Tag Archives: coffee

Yoga Journey

Yoga is a light, which once lit, will never dim. The better your practice, the brighter the flame. ~B.K.S. Iyengar

A couple of posts ago I wrote about my relationship to Yoga . How I have found again the joy of yoga, and how the practice makes me feel better, more energized, stronger and beautiful. Funny what some handstands can do to a girl, right?!

Those of you who know me well, or have been following the blog for long enough, know that I  am used to be  seriously addicted to coffee. There was no way on earth that I could have started my day without a giant mug (or two) of coffee. I traveled everywhere with Starbucks Via , just to make sure I can have quality coffee anywhere, at any time. And now I have not been drinking any coffee at all for a couple of weeks nor I have any kind of craving for it. I can walk by Starbucks without having even the tiniest desire to get coffee. Not even pumpkin spice latte gets me excited. Coffee just doesn’t taste good to me anymore.

But…. tea… There is nothing better than high quality Oolong to start the day with, sip some Jasmine tea in the evening, or Dragon Well green tea in the afternoon. I can only wonder if this change of preference between coffee and tea is related to yoga…? I don’t know but I do like the change.

In addition to falling in love with tea, I think I have also found my yoga niche. Forrest Yoga . I have tried yoga forms from Ashtanga and power yoga to bikram, vinyasa and hatha. Last week I did another Forrest yoga class, and found my yoga love… fascinating, challenging and addictive. So I will leave you with a Forrest yoga demo by Ana Forrest, yogi who developed the Forrest yoga.

Military Is Not Good for You

Yesterday I moved my office to a local coffee shop for a while, not only for the coffee (although I need my regular dose caffeine in order to function) but also for the social reasons. Working alone in my home office gets sometimes old, so I like to go through emails, put together presentations, or even do some programming in distracting environment.
Schools are about to end, so no surprise there were a bunch of High School kids prepping for finals. Kids struggling with math, wondering how to use a graphing calculator…. as a math nerd, I was slightly smiling behind my laptop. And eventually reached over to their table offering some help with geometry, and a quick 101 to the exciting world of graphing calculators. Kids were happy, thanked me for the tips, and asked if I were a math teacher. I did not admit that I used to teach Discrete Math on my Cryptography courses at the university, in general love numbers, and I know how to program tons of stuff on TI-89.

Kids continued their exercises, I got back to my work stuff. Until something else caught my attention. “I am thinking of going to Military Academy” . In another table a group of High School seniors were talking about the life after school… The same kid continued by telling how he had talked to school’s career advisor about his aspirations. Only to be turned down, and told it was not a good idea to consider military as a career option. The advisor had told the boy that military is not a future-proof career ( what is future-proof in this world? ), and in addition, people become crazy  in the military. A career advisor says something like this in a military town? Has guts to say that military makes people crazy? I wish I had asked what High School he was at.

It does make me sad to hear people thinking like this about the ones who are brave enough to step up for this nation. Or discouraging those who want to show their appreciation for Red, White, and Blue. Even more it bothers me to hear how even educated people generalize and follow their stereotypes. Yes, there has been individual cases where people with military connections have done things they should not do. But how many criminal actions have been done by people who have nothing to do with armed forces? A lot more.

Or PTSD… how many people out there suffer from PTSD? Way too many. PTSD is not tied to combat tours and military service but anyone can suffer from it after a traumatic event. And that traumatic event is a subjective experience – one thing may shake one person more than the other. Accidents, rapes, drug addiction, medical complications ….. they all can be underlying reasons for PTSD, not only the war scenes. But seeing the big picture can be challenging, thanks to the questionable publicity. Recently the TV therapist, Dr. Phil, called PTSD-suffering Soldiers “monsters” . TV shows like this do not help people with stress disorder, instead, they just increase the negative labels, and make the public to believe whatever they here.

Words of wisdom come from Kristle , from her blog posting regarding Dr. Phil’s show :

“If I had not been diagnosed with PTSD (yes I have it), and if I didn’t tell you, you may not otherwise know. If I had no connection to anyone else living with PTSD and NOT tuned in to the show, the trailers alone would have led me to believe everyone living with PSTD is a MONSTER. I am NOT a monster. My husband, who lives with several other combat related injuries in addition to PTSD, is NOT a monster.”

 

Lastly, based on my (biased) opinion, military makes a great career for people who are hard-working and dedicated. It’s a lot more than just an infantry job but can take young men and women to anywhere from commanding the combat troops to work in the healthcare, international politics, logistics, … If you are ready to accept a challenge and work for your goals, the career opportunities are almost unlimited. I hope the high school kid sticks with his desire, and goes to the Military Academy.

