Monday, June 28, 2010

Thinking and planning of the future.

Yay, school finished! Well, more like I decided not to do another 3 month course. Going to school everyday was getting to be a little tiring and I lost a lot of motivation and actually started resenting Japan a bit. No matter how much I study, there's always so much more to learn and mistakes that I make.
I feel pretty proud of myself though. In 6 months of intensive studying my reading has improved, my written grammar has improved a lot and my vocabulary has increased. Funny thing is, my grammar used to be my weakest point and my speaking and listening comprehension being the strongest, but now its reverse.
I still have good comprehension, but my grammar is now much stronger then my speaking ability. No surprise though as I was concentrating on the grammar a lot in the pass 3 months and the school doesn't really give much opportunity for speaking. That's something most students have to actively try to do themselves.
So my plan now is to practice conversation with private tutor twice a week, go to a conversation class once a week and business conversation class a twice week. It'll round out to me taking classes daily, but it'll only be for an hour or so each day so I think it'll be more manageable.
I'm thinking I'll go back to taking the intensive course from Autumn after a little 3 month break to refresh and get some motivation back.

I might start teaching kid yoga during summer a couple of times just to get a little pocket money (yoga is really not a money making business though haha!) and I'm thinking real hard what I want to do as far as work goes.
I'd like to go back to work, but I'm not dying to go back to the children gym that I was at for 2 years. We'll see how it goes though, I'm meeting my boss tomorrow to discuss kid yoga and if he offers me a sweet deal for teaching regular gym classes then I might follow up on his offer.
No offense to the mothers/soon to be mothers out there, but the main reason I don't want to go back to teaching fitness to kids is that...well, I'm not crazy about working with kids. All my jobs were children related and the drama between mothers and their children is very tiring. Don't get me wrong, I like kids and I developed good friendships with the mothers, but there's always a few mothers or children who make me wish I wasn't involved in anything children related.
I think if I was a mother, I'd diffidently see it from a different angle, but I'd like there to be one time in my life where I'm not doing anything children related.
So, for the next few weeks I'm going to be evaluated what I want to do with my life and how I want to go about getting there. I know I want to do something fitness/nutrition related, but I need to figure out how I'm going to get there.

Speaking of nutrition, I've been a very very good girl! I've been a pretty strict vegan and have not bought any sweets from the combini! I do treat myself to a vegan chocolate pudding and sorbet, but its limited to 1-2x a week.
So it's been about 10 days since I started my 30 day challenge and I'm pleased it's been fairly easy. No major cravings that I can speak of, but from past experiences, I usually start getting cravings after a few weeks. I'll just have to see how it goes. Happily, I'm seeing some good changes in my body and mental frame of mind. I feel pretty clear, alert and have lots of energy. Physically, I'm feeling lighter and I've lost a little on the scale, but I'm pretty sure its mainly just excess water weight. Anyway, the main point is how well my clothes fit on me.
All and all, I'm feeling wonderful and hope to keep this healthy streak up!

I'm getting really excited! In 3 weeks I'm going to accompany Motozo to New York. We'll spend the weekend with his parents and since it's a business trip for Motozo, he'll be busy working from Monday so I'm going to Toronto for the first time to visit dear Joey and his family! I can't wait to see my little nephew, Jason!
And yesterday, Motozo and I were discussing what other traveling we'll do besides France this year and were def going to try getting to Australia to visit Lils and her new baby early next year! I cant wait!

Sorry, no photos today. I hope everyone is having a lovely lovely day!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Celebrity runner

I'm not a die hard fan of any particular celebrity, but I am quite fond of Renee Zellweger for the very reason that she's a serious runner.
Recent news of her shows her running through Paris and depending on the site and writer its either, "Rene Zellewger, keeping her weight down by running!" or "Die hard fitness enthusiast runs on Holiday!" or this one

For people who aren't into running, I can understand this is probably a boring thing to post about, but I wanted to ask what you thought of her legs?
There was one site where people posted comments that were a little negative and it bothered me. They were saying her legs were too muscular, not sexy or feminine (alright, I don't think Rene is drop dead gorgeous or anything, but from a runners point of view, she looks healthy and in INCREDIBLE shape!), and that she should relax a little and workout less because she looks too muscular.
Alright, people are entitled to their opinions and at least some people said she looked better as Bridget Jones with a fuller figure. Thats better then saying she looks better slimmer. (the link above shows photos of her legs looking more muscular then the photo above)

When I first saw a photo of her running, I thought...hey I have legs kind of like that. Not as nice of course, ok, no where near! But they are muscular and certainly not what you call SLIM. You can say muscular and lean, but you won't see any knobbly knees on me.
So for people to say that her legs look too muscular and unfeminine....we'll, of course that bothered me because I saw some resemblance. I know, silly silly of me.

