day 3 and from 0-60

Whoa. 

After the first day of the Top Shape challenge I thought, I didn’t think I really got enough of a workout so the next day we had the genius idea to show up early for some cardio before class.  Little did I know our trainer Jarkko was going to amp up the program so quickly!  If I get a body like his though, it’s all worth it! 

Jarkko Kortelainen - the "Finnish Warrior"

Unfortunately, I look more like this….

Before

But… that is why i’m in the challenge!  My goals are fat loss and muscle gain – ideally visible abs – between lifestyle and genetic makeup, i’m not sure how possible that is but i’m certainly willing to try!

The workouts for Day 2 and 3 of the Top Shape challenge have been intense.  Now that we have the hang of the basic moves the sequence of exercises are perfomed more quickly and combining weights with cardio intervals it now feels like a thorough full-body workout. 

The methods Jarkko is employing in this challenge are based off of the program he runs in Sweden called the Fustra method, which uses three core components to balance the mind and body for optimal fitness.

It’s really beneficial to have the program assist not only with the functional training workouts abut also with nutrition.  The blog is so helpful – I spotted a delicious-looking taco recipe I can’t wait to try and also found a great suggestion to assist with ensuring you keep track of your calorie (or as Jarkko says, “energy”) consumption.  He suggested an app for smartphones called My Fitness Calorie Counter . So far, this is the best app of its’ kind i’ve tried.  Best of all, it’s free!

With a couple of minor (personal) set-backs yesterday, I think the incorporation of weights and healthier eating, however brief so far has helped me find the strength to push through some of the obstacles and keep a strong mind-frame. 27 days and counting….

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fresh start

I’ve been on a hiatus of sorts from many things, one of which you may (or may not!) have noticed, this blog.  It’s been so long, and there are so many things I want to share, like my STELLAR weekend in the Big Island where yesterday I experienced the most beautiful hike of my life at Pololu Valley…. I’ll share some pictures instead because what this post is really about is – getting back into TOP SHAPE!! 

Hiking down the Pololu Trail to the black sand beach was amazing!

I was talking with a friend this morning about how quickly things can slip away from you but when you look back, the progression of that loss is a slow, building process that you only fully realize in reflection.

Some of the things i’d find routine suddenly seem so foreign in my current day to day life!  Most notably lacking are simple things, such as a mostly healthy diet, weight training … I’m usually a person of routine so getting back into a balanced, healthy lifestyle I knew would require a regimen, guidance and support. 

A couple of weeks ago someone on Yelp posted the 30 Day Top Shape Challenge at the Honolulu Club.  Immediately intrigued, I looked into the program a bit more and decided to give it a go – my morning workout buddy Jenn is joining me in the challenge as well so I knew we would both motivate each other to see this thing through!

So far, i’m only familiar with a few of the program basics (today was day one) which entail:

-a daily class (one hour) – we chose the 6 am class, which takes place at the Honolulu Club.  This was my first time visiting their facility and let me tell you, a HUGE departure from some of my regular gyms.  So nice and clean!

– a nutritional guideline – this gives you a basic outline of four nutrition groups (protien, good fat, minerals & vitamins and slow carbs) and which combination and times you should consume them.  For women, the approximate calorie consumption is 1500 per day.

This morning’s class involved a series of exercises focused on posture, form and core-strength with a bit of cardio toward the end.  Overall, I found the routine to be on the fairly simple side but there are people in the program at all different levels of fitness so I think this introductory session was geared toward gauging the ability and format for our particular group (there are two other groups each day- one at noon and one at 6 pm).

I already feel like a naughty student, my homework was to take measurements and pictures before today’s class (I’ll do it tonight, I promise!) – a good suggestion was to blog daily about my experience in the challenge, which Jenn and I will attempt to do as well… we’ll keep you posted! 

 

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banana ice cream!

Yes, home-made … as in: made by me! You know it’s got to be easy if I did it.  So quick and delicious I just had to tell you about it.

