Monthly Archives: May 2011

Sciatic Nerve Pain: My Hips Don’t Lie

Last night when I got back from yoga, I was having some serious hip pain.  This morning when I woke up, I was still having some serious hip pain.  I was born with my hips dislocated (they eventually got lodged back into place), so I’ve always had hip problems.  Plus, out of all the many wonderful things I inherited from my mother, I also inherited her sciatica.  I have suffered from sciatic nerve pain since I was like 12! (Which is probably why I sometimes get knee pains from running.)  Last night, I’m pretty sure I stressed my left knee and/or hip, causing some irritation in my left sciatic nerve.  I can actually pinpoint the exact moment: during Ardha Baddha Padma Uttanasana, a.k.a. “half-bound standing forward stretch.”

You stand and bring right your foot into lotus position, grabbing your big toe with your right hand, then fold forward to touch the floor.  I have absolutely no problem doing it on the right side, and I got over-confident last night and strained my left side.  I remember thinking it hurt (not in a “yoga hurts so good” kind of way) and immediately coming out of the posture, saying a little prayer that it didn’t hurt in the morning. Well, crap.

So that ruined my plans to run today, seeing as I could barely walk without limping around like a pirate (at least that’s pretty B.A., right?)

Needless to say, I’ve been doing lots of hip stretching to try and ease the pain.

This is a very modified version of Yogimudrasana.  Sit cross-legged, but try and make your bottom leg come straight out from your hip, making a right angle at the knee.  Then, fold the other leg directly on top, with ankle past the bottom knee.  Some day, you lean forward and your legs are perfectly stacked on top of one another.  It’s not easy, but fabulous for both your hips and knees.

And, yes, I am wearing two different socks.  Even cooler, one has a hole in the heel!

Other stretches I’ve been doing are pigeon and a simple knee-to-chest.  It feels like a massage!  One yoga teacher I had once had said, “pull your knee to your chest as hard as you can and save yourself a hip replacement later in life!”  I should probably do this everyday, lol!

I would love to put it under a heating pad, but I am going to ice it late tonight for probably 20 minutes and see if that relieves any pain.  I can hear my mom saying, “take it easy” from here, so that’s what I’ll be doing until it feels better.  I DO NOT want to stress it even more.  That means walking, gentle yoga, and ab + arm strengthening for a couple of days.

I forgot to mention earlier that breakfast was extra special today.  Do you know why?…..

Nearly-empty jar of peanut butter means Oatmeal-in-a-Jar!  I just cooked my oatmeal the regular way and ate it out of the jar, getting a nice scoop of p’nut butt- with each bite!  DIVINE!

After class, I took inventory of what was in our kitchen…

  • Red Kidney Beans
  • Quinoa
  • Chard
  • Diced tomatoes in tomato juice
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • S&P
  • Cayenne Pepper (just a pinch)

Put it all together and what have you got?  A ridiculously cheap, easy, healthy, and delicious dinner!  I just sauteed the onions and garlic, then added everything else (but the quinoa) and let it simmer.  Serve atop cooked quinoa and PRESTO!  Did I mention it was filling?  I had just one sensibly sized bowl.  No over-eating tonight!

Any secret remedies for relieving sciatic nerve pain?




Filed under Fitness, Food, Life, New Zealand, Recipes, Running, Yoga

Over Eating: How I Cope

I have to admit that I haven’t been eating very well lately.  First, Alex arrived, and of course the best way to celebrate is to eat, eat, and eat!  I tried to keep most things healthy, but we ate very large portions, and frequently, too!  I am learning that even if nachos are labeled “vegetarian,” this does not mean that they are healthy in an way, shape, or form.  Also, Alex allowed me to finish off his bag of chips a few too many times.  Speaking of chips, fries chips and beer became the Happy Hour routine.  PS – I am convinced that every time I drink beer, I wake up with a mini beer belly lol  and we drank a lot of beer  😉

Then, my Nanny passed away, and I comforted myself the way that Nanny always did – with food.  I have NEVER been to visit Nanny and NOT been welcomed with a huge buffet of her excellent cooking.  Chocolate, cheese, and carbs have always been my go-to comfort foods, and I have to be honest: they really helped.  Enjoying some deliciously filling food would temporarily relieve some of the grief I was dealing with…but it did get to be slightly excessive.

