Jack of all Trades, Master of None….So Far

So it appears the fact I cannot produce a college transcript demonstrating I have attended either two semesters of Organic Chemistry or 1 semester of Biological Chemistry is going to dash my hope of getting either of the Master’s degrees I was hoping to pursue during this time in Korea.  The reason that I cannot produce this transcript is because I have taken neither of these classes.  I got all the under-graduate Anatomy and Physiology, the Nutrition, the General Chemistry, the math, the blah, and blah, blah.  I was feeling a little sorry for myself…poor me, sniff.  No, not really.  In the grand scheme of things life rocks…hard!  But as some of my family and friends know, I am never sooo happy as when I have 10 pounds of shit stuffed into a five-pound bag.  NEVER. SO. HAPPY!

A couple of weeks ago somewhere after dinner, but before the Soju kicked in, I detailed the specifics of my roadblock to Mr. X…while at the same time expressing my frustration of a two-year educational delay.  At which time he says, “Then why don’t you just get your Master’s in something that’s fun at AND you can still do from Korea.  It’s still a Master’s degree,” He says. “It’s not like we are starving,” he says.  “Why don’t you have a good time with it,” he says.  I know right….what a dude!!  So that pretty much freed up…a lot of stuff.

AND….I start classes in February for a Master of Science in Sports and Health Sciences.  The program description is:

The Master of Science in Sports and Health Sciences focuses on the study of physical, physiological, psychological and functional adaptations to humans. Students develop an understanding of how to design effective movement programs for varied populations to reach athletics, fitness, and general health goals. Students will also learn to critically think and apply their knowledge as it relates to human bioenergetics, nutrition, movement and learning. These students will gain a greater understanding of the scientific principles needed to optimize sports performance and improve functionality and quality of life in humans.

Obviously this Master’s degree can easily lead to working as a coach or a personal trainer.  I would like to mention this has not been a life-long dream or goal for me…to be a personal trainer.  As of a couple of years ago I would have found the idea ridiculous, but today is sounds fun.  Really, really, very fun.

Through a series of events…

Mr. X deploys…momma is preggers and feeling sorry for herself = eating brownies, a lot of brownies.  Connor arrives and to my utter shock those extra inches on my ass were not amniotic fluid (who knew).  I was very “jiggley” and very sad…Mr. X still deployed…more brownies.  Finally, I started running.  I ran three half marathons, all kinds of other little races and all of the training necessary for that (so literally a few hundred of miles) and I was still “jiggley” and sad.  By this time Mr. X is home so I should be happy; I just felt jiggley.

The summer of 2010, I discovered the sport of Crossfit and Centurion Crossfit Fort Hood.  In two years my butt tightened up and my mind opened up.  I very much credit the training environment which I was exposed to.  I found a group of women (most of us either soldiers or military wives) that like to have structure, standards, goals, challenges all while clucking like a bunch of hens.  I have worked out with men…in the Army it was the only option.  I didn’t like it.  They either blow you out of the water with how fast they are and how much they can do OR (even worse) they try to help you so much they are doing your work for you.  It’s annoying.  I have attended different classes with women.  I didn’t like it.  They cluck too much, there is not a standard of work, they talk each other out of working out, they can enable the status quo.  It’s annoying.  Then…I found the 9am Female Class at Fort Hood.  I found a bunch of women pushing each other to excel, to learn new things, to come to class early to work on a squat snatch (true story), encouraging each other to learn a rope climb, and jumping up and down like 13 year-old girls at a Justin Bieber concert because someone just nailed a new 1 rep maximum on that back squat.  I liked this.  A LOT!  I was coached by a woman who yelled at me and bent over backwards for me and ALWAYS wanted me to do well.  The moment I accomplished something, she set the bar higher.  “You finally got a handstand – great!   Now do that one handed.”  (True story)  I fell in love with it and her and them and  I.  WANTED.  MORE.  suddenly….I was enlightened.

I met a coach that was skinny, slim, short, cute, strong and passionate.  She could do about 50 pull-up in a row while not being even winded – one handed even.  (True Story)  I told her I was jealous of her, she had such great shape, was in great shape.  Then she said, “yeah, but you’re tall and strong and I’ll never be able to lift as much as you can.”  I was STUNNED.  This was a big revelation to me.  I always felt that because I wasn’t a size six then I was an OX.  But not to this girl – she was a size four (maybe…probably a two) and she thought I was strong.  Revelation!  That changed my perspective.