I was craving ice cream – I’m the type to like creamy, sinful stuff.  In an effort to stay toward the healthy end (also I was too lazy to leave the house and too cheap to spend money)  I made homemade banana ice cream in less than five minutes!

Keep in mind there are tons of variations, edit to your liking!  Here’s what I did:

Start with frozen bananas:

These frozen portions are great to blend in your smoothie along with your ice!

I buy the bunch from Costco for $1.98, peel, slice in half and freeze in a zip loc bag.  I have these on hand because I use them every morning in my shakeology.

Gather your ingredients!  I used a splash of orange juice and coconut extract just to get the frozen bananas going in the food processor, just a small amount of liquid works. I’m bad about exact measurements (this is probably why my baking experiments are iffy!)… but i’d say about one tablespoon of oj per banana.

I also made another batch using mango lemonade and coconut extract - it turned out great!

This is the worst part – it isn’t hard it’s just mind numbing and loud – maybe you have a great less-noisy contraption but mine sounds like i’m processing silverware.

This thing must have some power, it is noisy!

Just push start and blend away until you achieve a smooth consistency. You may have to stop once or twice to moosh the banana chunks down or help them out a bit to break them up but it takes just a few minutes.

I'm so lazy I remove the blade and eat it right outta this container - it even has a handle!

Since this batch was for company, I restrained myself from eating it right away and popped it in the freezer to firm up a bit.  After about 30 minutes, it was perfect!  It has a creamy consistency and is dairy-free!

Jenn tried to help me with food styling - it's not the prettiest ice cream but it is delicious!

Try your own additions and variations!  If you do or have your own recipes, tell me about them!

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teach me how to…

COOK!

“allez cuisine!”  – loosely translated: Go COOK! Okay, so this wasn’t really like an episode of Iron Chef… but after I saw our finished Rafute, I felt a small tinge of proud accomplishment at the beauty of the dish!

With the finished rafute!

This past Saturday I completed my first cooking class at Kapi’olani Community College through their (non-credit) continuing education culinary program.  They offer a plethora of courses ranging in various cuisines and techniques (Korean, Mediterranean and Indian; to knife skills courses, baking and frying).

I chose the course “Cooking Local: Okinawan Favorites” because the thought of making fresh beautiful round golden-brown andagi just excited me!  I also figured it couldn’t hurt to learn a little more about the foods of my own heritage other than the well-known fried doughy treat.

Chef Grant Sato was a great teacher and you can tell he’s passionate about what he does.  This particular class was really special to him in particular noting it was the beginning of the Okinawan Obon Season and felt quite emotional thinking of his own upbringing by his Okinawan grandparents.

Reflecting on the class, I think the recipes were definitely easy enough to follow and prepare at home without much instruction but it helped me think about timing and organization, especially when planning to cook a meal with several dishes… I usually try to throw it all in one pan or am chopping, measuring, mixing and adding all at once in a flurry!  I realized just how much time and frustration it saves to do your prep work before starting the actual act of cooking … or just having your own sous chef to do the work!

When we arrived at our stations, all of our ingredients for each recipe were pre-measured and laid out, ready to be made into tasty creations!

Each stage of the cooking and prepping process began with a demonstration by Chef Sato – we then returned to our respective stations (two per area) to follow his lead while helpers roamed to offer advice and answer questions.

The dishes we prepared were:

Rafute (Okinawan Braised Pork Belly) – this turned out tender and very flavorful.  The flavoring was miso/ginger based and would be perfect over a bowl of hot rice!

