Are you doing anything to save time?

‘Cos ‘what are you doing to save time’ sounded too abrasive: like I assume everyone else is–and if you’re not, right? That would be a nice thing if you’re happy with your time and productivity!

I’m big into it with a FT job that has typically gone into overtime all month long, plus two toddlers, a wonderful husband, and the desire to have a little life of my own.

So on the OAMC front, our recent dinners this week were huge hits. with the addition of bouillon were a huge hit, as usual.

The new recipes: chana masala, alas, did not work out. It smelled terrific before the chickpeas went in. The UHT package of chopped tomatoes in sauce I used was organic but it didn’t taste good once I tried it. So it may not have been the fault of the recipe. But the was an off-the-charts hit with the family. We didn’t even have lowfat yogurt or fresh coriander when I made it and they still loved it. I used lowfat milk with 2TB of single cream to replace the thick yogurt consistency, and let it boil down. Personally I like dthe TVP tacos more and the korma less, I’m not such a fan of egg-based Quorn nor of a milk-based sauce but the important thing is everyone ate and liked it overall. Suffice to say that neither the tacos or korma had the leftovers I had counted on to freeze for work next week. So I made another recipe of TVP tacos today. But I made a single recipe and then realized I could have doubled it. There goes time-saving! Oh well.

Here in Belgium I finally heard about kettlebells, which seem to be a big thing in the US. Since January I’ve got more and more into them and they are indeed very time-saving because my strength work and high-intensity cardio are done at once. It did the trick and I’m losing weight after months and months of plateau. I am a bike commuter as well which keeps off some extra pounds but for safety reasons I never ride killer fast since there’s traffic, and furthermore I don’t want to arrive to work sweating. Taking a shower at work is not a time saver. But combining the time I’d need to commute and work out with cardio together it’s a shorter part of my week to go by bike in the city than to commute by car.

Now that I have some basics of kettlebell form in mind thanks to a colleague who is a KB instructor (talk about sheer luck!), some DVDs, and reading Pavel’s ebook ‘Enter the Kettlebell’, I tackled this check out the video below, but the link is handy because she lists the exercises. Very cool. I have some DOMs (delayed onset muscle soreness) today. Happy! Goodbye long weight sessions, hello fifteen minute workouts that have actually given me results.

Do you have any time saving ideas to share?

Back to school

I’m so excited! I start work again on my birthday, Monday 13 September. I’m a teacher, so it’s back to school πŸ™‚ I put a countdown timer on my browser homepage. Were any of us excited to go back to school as kids? My parents were certainly ecstatic for back-to-school, but was I?

I long for a new tartan plaid skirt, pencil box, and a new lunch box! But now that I’m a grown-up that’ll mean a bias-cut plaid or a wrap & kilt-pin style instead of pleats. Unfortunately I only have a red-black-yellow classic tartan that is not in my colours at all. Nothing I wear with it will flatter me, and let’s wait for a paycheck before buying more fabric! If it were in DD’s palette I’d make her a pinafore, but she’s ‘warm’ like her parents are. Food storage in a Lock & Lock box, make that lunch and dinner boxes since Tuesdays and Thursdays I finish at 8pm. I’ve been making meals for the last month inspired by for practice. Pencil box? Hmm. I don’t know. We can skip that since I’m slowly putting together a new sewing desk, starting with a side drawer set to keep curious little hands away from sharps and strings. I *love* my new desk πŸ™‚

Oh, and my bike is back in working order! Back to bike commuting! That’s a thrill. I had to buy a new bike seat and stem because mine were stolen from our building’s underground bike parking area, access limited to keyholders (rolleyes)–probably people who moved out.

The rest of the afternoons this week I’ll be accustoming my daughter to the communal crΓ¨che (daycare), which is ten minutes’ walk from home.

DH updated our skate video to add some music… here’s the new version. THIS is the new exercise equipment, a Chariot child carrier, I promised myself after completing my workout challenge.

Thanks everyone!

So many nice people chimed in on post-partum depression, and even more sent me private emails to cheer me on. A friend IRL read it and said that just reading it helped her reflect on her life stress lately, as she is taking high-stakes exams for promotion. Thank you! Your words mean a lot πŸ™‚ I’m feeling better. I got a new nursing top, a new haircut, and I finished my skirt. Nothing like a feeling of accomplishment and doing something out of the ordinary to boost your spirits. The skirt is a little longer than its predecessor because I left the edges unfinished, like Cidell did recently on a tee shirt destined for weekends (sorry I can’t find the exact post) Cidell’s blog. Do you know how nice it is to wear normal, non-maternity, non-nursing clothes? Niiiice. Plus it’s been ages since I wore a skirt because I was a bike commuter and, well, they don’t mix well together, LOL.

