Monday, August 27, 2012

First Sweaty Day of School

I woke up at 5:40, after having woken up a couple of times in the night drenched in sweat. The thermostat was set much higher than my body prefers, apparently.

I got ready and ate my pre-made cinnamon apple refrigerator oatmeal. I got to school and tried to get my class ready.

My grandma arrived before advisory started to help me with the first day’s work.

The hallways and my classroom were really hot. My grandma even pointed it out first thing in the morning.

Advisory was OK. I felt kind of bad because I did not sufficiently explain the lunch schedule to the seventh graders before they left. But I think they were mostly OK.

I had way more kids this year walking into the wrong classes and getting totally mixed up than I remember having last year.

I have first period prep on both days. I’d prefer second, since I can’t do much in first (I have nothing to grade since I’ve had no classes yet). It’s also less motivating because I can’t think of things I could or should be doing. I don’t feel the pressure, really.

In second period, my first English class of the day, I was dripping sweat. I’m sure that’s a lovely image for your heads, but on top of the nerves of a first class and hoping you have everything in order, and trying to get kids in their right seats, and trying to add new kids to the seating chart you already made, and dealing with the ones who say they need to be moved up front, and changing the names to their nicknames or preferred names, and handing out all the papers you need to hand out, and all the other chaos of the first day of school, it was freaking HOT.

But 2A went OK. We got through our stuff. We didn’t get to the “getting to know you” things, so maybe next class we’ll get to it. The kids were quiet and attentive. You never know how the classes will be until things really get rolling.

3A was better. Then 4A was the smoothest of all the classes, naturally. I did have a class of 40 today. I am going to try my hardest to not rip on the state of Utah right now about these class sizes. But I have a young lady in each of these two classes who is not sitting in a legitimate desk.

But my grandma managed to help me a ton, getting all the file tabs taken care of and filed away, passing out and collecting items, and getting all the first day journals alphabetized. It was killing her back to be sitting all day, and I am so grateful for her help. It didn’t seem like a big deal to her, but really saved me a lot of time.

After school, my principal wanted to talk to me. Our school is doing committees this year. There are three: one for student support, one for teacher support, and one for school support. The committees are meant to do different respective things, but they all consist of teachers. I asked to be on the teacher support committee. I’m always trying to help other teachers at school. I send out emails, share all of my documents and ideas, help some with technology, try to support the new teachers in the department. I feel that teacher support is one of my strong points. So today the principal asked if I would be a co-chair on the teacher support committee!

He said that because my colleagues nominated me for the building committee last school year, he feels they respect me, feel safe talking to me, and are OK with me leading them. He said he has noticed that I put a lot of effort into communicating with the staff and sharing my work with them. He says he thinks this is partly because I am nice and friendly but also very relaxed (approachable, laid back? I can’t remember the word he used). He also added that some teachers volunteered for the position and wanted to do it, but that he had to carefully consider these positions. And even though I didn’t volunteer for it, he thought I would be the right person for the job. He said that he feels I am one of the teachers who is trying to learn and grow and improve, and that I like sharing my knowledge with others. There is a very small stipend attached. I accepted the position.

So that totally made my day even though I was sweaty and gross all day, and even though my throat and voice hurt from talking so much.

I went and got gas after work. I came home, I got changed, and was at the gym around 4:40. I did an interval session on the treadmill for about 25 minutes and ran 2.6 miles or so, burning over 300 calories. Walking into the 97 degree weather afterward made me pretty light headed.

I got home, showered, ate, and went visiting teaching. Since then I have done dishes and prepared peanut butter banana refrigerator oatmeal for tomorrow. And I typed this so that I can keep my sanity. Now I will go read scriptures and go to freaking sleep.

All in all, it was a busy, productive, tiring day.

I’m out.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Now I Know Why People Work Out at Home

I entered the busy,
dimly lit
sweat center
just before rush hour
when everyone
for their sedentary jobs
by becoming a

I warmed up on
my usual machine
without anyone
next to me.

Thank goodness.

But then I went to find
a treadmill.

I opted for the front row and
left an empty space

between that lady and

As it turns out, said lady
was at the gym
but really just
didn’t want to work.

Because I could hear the
bottoms of her sneakers
scraping the treadmill tape.

It sounded like squeaking mice.
Or baby birds.
But not cute ones.
Or like a needs-oil
Hamster wheel
That doesn’t annoy the hamster
but annoys me
to death.

And it wasn’t just every few steps.
like she was getting tired or
had a bad knee or
had been running for a while.

It was

I tried to just
focus on my music.
I tried not to
give her an evil glare.
I tried to just

But those squeaking mice or those
baby birds or that
old hamster wheel
were all taking over my right ear
and my whole brain.

And I wanted to turn to her and
And I wanted to
throw my hands up
in that questioning way
and ask her why she can’t just

bend her knees or
pick up her feet or
wear lighter shoes or
slow down her pace
if it was too hard to keep up with?

