Category Archives: Fitness

And so we hike again.

Once a year, all of the Junior high schools in my city (and maybe Japan) go hiking. A lot of schools do one of the popular hikes in the area, but because we are located in the middle of nowhere we did our own hike, cleverly coinciding with picking up the few pieces of rubbish in the surrouding area. The school was divided into four groups. My school is the smallest of the 18-something Junior High Schools in the city, so my group had 5 students, one other teacher, myself and the principal.

Most of the hike was more of a walk up a mountain on paved roads. We reached the summit. The views were beautiful.

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My friends and I wanted to try another fairly local hike, so we chose one going over a mountain in Kobe. It was nice – not too steep, and just the right length (about 4 hours). Here’s a few pics 🙂

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Fitness update!

Well, I’m still losing, slowly. The cost of going to the local pool is just too prohibitive, so I have been doing what I can locally in the last couple of weeks. It seems to be working –  I am down 12kg now. More importantly I went for my annual blood test last week. A year ago I had high cholesterol, and everything else was at the upper end of normal. Now my cholesterol is perfect, and everything else is great as well. Honestly, this makes it all worth it!

I have been working on trying to build muscle. I really like the reebok channel exercise I linked to in this post, and have been trying a couple of the low impact fitness blender exercises. These really challenge me!

I have also been walking and hiking whenever my legs seem up to it. It seemed that the moment my left knee got better, I started having pain in my right ankle/ shin. I’m really, really hoping it’s not shin splints. If it doesn’t get better in a few days I’ll see my doctor about it. But it frustrates me, as I only have a couple of months left to take in Japan, and my favourite way to do that is to hike around.

I have been more on track with my food. I have finally managed to acquire coconut butter, so have been using it to cook with. A friend and I finally found it in the make your own soap section of a craft store (food grade, don’t worry!). I’ve also been spending more money than I should to get good fruits and vegetables, but that’s Japan for ya.

So that’s me + health and fitness at the moment. I’m getting there, and I am still enjoying it. I just wish silly injuries wouldn’t be so present. Gah!


This was from a hike a couple of weeks back. Japan, I will miss you.

Fitness Update (Again)

Well, I’m still losing, slowly but surely. Just very slowly at the moment. Very slowly.

That may have to do with the fact I’ve been a bit lax in the food department recently – working to get back on the wagon, and actually be smart with my calories. That doesn’t mean none of the good stuff though – I’m excited to be trying Cold Stone ice cream for the first time on Monday 😀 – after we hike for four hours!

I’ve started to get back into running. My knee is almost better, but still not perfect. At my doctors insistance, I’m taking it slow. I’ve gone back to week four of Couch to 5K, as it provides me with rests in between my running bursts, but still enough running to feel like I’ve had a good workout. It’s incredibly frustrating doing all the work to get to 5k, to find my knee injured and that I have to go backwards, not forwards, but that’s life.

I’m still trying to keep strength and flexibility training in there. I have been doing a fair bit of yoga (I still like Jillian Michaels Yoga Meltdown the best) and have started using my wristweights to do some of the strength exercises Reebok puts on their channel. I’ve found these to be quite effective – still feeling the burn after 3 days in my waist! I’ve added one of the videos in the series so you know what I mean. I look nowhere near as glamorous!

I’ve also been trying to hike as much as I can. I love hiking. It’s free, fun and good exercise. I am especially excited to be hiking in my last few months in Japan – I love rural Japan, and think hikling is a really, really great way to see the country. I’m also looking at different hikes I can do when I visit home in New Zealand later this year and then go to the US. I love seeing how forest and mountains change from country to country.

A Hiking we shall go

It’s Golden Week here in Japan. Basically, that means there are abunch of public holidays all around the same date, so pretty much everyone in Japan picks up and travels.

I am really trying to save money, so have avoided travelling out of town for this Golden Week, and have instead decided to expore a bunch of the hiking trails in my local area. Today we explored a trail behind Arima Onsen, a resort town near to where I live.


Due to it being a resort town, and Golden Week, it was really crowded in Arima Onsen itself (well, its really crowded about 80% of the time). The trails, however, weren’t too bad. There were a few tour groups in super fancy hiking outfits, and the odd family, but everyone was really friendly.

We arrived at the station and headed toward the hike. Unfortunately my memory of how to get there served me slightly wrong, meaning we were lucky to see all sorts of non-touristy parts of Arima Onsen on the way. Unfortunately in this case, non-touristy means more streets of houses, car parks and backs of hotels, as opposed to wonderful, tucked away experiences and places off the beaten path.

