Remembering My Foolish Pride

While reading several blogs online, I noticed that this 100 pushup challenge has come up a lot. Many people are aspiring to do 100 pushups in one consecutive swoop with a six week program. I commend them for their achievements and for building their upper body strength.

The 100 pushup challenge isn’t the topic of today’s post. (Btw, I can do about 50 as of this post.)

But it reminded me of my foolishness in sixth grade. I was a silly little schoolgirl with a big whollop of pride. You could say I was cocky about my athleticism and I’ve been humbled since then.

In sixth grade, I moved to a new school and had a homeroom teacher who was the male school nurse. At the time, I was pretty lanky for my size and the only exercise I got on a regular basis aside from PE and recess was ballet twice a week. At this new school, when you did well on a exam or did extra credit, you could rack up these “points” to trade for school paraphernalia. To me, it wasn’t about how many points I could get, but it was the fact that it was relatively easy for me to get these points that I built up a bit of pride and ego.

My homeroom teacher made up these ridiculous physical challenges for us because he didn’t think that anyone would attempt them. He set up the 100 pushup challenge for 50 points. Several people including myself were successful in this endeavor and my teacher thought up a more difficult challenge later on. He decided that for 100 points, someone had to go back and forth on the monkey bars 100 times (50 each way). Everyone would play on the monkey bars…you know, the ones that look like a ladder placed horizontally. Nobody dared to attempt that challenge because it’s tiring carrying your weight across the bars. But, I was talking to him during recess and told him that I could do that challenge.

He was really skeptical and told me that I could try, but to be careful. I got up on those bars and started moving. Recess ended and my other classmates were waiting around wondering why we weren’t heading inside to start class. They eventually understood what I was doing, some were cheering me on and others were telling me to quit.

About 2/3 of the way through, I felt a blister pop in my right hand. But I pressed on because everyone was watching me and my pride wouldn’t let me quit. After the final lap and I got off the bars…I walked up to my teacher and told him I did it. I asked him about my points and he asked to check my hands.

I closed my fists and told him that I was fine, but he didn’t believe me. When he opened my hands, I had two blisters my left hand, one peeled off and one was halfway gone. On my right hand, two blisters popped and I was getting another blister inside one of the popped blisters. He quickly took me to the sink to wash my hands and bandaged them. He chided me about the damage I did to my hands, but I wasn’t really paying attention, I was basking in the feeling of completing such a challenge. I couldn’t carry anything as I had two bandaged and throbbing hands, so my friends helped me. And since I think my teacher felt guilty for enabling me, he didn’t give me homework until my hands were healed.

When I got home, my parents were upset that I would even attempt to do such a thing much less get blisters on both hands because of it. Still, all I could think of was the fact that I completed something that was difficult and sure, I was in pain, but I had my achievement and my pride.

It was a very foolish thing to do and if I was offered the same challenge on the monkey bars again, I don’t think I would attempt it. Still, this story is a good reminder for me not to push so hard…and to know my limits without having to reach my limits.

I don’t have to “bring it” to the point where I pull a muscle, dislocate a joint, or cause lastingĀ  injury to my body. Yes, it’s good to push yourself and try harder, but it must be balanced with the knowledge of what your body can handle. Finishing a workout drenched in sweat and feeling tired is good…but finishing one and throwing up after because of the workout…not good. It’s just something to think about when you’re attempting something “extreme.”

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Weird Food Memories

When I was younger, I wanted to be a doctor when I grew up. I would always watch my parents fillet a fish, remove innards, de-bone a chicken with ease…I thought to myself that it’d be fun to “dissect” animals.

When I actually ended up in a biology lab, I had no problems cutting into the animals, even if it was “fresh” and bleeding as I dissected it. I found it oddly intriguing. My neighboring lab partners would name their specimen, pet it, and talk to it…whimper over how to remove the organs and such. For me, I treated our animal with an assertive and steady hand, knowing how deep to cut and where most things were located generally. I remember how my lab partners (boys and girls) would stare at me in disbelief as I always volunteered myself to do the dissecting.

I guess that comes with learning to cook.

When you learn to cook like a omnivore, you eat almost everything. And when you buy from an Asian market or local shop, you tend to see things that you wouldn’t find in your average supermarket. It might be a cultural difference or something, but I found fresh seafood and meats as important as having fresh produce.

I remember my sister and I would wander the grocery store trying to find the most “disgusting” things and try to outdo each other. It was one of our games to keep us entertained while our parents went shopping.

