! I hope everyone had a chance to see the full moon last night because it was gorgeous this morning, shining bright above us.

I was counting the numbers today, and there were only 16 of us...I know of a few who weren't there, but it seems still to be a rather small group.

So we split ourselves in 3 running groups for fartlek training. I selected the Medium Fast group again and not the Fastest group. There were about 5 of them there, and as I looked at the group, yup, each one of them are much faster than I am. In the slowest group, there were 3 -- the two oldest ladies and Lucy with her shin splints -- but I skipped that group because I wanted to challenge myself. Everyone was else was in the middle group, too many if you ask me. This only means that while fartlek training, you have that many more people to sprint past to get to the front of the group.

When asked by T'ai, how many laps are we doing today, someone yelled out, 3! Ooh, he says, good work, I guess because he wasn't expecting that answer. I thought, hey, we did 3 laps of the soccer field last time, I guess I could do that again. Then he says to head down to the track. Huh? Um, the track is waaay bigger than the soccer field. Crap!

So we all jog down to the track and we quickly formed our lines we arrived. Naturally, I ended up at the end of the pack, but that's a good thing, since I'm the first sprinter from the-back-to-the-front and I won't be huffing and puffing as much yet. I don't know how I managed to keep up with everyone, but each time I managed to find the energy to sprint past the line to grab that baton. There was one girl, Jenn, who when sprinting past us, sprinted so far past the front of the line, we had to play catchup with her! Whoa, slow down, Speedy! And Judy shouldn't have joined this group again....her sprinting made me just cower. I mean, her posture is PERFECT! You see me sprinting, and I'm like Tazmanian Devil, legs flailing, arms pumping wildly, head bopping frantically and my tongue practically hanging out, hoping I get from A to B miraculously!

As we approached the finish line, I did wish I had my Timex with me. I would have liked to time ourselves to see if I was on target to beat my 1-Mile Run from Day 1. I'm sure we were faster, and although I don't know if I could've sustained the same energy during the last lap, it would've been a valiant effort.

After our run, we did jumping jacks to continue warming up. We were pretty warm already but we were still waiting for a few of the slower runners to come in. Then we took our place by the benches and did some Tricep Dips.

We ran back to where we placed our mats and took our hand weights with us. We did non-stop mat exercises for the remaining of the hour. The first one was a a combination pushup/row. Hold your weights in your hand while in a position to do a pushup. Do a pushup and when done, lift one elbow straight up, carrying your weight with you. Repeat, using other arm alternatively. We did a whole bunch of other exercises that just blew our back and shoulders out to exhaustion. We did that combo pushup/row again afterwards, when we could do anymore pushups. I ended up doing modified pushups instead of standard ones, because I wasn't able to go down far enough; I figure, half the weight, go twice as far? Before we all knew it, it was over.

Today was a good end to a good week. My back/shoulders weren't too sore when I woke up since I finally got Danny to reciprocate a massage at the exact muscle in my back that was tortoring me the past of couple of days.

One more week to go!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Boot Camp: Day 14

It really is amazing, honestly, that I'm able to move my right shoulder at all. I woke up at 5am this morning, super stiff and absolutely sure that I would not be able to exercise at all. I tell you, I have a new found respect for boxers out there, punching away at an opponent or at the bag, because they really do work out every single miniscule muscle in their back. I'm sure Tuesday's pain will subside by the end of the weekend, but it's only Thursday. Lucky for the protein drinks every few hours...recooperating would definitely be a lot slower.

There were only 4 of us today, our smallest Tuesday/Thursday group ever. We brought our stability balls and used them to warm up, ie. no running! I kinda wished we did end up running (who'da thunk?) since it was so friggen' cold this morning! Very, very crisp morning! I wished I had gloves!

We ended up carrying the ball over our heads and doing squats, and then alternating reaching high towards the right and squating and twisting to the left, then vice versa. After doing some squats and calf raises at the wall, I felt warm enough to shed my fleece jacket. We had our mats and did a number of exercises with the ball on the mat, our head and shoulders on the ball, lifting and lowering our hips, or straightening our legs, or some version of. It's amazing what you can really do with the ball. I mean, you could work out your body just as well without using the ball, but it's amazing what using the ball will do.