Eventually, after following our instinct around the town, we finally found the entrance to the trail (and the road we should have gone down to get there) directly and easily. The trail started behind a shrine up a mountain. We got to the base of the mountain, and saw the steps up to the shrine. It didn’t look too bad.


Where we thought the stairs ended. Sigh.

Except that, unfortunately, the landing where we thought the shrine was turned out to be wrong. Quite wrong. We were probably only about 1/3 of the way there.

So we trudged on up, feeling very, very sorry for ourselves. Thankfully the temple at the top, whilst small and understated, was really pretty and had a great view.




The start of the official hiking trail.

We started along the trail, full of optimism. This soon dissipated. The trail was much harder than we anticipated – steep, with a lot of dirt and giant tree roots. After scrambling up it for about 15 minutes (which felt much, much longer), we eventually came to another trail. This was a much wider and smoother trail – the kind found more commonly in Japan.


Celebrating the wide, easy trail 😀

We carried on for while, but decided not to go all the way to the top, because it was getting late in the day, and I’m not one for being stranded on Japanese mountainsides.Image

View from the (almost) top.

We turned around, and somehow merged with a group of engineering students from Osaka who spoke excellent English on the way down. We reached the bottom, left our new friends, and decided to actually go to the onsen, being that the entire town revolves around it (super logical, desu!)Image

These guys were waiting at the bottom. I’m rather fond.

We ended up having a very short bath in the onsen, as it was just too hot. We did enjoy the massage chairs afterward though. We went to the gold onsen. There are minerals in the water that turn the water a rusty golden colour. It’s so thick that the water is completely opaque.

We stumbled out of the onsen hungry and found ourselves in 7-11, where we bought amazing, soft, gooey chocolate-man buns.


Ridiculously good. Seriously.

And then, it was time to head home. But thankfully it’s only the beginning of Golden Week – there are many more adventures to come 🙂

Taiwan day 3: Taroko Gorge!

Taroko Gorge is the one reason I was determined to visit Taiwan again. We didn’t get to do it the first time round (mid 2011) and have been itching to go back and see it ever since.

Amanda and I got up early, and bought tickets for the hop-on hop-off bus through the park. It was much cheaper than any of the tours we saw, and allowed us to go at hour own pace,, so completely worth it.

Our first stop was the Visitor Information Center. We figured we’d stop here, get our bearings and walk to the first trail. The area around the Visitos Center was extremely beautiful. Unfortunately, we soon discovered the most of the road to the first train was a never ending tunnel!


You know you’re going somewhere beautiful when it’s this beautiful before you even start. This area actually reminded me a lot of Arthur’s Pass in New Zealand.

We soon arrived at the first trail, the Shakadang Trail. It was a pretty walk. Most of the trail was paved – something Amanda and I found quite hard to deal with when we set out on a day’s hiking! Eventually, however, the trail turns into one that is indigenously owned. They we happy to let us continue down the unpaved part of the trail, and it was so much nicer to actually feel a part of things, and not just walk alongside on a paved trail. The walk lasted maybe 1 1/2 hours?



After walking the trail, we headed to the end of the gorge for lunch. The area was stunning.


There were monkeys. Chilling.


Minecraft inoshishi!


Finally, we went for a short walk through Swallow Grotto. It was nice, and there were amazing rock formations, and small holes in marble where swallows rested, but it was overrun with tour groups, and again we had barely any room to move.




Taroko Gorge is definately a highlight of Taiwan. I would go again, given the opportunity!

Achievement: Unlocked

So, a week ago this happened…


The next morning, I jumped on the scales. I was the lightest I have been in 6 years.


Then this happened…


And I managed to gain 1.5kg in six glorious days.

I’m back at it now. I’m not running this week because my knee is sore, so I convinced my running buddy to go low impact. She found a  yogalaties video online. The concept sounded great – slow, gentle movement. Sadly, it was more a case of us trying not to kick each other in a space 2 tatami mats wide, whilst an over enthusiastic instructor kept making comments like “doesn’t this stretch feel yummy”. On the plus side, I do have that ‘I worked out’ ache today.

I’ll write about Taiwan soon!

Fitness update


This morning. All ready but unable to run!