Anyway, I just felt like ranting a bit. I don't like when people say fitness enthusiast should relax or think that are running for weight lost, because running (although very beneficial for keeping the weight down) is something most runners do because they want to. It becomes part of your life and most runners schedule their days,months and years around running. I think its silly that people see Rene running and think she's running to stay slim. She's running because she's a runner, she loves running and that's that!

On a totally different topic.....I did my first proper chin up today. No little stool to push off of.
I was feeling so proud of myself and was going to blog about this until I went on Facebook and saw Cha's post how she managed 5 pull ups!
Well, my 1 chin up suddenly seemed insignificant haha. But hey, I worked hard for that chin up so I'm going to pat myself on the back for being able to do 1 chin up. If I can do 1 I can do 2 soon enough!
Good work Cha and tell me your secrete for strong arms that doesn't require a baby to carry around all day. ;)

Monday, June 21, 2010

Wine, soccer and brownies.

So African wine.....I'm still not 100% sure I like it. There was about 4-5 different selections of red wine and 1 sparkling wine.
Motozo and I love sparkling, so we started the evening off with a glass of that. It was lovely. Sparkling wine/Champagne never fails!
The buffet had only 1(!) thing I could eat. Edamame. And the rest of the menu was meat, fish, and risoto with of course bacon. A kind waiter took pity on me and gave me a veggie pasta on the house. Very nice of him, even though I felt I kind of deserved it since it was quite expensive just to attend this wine tasting event.
Anyway, back to the wine. I'm not huge on red wine. I'm very very picky about it and it needs to be quite fruity, but not too sweet or too dry. My first glass of red (sorry, I don't remember the name of it) was a little disappointing and I hardly managed to finish half the glass. I stuck with the sparkling for the rest of the evening much for wine tasting. Motozo enjoyed the red wines more then me, but he still prefers white wine.
This was good for Motozo and I, because we've been wondering where we should go in France for the wine tasting. I think we both are veering much more to visiting Champagne then the other red wine areas. We have to decide where to go pretty soon so we can plan our trip so if anyone has any advice on which part of France is best for wine tasting let me know!

On Sat I took a 3 hour yoga workshop. It was so hot and very hard to not slip on the yoga mat due to me sweating profusely. I must say......I was quite irritated by the heat and didn't feel as refreshed from a yoga class as I usually do. This is the very reason I find Hot Yoga just unbearable. They say sweating is a sign of good health. The more fit you are, the better circulation you have. Good circulation means the body is able to cool itself down more efficiently by sweating. But sweat for me is just troublesome. If you're one of those people that don't sweat very much....consider yourself lucky. And if you are one of those people who sweat...I know how you feel!

After yoga Motozo and I met up with friends at a bar to watch the Japan VS Holland soccer game. I don't have much to say about the game....
For one, I'm not a huge fan of soccer. But I was hoping Japan would win and of course it ended up being both depressing and a boring game with there being only 1 point made by Holland. BOOO!
Tell did soccer become so popular? Kill me if you like, but *YAWN* that's how I feel about it. But it was great fun shouting NIPPON (clap clap clap) to the irritation of the 2 Holland fans in the bar.

Sunday, we went to nice house party to celebrate Oxfam Trailwalker. We threw ourselves a belated congratulatory party which kind Mary hosted at her house. We had burrito's and I made my vegan brownies for dessert. Everyone was full from the burrito's so my brownies didn't exactly disappear how I imagined them too.. haha. Perhaps it was actually due to my lazy cooking style...I didn't care to make them look all perfectly square like brownies should....but hell, they tasted good! And I feel damn proud of myself for baking on a Sunday morning! Mental note: Work on presentation a bit more next time.

We each retold our best and worst time in our 100k trailwalk and Peter presented us with our finishers certificate and framed photo of our finish for the 4 of us. So kind of him! A photo somehow seems more special when it's framed.
We talked about doing it again for sure next year. But I still have my heart set on doing it in a different country next time.....we'll see, we'll see.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Rain rain go away, come again another day!

