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Well, adversity always teaches you something. A while ago we got around to getting a guy in to fix a few things around the house. Most significantly for the purposes of this post, our shower base had a crack in it (which we had awesomely taped over with duct tape). When he quoted for the job, the fellow had some concerns that if it had been leaking into the floor, depending on the seal underneath, that removing the base might show more things that had to be dealt with. Anyway, we gave him the go ahead, little knowing that this would prompt him to immediately come in and remove the shower, thankfully revealing no underlying structural defects. However since that time, though we have a new base sitting in the kitchen (WTF?), he doesn’t actually seem in a hurry to reinstall our shower.

He has a key to pop in and do stuff while we are at work, and we keep finding new additions to the little pile of artifacts on our kitchen bench (apparently that is where handyman implements are stored). However the base still sits in the kitchen (again, WTF?) and we are still without a shower. And it is not like he has fixed the other things on our list in the meantime. It’s like he got two dot-points in and forgot his train of thought. We suspect some of this came from the fact that Hub stupidly said to him “it doesn’t have to all be done at once if that is impossible, we have a second shower”. Big mistake.

So for the last two weeks (!!) we have been using the second shower, which is in our dicky guest bathroom off the laundry. And we have discovered how wretchedly we have been torturing our guests forcing them to shower in that weak arsed tinker bell excuse for a shower (Sorry!). In the face of floods and cyclones and famine, the tragedy of having a crappy shower aren’t really that outstanding. However, I didn’t realise how much it puts a big ol raspberry in the beginning of my day to have to endure a craptastic shower. Add to that the guest bathroom is a tiny cramped affair, not at all suited to the more serious task of Main Bathrooming. This all came together in a major fail for me when I jumped into the shower before bed after having done some exercise and was a little too anxious to get out of the weak tepid water when finished my ablutions. Not known for my grace at the best of times, I put a foot wrong, hit a patch of water on the polished floor board and slipped. Without anything to grab for to rescue me from my position, I ended sprawled on the floor, sporting a fresh collection of ridiculous bruises and counting another reason to curse the damned handyman. I swear, there will come a day when I won’t be permitted to walk around my house without a climbing harness hooked to an anchor rope wherever I go.

The situation has worsened to an alarming degree. Tonight I have HIIT on the schedule which I normally do on the exercise bike at home, but I am sorely tempted to go to the gym and use their bikes, for the sole purpose of being able to use the gym showers afterwards. I have never showered at this gym before but such is the excrable nature of our guest shower that I have a blanket confidence that the gym showers simply must be better. I have a general aversion to gym showering, but I have a very specific aversion to showering in the hovel off our laundry.

My hovel could probably be improved of course by a quick trip to bunnings and a replacement shower head that would at least address the issue of the tepid and unreliable pressure. However, for a variety of reasons that isn’t practical at the moment. So it looks like I might be left hanging out waiting for a decent shower.

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So you might have seen those dodgy holographic wrist bands that were plastered all over the place last year. They all claimed that they improved performance or endurance or general well being due to the magical power of some sort of hologram or whatever on or in a plastic band. They had footballers and various people advertising them and they seemed to be everywere. Until of course the end of December when action by the ACCC forced the company responsible to admit it was all a bunch of bollocks and they had no proof that the bands did anything for anyone except convince gullible people to spend $40 on a piece of rubber.

Hub popped into Rebel Sport in January shortly after the decision was made banning their sale and tells me he saw stacks upon stacks of these product just sitting on the desk as they were calling them all in in response to the ban on sales. He asked what they were going to do with them all and was told that they aren’t allowed to sell them, but they are allowed to give them away or if people want them. They asked him if he wanted one for free and he refused, on the basis that a useless band of rubber doesn’t become more useful because it is free.

But I have now figured out that the enterprising manufacturers have figured out what to do with those left over bands. They have apparently delivered them all to my gym for installation in a new entry scanning mechanism thing in place of our membership cards. I am very fond of my gym. My worst gym experience was with a well known franchise brand which I felt provided very little service for copious amounts of money (but you get a backpack!). It amazes me that the monthly fee on my current gym is substantially less than what I was paying there close to 8 or 9 years ago. That might also have to do with the fact that they let me get away with a student concession rate at my current gym, on account of the fact that I have a student card (for those that asked, my doctorate is on a very impenetrable area of insolvency law).

The gym that I currently attend is owned by the municipal council in which I live and is very close to home. They seem to pride themselves on the human touch, being a council gym. You have to scan in every visit, but I was shocked the first time I had lapsed and not gone for a couple of weeks to get a letter from them telling me that they missed me. How sweet. Anyway, now instead of scanning in with cards, we scan in with the very cool rubber wrist bands. I suppose one reason that they had it is to replace the current wrist band system they have for people using the pool. However, I am just now very pleased that I took the time to pop in yesterday to get my new wristband now sitting in my gym bag in place of my old membership card which sat in my wallet. Cause as a result, it is one of the few things that I don’t have to have replaced since my wallet was stolen yesterday evening.

Ugh, what a crapola couple of days. Yesterday I woke up with a headache which got progressively worse during the course of the morning, incorporating light sensitivity, nausea and all those good things. I have never had a proper migraine, but as I was finding talking on the phone to be painful because of the sound of people’s voices in my ear, I headed off home to bed to sleep it off.

Which I duly did, sleeping for 5 hours straight, then after dinner back to bed and sleeping for a full night without interruption. I don’t know what it was, but it seemed better once I got into a darkened room – today I feel vaguely hungover though I didn’t take any drugs to speak of once the paracetamol in the morning didn’t do anything.

