5 Ways to Boost Your Energy

Throughout the day I hear a wave of complaints: I’m so tired/thirsty/hungry/hot/cold…Seems to me people can easily fix most of those problems, but today I’m going to address the most annoying one of all: Fatigue.  I cannot believe how “tired” everyone is on a regular basis.  Here are a few ways you can bump up your energy levels and make each day more engaging.

1. Eat Breakfast:  Sure we all hear this little piece of gold advice everywhere, so why do so many people keep skipping it?  These are the excuses people often give: I overslept/didn’t have time, I’m not hungry in the morning, I’m watching my weight…the list goes on.  Before you go to sleep at night, pack your bag, set out your clothes, and make sure you’re completely prepared for the day ahead.  Also set your alarm 10 minutes earlier than you think you need.  That way if you struggle to get out of bed, or spend 5 extra minutes in the shower, it won’t ruin your day.  You don’t need to check your email/facebook/twitter in the morning, that’s why we have smart phones!  Updates are a perfect way to get through your morning commute on the train or your walk to the office.

The reason you may not be hungry in the morning is that you haven’t slept enough, or you’ve gotten your stomach in the bad habit of depriving itself in the morning hours.  You don’t need to eat a huge meal, just enough to give you a bit of energy and to switch on your metabolism (which is a factor in helping you maintain your weight).

2. Morning fitness and “me” time:  As often as I can, I do yoga or go for a run in the morning before work.  This can mean waking up as early as 5:15am.  When I take that time for myself in the morning, I feel the most awake throughout the day.  I practice Ashtanga yoga in studio once a week, but I like to keep it up in the mornings at home.  I give myself an extra half hour or so in the morning, and I’m usually able to make it through all of the standing poses.

Even if you get up early to read, to meditate, or just to enjoy a cup of tea, it’s important to breathe deeply and focus on yourself for a few minutes every morning.  Give yourself a chance to wake up in a quiet thoughtful setting before running out into a hectic day.

3. Kick the Habit:  So many people depend on coffee, soda and energy drinks to get through the day.  Others rely on an afternoon nap.  It is important to wean yourself off these things if you want to experience a more natural high.

I don’t begrudge anyone a cup of coffee in the morning, but forming an actual dependence is going to make you drowsy and give you headaches on those mornings when you don’t make it to the café before work.  Just drink water and get some vitamin C in your system.  Maybe instead of having three large coffees a day, switch to smalls.  Then maybe cut down to two a day.  Whenever you’re kicking a habit, just take it slow and give your body plenty of time to adjust.  Similarly, avoiding the nap trap is important.  Don’t take 90 minutes every afternoon.  Get a 20 minute power nap in if you really need it.  You’ll wake up refreshed, rather than tired and dizzy.

4. Consider the two-day rule:  Studies show that poor sleep can affect us two days later.  So if you are up all night on Saturday, chances are you’ll feel awful come Monday.  Recovery time from a bad night’s sleep can be significant, and naps often don’t help.  Nighttime sleep is really the only cure.  If you have a big presentation on Thursday, make sure that you get plenty of sleep on both Tuesday AND Wednesday.

5. Get to Bed Before Midnight: Some people say we get our best and most effective sleep before midnight.  Others say optimal sleep happens between around 10pm and 6am.  In my experience, most people seem to get up for work somewhere between 6:00 and 7:30am.  In order to get the solid 7-8 hours, it makes sense to go to bed before midnight.  Even for those who claim to “not need that much sleep” at least you’ll be awake and alert and READY to jump out of bed when it’s time.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this edition of 5 ways.  Until next time, GET SOME FREAKIN’ SLEEP!

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28 days: A Cry for Help!

Hi everyone (if you’re still out there)!  I’ve let things go a little too long for a full update, but here’s a few tidbits for you:

This Saturday will be my last Beginner 1 class at 8limbs in Leederville.  It’s been an amazing 6 weeks and I’m so sad that it’s already over.  I’m excited to start Beginner 2, but still hemming and hawing over which day of the week is best for me.  I’ve been keeping up well with my Ashtanga yoga practice at home.  I try to do it nearly every morning for at least 20 minutes.

In other news Matt and I got to under 100 days in our countdown for America.  We both need the holiday so badly!  I realized lately I’ve been so busy that I haven’t stopped to make enough time for “us,” so to remedy that I’ve let a few things drop here and there to try to make up some time together.  It may sound silly, but after 3 and 1/2 years, I still miss him when we’re apart, even just for the day.

