Health and Fitness: One month strong

Guys, I made it! lol! It has officially been a month since I jumped back on the fitness and healthy bandwagon and I feel great! Sore, most of the time but still very much happy. Overall it has been a challenging yet very satisfying journey, as I notice my body gradually transforming. As promised, I will break down for you my workout routine and diet plan so that you can get an idea of where to start off if you’re not a gym rat!

First, my workout routine focuses on three major things: endurance, strength and flexibility.  For that reason, I have broken it down into 3 days of gym workouts and 1 day of yoga. The combination of the 4 days allows me to engage my full body in a variety of exercises that will help me gradually lower body fat, increase overall energy and build lean and strong muscles.

Monday – Lower body aka leg day

  • 20mn treadmill run (5.5 speed) with zero pause until time is complete.
  • 4 core strengthening exercise:
    • Sit-ups w/ 16lbs medicine ball (15 rep)
    • Russian twists w/ 16lbs medicine ball (15 rep)
    • Leg raises (15 rep)
    • Planks – front and sides (30sec hold)

This serve as a warmup. Then I start working on my legs. I take my time in every reps so that I actually feel the burn. The goal is not to get through the routine as fast as possible but to keep the muscles engaged throughout the workout. Use this as an indication because you might not be comfortable with my weight resistance.

  • Leg curl – start at 50lbs and increase each set (3 sets – 10 rep)
  • Leg extensions – start at 60lbs then increase the weight each set (3 sets – 10 reps)
  • Leg press – start at 60lbs then increase the weight each set (3 sets – 12 reps)
  • Hip abduction and adductor machines – start at 50lbs then increased the weight each set (3 sets – 10 reps)

I end my workout session with stretching using yoga positions and a foam roll. Then I do a “core blast” with the Ab cruncher (500).

Wednesday – Upper body (Arms,Shoulders and Back) 

  • 20mn treadmill run (5.5 speed)
  • 4 core strengthening exercise:
    • Sit-ups w/ 16lbs medicine ball (15 rep)
    • Russian twists w/ 16lbs medicine ball (15 rep)
    • Leg raises (15 rep)
    • Planks – front and sides (30sec hold)
  • Close-Grip Front Lat Pulldown – start at 40lbs then increase each set (3 sets – 10 reps)
  • Tricep dip machine – start at 40lbs then increase each set (3 sets – 10 reps)
  • Machine Biceps Curls – start at 30lbs then increase each set (3 sets – 10 reps)
  • Shoulder Lateral Raise Machine – start at 20lbs then increase each set (3 sets – 10 reps)
  • Core blast (500 reps) + stretch

Friday – Full body workout 

  • 20mn treadmill run (5.5 speed)
  • 4 core strengthening exercise:
    • Planks – front and sides (30sec hold)
    • Russian twists w/ 16lbs medicine ball (15 reps)
    • Exercise Ball Crunch (30 reps)
    • Knee/Hip Raise On Parallel Bars (15 reps)
    • Weight Plate Side bend – using a 25lbs plate (3 sets – 12 reps on each side)
  • Bench Dip – 3 sets (10 reps)
  • Biceps Curls with a 15lbs Body Bar (3 sets – 10 reps)
  • Behind-the-neck Shoulder Press with 15lbs Body Bar (3 sets – 10 reps)
  • Front Raise with a 15lbs Body Bar (3 sets – 10 reps)
  • Leg curl – start at 50lbs and increase each set (3 sets – 10 rep)
  • Leg extensions – start at 60lbs then increase the weight each set (3 sets – 10 reps)
  • Hip abduction and adduction machines – start at 50lbs then increased the weight each set (3 sets – 10 reps)
  • Back Squat with Fixed Weight Barbell (30lbs) – 2 sets of 10 reps regular + 1 set 12 reps in sumo squat
  • Seated Back Extension – start at 40lbs then increase each set (3 sets – 10 reps)
  • Cable Row with Static Squat using a close grip (V-shape) handle – start at 50lbs then increase each set (3 sets – 10 reps)
    • Set the pulley at waist height. Grab the handle and take a few steps back and lower into squat position. Hold the squat position as you pull the handle towards your navel; at the end, your elbows should be tucked close to the sides of your body. Slowly extend your arms to return to the start, keeping your core tight and chest lifted to prevent the weight from pulling you forward.
  • Ab Crunch Machine – start at 40lbs then increase each set (3 sets of 12 reps)
  • 15-30mn sauna session (depending on how much time I have left on my schedule)

Sunday – Yoga

I go to Yoga to the People every sunday morning. My friend Alicia took me to my first class five years ago at their East Village location (St Marks Place) and I fell in love with their Power Vinyasa Flow class. The teachers are very welcoming and do their best to make everybody feel comfortable. The classes which last 1h, are opened to every level and really focus on personal experience. I tried their Hot Vinyasa class at the Midtown location but it was more challenging (90 mins) as I just got back to practice after a loooooong time off.

