Category Archives: Running

Emerald Isle, NC: Beach Recap

I love coming to Emerald Isle because we get a house right on the beach.  Optimal comfort and convenience.  Here is our daily schedule:

  1. Wake Up
  2. Go for a run and/or walk and/or do yoga on the beach
  3. Eat breakfast
  4. Go to the beach
  5. Eat lunch
  6. Go back on the beach
  7. Shower
  8. Eat dinner
  9. Play boardgames (like Scategories, Catch Phrase, SkipBo, or Bunco — it’s serious business in our fam)
  10. Go to sleep

The view from our deck

Also, the beaches here are really uncrowded, because the only people on the beach are those staying in the houses!  And the first week in August seemed to be a pretty slow week, there was hardly anyone there at all.

Our family's base camp!

We barely even leave the house!  We do go clamming once or twice.  It’s like redneck strawberry picking.  We go to the bay where the water is really shallow, and all you go is crouch down and dig around with your fingers until you find a clam!  It’s really fun and disgusting all at the same time.  You end up with muck caked around your nails and a digging up a few rotten things, but there is no other feeling like extracting a big “fighter” that’s perfectly smooth and ready to eat!  We have freshly steamed clams that day for lunch–talk about fresh, and local!  My aunt also makes a great chowder.  mmmmmm

Another reason to leave the house is our annual mini golf championship.  We usually make teams by families – the five of us vs. my aunt and her family – and the winner buy Ben and Jerrys for us all.  But this year, with boyfriends and wives, we had too many people for just two teams, so we drew numbers out of a hat to make 3 teams.  I basically had a miserable time.  I didn’t get any holes-in-one AND I lost my ball on the 14th hole in the pond 😦  But I was happy in the end because we tied!  Everyone’s a winner!!!  WINNER WINNER CHICKEN DINNER!

This was my family’s tenth year, but it was the first time we rented a different house because…

Our house! The side with the towels 🙂 It even had a pool!

we really wanted Ghia to come along!

The new house allowed dogs, and Ghia had so much fun fetching her toy duck in the water.  It was her first time seeing the ocean!  She was a little wary at first, but she quickly got really comfortable.  She really grew to understand the waves!

Big waves make me really anxious, so I don’t spend a whole lot of time in the water.  When I’m on the beach, I like to take read, take walks, read, play Baggo, read, play ladderball, and read.  A LOT of binge reading went on this past week.  Here’s what I read:

We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver  This is about a mother whose son commits a Columbine-like massacre at his school.  It tells the story of his childhood and her mothering style.  It was really well written, and I liked its overall message:  sometimes when kids need the most love is when they deserve it the least. 

The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler  The title explains it all!  This was really funny and had really nice characters.  Plus lots of fun insights into one of my favorite authors!

French Women Don’t Get Fat by Mireille Guilliano  This book is about the differences between American and French food cultures.  I devoured this book, and loved all it’s lifestyle tips; I’m really going to try and incorporate them into my own life.  Essentially, French women focus a lot more on fresh, quality ingredients when they eat and cook, and learn to compensate for indulgences.  The moral: eat light, exercise light, be light.  (live in the City of Light lol ;))

The Red Tent by Anita Diamant  This is the story of a woman whose life is only hinted at in the bible, Dinah.  It’s a fantastic story about the lives of ancient women and how they coped.  You will really like it if you like biblical stories (though there is nothing really about God) but either way you will love this amazing tale.

Ghia didn’t read, though, she mostly played in the ocean 😉

I did go in the water a few times, when the surf wasn’t too rough.  One day, I was just innocently trying to stay alive in the choppy water, when all of a sudden a perverted silver fish jumps out of the water right next to me, flaps against my boobs, ricochets off my cleavage, and swims away in shame.  I felt violated, but it was also hilarious 🙂

We had perfect weather the whole week, it was VERY sunny and warm.  But don’t worry, I’m almost as afraid of the sun as I am the waves.  I slather on LOTS of sunblock and wear a hat, sunglasses, and a cover-up.  Plus, I sit in the shade.  I rather obsessively move my char along the path of the sun so that I am always completely under an umbrella!  lol

Run, Ghia! Run!

