My Top 10 Life Quotes

I was recently asked to share my “top 10 quotes” with a media outlet and to be honest, the first few were really easy – and then I had to dig deep.

Who are my favorite authors?  Who are my heroes?  What are they saying about life, love, and everything in between?

I was finally able to compile a list of my favorites, which taken together really do say a lot about my personality, my values, and what I hold to be true.

Read on and hopefully they’ll inspire you a bit, too – and I’d love to see your favorite quote down in the comments!

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He who deliberates fully before taking a step will spend his entire life on one leg. [Chinese proverb]

  • ​I am a decisive person and indecisiveness in the name of “deliberation” drives me crazy.  Action is more valuable than inaction, and it is always better to redirect the ship than never to leave port.​
The cure for pain is in the pain. [Rumi]
  • ​As a marathon runner, if you stop when it hurts, you’ll never get to the finish line. Learning how to live with discomfort is a skill lost among many these days.
If things go wrong, don’t go with them. [Roger Babson]
  • ​Never be afraid to stand up for what you believe in, even at the risk of being unpopular.  This is especially important for women – use your voice and go with your gut.
It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see. [Henry David Thoreau]
  • ​I’m a “glass half full” type of person.  We can all see the worst in every situation, but it takes practice to filter our negativity and focus on the best.​
Always do what you are afraid to do. [Ralph Waldo Emerson]
  • ​My next tattoo is going to read “fearless,” but only after I make it through my biggest fear – childbirth!  I have jumped out of planes, off cliffs, and off bridges (with a bungee cord!) and I was terrified each time – which is why I knew I had to overcome it.​
You can cut all the flowers, but you cannot stop spring from coming. [Pablo Neruda]
  • ​Again, so many people live with sadness and negativity – doing their best to ​keep themselves in a place of darkness.  Remembering that no matter what we do within our lives, time does pass, and spring does come – it gets better.
​ Whatever you are, be a good one. [Abraham Lincoln]
  • ​My parents used to say some version of this to me growing up – they weren’t concerned with me being a doctor or a lawyer or some bigshot – they simply wanted me to strive for excellence in what made my heart sing, and I always have been happy because I do.​
You show people what you’re willing to fight for when you fight your friends. [Hillary Clinton]
  • ​Everyone loves a “yes man,” that is, until they say no.  If you are willing to fight for what you believe in, even against someone you love, that shows character – and hopefully you’ll remain friends because of it.
Love does not consist of gazing at each other, but in looking outward in the same direction. [Antoine de Saint-Exupery]
  • ​My officiant read this quote at our wedding because I think it summarizes true love quite perfectly – you can be two different people, you can lead your own life with your own interests, but at the end of the day, your future is tied to your partner – and you are both working toward the same goals.  I love thinking of it this way.​
Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right. [Henry Ford]
  • ​One more tally for the power of positive thinking – ​​if you believe it, you achieve it.  There is no goal unattainable except the ones you tell yourself you can’t reach – and I have learned that less time and again in my own life.
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The Idiot-Proof Functional Fitness Workout

I was looking up some different workout ideas today and all of a sudden I stumbled upon what I believe to be one of the most awesome summaries of all things exercise that I have ever seen (and paraphrased):

When in doubt, squat, hinge, press, pull, do something for your core and/or carry something heavy.

This is such a useful answer to the question I get so often as a trainer:

What should I do in the gym?

Functional fitness for 100, Alex.  Planning your workout isn’t brain surgery; it’s simply putting together the most effective summary of parts so that you aren’t (a) wasting time or (b) about to injure yourself.

Case in point: I, like many women, used to spend time on “little muscles” – think triceps kickbacks, biceps curls, or thigh abductions.

go hard

You can go hard, or you can go home.

Sure, muscles are muscles and they all need work to function optimally.   But consider a complex movement like the deadlift-row – where the body must hinge, pull, engage the core, and lift something heavy – and you see why 10 reps of dead-rows versus 10 reps of arm-kicking makes a lot more sense.

dead row

The deadlift row. Please use larger weights, ladies and gents.

So what does a squatting, hinging, pushing, pulling, core stuff and carrying things type of workout actually look like?

