Happy Holidays 2015

As someone who does not participate in gift giving over the Christmas holidays, I am weary of all the marketing and shopping that goes on(StarWars takes the price this year). I have intentionally stayed away from shops and malls for over 2 months now. The last attempt I made to get running tights from Chicago's Water Tower Place ended up with me being emotionally scared by the sheer volume of people present.

So what have I been up to lately?


I have been on the road, travelling, visiting friends and family. Choosing to invest in quality time and memories not products. 







I've never had a habit of buying presents for my friends and family specifically for Christmas and I don't feel bad about it.

 I don't need a holiday to buy gifts. 

And if a gift is the only way you expect validation for love, then sorry, not sorry.

Christmas = A CHRISTIAN HOLIDAY is about how God sent HIS only Son to earth to become man and to die on the cross for our sins and for our salvation. 

It's not about;
buying your kids 20 presents
Debating over the decorations on a coffee cup
Taking the religious words out of the songs that celebrates this significant religious moment but you still want to sing the songs 

SANTA = No No No

Christmas Trees = No No No. Really whats the point? You're dumping it out in a matter of days. How is this environmentally okay?
It makes NO SENSE to buy a tree that you will in turn throw away 


And for Christians, stop quoting bible verses at problems or issues. Actively Do something to HELP. Go back and read about the Good Samaritan and who constitutes your neighbour.

Other than that, Merry Christmas and have a Happy Holidays!
Remember, the best gifts are the simpliest ones

Honestly, it's just coffee

Motivation Monday - American Music Awards tribute

It is 3 days until I am officially on Thanksgiving holidays vacation mode*. 
Unofficially am already in that state of mind. I need motivation to stay on top of my tasks for the next few days.

My Motivation Monday = Music Monday

Last night, while watching the AMAs hosted by the fabulous Jenny from the block, I was reminded of some old school favorite songs that always put a smile on my face. It's crazy how much music is pumped out by the industry on a daily basis. And the pressure artists must feel to get public attention and be on top of the charts. How do you stand out from the crowd of many talented artists, all fighting for the same thing. And when you do get to the top like the legendary Celine Dion, how do you stay relevant and maintain cross generational fans?


Back in college, Celine Dion was my to go artist to listen to right before a game. From I drove all night, Because you love me, If walls could talk, A New Day has come, To Love you more and etc  she had something for all my colorful emotional 21 yrs old mental state of mind. But even after all these years, I still love her music and get the same feelings as if I was listening it for the first time

What's your favourite cross-generational artist that you can envision your grand children equally enjoy their music?

Having an amazing 3.5 week

US Soccer Federation Bans heading

The U.S Soccer Federation has banned heading for kids 10yrs and under and limited it to only during practice time for those between the ages of 11 - 14yrs old. This new regulation by the organisation kicks in January 1st 2016.

As an avid player & lover of the game, but also an exercise physiologist, I have very mixed feelings about this.

Heading is such an integral part of the game. This is not about improving protective gears like the wearing of shine guards, this is taking away a key component of what distinguishes soccer from other sports. Plus who wants to practice heading for 3 years without being able to use what you are practicing daily in a game?



#1. This is an aftermath reaction to a class action lawsuit settlement from some parents in California.
      Didn't the parents understand that soccer is a CONTACT sport?
As  long as its a contact sports where two or more people have to interact within a given space, injury is likely to happen. Where are we heading with this? Are we soon going to require a "NO TOUCHING" each other rule in team contact sports?

And even when there's no contact as in gymnastic or swimming.....injuries occur because your body is under duress. It's part of the consequences of training your body to withstand a certain amount of stress in an effort to perfect a skill.

#2. Implement coaching curriculum to teach kids about proper heading techniques and how to handle air ballsAmerica is still struggling behind the world when it comes to the technical skills of playing soccer. From my observations, kids here don't play "safe". They just throw their bodies on the ball or incoming traffic from other player. The goal should be to work on improving those technical and safety first skills. Because if you don't improve those skills, those players will grow up being adults who still don't understand how to safely handle a heading situation in a game. And will still end up causing concussions.
In addition to changes in coaching curriculum, perhaps also improving the license requirements to be a soccer coach. I'm not sure what the requirements are at the moment. Most coaches are former athletes of the same sport so they have the experience. Be that as it may, perhaps the licensing process should include an extensive education on heading and air balls.