I do however gaze in disbelief at the wreckage of my clean eating this week as a result of this one bout of sickness. Admittedly I wasn’t up to cooking and was alone in the house so nobody could pamper me. But if I was going to splurge on a couple of dumplings for lunch followed by pizza and chips for dinner I would have preferred it to be at a time that I could actually appreciate it. Thankfully though the quality of the food was poor at least the quantity was more restrained than it could have been – most of it ended up in the bin.

And of course my second thought (after feeling guilty about the terrible food) was to feel guilty about missing a scheduled activity, namely the gym last night. I don’t know how I think I would have managed at the gym what with the light and sound sensitivity and so on, but there is no reasoning with this.

One thing that I did accomplish (admittedly the day before) was to pull out the bike from the garage, pump up the tyres and get it ready for the road. I did a quick spin around the back yard and promptly gave that up for fear of falling off. I thought that once you learn to ride a bike you kind of keep that skill for life? Anyway, I think I will need some practice on the back streets around our place before I brave the meaner streets. Maybe I should get some protective padding just in case.

Anyway, I know some of you cycle a bit, so I was wondering if any of you could answer a couple of questions that I had. I know that this sounds stupid, but I was wondering whether there was a use by date on bike helmets. The helmet I have is probably about 10 years old and I wonder whether that is okay or whether I should invest in a new one. As far as I know it has never been in any accidents or anything. Secondly, what if anything should a beginner cyclist take with her? Do I need tools? Is there a specific pressure that I should be pumping my tyres up to?

If a blogger exercises in the forest but doesn’t blog about it, does it contribute to improving fitness?

Surprisingly the gym after Christmas has been really quiet – I don’t know where the New Year’s Resolutionists are. I was off the gym as away between Christmas and the 5th of January – surely, the resolutionists aren’t finished up already?

It is inevitable though, a few trips to the gym and I’m lumbering along like Lurch with sore legs, arms and abs after the Christmas break (and the non Christmas related slackness break in November).

Hub – So my naturopath wants to know if you are over your irrational aversion to seeing a naturopath.
Me – She asked you this?
Hub – Yeah, and she also thinks you should cut down your carbs.
Me – Your naturopath is giving me nutrition advice now? What the hell are you doing talking about me at your naturopath sessions for?
Hub – I talk about a lot of things. It’s flattering.
Me – You know this convinces me even more that naturopaths are just like prostitutes
Hub – I’m definitely going to tell her you said that!!
Me – I mean its this mysterious female that you have a relationship with that is totally separate to me and pay her several hundred dollars a fortnight to make you feel better.
Hub – …
Me – And now you are spending your time talking to her about how I just don’t understand you and your naturopathy fashions and besides that I eat too many carbs.
Hub – Well I think you should go, she can help you with your skin irritation.
Me – Seriously? I have a small intermittent patch of irritation which I have already checked with my *real* doctor and decided to live with. Just cause I call it leprosy doesn’t mean I think that bits are going to start falling off me. And I am not going to cross the threshold to having a witchdoctor wave stuff at me to fix something that doesn’t bother me. Unless it bothers you? Does it creep you out that I have leprosy? Are you scared my skin will start sloughing off my body?
Hub – She can help you with other things as well.
Me – Anyway, if we have discretionary prostitute like spending on health and wellbeing, I am spending mine on the gym-prostitute rather than the naturopath-prostitute.

DISCLAIMER – I don’t actually have anything against naturopaths, they just aren’t for me. And while a collection of a number of conversations, this is pretty much a true story.

So I have been really enjoying lately getting into foods that cook themselves. I don’t know whether this is a coincidence or what, but it makes organizing yummy and healthy foods much easier because most of these methods allow me to omit virtually oil etc and be scrupulously aware of the ingredients I am using, without being a massive PITA. So I have the slow cooker and the big iron pots, but the other day I discovered something which had never occurred to me, and was totally prompted by trying to come up with a meal using just what I had in the house.

Got a new rice cooker and noticed that the little recipe book had some recipes for rice cooker risotto. Now I quite like risotto, but find it can be finicky and Hub isn’t always a great fan of the way I make it. So the other day I noticed that I had pretty much everything I needed for one of the recipes in the house. Seeing as this coincided with me being way too unethused to go shopping it was a goer.

I am officially on board with the rice cooker risotto idea. Risotto in the rice cooker is super easy and makes very nice risotto with minimum of finicks, plus it is absolutely designed to regulate portion control.

So far we have experimented with a couple of different recipes which have been a great hit. The only requirements is that the ingredients have to require a relatively limited amount of cooking or otherwise need to be cooked in advance. Simply put, you spray the rice cooker bowl with some oil spray or a dash of olive oil, and put it on the cook setting for one minute. Then you add finely diced onion and/or garlic and whatever herbs you might want to use. Stir until the onions are mostly cooked then add some Arborio rice and the right amount of stock. Stick the lid on and forget it until it flips from cook to warm. Then stir in some parmesan and whatever other ingredients you have decided on and any final seasoning. Leave on warm setting for 10 mins or until it tastes ready.

That is all there is to it – with a little bit of prep you can have a yummy healthy dinner cooking away for you in the background leaving you free to watch Boston Legal to your heart’s content.

We have used this technique for a chicken tomato and basil risotto (add chopped tomato and thinly sliced grilled chicken) and for a chicken, spinach and mushroom risotto so far (baby spinach, grilled chicken and sliced mushrooms) and both were excellent.