#GetFitChallenge – Recap of Week 3: Baby Steps

I can’t believe Week 3 is over and we have begun Week 4… almost halfway! To be honest, I’m feeling a bit emotional that this challenge is flying by!

If you have not read my previous recaps, you can find Week 1 here and Week 2 here.

Week 3 was all about me finding my feet again, and taking things one baby step at a time. I was still on the mend from my viral infection, and even though I felt “left behind” I knew biologically it was not wise for me to train in any way, state or form while still on medication. I was surprising ok with this – perhaps because it wasn’t a flaky excuse and I was pretty ill (not “pretending” to be more ill than I am).

Training

Post-illness, I was feeling good and managed to successfully complete 30 minutes with P and a barre class on the Thursday. My first exercises/ training since the previous Tuesday – and I FELT IT.

P focused on legs… and I leg pressed more than my body weight. But it was cool. Except… at barre, Tyla decided it was LEG DAY. I made it through the class. But as soon as I climbed into bed (at 8pm – don’t judge) I was exhausted.

The inner of my thighs and sides (love handles) had the good post-workout feel. I LOVE the feeling; probably because I don’t feel it a lot. My body breaks down lactic acid pretty quickly so the day after training I don’t feel much.

Saturday saw me complete my first double of Week 3; barre and pilates. Barre was high intensity, pilates was murder with the pilates ring thing. After the double I had to drag my sorry ass to work where I felt as though I could have fallen asleep at any given moment. Alas, it is the life of a scientist…. the struggle is real people. Trust me. ūüėČ

And no… no hot yoga for the past two weeks… I do miss it. But my favourite teacher Eliza is doing a class on a Sunday at the end of Week 4 so I may join it (if I survive Week 4…more on that a bit later).

Diet

My downfall. As usual. While I still have not indulged in sweets or ready-to-drink hot beverages (yay me!) I did have extra sugar.

Quite a bit of honey for my sore throat and sugary, deep-fried goodies at my folks. I must admit that I did not binge (as I expected)! And I did not feel bad and hate myself for it – perhaps because I knew what was coming so I could mentally prepare.

I’m still struggling with drinking enough water. A lot. It’s winter and its cold… (yes, excuses). But it is my aim for the next few weeks.

In terms of supplements I am religiously taking Omega 3, 6, 9 (Flaxseed oil) mostly cos my joints “creak” when I train! (Yes, old age – I know!). I am also taking Vitamin effervescents and realised I need a probiotic (too much info?).

Post-training, I have been taking my protein shake with some L-glutamine. However my protein shake of choice has been off the market for a while and I AM DESPERATE for SOMETHING! So I am on the look out and ANY vegetarian suggestions would be most welcome!

I’m officially down to two shakes….. I feel as though the shake gives me a boost… I can have a meal-replacement shake with milk – but that increases the dairy content. I’m still hooked on fat-free milk and low-fat yoghurts (yes they have artificial sweeteners) – for some reason I have mental block against full cream. However, it may be my disordered eating patterns from a few years ago.

Emotions

Week 3 was better emotionally – I accepted that I was ill and took it easy. I was also at home with my folks and extended family… we always manage to make each other laugh and it is a good distraction. I did shed a few tears but it was more circumstantial than self-criticism.

What was interesting, though, is that I did notice the more I physically healed from the infection, the more and more anxious I felt. My body CRAVED movement of any sort. My trip back to Jozi was only on Tuesday so by the time Thursday rolled around I was VERY ready to get active.

Stats

I weighed in on Saturday…. and I lost 2 kgs. How, I have no idea. I’m scared I’ve lost muscle, especially since I was ill. But we will see how the next few weeks progress. No photos this week – I ran out of time and wasn’t that brave – plus I knew my diet was craptastic (to say the least).

One of the aims for myself in the challenge – is to get some sort of ass. I mean, it is “booty barre” for a reason… As usual, my body does things weirdly and I think I’m losing what little of an ass I have. EEK!!!!!!

I also want to get more definition in my tummy as well as get rid of the love handles – which I do believe may be going away a bit – though it could be my imagination.