#3. Why haven't they taken out the whole "tackling" and "slamming" players down part of american football?
American Football is an even worst contact sports with many cases of young athletes having severe injuries and dying. Yet they haven't come up with stricter regulations. Even at the professional level there are many documented cases of long term brain injuries that continue after the players retire. Nothing is being done to address that. Why? Is it because Football is a billion dollar industry and there are corporations who want to protect their investments?


 In America, soccer is considered a middle class sports while football and basketball continues to be an opportunity for kids from low income families to rise out of poverty. Lebron James is known for saying how he needed sports to get out of poverty but his kids don't need to play for those reasons. This was his explanation for banning his kids from playing football until high school when they understand the physical demands and risks involved. In general, there seems to be a disparity with the concernment of youth players in these sports by their respective communities. It seems like the potential of producing a millionaire NFL player triumphs the risks involved to both parents and industry whereas since the soccer industry is still relative young , why let your kid sustain such major trauma when the likely hood of a professional career are limited.


#4 Research data shows that most of the concussions where player-to-player related not the ball. Which reaffirms my point about teaching techniques; how to safely position yourself to react when contesting for an air ball with an opponent. If kids are heading themselves and not their target (the ball) that't a huge technical problem, not a ball issue. Which also brings back to my observation of kids throwing themselves like rag dolls towards an opponent or a ball in an attempt to be "defensive".

In my 4 years NCAA Division II soccer career, I slide tackled less than 10 times. This allowed me to walk away without ever having a torn anterior cruciate ligament. On the other hand, half of my team mates came to college with already 1 ACL injury from high school or eventually got one/both in college. I observed that this happened more often with my american team mates than the foreign students on the team. And this wasn't a surprised because they played so wrecklessly with little concern about getting injured. In those moments, I confused technical disabilities with passion. But now I know better.


Nevertheless, as an Exercise Physiologist banning head injuries at this age is great if simultaneous effort is made to correct heading and air ball techniques. If the behavior and skill is not addressed, our youths will grow up to be adult soccer players who still don't know how to safely approach an air ball. And when that happens, are we going to then ban heading in adult soccer leagues too?


Mental Health 2016

For 2015 I spoke a lot about increasing my emphasis on Nutrition because at the end of the day...
 " You can't out exercise a bad diet"

Another component  I'm looking forward to incorporate in my healthy living journey is emphasis on mental health. Mental health encompasses everything. It goes hand in hand with exercising and nutrition. It accounts for why we have good or bad relationships with food. You cannot "fix" / change the negative lifestyle choice you've been making without addressing what triggers them?

Why do you respond to stress with food?
Why are you scared of exercising?
Why do you have an unhealthy relationship with your body.
Why do you Over-exercise
And etc

I'm not sure what my game plan is at the moment. I already read a lot of self help books and do things like yoga and meditation. All I know is , I want this to become a permanent routine. Right now its seasonal for me. I do a lot of yoga in the winter season because I have (self diagnosed myself with) Seasonal Affective Disorder. For all the winter stormy days of being stranded indoors, Yoga helps me stay clam and sane. I want to find a way to make this a regular routine, just like exercising at least 2-3 times a week is now my regular routine.

PavLok: Shock your bad habits away


I heard about this "watch" because it was developed here in Boston.

It's an electrical device that you use to SHOCK your bad habits away. From eating bad foods, to smoking and etc.

As some one who has -100% pain tolerance, I will rather run a marathon for 3 - 4 hrs than shock myself out of eating another Boston dunkin doughnut. 


What do you think?


Check out this latest interesting innovative product at





Book Club Read : Americannah

My friend decided to put together a book club and the first novel she wants us to tackle is Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

She also sent us a list of questions that were issued by the publishers of the book...for the purpose of book clubs discussions...i suppose.

Here they are, if you're interested.
_____________________________________________

Discussion Questions
1. The first part of Ifemelu’s story is told in flashback while she is having her hair braided at a salon before she returns to Nigeria. Why might Adichie have chosen this structure for storytelling? What happens when the narrator shifts to Obinze’s story? How conscious are you as a reader about the switches in narrative perspective?

2. The novel opens in the Ivy League enclave of Princeton, New Jersey. Ifemelu likes living there because “she could pretend to be someone else, ...someone adorned with certainty” (3). But she has to go to the largely black city of Trenton, nearby, to have her hair braided. Does this movement between cities indicate a similar split within Ifemelu? Why does she decide to return to Nigeria after thirteen years in America?