I won't bore you with the details of the exercises we did; they were pretty routine, I think. We didn't work up a sweat at all....I think my sweat glands were frozen. I don't feel like I've worked out today...and not because it was too fun to notice, because it wasn't really fun. Maybe my hamstrings are a little oiled up since almost every exercise was to strengthen them, but they don't feel exhausted. Maybe my shoulders are still bearing the majority of my pain for me to notice.

Oh, and I did fall off my ball. Well, not so much fell, but slipped off and landed on my butt while catching my footing. My mat, with the cold dew forming on the vinyl, started sliding on the concrete while I was coming off the ball, so T'ai said. Yeah, that's it....the slippery mat....I'm not clumsy at all. But didn't I call it?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Boot Camp: Day 13

aka ... The Aftermath.

My upper back and shoulders are killing me! If I've complained before, this time I'm not crying wolf: this really is sore!

How sore? Try this: rolling on deodorant is an unusual ow-but-feels-oh-so-good massage.

I don't think today's workout helped much either. It was Wild Card Wednesday. Fourteen cards left to go, and we have to finish the cards today, because next week is Friend Day. Oh, here's my invite:

Friend Day

When: Wednesday, October 31, 5:30 am sharp! Arrive 15 minutes early to register.
Where: Vancouver, Oak & 37th area. Raining, indoors....not raining, outdoors.
Email me for details! Maybe we can carpool!
Who: Any of my friends or family (females only, though, sorry!) who want to try a free bootcamp.
What: By participating in this free class, you get a chance to experience the euphoria and andrenaline of doing your body right in a fun atmosphere of young and young-at-heart ladies like yourself.

I encourage anyone to come out, of any ability.
Push your body and mind to new limits!
Let me know as soon as you can (hopefully by next Monday?) so I can let the instructor know how many to expect.

Today's pop quiz gave us each a little chinese take-out box of aromatherapy bath salts and perfume stick customized by . What a great gift for a pick-me-up.

For warmup, we ran several times around the gym (it was threatening rain, so T'ai made an executive decision). We also did several running/sprinting exercises like we did previously, like Butt Kicks, Duck Waddling, Skipping. We took our sprinting from 50% to 80% a couple of times each.

The remaining wild cards in the deck were a mix of workouts. We did wide leg squats, forward lunges, backward lunges, side plank, crunches, "superman" -- incredibly simple yet difficult to sustain (on your belly, one arm at your side, the other pointing forward, and pulse) --- "swimming --- similar to Superman pose but two hands forward and also pulsing your legs. We did the 8-Count Body Builder again, which was brutal still, with the shoulders and all.

Tomorrow, the 5-Dayers have to bring a Stability Ball. I hope I don't fall off it, or worse, I hope it doesn't burst on me.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Boot Camp: Day 12

Our hour didn't start off very promising, but ended with a POW!

Boxing class!

Our small class stood around for way too long, handing out recipes given by Winnie and Jenn (the "punishment" for 3-Dayers intruding on Tuedays and Thursdays reserved for us 5-Dayers) and listened to T'ai explain the benefit of doing so (nutritionally, more variety and less boredom). After, six of us partnered up and ran one -- only one! what? -- lap around the soccer field.

I never wear a watch, but when I go for my runs I usually do. However, my dependable purple Timex had stopped working on me sometime between my last run in, say, 2004 and now, and I have not replaced that battery yet. But I'm kinda glad I didn't have it with me today, because I didn't want to see how much time had gone by, wasted by chit chat....c'mon, let's get moving: I came here to sweat!

So, like I said, it turns out to be a boxing class. We learned how to properly stand so that our balance is stable when pushed. Yeah, he literally pushed us around to see if we would fall. We learned to jab, punch, hook, cross-punch, pivoting, hips lowering, keeping our hands by our nose and temple. Honestly, though, I didn't really learn anything new, since I had taken a whole bunch of kickboxing classes before and even several Boxer Fit classes while at Fitness World. He never once had to correct me, so I'm gonna take it that my form was fine. The only thing I found real difficult was shuffling left and right and then quickly throwing a jab, punch, jab, cross, jab, hook. My feet weren't cooperating before I needed to swing....I was still kinda shuffling before my arms where swinging away.

