Yelp’s Fit Club Wrapup

It’s March! Which not only means that we can (hopefully) look forward to some of this ice and snow melting, but it means that Yelp’s Fit Club is officially finito! For those of you who don’t know, all last month I was working on a fitness promotion for Yelp that included a ton of different fitness and nutrition events.

It ended up being a lot of work to fit in 8 different events myself, plus squeeze in a trip to Savannah, AND have my annual Regional Summit for work all within the same (very, very short) month, but I gotta say, coming out on the other side of things makes me feel like 2015 has already been a pretty rockin’ year. After all, it’s only Day 2 of Month 3, and I already feel like I’ve accomplished A LOT.

Plus, I’m not gonna lie, it was kinda nice shifting my focus from the foodie side of Yelp to the fitness side of Yelp, at least for a little while. Of course, as soon as I got together with my Yelp coworkers from my regional team, things reverted back to normal, hehe. But more on that in a second. First, let me tell you a little bit about two of the super interesting workouts that I got to try through Fitclub!

[solidcore]

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[solidcore] isn’t lying on their website when they say that this is the hardest workout you’ll ever do in your life. I did this workout LAST Saturday and I’m pretty sure my abs are STILL sore from it. It is 50 straight minutes of core work on megareformer pilates machines, and duuuuuuuude. It was SO intense. But CLEARLY a great workout — it’s all about working your muscles to failure and letting the calories keep burning long after the class is over.

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Luckily, all the ridiculous hard work paid off in the form of an exclusive breakfast at sweetgreen right afterwards! They prepped us special parfaits made with their yogurt, rolled oats, quinoa, nuts, honey, blackberries, and mint, as well as avocado and cashew butter toasts.

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So even though this was definitely one of the hardest workouts I’ve ever done, it was also one of the most rewarding. Figuratively and realistically, heh.

Orangetheory Fitness

So after I finally recovered from [solidcore], I had the opportunity to work out at Orangetheory Fitness, which is a studio that utilizes heart rate monitoring to pump up our workout efficiency.

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Everyone gets a Polar heart rate monitor attached, and then your statistics are put up on a screen throughout the class so you can keep yourself in check. It’s also kind of fun, because it has you working like a team with your fellow workoutters — you get “badges” and stuff for everyone being in the right zone and whatnot.

The workout outself is a lot like a personal training session or CrossFit WOD — we would spend a certain amount of time/distance on the treadmill, then move over to the rowing machines, and did that cycle three times. Then we did weight training sets for the rest of the hour.

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In the end, they summarize your heartrate info on the monitors AND email you a summary from Polar afterwards! Pretty cool! I actually did a lot better than I thought I would — I was sure that my heartrate would be in the red zone like, 70% of the time, but I guess all that P90 has been a little bit useful after all! If anything, I could have been pushing myself harder, I guess? I dunno, I sure felt like I was working it!

There was also a couple of yoga classes, a dance workout, and a nutrition workshop tossed into the mix too, but these two were definitely the workouts that I found most interesting from a learning standpoint — I’d definitely go back to Orangetheory, although I’m not sure if I’m really cut out for [solidcore] juuust yet. But hey, it did make me feel just a little bit less guilty about all that insanely delicious food I ate during my Regional Summit.

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Errrrr, then again… there’s probably not enough [solidcore] in the world to offset the insanely delicious meals we had at Zaytinya, Tico, and Acadiana last week. I’m drooling just thinking about them! Plus, the company wasn’t too bad either, hehe. My coworkers are the best!

As part of our Regional Summit, we also had a team off-site at Escape Room DC, which is this CRAZY fun Clue-like mystery game. You get locked in a room that is rife with clues, and you have 45 minutes to escape. It was an insanely fun teambuilding activity (spoiler alert: we did NOT escape, but we sure had fun trying!) and I’m already thinking about going back for my birthday!

I heard they’re actually building an even bigger location in Alexandria set to open in the Spring, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed for that!

And that just about brings us up to speed! I’m off to Savannah AGAIN tomorrow (crazy!) which means I’ll get to spend a little more QT with my sister and niece on the way over. Hooray! So I’ll be back here in a few to update you guys on that, hopefully with some extra cute Mia pics in tow, hehe.

