#angegetshealthy – Backyard Workouts

One of the things I like most about Active Mums is that many of the exercise can be done, safely, anywhere, without any fancy equipment. While we’ve been on holiday from the classes, I’ve been working out in our backyard or in the lounge, with my own special helpers.

When the sun has been shining (pretty much most of the time since before Christmas), I’ve been getting out and mixing up some toning exercises with shuttle runs on the lawn. Using my mobile phone as a timer and music player has made it so much easier to keep track of how I’m going; doing press ups for two minutes sounds simple but without a timer, I find I always give up well before I need to!

IMG_6645 IMG_6660 IMG_6666 IMG_6672 IMG_6689Squats and lunges are fun and easy to do with kids – babies and toddlers make great extra weights – and my boys love copying me while I’m doing press ups. They usually turn a shuttle run into a race (of course), and often a bit of an obstacle course (balance bike or golf club hurdle, anyone??), and we have a lot of fun racing outside together.

It takes a lot longer, of course, but in my mind, a 30 minute workout completed over an hour is better than no workout at all.

(I often post on Instagram using #angegetshealthy and #angestayshealthy, and love seeing other people’s inspiring and motivating getting healthy posts!)

Advertisement

#angegetshealthy with Active Mums

Sitting here, listening to rain fall and thunder crash above me, this morning’s Active Mums outdoor exercise session seems like a bit of a dream. It was so good – SO GOOD – to be out in the warm air, getting some much-needed vitamin D at the same time as working off all the Kettle Corn I ate yesterday (seriously, have you guys tried that stuff? Sweet and salty at the same time, man it’s good!).

I used to go to Active Mums when Tiny was a baby, but I was never really that into it. If I’m completely honest with myself, I am inherently lazy, and if I can’t lift a weight or see a change in my fitness, my interest tends to wane pretty fast.

Running Dunedin NZThis time, it’s completely different.

I feel less pressure to keep up with the other lovely mummies, and this gentler approach has actually seen my fitness and strength improve more than I expected. Our instructor (hi Jo!) takes a very holistic approach to health and fitness, and mixes things up for us every week, which makes things fun – variety is the spice of life, right? Before my first class, I told her I was feeling apprehensive, having not dragged my lazy butt off the couch in a while, and her response has stayed with me: “There are no egos at Active Mums”. That helped, so much. I went to that first class worried that I’d be a sweaty mess after five minutes, and I was, but I didn’t care because I was made to feel like being there was more important than how long I could shuttle run for.

Running Dunedin NZIt also helps that I’m doing the classes with some very good friends. I used to be a solo exerciser – the idea of running with others didn’t interest me at all – but getting fit and healthy with friends is THE BEST. We chat, we encourage, we sweat, we chat some more. We go for walks and runs together and I look forward to those times like you wouldn’t believe – we’ve laughed and cried and vented and brainstormed, which has helped clear the cobwebs on many occasions. Being fit and healthy isn’t just a physical thing, and being able to get outside with like-minded people is pretty awesome.

Running Dunedin NZPhysically, I’ve noticed big changes too. There is muscle definition where there has never been definition before (or not for a looooooong time, anyway!), and my energy levels have skyrocketed. I actually look forward to each class, and our extra workouts – I missed them like craaaazy when I was sick recently!

Active Mums Dunedin NZAnd where else could you find a group of women willing to lift a heavy Holden Captiva that was stuck on a little pole???

(I often post on Instagram using #angegetshealthy, and love seeing other people’s inspiring and motivating getting healthy posts!)

Forty Days of Yoga – Round 2

It’s been a long, long time since I was last on my yoga mat, and for a long, long time I’ve been telling myself I would do another 40 days, to get myself back into the groove.

When I mentioned it briefly last week, Cat said she was keen to join me, and so as of yesterday…we’re on the mat for 40 days. We’ll be documenting our journeys on Instagram, and blogging, and there are another two lovelies (that I know of!) who are also playing along.

This time, we’ve made our own rules – we’re sticking to doing 40 days in a row, back to day one if you miss a day, but we’re being more flexible about the type of practise that counts (DVDs, apps, classes), which will make it more achievable for those not comfortable with a self-led practise.