While we were in that circle, shuffling and swinging back and forth, we had a chance to spar one-on-one with T'ai, with boxing gloves. Jab, punch, jab, punch. He urged me to go harder because, he says, he knows I've got it in me. Ok. Then faster, he says. Ok. Next, jab and cross. Harder jab! Keep it going! Now, faster, for 10...9...8....omg! My bangs were soaking with sweat and strewn across my forehead and over my eyes, blocking my vision. I must have looked real attractive, up close and personal! I wailed on him with increasing power. My arms were weighted heavy. T'ai is taller than I am (duh!) so I was essentially pounding him from below. Finally, the rush was over. Water, water! Where's my towel?

Then out of nowhere comes this aching, excruciatingly tight pain radiating down my neck....ow, what's going on? I figure all that punching above me locked my neck in a paralyzed position of stiffness that, now as I move around, refused to release. I shook off the pain shortly after, as I resumed throwing jab after jab with the others in that Circle of Shuffling.

I must say, at this time, shuffling just does not do me any good. Really. After yesterday's shuffling around those barbells, my arches are just killing me! I don't think it's plantar fasciitis because I CAN still walk on it, but it sure damn hurts when I massage it. No more shuffling, T'ai!

He mentions to me privately after class that I should see an RMT (Registered Massage Therapist) and a Chiropractor and even consider making a call to the Acupuncturist he mentioned in class yesterday. [Oh, yeah....yesterday's pop quiz gave us a certificate to see someone who specializes in TCM - Traditional Chinese Medicine]. They work wonders with aches and pains, especially something resembling plantar. The RMT he recommended will also honour a free session, as one of T'ai's bootcampers....hmmm, when will be getting THAT quiz for the THAT prize? Apparently we only have a month after bootcamp to redeem our free sessions. Hook me up!

So, what started not-so-promising, ended up a real POW! I feel a lot more shoulder and back muscles activated, all on top of the shoulder and back pain I felt from yesterday's pushups. I should have a wonderful day at work!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Boot Camp: Day 11

Was today exercise? Didn't feel like it!

It was raining as I drove out this morning, so I headed to the gymnasium. Thank goodness it rained when it did: I didn't want a downpour in the middle of training.

We did 4 easy laps around the gym. I'm pretty sure I wasn't at the end of the pack, but I was somehow the last person running: when I arrived back to my water bottle on the side lines, I expected others to encroach behind me, but no one was there. Maybe I ran 5 laps? Ha....I'd like to think maybe I'm that fast (never mind that Tammy, The Fast One, did actually lap me. Oh well!)

Our first task was a frisbee game. No, not Ultimate, though maybe it would've been more challenging. The objective was to run/jog/whatever around the gym and someone would throw a frisbee to you (there were about 4-5 going at any given time). If you fumbled it then you would have to throw it back out to someone else, then get down and do 5 pushups! There were a show of hands of who and who cannot throw a frisbee. A majority of us couldn't. Apparently I was one who could (who knew?) I got to throw a frisbee probably about a dozen times or so, maybe more, and not once did the other person fumble it (this could also be due to them being an awesome catcher, but again, I like to think I had some skill - !) I did try not to throw it from a great distance, for surely some of my throws would have hit the ground. And neither did I fumble the frisbees that were thrown to me (thank goodness!). I didn't want anyone to avoid receiving a throw from me simply because I suck! I think we were running around for almost 10 minutes, or so it seemed like, before the whistle blew. I wonder if anyone else was lucky enough to not do any pushups.

Then we had our hand weights out, and five people donated their mats. We formed a large circle, placing our hand weights crossed and at our feet. While we were doing jumping jacks, T'ai lined the 5 mats in the middle of the circle, and randomly grabbed several of our weights and placed them aside. Our next exercise: Musical Barbells (the best-suited title I can think of). Essentially, we would run clockwise or counterclockwise around the circle and when the whistle blew, we would have to stand in front of a set of weights on the floor. The lucky 5 without barbells would do "special" exercises in the middle. So while the outside folks were doing a combination of lunges, squats, bicep curls, the inside folks were doing The Plank, crunches, Bicycles, pushups....basically ab exercises.

