Welcome to May BMI crew!
Summer is right around the corner so let’s step up our game this month before you hit your beach vacays!
Get ready to be INSPIRED by one of our BMI OGs Louella Tsai. Her journey to get to New Zealand was no ordinary feat! It’s a story you can’t miss...
As usual, we have a Good For You Recipe. How about a smoky and tangy Chipotle Lime Cauliflower Tacos this time?
May the Force be with you all month long!
BMI Fitness Team
Quote of the Month
Group Fit Memories
So proud of two of our OG sweaxy beasts Hope and Cammie for teaching their first ever U-JAM classes! These girls practiced so hard and it showed. Who’s up next?
Some of our BMI U-JAM Instructors reppin’ at Unity Fest at Paradise Point in San Diego! Good times! favorite
Bittersweet night sending off one of our favorite Pound/U-JAM Rockstar Kiana as she moves to Petaluma! We also did a belated birthday celebrations for Susan J. and Jessica M.!
Not Just Another Travel Blog
By: Louella Tsai, 2-time Guillain-Barre Syndrome Survivor, BMI Fitness OG
Finally – New Zealand!!!!
I’ve always wanted to visit New Zealand – seasons reversed from California’s; egg whites and sugar desserts filled with berries and weird kiwi fruit; wingless brown Kiwi birds; the country’s population calling themselves “Kiwis” – who wouldn’t be fascinated? But my path to New Zealand was more difficult and, unexpectedly, more enriching because I had to learn to walk again.
In March, 2016, I was suddenly paralyzed from my neck down. A ventilator did my breathing for me. My hydration, feeding, and waste disposal needs were taken care of through various bags and tubes. I also had pneumonia and a MRSA infection. I couldn’t speak, so my communication was essentially limited to blinking and a lot of eye rolling. I was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome, where antibodies attack the nervous system, making my body unresponsive to my brain’s commands. I could feel and think, but that was about all. Was I scared? – Yes! Was I pissed off? – Yes! Was I throwing myself a pity party? – Yes! And Yes! to all of the other negative emotions and thoughts.
My family and friends rallied. My family spent hours with me, some flying in to sleep in my hospital room. My friends came to make me laugh, bring me news of the outside world, show me pictures of flowers, and make plans for the future. The BMI Pound Posse sent me a get-well video. Amy C. Rad rearranged my pillows, arms, and legs. Brandy came clomping in on crutches and got trapped between the exit doors (that’s another story). I had non-family visitors everyday for eight weeks until I was moved to a rehab facility. Friends who could not bring themselves to come to the hospital supported those who did come. All those platitudes about “needing a community” are absolutely true. No one expressed the fear they felt. No one expressed sympathy. It was so important to know that a normal world was still out there and that I had to regain a normal life. The people surrounding me made me more determined to get there.
Then the hard work started. It was a banner day when I could sit upright unassisted for fifteen seconds before toppling over. While it’s more fun to topple over after a few drinks, this was a mental milestone. I spent hours learning to stand upright again. And the walking drills were excruciating because my hamstrings had shrunk. I was pretty sad when my wheelchair was taken away and replaced with a walker. I worked with Amy at BMI to regain my strength. Holding a small rubber ball was exhausting. Standing on a bosu was close to impossible. Progress was not always linear – things I could do during one session were out of reach on a subsequent session. But Amy was patient, always reminding me of progress and the end game. And it was during my work with her where I decided I had to get to New Zealand sooner rather than later – and I was going to hike as much as possible because I needed to show myself that I could do it.
So in March, 2018, I boarded an Air New Zealand flight to Aotearoa, Land of the Long White Clouds. New Zealand has two main islands and several smaller surrounding islands. The Polynesian Maoris settled New Zealand less than 1,000 years ago. European settlers arrived only 376 years ago. Today, “conservation” is the defining ethos of the country. Approximately five percent of the country is designated as “national park land.” The government and private bird sanctuaries are trying to re-establish indigenous flora and fauna. The cities are not too impressive, with very little history or cultural charm, although the museums are well thought out and very informative. The cities are also very diverse. The real attraction is the natural beauty.
I spent two weeks with a small hiking tour group. The advantage of that was not having to drive on the left hand side of the road. We hiked five to ten miles every day for thirteen days. We covered glacier landscapes, alpine terrain, beaches, and arid landscapes. We crossed streams and stomped across suspension bridges. The Ben Lomand hike rose 1,000 meters in four and a half miles. On part of the Milford Track, we encountered two and a half inches of rain in three and a half miles. We stopped at wildlife sanctuaries to observe wood pigeons, who get drunk on fermenting berries and fly erratically. We saw tuatara, with a hidden third eye on top of their head, the only remaining descendant of dinosaurs. There were also kea, mountain parrots, who love to tear off rubber stripping around car windows. So the Department of Conservation has erected kea gym structures where kea congregate, to distract the birds and minimize bird vandalism. We saw beautiful sunrises and got hailed on. You can become the laziest photographer in the world because the scenery does all of the work for you.
Just an aside about the food and drink. The Kiwis love their beer (milk stout anyone?) and Pinot Noir – and rightly so. New Zealand is an island, so farm-to-table dining is not a trendy concept. Fresh vegetables and fruit, venison, lamb, mussels, fish…and did I mention the dairy? Amazing butter and cheese! However, if you want trout, you have to catch it yourself. Trout can’t be sold commercially. And for some reason, plenty of Japanese restaurants in the cities.
It was a long road to New Zealand, and clearly one I could not have undertaken without the kindness of others. And it was a journey which underscored how important it is to maintain one’s health – both mentally and physically. It was quite weird going through Fall while California was in the middle of Spring. Pavlova desserts are soooo good with strawberries, passions fruit, kiwi fruit, and fresh whipped cream – and you can buy ready made in the grocery store. Kiwi birds are endangered, but amazing creatures. And the Kiwis that I met are self-reliant, generous, and rightfully proud of their country.
I’m planning my return trip...
Good for You Recipe
Need a new Meatless Monday Recipe? Try this smoky and tangy Chipotle-Lime Cauliflower Tacos recipe! Let us know if you think it tastes as amazing as it looks!