Do you know that my favourite cuisine is Korean? I found Maangchi. Eureka! This is one of my most favourite dishes in the world, which I haven’t eaten for years since I moved out of Korea. Just last night I made the first of the two tofu dishes here, and my gfs like it so much they asked for the recipe. My husband will eat the whole plate if I’m not quick. WHOA, hey? It’s incredibly good. How did I live without it! No wonder I got depressed πŸ™‚ LOL Maangchi’s cookbooks are available as free downloads and she has an iPad app. Check her out. Also Aeri’s Kitchen for more Korean food-YouTube goodness. If you know of any more, please tell us! I just love Korean food to bits. Mmmm!

And I’ve lost 5lbs of pregnancy weight this month. A nifty little side effect of having the blues that can perk you up.

Post-partum depression bites

I have it! It’s nothing to be ashamed of. I wouldn’t be ashamed if I had frequent headaches either, which is just another medical condition like PPD. My mother was a psychologist. My brother and I had the privilege of having her in our lives, and were also privileged to grow up without attaching stigmas to psychological conditions *or* their treatment.

I got tired of feeling overwhelmed all the time. I wasn’t ashamed of having PPD. So what was keeping me from doing something about it? PPD itself. Depression of any sort can make you feel indecisive, listless, unable to do anything.

What woke me up was reading this:
Please remember that untreated depression – including untreated postpartum depression – is the number one cause for suicide.

Whoa. It sort of knocks your socks off to realize that you could have a potentially fatal illness. That you were purposefully not or under-treating and treatment is available. I deserved to feel better. My 3.5-month old daughter deserves to grow up with me. My husband deserves to have a long and happy marriage. Why should I let this go on any longer?

So I got help. I’m very happy that my condition isn’t severe enough to warrant medication, because we are breastfeeding so it is always best to avoid any medication, period. But if I needed it, I’d take it. For my treatment I have prioritized for medical reasons:
*Getting regular exercise with enough intensity to get the feel-good hormones switched on
*Eating well and a wide variety of colourful, whole foods
*Seeing friends at least once a week
*Practicing good sleep hygeine by going to bed at a regular hour
*Going out for fun at least once a week
*Learning to say YES to myself, rather than becoming a mother-martyr

And so I finished my knit skirt (photo to come). It was a THRILL to wear something that’s not maternity, since my pre-pregnancy trousers and skirts are still too small for me to wear now. It was NOT baby sewing! Yeah!

I also bought an expensive nursing top. I now have a total of 4 tops to wear for nursing. Not nearly enough! I need to say YES to myself more and get more nursing tops. Maybe even a dress. Nursing dresses are so extravagent. Especially since I’m on extended parental leave. But that’s fine. ‘Cos what is the price of a dress compared to the price of more serious treatment should my condition worsen? It was worsening. And you know what? Feeling pretty is a much more FUN way to spend your money than to spend it on insurance copays. But if I needed more formal traditional medical treatment, I’d get it.

Depression is a very common illness among women. If you or someone you know has it, please get treatment.

Sending out good vibes worldwide.

Fitness post-partum

Fitness hasn’t been a topic for me in ages, since a couple of years ago I lost a lot of weight via the Divorce Diet (had no urge to eat). Then I lost even more and kept it off by being a bike commuter, greatly aided by the fact that my work was clear across town, 45 minutes away by pedal. Now that M is here, she can’t go on a bike or in a bike trailer before she’s one. Okay!

Madeline has been doing a stellar job of transferring my energy resources to her, but alas, there remains a few issues that, in all honesty, are probably caused by eating like I’m still on my bike 8 hours a week. Being married to a tall, athletic Belgian has fantastic perks but not for losing pregnancy weight. He keeps chocolate around the house and eats it daily. Then I do too.

For the past two days M and I have been taking nice hourlong strolls around the park with her in the baby scarf. It’s wonderful, but she gets restless for food around 40 minutes in, and I walk verrrry slowly.