I saw women that looked like me:  Tall, wide, big feet, big hands, actual curves.  (Most of them had bigger boobs, but close enough.)  Later on, I met a third female coach.  She was tall like me, thick, strong, toned.  She was the first woman I had met that looked like me, size wise.  She could lift crazy weight and work over the pull-up bar like a dude.  All I could think was “THERE” that is not a size 6 and she is beautiful and strong.  She would wear these short little shorts to the gym.  Oh my GOD!  This girl wasn’t embarrassed by the fact that she had thick thighs.  I didn’t know that was an option – to be unashamed.  But she had to have thick thighs, how else was she going to be able to squat that much weight?  Big doesn’t equal fat.  Revelation! That shaped my perspective.

So I want to dig a little deeper into this experience.  I think it would be “fun”.  I also think that it may be useful for others.  As America’s obesity rate continues to increase, I am continued to be shocked at what people think the causes are.  Too many times the reason given is laziness.  I do not agree with this opinion…and of course I have one of my own.  I believe there are a few underlying reasons that contribute to/cause obesity.  I believe most individuals fall somewhere into one or a few shades of those reasons.

Low socioeconomic status…there is actually A LOT of studies that back up this opinion. And keep in mind that those that don’t have a high paying job, may be working two or three.  This factor also contributes to the kinds of foods they eat.  The cheaper and faster the better – why because they are tired and broke.  Compounding this problem their children learn, through observation, bad nutrition for themselves.  They are not lazy, they are exhausted – different.

Technology has far outpaced education…  I am not a technology hater..no, no, no.  I realize advances are the reason we produce more food to feed more people than EVER.  Good.  However, it has also made bad calories cheaper and more convenient…a night out has turned from a “treat” to the standard…AND IT IS CHEAPER. (Not better – cheaper.)  How the hell do I fill up my stomach and Connor’s for less than $10…The Chick-Fil-A drive thru…that’s how.  You can’t do that shit in the grocery store unless you spend ALL your time clipping coupons and consult with people who purify their urine to drink (yikes).  Also our idea of work has changed.  When I went from manual labor to standing on an Army podium all day talking… I mean teaching…it was so easy.  I could NOT believe people were paying me money to do that.  I also gained 10 pounds.  I was consuming the same amount of food, but burning fewer calories.  The math just KILLED me…and gave birth to a third ass cheek.  They are not lazy, they are uneducated – different.

Finally, in many I do not see “fat”, I see someone trying to build up a suit of armor for protection against things that only trained psychologist/psychiatrist should really delve into.  They are not lazy, they are in pain – different.

So that is the plan… Master of Science in Sports and Health Sciences.  A lot of the criticism with Crossfit is that, though the sport is good, there are a lot of bad trainers because it is relatively easy to get certified.  This hasn’t been my personal experience, but I have read that comment A LOT!  I guess I will find out a bit more about “Fitness” and make my own judgment.  I loved, loved, loved helping Soldiers become medics.  As sad as it is to admit this to myself, I will never do that again.  Perhaps I will also love helping people become healthier once I finish with my Master’s.  The degree has some amazing classes like Advanced Biomechanics, Advanced Methods of Strength and Conditioning, Motor Learning.  But for now, I am focused on my first class in February….and the only one of the whole group that I am NOT looking forward to (so I might was well get it out-of-the-way first).  Statistics.  It always comes back to statistics.  F-word!!

Posted in Crossfit, Date Night, Korea, Married to the Army, Masters Degree, Shawn | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

A Conversation on Soju

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So it appears I had a conversation on Facebook during our Soju evening.  “Boy am I witty”…she said sarcasticly.

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Soju…Want Another Drink???

Europeans like their wine, Russians their vodka, American’s their beer and whiskey. Koreans seem to be all about their Soju. Pronounced (soo  jew).

Both times we have been on a dinner-date in Korea, we have seen the aftermath of a group of native Koreans out for dinner. Lots of empty Soju bottles littering the table top. No different from an American dinner (for those that choose to drink alcohol with their dinner) but instead of empty brown Budweiser and Miller Light bottles the table is full of empty little green Soju bottles. Also at other places that serve alcohol…OK barsAT BARS, they sell something called a Soju Kettle, which I am told is pretty much Soju and Kool-Aid. I haven’t been in Korea three full months and have already heard horror stories about people not appreciating the potency of a Soju Kettle, much to their demise. Soju has been a tool deployed to decapitate a lot of military careers here in the Republic of Korea.

empty soju

Saturday night me and Mr. X went out (we took a taxi) for an adult evening (Connor was being watch by a responsible person). We checked out the “Duck” place for dinner. It was amazing, by the way. We had the smoked duck and mushroom bulgogi…both excellent! No bacon bar though…so guess you can’t have EVERYthing. Then the plan was to check out what appeared to be local bars in New City, try some Soju and have some normal adult conversations. So…that was the plan, which was pretty much executed as planned. We had a good night!

