Hiatus and Good News

Hello my dears!  Just wanted to post a quick note to say that I’ve been traveling all over Alberta and Saskatchewan, and for the precious few snippets of time that I’ve been home, I haven’t been able to hang out much at my actual home.  You see, we are having renovations done, so we’ve got tradespeople trying to get some work done, and they probably don’t want me pestering them, so I’ve been leaving them alone.  Because they’re here, I had to go to the lake (oh, poor me – right?!  Supremely kidding – I LOVE it at our family cabin!), but there isn’t any Internet access there, so alas there have been no posts lately.  Annnnnddddd I’m heading back there tonight – I don’t even have a toilet here, so there isn’t much point in sticking around home!  That means I probably won’t post anything else for another week-ish.  I think you’ll survive without me.

Before I go, though, I want to share some happy news:  today I wrote my last yoga exam, so I AM COMPLETELY AND TOTALLY DONE my 200 hour teacher training.  I won’t be certain until I get the marks back, but I feel pretty good about today’s test…and I felt pretty good about the last one too.  I got that exam back today, and guess what?  90%!!!  That’s right – I’m a smartie-pants.  I’m being facetious, but I am pretty proud of myself, and it’s fabulous to be finished.  Amazing feeling, I tell ya!  Now I just have to wait for my certificate to arrive so it feels even more official…oh, and then I’ll probably enroll in the 300hour add on when my teachers offer it a little later on (but don’t tell my husband – he thinks all this fitness learnin’ business is OVER!).

Anyway, I’m off to the lake – I hope your summer has been delightful so far and only continues to get better!

My thoughts exactly – LOVE this!

the view from my mat

In the yoga world (as in the world at large) you will run into a small population of die hard opinionated people who take their belief systems to an all time extreme. In yoga these over-opinionated folks tend to take the teachings of the Yamas and Niyamas quite literally and very passionately.  I have total respect for these people in the same way that I have total respect for people who are really into their religion.  However where these yoga extremists lose me is in their judgement of others… Criticism and harsh words go hand-in-hand with everything yoga is not about.

You know that yogi who starts bawking about the philosophic teachings of yoga in that typically condescending and self riotous kind of way?  Whether they’re really into sobriety, or are sexually repressing themselves in the name of brahmacharya, or are super-vegans who live on a diet of nuts…

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One Hour Outdoor Track Circuit Workout

Good Morning dear readers!

I’ve been under the weather with a sinus infection (my 4th in the last 5 months – what is up with that?!) since the wee hours of the morn on Monday, and my antibiotics have finally started to kick in, so I’m in a pretty good mood this lovely summer morning.  Oh, and it is officially summer now too, since the solstice was yesterday!  I’m loving the long days (even though I was cooped up inside for the last few), and it makes me a little sad that they will start to shorten now.  Oh well…I’ll take advantage of the sunlight while I can!

I took the workout outside with my sunrise sweat class this morning.  I teach my fitness classes in the high school where I also teach kids, and we usually use one of the gyms, but it’s final exam time, so the gym is full of desks.  I didn’t really know how the outdoor workout was going to go, since even though it’s summer it can be a little chilly at 6am…but it was actually pretty perfect – I’m glad we’ve been displaced from our regular indoor location!

This is the workout I lead this morning – a simple One Hour Track Circuit:

I took out some mini pylons that I got at Fitness Depot.  I spaced out 16 of the pylons around the track as we did a brisk walk to warm up; they were about 25m apart, but I didn’t actually measure (I only know that now because I just divided 400m x 16 and got 25 on my calculator!).

After the quick warm up, we got right down to business with some walking lunges to the first pylon.  At the pylon we did 10 jumping jacks, and then carried on with that pattern until we got half way around the track – 8 pylons in.  At that point, we switched to a side shuffle, followed by 10 squats at each pylon.  Because it’s important to keep balance in the body, we switched our lead leg for the side shuffles at each pylon, so that we did 4 with the left and 4 with the right leg leading.  That brought us back to our starting point, where we had placed our mats on the ground.

