Early on I was given some advice that I frequently pass on to anyone trying to prove their value to a potential mate. Simply put, "Everyone should know how to cook 5 dishes really well". Lately, I've amended that to include 2 or 3 side dishes that are a little off the beaten path of dinner table standards to surprise people and possibly open their minds.
(Fair warning: This is only a side dish. Entrées are a whole other blog.)
First of all, it looks like the successful business merger of United Celery Association and Amalgamated Collard Greens of North America.
A. It's super cheap, so long as you aren't shopping at a store with either "Foods" and/or "Whole" in the name.
B. It's familiar enough that most everyone has either had it or heard of it, but probably rarely outside of some sort of Asian dish.
C. Nutritionally, I have no idea but it grows in the ground, so how could it hurt?
About the amount you'll need.
It's here that I'm going to make a clear distinction. Go with Baby Bok Choy for these 3 reasons:
Wash - Unless you're into dirt. (Who am I to judge?)
Break apart the branches
Quick quality check - go through everything and cull anything that looks suspect.
Sautee for like 10 minutes, flipping/stirring occasionally.
With about 3 minutes left:
Add minced garlic
With about 30 seconds left:
Add soy sauce but not too muchon the plate:
Add sea salt/pepper
That's the long and short of it. They should be soft and pliable and not too salty. It's easy to over-do it with the salt and the soy sauce, so be careful.
There’s nothing worse than a distraction during your workout, unless that is one of your strategies of getting through your workout. If that’s the case for you, then check this out: 6 Ways to Distract Yourself While Running.
Now that we’ve cleared out the troublemakers, here is a somewhat honest review of all the ways we have to keep your hair in place or at least cover your head during your workout.
Under Armour Mini Headband (7/10)
Let's call this the thong bikini of headgear. Short of a rubber band or a scrunchy, this is the minimalists version of securing your hair. It does the job, but little else.
This is a step up from the mini, and offers a little more control, simply from the increased width. The other benefit is the bits of reflective material to help be seen.
Asics Fitness Visor (7.562858/10)
This solves 3 major issues and simultaneously creates the potential for another.
1. The Sun - The bill can reduce the fatigue on the eyes.
2. The Sweat - The band minimizes sweat from running into the eyes.
3. The Security - The band can immobilize hair from bouncing around, also into the eyes.
Issue 1. - People may think you are a fitness-minded blackjack dealer, on a break.
Asics Running Hat (9.8675309/10)
The finest fitness hat we could find. This hat does literally everything for you to complete your workout except: throw you a towel on you cool-down, pay your gym membership, wipe down the machines after you sweated them up, or shout at you "One More! One More! YOU GOT THIS!". But really, it protects you from the sun, wicks away sweat/moisture, contains your hair, and/or covers your skull from a sunburn if you're a little thin on top, and also just makes you look like a running pro.
Columbia Sun Drifter Straw Hat (10/10)
Sun Protection - Check
Breathable - Check
Secures hair - Sort of
Let's people know you know how to party - Yeah, I guess, but in like a Jimmy Buffett/Jason Mraz-kinda way
Mammut Women's Sally Beanie (10/10)
Ok, in all sincerity, these are great for cold weather. They have the classic knit exterior and on the inside, there is an inner, smaller hat made from fleece that feels very nice on your skin. It doesn't get itchy the way that a plain knit hat would. They would definitely be out of place on the treadmill, but essential on the ski hill.
Sometimes in the middle of a run, your brain can be your own worst enemy. Your thoughts are overwhelmed by your joints exaggerating their levels of fatigue, or even worse, sheer boredom. These are a few ways to get you through the process.
Seems like an obvious choice, but it's surprisingly effective. Depending on the length of the run, it helps to have music with different tempos. Keep one playlist with a similar beat to your pace, and another with a faster beat for when you need to pick it up a bit. This probably isn't the best time to listen to anything for the first time, as you don't need to be distracted to that level. Also, you want the music to be reliable. If the next song is a down-tempo ballad about the singer's dead dog, it doesn't exactly motivate you to get moving up that next hill. Nobody has ever said "That Gordon Lightfoot song 'Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald' gets me so pumped! It's on all my gym playlists!"
