My at-home industrial dance Body Combat experiment! (Cardio updates)

Well guess who finally did something about her cardio game that’s been almost MIA since 2017.

Last week, I went to Body Combat for the first time in seven weeks, guys. Seven weeks. This week was the second time. Remember when I used to go 3x/week? Yeah, so do I.

Let’s review: I’d dropped Mondays for writing schedule reasons. Saturdays because I switched Combat for Pump. That left Wednesdays. Once a week means hit or miss. This year, it’s been more of a miss.

Before last week Wednesday, I only went to Body Combat 11 times in 2018. I did the math (my talents are many – I can plug numbers into an online percentage calculator), and only 10.67% of my group fitness workouts this year were comprised of Body Combat.

Illness/hospital/medical testing. Medicinal side effects. Other scheduling conflicts. Being out of town. Class cancellations. Logistical issues. Holidays. You name it. Missing a Body Pump class here or there isn’t that big of a deal when you go 3x/week, but if you go to Combat only once a week and you miss it, that’s a whole week gone.

With the summer heat, it’s been something like four months since I’ve worked out in the garage.

Updates:

Finally, just this week, I endeavored to start a Body Combat practice at home using our Les Mills On Demand subscription. Thanks to inspiration I took from my friend Jessica (hey girl), I realized that I could do it in our dining room, which has a tile floor. No A/C in the garage, no problem.

How did I do it? The main thing I needed was a motivating factor to get through the workout without someone leading, so put a twist on it: I muted my laptop and did the workout to my own playlist. I’ve been listening to a lot of industrial/industrial dance music lately as I’ve cycled back to my first electronic music passion, so I thought, what if I were to do a Body Combat workout to industrial dance music rather than to Les Mills’ (mostly) trap remixes? (I do like dubstep and trap, by the way, and drum & bass… I’m not dissing Les Mills’ music.)

It was weird. I’m used to listening to what the instructor’s saying. Muting the workout, I could only watch the screen to see what I was supposed to be doing. Unsurprisingly, I missed a lot as I tried to keep up with what they were doing while also trying to adapt the moves to my music. I never stopped moving, though. I worked up a sweat. My triceps were sore the next morning… very sore! Evidently, something got done.

It was fun to experiment with the music. Now that I’ve done it once, I know what to change for next week’s (industrial) Body Combat workout at home.

Meanwhile, last night’s Combat class at the gym was amazing. I’m getting back into it! Here’s a commemorative post-workout, cartoon-filtered selfie:

 

Sweat life (8/29/2018)

 

The cartoon filter reveals how I sweated my eyebrows off! Haha!!

I’m relieved to get back to regular cardio one way or the other. I’ll keep up my home Body Combat workouts, and I’ll get back into the garage as the weather cools down. Onward, then.

 

 

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Les Mills Body Pump updates.

It’s been a while since I’ve done a gym post, so this week I’m making up for it: today, I’m going to regale you with my totally unsolicited Les Mills Body Pump self-evaluation.

(Garage gym posts forthcoming after the weather cools down!)

It’s going to seem like this post would only be of interest to anyone who knows, follows, and/or cares about Les Mills Body Pump, but there’s a universal “moral of the story” to it: fitness is a mental sport.

Here’s my progress up to this point:

Legs: I haven’t added weight to my leg bar since my last increase over a year ago, and I don’t know when I will…

because I haven’t been able to get low and stay low for bottom-halves* (as opposed to pulses, which are faster and therefore easier). I can handle bottom-halves when they come in sets of 2. When they come in sets of 4, I’m done after the first two. Then I fake it at mid-range. Sometimes just hearing the instructor say “bottom halves for 4” kills my mental game and I give up before I even begin and end up doing the whole set at mid-range because my mind got there first and said NOPE. NO BOTTOM HALVES. At least 50% of my problem is a mental block, I know. Maybe more.

I want to overcome this and be able to do all of the bottom-halves at the bottom before I increase my leg bar weight. I don’t like to do stuff half-way.

*Bottom-halves: a type of Body Pump evil involving dropping to a deep squat and then coming up only halfway before dropping again for the next rep, and the reps are really slow.

Chest: I haven’t changed my chest weight, either, even though I probably could. My reason for this is ridiculous: theoretically, your back weight should be heavier than your chest weight, and mine is not. Because…

Back: the history of the weight I put on the bar for the back track makes no sense. I actually graphed it out. It looks like the Big Dipper.

 

history of my back weight bar in Body Pump

 

(In case it isn’t obvious, I’m not one for precision when attempting to draw.)