We brought in some ab work here with what I call “Star Abs:”  lying on your back, spread arms and legs out wide as though you are making a snow angel – your body looks kind of like a star, and maybe you feel like one too*!  From there, gather your hands and feet in toward the centre of your body, like the star is puckering up, and then spread them back out to the original star position.  We did 10 reps.  This was followed by 10 pushups (either from knees or from toes) for a bit of arm and chest work.  Because “Three is the Magic Number” (Oh, Shannon Hoon how I miss you…LOVE Blind Melon!), we did 3 sets of the Star Abs/Push ups combo.

From there, we got back up and headed around the track again…this time doing running leaps.  If you’re not sure what those are, picture leaping forward from one foot to the next as though you’re trying to jump over a big puddle while exaggerating the swing of your arms.  At each pylon we did 10 butt kicks, until we got to the halfway point.  Then we switched to backwards jogging between pylons with 10 high knees at each stopping point.

This brought us back to the start, where we did some more abs:

1. Reverse Crunch: Cross your ankles and raise your legs upward. Place your hands palms down, and engage your core muscles. Use your abs to lift your legs straight up until your hips lift off the ground. Lower back down and repeat 10x.

2. Bicycle Crunches: with your elbows bent and finger tips at your ears, and legs lifted and bent at a 90 degree angle, gather your right elbow and your left knee together as you extend your right leg outward. With a slow, controlled movement, change your legs and gather your left elbow and right knee together as your left leg extends. Repeat 10x.

3. Vertical Crunch: With ankles crossed and legs straight up in the air, engage your abs and crunch upwards until your shoulder blades lift off the ground. Lower back down and repeat 10x.
Thanks About.com for the photos!

Again, three is the magic number, so we repeated this ab set (10x Reverse Crunch – 10x Bicycle Crunch – 10 x Vertical Crunch) three times.

We stayed at our starting point for the next set:  10x Mountain Climbers and 10x Sumo Squat Jumps (there is a great video for Sumo Squat Jumps here; however, I usually bring my hands lower to the ground – like a Sumo wrestler – and then clap my hands overhead with the jump).  We repeated this 10x Mountain Climber/10x Sumo Squat Jump combo three times.

Our last set was a bit more cardio:  we ran from pylon 1 to pylon 2, then walked to pylon 3, repeating that sequence twice around the track.  If you’re trying this sequence using pylons, remeber to pick them up on your last trip around the track!

We finished up with a cool down of walking to about the 1/4 mark of the track, and then turning around to come back to our starting point.  We did various arm stretches as we did this cool down walk, and then returned to our mats for some leg stretches.  All in all it was a fabulous workout…crisp, fresh air and lovely morning sun on our backs.  Even though I’m still feeling pretty weak and foggy from the sinus infection, it was clearing and centering to get things moving in my body again after 3 days of illness induced lounging.  Do you find that a work out is good when you’re sick?

*I picture Molly Shannon in the 90’s SNL film Superstar, but don’t get nervous and put your fingers in your arm pits then smell them…you’ve been working out, remember?  You’re probably a little sweaty!

Southwest Chicken Salad

This was dinner last night and lunch today – delightful, filling, and good for you too!

mmmmm, mmmmm, mmmmm!

You Need:

2 BBQ Chicken Breasts
2 cobs of corn
1 can of black beans
2 Avocados
1 lime
Lettuce and/or spinach
Salsa
Whatever else you might want to toss into your salad…

 

I BBQ my chicken and corn at the same time.  I always put the corn on the bottom rack of the BBQ, husk and all (just be sure to soak it in water for 20 minutes + before hand!), and then use some salt-free Club House Chicken spice and a bit of BBQ sauce for the chicken.  Meanwhile, I clean my lettuce, spinach, lime and avocado in some Purslane Veggie wash, and then open a can of black beans.  Anything canned is usually pretty high in sodium, so I always rinse my beans thoroughly and this lowers the sodium content dramatically.