 

Week 4 

I’m stretching myself for Week 4… perhaps being a bit overzealous. But I think I can kick ass. Mind over matter, right? I hope!

It is doubles all the way for me this week – barre and pilates today (Monday), Tuesday and Saturday. I’m keen to try the triple on Saturday but we’ll see how I feel on Wednesday! In addition to the barre and pilates, I am training with P for 30 minutes on Tuesday and Thursday. I also want to try and attempt a hot yoga class on Sunday (beginning of week 5) but I will listen to my body…

Dietwise, I want to cut down the sugar (no more honey or refined sugar for me). I also need to desperately increase my intake of water (I am severely lacking). My electrolyte supplements unfortunately do contain some sucrose so I can’t get away from that entirely – especially if I do not drink enough water, my body requires the supplement.

In my enthusiasm to move more and eat clean in Week 4, I did forget that I am also on a lab rotation that is insanely busy… All. The. Time.

All this means is that I will (hopefully) sleep REALLY well this week and I need to be super prepared!

Good luck to me ūüėź

Support

The 8 week #GetFitChallenge was always going to be tough for me. I knew it even before signing up:

  • The discipline to complete the required classes per week (I can flake really easily and have some pretty lame excuses) and to get focussed in other non-work related areas
  • Trying to not eat sweets or drink highly processed ready-made beverages and consciously choosing to “eat-clean”
  • Learning to accept myself, my weaknesses and tune down the self-hate… boosting confidence

It was freaking scary to sign up. I was going solo on this. Some scary stuff; especially for someone who is very fond of my comfort zone and being invisible (yes, I know I need to change that). I’m very used to feeling “not good enough” and even signing up was HUGE for me. For some weird reason Robyn kept asking if I was keen on joining… I was – perhaps she sensed it? I don’t want to live a life of “what ifs” and I want to be more open and “seen” but I truly feel that I’m not worth it… Yes, my self esteem is shot. But this challenge is helping rebuild it…piece by broken piece.

To be honest I never in a million years expected anyone – let alone Robyn, the mastermind of the challenge – to read about my journey through the eight weeks. Robyn has truly been a pillar of strength, sending my words of encouragement and motivation. I can truly say it is because of Robyn that I have not thrown in the towel not the challenge yet. I love that she has created Core-Barre: a studio that is welcoming and a pleasure to visit. Everyone in the challenge is awesome: friendly, supportive, welcoming. It is kinda a “safe space”.

Now I need to get my ass out of work and off to class!

k x

Heartsore

It’s been a rough week for me. The week started out “bleh”¬†and every day I felt a little more of my heart “squeeze” a little more (trust me, its real). It was a week of introspection and emotions – though there was not much outward displays of emotion on my part (which is a deviation from the norm for me…cos perhaps I am growing up).

Tuesday the 10th of Jan was the death anniversary of my paternal grandmother. She passed away in 2013. It was also the paternal grandfathers birthday – who, unfortunately, I never got to meet as he passed away before I made my entrance into this world. Because its my family, I guess they were trying to be economical…because January 10th is also the day my paternal aunt and uncle were married.. My uncle – my godfather – passed away suddenly, six months before my gran, in 2012.

Saturday the 14th of Jan would have been my maternal grandfather’s birthday. He passed away when I was 16. I was my first experience with death.

And I don’t think I’ve really death with it or worked through the “Kugler-Ross” grief stages. My default is to ignore and pretend it doesn’t happen.

So while I tried to ignore these dates and all the other feeling brewing inside me, I tried to keep occupied with work (I spent over 12 hours at work on one day trying to perform a two-day test in a single day). I also spent an incomprehensible amount of time on social media – which we all know makes us feel worse. I should’ve known better! Work – academic work has been piling up and I can’t seem to get to it…. I have opportunities that will only further my career yet I am scared. I worked out quite a bit, getting my ass kicked three days this week – thanks P – just to tire myself out to the point of exhaustion so I could sleep. My method, though highly flawed, seemed to¬†working.

And then came Saturday.

