Elissa Imran

Elissa Imran

Kenzai Member
2 weeks done...4 to go!

Enjoying these Chisel workouts...although slightly afraid of adding a third cycle next week...nice photo hint Scotty.

Life is super busy these days between end of school year stuff, dragon boat races, my big KB2 crew, and of course Chiseling! Diet has been 90%ish - clean at home - slightly more relaxed when out. I know I may not see much in the way of fat cuts with that choice, but I'm not necessarily looking for that. Just continuing to improve my fitness. Already feeling/seeing the difference there!

My dragonboat team competed in the Stanley Warm Up Race on Saturday. It was cool and misty all day with very rough water. But we had fun with it. Unfortunately we missed making the cup race by about a third of a second. We flubbed our start in the first race - a common issue for us in the first race of the day with newbie jitters and such. Although possibly a rogue wave was to blame a bit for this one. But the upside was that we won our two women's plate races by several seconds each. Feels good to cross that finish line ahead of the pack!

Celebrated my son's birthday Sunday and Monday (his actual birthday) - he's 9! We had Five Guys burgers for lunch on Sunday...not ideal...but dinner was a small veg soup and minced chicken lettuce wraps at the American Club - so I felt like I balanced it pretty well, where often Sunday night dinner goes a little bigger than it should with the buffet. I made 2 pans of M&M Rice Krispy Treats to bring to school Monday. And after being so proud of myself to not even have a taste while making them Sunday night, I did succumb to one after dinner Monday as we celebrated as a family.

Dragonboat practice got called off at the last minute this morning due to rough seas. So now I've got time to get in my workout before lunch instead of cramming it in with a gym stop during my daughter's dance class this evening. And as I'm still a bit sore from Saturday, I think it's probably for the best!

Chisel workout notes from the past week:
Day 8: Lunge Jump – I did this as an alternating lunge – I may up the difficulty next time by adding some weights.
Day 11: Burpee – Same as before but I do add the little hop at the end – just not very high. If you’re doing the stability ball variation then just skip the hop. It’s minor in the scheme of things.
Day 12: Double Hang Time – In place of the big knees up high jump, I just did a little hop. Harder than without it but still easy on the joints. If you’re doing the stability ball variation then just skip the jump up. It’s minor in the scheme of things.
East West Squat Jump – I did these as squats with a Fakie type of jump in between. Kept it low impact but still had the added oomph of a jump between the squats. I know from experience that squat jumps and my knees cannot be friends.

Chisel on!

Labor Day!

It’s Labor Day in HK today - feels so strange to have a Wednesday off school/work!
A couple friends invited me on a little hike this morning and my son decided to join in - from 9:15-10:45 or so. It’s warm and humid but luckily we had cloud cover. It was a fun one with some scrambling over rocks and pushing branches aside to navigate narrow paths.
Got home and crushed today’s workout before heading to the American club for poolside lunch and a swim with the fam (also spotted 2 other Kenzaites...I’ll be watching to make sure they are making good choices). 😜 Had a poke bowl for a fairly compliant lunch option. And think I might have to take a little nap soon.
I’m definitely facing some DOMS throughout the upper body...need my muscle recovery sleep...of which I got 9 hours last night!
Hope everyone is having a great week!

Week 1 DONE!

Feeling good about crushing all the workouts this week! Plus 2 tough dragon boat practices, lots of dog walks, some running around with the kids, and dancing!

Ready to lock in the diet tomorrow. Had a few too many indulgences this week, including at last nights AmCham Ball. Had lots of fun dancing until midnight to a great band with many friends. Sore feet after wearing heels all night...don't do that often anymore!

Got a little more air on my 2nd attempt at Hang Times - landing softly-ish on the couch. That hack seems to be working well for me. Knees hanging in there so far!

Additional workout notes from this week:
Day 3 - Lunge Jump Twist – I did this as an alternating lunge with the twist – no jumping.
Day 6 - Heel to Butt Jump – subbed with reverse lunge to step up onto a chair (from Sculpt) – not quite the same but fairly full body and tough on the legs. I like this exercise as a sub for tough jumping ones - it's hard and works up a good sweat but stays low impact.