When the corn and chicken are done, I husk the corn and slice it off the cob, and then dice up the chicken breast into bite size chunks.  I put these onto a bed of lettuce and spinach, then top with the black beans and cut up pieces of avocado.  I then squeeze the juice from the lime on top, and scoop on a couple of dollops of salsa.  Mmmmm, mmmmm, mmmmm!

As I said earlier, this made for two pretty substantial meals for me.  If you’re planning to eat twice (as I did), I would keep your ingredients separate, and then cut up the avocado just before serving the second time.  I heated the chicken and corn in the microwave before putting into my salad today.  It was still fabulous the second time around!

Random Stuff

Hello my lovelies!  In case you haven’t noticed, I haven’t posted much lately.  It’s the middle of June and I’m a high school English teacher…that’s just the way it goes, I’m afraid.  Since it’s already after 9 and I teach a 6am fitness class tomorrow, this will be a “random things” type of post….here goes….

1. My husband went back to work today – I was spoiled and got to spend an extra 2 days with him, since he had a specialist appointment today and therefore didn’t go back to work on Monday when the rest of his shift started.  It was lovely to have those two extra days.

2. I wish he was home every night.

3. I only have one week of classes left before exams.  That is both exhilarating (because it means the end is VERY near), and terrifying (because I have A LOT of marking and other work to accomplish in the next week).

4. One of my closest work friends resigned from her teaching position and will be moving; it’s a bit of a ridiculous story and I can’t really get into it here since airing any sort of gripes about colleagues, administration or my school division is against the Teacher’s Code of Conduct and could get me into a lot of trouble.  I feel incredibly sad because the students are losing an amazing teacher, and I am losing a wonderful colleague and a great friend.  It sucks.  We had an assembly today, so the kids said their goodbyes and presented her with a gift.  I cried.

5. There are a lot of things about my career that are making me very unhappy lately.  Those things have absolutely nothing to do with my students.

6. I love my students, and if it were just about the teaching, I would be in my glory.

7. My husband told me to quit last week – not to give my notice, but to actually quit – because he is so fed up with seeing my frustration and tears.  Sometimes I think he’s right:  no amount of money is worth my sanity and self-worth.  On the other hand, it makes zero sense for me to actually quit at this point in my life.

8.  We have a plan.  That plan does not include quitting my job.  It does include making some changes to how I do things so that I can reduce my workload.  That should help a bit.  It won’t eliminate the other issues (the ones I can’t talk about online without risk of breaking the Teacher Code of Conduct!), but it’s a start.

9.  My fitness classes are going well.  My students want me to run Summer classes, and I had fully intended to do so…but now it looks as though there might be an issue with the venue I use being unavailable to me over the Summer, so I’m not entirely sure what is going to happen on that front.

10.  Maybe that’s the Universe trying to tell me that I need to take the Summer off of teaching and just focus on my own fitness, running and yoga practice….

11.  Today is Day 22 of my 30 Day Yoga Challenge.

12.  I kind of cheated on the Yoga Challenge on the weekend:   I played in a Slo-Pitch Tournament, so I didn’t do any Yoga on Saturday or Sunday.  I think I can just double up and do two 2 practice days to make up for it, but I don’t really know how that works.  It’s my own damn challenge, though, so I’m saying it’s totally cool!

13.  I am getting sleepy, and I really want to get to read a little bit of my book club reading selection before bed, so this will be close to the end of my post.

14.  I wrote “book club reading selection” to make it sound fancy, but I’m really reading smut – Fifty Shades of Grey is what we chose for this time.  I’ve only read the first few pages, but I’ve heard from some of the other ladies in my club (and virtually everyone else) that it is pretty raunchy.  Whatever….my husband is away for 3 weeks, so I need something to keep myself occupied! Ha!

Uh-May-Zing Quinoa Porridge

I had some leftover Quinoa after last night’s dinner, and, thanks to some inspiration from Rene Johnson of Shanti Yoga Studio, I decided to try making porridge with it.  Am I ever glad that I did, because HolyMotherOfGod it was delicious!