Spring Is Coming

After a long, snowy winter, the sunshine and warmer temperatures have finally found The Last Frontier: the past few days we have enjoyed the bird blue skies and sunny days. Snow is slowly melting, birds are chirping, people are getting out and about. Hibernation is over.

I started to have a spring fever this weekend in the form of spring cleaning and home decorations. If I just could have a few more extra hours in my day, I might even get all my creative crafts done. I started with some sewing projects: colorful, spring-themed table runners, placemats and potholders. And by matting and framing some of my own artwork. Thanks to bright sunshine though, it looks like cleaning the windows, dusting here and there, cleaning the carpet need to be added to the list too…  But it is not all about the cleaning, organizing and trying to be Holly Homemaker. Sometimes it is good to kick back, and just enjoy the life with great friends.
A while ago I wrote a blog posting about Alaska and Ft Richardson as a duty station  at Handling With The Grace , and mentioned how it can be pretty tough to make friends with locals in Alaska – and I am still standing behind my words on that one. However, I feel very blessed to have some most awesome friends in our Alaska based military community.

On Saturday Connie and I headed to little town of Girdwood , which is also the home of Alyeska , the only ski resort we have in Anchorage vicinity. We did not hit the slopes this time but had culinary excursion to famous Double Musky Inn . Double Musky is a Cajun type restaurant with an awesome, excellent wine collection and delicious meals. After king crab legs, shrimp, and sinfully delicious unhealthy  Double Musky pie we were stuffed! It was so very relaxing to spend an afternoon with a great friend, enjoy the road trip in the sunshine, and spot some mountain goats.

Sunday was time for outdoors activities. Tassu and I headed out to the Eagle River Nature Center with Florence and her furry kid, Roxy. What a gorgeous, sunny day it was. And so much fun! Roxy and Tassu had a blast, they were sniffing and running around – and naturally passed out as soon as they got into the car. Water-loving Roxy even decided that it is a good idea to swim in freezing cold river water. Silly puppy! She actually caused us some additional excitement by having a bit hard time to get out of the water due to the ice. Luckily she was able to make it herself although I was already thinking of scenarios how to get the dog up on thin ice if she needed help…. yeah, I would have dipped into the ice-cold water too if she had needed help. We wouldn’t leave our battle buddies. And nothing is better after a hike than sitting at a coffee shop for a while, sipping lattes and talking about the life. I am very, very blessed to be able to call these wonderful ladies as my friends.

 

“My friends have made the story of my life. In a thousand ways they have turned my limitations into beautiful privileges, and enabled me to walk serene and happy in the shadow cast by my deprivation.” -Helen Keller

Pizza With No Cheese, Please

The greatest wealth is health. ~Virgil

Eating out, and eating healthy is often a challenge. Especially here in Alaska. And even more so in Fairbanks. I am not even going to start to tell about my dining experiences in Fairbanks where I have been using a napkin to dry off the extra cooking oil from my veggie omelet.

Yes, I admit, I am a health nut who pays attention to quality of food. And apparently my taste is slightly different from most people. I don’t like french fries, excessive amounts of cheese make me lose my appetite, deep fried food gets no-thanks from me, I eat my salads dry, or with a couple of drops of dressing. Someone would call me picky. But on the other hand, I do enjoy a glass or two of good wine, happily have my (Starbucks) coffee, and occasionally even taste a piece of chocolate although I don’t really like it a whole lot. So I like to believe that I am still a human too. After all.

Over a past few weeks I have had interesting dining experiences in Anchorage area. First we went to a local pizza restaurant where I ordered a veggie pizza, very light on feta cheese only. And got three different kinds of cheeses. The restaurant did the same cheese mistake three times – after that I gave up, and just picked the cheese out of a couple of slices that I ate.

Next time I went to IHOP, and wanted an egg white veggie omelet with no cheese. Guess what I got? An omelet with cheese! And of course I waited until boredom to get the waiter’s attention, and was able to request a new omelet. Another small, local breakfast restaurant advertises itself kinda health-conscious place. And again, my omelet came with cheese when I specifically requested it without.

Lastly, this weekend, Jason and I had lunch in Anchorage downtown. After staring at the menu for quite some time, I decided that chicken burrito without cheese and on corn tortilla would be a good choice. Did I get it? Nope. Didn’t even get the cheese. This time the waiter kindly came to tell me that they can’t make the burrito without cheese. So I stare at the menu again, and decided to go with fish tacos, no cheese but with corn tortillas. I got the fish but with flour tortilla. At that point I was tired and hungry, and decided to eat some of it.

