Monday, November 18, 2013

Rubbish Free Week

Moreland council is encouraging people to participate in a  "Zero waste for a week" challenge. We just completed our week . I was surprised that it wasn't too hard to do. In Moreland we can recycle soft plastics like bread bags and other plastic wrappings so that helps (I just realized we could do this through our curbside collection a couple weeks ago-we had been collecting them up and taking them to Coles for recycling). We did end up with four pieces of rubbish for the week: a foil-like plastic wrapper from a chocolate bar we got at WVD-I'm pretty sure this sort of plastic can't be recycled with soft plastics (someone please tell me if I'm wrong), a foil-like plastic wrapper from some crackers I'd opened before the week began, the wrapper of a stock cube and the small bit of paper towel I used to re-season our wok (I probably could have used a cloth for that). We compost all our food scraps and recycle all the packaging we can. I realized we can probably downsize our bin (it's not that big anyway but if would be nice if it took up less space). Maybe we'll be able to do a completely rubbish free week in the near future.

                                    Our 1 week of rubbish 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Goldilocks Lunchbox

Last week my boss ordered us all Goldilocks Lunchboxes for our monthly staff meeting. We'd been talking about having the option to order them once a week after one of my coworker's daughter was raving about them. They are amazing. Each week has a theme (last week was a literary theme, the week before was French). They contain something big, something small and something sweet and are hand made and hand delivered to your workplace. She offers a vegetarian option and is able to cater to vegan and gluten free diets. The lunchboxes are presented beautifully (last week's box was tied up with some fancy string and had a pencil included). The sandwiches were wrapped in a quote from Tom Robbins (taped around with some of that decorative sticky tape). The were 3 sandwiches, each on a different type of bread. One had roast veggies, one was cucumber and hummus. I can't remember the third now but they were all amazing. There was a bamboo tray of fresh berries and a bamboo tray with an apple pie/crumble dessert (the non-vegan lunches contained fresh made scones with cream and tiny jars of jam). Everything,including the container and the cutlery, are recyclable or compostable. The lunches are $15 each (or 4 weeks for $55).   They are worth the money. Right now there's only a few suburbs that she delivers but she seems to be expanding a bit (I think the business is run by a woman and her father? and has only been around for just over a year). This week is a Thai theme-- I'm very excited for lunch tomorrow.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

