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Showing posts from June, 2015

Day 50: Homeostasis

I remember a word from biology class way back in my sophomore or junior year of high school. It has stuck with me all this time.  And I'm a musician, not a scientist!

The word is "homeostatis".

Biologyonline defines it as: "The tendency of an organism or a cell to regulate its internalconditions, usually by a system of feedbackcontrols, so as to stabilize health and functioning, regardless of the outside changing conditions."

And my body is a master of homeostasis!  I say this because I weighed and measured myself this morning. And yes, I will admit I feasted on a southern-style dinner of chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes, gravy, roll with butter, green beans, and Birthday cake on Sunday.

But really?  I have been exercising for 30 minutes to 2 hours every day for 50 days now.  Plus I have drastically changed my eating habits! And my stats are relatively unchanged. In fact, compared to last week, I am big…

Day 49: 5.88 Miles!

I walked today.  Briskly. For 5.88 miles. In the heat of the day. What was I thinking!

Well, perhaps walking off that chicken fried steak birthday dinner from yesterday.

And I saw a black-tailed deer and two fauns! They were so adorable.

While I walked, I cooked mujaddara in my crockpot.  When I came back, I was thrilled. It was cooked to perfection and the whole house smelled divine!

In case you are not familiar with mujaddara, it is a Lebanese dish.  Lentils spiced with cumin, cinnamon, and pepper and mixed with rice. I used brown rice. Then I sauteed a chopped onion and a clove of minced garlic in olive oil until the onions were nicely brown and dumped that whole mess on top of the mujaddara. I also made a garlic/lemon/cucumber yogurt sauce (Called Cucumber Laban. It is similar to the Greek Tzatziki) to go on top.

I've tried several times to make mujaddara in my crockpot, but this is the first time I was completely satisfied with the texture.

I used this recipe from "What…

Day 48: Charisma

Day 48!  50 is looming!

I have all the windows open and fans blowing. I watered all of the plants. My daughter has taken up gardening and her green thumb is showing! We have tomatoes, parsley, banana peppers, celery, rosemary, pumpkins and zucchini.

Dog has been outside and is lounging near my feet.

I was afraid of the heat wave yesterday. But today, I feel strong.  Part of surviving anything is preparation.  And I am becoming quite disciplined in the art of preparation!

I told my friends last night over iced tea that I had started to worry about how I was going to continue with my exercise and healthy eating once fall term hit. And it will hit with a vengence! Piano students, rehearsals for a few school musicals, Portland Chamber Music. Plus I have a few other irons in the fire...

But then it occurred to me that...duh! This happens every year!  But what will be different this time around is that I will be prepared. I will be stronger and have more energy. So I will be able to handle…

Day 47: Melting!

I survived a very hot day yesterday!
Ok, I must confess: I am blogging about Day 47 on Day 48.

Did I mention it was hot yesterday? And HUMID! The forecast was 100 degrees F. I think it reached 98, with 45% humidity.

I was mad at myself yesterday morning. I woke up at 4:00 a.m. Opened the windows. Watered the plants. Then lay back down, intending to wake up at 6:00 a.m. to go running. 

I slept right through my alarm and woke up at 8:00 a.m. My mom had gotten to the house early to take me to breakfast.

I tried to shake off the grumpies. Told myself I needed a day of rest. But I didn't WANT a day of rest! I wanted my exercise!

So I decided I would run the stairs at the church where I teach on Saturdays. Most of students had cancelled due to the heat warning. I just had 3 students scheduled, one of which was my very dedicated mother - one of my best students!

I planned to do a lot of practicing. Then I had a rehearsal with the group I just joined - Portland Chamber Music (http://www.pdx…

Day 46: I could get used to this!

Get up earlyWater plantsRead BiblePractice pianoWorkout. Today I went to the gym. With a weather forecast of 99°, I'm thinking air conditioning beats sunstroke!Healthy lunch. (Chicken, Brown rice and steamed veggies at Teriyaki King near the gym)
Head home to clean and catch a nap before my student this evening. Summer isn't so horrible! (We'll, let's wait and see how I feel tomorrow with101°, teaching and rehearsing in an old church for 10 hours without air conditioning! Yikes!)
But today I am happy.
Happy Friday!

Day 45: Beating the Heat!

I guess we'd better get used to it. We are in for a hot summer.  Hotter than Al Pacino, I said on my Facebook page!

I like the rain. But as long as it is summer and we are in the midst of a heat wave, I am determined to rise above.

My daughter is working. A lot.  She usually gets up early, takes the dog out and waters her plants before getting ready for work.

