Back in the Gym and Lifting Heavy Things

2 months.

That is how long I have been back in the United States! Time certainly does fly by. It feels like just yesterday I was in Malaysia, sweating my face off and lacking any motivation to work out in my non-air-conditioned gym. Those were the days…

These days I am back in the gym and incredibly motivated to work hard and lift heavy!

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After being booted from my usual gym at home (the horror!), I signed up for once a week classes at Orange Theory. Orange Theory is a group fitness class that is 30 minutes of treadmill intervals and 30 minutes of circuit training with weights. The coolest part of Orange Theory is that you wear a heart monitor and track your heart rate on a television screen. Your instructor tells you what heart rate level you should be at during each interval which helps you push harder to get in the correct zone. The goal is spent 20-30 minutes in the “yellow” push zone or fat-burning zone which 82-90% of your maximal heart rate (V02 max) and to reach the “orange” all-out zone for 1-5 minutes. The “orange” zone is at 92%+ of your maximal heart rate and is how you experience the EPOC effect which basically provides an elevated caloric burn hours after exercise.

It sounds complicated but basically OT classes force me to work harder by providing excellent feedback during the workout. These classes also force me to get my sprinting done for the week! Of course my favorite part of OT is the weight-room circuit training with blasts of cardio on the rowing machine. It reminds me of Crossfit!

Going to Orange Theory classes regularly helped spark my motivation to get back in the gym. So I bit the bullet and signed up for a month-long membership at Anytime Fitness in downtown St. Pete. So far it has been great! Finally I have access to barbells and I am so thrilled! Ladies and gents, it’s time to start lifting heavy again. I need to get in shape for my triumphant return to Crossfit this fall once we are back in Shanghai.

Here is my weekly workout schedule for the next month: 

Push Workout 1x week- bench press, pushups, squats, shoulder press, push press, tricep dips, etc.

Pull Workout 1x week- pullups, rows, deadlifts, reverse flys, etc.

Full-Body Workout 1x week- compound exercises, metabolic conditioning with kettlebells, box jumps, etc.

Orange Theory 1x week- get that unfortunate cardio out of the way

Yoga 1x week- loving this local yoga class for a good stretch and zen-time

Extra:

Biking or Walking Outside- 2x week- I love biking outside so much! Perfect for soaking up some sunshine too.

Additional Full-Body Workout- If I have the time I might throw in an other full-body workout with my beloved weights

As you can see I am keeping things flexible but really focusing on getting back in the gym and lifting heavy stuff. It makes my heart so happy! So far I have already reached a personal goal of mine to pull -off (literally) an unassisted dead-hang pull-up! I know, I was shocked too! I did not realized I was that strong until last week when I randomly decided to give it a go. Now I just need to work on doing it with an overhand grip which is much harder than underhand.

Overall my goal is to improve all my major lifts and go heavier. I know I can do it if I focus on form and a proper warm-up. I recently attended an ACE Movement-Based Workshop and learned all these great warm-up exercises for preparing the proper tissues to avoid injury. Maybe I will share what I learned in a future video. Put that on my to-do list…

Alright, tonight I am off to yoga! Tomorrow, is my Pull Workout. I cannot wait! 

Life Lately in the USA

Happy Friday the 13th! I love Halloween, scary movies, and all that jazz so today is an exciting day. My plan is to watch a horror movie later tonight. Is that weird?

What’s not weird is that I am already getting in the fall spirit. Fall is my favorite season EVER and I am keeping an eye out for the nonexistent season change here in Florida. Thankfully I am traveling to Boston and Pennsylvania later next week to visit my sister and I am hoping to see some autumn leaves and wear some pants without sweating. Is that too much to ask?

I can’t complain much though because the weather in Florida has been AMAZING. Hot and sunny in the mornings and intense thunderstorms in the afternoons make way for breezy evenings and spectacular sunsets. I freakin’ love it. You know what I really love? America. Oh my goodness. 5 months in Malaysia has made me a flag waving patriot who often goes off on declarations of love for this wonderful country. For real though. America is the best.

During this brief yet open-ended time at home before returning to Asia, I have been juggling work, business classes, and some of my favorite Florida activities.

