Archive | February, 2013

Trying to Work-Out/Pre-Flight Freak Out

27 Feb

travel

Today’s post will be quick, I promise. Staying true my adventurous spirit and complete inability to sign up for any activity that resembles relaxation, I’ve decided to spend my spring vacation in Africa…and I take-off on Friday. The scene depicted above is just a fraction of what my bedroom floor looked like moments ago as I am scrambling to make an assessment of my American-made pharmaceuticals pre-departure.  I leave for Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in just about two days. Ahhh! (more reflections on this tomorrow, when presumably, I may, or may not have more time).

While in Addis and other parts of Ethiopia, I hope to keep a travel diary of everything I see and the people I meet. I’ll be traveling with a group from my undergraduate program. I’ll have the chance to visit beautiful Gondar, Axum and Lalibella.  In addition, we’ll be meeting with local government officials, NGOs and delegates to the African Union which sits in Ethiopia’s capital. Last summer I had the opportunity to travel to Tanzania’s Kilimanjaro Region which was an amazing experience…and I should really know by know that preparing for a trip like this requires more than a hot second of packing…but alas, I was too BUSY to do so sooner.

While I am really excited about this new adventure, I am always stricken with a little pre-departure anxiety. To beat the heat, I decided to walk away from my litter-strewn room, busted out some free weights and engaged in the following:

1.) one set of 15 squats while holding 10 lb. free weights

2.) one set of mountain-climbers (about 20 foot shifts)

3.) another set of 15 squats

4.) another set of mountain climbers

5.) 2 minutes of crunches

6.) another set of 15 squats

7.) another set of mountain climbers

8.) 2 minutes of crunches

9.) forearm plank pose held until I felt a burn and then thirty seconds thereafter

10.) a set of 10 push-ups

11.)  a down dog vinyasa (through to plank, chaturanga-which I held for 10), then to cobra and folded to child’s pose

To calm my nerves before I returned to packing, I engaged some alternate nostril breathing. Much like the magic hand rub (which I featured yesterday) this breathing technique works like a charm to center and cool your nerves. If you’re interested in reading about alternate nostril breathing, I’ve got a great link. If you’d rather just see it in action, I liked this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WxEqooqgCEs 

Ahhh! Okay, now back to my giant pre-trip mess.

Make Lunch Now – Even if it’s 11 p.m.

26 Feb

 asparagus cover

Here, I show you how to make a salad and a cooked vegetable side in several simple steps and with shared ingredients…this is not a Martha Stewart recipe, but rather a desperation lunch for the time-starved. And don’t fret, fresh, simple foods are actually quite yummy.

IMG_2049

Okay so it’s actually 11:23 EST and I’ve just completed making an avocado, tomato and cracked pepper salad…oh, yeah and some asparagus. I really didn’t want to make anything at all right now, but I forced myself, and so should you. After work today and before yoga, I ran into my local Whole Foods and noticed that avocados were on sale (they are apparently in season, even though they are from Mexico, thus not really in season or doing anything to help our carbon footprint here but whatever). So, I impulse bought some avocados and cherry tomatoes with no real plan in mind. And while I’d rather be checking out ‘House of Cards’ or some foreign film on Netflix, I made myself lunch instead!

Here are some photographs and a quick (read really quick recipe of what followed):

1 teaspoon of Canola Oil with Omega 3 DHA

6 red and green pepper slices

4 cherry tomatoes

1 avocado sliced

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Lemon juice to taste (I got mine from a bottle but feel free to squeeze some lemons if you’ve got ‘em)

Grab a plastic storage container. Get all your ingredients together. Slice the avocado open and pull out the giant pit, I usually loosen it with a fork and then pop it out. I cut around the periphery with a butter or steak knife and make slices down the center. I then turn the avocado’s skin inside out to shake out the pieces.

 IMG_2044

After you’ve cut the avocado, toss it in your plastic lunch container. Chop your peppers and toss your cherry tomatoes in….do I seriously need to tell you what to do next? I kind of feel this is all so intuitive that it would insult your intelligence to indicate that the next steps are. But if you must know, you then toss all the other ingredients together and shake it up a bit.

 IMG_2046

Not super sophisticated, but it’s actually kind of good.