I know, it sounds like some sort of complicated version of Mouse Trap, but honestly, these fundamental movements are some of the easiest to put together on your own when faced with a gym and a half hour(ish) to work out in it.  Here’s one example:

SQUAT – why not just um, squat?  Or add weights?  Or jump?

squat

Drop it like a squat

HINGE – you know I love a deadlift.  Or heck, a kettlebell swing.

kb hip

NOT a squat. #hiphinge

PUSH – don’t discount the humble push-upPush-press?  Chest fly too.

push press

My fave Crossfit move.

PULLpull-ups are hard.  Seated rows aren’t.  Or how about cables?

pullup

Ripped dudes make it look easy.

CORE – so many planks.  Crunches.  Lower back work.  Twists.

planks.jpg

CARRY – pick up a sandbag.  Drag something behind you.  Farmers walk.

darg

This workout is a drag, man.

As with most things in life, the best answer is often the simplest one.

What do your functional workouts look like?  What are your fave moves?

GOALvember Updates & Running Ragged

Party people, it’s still the great month of November which means that GOALvember is still very much in effect.  I am keeping my health and wellness goals strictly on point until I head back to the U.S. for the holiday season, at which point I will joyfully allow myself the American excesses of eggnog, cookies, and locally brewed craft beer.

Until then, I am plugging along on all ten (!) of my goals, though they’ve definitely morphed in form since first I wrote…

For example, running once a week in the death humidity, heat and haze of Singapore seemed like a pretty decent goal…in late September.  Fast forward to now when it’s beautiful blue skies, slightly cooler (I mean, it was only 75 at 6:20am this morning!), and oh yeah, I’m registered for a Ragnar Ultra Relay.

2015-11-18 16.00.09

What’s Ragnar Ultra, you ask?  Oh, nothing much.  Just a 200 mile (321+ kilometers for you overaseas readers) footrace for time with only 6 runners, one van, and no sleep.  And yep, believe it or not, this was MY great idea (of all things) to make the most of a trip back to the States in April.  Luckily I have the best team on Earth to train with, so even remotely I know we’ll keep each other on our game.

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Continuing my love/hate relationship with yoga, I tried two new studios this monthRealYoga at The Centrepoint (think “legit” Indian style bendy yoga with an instructor seemingly determined to tear me in half) and Wings to Wings near Chinatown, a studio I found on my newly obtained Guavapass membership (jury’s still out on the GP, by the way, since it doesn’t have an app and seems to have far fewer studio options than my beloved Passport).

Clean eating is going well also; it’s getting more habitual to grab a salad for lunch (although today I did break down and get some delicious vegetable spring rolls – still veggie servings, dammit), my new obsession with sous vide everything means I’m cooking at home pretty much every night, and those vicious Tim Tams have finally made their way OUT of my house (for good).

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Finally, in the spirit of renewal and self-betterment I even took the time to clean out my closet (a quarterly ritual for me back home; first time I’ve been able to do it here in six months of living) and put aside a dumpload of clothes for donation.

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As always, purging feels amazing – but I can’t wait to acquire some great new pieces during after-Christmas sales back in the good ol’ US of A.

Have you set monthly – or “before year end” goals for yourself?  How are you progressing toward your best self?

MY Workouts Versus YOUR Workouts

I was recently telling a friend about my work/workout (since they seem like they’re one in the same, most of the time) schedule, and it went something like this:

“I try to Crossfit twice a week, run 1-2 times, and yoga 1-2 times.  Oh, and I teach 8 Spin classes and a boot camp.”

That last part always gets people.

My swolemate kangaroo "gets" me

My swolemate kangaroo “gets” me

In any fitness professional’s life, there is a distinct and tangible difference between the workouts you do “for yourself” and the workouts you do while teaching group exercise – as in, “for others.”

Working out for Under Armour at an awesome sponsored event!

Working out for Under Armour at an awesome sponsored event!

When I am working out for others, I am completely engaged in their experience.  I am constantly checking on their form, wondering how they’re feeling, focusing on the details (music, lighting, timing) that make their workouts feel special, motivating, and effective. When I work out for others, I am often sweat-drenched and usually exhausted afterward, because putting your mental and physical all into something is a truly challenging pursuit.