It was so hot, in fact, that I didn’t run quite as much as I would have liked.  The first morning, I went on a 5-mile run with some of my cousins, but I hadn’t run that far in a while and got pretty sore.  I did squeeze in two more 3-ish mile runs, but it was so hot that I didn’t feel like doing it every day.  I did walk with Ghia every morning! Plus, I would lead some yoga on the beach with my parents most mornings.

Do you manage to exercise while on vacation?




Filed under Fitness, Life, Running, Travel, Yoga

My First Body Pump Class

I have been desperate to incorporate strength training into my healthy living routine since it’s so good for your bones, gives you a hot bod, and burns fat like mad.  But, my aversion to weight machines and my infidelity with free weight exercises have made it difficult for me to find a way to commit to strength training and really see results!  Previously, I have considered yoga to be my strength workout (specifically Ashtanga) but even though there are tons of strengthening poses, we all know that it isn’t quite to the same caliber of lifting weights!

Since she came home for the summer, my best friend Dominique has been attending Body Pump.  I’m proud to say that Body Pump is yet another amazing thing to come out of New Zealand!  Basically, Body Pump is a strength training class where you lift weights to pop music with synchronized movements.  Dominique raves about how empowering it is and how she has seen results!  It didn’t take too much convincing for me to join Dominique at a Body Pump class, but I won’t lie, I was nervous!  Nervous that I wouldn’t know what to do or that it would be way to hard for me.

But, I was pleasantly surprised!  First, we collected our equipment, which was the most stressful part of the entire class.  After Dominique helped me, it was really quite simple!  You need to grab a bar and collect the weights you need to make a lighter set of weights and a heavier set of weights.  The instructor will indicate to you when to use your heavier weights or your lighter weights.  Since it was my first class, I stuck with two each of the smallest weight and the middle weight.  The moves were not complicated at all, the class was really easy to follow, and it was actually a lot less intense than I had expected.  But boy was I sore the next day!  It was exactly what I was looking for! It really was fun to lift weights to music – the synchronicity of the moves to the beat is really exciting!  And it’s great having an instructor to remind me of good form and to keep me motivated.  I’m hooked!

So what else has been going on in my life?  Last weekend I went to my Grandfather’s lake house to finally spend time with my family.  Did you know that I have 12 cousins?  I got to see 11 of them, but I was SO happy to meet my new baby cousin, Reese!

She turned three months old on the 4th of July.  What a little angel!  It was a rough weekend for me since it was the first time I had been with the whole family since my Nanny passed, but at the same time in spite of that/because of that, I had never been so happy to see everyone!

At home, I’ve been doing a lot of cooking!  Last night I made stuffed portabella pizzas from Oh She Glows.

They were really simple and really delicious!

I have been feeling a little bit under the weather with migraines and severe sleepiness, but last night I slept for over 10 hours, so hopefully I’m all set.   But to feel better while I’ve stayed at home the past few days, trying to relax, I’ve been watching my newest guilty pleasure: The Bachelorette:

It’s awesome.  I knew that as soon as I started watching it, I would become addicted, and I was right!  I can’t get enough!!  Some of the guys are so cute, the elaborate dates are so pretty to watch, and I am positively beside myself as I watch all the mistakes she makes.  HAHAHAHAHA!

While I spend my afternoons taking advantage of my free month of Hulu Plus, I spend my mornings at the gym!  Today I went to yoga, then did some cardio on the treadmill and elliptical, and finished off my morning at a pilates class.  I was really looking forward to my morning at the gym today because last night I got my first birthday present…

New Asic running shoes!

They are way more cushioned than my old pair New Balance running shoes that I got at Marshall’s 😉

It’s hard to tell from this picture, but my favorite feature is that the laces are off-center, placed where your foot naturally moves!  How cool is that!  I broke them in today and I’m excited to see where we go together!

In other news, it’s almost my birthday and apparently the celebrations begin today!  Dominique is picking me up today at 5:30 for some secret location.  I can’t wait!  I’m going to go curl my hair…

Have you ever tried Body Pump?