I have been having a hard time getting up early. Since I don't usually have students until the afternoon, I tend to sleep until late morning.

But this won't work in the hot weather.

It really wasn't working for me before.  I feel like I oversleep. I hit that snooze alarm until the very last moment that I can get ready without rushing.

So I made a commitment to my daughter to get up early and water the plants, take the dogs out and do the dishes.  There. I've said it. I really try to honor my word.

This will benefit our household. Help take some stress off of my daughter. But ultimately, put me on track with m…

Day 44: Inner Peace

Today was a very balanced, peaceful day. I am feeling content. And grateful for this life!

Day 43: Planning for Eating Success

I just returned from the trail. I ran 310 consecutive steps!  I found that walking for at least 20 minutes first gives me the nerve and the warmness of muscles to attempt to run.  My lungs were on fire the last few steps, but I did it!

I am on my way to teach a student right now, so not much time to ponder. 

Tomorrow I will go to the gym in Salem.  Back and biceps workout.

I need to pick up some more grapefruit today. My breakfast was very sad without my morning grapefruit! But I had 1/2 an orange and it was nice and juicy. The grapefruit really wakes up my taste buds and sets up my day on a positive note.  I think I will keep this habit!

After my run I had a bowl of chicken and kale soup from yesterday. I added a few chunks of a leftover baked potato. And I had a small salad of beets, radish, green onion, hominy and my homemade yummy sauce.  Fashioned after Cafe Yumm sauce it has nutritional yeast, vegan mayo, lemon juice, garlic, turmeric, green onions an vinegar.  Lives up to it…

Day 42: Monday Morning Stats

Drum Roll Please!

Todays stats are:
Monday June 22, 2015 Stats Weight: 197 lbs. Neck: 14.5" Chest: 44"
Waist: 39" Hips: 46" Thigh:  R 22.5", L 22.5 Biceps: R 14", L 14"

Compared to last week's stats:

Stats, Monday, June 15, 2015
Weight:  199!! Neck: 15" Chest: 44" Waist: 39" Hips: 48" Thighs: R; 23", L 22.5" Biceps: R: 15", L 14.5"

Results:  Weight loss: 2 lbs.
Loss of  0.5" from my neck
Loss of 2" from my hips
Loss of  0.5" on my right thigh (so now my thighs are equal! lol)
Loss of 0.5" on right biceps (and now my biceps are also equal! This is kind of weird!)

I am happy to see progress, no matter how small.  The most interesting thing is that I seem to have my eating under control.  I realize I spent a lot of time recreational eating, especially in the evenings.  
Ok, true confession: I was measuring my upper and lower abs, but strange things are happening with my belly fat. It shifts …

Day 41: Life Changes

Today as I began my day, I felt like there had been a shift.  I got up and got dressed for my run. No inner whining, or procrastinating. It's just what I felt inclined to do. I headed to the trail. Felt strong.  I walked half a mile and then I ran 300 consecutive steps!

I spent a good part of the day with my daughter. We stopped at a Saturday Market near the house.  She brought her dog, Honey.  We bought a bag of wonderful, fresh vegetables and shared a spinach and cheese tamale. 

Then we went home and prepped food for lunches for the week.  My daughter Taylor has been so supportive of my positive life changes. 

It is rather late. I was relaxing, watching an episode of Downton Abbey, my newest addiction, when I realized I hadn't blogged today!

I feel good, but I am feeling a bit sad today.  The senseless shooting in Charleston are weighing heavy on my heart. This morning in church, we bowed our heads and prayed for the victims, their families, their congregation, their commun…

40 Days Strong!

40 seems like a significant number. It was used in the bible numerous times. 40 years the Israelites wandered through the wilderness. 40 days Jesus fasted and prayed. According to an article on (

"Mention[ed] 146 times in Scripture, the number 40 generally symbolizes a period of testing, trial or probation."

Interesting!  i do feel like these past 40 days have been a period of testing.  Temptation lurks at every corner. In fact, just last evening my son called and said we should go out for Pho. I never like to turn down dinner with family, especially my kids, so of course I said yes. Problem was, I wouldn't have been able to make it to the restaurant until 7:30. And I have been trying to cut my eating off at 6:00, 7:00 at the very latest.  

Thankfully, he called while I was finishing up with a student and said maybe we should eat at home. He was going to play basketball and was not that h…

Day 39: 275 Consecutive Running Steps!

Yup, I did!  There is no try. Only DO!

I am awfully sore today. Yesterday I increased my reps and weights at the gym, focusing on chest, triceps and abs.

