Work Hard, Recover Hard

When I was eleven, every so often my swim coach would have us do circuit days. Circuit days were the BEST days because instead of traditional swim practice exercises, we would basically do an aquatic obstacle course for the whole practice. However, inevitably, part of this circuit would be to do lunges nearly the whole way around the pool. We must have done the circuit itself about ten times which probably means we ended up doing a couple HUNDRED lunges by the end of practice. These circuit days were special and were few and far between, and even though they were my favorite, I would absolutely wake up the next morning with lactic acid throbbing throughout my body in the form of delayed onsite muscle soreness (DOMS).

As an eleven-year-old, I clearly didn’t pay too much attention to repairing my body after practices, but as I got older I realized how much proper recovery made a difference and how little time people spend on it even as their bodies stop bouncing back as if they were a preteen.

I obviously recognize the fact that I am still a fresh-faced twenty-two-year old and my body is nowhere near crapping out on me yet, HOWEVER, I have picked up a few tricks throughout my athletic career that make a HUGE difference in my workouts and overall health and should really be included in any fitness regime regardless of your intensity

Stretching: There are many different stretching ideologies: before your workout, only after your workout, before AND after a workout, Sunday yoga, etc. Doesn’t matter your view on stretching, the point is that you should be doing it regularly. Stretching obviously helps with flexibility, but it also decreases soreness and prevents injury. My preference is a little bit of dynamic stretching before a workout like arm and leg swings, and then at least 10 minutes of static stretching (traditional stretching) after my workout when my muscles are warm and it doesn’t feel like I’m ripping them with every stretch. If I can, I will also do a little bit of yoga once or twice a week to get a deeper stretch and work on my overall flexibility and balance.

Fuel: Back when I was a swimmer, I was practicing so hard that I’d either be ravenous and down a whole pizza after practice, or my appetite would be nonexistent and I barely wanted even wanted to rehydrate. Neither were great ways to refuel my body after what was almost certainly a killer workout. Immediately after you workout, it is important to replenish your body. If you don’t eat, your muscles will be screaming for nourishment, but you don’t want to give them just anything. Having a bit of protein after your workout, in the form of a bar, a shake, chicken, almonds, whatever, can help your muscles immediately start their restoration process. If you want specific results for your body, then visit a nutritionist or dietitian who can help you figure out what exactly is best for your body to have, otherwise just be aware that your muscles need to recover and eating a bit of healthy protein after a workout can go a long way.

REST: We’ve talked about getting enough rest before and we’ll talk about it again. Proper rest is CRUCIAL to repair your body each day. If you are an athlete or have regular workouts, your body NEEDS the rest to recover and reset. If you don’t rest properly, not only will your normal life suffer as your mental capacity will be reduced, but so will your physical activity. Your muscles will be tired and you’ll struggle to get through any workout. Trust me, I’ve been there. Get some quality sleep and your body will show you the difference.

Massage: This one can definitely be viewed as a luxury and in the most literal sense, a massage is a luxury in America. Most of the time, they cost upwards of $50 dollars for an hour, a price which is not sustainable for most people. However, like stretching and rest, massages can make the recovery process far easier on your muscles. It can also help with posture and other bodily pains. However, if you’re like me, and you can’t afford a weekly massage, there are other ways to get close. Invest in a foam roller or massage tool. Most are less than the price of one massage and you keep them at home and use them when you want. I have this nifty little ball that is far more resilient than a tennis ball that I can use by myself to work out the knots that plague my back and neck. Even though it is not a normal massage, that small amount of self massage, when used regularly, has worked wonders keeping my muscles loose.

I know these might seem like small things, but if you are putting stress on your body every day for workouts, manual labor, or any number of physical tasks, it is important to note that stress and give your body the adequate recovery it needs. If you’re as diligent about your recovery as you are about putting the stress on your body in the first place, you can start to push yourself harder and harder in your workouts without immediate fear of injury, pain, and fatigue. The types of things I’ve described really only take a few minutes and I don’t know about you, but I’ll spend the extra few minutes healing my body now, rather than paying for it later in life.

