Embracing the Weights

I have been on a little journey the past two years with my exercise. After reading a ton of healthy living blogs I was inspired to start running back in 2011, and I managed to keep that up until last year when running and I broke up. Running led me to other exercises, mostly Jillian Michaels and her 30 day shred (a great way to start doing weights and different circuit moves if you are a total beginner), and this led to Shaun T and then here we are. My body has become so much stronger and I feel amazing for all that I have accomplished, but lately there was one more thing I wanted to get a hold of.

DSC00694[1]

Weights!

Like most women, I feel totally put off by weights. They make me think of over-muscled Arnold types and I have always been afraid that they would bulk me up too much. After reading blogs like fitnessista.com where weights are a normal part of her workout, I felt like it was time to give them a go.

DSC00702[1]

Incorporating weights into your workout is important for several reasons.

– Boredom! You can’t do the same cardio moves every time you hit up the gym. Variation is so important to all-over health and fitness. These will stop having such a great affect on your body if you are doing them all the time, not to mention the idea of working out is going to become something you dread the more repetitive and boring it gets! Add some weights in to challenge and motivate you.

– It’s an all-over thing. If you do weights with proper form (and please get someone at your gym who is qualified to show you), you will notice it in your core as well as upper-body. As someone who is always wanting to tone up my stomach area I love that working on my arms is simultaneously strengthening up other areas of my body.

– Burn more fat. I was always under the impression that weights just bulked up areas, but the benefits go so much deeper. Heavy lifting speeds up your metabolism and leaves you burning fat throughout the day (source).

– They’re good for your heart, bones and mind! Lifting weights has been proven to reduce heart disease related factors and help strengthen your bones. Not to mention those who lift report sleeping much better at night (source).

If that isn’t enough motivation, then I don’t know what is!

DSC00706[1]

Since adding in three 20minute weight session to my routine each week I have really noticed a change. I feel much stronger, and have a little muscle! One thing to keep in mind if that the more weight you¬†add, the more you will bulk up. So if you just want to lengthen and tone those arms then don’t start piling on extra kilos every few weeks. Just keep the workouts challenging enough but do-able.

IMG_20141105_203455[1]

And after a heavy workout I have been loving this tea. It tastes like blackberry and has all sorts of goodies for muscles like turmeric (good for inflammation), and I do think it helps sooth my body after putting it through everything.

Happy lifting!

Brain Dump Wednesday

Hey there, I have a million things running around my head so here is a bit of a brain dump for you!

– I realized that I have become a morning person. After years of sleeping in till the late hours and finding it impossible to wake up like normal people, I am now up at 7am every day – and I love it! I am enjoying having time to work out, shower, eat, get some work done all before heading off to my real job at 9:45. I feel so productiveūüôā

2D274905957270-YesPlease_blocks_desktop_medium

– I just purchased Amy Poehler’s book Yes Please, and cannot wait to read it. I love all things Amy and think she is such a wonderful role model, plus she is funny as hell.

– Apples, so good right now! I am eating them like it is my job.

DSC00676[1]

– I bought a few face masks the other day at Olive Young and they are amazing. The gold one left my skin feeling incredibly smooth and glowing after just one use. I will be stocking up on these.

IMG_20141101_201406[1]

– Peanut butter lattes – why was I not aware of this before. I had one Saturday night when we were killing time before the movie and it was crazy good. I think it’s just a coffee blended with peanut butter so I must try to re-create this at home.

1452297_10152038058856628_1668966019_n

– It’s nearly Christmas! I love the season, the decorations, the hype, the music, the movies… Each year I go on a serious watching and listening binge. This year it began today as I was cold and cheered myself up by blasting cheesy music. My guilty pleasure is Britney Spears ‘One Wish’ or perhaps Band Aid – it’s too hard to choose. Funnily enough the day itself doesn’t have that much appeal for it, its all about the build-up.

And with that I leave you. My mind feels clearer. Happy Wednesday!

Cinnamon Swirl Banana Bread Muffins

Oh bananas, why must you go ripe so fast! I feel like we are constantly buying these things only to have them go brown within a day. Maybe it’s our small apartment getting a little to warm? Or maybe the world just wants me to bake more. Either way ripe bananas can mean only one thing – baking!!

DSC00687[1]

Sweet banana with a hint of cinnamon and brown sugar, these are the ultimate comfort food in the colder months. Best served straight out of the oven with some melted butter, they wont last long in any household. While the recipe may not be the healthiest, sometimes we just need to indulge and treat ourselves with babies like these.

DSC00688[1]

Ingredients

– 3-4 mashed bananas

– 1/3 cup melted butter

– 1 egg

– 3/4 cup sugar

– 1 tsp baking soda

– 1/4 tsp salt

– 1 1/4 cups of flour

– 1/3 cup brown sugar

– 1 TB cinnamon

The Steps

– Mash bananas in a bowl. Mix in melted butter, egg, and sugar.

