Thursday, January 29, 2009

Training Yoga

Living with a competitive athlete for 20 years, unbeknownest to me, had given me an education about training that few non-athletic people get. And I didn't live with just any competitive athlete, I lived with, and have been married to, a man with such and incredible athletic resume, it's no wonder he's a Master RKC Instuctor.

Because of the example I've had the luxury of witnessing first hand, I tend to look at any physical activity I chose to do as an opportunity to train it like an athelete...approaching it as a "sport" and training it with depth, and thoughtfulness in a manner to continually progress, instead of simply going out and doing things I feel like doing that day "willy nilly". If that were the case I would probably start skipping workouts, eventually dropping them completely, as many of us do when it becomes uncomfortable, or "not fun" anymore.

That's the place I almost got to with my yoga practice. Yes, I showed up for class, semi consistently, some weeks more than others, letting my practice fall, at times last year, to only twice a week, and it wasn't until after my surgery, last Dec. when I was finished with my recovery period, that I recommitted to my Bikram yoga practice. And I have to say that getting back the strength and flexibility from yoga after taking 6 weeks off was much harder than regaining the strength and endurance that my kettlebell training required. But my Bikram yoga practice still didn't reach a new level until I started "training" it with Mark.

Although I was attending class much more regulary, perhaps 4-5 times a week, I hadn't realized that I was just "showing up", putting my time in, "checking off" the minimum requirement of a regular pratice, until I had my "Master Instructor" standing next to me in a 104 degree heated room, bringing the same intensity he always brings to his training. "Wow, you mean I can train yoga with the same intensity I train kettlebells?"!

Without getting into a long involved blogpost right now, I'll end it by saying that my practice has improved 200%, and my commitment to it the same. Everything we do in life is a metaphor for all of the things we do in life. The approach we take to the activities we choose many times run parallel to the attitudes and resposibilities we have to ourselves to grow and evolve and become better people, to become our best. And for me, as always, to live to my phyical potential, means to also to live to my spiritual potential....isn't life good?

Above photos shows that I can almost get my forehead to knee....I'm close to getting this on my right side, but my left that will be great! It'll happen! And just for fun, I thought I would include one of my "before" picures to remind us that miracles do happen....sometimes we make them happen.

Quick Max....

Mark and I've been training Max Vo2 for so long now I"ve shortened it to simply calling it "Max" lol! I can't wait to do a workshop at Girya in the next few months about this style of training, hopefully in March, sometme after the February RKC in San Jose, I'll keep you posted....

Anyway, since my workouts are more flexible I can play around with reps, combining my style KB training to fit with what Mark needs to do for his training goals. This week his cycle of Max was only 50 -55 sets, down from 80 sets last week, so I needed to make my 25-30 minutes of training intense. Most of my work sets last week were 9 snatches per 15 sec......good Lord, I remember when 8 snatches per 15 seconds smoked me, getting in 10 reps in 15 sec for an entire Max workout is just crazy, not impossible, but's what my Max workout looked like.....

15 sec work / 15 sec rest w/ 12kg

7/7 x 1
8/8 x 2
9/9 x 2

10 warm up sets total now the real work.....

9/9 x 4
10/10 x 1

repeat for the additional 40 sets

8/8 x 5 (10 sets)

60 Max sets total = 30 minutes

Oh, and it was 30 freakin' degrees in the garage gym Wednesday morning @ 4:45am! Get 'er done!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Broccoli Stalks

Since making vegetables the main focus of my diet I was always looking ways to add as much variety as possible and forcing myself to try things that seemed out of the ordinary....I mean, who wants to be ordinary? But it also included taking the ordinary.....broccoli....and finding different way of using it. Before I had an interest in cooking and preparing my own foods, I had made broccoli, but had only prepared the florets, steamed, with a little else do you eat broccoli? I had never eaten it raw in a salad, I didn't even make salads! I had never used it as a pasta sauce, boxed mac n cheese was the only pasta I knew how to make, lol!

I also believe when you buy just the broccoli florets you are buying the a less fresh vegetable then when the stalk is still attached, and it's more expensive that way. So next time, like me, buy the broccoli with the biggest, and thickest's what to do next.....

The broccoli stalk is my favorite part. It's mild and tender once you peel the dark fibrous skin from the outside. Simply cut the thick stalk away from the florets, then take your vegetable peeler and peel down the sides until you see the lighter green core, that's the good part!

You can shred it for salads, dice it and steam along with the florets, or cut it into sticks to use with dips, or on their own for a no calorie snack, instead of, or along with carrot and celery sticks (I have to give a friend the credit for that idea).

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Get 'er done!