The biggest thing to report is that I recently saw my GP for a general checkup and to ask a few questions about digestive health.  As it turns out, I am getting too much fiber.  It could be that I have high levels of it in my body already, or (in her words) I might be “eating too healthy.”  I need less of the good and more of the bad…The easiest way to balance this out (seemingly) is to cut out bread.  Starting Saturday I am stuck on a bread-free detox for 4 weeks.  After that I can reintroduce it slowly, but I need to give up my beloved multi-grain and swap it for white.  Sounds weird, and it is, and I’m freaking out!

PLEASE let me know any and every recipe you can for easy lunches and breakfasts sans bread.  I am allowed to eat rice, but no obvious breads, pastas, desserts (like cake) etc.  My biggest concern is what to eat at brekky without having to cook, and which salads I can make in large batches on a Sunday night to set me up with a few lunches to bring to work during the week.  Also fruits and veggies are high in fiber, so I’m not really meant to supplement with too much more of that good stuff, just continue eating a normal amount.

Despite my recent injuries, I have signed up for 10k in Fremantle on the 16th.  I want to make sure I’m getting enough energy to continue a rigorous exercise regime.  Without bread I’m just afraid I’ll never feel full!  Welcome fats and dairy, goodbye pasta and muffins…

Practice and Party

It’s been a big weekend for Matt and I.  For me it started bright and early Saturday morning.  I went with Thuy to Body Attack.  I’ve got a temporary free pass at her gym and it felt great to do the class again.  I absolutely loved it when I used to belong to Fitness First.

In the evening, we had our best friend Maria’s 21st birthday party.  (It still makes me feel so old when I think that most of my friends are even younger than my sister, Rachel.)  The Treble Clefs (my a cappella group) were performing following the birthday toasts and speeches, so we had a quick last-minute rehearsal in the afternoon.  The party ended up being super fun!  Matt and I both had a great time catching up with people.

Maria looked gorgeous and seemed to be having such an amazing time at her party.  It really set the mood around the place; her energy was infectious!

I was so pleased to be able to catch up with so many friends last night!  I felt a little bit guilty because I knew more than half the guests, so every time I started a conversation I was soon running off to say hello to someone else.  The wonderful thing about the evening was that I got to have really great conversations with everyone I saw.  It wasn’t a night for idle chit-chat; I felt like I was getting in so many genuine catch-ups.  Matt and I both really enjoyed ourselves.

The Treble Clefs sang three songs last night: My Boyfriend’s Back by The Angels, All Night Long by Lionel Ritchie (I was the soloist for this song) and Paradise by the Dashboard Light by Meatloaf.  Maria really brought down the house with the last song, she’s got so much talent!

Matt and I have thankfully gotten to see more of our friend Tahlia lately.  She is a close friend of Matt’s and was my first friend upon arrival back in 2010.  We had an impromptu couples evening on Friday that ended in the best way possible: milkshakes and waffles.

Today (Sunday) was much less stressful than usual.  I had a bye week for soccer, so I was able to do lots of baking this morning.I had to go to a specialty lolly shop to find these.  They cost $5.95 for 10! Can’t wait to stock up when I go home at Christmas.  So pricey over here…

I used my old school egg beater to mix up these tasty treats so I wouldn’t wake Matt.  I’m always up at 7 even on weekends, so basically I’m bored waiting for him to wake up, or (more often) I’m off for a morning workout.

They turned out so delicious!  I made them for a tea we had today at Annabeth’s.  Tahlia and I ended up stuck in crazy traffic with my gas light on, so we were an hour late!  I’m never late, I was freaking out a little.  The universe was against us.  It was only us and Erin, but the four of us had a lovely time and quite epic conversations.  All in all I’ve had a really fantastic weekend.

The only other thing of note at the moment is that I’ve taken on a yoga practice.  I’ve just completed my second class in a 6-week beginner course in Ashtanga Yoga.  Now I know the two sun salutes. 

I’ve been practicing on my own every morning (except today, you’re supposed to have a day of rest as well) and I can already see improvement.  I’ve had so much energy at work.  It’s such a great feeling to stretch out and start each day on such a positive note.  It’ll be a long road to learn the whole sequence, but once I know it by heart I can continue to practice at home.  I encourage you to look up the moves though, they get rather scary!

So here’s what you’ve missed…

I’ve been back to my old bad blogger ways of late. Sorry to anyone actually reading that I’ve let it go awhile since the last post.  Been so busy!  This post covers the very lovely weekend I had last week (21st/22nd).

Last Saturday, Matt and I had a little outing to Guildford.  This is a little town famous for its antique and tea shops.  We were mainly headed straight for the used bookstore Matt had often heard praised.  It did not disappoint!  I came away with a few novels and a couple of cookbooks.