Here is what I have been up to the past few weeks while living it up in my favorite country of all: 

1. Indulging in one of America’s favorite past times, baseball! The Rays were on a winning streak for a while and for a couple games I had a great view of the action when I wasn’t face deep in ice cream and peanuts. Maybe it’s just me but my favorite part of baseball is the food. Hands-down!

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2. Capturing some incredible sunsets. This never gets old. If you check my Instragram you have probably figured out that my backyard is my favorite subject. But how can you resist when the sky becomes this?

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3. Spending lots of time with family. 3 weeks ago my Mom and I enjoyed lunch at the Oxford Exchange in Tampa before visiting the Florida Museum of Photographic Museum. The museum was sort of a letdown, lunch was not. I have also been hanging out with my grandparents and some extended family that has been in town. My grandma insists on feeding me endless amounts of German and Hungarian food. I am not complaining.

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4. Riding my bike. It is practically impossible to ride a bike safely in Penang and I have missed it so much. I try to get out at least twice a week and ride alongside the ocean. It makes me so happy (and sweaty)!

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5. Indulging in another one of America’s favorite past times, drinking beer! I am especially excited to sample all the amazing pumpkin beers out there already. Actually I am actually excited to sample all pumpkin everything, anytime, anywhere. Next up? PSL at Starbucks. Gimme.

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6. Boating and BBQ on Labor Day Weekend. On Sunday we took the boat out to Egmont Key, along with the rest of Tampa Bay. We walked along the beach, went swimming, and ate some grilled meat. It was really fun, except when we tried to eat lunch on the rolling boat without getting sick. Big boats are definitely more fun when you’re cruising.

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7. Busch Gardens with Carina. This Florida girl had never been so I just had to introduce her to my favorite amusement park from my childhood. I know Busch Gardens inside and out and we had a blast screaming on roller coasters (hello Cheetah Hunt!) and petting kangaroos. Yes that’s right, we pet kangaroos!!! We also hung out with some gorillas, ate enormous dishes of ice cream, and got stuck in the rain. It was a lot of fun. Howl-O-Scream is coming soon too! Now excuse all the photos of us with giant stone gorillas. It’s a Busch Gardens thing.

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8. Beach time, pool time, ocean time, not in that order. Yes I have done it all. Carina and I spent time roasting on St. Pete Beach which reminded us a lot of Lamai Beach in Koh Samui. Except there were no mountains in the distance, or pina coladas, or spicy thai mango salads. Gosh we are such travel snobs.

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9. Trying new fitness trends and workouts. Lately my workouts have been a mix of heavy lifting (love), yoga, and Orange Theory classes with my mom and sister. OT is a new group fitness class that is part treadmill running, indoor rowing, and weighed circuit training while hooked up to a heart rate monitor. I love the cardio intervals and being able to see just how hard I am working. It is challenging but feels good… after the workout is done haha!

I am also attending an ACE Movement-Based Exercise Workshop tomorrow and the ACE Symposium East Conference in Orlando next month! I am so nervous but excited to attend my first fitness workshop and conference ever! Now that I finished my Nutrition courses, I am ready to refocus on my ACE Personal Trainer certification. Time to be inspired! I’ll be sure to update you on how it goes.

10. Ok here’s one more picture of a sunset. 

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This is Florida. This is the United States. This is home. Can I stay for just a little bit longer? Please? 

A Whirlwind Week Back Home

It feels so good to be home. I mean check out this sunset from my first night back in Florida:

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You just don’t get this in Penang.

The past week or so has been an absolute whirlwind but I’ve loved every second of it. It all started when I was upgraded to business class on my flight from Moscow to Houston. Let’s just say it was the best plane ride of my life. I am not kidding, my life was forever changed! I had an entire leather pod to myself with a big personal TV screen and free cocktails whenever I desired. The pod pulled out into a full-sized bed in which I spent hours snoozing with my eye mask and large blanket. I enjoyed insane 4 course meals served on a flippin’ tablecloth from the amazing Singapore Air flight attendants. Now I am forever spoiled and will be even more cramped back in economy among the skewed limbs of sleeping Asians. Hopefully they will upgrade me again after I’ve collected a few thousand more frequent flier miles. Ugh.

After that wonderful trip home, I was dropped into a sea of appointments and errands before a weekend wedding. I had a haircut, facial, and shopping trip with my mom and sister to buy cocktail attire while we dodged storms across Tampa Bay.

