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The difference a year (10 months) make

Today I’m hurting - lats, upper back, shoulders, everything. Monday workout calls for 21-15-12-9-6-3 (total of 66 rounds) of 55lb shoulder presses (I was not able to do 55lb so my weight was 40lb). Same number of back squats, pull ups, and sit ups. The entire workout took me 21:19. This is the exact same workout we did about 10 months ago in March 2010. It’s pretty awesome to see the difference a year make…

Last year this time I lifted 30lbs for the shoulder press, and was not able to do free pull ups (I had to use an elastic band under my feet to help me up). And it took me 21:41 to finish the workout. 

It’s pretty cool to be able to see the difference, both in my strength and also in the time it took me to do the workout in 10 short months. 



The 3 A’s of awesome: Neil Pasricha on

This talk is absolutely brilliant and AWESOME. Made me cry and laugh at the same time. 

Anyone who is having a bad day should watch this. I’m going to start everyday reading his blog. :-)



Paleo 14 days experiment over!

The 14 days Paleo experiment is officially over. The hubby and I have had a challenging time trying to come up with complete Paleo recipes but luckily a few friends passed us some good ideas - including the lemon almond amaretti (which I substitue flexseed meal for almond meal and the amaretti turned out to be a bit dense and… well, dry), but nevertheless it tasted alright and became a good snack. 

So what was the result? I think we both felt a more consistent flow of energy in the past two weeks; although to be perfectly honest the difference was not significant. I think that has to do with the fact that we were both eating semi-Paleo’ish to begin with, so the change over did not have as much of an impact as it would have otherwise. 

We both did enjoy the challenge though, and Rick is considering doing the Paleo challenge at the gym; which is good - it’s always fun to be embarking on something new and have a goal. 

As for going forward…we are going to try and stick to Paleo as much as we can. Since now that we have done it once, we know we can do it again. Once a week we’re going to allow ourselves a cheat day - day where we just eat whatever we want and indulge a bit. :-)

The best lesson out of this challenge? The discovery of the CROCK POT! Slow cooking has become one of my favorite things in the whole wide world. There are few things better in this world than to spend minimal amount of time prepping, turn on a switch and overnight (like magic), you have a huge pot of yummy well cooked stew for breakfast??  Delish! :-)



Paleo diet - Here I come!

So I have finished the book “Paleo Solution” by Robb Wolf. Many of the things in the book make rational sense, though I am still digesting the medical technicality of the reasoning. But like Robb said, you don’t have to understand it to follow the program. So I (and Rick as well) am giving it a try for 14 days straight to see what impact it may have for us. 

At this point, we have had 3 meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and it hasn’t been too difficult. Breakfast: eggs and berries; Lunch: chicken fajita salad, Dinner: walnut basil salmon and grilled veggies. Pretty similar to the type of meals we normally have anyway. I will be posting updates as I go. :-)



Crossfit is Extreme?

I’m currently reading the Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf. After seeing this post by my very well-read Crossfit coach from our Crossfit newsletter today, I’m quite tempted to give it a 30 day trial. The question is whether to start before or after Christmas…hmm…

Extreme Lifestyles

Has anyone ever told you your training is extreme?

Do they call your low-carb, paleo-diet a fad?

Do these same people sit for 6+ hours per day?  Does their diet rely heavily upon processed foods, starches and fast food?  Most citizens of industrialized nations live predominantly sedentary lives.  They sit at desks, in front of TVs in their cars and on transit.  They eat packaged and pre-prepared foods with ingredient lists that read like a chemistry exam gone bad. 
Their “exercise” consists of yoga, treadmills or circuit training where they move sub-maximal loads at a relatively leisurely pace.  They call this moderation.

News flash: Your genetic makeup is the product of evolution.  Your human machine has been naturally selected to thrive in a very specific set of environmental circumstances.  

Let’s take a look at your evolutionary history:

4,000,000,000 – 500,000 years ago (a total time of approx 3,999,500 years give or take a few millennia) you evolved from early life form to primate to hominid to homo sapien.  All this time your survival depended on hunting and gathering, fighting and escaping danger.

This involved a lot of low intensity labour (gathering, travelling, tracking, building) punctuated by sporadic bursts of maximal effort (fighting, escaping, mating) and plenty of rest and recovery.   You ate meat, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, fruit and vegetables and that is all.  No grains, no dairy, no chemical additives or corn starch.

As homo sapiens you continued living in this manner for a further 490,000 years.

Then very recently, a mere 10,000 years ago many human populations made a switch to an agricultural existence which still involved long hours of low intensity work (farm chores) punctuated by more sporadic near maximal effort tasks (heavy farm chores).  You now ate grains and dairy but the milk was raw and the grains were whole and you still ate no chemical preservatives or flavour enhancers.  Nothing you ate came in a package.

200 short years ago the first world went through the Industrial Revolution.  You were now engaged in much lower levels of activity but chances were your daily routine still involved light industrial labour and housework.  Opportunities for maximal effort were absent outside of sport.  Your grains were more likely to be refined and table sugar entered your diet but otherwise your foods were still largely handmade from scratch from ingredients designed and packaged by Mother Nature.