It's as simple as it sounds. Engage the brain enough so that you're keeping your form and breath control, but keep your head up and really check out your surroundings. Take a look long look at things around you. Notice the license plates of car and try to figure out why a person would pay for vanity plates reading "2LGT2QT".
Full Disclosure: this works really well at a race, or even just running around the neighborhood. Not so much if you're just grinding out on the treadmill.
It sounds silly, but creating a little reward system for yourself can work wonders. If you, or some external force is marking off the mileage set little goals at every mile or half mile. A sip of water ever mile, a notch louder on the music volume, anything. I've even heard of someone putting the corresponding number of rubber bands on his wrist as the miles in the race, and taking one off every mile. Kind of strange, but it works for some people. Keep track of your mileage with this pedometer.
This may not be the best tactic for your mental health, but it will help you keep your eyes on the prize. The trick is to focus entirely on the end goal. If you're in a race, think about the finish line and getting your weird space blanket that they hand out. If you're tooling around the neighborhood, think solely about that drink of water when you get back home. Or even just about how weird that feeling is when you step off the treadmill after a long run and suddenly your surroundings change when you move and you get a slight feeling of vertigo.
Start with your toes and think about each body part one at a time. Assess how much stress each area is under at the moment. If your ankles are bothering you, check in with your knees and make sure they're feeling ok. If your hips are bothering you, think about your hand position. Don't clench your fists. Kind of like a mental hot potato of pain.
Sometimes it helps to just let you mind wander and think about things you would normally categorize as being low priority thoughts. Like silly things you could use as small talk at cocktail parties. Even if it's made up, things that are conversation starters help. "Oh, I don't need to work. My grandfather and his uncle invented the straw."
"Did you know the name of the things on the ends of your shoelaces, "Aglets" are named after inventor's mother, Agnes?" (Completely made up, by the way).
In my younger and less caffeinated years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since. “Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone”, he told me, “just remember all the people in this world haven’t had a sufficient amount of coffee today that you’ve had.”
At that point in his life, he was very much accustomed to drinking coffee on a daily basis. Usually 2 to 3 cups per day. I however, was not accustomed to a caffeinated lifestyle. That habit would take another decade before it set in. My allegiance fell in favor of hot chocolate over Hills Brothers, Folgers or even Maxwell House.
So, in late August of 1996, I set out on what was sold to me as a hunting expedition for moose and caribou. What it became was a camping trip with my father and 3 of his friends.
Our trip started with the last cup of coffee poured into a travel mug at 9:27 AM. Driving nearly 4 hours put us at the base of a mountain range on a piece of land owned by a friend where we would make our camp. With ATV’s in tow, plus all of the provision for the week we settled in for an early start the next morning to stalk the valley for moose and caribou.
We started early. What would have been eggs, bacon, and coffee cooked over the fire turned into cold bagels and colder water. It seems my father’s friends were anxious to get a move on, it being the opening day of hunting season. To my father’s credit, he did not protest too much about not getting coffee before heading out. I have distinct memories of grown men yawning while looking through scopes looking out over the valley.
Again, we started early, but my father was prepared. He started his camping coffee pot over the fire before the others awoke. The fatal flaw came when he attempted to stir the cast iron pan of corned beef hash by flipping it like an expert pancake chef. His follow through caught the edge of the grate and toppled the coffee pot, spilling it’s contents over the wheel of the ATV. True heartbreak is knowing full well what could have been, and watching it dissolve. The men decided to break camp to hopefully catch the last of the morning grazing moose in the valley.
The consensus was to break camp early yet again. This time, the coffee would be made on site using a portable cookstove. Packing all of the necessary provisions, we made our way in the early morning hours up into the valley we had spent the previous few days. So, there in our lookout point, while the other men scoped the valley, my father made his well-deserved first cup of coffee in 3 days. Not having a set of binocs, I turned and looked back where we had come. There standing a mere 50 yards away was a confused caribou looking at us quizzically.
I spoke softly to the group,
“What about this guy over here? I could probably make that shot. He’s not far”.
This comment confused the men, confusedly pulling their binoculars from their faces.