Whether its it a big celebration or a time when I desperately need comfort, I think it is OK to over-eat every once in a while.  It’s not a big deal.  It’s not something I feel guilty about.  It’s not something I feel ashamed of.  It’s not something I feel stressed about.  It’s something that I think we all do on occasion, we just have to learn our limits and honor our bodies.  Here is what I visualize:

  1. Restricting = Eating Disorder – seek help!
  2. Still Hungry = Unhealthy – I am not meeting my bodies needs
  3. Not Enough = A time to go back for seconds
  4. Full = The 🙂 Place!
  5. Too Much = I’m uncomfortable.
  6. Too Full = Unhealthy – I have given myself a full-blown tummy ache.
  7. Bingeing = Eating Disorder – seek help!

So lately, my dial has been teetering between the 5 and 6 area, so I need to get back on track.  It did prove to be very therapeutic for me to let go for a few days, but I am realizing that continuing to over-eat now will do more harm than good.  Everyone goes through unhealthy phases, but it’s important to avoid creating a long-term, detrimental habit out of it.  That’s when things start to harm your physical, emotional, and mental health.  But instead of dwelling, I simply choose to make healthier decisions for my body in the present.

The best way I know how to deal with this is to eat slowly.  I am REALLY bad at this because I got into the habit of eating quickly when I had to rush basically every meal in high school.  But I am simply trying to be more conscious of it.  I am trying to put a sensible portion on my plate, then wait about 30 minutes after eating it to see if I really am still hungry.  Then, of course, I will go back for another sensible portion if I need it 🙂

Our garlic pizza app. I could have stuck with 1 slice!

So, in the spirit of eating in moderation, I brought a container to Yoga + Dinner to bring home leftovers.  The room that I practice in comfortably fits 8 people, maybe two rows of five if we need to accommodate ten.  But guess how many people showed up last night….


Yes, it was extremely crowded; we had about 1cm of space in between our mats.  I got whacked by my neighbors many a times.  I whacked my neighbors many a times.  I hit the wall many a times.  And I felt frustrated the whole time.  Heck, I even felt claustrophobic some of the time.  Next week was going to be my last week, so I debated declaring this my last session, practicing at home next week to save some $$$. Then, at the end of class, my teacher announced that next week they would be closed for the Queen’s Birthday.  That makes that decision easy!  Since I knew that it was my last time, I started to feel pretty sentimental and a bit sad.  Though I have had my complaints about the class, I have really appreciated that for just nz$14, I was able to get a full Primary Series practice, plus a massive, always delicious, karma-free dinner.  I hope that someday in the future I will find a place just like it!  I made sure to give my crazy teacher a hug and thank her before I left…

with my leftovers in tow!  Last night we had a crisp, fresh salad and delicious pumpkin soup with some dense, sweet bread for dipping…AND a carob mud cake for desert (aka the best part).  To drink, there was some lemony, gingery milk whey.  I don’t think I’ve ever shared this about the Loft’s dinners, but they are 100% karma-free.  That means that the only animal product they use is milk that comes from their own cows who live a very happy, healthy, and lovely life on a farm outside Auckland.  That is simply awesome, if you ask me!

Lunch leftovers were awesome, too.  On a bed of chard, there was some buttery noodles with peppercorn, plus a vegan “meat”ball in marinara sauce!


I have no idea what it was made of.  It reminded me of falafel-meets-polenta!  Boy, I am really going to miss these meals!

Do you struggle with over-eating?



Filed under Food, Life, New Zealand

I <3 The Vegan Zombie

Last night, I had a really hard time falling asleep!  It was one of those nights where I just wasn’t tired – (sometimes I think that I have too much energy!)  When my alarm went off at 6am, my bed felt usually nice, warm, and cozy, but I had to get up for Reading class.  It went pretty quickly today, halleluiah, and since next Monday is the Queen’s Birthday, it was my last Reading class in New Zealand! :-O

Things are seriously winding down!  I finished my Maori essay about the Treaty of Waitangi that has been looming over me like a dark, boring, un-motivating cloud for a few weeks now.

I ADORED checking that one off my list!