I love browsing through used bookstores.  You just never know what you might find.  I am especially excited about the giant Marie Claire seasonal cookbook I bought for only $16.  It’s got a section for every season and includes breakfasts, mains AND desserts for each.

It was nice being out just the two of us, and it was a beautiful day.  Winter in Perth is completely unpredictable.  It’s a downpour one day, sunny the next, then freezing.  Makes no sense, but I’m happy to take advantage of the fine weather when it comes.

Saturday was also our friend Annabeth’s 21st birthday party.  In Australia the 21st birthday is a big one.  People usually throw a huge bash with a bar tab and a key-shaped cake.  I don’t really get it, but I’m always happy to celebrate!  My dear Annabeth is all about color and general pizzazz, so I made sure to wear my gorgeously special Dior lippy for the occasion.  The lighting is terrible in our bathroom, but here’s the best photo I have.

I was also able to wear heels for the first time since I rolled my ankle back in February!  I’ve been feeling pretty good for quite a while, but heels was one of the final frontiers of recovery (the last being the basketball game I played in the following Monday).

Annabeth was in such high demand that we didn’t end up getting a photo with her.  We did manage to get some with other friends, though.  I wish I’d been able to snap a photo of the gorgeous cake her sisters made for her.  It really looked professional.  I cannot wait to learn to make pretty cakes!

At this point I’d already lost my voice.  Now I’m finally over the cold/flu that took over my life for the past 4 or 5 weeks.  I hardly ever get sick (though since moving to Australia I’ve been extremely injury-prone).  It’s been frustrating having this flu that won’t quit.

 

On Sunday morning before my soccer game I went to The Tuck Shop in Northbridge to meet up with Teri for breakfast.  I’ve been absolutely dying to try this place and it ended up exceeding even my highest expectations.  I used to work with the chef/owner back in 2010/11.  He is a genius and this place is a masterpiece.

 

Teri has been in South Africa for the last month, so it was amazing to see her.  We are workout and breakfast buddies, and she has also been on all of my indoor soccer teams.  There’s no one else in my life quite like Teri.

This is the beautiful lamb dish I had for breakfast.  It was delicious.  No other way to describe it really.  It was perfect!

I have already run way too long on this post, so I will leave the updates at that.  I have so much going on at the moment, and I’m eager to share, but I should really do it in smaller doses.  This past weekend I left little room for fun and devoted my whole Saturday to “getting organized.”  Hopefully I’ll soon be the model of a woman who has “got it together.”  I hate to be scattered.  Busy and structured is best for me!

 

 

Donna & Margaret (&Emma!) oh my!

Nothing puts me in a better mood than great cooking.  As I have mentioned on several occasions, it is a growing passion of mine.  I don’t have any sort of food background, it’s never been a big deal in my family.  But over the past few years I’ve enjoyed honing my skills and taking some risks in the kitchen.  This was a fantastic week of firsts for me.

My favorite foodie is Donna Hay.  She’s a beautiful Australian food stylist and revolutionary cook.  I have one of her books: Fast, Fresh, Simple, but the long-term plan is to collect them all!  She is all about cooking in-season, fast and simple meals.  I admire her for all she has been able to accomplish.  Her name is a brand recognized throughout Australia.

Through my book and Donna’s website, I was able to dedicate four days in a row to her recipes.  In this string of dinners, I made my first ever savory pie, and my first ever soup from scratch!

Chicken and Leek Pie

Sweet Potato and Goats Cheese Soup

I have been slowly developing a cookbook collection, but it can get a bit pricey.  Yesterday after work I went to the nearest library to pick up a few volumes to give Matt and I some fresh dinner ideas for the coming weeks.  Predictably I grabbed two of Donna Hay’s books, and also one by Margaret Fulton.  She is another household name in Australian cooking.

Salads+Veggies, Fruit

An Aussie classic!

Tonight we took a leaf out of Margaret’s book to make our first ever Beef Stroganoff.  Unfortunately I didn’t snap a photo tonight, but it was delicious and I think I could already make it from memory next time!  Personally I love any dish that pairs well with rice.

Later this week we’ve got some fun meals planned.  We did all of our shopping tonight, and I especially enjoyed picking out a handful of new spices.  It used to be I wouldn’t dream of attempting a recipe if I didn’t recognize some of the ingredients.  But now in a matter of days I’ll be trying out my first Tandoori Chicken!  Just need to sort out a turkey baster…

Baking project: Soft-serve anyone?

My dear friend Hannah and I were flipping through photos on the Three Belles facebook page a few weeks ago, and she saw an amazing baking idea for her boyfriend’s birthday cake.

