Finally a day off...mostly

I confess to being very busy all last week and then finally relaxing sunday and sleeping away a lot of it. I was exhausted. Starting the winter hibernating you might say. I had to work saturday and then sunday was the walk to raise money for Alzheimers in the early AM. I think I walked about 3K, but there was no concrete distance for it...just walk for about an hour around a track, and not at any kind of a fast pace or anything. I *did* get to jump up and down in the giant inflatable jumping house with my 3 year old niece - THAT was AWESOME. I haven't done that in years and I must say - if you get the shot do it. It's fantastic. I havent' laughed so much in ages...:)

Sunday I relaxed and made culinary disasters. I made squash bread, but the squash I used for some reason was bitter so the 3 loaves of delicious looking bread I made actually taste bitter - like they are made of turnips. Boo. Then I tried out an old recipe that sounded good, but really was just a giant salty dissapointment.
So there was nothing for it...I had lots of beer. This did not keep me on fitness track, but it made me feel a bit better.

It's difficult to not hibernate and eat lots of bad filling foods when it's this cold (-46C with the wind). I'm trying to be more active - the bellydance helps, but tonight I think more napping is in order. I'm worn down from overwork and have a tickle in my throat that does not bode well...but, as a plus, I have no class tonight and nowhere to be. I think napping and tea drinking is in order. If I didn't have to work today I'd still be under my duvet in a big warm ball with the cats.

Let the hibernation continue.

Firm, yet achy. Stiff, yet nimble

I am stiff my friends.
Yes it is true.
Last night at class we worked hard. Lots of shimmying with combination moves: shimmy with hip circles. Shimmy with hip slides. Shimmy with various arm movements. After a while I was getting reasonably good at doing multiple things at the same time, but it's sort of like rubbing your belly and patting your head at the same time.
I've also gotten more practice at snake in the basket circling hips, chest and head with my arms over my head like a genie...looks cool, and I'm getting reasonably less comical as I go.

Tonight I'm helping someone paint...if my muscles don't revolt on me. I'm getting less stiff than I used to from this, but in different places now. Joy. It is encouraging though, as I am building muscles. I can not only see the tone, but I can do more, and I have more control over my movements now.

Plus it's fun.

I sure could use a nap though :)
I'm looking forward to tomorrow night. I have to work saturday and have an Alzheimer's pledge walk on sunday, so I'm doing diddly squat, watching some Battlestar Galactica and sitting on my bum drinking tea. Swinging friday plans I know. I'm insanely excited about it though. I haven't had any time off all week...I need the break. J has been on nights and I try and fill up my time when he's not around with things to do. Went a bit overboard this week though methinks...


Riding on the Losermobile

My husband had a nickname for the bus in high school - "the losermobile". As soon as he could have a car, he saved up and got his license and drove around. Needless to say he'd rather walk than take the bus.

Me? Not so much. Don't mind it at all. Even tho I lived in a small town, there was a bus into the "city" every morning and home every evening so I could do without a car to go see a movie or go shopping. I took the greyhound bus on long trips and city buses to school...or I walked. I actually didn't get my license until I was 21 - when I needed it to drive for a landscaping job I'd gotten that summer. It just wasn't necessary - I worked around it. I tried to live near where I worked, or made sure I could bus where I needed to go. I didn't shun my car - I just found I didn't need it very often. Even now, I don't drive much, as J needs the car as he works early, before the buses start, and we have a bus that gets me to work faster than if I tried to drive anyways.

I still take the bus all over - both bellydance classes I am enrolled in this term are on bus routes, and I'll likely bus to them most times, due to J having to work. Sure, we could save up for a second car...but for all that cost, there is only the rare time when I really want the car and don't have it. And to be honest, I'm just not that good of a driver (heh), so unless I drove a lot more than I do now I wouldn't get better...right now I'm willing to bus it. No warming up or scraping the car in the winter. No worrying about slippery icy roads. I just sit down, plug in my headphones and relax.

The result is, I find I walk more, and am more in touch with the world by being out in it. I am more patient with others because I am exposed to them...driving everywhere in your cocoon can isolate you...make you fussy and less forgiving. I learn to interact and deal with people - I've never been a fan of crowds, but I find constant exposure to people makes me more relaxed. I can people of my favourite things. In the summer I bike everywhere I can...but biking in the snow is silly, so I'll stick to the bus until spring.

