Gum-grafting surgery is over. It went well. (ALSO, Body Combat 82 is EVERYTHING.)

Coming at you from the glorious place that is AFTER my LAST gum-grafting surgery! It’s over, and I’m so glad. I’m feeling good, even. [::knocks wood::]

The highlight of the week, though, was yesterday afternoon’s Body Combat workout that I did as a phone meet-up with my friend. We did #82, which is officially my favorite Combat release of all time. I love everything about that release, including its tracklist and how the music goes perfectly with the workout segments. I’ve never loved a Body Combat release in its entirety from beginning to end. I’ve never had a “favorite” release, like I have in Body Pump. (Body Pump #101 is my favorite, if you must know.)

I was still wearing the makeup I’d put on in the morning before going to get my teeth cleaned.

It was a coincidence that my dental cleaning was the day before my oral surgery, and it was also a coincidence that makeup day fell on Body Combat day. The only time I’ve ever worn makeup to the gym was for Combat, because my Combat classes were evening classes, when I already had makeup on. No one in Body Pump (morning classes only, for me) has ever seen me there in makeup… except for that one time on Halloween, when we dressed up.

After Combat, I stuck my face in front of the phone for a selfie (aka video clip from which I snapped a screenshot, haha, sorry again for the graininess). My post-Combat face is always the same: satisfied, sweaty, and smeared with makeup.

 

Post-Combat. [13 May 2020]

 

I put the phone in front of my face again this afternoon, shortly after my surgery. I talked into the camera and posted it to my insta story. I’m mostly incoherent.

 

 

Those last words before I signed off were “I’m out of it,” as if that wasn’t obvious.

I’m so thankful that I don’t feel nearly as bad this time as I did after the November surgery. I have high hopes for a faster recovery!

On that note, I hope you’re all doing well. Happy Friday Eve!

 

 

 

Coronapocalypse quarantine week 8. (Fitness updates!)

I finally have fitness updates for you who’ve asked for them, and for anyone else who’s interested!

Our garage gym is at the top of the list of things for which I’m incredibly grateful during this quarantine. The virus has changed everything about my fitness regimen, and in a good way. I’m still doing Les Mills workouts via their On Demand (online) home workout subscription, but I’m using different equipment and lifting heavier than I was before. On the cardio side, I’m solidly back into Body Combat, and I’ve added a new class. I do three days of weights and three days of cardio per week, minimum.

It’s heating up outside, but that’s what the living room is for when I go to do my afternoon cardio workouts! Mornings are cool enough to comfortably lift weights in the garage.

I’m loving doing three of my six weekly workouts “with” my friend Jessica. Since our gym closed and we haven’t been able to hang out in Saturday morning Body Pump, we’ve been hanging out on the phone during Saturday morning Body Pump, instead. We both have home gym set-ups and Les Mills On Demand. We get on the phone in front of our online class and hit “play” at the same time and put our phones on speaker. We don’t talk during the workouts. It’s an invisible companionship and accountability thing. We have to show up, because the other one is expecting us. It’s rad.

Other changes:

–The new cardio class I added to my regimen is Body Step. (Thank you for suggesting it, Jessica!) The step and four risers are the only equipment I’ve had to purchase.

Those of you who’ve been here a while, remember when I tried to establish myself in a Sunday morning step class? I made the effort because it was the only other cardio class that fit into my schedule, but I didn’t love step enough to want to give up my Sundays. It’s different now that I can customize my schedule, and also, my new step aerobics experience is insane in the way that I like my cardio. The reason, of course, is that it’s Les Mills.

Step aerobics: We’re going to kick your butt with our hardcore workout!
Les Mills Bodystep: Hold my water.

Les Mills incorporates squats, lunges, regular burpees, snatch burpees, push-ups, mountain climbers, jumping jacks, and variations of dynamic planks into their step choreography… and that’s just what I’ve seen so far. They also have you pick up a weight plate or two from time to time.

In other words, Les Mills Body Step is not your grandmother’s step aerobics class.

–Body Pump: I’ve ditched the barbell, and, along with it, my February whim of sticking with light weights. I’m now lifting the heaviest dumbbells possible in our barbell-less garage, as in, “to failure” in every Body Pump track. We have dumbbells up to 30 lbs, so I can start heavy and quickly drop my weights down to lighter ones when I need to.

The luxury is that I no longer have to decide beforehand what weights I’m going to use in the next hour so can bring them to my spot on the floor. If I want to change my weights during the track, I don’t have to run back and forth to the equipment area, disturbing others while weaving around them. Body Pump is fast-paced lifting (which is why light weights are also effective), so the track would be over by the time I’d get back to my spot with the new weights. Neither do I have to worry about being that person spreading into neighboring peoples’ spaces with my cluster of weights.

All of the weights are within reach, and they’re dumbbells, so I don’t have to waste time messing with the barbell. I can do drop-sets easily, and so I do.