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By Friday at noon, my family was scrambling to coordinate 3 separate cars driving north to Tallahassee. Peter and I were in charge of driving my grandparents for the most boring 4 hour drive ever through Florida.  Just think of a straight hot road for hours on end with absolutely nothing to look at. I was thrilled to arrive in our state’s capital and get the festivities started!

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My cousin was getting hitched to her handsome southern gentleman and my entire family was there to celebrate. She is my only cousin on my mom’s side and the first of us to get married so everybody was excited! As soon as we arrived at our hotel, we hurried to the rehearsal dinner at the beautifully restored Governor’s House in downtown Tallahassee. The dinner was delicious and full of charming toasts to the bride and groom. After the dinner ended, my family decided to keep the party going at a bar down the street. Let’s just say we had a lot of fun and Peter was teased endlessly by my devious uncles. I guess that’s what happens when a man orders a “peachy tea” ;-).

The next day we enjoyed a very slow morning which involved hanging out at the mall to get our nails done and go shopping. My mom and I helped Peter buy some shoes which was fun and much needed. Then we spent hours at the Macaroni Grill hanging out and eating a big lunch in preparation for the long evening ahead.

The ceremony took place in an adorable Baptist Church and was short but sweet. I cried when I saw the way the groom looked at the bride as she walked down the aisle. She looked stunning! The reception was held at the Goodwood Museum & Gardens inside the Carriage House which was the perfect location for this shabby chic wedding.

Introducing the bride and groom!

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The reception went by in a blur and was so much fun. I love my family so much and it was awesome spending time with them while dancing the night away. Our family hogged the dance floor the entire night while we boogied, twisted, and bopped around too many dance circles. We Jantschek’s sure know how to party! Of course we kept the party going again back at our hotel while I laughed till I cried while my family shared hilarious stories till early in the morning. This is what family is all about. 

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It was sad leaving Tallahassee and saying goodbye to our family that lives in Canada but I hope we will see them soon. Maybe for another wedding?? Hmmm, I’ll give it a few years.

After such a fun wedding weekend I was exhausted but would still be busy for a few more days. On Tuesday I drove my sister to Orlando and was able to meet up with Carina for a couple of hours in Downtown Disney! I hadn’t seen her since our great adventure and it was nice to catch up back in Florida. Downtown Disney was PACKED and it felt like we were back in Asia! We definitely need a break.

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Peter went back to Malaysia on Thursday so we made sure to spend some time together before then. We went kayaking one day and took the boat out with my dad on his final night. It was a beautiful evening and we enjoyed a seafood dinner while overlooking the harbor. You can’t get any more Florida than this!

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Thursday morning we woke ridiculously early for Peter’s early morning flight but witnessed an incredible sunrise over the city of Tampa. I feel guilty leaving Peter alone in Penang but I am happy to stay home for a little while longer. Absence really does make the heart grow fonder and I know that we will be together soon. I really need a break from Asia to regain my sanity! The life of an expat is fun but also hard. When you have an opportunity to spend time with family, you take it!

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Since dropping Peter off at the airport, I have been resting and trying to fight a cold. In my spare time I have been watching Season 3 of the Vampire Diaries (omg awesome) and editing pictures. But mostly watching Vampire Diaries haha.

This weekend will probably include boating and a baseball game. This is the Florida life and I’m loving it. I can’t say this enough but IT FEELS SO GOOD TO BE HOME!

Life Lately in Photos

Happy Valentines Day! 

Although Peter and I have been dating for 2+ years, we have never been in the same country on Valentines Day. Not that I am complaining. I kind of hate the whole V-Day hoopla… but I love chocolate. Gimme. On the bright side, I move to Malaysia in less than 3 weeks! We will see plenty of each other then :-).

As you know the 365 project is over and I am in the middle of blogging about my trip to Italy. So what have I been doing for the last 5 weeks?? Let’s review in photos because you know that’s what I love.

1. Chilling poolside. Florida winter alternates between sunny/hot and sunny/cold. On those sunny/hot weekends I have been soaking up rays by the pool!

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2. Working. I still work for the same company so I go to the office a couple times a week and work from home the rest of the time. At the office I can’t resist bathroom style selfies. My hair is so dark!! 

