Let Them Eat Kale

Because Cake Is Sooo 1789

A New Year Promise

Hi there and happy New Year! Whether you’ve been out and about, relaxed, or just nursed the proof of a fun night out, I hope that your 2013 if off to a great start.

Speaking of which, did you go out last night?


My plans were shifted a few times, and then I actually didn’t end up going out at all. Even though I painted my nails, did my makeup and hair, and was all dressed up, by the time I was ready to leave, I was a little hesitant to go out into the dark. While I usually know my way around and can feel safe within certain boundaries, USC’s urban campus was all too daunting on a crazy night like New Year’s. The constant police sirens, firecrackers, and other loud noises outside my window weren’t exactly comforting. So that was that. Even though I would have rather spent my NYE with friends, sometimes it’s better to be safe than sorry. Maybe I’ll be a city girl someday, but at least for now I have homemade peppermint brownies (gluten-free and vegan!) with coconut cream frosting to comfort me 🙂


Even though my night was pretty chill, I still managed to sleep 12 hours last night. Hey, it’s a tradition :). When I finally did wake up, I saw an email from my wonderful trainers, Karena and Katrina, announcing their new challenge. Since my gym was closed for the holiday, I wasn’t able to do the treadmill workout, as planned. Fortunately, I still hit the ground running with a quick and sweaty workout of my own. It was similar to the one I enjoyed on New Year’s Eve, but better for the new year.


Here’s what I did:

  • TurboFire’s Fire 30 DVD (~30 minutes of kickboxing + HIIT)
  • 1 minute quick squats
  • 100 jumping jacks + 12 burpees (with wide squats added in) + 100 jumping jacks
  • 12 minute dynamic plank workout
  • Wall sits (1 minute + rest + 1.5 minute)
  • Deep stretching

It was quick, effective, and interesting. Although I love my 60 minute elliptical sessions, sometimes it’s nice to just keep everything moving. With workouts like these, sometimes I just add things in and go with the flow. Very unlike me!


Anyway, back to the Tone It Up New Year’s Challenge: the “Love Your Body” Series (see it here). I was so inspired by Karena and Katrina’s message that I wanted to spread the word and encourage you to join in.


This challenge resonated with me so strongly because of my own journey to loving my body. After 4 years of blogging (I had a different blog before this), I am finally confident enough not only to say sincerely that I love my body, but also to share my story with you.


As a child, I was always the “slow” one in gym class, the “easy target” who would get nailed in the face with a dodgeball (multiple times, thankyouverymuch), and the one who would get picked on far too often for Duck, Duck, Goose. I figured it was just the way of the world and accepted my fate. Sure, I could dance until my heart gave out… but anything else was beyond me.

In high school, things started to change. A dancing injury kept me from doing what I loved, so I was forced to find something new. To satisfy my sports credit for school, I took a Strength and Fitness class. The class allowed me time in the gym to experiment with brisk walking/jogging on the treadmill and weight lifting. I enjoyed it to a certain extent, but I never really moved outside of my comfort zone or challenged myself.


Then winter came. I joined the crew (rowing) team at school as a coxswain and immediately began winter training. There was some circuit training and cold runs outside, but I exercised my voice more than anything. Somehow during this time I did adopt a new healthy habit: doing ab exercises every morning when I woke up and a few at night before bed. I wanted to be able to keep up with the strong core muscles of the rowers on my team. Somehow, I achieved that. In the spring, everyone on the team took part in a plank challenge. I was the last one still planking, proving that coxswains really could be strong.

retro vogue photo shoot

Me at the beginning of my high school years

Unfortunately, just as I was starting to bond with my team and become curious about fitness, an important family emergency forced me to quite the team. The stress was so great that I constantly felt sick and lost weight. Since I had always been at the cusp between underweight and “normal” (whatever that means), the change was too much for my body to handle. I was weak and tired all the time. My doctor demanded that I get my weight back up immediately, with whatever means necessary. In “modern” medicine, that means guzzling Ensure Shakes and eating greasy pizza/cake/ice cream until you’re sick, all while doing absolutely nothing and laying on the couch. I was not healthy or happy; it was hard for me to love my body.

With the love and support of my mother and grandmother, I was able to find a way out. We worked tirelessly to remove the stressor from my life and developed a new plan to make me feel healthy again. I personally worked with a holistic nutritionist to focus on eating healthy, nutrient dense foods that would nourish my body while rebuilding it. I also took nightly walks with my family and began yoga to build strength and stamina. This was the true turning point.

GF Cookies Christmas

Although I developed several sensitivites and allergies to foods because of the experience (I’m looking at you, Gluten), I finally approached my goal weight. It felt so good to have energy again. Thanks to yoga, my body was not only itself again, but it was stronger and better. Mentally, though, I still had a long way to go. Yoga taught me to confront the stress that had caused this mess in the first place. Over the course of a few years, it even taught me to forgive and be thankful for my experience. I will forever be grateful for the yoga teachers, community, and practice that have supported me though all of this.

Now that I’m in college hundreds of miles away from my yoga community, I don’t practice religiously every day like I used to. To stay active, I’ve found a new love in doing TurboFire & Tone It Up DVDs, using the elliptical machine at the gym, and making my own plank workouts. Oh, and walking everywhere. Lots, and lots of walking happens as a college student. Recently I also started lifting weights thanks to encouragement from the Tone It Up Community.


All of this has combined to bring me to where I am today. I can look myself in the mirror and say confidently that I truly love my body. I am so proud of how far I’ve come and can look forward to gaining even more strength in the future. Above all, I thank my body for its resilience through this and I promise to always keep it healthy.


So whether you’re looking to lose weight (or even gain it!), get ripped, or just love your body in the new year, I encourage you to check out Karena and Katrina’s Love Your Body Series here. It goes until Valentine’s Day, so you have plenty of time to try it out and get on board. With a strong community to support you through hard workouts and even some giveaways (from Victoria’s Secret!), it’s sure to be a great 6 weeks!


Thank you for listening. Love your body!




2 comments on “A New Year Promise

  1. Ellen Yin
    January 7, 2013

    Hey Mandie! I found your blog through the comment you left on Lauren & Nicole’s blog! I’m starting my freshman year at USC this semester (I was a spring admit) and it’s always awesome finding fellow Trojans on blogs! Also I got so excited when I read that you are also part of Tone It Up!!! I love Karena & Katrina. I’ve been part of the community for almost two years now and it’s the best thing ever. Anyways, just thought I would say a quick hello 🙂

  2. Pingback: What I’m Working: 1/10/13 « Let Them Eat Kale

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