Broad Street Run Countdown: 31 days left to go

Am I nervous? No.

Do I feel guilty? Yes.

It’s been over 2 months since I’ve signed up for the race and I have not trained. The only upside is that I’ve been following my regular eating and workout regimen. On the downside, I’ve been heavily drinking and bingeing on the weekends. Worst of all, I have not been running as much as I would like. For Pete’s sake, 12 miles was the most I’ve completed in a week for a very long time. When I was training for the half marathon, I was hitting 25-30 miles per week! Even then, my legs felt like heavy jelly by the 9th mile. Here’s what I plan to do in order to avoid jelly-legs and half-assed results – 

  1. Follow the training plan. Hopefully, mother nature will be nice to me and grant me sunny weather on my runs.  Otherwise, I’ll need a backup running course.
    • x mile run: Fartlek style. Fartlek is a free-flowing format in which you run faster for however long (or short) you want to. Many great athletes, including the Finnish Olympic medalist Lasse Virén, have done their speed training this way. To run this way, I will be challenging my body by doing quick sprints every now and then.
    • muscle train – any workout BUT cardio: Body-weight style. I’m not a big fan of weight machines; I rather use my own body as a weight to train. I’m fairly new to the muscle training area of fitness so don’t judge me! T__T Anywho, I really like the no equipment full body workout plan by “The Bike Guy” (http://www.instructables.com/id/No-Equipment-Full-Body-Workout/). Just a series of your old-fashioned push-ups, sit-ups, planks, and leg-ups. I also want to try the navy seal abs workout… (http://www.instructables.com/id/Navy-Seals-Ab-Workout/step2/Crunches/)
    • Cross Train – any workout BUTrunning (options): 
      • I’m a huge fan of the insanity program and have completed the program several times. Nowadays, I choose a video and jump to it. It’s an amazing workout program and everyone needs to try it! Shaun T is just extraordinary…. and sexy, if I must say.
      • Swimming. This is only if I can get into a gym with my friend’s gym guest pass since I don’t have a gym membership. I’m too poor to afford one… and I simply don’t like working out at a gym. I’ve started my fitness lifestyle in a gym and slowly edged out of it. Nowadays, I’m usually running outside or jumping around my house to Shaun T’s voice.
      • Various gym classes such as cardio kickboxing and boot camp. Once again, I’ll need my friend’s fancy guest pass to LA fitness. Fortunately, I have several good friends with that option :D! 
  2. NO HARDCORE DRINKING. This means no weekend black-outs, Fanny! Yes, you! I mean, me… 1 to 2 shots here and there or a glass of wine is acceptable.
  3. NO BINGE EATING. This means I’ll have to start eating healthy on my weekends as well. I’m in the habit of using my weekends as cheat days. Instead, I’ll have to cut back and start having 1 cheat meal per week only.
  4. Develop a good sleeping pattern. I’ll have to learn how to sleep early on weekdays and even weeknights. No more waking up at 2pm EST on the weekends…. =___=

References:

1. http://www.runnersworld.com/article/0,7120,s6-238-263–12081-0,00.html

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Rule to the fitness bandwagon: NEVER eat foods that you do not like

I think the most valuable lesson I’ve learned throughout my life in regards to fitness and health is to eat what I enjoy. I have fallen off the fitness bandwagon multiple times and one of the leading reasons is that I ate foods that I simply did not enjoy. This list includes plain oatmeal, plain yogurt, certain types of salads, black coffee, etc. I can go on, & on. For a long time, I never thought that simple alterations can make a complete difference in not-so-enjoyable foods. For example? I used to force myself to eat mixed greens with a drizzle of olive oil simply because it is good for me. Eventually, I stopped and lost all hope in lettuce and olive oil. Until, only recently, my friend introduced me to balsamic vinegar. Just a couple of drops of this stuff in the olive oil spring mix turned my taste buds around! I love it so much that I try not to eat too much of it in fear that I may lose my fondness of the recipe. I also used to hate carrots until I added peanut butter to the little orange sticks prior to munching.