– Combine baking soda, salt and flour then add to wet ingredients.

– In a small cup, mix cinnamon and brown sugar together. Sprinkle a little at the bottom of each muffin tray and fill just under halfway with the muffin mixture. Add a little more of the brown sugar and cinnamon and top off with remaining mixture. Pour on the last of the sugar mix over the muffins before placing in the oven.

– Bake at 130degrees for about 15 minutes, or until done.

DSC00678[1]

Enjoy!

Lazy Sunday

Okay. I finally giving in. It is fall and I will dress accordingly.

DSC00692[1]Today I pulled on leggings and a comfy sweater because the apartment was cold. I baked banana cinnamon muffins and made a shepherd pie, because that is cold weather comfort food.

DSC00685[1]

For lunch I ate a ton of roasted pumpkin, possibly the best thing about the change in seasons.

DSC00686[1]

I spent a majority of the afternoon curled up with Harry Potter (don’t judge, we all love it), hot tea and chocolate leftover from Halloween. Despite the amount of dread I have for the colder months I have been trying to do these things which are weather appropriate and will hopefully turn my attitude around. The chocolate helped.

As did a trip to Olive Young. All I needed was shampoo but I ended up coming home with this.

DSC00676[1]

I think it is impossible to walk into this store and only buy one thing. Especially when they have a sale…

In addition to the shampoo I picked up a couple of face masks so I can pamper myself tonight, some clothing spray to freshen up my wardrobe shelves which can get a little funky in winter, and an iced tea with mint just because it looked good. Not to bad, I managed to walk out without picking up a new nail polish which is usually what happens.

On another note, last night I finally got around to seeing Gone Girl. I read the book and absolutely loved it but was a little wary of how the movie would be. I know everyone is sick of hearing this but seriously, this movie, ohmygod! The perfectly captured the characters, the acting was crazy good and the whole movie had so much suspense. When it finished my fianc√© actually let out a small ‘no!’ because he was so shaken by the ending. If you haven’t seen it already,¬† just go because it lives up to the hype.

DSC00644

Now I’m going to get some work done for this speed dating and make myself more tea, maybe I am coming around to this fall thing.

Halloween Happenings

Good morning, hope you had a great Halloween!

IMG_20141031_112806[2]

I spent mine eating a crap-ton of lollies at work which was justified by the fact that I did my double workout in the morning. Unfortunately the weather was so cold and rainy all day so going out last night to party was looking like it would be hard to do. I just get so lazy when the weather is like that! But after work we managed to come home, chill for a bit and motivate ourselves to get dressed up and get in a taxi. I had such a good night with a few friends and realized how much it is going to suck when I have to leave them in a few months. I spent a lot of time in Korea not trying to meet people because just as you get to know someone they seem to head home and the friendship is really short lived. But this year I realized how dumb that is and have meet some wonderful people. It will be sad to leave them but has made my time here that much better.

travellers

Anyway back-tracking to work. Kids nowdays have the most elaborate costumes! I realize how old I sound saying that but seriously, check out these superhero outfits which come with padded muscles.

IMG_20141031_102403[1]

IMG_20141031_103621[1]

And the princess ones are really intricate.

IMG_20141031_103859[1]

Our Halloween part at work involved games, lollies and pumpkin carving which excited me as it was something I have only done once before. The idea was the kids could scoop out some seeds themselves and feel like they helped – and the teachers could take a million photos for their damn parents.

IMG_20141031_112102[1]

After work I came home to put together my costume of Cindi Lauper/the 80s. It was hard to get my hands on legit Cindi wear when I am in Korea but I did my best to channel the decade.

DSC00674[1]

DSC00664[1]

The fiancé went as John McLean from Die Hard. He even took his shoes off for most of the night which was commitment due to the rain and gross bar bathrooms.

DSC00660[1]

Downtown we met up with some friends, scored free shots for being in costume, had cocktail drinks in a bag and talked the night away. It was fantastic but I got home at 4 and am a little tired today. Right now I am trying to motivate myself to clean the house – girls just wanna have fun!

Happy Halloween!!

Halloween! and a little less to worry about

Happy Halloween!

IMG_20141024_144743[1]

This is something I have never gotten into as we just don’t celebrate it in NZ, and too be honest I never saw much of the appeal when we came to Korea. However as this is my last ‘real’ Halloween before heading home I am making more of an effort. Work today involves parties and games with all of the kindy kids (how many Elsa’s do you think there will be?) and tonight I am dressing as Cindi Lauper before attending an actual party downtown.

Because girls just wanna have fun, and I heart the 80s.