I started strong, with a 60 minutes practise that reminded me why I do yoga, and in contrast to the first round, I was excited about getting back on my mat. Here’s hoping that enthusiasm will continue!

Forty Days of Yoga

Done. Just like that.

40 days. Every day – or night – on the mat, stretching and flexing, contorting myself into poses I thought my body would have forgotten.

The first few days were hard, physically, but I was amazed at how quickly my body remembered each pose, and how fluidly I seemed to move beyond my initial comfort zone.

It wasn’t always easy, getting on the mat every day. Some days, I was tired and I just did not want to be there. I wanted to pour a glass of wine and snuggle on the couch with my husband, watching mindless television and eating chocolate.

But I did it. Even if those sessions were shorter or gentler, I did it. The important thing for me was to still get on the mat, to do what I felt I needed, and to not beat myself up if my practise wasn’t very strong.

Some days, I was champing at the bit for my babies to go to bed so I could get on the mat. Those were the sessions that were the most energetic, the strongest and the most focussed. The sessions where I knew I could push myself just a little further.

Now that my 40 days are over, I’m having a few days off. I don’t think I’ll go for another 40 days in a row without a break, but I will continue to make getting onto my mat a regular part of my week. I feel too good to not carry on – mentally and physically. I’m regaining the tone I lost from my arms and legs, and I just feel stronger.

I’d like to do five days a week if I can, which gives me the flexibility to have a glass of wine or blob on the couch or just do something else if I feel like it. But I will keep up a home practise, because I have loved it more than I thought possible.

(If you’re on Instagram, you can see my yoga journey in pictures here)

Musings on my Yoga Mission

Today is Day 8 of my Forty Days of Yoga.

I was already feeling pretty good about how I was going, but now I have extra motivation: my friend with MS.

She’s trying to lose a little weight and keep herself fit and healthy, but has lost the motivation. Her partner is less-than-supportive, and as we were talking about what she could do, I mentioned Forty Days of Yoga and how one of my main allies is Tall. He is my motivator, my (nice) bully, and my supporter, all rolled into one. She sighed and said, “I need someone like you to motivate me,” and immediately, I responded, “I can do that for you.”

We sat down and worked out an exercise schedule for her (she likes to have things planned), and I was able to apply the Forty Days of Yoga principles to her chosen form of exercise. She’s starting today, and my role is to send her a text every time I get onto my mat; we’re going to remind each other, and be accountable to someone other than ourselves and our partners, which is an important part of this process. We all know that we can fool and justify to ourselves, but no one wants to let someone else down!

~~~~~~~~~
Part of the challenge is also to keep a journal. It’s a way of recording how I feel each day when I get on the mat, what I do when I’m there, and anything else that is pertinent to the whole challenge. Rather than bore you all with posting daily updates, I’ve added a page up there ^^^; if you want to follow along and see how I’m doing, I’ll be updating it regularly.

~~~~~~~~~
I’ve also been posting a daily photo to Instagram, which I may or may not continue, depending on how many postures I can take photos of! As I go on, I should be able to contort myself into some strange shapes… 🙂

Forty Days of Yoga

I haven’t been to a yoga class or done any serious yoga since I was about 22 weeks pregnant with Pickle. That was over a year ago, and I miss it. So much.

I miss the way it makes me feel physically: strong, flexible, toned, fit.

I miss the way it makes me feel mentally: calm, relaxed, capable, sharp.

I miss the way it makes me feel emotionally: in-tune, settled, balanced.

I miss the way it makes me feel as a parent: like I can cope with all the new challenges thrown at me daily. The way it makes me strong enough to stop, breathe, think, listen, respond. Not shout and react, as I’m doing all too often right now.

At the moment, I feel like something essentially me is missing, like I’m not operating at 100%. Part of that is tiredness, and breastfeeding a hungry 10-month-old, but when I do yoga, none of that is an issue.

I’d like to go back to classes, but they’re not cheap, and are often on at awkward times. I have DVDs, but I find them quite distracting when my pace of breathing through a sequence of asanas is slower/faster than theirs. I’ve been meaning to start a home practise for months, but always felt that I didn’t have the knowledge, or the discipline, or the time to do it. But the thing is, an internal practise (ie: one led by me) is the only way I can overcome the barriers my mind sets for me; an external practise (ie: in a class or following a DVD) only serves to cover up those mental barriers for a while.

