An Unexpected Journey

"Health is the condition of wisdom, and the sign is cheerfulness — an open and noble temper." – Ralph Waldo Emerson

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After a particularly gluttonous visit to H-Mart this past weekend, I knew I had to really get focused again.  Working out after work was the hardest.  I was mentally shot from a four hour meeting earlier in the day (followed by two other meetings) but I forced myself to go, and I’m glad I did!

Lunch Time Workout
Boot Camp class at NYSC Grand Central.  Today was a bit different.  Our instructor decided to give us a taste of another class he teaches called  “UXF”.  Previously I had taken two separate UXF classes and to be honest, they didn’t work for me.  One barely got my heartrate up, and the other not only didn’t get my heart rate up to where I wanted it, but the instructor lets the room get so crowded the class runs out of equipment and every time I tried to do a lunge I almost stepped on the woman in front of me.

This class was limited (you have to call the day before to get on a list) and the instructor knew how to get the class’ heart rate up while making it mentally challenging.  Exercise isn’t just about your body, it’s about your mind being willing to work hard and past that moment where every muscle is going “No mas!” and you’re like “One more dammit!”  I had a lot of those moments today!

After Work Exercise
I started off with cardio, continuing my mission to get back on the “Couch to 5K” track.  This was Week 1, Day 3 which honestly was quite easy.  Five minutes of a brisk walk to warm up, then one minute of running followed by one minute and thirty seconds of a brisk walk.  Repeat for about twenty minutes, then a five minute “cool down” walk.  I didn’t work up much of a sweat, but the program says not to skip so I’m following it through.

It’s interesting how machines by different companies almost seem to have different weights on them despite the numbers pasted on each weight plate.  I’ve been doing 110lb for the past couple weeks on a shoulder press machine at another branch, but today I tried two different shoulder press machines and the weight felt much heavier than that one.  My shoulder is bothering me again (seeing an orthopedist on Friday) so I went easy on that body part.  Always listen to your body, and do not “fight through the pain”.  You have to take care of your body when working out!

  • Chest Press (Machine): 115lb x 10 (2 sets)
  • Incline Chest Press (Machine): 115lb x 10 (2 Sets)
  • Shoulder Press:  80lb x 10 (2 Sets)
  • Pec Flyes:  110lb x 12 (2 Sets)
  • Shoulder Press: 80lb x 10 (2 Sets)
  • Lateral Raise: 25lb x 10 (2 Sets)
  • French Press: 70lb x 12 (2 Sets)
  • Tricep Extension (Machine):  65lb x 12 (2 Sets)
  • Tricep Pushdowns:  80lb x 10 (2 Sets)

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Snack: Not a dirty word!

Recently I was talking to a friend who was trying to eat healthier, and she mentioned how she was always starving.  A look at her eating plan showed that she was indeed being very disciplined, but unfortunately she was also denying herself a lot (including solid foods at critical times).  I gave her some advice about upping the fiber and solid intake in her diet, but most of all I advocated something I have some to believe is critical in any eating plan: snacking.

The word “snack” has taken on a very negative connotation in our culture.  In many Western countries, the idea of a snack generally involves stuff that’s delicious but not so great for you.  Cookies, chips, candy or cakes often serve as snacks for people who want that immediate satisfaction of a carb and sugar rush in their bodies.  However, many of these “snacks” leave you feeling just as empty as before you ate them, often leading to over-consumption.

Many people trying to lose weight unfortunately wind up overcompensating once they learn this.  They swear off all snacking and begin to deny themselves entire meals and the next thing you know, after a couple weeks or so a full out binge occurs, wrecking their eating plan.

The key to eating smart is not denying yourself snacks, it’s snacking on the right things. Many of us know what these things are intuitively.  However here’s a list of some handy items that make great snacks:

  • A serving of hummus with celery or carrot sticks
  • Peanut butter with whole wheat crackers or vegetables
  • A piece of fruit (preferably something with a good amount of fiber like an apple)
  • A sports bar (but be careful as some have a very high caloric load)
  • Cottage cheese with fruit
  • Plain yogurt with some honey drizzled on for flavor
  • A handful of nuts (not honey roasted or smothered in sugar)


It’s also important not to just eat and eat throughout the day (which is what most people who snack believe they should do).  Rather, schedule your snacks according to your meal times.  There’s no hard and fast rule since everyone’s schedule is a bit different, but in general, try to schedule your snack a couple hours after a meal and at least an hour or so before your next one.  It’s also important to tailor what snack item you choose to your activities.  If you’re going to have a very rigorous workout day, then something like peanut butter or a sports bar will help you get the energy you need to plow through the workout.  On days where you’re not working out at all, the piece of fruit or vegetables may serve you better.

I would also advise strongly against snacking late at night (unless you work the night shift of course).  You want to give your body a couple hours (at least) of digestion time before you go to sleep.

Snacking is a good thing if you do it right.  Indeed, if you love food as I do, it’s crucial as it takes away the feeling of “denial” that many associate with weight loss.   A good eating plan is about balance, not about seeing how long you can withstand hunger pangs!

Disclaimer: I am not a certified Nutritionist.  This advice is purely based on my own experiences and research.  Before starting any nutrition/eating plan, please consult a qualified physician.