80s

(my friend used me as her 80s model when she studied makeup design. Lots of fun but a model I am not- check out the bags under my eyes!)

Things are getting a little less stressful after my rant the other day. I have booked in to have my passport notoirzed, but am waiting until after Halloween to ask for the day off as work is too busy right now. I also woke up today and found my reference filled out and sitting in my email folder, at last!! I may actually be able to do this thingūüôā

happy faces on!

happy faces on!

After a meeting for DTTG the other night I am feeling much better about organizing the Christmas drive and speed dating. Other then getting people to attend the dating it is all pretty straightforward and I get most of the work done this weekend. Things are looking much better.

So a crazy week, and I am sure today will be even crazier. I am already due to crash after waking up and completing two T25 workouts, yes two! Friday’s are scheduled for the double workout and rather then splitting them before and after work like I usually do, getting them done in the morning means I have much more time to get my costume ready this evening. Right now I am feeling the post-exercise glow, let’s hope it lasts. After the workouts (rip it up circuit and speed 2.0 which were¬†both cardio heavy) I was¬†incredibly hungry, funny that.

IMG_20141031_083223[1]

Post workout breakfast of oats, apple, almond butter, cacao nibs and coffee Рyum!

Let’s get this day going!

IMG_0995

Stop and Breath

Happy hump day! Can I just be the millionth person to comment on the fact that

1) it’s cold

and

2) it’s nearly November – how did that happen?

The end of the year is an incredibly stressful time for me at the moment. I am going home in March to no job, place to live and a wedding to plan in May. There is a lot to think about and it has been on my mind for a majority of the year, only I have always been able to push it aside and tell myself there is plenty of time. Now there isn’t so much.

DSC00433

My plan is to enroll for a Masters of Information Studies which I can do part-time while working. Once I graduate I will be able to work in a library which is the ultimate dream of mind (books all day and shushing people, yes please!) But this whole process has been, quite frankly, a nightmare. In order to apply I need a notarized copy of my passport which of course I can’t get done as I have my passport with me in Korea. It can be done at the NZ embassy but this isn’t open on weekends and my work hours mean that I would need to take a day off to head up there and get it done. Sounds simple enough but Korea and having time-off don’t really go together. The idea is that you work every damn day, regardless of health or needing to have stuff like this done. I have been at this job for 20 months and not once had a day off for sickness or anything else.

kindergarten

So today I am working up the courage to ask my manager for a whole day vacation so I can pay a crap-ton of money to go to Seoul and get this done. I also need to find two references which should be easy but my old University supervisor is doing a disappearing act and wont reply to my emails or phone calls. I really wish I was in NZ so I could go to her office and wait inside till she shows her face. Everything is due at the start of Jan so I am giving myself until mid-December to have it posted overseas. Plenty of time right?

logo

In the midst of this I have a ton of fundraising to organize for Daegu’s Time to Give. I think I’ve mentioned that this is a charity which supports the orphanages in Daegu that I help to run. There is a huge Christmas gift drive throughout December and we are hosting a speed-dating fundraiser in two weeks which is just a pain to plan. It’s taking up a lot of time along with wedding stuff like having suits made and trying to organize flowers from afar. The of course there is my actual 10-6 job which is super busy at the moment with reports and lesson plans.

Still with me? I apologize for the rant, just needed to get these things off my chest. I’m going to make a list and remind myself to stop and breath. My time in Korea is ending soon, I need to try and enjoy it.

IMG_20140503_184922[1]

And knowing that it is closer to the weekend when I can take a moment to sit down with a mojito is helping.

Pumpkin Lentil Dahl for cold winter nights

When the nights are cold and dark there are few things better to stay at home with then a hot bowl of delicious eats. This pumpkin and lentil dahl is stick-to-your-ribs comforting, healthy and vegan! Full of cold-fighting foods such as ginger and turmeric, it has melt-in-your mouth pumpkin and a kick of spicy lentils. This will be keeping me warm many nights this winter.

DSC00657[1]

This morning has been one of the first that I truly felt the sting of autumn. I know most people love the change of season but I am really not looking forward to it. Winter this year will be followed by my return home to NZ, just in time for the beginning of autumn there. I am trying to soak up the last of the summer sun as it wont be in my sights until next October (oh god). After waking up to a chilly apartment, I decided to go for a walk and embrace my denial that autumn is here.

IMG_20141026_110105[1]

Unfortunately the trees tell a different story.

IMG_1029[1]

After returning home and finished off the wedding invitations, I began my meal prep for the week. Lately I have been in a cooking rut (when am I not) where most of our meals revolve around chili or my tofu bowl. I have a skill in presenting chili beans in different ways so that it appears like a whole new dish.  Think burritos, tacos, a bowl of chili or even a spud stuffed with leftover beans. Now seems like as good as time as any to set myself a personal goal to create something new every week. Today I set upon a pumpkin lentil dahl, because pumpkin is the saving grave of autumn!