IMG_3560When I heard of Forty Days of Yoga, I knew that if any book could get me out of that mindset, this would be the one. A good friend of mine knows the author, and she said it was likely to be a really good book.

What an understatement.

The book is amazing. Inspiring. Encouraging. From the first page I was hooked. I was nodding silently in agreement with everything she was saying. I felt as though she was talking directly to me. Everything she described, the reasons why people don’t start a home practise, the reasons why they should…it all made sense.

So here I am, about to embark on my forty days of yoga. And then, hopefully, I’ll choose to do another forty days…and another, and another, until it’s no longer a choice…it just is.

IMG_9961The rules are simple: miss a day, and you start back at day one.

That’s motivation enough in itself, but if I feel my resolve start to falter, I’ll just look at my husband and our boys. This is for me and it’s for the three of them. They are all the inspiration and motivation I should need.

(The images here have nothing much to do with yoga…they just serve as a reminder about beauty in the small things around us x)

Making Salads Super

Someone once told me that I make a good salad.

I laughed, thinking that there really couldn’t be anything easier to make than a simple garden salad, but having tasted some decidedly average ones, I realise it’s true – I do make a good salad.

Over the summer, we eat salads so often that I’ve had to come up with different variations to avoid getting bored. And because I sometimes forget that I need to save half an avocado for another day….there are times when I have to get creative.

IMG_1503

I give you, therefore, some simple tips for making salads super:

~ season a simple garden salad with salt and pepper, and it’ll transform it into something good; add a splash of olive oil and a splash of balsamic vinegar, and it’ll transform it into something great.

~ experiment with textures: add crunchy croutons, sunflower seeds, pumpkin kernels or crispy bacon. Bake ricotta for 15-20 minutes, then crumble in large chunks into your chosen lettuce leaves. Combine crunchy iceberg with leafy mesclun and baby spinach, or add raw sugar snap/mangetout or radish. Fresh herbs like parsley (I prefer the grassiness of the flat-leaf/Italian variety), chives and mint are a wonderful addition too, as are sliced sun-dried tomatoes, olives or gherkins.

~ instead of having salad alongside your meat of choice, make the meat the star of your salad. My favourites include hot- or cold-smoked salmon pieces, or barbecued then finely-sliced steak; served with fresh ciabatta or baguette and a crisp pinot gris…yum.

~ make your own coleslaw dressing: dissolve caster sugar (say, 1t) in red wine vinegar (let’s say 1t there too), then add a good mayo (2T? However much you need), and season. Leave for the flavours to develop before mixing into your shredded cabbage, carrot and red onion. Adjust the amount of sugar and vinegar to suit your tastes; way nicer than pre-prepared dressing.

~ if, like me, you’re not a fan of big pieces of raw red onion, you can blanch rings or wedges in boiling water for two minutes before adding to your salad. You still get the flavour without the nasty bite.

~ dress cooked new potatoes with a combination of mayonnaise and basil pesto (3:1), then add toasted pine nuts, fresh basil leaves, and shavings of parmesan cheese.

~ curb your roasted vege cravings by drizzling bite-sized pieces with olive oil and liquid honey, then roasting for 30-40 minutes until tender. Allow to cool before adding crumbled blue cheese (feta would be good too), and a dressing of olive oil, liquid honey, lemon juice and seasoning. I made this for our early Christmas dinner over the weekend and we all had second helpings….it was divine, if I may say so myself. I used parsnip, kumara and courgette, but any roastable vegetable would work.

~ play around with different dressings until you find something you like. Try adding dijon mustard and brown sugar to a basic oil/vinegar mixture, or add fresh orange juice as your acid. As long as you taste before adding to your vegetables, you really can’t go wrong.

Thai-Style Chicken Broth

When we honeymooned in Thailand, I was blown away by how such delicious food could be made with such simple ingredients. Everything was so fresh and clean, so quick to prepare (if you discounted the seemingly endless hours – or so it felt to our western-arms – of bashing things in the mortar and pestle to make curry pastes), and so delightful for the tastebuds.

The Thai ability to balance the flavours – sweet, salty, sour and spicy – has been something of an enigma to me; something I will always strive towards perfecting. This broth is my attempt at creating something reflecting this – but has made me realise that what tastes balanced to my palate, might not to yours.