That photo doesn't do the rain justice, but I'm not about to go outside to take a photo of the rain, so that photo will have to do.
Its officially rainy season. The weather forecast for this week and next is, well of course, rain! Our aloe plant for some reason is greatly enjoying being drowned in rain and is looking better then ever, but my dear blueberry plant is wilting. I'm not sure if its because it got too much water or because of the warmth. I guess I should do a goggle search to save my little plant.

I'm not a fan of this constant rain and this humidity is getting to me even though its only been about a week since the weather has turned basically to Summer.
I foresee a very warm summer this year, unlike last year.

Despite the gloomy weather I'm in high spirits because I only have 1 more week to go until spring holiday. I can't wait to sleep in a little and take yoga classes in the day time. Now that its nearing the end of this school term we hardly get any homework and for the first time EVER we didn't get homework to do over the weekend!
I know I should be studying for the final exam which is next Thursday, but I'd rather blog about something silly like the weather.

Its Friday and tonight were going to an African Wine tasting event. Every person I told this to has the same reaction, "Africa? Wine? humm...I'm not so sure how good their wine will be."
Well, I'll find out and let you know!
Happy weekend to everyone!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

30 Days to Success

After reading this article today
I decided I'm going to give another go at being semi vegan.

PS. Notice how this food pyramid shows fruits and vegetables to be the main source of energy rather then complex carbohydrates?

Last year in April I "experimented" going vegan. I wanted to see if it was possible or how difficult it would be to go vegan in Japan. Japan is still quite behind on vegetarianism and most people seem to hop onto the vegetarian band wagon as a "posh" thing to do. A lot of vegetarian restaurants are located in expensive cities that are almost double the price of a regular restaurant. Luckily I do live in an area with lots of vegan restaurants and I've gotten used to the cost of eating out in those places, but quite often I feel as though Japan uses vegan health food stores/restaurants as a money making business. But regardless of that, I am quite thankful that there are stores and restaurants where I can eat and shop worry free.
Anyway back to my experiment. As expected, it was a little hard. I soon realized that if I wanted to be 100% vegan I had to mainly prepare meals at home or go to strictly vegan restaurants. About 70% of the time, I managed to do just that. I prepared my lunch for work, cooked dinner and introduced Motozo to different vegan restaurants.
But then there were times when vegan restaurants weren't available and I'd have to grill the waiters on the ingredients in some foods. I read that some pasta is made with egg, so each time we had pasta I had to confirm that the pasta wasn't made with egg. Most bread in Japan is also non vegan so there was another issue there. I got very good at reading food labels in Japanese and learned that some wines are also non vegan.
Even though it was tough, I gained a lot from it. Before I went vegan I was eating too many sweets and junk food. I soon realized that most "junk food" has a bit of milk products in it. The first few days were a little tough, I wanted chocolate, but after a week or 2 my cravings totally disappeared! This was quite a revelation for me because as far as I remember in my life, I always wanted sweets! But now....I honesty didn't want a single thing. My body craved real fresh food.
Another benefit was that my colds completely went away! Last year I had a terrible cough that lasted almost 3 months. I went to the doctor for multiple antibiotic dosages, but my cold never healed up completely. Until I stopped eating dairy! No more stuffed nose or congestion that plagued me.
I also noticed I had a lot more energy, I felt lighter and my clothes got looser.
Long story short....I slipped a few times, had a chocolate cake here and there and instantly cravings for processed sugars came back and I went back to allowing myself to think vegetarian again.

Funny thing is, I haven't touched cheese in over a year. I never had the desire too. If we stay at a hotel or travel I always request for a vegan meal. If there is egg or any milk products in a meal I give it to Motozo.
So I do still consider myself semi vegan...except when it comes to junk food. I've let all rules go through the roof and let myself have that chocolate chip cookie...because well, I'm not 100% vegan.

Well, I decided no more excuses for junk food. I need to stop making excuses for a substance that isn't benefiting me in anyway.
So starting from now (I can't say today because I already had chocolate covered coffee beans haha) I'm back to reading labels and considering myself a vegan.
I have to post this so I can be held accountable haha. I might start blogging more about healthy eating and my progress on this 30 day challenge.

Wish me luck!