After the gym I was worried about uncontrollable hunger that evening. My plan was to go to the Grotto and walk the labyrinth and have some quiet, contemplative time with God.

So I stopped at Taco Time and had a taco, mexi-fries, mini cheese quesadilla and a diet Coke.  I think that is why I hurt more today.  The high sodium content.  But I had a good day yesterday. I fasted from 4 p.m. until my 1/2 grapefruit at noon today. Then I made some veggie burgers out of some leftover brown rice. And topped it off with a small portion of berry cobbler and greek yogurt.  It is 4:00 p.m. as I write this.  Again, I seem to get this angst about this time. I
actually welcome the hunger pangs and empty stomach, but my fear is that I will not be able to persevere.

But so far, I have!  I have a student this evening. I think I will stop and get a sal…

Day 38 Reflections

Almost 40 days of daily exercise and commitment to getting stronger and healthier.  I do believe I am starting to reprogram my brain! I am finally accomplishing daily living - took me 53 years, but here I am!

Today, I am spending the day planning a concert I am playing in August.  It's called "Zita's Cool Piano Concert". Since I have some time off, I can not only stay focused on exercising, but perhaps I can also apply this new found discipline to the rest of my life!

Embarrassingly enough, I have not always practiced the piano as diligently as I should. I have been lazy, relying on my strong sight reading ability.

But, that, along with my fat will become a thing of the past!  My new goal is to spend 2 hours a day practicing.  It does help to have a goal. I usually practice for whatever performance is imminent. My next big performance is my concert. But I also record music for people on my site and I am a new member of Portland Chamber Music and will nee…

Day 37: Opening Doors!

"A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones." Proverbs 17:22 Had a late start this morning. But something I noticed right away is that there was no doubt in my mind that my priority was to get a run in!  I wasn't really hungry. I drank some water and had 1/2 grapefruit at 10 a.m.

I hit the trail at 12:37 p.m. I decided to do a long walk today.

And I did!

I did 4.53 miles! I made it all the way to Powell Butte which is off of SE 145th!

It took me exactly 2 hours.  About halfway through, I felt pretty good and decided to work on my running.

I ran 225 consecutive steps!! It made me smile. :)

Now, while I was walking, I received a call from the Community Music Center. I was informed that my piano blues camp that was scheduled to run all next week has been cancelled due to low enrollment.

I gulped back a feeling of panic. But then, I felt relief.  A whole week off!  I can run every day!

And I can plan my next concert!

I also have an applicati…

Day 36: Part II - 200 steps! I Do!

I was thinking of Yoda's "There is no try..." as I hit the trail. So I did 200 consecutive RUNNING steps!  I broke my 150 steps from two days ago!  I always walk, more briskly every day and try to insert some jogging and running. But I pushed harder today.

I came home and had a glass of water, 5 baby carrot sticks and about 1 t yogurt dip.  The chana masala aroma has filled the whole house. I feel lightheaded. But it is not quite ready.  I'll have a bowl before I hit the gym.

Did I mention I have officially signed up for a 5K?  I HAVE! One of my student's moms told me that Portland Parks and Recreation (of which the Community Music Center is a part), holds $5 5K's in the summer. I signed up for the one held at Westmoreland Park in September. Unfortunately it is the same day as the Boring 5K, but the price is right and I am avid believer in Parks and Rec.

So I have a goal!

I will do! No try!


PS:  I just looked through last week'…

Day 36: "No! Try not! Do, or do not. There is no try." --YODA, Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back*

I woke up this morning to a stuffy room. I went to hit the "snooze" button. Then it occurred to me. This is how most of my mornings begin. I am living the "Groundhog's Day" movie! (One of my favorite movies. I LOVE Bill Murray!)

So I did not hit the snooze!

I opened the window and turned on the fan.

Well, I did lay back down. But I pondered. If my days began the same every day and I am not happy with them. Well, perhaps I should make some changes.

We have all heard that definition of insanity that states if you keep doing the same thing over and over again with the same results...

Last night I put soaked a pot of garbanzo beans.  Otherwise known as chickpeas.

I got up early and turned the crock pot on.  I've decided to allow myself a piece of fruit before my run. I bought a couple of very nice looking grapefruits from Fred Meyer's last night.  After my run, I will have a pot of luxurious chana masala to look forward to.  I fried a couple cloves of mi…

Day 35: I have entered the world of ONEDERLAND! AND...

...I did a 4.28 mile walk! In the heat! On an empty stomach!