Do you think I want to train at 5 o'clock in the morning? Much less train Max freakin' V02 before the crack of dawn? Well, I don't, but I don't have a choice....I've taken that away. Mark and I usually train Max V02, starting at 4:45 am, every Wednesday morning because he leaves for work in Palo Alto, and his first scheduled client is @ 6:00 am. But for the past 2 weeks he hasn't had to start work until 7:00 am and we've gotten a little break....somehow 5:00am seems so much better than 4:45 am!

The best thing about an early start is an early finish....good Lord look at the time, and I've already done over 650 snatches! Now I'm off for a 2 mile walk and 9:15am yoga, how good is my life?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

"Carrot Pickle" and more quick fun with the PC

While watching one of my favorite food shows "Ultimate Recipe Showdown", on the Food Network the other night, I was reminded of this Carrot Pickle recipe, and Vinegar Salad Dressing recipe, I used to make quite frequntly because of how low in calories and big in flavor it was. The TV shows challenge was to make the best burger, and one of the cooks used her Vietnamese background to come up with her Asian Fusion burger, topped with pickled veggies.....what a great idea!

Here I used the Carrot Pickle recipe and added shredded watermelon radish, amd shredded broccoli. To make a lunchtime salad I tossed with some chicken (cooked in the PC, see next recipe), and a handful of raisins.

Carrot Pickle

3 carrots, shredded (or 2 c. any shreddable veg, like daikon, broccoli stem, etc.)
1 tbl. sugar
1/4 c. water
2 tbl. vinegar
1/4 t. salt

Mix all ingredients and let sit in fridge for at least 1 hour (the longer the better though).

I used white wine vinegar, because that's what I had, but I think this recipe is best done in the traditional way with distilled white vinegar and white table sugar.....not exactly "PC" (politically correct, not "pressure cooker, lol!) I think I might also add some fish sauce in the future (go light with the fish sauce, starting with only 1 t., increasing it to 1 tbl. depending on your taste)

Vinegar Salad Dressing

1/2 c. white vinegar
1 t. olivel oil
1/4 c. water
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. black pepper
1 1/2 tbl. sugar
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 small onion, red or white sliced thin

I like this salad made with chinese cabbage, instead of the thicker green cabbage I use for slaw. I add in my ususal carrot, scallion, diced jalapeno, cilantro, chicken or shrimp.

Both of these recipes are from "The Vietnamese Cookbook" by Diana My Tran, a nice little cookbook worth owning for easy, (unintentional) low calorie recipes.


I'm in love with these little cans of prepared salsa! Like canned chipotles, salsa verde and pickled jalapenos, I now keep this red salsa stocked in my pantry to use with rice, and/or bean meals in the PC. I like fresh ingedients more than most, but after reading the ingredients on the labels, really, what's the difference between using canned salsas and canned tomatoes? The ingredients are the same as if I was making fresh salsa, nothing funny or unusual. And for $.89 (about $1.69 at Safeway versus the Mi Pueblo), can you beat it?

Spanish rice is basically white rice cooked with tomato sauce added to the water, and sometimes sauteed onion or scallions. I wanted to make a healthier version of spanish rice using brown rice, and shredded chicken, for my youngest son to use as a burrito filling or just to eat on it's own. the great thing about cooking chicken legs and thighs in the PC is that the bones in the chicken make the "stock" that the rice cooks in, adding tons of chicken flavor, and it's so moist and tender it just falls off the bones. And talk about fast, easy and with few ingredients.....

Salsa Ranchera Spanish Rice w/shredded Chicken

2 cups brown rice (I used 1 c. brown
rice, 1 c. red rice)
3 1/2 c. water
1/4 c. tomato paste
7 oz. can salsa ranchera
1 t. salt
4-8 bone-in chicken leg and thigh pieces, skinned (or up to a dozen thighs)

Throw all of this into the pressure cooker, lock lid, bring to high pressure and cook for 20 min., let the pressure come down natually......that's it! I didn't even saute an onion!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Why I'm NOT doing the 60-Day Competition....I mean, 60-Day Challenge

Twice a year my Bikram yoga studio has a 60-Day Challenge, once in January and then again in July. The first time I participated was in January 2006, back then it was a challenge, and I did successfully complete it! It had barely been one month since I started the practice and less than 1 year earlier I weighed almost 250lbs! But now, at this point in my training, and at this point in my life, it's no longer a challenge, so why participate?