There wasn’t much drama to it. One shot too high, one kill shot. But in all the excitement, the attention had shifted away from the brewing coffee. So much so, that I went and turned off the flame as we were now on the move to the site of the downed animal.
“Go have the boy [me] pack the rigs and bring ‘em over here. We’ll split up the load.” I overhear one of the men say. I quickly loaded the gear onto the machines and in doing so, poured the now cold coffee out onto the tall grass.
It was late morning before thoughts of the coffee reoccurred. I had to explain that the coffee was “no good anymore. It’s was cold” to a group of tired men in their mid 40s.
Rain had moved in during the night, which meant brewing coffee over the fire was a lot less desireable. On the drive back home that morning, we stopped at the first gas station and a single cup of coffee was purchased, (and a hot chocolate). Upon setting the coffee into the cup holder between us, my father told me
“This is the first cup of coffee I’ve had in 4 days. If you spill this, it will be YOUR last day.”
I did not spill it.
And so, we brew on, travel mugs against the current, bourne back ceaselessly into the past.
It seems every trip I’ve taken has required some sort of specialized footwear. I thought I would quickly highlight some of the most memorable ones.
Hiking shoes. Indonesia 2014. These were an absolute must. After somewhat overestimating my abilities, I signed up for a 26 mile volcano hike over the course of 2.5 days. The shoes made the journey possible despite the long days and surprise monkey attacks. Other than the view and the last 4 miles walking through a series of small, family-owned coffee plantations on the mountain, the highlight really was how well the shoes performed. Check out some boot options.
Keen Sandals. Panama 2015. I booked an eco tour through some caves and was told at the last minute by our guides to get some sort of water shoe. It needed to drain but also grip your foot better than a flip flop. After all we would be trekking through mud, sand, and even swimming through caves. This did the trick, and it brought back good memories when we put them up for sale on Proozy.
Lightweight walking shoes. Mexico City 2006. Long story short, it was hot, dry, and I was hiking the pyramids at Teotihuacan. By the end of the day, my feet were a bit spicy and so were the tamales. Check out some athletic shoe options.
The Emperor’s New Shoes. 1984-Current. I wear these everyday. They are completely custom.
Adidas Skateboard shoes. San Francisco 2004, 2006, 2008. A mixture of a walking tour of the city and skateboarding at some of the most famous skate spots in the world. On average, I covered about 20 miles per day on foot. Check out these skate shoe options.
Bonus: Kinky boots. San Francisco. “When in Rome”.
Ridiculous cowboy boots. San Antonio, TX 2015. I took a stroll along the riverwalk and found that I was very near the Alamo and by default a bunch of cowboy attire shops. Deep in the heart of Texas.
Honorable Mention: Austin, TX
Honorable Mention: Nashville, TN
So, for whatever your next adventure is, where ever it may be, for whatever purpose... make sure your feet are taken care of with the proper footwear. And, odds are Proozy will have something to help you out.
Have a good week, everybody!
It seems every spring, when the ice on the ponds is too soft to skate, the slopes too sloppy to ski, and the country roads still to salty to pleasure cruise on a motorcycle, my fancy lightly turns to a bicycle.
Tune Up Time.
Here, (the Twin Cities, to be exact) it was recently unseasonably warm and daytime temperatures climbed to the 60s, on a sunny weekend no less! I found myself instinctively excavating my bike from it's winter home and conscripting it for a pre-season ride.
I, like many of the meticulous men in my family, set about tuning up and cleaning the machine before rolling it even a single revolution down the street. The maintenance and preparation is almost as satisfying as riding the bike itself. I enjoy the ritual.
I promptly cleared three times the space actually needed in the living room for the procedure and flip the bike upside down in the newly-created space. Great care is taken to ensure a thorough session. Glass cleaner, rags, paper towels, 112- piece tool set, chain grease, extra batteries, and of course a well-chosen music playlist are all necessary. I adjust the brakes, seat, handlebars, grease the chain, inflate the tires to proper specifications, change the batteries on both headlight and taillight, and clean the bike in it's entirety.