My bar-weight for the back track went up from 7.5 lbs to 12.5 lbs, then dropped back down to 7.5 after a case of tennis elbow during which I did nothing involving upright rows. The broken line connecting the 7.5 to the 10 at the end means that I sometimes venture up to 10 lbs… if I know there won’t be consecutive sets of power presses. If I know there’ll be lots of power presses, I’ll stay at 7.5.

This is another mental block. I used to put 12.5 lbs on each side of that bar, so there’s no reason why I couldn’t do it now. I’m stronger now than I used to be, but at the moment, my back weight is, at the most, the same as my chest weight. For some reason, I’m reluctant to commit to even the 10 lbs. Once again, the only one in the way of my progress is me. (Note to self: get out of my way.)

Triceps: my triceps weights are the same as they’ve been since I last increased them many months ago, and I’m fine with this. There’s more variation from one triceps track to the next, so there’s no telling when my regular triceps weight is going to be almost too challenging. There’s no such thing as a 12.5 lb plate in our group fitness room, anyway, as far as I know. I suppose people will grip a 2.5 lb plate on top of the 10. I also suppose I’ll try this when I feel like the 10 lb plate isn’t enough of a challenge anymore.

Biceps: I think I need to start using 10 lb dumbbells for single-arm curls, at least at the beginning of the track. Last time I did single-arm curls, I noticed that the 7.5 lbs didn’t feel as challenging as they used to. From now on, I’ll start with 10 lbs and drop to 7.5 when needed. If I can only do half of the first set with the heavier weight, so be it. As for my biceps bar, it’s heavy enough most of the time.

Lunges: I still can’t get my lunge form right, so I haven’t increased my weights at all. If anything, I’ll decrease it (I choose my lunge weight on a case-by-case basis). I think that my problem with form might be structural to some extent. There’s a mental block in there too, I’m sure.

Shoulders: as with triceps, there’s a lot of variation between shoulder tracks, so I’m fine where I am for now. My rear delts are the strongest part of my shoulders, so I’ll sometimes go up a plate weight for those. For the rest, I’d rather stick with my current weights and make sure that my form is as good as I can make it before I increase.

As for the bar, I’m keeping my current weight until I-don’t-know-when. My shoulder bar is too easy when doing upright rows, more of a challenge when doing push presses, and almost too much of a challenge when doing straight presses. Ideally, I’d have two bars for the shoulder track.

Abs: abs are abs. I have nothing to say about them.

That’s how my Body Pump progress looks at this point. My impediments come more from my mind than from anywhere else, I think. I know.

On Thursday, I’ll talk about Body Combat and my nearly non-existent cardio.

From the “new poems” file. (Haiku 18: Regime)

Two years ago, I started writing haiku (poems) in sets of four. I stopped when I started work on my novel, and I’ve picked it up again now that the novel’s finished… in addition to the longer poems I’ve been writing, that is.

These haiku sets adhere to the classic three-line, 5-7-5 syllable count, with the four haiku centering on a single theme. This is just the way I’ve been working with the form. I’ve taken liberties with it. With each theme, I’m basically writing a poem with four stanzas that happen to follow haiku structure.

Anyway! I know I’d said I would no longer publish new work here, but it seems I’ve been doing it again, so here you go – today, I’m sharing “Regime,” one of my recently written haiku sets.

~~~~~

Haiku 18: Regime

Kristi Garboushian, August 11, 2018

 

1.

Vision: thresholds lost,

kindnesses overtaken,

old pockets ripping.

 

2.

Possibly, maybe

likely – blind faith severing

children’s daisy crowns.

 

3.

Redwoods on fire.

Semiotics gone awry.

Glass of cabernet.

 

4.

Otherwise in thrall.

Spinal columns buried deep

beneath lost cities.

 

roses (23 August 2018)

 

 

 

 

 

Your mind is free. (Writing updates!)

When I finished my novel in early July, I found myself thinking, what now?

I’m still not doing anything with the novel… yet. Soon, though.

~~~~~

As for updates on the “what now?” – After two years of writing this first novel, I’m accustomed to working on and off 24/7. It feels natural. I didn’t feel imprisoned within that cycle of self-imposed deadlines; I don’t want to leave.

For a brief moment in early July, I entertained the notion of finding some sort of paying part-time, work-from-home situation. It was a sensible idea, but… I’m going to keep writing. Sometimes, the sensible idea is to do what doesn’t make sense to others. (All of the time, in fact, as long as it makes sense to you.)

~~~~~

I’m writing poetry. The poems I’m writing at the moment are coming out a little dark and disquieted, not so much in terms of content, but more in terms of mood. It’s not the happiest place, but it’s not a terrible place, either. The strange poems I’m writing right now are some of my favorites of all that I’ve written. I’m going with the mood, because that’s how it works, writing poems.

