Saturday, November 22, 2014


I know I haven't updated yet this week, but it may have something to do with the crazy Glasgow, London, Atlanta, Chicago travelling that's been going on.

I've finished SHF and have figured that I need to go back to body weight workouts given the facilities situation for the majority of the next few months (read: practically none). Finishing up a 21 day yoga challenge has also inspired me to try a new flows, and *gasp*, flows longer than 45 minutes (because someone here finds it hard to concentrate after that long).

Promising more updates and photos later tonight. Mainly I'm glad to be back in my own bed, even if it's only for 2 nights before we set off on our next adventure.  

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Lucky travelling

I'm incredibly lucky to be able to travel the world for work. This week, I was in NYC, then the UK, and am currently sitting in a hotel in Madrid, Spain.

I'm incredibly tired with the amount of travelling and work involved (including an international red eye flight sandwiched between two meetings), but there are definitely rewards for the effort. I'm remembering to be grateful for the opportunity, especially when I'm stressed, hungry, tired and sore.

Segovia is so very European and beautiful, even if the weather didn't cooperate with ominous clouds all around. 

I find feeding myself right and exercising to a plan difficult while travelling, but I do make the effort when I can because I just feel that much better when I look after my body. I have one final workout left of SHF and have been keeping up with the yoga challenge (with modifications to keep within time restrictions as needed). I've had fun with workouts, making full use of pull-up bars and squat racks when they've been available because, why not? 

I've made sensible food choices for at least 50% of the time, but the other 50% have been delicious but not too good for me. Roast suckling pig, meat platters and fried pig ears and pimento peppers anyone? Mmmmm fat.

Back to the UK (Scotland) tomorrow, then in London for a few more days before Atlanta, then finally home to Chicago for the weekend. Phew!

Happy and grateful indeed. Hasta luego!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Life goes full circle

So I'm back in NYC yet again, this time for a conference. While I don't particularly feel excitement anymore coming to the city that never sleeps, I'll always be grateful for the opportunities that bring me here.

After my post last week, I spent a day each in Columbus OH, Washington D.C. (or close enough) and Atlanta GA (not really, but the biggest city near where I was) before returning home. By Friday night, I was exhausted and honestly ready to do nothing. I didn't even unpack.

Not that I had much time to relax: the weekend was so busy that M had actually thought to put together a schedule (which actually made sure we got everything done). Chores around the house was followed by a yoga session, training, a well-deserved massage (ahhhh), a long drive in traffic into Chicago, dinner at Chick-Fil-A (not the healthiest choice but convenience sometimes just wins out), a spectacularly wonderful Jason Mraz concert and a nightcap affogato. That was just Saturday.

Sunday was less crazy: EPL + workout while watching, packing for the next fortnight, the Dr Who season finale while doing some paperwork before heading to the airport, a plane ride than then finally arriving in NYC. 

Back to the Jason Mraz concert though. I'm always amazed how music can bring people together. I have my doubts whether M and I would have gotten together if it weren't for the music or whether it would simply have meant we would have gotten together later. Perhaps the latter, but music and the the eloquence of how it phrases our emotions is to thank for a lot of things being put into motion. And that's pretty wonderful.

Sitting at the concert, I was consistently filled with wonder and inspiration and occasionally got a little teary, not only because Mraz's voice and songwriting are truly magical (because they are), but because everyone finds that music resonates within them at some level. I love feeling emotion (for the most part, sometimes I wish I didn't show it as easily) as it makes me feel alive. Needless to say, it was a very blissful 3 hours for me.

My workouts have been on point this week and I even managed a jog around Central Park with a colleague during the day (slowly for 4.4 km in 27:14). I've been keeping up with the YogaDownload challenge every day even though some days it's been hard to fit in even 20 minutes worth, and finishing up the final stage of SHF. I'm getting strong and it definitely feels wonderful. Now to find the next program to tackle. Any suggestions?

Eating has been less on point, with little indulgences here and here, but on the whole, it's been a good week. This week will be challenging, but nothing I can't handle. One more day in NYC, before heading back to Columbus, then on to the UK and definitely looking forward to spending the weekend in Madrid.

Life is wonderful.

