good week, bad week

This week has gone so fast…

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There were a lot of Halloween festivities at work, including carving a pumpkin.

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I think he turned out pretty good.

And a Halloween party in which pretty much every kid was either a princess or superhero.

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I love the girl who went as Spiderman, who says little girls can’t dress up as their hero.

But as usual being around all these kids has made me a little sniffly – okay a lot sniffly. I have a terrible sore throat and just feel so crappy, really sucks as I went for most of the year without getting so much as a runny nose. Once winter hit and I feel like I have just been battling a never ending stream of colds. Damn kids, so cute but so contagious.

But on the bright side, today was sweet and sour tofu day at work which makes me so happy.
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Then I had a badass salad for dinner with apple, kumara chips and pumpkin seeds.

Right now I have a new Downton Abbey to watch and homemade ginger syrup which is about to be turned into delicious tea. I think I have been working out too much and not spending enough time relaxing. So I am seeing being sick as a warning sign and turning it into a reason to force myself to take a night off. As always, taking the good with the bad.

Happy Halloween!

Running in the cold and my updated playlist

It is amazing to think that just a few weeks ago we were all complaining of the heat and cranking the fan night and day. Right now I am wearing my pjs and eating soup for dinner, winter is coming soon!
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When you are a runner it can be really hard to adjust to changing seasons. Particularly in your first year of running! This is the case for me, I began running in December when it was a beautiful NZ summer and conditions were perfect. I was lucky enough to time my move to Korea with the beginning of spring, avoiding a terrible Chch winter while I was at it ūüôā Then the Daegu summer came and bit me in the butt.

I was hot, sweaty and touch to keep running. I had to scale back what I could do and really watch things like fluid intake and working a run in around the suns wrath. I got through it okay, but now that things are getting colder I am feeling a little bit lost. Summer seems like an obvious thing to manage, but winter is a whole different field.
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I have mad some changes though and found these really helpful, so with that in mind here is what has worked for me.

– Work out the best time of day to run for your schedule and the weather. In summer I was a morning runner, but as it gets colder this is just too hard. Colder weather makes muscles seize up easier, top this off with the fact that you have just jumped out of bed and it makes the workout a little more of a struggle. I found myself lying in bed the night before and only being able to think about how I had to get up to run, hating the exercise before I had even begun! Running after work my muscles and much more warmed up from the day so I find it easier and way more enjoyable.

hoodie, singlet and running top are a beautiful way of complementing a red face.

hoodie, singlet and running top are a beautiful way of complementing a red face.


РDress to the conditions. You may think that wearing a hoodies and leggings is silly as you will get hot and sweaty. This is true but a little bit of discomfort from being hot is a million times better then getting sick from the cold. Wear extra layers and if you need to you can just unzip the hoodie (although when it is freezing you probably wont want to).

РAdd in some yoga. I have upped my yoga, simply doing a few minutes before a run is a fantastic way of getting the body good and ready for a run in the cold. This quick hip opener is my go-to for before a run

– Fueling! Drink water of course. You may not find yourself feeling as thirsty because of the colder weather but your body still needs the fluids to replenish. Don’t feel like you don’t need a big glass at the end of your run and then get hit with a headache a few hours later.

– Music! New music is the ultimate to get you up and moving. I am constantly changing up my tunes and at the moment I cannot get enough of these tracks.

¬†¬† – Britney Spears ‘Work b*tch’

¬†¬† – Katy Perry ‘Roar’

¬†¬† – Shinee ‘Everybody’

¬†¬† – Melissa Etheridge ‘I run for life’

¬†¬† – Salt ‘n’ Pepa ‘Shoop’

¬†¬† – Ellie Goulding¬† ‘Burn’

¬†¬† – Janelle Monae¬† ‘Dance Apocalyptic’

¬†¬† – La Roux ‘Bulletproof’

¬†¬† – Lady Gaga ‘Applause’

¬†¬† – 2NE1 ‘Do you Love Me’

¬†¬† – Block B ‘Very Good’

And before you judge the kpop on there, just listen to this track and try to sit still.