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

Recovering from Time Travel

I’ve gotten a lot of questions about whether or not I will continue to blog now that I am back in the USA.  The answer is YES!  Admittedly, from now on most of my posts will be themed around wellness rather than life in NZ.  They also might need to be less frequent, especially when school starts again, and they will definitely be less personal.  Now that my life is back to “normal” I don’t feel the need to share every detail anymore.  But I will still share anything influential in my life, because wellness is about so much more than just health and fitness. (And I can promise a new little daily feature of the blog I have a-brewing.  Be on the lookout for that :))

Today I want to chat about recovering my wellness from a 24+ hour journey of time-travel around the world.  The aftermath that has caused me to feel quite out of sorts.


Proof of my restless nights...

I have been waking up in the middle of the night (3:30am), which has caused me to suffer from sleepiness so severe that it resembles narcolepsy!  (I fell asleep in the waiting room before a doctor’s appointment.)  I have imposed strict bedtime rules for the past few nights.  I have to be in bed between 10:30pm and 8:30am whether or not I actually sleep during that time.  No napping!  A few sleepy days are inevitable, and this has helped me quickly get used to this time zone.  Last night marks the first night this week that I slept through the night!


Mom-bought favorites of mine: dates and almond milk!

I am finally eating well consistently, but it’s not sitting well.  My digestive track has been all in a tizzy, which is definitely a result of lack of sleep and the erratic, excessive diet of fat and sugar I’ve been eating for more than 2 weeks straight!  I feel better eating clean, and my digestive system will regulate in time…as long as I stick to eating well!


Reunited with both my Klean Kanteen and yoga mat!

It’s all I have to cling to right now!  I have jumped right back into my religious exercise habits with at least an hour of activity every day.  I’ve been running and spinning, doing pilates and yoga, and I have even done a smidgen of strength training!  It feels really good and feel really right, but it’s been really tiring!  I fell out of shape pretty significantly because of travel and my hip injury, so I’ve been pretty sore. That means lots of yoga for me, and not to wimp out on my cardio!

Mental Functioning

I’ll be the first to admit I’m a bit psycho lately!  Once again, my life has done a complete 180 and I’m trying to readjust.  For example, I almost had a nervous breakdown in the produce section at Wegmans…it was so overwhelming!  Also, I keep almost driving on the wrong side of the road.  And EVERYTHING reminds me of something NZ-related.


Logged 3 loads already

My time not spent eating, exercising, or sleeping has been spent organizing my life: responding to emails, doing laundry, unpacking, and organizing my room.  Getting my life back to normal has felt very strange, but each little thing I accomplish makes me feel more and more at ease.

Nearly organized!

I have learned that there is not that much you can do to feel healthy again right after something like that.  Just honor your body and things will get better in time.  As per my mother’s advice, I’m actually RELAXING!!!!  Though I’ve been feeling icky and sad to have left New Zealand, the comforts of home make feel better, better, better.

There is just one thing I desperately need to feel all better

Dominique!  (Did you know she has a blog, too???)  Typical to the history of our friendship, when I’m home she’s not!  She’s on vacation with her family this week.

And, as she is my best friend, I REALLY NEED TO SEE HER!!!!

How have you dealt with jetlag?



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

Tomato Carrot Risotto

I woke up bright and early this morning to run, and guess what??? Run, I did! I was gone for about 40 minutes and though I had to walk a lot (it’s amazing how quickly I fall out-of-shape) I think I ran for at least 15 minutes of it.  My muscles were tired, but there was absolutely no joint pain.  I’ll take it!  I would also like to share that I was very hot and sweaty.

I know, family, that I just warned you about how cold and rainy it would be when you arrive. I guess just be prepared for the unexpected!

Since my run was successful and I was feeling pretty on-to-of-the-world, I cracked down and chugged out my final reflection paper on my practicum.  I’ve copied it below, in case you are interested 😉   Then, continuing the productive-ness, I went to the library to print out my Maths assignment, which occurred without a hitch (well, on my part.  Hannah had some difficulties.  There’s always something at that place!)  Now I am that much closer to being on summer vacation!  I just need to study for and take my Maori culture final on Friday….

