I have a love/hate relationship with the Michigan Left. On one hand, it’s awesome because regular metro Detroit roads seem to have outrageously fast speed limits and the median u-turn keeps the traffic flowing. On the other hand it can be super annoying to make 2 turns when you only need one.
This instrumental violin version of Wiz Khalifa’s Black & Yellow is totally rocking my world right now. I could listen to it all day. One instructor played it at the beginning of a hot vinyasa class and it completely set the mood for me.
We learned about taking ‘Yoga Meals’ which is essentially a meditative eating process that includes sitting, avoiding distractions, and swallowing before taking your next bite. It also means not taking more than 2 fistfuls of food. Bro, do you even lift?
I noticed that since I stopped weightlifting my hunger has plummeted. It’s an interesting observation.
Taking naps is getting me through these days and the sleeping mask helps tremendously. I am seriously amazed by people who can wake up earlier than 7AM on a daily basis. I’m getting up at 5:15.4 Comments
I apologize that I might be MIA for the next few weeks. Yesterday was my first day starting something that I’ve wanted to do for a long time now. . .
. . .take a Yoga Teacher Training course.
I sort of eluded to it a little while back but didn’t want to mention it until I was fully immersed in it.
I’m taking the Lifepower Yoga Teacher Training at the Center for Yoga in West Bloomfield and Birmingham Michigan with teachers Jonny Kest and Jason Hulshof.
It’s a lot of practice, a lot of lecture, and a lot of group work. It’s basically a lot of everything and it’s exhausting already!
I counted nearly 40 people in our course, which seems like a lot to me, but it’s not like I know from experience what a typical class is like. There are people from all over the country plus me (from Canada, of course) and a guy from Mexico, so we’re an international group.
Fitting 200 hours of training into 3 short weeks will take a lot out of me, so excuse me if I’m absent.
Hopefully I’ll be a bit more present on the mat and be able to share with you a whole host of interesting things that I’m learning over the course of my study.5 Comments
I have new next door neighbours!
Back in the winter when the house right next to ours went up for sale my sister and brother-in-law bought it! They finally moved in this week and I’m totally elated to have my family so close by.
As soon as we install our cup phones and roof-to-roof zipline we’ll be all set.
I wrapped up the 30×30 Nature Challenge last week.
I breezed through the first two weeks but finding nature during week 3 was a bit of a struggle since I visited the most concrete of jungles, New York City. And week 4 wasn’t much better with day after day of rain showers that kept me indoors.
Overall, I’d say I was 80% successful in getting at least 30 minutes of nature per day. On most of those days I got an hour and on a few choice weekend days I spent several hours outside.
I’m going to try to keep the challenge rolling while the weather is neither unbearably hot nor cold.
I really like Muppets
I’m partial to the Sesame Street Muppets, but anything Jim Henson tickles my fancy. I’ve not-so-secretly always wanted to be a puppeteer.
FAO Schwartz in New York was like my dream come true. Not only did they have tonnes of Fraggle toys for the 30th anniversary of Fraggle Rock, but they also have a build-your-own Muppet Workshop. I was really tempted to make a Muppet there, but the puppets seemed kind of low-quality so I passed.
Am I a womaaaaaan or am I a Muppet?
I got nominated for a Versatile Blogger award by Jennifer at Wine to Weightlifting, which is just a fun way of getting bloggers to connect. As a result I need to share 7 random things about myself, so here it goes:
There was that time that I pissed in a watering can.
I hate ‘stuff’. I get stressed out if I ever find myself in a place with an abundance of things that are unused, unnecessary, or excessive.
My least favourite body part to work out is biceps. SO boring.
I don’t like the smell of flowers but I love the smell of wood.
I started doing yoga when I was 10 with a Yoga Mind & Body video that I bought from Wal-mart. It coincided with my incense-burning, poetry-writing “hippie phase”.
I’m really frugal. I track everything we spend money on and always make sure that our budget is on track.
My dream vacation was Greece for as long as I can remember. Last summer Matt and I went there and I still haven’t determined what my new dream vacation will be. In the running are Bali, Thailand, and Newfoundland to name a few.
Chania, Crete5 Comments
Good Food: Notable bean dishes that I’ve made recently.