Dumbbell-only Body Pump is also intense and challenging because it involves more in the way of stabilization, I’ve noticed. I feel like I’m working my core a lot more with the hand weights.

 

Post-workout selfie [05/05/2020]

 

Bad lighting, I know. I’m totally washed-out here! I can’t technically explain the blinding whiteness of my right leg, but my apologies to your eyes. I’m standing in front of the open back door, peering down into my phone that was situated on a case of emergency water at about stomach-level. I’m rarely thrilled with the lighting in my pics, but I’ve yet to develop an interest in learning how to fix it, so that’s on me.

ALSO, I cut my bangs again, and I’m not hating it.

April Favorites coming Thursday!

 

 

Too many screens. All the foods. Let’s Go! (September Favorites!)

September is over, fall has begun (it was 60 degrees when we woke up this morning! Woo!), some of our favorite T.V. series have premiered, theaters have been swarming with more good movies than we could see, though we’ve seen a few… and, well. After this epic pile-up of hours spent in front of various screens, including the hours I’ve spent sitting here writing, I’m feeling like a blob right about now. But a well-entertained blob. A well-worked blob. And a well-fed blob. In fact, there’s too much blobbiness going on around here, so I’m engaging mindful mode.* Too much of a good thing, blahbidy, blah, blob.

[*By “mindful mode,” I mean, not eating in front of the screens quite as much. Haha.]

Body Combat is, as usual, saving my ass from slipping into complete blobdom. The new release is a monster. Review coming Friday!

Back to September favorites.  Lots of T.V. these days, and more is coming: Haters Back Off premieres this month. (I love Miranda Sings. Fingers crossed the show is good.) The Affair premiers in November. It’s good that Homeland won’t premiere until January this time around, because there’s already way too much going on. ~Movies, as mentioned, and food, as usual! No beauty products this time.

And now, with limited commentary, here are a few things that tripped my trigger in September:

 

1). Hell or High Water (film)

 

thatasianlookingchick-com-hellorhighwater

 

You may have already read my thoughts on this film. If you haven’t, you can read it here.

NOTE: If you click any links in this post, their pages will open in the same window, so you’ll have to hit the back button to return here. WP changed their link function and I haven’t toyed with it enough to figure out how to get links to open in a new window.

 

2). Don’t Breathe (film)

 

thatasianlookingchick-com-dontbreathe

 

 

Ditto! Click here to read my thoughts about this film.

 

T.V. up next:

3). Broadchurch (T.V. series)

 

thatasianlookingchick-com-broadchurch

 

Mom recommended this one, saying that it’s excellent. Mom, as usual, was right. Reminiscent of The Killing, Broadchurch is based on a true story. It drew us in. David Tennant and Olivia Colman are brilliant, and as with any good murder mystery, we were tempted to binge this series. And so we did.

 

4). Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (T.V. series)

 

thatasianlookingchick-com-unbreakablekimmyschmidt

 

We love a fresh, new comedy, and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt nails the “fresh” part. In keeping with Kimmy’s personality, I’d use the word “zany” to describe the humor in this series. This one’s a charmer. Highly recommend!

 

6). The new seasons of American Horror Story, Empire, and Modern Family

 

American Horror Story: Roanoke

American Horror Story: Roanoke

 

thatasianlookingchick-com-empire

 

thatasianlookingchick-com-modernfamily

 

…because WOW, these series. I’m enjoying the latest perverted installment from Ryan Murphy’s sick, sick mind (AHS: Roanoke), and Empire never fails to astound me with its Shakespearean brilliance (it starts out as King Lear and goes from there), and the talent in its cast and every aspect of its production. It’s great to have Modern Family back, too… it’s a charmer that never disappoints.

 

Food!

7). Seedless red grapes.

 

Seedless red grapes

Seedless red grapes

 

Crisp, sweet, and delicious red grapes. I seem to transition into the equinoxes eating red grapes. They buffer the fall space between summer fruits and apples, and again between spring’s citrus and berries.

 

8). Colombian dark chocolate (in bulk at Sprouts).

 

Colombian dark chocolate in the bulk bin at Sprouts

Colombian dark chocolate in the bulk bin at Sprouts

 

We’ve been keeping this chocolate on hand all month. Callaghan doesn’t usually like dark chocolate, but he’s a huge fan of this Colombian variety in bulk at Sprout’s. In fact, he’s the one who discovered it. I’m not too picky about dark chocolate, as long as it’s dark enough to be vegan, but I have to admit, there’s something special about this particular dark chocolate. Who knows what they put into it down there in Colombia.

 

9). Trader Joe’s sprouted wheat sesame seed bagels.

 

Trader Joe's sprouted wheat sesame seed bagels

Trader Joe’s sprouted wheat sesame seed bagels

 

Mid-September, I had a moment of nervousness when my doctor ordered blood tests to check me for food allergies. I immediately thought of the worst (of course)… what if the tests showed that I was allergic to wheat/gluten? My mind went into overdrive coming up with wasteland scenarios, myself in the center of them, doomed to a life bereft of the pastas and breads that are my mainstays. Thankfully, the tests all came back negative.

