• Link love (Powered by sugar cookies and new faces)

    It’s slightly strange being on the opposite side of the fence from everyone in the northern hemisphere. You’ve all just switched your clocks around – we changed ours over a month ago (while we were on our road trip, actually. I wasn’t sure when it was all happening, but when we arrived in Queenstown and walked into the centre, the town clock displayed one time on side and another time on the other, so we figured it was all on from that night forward).

    I have to say, I’m loving the long daylight hours. I went for a post-work run the other day for the first time in months (it’s dark by the time I get home through winter). I’ve blogged before about running being the one thing I do. Getting back to it was painful, but it always is.

    And in another boost to my exercise/fitness routine, I’m finally back in the game. T only recently went back to work – a story for another post – and was off for weeks after returning from our trip. Weekday mornings, therefore, were for long lazy cuddles, rather than stretches and situps. Now, he’s gone by the time I wake up.

    This week’s links:

    Ashley has turned A Story of Debt into an e-book. Hurrah!

    Budget and the Beach guest posts at Making Sense of Cents about how being in a rush costs you money.

    The Joy of Caking has some ideas on making gifts to give.

    Athena writes about what it’s really like working for a nonprofit.

    A sappy but excellent post about blogging by Stephany.

    Musings of an Inappropriate Woman sums up things I didn’t even know I felt about writing in the first person professionally, vs writing in the first person on my blog.

    Finally, thanks to Marissa for hosting the latest carnival of personal finance and including my post on dealing with the rising cost of living.

    Happy weekends!

  • Finding your healthy balance

    I don’t drink coffee, and I don’t smoke. I rarely drink alcohol, energy drinks or fizzy drinks; I don’t eat lollies, and I’m not big on meat.

    Fresh vegetables are important components of a...

    Image via Wikipedia

    That said, I’m a fiend for sugar in most other forms (baked goods and anything chocolate), carbs and many fried foods. And I’ll confess to a weakness for Yum Yum shrimp-flavoured noodles.

    I walk to and from work every day (20 minutes each way). I usually run twice a week (anywhere from one to 15km at a time) although this month I’ve been replacing one run with Zumba – one of my good friends is teaching free classes at Rocket Park in Mt Albert every Wednesday from 6.30pm if you’re keen.

    As with most things in life, I could do more. I could exercise every day. I could give up meat entirely or go vegan. (In theory. I love cheese and yoghurt too much to seriously contemplate the latter.)

    But I’m happy.

    What’s right for me and my body may not be right for anybody else.

    I’m one of those hateful thin people who can eat whatever she wants, so weight loss has never been a tangible motivator for me. (Apparently it’s okay for people to yell backhanded compliments at me while I’m out pounding the pavement.) I’m still yet to achieve my goal of giving blood because of my weight. So it’s got to be all me, all internally driven.

    I run to tone up and because somewhere along the way, I realised that between the panting, air-sucking and burning in my lungs, sweating it out physically felt good. I’m not saying it’s easy. But it’s worth it.

    Maybe I’m not a serious runner in some eyes because I can wear $20 Warehouse trainers and get away with it, and sometimes I only head out for a 15-minute jog. I’m okay with that – with admitting I really have no motivation to get my sweat on more often.

    I eat dessert almost every single day. And I usually have home-baked something or other for a snack at work. I still, more often than not, fail to make 5+ a day. I don’t like very many fruits and I prefer my vegetables cooked – and I need my carbs in order to keep my ridiculously fast metabolism up so I’m not scrounging around for more food every half hour. I’ve learned to like greens about 1000 times more than I did two years ago, but plant matter alone inevitably leaves me feeling hollow before long.

    Right now, this is my life. This is what my balance looks like.

  • Link love (Powered by pizza and Page One)

    This week, for the first time, I used iMapMyRun to track a run.

    The pause function didn’t work, which was annoying. I recoded two separate workouts, one pre-traffic light and one post.

    What felt like a decent 30-35 minute run? Was 3km in 19 minutes. Sigh. (I kinda made up for it on my next one – 15km in two-ish hours.)

    Knowing that I was measuring my progress definitely spurred me on. But my low data cap and my approach to exercise (keep running fun, basically) means I probably won’t be busting out this app all that often.

    Linky time!

    Freedom 35 explains the secret power of multiple incomes.

    You Have More Than You Think lists 10 things we love to buy but hate to use.

    Can I pick your brain? Here’s Urban Muse Writer on paying it forward vs being a sucker.

    Decluttering tips from Leo himself at Zen Habits.

    Here’s some seriously good advice on rocking the first day at a new job at Bullish.

    Dollars and Deadlines breaks down her 2011 freelance income.

    Stuff new homeowners never think about. Via Budgets Are Sexy.