That said, it’s a whole different ball game when I’m working out for myself.

When I work out for myself, I am free.  I turn my music up and my distractions down, and for a blessed hour(ish), I am silent.  Voiceless.  Focused.  I can enjoy the way my muscles burn, the cadence of my own breath, the familiar comfort of my own strength.  Instead of concentrating on details, I let my world get fuzzy, blurred, relaxed into an abstract “zone” where I am at once fully myself.

I recognize my authentic self when I am working out this way; I lose track of time and feel connected to who I am deep down inside – not a shell personality screaming from a Spin bike, not a military-style force lording over the trembling bootcamp masses, but an authentic human presence working and loving and pushing myself without judgment or pressure.  It is indeed my “happy hour,” my favorite place, the few moments of respite I seek from each day’s routine.

They say that part of finding happiness is losing yourself in what you truly love to do; finding “flow” to the point where you are barely even aware of what you are doing except for the way it makes you feel – blissful, productive, accomplished, fulfilled.  That is what my workouts do for me.  I love teaching for others and will always need that purpose in my fitness life; however, I need to remember that part of my balance as a fitness pro is making time to give myself the pleasure of working out for ME.

Rave run at Macritchie Reservoir

Rave run at Macritchie Reservoir

What makes you feel like you’re “flowing”?  Where do you find bliss each day?

From ROCKtober Onward to GOALvember

(Ok I know, all the little “keywords” are a little annoying, but bear with me.  It helps me focus.)

ROCKtober has just come to a close, and as you can imagine, I definitely chose October 31st as a “drinking night.”  Halloween combined with Saturday?  It was a party explosion that I wanted to – and did – take full advantage of.

My friend Danley and I in full Halloween effect

My friend Danley and I in full Halloween effect

This is what drives me nuts about drinking, however.  Drinking = eating.  For me, that’s all there is to it.  I cannot throw back a few without becoming ravenously hungry, and then the calories of beer are quadrupled by the calories of a burrito (re: Saturday’s choice) and compounded by half a pack of Tim Tams upon arrival home.

So I am pulling it back even further in the coming month.  At the risk of becoming redundant, let’s take a look at the goal chalkboard, shall we?

#squadgoalz

#squadgoalz

To review, I spent October KILLING it on yoga (I went to more classes in ROCKtober than I did in the first four months of living here combined), running (finally getting back in my groove here, though I’ll have to step it up soon for a Ragnar Ultra, to be discussed in more detail soon), salads (I’ve basically identified every salad location within 5 miles of my work and home), water (easy peasy), and even Crossfit (hit a two-in-a-row this week; a recent record).

I can definitely step it up on the alcohol (per above), junk food (where DID the cookies come from?  And the dark chocolate peanut butter?), and as always, positive self-talk.  Speaking of self talk, by the way, I was super touched by a piece written by Catilin Moran and it really did make me stop and think that if I could only see myself through my mother’s eyes, how much more forgiving of myself I could be…

But I digress.  Let’s talk GOALvember.

I am keeping the same goal board up, because consistency is hard to come by, and I like my goals.  They’re solid.  I just need to keep refining my interpretation of said goals (trying to throw out my entire closet because I hate how I look in every single thing is kind of the opposite of positive self-talk) and focusing on the positive, lasting changes I am making, not on the habits yet to form.

On another note, have I mentioned how much I still love Singapore?  Especially now that #thehaze is starting to fade (and yes, I feel like I personally had some hand in chasing it away with my Halloween costume, like some sort of live voodoo doll), I feel like Nick and I have really hit our stride here, personally and professionally.

What "hitting our stride" looks like

What “hitting our stride” apparently looks like

A final fun development this week is that I found out our little street (Bristol Road) is going to be featured in Expat Living magazine under their “Street Talk” section – with Nick and my picture and all of our wonderful words about our cute little neighborhood.  Stay tuned for the January 2016 issue.

Not particularly relevant, I just found this hilarious and tangentially Singaporean

Not particularly relevant, I just found this hilarious and tangentially Singaporean

Onward to GOALvember, readers – let’s all renew our commitments to being better versions of ourselves.

What are your GOALvember targets?  How successful was your ROCKtober?