I am woman, hear me roar! :)

Last night was an exceptional evening. I had two recitals of students perform.  One group at 4:30 which consisted mostly of beginners and early intermediate students. Including my mother, who has been taking lessons from me for about 4 months and my 7 year old niece, who has been taking lessons on and off for a few years but has become more dedicated since her grandma practices with her!

The second group of students played at 6:00 p.m. These students were early intermediate through early advanced.  The last two students performing were a brother and sister who have studied with me for about 7 years.

I sit on stage with my beginning students to offer support.  As the advance, I usually am present to turn pages.  As I sat there, on stage with all of my students, I had little memory flashbacks of moments from their lessons.

I felt very peaceful and full of love for all of these students who are lea…

Day 34: A Great Day "Pho" Sure! :)

Today I broke my 18-hour fast at Pho Vietnam on SE 82nd and Powell and Foster. 

Nothing like a steamy bowl of pho with seafood, rice noodle, fresh basil, sprouts, lime and jalapenos to stimulate your senses!

 I feel light and alert. 

Yesterday, was a different story. 

This life of mine is a continual learning process, a merry-go-round of trial and error. I was ecstatic to discover that fasting from 6 p.m. until breakfast the following day is a workable life system for me. But yesterday. Sigh. I had breakfast with my mom. I guess I threw caution to the wind, so to speak.  I've been trying to avoid wheat. And I can definitely now attribute tummy problems to wheat. I mentioned this before. I may be gluten intolerant. Or at least sensitive.

Anyway, it started with a hearty breakfast at 8:30 a.m. of eggs, home fries, a homemade bisquit, turkey sausage and coffee.  I had packed a lunch. I've been avoiding bread, but on Saturdays I give myself some leeway. Since I do the breakfast w…

Day 33: Training like a Marine!

"The Overload Principle: To improve the condition of your body, an exercise must work your muscles and cardiorespiratory system a little harder than usual. This deliberate stressing of muscles during workouts is known as overloading. Between workouts, during recovery periods of 24 to 48 hours, the body goes through a rebuilding process. The muscles and the cardiorespiratory system become a little stronger and more efficient as the body prepares to meet new demands made by the overload...A practical rule for progressive overloading is simple: when you feel comfortable during a workout, work a little harder." The Marine Corps 3x Fitness Program for Men and Women, Martin Cohen

I found a great book on the way to rehearsal last night! There is a little used bookstore less than a block away from the Community Music Center. Dangerous for me! I have this strange disorder. Ever since I was a little girl.  It happens in libraries and bookstores. The minute I enter, I get such an adre…

Day 32: Brazilian Jazz!

I am enjoying this new way of life!  My last meal was at 6:00 p.m. yesterday.  I hit the trail about 11:30 a.m.  Did a brisk walk/jog for about a mile to SE 122nd.

My plan was to then hop on a bus to the Safeway at SE 122nd and Powell. But once I reached 122nd, I didn't want to stop walking! It was a beautiful, perfect walking day.  I ran a bit. My headphones were annoying me, and I hadn't found anything motivating, so I just took them out. Ran with the music of the birds!

I feel so free!  I think I have really been a slave to my eating habits for many years. A slave to my angry belly. Well, no more! I am in charge here! And I feel much lighter, clearheaded, energetic and balanced with an empty belly! I am not hungry at all. I look forward to my tall glasses of ice water.

After awhile, I put my headphones back on and scanned the radio tuner. And I discovered something.  I LIKE Brazilian Jazz! KMHD 89.1 FM was doing a Brazilian Jazz program. I loved it. I stopped at a bus stop…

Day 31: Looking forward to "Onederland!"

I am doing so well on this intermittent fasting.  I think maybe, perhaps, possibly I am an all or nothing type person?  I asked my daughter this earlier. I can see her nodding her head and smiling, "You are, Mom!"

So I haven't eaten anything since yesterday at 6:00 p.m. I've been drinking extra water.  I feel wonderful!

I put together a breakfast casserole at the request of my son-in-law. I made it last night and put it in the fridge. This morning at 6:00 a.m. I pulled it out and baked it. Smells heavenly. Eggs, mushrooms, green chiles, olives, hashbrowns on the bottom as a crust. Top sprinkled with a bit of cheese and olives. After my run I will have a slice!

But I've just been drinking water this morning. I'm going to go for my run on an empty stomach. From what I've been reading about fasting, ketosis and weight loss, the body is forced to burn fat instead of the carbs you recently ingested if you workout on an empty stomach. Of course, one needs to u…

DAY 30!!! Happy Dance!

Yup, I am doing a happy dance! 30 days of daily exercise and improved eating! :)  I am a very proud woman.

