Posts tagged "fitness"

Haha what!! Somewhat of an egocentric post (aren’t all blog posts, really?) but I am flattered by the cameo appearances I have randomly made on websites this week.  Here I am Tri-Maine’s Lobsterman triathlon site, and also on Commonwealth Sports Club’s membership page (which by the way is worth checking out if you live in Boston because it’s the best gym in the city, hands down!). Thanks Cat & Greg for the finds :p

Marathon Training & Fitness Stuff, Week of 10/15

Monday
Run 2.83 miles + Xercise Lab BurnLab 

Tuesday
Run 6.83 miles (split up into two) before and after Xercise Lab BurnLab

Wednesday
Much needed totally OFF day

Thursday
Practice run of Xercise Lab BurnLab with instructor.  Didn’t feel my best and was a little discouraged.
Run 7.89 miles HILLS to vent - Finally ran the Dish!  It was hard but rewarding.

Friday
Run 4.11 miles intervals (9:30min warmup, 7x [1:30 hard, 2:00 easy] + cooldown] 
Strength at the gym (two rounds of a circuit featuring push-ups, abs, shoulder presses, biceps & triceps curls, leg presses, chest extensions, and back extensions) - the biceps and triceps curl machines are surprisingly hard!! Had to lower my weights from what I usually do w/ free weights since the machine locks your arms and helps you hold your form.  Will have to work my way up on those since I’m at a meek 10-15lbs per arm at the moment….
30min practicing BurnLab in front of gym mirror.  I looked ridiculous but my form has improved and I felt much better than on Thursday. 

Saturday
13 miles pace.  It was windy and hot, so even though I managed 9:04 min/miles, it felt like a lot harder effort
1.5 hours of awesome flow yoga

Sunday
Went to Xercise Lab hoping to do BurnLab and BuildLab back to back.  BurnLab was cancelled at the last minute, so ended up doing a mini BuildLab with another prospective instructor, and then “real” BuildLab afterwards.  Practiced my BurnLab routine for 25min afterwards.

Total miles: 34.62 (up 3% from last week, but with a shorter though more effort-intensive weekend long run)

Running has felt pretty good, and this week was definitely overall more relaxed than the one before.  I’ve been trying to breathe through my nose more on my runs, which is helping my fitness level.  Marathon training is definitely teaching me patience and stamina, but also resulting in much slower runs than I used to do (not necessarily a bad thing though).  I signed up for a Thanksgiving Turkey Trot with some friends, so we’ll see how the 5K legs fare!  My Xercise Lab progress feels hot & cold, but overall the practice sessions have been a big help.  It also felt great to go to yoga, so I will have to check out that studio more and hopefully work yoga practice back into my routine.

Out for now!  Food post is in the queue for next time :)

Sweating a LOT

In yesterday’s post, I mentioned getting hired at Xercise Lab and making other promising relationships with area fitness studios.  As a result of getting hired at Xercise Lab, I have been working really hard to get up to speed on all the choreography, and working on my anaerobic and Xercise Lab-specific fitness levels by attending classes (think lots of kickboxing-inspired moves, jumping, mountain climbers, burpees, agility work).  I have also been trying to go to Form Fitness, a more traditional area gym with a really cool vibe, as much as possible: I had a free pass with them last week, culminating in an audition on Sunday for an indoor cycling instructor position.  I hope to build a more rooted, long-term relationship with them, so I wanted to make an effort to attend as many of their popular classes as I could to get a feel for the clientele, show my mug consistently, and check out different cycling instructors’ teaching styles.  On top of this, I also started my Whole Foods job last week, and am still trying to do a decent job with my marathon training.  All while staying balanced and sane.