And now for some Baked Asparagus (this is quick, too, I promise)

asparagus

You will need:

a baking sheet

10-12 stalks of asparagus

fresh pepper to taste

1/4 teaspoon of salt

fresh or bottled lemon juice

PAM or Canola oil

Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees. While the oven heats, rinse asparagus and gently towel dry. Break off the very ends of the asparagus to ensure you’re only cooking the ripest part. Asparagus will naturally fracture at the point on its bottom end where it is least ripe. Gently do this to each stalk. When finished, place each stalk on your cooking sheet. (Cover the cooking sheet with a piece of aluminum foil if you wish to avoid messy clean up later.)

Spritz the asparagus liberally with PAM (ewww, I know, I know…it’s kinda gross, and you’re thinking that nothing should ever be sprayed liberally with PAM apart from squeaky doors, but it works and it’s not really bad for you, either), or use a half a tablespoon of canola oil just to get the asparagus nice and glossy. Next squeeze on lemon juice to taste.

After, shake on a liberal heaping of pepper and a little bit of salt. Shake it all up by gently shifting the cooking sheet from side to side. Then, you’re off to the races. Toss those bad boys in the oven and let ’em roast for 15-23 minutes depending on the strength of your oven and the thickness of your asparagus. Keep monitoring them intermittently (now is a good time to read the news, grade your students’ papers or prepare a presentation for work) until they are golden brown and the ends are no longer juicy and white.

Let the asparagus cool off and then cover. Enjoy for lunch and/or dinner tomorrow. Unlike the haphazard avocado salad, this is actually something you can serve to other people (e.g. house guests). It tastes fancy, but no one has to know how much time it took (or didn’t take) you to whip up.

Wake up! Wake up!

26 Feb

 

(Fighting the morning blues…and discovering what it takes to get up on the right side of the bed)

I recently moved to a new work location which has increased my commute dramatically. Since this unpleasant change occurred, I’ve been getting up an hour earlier and have TOTALLY been dragging what feels like every ounce of my earthly being out of the bed each morning. I’ve even tried pretending that my alarm clock is an air raid siren. But this still didn’t do me any good.

Basically, I’ve been so thrown by having to get out the door an hour earlier that I’ve converted to evening fitness entirely.  Last week, I took the opportunity to figure out (over five days) if I tried to transition back from a PM to AM sweat. As a result, I am taking this opportunity to share with you the pros and cons of early morning fitness regimes for those of you seeking to do a little switcheroo yourself.

My unscientific but hopefully helpful tips are as follows:

TIP 1: PICK A GOAL. Is your morning workout goal to get in some yoga? Head out for a spin class? Or simply get to take a dawn colored jog around the hood? Starting with the end in mind definitely helps. Visualizing your goals ahead of time certainly make them more achievable.

TIP 2: NO COLD TURKEY. Work up to waking for an early workout over a period of several days. This means you’ll need to scale down your evening routine (if you’ve got one) and try to get to bed earlier. This is really hard, especially for me. My biggest mistake deciding to break a serious sweat in the pre-dawn hours was jolting my routine (e.g. sleeping after midnight and waking at 5:30 for some spin). I tried this prior to making the transition the right way and ended up doing the sleepy head bob thing during and important meeting.

If tweaking your morning routine involves changing your wakeup time by an hour or more then I’d recommend you try to get up fifteen to twenty minutes earlier each day and do some gentle stretching or exercise.  (At the bottom of this entry, I’ve posted my favorite early morning yoga routine).

TIP 3: THE MAGIC YOGA HAND RUB. After you’ve acclimated over a period of three days or so, you may still feel totally beat and unable to move (notice a theme here with me?) If after the alarm starts buzzing, you have trouble achieving the initial burst of energy to rouse yourself from bed, I highly recommend that you get your rub on. It has helped me SO much. I’ve copied a video below of this yoga inspired invigorating hand rub. It also helps if while lying in bed, you turn touch the soles of your feet together and rub one sole against the other with the same vigor and at the same time that you rub your hands together. Call me crazy but it really wakes me. I stole this idea from a Kundalini yoga class and find it invigorates like nothing else.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9kUXQ26edow

TIP 4: PACK YOUR BAGS THE NIGHT BEFORE. Just like in grade school. You know what you need, just remember to put it all in one place…and don’t forget the water. You’ll be priced gouged at the gym.