3. How much does your own race affect the experience of reading this or any novel? Does race affect a reader’s ability to identify or empathize with the struggles of Ifemelu and Obinze? Ifemelu writes in her blog that “black people are not supposed to be angry about racism” because their anger makes whites uncomfortable (223). Do you agree?

4. Aunty Uju’s relationship with the General serves as an example of one mode of economic survival for a single woman: she attaches herself to a married man who supports her in return for sexual access. But Uju runs into a serious problem when the General dies and political power shifts. Why, given what you learn of Uju’s intelligence and capabilities later, do you think she chose to engage in this relationship with the General instead of remaining independent?

5. Ifemelu feels that Aunty Uju is too eager to capitulate to the demands of fitting in. Uju says, “You are in a country that is not your own. You do what you have to do if you want to succeed” (120). Is Uju right in compromising her own identity to a certain extent? How is Dike affected by his mother’s struggles?

6. In the clothing shop she visits with her friend Ginika, Ifemelu notices that the clerk, when asking which of the salespeople helped her, won’t say, “Was it the black girl or the white girl?” because that would be considered a racist way to identify people. “You’re supposed to pretend that you don’t notice certain things,” Ginika tells her (128). In your opinion and experience, is this a good example of American political correctness about race? Why does Ifemelu find it curious? Do you think these attitudes differ across the United States?

7. For a time, Ifemelu is a babysitter for Kimberly, a white woman who works for a charity in Africa. Adichie writes that “for a moment Ifemelu was sorry to have come from Africa, to be the reason that this beautiful woman, with her bleached teeth and bounteous hair, would have to dig deep to feel such pity, such hopelessness. She smiled brightly, hoping to make Kimberly feel better” (152). How well does Kimberly exemplify the liberal guilt that many white Americans feel toward Africa and Africans?

8. Ifemelu’s experience with the tennis coach is a low point in her life. Why does she avoid being in touch with Obinze afterward (157–58)? Why doesn’t she read his letters? How do you interpret her behavior?

9. In her effort to feel less like an outsider, Ifemelu begins faking an American accent. She feels triumphant when she can do it, and then feels ashamed and resolves to stop (175). Which aspects of her becoming an American are most difficult for Ifemelu as she struggles to figure out how much she will give up of her Nigerian self?

10. Ifemelu realizes that naturally kinky hair is a subject worth blogging about. She notices that Michelle Obama and BeyoncĂ© never appear in public with natural hair. Why not? “Because, you see, it’s not professional, sophisticated, whatever, it’s just not damn normal” (299). Read the blog post “A Michelle Obama Shout-Out Plus Hair as Race Metaphor” (299–300), and discuss why hair is a useful way of examining race and culture.

11. What does Ifemelu find satisfying about her relationships with Curt and Blaine? Why does she, eventually, abandon each relationship? Is it possible that she needs to be with someone Nigerian, or does she simply need to be with Obinze?

12. Ifemelu’s blog is a venue for expressing her experience as an African immigrant and for provoking a conversation about race and migration. She says, “I discovered race in America and it fascinated me” (406). She asks, “How many other people had become black in America?” (298). Why is the blog so successful? Are there any real-life examples that you know of similar to this?

13. Obinze goes to London, and when his visa expires he is reduced to cleaning toilets (238); eventually he is deported. On his return home, “a new sadness blanketed him, the sadness of his coming days, when he would feel the world slightly off-kilter, his vision unfocused” (286). How does his experience in London affect the decisions he makes when he gets back to Lagos? Why does he marry Kosi? How do these choices and feelings compare to Ifemelu’s?

14. While she is involved with Curt, Ifemelu sleeps with a younger man in her building, out of curiosity. “There was something wrong with her. She did not know what it was but there was something wrong with her. A hunger, a restlessness. An incomplete knowledge of herself. The sense of something farther away, beyond her reach” (291–92). Is this a common feeling among young women in a universal sense, or is there something more significant in Ifemelu’s restlessness? What makes hers particular, if you feel it is?