It was an easy, no-real-plan-in-place day, just a few appointments. I went to bed on Friday night with a bit of anxiety and woke up with it on Saturday morning. I tried to go drug-free and ignore it…. While I was getting my eyebrows threaded I started sobbing. Not because of the pain (though it is incredibly painful and not something you get used to… beauty is pain, right?), but it was as if the floodgates opened and my heart broke free. My beautician, Cookie, has been a constant in my life for the past few years and I trust her implicitly. Cookie is an eyebrow queen and has made my stringing, busy brows look amazing. I love her and truly treasure my time with her and she always makes me laugh. Cookie is beautiful and has an awesome, tell-it-like-it-is view of life. She’s almost like mom surrogate mom. While we were chatting and catching up… … I broke down. Mid-thread.

Cookie let me cry. She allowed me to let it all out. I always feel safe with Cookie and being so vulnerable with someone who respects and allows you to be free is rare.  And so so so so appreciated.

Feelings I buried within the depths of myself came up.

  • I miss those who I have lost. I have never truly mourned their deaths. Why did they leave when they still had so much to teach me? Why did they leave before I told them how much they mean to me?
  • I’m scared to take the plunge and try something new for my career…for fear of change and that I have to relocate when I have built my own eclectic family (and someone who is special to me) and community here. Even though I know the plunge only open more doors for me.
  • ¬†I’m frustrated, disillusioned and depressed that I do not know who I am, what I am meant to do in this world.
  • I worry I am getting older and won’t be able to have a relationship and family someday
  • ¬†I have been hanging on to false hope (with the someone who is special to me) – instead of seeing that I am being “used and abuse”, a toy to be played with then discarded. I love and care for someone who has given me every reason not to… yet, I can’t let go and walk away (am I an idiot). These feelings hurt – especially when the way I feel, care, love is not reciprocated.
  • Why do I hate myself so much?

After my “breakdown”, Cookie finished my eyebrows (they are amazing, as always) and just gave me a hug. I needed it. I managed to slot in a haircut at the same salon as Cookie and while I was getting my hair washed, Cookie made me the most amazing hot chocolate I have ever had. it was a regular hot chocolate but it really soothed my soul at that point and set me at peace… I think because it was made by someone who personally took time out of her day to make me hot chocolate, ¬†to show how much she cares about me. Its the little things in life. Cookie made my day and I got home smiling.

Until…now. I went to a Hot Yoga class this morning and made it through the class….only to get into my car and burst out crying. During class I looked at myself and could find rolls of fat that I despise. So much for me working out in a sports bra and leggings. Not the best way to handle yoga class at all. But I guess it is the state of mind I am in right now.

Crying is definitely the best release. I do feel more calm post-cry, but also exhausted… I haven’t felt this low about myself, my relationships, my body in a while and I do think the time has come for me to process the emotion of loss, move on and let go (for both the ones who are dead and the ones still alive). I also need to learn how to love myself – something I really struggle with. So I need to nurture myself a bit… while trying to be productive and disciplined… Life really is damn hard!

All in all, I’m still heartsore.

k x

hot-choc

 

Survival Of The Fittest

I’m a geneticist. A human geneticist. I love biology and pathways and everything that makes sense. I love that there is so much more to learn about the way genes are expressed, ¬†modified and how they fit into the grand scheme of things. Genetics is an abstract term and a subject where I have noticed – people “get” or “don’t get”. I’m lucky I get it. I love that I can take a few known facts and come up with a hypothesis that seems logical (well, in my mind). It keeps my brain stimulated – constantly questioning and learning which is a personal value. I need to always be learning.

Genetic variation has allowed species to adapt to environments; allowing evolution of species by natural selection – survival of the fittest, so to speak. As Homo sapiens we have seemed to have “lost” the basic natural selection thanks to medical technology. But, we are still evolving – perhaps not in great physical strides, but in other ways. I’m going to go a little far out but bear with me…

Why am I going on about genetics, genetic variation and adaption? Well, its not as obvious as you may¬†think.¬†Our brains are amazing – the plasticity of the mind astounds me. We can change the way we think, (Disclaimer: I am NOT a neurobiologist). I’ve learnt that as humans we go through a metamorphosis – in the traditional sense, as well as on the emotional/intellectual level. Hear me out, and you’ll understand why.

