Reviewing 2023: Of Growth and Consistency in Fitness, Blog & Travel

Written by Katherine

December 31, 2023

Woah, I can’t believe 2023 is coming to an end already! It is time to look back at the ups and downs of 2023 and see what needs to be tweaked as we move towards a brand new year~! (。•̀ᴗ-)✧

Consistency in my Fitness Journey

This is one of the things that I always talk about for every year-end review. I am glad I have become consistent enough in my fitness journey to look back and see my progress through 2023. It is not easy to find something you love and return to. And I am happy I have found what I like and continued doing them weekly.

Caroline Girvan’s Iron Series (YouTube)

I started this year with Caroline Girvan’s Iron Series on YouTube. I was looking for some good trainers on YouTube, and Caroline Girvan was the one that spoke to me. She has a lot of free series on YouTube, and I admit, I didn’t do many of them. But Iron Series was the one I started, and I loved every bit about it as I am more of a weights than a cardio person. (´・ᴗ・ ` )

Screenshot taken from Caroline Girvan’s YouTube Channel

I felt something was lacking after doing a second round of the Iron Series. I wanted to get better at the moves besides getting stronger. But with Caroline’s program, there is a different set of workouts every week. I felt that measuring my progression with a time-based program was not easy. Look, I love Caroline’s 30-minute sessions. They were amazing and got my heart racing every single time. But it is hard to go heavier with a time limit. So I sought a more traditional lifting program and found Sohee Carpenter’s Year of Strength.

Sohee Carpenter’s Year of Strength

I love Sohee and her husband, Ben Carpenter. I have been following their Instagram accounts for a while, and they are both such amazing people! In a world where people are constantly bombarded with wrong information about health and fitness, I love how Sohee and Ben are among the few people I have followed who spread positive information to right those wrongs. So, when I was looking for a traditional lifting program, Sohee Carpenter came to mind.

She has a Lift with Sohee program that is updated monthly. However, I was not ready to commit to a monthly subscription since I didn’t know how much I would like a traditional lifting program. Having been using the Sweat app, FitnessBlender, and then Caroline Girvan, I was never exposed to a conventional lifting program. So, I was glad to learn that Sohee has a program called Year of Strength, a one-year program of live workouts she has put out for the year! Since this is a one-time payment for a year’s worth of training, I decided to try it out! ⸜(*ˊᗜˋ*)⸝

Screenshot taken from Sohee Carpenter’s website

I started Year of Strength in March 2023 and have tracked my progression using the Strong app. Looking back at my history, I am pretty happy with my progress thus far, especially for push-ups! I still can’t do a full push-up, but at least I am getting there! (@´ー`)ノ゙ I struggled with my push-up progression until I started on Year of Strength. That was when I saw some progress in my push-up. Maybe it has to do with how Sohee designed the program: every month, it focuses on something different: Unilateral & Core, Glutes & Shoulders, Hamstrings & Chest and Quads & Back. And this has helped with my overall strength and progress. (ᵔ◡ᵔ)

Progression made with Year of Strength

I love that I can focus on the exercises for the month for the next four weeks. During that month, I worked towards increasing reps or sets and, from there, the weights used. Anyway, here is a chart of the progress I have made for some of the moves:

Putting up this table, I realised I have made good progress over the past nine months! We usually don’t realise how much progress we have made until we look back on the numbers. So, I encourage everyone to do the same as well. Track the weights and reps. ( ´ ω ` ) The only thing I have to work hard on is my grip. It gave out way too easily when I was doing my leg workouts. I had a barbell from Decathlon and didn’t have issues until I started loading each hand with dumbbells. As always, a work in progress~! (>ω^)

Oh, I also love that I am constantly learning new moves in the monthly programs every once in a while. And did I mention that mobility warm-ups are included, and the set varies monthly? Honestly, I love every single bit of Year of Strength! Also, this is not a sponsored post but my personal experience, in case you are wondering. (ᵔ◡ᵔ)

Adjustable Dumbbells for Lifting at Home

I don’t go to the gym, so my progress is limited to my weight at home. Since I was going to attempt Sohee’s Year of Strength, I decided it was time to invest in a good set of adjustable dumbbells. Initially, I thought about getting the Nuobell Adjustable Dumbbells, as I love how fast you can change the weights. But what held me back was people’s reviews about how plastic parts might be an issue after long-term usage. So, I went into another round of research and came across Ironmaster’s adjustable dumbbells. The Ironmaster is made entirely of metal, so I know it will last me a lifetime. The only drawback was adjusting the weights for each dumbbell might take longer.