Apologies for so many posts, but I believe a few people might be interested in these and wanted to post after completing my Chisel Day 2 workout. Plus - hot off the Kenzai press - an excellent resource for subs for Full Body Exercises! Save it, bookmark it, read it, love it. http://bit.ly/fullbodysubs

I enjoyed today's workout. And it was over in 25 minutes including a nice stretch session at the end. I'll take it!
Day 2 workout notes:
Hang Time – I’ve got 2 sub ideas for this. I tried them both out today (one per cycle).
First cycle I did them as prescribed except with my couch behind me. I did the explosion up with the feet (although not nearly as high as Patrick gets!) and then brought my feet down onto the couch. This kept me with pretty good control of the downward motion and avoided the lower section that would have been more of a fall and thus not a soft landing. My feet landed pretty softly plus the couch is a nicely cushioned landing spot! I would not advise this with any object that is not very very stable! My couch didn’t move but a dining chair or the like might have slid or tipped. I think I could also do this at the gym with a weight bench – being very careful to get the spacing right so that my feet land on the bench! Also, it's important to keep the core tight to avoid letting the hips/back sink down after the feet land - that would not be good for the lower back.
Second cycle I used a stability ball for a pike/tuck. It definitely gets the shoulder/chest/core workout without the impact but does lack the leg workout that comes from the jumping up. It was easier but not easy – definitely a good alternative for those who cannot keep a soft landing for the Hang Time.
I think something similar with just a tuck would be suitable as a Half Burpee alternative too.
Starjumps – no problem – just don’t jump any higher than needed and keep the landing soft with soft knees.
Fakie – I also felt this one was okay as I was able to keep the jump very low and land softly.

That's it for today!

Chisel Intro Blog

Who are you?
Elissa Imran - a Kenzai Trainer part time and a mom to 2 amazing kids, now ages 11 and almost 9, full time. Also a dragonboat paddler / enthusiast. I love to travel, spend time with friends, and to curl up at home with a good book.

Where in the world are you?
Hong Kong - on the gorgeous south side of the island! (see photo)
Been here for almost 9 years now, although originally from the good ol' US of A!

Why did you sign up for Chisel?
I just finished Bellz2 a couple weeks ago. I feel like I gained some great strength but also a little bit of muscle bulk. I think Chisel will be a good balance to tone that down (or up!) a bit. Plus it is dragonboat season, so life is busy. I'm looking forward to these shorter intense workouts for the next few weeks!

What do you want to achieve by the end of the program?
Just looking to continue on the path to being my best self!

When was the last time you tried a new activity - what was it?
That is a tough one! We've done some pretty amazing things on adventurous holidays here in Asia. In December we stayed in a treehouse in the jungle in Laos for 3 days in hopes of seeing gibbons (which we did from very very far across the valley) - accessible only by zipline!

Came back mid-afternoon Monday from a long weekend in Singapore for a kids soccer tournament. It was a fun but tiring weekend. And then was being the good wife accompanying my husband to a reception on board a US navy ship that is docked in HK at the moment. Not that it was exactly a hardship but I was tired and feeling busy...I did try bail on him but he was persuasive.
In the short time between those 2 things I needed to get everyone unpacked and prepared for the week...plus shower and put on a dress. The workout was the casualty. So today I did Day 1. And shortly I'll be heading to dragonboat practice. So I'm going to call that Days 1 and 7. And by Monday I'll be on track!

Day 1 workout notes:
I was able to do the half burpees with a soft landing - so I think I'm okay with those.
Mini starjumps were fine too - I keep them low so the impact is minimal.
Yahoo jumps - I'm not quite sure what to call my version - I still start with a sort of bent over squat and try to get a bit of explosive force upward - but I keep one foot firmly planted - arms and other leg up and out just like the photo. Halfway through the set I switch to the other foot. Obviously this is not as tough as the jumping version, but I still felt it and feel like it was a pretty good alternative.


Excited to start Chisel today. I’ve been planning to do this program for awhile but have been a bit daunted by the high impact exercises because of my knee issues. I’ve finally decided to tackle it but be smart about modifications. In fact, I’ll be taking some notes on what I sub to share with the Kenzai powers that be so perhaps we can use that to help make this program more approachable for others who need lower impact. As I like to tell trainees, it doesn’t have to be perfect to be worth it!