Remember at the end of the day you should be thankful and proud of yourself for getting up and moving. If you aren’t running as far or as fast, don’t beat yourself up over it. The weather changes and we need to stop and look at what we can safely and realistically achieve as it does. At the end of¬†the day,¬†running should be something you enjoy and not a chore that you dread.

Have a great week ūüėÄ

Polka Dot Fun

For most people, art gallery conquer up feelings of boredom and stale paintings. They are those places your parents dragged you too when you were younger, that you now go to with friends because you feel like you have it. I apologise if you generally enjoy galleries, but this the case for most people I know. I do love art, it was my major at University, but I do appreciate that it can be hard to get motivated to go to see an exhibition.
For this reason, Yayoi Kasuma is a fantastic artist who makes the gallery visit so much fun.
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I went to see her show yesterday at the Daegu art museum, and was absolutely blown away. Kasuma is a Japanese artist, now aged 84, who has suffered from OCD for years and channeled this disorder into a career as an artist. The artist describes her world as one which is also moving and changing, she often claims to see everything as being covered in polka dots. It may sound like just a nut case, but the works she produces are amazing. This women has made painting, sculptures, interactive installations throughout her career, and has also worked for companies such as Coca Cola and  Louis Vuitton.

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The show I went to see seemed to be a combination of everything. There were amazing paintings that seemed so calming from a distance, but up close were really active and energetic. Too be honest they hurt my eyes a tad!
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There was a room with giant red balls which seemed like a fun installation piece but was made more so when you realized that you could peer inside some of them. They were full of mirrors which created a never ending room.

 
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And of course there were polka dots on everything! One highlight was this room which was totally white at the start of the show 2 months ago, but is now a chaotic and colourful explosion of dots. Each child to go to the show was given a dot to place anywhere they wanted in the room and for this reason going in the last week the exhibition is open was a little more special. These kids went crazy.
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Where was this when I was a bored 5 year old at the gallery!
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It was a fun show that everyone could enjoy, but also highlighted how impressive this women’s career is. While some artists struggle to perfect one media, she dabbles with all of them and manages to create beautiful and exciting pieces with each one. For me, Yayoi Kasuma reminds us that life is not dull and mundane. If we look closer we can see the world as an energetic and colourful playground which we get to live in. But I will let the pictures speak for themselves.

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Eats and Notes

Hey bloggy readers

Hope your weekends are going fantastic! Mine is pretty damn fine as I finally got around to seeing the Yayoi Kasuma art show which has been on in Daegu for 2 months! It was a whole lot of this…
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But more about that later.

I know it sounds strange, but I really like reading health and fitness blogs where people post photos of their food. It is just so addictive to see what other people eat. When it comes to me, however, I feel so awkward taking photos of meals and documenting it. I don’t know why, I just feel like no one cares what I eat, but surely those other bloggers have the same thoughts. To compromise I take a few pictures throughout the week which summarize how I have been eating. It keeps me on track I guess, but I do apologise and totally understand if it is boring to see photos of food.

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I am still on my salad kick.

With beetroot, kumara, tofu, olives and whatever else I can find. These are not simple salads, they are beasts.

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I have also been experience a serious problem with sun butter in that I must have it every day. I keep eating it on apples, but also find myself dipping a spoon into it all the damn time :S

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Snacks of chocolate that was sent from NZ, it has not lasted.

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Random school lunch of salad, rice and sauce. There was a pork cutlet with it that everyone else ate.

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A pretty good lunch of spinach, rice and lotus root. This is a vegetable I never encountered until coming to Korea but it is good! The root is crunchy and Koreans say that when cooked in a pan it is like a healthy fry. Of course it tastes nowhere near as good as a fry, but is still delicious.

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And just because it is cute, check out this note a little girl wrote to all the teachers this week.

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Much nicer then this sad diary entry from an 8 year old girl Рpoor Korean kids!

Happy weekend ūüėĬ†

Stuck in a Rut

What up mid week blues!