Goya Champuru (Bitter Melon Stir Fry) – I learned how to prep the bitter melon to remove as much of the bitter taste as possible:  slice lengthwise and remove the seeds/pit – continue to scrape with a spoon to remove all of the white area and the juice will acutally begin to foam!  This is the melon’s defense-mechanism, it releases chemicals causing the bitter taste to avoid being eaten!  Remember when choosing your melon to look out for damaged areas on the vegetable (like bee-stings or cuts) – it will mean that around this area of damage, the meat will be more bitter tasting.

salt the bitter melon after slicing, let sit for an hour then rinse well to remove additional bitterness

Yakisoba – made the traditional Okinawan street-food way with crispy fried Spam, bell pepper and cabbage… did you know Spam is a hot commodity in Okinawa?  I was suprised to learn they’re one of the biggest consumers of Spam besides good ole Hawaii and it comes at a high price there – almost $10 US/can!

Andagi (Okinawan Doughnut) – So I always thought these were formed into a ball before dropping into the batter – they aren’t!  It’s actually a method of squeezing the batter through your fist and “chopping” it into the hot frying oil with a clean chopstick – the baking soda in the batter reacts to puff the dough into the round shape.

Unfortunately, I needed a lot more practice…

We also sampled Okinawan Nantu (mochi) and watched Chef Sato demonstrate the preparation but did not prepare this ourselves due to the time required to finish the recipe (24 hours).

We got to take home all of our creations (a full family-sized four course meal and dozens of andagi!).  Sign up for the fall courses began today (for more info, visit KCC’s continuing ed website here), I can’t wait for my next class!

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kickball… it’s not just for kids!

When the idea of playing for an organized kickball team was mentioned to me, in typical fashion I excitedly agreed without knowing the first thing about what I was getting myself into. In all honesty, I remember thinking the entire time this can’t be anything serious whatsoever… all the way up to the first captain’s meeting.  So many others expressed interest in playing kickball too that Justin and I decided to assemble our own team – 25 eager players later, “Kickballin’ Out of Control” was founded!

That's my KOC! (Photo edit by Justin:)

I couldn’t have imagined what a big part of my life all of our team members, our weekly games and happy hours and fellowship with the other teams would become. Over the course of the 13 week season we’ve become one of the most spirited and cohesive groups i’ve ever had the opportunity to be a part of.  What other very casual intramural sports team do you know that even has a gang of cheerleaders?!

Team spirit! Schwag to prove it!

When Justin came up with our team name it was after hours of texting back and forth, believe it or not we didn’t even realize our acronym was KOC until our first scrimmage – the ref told me, that’s not gonna fit on the lineup board, just write KOC… and HE did not realize what can of worms was opened up with that one!

In retrospect, actually playing kickball is a very small part of why I love being a part of KOC and 808 sports league so much – it really is our “practice” sessions at Kapiolani park, our potlucks and team get-togethers, our happy hours at the bars following the games, smack talking amongst ourselves and other teams. 

post-game happy hours at Rock Bottom - guaranteed good times

Teams play not only kickball but flip cup as well

As the Spring Kickballin Out of Control Team plays its last game of the season tomorrow, we’ll be competing for a chance at 3rd place in the championships and the opportunity to donate money toward the charity of our choice, the Ryan Suenaga Scholarship Fund.

808 Sports Leagues Potluck

In true KOC style, they’ll be playing in costume, with our trademark neon green soccer socks!  I’ll miss being there to play the last game with you – good luck and thank you so much for all of your enthusiasm and getting me through most of the last few months of mundane workweeks with something fun to look forward to on most Wednesday nights and constant facebook comedy and banter.

see, we actually DO play kickball

I’ll be thinking of you all while i’m at the SEATTLE SOUNDERS vs MANCHESTER UNITED game on Wednesday night! Muah!!

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all about the deals

I’m completely obsessed with all of the groupons, living socials, akamai buys, hot deals Hawaii, I’m sure this list could go on and on… I have purchased so many different half-off deals through all of the different venues, it’s hard to remember what I’ve got and where I got it from.

JJ Dolan's pizza! 2 of us ordered two whole pizzas -hey, we had $30 to spend (for the low low cost of $15!)

My absolute favorite - Izakaya Nonbei - I bought one deal, got one as a gift and was taken out by a friend who bought one! So lucky! Get their frozen sake!