See you on the flipside!

Year of the Ram

Happy Chinese New Year, friends!

Yesterday marked the first day of the Year of the Ram (or Sheep or Goat, depending on who you ask!), so allow me to wish you all a year of prosperity, good health, and great times! As most of you know, I am half-Chinese, so Chinese New Year is usually a big deal in my household, but this year my parents are out of the country so I had to make due with my own mini-celebration.

 
And by mini-celebration, I mean that ate some hand-pulled noodles at Lotus Garden with friends. Heeeeee.

Speaking of celebrations, I have another exciting thing to celebrate this week:

I got my BRACES OFF!!!!!!!

 
I’ve had lingual braces for the past year-and-change, which means I had braces behind my top set of teeth. So while you couldn’t actually see them, I DEFINITELY knew they were there. And now they’re gone! Well, replaced with a permanent retainer, so there is still a little something behind my chompers, but nothing nearly as intrusive as those big metal brackets. So here’s to a new year of not getting food stuck in my braces anymore!

In other news, Yelp’s Fit Club is still chugging along, and this week has so far given me the chance to try out an Ayengar yoga class. And tomorrow I toy with fate by attending my very first [solidcore] class, which I hear is supposed to be the most difficult workout of your life. No big deal. And then, as if that weren’t enough, I have another fitness event on Sunday — a bootcamp-style workout at The Worx by Maia. WHEW.

Good thing I’ve been doing P90 for the past six weeks, otherwise I wouldn’t even be in good enough shape to make it through my own fitness classes, hahahaha.

So I guess you can look forward to hearing about all those various different workouts next week… if I survive, that is! And have a great weekend in the meantime, folks!

Baby, It’s COLD Outside

At the time of my writing this post, it is 12 degrees outside.

Oh, but don’t worry, if that doesn’t seem cold enough, with wind chill it actually feels like 4 degrees. That ish be COLD.

Sometimes I think about the fact that I went to high school in Canada, and wonder how I did it. I mean, it gets WAY colder than 4 degrees in Ottawa, and I still managed to make it to school every day without complaining too loudly (and in my school uniform, no less!)

A-hem. Anyway.

Other than complaining incessantly about the bitter cold, I spent my weekend doing what most of you did this weekend as well: celebrating Valentine’s Day!

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The highly accurate Valentine’s Day card I got for Sean.
Sean and I actually celebrated a day early by going out to dinner on the 13th. He surprised me with reservations to one of the restaurants on my personal DC Bucket List: Sushi Taro!

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Sushi lover that I am, Sushi Taro has been at the very tippy top of my to-try list for many moons, so obviously I was thrilled that Sean booked us a table at this hyper-authentic, amazing Japanese restaurant.

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They were offering a special Valentine’s Day kaiseki menu this weekend, which included a heckuva lot of deliciousness, and some adventurousness, too! So, without further adieu, I present to you, my dinner:

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The kaiseki menu kicked off with a champagne cocktail made with plum wine and a yamamomo fruit, and I also ordered an additional cocktail… called the Hello Kitty cocktail. Heh. I mean, c’mon I couldn’t NOT order it!

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The Hello Kitty was made with those little sweet Japanese cultured milk/yogurt drinks you can find in the Asian supermarket, which brought me straight back to my childhood — except in a, y’know, more drunk-y way, It was the most fun color, and was served with a Pocky stick, so obviously I loved it.

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Then came out first appetizer, Sushi Taro’s signature cold sesame tofu, topped with Maryland blue crab. I loved it — the texture was so smooth and creamy, and the blue crab was crazy delicious. I’m not sure Sean was as big a fan of this first dish, but I definitely would order this again, no question.

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Course #2 was a tempura’d lobster cake with bamboo shoots. Light and crispy and tasty and delicious, this went down way too fast.

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Then came what we were really waiting for: the sashimi platter. Holy smokes, was this thing BEAUTIFUL. Their plating and presentation is really unparallelled. It was almost too pretty to eat!

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Almost. Heh.