Now, I really nerd out. I put on my 2XU compression shorts to keep everything in place, and then add the token gym shorts to be a bit more modest. Add in a light-colored long sleeve shirt from UA to regulate temperatures, a bike helmet for paranoia purposes, and an EcoVessel bottle of water.
Heading out, I travel along the bike paths that criss-cross the city. (One of the greatest developments in city planning in recent years has been the re-purposing of the disused railroad tracks that cut their way to the heart of any big city.)
After a joyful mile of embracing the warmer temperatures, I've managed to roll through just the right amount of puddles to notice the back of my shorts are wet. I thought I was more careful and had avoided them, but alas, I have toddler pants now. An adequate punishment for not having a rear fender.
What happens when you don't run fenders in the spring.
So, back home I go and the cleaning process begins all over again, this time with a beer in hand.
Wet pants and dirty shirt aside, I'm grateful for the chance to get out and ride the bike, if only for the change of pace from the dreaded treadmill.
So, I accidentally signed up for a Hot Yoga class.
Accidentally, because I assumed it was a “room temperature” yoga class, and thought so all the way up until opening the studio door and stepping barefoot onto the heated floor. Unrolling my mat, I knew I was in trouble. I debated walking out before the class started. I prepped excuses: work emergency, dinner reservations, wardrobe malfunction, etc. Moving along in the stages of grief, I gave up bargaining, and moved straight to acceptance. I thought, “You know, it’s really not that bad when you’re lying down. Heat rises. This is fine.”
Long story short, I enjoyed the experience, but I did compile a checklist to improve the experience for next time.
Non-skid yoga mat: The sky’s the limit for prices on yoga mats. Go with one that is middle-of-the-road in terms of price and quality. No too soft, not too thick. Feeling the resistance of the floor on your kneecaps or lower back is all part of it. Also, it’s only a matter of time before it smells like feet during your Sun Salutation. That slow motion sniff of the yoga mat going from plank to upward facing dog will tell you exactly how gross the mat is. When it’s time, toss it out and get a new one. ($24, https://www.proozy.com/products/halfmoon-studio-yoga-mat-charcoal).
Yoga towel: Non-negotiable.
Some are even cleverly designed to match the size and shape of the mat. A lot of places will offer a towel to use for the class. Take them up on that offer. It’s absolutely necessary.
Mat bag: It sounds ancillary, but think of it like this: your mat is a sweat and foot-funk sponge. After class, you roll it up and carry it with you, thus covering your hands in your foot-funk. Put it in it’s own bag, containing just your sweaty yoga stuff. Don’t let it socialize with non-sweaty neighbors in your bag. ($40, https://www.proozy.com/products/prana-womens-jazmina-tote-bag?variant=33359466188)
Tank top: Be comfortable. Above all else, if you’re not comfortable it’s all for naught.
That being said, short of falling over during chair pose, there is nothing that gathers more eyes than removing clothing in the middle of class. Whether you are eye candy or not, the break in the routine will pull focus to you. Also, go with something that wicks away sweat. ($24, https://www.proozy.com/products/under-armour-womens-ua-tech-sleeveless-tank-top?variant=32057846412)
Yoga pants, shorts, or capris: Comfort is key. But one way to avoid being self-conscious is to not worry about sloppy gym shorts flopping around during a pose. Don’t wonder if people can see your underwear. Wear something form fitting that isn’t going to move. ($15, https://www.proozy.com/collections/womens-pants/products/prana-womens-roxanne-capri-leggings?variant=20184741958)
Water: Bring a bottle in with you. Or, if you’re a fan of delayed gratification, keep it in the car until you’re done with class. Water will never taste so great. Either way, remember to hydrate. ($20, https://www.proozy.com/collections/fitness-equipment/products/eco-vessel-surf-glass-bottle-with-silicone-sleeve?variant=31907429836)
Change of clothes: Every yoga studio I’ve been to has some form of dressing room. Take a few minutes and at least put on a fresh shirt. It will make the trip home a lot less gross.
Yoga Block: If you’re a germaphobe, you likely already have one. The shared ones at the studio don’t get cleaned between classes, so it’s like High-5’ing 10 sweaty hands at once.
And, if you really must know, I plan to continue the class every week. However, I will be better prepared. Enjoy your week!