 

workhardrecoverhard
I usually use weekends to recover, but I make sure I still get some walking and hair flipping in…

 

Silence is Not Golden

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last two weeks, you know that racist tensions in the U.S. have yet again come to a head, this time in Charlottesville, Virginia.

I’m not going to go into the whole story of what happened in Virginia, you can read about that event here. Instead, I want to talk about how that event, and events like it, is perpetuating a state of intolerance in the U.S., and what can possibly be done to combat those feelings.

Anyone that knows me already knows that I sway towards the liberal side of politics, ESPECIALLY when it comes to social justice issues. However, I don’t have to tell anyone that the events that occurred in Virginia were awful, but what I do feel the need to say is: what did you expect?

SO many people think racism is dead in America. They think there are no more marginalized groups, they honestly believe that discrimination and prejudice are ideals of the past. And then events like Charlottesville pop up, and people are SHOCKED that something like this could occur in their country, and you know what? THOSE are the people I’m most appalled at. Unlike those people, I knew that racism wasn’t dead, I knew that there were alt-right extremists out there congregating and planning because I paid attention.

While I absolutely condemn white-supremacy and anybody who decides it is their right to decide that certain lives are worth more than others, I also want to take this moment to call out those Americans who have committed a different kind of act worthy of condemnation: Willful Ignorance.

Too many Americans have decided that these issues don’t concern them, too many Americans have decided not to educate themselves on current events, and WAY too many Americans base their viewpoints on perception and false rhetoric rather than facts and information.

Racism in America is an issue in which it is not acceptable to not take a side anymore. You can’t just say ‘Oh I never gave it much thought’ because events like Charlottesville are plastered EVERYWHERE. You don’t get to pretend hatred and intolerance don’t occur in your very own backyard, and you certainly don’t get to pretend that you’re not a part of the larger issue. In case you were wondering what this kind of pretending looks like, take a look at how our woefully incompetent, PR disaster of a president responded, here.

Not all issues have the ability to feed on indifference, but unfortunately, this one does. Because as a white person, if you stay silent on these issues and think to yourself ‘Well this doesn’t affect me’, even if you’re not a white supremacist, you are helping their agenda. Because by staying silent, you are no longer standing up for what is right and what is just, and what America is SUPPOSED to stand for. You either believe every person has the same rights as every other person, or you don’t. There really isn’t an in-between section on this one.

All I would like to ask each and every American to do is simple: educate yourself. And educate yourself on both sides of the argument. Don’t get all your information from one source, and don’t believe authority figures just because of their position. Check your work, check my work, check the media’s work. Ignorance is how we got in this mess of a presidency in the first place, don’t let it become part of the fabric of our society. Don’t let extremist rhetoric, and outlandish opinion pieces dictate our views. Do the research and make up your own mind, it’s not that hard.

“You are NOT entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to your INFORMED opinion. No one is entitled to be ignorant.” — Harlan Ellison

Shoutout to my sister for the title of this post. To watch her video on the same topic, click here!

TREAT YO SELF

You wanna know something Americans are terrible at? Politics. BOOM. Just kidding, I don’t have the energy to tackle THAT argument right now. But in all seriousness, Americans are terrible at self-care. Our way of life here in the states is completely inhibitive of active self-care, especially compared to many countries in the likes of Europe and Asia.

Why should you care about this, you ask? Well, I’d retort, don’t you care about YOURSELF? A typical working American’s week looks something like this: Work Monday through Friday, ideally from 9-5 but we all know those hours are creeping upwards with many people starting work as early as 7 and not finishing until past 6 pm. Then go home, take care of kids, or eat dinner, and watch TV. Then when the weekend rolls around, it is some variation of a Netflix binge fest, drinking and partying, or shuttling your kids to their activities. In short, the average American is not taking care of themselves at all. You might argue that watching TV at the end of a day counts as self-care, but while I binge TV with the best of them, vegging out in front of a screen is not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about proactively partaking in things that improve your quality of life.

