Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Hula hoop relays,moxibustion, and hip flasks.

 OK, I'm really hoping I won't get sued by one of my girls for posting these pictures, but I thought it was so fun I had to share the idea.  When I was teaching at BYU, I went into the equipment office to get the BOSU's for class, and was surprised by all of the equipment they had stored in that room. "There must be some fun ways to use that stuff" I thought.  They had cones, beanbags, a parachute (!), basketballs, hula hoops -wait HULA HOOPS!  They turned out to be great for relays.  I always do at least one plyometrics segment in my class, and a relay makes the jumping a little more fun.  When I started my class in Salem we had a bit fewer options equipment-wise (to say the least).  I have been known to make my class use the structural beams for pullups, the baseballs in the pitching machines for glute isolation exercises, and the chairs for all kinds of stuff.  With summer though, the dollar store got in dollar hula hoops.  Yay!  I have some partner two hoop options, but we get bogged down for space (maybe we'll go outside when it's warmer!), so I just have them take a single hoop, and jump in it and in front of it, swing it around in front again, and jump again.  Their partner waits doing toe touch jumps back at the start until their partner runs back and they're tagged. 
 So fun.  I've also used our family's collection of basketballs and soccer balls, used tennis balls, taped up the floor, and done lots of hopscotch type stuff.  If anyone reading this has new fun ideas for jumping, send them my way.

 I wanted to show you the moxibustion stuff remember? I had my first appointment this week and snuck some pictures for you all --tummy picture coming up below, so shield any eyes that need it :)  I've got to say up front, I got a Masters of Science in Zoology (--kind of like biology --in fact the departments have now combined at BYU : all the premed students were in my major as an undergrad), and I'm used to the scientific method.  Chinese Traditional Medicine does not usually follow the scientific method format. It's different -just -different.  I did a paper trying to compare Western medicine, and CTM in college, and it was really apples to oranges.  However, they've been doing the things they do with countless recorded successful anecdotes for thousands of years --way before Western medicine had the bright idea of using leeches to help people recover.  I've been dealing with this stupid Graves disease for 6 1/2 years, and have been following everything my Dr. has told me short of having my thyroid obliterated by radiation (because that makes no sense to me. It would make me hypothyroid and I'd still have to take medication -see this article ).  and I'm going up and down with my levels all of the time.  I heard that CTM has a procedure to treat the autoimmune side of the disease which makes more sense to me --whatever that procedure might be. 
Now, why burning stuff at certain points on my skin, or poking needles into other points works?  NO idea.  My CTM Dr. makes these little "cookies" (the dark brown things) out of one kind of herb, and then makes little cones (light brown) on top out of another kind of herb, and sets the top stuff on fire.  Really. She goes through 5 cones of herbs on each point, and that's it.  Sounds witch doctory, but hey -whatever. 

 Here they are burning. See the smoke?  I could smell it on my skin the rest of the day. Luckily I had the needles in me in other spots so I was all relaxed.  I also liked the sound the flame made as she lighted it -like a bird's wing. I'll let you know if it all works.  I do know a little about qui/chi, -- the energy channels through the body these things are supposed to affect, but not much.  Here's a page to go to that gives some basics.
Next story.  Does this bother anyone else?  We stopped in ICING --a teen -preteen accessory store right before our movie, and saw this display of flasks right by the register.
Sorry the pic is blurry --but the sign says they don't support underage drinking.  How does your sign make this OK I'm wondering?  Amazing.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Quinoa salad, vegan pesto, and getting my behind back in the weight room.

 So...last night for dinner I made a quinoa salad.  Oh it was good.  My only thing with grain and bean salads is that they're usually so dense calorically. Maybe it's not fashionable to state that you care about calories but I do --not gonna' lie, that's my main weight management tool.  On the plus side, these were all quality calories.  The worst part of cutting calories is if you're not careful, you can trick yourself into eating sugar free syrup and 100 calorie packs all day and starve your body of the nutrients it needs, not to mention wanting to GNAW YOUR ARM OFF from hunger by 4:00.  This is not that kind of calorie dense.  Very filling.  When I ate it for dinner though I threw it on top of a big bed of greens so it would take longer to eat, get a boost nutritionally, and fill me up even more with the calorically cheap food.  Here's the recipe I followed with a few tweaks: I didn't have avocados that were ripe, so I added a few chopped toasted walnuts to mine, and the kids added a little cheese.  I also didn't have the red quinoa, just the blond.  Still yummy.
 Vegan pesto.  I  grow a ton of basil every year.  That's not usually the plan, I just miss fresh basil so much by summer, that invariably I raise too many plants.  By the end of summer they're bushes as tall as my waist but even bigger around.  The best way I've found to preserve all of that bounty is pesto.  Pesto is easy --you just throw everything into a food processor, package it up, and throw it in the freezer if you're not going to use it right away.  I used to use the standard Better homes and Gardens recipe, which calls for Parmesan, but wanted a veganified version because my kids literally use this stuff  every day.  Even if you don't believe the China Study claims, walnut or olive fat is much better for your heart than dairy fat.  When I make it in the fall I have 50-75 of these little half cup containers when I'm done. 


Now, you'll see recipes out there that use all basil as the base ingredient.  I tried that once or twice when I was first married, thinking the more basil essential oil you have the tastier it will be. However basil turns black when it oxidizes, which makes for a black pesto and nothing kills the appetite like black food. I use part spinach now to help keep the bright green color.  The secret ingredient for veganization of pesto? (My spell checker is going crazy with all of my made up vegan words!)  Balsamic vinegar.  Here's what you throw in your processor:

2 cups basil leaves --packed
1 cup spinach leaves -packed
1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs
1 cup pine nuts or walnuts (I usually use walnuts for cheapness --they're fine)
2 cloves garlic
1 t. salt
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2-3 T. water (depending on what you need to make the food processor keep going)
1/2 T. balsamic vinegar

You throw it in the processor and whirl away.  I think it makes about 2 cups, which means 4 of those little 1/2 cup containers.  Talk about calorically dense! But when you need a sandwich spread, this is better for you than mayo or ranch.  When you need a little "oomph" for your pasta, or something to dip carrots in, this is magic stuff.