It’s 10:30am at this point and it hits me: I had not had my coffee OR oatmeal yet!!! I guess my early AM dates gave me all the nourishment and power I needed…up until then lol.  Not one to skip I meal, I whipped up a simple bowl of apple oatmeal…without peanut butter!!! Shocking, I know.  Our tub is dwindling and frankly, I didn’t need it.  It was deliciously simple.  I might even try oatmeal without any fruit soon!  But that seems just a little too carb-y.  I feel like I’ll need fruity nutrients?  Rambling.  Sorry.

Very soon after my fundamentalist bowl of oatmeal, I had lunch because, well, it was lunchtime!  And I was hungry!  Running makes me hungry 🙂  I quickly sauteed some of the leftover chopped veggies (mushrooms, peppers, and onions) from last night, which I plopped on top of a piece of toast with sundried tomato hummus.

That hummus is to DIE for.  Seriously, the taste is out-of-this-world.  I can’t right now, but I’ll snap a photo of the package tomorrow so y’all can go buy it.  Of course, and of it was all on top of some lettuce!

Scrumptious!  After lunch, I had my last education class, during which we talked about Montessori schools (a type of schooling system that, at least for maths, uses solely tactile materials to teach concepts).  Several unbelievable things happened during class today.

  1. We had a guest speaker talking to us about the Montessori schools, and at times she would ask us to gather around a table to watch a demonstration.  Well, some of the NZ biddies just stayed in their seats, chatting and dicking (language–sorry but I am disgruntled) around on their laptops.
  2. I was watching a demonstration from my chair, and one of them stood DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF ME.  Literally, his ass (again, pardon my French) was in my face.
  3. We had to read a handout and then discuss with out groupmates what we thought were the most important things.  Well, as my group started discussing, one of the biddiest of the NZ biddies shushed me!!!!

Unbelievable on so many levels.  What did I do?  Continued to be the good student and respectful classmate that I am.  And felt very righteous for it.

On the bus home, my friends Rose and Becca told Hannah and I about this awesome pancake place they discovered, right by the bus stop.  I didn’t need much convincing to tag along for a post-class snack 😉

For just nz$3 a pancake, Hannah and I decided to split a chocolate one.

There they are, sliding about in the oil!

Rose, Me, Hannah, and Becca

Hot + ready = excited girls! 😉

Imma eat-chooo!!!

Two words: yum and wow.  It sort of tasted like funnel cake-meet-chocolate chip pancake.  I can only pray that this doesn’t become a habit.  Thanks for introducing me, Rose and Becca!

When I got home, I did some logistical work on my computer, then promptly started cooking.  Dreading another night of stir-fry, I convinced my self that I could make tomato risotto with brown rice and the (ghastly) tomato paste still in the fridge.  I started by sauteeing two cloves of garlic with as much of the Italian Herb Paste as I could squeeze out (running on empty!).  Then, I added the tomato paste and some soymilk.  There was WAY too much garlic!  I never thought I’d see the day.  Hannah had the great idea of adding some veggies, so she shredded half a carrot as I added more and more soymilk.  We just kept adding and tasting until finally, we nailed it!

With the rice, it made an nearly perfect combination!  For a few minutes there, I thought the meal was a destined failure, but with a little teamwork, we made it happen!

What was your latest triumphant kitchen experiment?


Here is my final reflection on my NZ school placement, in case you are interested.  It’s a sorta formal write-up for my professor back at UVM, so it focuses mostly on the technical teacher stuff. 

I have learned a lot from my placement here in New Zealand, but there are two things that will leave a lasting impression: grouping by ability and Guided Reading.  The entire numeracy and literacy programs in my class have essentially been set up with ability groups and small-group instruction.  There are rarely mixed-ability groups, which at first I thought would create a stigma of the “lowest” or “best” group, but the instructional benefits outweigh those issues.  It is much easier to create lessons that are geared toward individuals, it is easier to track progress, and it provides developmentally appropriate instruction.  All of which benefits their learning.  In literacy, the teacher-guided small ability-group lessons are called “Guided Reading” sessions.  Guided reading is a great way to teach literacy by ability because you can read a book together at the students’ level and take the time to go over the bits you want to focus on.  Plus, in the small group, students will feel secure enough to take risks and ask questions.