  1. Maori Leader Presentation
  2. Present Maori Leader Presentation
  3. Maori Treaty of Waitangi Essay
  4. Maori Leadership Personal Reflection Paper
  5. UVM NZ Internship Reflection Paper (things are gonna get pretty reflective around here!)
  6. Math Unit Lesson Planning Project
  7. Study and Take Maori Culture Final Exam

It may look like I have a lot more to do, but that’s an optical illusion.  The presentation will be a breeze, the reflection papers will be easy to write, the math planning will be easy (if not a bit tedious), and I feel well-prepared for the final exam.  Last two weeks of school….bring it!  So I spent the afternoon getting some work done.  Life is fabulous 😉

I was very excited to get this TwitPic from my cousin Anne who attended my brother’s graduation from Brown University with the family.  (Note: She just graduated, too!  From Syracuse University!)  Her caption was: “I’m stealing your family.  Wish you were here!”  Check out the crowd, at Cinderella Portuguese Restaurant in Fall River, MA.  Isn’t she lucky!?

Clockwise from far left: Aunt Paula, Gram L., Mom, Dad, Gramps, David, and Sam

I have some comments, as I very often do:  Mom and Gram L., I very much appreciate that you are raising your glass of sangria to me 😉  Paula and Gramps, look over here!  Dad, you are the essence of DiddsterMagic.  Sam, I like your outfit! Anne, I wish I was there, too!  And David, CONGRATS!!

Also, I discovered my new obsession:  The Vegan Zombie

I have a big crush on him now because

  1. He is a vegan.
  2. He cooks delicious vegan food.
  3. He makes me laugh.
  4. He has a tattoo of autumn foliage and pumpkins.

Who do you have a crush on?



Filed under Food, Life, New Zealand, School

New Zealand Chili

Today has been a great day.

Firstly, I woke up with a headache, which most people would consider a downer, but I like to think of it as a little souvenir from all the fun I had last night! 😉  It’s been a while lol.  The great thing about my body is that whenever I have a headache, I can usually cure it with some food.

French toast with PB&J…and a smashed grilled banana.  Worked like a charm, ohhh yes indeed.

Secondly, it’s a beautifully sunny day outside, and I went for a fantastic run/walk around the city.  On this perfectly crisp autumn afternoon, there were tons of gorgeous boats out on the harbor.   I think I will miss this city ❤

Thirdly, my big brother graduates from Brown University today!!!!

He’s definitely one of my role models.  I’ve always looked up to him, basking in his genius 😉  He now has a degree in Computational Biology (whatever that is), and he has worked his butt off the get it.  So yes, I get bragging rights!

I really wish I could have been there, but also not really, because who wants to sit through a graduation ceremony?  I do wish I could be there for the celebrations, of course.  And to give him a bug hug and tell him how proud I am of him!  Congratulations, David!  YOU DID IT. (PS – we can celebrate when you arrive in less than 2 weeks!!!!)

Fourthly, I had a quick chat with my dear friend Tara!

She has been studying abroad in Ireland, and she gave me some great advice:

“Enjoy your last few weeks…seriously, make EVERYTHING count.  It goes sosooso fast, I cant believe I wont be going back to Galway.”
It was so good to hear from her, made even better with the promise of a proper Skype sesh in the near future!  It’s been ages!
Fifthly, I finished my Maori Leadership Presentation!
The photo of Bill Clinton doing the hongi definitely enhances my slideshow. I’m glad I found it.  Even my note cards are ready! I’m all set to go for Wednesday.  I’m only slightly stressed because I haven’t heard much from the other two members of my group…so cross your fingers for me!
Sixthly, I made a great dinner!  I’ve been craving chili for a while now, so I thought it would be a perfect Sunday night meal on a beautiful autumn day like today.
New Zealand Chili
**note – there is nothing “New Zealand-y about this recipe.  I just made it in NZ lol
First, I started by sauteing a chopped onion, carrot, and three cloves of garlic in a large pot.
I wasn’t sure what to do about seasonings, so I am really glad that I found this in the “International” section. I added some to the veggies.
Soon, I added some sausage which frankly, we are trying to get rid of.  They are sort of cheap and disgusting.  I figured cooking them in the chili would make them less appealing…
Things began to go a bit downhill from here.  The sausage was revoltingly greasy, so much so that I even had to pour some of it out.  Then, I got nervous because at the store I couldn’t find a can of crushed tomatoes (what I usually use as a base).  I got this tomato paste, and with some water it ended up working well.
Then, when I went open up the can of diced tomatoes, it was basically half crushed tomatoes and half diced tomatoes.  DOH!  I just added a few spoonfuls of the chunks.  But now I have tons leftover!  Perhaps I’ll be making another pot soon.
I added a can of mixed beans, plus more chili seasoning and even some cayenne pepper, to taste.  It ended up being a pretty decent pot of chili!
It was nice and spicy, the way I like it (sorry, Hannah! lol).  The chili was made even more better with some of the crispy cheddar crackers that Hannah’s Nana sent us!
The perfect meal 🙂
The only un-fun thing that happened today was that Alex left 😦  These past two weeks were quite the roller-coaster for me, and they FLEW by, to say the least.  It was great to have Alex here because of all the fun stuff we did, but I am so so so thankful that he was here when I got the news about my Nanny.  He served as the perfect distraction and did a great job at cheering me up 🙂  Plus, it was just so nice to have a close friend with us: he was the little bit of home that I needed.  We are going to miss you, Alex!
But really the most important thing he did for me was renew my love of New Zealand.  With my homesickness and boredom, I sort of lost sight of how lucky I am to be here.  But seeing everything new again through his eyes makes me so excited for my last month here!  I am definitely going to follow Tara’s advice…I LOVE NEW ZEALAND!
What is your favorite ingredient in chili?


Filed under Fitness, Food, Life, New Zealand, Recipes, Running

Alex’s Last Night

Tonight was Alex’s last night 😦  As I mentioned, Alex bought all of us a bread from the farmer’s market.

It was a loaf of Italian with tomatoes and rosemary on top.  Golly Gee, Josephine, it was amazing.

We baked it for about 10 minutes to warm it up and get it nice and crusty 😉

I also made some of my cheap dipping oil (Italian Herb Paste mixed with Olive Oil) to, well, dip it in.  The crust had a perfectly fresh crunch, yet it was so doughy inside!

You just can’t beat that delicious Italian bread flavor.

A little later, Alex took Hannah out to dinner, but he let ME eat his leftover sushi (a few pieces of salmon-avocado roll)!!!!   Remember how I said they were a little too big?  Well, here is a size comparison to a quarter:

(OK yes, that’s a nz$0.50 coin, but you get the picture ;P).  To avoid more sushi explosions, I figured it would be easier to just eat it with my hands.  But it was not so easy to try and photograph myself doing it…

LOL!  This is what happens when I am left to my own devices…  Now my fingers are a little sticky from the soy sauce, but at least my belly is happy 🙂  And I hope that you are laughing!

When those two returned, we celebrated Alex’s last night.  With a round of Kings.  Naturally, we ended up going to Father Ted’s for some live music.  I can assure you that a good time was had by all.  😉

What did you do last night?


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Filed under Food, Life, New Zealand

A Perfect Saturday Morning

I have had the most perfect Saturday morning.

One of my all-time favorite things to do on a Saturday is to go to a farmer’s market in the morning.

I love all the fresh, cheap, local produce…

(I got my produce for the week for less than nz$10!!!)

I love the atmosphere…

(Though these two were a bunch of hacks.  They were very poorly lip synching to their own CD lol)

But what I love most is getting a little treat for myself!

My parents always get a treat to share at Starbucks on Saturday mornings, and I like to think I am continuing their legacy.  I brought home a special pastry for a mid-afternoon pick-me-up….

Since we were in Rotorua last week, it was Alex’s first time and he we went ga-ga for the gourmet hotdogs, croissants (yes, plural, he got two), and smoothies.

He was also kind enough to pick up a special loaf of bread for an appetizer tonight!

Indeed, last night I finished The Other Boleyn Girl (loved it, obvi), so I was excited to go to the library to pick out a new book.

The Auckland Central Library is really big and new inside, but their selection is seriously lacking.  I looked for a bunch of the recommendations I got, plus books from my Bucket List, but they didn’t have anything!  I ended up getting these two books:

The one on the left might insult my intelligence.  The one on the right might make me suicidal.  I predict the chick lit will be entertaining and mood-boosting, but sometimes I need a little bit more substance, and world poverty is a huge interest of mine.  We’ll see how it goes!