Only about 100 years ago you were now more likely to be confined to a desk and robbed of even low intensity work.  Maximal efforts were confined to the world of sport.  Your food though heavily dependent on grains and dairy with some sugar was still found at the butcher’s and the baker’s rather than in a lab and you bought it fresh, not in a package. 

It is only in the last 50 years that food scientists and short order cooks began preparing a large percentage of your meals.

To summarize the journey: We have taken a body adapted for high-volume, low-intensity activity and regular max effort exertions fuelled on nature’s bounty and in the space of a few generations subjected it to a sedentary existence fed on chemicals, sugars and starches. 

This is extreme!  

It is an extreme test of the body’s capacity to survive in an environment for which it is not genetically designed or adapted.

So next time your couch-potato, jogging and pilates friends tell you that your high intensity training is too extreme shout out “No man, you’re extreme!!!”



We are back! The sunshine, the ocean, the always friendly and laid back atmosphere and the wonderful food…we loved everything at our wedding. Considering that we put minimal effort into planning the wedding, everything worked out fabulously. We couldn’t have done it without our friends and family though - everybody chipped in and helped out with the set up of the day (on a public beach just outside our room at the resort), they brought wine for us from abroad, and celebrated us with into the night. 

Above are some of the photos from the day. It was memorable and full of love. :-)



Leaving on a jet plane…in 2 days!!

Over the past couple months many people have come up and ask if I was excited about the upcoming wedding. To be honest I wasn’t - neither of us have really spent a lot of time planning and thinking about the wedding. (Though looking back I really appreciate this time of being engaged because mentally it gave me the time to get ready) 

At the get-go we decided to spend minimal time planning the wedding. What’s important to us is that we have our friends and family there to share the moment (that and I look fabulous); the colours, settings, invitations…and all the lovely details that normally go into a wedding are relatively just not as important to us. So alas, a casual on-the-beach destination wedding it is. We booked our flight and the hotel, and haven’t really planned anything else since.

This week, however, as we get ready to leave, we both kicked into “planning” mode to tie up loose ends. Rick’s outfit, shoes, hair stuff, makeup stuff, music, figuring out plan B (if it rains) were all dealt with within the week. Talk about efficiency when you’re down to the wire! We’re very blessed to have a great and very competent friend to officiate our ceremony. A very talented cousin who will perform a song, and siblings to do readings during the wedding. I just know it’ll be fabulous.

So right now, if you ask me again, yes, I’m getting very excited to head to Phuket in 2 days and getting married in a week! I just hope all the Crossfiting I did this week and twice hot yoga has not left my arms too “buffed” that I can still fit into my dress! :-) 



T-13! Counting down…

So it’s T-13 until W-day, and we are kicking into planning mode (normally people plan 1 year in advance but we opt to do it last minute). We had just finished getting Rick’s outfit yesterday (and it’s still not *quite* right so we’re going to keep looking). I have not yet gotten my shoes (both for the beach and the Chinese dinner), nor any of my makeup. It’s all good though - I’m made a commitment to Rick that I won’t be stressed. Starting with modifying my language over the next two weeks - to only use positive words. Ok, zen….

In complement to my Crossfit routine, I’m going to Bikram twice this week. After 100 shoulder presses today, frankly I’m worried that my arms are bulging out so much that I won’t be able to fit into my wedding dress. (ok, only positives…) Bikram is going to help stretch out those muscles. 

And if I have trouble fitting into my wedding dress, I’m blaming my Crossfit coach, Corey, who is going to  be at the wedding in Thailand with us. :-)



4th and final fitting!

I finally went to pick up my dresses for the wedding yesterday. It’s becoming very real!! I would upload some photos here but I don’t want my fiance to see the dresses. But I’ll definitely share photos here after the event. 

Speaking of dresses, I’ve now got a muscly back and arms to show off thanks to all the “negatives” I’ve been doing on the rings. I haven’t been able to do a ring dip without assist, so the coaches suggested that I do some “negatives” to build strength.

Basically I would jump up on the rings with straight arms, and lower myself down until shoulders go below the elbows - sorta like a reverse of a ring dip, hence called “negatives”. It’s made a remarkable difference in my strength, and I’ve just started being able to do ring dips without assist this past week! Yippee!



Ladies - want nice back muscles? Try pull ups

Another grinder workout yesterday at Crossfit - I think it was one of workouts I took the longest time to finish. Partly because there wasn’t anyone doing it with me - it was a small class yesterday and there was only two of us doing the grinder, and Natalie left me half way because she needed to go into work. 55 minutes - 3 rounds of 30 Squat Cleans (55lbs for me), 30 pull ups, and 800 meter run. 

My entire upper back is humming with soreness today. Feels good though, especially knowing that I’d be able to appreciate the results in my open back wedding dress, which I’m picking up on Monday. 

I can’t ever remember doing pull ups where I used to work out. Do normal gyms usually have pull up bars? Pull ups is a fantastic way to work all those muscles in the arms and upper back, without isolating anything and bulking up. For all the ladies who want to have nice upper back muscles, give it a try! :-)