    Awesome advice from an MIT alum to a struggling student, at Study Hacks.

    Geek in Heels on social capital and tapping into the expertise of friends.

    Kyla Roma blogs about eating well as a lifestyle.

    Cate shares a recipe for creamy stovetop mac and cheese.

    Dinner: A Love Story offers four culinary strategies for nervous newbies.

    Neurotic Workholic explains who and what she doesn’t want to be in five years.

  • How do you fit in exercise?

    The Tulip Stairs and lantern at the Queen's Ho...

    Stairs are your friend! Image via Wikipedia

    It’s easy to slack off in winter. Now that it’s not pitch black when I leave work, I’m hopeful soon I can start jogging home a couple of times a week. I’m not sure how much higher my odds are of being a victim of crime in the dark…but I just don’t like the dark, full stop. Nor the cold.

    It was definitely easier finding time to run when I didn’t work 9-5. Here are three ways I’m trying to get more movement into my life”

    At home: I used to do crunches religiously in high school at one point while watching TV. Nowadays I’m more likely to lounge in bed while watching movies or Bones, cuddling with T. Really, I could be using *some* of that time to practice either finger exercises or doing situps. I’ve also started doing them first thing in the morning, mainly to warm myself up in the chilly air (a flatter stomach will just be a bonus).

    At work: At first it annoyed me how far away my desk is from the kitchen and bathroom. Now I see it as a pro. Also, there are stairs in between. Do you have stairs? Take them! Faster! (Okay, it’s probably easier if you’re a child at heart and like to leap up them; it’s also hard to take three steps at a time if you’re in heels). I’m also really restless, so if you’re a fidgeter too, perhaps it’s not a bad thing – even if it annoys everybody else.

    In between: I walk to work when I can, and go out for walks at lunch sometimes. Not everyday, sadly.

    How about you? Any sneaky tips?

  • My first 10k

    Running Feet

    Image by apoxapox via Flickr

    Running a 10k was one of my goals this year. And although I didn’t specifically state it then, I wanted to run it in under an hour.

    WELL, I DID!

    *commence celebrations*

    It was, as most things are with me, a bit of a clusterfuck. I left work early, got changed in the bathroom, and snuck out to the bus stop. If you’ve ever used the maxx.co.nz site, you’ll know how awful it is. But I never dreamed it would actually direct me to the wrong bus stop. When I got there, the stop was for a totally different route, which DID NOT pass by the Domain. Luckily, the Link bus came to the next stop, so I hopped on that.

    Traffic was awful. Then our bus stopped completely on Nuffield St, behind another Link bus. The driver asked us to hop out and get onto the other one instead. At this point I had less than 10 minutes to get to the Domain.

    When I got off, I saw a pack of people clearly dressed for a run, gathered across the intersection. Obviously I’d missed the registration point down by the grandstand. In my one stroke of luck, the “walk” light went green and I sprinted across toward them….JUST as the whistle blew and the pack took off.

    Shoulders slumped, I kept going, and caught up to the whistle-blower who was walking back down to the grass.

    “I take it I’m too late?”

    “Oh, no, they’ve only just left. For the 10k, you mean? Here, let me take your bag. Off you go!”

    Bless his heart.

    I’ve always been a bit competitive, so running with others definitely pushed me harder than otherwise. All was going well…I had a great pace going, and there were people ahead of me I could follow. Remember, I had no idea where I was going, having nearly missed the race entirely. There weren’t big markers everywhere, as these are really casual affairs held every week during the summer.

    After two laps, I followed the one woman still in my line of vision to the finish line. The clock read 38 minutes. And I wasn’t feeling all that exhausted. Hmmm.

    “Did you run the whole 10k?” asked one weathered, grizzly man. (Men like him – albeit very sinewy and fit – made up the vast majority of the runners. There were a few around my age, but I think they were mostly students from Waiuku, there with their teacher).

    “Um. Maybe I got lost?” I offered.

    “It’s three laps around,” he explained. “…But you don’t have to …”

    “Oh, but I will,” I replied and took off. I came here to run 10k and that’s what I’m going to do!

    Fool. I’ve never been very good with judging distances…obviously. I knew I couldn’t slow down at all on this final circuit, not when I’d done two-thirds in just under 40 minutes.

    And I made it. In 57 minutes.

    I’m happy with that. And I only stopped at one point for about 15 seconds to stretch – the rest I maintained a pretty even speed.

    But now, I’m pretty sure I never want to run a race further than 10k. I’m not a marathoner. And that’s okay with me.

  • Running: My method of choice

    Two female joggers on foggy Morro Strand State...

    Image by mikebaird via Flickr

    When I first decided it was time to knock my wheezing body into shape, pounding the pavement seemed the most logical move.