I also perused the children’s section to find something for school this week.  I found this cutie.

It looks like a good message about friendship and self-esteem.  It also happens to be perfectly at most of their reading level!  Let’s see if the kids like it!

Once I got home, I went for a nice quick run!  My legs were feeling really tight, but the weather was sunny and cool, so I appreciated just being outside and going wherever my legs could take me.

For lunch, I had some roasted kumara I made yesterday and I threw together a protein salad.

On some chard and kale there were green beans, carrots, quinoa, and pumpkin-kumara hummus.  It was delicious, but nothing compared with my treat!….

A few months ago, I had a debilitating CinnaBon craving, which I conquered for the time being, but I’ve still been jonesing for a steamy, sticky, doughy, sugary, cinnamony bun…

Craving conquered!  For real this time 🙂  Hannah and I split one, and it was everything I thought it would be 🙂  I put it hot in the microwave and savored each bite.  Hello, YUM!

The Farmer’s market, the library, a run, and a cinnamon bun.  I hope the rest of my day is just as wonderful!

What’s your favorite thing to do on a Saturday?



Filed under Food, Life, New Zealand, Running, Student Teaching

Looking up!

Things are looking up around here!

Firstly, I am almost finished with my Maori essay!  I just kept chugging through while I waited for my family to free up and Skype, and the end is now in sight!

Secondly, I finally got to Skype with my Dad, which made me feel so much better!  I have been so worried about him and torn up that I couldn’t be with him the past few days, but he is A-OK.  So glad that DiddsterMagic is still his normal coolness.

Also, I learned that my uncle read an excerpt of my blog post at the funeral.  I had no idea, and I am so glad that he did.  It makes me feel like I was really there, that much more.  Thanks so much, Uncle Randy, never forget how important that was to me.  (And thanks, Anne, for suggesting it!) ❤

Then, I did a full Ashtanga Primary Series in my room.  It took a little over an hour, which is totally legit!  Usually when I practice at home, I don’t necessarily cheat, but I cut corners, so to speak.  I did forget the balance postures (how could I?  They are the most fun, next to inversions!) but I made sure to go back and do them at the end.  I was a shaky, sweaty, centered mess once I was done.  #yogawin!

Aaaand….Notice the new header?  It was inspired by Dominique, who made these two designs for me on

So thoughtful!  And SO COOL!  Thanks, Nini!

My first problem: I couldn’t choose which to use!  My second problem: the way Picnik sent them to me, they showed up very fuzzyblurry 😦  so I went to try and recreate her masterpieces on the website….

An hour later, I came up with what you see now!

COLORS!  FUN FONTS!  COLLAGE!  YAY!!!  I also changed the theme because I was never really happy with the old one.

To make things even better, we all went out for dinner!  Our plan was to buy a bottle of wine, then search for a BYO sushi place and get a light and scrumptious meal, while saving a few bucks on the booze.  We picked up a decent bottle of Merlot on sale (nz$9.99!) at a liquor store, and strolled up the high part of Queen St.  It’s basically ‘Asian Cuisine Row,’ but after stopping into a handful of places, no dice. Some places only allowed BYO wine (Alex had beer), and another charged nz$4 extra per person!  No, thank you!

Time for Plan B:  There is a little sushi place right across the street from our apartment, so we walked all the way back home with the intention of getting some takeout to bring back to the apartment.

But, to our surprise, they allowed BYO for just nz$2 per bottle!  No biggie compared to the other places 🙂  I was really in the mood to be out of our apartment, so I’m glad we ended up sitting down to eat.

The complementary green tea and lemony water made it even nicer 🙂  I love having lots of different things to sip on, it makes a meal seem so festive!

Hannah and I split three vegetarian rolls.

Fried Sweet Potato Roll

Teriyaki Tofu Roll (top) &

Italian Salad Roll (bottom)

My only complaint was that they were so big that you had to take two bites, which resulted in a sushi explosion 95% of the time.  But they were really tasty!  Each roll was quite delicious and unique from the others.  Going out for sushi is one of my favorite things to do since it’s something that I can’t (/don’t want to ;)) make at home.  Dinner was such a treat, and a great start to the weekend.  I’m looking forward to the rest of it!

Is your weekend looking up, too?



Filed under Food, Life, New Zealand