What is the 60-Day Challenge about? Well, I think the first and most important point of this challenge is to establish, and create the habit of consistent practice.....did that. There's the challenge from a physical standpoint, building up the physical strength to endure 60 straight days of Bikram yoga......did that. There's the challenge of a schedule, which I think is the biggest challenge really, because how many people can fit 2 hours of yoga, everyday, into an already busy life? Well, since I have the luxury of living like "the rich and retired"(that's what Mark says, lol!), scheduling daily workouts is not challenge for me. And I guess the last point of this challenge is the comradery created by the energy of 100 people all committing to making their lives better, which is probably the best reason, and why I almost signed up......but......

I know myself! I'm highly competitive and I, like many, would try and do 120 yoga classes in 60 days, turning it into a competition instead of a challenge lol! In fact, I have to stop myself from training yoga more than 7 days a week, and I've been currently attending 8-11 classes weekly. I didn't want this challenge, and the fact that my name was up on some board amassing "gold stars" as a way of proving "I'm better than you"! Many of the participants, like me, have an established practice and routinely attend double classes already (some of them Bikram Yoga teachers, how is that a challenge?). Am I being a bitch? Should I have joined in anyway, as a show of support?

For some students this really is a challenge, physically, mentally and even emotionally as yoga, and most physical activities reconnect us with our bodies and minds, and I respect that. So, I will attend class, daily, with the admiration and respect for those whom I know this is truly a challenge for.....and for those who just want to show off? Well, what can I say? What-ever! (OK, I am being a bitch, lol)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Out of Touch

As I become more and more aware of this countries "normal" eating habits I wonder, have I become completely out of touch? Do I eat weird stuff? I mean, I know I look at the foods I chose to eat in a different way than most, as my approach is more about the ingredients of my meals, than the meal itself.

For instance, when I'm preparing a meal I don't think, "Hmmnn, should I have a taco, or spaghetti? (meals)", I think, "Hmmnn, what kind of vegetables do I have? What kind of protein do I have? What kind of carbs (beans, rice, bread) can I use, and what flavors am I in the mood for?" And from that point I assemble my meal.

But I don't have a family to feed, and Mark and I eat similar in some ways and completely differently in others because he's always trying to keep his weight up, and I need to keep my weight down. You would think that would make things difficult, but really it's the similarity in our meal approach that makes it easy to work out. For instance, we both start with our ingredients......which vegetable, protein, carb, flavors?.....but he adds calorie dense ingredients to his meals, lots of butter and oil, cheeses, dairy, bread, nuts, etc. and I add low calorie ingredients to mine, yogurt, vinegars, stock, more vegetables, etc. If I were to make some french onion soup, I would make mine more brothy, and add more vegetables and a modest amount of protein (2-4oz.) and skip the bread, he would top his with swiss cheese, have all the protein he wanted, and have his bread slathered with butter!

I turn everything into soup or salad! I live on soup and salad all year long (inbetween the bakery and candy binges of course...hey, I'm not claiming to be perfect, lol) If I make a bowl of chili I always serve it over a bed of shredded cabbage salad mix (red and green cabage, carrot, jalapeno, green onion, and cilantro), I like it that way. I once ordered a bowl of chili at a resturant and a side of "undressed" coleslaw, just so I could eat it the way I like it. Or, I might take that same bowl of chili and add more broth to make it chili soup and then add my greens, like spinach, chard or kale. This is exactly what I started doing when I had to make family meals when my youngest son lived at home.

Pastas turned into noodle soup, or pasta salad. Lasagna and risotto turned into soups, and tacos into salads. Main dishes, like roasts, were sliced and diced as protein sources for soup and salad! Eating out was never an option, and now I could care less if I ever eat out, and would prefer to always eat my own homemade food because I make it exactly how I like it, using fresh quality ingredients.

Even though I haven't completely changed my particular habit of compulsively eating high sugar desserts, most if not all I purchase ready made, when I'm in my "right mind" (lol) I am just as happy having a peanut butter and honey sandwich (es), or plain yogurt with maple syrup and a heaping cup of wild rice and dried cranberries mixed in to make my version of rice pudding. Oatmeal or 10 grain cereal with honey and chocolate is yummy too....all of which I tend to overeat, but I'd rather overeat these foods than ice cream and cookies....when I can. Am I weird? Am I out of touch?

What and how do you eat?

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Pressure Cooking on OPRAH!

Just FYI......

I rarely watch the Oprah Show, but I happen to catch an episode with 3 celebrity Chefs, Tyler Florence, Curtis Stone and Ingrid Hoffman competing in a "sandwich showdown". Each had to come up with an original new sandwich recipe.....and guess who won? Tyler Florence with a pork shoulder pot roast he did in a.....ta da....pressure cooker! His Pot Roast Sandwich w/Cranberry Onion Jam beat a lobster and a crabcake sandwich. There you heard it here first LOL!