Fruits and vegetables - how I love you!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Island Series #2

Dear Hubby did another Triathlon event yesterday.
Motozo trained hard for this race and was in good shape for it. We took a quick taxi ride to Takeshiba Pier and hoped on a jet boat for a faster then expected ride to Oshima. We both fell asleep instantly when the boat took off so we were pleasantly surprised to be waken up 2 hours later with the announcement that we arrived.

2 years ago Motozo did this race as well, so this was both our 2nd time to the island. You can read details with pictures from his blog here

We soon realized we also booked the same hotel as last time (we totally forgot the name of the place so we didn't recognize it until we arrived at the hotel).
The lovely thing about this race is that it doesn't start until 1:30pm. Most races start at the latest 10AM and also on a Sun. But this one is on Saturday so it makes out to be a really nice weekend.
We arrived at our hotel at 11pm and as Motozo put his bike together and racing gear in order I went out for a run. It was so beautiful and scenic. There was a great running path along the ocean which also the running part of the race. It was great to see where Motozo will be doing the run.

Unfortunately, it was extremely warm at about 27 degrees. My initial plan was to run 30mins out and 30mins back, but I was feeling so good I ran 40mins out, but on my way back I started regretting that I went that far out. There was a pretty strong wind going against me on the way back and zero shade apart from my running cap and I started feeling a little bit of heatstroke coming on with a headache and dizziness. I couldn't imagine what Motozo will have to deal with because by the time he started his run it'll be well into the hottest time of the day.
I made it back to the hotel just in time to put on a fresh pair of clothes and run out to the start line to see Motozo off for the swim.

See if you can regognize Motozo adjusting his goggles.

Fearlessly jumping into the water as the gun went off.

I got another wave of worry for him seeing how high the waves were. The wind caused the water to be quite rough and many people dropped out of the race just a few minutes into the swim. But Motozo said that he actually really enjoyed the swim. It was an adventure and he liked bobbing up and down with the waves....haha, the fish! There was I was on shore worried sick about him while he's out there having a grand ol' time. But because of the conditions they shorted the swim distance which was kind of a disappointment for Motozo since he wanted the official distance.

Finishing his swim strong and running up to his bike.

I wasn't a good very photographer this day and this was the only shot I managed to get of him that wasn't blurry or of his back.

Its so hard to take photos of him on the bike because he zooms by so fast. I've gotten better at spotting him coming from a distance, but today for some reason I was too slow with the camera. But I also was distracted because I had great company of Serena who's husband was also racing. We were chatting away on our girly topics and then zoom....our husbands would fly by on the bikes and we'd manage to just get a shot of them from behind haha.
And then it was on to the run. Again I wasn't successful with the photos, but I do like this shot of him. He looks like he's having a great time....or as I like to think...he's happy to see me. :)

Coming into the finishing line strong.

I also didn't manage to get a shot of him at the finish and there was a terrible back light from the sun so even if I got a shot it wouldn't have been so great anyway (I keep telling myself this to feel less guilty).
OTSUKARESAMA love. He did great! Fishing at 2 hours 23mins. 5mins faster then 2 years ago when he did it. He complains that its not an official time since the swim was shorten, but even if the swim wasn't shorten, he still would have gotten very close to the time that he wanted.

After the race we went to a great outdoor onsen and a few racers said they weren't feeling well. Almost everyone got sun burned somewhere or another and Motozo looked particularly tired at the awards ceremony/dinner. But he still made sure I had something to eat.
He's pointing out here that I should stand in front of the fruit platter as that was pretty much the only thing (besides tiny sandwiches) that I could eat.

These dinners that are organized by the race are always these elaborate dinners with too much protein and not enough carbs for hungry racers. Even though I can only eat the fruit in this picture, I know someone (LILS?) will admire this buffet of seafood.

And that's a wrap of our weekend.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Another year has gone by.

I was so lucky that my birthday this year fell on a Sunday. Perfect day for it. Sadly, that means I have to wait 5 more years before it falls on a weekend again, haha.
I made the most of it though!
Hubby kindly arranged a birthday dinner party for me, inviting my friends and making sure the meal was completely vegan for me.
We went to new organic restaurant and it didn't fail us! Beautiful atmosphere and a full course vegan meal. I really had a wonderful time with everyone!
The vegan cake tasted a little rubbery, but I was a happy chicken and didn't care less!