Factoids and observations about Soju:

Soju-bottle

It is a clear distilled beverage. It is traditionally made from rice – which make sense because we are in Korea. Accordingly, Wikipedia states that some Soju manufacturers have replaced rice with other starches like potatoes, wheat, barley, tapioca. Which makes sense – we pull that kind of crap in American with our products as well.

Soju is super cheap. Imagine the price of a bottle of beer, but even cheaper….and you get way more alcohol with that. The size of the bottle is about the same as a standard beer. We purchased two bottles over the course of the whole evening; both were 3000 Won each…so less than $3.00 apiece.

soju shit

Soju is traditionally drunk “neat”. When they bring you a bottle of Soju, they also bring this tiny little shot glass (and a glass of ice water). That is not to say that you shoot it. I suppose you could – but good GOD! One does not drink it straight from the bottle – you pour a little into the shot glass and then sip the Soju from that glass. This is their way…so we acting accordingly.

Wikipedia compares it to Vodka, I would agree with that. Soju is almost virtually tasteless….almost. When you first drink it you get a little burn (like with scotch, whiskey, bourbon – those alcohols that have a high alcohol content) but it immediately goes away. There is NO….I repeat…NO burn going down. That burn that starts when you place the whisky in your mouth and continues all the way to your belly, that does not happen with Soju. I think that is why it is so deadly. Well, that and this next fact…

The Soju we drank was about 20% alcohol by volume; compared to a Budweiser at about 4% to 5% alcohol by volume (Not by weight….by volume.) My final observation is that Soju gets you drunk. I know…long shot right. But it gets you super drunk FAST. I see why Americans get in trouble if they treat it like beer. So last Saturday, I had what would be equivalent of one drink an hour for six hours – while also consuming a full meal. That’s one glass of wine, two beers, one White Russian, something called a Junebug (no idea) and one Soju (the Soju was drank over a few hours in conjunction with the other drinks). Normally one drink an hour would not be a problem for me, as well as the vast majority of people. That used to be the recommendation given as a limit for driving. Roughly one drink an hour. Well, I am here to tell you that does NOT include Soju.

I don’t understand what they are singing on the Korean radio and television, but I would put money that there is a Soju version of Joe Nichols’ “Tequila Makes her Clothes Fall Off.” If not, there should be, because it does.

P.S. – If you haven’t heard Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off, it is a great song – the link is below.

  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nj2700em-JQ&noredirect=1

NOTE: I know Wikipedia not a credible source and I would never use it for any academic purposes, but this is my personal blog about my experiences getting surprisingly drunk on Soju for the first time…. for heaven’s sake.  And it’s not like we were shooting gin….that’s just dumb.  You know who you are….

Posted in Date Night, Everyday Life, Korea, Married to the Army | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Crossfit: A New Year’s Resolution to the FNG

Come my children    Come to me    Come to my world    Full of dreams and happiness     You’ll never be scared    Everything you want is here   Everything you need is here Welcome my children                   Welcome to my world                 Of sinners and greed  You’ll never want to leave        Because you never can            Nor will you ever be able to  You made your choice    And you failed         So welcome my children        Welcome to Hell

– Janelle Morehart

 Happy 2013 to my fellow Crossfiters!! We need to sit down and have a little heart-to- heart conversation…

We both know that as Crossfitters, we are blessed to truly understand how Crossfit can change our bodies, our health and our lives. Sometimes we get a little uppity about our sport; we walk around a little “better-than-thou”. It’s not the best attitude to have, but we all work very hard and sometimes it just comes across that way because we are so very proud of all our own and fellow box-members’ hard work and dedication.

It is January now. We all know that means the “New Year’s Resolution People” are heading into our gym/box/personal space. For the next 30-60 days the classes are going to be too full, there won’t be enough room on the pull up rig, not enough rowers and GHDs, plates will be scattered everywhere or stacked in the wrong piles.

But I ask you, for the love of baby Jesus, Please, Please, Please keep your attitudes in check. Even YOU had to start somewhere….everyone has to start somewhere. So instead of turning up your nose, rolling your eyes and bad-mouthing those that do not know and have never done BUT are showing the courage to try….. show them how it works.