Since both choices were expensive, I didn’t want to make a hasty decision. I even discussed which might be the better option for me with hubs. Eventually, I chose the Ironmaster adjustable dumbbells mainly for their durability. Anyway, I could take the extra time to rest while changing the dumbbells for traditional lifting. Haha! After using them since March, they had been fantastic. It will take me a while before I hit the maximum weight. But even if I did, Ironmaster has additional add-on weights for me to buy. So, I think this choice was the right one for both durability and progression. ( ´ ω ` )

Cardio Sessions with Team Body Project

Besides lifting, I have recently tried to add in some cardio sessions from Team Body Project as well. Yes, I am still subscribed to Team Body Project as I love what they have constantly put out. Their cardio sessions are the only ones I can finish (mainly boxing sessions by Daniel (´・ᴗ・ ` )).

Screenshot of my favourite workouts from Team Body Project!

I make sure to have a deloading week every four weeks. So, during this week, I would always pick something from Team Body Project to keep my body moving. And there are just way too many to choose from! My favourite ones are definitely the boxing videos from Daniel and anything from Luke. He is a great addition to the team by bringing on traditional lifting and mobility moves. I love the direction that Team Body Project is moving, and I am happy to continue to move to their workouts. (´• ω •`)

Growth of my Travel Blog

Phew, that was a long one talking about fitness. Haha! I totally did not expect it to be that long. (*/ω\) It’s time to talk about my blog! (ᵔ◡ᵔ) I probably got serious about keeping my blog updated in 2022. At the start, it was tough to keep myself going. I was always procrastinating. So much so that I decided to ask hubs to keep me in check by ensuring I created one post every Wednesday. Even then, I always waited until the last minute to get started.

I started this blog to share our travel experience with everyone. And also because I have taken so many photos but have nowhere to post them. Haha! So, I started a blog to share my experience AND the pictures of these beautiful places we have been to. ( ´ ω ` )

Seeing Some Movement and Getting Motivated

A travel blog is as good as nothing during the pandemic. So the only thing I could write about was our little hotel stays in Singapore. And when there was no new content, I would update some of my older blog posts. Then, March 2023 came, and suddenly, I saw a gradual uptick in the number of visitors and views to my blog. No words can describe how excited I was to see people visiting my blog, even if just a small number of them every day. (´ ω `♡)

You know how when you see the number go up, you feel sad to see it go down? That was the kind of rollercoaster I was in this whole year. There are also hardly any comments on my blog posts, so sometimes I wonder if I am helping readers. Then, occasionally, I received emails from readers asking me questions and telling me how they appreciated my posts. And that was how I knew I was going in the right direction. A little shoutout to you all for telling me that! (´ ε ` )♡

As you can see, the blog is growing as a whole. But it is unavoidable for me to check out the stats daily, and the fluctuation is wild~! I could reach an all-time high today, and the next day, it would drop. The rollercoaster of emotions is crazy. I can only tell myself to keep writing, be consistent and hope people will continue to visit my blog! (´• ω •`)ノ

Screenshot taken from Google Search Console

Getting Stuck with Social Media Platforms

I admit I really suck at doing social media posts. And it doesn’t help that Instagram is no longer beginner-friendly. With the removal of searching by hashtags and the focus on reels, my posts were hardly seen, even by my minute number of followers. Although my posts are not really that good, if people can’t even find them from hashtags, I don’t think there is any way I can reach them. It used to be so much better before this hashtag thing happened. Also, I hate making reels. I spent way too much time making them with little to no reach. It was demoralising. The same goes for X (formerly Twitter). (ノД`)

After sitting down and talking about it with hubs, I realised I have to focus on what is really important. And that is my blog. I was spending so much time creating content on social media that I wasn’t dedicating as much time to creating more posts. So, I decided to stop obsessing over social media platforms and put all my energy into producing more posts here. And that is how I started being more consistent and having weekly scheduled posts.

Now, my Instagram is mainly for posting photos taken during the week for the weekly photo challenges on 52Frames. When in the mood, I will try to post some travel stuff. I think this move helped to take a big load off my mind, and I was free to be more productive to help my blog grow. (>ω^)

Trying Out Pinterest for Further Outreach

Many people always talk about how the best way for a blogger to reach more people is through Pinterest. And that was how I started putting some effort into my Pinterest account. I read many blog posts and eventually devised a system that works for me.

Many people were saying to post 10-15 posts every day to Pinterest, but I would say to people starting to start small so as not to overwhelm yourself. I started scheduling once a day to Pinterest in mid-June, and since then, I have achieved the results in the table below. I wouldn’t say my progress is fantastic, but I think it is working, and that is good enough for me now. (ᵔ◡ᵔ)

With more blog posts and pins, I am now scheduling at least two pins daily, and I think my account is gaining traction. I hope the growth will continue as I share more pins there! (・ω<)☆

Travelling and Exploring a New Country!