Ingredients

– 2TB oil

– 1 chopped onion

– 1 cup chipped pumpkin

– 1 cup of chopped tomatoes (or a can of crushed)

– 2 cloves of crushed garlic

– 2 tsp chili flakes

– a 3cm wedge of freshly grated ginger

– 2 tsp cumin

– 1/2 tsp turmeric

– 1 cup of cooked lentils

Steps

РHeat the pan with oil and sauté the onion and pumpkin until golden brown.

– Add tomatoes, spices, garlic and cook for a further 4 minutes.

РPour over lentils and a little water to help the mixture cook down. Dahl should be thick so  simmer until all the liquid is absorbed.

– Serve with yoghurt and crunchy naan for a dinner perfect on a chilly night!

DSC00656[1]

That’s one new dish to add to my¬†repertoire – and it doesn’t even involve chili beans!

Wedding Happenings

Hey there, happy Saturday! I have had an extremely lazy Saturday, the kind where you are really unsure how it is nearly over because so little got done. But maybe that’s a good change once in a while.

Last night I ended up going downtown for a beer with a couple of friends, it wasn’t a big night but I had a great time. As an introvert, I am terrible at passing on invites to go out and I always ending up regretting it. For once, I managed to drag myself out of the house and to a bar to interact with other humans¬†and it was so worth it! I forget how much I miss having other girls around me just to talk crap with and unwind after a long week. I only had one beer, but was up late and it was hard to drag myself out of bed this morning for my Saturday workout.

IMG_20140407_193314[1]

After getting in some ab work (Shaun T25 dynamic abs, mother of god), I decided to do some wedding jobs and finally got around to printing off our invitations. We found a template for some really lovely vinyl-style invites online and as my fiancé is a DJ and I grew up in a big vinyl house they were too perfect not to pass on. But as usual, things that are a good idea in theory never seem to work out too well. Changing the font and sizing of the words on the template was incredibly difficult and time consuming, then the printer decided to pack a tanty. The whole process took so much longer then it should and had me realizing that this why people pay someone to make their invites for them. After a long afternoon we finally got there.

I think they look awesome!

DSC00654

This is a rough idea of the final product as we have finished all the envelopes but are still working on the inside ‘record’. Up close they look like this,

DSC00652

and how fun is the back!

DSC00653

Our wedding colors are coral and navy so this was the best I could do to fit these. I cannot wait to send them out and am feeling happy that I finally crossed these off my listūüėÄ

After this chaos we headed out for dinner of Mexican food and mojitos – the best way to end a Saturday!

IMG_20140503_184922[1]

It was delicious but I was feeling the cold and headed home to bed where it is warm and I can watch season 5 on Downton Abbey all night long.

I may even get crazy and make myself a cup of tea.

DSC00644

Have a lovely evening.

Brewing the Perfect Cup of Tea

As it has gotten colder, I have been tea crazy

DSC00644

It isn’t just the taste of tea that I have been enjoying, but the act of brewing a cup and sitting down to enjoy it. I have found myself taking more notice of what is in each cup¬† and how each drink can benefit my body.

IMG_20141021_110356[1]

Part of this has been paying attention to how long you should brew tea for and the effects this can have on the taste. It’s something that I have never thought about before, and I am ashamed to admit that I used to just leave the tea bag in the cup with the mindset that it would continue to seep and make the taste better. But I have been so wrong!

After doing a little reading on the Twining’s website,¬† my tea making efforts are now like a science. The temperature of the water, cup, pot and length of time the bag seeps all effect the taste of the cup. I have to say that these things really do seem to make a difference in the flavors of the tea and I am enjoying each cup so much more after following these rules.

DSC00643

First up, the water should be right from a cold tap and tea likes oxygen and this will help the flavor develop. When boiling and waiting for the tea to soak, pay attention to the type of tea you are drinking as the leaves react differently. The general rules are:

Green Tea 2-3 minutes, water just under a boil.

Black Teas 3 – 5 minutes, fully boiled water.

Herbal Teas 4 -6 minutes, fully boiled water.

Once the time is up, remove the tea bag as leaving it in for too long can make the tea taste bitter and strengthens the tannings, giving then a stronger chance of staining your teeth. I always squeeze my tea bag which is a hot argument in my half English family. I can’t find anything online about this effecting the taste or quality of the tea, so will leave it up to personal preference.

Add milk or sweetener if desired, and enjoy.

DSC00651

Can’t have black tea without a biscuit! Especially if the ta is pumpkin spice and the biscuit is a gingernut.

DSC00650

Here’s to some happy tea drinking!