The result??  Doing cardio like it’s my job (I guess it sort of is now?).  The main differentiating factor between this and my days as a varsity athlete/this summer’s half-Ironman training is the added pressure of trying to perfect something so that I caneffectively teach and coach others.  It’s not just about me anymore…it’s about putting in 200% so that I can push others to their 100%, and in Sunday’s case, impressing a potential employer with a combination of both my fitness and teaching skills.  Here’s a brief recap of last week’s workout-related activities:

Monday 10/8:
45 min Xercise Lab BurnLab class (high intensity cardio)
10 min Xercise Lab audition 
30 min of Xercise Lab BuildLab class (high intensity bodyweight strength work)
1 hour Flow (barre style) class at Form Fitness…surprisingly intense!
Stretching 

Tuesday 10/9:
1 hour power cycling class at Form Fitness
2.5 hours learning Xercise Lab choreography
1 hour practicing my spin class with friends
30 min run with Jeff

Wednesday 10/10:
1 hour meeting/interview at local YMCA
50 min Stanford Rec Boot Camp (a bi-weekly class that two friends and I signed up & paid for at the beginning of the semester, so feel obligated to keep coming to despite busy schedules and a pretty low-key format so far)
25 min run 
45 min Xercise Lab BurnLab class 
35 min run 

Thursday 10/11:
1 hour learning/practicing Xercise Lab choreography
1 hour working with Xercise Lab instructor to fine tune my choreography and technique
70 min power cycling class at Form Fitness 
Foam rolling and stretching 

Friday 10/12:
45 min Xercise Lab BurnLab class 
1 hour practicing my spin class with a friend
30 min weights/strength training at the gym — was craving some weights after such a cardio-heavy week
Much needed mini-yoga/stretching

Saturday 10/13:
3-hour long run (longest yet! 30km, ~18.6 miles)

Sunday 10/14:
1 hour doing my Form Fitness power cycling audition*! (subbing a class)
24 min running on treadmill
1 hour Flow class 
2 hours learning/practicing Xercise Lab choreography

Total:
4.9 hours running (was scheduled to do 36-41, but “only” got to 33.5.  Got in the full length of the most important run, though!)
5.2 hours cycling
3.75 hours working hard at Xercise Lab
5 hours practicing Xercise Lab stuff (more low key)
3.3 hours strength work (I count bootcamp even though it was pretty low key…)
0.5 hours stretching (this is for dedicated,  independent stretching time; I stretch after nearly every workout, and the stretching components of spin, Xercise Lab, and flow are worked into the class time)

Oh yeah, and commuting by bike everywhere.  Thankfully, everything is fairly close together!

Holy crap, when I put this all down in writing, it seems like so much.  It’s comparable to peak training for Ironman** in terms of time commitment alone, haha.  I don’t want family/friends/readers to think I’ve suddenly gone unhealthily nutso for exercise, or am jumping off the good-novice-marathon-training bandwagon.  I don’t love the fact that I haven’t had a rest day this week (my legs felt it today), or that I’ve had to cut back on running.  However, I must admit that this is overall not a bad problem to have.  I wanted some fitness jobs, and several opportunities have rapidly come my way.  I basically got what I wished for, and some.  I anticipate things to slow down physically & mentally once I get better at the Xercise Lab routines and start teaching on a set schedule.  But for now, I trudge on, do my best, and foam roll every chance I get.


Best fwiend ^

* I got the job!! More details to be determined.
**  Maybe this is a sign that I’m officially ready to take on the mental aspects of Ironman training at some point in time, haa.

Taking Chances — my quest for career fulfillment and spreading happiness, health, and sweat

In my post from October 3rd, I wrote a bit about my recent move to California and utilizing this transition to “recalibrate” and pursue some new career paths that I’ve been interested in exploring for a while now, though was maybe lacked the confidence, resource, and [insert other excuse here] to do so before.

Initially, I was applying to jobs at various tech companies in the area, thinking that it was what one should do when young, educated, and in Silicon Valley.  However, my heart just wasn’t into it.  With the exception of a few really neat start-ups that I could definitely see myself working at, I felt that though a lot of the companies had cool culture and perks, the actual jobs themselves wouldn’t be all that exciting.  Sometimes, that’s totally okay—to not love your day-to-day tasks if you love the company, people, and pay, or if your current job is a gateway to something else you really want to do—but I just wasn’t feeling inspired by the thought of starting another questionably-fulfilling desk job.  Furthermore, many of the aforementioned jobs seemed like they would work “for now,” but I couldn’t really see myself being there long term, or having them result in something I was truly passionate about.  

Therefore, after quite a bit of contemplating, meditating, and a dash of “eh, screw it, I’m going for it!,” I gave up the good-Ivy-League-grad-searching-for-a-neatly-packaged-full-time-job path that I’ve been on since graduation, and started looking for part-time gigs that would hopefully give me a clearer sense of what I’m looking for in a career, and ideally help me get there.  Of course, I’m also trying to enjoy the ride and not get too caught up in “where I’m going,” because I’m definitely a believer in living in the present moment!