You might ask me “well, Fanny, aren’t you adding more calories to these supposedly healthy foods?” The answer is yes, yes I am. But what is a little bit of balsamic vinegar if it gets me to eat my greens? What is a little bit of peanut butter if it gets me my vitamin A? Alterations to recipes and foods should be beneficial, not counterproductive. Instead of adding sugary dressings, I chose balsamic vinegar. Instead of ranch sauce, I chose peanut butter. These are only little example of beneficial alterations. My equation to healthy eating? Generic plain healthy recipe + beneficial alteration = WIN.

Now, you’ll probably ask “Fanny, doesn’t it take a ton of time to figure out WIN foods for myself?” My answer is yes, yes it will. Taste buds change all the time; therefore, figuring out what you enjoy eating will be a lifelong adventure. We spend so much time searching for schools, jobs, and love… why is it any different with food? (That is my question to you) You should always give your body the best, quality AND taste. If the food is not tasty, it is not worth it. Think of your body as your car, would you fill your car with low quality gas? You’ll just end up messing up your car (obviously, I’m not a car kinda gal…)

I found myself sticking to my fitness lifestyle when I eat what I enjoy. That does NOT mean you should eat cheesesteaks, french fries, pizza, etc.  Healthy foods that are delicious are just as abundant as unhealthy foods. Believe me. It just takes time to find those foods. Remember…. generic plain healthy recipe + beneficial alteration = WIN.

Confirmation that my Asian Parents actually did not find me in the garbage can

Young and impressionable, I was raised by eccentric parents to follow a specific path: go to school, get a job, get married to a man, have 2 kids, and retire comfortably. This is the specific path that my parents believe in (and fight for). I can understand their reasons for believing in this path. Hell, they immigrated all the way from China to America for a “better life”! They simply need something to believe in.

I have no doubts that this path will bring happiness in the forms of social acceptance, financial stability, family comfort, personal intellect, and much more. I’m not saying that it’s the wrong path. Not at all. I just wish they would have introduced me to different paths. Don’t get me wrong, my parents are pretty open-minded (by Asian standards). They respect and value my choices; however, they also know how to alter my choices in a subliminal and passive level. My parents won’t straight up tell me “no, that’s a bad choice” or “you should probably reconsider.” They know me so well that they are able to manipulate me to cater to their fancies. In the end, I’m following their path again.

Like almost every typical asian child, I was raised to learn how to play the piano, meticulously do my homework after school, dress to impress, look down upon “lesser” or “inferior” human beings, be compared to other robotic asian children, get scholarships, go to harvard, become a doctor slash engineer slash lawyer. Some of the items on this list, I have followed or achieved. Some, I simply refused to even acknowledge. I’m sure my parents meant well. Otherwise, they could’ve just thrown me in a garbage can and walked away. I just wish that they would’ve given me other options, instead of turning me into another little asian robot. Couldn’t they just tell me to start my own business or, even better, become a rock star?

Reference

My Life with The Sentimental Hoarder

Frustration of a friend: “I don’t understand why my mom keeps so much junk in the house. As I clean my room, I’m also digging through a ton of useless items: my baby clothes, toddle toys, middle school textbooks, stuffed animals, and empty cardboard boxes. I’ve asked of her to throw these things away several times but she absolutely refuses.”

I have the same frustration as my friend. I have bagged and attempted to throw out old useless items that I have gathered around the house during my great cleaning escapades. Note: this is not an overstatement. The act of cleaning my house is a true test of courage and commitment which can only be performed by an individual with a lot of patience…and a strong nose for dust.

You may think that being a housewife, my mom would be able to take care of the house just fine. Unfortunately, my mom absolutely despises the thought of cleaning. Her nose is so sensitive that even the thought of dust can cause her to sneeze like an angry hyena. Not to mention, my mom’s idea of a clean house is either hiding the mess or bagging the mess and leaving them in various corners of the house. Disposal is never an option.