I’ve been in a weird place for the past few years. And I’ve been beginning to question everything I know about the world – who am I? What am I here for? You can call it an existential crisis – which started since I was about 25. I’ve been trying new things, reading more laterally and opening my mind to understanding myself better.

For me, 2016 started with me attending regular therapy session with a psychologist. I went at least once a week and we embarked on Cognitive behavioural therapy. This way of thinking is weird for me (I’m a pessimist) YET¬†there was nothing my logical brain could dispute. Example: If I say I just can’t take something anymore – well, I am “just taking it” because it hasn’t killed me yet. True? Yup, true. We – I – put connotations on things, and they are usually negative so I’ve in essence trained my brain to focus on the negative and it keeps me from trying new things, keeps me away from rejection.

After about 10 months of therapy, I felt I needed something a little different. Which is when I met Eliza at a hot yoga class. Apart from being a kick-ass hot yoga instructor Eliza runs an awesome company, Yoga Plus. One of the services she offers are facilitation classes – almost like life coaching.

Eliza does private facilitation sessions using the Demartini method. Now, I’m definitely not an authority figure on the subject and these are completely my views so there is a very good chance I’m horribly wrong.¬†In a nutshell the Demartini method involves the facilitator asking lots of questions – focusing on a certain “block” you are currently experiencing – and you digging deep into yourself trying to answer. The questions may seem simple enough but when you try answering you really need to concentrate and remember… A lot of the process requires you to identify people in your life who have seen you/ witnessed you encompassing certain qualities/traits (and you need to talk about these situations) that you don’t like which is causing you stress.

Ultimately, the process shows¬†you both sides of the coin – so to speak. It reframes the block (connotation: bad thing, bad relationship) so you can see the good and bad… Good as in how the block is “helping” you at this current moment and bad as in how the block is keeping you away from your ultimate goal. The bad is easy to figure out… The good – well, it makes you think a bit.

For example, I am struggling to complete a project, which I need to complete ASAP… It seems as if at every damn stage of the project I was hurled another obstacle – either professionally or personally which required my attention, instead of the project. ¬†The two sides are:

  • Bad: It is keeping me from succeeding professionally, making me feel like a failure.
  • Good: I was made aware of things (e.g. starting my first job and first serious relationship (and the struggles that went along with it), researching alternate therapies for cognitive disorders, reading more about the mind/body connection) that allowed me to grow, research, learn – as a person…not just a scientist.

This did not even hit me before my session with Eliza but before my project I was a judgemental, snobby, know-it-all bitch. For real. It was either my way or no way at all. Everything in my mind was either black or white. If you had a differing opinion to me, you were an idiot. Reflecting on my journey and to the person I am now, I am a lot less judgemental and I acknowledge that there are shades of grey. Every obstacle I faced during the course of the journey allowed me to stop and grow as a person Рsubconsciously.

It is freaking mind blowing.¬†The last session I had was few weeks ago and I’m still kinda freaked out (in a good way) about it. Everything was so clear… and it still is.

Eliza and the Demartini method has made me realise that all the obstacles in my path during the journey of my project was beneficial to me on an intellectual level – if not a proactive one to complete my project. Had I not experienced any adversity during my project – I would still be the same judgmental snobby bitch, probably very depressed and longing-for-more. Now, I’ve evolved and adapted intellectually to understand that there are other opinions and reasonings apart from my own and while I may still long-for-more I do know and acknowledge that every single person can teach me something…

We need to be intellectually and emotionally adaptable to live – to thrive (ok, I’m FAR from thriving) – in the world. We need to be open to all possibilities, to understand ¬†opposing viewpoints and not get too frustrated by them.. If we do not, we will be¬†desperately unfulfilled and unsatisfied with life – perhaps at the extreme suicidal (and I do go to the extreme).

Ultimately, my passion for genetics – with the help of Eliza (Yoga Plus) – taught me the most valuable lesson of all.¬†Only the fittest “survive”. Talk about a light bulb moment…

Now…to kick my ass into gear and get writing! ¬†Please check out Yoga Plus for an incredible facilitator and amazing hot yoga instructor!