15. When reading Obinze’s conversations with Ojiugo, his now-wealthy friend who has married an EU citizen, did you get the sense that those who emigrate lose something of themselves when they enter the competitive struggle in their new culture (Chapter 24), or is it more of a struggle to maintain that former self? Does Adichie suggest that this is a necessary sacrifice? Are all of the characters who leave Nigeria (such as Emenike, Aunty Uju, Bartholomew, and Ginika) similarly compromised?

16. Aunty Uju becomes a doctor in America but still feels the need to seek security through an alliance with Bartholomew, whom she doesn’t seem to love. Why might this be? How well does she understand what her son, Dike, is experiencing as a displaced, fatherless teenager? Why might Dike have attempted suicide?

17. Is the United States presented in generally positive or generally negative ways in Americanah?

18. The term “Americanah” is used for Nigerians who have been changed by having lived in America. Like those in the novel’s Nigerpolitan Club, they have become critical of their native land and culture: “They were sanctified, the returnees, back home with an extra gleaming layer” (408). Is the book’s title meant as a criticism of Ifemelu, or simply an accurate word for what she fears she will become (and others may think of her)?

19. How would you describe the qualities that Ifemelu and Obinze admire in each other? How does Adichie sustain the suspense about whether Ifemelu and Obinze will be together until the very last page? What, other than narrative suspense, might be the reason for Adichie’s choice in doing so? Would you consider their union the true homecoming, for both of them?

20. Why is it important to have the perspective of an African writer on race in America? How does reading the story make you more alert to race, and to the cultural identifications within races and mixed races? Did this novel enlarge your own perspective, and if so, how?
(Questions issued by publisher.)

__________________________________________________________________________


What books have you been reading recently? 
Are you part of a book club? I am always looking for new books to add to my library.
I'm excited to go over these questions with my friends and to get their perspectives. Sometimes you think you know someone until you sit down and have an honest heart to heart with them.


Fall Favorite Tag 2015





It's that time of the year again. Fall Favorite Tag. I don't



 know why I don't do more of these tags but here goes 



nothing.





Favorite Candle Scent: Currently Blueberry just because 

that's what I am burning at the moment. I don't buy candle 

scents that I don't like.



Favorite Fall Makeup: This Lipstick from Hikari






Favorite Drink: Mighty Leaf Tea - Wild Berry Hibiscus






Favorite Thanksgiving Food : Pecan Pie!!!



Favorite Fall clothing accessory : My Ralph Lauren 


Gloves +5 years and still keeps me warm and cozy



Haunted house, haunted hay ride, or haunted corn 


maze?
 None but if I had to choose, a hay ride. I can always 

hijack the car and getaway  (^_-)  



Favorite Halloween movie? I hate scary movies





Favorite candy to eat on Halloween? Kit Kat and 


Mounds


New Book I discovered




What is your Favorite thing about Fall? Cuddling up in


 bed with a good book, music playing in the background, 

while its raining outside my window. 



Sugar Challenge Update

 I finally completed the sugar challenge. I will be doing more in the future and tweaking other restrictions I want to add to it such as carbs and etc

 What I learned in that short time.
  • Meal Prepping is extremely important to prevent making bad food choices.

  • Having ONLY healthy meals/snacks in your home is very important for those random midnight cravings. My only options where apples + cucumbers so I wasnt worried about reaching for something "bad" when I had an episode*.

  • Read labels! Once I started looking out for sugar and paying attention to the grams, it became evident why I workout so hard but cant seem to loose any weight. 

  • I randomly found this palm oil at a store.I thought the packaging and labels (USDA, ORGANIC, SUPERFOOD, NON-GMO) where interesting given that palm oil usually gets a bad rep as an unhealthy oil.

  • It seems like something is always being substituted to compensate for taking out something else. I was becoming paranoid. With some low fat products, yes, its low in fat but high in sugar to compensate for taste. Especially if you're not going for the "plain" options but want additional flavoring. I had to switch out some of my diary product including some brands of almond milk. I now use the unsweetened coconut blend. 

  • I had taken a sabbatical from the app "Lose It" but I am not only using it again but plan on buying the premium subscription. $40.00 a year is not a bad investment if you are serious about your health. The app has also been greatly improved over the years. Not only can you look up nutrition labels from every food imaginable but they have now added an exercise component to it. It collaborates with other health apps in the market such as Bp monitors, weight measures, Nike, MampMyRun etc. That way it gives you a complete break down of how much calories you're eating in a day and how much you are burning through your workouts.