And it takes no time to fall in love
But it takes you years to know what love is
It takes some fears to make you trust
It takes those tears to make it rust
It takes the dust to have it polished

Ha la la la la la la life is wonderful
Ah la la la la la la life goes full circle
Ah la la la la la la life is so full of
Ah la la la la la la life is so rough
Ah la la la la la la life is wonderful
Ah la la la la la la life goes full circle
Ah la la la la la la life is our love
Ah la la la la la

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

400 miles from home

It's been almost a week since my last post and I'm currently typing from a hotel room in Columbus OH. The drive over took two days, with a short stop at Purdue, and a long stop in Indianapolis.

Taking a step back though, I've been keeping myself busy over the last week. While there's been a somewhat/not-really/not-sure-if-I'm-actually-doing-enough-work rush for the month's upcoming work trips, for the most part, I've had plenty of time to cook and move and generally just look after myself.

I'm still going strong with #fallfreedom, making sure that I'm being kind to myself and moving each day and I must say I've seen positive changes in my mindset already (although I do think of myself as a pretty happy person already).

It's meant that I've been spending more time outside, and have been well rewarded by some beautiful sights, and the cold.

My running pace seems to be getting progressively slower and while it's certainly not ideal (because I really want to be Road Runner), it's fine. At least I'm outside, and moving, and still enjoying myself. 4km runs are manageable for now, but who knows, come spring I might get bitten by the running bug and want to do something crazy like run a half-marathon or something. Maybe. I'd need convincing from someone willing to be a running partner though. Or make friends with a baby deer who can at least start off at my pace.

I still haven't convinced myself that the treadmill is 'fun', but I do feel sweaty and successful afterwards.


Also, I love back bends and BlackMilk leggings. The perfect combination and by all the Instagram posts, at least 5% of the world agrees with me. And training Wushu twice a week - I find my body responds much better when training frequency is a bit higher.

Short story from a movement perspective, I've been moving a lot, and in fairly different ways. This makes me happy - all the oxygen and endorphins must be doing me good.  

After the Sunday morning outdoor run though, it was time to pick up a rental car and drive east. And then some more east. 

It wasn't all boring work though - I got to stop by Purdue and catch up with my cousin. Who I haven't seen in 13 years. 13 years! Last time we met we were far from being adults.

Who would have thought we would be meeting in the Midwest? The universe works in strange ways sometimes. And I need some sunglasses, or rather, need to remember to wear mine. 

Driving a bit further east, I arrived in Indianapolis Sunday night for a conference.  

While my job is still still squarely in a 'doesn't-really-belong-in-a-box' category, it's incredibly fun to meet new people and learn more about what they do. Many a fun conversation was had. Some not about work. One dinner I ended up at a table full of runners - there are many out there it would seem!

Also, the JW Marriott Indianapolis has a pretty awesome gym. Plenty of free weights, a pull-up machine, and an area just to do your own stuff like body-weight circuits - all things that make me happy. 

Today consisted of more driving east so I've ended up in Columbus, Ohio for a few more meetings, before flying east to Washington DC, then south to Atlanta, before flying home to Chicago. What a busy week!

To help me organise my yoga, I'm grateful that the YogaDownload 21 day challenge has started up again, which is bringing new flows into my workout rotation. Right now, the less decisions I need to make, the more manageable things feel. This week is going to fly by. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Remembering to be grateful and inspired

Monday marked the start of #fallfreedom - a fitness and mindset challenged hosted by the spectacularly amazing Neghar Fonooni. Apart from challenges that are meant to help fill your life with gratitude and happiness, what I've found most inspiring is the community she's created, filled with women that mutually supportive and incredibly motivating. What else could you ask for? Well, I can only think of one thing - a challenge that for women and men, but which is just as welcoming and supportive.

In any case, here's what I've been up to these last few days.

Monday wasn't exactly 'fun' but it was definitely productive. My first dentist visit in over a year resulted in 2 fillings and a higher than expected bill, but on the plus side, I managed to schedule a vision test, close a bank account, and buy a few things from Walgreens on the same visit. I love being able to chain errands together. Work, Portuguese lessons, a workout with M and a warming home-cooked dinner made it a pretty perfect day.

The scheduled challenge today was to start a gratitude journal. I've already got one, so I guess I succeeded by default but my intention was to make the items more meaningful rather than just being "I'm grateful for food", because well, I am, but there are so many other things to be grateful for.