How I trained for Tough Mudder

I decided to do the spring Tough Mudder last April-ish.  I had been working out 3-5 times a week (often with Gillian Michaels' videos) since last spring but when I thought about joining my husband's cousin's team for Tough Mudder I realized I probably need to see if I can run.  I used to run a bit when I was at university but the last time I remember going for a run was June 2002, just before I left Southern California (and it didn't go well since we lived on the side of a mountain and I hadn't run for a year or so).  I never ran for more than 30 minutes (I think I ran for 35 minutes once) so I was only ever doing around 5km.  I'd need to be able to do around 20km for Tough Mudder (but there would be breaks at the obstacles).  Since I had decent cardio fitness I decided to go for a run to see how far I could run without stopping to walk.  I then looked at the couch to 5k program and decided my running fitness level fit around week 4. The program was great and I was easily running 5km within 6 weeks.  I continued to build from there (my cardiovascular system had no problems handling the runs, it was just strengthening all the muscles used in running that took time).  
I started alternating runs and Tough Mudder Boot Camps (or other strength training activities, including Zac's cousin's boot camp style group fitness sessions with her new business Fit Queen) 6 days a week. 
I changed the way I ate during training too.  This year Zac went back to school so we had to cut back on expenses, which meant less eating out and take away.  I started avoiding a lot of packaged foods too (way less store bought vegan cheese that is generally not very healthy but oh soooo good) and eating more wholefoods.    
Pre-workout I would usually have some sort of snack if it was right after work (crackers with tahini, dates, bananas or something along those lines).  I would also make sure I'd been hydrating well over the last hour or 2.  
After I'd finish I would either have a homemade energy bar (usually something like this one, based on this formula) or a smoothie (often banana, frozen berries, chia seeds, nuts, a bit of soy milk, water and maybe so kale). I also made sure to continue to stay hydrated.  
No Meat Athlete and Happy Herbivore had a lot of useful information on training on a vegan diet.  
During my one 15km run and Tough Mudder I used Clif Shot energy gels that I got from Uproar.  Cliff shots seem to have the most natural looking ingredients in energy gels.  BSC gels (I've seen them at Woolies) are also vegan but the ingredients looked a bit weird to me and I wasn't sure if my stomach would handle them.  Clif Shots actually tasted pretty good too (although I'm sure the one I had during Tough Mudder, I took in as much mud from the outside of the packet as I did gel) and I didn't have any stomach issues (the gels my teammates used definitely weren't as tasty).  
When I researched how to fuel for events like Tough Mudder (half marathons) most people recommend light breakfasts beforehand.  I seem to work better when I've had a carb heavy meal within an hour (or less) before a long run.  My best longer runs (10-15km) were the ones that I had a bowl of pasta (like Vegan Yum Yum's  Hurry Up Alfredo- the Vegan Yum Yum site seems to be down but I've linked to someone else who posted the recipe.  Hopefully the site will be up again soon and I can link to her actual site) 30 minutes or less before running.  The morning of Tough Mudder we were all up early (our start time was 10:40, we were up by 7ish).  I had a big bowl of homemade baked beans (made with a can of 4 bean mix, a can of diced tomatoes, some garlic and spinach) on toast and then later had a few fork-fulls of left over hurry up alfredo and a couple dates just before we left and just before we started the event.  I also had my husband bring me a peanut butter and banana sandwich so I would have some food at the finish line.  It was great that bananas were available at a few of the water stations along the course (I only used 1 energy gel because of this).  I never felt hungry or overfull at any point during or after the event.  
I found Tough Mudder easier than I expected (and although the Arctic Enema was terrible it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be).  I will be doing another one.  We had a great time.  

Friday, October 04, 2013

Neglected Blog

I haven't touched my blog in a LONG time.  There are a lot of reasons.  One of the main reasons over the past several months has been lack of time.  A good part of this was because I decided last April that I was going to do Tough Mudder in September.  When I decided that, I decided I was going to need to train hard.  I started working out 5-6 times a week about a year ago, trying to focus a bit on strength since I'm fairly active cardio-wise anyway.  When I decided to do Tough Mudder I upped the strength training a level and started running again (for the first time in more than a decade).  Turns out that I really like running and it came back to me quite easily (I think it was because with the strength training I'd been doing and that I had decent cardio levels to start with it was just about training the running muscles).  I was working out 40-60 minutes a day, alternating running and strength training/bootcamp style workouts, 6 days a week.  I liked doing it could feel/see myself getting stronger but it did take up a huge chunk of time (40-60 minutes didn't include making food to eat after--usually smoothies or homemade energy bars-- and showering). The payoff was that I had a great time doing Tough Mudder with my team and actually found the event easier than I thought it would be (and wasn't too sore in the days after).

 my team just before we crossed the finish line

It's been great the past couple weeks to be off work (we didn't run a holiday program since we were having more renovations done on the building) and not have to do ANYTHING.  I still went for a few runs (including a 10km run yesterday) and did a couple Jillian Michaels workouts (I really like the 3minutes strength, 2 minutes cardio, 1 minute abs circuits).  I'm still deciding what event I'd like to try next (the other day a friend tried to encourage me to do a triathlon with her.  That's something I've never even considered-- I don't really know how to do proper swim strokes for the most part but maybe it would be fun....).  I'd like to join the Run for Refugees team at the Melbourne Marathon next year and do the half marathon distance (so far, the furthest I've run is a 15km run and it went really well). 
I think my next post will be about some things I've found useful during training.  I've changed what I eat a bit.  Turns out I also have a weird fueling technique for before a big run but it works for me.  I also made some really good homemade energy bars that I like to keep on hand.  I'll also post some info about how I trained.