Three Belles is the name of my friend Isabelle’s little one-woman cake company.  She’s a brilliant talent, and hers is the perfect page to go to for a little sweet treat inspiration.  Before I get into our experience, I just want to share one more example from her site.  Check it out sometime, she’s amazing!

Moving along to our baking project, the other day Hannah and I headed to Claire’s to start phase one of Mike’s birthday cakes.  We decided that icing them and then transporting them would be pretty impossible.  The bulk of the work happened on the first day.  We made three kinds of cake batter: red velvet, vanilla and chocolate.

Hannah getting all the ingredients out.

Claire whipping up some chocolate cake!  Gotta love the giant Starbucks mug.

The taste test is always important!

I was responsible for the red velvet (of course!) and this time it went much faster than usual.  I wish Claire could always be around helping with the measurements, and I also wish I had a fancy mixer at home to bake hands-free.

I love a really deep red when making red velvets.  I tend to overdo it on the color, but once you put the dry ingredients in with the rest, it comes out beautiful.

This production never would have worked at our house.  Look at all this counter space!

The trick is not to overfill them.  Though we were perhaps a little too cautious at first.

Since I’ve still been battling a cold over the last couple of weeks, I opted for cozy these past few days.  When I’m sick, I like to dress in color.  I hate to look as drab as I feel.  Leggings, fashion beanie, floral scarf, slipper socks, and colorful tops make this outfit a winner.  Warm, but vibrant is the key!

Claire will never break concentration.  She’s a very methodical person.  Very good quality in baking!

Out of the oven!  I tend to take my baked goods out early.  There’s nothing I hate more than dry cookies or cupcakes.  Red velvets are all about that moist buttery flavor.  Even though some of them collapsed in the middle, they were all the more delicious.

Yesterday was Mike’s Geordie Shore themed birthday party.  We made the frosting after I finished work and quickly split up to get ready.  Maria came this time to help make icing, so it went super fast.  Claire, Hannah and I got to Mike’s early to frost the cones.  It was hectic, but we managed to finish before any guests arrived.

                                                                                                                                                                                    I went with “the next morning” for my Geordie Shore outfit.  I’ve never seen the show, but from what I gather it’s just the English version of Jersey Shore.  I mussed up my hair and threw it in a bun.  I searched into my soul for my inner Edina and went with leggings and Ugg boots.  The finishing touches were my sweater on inside out and smudgy makeup.  Everyone was jealous not to have thought of it.  I was just feeling too sick to have a short skirt and bare legs last night.

Friends for the festivities!

I think people just don’t know what to say about each others’ outfits when we’re supposed to look terrible.

I held out for speeches, but Claire had to take me home before 10pm.  I was having a nice time catching up with everyone, but I just hit a wall and felt too sick to stay.  Not to mention I had major frog voice.

This morning my nose has decided to drain itself, so there’s a pile of crumpled tissues in the little bin near our bedroom door (SWISH!) and an even bigger pile littered around it.  Matt’s still sleeping next to me.  I didn’t have it in me to leave the warmth yet, it’s so cold in our house!

My Country ‘Tis of Thee

…Sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.  Happy 4th of July to all of my fellow Americans!!!  Nobody does “the holidays” like us Yanks, and I did my part to celebrate this evening.  4th of July the Emma way means lots of baking!

Last year I made sugar cookies with red, white and blue frosting.  This time around I decided to go with one of my absolute favorite treats: red velvet cupcakes!

Red velvet batter is by far the most delicious kind.  Matt and I were quite eager to clean this bowl.  Cupcake batter turns me into a child; I nearly spoiled my dinner.

I poked a hole in my piping bag the last time I made cupcakes, so tonight I used a makeshift one using a Ziploc bag.  Didn’t turn out as polished, but they still look tempting!  The cream cheese frosting recipe comes from Australian Women’s Weekly.

If you want to make a batch yourself, check out Carrot Top Mom.  (Though I would find your own cream cheese frosting recipe.  Hers hasn’t work for me, and I’ve tried it 3 different times.)

Sadly there isn’t much white in my festive ensemble.  I love this little red and navy shirt/dress.  I got it at Target of all places.  My red H&M tights and navy Keds pair really well with the dress as well.  My watch is the pop of white to complete my patriotic get-up.

For my family, the 4th means spending the long weekend together up at our cabin.  It’s on a small lake in Wisconsin.  I’m sure my parents and sisters will spend the day barbecuing and water-skiing.  I’m sad to miss out, but I’m happy to have indulged my need to acknowledge the day.  And when it almost fell apart (I forgot to buy cream cheese), I had my best buddy around to go pick it up for me.