The factors of self-care I’m going to list below will sound like common sense to most people but how many of us are actually taking the time to do them? The fact that I know most of you are going to roll your eyes makes me believe that these aren’t new or original ideas, but that know-it-all attitude isn’t translating into DOING it all and people aren’t even doing the bare minimum to take care of themselves.

1.) GET MOVING. Like always, exercise makes a huge difference. But this time, I’m not even talking about lifting weights, intervals, or running. The healthiest countries in the world do not usually have a strong fitness culture, but they DO have a strong walking culture. People will always walk when they can and are generally active in their daily lives, and as we all know, movement is good for your heart, your brain, AND your body. Americans, unfortunately, are extremely sedentary so even short walking or dance breaks can make a huge difference.

2.) EAT A GODDAMN VEGETABLE. Now I KNOW people are rolling their eyes at this one because I sound like everyone’s mother. Remember what I said above: we are talking the bare minimum here. But not only am I encouraging people to add some leafy greens here and there, it is also important to make sure you’re eating well, and regularly. Don’t skip breakfast, don’t work through lunch, and definitely don’t binge because you skipped a meal. Eating regularly and including as many food groups as you can, will help regulate your metabolism and keep your energy levels up!

3.) GET YOUR BEAUTY SLEEP. This is the sin that most Americans fall prey to whether you’re a middle schooler or nearing retirement. We are not getting enough sleep. While the amount of sleep you need varies based on your age and other factors, seven to nine hours tends to be the recommended amount. But what’s more, is that people don’t keep regular sleep schedules. We wake up for work at a regular hour but then sleep as much as we want on the weekend which totally messes up our body’s routine. Going to bed and waking up at the same hour can do wonders for your energy, your mental clarity, and even your skin.

4.) TAKE A VACATION. A real vacation. If you’re working, or even going to school, chances are you have some kind of vacation time or arrangement. Especially for my working folks out there, TURN OFF YOUR EMAIL. Too many Americans just don’t take advantage of time off, whether it is a weekend or a full on two-week trip abroad, most of us never disconnect. We are always keeping an eye on our email and that can really take its toll. We are one of the countries with the longest work days and the least vacation days, so when you do have the opportunity to unplug, DO IT, or eventually all that work will just burn you out.

5.) RELATIONSHIPS. Nowadays we have all sorts of relationships right at our finger tips, we go to parties, work events, and social commitments all the time. However, something that can get lost in the shuffle is working on a couple quality friendships. Ideally, these friends can be found close by so you guys can go to coffee or hang out, but if they are long distance that is fine too. Relationships need love and they ultimately feed your soul. Everybody always claims to wish for more time to spend with family and friends, but somehow it ends up low on the priority list from day to day. But if you carve out a little bit of time to catch up with friends at least once a week, it can be truly calming and rejuvenating.

And that’s it! Five simple things. FIVE. We all know that these are things that we should be doing, but somehow it is just so easy to get caught up in the lifestyle of work and commitments, and when we do have some time to ourselves it is perfectly understandable that we would just want to sit around and sleep or do nothing. But carving out a little bit of extra time and effort for your own personal wellness can do WONDERS for your overall attitude and peace of mind. All those little pockets of time focused on self-care can really add up and ultimately, if you take care of yourself, everything you touch will also be much better for it.

 

 

I’m Moving…Again

I have an important announcement.

Drumroll, please.

I’m moving to Canada.

No, this is not a drill, practical joke, or political piece (although my timing is great regarding that). I really am moving to the city of Calgary, Canada in one month’s time.

