Handstand Progress: Single Knee Tuck

I haven’t worked on handstands much, even after having completed a half-day workshop with Kathryn Bruni-Young last summer. I have a better understanding of what is required, and if one wants to be effective and efficient, that means about 45-60 min of warm-up before you even go upside down.

It’s tempting to skip the warm-up though. But after completing a couple of online classes with Carling Harps, I felt that my bandhas were on and willing to take on the challenge.

I just did some single knee tucks, a good precursor to full handstand, since it’s an easy way to maintain core and pelvic alignment. I was pleasantly surprised I was able to get some great balance for 7-8 seconds. I know one of my bad habits is to kick up too hard, so I’m really kicking myself that I have to undo the urge to do so. Pretty happy with this small amount of progress. Once the weather warms up, I will have to practice in the yard without Paul the Wall!

Handstand Training – Single Knee Tuck #8 from Min Min on Vimeo.

Shared Household Expenses

This morning, J. and I went through the mindful budgeting planner and noted down all the shared expenses.

Since having read Katy Bowman’s books and deciding that we would walk more frequently, we don’t need more than a tank of gas each month.

However, the shock came from our groceries in March. When I first got the planner, I it a point not to go to the supermarket frequently and did well with 3 or 4-day no-buy streaks. After a while though, I had forgotten about it. J. and I wandered in and out of the grocery store, as you can see.There are no malls to go here, in this tiny town for 2300 people, so the only place you can spend money out of boredom is the supermarket! As I reflect on the past month, I recall that we bought a lot of junk food after work and also picked up items for potlucks and birthday parties.*

We never made a budget the past four years that we’ve lived together up north, but we are going to discuss some possibilities for May and June. I’ll also be moving south, while J. stays north, so I’ll have to monitor my own spending when I move. I’m looking forward to some life changes, but I hate cooking for one. It’s so much easier when you share food, plus J. makes a great garbage can when I can’t finish my portions!

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*Since food is so expensive in the north, it’s expected that everyone contributes at parties.

Thoughts about Lifting

Lifting can be a lonely workout, as there is quite a lot of set up and take down. Also, between sets, you pretty much have to have breaks and it’s nice to have chatter in between. I feel that loneliness may be one of the reasons I’ve not been lifting this year.

Last year, I was lucky to have a solid 6 months of work with K. and H. While K. is like me, and enjoys doing a lot of reading and research, H. was just happy to try something new and take coaching tips with an open mind. Both of them were a great balance to my own learning curve; I loved being able to discuss with K. about mobility and posture, while H., being someone with a variety of physical restrictions, offered opportunities for me to be challenged when coaching. We were a pretty solid trio and were very consistent in our attendance.

Last week, I finally deadlifted after months without. It’s funny; I have no mental barriers to deadlifting. It’s something I’ve enjoyed considerably and I naturally gravitate towards. I can walk up cold, sans warm-up, set up in conventional within a few seconds, barefooted, inappropriately dressed and pull without hesitation. My back stays flat, turn my hammies on*, keep my weight centered throughout my feet. No problemo!

Squatting is a bigger head game for me. My restrictions are much more obvious. My leg strength isn’t as good as my back strength. My long femurs also make it much harder to keep my stance in. I’m more likely to lose my core stability, go into anterior pelvic tilt and struggle with coming “out of the hole” because I’m disconnecting the torso and the legs. I could also bring my shoulder blades in tighter together and stack my wrists in a safer position.

Watching this Juggernaut video reminded that it’s tough, even for the experts that spend their time professional weightlifting. Not to say that I am still more than a beginner, but it’s a good way to adjust your perspective and remember that, like teaching, you are always, always, always a work in progress. It’s also nice that I actually understand all the concepts mentioned and like listening to the critique that’s being given by Chad Wesley and Max Aita.

I have considered returning to a lifting routine but never took action this winter. With yoga, I feel I can work on anything any time, but I just have much higher expectations with lifting. Honestly though, I shouldn’t think this way, since I’m not an athlete in training. My idea of fitness currently is just to enjoy and have fun.

*Likely hamstrings aren’t an issue for me as I use them so frequently in yoga.