So… I pulled out my old DVD fitness videos and have been hanging around Video Fitness’s forum. In March I did half of two of my old fave step workouts and they were tough. It wasn’t just the cardio intensity, I actually felt my lower core muscles couldn’t hold me in as well as they used to. It must be separated abs. Anyway, working out at home was put on hold for 3 weeks while we had visitors (translation: too many witnesses to see me hopping around in the living room). I am terribly relieved that there is no reduction of breast milk if mothers work out to moderate intensity. Aha, I found the study: Breast-feeding mothers can exercise: results of a cohort study.

So after a *marathon* feeding session to top up Madeline, I did an old fave, Rock Steady Step. I haven’t done it in about 5 years but I vividly remember working out to it in my old flat in Taipei. Two nice surprises: on the large wool rug here I can do higher impact than I could on my very hard linoleum over cement floor in Taiwan. Secondly (da-da-daaa-DA!) my abs have healed more since my my last step workouts three weeks ago! There was no alarming twinges when I twisted and turned. So I finished up with steps 1 and 2 of Postpartum Abs.

Lifting weights would be great and I’d lose weight faster on it, but I’m not ready for it yet. The site above says that nursing mothers should start out slowly with lifting weights, esp upper body training with repetitive arm movements. Okay–for later, esp since my abs are still weak.

New skate routes!

Surfing ’round the Internet last night I found a great site, MapMyRun, and if one clicks on the various trails mapped out you’ll find routes on pavement that are skate-able. Check this one out: a skate path along a channel up north in the New Territories. I like the ‘Mixte’ option at the bottom of the map where you see the map and satellite imagery overlaid.
Magic Cucumber 10k
Find more Runs in Hong Kong, Hong Kong

Location: The Netherlands

Just stopping in to say hello! Writing to you on location from Arnhem, my in-laws’ living room, a chilly-sunny day in the Netherlands. Tiff, Matt and I are having a great time. DH is visiting his old classmates and friends here in his native Arnhem and I’ve been taking the train between Arnhem and Amsterdam to see Tiff & Matt. We walked for *hours* in Amsterdam on Thursday and Friday, until my joints were achy from walking on brick pavement. That’s cardio, so I’m categorizing this. πŸ™‚ The four of us will meet in Brussels this evening. I gave them my phone to make finding one another easier. From there we shall hit the town!

Elliptical trainer strikes again

Uh-oh, I’ve been doing a lot of cardio but not the strength work I’d planend for the week. Well, something is better than nothing but I know from experience that all-cardio will not budge the fluff that has so recently crept on (but I’m thankful the fluff is here, telling me I’m on the wrong track).
My GF Kristine (beangirl) and I swapped a Knip Mode I bought here and mailed for 2 ebooks that I couldn’t buy, as I don’t have a credit card anymore. (I always paid my cc bills, but it’s become clear I’m not going back to the US anytime soon and there was no need to continue paying fees on a bank account and charge card. Europe has a very different view of credit and I’m probably going to move over summer–back to Asia?–so there is no point in getting one here.)

I digress. I propped 2 boxes onto a chair, then perched my laptop on top and pulled up the ET as close as possible: close enough to press the mousepad and turn the page, but with clearance so my strides wouldn’t bump the setup. It’s my TNT workout regime: reading ebooks while low-impact jogging. I just love it, and an hour flies by without me noticing OR feeling deprived that my workout impinged on something else in my schedule.


Kinda like that numberical configuration.
Former Dutch prime minister hopeful Pim Fortuyn was assasinated 5 years ago today. His death rocked the nation, and honestly I feel the anti-immigrant backlash echoing still as I’m married to a Dutch man but have such enormous difficulty in living or working in his country. I can work in Belgium though via the EU.

On the agenda today is cardio. Normally I would turn to Jammin’ 32’s with Ann Marie Sill. It’s my favorite step workout of all time, I will do J-32’s for a step workout when nothing else works. However. I worked all morning, followed by a 7.5-hour teaching day so at this point I’d rather do something less workout-y and more fun. Need to combine the ol’ leisure time and workout. Enter the elliptical trainer while (a) watching TV or (b) reading a trashy ebook novel, my laptop propped up on a chair and boxes to eye level. I love the elliptical trainer so much I can easily overtrain on it. Tonight is Grey’s Anatomy and ya know, which I hardly follow because it’s so late and I have to get up early on Fridays–till next Friday! The 11th! When I quit my R&D job and go back to teaching.