Our second stop was to the Cerelean Tower in Shibuya. The top floor, the 44th has a beautiful view of Tokyo and although the drinks were way over priced and the waiters were a little bit of a pain....I enjoyed myself. A friend, Jay, turned up a little late. He was cycling around all day and made an appearance in his cycling shorts and shoes. The waiters were trying to kick him out because there was a dress code. I couldn't let that happen and got him a seat out of reach of the waiters.
Jay in his pink jacket and cycling tights.

I think everyone's wallets hurt a bit sorry! But I had a wonderful and happy time! Thank you so much everyone for making it out. The only thing I was disappointed about was that we couldn't take photos in the bar with flash (My cam doesn't take good photos without flash in the dark) because of course that was also the bar rule. It seems we broke every rule! ha. Oh, did I mention, we also were asked to quiet down because our group apparently was too loud for the classy atmosphere. How ridiculous!
We got to bed at around on the edge haha.

The next morning we were up bright and early for a trip to parents place. Jesse and Rumi's wedding 6 months ago was the last time I saw everyone. So I think the last time we visited the house was Joey's wedding. It's so amazing to see everyone growing. Jamie was speaking really good Japanese, Timy is almost the same height as Jamie and the girls are not really girls any more.

It was also very nice to finally see Rumi pregnant for the first time! I never even saw 1 photo of her pregnant! She's so beautiful and glowing....ah.....I hope I look that good when I'm pregnant one day.

Mum and the girls made a delicious spread of a dinner. Tortillas with lots of veggies and beans. Yum!

For the first time talked to Lils on Skype and got to see her belly live! So cute! She sent me this gorgeous black shoulder bag that I've been using every day now. Sorry, I don't have photos of it at the moment. But, man is it handy! I can put all my school books in it and my shoulder doesn't feel like its going to fall off because of the weight.
Parents surprised me with a vegan and gluten free cake! Here I am showing it to Lils on Skype. It was DELICIOUS! I had 2 vegan cakes this lucky am I!

Everyone went out of the their way to give me gifts which I really appreciate. I would have been content as a clown to just be around everyone! Thank you!
The girls made this beautiful sign, that Motozo is holding, completely out of beads!

Motozo gave me a useful book on vegan cooking to add to my ever growing collection and a Lonly Planet book of France.

Were planning a trip to France in September! I can't wait. We'll go for a friend's wedding, maybe travel to the neighboring countries, but best of all....were going to do a wine tour. So excited!
I look tired and wrinkles are obviously forming at only a tender age of 24. But I'm happy, healthy and wouldn't want to trade my life for anything! I love you! Thanks Amy for the Chardonnay! And thank you everyone else! You know who you are and I feel so blessed to have you all as friends!
Darling, thank you for sharing another birthday with me!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Ramblings of running

I don't feel like I have my running groove back, but I'm pretending I do and amazingly, I'm seeing great results!
I'm back to running 4-5x a week now, but even though I don't have my weekly mileage back to where it used to be, I'm running surprisingly strong. I find it interesting to see how I've evolved as a runner.
At first I could hardly do 30mins, then for about a year I was stuck at 45min mark. Until my friend took me on a slow 2 hour run. I never felt so tired, but I loved that feeling of going and going for hours. Ever since then (almost 3 years ago), my typical run is a little longer then an hour...and 30min well, it just doesn't cut it any more. I've gotten stronger thats for sure, but mentally, I always had the mindset that I wanted to get my run finished and over with. Thus, I always woke up early to do a run before the day started. I still do that, but instead of thinking of getting my run finished with, I run now because I WANT to run and I'm thoroughly disappointed that I don't have enough time to go over an hour in the mornings these days. My body craves running and I feel wonderful when I'm finished.
Sometimes I'm embarrassed because I know I don't look like a runner. I'm not one of them gaunt cheeked, long limb runners. You want someone who looks like a runner...look at my husband. Zero percent body fat!
Just recently I was having beer and wine with Motozo's colleagues on a Friday night. They were talking about how Motozo's training is so impressive and how they could never imagine doing that. Motozo mentioned that I also run and well....that information went through one ear and out the other. People don't look at me and think runner, but I'm starting to make peace with it.
I know I can run and that's all that matters.
I've come to really appreciate what my body can do and has done for me. So this year, rather then trying to prove myself as a runner, I'm going to run as a gift to myself. No more being embarrassed each time I go into a running shop. No more thinking that the clerk is looking at me like jogger (there's a difference between a jogger and a runner!). No more excuses about me not being a serious runner, because Goddammit I am!

Oops, is this photo too large? Looks like I've got a big head haha.