This all made me think why eating healthy is so difficult? Shouldn’t the unhealthy items be the ones to ask for? Why are the french fries the standard side with most foods? And having a side salad may even cost extra. I would be happy to see cheese or fries as items to ask for, and healthier options to be defaults.

Sometimes I think it would be a great idea to have higher taxes on fatty foods… especially when I check out the restaurants’ nutrition information. A dinner at Cheesecake Factory could look like this:

Appetizer: Caesar salad: 860 calories
Main course: Fettucini with chicken and sun-dried tomatoes: 1,830 calories
Dessert: half of a lemon raspberry cheesecake: 365 calories

This equals to over 3,000 calories, without beverages. And it is only one big dinner. A 30-year old woman who is 5’6″ tall and weighs 150lbs, needs about 2,000 calories to maintain the weight. And after the Cheesecake Factory dinner we are looking at about 1,000 extra calories. For a person this size, it takes about 90 minutes to lose 1,000 calories is she runs 10 mins/mile pace. Or 75 minutes of biking, at 15-20 mph. Trust me, it’s a sweaty exercise to run 9 miles in hour and half – four miles more and you have done a half marathon, and at a very good time…

With all my daily workouts, I consume that extra 1,000+ calories on daily basis, and actually eat worth 3,000 calories, sometimes even more. But do I want to eat food worth my whole day at one sitting? Absolutely not! I like food – so much that I rather eat 4-5 times a day. Nowadays news are full of stories about people being obese and having related health problems. It is not a no-brainer to figure out why that is the case. If a person doesn’t have a medical condition that leads to difficulties to lose weight, or makes a person prone to gain weight, the math is simple – if a person eats more than consumes, the extra energy is stored somewhere.

I so wish restaurants would serve healthier food. Meanwhile, my pizza and omelets are ordered without cheese.


Weekend In Alaska Style

In the clouds ... not much visibility on Sunday.

We have had such an Alaskan weekend… Even though I didn’t get the cycling miles I was hoping for, we had a blast. Saturday was such a gorgeous, sunny day, and according to the weatherman, also Sunday was supposed to be sunny. Well, the weatherman is usually off with his forecasts here, and this weekend was not an exception. We woke up to grey and rainy Sunday. However, let’s go back to Saturday first.

Reindeer Dog

Summer solstice will be Tuesday this year, so all the festivities in Anchorage took place on Saturday. The downtown was full of activities for young and old. Anything from petting zoos for kids to Hero Games between the military, fire and police departments. We also stopped by at the Downtown Market for some vegetable shopping.

While the veggie selection was nearly non-existent, we did find Fireweed jelly and Salmonberry jam for our Afternoon Tea wedding reception from Alaska Pure Berry . So exciting to be able to have some local delicacies at the reception!

Jason liked the Alaskan version of a hot dog

 

I was also able to check another thing off on my Alaska bucket list . I had my first (and the last) bite of reindeer hotdog ever. I’m probably offending everyone in Alaska by saying that it was not my thing. Not at all. Well, I have to admit that I don’t like any kind of sausage, so the likelihood for me falling in love with this greasy delicacy was not very high even in the beginning. However Jason really did enjoy it!

For Sunday we had planned a long bike ride up to the glaciers but the great plan was rained away when we woke up in the morning. We got summer for one day, and then the weather turned miserably rainy again.

Man And His Dog

However, since we love the outdoors and being active, we decided to pack ourselves and the dog into the car and head out to scout some spots for my photo project and try gold planning – despite the rain. First time ever!

Jason had done his homework about the locations worth trying, as well as about the techniques to use. My gold panning knowledge was non-existent prior our trip, and knowing my lack of impatience, I was naturally expecting to pick up gold rocks instead of keeping my eyes open for tiny, tiny flakes. If I want to find some gold, I really need to learn some patience… Actually, we did find some flakes, and I can see myself doing gold panning some more. It gets addictive when you start to find something.

Gold Panning

So our first gold panning experience was definitely a success! Although I wish the weather had been cooperating a bit more for my photography projects. Next time I will also be prepared with a thermos bottle of coffee, and even more water-proof gloves: the water in glacier streams gets pretty cold!

This coming week will be another busy one for us. In addition to the regular very busy work schedule and some business trips around the state of Alaska, also my fitness training schedule is getting back to normal since my cold (finally), and the summer classes are almost over. Only one paper and two finals left.

Picking up the gold flakes

I’m also thinking of taking one or two new personal training clients after getting so many requests from people who want to get into better running shape, or start to train for triathlons. I have also been asked to teach some (longer, up to 90 mins) hill climb cycling classes. While in the summer I want to concentrate on my own workouts and training, the climbing lessons in the fall sound pretty tempting. They make a great motivation to kick my own butt when the weather for outdoors training becomes less tempting.