When I got past that
of every footstep,
this Asian woman approaches
the machines near me.

There are six empty ones
To my left.


I saw her put her bag down
Two machines away.
Which would have been fine.
Except today was
“smart day” at the gym.

And homegirl steps onto the one

And I glance in her direction
with total confusion
(and maybe some exasperation).

And then her two daughters
get onto the machines to her left.

That makes
four of us
in a row.

Too bad it’s not a game of Bingo.
Because one more, and I could have

But then,
because it’s a dumb day at the gym,
my left shoelace came untied.

So now there are
crying mice and
three Asian ladies and
an untied shoe
ruining my therapy session.

I stop. I tie.
I double tie.
I start again.

And two minutes later,
A stench rises
Up to my nostrils

Because on top of the
mice-personal space violation-shoe lace
I needed to smell somebody’s
late and malodourous lunch.

But not to worry because
I have reached two miles
and I am giving up
on this entire
gym thing



Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Whole Foods

So a while back I watched this movie called Forks over Knives. It was all about animal related products and how eating a whole foods, plant-based diet could reverse cancers, obesity, and a plethora of other health issues.

While I found the movie completely convincing and intriguing, it takes me a long time to mentally work up to committing to something. (I'll probably write another blog about this chock full of examples.) I've been reading a lot about clean eating as well on different fitness websites and blogs of women who have changed their lifestyles. I recognize the benefits of it and want to move away from processed foods. I've been doing a better job in recent weeks.

But I know the work and research it would take to start a completely healthy and nutritious diet like that. I also put a lot of energy into the things I commit to doing. Those who know me know that when I want to make a change, I do it. I see it through. That's why it takes me so long to work up to things--because I will do it 150%.

The past few weeks I have been experimenting with whole foods recipes and trying out different grains and supplements. I figure I need to start the transition slowly, familiarizing myself with the foods and supplements available. Pinterest has been my best friend.

First, I bought a bag of quinoa at Costco.

I used Pinterest for ideas on what to do with quinoa, and I even looked for breakfast ideas. I made it in a rice cooker. I made it on the stove. For a few nights of dinner, I put it in a whole wheat tortilla along with some black beans, corn, cheese, and some green sauce, using the quinoa as the primary source of protein. I also had it with milk kind of like oatmeal for breakfast. It is really good, and I am excited to replace rice and meat with this, even though I love rice. This is a much healthier alternative.

I've also been working out every day really hard, like I usually do in the summer. I've gone to Les Mills Body Pump classes, Zumba, and step interval (still my favorite). I've increased my running time significantly.

I've tried out arm and leg workouts from Pinterest as well.

And when I get back from the gym I'm pretty hungry. So I found this recipe that calls for quinoa, chia seeds, and a lot of other unfamiliar whole foods. It's a fast and easy protein snack with superfoods for runners.

Mine did not turn out that pretty. I got very frustrated because I couldn't find the right cocoa powder for it (it's not really cocoa powder) and didn't know enough about it to easily find an alternative. I had to buy agave nectar, chia seeds, and dates, all of which I had never bought before. And natural peanut butter. Seriously? "We are going to charge you more money for the stuff that we did not add to this peanut butter." How on earth does that work? Come on. They were a pain to roll (impossible, really, as the agave made it very sticky), and I'm not sure how much I like the frozenness of it.

Anyway, I've been using the chia seeds every day after working out, like so:

Chia seeds are very cool. I first saw them when my brother Jake was drinking them last year at home. Read up on them.

As I type, I'm waiting on yet another Pinterest pin that I saw tonight: chia seed pudding. It is in the fridge right now and I'm going to stir it in just a minute here.

So being on this crazy kick of whole foods, I ventured out even more. I bought myself some fish oil, which everyone knows about already. I also bought some ground flax (2 lbs for $5 at Big Lots, thank you very much). I bought a different brand of multivitamin because the Equate ones make me sick (like, vomity, even, although that might have something to do with having taken them only with salad). And I got some steel cut oats (also a great deal at Big Lots).

I made some overnight oats from the steel cut oats which were very simple and yummy. I've had that for several breakfast meals with strawberries added. I've been putting the flax into my oatmeal, which is good because you can't taste it and it mixes in easily. I've also added flax to a number of smoothies so far. (I'm not exceeding 1 tbsp of flax per day.)

I bought a big bag of spinach and some egg whites. I've been having a spinach omelet with a little cheese for the past several days, as seen here.

I also used my spinach to make a delicious salad.

I have also had some things I have already eaten regularly that are good for me, like salmon. I made this linguine with garlicky bread crumbs as well, using whole wheat pasta. I'm aware that the pasta is still processed food, but it's better than regular pasta, OK? Don't judge me.

Sorry the photos aren't rotating. Not sure why that's happening, but the file itself is rotated fine. So I don't know.