“Ooo…that’s a liver.”

“Oh yea? Well that’s pig blood”

“Eww…why is it in cubes?”

“Because they freeze it…duh!”

“Look! That’s a tongue…if you eat it, it’s licking back at you!”

“Gross!”

Despite the fact that we tried to gross each other out, we actually ate a lot of offals when we were younger. My parents told us that it would keep us healthy and I believed them. Now that I’m older and I cook for myself, I don’t really cook offals that often. Perhaps it’s because it’s harder to find them in the supermarket. I still enjoy them every once in a while because I do believe that they have nutritional benefits that you wouldn’t find in the more expensive cuts of meat like filet mignon.

Still, it’s one of those weird food things to eat offal…but really, it’s not so weird once you’ve had them. I’m not strange, I’m adventurous. Food is food and it’s made for eating.

Is there such a thing as stress baking?

Everyone’s heard about stress eating. When people get stressed, they turn to food for comfort and hence, gain weight.

However, I have a different situation. When I get stressed, I bake. Muffins, cupcakes, pound cakes, regular cakes, brownies, cookies, lemon bars, etc…I make anything and everything that you can stick in the oven. But out of all these things I make, I only want one piece out of the entire batch and that’s it. Even if it sits there every day for a month, I won’t touch it.

Last year, I had roommates, so whenever I would bake, I’d have one and give the rest for them to eat. And man, they polished it off good. It’s not that I don’t bake delicious treats, they are really good…but I only want one. I’m not sure why since most people would want the whole pie or something. But I find that I bake more when I’m stressed than when I’m in a good mood. Perhaps the smell of freshly baked goodies calms my soul.

Nowadays, I don’t buy pre-made desserts, treats, and snacks because I know I can make a version that’s healthier and tastes better. But I don’t bake often anymore and when I do, I try to make breads and rolls instead of tarts and brownies so at least, I’d want to eat more than one piece and I can stick them in the freezer.

What do you to when you’re stressed?

My Relationship with Exercise

I’ve always been pretty active, but I can’t say that I’m one of those people who run/jog every morning.

Here’s a quick recap of my activities over the years:

  • Ballet: from 1st grade to 8th grade (8 years)
  • Basketball: 6-8 grade (3 years)
  • Volleyball: 7-8 grade (2 years)
  • Crew/rowing: high school (6 mos.)
  • Taiko: college (3 years)

It’s been about 3 years since college and only now am I building up a regular exercise schedule. I think that in college, participating in Taiko (Japanese drumming) really kept me in shape. In my last year for taiko, I was exercising every single day. Practices were 3 days a week, 3 hours a day. Practices for the gigs were about 2 hours long and interspersed throughout the week, sometimes doubling up on practice days. Gigs on the weekends lasted anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 hour of performance time. We held a recreational class at the campus gym to teach other people to play (for fun). Each year, we held 3 performance concerts. And that doesn’t include extra practices that we did on our own to help each other learn the songs and techniques better. We were constantly practicing…in our dorms, in the shower, sitting around…everywhere and anywhere.

I guess I was a bit obsessed, but it was because taiko was fun and I didn’t think of it as exercise. Banging on a drum and jumping around…that’s not really exercise right? But then you take into consideration that we’re always moving during our 3 hour practice, we’re holding 8 inch sticks of oak or 14 inches of maple, and we’re in defensive position most of the time. Plus in one song, you’re practically doing an ab workout for it’s entirety. So maybe it gets intense.

Here’s one of the songs we played to get an idea of what taiko is exactly. It’s a bit old, but at least you can see what they’re doing a little closer than the other videos. (I’m in not in this vid btw)

Here’s the one with the ab workout, though I don’t think I ever played it as fast as these alum. I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad thing since playing slower means the song lasts longer.

With that increase in exercise, my appetite ballooned. I ate like a champion and I worked out like one too. Everyone saw that I ate a lot, but never quantified it. One of my friends, a 6’1″ boy, challenged me to an eating contest in the dorms, plate for plate. We ate about 10 plates of food and in the end, we were tied. He didn’t feel so good afterwards and I went on to pick up some hot chocolate and dessert.

These last 3 years, I’ve been riding on that last big bout of exercise and I haven’t gained weight. However, I have lost a lot of muscle tone and strength. I’m flabby.

But at least, I’m getting back on track and though I may never exercise as much as I did in college, at least I’ll stay active. If I build this habit now, I won’t have to worry about it later.