Timing ought to be pretty good as I’m returning today from a long weekend in Singapore where the kids were in a soccer tournament. I’ve had too much beer and not the healthiest food options at the tournament venues. Today’s breakfast (pictured) was a start at cleaning it up. I have no major travel scheduled in the next 6 weeks. It is dragonboat race season so there may be some occasions for imbibing a little bubbly. But I plan to keep it reasonable.

Heading into summer in a chiseled bod! Whip us into shape Scottie B!

And I’m training a big KB2 group that starts today. Going to be busy but I’ll still aim to be a good teammate to the Thoth crew!


We had our first race day yesterday. The weather held out for 2 beautiful races in the morning. Not our best performance, as we came 4th in both of our heats. But we have quite a few newbies and we usually don’t perform as well as we could in our first race event. We did shave off 3 seconds between the 2 races (2:37 to 2:34) - not bad for a 500 meter race.
Unfortunately the thunderstorms rolled in early afternoon and most of the afternoon’s races got canceled. We popped the bubbly and enjoyed some team bonding!
Looking forward to the next chance in 3 weeks!


Congrats to my KB2 crew and all the others who graduated from programs this weekend!
I celebrated your accomplishment the last couple days at the 7s! 😜

A couple days of beer and stadium food has left me feeling pretty gross. The downside of keeping the diet mostly clean most of the time!

Special bonus was meeting the illustrious Fish in person!

Now back to my regularly scheduled healthy lifestyle! Whew!

Bellz2 Bonanza! 

This program was tough. First couple weeks felt so good - short workouts - tore through them with gusto! Middle couple weeks they started to get a bit longer and I started to feel some fatigue. Last couple weeks workouts were painfully long - some days I totally dreaded them. And yes I'll be honest that using my dragon boat training days as my active rest and cardio days might have been a bit much! Wouldn't have been sustainable for a longer program. Been getting some niggles in the hips, knees, wrists. Body is ready for a break! But 42 for 42 workouts - COMPLETE!

Final workout was a fun one. Did a nice little few minutes to warm up mixing in some jogging in place, jumping jacks, scissor jacks, high knees, butt kicks. And then I tore right through the cycles with an 8kg bell in each hand - under 30 minutes start to finish. Was able to tap the screen with a finger without putting down the bells. Did feel so good to put them down for a minute rest between cycles though! Love the sticky finger workout as finale!

I was unsure at the beginning whether I'd overdone it on the bellz purchase, but I think I was spot on. Needed the 4kgs for a few exercises. Used the 8kgs most. Was able to row and one arm swing and some others with the 12kgs. Swings with a 16kg. And yes I did use the pair of 16kgs - for deadlifts. If they were available I might have liked to have some 6kgs for some of the bicep/tricep exercises where 8 was pushing it but 4 was light. When I was at the gym I sometimes subbed dumbbells for those to get the in-between weight. Why is it that bellz here seem to come only in 4kg increments???

As far as the diet - I was around 80-90%. I ate clean meals/snacks at home, always. Although here and there I will admit to sneaking a bite of chocolate. Very rarely missed a meal or snack. There were a few meals out that were in the Kenzai spirit but not the letter of the law - especially when on egg white and veg dinners - I didn't even try to keep that clean when out. And I will freely admit that I did not cut out drinking. I was more conscious/mindful of the choices. I don't drink at home. But when out with friends, at social events, dinners - if there is wine, I am in. Although I never let a hangover stop me from tackling my workout! (Or taking the kids to early morning soccer games!)

So that bit leads me to the question that I'm still trying to answer for myself. Is this the right way to do it? Have I found the sustainable balance? I didn't go into this program trying to lose weight but rather just to continue to work on my fitness. My weight stayed the same - it hardly fluctuated throughout from 161 pounds. According to my very inaccurate BIA scale, my muscle mass increased a touch and fat percentage decreased a touch - I don't trust the numbers themselves but the trend over time is there. And it's pretty in line with what I see in my weekly photos.