That’s it for the workout routine.  Now let’s talk about my diet!

Three weeks ago I started the Atkins 40 diet to better achieve my weight goal and get rid of stubborn fat. Although I am confident that my active lifestyle is healthy, I felt the need to add a “kick” to it and went for a low carb diet. I heard a lot of positive things about Atkins and decided to give it a try. So basically the diet consists of consuming only 40 grams of Net Carbs of carbohydrates a day.

The Net Carbs of any whole food item are calculated this way: Total Carbohydrates – (Minus) Dietary Fiber. This diet, while very challenging (because I have to weigh my food  to make sure I am eating the right quantity), still allows me to enjoy a full range of food options from every food group—carbohydrates, protein and fats—while still losing weight. Plus, they have a free carb tracking app that helps a lot because it has a large variety of products that we use daily and their carb information. You can also scan the barcode of products not available in their database or simply type their nutrition info manually.

With this diet, I am supposed to lose an average of 2lbs/week! This is great for people who are trying to reach lose weight before the summer! For my part, it’s not the case. I have so far lost 5lbs (2lbs before Atkins and 3lbs while on it) and now have 15 more to drop. My ideal weight would be to get back to 143.3lbs (65kgs) but I am not rushing to get there. I must admit that the carb tracking is frustrating as I cannot enjoy my wine, Chai Tea Latte nor my homemade pastries. Plus, my husband is not a fan but, he supports me regardless. Who knows, I might end up settling for a different weight once I achieve a body form and shape that I love and am proud of.

I hope this helps whoever is trying to find some motivation! The only piece of advice I can give is follow your guts. No one except for yourself can and will find the strength to engage in such a journey. I am proud that I have not fallen off the wagon and definitely look forward to seeing more results!

New Year , Same me

Happy New Year!

I hope everybody had an amazing time and that you all spent the holidays with your loved ones. Goodbye 2016 and hello to 2k17 – year of achievement. Although I must admit I was anxious about what the new year would bring, I have set myself into thinking and acting more positively!

The first week of 2017 definitely started off on a good note. I passed all my classes with As; I got my French visa and managed to visit my family in Congo and France. I can’t complain, God has been good so far.

It is obvious that every year, one must anticipate new challenges, redefine and refine objectives and, eventually, establish new ones that will guide them through the new year. Not for me, not this time along. I decided that 2017 would simply be another opportunity to focus on myself, my family and loved ones and on my brand.

This year I want to work on really taking the time to appreciate life, one day at a time. 2016 was tough. I almost lost myself, trying to fight against the wave of events and, I almost drown myself trying to fight the inevitable. 2017 will be the year of achievement and personal enhancement. I need and must trust in myself and into God because worry never brought anything positive.

So new year, definitely same me. Setting up surrealistic resolutions has become such a trend in my generation in the past decade that we all end each year disappointed at ourselves and reflecting on what-ifs. I just hope that this new year will be filled with nothing but love and joy for each and every one of us.

2016 you taught me the value of life, you took away the greatest of souls but most importantly, you humbled me. In 2017 I want to become the best version of myself, worry less of the things I have zero control over and, maximize on the achievable.

Isis.

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Grief

At the beginning of this year, I lost one of the most important people in my life and, let me tell you this: IT FUCKING HURTS. Since then, survival has become my most important and vital human instinct.

Unlike relationships, grief doesn’t come with guidelines. You’re kind of on your own, trying to find a way to survive and continue living while deep down, you’re very close to dying. Coping with the loss of a loved one is the most difficult and challenging thing I have had to deal with in my young life and today still, I am not sure whether I am on the right path. But then again, will I ever be? I doubt it.

People said time will make it better but I am really starting to think it is quite the opposite. The pain is still here, stronger and unpredictable. The regrets, the anger, the hopelessness  and the sorrow, only stopping with tears falling down my eyes. It’s not pretty, especially when you are trying to keep it on the low. That is exactly what grief is: a profound state of loneliness and denial where the only relief is embracing it all.

So many things I wished I could still say; so many plans we made; so many dreams and projects we still had to accomplish but this is all gone now. All I have left are blurred feelings and memories that I keep replaying in my mind and dreams, wishing you were still here.

So, today I write about pain. The type of pain that will turn you worst enemy into your closest friend. The type of pain that makes you wish you would die yourself. Something that we all will have to face, sooner or later because there is one thing I know now: death does not discriminate.

Mourning is a hard and long process and it might take me a lifetime to overcome it all. 