Last night I took the bus 20 minutes away to my first tribal style bellydance class. The timing of the buses happens to be perfect - arrives 15 minutes before, leaves 20 minutes after...stops 1 block from the school I need to go to and picks me up at my regular bus stop. A few ladies in the class saw me waiting for the bus and asked "how can you do that? It must be so inconvenient". Well, it's not my ideal life, it can be chilly some days, and it does take longer to get around, but it's not a bad thing for me. It makes me more active. I look at it this way - my house is a 10 minute walk from the bus stop, so I'm guaranteed a bit of a walk every day...I have kit for all weather types. I'm lucky enough to live in a city where I can take the bus to most places and not fear for my personal safety, and I like knowing I can get to places if I need to. It is odd, but it gives me a feeling of independance.

Don't have a point with this...I'm just sitting here on my coffee break wondering if I'd be less patient, more rude and weigh more if I had a second car. For all we do to try and be more active, I think that working it into your actual life makes it so much easier than having to slot it into times when you don't get it elsewhere...

Chicka chicka!

Last night I had my first bellydance class of the spring session. I had to go on a bus adventure to get there but it was worth it. The intermediate/conditioning class was cancelled due to lack of people, so we all lumped in to the beginner class...our instructor is still as great as I remember her. She's changing her approach this term from learning a routine to concentrating on moves and form, but that 's fine with me. I need the methodical practice to get some of my moves down better. The new group of ladies are wonderful - all shapes and ages, 16-62! And the instructor is giving us girls who've taken a few courses before more complicated combos of moves the other girls are just learning to keep us challenged. I like it already...

I'm still going thru the solo and other routines as often as I can...nearly got the moves down for the solo now too- wohoo! After class, as I waited, all suited up in my snow gear last night to go home I danced away and practiced the routines at the bus stop...I'm sure it looked odd to see a skipant and balaclava clad lady dancing about on the corner at 9 at night in -35 weather, but I had a great time. If I amused anyone else-hey all the better.

I'm excited about getting a few bellydance cardio DVDs. It looks like a lot of fun, and an alternate workout to my ball DVD that will help me strengthen the muscles I'm using more now will be a good idea-World Dance New York has a lot of different DVDs for styles of dancing and for yoga/strengthening. I've been eying up a few of the I do believe I will order this Fusion cardio DVD for some cardio, and think I might add in a conditioning DVD like this or this to keep it interesting. And this veil technique one looks cool too.
It's exciting...I'm getting the same buzz I get from running from doing this too. Me hee :)
I am fighting the winter crazies with jiggle power...:)

Note to self: you are not a giant 6 foot muscle man

Yesterday I was in a hurry to ship back a large heavy box to a company and meet a pickup deadline. I had no cart for the box within any reasonable distance so I just carried it myself...lift with the knees...stagger arm carry...down two long halls...up 2 flights of stairs...and down the hall thru the door to the desk.
Today my arms and back are stiff from all that. It wasn't too heavy...just awkward and after that long of a carry, a strain on my beautiful arms and back. I was feeling the stiffness when I did my bellydancing last night. I did some extra stretching, but I still feel stiff in my back and arms.
You think I'd learn...but no.
Luckily no harm done...I'm still trying to get the moves for my solo down, now tht I've memorised the routines for the other 2 groups pieces. Anyone have any tips on proper snake in basket chest cirles? I look like a cougar trying to shake her can can to impress the young uns.
I still have a month to practice...thank god :)

Rated M for Mature

I think my taste buds are "maturing"

I'm starting to like some red wine, and a lot of things I used to like just seem bland or fake to me. Take ranch dressing: I recall a time when I would drown things in it, dip away, even use it in making cream sauce. tastes oily and bland and blechy...give me some homemade spiced mayo with chipotle or garlic anyday...or oil and vinegar...or curried sour cream. I can't eat Velveeta either...tastes like plastic.
I've found some tequilas I like, and have developed a fondness for some of the better scotches and bourbons. Still love a good beer, but no longer American lager. Weiss beers, Ales, Stouts...I'll take them instead.

I like mustard now...particularly the seedy Guinness kind.
Pickles? Yup...even on the odd sandwich. Horseradish too.
I'll voluntarily eat tomatoes and brussel sprouts when I'm in the mood for them...