Aloo Gobi and Raita

Decided to try a new recipe from the Vegan Richa cookbook, which I had purchased back in January. Last month, I tried two recipes, but had been busy the past while and hadn’t touched the cookbook again.

Flipping through the cookbook, I wanted to make sure I had every ingredient for any recipe I tried. Generally, I enjoy aloo gobi at Indian restaurants, but had only attempted to cook it using random recipes off the internet. On the couple of occasions, I’ve  not had success with a solid recipe that I really liked.

I was cautious and not feeling confident that this would be any better, but this recipe was pretty spot on!  Here is the end result, with garam masala and fresh cilantro sprinkled on top:

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I also ended up making some (non-vegan) raita too.* We made some brown rice, plus some (microwavable) pappadums and sliced cucumber as an informal salad. I also wanted a second dish and not having the energy, just heated up some instant vegetable curry from a bag. It was a pretty good spread!

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*Argh, I forgot J. doesn’t really like raita and the fact that this has black salt, which makes a sulphury/eggy smell, he definitely was not going to eat it. Guess I will have to finish it on my own.

Snacks Before the Gym

There have been a lot of interruptions after work, but more or less, I’ve been going to the gym about 2-3 times a week. Usually I’m there around 5 pm, so I might feel a bit hungry.

Even though you’re suppose to have a little snack before a workout, I often don’t. I’m not the type of person to pack or eat a lot of snacks. I rarely snack. Having said that, I know having something healthy on hand means that I’m more likely to eat it, then walk across the street to the grocery store and give in to hot onion rings or a bag of chips.

Lately, I’ve been having nuts. I stash a handful of mixed nuts in this cute yellow snack pack (yes, I like buying children’s stuff) and just stash it in the Under Amour gym bag.


They last a while, don’t go stale easily and also don’t get squished (like bananas). It’s been working well as I do find myself grabbing a handful before rolling out the gym bag, even though it’s not my favourite snack. I don’t even eat them very fast, so I haven’t even had to replenish them until two weeks after I started using it. I know that making a healthy habit a convenient one is the best way to stick to it.

New Indian Recipes

On Sunday afternoon, I tried two recipes from Vegan Richa’s Indian Kitchen cookbook, which I purchased from Indigo a few weeks ago.

First, I tried to make Spiced Roasted Tofu and Vegetables, which uses a tandoori-like yogurt marinade*. It is then oven-baked (or grilled) to get the flavour into the tofu and vegeables. I didn’t end up making the dipping sauce, but the yogurt marinade itself was amazingly delicious and I found myself dipping everything into it!

Secondly, I made the Easy Curried Green Beans, which was fairly simple and fast. Both recipes turned out well and I must admit that the flavouring was quite spot on.

For now, I don’t think I’ll repeat either of the recipes. They were alright but I wasn’t in love with it. I’m just happy to find more recipes that require black salt because I had only ever had it on hand to make tofu scramble!**

It was a pretty chill evening, since I finally finished my Additional Qualification course last night (around 2 a.m.). J. and I ate our dinner while watching the first episode of WestWorld.

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*Ashamedly, I ended up unveganizing this because I didn’t have non-dairy yogurt on hand. 

**Black salt has a strong sulphurous smell. In Indian cooking, it can also be used to mimic an egg-like smell or create a sour taste in dishes.

New Cookbook and New Goals

I’ve been lazy with trying new recipes. Between J. and I, we have a small stack of cookbooks, but in the past few months, I’ve not made anything new.

As part of my February goals, I’ve decided I need to make a better effort. When I move “down south”, A few weeks ago, I purchased Richa Hingle’s cookbook, Vegan Richa’s Indian Kitchen. She is best known for her vegan food blog.

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Flipping through the table of contents, I was impressed with how extensive the book was. There are soooo many recipes! As my plans to become adopted by an Indian family have failed miserably, I suppose I will have to cook my own food. I’m not likely to go back to Indian anytime soon anyway (sighhhhhhh). I already have a good foundation of spices, but am currently ordering some fenugreek and cardamom before I give this book a go.