TIP 5: HYDRATION. After your early morning foray into the dark side, you’ll be feeling extra parched. I advise skipping caffeine in large quantities until you know how depleted a morning sweat will leave you feeling. I love to recharge with Bolthouse Farms Green Goodness. It’s blended perfection…fruity mango and pineapple with spinach, barley, wheat grass, chlorella among other amazing things…plus it’s got green tea and echinacea. Who could ask for more? Seriously!

green goodnes

TIP 6: NIGHT OWLS MAY JUST HAVE TO SCRAP THIS IDEA. I’m not big on quitting but, in all honesty, after spending the time working up to morning workouts, I still felt uncontrollably tired during the day. My work/life schedule frequently demands that I stay up a bit past my bedtime so I am basically unable to recoup the hours I need to be fully functional all day. I am not giving up on the pre-work work out entirely, but I’m just saying I’m not sure I am there yet. At least not for every day. For those of you who can do it, power on! For those of you who can’t, I’ll be sure to talk loads more about powering up for a workout after a long day on the clock.

EARLY MORNING YOGA

As promised above, below is a link to a great morning yoga sequence. Even if you decide gearing up for a morning workout routine is not right for your lifestyle, this video is just a super awesome way to get invigorated in the a.m. Not to blow my own horn (‘cause I love yoga so much) but yoga can help loosen your muscles, relieve stress, change your prospective (something I’m in desperate need of when I wake) and help digestion. I recommend trying this at home:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oLLskpRfhpM

I dedicate this post to all busy people everywhere

25 Feb

Busy runners, yogis, hikers, power walkers, weight lifters, adventurous gym-goers and all other frustrated athletes of the world unite! And welcome to The Adventurous Yogi page.  Not to fear, despite the title, I plan to discuss many other forms of exercise apart from yoga. I am developing this site to serve as a personal resource for those of you out there who hold down (or are at least trying to hold down) a day job while battling that insane wanderlust to chart new territory, get sweaty, get dirty and stay fit.

So, where exactly does this wanderlust leave you and I? The working stiffs who live for the weekends (when we get one). Where do we go with our dreams of athletic achievement on a thin time budget? Much as it’s pained and sometimes exhausted me, I’ve made consistent efforts over my last few years as a working stiff to find ways to stay in shape, to keep happy and to eat healthy. It hasn’t been easy and I’m constantly refining my methods and routines.

There are not many blogs (actually, I found none) dedicated solely to the working woman or man who yearns for a lifestyle that will permit jogging, hiking, a little yoga and maybe the home brewing of kombucha all in one afternoon. Deep down, this is the kind of life I want to have. Realistically, I am on the clock and so are you. My goal in this blog is to help you get centered and focused enough so you can start enjoying more of the activities that our lesser-employed peers so enjoy.

Whether you have ten minutes, twenty minutes, thirty minutes or an hour, I’ll be here to provide you with quick strategies for snapping into physical motion. What I’ll do in each post is break down some tried and true workout routines, post reviews of work-schedule friendly workout classes widely available throughout the USA, supply you with kitchen-tested healthy (and tasty) recipes that take under thirty minutes to throw together.
In summary (and for those of you who were too busy to even read the above), you can expect to hear more about the following:
• Fresh ideas for getting started on a workout routine
• Tips to maximize your workout on a limited schedule
• Monthly Mix: Me and my fitness friends participate in and review local workout classes (we’ll also be taking your suggestions)
• Weekly Cool-Down: Fun yoga routines for everyone
• Reviews of mainstream and not-so-mainstream workout classes (offered in your neighborhood)

• Time-tested homemade breakfast, lunch and dinner (and, of course, snack) tips
• Reviews of gear and exercise equipment
• Motivation and inspiration
• And, a little bit of adventure! (aka travel blogging…whenever I am presented with the opportunity to do so)

You can be sure that if you keep reading, I’ll keep posting the details on how I manage my busy work/workout life balance. If you have any questions, you can always contact me at theadventurousyogi@gmail.com.