I lucked out for most of the game until luck ran out. Of course the toughest exercise yet was mine to tackle: the 8-Count Body Builder. While standing at the foot of the mat, count with me:

One - clasp your hands together.
Two - squat to the floor and crawl forward with your hands
Three & Four - do a pushup (down, then up)
Five - Spread legs out
Six - Spread legs in
Seven - Crawl back to standing
Eight - Jumping Jack



I guess that made up for the lack of pushups during the frisbee exercise! I would have pushed myself even more, had it not been for the break I took to wipe my face because I didn't want to drip on Liz' mat I was using. That wouldn't have been very pretty.

To top it all off, I actually ended up losing the next round too and ended up doing eccentric pushups: Up for one count, down for 5 counts, repeat. Despite my tiredness, my form wasn't too bad.

Today was fun. My ankles are a little sore from the side to side movement while running in a circle, but otherwise I still count my blessings for an injury-free camp!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Boot Camp: Day 10 - End of Week 2

He worked our asses today. Literally.

Ugly rain this morning when I looked out at 4:45am. We're indoors today! I learned torture actually can occur off the beaten track and into the indoors.

Our wamup today was a game of Line Tag. Running around the gym only on the lines provided on the gym floor. Someone is "IT" and tries to tag people. Gradually there are more people IT simultaneously, so the game gets harder. I was IT once but found it hard to tag someone: either they had longer arms and tagged me first or I tagged someone who was already IT. Nice, relatively easy jaunt...just trying to change direction quickly to avoid people was probably the most difficult.

There were jump ropes at one end of the gym. We skipped for a couple of minutes. We would skip several times during the hour, but it got difficult as the hour progressed, because our other exercises were wearing me, ahem, us thin.

We lunged ourselves to near death. I was going to puke. Seriously. I absolutely hate lunges. There's something about them that really, really makes me gag. Yes, gag. I have this lump in my throat when I do them and I feel like hurling. Just thinking about that now makes me want to gag.

I guess that's why I don't have a nice butt. You know, the butts you just kill for? They may not be the smallest butts, but they look just grabbable. C'mon, you've seen then, I know you have. We live in Lululemon town, home of the Yoga-loving Bikrams: there are some nice butts out there. They curve out, curve right back in where they chop your leg and you can actually see where your butt ends and your leg begins. That's a butt. I don't have that. I want that, but I don't have that.

There are actually some girls in camp that do have great butts (yeah, I'm looking, so what?), and they do great lunges. I guess I'll have to work on that if I want what they've got. I got to thinking today, though, maybe, just maybe, they just lucked out, maybe it's genetics or something, and not lunges that got them looking like they do. I thought about asking someone, but thought, how would I pose that question? Hi, you have a nice ass, why is that? I'd probably not be looked at so fondly.

So, back to the lunges. Across the gym, we waddled like a duck, nice and low, keeping our legs bent. We lunged and pulsed for two beats. We did leg extensions, then landed in a lunge. We did regular lunges too. We sprinted fast. We ran doing butt kicks. We ran with our knees up high. We shuffled back and forth, left and right. We power skipped across the gym. There were so many, I've lost track in my delusion.

When we finally lay down to use our mats, we did more glute and ab exercises that almost made me puke too. (Oh, BTW, I had mentioned to T'ai during one of our sets of lunges that I feel like puking. He offered to bring me a bucket, and he was sure that there'd be someone here to hold my hair back. Gee, thanks!) This is a brutal exercise: lie on your back, arms at your side, right leg up in the air, left leg bent, left heel on the ground, left foot toes off the ground, and lift your hips. After all those lunges, these just killed something horrible in my glutes. Great exercise, but couldn't hold it continously. We worked our abs: bicycles, crunches, leg raises and twisting, the plank.

I think this may have been the toughest day yet! Of course, it's Friday, so I'll feel the pain for the next two days.

Wow, halfway through this whole camp! My clothes are fitting better, even though my scale said 132 this morning. I know I'm getting stronger too. I'm hurting everywhere, but it's a good hurt. I hope I don't feel the bad hurt tomorrow.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Boot Camp: Day 9

I'm sore.

My shoulders are sore, my biceps are sore, my pecs are sore, my hamstrings, my calves, my abs, oh my!