It hasn’t felt much like spring lately, but the cold and rainy weather has let me stretch out soup season a little longer. Here are a couple of delicious recipes for soup and sandwiches that I’ve discovered recently.
Spiced Coconut Lentil Soup
I’ll double or triple the recipe next time I make this soup for 2 reasons: 1) it’s good. 2) it doesn’t make much.
I modified it by first toasting the spices in a hot pan until they were fragrant enough to make my house smell like an Indian restaurant. The result is a really flavourful, creamy soup.
Don’t leave out the lime, and don’t skimp on it either. It’s true of any bean soup recipe: the sourness from citrus juice is really what makes the flavour pop.
Udon Noodle Soup with Pork
I can’t get enough of thick and chewy udon noodles, but I think the thing that really made this soup fantastic was the broth that I used.
Back in January for Matt’s birthday we went to the restaurant Roast in Detroit. I didn’t feel ashamed to ask the waiter to wrap up the leftover bone from Matt’s phenomenal roasted pork shank dish, which I brought home and made into a really flavourful stock.
The foundation of Japanese cuisine centres around good broth, and the’re definitely onto something.
I very loosely followed this recipe for this Nicoise-style tuna salad when making sandwiches for my family this week. My dad’s cupboards and fridge always seemed to be filled with all kinds of olives and marinated vegetables so I put my access to good ingredients to good use.
Since I didn’t have a big loaf of French bread to squeeze all the ingredients between, flatten out under something heavy, and get ‘bathed’ in the juices from the salad, I served it on toast. So technically it wasn’t “pan bagnat” in the definition of the term (bathed bread) but it was still pretty good! A nice (or should I say Nice?) change from the typical tuna & mayo sandwich.
If you make your own variation of this, don’t skip the fresh basil. It makes the whole sandwich taste awesome.2 Comments
Matt and I stopped twice for cookies as we toured around New York on Friday because I really, really love cookies.
First stop: Levain Bakery.
Levain’s cookies are widely known and their CCCs even one of the 10 chocolate chip cookies worth travelling for according to National Geographic.
We bought 4 cookies for my cousins who we were staying with for the weekend and ate one ourselves: a Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip.
The cookie is huge! And for $4 it damn well better be. You could easily share it 3 ways. Maybe it has to be that big to get the amazing consistency that they manage to achieve: a very thin and crispy outside layer with a chewy fudge-like inside that has more in common with cookie dough than cookies (mmm… cookie dough).
I wish I bought some to take home with me. In the meantime I’ve been researching Levain bakery copycat recipes. These ones looks promising.
Next stop: Bouchon Bakery.
The cool thing about Bouchon Bakery is that they have their own cookbook so you can make a lot of their recipes at home and save yourself some dough (pun intended). But if you’re like me and everything you make looks ugly, then maybe you’d like to indulge in a pretty macaron or cookie from time to time.
I’ve made Bouchon’s homemade oreos before, multiple times in fact because they are so good. I’ve made Thomas Keller (the genius behind Bouchon)’s Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe as well and I’ve had the recipe for their homemade nutter butters pinned for far too long now without having made them.
So when we found ourselves in busy Rockefeller Centre in need of hydration and a snack we stopped at Bouchon Bakery which was also on my list of bakeries to visit in New York (yes, I literally have a list).
I ordered a Better Nutter, their take on the nutter butter, for $4 (apparently $4 is the going rate for a cookie in the Big Apple).
The Better Nutter was even bigger than the Levain bakery cookie (though, functionally, I can’t see why) so even sharing it Matt and I only managed to eat half. It was really good though. The peanut butter frosting is tasty and the oatmeal/peanut butter cookie is soft and delicious.
I’m definitely going to get another cookie at their Las Vegas location when I’m there this fall.
Which is better?
If someone offered me one or the other I’d choose Levain. Though I love Bouchon’s twist on the classic store-bought cookies, I really like cookies with chips in them and the cookie dough texture of Levain’s cookie. I wish I had one right now.6 Comments
Our first stop in New York on Friday was lunch at Red Rooster Harlem.
Actually, that’s a lie. Our first stop was eating cookies at Levain bakery but let’s just pretend that we didn’t spoil our lunch with dessert first, k?
