Challenge accepted week 8

So week 7′s challenge went well. I have actually managed to maintain a fairly clean desk at work. I fell into the post it trap yesterday, needing something to note down the many calls I was making and finding nothing to hand but a stack of post its.

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this is how I felt

So I sorted that out by getting a new notebook for all my calls and removing the temptation of the post it stack from my desk.

I tossed up a few options for this weeks challenge. Diet related challenge? Fitness? Something really challenging (like the no purchases with plastic one!) ?

I decided, given the past couple of weeks have been really full on at work, that I’m going to take 10-20 minutes each day to essentially do nothing.

Call it meditation if you like but my aim is to lie or sit somewhere peaceful and just relax each day with no distractions. I’ve been doing a little bit of this in yoga so I think I can apply it at home.

Which is why I’m ending this post now and going to bed. I’ll let you know how it goes.

A wonderful day for a run

The only reason I took my phone with me today was to take some photos to share. I didn’t take my GPS watch or wear my heart rate monitor.

Today I wanted to run free of expectations, goals, and self judgement.

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I threw in my luna sandals and drove to my usual start point to tackle the steep section first. There’s a few access points but this is the steepest and I like to start with this one. It’s also at one end of the hill so I can go up, along the top, and back down then along the access road to make a loop. I walked up this part and felt great so I didn’t need to pause halfway up for a breather.

The sun was getting pretty low by this point so I was greeted with it the moment I reached the top of this section.

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There was a branch over the path. This is pretty common, particularly in summer. Eucalyptus trees are well known for dropping branches when they are short on water or are otherwise stressed – don’t ever put your tent directly under one when camping! It was a pretty simple obstacle to get over though.

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I ran along the top, planning a quick half hour loop. But when I got to the next track down, I figured if just run a little more. Then when I got there, I thought that a little more wouldn’t hurt.

I stopped for a photo at an opportune spot, as I wanted to be all arty-farty and get a photo of the view and my shoes.

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by the way, that red band on my ankle is my Road ID. I don’t run or cycle or kayak or whatever without it. I’m kind of scared of finding myself a Jane Doe in hospital while Gary frantically searches for me.

Then I found I didn’t want to get up. I wasn’t tired – it’s just with the quiet, and the evening sun on my back it was perfect and just plain right to sit for a while and think of nothing.

So I did for a few minutes… Until my feet decided they wanted to run again. So I ran.

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I kept thinking “just a little further then I’ll head back. But I kept running. Then the sun started to set so I decided that was my cue to head back down.

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My planned half hour run became an hour and a half of running, hiking, and a little bit of scrambling.

It was fantastic.

P.S. I also saw some kangaroos but they were too far off to get a photo.

Happy feet.

Nope. No penguins here. But my feet are in fact happy so the title fits.

Let me tell you a story.

Around 18 months ago when I decided to try regular running for fitness (again) I was intrigued by (and purchased) nike frees. With the promise of a “more natural” run and “designed to make your feet move the way they were supposed to” I put them on and ran my first kilometer. That was when I started at the gym, but the way, and was put on the treadmill and told to run for as long as I could without stopping.

I only just made 1km. But I was excited because the shoes on my feet felt amazing. I remember describing them to a work mate as “the best things I’ve ever put on my feet”. And it was the first time I had shoes that didn’t make my back ache unbearably with continuous running.

Gary runs barefoot. He always has. I didn’t feel ready to take that step though and spent some time in my frees before ordering a pair of vibrams.

These babies were my second revelation.

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They let my feet move so I could run, and so I could grip while scrambling over boulders. I wore them in rain and mud and dust and inside a freezing underground river while caving.

I got two models, the basic KSO version for general everything use and the Bikilas, specifically for running on roads and paths.

And it was great. The only issue was my lack of control on the downhills, resulting in a stress fracture. (I put that down to hills as I only injured my ankle when I added hill running to my regime. And running down a steep hill on concrete probably isn’t the best idea.)

But come summer, my feet started getting unbearably hot in my vibrams. Hot and sweaty and uncomfortable.

That’s where Barefoot Ted comes in. I’d say most of the barefoot/minimalist community have heard of this guy, because we’ve all read “born to run”. Anyway, he’s been championing the barefoot movement for a while and now has his own company selling huraches, or running sandals. They are called Luna Sandals.

I brought a pair.

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They are the “Mono” version, the all rounder for roads and trails. With a MGT footbed instead of leather they’re also vegan – bonus points for that. I’ve pretty much worn them everywhere except work for the past week and they are definitely my third revelation when it comes to footwear.

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my running partners seem to like them too. Especially Ollie. He always tries to chew on the buckles when I step out the door.

Verdict so far: they’re light, and airy so they don’t overheat. They’re flexible but offer some cushion – more than the KSOs do.

It took me a little bit to get the straps adjusted correctly so the heel doesn’t slip out but all in all I love them. I took them out for a hill climb (rocky dirt track) and they preformed magnificently.

I also went for a run on Friday and to be honest, it wasn’t fantastic. But I think that’s more to do with the fact that all I had to eat that day was a banana (breakfast), half and sushi roll (lunch) and a bag of salt and vinegar chips. There were moments in that run when I felt amazing, and my feet felt great for the whole time.

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Reasons the Luna sandals are so great:

- no more overheated foot.
- easy to get on and off (so much quicker than vibrams. Which means less time stopped if I want to take them off mid run for a sprint across a footy oval or something)
- flexible
- they aren’t constrictive so there is room for your toes to do their thing.
- vegan
- maybe it’s just me but I like having dusty feet. Makes me feel like I’ve been out in the world.
- they feel free.
- relatively cheap, if you order online. Even the additional $20 shipping fee from the luna site meant they were significantly cheaper then buying them from the one Aussie outlet I could find, and I’d still have to buy online and pay a postage fee from the Aussie shop!
- I am more aware of my posture and form than when wearing frees or traditional shoes.
- they make me feel good.

Downside:
- when I put my (fairly rigid) hockey shoes on they feel weird because I’m now used to vibrams, sandals and bare feet.

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My feet feel free and happy. I am starting to really enjoy running again.

Challenge accepted week 7.

(Just pretend I posted this on Wednesday! )

Week 6 was a success!

I had some pretty full on cravings for the chips and soft drink but I got through and by the end of the week it was easy.

My challenge this week is around my workspace. I generally end up with a really messy desk at work and it’s incredibly distracting. I’ve been finding it hard to focus with so much clutter so Wednesday I set aside some time and cleaned everything up.

Files sorted, desk organized, system for task management ready, client information board updated.

My challenge for this week is to keep that desk clean and tidy by putting everything away at the end of every work day and making sure filing gets filed. It might not seem like much but I’m a much more effective and efficient person when the clutter isn’t there.

Let’s see how that goes!

Challenge accepted week 6.

So the “no TV for a week” challenge was a relative success. I only watched a couple of episodes of Doctor Who on Saturday, as well as the organized exception of a movie with Gary. (We watched “Pain and Gain”. It was weird and I don’t quite know how I feel about it. Much darker than I thought it would be.)

Apart from that it’s been nice to just listen to music when I get home.

The week ahead is a massive challenge and it’s been less than 24 hours and I’m already struggling.

No potato crisps (or corn chips) AND no soft drink at all for a week. These two are major issues for me. It’s kind of an addiction, and for most of today I’ve been having intense cravings for them both. I’ve been going through a bag of crisps a day lately, and washing it down with a coke zero. I think a lot of it has to do with texture – I like super crunchy chips and the fizz is what I crave. Both are obviously pretty bad for me so I did the silly thing and decided to give both up at once for a week.

Strategies to achieve this challenge include making sure I’ve got something crunchy and/or salty on hand (e.g nuts or home made popcorn) and drinking water or orange juice, then going for soda water if I can’t stand the cravings for fizz anymore. It will be tough but I am determined to get through this week.

Let’s see how I go!

Behold my delicious vegan food wizard skillz!

Tonight I turned this:

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Into this:

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Under that delicious pile of roasted tomatoes and zucchini is an equally delicious pile of wholemeal pasta with kale and walnut pesto.

Mix it all up for a hearty meal with plenty of greens and bursts of sweet roasted tomatoes and zucchini chunks, and the taste of garlic bringing it all together.

home grown ingredients:
Kale
Garlic
Zucchini
Mixed tomatoes (tiny red ones, yellow cherry, mini Roma, standard cherry – there’s a green zebra tomato in the picture but I saved that one for another dish)

store brought ingredients:
Wholemeal pasta
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt
Pepper
Nutritional yeast

It was quite literally thrown together – no idea about quantities. I can try and guess some if anyone really desperately needs a recipe but I’m confident there’s probably plenty of kale walnut pesto recipes to be googled and the tomatoes/zucchini were just veggies tossed with olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper and roasted.

You know what else was delicious? These babies:

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I made these cookies and cream cupcakes for a work meeting using a recipe from Vegan cupcakes take over the world . It’s the basic chocolate cake recipe with the variation of adding chopped Oreos to the cake batter and also to the vanilla buttercream. Absolutely superb.

They were a big hit with everybody. I’ve kind of made it my mission to keep feeding my work mates vegan food just to show them how delicious and interesting it is.

I’ve also found that vegan cakes seem to be ridiculously simple. Maybe that’s just because I’ve been practicing but I am really enjoying baking now.

I made this cake for a work mates farewell a few weeks ago.

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It’s a chocolate mud cake I’ve made a couple of times from Not Quite Nigella that I came across a while ago. I’ve found it turns out best when I be a bit liberal with the chocolate in the batter (75grams… 100grams… Close enough). I also take it from the tin while still warm and plate it, pouring the ganache over before it’s cool.

This recipe makes a chocolate syrup – I’ve been adding coconut milk or almond milk to make more of a ganache. Either way will be great.

Moving off the chocolate cake theme, I also tried my hand at a vegan agedashi tofu. I used shiitake for the broth and let plenty of them soak for a long time to get the flavour. I also used some wakame to get that “sea” flavour since I’m unable to buy kombu at the moment.

I kept all the wakame and shiitake in the end so it wasn’t the traditional clear broth but it was delicious and hearty. I used cornflour for the tofu coating and fried it in a mix of peanut and sunflower oils. It was dished up with edamame and plain medium grain rice.

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So there are some of my latest food achievements. I’m pretty proud of my efforts – still learning new recipes and methods of cooking and still keeping it vegan.

And by the way, what do you do with leftover Oreos and extra icing?

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Struggling to run..

I wanted to write a very quick post to explain why I haven’t been posting about running much lately.

1) my fitness has fallen, having taken a break to allow my ankle stress fracture to heal fully. This has led to gaining back some (but definitely not all!) of the weight I loss through running. This weight gain was in spite of cycling and swimming. Apparently running is the more effective form of exercise for me. This means that I’m back to slogging through 5km runs at the moment. I’m also still wearing an ankle brace for extra support.

2) it’s been ridiculously hot here. We’ve had 2 week long stints over 40
degrees C in the past three weeks. We are due for some more 42 days soon as well. I struggle in the heat, and resorted to paying $12.50 just to use the treadmill for half an hour at the gym at one point. I don’t want to make excuses however my body doesn’t function well in the heat and I sweat heaps so it’s easy to get dehydrated and nauseas/dizzy. Give me cold and rain and fog anyway.

3) shoes are an issue for me right now. I prefer my vibram bikilas but they make my feet unbearably hot in this weather. And my nike frees aren’t quite as bad… But they aren’t the same as running in my vibrams either. I know this probably seems a bit like “first world problems” but being uncomfortable is stopping me from wanting to run or enjoying it while I run. I’ve got some Luna running sandals coming which should solve the overheating problem. Running totally barefoot isn’t an option because the footpath is usually too hot and drunken idiots regularly smash glass along the main road to my house.

So really, my runs at the moment can be summed up as: hot, uncomfortable, very sweaty, and difficult. So not really worth writing about. I do know things will improve as the month goes on though.