This is how I made the nutty flavoured goodness:

Step 1:  I put the leftover cooked Quinoa into a saucepan; I’d say it was about 2 cups-ish.

Step 2: I added enough almond milk to cover the Quinoa. This kind of seemed like too much, and I started to second guess myself…but the milk cooked down nicely and it turned out to be a perfect amount!

I use unsweetened almond milk

Step 3: I added in some other ingredients – 2tblsp of Agave Nectar, 1 full scoop of Mila cut Chia Seed, 1 tsp of Vanilla Extract (wish I had the natural stuff, but no luck today!), and a bunch of shakes of Cinnamon (I REALLY like my Cinnamon!).

Step 4: I cooked the whole mixture over medium heat, stirring OFTEN, until it came to a rolling boil and the almond milk was cooked down. It had a thick and creamy consistency at the end.

Step 5: I added fresh strawberries and blueberries, then enjoyed a DELICIOUS and NUTRITIOUS breakfast – yummy!

So why Quinoa instead of oatmeal, you ask?  Well, for starters, I had some left over from last night’s dinner, and sometimes I just like to try new things.  Secondly, though, Quinoa is so super good for you; it is full of protein and many other nutrients, it’s gluten-free, and it’s high in fiber.  You can read more about the health benefits of Quinoa here.  If you haven’t jumped on the Quinoa bandwagon yet, you should definitely give it a try!

Yummy Chicken Stirfry with Quinoa

I just finished eating a delicious chicken stir fry, and I’m checking out some of my favourite blogs online already, so I thought I’d tell you about my dinner while I’m here.  I even made it from scratch…well, except for the sauce – a busy girl sometimes has to cut corners!

I started by dicing up 1 1/2 large chicken breasts into bite-sized cubes and tossing that into my wok with a bit of olive oil, some Mrs. Dash spice, and a little bit of Mila Power Seed (a great brand of Chia).  While the chicken was cooking, I cut up some broccoli, red, yellow, and orange peppers, red onion and mushrooms – I tossed those into the wok once the chicken was no longer pink.  I also threw in some sugar snap peas and then grated some fresh ginger to stir in.  I usually put in a bit of finely chopped jalapeno or habanero pepper, but I didn’t have any on hand tonight…probably a good thing, since the stir-fry sauce I used this time already has a bit of a kick.

Ours came with a veggie steamer tray too, but my husband melted that on the stove top a while back, so now it’s just a rice cooker.

Meanwhile, I put some quinoa in my rice cooker.  If you eat a lot of rice or quinoa and do not yet have a rice cooker, you should run and get one right now.  Seriously – why are you still reading?  Get one NOW!  It is a kitchen staple, I swear to God.  You just put in your quinoa and your water and then push a button…then leave that shit alone.  It’s glorious.  I had quite a bit of stirfry and quinoa left over (there is only one person eating in this house right now, remember?).  I often eat the stirfry alone without any rice or quinoa, so I think I’ll do that tomorrow and try something different with the leftover quinoa…a little something I picked up from the lovely Rene Johnson at Yoga Teacher Training.  I have no idea if it will work out or not, but I guess you’ll have to read the follow up blog post to find out!

When the chicken and veggies were all stir-fry-a-licious, I poured on some VH brand General Tao stir-fry sauce – about 1/3 of the bottle.  One day I plan to make my own stir-fry sauce, but it’s far more efficient for me to buy it at this point in my life, so that’s just the way it’s gotta be.  Store bought stir-fry sauce is reeeediculously high in sodium (this stuff is 690ml for 100ml – a little less than what I used tonight), but VH brand is a lot better than most in my grocery store, so I refuse to feel guilty about it.

This is the final product.  Absolutely friggin delightful!  Yes, that’s a glass of Pinot Grigio in the background.  Yes, my husband is still away and I am home all by myself.  Yes, I’m drinking wine alone.  Stop judging me…I’m only human!