For now, I’ve gone back to Angela Lidden’s Oh She Glows! cookbook, which my sister had kindly gifted to me a year (or two?) ago. On the weekend, I tried this tomato basil cashew-cream sauce on spaghetti.I had some great cashew-cream pesto in Israel on my 34th birthday, so that was the inspiration for picking this recipe. I was extremely weary at first; afraid that the cashew bits would stay chunky, despite having soaked it for two hours and tossed it into the food processor.

The product was much better than I expected, but I feel as if I would have to tweak the flavour to my own likely (it’s too subtle). Perhaps better quality basil and some sundried tomatoes? A note to add is that this does not stick well to long thin pasta, and would do better in fusilli.

Anywhoooo, I was happy overall. I’m trying to curb my love of cheese and find better substitutes, eventually giving a go at vegan cheesemaking (the Kickstarter kit I bought currently is sitting in the cupboard).

My goal is to try 5 new recipes in the month of February.

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Saturday Date Night: Falafels and A New Board Game

Yeahhhh, I’ve spent too much money in the past few months – I can’t help but think of the two new winter tires from last week – and my net worth chart shows it. I’ve accumulated a lot of stuff that I haven’t gotten around to doing yet, but will be perfect once the snowy, cold winter blows in.

Since arriving back in Waskaganish last night from the Grade 11 Orientation Trip*, I decided that I wouldn’t spend any more money this weekend.**

So as a Saturday date night for J. and I, I made a Middle Eastern platter. There were no pitas on hand, but I cut up some Romaine lettuce and threw on tomatoes, grilled zucchinis, red onions, (canned) beets and olives. I then garnished it with some tahini, sesame seeds, sesame oil and pomegranate seeds.

Too bad I didn’t have any garlic sauce or cilantro on hand!

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Afterward, we broke out Trains: Rising Sun. It’s a board game that J. picked up for me back in September, but sat unopened in the cupboard. The first version was released in 2012, but I had only played it for the first time this summer with my friends M. and C. in Albany, New York. It was a good balance between Catan and Dominion, so I felt like J. would enjoy this, since I hate Catan and he hates Dominion!

We had a great time tonight. There may have been some rum and cokes involved, as well as some shouting. Can’t wait to try this again.

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*The Orientation Trip is an annual trip where we bring Grade 11 students to see college campuses around Ontario and Quebec. The trip typically lasts 5-6 days.

**Other than groceries.

Weekend Update

Just a few updates:

  • Meal-prepping: This has been going pretty well, since starting about 3 weeks ago. I find that this makes food preparation a lot less stressful when I have written out the meals for the week on my chalkboard in the dining room. Interestingly, since we were out of town last weekend, I got lazy and didn’t end up meal-planning. By mid-week, we started eating junk and some bad habits. Back to planning, which will usually happen on Sundays.
  • Make-up: Waiting on my order from Sephora. Will be studying how to do eyeshadow application and how to do the brows. Still trying to find a replacement for the blush though. Future projects include learning how to do falsies.
  • Natural movement: Don’t think I will need a pillow for the rest of my life. Been slacking on the work commute and grocery pick-up though, the past two weeks. No Vibrams yet, but I am considering making an order in the future. Just finished podcast episode #17 of Katy Says.
  • Professional Development: OAME speaker applications are due at the end of November. A professor from Nipissing University who is mentoring me asked if I would like to do a webinar for the NOMA chapter of OAME. I’ve drafted rough notes already, but just need to pick a few images. It will be happened in two weeks.
  • Crocheting: I made a huuuuge haul of vegan acrylic yarn in Rouyn during the Thanksgiving long weekend. Maybe about $50 worth of yarn? Haven’t gotten around to starting anything yet, but would like to make items that I could give for winter solstice / Christmas. Perhaps a blanket or a scarf.
  • Leggings: Waiting on a few new pairs from Guelph-based Sweet Legs. Bought 3 pairs that ranged from $20-25, since I don’t fit into the two from The Jiva Shop anymore. ARGHHHH!!! I hate how painfully slow mail can be in the north!!! I usually don’t think about packages for the first week but then I start getting antsy by the second!