Dominion Road Primary school had a very effective and well-developed behavior management system that I learned a lot from.  The vice principal, Brenda, taught me everything in our interview.  They use antecedent strategies to prevent behaviors, which I think is key to preventing bad behaviors from happening.  By making the behavior expectations clear and setting up a positive, supportive environment, then students won’t need to act out.  Behavior problems will always occur, and I have learned two strategies for dealing with them.  For menial misbehavior, it is good to ask the students if they are making a good choice.  This gives them the power to change their own behavior and show you that they know what is good behavior.  A major conflict can be solved by debriefing the situation with the student(s) involved.  A fair, supportive conversation about a management issue is the most diplomatic way to address problems and it gives students tools to use those same strategies to solve their own problems in the future.  In addition, I learned the importance of balancing the lesson and school day with individual work, group work, whole-class instruction, and free time so that students stay on-task.  Even better, I did not find any discrepancies in my research and Responsive Classroom readings about American styles of behavior management.  Kids are kids, anywhere in the world.

Though my mentor teacher has given me a lot of praise, I still would like to work on a few things before student teaching.  For example, I want to make sure that I am continually planning what my next steps will be.  It is not only important to assess how the students did with a certain lesson, but it’s even more important to know what to do next to help them move on or get more instruction on something they don’t understand.  I also think that I can always be working on understanding the standards and keeping my lessons aligned.  It is so difficult with a diverse class, but it’s important to stick to the objectives and make sure that you are teaching the students the appropriate skills and/or content.

Pre-planning my lessons has really helped me feel more confident as a teacher.  It helps me to keep the learning objectives in mind as I am teaching, and it gives me an opportunity to plan for my behavior management.  When I have prepared the strategies I want to use, it prevents behavior disruptions from getting in the way of my class’s learning.  I also think that I need to do a lot of background research when I am planning a lesson.  I need to be prepared for the types of questions that my class might ask me about a certain topic we are reading about.  I want to make sure that I have enough background knowledge to contribute to their learning and inspire their curiosity.  I would also like to work on planning what to do if a lesson takes a completely different turn.  For example, if the students are completely lost or over-confident during the warm up, I would want to plan some alternative activities to do in case I feel like the lesson would not be worthwhile.

It has been really exciting to notice my role as a teacher change throughout the beginning of this semester.  I am doing more full-block teaching than I ever thought I would be allowed to do at this stage.  At first, I just lead parts of a lesson or a transition into a break.  Now I am doing all of that and more!  Its been really helpful to feel that independence, and the corresponding responsibility, because now I have much more of an idea of what it will be like to have the class for the entire day.  I have also become much more of a legitimate assessor.  I used to think that I could just observe assessment because I wasn’t qualified enough to actually conduct them and have the results count for something; but now, after the TGMI and all of my running records, I feel like I am equipped with the knowledge to make comprehensive assessments on students.

When I think about the past semester, I feel really good about my overall style of teaching.  I think that my priorities really shined through.  My number one goal to being a good teacher is to get to know each of my students as a person, and I feel like I really did that with my class.  It certainly helped my instruction to be more individualized since I knew their interests, weaknesses, and gifts.  My teacher gave me a lot of feedback about how my caring, compassionate nature and positivity created a non-threatening environment where students felt comfortable and even excited to learn.  That was my main goal, so I’m glad that I accomplished it!

My next steps in my process of becoming a teacher is to really look at inquiry learning and how to integrate it into my numeracy and literacy programs.  I want to do more research about science and social studies that I can easily incorporate into my literacy programs (with things such as magazines) and my numeracy program (with things such as science experiments).  My school in New Zealand focused a lot on fitness, music, and art, but the core curriculum was rarely tied into it.  I’m excited to discover ways to make for more wholesome, realistic learning experiences.  I also think it would be helpful to get to know the US standards like the back of my hand, since, compared to the New Zealand standards, they are really logical and essential for driving instruction.

Honestly, the most important thing that I will take away from this experience is my class.  I will never forget my little class full of Kiwi children.  I will never forget their little accents and how they “corrected” my pronunciation and spelling.  I will never forget about how eager they were to learn more about America and to teach me about New Zealand.  I will never forget how sweetly nurturing they were when they learned that I lost my grandmother.  I will never forget the relationships I made with them, and it makes me sad that in a few weeks, I will be half a world away from them.  But, as they remind me with song, we all live on “Just One Earth” and we will always be connected.