If you try this recipe, start with a minimal amount of the four flavours, and add more to suit your own tastes. The measurements given here are approximations, and are my maximums, but as with all cooking, you have free reign to make it the way you like it!

Steaming broth

Thai-Style Chicken Broth – serves 4

300g boneless, skinless chicken thighs, sliced into bite-sized pieces
1-2T vegetable oil
4c water
4c chicken stock (preferably homemade, but if you do use bought, it will be a bit saltier)
2T soy sauce
1T lemongrass (either freshly chopped, or from a jar or tube)
2.5cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
1-2 fresh red chillies, de-seeded and finely sliced
1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 carrot, finely sliced into batons
3 spring onions, finely sliced
2-3 dried noodle “nests”
1T fish sauce
1T lime juice
2T palm or brown sugar
1 small handful coriander leaves

Heat oil in a frying pan, and brown the chicken quickly, without cooking completely. Set aside.

Place water, stock, soy, lemongrass, ginger and chillies into a large pan and bring to the boil. Simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes.

Add chicken, garlic, carrots, spring onions (and any other vegetables you fancy – I added red capsicum, which was lovely, but the mushrooms went a bit chewy so I’d leave them out!) and noodles; simmer for a further 5 minutes.

Add fish sauce, lime juice and sugar; taste and adjust seasonings to your palate.

Add coriander and serve immediately.

Homemade stock rocks!

A bit more creating…

Last November (man, that sounds so long ago!), I spent the month making loads of stuff, mainly as Christmas presents. When I summed up the month, I mentioned there was one last creative project I’d been working on that couldn’t be revealed until after Christmas.

You wanna see it??

Oh my gosh, this is a TERRIBLE photo, and I really need to clean that mirror!

Meet Little Pickle : )

Little Pickle has been making my life interesting for the past almost-16 weeks; s/he has been the reason behind my long absence from my blog…because it’s hard to type when you’ve got your head shoved in the toilet bowl.

Pregnancy and I are not the best of friends. I was sick until 17 weeks with Tiny, lost 5kg, and only enjoyed about two months of the whole experience.

This time round, I’ve only lost 3kg (who does that over the Christmas period?? Seriously.), which I can only credit to being on a fairly strong anti-nausea med…but I’ve been more uncomfortable and more tired, which I can only credit to being the mother of a busy 21-month-old. I’m hoping that things settle down at 17 weeks again, otherwise it’s going to be a loooooong few months ahead.

Despite feeling bleurgh all the time, I’m super-happy with the way this project has turned out so far, and can’t wait to see the finished product come July.

What I’m Making (!!)

I’ll preface this post by saying that I am NOT a sewer. It took me three tries to get my sewing “licence” in Home Ec when I was 11 years old. I struggle to sew slowly and in a straight line.

A sewing machine. Awesome.

I hemmed a pair of trousers once.

Inside out.

For the next year or so, I would smile and say, “Cool, huh?” whenever someone commented on the “embroidery” (read: overlocking) at the top of the hem.

My nana was a dressmaker (a very good one, too), and my mum is an amazing sewer. She sewed my sister’s wedding dress, three bridesmaids dresses and her own outfit for the wedding, and she made my wedding dress without a pattern, based only on the quick pencil sketches we did after I tried on the St Pucchi dress-I-loved-but-could-not-afford. The bulk of it was made while we were living on the other side of the world from each other, and it wasn’t a simple dress by any stretch of the imagination.

My dress. Even better than the original.

Despite my distinct lack of skill with a sewing machine, I’m going to share with you a couple of things I’ve been making over the last week or so.

Be kind.

Not-So-Scary Little Monsters

Slightly Lopsided Owls

Not-Quite-Completed Cushion Covers: to buttonhole or not to buttonhole?

So there you have it.

I have been creating. And it feels gooooood.

~~~~~~~~~

Also?

I’ve been exercising. Yeah yeah.

My abs are aching after Monday night’s yoga class (yes, for all those who think yoga is all “ohm”s and half-lotus-positions – it’s a workout), and the weather has been so lovely the last couple of days that we’ve been out for walks, and we’ve been weeding (which is hard work when you’re battling an obnoxious weed like oxalis).

I feel good.