It was raining horribly yesterday, so when I woke up at 4:45 I quickly (ok, not so quickly) went to my kitchen window to check the weather out. The parking lot behind the house was still, and I couldn't see any puddles. I peered again, convinced it was raining, and I just couldn't make it out. Nope, it isn't raining. I went back in the room to start changing, and went back to the window later, just to make sure I wasn't dreaming. Nope, it's not raining. Damn, another chilly day outside.

I told T'ai I'm cold, but he assured me that I'd be warmed up soon. I raised my eyebrows and nodded in agreement.

We partnered up and ran two laps of the soccer field with Lucy. I figured, she runs pretty easy, and I could use just a light warmup. Turns out she has shin splints, and it takes a toll on her during the running. Ok, I've got to sympathize with that.....shin splints suck, especially if you're told to run through it everyday!

I had helped T'ai bring in some neon hula hoops....when we came back he had them set up on the floor, as if they were tires..hmm, like the Knee Taps we were doing yesterday. Alternating stepping in and out of the hoops on the ground, with our knees high. The other (obstacle) course he set up was a wierd looking set of hurdles. They were low to the ground, and we were going to hurdle over them sideways, clearing the hurdle by lifting our feet high enough.

First, we went to the tennis courts and for the width of the court, we did a drill I recall from basketball training in highschool. We shimmied sideways across the court with our hands up, like a guard on defence. We did that several times. Several more times, T'ai said, now on your toes. Um, yeah, like I was on my toes all those previous times!! That's how you do the drill! So, I did more, on my toes again. Then we did fast grapevines back and forth and until I almost thought I'd trip over my own feet. My feet and calves felt the pain.

Then we split in 2 groups of 3 (small group on Thursdays). Three people were going through the hoops, and the other three doing hurdles. Then we switched.

Afterwards, we did the hoops, but with our hand weights, and then running out about 40 feet and back and repeat. We only did this three time but doing it, your shoulders start to burn halfway through, carrying those weights. I didn't lift knees up as high as the first time we went through it.

Then without our hand weights, we split into two groups again and repeated our hoops and hurdles circuit.

Apparently, T'ai hasn't worked much on our biceps yet this camp (um, then why am I sore?), so we did several different bicep exercises with our weights. Full bicep curls with a rotation/twist at the top. Partial curls from the relaxed stance to halfway up, with rotation. And starting at half-curl, going to full-curl, no rotation.

We did extra stretching today because of extra soreness. Stretched out our pecs, shoulders, and calves. I think I should be stretching my quads too...I don't think we did that today! I'll be sore at work today. Ok, I'm sore at work everyday, but I think I feel it more.

Is it Friday yet?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Boot Camp: Day 8

Wild Card Wednesday! I called it Cardio Wednesday last week, I think, but it's not all cardio. Wild Card is the correct name.

We did 3 laps around the soccer field for warmup (practicing my ear-to-pocket T2 sprinting at the very end) and then did a series of matwork exercises. I guess today was mainly Pushup Day, because all the cards pulled out of the deck today were variations of pushups. We did regular pushups, Staggered Pushups (one hand higher, other hand lower), wide pushups, Spades (hands real close together). We did variations on counting: up for one, down for two, three, four, five, six seconds, then repeat; and as many as possible in one minute, just to name a few. We also did The Plank, but this time on our hands like starting a pushup, instead of our elbows. We mixed in some squats with our hand weights, some Side Lifts (on your side, leg crossed over, leg that's under is pulsed up and down to kill your inner thigh), Fire Hydrants (the peeing-dog leg lifts). Sometime in the middle of all this we went for a 1/4 mile run around the track.

It was threatening rain all morning, and was spitting ever, ever so lightly during our hour. While stretching, the rain fell harder on my face while we were on our backs. I threw my towel over my face and listened to my breathing..."hold your breath in gratitute and thinking of what your grateful for", and exhaled into the morning. I'm tired, refreshed, yet in pain.....I'm alive!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Boot Camp: Day 7

Today, wasn't so bad. But my arms are just killing me!

