F is for Fitness F.I.R.S.T.

I’ve been hesitant (thus far) to create a section of my blog about fitness. But I really want to. Really badly. So, you see, I MUST!

So, what is “fitness” to me? Fitness is so much more than losing weight, or reading memes about food intake. Fitness is about body and mind becoming one, a cooperation and competition in one (a coopertition® , if you will – Thanks Dean Kamen for instilling this in me when I was heavily involved with F.I.R.S.T.!)

F.I.R.S.T., or For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, was something I was heavily involved with when I was in high school (and at both high schools, to boot!) At both high schools, it was my chemistry teacher who was involved … and that’s why I was drawn to Chemisty! Basically, you are given a task that your robot has to be able to complete, and then you have 6 weeks to build it, and ship it away. The game evolved over time to include teams, where your robot would have to be able to work with any other robot to achieve a task. It’s a pretty neat coopertition, and if you have never had the chance to be involved with it, I highly recommend you volunteer to be a mentor (if you are over 18), join a team (check out the website to see what kind of team you can join – this is for ALL students, from K-12), if there isn’t a team at your school, make one. I did at my second school, and it’s one of the best things I ever did.

Check out this year’s F.I.R.S.T. game! One of my favourites yet!


“You have teenagers thinking they’re going to make millions as NBA stars when that’s not realistic for even 1 percent of them. Becoming a scientist or engineer is.”  -Dean Kamen

You could say my brain was whipped into shape by F.I.R.S.T., and the teachers that mentored me along the way. Heck, it was because of my chemistry teacher Mr. Vandette that I even grew to love Chemistry, and it’s why I majored in it. And at that time, it was the hardest thing I had ever done.

Then, I got my first, and second, and third jobs – and each of those pushed me and taught me some invaluable lessons about work ethic, who I was, and how I fit in to this larger scientific landscape. Then one day, I was most likely out of my mind, I decided to get a Ph.D. During that time I was patiently hoping for a degree, as I was piled higher and deeper. Eventually, I emerged from the trials and tribulations of graduate school, only to land a postdoc, where I am now. At each of these steps, it was the hardest thing I had ever done.

I can always overcome these mind obstacles, and find a way to push myself forward. But, when it comes to body fitness, it’s like I’m flailing around in Devil’s Snare, waiting for Hermione to tell me to relax. It’s. Just. Impossible. 

I just have to tell myself to “Wake up with Determination. Go to bed with Satisfaction.”


B is for Beachbody (and being a brash biochemist)

Anyone ever play Scattergories? I’m not talking the “junior” edition, but the full on, awesome category game of scattergories! You must immediately buy this game if you have never played it. In fact, you can get it here (or here or here). UGH! I just noticed that they changed the game! What the eff is this team nonsense?! No, no, no. The best part of this game is that you don’t have to rely on a team to win. You have only your memory of far-off places that your family has never visited so no one else writes down your Street name that starts with a B, or a Boys name that starts with a K.

I’m going too fast, let me back up. In this game, you roll a 20-sided die, each side contains a letter of the alphabet (excluding Q, U, V, X, Y, and Z), whatever letter it lands on is the letter every single word in your 12 categories on the list must start with, and then you set the 3 minute timer and race the clock.

[Three lists from the game.]

So, let’s say we rolled an R and we were on List 7 (from the above image). We have 3 minutes to write something next to each of those 12 categories and they all must start with an R – also, you can only write one thing next to each category. Let’s play this one out for example (I love alliteration because you get more points – I will show you a few examples):
1. Rubeus Hagrid (this would yield 1 point); Roger Rabbit (2 points), if Roger Rabbit had a known middle name that started with an R, you would get 3 points.
2. Rice (+1), Refreshments (+1), etc.
3. Runway Magazine (+1)
4. You could put Raleigh or Richmond, but let’s be real – those are the only two capitals in the USA that start with R. And this category wasn’t specific to the USA (my faves!) So, to ensure I get my point, I would play Rome.

…. you get the point. At the end of the 3 minutes, everyone stops writing and everyone starts saying what they have (in an orderly fashion). If someone else wrote down what you have, no points will be awarded for that answer. Only unique answers count. If you wrote something down and everyone else disagrees with it (maybe it was the wrong category), then you don’t get awarded points. You add them all up, and move on to the next list with a brand new letter. It’s glorious. It’s fun. I am super competitive.

So being a Brash Biochemist (+2!!) who loves Beachbody …. or as I like to say Beach Body (because, +2, duh) … or a Bodacious Babe Bouncing Beach Balls (+5, Dang!). I am getting off topic – like a lot. But my title reminded me of the game, which I love, so I had to share it! I don’t have a script, people, and when I think about scripts, they freak me out and I don’t write.

Have any of you heard of the company Beachbody? They have many infomercials for exercise videos promising amazing results from your own home in X days. …. Exercise programs like P90X, Insanity, Focus T25, 21 Day Fix, Turbo Jam, etc. I absolutely, 100%, back up this company. I am not a coach (which are free, by the way) which means I don’t sell the products – but holy moly do they ever work. Not only that, but the fitness instructors are sooo nice! It’s hard to believe they are real people, but they are. And with Beachbody, you get to talk to them, and get to exercise with them. It’s just amazing to have those opportunities. And it’s amazing to finally accomplish something you thought was insurmountable … like losing weight.

[Shaun T demonstrating the ab move.]


Did I mention you can meet the trainers?

[Me with Shaun T!]

I don’t always stick with the programmes and I don’t always maintain my weight, but I am working on it. Sometimes that’s what matters the most; that journey you take towards self-acceptance. When I was doing these programmes religiously, I felt great about myself and the progress that I made. I was nearly in one-derland, and that excited me and motivated me to keep fighting against my food addiction (it’s a real thing, my nutrition told me I had an eating disorder because of it) — and then I got injured, required surgery, and I’m still in physical therapy trying to re-gain motion 1.5 years after the surgery …. from a surgeon who’s license is now suspended until he completes a drug treatment programme. Just my luck.

But, I AM getting better and I AM making progress and I can’t wait to jump back into my fitness journey!

Seriously, look into Beachbody if you need a great programme. They have something for everyone. And every exercise programme comes with a nutrition guide, and many free gifts (depending on the promotion) to help you succeed. I pretty much own all of their programmes …. because I am also addicted to buying exercise DVDs. (Don’t judge).

That reminds me. Beachbody has a motto that I feel fits every aspect of my life, and I wanted to share it with all of you. It’s “Decide. Commit. Succeed.” You see, a goal can’t be accomplished if you haven’t decided to tackle it. And if you aren’t committed to finishing, then who knows how long those cabinets won’t be hung, or the door will sit in the middle of the living room waiting to be put back together (haha, sorry Kristi, it just fit here!) And once you decided to do something, and you are committed to that project, success is in your future. Beachbody made the perfect motto, and I just love it.

Also – buy Scattergories and don’t play in teams. Because that ruins the competition.