OK on to the gym.  I skipped some workouts to rest up for that race on Saturday.  That makes sense right?  But my self confidence starts to go quickly and  I really doubted I could pull the same weight I did last week.  So I brought the camera into the weight room as extra motivation.  Yep.  Still got my 175 lb. deadlift.  My form really sucks towards the end (I didn't know I was rolling my chest back that high!), but I got in the 5 reps I was hoping for.  Stupid wrist straps slipped at 3 --don't ever start the wrist strap thing.  I wish I hadn't.  They're a pain, and a crutch I wish I didn't use. 
115 lb. squats.  I got my little block there to touch down on so I know I went below parallel.  I sure wish I could say I squat my bodyweight...but no, this isn't it. :)
You've got to forgive my lame music too.  Any suggestions for great motivating songs?  I'm running dry lately.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Listening to the "Born to Run" guy.

 Our local running store has a running guru that everyone in the valley who knows anything about running comes to for advice.  He's run and competed for years, and coached many national level runners. When he started telling my brother in law about minimalist shoes, and the book "Born to Run" we all read it.  Last night he hosted the author Christopher McDougall  at his store, and we made the trek with three patient kids (kind of) to listen. McDougall and his book is the reason barefoot/minimalist running has gotten so much press lately.He was pretty entertaining, but didn't give out very much new information.  I highly recommend reading the book though, and going to Hawk's (local guru guy's) website for info about injuries, technique etc.  What the author did say that I didn't distill very well out of the book, was that it's all about technique, there's a correct way to run, and lots of incorrect ways.  Just like in lifting, technique can make or break you.  My boss at the gym said once she wasn't sure about getting heavy weights for class because she didn't want anyone to get hurt, and I replied with this technique argument.  Same thing goes for running. 

The shoes can mess you up though.  If you put a big heel on your running shoe, and narrow up the toes, and live with an arch crutch your whole life, you're going to screw up your feet or legs no matter what technique you try.  The store manager rolled out this big banner during the discussion pimping their own minimalist shoe line.  I thought the blatant advertising was pretty funny.

So McDougall's premise is that we're evolutionarily meant to run long distances as humans --use our big brains and lungs to run down prey --exhaust them to death.  I don't know about that for sure, but during McDougall's question and answer session this guy gets up (the one holding the book) --and tells about how he ran down a deer.  Everybody was cracking up at his story, but it made you think.  If he can do that, and a farmer named Cliff Young can show up in work boots and run 100 miles straight with no training or plan, maybe it IS a basic part of us --part of our destiny.  Maybe I shouldn't fight those running urges so much.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Surprise Half-Mary!

 Well...I wasn't planning on it, but I'm glad I did it.  I've slowly weaned myself off of every day cardio through the last year, but then my daughter's friend ran the "Princess Half" at Disneyworld with Zero training and gave my daughter the bug --now Tia wanted to do a half!  I ran Thanksgiving Point Half Marathon last year and had a great time -even though I originally signed up just to help get ready for the Ragnar. Tia was too young to sign up for Thanksgiving, so we planned her to do the Hobble Creek Half in August instead.  I tentatively agreed to do it with her provided my feet didn't act up
 Suddenly I found myself in the middle of this crowd on Saturday.  Seriously --it was like that.  I bought myself some more minimalist type shoes which has helped me build up to a piddly 3 mile/3 mile/4 mile training week so far with Tia.  Then on Wednesday afternoon, our neighbor told us his wife was going out of town (to London --during the royal wedding --poor her!) and couldn't run in Thanksgiving this year then he asked me if I wanted to run it.  Temptaaaation! I hauled Jeff out on a 7 mile test that night, realized no wheels had fallen off my chassis by Friday morning, and Saturday morning drove up with my neighbor for the race.
 This is NOT what I pictured for a "Tulip Festival" race!  I was so apprehensive about slipping, and even about finishing!  I hadn't done a long run like that in a long time.  Thank goodness for facebook!  I posted saying I was doing it so I couldn't back out without eating a lot of crow.
 Here's my neighbor rockin' the trashbag raincoat.  I wished I'd brought one to be honest.  It looked scary and cloudy.  The first mile it snowed on us. 
 But then the sun came out!  The tulips were still pretty with snow on them.  Hey --a note about pictures: I hate stopping when I run.  I don't stop for water, for fuel --anything.  So I just took a ton of pictures on the run, and then deleted most of them because they turned out to be random pictures of the sky or someone's elbow. :)

I also didn't get a pic of the pivotal moment of the race for me:  I'm running along, and decide I'm too warm for my hat thingy, so I take it off and go to stuff it in my sweatshirt pouch, and while I'm looking down RUN OVER a TRAFFIC CONE.  How you may ask? It's as tall as my shoulder, bright orange, and has reflective tape on it.  Chalk it up to my native klutziness I guess.  Luckily I was wearing gloves so I only tore up my glove and not my hand.  The cool tech fabric Nike pants Jeff lent me didn't even sneeze at the crash, although I've got a bruise on my leg the size of a saucer.  Did I tell you the story about when I fell off the stand at church?  Remind me not to.

The family came up to see me come in.  I know I look 78 years old in this picture!  I was COLD! (and apparently more interested in my bagel than the camera).