SOUL is a frequent feature on the half-off deal circuit - I have a bunch of these certificates too, so many I have my own menu item on Tuesdays - @kyleepuu's sweet potato pancakes!

By FAR the best deals I have gotten so far has nothing to do with food (surprise!)…

Podium Raceway - two races for the price of one! Nothing else would have gotten me to drive ALL THE WAY out to Kapolei!

If you’re keeping up with me at all on foursquare or any other social media for that matter , you’ll  notice I am REALLY into  pilates as of late.  The reason I’ve been going so frequently is I got an insane deal through Living Social – $35 for a month of unlimited pilates at Fit Studio by Heaven on Earth.

Fit Studio by Heaven on Earth
2346 S. King Street (Former Hula Supply Center)
808.942.3030
www.heavenonearthhawaii.com

I can walk or ride bike to this studio easily from home or work so as long as there is a spot available in class, I’ve been taking full advantage of my unlimited classes!

Unfortunately this deal is no longer available but I have completely fallen in love with these classes and wish I had the money to buy more sessions.  Unfortunately it’s not in my budget so until my last class next week, I’m really getting my use out of it!

If you’re able to, I HIGHLY reccomend trying it out, the core exercises, muscle strengthening, lengthening and stretching you get from pilates using the machine they call a “reformer” is amazing.

Pilates Reformer - it will make your abs look like hers (this is what I imagine is underneath my fluffy layer 🙂

The instructors are really knowledgeable and class sizes are limited to the number of machines so at max only 6 at a time, you get a lot of personal attention.

My next adventure through half-off deals…

I purchased crossfit foundations sessions through Play Hawaii over a year ago and I have been totally procrastinating about using it – I know a lot of people who swear by it, my sister included.  Honestly i’m afraid I won’t be able to hack it!  Anyone out there wanting to start the foundations classes with me?

If you need a good one-stop resource for finding local (and national) deals, check out:

Deals Out Da Okole – she filters through all the trash and just feeds you the good deals and coupons worth looking into

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i can’t wait

I wish I could clone myself so I could go to every awesome event going on this weekend!  For instance, tonight I’m trying to figure out a way to get my Kennergy at turbo kick in Kaneohe followed by Home Bar for the latter part of a pau hana party, PIG OUT at Eat the Street and finally a birthday celebration Tsukiji. Hmm…

While I learn to perfect the method of teleportation, may I suggest some great things to do if for some innane reason you find yourself lacking in ways to pass the time this weekend:

My top picks!

SATURDAY

  • End of the Month wine and spirit tasting at JnJ’s (@finespiritswine on twitter) – Aiea Town Square 99-080 Kauhale Street, C6…  an impressively LONG list of wines and vodkas to taste – trust me, it’s like a big ‘ole party!  Read more about it here.
  • Celebrate Culture + Arts Ko Olina Films – 50 First dates being shown on the lawn at Ko Olina Resort’s Ulua Lagoon (#4) at sunset, rain or shine.
  • Michael Jackson Rememberance Celebration at Wang Chungs Come to the friendliest Karaoke Bar in all of Waikiki, WANG CHUNG’S where we can all feel like We Are The World and where you never have to Beat It because getting an awesome hug that will make you Scream is as easy as A-B-C and will make you feel like a teddy bear named Ben. You’ll never be saying Just Leave Me Alone as we all Rock With You.

SUNDAY

  • Summer Sunday Dim Sum Run! 8:30 am at Ala Moana Beach Park. Runners and eaters of all speeds are welcome.  10:15 am at TAI PAN DIM SUM in the Chinese Cultural Plaza.
  • 808 Sports Leagues Kickball Potluck
    No, you don’t have to play or be part of a team, just come out to Kapiolani park and help us celebrate the end of the Spring season by doing what we do best!… drinking and eating… maybe playing kickball?

I hope to see you at one (or ALL if I’m successful at cloning or teleporting) of these events!  Aloha Friday y’all and enjoy your weekend – I, for one CAN’T WAIT!

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