Monday, January 18, 2016

Workout Journal 2016

Thanks to a great recommendation from our Kung Fu Sifu, I have started a workout journal for the year of 2016. It is a great idea since it keeps you accountable. The idea is that you write what you want to do during your workout, then you go back and write what you did/didn't do. This way you can keep track of your improvements/fall backs. And hopefully, over time, you will see yourself improving in your exercises. i.e. maybe you start at 5 push ups. But by the end of 2016 you get up to 20. And you don't struggle as much.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that we all have set backs, so if you have an off week or two, it isn't the end of the world. I am excited to see where 2016 brings me, exercise-wise. Hoping to see some awesome work-outs this year with improvement across the board. But even if I get worse at something, that's ok too.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Six healing sounds

Over two weekends from October 31st to November 8th I was able to participate in an awesome Qi Gong workshop through our Martial Arts & Wellness center. The idea behind these healing sounds is that it is a vibratory way of healing. Here I will go over briefly what we learned since it was very helpful and I would love to share this with others so that they too can know and utilize these healing sounds.

There are five elements and six healing sounds. The elements form a symbol and when practicing you should always start in the current season and then go in order of the seasons/elements. The elements are fire, earth, metal, water and wood. Currently we are in the metal phase/autumn. This changes just as there are changes in nature. Each element channel has a main organ with a secondary organ. For autumn/metal the main organ is the lung, and the secondary organ is the large intestine. The lung is a surface type of organ, it takes in what we breathe and controls many things such as how we speak/express ourselves (i.e. sighing). Each element also has associated emotions; for the metal element the positive emotions are courage, righteousness and the negative emotions are sadness and grief. The color associated with this channel is white and the sound is "ssssss."

The next element is water. Water is associated with winter and the primary organ is the kidney. The secondary organ is the urinary bladder. Kidneys take our what our bodies don't need and help regulate blood pressure. The positive emotions are alertness, compassion and gentleness; the negative emotion is fear. The color is black or dark blue and the sound is "choooo." The following element is wood and is associated with spring. The liver is the primary organ and the gall bladder is the secondary organ. The liver and gall bladder play important roles in detoxifying the body. The positive emotions are kindness and forgiveness; the negative emotions are anger, stress and frustration. The color associated with this channel is green and the sound is "shhhh."

The next element is fire and is associated with summer. The heart is the primary organ and the small intestine is the secondary organ. The heart is important factor in moving blood and oxygen through your body. The positive emotions are joy and happiness; the negative emotion is violence. The color associated with this channel is red and the sound is "hawwww." The following element is earth and is associated with Indian or Gypsy summer. Earth is in the middle of all the other elements since everything goes through the Earth. The primary organ is stomach and the secondary organ is spleen.The stomach is important since it begins the digestion process and prepares nutrients to be ingested. The positive emotion is kindness and the negative emotion is worry. The color associated with this channel is yellow and the sound is "whoooo."

The sixth healing sound is the San jiao channel. The idea behind this healing sound is that heat is normally in our heads and chest. The idea is to move the heat downwards and out, to move fluids down. There's no specific organ for this channel but the lymph system is considered part of this channel. The sound is "heeee."

The idea behind all of these healing sounds is that you imagine the light and positive emotions going into the specific organ channel and you imagine the negative emotions leaving the specific organ channel. These healing sounds are meant to be not only therapeutic but also meditative. The amount and frequency needed depends on everyone's specific situation.

If you missed the recent seminar, do not fear since there's another one coming up in January 2016! Check out the information HERE.

How do you meditate, relax or heal yourself?

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Workout buddy need apply

It's that time of year again... With Thanksgiving and Christmas around the corner, the intensity and frequency of the exercises and workout sessions must increase. For the love of Turkey! And everything else that is so so worth it, you must #chasethebird, or workout everyday until Thanksgiving, so you don't feel regret and extra chubby on what should be a joyous celebration of eating everything you want. (Pumpkin Pie included!)

On that note, I am seeking a workout buddy or two to motivate me through the next few months. I'm looking for someone to go to the gym with me a lift weights and/or do Yoga or Zumba classes with me. I currently have a running buddy who runs long distances on Sunday mornings with me, and my husband who goes to Kung Fu class with me during the week. But I am a member of LA Fitness and would like to take advantage of this membership. If you're looking for a buddy to go to LA Fitness with you, let me know. I go to the Morton Grove facility and unfortunately can only go to this location. Hoping this location works for one of my friends who has time to workout with me, at least once a week. See the schedule below for the classes:

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

A 90's and early 2000's look back

Whenever I think back to the late 1990's and early 2000's, I can only think of one hobby that I partook in nearly every day. My life centered around the hobby known as chat rooms, AOL Instant Messenger and MSN. Of course all while jamming out to No Doubt, Everclear and System of a Down. When I first started chatting online, I was excited just to be there, talking to people across the US, across the world. I got to "meet" some of the most interesting people, and some of the most boring people. Over time I realized some of them lived to be online, creating websites just to build themselves up and make them look cool. But then I discovered the actual cool people, who ended up leaving the realm of the chat world. And I eventually left it too. But this post is reminiscent of the time I spent online and the people I found and got to know.

I remember signing into AOL Instant Messenger and despite having way over 200 screen-names on my list, I would only look for one in particular. It's funny how little things over the interwebs can turn into big things in your head. Thankfully I grew up and out of the chat scene and finally met my soulmate at one of my college summer jobs and married him almost two years ago. I will always look back to my time in the chat scene and think fondly of it. In a few weeks, I will be attending Riot Fest where No Doubt will be playing and I am sure there will be flashbacks.

What do you remember of the 1990's and early 2000's? 