What gives?
Either I've worn out some taste buds and new ones have jumped up to fill in the thin red line that like these new things, or my tastes have changed...maybe cutting out some oil and fat, and using more herbs and spices has gotten me to actually appreciate flavours. I still like some dipping sauces (can't let go of ketchup) but there are lots of other chutneys and oriental sauces I've discovered.
Even snacking...I prefer pita chips with salsa and fat free sour cream or popcorn. I'll snarf dates and dried apricots. Cheese and crackers and fruit still win out over all things in my world, but I try and scale that back to be healthy.

I'm finding that in a lot of cases I've just not found things I've "liked" in a particular kind of food before. My Mum does not like extreme flavours of any kind, and I've been having fun for the past few years discovering all the flavours that food didn't have when I grew up. She wasn't a bad cook...just simple. All the stronger flavours were too much at first - I didn't know what to think of them. There are so many flavours out there though- It's encouraged me to try new ingredients and foods at least once...I've been pleasantly surprised on more than one occasion. Having a husband who is willing to try mnost anything (except seafood) once, has made it easier to experiment...and sometimes we hit the jackpot. Exciting new things from other cuisines like Japanese coconut or sesame kanten blow my fragile little mind. I love curries and eggplant and tofu. Who woulda thunk it?

(For the record tho, I still hate raisins. And cheap tequila or gin. Don't even get me started on cilantro. Gag.)

How about you?
Have you found your tastes have changed???
Anything new in your world?
I'm on the hunt for new flavours...

Then Captain Marvel zapped him right between the eyes...ah!

All the children sing...

I have weird and strange stiffness today. I did 2 hours of bellydancing last night. The cats kept trying to help by sitting on my notes, so I have choreography taped up all over the wall and mirror now, but I got a lot of practicing in. I'm starting to feel the coolness of my solo...I hope I can pull it off, as I *love* the music. Having my iPod to dance to is great...I can restart and skip around the song as I need to and J isn't forced to listen to the same song dozens of times...

I ended up stopping at 10 when I realised I wasn't doing proper hip circles anymore, as my muscles were just used more to give me. I couldn't practice proper technique I stopped and did some proper stretches on everything...except my arms. You don't realise how much you use your arms...until you wake up with aching shoulders at about 3 AM. Eep.
Note to self: stretch your arms...
I'm feeling good today. I have to register for spring bellydance classes tonight...I can't decide between another basic moves class or a bellydance fitness class where you work the muscle groups together with yoga moves for toning and fitness...the classes are only $25 each...and one after the other on the same night. I wonder if I should take both of them?? I can't decide...

On the food front, I'm getting better. I really slacked off on the whole snacky thing over the holidays, and it's hard to get back to diligence again. I really can't eat after 8 PM if I want to maintain/alter my weight, and it's hard getting back to that. But, I'm trying. We just got groceries and I've tried to get tonnes of fresh ingredients and healthy snacks, and I'm determined to make good lunches for myself at work, so that I have the energy I need to not come home and devour tonnes of crap at the end of the day to silence the grumblies. Also - no more eating snacks in front of the TV, and only 3 drinks a week...I can hoover down immense amounts of food/liquor and not even taste it. Watching the empty calories...back to basics again.

You've got to keep the loonies on the path...

Oh well, it's the little things that help me stay on track...and last night I made some blueberrry oatmeal muffins and a big pot of potato and leek soup. It's thick and yummy and very low in fat - a healthy supper and good lunches the rest of the week. I'm going to start cooking up a pot of low fat, filling soups once a week to use for my lunches. I used to do that back when I was actively losing weight and I somehow fell out of it, once I had to start making lunches for both J and I, as he's not much of a soup guy, and it was easier to just make double lunches the next day. No reason why I can't make me soup and him something else...extra work is OK when it means good health right? Yessiree.
I love week is curried cauliflower subscription to Vegetarian Times is such a good thing :) So many good recipes. I'm has an apple in it. Sounds yummy.

Anyways...I'm woolgathering.
Off to the lab to listen to the White Album and get some serious science done.

Hips Don't Lie...much

Practice practice....I'm getting to know a few songs really well.
My solo song is Ancient Ruins (link to song, but not me dancing it or my routine). The other group routine is Tamally Maak. Pretty songs and nice routines... No problem. Another group routine I'm not in is Brooklyn Baladi (again link to song, but not routine). It's a beautiful routine I wish I was in, but it's very tricky and I just don't have time.