One of the things I’m currently working on is getting certified as a group exercise instructor—something I have actually been contemplating for a while, and wanted to do regardless of whether or not I ended up getting a full-time job.  I have always loved and been really interested and invested in health, wellness, and fitness, and it’s something I spend a lot of my free time learning about and indulging in (making fun dishes and writing in this blog being just a fraction of it).  I also love motivating and coaching people towards success, or, if anything, towards that gratifying feeling one can only get from an effective, sweaty workout.  I’m already certified to teach Spinning (indoor cycling), and my former DJ self is really enjoying coming up with ride profiles and playlists.  The search for instructor positions on the West Coast has actually been more fruitful than I initially anticipated because I’ve been both aggressive and super enthusiastic.  Though I haven’t secured a regular gig, I’ve made some meaningful connections that currently show a lot of promise; I think studios and gyms really appreciate a passionate, go-getter attitude!  In addition, I recently got hired to teach classes at a new start-up studio called Xercise Lab!  The home studio is in Palo Alto and offers pre-choreographed cardio and strength classes that don’t require any equipment.  The company is working with gyms across the country to license their workouts (a bit like Les Mills), so it’s exciting to be a part of.  I am still in the process of training and learning the choreography, so probably won’t start officially teaching for a few more weeks.  As I get more experience with teaching, and if I continue to enjoy it, I am also thinking about obtaining other secondary certifications (maybe in TRX, flexibility, etc.).  

As much as I love sweating in a group, I see health and wellbeing as a holistic pursuit, and am therefore also very interested in becoming a lifestyle & wellness coach.  I’ve had friends ask me why I don’t just go back to school to become a nutritionist or dietitian, and how wellness coaching differs.  Nutritionist and dietitians, similar to personal trainers, are usually responsible for accessing someone’s overall health, and using their expertise to subscribe a detailed plan of action and/or diet for their clients.  By contrast, wellness coaches are less focused on numbers and the clinical aspects of health, and more focused on empowering clients to make sustainable health and fitness changes based on their individual strengths and interconnected lifestyle choices.  The goal is to help guide people to their best physical, mental, and emotional health.  Many nutritionists, physicians, and psychiatrists work in conjunction with wellness coaches to give clients the best of both worlds; moreover, quite a few wellness coaches are also nutritionists or registered dietitians themselves!  I am personally more interested in the wellness coaching aspect because I think it’s something I would enjoy more and thrive better in, but the scientific/clinical aspects of nutrition do fascinate me as well.  So as not to pursue too much at once, I have been focusing on options to gain further training and credentials in the wellness coaching arena, while learning about the science of nutrition and physiology as more of a fun side thing for now (via reading and Coursera courses, woohoo!).  I’ll also be studying up on the the latter in preparation for some of the group fitness certification tests mentioned earlier.  I don’t really know what this will lead to in the future, but it would be really cool to start my own coaching business in the not-too-distant future, and maybe one day open a fitness/wellness center offering unique classes, personalized coaching, and delicious vegan smoothies ;)

~

On top of all that, I am still working on keeping the art skillz sharp.  It isn’t as big a focus at the moment, but I do currently have a few small illustrations projects that are generating some income.  As a new contributor to Chic Vegan, I am also creating illustrations for the site on a monthly basis (for now), for which I am getting paid in feel-good karmic points, plant-based creative inspiration, and exposure :)  

In addition, I just started a part-time job at the Palo Alto Whole Foods (the oldest location in California) as one of their back-up store artists!  My main tasks consist of making signs, writing and drawing on chalkboards and glass, and creating digital flyers.  The hours are sparse for now, but it’s perfect for my current situation and I love the work so far!  It helps that I get a sweet discount on all their products and that everyone who works there seems really happy.  Not to be overlooked is also the company’s focus on health and sustainability, which should complement my own personal and professional health/wellness endeavors nicely.

~

To sum up this lengthy post:  I’m definitely taking some interesting chances, but enthusiastically trying to build a career around health, fitness, wellness, and coaching, balanced out with a healthy dose of meaningful illustration work.  Time will tell if this is what’s right for me…but hey, if I’m gonna take some chances and make some changes, no better time than now, right? :)

Have you been through a similar situation, or are going through one now?  I’d love to exchange stories and motivation.