I made reservations for Matt and I to have lunch at Red Rooster, Marcus Samuelsson’s restaurant in Harlem. The menu is pretty eclectic and you can tell it has a lot of influences from his Swedish and Ethiopian backgrounds with a bit of soulfood flair that fits with the Harlem locale.
I was a fan of the casual, eclectic decor in the place, especially near the kitchen where recipes blown up and written all over the walls. There seemed to be a lot of personal touches everywhere including the bathroom walls which were covered in old framed pictures.
The place was bumpin’ for lunchtime (mostly tourists, I think). I was surprised by how busy the bartender was too. She was dishing out really delicious looking and sounding cocktails like it was happy hour. But it wasn’t, so I didn’t order a cocktail because drinking in New York is way out of my budget.
Mr. Samuelsson himself made an appearance during the lunch hour. He stopped to talk with and sign autographs for some really
crazy enthusiastic fans at the table behind us. He passed over our table which was a slight disappointment and I didn’t try to catch his attention– I figured the poor guy probably never gets any work done.
I did manage to snag a creepy stalker photo:
Matt ordered a burger. Patties are boring; I like my meat as balls.
I got Helga’s meatballs from the lunchtime prix fixe menu which got me a salad and dessert too for $25 (pretty good deal, IMO).
I didn’t try the burger but but the meatballs were pretty dang good. Granted, my experience eating Swedish meatballs may be insufficient to provide a good comparison, so I couldn’t say whether their namesake Helga would’ve been made proud. But I liked ‘em.
The mashed potatoes on the side were awesome, which I can say with authority because I have significant experience eating mashed tubers.
I loved the salad greens which had these crispy, fried slices of garlic on top and a thick pistachio yoghurt underneath.
I was a bit disappointed that the Cupcake of the Day was red velvet when I was told it would be coconut (I freakin’ love anything coconut, even cupcakes). That said, it was a really, really good cupcake. It was moist but dense (I much prefer a dense cake to a light one) and the cream cheese frosting was to die for (isn’t it always?). I just wished there was more frosting on top…and maybe on the side…and maybe in an IV drip.
All in all I thought Red Rooster was really good. I’d definitely go back because the food was only slightly expensive but everything was very well done so it was worth it. I appreciated the comfort-food menu that coupled simple dishes with good execution.5 Comments
Spending 30 minutes a day in nature for the 30×30 nature challenge was a bit difficult this weekend seeing as I spent 3 days in the most concrete of jungles – New York City.
I’ve never been to New York before and it’s not a place that I would place anywhere near the top of my must-see list (I prefer quieter spots to big cities when it comes to vacations) but the point of the trip was for Matt and I to visit my cousins who live there.
On Friday we explored Harlem and Midtown, naturally neither area is very green. We came across pockets of greenspace here and there in Morningside and the Columbia University campus but we never stopped in any of them long enough to relax. We were go-go-go on Friday with lots of sights to see an little time.
Saturday we did a little better. We made the trek to the Northern tip of Manhattan to The Cloisters museum which is surrounded by a beautiful park and heather gardens. Not to mention all the greenspace in the museum itself.
I really liked The Cloisters. It was quiet (by New York standards), and had some really cool medieval architecture assembled from parts of buildings acquired from Europe. I especially loved how they recreated cloistered gardens and filled them with typical medieval plants.
Bonus tip: Admission to The Cloisters (and The Met, it’s affiliate) is $25, but that’s just recommended and technically admission is by donation. Being cheap we gave $10 per person which was much more reasonable.
Sunday we got zero nature time since it rained all. day. long. It put a damper on our day in general but especially on any potential time spent outdoors enjoying whatever piece of nature we would have managed to find among the concrete.
Frankly we spent most of our weekend in New York eating delicious things: eating in Harlem. eating in Morningside, eating in Midtown, eating in Brooklyn, eating in the Lower East Side.
I hope to write a bit about all the deliciousness that was consumed over a 72 hour period.4 Comments
After posting my last waist goals update I’ve pondered the fact that I really haven’t been putting much effort into my diet. Yet gradually (very gradually) my body shape has been changing.
So I went back through my old blog posts to see if I could answer the question: “what’s changed?”.
The answer: my workouts.
From Fall 2011 (when I was training for my marathon) up until this past August when I started my waist goals, I wasn’t doing a lot of training with heavy weights and I wasn’t focused on building strength.