That dinner was just OK, by the way. Didn't love it. The breadcrumbs were pretty soggy, and I wanted a crunchy texture. The salmon was just OK too. Meh.

I've eaten a lot of almonds and other nuts lately. On that note, I made this recipe last night, when I wanted some cookie dough.

Mine didn't look that pretty. My stomach had a hard time with these, like the protein balls that I made. I'm wondering if it's the agave, since that's new for me.

And yesterday at the store I bought some Silk original coconut milk. I have seen a few recipes on Pinterest that call for coconut milk, and it's got a really interesting taste. It has more calcium and less sugar (and unfortunately less protein) than regular milk, so if I eventually move to the whole food plant-based diet, I can see myself using that 100% of the time. I haven't used it in anything yet, except just drinking it straight from the carton. What? Don't judge me. I'm excited to try this one tomorrow. I might also try this.

Anyway, make no mistake. I've still been eating pretty poorly a lot of the time (see the cupcake below. Rachel gave me 6 of these. Thanks a lot, Raytch!). I had pizza the other night, onion rings for lunch, and soft serve yogurt from Costco today. I'm just trying to make my way over and familiarize myself with grains and other whole foods.

I'm excited to make these tomorrow since I now have all the ingredients!

Along this journey, here are some of the things I've learned:

One is that eating healthy is expensive--if you want to make sure your nutrition needs are being met, anyway.

Two is that you need to have a food processor. The thing about not eating processed foods is that you buy whole, raw foods, and process them yourself! Thankfully, my roommate has one which will suffice for now.

Three is that I can get full on healthy food. I had a small serving of chicken and a huge helping of spinach and a helping of peas just an hour ago.

Four is that it really is possible to get everything you need from nuts, grains, and plants. I'm amazed at the power of oats, berries, greens (like spinach), and seeds.

Five is that I am so grateful that I love vegetables and fruit and healthy food. There's almost no vegetable I don't like. I love the bad food, too, which I'm trying to break away from. But at least I have options--picky eaters are at a disadvantage in that regard.

Six is that I have a lot to learn still. There are a lot of things at Whole Foods or Sunflower Market that I have no idea how to use or what they're good for. I'm still pretty intimidated and feel lost in those stores.

It's sad that we've become so separated from food production that we don't know how to prepare or optimize the amazing foods that are available to us.

So here's to continuing my journey into clean eating, and eventually plant-based eating.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


It was only a matter of minutes ago that I thought I overheard someone telling a complete stranger that I am "boring." Obviously, I don't think I was meant to hear that, but I wasn't eavesdropping on purpose or anything. Because of who said it, my stomach dropped, and I started to feel sick over it.

But I thought I should instead reflect further on the matter.

I have long been of the mindset that what people find boring is very subjective.

Take my students, for instance. Some of them like English. Some of them don't. Some of them think my class is fun, and it's their favorite. Some of them hate it, and they think it's their most boring class. This is partly a matter of interest, partly a matter of attitude, and partly a matter of ability.

I like to work out. I think it's fun. I go to the gym, do some cardio and lifting, or I try out the classes at the gym.

I like to watch movies. I think they're fun. It is probably my most favorite pastime.

I like to read. I like to bake and cook. I like to browse dollar stores and department stores. I like to coupon.  I like to go on walks. I like to write. I like to go to concerts. I like to sit around and have good conversations with good people. I like to bowl. I like to go to the beach. I like to go on drives. I like to go fishing. I like to go to baseball games.

This is all my idea of fun. I can lead a happy life doing these things.

Do any of these things make me "boring"?

Am I boring because I would rather stay in and watch a movie than go dancing? Am I boring because I don't go to big church activities to socialize? Am I boring because I don't like large crowds? Maybe I'm boring because I don't go camping, or rappelling, or rock climbing, or hiking, or skiing, or snowboarding? What if I played video games? What if I watched a lot of TV?

Are any of these activities inherently more exciting than the other?

I think it just depends on the person.

On one hand, there are a lot of things that I don't do or try because I couldn't afford to do it if I wanted to (skydiving, parasailing, Polynesian or other dance lessons, guitar lessons, road biking, skiing, traveling, surfing, etc.). On the other hand, there are things I would be happy to do if I had the right crowd.

My old group of friends used to do something exciting every week. We'd go to dinner and end up roller skating or going 80s dancing or running around the park at night. I'd love to do these things, with the right people who make me comfortable--with people who I feel safe acting silly with, with people who are non-threatening. But just on my own, not so much.

There are situations in which I thrive, and others in which I struggle. I am willing to struggle with the right people. We all need to feel comfortable to some extent, I guess.

Maybe I'm not that "fun and exciting." But what makes something fun and exciting? Who says what goes and what doesn't?

For me, I do. And I'm going to keep rocking my boring hobbies till someone comes around and makes me comfortable enough to do something different.