Tell them where to stack the plates, share your part of the pull up bar with them, offer to be their partner and count their reps. Most of all: welcome them to class, ask them their name and shake their hand, encourage them during class and encourage them to return to class again. Warn them they will be the sorest they have ever felt in their entire life – everyone is when they first start (even you) and it is OK – that means they worked hard.

If they have a big butt – tell them that they are lucky because that means they will probably be good at lifting heavy shit.

If they have a tiny butt – tell them they are lucky because that means they will probably be good at all the gymnastics moves.

If they have an average sized butt – tell them they are lucky because that means they can be pretty awesome at everything.

Tell them they did a GOOD job. Tell them you hope to see them in class again.

Imagine if that was you…unknowing. Imagine if Jason Khalipa, Annie Thorsdottir, Chris Spealler, Rich Froning, Camille Leblanc-Bazinet or Kristen Clever was at your box, high-fived you, said you just killed that lift and told YOU you did a great job.

You would live off that moment, that little ego high, for months!  Maybe just enough to get past that initial 30-60 days and truly make Crossfit a part of your life…change a life, SAVE a life!  A little encouragement might just push you to the next level…the open, the regionals…THE GAMES!! I know, I know, THE GAMES is kind of shooting for the moon, but somewhere out there a future Games Athlete is JUST discovering Crossfit RIGHT NOW!  Don’t be “that asshole” he ran into during his first WOD ever that he mentions during a BoxLife Magazine “New and Up-and-Coming Star of Crossfit” interview.

So, my fellow Crossfitters, head to the box daily for your fix.  Fuel and fill your Crossfit addiction in 2013.  Drink the Crossfit Kool-Aid, lift heavy shit, go into beast mode, learn what your body can do by pushing it to its limits.  But mostly….Don’t be a douche rocket to the FNG.

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Litter Bugs and Crying American Indians. Recycle Damn It!!

“Solid wastes” are the discarded leftovers of our advanced consumer society. This growing mountain of garbage and trash represents not only an attitude of indifference toward valuable natural resources, but also a serious economic and public health problem.
— Jimmy Carter

Heart Earth

When it comes to recycling, Korea really is trying to do its part to save the planet.

When we lived at Fort Hood, the city of Harker Heights did NOT recycle, at least not at the door step.  There was a recycling center not far from where we lived but lots they would not accept.  So we brought our own plastic tubs/recycling bins and I drove the stuff on post every other week.  When we lived in San Antonio, recycling depended on where you lived.  I never lived in an apartment complex that offered recycling.  At the house on Lake Path, it was an available option – but very limited.Hand PlanetAs anywhere when you have a large group of people, some will participate and some will not.  So no, they haven’t found the perfect system as far as compliance goes, but the apartment complex I live in does an amazing job in MANY aspects.

First, you have to purchase the garbage bags.  They come in two sizes: Small and Large.  What you are imagining as far as sizes is probably accurate.  A small is similar to a bathroom sized garbage can and the large for a kitchen sized garbage can.  You can pick them up at many of the local grocery stores and “Wal-mart-ish” stores for a few Won each.  Based on the rental agreement, we pick up these bags for free.  (Well they are not free, we pay for them as part of our rent.)  So keeping in mind that we still have a little dude in diapers, we go through about 1 large garbage bag every two weeks.  Swear to GOD.  And since our garbage can is smaller than the bag, it is never really full.  With that being said, we head down to the recycling area with a good-sized load AT LEAST twice per week.  Here are pictures from inside the collection point of our apartment complex.  They collect pretty much everything.

043 This is the “garbage” collection area.

048Cardboard

047Glass, glass bottles and scrap iron

046Food scraps (with a few exceptions like avocado pits, animal bones, seafood shells, etc.)  Each apartment is provided a little card  you wave in front of the key pad.  The door raises, you throw your stuff in.  The machine weighs it, compacts it, and keeps it contained for various reasons.  The white bags on the left of the picture collect used light bulbs and batteries.

044Plastic, plastic bottles, cans, plastic bags, styrofoam and the blue bin on the far right is for paper products.

Bulky stuff is collected, but at an extra charge.  Never have I seen an area that is meant to collect garbage be so clean and orderly.  I mean it is actually pleasant down there, mostly due to the diligence of the apartment maintenance staff.  24 hours a day 7 days a week that place is monitored and kept organized.