    I stopped taking PE, well, as soon as I was allowed to. Year 11, I believe, was the last year I did. Like all the other nerds in the accelerated stream, I took seven classes instead of six, opting to take an early-morning PE class which I hardly ever showed up to – dragging my ass out of bed in time to catch the 7.45 bus? If only. My laziness, by the way, led to me losing out on the easiest credits ever: the attendance credits. Pretty shameful.

    Although I still did tons of walking – up to an hour a day – I started to languish, physically. Nobody would ever have made the mistake of calling me sporty, or even coordinated, but I’d been reasonably fit up until then. I was almost always the last girl left standing in the beep test in PE class (12 or 13 I think was my maximum); I was a semi-decent sprinter and usually made the top 10 (females) in the annual cross-country run – although given how seriously some of the girls took it, that isn’t saying very much.

    To put it bluntly: There just aren’t that many sports that I like. I hate netball with a passion; in any given school you can count the number of girls who don’t play Saturday morning netball on one hand, and that was me. (T reckons that’s why I have a good basketball shooting style; I don’t have years of netball training behind me). Cricket, ugh. Hockey, worse. Like a good Asian, I like badminton, but hate the scoring system. Tennis is also good fun, although I am slightly scarred from years of thrashings by far superior players from other schools. Tell you what though, if anyone actually played touch beyond primary school, I’d be the first to sign up.

    As for gyms? They appeal to me about as much as tofu or a Brazilian wax. Rooms where everyone goes to, er, sweat? No thanks. Even when I had access to a free gym, I never went. I detest exercising around others – yes, I know they’re busy focusing on their own workouts and aren’t watching me – but it’s a HUGE mental block. And call me picky, but there just aren’t any machines I like using!

    Running suits me – it’s perfect for loners, you go at your own speed, you breathe fresh air and feel the sun on your face…and all you need is your shoes. (I used to run barefoot in school, but that was when we had nice soft fields; it’s a lot less comfortable on hot pavement.) Unlike many, I don’t get bored. Where I live, there are tons of fabulous houses to gawp at, for one (or the picturesque, sprawling grounds of Cornwall Park). For another, there’s also lots of slopes in the mix. Getting into a good breathing pattern takes me a while at first, and by the time I settle in, I’ve usually got a hill to throw me off. I hate treadmills with a passion! Outdoors is the only way to go. When I want to give in, I set myself milestones: just past that tree. To the corner. Up to the next traffic light. It’s a constant challenge.

    And that’s pretty much my workout – one long run on a day off and a couple shorter ones in the morning before work, with a few crunches and tricep squats (er, I don’t know the proper term for them!) thrown in.

    Which camp are you in – gym or anti-gym? Love or loathe running?

  • I have a confession

    I don’t exercise. Ever.

    Photo / National Science Foundation

    Photo / National Science Foundation

    I walk for at least 10-15 minutes on a regular day, sometimes more – like half an hour and upwards – depending on what I do during lunch and whether I have errands to run. I’m not averse to walking in any way – I’ve often walked the 15-20 minutes to New Lynn down the road because I either didn’t want to wait for the bus, or was out of bus rides and didn’t want to pay. I used to walk home from school (about 45min) and during those days me and my friends literally walked everywhere, not having cars! We could be walking for hours a day, not to mention going on bush walks and the like. Man, I was fit back then. And I’d much rather walk places than annoy other people for rides…that, and I just don’t like asking people for anything.

    But aside from that? I don’t go to the gym, but somewhere along the way, literally everyone else I know has joined one. So what’s my excuse? I’m just too lazy. I don’t WANT to go to the gym, I don’t like to exercise. I go for the odd run during the summer, but that’s not exactly “pushing play for 30 minutes a day” now, is it?

    At our old apartment block we had a little gym. In our year there, I think I used it only a handful of times, and only a couple of times alone; the rest were because my friend was keen to work out and came over just for that purpose. I guess that’s another reason I don’t like gyms – don’t like getting all sweaty and red around strangers and demonstrating just how weak and unfit I am. You know the machine where you clamp both arms behind the metal hinges and bring your arms together in the middle, in front of you? I could never even do that, even on the lowest weight. SHAMEFUL!

    It’s bloody lucky I have a fast metabolism, or I’m sure I’d be a big lardass by now, considering my slackness. I really need a fitness buddy to kick my ass into gear. I’m thinking the best thing for me would just be getting into a regular routine of jogging/running and maybe doing those exercise circuits you get at the park. I wouldn’t even know how to use any of the equipment, I bet….but that’s what BF’s for, and he definitely needs to start working out too! At least I’m willing to walk places – he’s the kind to want to drive around the corner to the shops.