Small group today; it's Tuesday. Eight of us. We partnered up and for warmup, we "skipped" around the soccer field together for one lap, then jogged the next lap. Then we assembled together and learned to sprint. We ran about 30 metres, maybe, at 40, 50, 60% full-sprint, several times at each percentage. We learned about "ear-to-pocket" running. Picture the melted mercury guy from Terminator know how he runs? Yeah, like that. Something about pumping your arms will open up the hips so that they want to swing forward with each pump, allowing for more efficient movement. Thumbs in the palm, fingers straight. Right hand to your ear, left hand by your pocket, left leg up, right leg propelling forward. Looks kinda dorky, but I could see how it works.

I don't think I really did 40%, 50% 60% of my full sprinting ability....I was anticipating going up to 100%, and since we were doing several sprints at each percentage, I didn't think I'd have any energy left! I guess I'll work on it when we doing our laps in the next few weeks.

Then we used our hand weights. Again, 5lbs in each hand, we did Straight Leg Dead Lifts. Weight in each hand, palms down, and while lowing the weights down past your knees, keep your back straight to feel the stretch in the hamstrings. Keep the weights always 1 inch away from your body at all times, and keep those knees stationary. And return to standing. We did Plie Lunges: weights in each hand, bring right leg back and behind the left leg (looks like you've crossed your left leg over the right leg, now), feeling the burn in the left quad and doing a bicep curl. We also did Calf Raises again by the wall. Walking Lunges across the width of the tennis courts (and jogging back -- ouch!).

That's it!

I was so shocked at how fast the hour went, I actually said out loud, "That's it?" I was expecting torture today! But despite not doing as much as I thought, my arms are soooo sore. Especially my left bicep (what gives?). My hamstrings, quads and glutes don't hurt much, even though I thought we worked those more today. Maybe yesterday's workout is just catching up to me now.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Traditional Chinese Medicine

While in Puerto Rico last week, I emailed to confirm my appointment with the acupuncturist, Dr. Carr, for this past Tuesday. Free appointment (remember: it was another gift from boot camp), so I figured, why not give it a try? I'm all for Western medicine but there's got to be something to Eastern medicine, right? As a scientist but an open skeptic, I thought the experience would be interesting.

She asked me a whole bunch of questions regarding my physical well-being, if there were any aches and pains or anything significant from my head to my toes. Because I told her I'm not there for any physical reason (ie no plantar or carpal tunnel or anything), it was a pretty easy Q&A.

I did get a little emotional (really, just a LITTLE) when talking about the stresses in my life, like finding the balance between between a good wife and good mother, and keeping house, and work obigations. I mentioned I'd like to calm my anxieties and little distractions I find engrossed in that immobilize me when I'm stressed.

She went over the 5 elements in TCM (that's my title above). The cycle: Metal --> Water --> Wood --> Fire --> Earth then back to Metal. I can't remember the detail clearly now, but she said she's like to work on my Earth and Water elements. When you write the elements on paper in a circle, you can also draw a pentagon between the other elements, and they also work off each other, like a check and balance system. In this case, Earth and Water balance each other but Fire also balances Earth (and likewise, Fire also balances Water).

She related my kidneys to the Water element. On top of the kidneys are the adrenal glands, and they are responsible for providing adrenaline during stresses . If I have constant stresses, the adrenal glands are constantly working, overprocessing, and that's something that needs to be addressed.

The spleen and pancreas were related to the Earth element, which is a digestive issue. She mentioned something about eating the right foods associated with winter time, soups, stews, and drinking green tea or green/black tea chai teas which are calming and warming during the winter months. I guess by doing so, it will help balance the Water element.

And she said that because of these two elements, I could focus a bit on Fire too, which is the anxiety part, I think. She didn't really prescribe a treatment, though, that I can recall.

I agreed to two acupuncture sessions with her, and some herbal recommendations, an instant tea I can bring to work and not "cook" like so many TCM herbal remedies.

I feel better already!

Boot Camp: Day 6

The huge group was divided in 2 groups today. Our group was to run to the front of the school, and at the benches, do 50 Tricep Dips, then run back to the rear of the school, where we would work out with our weights. We did a circuit like this for the remaining of the hour, and not only did Tricep Dips twice, but also 50 Bench Pushups twice.