Today is my second day of intermittent fasting.  My last meal was at Laughing Planet last night. I had a quinoa bowl with asparagus, lamb and spinach. And an oatmeal stout beer. I finished eating at 7 p.m. and had nothing, aside from several glasses of water until now!  It is 9:11 a.m. I am eating a small portion of my fish and veggie casserole from yesterday. More water.

Then I am off to Union Station to take the bus to Salem for the day.

I find having a plan really helps!

So my plan is a light lunch in Salem at my new little Mexican cantina. A chicken taco on a corn tortilla and fresh fruit.

Then 30 minutes of weight training at the gym. Today is back/biceps day.

Next I get picked up and whisked off to bible study. My lovely sisters know I am eating healthy. They usually have fresh fruit, cheese, rice cracker and tea.

Then I teach 3 piano students.

After my students, I will gra…

Day 29/Day 1 IF: Yogurt, Kombucha and Kimchi, Oh My! :)

29 Days! That is nearly ONE WHOLE MONTH! (Well if it was February and leap year, it would be!)

Today is the first day of the rest of my life!  I love saying that! :) I feel really good this morning. However, I did NOT get up and run at the crack of dawn as I had planned. Last night was gruesomely hot and humid. I woke up at 1 a.m. and sat on the porch drinking ice water and then read.

But I haven't eaten since 4:00 p.m. yesterday. So I completed a 16 hour fast! And I feel wonderful!  I am having some hunger pangs, but they feel good! I feel alive!  And better yet, I do not feel bloated and foggy! Do you like all the exclamation points?! :)

My daughter scolds me for using too many exclamation points and smiley faces! :)

My revised plan is to eat a bit of yogurt and fruit and then go to the trail from 10:30 to 11:30.
Update:  Just ate about 1/2 cup greek yogurt (Tillamook "Coffeehouse Blend"), 3 cherries and a sip of  Kombucha tea (Fred Meyer's Organics "Mango Mi…

Day 28: Part II - IF

IF stands for "Intermittent Fasting".

A 2007 review by University of California, Berkeley, researchers concluded that alternate-day fasting may:
Decrease cardiovascular disease risk.Decrease cancer risk.Lower diabetes risk (at least in animals, data on humans were less clear, possibly because the trial periods in the studies were not long enough to show an effect).Improve cognitive function.Protect against some effects of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases.
 In my quest to lose weight and maintain a healthy weight for life, I have periodically come back to fasting. When I was a young adult, I would fast every Sunday. It was difficult. But I would always feel cleansed and clear-headed on Mondays.

Today I felt heavier and more sluggish than I have in awhile. Perhaps it had something to do with the hot weather. Or my happy hour binge last night! 

I ate a light salad for breakfast and then for lunch I had spicy chicken, brown rice and a salad. The rest of the day I h…

Day 28 - Regarding Post Concert Depression

Today I woke up feeling like I had been run over by a truck.  I knew it would happen. I have suffered all my life from post concert depression. Not sure if this is a clinical diagnosis, but it is real. Believe me.

I put a lot of energy into performance. And anxiety.  I tend to procrastinate. And then practice like mad as the event nears.  And then chastise myself for not being more prepared.

Funny thing is, that no matter how prepared I am, I never feel prepared enough. Or good enough.

But I usually pull through. Last night I did. Oh, there were some little mistakes, and uh-oh moments. We all have those. But oveall, I felt good. I was about 95% totally present in the moment with the music.

Performing music is like surfing. You spend a lot of time waiting for the big wave.  You work really hard to get on top of it. But when you are there it is pure heaven. You just ride the wave. When you are totally present with your music, you are like a vessel that the music pours through. It is ha…

Day 27 - A Magical Evening

Ok, I am actually writing this on Day 28. Yesterday was a very busy day.  But it ended up being a very good day!

I started the day with a 2 mile walk with my daughter Taylor and her dog Honey. Honey is a German Shorthair Pointer mix that Taylor and her husband Mike recently adopted. She is two years old. A very sweet dog. Her original owner had crate trained her. She responds to many vocal commands.  Love this dog!  But she has a lot of energy. Needs to walk six miles a day!  Well, she is fitting right in around here! Only problem is she tugs on the leash quite a bit when we walk. She is friendly to other humans and dogs, just gets overly exuberant.

So Taylor and I had a nice walk and talk amidst her exclamations, "No, Honey. Heel!" lol

But it was an extraordinary day on the trail.  We saw a mother duck cross our path, just several feet ahead, leading her little ducklings into the swamp.  We saw two baby rabbits leaping playfully just inches from our feet. Then we saw what …