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3. Spending time with friends. My college bestie Carina came over for her birthday weekend and we celebrated with elaborate dinners and cupcakes with mini ice creams. Then I caught up with my highschool bestie Mariana and her boyfriend for some bowling and dinner. They are currently on a month long backpacking trip through Mexico. Check out her blog! Finally I attended my elementary school bestie’s bridal shower a few weeks ago. Time sure does fly.

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Megans Bridal Party

4. Spending time with family. My sister Morgan has been home so we’ve been hanging out a lot. Recently we made a stop at St. Pete Beach after getting lunch with my grandma. It was a beautiful day.

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Morgan and I have also been going out to lunch, hanging out at coffee shops, and exploring the campus of her new school. Last weekend we went to a naked body paint art show which was really… interesting. St. Pete continues to surprise me!

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5. Exploring the outdoors. Like I said, it has been absolutely beautiful here. The sun is out almost every single day. I have been trying to take advantage of the weather as much as I can whether (hah!) I go for a bike ride, take a walk, or just lie down in my backyard. Did I mention that winter sunsets in Florida are magical?

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6. Hockey!!! The lockout is over and the TB Lightning are back on the ice. I’ve been to one game thus far and can’t wait to attend more. Go Bolts!!

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7. Boating. My dad just bought an older boat so Morgan and I have been busy helping him clean it up and take it out. After a little bit of work it runs like a dream! I am trying to become a better crew but my rope tying skills are a little rusty. At least I have the winter boating style down.

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8. Doctor’s appointments. Moving abroad is a big deal so I have been making sure to get the proper immunizations and check-ups before I leave. Also, I finally went to see a podiatrist about my foot pain. He diagnosed me with some arthritis (yikes!) and a genetic foot abnormality known as Metatarsus Adductus. My condition is not threatening and there is nothing I can do about it. Instead the podiatrist attributed my foot pain to extremely tight calves and tendons (duh) and gave me stretches and exercises to do daily. After a few weeks I already feel an improvement!!! Hooray!!

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9. Working Out. You know me :-). As much as I miss Crossfit I have enjoyed mixing up yoga classes and outdoor walking with my own WODs in the gym. I am relatively as strong as I was in Shanghai and my goal right now is maintenance. With all my traveling it has been a miracle that I am consistently working out at all. But I love fitness so much and it keeps me sane in my crazy life.

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10. Dreaming of Malaysia! I cannot wait to be reunited with Peter in a tropical paradise. I will be in Malaysia for 6 solid months which is the longest I will have ever been out of the United States. Yes, I am terrified and freaking out but I know I can do it. Another adventure lies ahead!

 

Day 354-357: Quick Holiday Workouts

Gotta post these photos of the day fast! I will continue to post my recent WODs. Try them out! They are awesome.

OH and Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 20th 

You know it is the holidays when…

You spot Santa at the gym.

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This workout was a tough one. I got a call and had to leave at the beginning of the last round which definitely made me move faster!

WOD

50 Air Squats

9 Push Press- 25 lb. dumbbells

12 Pull Up-kipping

15 Sit Up

4RFT

I finished this WOD in 18.02, almost a minute faster than my last attempt!

Squats still suck. A lot. However, push presses are really fun and they almost made up for the squats. Then of course pull ups kill me. When I’m tired I can only string together 3 pull ups at a time. It takes forever. It would be helpful if my hands stopped ripping open, making it painful to hold the bar.

They never said Crossfit was easy.

Friday, December 21st

Friday was a rest day. We had a holiday party in the evening. Holiday parties call for pearls.

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It is all class over here.

Saturday, December 22nd 

Saturday was still kind of cold which meant outside was the place to be. The weather was perfect for a bike ride.

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Then I warmed up even more with a quick WOD.

WOD

10 Superman

10 Hollow Rock

10 Push Up

10 Pull Up

6RFT

I finished in 14.36 and really wished I had not opted for another WOD with pull ups. 60 pull ups is a lot! Especially when there are lots of vacationers at the gym giving you odd looks as you kip up a bar. Honestly, it feels pretty cool.

They were jealous.

Sunday, December 23rd

Sunday was a beautiful starry night.

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Meeting up with old friends always makes the season brighter.

And also really makes you happy that you moved away from your hometown.

I’m just sayin’.

Merry Christmas!