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I don’t know what has been going on lately but yesterday I set my alarm for my morning run, lay out my clothes and got a good nights sleep like I am told I should have. When the alarm buzzed, I just did not want to wake up – not because I was sleepy and wanted a lie in – but because I felt afraid and sad. I know a strange combination, and yeah it does sound like I am just being a whiney girl. Whatever it was though I could not understand why I felt afraid to run.

Part of me started to think about what was the worst that could happen, I mean it is just a run outside! I can come back if I want! Despite this, I could not shake the feeling and really had to force myself to get up and go. When I did make it out the door it was a lovely autumn day, sunny without being too hot and not cold enough to make my body seize up. So I ran, and five minutes into it something went wrong. I just felt so flat, like all I wanted to do was sit down on the side of the road. My body felt physically fine, no sore muscles or difficulty breathing, but mentally I could not do it. I really pushed to run for 20 minutes and then came home feeling so defeated.

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The same thing happened tonight at Zumba Рsomething I usually love. As soon as we got into the first song I just wanted to give up and go home. Lifting my arms felt exhausting and to be honest I just felt really sad. After a half-assed hour I came home to eat dinner and have just been sitting on the couch wondering why.

It could be the autumn blues, or a touch of homesickness; for all I know this is just my body telling me I have over-exercised lately and need to take a couple of days off. I am not sure what is going on, but right now I feel so unmotivated and down which really sucks. It is frustrating when you aren’t feeling like yourself and exercising doesn’t help, I have mentioned before how we aren’t always one workout away from a good mood and this week has proved that.

So what to do? Apart from venting it out on the blog (thanks for listening) I am going to rest tomorrow and try to find something that makes me happy each day. These can be small things like the fact that I have the new Downton Abbey to watch tonight, or I am going out for dinner on Saturday. Whatever they may be, looking at the little things is a way that I remind myself that I still have a good life, and that feeling so flat can’t last forever.

With that said, I am off to sit in bed with tea and book like a total nana, because right now that is what will make me happy.

Kindergarten Gang

Heya

Hope your week has started off nicely! I spend yesterday in pain from the boot camp I attended in the weekend, not cool! On the one hand I like feeling a little sore after exercise because I feel like I worked hard, but on the other it sucks when you can’t go for your morning run because getting out of bed is a mission.

Thankfully I felt better today in time for our field trip.
We were told last week that we would have a sports day for the kindergarten classes, and that was all we were told :S Seriously sometimes the lack of communication in Korea is unbelievably frustrating. I did not know that the sports day involved a 45 minute bus ride to a mountain where it was freezing cold and we were expected to assist in running races and games like tug of war.
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All in all it was not that bad, but knowing we would be up a cold mountain would have been nice.

To compensate with the cold the boss handed out these scarves which the kids decided to play ‘ninja’ with. I couldn’t decide if they looked like a little gang, or refugees. You decide.

 
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it's hard to be a cool ninja when you need to eat.

it’s hard to be a cool ninja when you need to eat.

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Who can complain about the cold day when you are hanging with these cuties. Laters ūüėÄ

The Fear of Socializing

Sometimes I get irrationally afraid of small things. I will be getting ready to go out for drinks with a group of people and I start to feel nervous and freak out, other times I am going to join something new and start to freak out and debate pulling out of it. I don’t think I am alone in having these feelings, but I do think they stop me from living and have possibly prevented me from¬†discovering a new activity that¬†I would really enjoy.
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My goal this year has really been to get over this and join something new. It is partly a result of being in a state of depression last year where there was little to do in the city I lived in, other then drink in tiny bars. I never went out or did anything and it put a lot of pressure on my relationship and also started to make me feel very unhappy. I got out of that living situation and was able to move to a lovely big city this year. Daegu is full of foreigners who are motivated and there are a ton of groups, activities and clubs to join. I came here determined to get out there to start something new and meet new people (even more important when you are living in a different country and have literally zero friends). After searching facebook like a maniac for something do-able, I remember coming across a zumbathon when we had been here a couple of months and thinking ‘I need to do this.’ It was now or never and I signed up thinking it would be so much fun to just go and dance for a couple of hours. As what usually happens with me, I say I will attend something because it is ages away, then a couple of days before the actual event I start to get nervous.