March-May 2012 – Full Body Circuits
I put aside strength building to do full body circuit workouts. I had goals to increase my strength too, but I didn’t put any concrete focus on them. So I made myself a 3 day full body circuit which got boring fast so I switched it to a 6 day full body circuit.
June-July 2012 – Slow Tempo, Light Weight, High Reps
I decided to start working with high reps (8-12) and pushing less weight around. I don’t know what I was thinking.
I wanted to fatigue my muscles in a different way so I worked on this Tempo Weightlifting Routine which focused on slowing down my weightlifting and increasing the amount of time my muscles were under tension.
It was so. fucking. boring. I hated it.
Looking back I believe the combination of having just come out of marathon training and then choosing circuits with low weight and high reps is really what shaped my body in a way that I was uncomfortable with by August.
This is when I started to make some changes to my workouts and decided to set a goal to lose size from my waist.
August 2012 – Olympic Lifting
After watching the badass women’s weightlifters at the Summer Olympics I was inspired to start an Olympic Lifting routine.
I would hog the squat rack for my entire workout so it was the kind of routine that I could only pull off during the summertime when people forget what the gym is.
Olympic lifting opened me up to a whole new world of high intensity lifting. It made me sweaty and hungry and tired so it basically emphasized my 3 favourite things (sweating, eating, and sleeping). It was fun and tiring and although I wasn’t lifting anything very heavy I felt like I was making improvements every week.
It was about 2 weeks into a 4 week Oly lifting routine that I set my Waist Goals although I didn’t post about them for a few weeks after that.
September-December 2012 – Crossfit Football
I didn’t have a specific workout routine which is really weird for me so I had to look back at my Fitocracy profile to figure out what I was doing at the time!
It was Crossfit Football. These workouts start off with Olympic lifts or big multi-joint exercises and then end with a high intensity conditioning component.
I really liked this style of workout because it incorporated heavy lifting with high intensity in a way that worked better than anything I had tried to come up with up to this point.
…and then I learned about 5/3/1.
December 2012-May 2013 – 5/3/1
When I heard about 5/3/1 I knew it would be great for me because 1)It focuses on strength building and multi-joint lifts, 2)There is room for creativity with the accessory lifts, 3)Having my loads pre-determined really forces me to improve my strength.
I’ve completed 21 weeks of this programme so far and it is awesome. By adding a high intensity conditioning component to the end of my workouts, I’ve set this programme up to be just like Crossfit Football but with a stronger focus on strength improvement which has helped me blast through PRs.
Now I think if I put even a little effort into my diet I think I could whittle my waist faster but it’s tough-going to cut calories when your workouts make you hungry all the time and when all you really want to eat is cookies.
I could probably make some healthy substitutions in my diet without sacrificing my quality of life in the process. This is something I need to work on.2 Comments
It’s been 2 months since my last waist goals update, ie. my September resolution to lose 6cm from my waist.
Goal: 77cm waist; 85cm belly.
Right now I’m feeling awesome. My weight had been spot-on 170 the last 2 months but has gone up a pinch in May as my waist size has gone down.
I’m only 2cm away from my belly’s goal now but my natural waist is thoroughly enjoying an 82cm girth. :-/
Progress: (the measurements are waist/belly/weight)
Aug 15: 83cm/ 91cm/ 166.8lb
Sep 10: 83cm/ 89cm/ 166.2lb
Oct 10: 82cm/ 89cm/ 166.6lb
Nov 15: 81cm/ 87cm/ 169.4lb
Dec 1: 82cm/ 88cm/ 170.2lb
Jan 1: 82cm/ 88cm/ 169.4lb
Feb 1: 84cm/89cm/171.8lb
Mar 15: 83cm/88cm/170.0lb
Apr 15: 82cm/ 88cm/ 170.0lb
May 15: 82cm/ 87cm/ 170.8lb
Since March I’m down 1cm in both waist and belly. Fab!
Taken Aug 31
Taken Jan 28
Taken Mar 17
Taken May 14
. . . why hello there, shoulders and triceps.
As a refresher, my game plan was to increase my protein, cut out white carbs, plan out my late night snacks, include a cheat meal every week (with dessert and/or white carbs), and opt for high intensity exercise.
How I’m Following Through with my Game Plan:
So, umm… basically I’m not. I haven’t been following any sort of protocol in April and May.