I think the vast majority of Americans are very disconnected with their garbage…I mean it is YOUR garbage.  We put it in a trash can, set it by the curb and we do not really appreciate just how much we produce individually or collectively – especially when it comes to ways for reducing waste…like it is somebody else’s problem.  You know who that somebody is…our children.  And instead of putting our old, saggy, hard-of-hearing asses up in some swanky nursing home, they are going  to be paying some new tax which has yet to be invented for cleaning up all the shit we have done to our planet.  My hope is for the nursing home that provides free weekly pedicures and hot stone massages, only serves organic milk and grass-fed beef and lets me still drink wine .  (Just in case Connor reads this some day.)

Recycle set upThis is the set up inside of our pantry.  I just took stuff down yesterday so it is in pretty good shape.  Plastic bags hanging off the right side along with a bag for used batteries, bins from the top down:  paper, plastic other than bags, glass and can/aluminum.  That’s how we roll!

Here is what goes through my head:  So you want to drink milk?  This week you purchase and drink your gallon of organic (to avoid the antibiotics) fat-free (because you have started your yearly “January Diet”) milk.  What do you do with the container it came in?  You throw it in the trash.  Now step outside of your house and realize that every house that you can see did the exact same thing this week.  All of those milk containers sent to the landfill….and that is just the milk containers.  Oh By The Way… plastic milk containers do NOT rot and become dirt, they just sit there and stay milk containers FOREVER.  It freaks me out a little….

Recycle

I do my damnedest not to purchase individual wrapped anything anymore…that is why God created reusable Tupperware in various sizes.  Ziplock baggies are even starting to piss me off at this point.  (Side Note: I would love to catch that little f’ing Tupperwear Elf that sneaks into my house stealing only the containers and leaving the lids – it is the worst form of psychological warfare.  I am seriously considering the purchase of an “Elf on the Shelf” to catch his thieving ass.)

And your left over food?  Find a corner of your yard and start to compost…don’t get all worked up about it like some of the professional compost websites.  No, you DO NOT need to purchase their special compost earth worms, for Christ sake.  Those sites make it seem like composting is rocket science.  Not true.  Just learn the basics – the obvious stuff, meat, bones, paper.  Turn over the dirt and start dropping your left over table scraps in there.  We had one in Harker Height and turned it over about once a week but took stuff out to it daily.  And no:  it did not get all smelly even in the Texas heat; my cats did NOT dig in it; it did not attract rodents.  As far as dogs digging in it – no idea, not a dog person.

Posted in Everyday Life, Korea, Moving to Korea, Recycle, Wine | Tagged , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Remember The Good Times

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Here is our Good News Jar. Not screwing around here at the Walsh house…it’s on. For those not familiar… Each time something good happens throughout the year, you write it down on a piece of paper and place it in the jar. At the end of the year, you open the jar and read the notes. Also sounds like a great end of year blog post, huh?

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Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

The 2012 Christmas sugar hangover has set in. Though we were far from our family and friends, being in the right mindset made Christmas awesome.

Dinner with Santa was Saturday night. Even though Connor did not dig THE BIG GUY, it was a pretty cute evening.  A candle lit dinner with live music, a little acrobat show that had WAY too many references to “The Anus” and our first picture with Santa.

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We got to Skype with Dawn and exchange our Christmas gifts real-time.  The highlights were her finally getting to see her new Coach purse from us, the magnet she got for her dad that says “I Fling Poo” (with a money flinging poo – long story….) and the two John Steinbeck books that I got from her.  Plus those books were not new, but recycled books – which if you know me…makes them even cooler.  (Eventually – there will be a whole separate blog post about the recycling here in Korea.)

Big thanks to Aunt Jean for Connor’s Christmas “box-o-goodies” that she sent all the way to Korea.  I wish I would have had a few of those things with me on the plane over here.

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All of Shawn’s medics were invited over to our apartment for Christmas Dinner.  We had a full house.  There are many different family circles, including our Army Family.  I hope they enjoyed it.

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Merry Christmas from The Walsh Family all the way from Korea.

We are looking forward to 2013 here in the “Land of the Morning Calm”.  This year for every good thing that happens to us, we will write it down on a piece of paper and put the note into a jar.  We will open the jar and read all of the notes on New Year’s Day 2014.  I can’t think of a better way to be reminded of just how amazing and blessed our life really is than this simple exercise.  I encourage you to do the same.

Posted in Army Life, Aunt Jean, Christmas, Connor, Dawn, John Steinbeck, Korea, Married to the Army, Poo, Santa, Shawn | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment