Easy does it

Day 26. I nearly slept through my dreaded 5 a.m. alarm today. I was so tired. I stumbled out of bed and got dressed in the dark. After the 20 minute drive to the yoga studio, I looked in the mirror for the first time that morning and realized my face hadn’t woken up yet.

I was puffy and pale and I swear that my left eye didn’t fully open until 9 a.m. What is it about getting older that takes your face longer to wake up than the rest of you?!

I had to take a nap today.

Going to Bikram every morning (with a few afternoon classes here and there) has started to feel a little like the movie Groundhog Day. I get up, do our family morning routine, wear basically the same yoga outfit, drive to the studio, practice the same 26 postures, sweat, drive home, do laundry, drink lots of water.

Repeat.

I decided that today needed a restart. I took a nap today followed up with some down time. Once I did that, I was like a new woman! I’m almost tempted to take another Bikram class today, just for funsies! But I won’t. My nap wasn’t that good.

Due to the leisurely vibe of my day, I’m keeping my blog simple: a good nap, a gratifying lunch from last night’s leftovers and a great laugh.

I don’t use the acronym LOL unless I really am laughing out loud. Today my Nancy posted this on Facebook and I sincerely LOL’d:

Tasty Vegan Cooking (not an oxymoron)

Day 25. When you think of vegan food, I’m sure filling, hearty or even tasty aren’t the first adjectives that come to mind. Think again!

I began to dabble in vegan cooking last fall. I read several books that opened my eyes to how diverse and delicious it could be. I learned many tips and tricks to creating vegan dishes that even my meat-loving, 8-year-old daughter enjoys. Seriously, this child’s favorite meal is a rack of ribs.

Here are a couple of cookbooks that I found to be great guides for a vegan newcomer, like myself:

Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook

Skinny Bitch: Ultimate Everyday Cookbook

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of my favorite vegan products is soy chorizo. I’ve always had an affinity for the high fat, massively caloric Mexican sausage product, chorizo. I began substituting soyrizo in its place even before I was a vegetarian so that I could enjoy the flavor without so much guilt.

I compared the nutritional value in Trader Joe’s soy chorizo with chorizo sausage information I got on CalorieKing:

Soy Chorizo (70 grams): 140 Calories, 10g Fat, 700mg Sodium, 9g Protein

Sausage Chorizo (70 grams): 319 Calories, 26.8g Fat, 865mg Sodium, 16.9g Protein

I find it tastes very similar to the real deal, especially when sauteed with onion, bell peppers and/or garlic.

I try to steer clear of processed, fake meat but it can be tricky to find hefty vegan dishes without them. When I was looking for inspiration to stuff green bell peppers, I went straight to my favorite processed wanna-be meat, soy chorizo.

I found this recipe on Veganista. We like it so much that it has earned a spot in our recipe rotation:

Soyrizo Stuffed Peppers

  • 4 bell peppers
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • 1 package soy chorizo (I like Trader Joe’s brand)
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small tomato, chopped
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 3 Tbsp. chopped parsley
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cut the tops off the peppers, & remove the seeds. Cook peppers in boiling water for 5 minutes; drain. Season inside each pepper, & set aside.
  3. In a large skillet sauté onion over medium until tender. Add garlic & continue to sauté until fragrant. Add the tomatoes & soyrizo & cook until browned. Add parsley & cooked rice, & stir to combine. Remove from heat.
  4. Stuff each pepper with the soyrizo & rice mixture. Place peppers in baking dish open side up.
  5. Bake for 25-35 minutes, until heated through. Garnish with chopped parsley.

Soy chorizo & rice filling

Ready for the oven

My husband’s comment after dinner, “Babe, you nailed it.” Yessss!

This really is a great recipe. It makes a lot of the soyrizo/rice filling so you can have an awesome burrito for lunch the next day.

 

 

 

(Almost) Late for a yoga date

Day 24. I made it to the afternoon class by the skin of my teeth. Sundays have always been a hard day for me to find my yoga motivation. Before the challenge, I never practiced on Sundays because it’s always been a day for family. By 9 this morning I was already plotting my yoga truancy.

Today started out so pleasantly. We had a great church service followed by Mediterranean food for lunch. We enjoyed the warm, sunny day by playing outside with Penny and cleaning up the yard. We even got a surprise visit from my younger brother–that never happens! The day flew by so quickly and before I knew it, I had to make the decision. To Bikram or not to Bikram.

At 3:09 I said to my husband, “I guess I’m going to miss yoga today.” He lifted his eyebrows in alarming surprise and said, “What?! You have to go! What time is it? Go!” I had about two minutes if I wanted to make it on time. I jumped up and scrambled to get everything ready to go.

Sometimes all it takes is a nudge in the right direction to remind me of my commitment–someone to give me that tough love and say, “Go to class!”

And what a class it was! Sundays are so busy and today we maxed out at 52 people! It was unreal. I believe it was the most our Bikram school has seen so far. I don’t think the space is big enough to accommodate a class of that size. It’s long and narrow, holding two rows of about 25-30 students. Today we had to move our mats to touch our neighbors’ and be careful not to bump bottoms, hit arms, or exchange flying beads of sweat.

Some stand-outs from my 51 fellow classmates included: a mother and her three teenage sons, ages 13, 14 and 15 (They made it through the entire class. Bravo!) and a young man and woman who came together for their first Bikram class/FIRST DATE. Seriously!

This was revealed to the entire room when the teacher asked how they knew each other. I don’t think any of us expected that answer. Unfortunately, I was across the room so I couldn’t tell their level of mortification. I would’ve died if my husband had witnessed my sweaty, tired, stinky Bikram side on our first date. Especially if I looked anything like I did today: raccoon eyes from my non-waterproof mascara.

In the end, my sense of commitment to this challenge was revitalized. I made a choice on January 6th to put myself to the test. That includes dragging my ass to class on those lazy days when I’d rather relax in the sun and watch my kid chase the dog in the backyard.

Only 36 days until I can have my Sundays back.

We are what we eat

Day 23. I wasn’t feeling great today and had to sit out a lot during class today. Needless to say, I’m lacking inspiration from my 7 a.m. practice.

After early morning yoga, running errands this morning, driving my daughter and Penny about 45 minutes up to the foothills to visit friends, and back down again, I’m spent. I’m facing the 4 p.m. hour, a.k.a. dinner crunch time. What will I make? What ingredients do I already have? How long will I have to stand at the counter and chop vegetables?

I was on the edge of ordering pizza or stopping to get my daughter fast food in lieu of cooking. It’s a rare occasion when take-out happens in our house but I was feeling lazy from a busy Saturday. The last thing I wanted to think about was the healthiest option for  dinner.

Then I recalled an article I read today about 17-year-old Stacey Irvine in Britain who subsists only on McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets, and the occasional french fry. She collapsed and was struggling to breathe when she was rushed to the hospital.

“During the exam, doctors were stunned to learn that Ms. Irvine had never in her life eaten fruit or vegetables; instead she had eaten almost nothing but fast-food chicken nuggets since she was two years old.”

Seriously?! This is an extreme (not to mention ridiculous) situation but there are so many things wrong with this story. As a mom, I’m not really sure how this happens, but I’d be heartbroken if this was my daughter’s diet. I put a lot of thought and time into preparing healthy meals for our family. In my opinion, it’s in the mom job description.

I couldn’t feel good about calling for a Me-N-Ed’s pizza delivery tonight with that story fresh in my mind.

I decided on Moroccan Roasted Vegetables from yummly.com:

1 onion (cut in 14-inch slices)
1 zucchini (cut in 14-inch thick semi-circles)
1 eggplant (peeled cut in 12 inch thick semi circles)
1 sweet potato (peeled cut in 14 inch semi circles)
1 red pepper (sliced in 14-inch strips)
2 tomatoes (fresh chopped)
15 ozs chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
3 garlic cloves (minced)
2 tbsps olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp cumin
112 tsps turmeric
112 tsps cinnamon
112 tsps paprika
14 tsp cayenne
1 Combine all vegetables and garlic in a large bowl; combine spices and oil in a small bowl; mix together and spread dressed vegetables on 11×17″ tray (I use a cookie sheet).
2 Bake at 400F for 20 minutes.
3 Remove from oven, stir well and bake for another 20 minutes.
4 Serve warm Per 15 oz serving = 296cal, 8g pro, 9.5g fat, 49g carb, 10g fiber

I served this over whole wheat couscous and made a few adjustments since I didn’t have all of the ingredients. It was better than a lukewarm, greasy pizza but I’m not sure if my daughter would agree. I guess that’s why I’m the mom and she doesn’t eat McNuggets at every meal.

Mother knows best

Day 22 and I’m not even tired of Bikram. I’m actually more addicted than ever. My daughter was feeling sick last night and I was nervous over the possibility that I might have to miss today’s class. It wasn’t because I was worried about having to make it up with a double. Going to class is such a huge part of my day now. I don’t want to miss it.

Luckily, after a good night’s sleep, she was feeling better and I was able to take a fun, high energy class this morning.

Let me first address the comment that I’m addicted to Bikram. I hear this a lot from fellow students. Bikram is consistent. I’ve found that it never lets me down–I always leave class better than how I entered. This style of yoga was overwhelming in the beginning but after about five classes, I found my groove within the practice, and my body started to crave it.

I hear the word addicted constantly in our studio. In fact, just today I was talking with someone after class about it. This particular student, let’s call her Jane, practices with her mother. I’m usually in the same class with this mother-daughter duo but it wasn’t until today that I put the pieces together and figured out their relation.

Mom is a talkative, feisty, petite woman with a New York accent (we don’t hear many of those around these parts). Jane is open, warm and plays on a local roller derby team. I was immediately fascinated by this pair. I see them both practicing nearly every day, not always in the same classes, and found it so charming that they share a devotion to yoga.

I told Jane, “I’d love my mom to come, but I could never get her in here.” Her response caught me off guard. She said, “She actually got me into it. She was doing it first.” Jane found Bikram through her mother. I had assumed it was the other way around.

I’ve daydreamed about my mom coming to yoga with me but that is likely to never happen. I’ve imagined my husband in class. This is more feasible but will take a lot of sweet talkin’.

I’ve even done the math on how long until I’d let my daughter give Bikram a whirl. She was definitely showing some sincere enthusiasm tonight when we were entertaining the thought of her sharing a class with me. I’m thinking in a couple of years she could handle it–if Jason Bateman can do Bikram as a kid, my daughter surely could.

That was what happened to Jane. She had absolutely no intention of trying this crazy “hot yoga” that her brother in Los Angeles was doing. He turned their parents on to Bikram in Fresno but couldn’t get Jane on board.

“I saw him wringing out his shorts after practice one day and I said, there’s no way I’m doing that,” she said. Her mom eventually talked her into taking some classes. “When I first started, I’d look for coolest part of the room, now I’m always looking for the hottest. I’m addicted.”

There’s something about Bikram that makes me want to experience it with my loved ones. I want the best for them: to feel great, get in better shape and health. I felt connected to this discipline right away and I’m so curious to see if the people closest to me would feel the same.

Right now they just think I’m crazy.

*Image from wallcoo.net

La di da di, I miss Pilates

Day 21. I decided to practice on the opposite side of the room today. It’s a little hotter on that side and I have to say it altered my practice a little. Not in a bad way. Just different.

It’s interesting when we shift out of our comfort zones–changing up the usual route to work, sitting in a different desk at school, trying a new seat at church. Turning off our autopilot can revive us from the monotony. It’s funny how much we depend on our routines and how thrown off we are by little alterations to them.

I wanted to mix things up today but it wasn’t without initial hesitation. I walked in, headed for my familiar area, then stopped to check out the foreign side of the room. I began to walk towards it, then back, then finally to a spot in new territory.

It’s not like I’ve never practiced on that side before, the studio isn’t a huge space, but I’ve only ventured over there a few times on weekends or early mornings. I had a lovely experience. I was happy to see how the other half practices.

As much as I’ve been enjoying Bikram, especially the challenge experience, I’ve been missing my gym routine. Old habits die hard.

I miss the freedom to sneak in unnoticed, work out for about 45 minutes and call it a day. I miss searching for a decent Pilates class. I miss walking on the treadmill listening to my latest playlist creation, heavy on the Beyonce. It was not intense. I didn’t have to follow anyone’s directions. I could wear makeup and still look presentable when it was over. It was just a little “me” time.

The problem I had with the gym and what propelled me into Bikram full time, was that it wasn’t challenging. I stopped seeing results despite putting in five days a week at the gym. I was frustrated and lacked confidence.

The only thing that challenged me at the gym was Pilates. I love Pilates. It was the most effective workout for me. I especially like the long, lean build you attain. No bulk, just muscle definition. It was easy on my leg condition and gave me great abs.

I was a contemporary/jazz dancer in my teens and early twenties so practicing Pilates as an adult felt like an extension of my early dance years. My first memory of Pilates, is being taught the basics by one of my dance teachers when I was 15. We go way back, Pilates and I.

I found an excellent Pilates class at the gym about four years ago. I went religiously four days a week for a couple of years. I credit this exercise for getting my body back into shape after my accident. I lost weight and gained a fit physique. My love of Pilates runs deep.

After a while instructors changed, the gym canceled a class here and there, and it became increasingly more difficult to find a good class. (I’ll be the first to admit I’m picky about my instructors.) So my Pilates enjoyment had come to a close. I still work out with Pilates DVDs at home but it’s not the same.

I thrive in a class environment, where I can see people every day who treasure their workout time to the same degree as I do. I need an instructor to correct or compliment me. I need to leave the house to exercise.

Now, Bikram meets all of those needs and then some.

Except the killer abs. Not sure if I’ll ever get those again.

Sadly, these do not belong to me

 

A Bikram class a day keeps the doctor away

Day 20. I am officially 1/3 of the way through the challenge! I’m proud to have made it this far and better yet, I’m not ready to stop–but a long nap would be nice.

In celebration of our 20-day mark, our studio director brought in a variety of apples to Blue Moon. I believe she’s referencing the old adage “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” since the Bikram school of thought seems be that this yoga is the key to your health. A Bikram class a day…

The apples were pretty accessories at the check-in desk and a sweet, nutritious after-class treat.

I’ve been on a fruit and vegetable mission today. It started at breakfast with my spinach-kale juice concoction, followed by the above mentioned apple snack. Since we have an abundance of leafy greens in our fridge, I whipped up a lovely raw kale salad for lunch. It was tasty. My enjoyment of raw kale is a recent development.

I typically make the type of salad that incorporates the entire fridge. The more veggies the merrier is my salad motto. Most kale salad recipes I’ve found are sparse: kale, a dressing and maybe one or two other ingredients. One night I decided to give one of these skimpy salad recipes a try and, what do you know, it was delish!

I wanted to expand my raw kale repertoire and try this new recipe from Urban Organic Gardner for lunch today. I really liked this one but had to make a couple small changes. I added walnuts (because everything’s better with nuts), cucumbers and balsamic vinegar. I would even add more vinegar next time. The cucumber freshened it up while the walnuts added some hearty protein. Kale is a tough green so massaging the leaves, as suggested, is necessary.

Here’s the recipe including my additions:

Ingredients:

  • 1 head of kale
  • 1 lemon
  • Few slices of onion
  • Clove of garlic
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 tsp of raw honey
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • Dash of sea salt
  • Toasted walnuts (optional)
  • Cucumber (optional)

Directions:

  • Chop up garlic and onion and put into a small jar or dish
  • Squeeze lemon over garlic and onion and let sit for a few minutes
  • Cut up kale and put into bowl
  • Sprinkle sea salt over kale
  • Massage the sea salt into the kale until it starts to wilt down. It might take 2-3 minutes
  • Pour olive oil and raw honey into lemon, garlic and onion mixture
  • Shake it up and pour over kale
  • Massage the dressing into the salad as well
  • Add walnuts, cucumber
  • The longer it sits, the softer it will get