Those pushups weren't as polished as they should have been. When doing 50 pushups, your form is not going to be great. I don't know about the rest of them, but mine sucked. They were simply "bends". And most of the others were so fast! They must have not been doing perfect ones either. Funny, we had two ladies in the group, the older ladies I may have mentioned earlier. They were always the last to arrive at the benches and a couple of times they made us crack up and laugh because they'd come to the benches and start counting "one, two, forty-eight, forty-nine, fifty!". You can't do dips and pushups when laughing, I learned, especially if your body is to the point of exhaustion!

On our mini-runs back and forth between exercises, I befriended one girl, let's call her Jasmine. I think it may be her first bootcamp too, but she's doing a 3 day week. She has a couple of kids I think, but looks great! I think her youngest is actually older than Gabe, since she said that when her kid was 2 years old, she also felt it was a good time to start exercising more. She wasn't as fast as the rest of the group was, so it was a nice fit to be running next to someone who shared the same speed. I really liked her black pants with the small reflective strips at the side....her husband bought it. Ah, I wish!

I forgot about some of the weight exercises we did when we were at the rear of the school (I'm writing this 2 days later, and my memory is a little short!). I've now made the commitment to make sure I'm writing a new post before I leave for work, so that I can at least remember! Anything beyond 24 hours definitely gets pushed out of my mind! I do remember that we were doing quite a bit of arm work, since people were still apparently sore from Friday's workout. I just recovered that morning from Friday's workout, so working out the arms were fine with me anyways.

What will tomorrow bring?

Friday, October 12, 2007

Boot Camp: Day 5 - End of Week 1

Getting up this morning was most difficult. I didn't get up until 4:45am, and didn't get dresed until 5. It wasn't raining, so I didn't have to drive as far, so I took my time.

T'ai likes to ask us questions, and if we answer right, we get free gifts. But the multiple choice question he always gives us is posed so that "c" is the only real logical answer. Our free gift today was a bottle of Udo's DHA Oil Blend and an Iso-Flex protein powder sample. Yippee! Read my post on Nutrition regarding these products.

So for warmup today, we stood in three lines, "Fast", "Medium 1", "Medium 2", and the task was fartlek training. We run in a line, with the lead person holding a baton, and the rear person sprints to the front to grab that baton to become the new leader, and so on and so forth. Three times around the soccer field, go! Man, was that difficult! From the time I grabbed that baton and became the new leader, before I knew it, I was at the end of the line again and I had to sprint forward to become the leader again! I couldn't imagine being in the "Fast" line; I chose "Medium 1". I should've joined Lucy and Catherine in the slower group! But I persisted because I didn't want to be the loser in the group. We had a 1/2 lap to go before I got to thinking I couldn't go on any longer. But I did it, don't know how.

Today we were working our glutes and quads.....lunges and squats! Woo love-to-hate exercises! We grabbed our 5lb hand weights and we did walking lunges, and walking squats. Also, stationary forward, side, rear lunges/squats too.

Oh, the burn! I'm writing this post the following day, and I'm in pain everywhere! My glutes feel perpetually tightened. (Yes, I'm now a tight ass.....LOL), my hamstrings are pulling, my quads are stiff, my back is sore, my biceps are aching, you get my drift. Good think I've got the weekend to recoup. But, got to love that burn!

Although we ran the soccer field a couple of more times during the hour, we still headed to the track for a lap. Liz, a girl who just joined the camp this morning (but she's no virgin -- it's her second time), met up with me halfway and we chatted about our half-marathons. Earlier, after one of the soccer field laps, I approached her and asked how she did in that half-marathon she said she just completed. She said 2:14, and she shaved about 5 minutes off her previous time. I had told her that I would love to run another half-marathon, but can't find the time to train, and well, I'm here at boot camp to just get some fitness, nevermind training for a run. So during the lap at the track, she was telling me that I should join the Running Room and train with them, that's what she did. I told her I would definitely consider it next time, because training for a half on your own is difficult and you have to be 120% motivated. Liz is super friendly. She reminds me of Clara Hughes, the Canadian Olympic cyclist and speed skater.

We did tricep dips at the stands of the track to end our hour.

Wow, I did one whole week so far! As difficult as it is to get up in the morning, I'm just loving coming home at 6:45 all energized. But Thank God for the weekend....I still need a rest!