Monday, June 1, 2015

The Struggle to Imperfection

The struggle is real. And it's been something that I have been battling my entire life. And it's way more than trying to obtain perfection, or even being good at something. It's being able to try my hardest, every day, every time I practice, and being okay with not improving, or not actually being good at it. Whatever the it may be. In elementary school, it was playing the violin. I seriously considered quitting in seventh grade because I felt like no matter how much I practiced (which wasn't much as it was) I wasn't improving at all. After much debate with myself, I decided to stick with it for the long run and I played through college. Unfortunately, I rarely pick up the instrument these days since college, even though I have a lovely instrument I could play at any time. 

Over the past few years, I've been practicing Seven Star Praying Mantis Kung Fu and I have been trying to improve myself not only in kung fu, but also in exercising and running in general, I've been trying my best to get into good shape and be healthy/happy with my body. Long story short, despite how hard I try at kung fu or running or anything to do with exercise, I never feel like I'm improving or getting any good at it. I don't let it deter me though. I have decided to give it my all, no matter what, unless I am so bad that the teacher kicks me out of the school, which sometimes I dream is my fate. But until that moment, I will continue to try my best and hardest and I will never give up. Hence all the motivational pictures on Instagram (sorry to my followers).

Without motivation, I will crumble into a ball on the floor since everyday I wake up and I think to myself why even bother? I know that despite what I think, I have improved in kung fu and running and even being in better shape. But it's hard when you're at the bottom of the class and you see everyone else bypass you. I try my best to remain positive and only focus on myself and how I can improve against myself. I am my own worst enemy. But I know that I won't accept myself if I just give up, or if I just give "average" effort. I have to try my hardest, otherwise I will only be wasting my time.

What do you do to push yourself to be the best you can be? How do you ignore the progress of others who are better than you?

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Women's self defense seminar review

Last weekend was the women's self defense seminar at my Kung Fu school, Chinese Martial Arts & Wellness Center near Roscoe Village Chicago. It occurred both on Saturday and Sunday for a total of 6 hours, 3 hours each day from 1 to 4pm. As a student of the school, I brought some friends who I knew would be interested in learning some self defense techniques despite not wanting to practice kung fu on the regular. I attended the seminar with them for several reasons and I greatly enjoyed the seminar. This blog post is a review of the seminar.

The first day started with warming up and simple stretches. We learned a few basic punches, a kick and stances. We then learned the following real world applications:

  • How to avoid being grabbed and counter attack when someone tries to grab you from as they're approaching you head on. 
  • How to take someone down if they do end up grabbing you by twisting their arm and applying pressure with your shoulder. 
  • How to block a slap or punch, jab the throat and knee the attacker in the groin. 

For every technique, the defense was quick and powerful with the idea of running away right after executing the defense techniques.

The second day we learned a few more techniques after warming up and stretching again:
  • We learned another kick: to kick with our heels. We practiced this on the pads with the "attackers" moving towards us in order to get the timing down. 
  • How to counter if someone grabs our hair from behind, and how to counter if they grab our hair while facing us, from the front. 
  • How to counter if someone grabs us from behind with a quick jab to the liver and how to sweep our leg back as we push them forward to make them fall on their face. 
  • How to use keys as a weapon in case something sneaks up on you as you're trying to unlock your door. 
The last 30 minutes of the seminar was a very interesting discussion with Chicago Police Officer Leo who informed us of our rights regarding defending ourselves and gave us very helpful tips regarding safety in and around Chicago. Sifu Yamel announced that there will be monthly Women's Self Defense Seminars held at the school. I urge all of my female friends in and around Chicago to attend the seminar to learn a few key moves and techniques you can use in case of a situation where you have to fight for your life/happiness.

How do you feel about self-defense? What do you do to stay in shape and prepare yourself for the worse case scenario?

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Going to the gym hurdles

Finding the motivation to go to the gym alone can be hard. Up until recently, the weather has been horrid so any option to work out meant trudging to the gym to work out, and knowing me I would find any and all excuse to not go to the gym. While the gym is literally a mile away, I would find myself feeling too cold to drive there, or to even leave the warmth of my house. I found the only sure way of going to the gym would be to bring all my gear with me to work and go straight to the gym from work. But then I would just not bring my stuff, ever, and never go to the gym. Thankfully, the slightly warmer weather has gotten my butt back into gear and I have been working out a little more frequently. I have started what I call a mid-March madness kick in the butt and have begun on my journey towards being in better overall shape and health as well as becoming prepared for *drum roll* the next Kung Fu test. Dun dun dunnnnn...

Anyways, if you were around last year you may remember that I barely, by the hairs on my toes, passed my last test. And by barely passing, I mean to say that I was dead on the ground after that test, unsure how I was even able to complete it without literally dying of a heart attack. Needless to say, I nearly swore off kung fu tests for the rest of my life after that promotion (or pity passing if you ask me). I did a lot of soul-searching, and quite honestly had to admit to myself that I wasn't good enough at kung fu to even be considered for the teacher's program, let alone consider testing for the NEXT higher promotion. After speaking with a woman who did the same promotion twice, the second time being pregnant, and her cheering me on to go for the next promotion prior to destroying my life by having kids (she said it in nicer terms but I knew that's what she meant) I decided to put my mind (and sluggish winter-fat body) towards this next promotion. But I also decided that passing by the hair of my toes would just not do.

I want to not only pass, but also be re-considered for the teacher's program. Keep dreamin' Jen... there's no way you'll ever be invited. Even so, I want to at least test and do well, not just barely passing. On this note, I am looking for motivation in any shape size or form. I have joined a Spring Into Fitness group hosted by a friend of mine on Facebook in order to obtain maximum motivation from my peers. I have also started to run outside, which is 100 times better than around a track inside a gym 39 times. Just saying.

What keeps you motivated to work out? Please share any and all tips and secrets here.