How I felt towards my past self who had signed me up for this.

How I felt towards my past self who had signed me up for this.


I remember really pushing myself to go to this zumba event. I sat on the couch saying ‘if you don’t do this, how will you meet people, think of how you would have killed for something like this last year in China.’ I finally managed to get off the couch after assuring my nerves that I could just go for a little bit and sneak out.

Long story short, zumbathon led to me taking zumba classes and meeting a few new people who have turned into friends. I then got talking to a girl there and we started a book club in Daegu. Despite this big payoff though I still get worried before doing something new.

I have joined a volunteer group and really pushed myself to go to that, telling myself again that I could just go for a little bit. And yeah, I ended up having a good time and also doing some good. Then yesterday I signed up for a boot camp downtown which a friend was taking, cue the panic.

sometimes I just want to hide from people and all forms of socializing

sometimes I just want to hide from people and all forms of socializing


I debated dropping out,¬†but that would be hard to explain to the friend and also to my fianc√©e. What got me in the end though was¬†when I asked myself the¬†question ‘what is the worst that can happen?’ I mean seriously, it is one hour of my life. One single hour where there most terrible outcome is I struggle to do the exercises and the other people going are rude, then I go home and just decided not to go back. I started to go through this in my head, if this is the worst then what is the best situation? I go, kick ass and get a great workout and maybe make a new friend. I knew that if I just went I would feel proud of myself afterwards. Even if the worst situation happened, the knowledge that I had tried would be a huge boost.

Of course I went and it was a really good experience, I will go back. But this is what got me thinking, why is it so damn hard for us to do something simple like go to a one hour class! Why do we feel so afraid to step out of our comfort zone, and then complain about how bored or unfulfilled we are? Socializing seems to be something really nerve-wracking for most of us and we need to get over it.

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Next time you have these feeling, whether it be for going to a new class or even just going out in a big group of people for a dinner, stop and think about it. What is the worst thing that can happen, if it is terrible you don’t have to go back or put yourself in this situation again, but you will know that you tried.

Weigh this up with the best thing that could happen, think about how amazing this would be and how good you will feel. You could have a fantastic night out, or discover a new hobby that you are really passionate about. Putting ourselves out there is hard but it does make us happier and can lead to so many new things. Remember, it is okay to feel afraid, but if we don’t try then that fear is never going to go away and we could be missing out on so much.

Only in Korea

… can I wear these slippers to work and have no one think I am odd.

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(also, let’s quickly point out how awesome it is getting to wear slippers to work all day).

So I talk a lot about my Korean school lunches. In particular¬†how I struggle to find balance between not offending the cook or school and staying healthy.¬† To give you an idea of what I am up against here is a summary of this weeks offerings, keeping in mind that there is usually some sort of meat thing or a curry sauce for the rice (full of meat), and that I take a very small portion of rice. Despite this is still makes up a large part of my lunch, although I am slowly growing accustom to eating rice every day… not sure if that is good or not.

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Sadly tofu day only happens about once a month. This is probably because the cook spends forever marinating it in an amazing sauce and then making some sort of dipping sauce to go with the tofu. It is downright delicious and I go crazy on tofu day.

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Mung beans and rice….

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Which we had twice this week :S Although today there was a miso soup alongside side it that I could actually eat. Most soups have fish stock but this one is safe.

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Beans and rice, lunch of champions. Not too bad really as I got my protein – just not vegetables.

I find with the lunches I have to be really careful, my rule is that if I am not sure what is in it then don’t touch it. The soups for example are a bit hard to tell, but unless it is a miso one then it probably has a meat based stock in it. I also always check the vegetable side dish. It is common to toss these mini shrimp flakes through a dish like pickled vinegar, something that enrages me to no end. I mean seriously they are so small that it really can’t make a difference to the taste! And by being so small they are impossible to pick out, ahhhh first world problems!

I make these lunch posts for me really to see what I eat as I do find it interesting. The lunch system is so different to back home, absolutely no-one brings in their own thing. A fridge where people write their names on a sandwich or microwavable container would be laughed at in Korea. Lunch is such a small part of our lives, but it is funny how it shows so much about a culture and reminds me that I am not home.