My brother and I have always thought that our mom was a classic example of a grade A hoarder. When we ask her why she keeps so much old useless items around, her response is: “you never know when you’ll need these things. Once that day comes, you’ll be thankful that I have it ready for you.” The last time I checked the Merriam-Webster, her response compliments the definition of a hoarder. For a long time, my dad and I have tried to convince her that the malls and shopping centers aren’t going to blow up any time soon. If we really needed something, we could simply purchase it at a nearby store.

For a long time, I thought my mom might just be a compulsive hoarder. Fortunately, I was able to discover more of the truth behind her hoard-like ways last year. During one of my great cleaning escapades, I filled several bags of what-I-considered junk and left the bags outside of our entrance door. By garbage-day, I strolled up to my house after school and discovered that the all of the items in the bags were properly disposed off…or so I thought. I walked into my house and discovered a pile of middle school textbooks and toys that I included in the bags. During our typical daily dinner gathering, I asked my mom why she took the time to sort through the bags and pull out items to keep. Her response is the same as before: “you never know when you’ll need these things. Once that day comes, you’ll be thankful that I have it ready for you.”

Currently, this pile still sits in a little corner near the front door, reminding me of my mom, the Sentimental Hoarder.

Who says television and Irene is a complete waste of time and money?

Besides the $7 billion worth of damages that resulted from Hurricane Irene, most American families can agree that Irene has  done one good deed: bring us closer together. For many people, I guess force is better applied.  

On a Saturday night, I typically cuddle next to my mom and watch Chinese dramas – that was 10 years ago. The current 22-year-old “me” loves to prowl the bars, restaurants, streets, and local hot spots of various states on a the weekend. These were exactly my plans for last weekend until Elvis Duran, my favorite radio host, informed me of Irene. Unlike some of my unfortunate coworkers, I did not experience any power outages at home. However, I also knew that a majority of the bars, restaurants, and stores in Philadelphia would not be open or had early closing hours. I learned this fact the hard way when me and a friend decided to go to the mall on Saturday only to be informed by the mall’s  megaphones that they would be closing in 20 minutes. For safety precautions, I went back home, sat around for an hour trying to decide on something to do until my mom asked me if I wanted to join her in her room and watch a new drama. I accepted her invitation by changing into my PJs, making a steaming cup of hazelnut hot chocolate, and cuddling next to her in bed. Within the 5 hours, we talked, watched TV, enjoyed each others company, and snacked together. Eventually, I watched my mom slowly fall asleep. That night, I realized that I will always be the same little girl from 10 years ago to my mom no matter how old I am. Now, it kind of makes sense why she still tries to hold my hand when we walk around in public. I still think it’s embarassing but at least I can finally see it her way. I wonder if the same concept applies to my dad…

Even without power outages at home, I was able to unintentionally spend quality time with my family. I can only imagine how much closer the families that went through power outages in their homes may have gotten.

Another bonus: Irene definitely saved my wallet.

References:
http://www.newsobserver.com/2011/08/29/1446188/irene-damage-reaches-about-7-billion.html
http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/205337/20110829/hurricane-irene-philadelphia-flooding.htm

Rice and salt as indicators of experience

My parents love to use old Chinese proverbs to prove a point.

I don’t remember exactly what my parents were lecturing me about, but I definitely remember that they were trying to prove that I will always be significantly less experienced in comparison to them. The discussion happened over the dinner table, a typical pastime: feeding the kids with exhaustive lectures and delicious dishes at the same time. This way, we aren’t inclined to run off. Sometimes, my parents can be pretty brilliant. At one point, I decided to be a smartass and disagree with my dad. As usual, he would go off about his experiences and tell me that I still have much to learn. Before you know it, my mom would chime in (like they’ve planned the whole act) and spit out an old Chinese proverb. “I have eaten more salt in my life than you have eaten rice” is the one that really sticks to me. When I really think about it, they’re probably right. My parents have endured 30 or more years worth of crap in their lives when compared to me and my brother. That’s a lot of crap and a lot of salt!