~~~~~

I’d had what I thought was a solid idea for my next novel, but these new poems give me pause for thought. A couple of characters have emerged from them. What if I were to take these characters and their worlds and create a prose narrative around them?

Or I could just continue writing the poems in this unexpected series, letting a story unfold, poem as medium. I’d write the poems and work on my new novel at the same time.

Or I could continue the series of poems and also continue preliminary work on the new novel idea I’d already had.

Or I could merge the two, weaving their narratives together. That would be interesting.

I’m intrigued by all of these possibilities.

 

This bird landed on the ledge of our kitchen window. He’s a big guy, about 12″ tall, and we see him around a lot. (21 August 2018)

 

 

 

Current skincare regimen. (Per request!)

Today, I’m honoring several recent requests for an updated skincare regimen. This is going to be quite detailed, just so you know. Pass on over it if it’s not your thing. If it is your thing or you’re otherwise interested, keep reading.

The products I use are cruelty-free (not tested on animals), and most of it is vegan. I’ve provided links to all of it,* including the collagen supplement I’ve been taking daily for the last four months. You’ll find that link in the “Notes” at the bottom.

*I hope all of the links work. My computer froze up while I was writing this; I had to re-start, etc. I’ll check them after I post and fix them if needed.

Here we go!

 

Current skincare products (August 2018)

 

Kind of extensive, right? I spend more time and money on skincare than I do on make-up. Good skincare translates to less make-up on my face, anyway, though.

Daytime routine (gym mornings)

I don’t do anything to my face before going to the gym in the morning. I don’t even wash it. I just put on sunscreen and go.

When I get home, I get in the shower and wash my face with Alba Botanica Hawaiian Facial Cleanser Pore Purifying Pineapple Enzyme.

After that, the routine (in order):

*I apply water to my face as if it were a product.

Daytime routine (non-gym mornings)

On mornings I don’t go to the gym, I exfoliate my face with Alba Botanica Hawaiian Facial Scrub Pore Purifying Pineapple Enzyme.

After that, I do the same routine (as above).

Night routine

I take my showers at night. (If it’s a gym day, it’s my second shower of the day.) In the shower, I wash my face with Alba Botanica Hawaiian Facial Cleanser Pore Purifying Pineapple Enzyme.

After that, the night routine:

[All of the above-mentioned products are great for both women and men]

Make-up Removal

I remove my make-up before getting into the shower at night. I use:

*I use the wipes with both the cleansing butter and the micellar water

Also pictured above, I forgot to say: the Pacifica Bali Coconut lip balm I use throughout the day, and Alba Botanica Very Emollient Maximum Body Lotion

[Products I loved but don’t use anymore because they’ve been discontinued: The Body Shop Honey & Oat 3-in-1 Moisturising Scrub Mask and Acure Magical Wonderfluff Overnight Hydrating Booster Mask]

Notes

  • I take a collagen supplement (and I believe that my skin loves it)
  • I do a facial massage in the shower as I’m cleansing my skin at night
  • To dry, I press the towel to my skin lightly rather than wiping it over my face
  • I pat on the serum (day) and the oil (night), and I apply the creams in an upward motion
  • I extend the face products to my neck and upper chest
  • I layer on the products, waiting 2-3 minutes between layers

Some of the following habits I’ve adopted for health reasons, but I believe they’re good for the skin:

  • drink water in great quantities, basically non-stop all day
  • avoid refined sugar and refined carbs (sugary sweets and beverages; white pasta, white bread, white rice, and white potatoes)
  • avoid deep-fried foods
  • avoid direct sunlight as much as possible (I have to, anyway, because of methotrexate)
  • refrain completely from smoking and drinking alcohol
  • eat fresh fruit and veggies every day
  • work out 3x/week, unless life interferes. I would like to work out at least 4x/week, but for one reason or another, I haven’t managed to hit the 4th workout on a regular basis. Ideally, I would work out 5x/week.

I think this is about as thorough as it’s going to get, my friends. Some of it may seem, to put it in the parlance of our times, “extra.” But I’m a total skincare junkie, as you may already know, and I prefer DIY skincare… I don’t go to spas or salons to have anything done.

On a final note, if you didn’t laugh when you read “in the parlance of our times,” you need to watch The Big Lebowski again. Just saying.

A skincare post wouldn’t be complete without a pic, so here’s one from yesterday… as usual, no filtering or modifying, blah blah…

 

(finally) updated “professional” profile pic (8/15/2018)

 

With that, I wish you a good weekend!

 

 

“Shenanigans” in French is shenanigans. (And that’s why I’m tuning back in.)

Scenario: Eight people are seated around an enormous table. Seven of them are French. The eighth one is you. The seven French carry on three conversations, two main ones and another that’s fractured into conversation splinters as the speakers randomly jump from their conversation to put a word into the other.