 

Mid-Season Evaluation

Lately, I haven’t been feeling 100 percent, battling with constant fatigue and laziness while trying to maintain a healthy balance between school work and a social life. I guess my body is slowly entering hibernation as the temperature keeps dropping and I slowly realize that this winter will be nothing like what I have experienced in the past five years. It will be worst.

My last blog post was clearly dictated by frustration and a little bit of self-assessment of my expectations and time-management skills for this fall. Although I have managed quite easily until now to mix between school, my internship and my personal life, it was time for me to take a break and have a little introspection about my goals and objectives for this semester. I decided to end my internship because I simply could not manage to successfully juggle between that and my school work.

I think each one of us comes to a point, every season, where an almost natural selection happens where certain activities are dropped or pushed back, in order to maintain a dose of sanity in our lives. In an effort to rebalance my life, sleep schedule and workload, I had to take some load off my plate and make sure my grades were following as well. One of the important things in life is recognizing the signs when you are overworked and finding the inner strength to get rid of anything that adds on unnecessary stress and anxiety.

As for my personal life, the post-birthday season made me realize that I have myself been entering a new phase. I did not expect turning 25 to impact my morale this bad and have me reconsider my objectives and plans for the next couple of years. I am currently at this crossroad where I have to carefully pick my battles, select the people who will accompany me on this next journey, determine my post-master plan, both personal and professional, and, choose what types of tactics will get me there. I guess that is what adulting looks life. *merh*

I have also been slacking on my fitness routine, constantly and knowingly skipping my workout days and falling into a state of numbness when it comes to taking my ass back to the gym. Yes I have made significant effort since last March but that should not have stopped there. In my head, I am still in vacation mode, even though the world around me hasn’t stopped moving and obviously, did not care to wait for me. So it is time to put aside all the bad habits and find the inner motivation to finally get that fit and firm body I have been talking about for months!

So here is the plan for the rest of Fall-Winter:

  • Maintaining my GPA above 3.5 grade point average;
  • Exercising 3 times a week minimum;
  • Do regular cleanses to keep my body healthy and my skin radiant this winter;
  • Keep a tight schedule with my skin care routine: 2-3 facial and body scrubs per week;
  • Stay hydrated by drinking 1 gal of water a day, or at least 64 oz;
  • Step up my hair care regimen: take my vitamins every day + deep conditioning twice/month + low to zero heat use + protective styles;
  • Allocate more time for girls night and friends overall;
  • Be more serious at blogging and try to post on a more regular basis rather than ad-hoc;
  • Set up a weekly or monthly budget and stick to it, meaning stop using your savings;
  • Read more books, keep your brain active outside of school time;
  • Dedicate more time to training Storm and fix that anxiety problem of his;
  • Cook more, order out less: save money.

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This should keep me busy enough and I am sure more stuff will be added to that list with time. Making lists is a helpful way to keep tracks of achievements and is a great self-assessment tool for anyone. Staying on tracks is challenging but trying our best is what matters most.

 

First blog post

Well well well, if this isn’t the funniest and scariest part of blogging: THE first blog post!

 

img_1250When I woke up this morning, I never imagined that I would be spending the majority of my Saturday  creating, editing and well, blogging. Yet, here I am, trying to pass this nerve-wracking test that is my first ever post on Blurred-Heritage. I tried to think about ideas and structures for this post while in the shower – how to avoid the boring introduction or captivate the attention of the reader – but I realized that this is only my first post after all.

First and foremost, let me reiterate the whys or mission statement of this online journal. Although I had been contemplating blogging for some time, it never really stuck to my mind as part of my brand or what I believed in. As a very private person, I tend to back out whenever asked to share personal information, especially on the internet (trust issues maybe?). I have been asked for educational purposes in college to create a blog in order to express my opinions on the news  but that stopped there; I never felt the urge to make this a regular habit.

You might ask yourself: “why now?” – Good question. I don’t think I can come up with a good answer but I hope that together, we will find answers in this journey. However, this quote from my dad that has been my “motto” for the past seven years might help you understand a little something about me: “il n’y a pas de hasard, il n’y a que des rendez-vous du destin.” Yes, this is french, but what it means is that nothing happens by chance, it is all fate.

Here I am, twenty-four days away from celebrating my quarter of century (you do the math) and, still trying to find my purpose in the beautiful city of New York that I am proud to call my home now. Blurred-Heritage defines the state of mind that I have been in for the past four years. I moved to NYC to pursue my masters in Global Affairs at New York University and that should have been it. I guess fate had other plans because I am still here, going for my second M.S. in Public relations this time, still at NYU but with different objectives and dreams in mind.

Starting  from today, this blog will trace my journey, in the form of a journal sometimes, but mostly as a tool to practice my writing while sharing my thoughts. This is my safe space, opened to you, where you will find stories, memories, pictures that inspire, intrigue and challenge me.

Welcome to Blurred-Heritage!