I am now the proud wearer of a red/blue belt in taekwondo! Testing day was a crazy one, and I ended up without lunch or dinner prior to testing, and with my kids in tow. I did make a green smoothie, which powered me much more than I anticipated: Water, one leaf of turnip greens, one whole key lime, a bunch of spinach, handful of cranberries, handful of frozen fruit (peaches, pineapples, blueberries), a spoonful of agave and a banana. Despite not having time to physically practice, and being on the tailend of a sinus infection, I found myself jumping and kicking higher than ever, and my focus was better than ever (had no choice but to focus intently or else my kids would make me lose focus entirely). I ended up winning an award for outstanding advanced rank adult tester...for a moment I thought I may have been the only adult tester in those ranks, but twelve and up counts as adult, so I don't think I was the only adult (but definitely the oldest one). I'm fourth gup, so four more tests before preparing for the big black belt test. That could be within the year, but it could be longer. I'll just keep pushing forward. The last of the major gymnastics is for my next test, which is intimidating, and once I get past that, there should be no stopping me. The sparring is also rather intimidating, but it sure does sharpen my skills. Earlier this month I got my first "breaking in" when it comes to sparring, because the class was small and so I got matched with teenagers with much more experience than me. That was interesting and hard, but it made a major difference in my skills and attitude, so I can see that it is necessary. By the time I totally switched into "fight mode", I was too exhausted to fight, but I did get some good kicks in at that point despite my fatigue. Then I had a hard time getting out of fight mode when it was time to go home. I have a bit of trouble balancing and controlling my autonomic (sympathetic and parasympathetic) nervous system, but I think it will improve with experience. I certainly feel more capable of handling a dangerous situation than I was before, but know that I could use plenty more practice.
Christmas went well, diet-wise, with only a slight bit of cheating over a very short period of time, but it was mostly made up of good choices. A few too many meals were skipped in the preparations, but that was somewhat made up for with green smoothies.
In many ways I don't want to review my year, because I don't feel like I've made much progress in many of the things I wanted to change about myself. At the same time, it was a healthier year than the previous one, and it has left me a stronger person: physically, mentally, and hopefully spiritually. So much of life is just raw endurance, and I found that I've got plenty of that raw material inside me. While I don't have a lot to show for most of my efforts, I cringe at the thought of what state I'd be in if I hadn't worked so hard.
Last week my taekwondo instructor got me turned onto the idea of green smoothies. She made one for us in class and it was pretty good, the best part was that it was edible and it made me feel really good. When I finally made it to the grocery store after a crazy week, I bought some of the ingredients that greensmoothiegirl recommends. While I don't agree with all the vegan raw stuff that Green Smoothie Girl recommends, I do like this smooothie and it is a great way to make sure I get more fruits and vegetables in my diet every day. (I've been a vegetarian, and that didn't work out so well, I could probably survive it with the nutrition knowledge I have now, but an O cannot thrive on a vegetarian diet).
For mine, I used one or two sprigs of mustard greens, a handful or two of spinach (a black dot for most explorers but neutral for me, you could use another neutral tasting green), a whole key lime (cut off ends), a TBSP chia seeds, and water, blend that all really well, then add frozen fruit of choice (I used the Costco blend minus the strawberries and honeydew), a handful of frozen cranberries (rinse them if you didn't before freezing), blend until just smooth, then add fresh fruit, like a banana, and sweeten to taste with agave. The mustard greens and lime give it a ginger-like flavor, which was kind of nice. I made the mistake of adding the key lime at the end, and it didn't get blended up enough without sacrificing the coldness of the frozen fruit, so I changed that to adding with the greens. Yesterday I made one when I didn't feel up to taking my kids to yet another Christmas party. I was tired and had a headache, but then I felt fine once I finished up that giant green smoothie.
Today the snow is coming down and I've got the stay-at-home-and-cook bug, so I'm making Ris a'lamonde. That is a traditional Scandinavian Christmas food, made with rice cooked in milk, then whipped cream added along with toasted chopped almonds and a whole almond (and a prize for whoever gets the whole almond). I'm making mine with almond milk (or almond cream, more like), instead of regular milk, and agave nectar instead of sugar, and almonds are neutral on my swami, so I get those. I don't have any cherry sauce yet, and may not go to the store to buy any cherries today, but they taste great on it as well.
I just took it off the stove, stirred in some almond extract and put it in the refrigerator. I won't be able to put in whipped cream, but the almond milk was so creamy and frothy that it may not need it. I have to test it out before Christmas, because my sister makes it every Christmas for the whole family, and I want to have some that my son can eat. The big question is which version will I choose? If my first taste test is any indication, I think I can be quite happy (and of cours, healthier) without the milk. By the way, yes, I do have a lot of Scandinavian ancestry, but the tradition really came because my sister served a mission for our church in Denmark. From that, we got the tradition of ris a'lamonde and aebleskiver (which turn out just fine with my type O gluten free pancake mix).
I've owned a soymilk maker for a while, and I've used it to make almond milk, which worked. However, for Thanksgiving I needed to make some at my mom's house, so I made it the old fashioned way. I soaked the raw almonds for 12+ hours, then blended it in the blender (1 cup almonds with 2 or 3 cups water), then filter and squeeze through cheesecloth. It ended up tasting so creamy and sweet, way better than any store-bought or machine-made almond milk.
I've made some real progress this week in the area of planning meals and sticking to the plan. I did all my shopping for the week on Monday, with a plan in hand, and have stuck with it throughout the week. Some unexpected things came up today, so I guess we'll have the tacos and quinoa tortillas tomorrow instead (I made them, then had to run out for a couple hours so we all just ate on the run instead. At least I got to run into Chipotle, which has tasty and compliant foods if I order right, and I did with a dairy-free barbacoa bowl). There have been lots of leftovers, which takes care of lunches and even some breakfasts, and plenty of vegetables. It's been a good week. It is nice to do something nice for myself and my family at the same time.
Just make up a plan that sounds good and compliant and don't second guess it. Write it down, shop, and just do it. I have had to run to the store for a couple fresh things, but not as much as usual, and that saves money. I've also been trying to not let healthy food go to waste...follow through with cooking and eating those veggies so that hopefully the produce drawer will be empty by next Monday.
It's been a month since I blogged! Basically, I've just been moving forward and doing what I can. My son had a flu then a birthday, so that filled up last week. The week before that I tested for my blue belt in taekwondo! The belts are beginning to mean more to me as I am now in an advanced rank (5th gup). Up until now, the belts meant I just showed up. That is always important in life, to just show up, but now I feel like I'm also really accomplishing something. Most of all, I'm now proving my former self wrong. I never thought I could make it this far, and now that I have, I am going to go all the way.
I'm pleased to report that I can actually do a dive roll from being pushed and a break fall from standing, I'm getting the hang of sparring, and I know some mean self-defense. From a person who never did any gymnastics of any sort and especially no fighting, this is a big deal. All this from somebody who tends to get injured badly just by walking to the mailbox, and who used to be laid up for months from small injuries and back pain. It is so cool to have joints that can take a beating and be fine within a few days. I am so grateful that my body allows me to do all this. Do I get sore, yes. Do I get bruised and injured, yes. I do, and I love it.