 

Tasty Tofu Burgers!

Being a vegetarian I am always looking for a way to eat tofu besides tossing it in a stir fry, luckily it is a food which is totally versatile and goes with just about anything. These burgers are really easy and yummy, but also hold up better then other vegetarian patties I have made. They don’t fall apart and can be used as burgers, in tortilla, mixed in through a salad or just eaten on their own. Seriously they are amazing!

 
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with baked potato and ketchup they make a tasty comfort food.

with baked potato and ketchup they make a tasty comfort food.

Ingredients

– 1 block of firm tofu

– 1/4 cup chipped onion

– 1/2 cup of veggies of choice. You can use grated carrot, chopped broccoli, spinach, cabbage or canned corn. Really just whatever you have in your pantry.

– 1 1/2 TB soy sauce

– 1 tsp chili powder

– 1/2 tsp cumin

– salt and pepper to season

– 2/3 cup of flour

The Steps

РDrain the tofu and place in a bowl before scrambling with a fork.

– Mix through the vegetables and seasonings

– Add the flour to form a patty. You don’t need to over do it here, the mixture will still be wet and you may question if they are going to hold up but trust me they will be fine.

– Heat a frying pan with a little oil and cook the patties for a few minutes on each side. Just until golden brown.

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And eat, eat, eat!

This recipe is great because they last a few days and you can basically use whatever vegetables are about to go bad in your fridge. I like to make them on a Sunday, have them for dinner one night and chop one up to bulk up the salad I take to work.

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Side note. I know tofu is starting to get a bad rep because of the estrogen and hormones in it. While this may be somewhat true I do think that there is very little evidence for it and that the benefits of it are outweighing this small argument. I say this as someone living in Asia where it has been a staple of the countries diet for years and the people eating it have only begun to see problems like breast cancer crop up in the past 20 years or so (around the time Western fast food made an appearance). At the end of the day, tofu is a fantastic source of protein and is very low in cholesterol and fat. It is a great part of any diet, particularly a vegetarians. If you are worried, but organic! This wont have the hormones and yucky things like that. You could also limit the amount you do eat, but make sure you are getting enough protein and never forgo the tofu for something that wont do your body any good like fries or cheesy dishes.

Sunday and Eats

Weekends are funny, I often think that all I want to do is relax and lounge at home. Then when I have lots of things to do I dread the two days off and think they are going to be totally draining and that I will be feeling it on Sunday night. This weekend was one of those busy ones, but last night I felt really good about being out and about and getting things done. If I had stayed at home and watched movies to relax then I think last night I would have felt a bit bummed about going back to work. The moral of the story – doing something on my weekend makes me feel like I am getting more out of it.

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Anyway my Sunday begun with coffee and pretzels in the park.

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An Aunt Anne’s just opened near us and as this is something we don’t have in NZ I just had to get some. I chose the multigrain option thinking that meant it was healthier but it was basically just a pretzel with some seeds on top, still it was pretty damn good!

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Part of the afternoon was spent turning this weeks veggies into meals for the week.

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These babies became tofu burgers, sweet potato chili, broccoli soup and will be featured in some yummy salads.

Speaking of, lunch was another giant salad.

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We have heaps of baby greens and lettuce at the moment which is fantastic as I am trying to add lots more greens into my diet. I just have not been able to shake this cold and am hoping the food will help. Having huge bags of salad mix in the house is definitely motivating me to eat better.

I ended up walking downtown for my book club because a lot of the main roads were closed. There was a festival on celebrating Daegu on over the weekend and while I didn’t get to check any of it out walking past it was still good.
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There was chalk so people could draw on the street.
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Lots of live music.

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Horses and carriage rides (although that just made me feel for the horse who looked a little overwhelmed by all the people in his face).

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And just general weird things.

So overall a great weekend that ended with tofu burgers and a movie in bed (Ace Venture, don’t be judging on the nostalgic mood we were in). I hope your weekend was just as fun ūüėÄ