Why, you ask? Well, there are a couple reasons: chiefly, that my boyfriend lives in Calgary and since my job allows me to work anywhere, we decided to do away with the long distance thing and move in together. And also because I can never stay in one place for long. Just look at the last four years:

  • August 2013: Moved to Malibu, CA
  • May 2014: Moved back to Chicago, IL
  • August 2014: Moved to Shanghai, China
  • May 2015: Moved back to Chicago, IL
  • June 2015: Moved to Tujunga, CA (Thanks, Kay and Jim)
  • August 2015: Moved to Thousand Oaks, CA
  • May 2016: Graduated Pepperdine and moved to Chicago, IL
  • June-July 2016: Euro Trip
  • September 2016: Moved to Downtown LA, CA
  • September 2017: Move to Calgary, Canada

I know it’s typical for college students to go back and forth and not settle during their university years, but I do think I’ve moved around a little more than the average student/young professional. This past year living in DTLA has been the longest I’ve been in one place since leaving home, and I’m moving yet again!

However, the decision to move wasn’t quite as easy as it seems, and I honestly have quite a bit of anxiety over it. First of all, even though I’ve moved around quite a bit, I always knew I was coming back to somewhere, whether that was Chicago or California. With this move to Canada, I have no idea if I will end up staying there or where I would move next.

Secondly, it is a BIG deal to me to move in with my boyfriend. Moving in with a romantic partner means we will be merging our lives. And the scary part, of course, is if things go south with the relationship, it is much harder for me to rebuild my life again after shifting all the way to Canada. Furthermore, I am moving to my boyfriend’s home turf. His family, friends, and activities are already established in Calgary, whereas I will be starting from scratch — no family, no friends, no social life at all. That is absolutely terrifying for me. I don’t want to rely solely on my boyfriend for all of my social needs, but that is how it is going to have to be at the very start until I start getting involved in my own things. Moving to California the first time was different because I was a freshman at university, and everyone knows freshman are all desperate to make friends so we were all in the same uncomfortable situation. This time around, it is only me in the uncomfortable situation and I have to figure it out by myself.

Lastly, I was initially apprehensive about moving to Calgary. All my life I’ve lived in or around extremely large cities: Chicago, Los Angeles, Shanghai, etc. These cities are enormous, gorgeous, and have tons of opportunities. Calgary, on the other hand, is a bit smaller and still developing. That’s not a bad thing, but I’m not used to it. I also admit I’ve been spoiled by the sheer variety of activities, food, and landscapes afforded to me by those cities. Calgary has a much different feel to it and the major points of interest are things I had never even considered doing before, like skiing, camping, or cycling. I have visited a couple times and definitely felt out of my element.

So there you have it, in spite of my fears of not having any friends, not having a social life, not fitting in with the activities, being too bored, of my boyfriend and I breaking up, I still decided to move. I still decided to move because I decided it was important to continue to challenge myself.

I know it’s Canada and I won’t have bigger issues to tackle, like language or vastly different cultural norms (although I will never understand the big deal about hockey), it is still a different country and I will have to build my life there. I’ll have to learn what I like about Calgary and what I like doing there. I’ll have to learn how to live with my boyfriend, and I’ll learn how to create my own social life from the ground up. So while it’s comfortable to live in places I know so well, with people I already love, I know I will grow so much more by putting myself in a place I barely know, with people I definitely don’t know and force myself to make it a great opportunity.

 

movingaway2 (2)
Checking out my new horizons…

 

Read it and Weep

What was the last book you read? Did you choose to read said book by choice? Or was it for something else like school or work?

When my sister and I learned to read, we didn’t just read them, we DEVOURED THEM. I remember most of our Christmas gifts would be books and by the time Christmas break was over, we would have finished a good chunk (if not all) of the books we had just received. We would read everything! We read novels, fantasy, science fiction, history, historical fiction, and nonfiction.

My sister and I are, unfortunately, increasingly rare specimens of people. In an age where consuming information at hyper-fast speeds is becoming more and more important, many people claim they don’t have the time or the attention span to sit down and read an entire book. We favor online articles and social media to consume information, and to be honest, real life has gotten so ridiculous (American politics anyone?) that it may feel like you’re viewing fiction every time you check the news.