The speakers have to speak loudly, because the table is huge. The speakers’ voices cross fluidly over each other between the conversations, merging in and out of the endless stream of language that is not yours, within meaningless contexts, because the voices belong to family and family friends with a long personal history together that has nothing to do with you. You’re sitting in the middle of it all understanding nothing, neither language-wise nor topic-wise.

You’re fine. You think nothing of it. You just do the natural thing: you tune out.

Then one of the speakers looks at you and asks whether you understood what was just said. You’re embarrassed, and you’d feel rude admitting, “No, I wasn’t even listening,” so you force a little smile and nod just slightly, feeling like you’re telling half a lie. Your response is more a gesture of acknowledgment, but still, you feel something of a fraud. Never mind that if you were listening and if you did try to understand, you probably could have!

~~~~~

Even in our own language, it’s easy to tune out when the conversation between old friends reaches back to old times. There’s an intimacy in reminiscing. Outsiders aren’t privy to the back-stories of the personal histories involved. Mysterious references are made, faceless names are mentioned. It’s like sitting down in front of the T.V. in the middle of an episode in a series you’ve never watched. When it happens in a foreign language you’re yet learning, it’s even easier to tune out, especially if there are several episodes playing at the same time. It’s okay, though, because it’s just as interesting to watch the speakers’ animated faces with their changing expressions, to note their body-language, to hear their exclamations and their laughter. People-watching is a pleasure in a universal language, no sub-titles needed.

But I digress.

All of this to say, I’ve returned to my efforts to converse in French. Last year I stopped working on it, and now I’m working on it again… but I just started working on it again. Hence, all of the French television series we’ve been watching.

This is the story and extent of my spoken French: it’s still true that I understand more than I can speak. I’m able to carry on a halting conversation with one or two people at a time. I can comprehend most of what’s being said, but I can contribute very little. I get nervous and tongue-tied; I forget most of what I know. (I’m socially anxious to begin with!) I speak French the most freely when alone with Callaghan, as I’m more relaxed around him.

The weekend was good. It was fun times with our visitors from France, and I enjoyed it. They’re lovely. Lovely people make the best visitors.

Not to mention, I still got to the gym on Saturday morning.

The Geronimeter. (Desert tortoise updates!)

Now toward the end of summer, we’ve learned yet more about our Geronimo as we’ve continued to observe his patterns of behavior this first cycle of seasons with him. The main thing we’ve discovered recently is that we have a personal meteorologist who has a built-in Doppler Radar. Geronimo tells us when it’s going to rain. We have a Geronimeter.

Monsoon season began in July, as monsoon season does. We were in the backyard when the first dust storm rolled in and dropped the temperature along with it. We looked over from the patio and saw Geronimo’s little nose poking out of his burrow. The wind picked up as the sky darkened. A wealth of mesquite pods swirled into space and landed in our yard. (Thank you, neighbor.) The rich scent of creosote saturated the air… classic indication of imminent rain in the desert.

Geronimo readied himself at the entrance of his burrow as we stood on the patio in the blowing dust, all three of us watching the storm unfold. As soon as the rain began to fall, he came out and marched all over the yard, up and down along the back fence, patrolling his perimeter with a joie de vivre unlike any we’d seen in him before. He was clearly in his element.

He’s since settled into a routine of coming out at night to crawl into the mass of verbena along the side fence, walking his back-fence path when he wakes up in the early morning (eating any hibiscus flowers and buds he can find along the way), and retreating to his burrow to escape the daytime heat. He’s back in his burrow by around 8:30am. The storms usually move through at dusk or later, and he comes out to revel in the rain. That’s Geronimo, living his best monsoon life.

I wish I had pics of him in the rain to share here. Unfortunately, cell phones and rain don’t mix. Monsoon winds blow the rain onto the patio; nowhere remains dry. I have a few general pics of him, though (actually screenshots from video clips).

On a typical early-morning before the day heats itself into oblivion:

 

Hello, post-storm world.

 

We’ve stopped soaking him and instead have placed his bath/water dish on the ground in front of his fence. He has fresh water in the dish every day, and he knows where to find it. If he needs it, he clambers in. If he doesn’t, he goes around.

We’ve seen him squirting water through his nose more often than usual, maybe to hydrate his nasal passages.

 

Nasal-rinse

 

This dish is actually a large plant saucer (I can’t remember whether I’d mentioned this in previous posts).

 

Things to do, places to go…

 

That’s all I’ve got for this update! Next month, Geronimo’s vet will notify us to bring him in for their annual pre-hibernation clinic and screening. It’s unreal that the summer’s almost over.