But a song that I really am having issues with...that I must listen to over and over...and catch myself humming to myself is Hips Don't Lie by Shakira. The routine is fun and pretty, and the song has energy, but the gawdawful harpish squeak of a song...that I must listen to over and over...and learn the lyrics for motion cues to. Ick. I've never liked this song when it was on the radio.
Yet so help me...the more I listen, the more fun I have...and I find myself starting to like it, despite my best efforts...

My mind rejects it...yet I am powerless to stop it :)
Curse you Shakira.

Procrastination 101

So here's the thing...back in November I agreed I'd be in a bellydance recital. I would be in 2 group numbers, and in a fit of insanity I said, "why sure, I'll do a solo too. And hey - given a choice between a short veil piece and a longer dance piece I'll take the longer one, as I like the music a lot more."

Heh heh.

Last night it occurred to me, that despite all my best efforts of thinking about rehearsing and dancing and practicing at home, I have, in essence practiced less than 5 hours total for this recital, not counting the group rehearsals twice a week. That is really sad...and so last night I panicked, realising that the recital is on valentines day...and that, my lovelies, is almost 1 small month away.

That's not a lot of days people

So last night my brain kicked in - I was on a mission...I went on iTunes, spent some of my birthday $$ and got the tunes I'll be dancing to, along with a Djinn album to practice other moves to. I was almost distracted by download errors from the iTunes store but I managed to just walk away after I'd gotten the songs I needed and put them on my iPod (I'll figure the rest out later).

Then J and I morphed our rec room in to a studio for me. Sounds impressive, but we really just took an old 3 X 3 mirror from an old reno and propped it up on some chairs so I could see myself do moves and then he left me be for 2 hours while I bumbled my way through the 2 group routines over and over again...trying to remember everything I'd forgotten over the holiday and get things going in my head again. I have the routines printed out and I tried to follow them when I lost track. I didn't give up...just did it over and over...restarting and redoing, trying to get the basic order down. Once I get that, I can work on refining the moves. I even went through my solo a few times...and remembered why I liked the song so much...but I panicked, as I still feel very leery - I do not even know the whole routineyet.
I have a lot to do.
I was stiff from jiggling this morning, and altho I will try and fit in some cardio every other day, the bellydance will definitely be my priority this next month - 1 hour a night minimum...and since I have my iPod with me at work, I can even go through each routine once at my lunch break. Once I have the order of movements down it will be a lot simpler...

I am determined...instead of whimpering and simpering and giving up I'm going to see just how kickass I can do these routines by the end of January. If the solo is still substandard, I'll cancel it and do the 2 group pieces, but I am now getting past the "oh when I practice I feel bad as I can't do it perfectly" roadblock in my head. And I figured this out...

Practise is practise.
It's hard work.
It's what you do when you don't know how to do something right.

It is also what makes you not look like a panicked deer caught in the headlights when you perform...makes you not look like someone who didn't practice, expecting themselves to be a natural perfect dancer "just because" without the hard work.

Image Source

This may seem obvious to all of you, but it never seems to sink into my brain. Time and time again in life, I've wondered about what I could have done if I'd actually tried harder. So many times I thought that I just couldn't do soemthing, and didn't give it the effort I would be too dissapointed in myself if I really tried hard and failed anyways. Running is one of the few things I persevered in...and that went well. So I know I can do things if I only try...but only when I want to.

So I'm going to try harder. I'm wishing this had sunk in last month, but I'll take what I have and go with it now.

And so - from this point on:
I am Zahira.
Hear me jiggle...:)


Wella wella well.
Over the holidays I wasn't bad, but I confess to mostly hibernation, with breif stops for snacking and dancing. I did some renos, visited some friends, but mostrly read and putzed around doing as little as possible. Was this good for me? Mentally yes. physically, I don't think I'm in too bad a shape...maybe 1-2 Lbs up. Nothing to get excited long as I hop to it and be a good little fitster starting right away.
Now that the reality of life is here again it begins.
And I look forward to it. Sloth is nice, but I need to do things...I miss the feeling I get from workouts...and how I feel whenI eat well.
As of today I'm officially back on the