Well. I promised to put before and after shots at 8kg lost. I’m now down 9, but am really nto ready to post a thing like that, so will change my own rules! (That’s 19.8 pounds for all you Burmese, Liberians and Americans out there).

So, four months in, here’s what I am doing, and what I have changed:

1. Couch to 5k programme. Love this. Hated running previously. Really hated it. Ever since I was seven years old and my brownie leader came up to me, laughed at me and said “you run funny”, I have hated running. What sort of person says that to a seven year old? Running has always been associated with pain and discomfort. When I started, the 1.5 minute running portions were torture. Somehow, I have managed to get (almost) to the end of this programme, and honestly, I love it. I have foot problems that flare up on occasion, and so can’t run today, and that is making me frustrated.

2. Yoga. I have been doing different yoga videos (primarily Denise Austin and Jillian Michaels). I have to admit I don’t necessarily enjoy it, but I enjoy the results, and understand the importance of not neglecting my muscles/ upper body/ inner Madonna in The Next Best Thing (because I am so in and hip with the pop culture that I reference 90s Madonna movies that get 2 stars on IMDB).

3. My fitness pal. Counting calories works for me and works well. It helps me be aware fo what foods I eat. I don’t cut anything out, but I try and keep mostly healthy (whole grains, lean protein, olive oil, lots of fruit and veggies, stevia instead of sugar where possible). MFP has helped me be aware of the caloric value of the choices I make, e.g. chips versus celery and peanut butter, and their impact on my daily calories. I tend to try and make choices that will keep me full and feeling good.

4. Other exercise. I walk a lot. I swim when I can’t run. I try and keep other exercise up when I can.

I mentioned doing T-Tapp videos previously. I have chosen not to continue with those, as I started feeling unsafe with them. This was because some of the moves involved a lot of bending and bouncing, that I didn’t feel comfortable with. I may try some of her walking videos though.

Overall, I’m happy with my progress. I want to be in healthy BMI range for my height, which is still a few kg away. I am enjoying getting healthy and enjoying looking after my body.

Bringing fitness back

Firstly, forgive any typos, but I somehow decided painting my nails whilst writing this was the best idea ever. Not so sure I was right on that one.

So. I stepped on my scales the other week. Not so much my scales as the onsen scales. Nothing cusions the blow of finding out how big you truly are whilst standing in a public bathhouse. I went home and diligently plugged into the BMI chart. Obese.

I realised I can’t keep living like this. I want to have children in the not too distant future (but not too close, let’s not rush things), and to do that I must be healthy. Wobbly, jiggly obese me is not healthy.

So I decided to change. Here are the first things I did (pretty much a copy and paste from an email I sent my mother. Because I’m classy like that):

1. Swapped diet coke for green tea, except one small bottle on a Saturday.
2. Tried to eat generally healthy without obsessing, and learning to make substitutions to make things healthier (my tofu chocolate mousse was the hit of the thanksgiving party!)
3. Monitered my calories and exercise on my fitness pal. This has really helped, as I am more aware about which foods are calorie dense and which are light. I am doing this with a sensible amount of calories. I still make sure I have pleantly of protein, whole grain foods and good oils.
4. Snacked regularly to avoid hunger. I plan healthy snacks, with some protein (e.g. apple and a yoghurt or frozen berries and a small piece of parmesian cheese) so I don’t get hungry and eat junk in a reactionary way.
5. Exercised regularly. I have been doing a workout called T Tapp. It’s a short but intense workout, and I have seen huge results. I did it daily for 2 weeks, now I do it four times a week, and also dance, so exercise 5 days. I want to pick up Zumba, and maybe do 2X T Tapp, 2X Zumba and 1X dance.
6. Not deprived myself. If I want chocolate/ cake/ tempura/ steak/  Burger King (Yes, I did!) I eat it, I just adjust what I eat for the rest of the day, and don’t do it every day. Actually, with the closest glorious Burger King being 2 hours away I can’t do it every day. But one opens next week in my city. Drat.
7. Experimented with new, healthy recipes, and ways to make food healthier but still tasty (tofu mousse, new pasta sauces etc). I love cooking, and love challenging myself in the kitchen. I have  a weekly dinner club with friends that’s vegetarian, which is also fun.

Doing the above has enabled me to lose about 4 1/2 kg in the last month, and I feel really, really good. I am excited to exercise and push myself. And I am officially out of obese!

I have decided not to publish a before/ after shot until I get to 8 kg lost.