Cruising with Resorts World Cruises

We started the year with Resorts World Cruises. Though not an amazing experience, the trip was mainly for my parents. So, as long as they enjoyed it, we were happy. But honestly, I think Resorts World Cruises has to buck up if they want to catch up with Royal Caribbean. (¬ ¬ )

Kuala Lumpur, We Are Back Again!

Then we returned to Kuala Lumpur after visiting it for the first time last November with my parents! Hubs and I wanted to explore more by ourselves; hence, we decided to visit again. I didn’t know it was possible to walk SO MUCH in Malaysia! My feet were dead by the end of the trip. Haha! ٩(× ×)۶

Hello Bali. Bye-bye, Business Class.

The following month after our trip to Kuala Lumpur, we headed to Bali and took our last Business Class flight with Singapore Airlines since they stopped the redemption hack many people were using. Boohoo. Goodbye Business Class. I will miss you and until the next time, when possible. (´-ω-`)

Anyway, we were stoked about this trip since we were visiting new places in Bali: Sanur and Batu Belig. I am already scheduling and writing these blog posts, so keep an eye out for their release from January onwards! (@´ー`)ノ゙

A Whole New Experience in Vietnam

Since hubs’ accumulated miles were expiring, we decided to use them for our flight to Vietnam! It was actually a random suggestion from hubs and he didn’t expect me to agree. Haha! I was so ready to visit Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi on our first trip to Vietnam. But sadly, it was said to be the rainy season, so we ended up going to Hoi An and Da Nang instead.

A new country with new experiences! If you are considering visiting Hoi An or Da Nang, you cannot miss out on what I have to say about our little adventure to these two places! All are coming soon, from February to March 2024. Stay tuned! (>ω^)

Bangkok again, but with my Parents!

For our last trip of the year, we headed to Bangkok again! And this time, I brought my parents with us. My parents’ last trip to Bangkok was so many years ago when they brought me and my brother there, together with my relatives. So this trip was planned just for them!

You realise I have been bringing my parents overseas. As our parents age, hubs and I want to bring them to as many places as possible while they are still healthy and able to walk. With these experiences we had with my parents, I am definitely going to share a post on how to plan for a trip to bring your aged parents overseas! There is a lot to consider while planning, and a lot of flexibility is needed once there. But the trip is for them, so I think we are satisfied as long as they enjoy it. New blog posts are coming after Vietnam! (´• ω •`)

Looking Forward to 2024

Continuing my Fitness Progression with Current Workouts

I am actually a bit bummed at the moment as I have sort of probably, pulled a muscle after doing a session of Pilates at home. It has been about one week, and it is getting better. But I am in no way jumping back to my routine for now. I wanted to end the year with a bang, so this little setback is annoying. (´-ω-`)

Anyway, I am only in the 6th month of Year of Strength. So, there are still six more months of the program to go! For 2024, I will continue on this path of strength training and pairing some cardio sessions with Team Body Project. I wanted to include Pilates sessions for my core strength and succeeded when I attempted it on the Sweat app last time. I’m unsure if it was that specific session, but I might explore other channels for Pilates sessions instead. Hoping for a painless and stronger 2024!

Increasing my Production of Blog Posts

As I developed a better workflow this year, I have become more efficient in writing and scheduling my posts. With everything in place, I have decided that for 2024, I will increase my production by having alternate weeks where I will have two blog posts released for the week!

I am honestly playing catchup with my content now. Our trip to Kuala Lumpur was in April 2023, and I have just finished scheduling them (Dec 2023). Ouch. So yes, I will write faster and schedule more posts to catch up with my travel! As I mentioned, Bali ones are coming in Jan 2024, followed by Vietnam and some Bangkok posts. Stay tuned for them in the coming months!

Upcoming Travel Plans

We have not planned that far yet, but for now, we will be kickstarting our 2024 with a trip to Taiwan with hubs’ parents! After that, we are considering taking a break and focusing on being in Singapore and doing local stuff. Haha! I plan to go to Hong Kong during the cooler period to wipe off some ugly memories of that place. So, this might be in the pipeline, and I am also considering bringing my parents there! We shall see. Hehe. But who knows, we might go on random trips to nearby places like Batam or Malaysia. (´・ᴗ・ ` )

Onward and forward to a better 2024~! ⸜(*ˊᗜˋ*)⸝

Let’s Connect!

If email isn’t your cup of tea, you’re welcome to stay in touch through my social media channels! I have the latest posts and updates on Facebook and weekly photos on Instagram. Now and then, I drop by IG with travel stories, too! So, feel free to say hello and connect!

If you prefer a more direct line, you can always reach out through this contact form. I’m excited to connect with you! Thanks for visiting! (´ ε ` )♡


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