Would I be somewhat happier with the way I look if I lost 10 pounds? Yes.
Is it worth it to keep a strict diet almost 100% of the time? For the balance I want in my life, I don't think so.

Now the challenge will be to see if I can stay right here when not in a training cycle! I'll report back in a month - before I start Chisel!

Sorry for the long post! Thanks to Patrick and Nate for writing another great program! Thanks to Matt for guiding me through! And thanks to Team Nurmengard and my Kenzai friends for your support throughout!

Enjoy the post-workout muscle shots! Strong and proud! I am woman - hear me roar!


Was struck by it when I saw it in an email and decided to try it out - with some modifications of course.


Used a bit less butter and oil. No cheese.
Had to estimate the amount of broccoli and orzo (veg & carb) based on the weight of the broccoli before cooking. Also added extra steamed broccoli on top and more shrimp than the recipe called for.

My son had it without the chili flakes and didn't even complain about the broccoli because he liked the dish so much! My daughter doesn't like shrimp so she had it with chunks of chicken breast and really liked it too - she loves broccoli but complains about meat - chicken cooked similarly to this shrimp recipe was flavorful enough to elicit a compliment.
It's a winner in my house so thought I'd share!


4 workouts remain...38/38 so far! Enjoying the bellz but ready for a change. 6 weeks is definitely the right length for this one!

Photo of me dripping sweat with the post-workout thank-heaven-it’s-over buzz. And Stella with the getting-groomed-is-exhausting face.

Got in some extra cardio in the form of dog walking today. Took Stella to the groomer. Walked there - 20 minutes or so. Bussed back as I had groceries. But walked both ways for pick-up. It’s a gorgeous day here - 75 and sunny with a nice breeze. I usually get in around an hour to an hour a half a day of dog walking...nice to do more in good weather as certainly I’ve had some rainy days lately with less - not great for me or Stella.

Let’s finish with a flourish!


Trainer extraordinaire Jess is in Hong Kong this week, and I was lucky enough to get her and her hubby out on the dragonboat yesterday. Since we're into fairly serious training mode at this point, we had to stick them at the back of the boat to muddle along. But they kept up okay and had fun.

And of course it was great to meet an online friend IRL. We snapped a photo will all the members of the team who were present for the practice who are doing or have done a Kenzai program. It's a fit crew!

Meanwhile, I'm feeling pretty fatigued at this point. Knees and hips are a bit sore. Procrastinated a bit on getting the workout done today after a mid-morning meeting that threw off the schedule but just finished it. It was actually the Day 30 workout as I've been moving the days to suit my dragonboat schedule - did Day 32 yesterday. Ratcheted down the cardio to half and went for minimum reps on most sets. Will get in some extra cardio around the track this evening while the kids are at soccer practice. Needed to check that box...but also needed to go a bit easy. I think I made the right choice.

Feel like I'm seeing some slimming in the midsection and toning in the upper and lower body. It's working!

Healthy Weekend

This weekend seems to be centered around kids activities. And with enough time between them to eat at home.
So while my weekends aren’t usually too far off plan - this one is particularly clean.
Plus some extra exercise. Played a bit of keep away on the football pitch this morning - coach was running late for my son’s U9 tourney. So their warmup was the squad of half a dozen or so boys against a couple of the dads and I. Was fun and worked up a sweat! And thankfully I held my own well enough! I’ll be in trouble in a couple more years - the kids are improving!
Then took my daughter and her friend for a little walk down the nearby trail that ends near their requested destination - Starbucks. Only about 20 minutes but nice to get out in the great weather. And while I bought them Frappuccinos - I had nothing!

Pictured - today’s lunch! Which is still digesting...Bellz workout beginning around 4 today I think!


Went to a potluck a few days ago. Brought an enormous veggie platter with my favorite healthy dip. Kept me fairly clean on the diet...minus all the champagne. Oops.
Had lots of fun. But definitely some regret the following morning. That's the worst hangover I've had in awhile. But after a healthy breakfast, lots of water and a couple cups of coffee, I still dove right into my workout. Once I got going, I crushed it. Although the jumprope was pretty sloppy. Legs were very heavy.
Putting that over-indulgence behind me!
Halfway point today! Time to make the 2nd half count!

End of Week 3





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