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The sashimi platter included salmon, mackerel, red snapper, oysters, smoked bonito, and a gorgeous lightly cooked lobster tail, and it was all incredible. The fish melted in my mouth like buttahhhhhh, mmm.

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You’d think that the sushi platter would be the be-all and end-all of reasons to come out to Sushi Taro, but believe it or not, what followed was even more incredible. We were treated to real Japanese Wagyu beef in the form of sukiyaki — Japanese hot pot.

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The presentation on this was tremendous fun as well. You get a large stone holster with burning embers inside, and a pot of sweet and savory (umami!) broth simmering on top. Then you get thin slices of raw Wagyu beef on the side, along with a cold poached egg.

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As for the eating, you put the slices of Wagyu beef into the broth to cook them (they cook SUPER fast) and then break your poached egg and dip the beef into the egg before eating.

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You know, I’ve eaten a lot of cows in my life, but I can honestly say I have never had beef like this before. The incredible marbling that comes with Wagyu makes each bite — even with slices as thin as these! — so amazingly tender and flavorful. It just melted onto my tongue. My mouth is literally filling with saliva just thinking about this course. Guff.

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Anyway, not to be outdone by its meatier counterpart, the next course was just as satisfying for a sushi lover like me. Bring on the nigiri!

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We were each served a piece of king yellowtail, zuke tuna, and aji mackerel, and each was sushi perfection. This course came with a plum salt on the side which I thought was particularly interesting — it was like a ground up version of the salted plums my mom makes me suck on when I have a sore throat.

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Then came a quick palette cleanser of lobster miso soup, which, if I’m being totally honest, didn’t taste that much different from regular miso soup. And it could have been hotter, as well. But this is really the only thing out of the entire meal that didn’t absolutely blow my mindhole.

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And the soup was VERY quickly forgotten anyway, because we had more nigiri coming! Our final sushi course included a piece of fatty tuna, our choice of ikura (salmon roe) or uni (sea urchin), and unagi (freshwater eel). This came with a green tea salt on the side of the dish. Sean and I both opted for uni, but then he pansied out and didn’t want to try try his, so I got TWO pieces of uni! Bwahaha.

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Uni was everything I thought it would be. Honestly, I can’t believe I’d gone so long without every having it! It is all smooth creaminess from start to finish, and was such a memorable way to end the savory portion of our meal.

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Of course, you can’t end an epic meal like this without something sweet, so for our final course we each got a slice of Belgian chocolate mousse cake and some hot tea. It was light and fluffy and the perfect slice of sweetness to cap things off!

So there you go, one seriously epic Valentine’s meal on the books! Sean’s gonna have a hard time topping this next year, that’s for sure! On actual Valentine’s Day we played it low-key with lunch and a movie — we saw Kingsman: The Secret Service and it was great! Not exactly a Valentine’s movie in the traditional sense, hehe, but still a ton of fun. Two thumbs up!

I hope all of you had a great weekend as well, whether you decided to celebrate Valentine’s Day, Galentine’s Day, Single Awareness Day, or just, well, Saturday!

P90: 30 Day Update

So, last we left off in my P90 saga, I had just entered my third week. I am now at the point where I’ve just finished Week 5, which included my 30 day weight and measurement update. I also spoke a little bit about feeling off in my fourth week, which caused me to take two days off from the whole six-days-a-week workout thing. Alas, I’m sort of embarrassed to report I haven’t really recovered from that.

Fortunately (and somewhat shockingly), I have still been working out and following the program, I just haven’t quite managed to get myself back up to doing it every single day. It’s been more like every other day which, granted, is better than nothing at all, but still not what I’m “supposed” to be doing.

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Somewhat ironically, given the name of this blog, I’m really having a hard time finding that in-between when it comes to working out. It appears to be all or nothing with me. So, once I let myself have a break, it becomes all that much easier to continue allowing myself to do so. And unfortunately, with me hopping on a plane today to head down to Savannah for the next couple of days for work, I’m not sure this issue is going to fix itself quite yet (though I am bringing workout gear so I can hit that hotel gym at least once.)

Thankfully, finally starting a new set of P90 workouts (I’m officially in “Phase B”) is indeed helping with ramping my motivation back up a little. I admit that just doing the exact same workout in the same order with the same jokes over and over did get a little bit taxing, and so far I’m liking Phase B a lot more because there’s no more “intro” talk — Tony knows that you’re already a month into the program, so he jumps right into things a bit more, and I appreciate that.

Regardless of how things have been waning slightly over the past week or so, I was pretty vigilant for those first 30 days, at least, so let’s see where that got me, eh? I took my measurements and some photos on Day 1, and again on Day 30, as recommended. While photo progress appears to have been minimal, as has my actual weight loss (I’m down about 4 pounds, which, on the one hand, hooray! But on the other, womp womp), I have made a bit of progress measurement-wise. So, without further adieu:

Day 1 (1/7/2015)
Chest: 43″
Waist: 38″
Arms (R/L): 15.5″/15″
Thighs (R/L): 30.5″/30″

Day 30 (2/10/2015)
Chest: 42.5″
Waist: 37″
Arms (R/L): 14″/14″
Thighs (R/L): 29″/29″

So, basically an inch off of everywhere, which might not be anything groundbreaking or Biggest Loser worthy, but I’ll take it! I do wish I had taken my hips/butt measurement back on Day 1 (it wasn’t prompted in the little P90 booklet so I kind of forgot about it) but I did measure it on Day 30, so we’ll see what progress is made in that department on Day 60. And hopefully by then I’ll have made enough visible progress that I’m down with sharing some not-sucking-it-in photos, hahahaha.

The workouts in Phase B are definitely more intense than those in Phase A (still with lots of options for modifications, which I am taking advantage of), so maybe my fitness level will start being ramped up even faster, doing more intensive work? Provided I actually get back to DOING it the full six days a week, that is. And outside of P90, since Yelp’s Fit Club is also this month, I’ve got a ton of other cool workouts (yoga, kempo, pilates, bootcamp, and more!) to throw into the mix to keep things interesting — and to keep me on track.

Speaking of which, my first Yelp’s Fit Club fitness class was on Friday!

Northern Virginia Yelpers gathered together for a Zumba-esque dance workout called Sweatvibes! And it KICKED. MY. ASS. In the best way possible, of course! Sweatvibes is an hour of super loud, super pumped up, super high energy dance cardio, and it was a TON of fun. And seriously, what a great workout — I was definitely sore the next day! All that arm-pumping really does you in, man! Thank goodness I’ve already been working out for the past month, otherwise I’m not sure I would have even gotten through the whole hour, haha.

 
Too bad my Fitbit is half-broken, so I only got like half-credit for sweating my butt off. So bitter… because if we know anything, it’s that if you didn’t take a picture/log it/post about it on Facebook, it didn’t happen, right? ;)

Aaaanyway, now it’s off to Savannah for me! I’m probably in the air as you read this, in fact! Here’s hoping I have the strength not to simply bathe in buckets of sweet tea and butter for the next two days, hehe. And I’ll see you on the flipside!

Beauty, Confidence, and the Concept of Being “Brave”

Tess Holliday has been rocking headlines over the past week when she was announced to be the newest model signed to MiLK Model Management’s roster. At 5’5″ and a size-22, she is (by her own admission) essentially the biggest plus-size model ever to be signed to a major agency, an amazing feat in and of itself.

I’ve followed Tess (known also by her birth name, Tess Munster) on Instagram for quite a while, always admiring her for, yes, her insane beauty and ALWAYS on-point eyebrows, but also for being such a fierce and admirable woman. She is the creator of #effyourbodystandards, a social media movement that preaches and promotes self-love, body-positivity, and acceptance regardless of size.

 
Now, it probably comes as no surprise (sadly) that Tess gets lobbed a lot of hatred and judgment on her IG account. I’d say about two-thirds of her negative comments seem to come from ignorant jerks (via such meaningful and eloquent comments as “Ew!” or “Fatass!” or, best of all, tagging their friends with a couple of laughing emojis), and the rest come from concerned citizens of the interwebs (“She’s beautiful, but you have to wonder if she’s healthy?” or “Her confidence is admirable, but promoting obesity is just as bad as being too thin!”).