But I still think reading full on books and immersing yourself in a story is important. The majority of books I read are nonfiction or science fiction/fantasy. And I think there is a huge benefit to reading a wide range of books for personal growth and development (and to be one of those pretentious show offs at parties). Below, I’ve outlined how I divide the books in my library and why reading books from each of these categories has more benefits than you might think.

Nonfiction books have obvious benefits. They usually fall into two categories: self-help or history/biography. There is much to be gained by reading these types of books. You can learn techniques to directly help your wellness, success, or productivity. Or, by reading history and biography books you can learn about events and people that have shaped the world into what it looks like today and can increase your understanding and perspective on your environment. I know people think these can be boring or cheesy, or like reading a dry, boring history textbook, but some of these are dynamically written and just as gripping as that tabloid article on that celeb that did that thing (you know the one). My personal favorites in this category:

  1. Never Eat Alone (Keith Ferrazzi)
  2. How to Fail at Everything and Still Win Big (Scott Adams)
  3. Blink (Malcolm Gladwell — actually everything by him is great)
  4. GirlBoss (Sophia Amoruso)
  5. Alexander Hamilton (Ron Chernow)
  6. The Four Hour Workweek (Tim Ferris)

The next category is novels. I define novels as fictional stories that have realistic characters and settings. This category of book is important because it increases your thinking and perception about your world. Even though the stories told in this category are fiction, the struggles of the characters are usually very real and tackle topics that relate heavily with most people. This category of book resonates with me because it helps with my empathy and understanding of people. Going on a journey through a character’s life helps you see things through their eyes, and even though they are made up, that skill can transfer to your own, very real, life. My personal favorites in this category:

  1. A Thousand Splendid Suns (Khaled Hosseini)
  2. Fates and Furies ( Lauren Groff)
  3. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo ( Stieg Larsson)
  4. The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini – this guy is a powerful writer ok?)
  5. The Butterfly Garden (Dot Hutchinson)
  6. The Picture of Dorian Gray (Oscar Wilde)
  7. Rich People Problems (Kevin Kwan, a guilty pleasure but a fun read nontheless)

The last important category in my repertoire is fantasy/fiction/sci-fi etc. I define this category as stories about things that are completely made up. The setting, circumstances, characters, and story are all completely fictional. These differ from novels because the setting is not real. This is my favorite genre because reading these books is kind of like watching a film for me. They tell these fantastical tales that my own brain can’t imagine and immerse me in a world that doesn’t exist to tell a story that ends up being highly relatable. These books are also my favorite because not only are they the most entertaining for me, I feel like they combine the best of the first two categories into one. Their characters are still intensely relatable which adds the empathy element found in novel studies, and they also encourage outside of the box thinking. In order to truly enjoy a fictional world, you have to understand the fictional rules and workings of that world and that thinking forces you to expand your mind and think about your own world more creatively. My favorites (I have so many here so I’ll only list a few):

  1. The Harry Potter Series (J.K. Rowling, this is a classic)
  2. Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card)
  3. Enchanted (Orson Scott Card, honestly I’ve read all his books)
  4. Game of Thrones (George R.R. Martin, another expected one, but the books are honestly amazing)
  5. Ready Player One (Ernest Cline)
  6. Queen of the Tearling (Erika Johansen)
  7. The Selection (Kiera Cass)
  8. The Veldt (Ray Bradbury, this is a short story, but I love it)

I have been a reader all my life. I LOVE books, I’m such a nerd for all kinds of reading so I might be a bit biased, but being a strong reader definitely carries over into other elements of your life. Many people don’t want to spend the time reading or they claim school ruined reading for them, but reading should never be a chore and there are MILLIONS of books out there so there is something for everyone. Reading novels and books not only offers the benefits I described above, but it also drastically improves your thinking, writing, and vocabulary skills. I know I sound preachy, but there is literally NO downside to reading more books. Comment if you can think of one and we can have a lively discussion on the topic!