As with most things, starting is the biggest issue. But once you get going, it becomes easy to maintain a routine. In the past I had all sorts of ridiculous excuses why I was still reaching out for white rice, white bread, white pasta and etc. In reality, I had no excuse! Taste is not even an issue. You can make equally delicious meals with whole wheat food. Restaurants now give you the options. The world wide web is full of millions of healthy recipes for whatever food items you have. It came down to sheer laziness and not enough information on the science behind nutrition.
This is an ongoing journey. I will make mistakes, learn form them and keep pushing on. The biggest difference I see now is the deliberate awareness I have for everything i eat. I think about my meals. I think about what nutritional value they will provide for my body. Or how they can potentially be harmful to me. In the past by dinner time, I couldn't even recall what I had for breakfast. Because I didn't care. Now, I can remember exactly what I ate at least 2-3 days down the line

No Sugar Challenge Day 1

Even though I was prepared for day 1, there were still unpredictable moments and temptations that I needed to work through.

Breakfast was easy since I typically have a simple meal anyways. Tea  with lemon, no sugar and a granular bar. Some of the sugar challenges say no granular bars, no carbs, no protein powder energy shakes at all. The one I ate (cant remember the brand at the moment) had raisins, and >1g of sugar per serving. It wasn't until later, that I concluded that perhaps I should also cut off granular bars.

For snacks I had green grapes and apples. I am okay with eating this because they are more sour than sweet. I will not be eating fruits that are on the sweet side such as banana, pineapples, mangoes and berries.
(Sample grocery list. Save Image and enlarge to see prints clearly)

Lunch was tricky because I ended up in a friend's home instead of mine. I was able to ransack her fridge and had a small amount of rice with vegetables and eggs. The only down side was the rice. It was white. But once again, I am okay with this on day one because this is all a new learning process for me. I don't want to be militant about it. I want it to be something that could perhaps transition into a full time lifestyle change. And if that's going to be the case, rice(brown) is going to be part of my equation. Another food item I will not be getting rid of is bread. I have heard and read a lot about the Ezekiel bread. I don't have it yet but will be making a run to my local wholefood to find it later on today. 

But I have also read that if you are gluten sensitive, avoid this bread.

For dinner  I had fish and an apple as a late night snack.

I will try to chronicle my meals but they may not necessarily become journal posts. So far I feel Okay.

 Please remember, I am not a nutritionist. My information is based on researching expert opinions in the field.




No Sugar Challenge - Take #2

I failed my first sugar challenge
*sad face*

The Issue - I was NOT prepared.

I didn't do my grocery shopping in time nor my homework.

So What Now? 

I'm giving it another go!
The initial challenge I had planned to participate in was with the YMCA for 21 days.

But, I have decided to broaden the scope and select from a wider range of challenges.
I want to start small with a 5 day challenge and work my way up to a 30 days challenge someday so it's not too overwhelming.




We are surrounded by so much sugar. It's in everything. This challenge is meant to "Flush", "Jump Start" "Cleanse" my system. It don't think its feasible nor healthy to 100% cut -off sugar. As I always say, everything in moderation.

Here are a couple of cool websites related to quitting sugar I will be using as resources and references



So, will you join me? :)

Fall in Love with Fall

....or if you're like me, 
cure your grumpiness of the new weather 
with a cup of black coffee pumpkin spice latte.


I can't believe it's getting darker really early and also getting colder.

Either way, Fall is here to stay. Along with the new season, I am experiencing a handful of "news" in my personal life. 

Bare with me as I transition into a new apartment with zero furniture and etc. I have no where to install my desk top at the moment. But that's not a priority right now because I haven't installed internet yet. Thank God for DVDs and Books from my local library. Those have been my source of entertainment during this time. 

What are we going to do when the world eventually decides to be 100% wireless?

My upcoming blog posts will be about a Sugar challenge and a Bare & Tone class am  currently taking.

Have a Bonne Week 
xoxo

Summer 2015 Review : AQUA

This summer, more than before I spent way too much time around water. From pools to lakes, beaches and small ponds.

I was always either symbolically getting cleansed, metaphorically drowning my problems in the vastness of it all or coming to grips of how little my 1st world problems where compared to the world's.

I can't believe summer is over and it's "BACK TO SCHOOL" September.






















As we move into Beautiful and Scenic FALL followed by a dreading winter, I will be holding on to these memories to keep me going until next time