I got 2nd place! = $200 AmEx gift card :D

Thanks to the 6.1% body fat loss, I got 2nd overall for the gym challenge out of all the females!!!  90% of people lost body fat, so really everyone won in their own special way.  Really stoked about the money prize though!  Enough to cover USAT Nationals and maybe a new helmet ;)  The 1st place people got $500 each (male and female), and 3rd place got $100. Day-um.

Went to Grasshopper afterwards to celebrate with Jeff, followed up by 2-for-1 double chocolate cookies from Peace O’ Pie :)  Happy day!

me w/ Jack (my team leader/trainer) and another fellow Team Jack-er

I lost 6% body fat!!(???)!!

A few posts back, I mentioned that I was partaking in this fitness challenge held by my gym, with the goal being to get healthier and lose body fat.  We got split up into teams led by trainers and were given some personalized advice/guidelines to follow for 45 days.  I signed up for the fun of the competition, to get some trainer advice for el cheapo, to *hopefully* get leaner and stronger before tri training really kicked in, and to spice up my routine.  Well…according to my measurements today…I lost over 6% body fat!!!!

I still can’t quite believe it.  I only lost ~3 pounds, so must have gained quite a bit o’ muscle!  I have been a lot more diligent about doing strength work, and been more conscious about my food intake (and timing nutrition), but 6% is beyond my wildest expectations.  It’s not like I’m at a super low percentage now…my starting % was in the “average” range but actually seemed really high for someone with my frame, weight, and activity level.  I’m now officially in the “fitness” category, which is where I definitely think I belong.  Who knows, maybe I’ll even be in the “athlete” range one of these days!

The measurements were done with calipers, so yes, definitely plenty of chances for errors.  BUT the measurements were done using the same tools, by the same trainer, so there must have been some real, relative change.  At the end of the day, I am stronger & leaner than I was 45 days ago, and that’s a great feeling :)

Welcome!

Dear readers, drop-ins, food enthusiasts, and fellow athletes,

Thanks for stumbling upon my new blog!  I decided to start this separate tumblr after realizing that the one I had meant to reserve for art-oriented posts, The Daily Drawmedy, was becoming frequently sprinkled with my homemade recipes and my growing number of training and racing updates.  I’m a fan of organization and cohesiveness by nature, so I wanted to dedicate this blog exclusively to two of my favorite things: fitness and food!

The fitness content content is focused mostly on my personal experiences with running and triathlons, ‘cause that’s currently what I do.  However, as a exercise enthusiast and gym rat, I will likely try and occasionally post about my forays into other sweaty, ass-busting activities (Tabata! Pilates! TRX! Yoga! Aqua jogging…?).  Please note that I’m not an expert, nor do I aspire to make this an all-inclusive guide/account on fitness.  I’m just a girl who likes to post about her experiences on a semi-frequent basis, and maybe you’ll even read about it once in a while!

As far as food is concerned, I am vegan* and love to experiment with all sorts of cooking methods and international cuisine.  There are so many delicious, creative, and cruelty-free ways to nourish one’s body, and I am constantly exploring new ways to do so.  I also hope that my being a healthy, happy, and pretty successful recreational competitor will help dispel the myth that athletes can’t thrive on a plant-based diet, because that’s just silly :) (though you don’t really need me to prove that to you…just look at Brendan Brazier, Scott Jurek, Carl Lewis, Mac Danzig, Robert Cheeke, etc…)

I hope you enjoy whatever you find on this blog, and that you’ll connect if you have similar interests.

Cheers!

Yifan

* No animal products for me!  This includes meat, poultry, fish, crustaceans, dairy, gelatin, etc.  However, though I don’t seek it out or purchase it, I do occasionally consume/use honey, which most vegans do not (though I prefer the taste of agave nectar and maple syrup).  And as a woman with certain weaknesses, the occasional piece of milk chocolate.

Culinary adventures and training updates of a plant-based fitness & health enthusiast-turned-triathlete.

My interests include holistic health, cooking/gobbling up fresh produce, exercise, and contributing to a healthier, happier, and more compassionate world!

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