Filed under Fitness, Food, Life, New Zealand, Recipes, Running, School, Student Teaching, Travel

Quinoa Stir-Fry & The Ekko Park Show

Though I claimed all my dinners henceforth this week would be boring and predictable, last night’s dinner was actually quite interesting!  It was, indeed, stir-fry, but we had some cooked quinoa on hand to use instead of rice 🙂 Wild and crazy, I know!

Here’s how to make Cheater’s Quinoa Stir-Fry

  1. Chop one carrot and some mushrooms, green beans, and broccoli.
  2. Saute the carrots for a few minutes first.
  3. Microwave the broccoli for a minute to soften it up.
  4. Add the rest of the veggies (broccoli, mushroom, and green beans) to the pan.
  5. Add a few dashes of soy sauce.
  6. Add the cooked quinoa.
  7. Pour in a lightly beaten egg.

Try it, you’ll like it!

Our quiz master from trivia at Father Ted’s is in a band, Ekko Park, and they played a free show last night, so of course we were there!  I enjoyed Alex’s leftover Tui before we left:

In the spirit of trivia, here was my Cap-Fact: What is New Zealand’s largest inland city?



The show was AWESOME!  It was late, but short and sweet 🙂 We had such a good time.

That’s our quiz master in the center.  Not only did we feel so cool to know the lead singer, but he’s also really friendly and nice, which makes the whole situation that much cooler!!!  And their music is good, to boot.  This is a music video of my favorite song by them, which happened to be filmed in the very same bar!

So the show was basically just like that!  But in color.  Lol. Except that sadly, there wasn’t a big crowd becuase 1) it was raining, and 2) it’s the Queen’s birthday weekend.  Lame, I say.  Nevertheless, they put on a fantastic show.  We were there and had an absolutely fabulous time!  We also stood right behind their biggest fans, and it was so fun to watch them dance like mad and sing along to every word.  I’m so glad that we got to see his band live before we left.  We have seen the videos so many times and we’ve known Joe for months, so it was about time!

I woke this morning, ready to run in the sun, but guess what? That’s right: hip pain!  So I settled with just taking a 45-minute walk around the domain and photographing ducks and trees.

(The answer to your question, David, is yes, the leaves have fallen and the trees are bare.  I guess I just haven’t been very observant. ;))

When I came home, I realized something that may or may not end up being a crisis-type situation:

That’s a dangerously dwindling supply of instant coffee.

Here’s hoping it lasts the week!!!  I do NOT want to have to buy a whole other package before I go home.  I only use a bit at a time, but I don’t knowwwww….

Fingers crossed!

I am really lucky because I got to talk to my good friend Tara this morning for so long!  She’s back in the states from her semester studying in Ireland.  It was sooo good to see her, but such a tease.  I can’t wait to see her in a few weeks, for REAL!

For lunch, I had a large salad of lettuce, carrots, peppers, and mushrooms, all lightly drizzled in light Italian dressing so that it didn’t taste so….raw.

This is the salad I’ll be eating for the next five days straight.  YUM!

Then, for protein and grains, I made a microwaved egg with S&P, and put it on top a piece of toast with sundried tomato hummus spread on top.

The hummus was new-to-me and it gets my hearty stamp of approval!  YUM!  Lunch left me so satisfied! And it kept me full for ages.

Today, all day, I have been working on my final math project.  And it’s officially whooping my a$$.  My rough draft is done, it’s at over 2500 words, and both my examples and references are weak as.  I’m not sure I can bring myself to do much more today.  So yes, tomorrow will be hellish.

You might already know that I love inspirational videos by children, such as Jessica’s Daily Affirmation, and my brother David sent me another one recently that I just can’t get enough of.

Seriously, I’ve already watched it like 5 times!  It’s helping with the project: I can do it because I believe in myself!  This video might make tomorrow slightly less torturous….

At least I have some pure joy to indulge in!

That’s right, M&M brownies (Rose, you created a monster!)

It’s the perfect pick-me-up.  And necessary for finals.  Well, my final week of school, that is 😉

Have you been to a good concert lately?



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

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

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