 

Day 348: In the Holiday Spirit

Friday, December 15th

This year we kept one family holiday tradition alive.

We saw my sister perform in The Nutcracker ballet on Friday and it was just as beautiful as I remembered. Even though I have seen the Nutcracker maybe a bazillion times since I was kid, I still find the story, music, and dancing so magical. It is definitely a holiday season favorite!

This Nutcracker performance was also bittersweet as it was my sister’s last performance in Gainesville. She is leaving UF  to attend the University of Tampa for nursing next semester. My parents and I drove up to Gainesville to support her for her final performance as a UF student.

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Before the show, my parents and I took the chance to wander the nature trails by a lake on University grounds. Gainesville is actually very beautiful in the winter. The air was chilly and the lake was incredibly calm.

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We enjoyed the breathtaking views as I found myself falling in love with Florida all over again. Although I love the ocean, the swamp is surprisingly beautiful in all its wild vegetation. Though beware of alligators!

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I seized the opportunity to take pictures with my parents. I won’t be seeing them very much after the new year. I think we all appreciated the time together on this spur of the moment day trip.

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The best part about winter in Florida is that it actually starts looking like fall! The trees turn a golden brown and the air becomes just crisp enough for a warm sweater. It is a beautiful time for nature walks and spending time outdoors without sweating!

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The scenery also reminded me of my beloved Maine. Sometimes it is strange thinking back to my college days when life was so different. So many things have changed. It is exciting but also a little sad.

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After our walk we found our way to the largest bat colony in the Southeastern United States! We saw a couple people sitting and waiting on benches and realized they were waiting for the bats to come out! Of course, we had to stay and wait too. It was almost dusk anyway.

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Over the next hour we waited and listened to the increasingly loud high-pitched noises from inside the bat barns. Then out flew the bats! It was so dark that we could only see small dark forms swooping in front of us and over our heads. It was scary! I managed to snap a picture of one of the little guys. Thank god they didn’t hit us in the face! So many times they were merely inches away from us.

DSC_1882edit  After that bizarre experience, it was time for The Nutcracker. See, we are best friends. Just like last year.

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The ballet was beautiful and so many moments left me in happy tears. Morgan did a great job as an adult party person, snowflake, Chinese person, and flower. I thought it was awesome that she was in the Chinese dance. My family loves China!

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We are so proud of our little dancer! No matter how many times I see the Nutcracker, I am happy if I can watch my sister doing something that she loves. Also, I am definitely in the holiday spirit. It’s time to drink hot toddies, wrap presents, and hug Christmas trees.

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Happy Holidays! 

Day 347: Missing China

Thursday, December 14th

Are you in the holiday spirit yet? I am! I am! A cold front has finally graced our presence here in Florida and I am jumping for joy (and warmth). Although it looks tropical and green outside, it feels otherwise.

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Yesterday I worked most of the day and attended a business luncheon. The speaker at the luncheon is the president of the East-West Shriners Game which is coming to Tropicana this January. It is an college football all-star game that raises money for the Shriners Hospitals for Children. The president told amazing stories about his career coaching football and got us all excited for the 2nd annual game!

At 5:30pm I headed to the gym to meet Peter’s mom for a workout. My lower back was crazy sore from deadlifts so I worked on shoulder presses for strength. Still lifting those 30lb. dumbbells and feeling good!

Strength

Shoulder Press- 5×5, 30 lb. dumbbells

Then I modified a WOD from The Traveling WOD website. There’s no running for this girl!

WOD

4 Push Press (30lb. dumbbells)

8 Pull Up (kipping)

12 Dive Bomber

16 Jump Squat

20 Plate Pull Over (25lbs.)

5RFT

My upper body was really challenged with the combination of push presses, pull ups, and dive bombers. By round 2 I was shaking like a leaf. I finished in 21.17 and felt a little nauseous at the end. I had to sit down for a bit and let the dizziness pass. At this time it was 7:30pm and I hadn’t eaten since 3pm. It was time to chow down!

Peter’s mom and I went to our favorite Thai restaurant and talked for hours. When our waitress brought out tea I was *this close* to saying “xie xie”. Whoops! She was Asian but definitely not Chinese! I guess my mind is still in China. I even used chopsticks to eat. It felt so natural!

Maybe I miss China. Just a little bit.