Now, I don’t really feel like traipsing down the rabbit hole with regard to the idea of Tess “promoting obesity” because I honestly think that it’s flat-out ridiculous. The fact that Tess exists at her current size in no way means she is promoting or glorifying having a fat body. She’s just Tess. This is not about obesity glorification or the promotion of unhealthy habits. This isn’t even a discussion about Fat Acceptance or Health At Every Size or anything like that. It’s about accepting yourself in general, and I do firmly feel that Tess is a real champion in the body love and self-acceptance sphere.

Of course, haters gonna hate hate hate hate hate, so it’s a good thing that Tess is also a champion of shrugging of them haterz. And even if she wasn’t, she has more than enough loyal fans willing to jump into the fray on her behalf.

Besides, while hateful comments do always seem to find their way onto her posts, the majority of comments are ones of adoration and admiration. There are even quite a few heartwarming stories of the self-acceptance that Tess has inspired in her fans. Which are my favorite ones to read, of course. It’s really wonderful to see how Tess has helped others take steps away from self-hatred and towards self-acceptance.

But, alas, just like the negative comments come in various forms, comments telling tales of self-discovery and acceptance are not the only kind of “positive” comments that I see. No, the one I feel like I see more and more often on Tess’s photos, or on the photos of the many other strong and beautiful plus-sized women that I follow, and even occasionally on my own photos, look a little more like this:

“Your confidence is incredible! You go, girl!”

“You’re so pretty! I wish I had your confidence!”

“Damn girl, work it! Confidence is sexy!”

And it’s these comments that never really sit that well with me.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t appreciate the sentiment being shared here. I know that these comments are well-intentioned and, in fact, accurate. Tess is confident, and confidence is sexy. Tess is a very beautiful woman who has no reason not to be confident in her beauty… other than, according to society, the fact that she is fat.

Because people don’t say, “OMG! You’re so confident and inspiring!” to folks who aren’t fat. They don’t say it to your average straight-sized model, or to someone who doesn’t have some kind of obstacle in front of their beauty — whether it be their weight, a scar, an amputated limb, whatever. You don’t say, “I wish I had your confidence!” to someone who has no reason not to be confident. To someone whose beauty you have no reason to question.

It all reminds me of this quote from the ineffably wonderful Mindy Kaling:

It’s the same when people say, “You’re so brave!” I’ve gotten that one, too. Like, really, I’m brave for putting a picture of myself on Instagram? I’m pretty sure that impulse stems out of my personal vanity, not some drawer full of bravery that I have on reserve.

I mean, jumping in front of a car to push someone out of the way is brave.

Standing up for someone being bullied is brave.

Going to teach children in Ghana or build houses in Chile or rehabilitate Russian sex workers is brave.

Having the strength to leave an abusive relationship is brave.

But just, I dunno, living my life at an above-average weight? Not being ashamed of myself because I’m not conventionally thin? Really, that’s what is considered brave? Oookay.

Now, sure, for Tess, maybe it is a little bit brave. But only because she knows that every time she posts a photo of herself online, she’s going to experience so much negativity for it. So it’s not the actual act of putting herself out there that is brave, it’s doing so in our current fat-shaming culture. I know that if I were in her shoes and received the kind of crazy, in-your-face, outspoken hatred that she receives on a daily basis, I imagine it would take a heckuva lot of bravery for me to keep doing what I was doing too.

I don’t think that the general standards of what is considered “beautiful” are really going to change anytime soon. Take a look at Greatist’s article about how the standards of beauty with regard to body shape have changed over the past century to see what I’m talking about. Even with the variations in the cultural norms of the time, there’s not THAT much of a difference in what’s “ideal” — it’s still best to be slim, to be tall, to be white.

But, that being said, I do think that other aspects of our societal attitude towards beauty is starting to shift. It’s becoming more and more acceptable to, well, accept yourself, even if you’re not that perfect size 6. We’re starting — just starting — to put more of an emphasis on how you feel about yourself than how you look to others. On loving yourself, whether you consider yourself a work in-progress or totally happy as-is. And even though there are tons of hateful people and “concerned” citizens and inflated egos that might be working against her, I think that Tess Holliday is helping to tip the scale in the direction of love.