Having decided to head into the city office fairly last minute, the morning was rather more rushed that I would have liked. I forgot my travel mug, but the train journey in was made more bearable by a few corporate finance lectures (because yes, I study sometimes for fun).

I've just discovered Roti which is like a Chipotle clone but with middle-eastern cuisine. I still prefer Chipotle's but at least there are options open. Now to find some more clones with different cuisines available. I'd probably end up cooking even less than I do now if I did though.

The challenge today was to walk 3 miles which I ended up breaking up into 3 sessions: a 1.8 mile walk during a lull at work, a 0.7 mile walk from the train station to nowhere in particular while waiting for M to pick me up, then a stint on the elliptical while on a late night phone call. Still counts.

Hump day. Failed the challenge of waking up without hitting snooze this morning, but at least made the most of my day, starting off with a few stretches like I do every day. Lack of coffee marred my morning routine, but surprisingly I felt OK even with the caffeine withdrawals.

The rest of the day has been dedicated to work and with a workout slotted in just before lunch. Two small loaves of rye sourdough have just come out of the oven, and I have an interactive Portuguese session scheduled for later tonight.

A few days until the weekend but plenty of work and an important presentation to get through before I get there.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Full bellies and fall freedom

It's the end of another weekend, which is always sad but at least the last 48 hours were well spent. I'll get to that in a moment. First I wanted to reflect on an interactive Portuguese session with Rosetta Stone. It was humbling to say the least: you can learn vocab and phrases when it's multiple choice questions but come a real conversation, it's like your brain stops and there's suddenly a block on all the things you've supposedly learnt. Guess it's all experience and practice.

The weekend itself started off with a well-deserved sleep in, then some time in front of the TV watching the EPL (what a scrappy game Arsenal, but I'm glad we won). I also managed to squeeze in a 12 minute body-weight circuit of burpees, rocking planks, seal jacks and superman holds during the half-time. It felt good to get some morning movement in.

After a small snack and an hour long training session in the early afternoon followed by lunch courtesy of the perfect salad bar at Mariano's (plenty of berries, even though they're not really in season), some game time and a 30 minute yoga session to help my body recover equaled a wonderfully productive, relaxing and rejuvenating Saturday. Fueled with plenty of coffee of course. Where would I be without coffee.

We woke up Sunday morning with an invite for yum cha in Chinatown, Chicago. Of course we accepted! It's been so long since I've been to yum cha that there have been midnight cravings for it. We didn't have high expectation for MingHin, just given the quality of asian food in the USA we've had, but the restaurant certainly delivered.

Most of the classic dishes (har gao, turnip cakes, chicken feet) were true to flavour and downright delicious and even though it wasn't 'health' food, I feel great. There's something homely and satisfying that soothes the soul. Everything in balance.

Strolling around Chinatown felt great - I really do need to explore more of this city that's my new home. I'm a little regretful that I didn't push myself to go outside and walk by the river in this beautiful autumn weather but will make a point to get outside tomorrow, regardless of how busy things may seem.

I'll finish the evening with a 30 minute Forrest flow then it's time to tackle the week ahead. I've committed myself to taking part in a fall freedom challenge to prepare and reset my mindset for winter. Tomorrow is all about gratitude. Seeing as I keep a gratitude journal already, instead of writing, my focus will be on making more meaningful journal entries.

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Chilly weather

The weather is cooling down, there's no arguing that. Thankfully, there's still plenty of warm sunshine to chase the blues away.

I've been spending most of my work time taking baby steps into programming and learning to code using D3. While at a high level programming makes sense to me, with all the steps and intricacies in the logic it's not long before I'm confused.

With the help of an online course, I have managed to generate a chart that updates with randomly generated data - not particularly useful but you've got to celebrate the small victories.

It's the stuff outside of work that makes me happy though:

 a warming bowl of ramen from downtown restaurant, Umai

and the view from the John Hancock building

I've been snacking more than I usually would and have been craving sweet foods recently which is never a great situation to have going on. Then again, I'm craving fruit more than anything so I guess it isn't all bad.

I never did make it to Bikram yoga in the end (work got in the way), but I'm keeping track with my other workouts, even managing a few sprints outdoors by the river today. Motivating comes and goes. but my habits are sticking strong so far.

Now off to dinner with a few Australians - can't wait to be back home for a visit in a few months.