I’ve easily decreased my protein consumption to about 50-70g per day (~15% of my calories) and my calorie intake dropped naturally (though not significantly).
As I mentioned in my March recap, I feel and function better with more carbs in my system.
Those carbs that I like so much are usually in the form of beans and vegetables, which make up most of my diet. I’ve continued to limit my intake of refined carbs, but not to the point that I’m only eating them once a week. It’s more like 3-4 instances per week of either pasta or bread or rice. . .
. . . as for dessert though, I’ve been eating it daily, so there’s that.
For me exercise is easy to follow through with. I’ve added a tonne more yoga to my weekly exercise and, of course, I can’t say enough about the awesomeness of the 5/3/1 programme that I’m working through right now.
I’m making some ridiculous strength gains and weirdly I’m not bored of doing the same exercises all the time. . . likely because I switch it up with all the high intensity cardio-style lifting I’ve been adding to the programme.
Going Forward . . .
I really think I have to rein in my sugar consumption. Maybe I’m not getting enough calories so I go for the quickest, easiest source? Or maybe I just have a sweet tooth (…it’s probably that).
Waist Goal Recaps:11 Comments
I love me some soda bread.
Finnish Rieska is a flat quickbread (ie. leavened chemically with baking soda and powder instead of yeast) made in Finland that can be similar to soda bread, depending on how you make it.
Though Rieska is a traditional Finnish flatbread, its preparation varies across the country. Often it’s made with barley flour, sometimes it’s oat or rye, and even potato is popular. The thickness of rieska can vary too from cracker-thin to thick-and-bready.
I’ve never been all that interested in making it until I saw a version containing oats on the King Arthur Flour website. I love oats! Their flavour imparts a nutty quality that I absolutely adore in pretty much anything.
Finnish Oat and Rye Rieska
From King Arthur Flour
This was my first rieska attempt and it turned out awesome! Instead of spreading my rieska batter thinly out over an entire baking sheet, I piled it up in a 9″ round cake pan to garner the “thick-and-bready” texture that reminded me of a muffin. This bread tastes fantastic with a robust cheese and if I sandwiched a fried egg in there too it made the perfect breakfast.
35g (1/2 c) rolled oats
113g (1 c) rye flour
128g (1 c.) all-purpose Flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
25g (2 T) sugar
57g (1/4 c) butter
1 1/2 c buttermilk (or 1 1/2 c milk with 1 1/2 T vinegar)
Preheat the oven to 500°F (high temperature is good for a wet dough like this).
Grease a baking pan or baking sheet. The original recipe calls for a 9×13″ baking pan which would make a thinner bread than the 9″ round pan that I used. I’ve seen some recipes where the dough is spread very thinly on a whole baking sheet too, so the choice is yours. Just remember that the thinner the dough the quicker it will bake.
In a large bowl, whisk dry ingredients together.
Crumble the butter into the dry ingredients with your hands until it is thoroughly distributed. Stir in the milk or buttermilk to get a very sticky batter.
Transfer the dough to the prepared baking dish and, using wet hands, pat it out so it fills the pan.
Bake the bread for 15 to 17 minutes (for a 9×13″ bread), until the top is light golden brown and springs back when gently touched.
Remove the bread from the oven and cool it on a rack before slicing.9 Comments
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- Lose 6cm from my waistline
Start (Aug 15): 83cm/ 91cm/ 166.8lb
Aug 31: 82cm /89cm/ 166.8lb
Sep 10: 83cm/ 89cm/ 166.2lb
Sep 20: 83cm/ 89cm/ 166.2lb
Oct 1: 83cm/ 88cm/ 165.6lb
Oct 10: 82cm/ 89cm/ 166.6lb
Oct 31: 81cm/ 88cm/ 166.6lb
Nov 15: 81cm/ 87cm/ 169.4lb
Dec 1: 82cm/ 88cm/ 170.2lb
Jan1: 82cm/ 88cm/ 169.4lb
Feb 1: 84cm/89cm/171.8lb
Mar 15: 83cm/ 88cm/ 170.0lb
Apr 15: 82cm/ 88cm/ 170.0lb
Jul 1: 79cm/85cm/ 164.0lb
Aug 1:: 80cm/ 85cm/ 163.4lb