Anyway, I went to Trader Joe’s and got this variety of their bagels, and they’re so good. SO GLAD and grateful that I can eat them!

 

10). Chipotle Tabasco sauce.

 

Chipotle Tabasco sauce (on avocado toast)

Chipotle Tabasco sauce (on avocado toast)

 

One of my new favorite things is to smash up an avocado, spread it on toasted whole wheat bread, give it a scant grind of pink Himalayan salt, and douse it with chipotle Tabasco sauce. The rich smokiness of the sauce does something to the avocado that you have to taste to understand. You’re welcome.

Yay!

 

Turbo heart rate – Body Combat Release 68 (Informal Review!)

Les Mills Body Combat 68 is fun. It’s a killer. There’s one part that’s a struggle for me. There’s another part that knocks the wind out of me. I love these challenges.

The music set is probably my favorite of all the releases I’ve done, not because of any particular song, but just the set as a whole. The beat match from start to finish is pretty decent, there’s a great bassline in each track, and none of the tracks annoy me too much. (The tracks have strong hooks, which means they can be either very awesome or very annoying.) That’s one thing this set has going for it: the beat manages to override any vocals that might otherwise make me want to stab myself in the ear. I do like most of the tracks, though.

You move through the cardio set in the hardcore electronic dance/club genre with flavors of drum and bass, trap, dubstep, synthpop, Eurodance, and the like, driven by an aggressive pulse with some cool remixes. I like the set’s cohesiveness in contrast to the releases whose sets take you all over the map with metal, electronica, rap, pop, hair band hard rock, etc. (I dig most of those genres individually, but mashed together in a single workout release? Not so much.) The cohesiveness of 68’s sound set keeps my momentum going; I don’t have to drastically switch gears from track to track. I looked up the music and noted that some of it hails from Down Under, home of Les Mills International. Great job, Les Mills DJ!

Workout-wise, I like 68’s footwork (agility), plyometrics (explosive power), and level changes (reflex and compound exercise). [ETA: There’s some great H.I.I.T. in this release, too.]

So let’s go.

 

Let's do this.

Let’s do this.

 

(Grainy screenshots Callaghan and me in this post are courtesy of video footage taken in bad lighting.)

 

*****

Les Mills Body Combat 68

Track 1a: Upper-body Warm-up (“Freak” – Steve Aoki, Diplo & Deorro feat. Steve Bays)

  • Music: No-bullshit, high-octane club music for the upper-body warm-up; there’s no easing into this release with souped-up Katy Perry or Taylor Swift. It might be annoying to some, but it does the job.
  • Boxing combinations with uppercuts, hooks, jabs, crosses.
  • The level changes and small footwork involvement are cool. My upper-body is most definitely warm after this!

Track 1b: Lower-body Warm-up (“Break The Rules” – Anonymous Hotel)

  • Music: Same vein as 1a above. You know this excessively bright and happy music for the lower-body warm-up is meant to lull you into a false sense of security. It can only portend major lower-body mangling in the rest of the workout. And it does.
  • Knees and more knees!
  • Kicks (front snap kicks to push kicks to roundhouse kicks).
  • Down for push-ups… in the warm-up?!
  • These aren’t static push-ups, either. This is a lower-body warm-up, remember… there’s active leg involvement here.
  • Yep. The dynamic push-ups became MOUNTAIN-CLIMBERS. In the WARM-UP.

Track 2: Combat 1 (“Push” – Kronic, East Movement & Savage)

  • Music: Trap, and heavy on the drums. Great track for Combat 1!
  • Switch kicks (knee to kick). Jump kicks. Jump kicks on repeat.
  • Knees and lunges.
  • More knees and lunges.
  • Lower-body burn-out, check.

Track 3: Power Training 1 (“On My Way” – Jupiter Soliloquy)

  • Music: This could be a track that annoys me too much, but it’s saved by the beat.
  • Hard and fast upper-body combinations… uppercuts, jab, crosses.
  • Footwork (scissors) incorporated into the upper-body combos.
  • Running in place – but it’s not even the halfway point!
  • More.

Track 4: Combat 2 (“My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light ‘Em Up)” – 2 Chainz)

  • Music: 2 Chainz remixed Fall Out Boy’s song, and it’s kickass. This song actually deviates from the set’s general character, but it still fits in there nicely. Great jam for Combat 2.
  • “Bring your mat close-by” is a euphemism for “We’re doing push-ups in the middle of this cardio track.”
  • Low-mid-low block combination.
  • Roundhouse kick add-on to the block combos.
  • Side kicks with a floor tap in between.
  • Double kicks, and here I face the fact that my balance has gone to shit. The tap in between the double kicks becomes a quick squat to involve more leg.
  • This is the part that’s a struggle for me. I don’t get it – my balance has never been so bad. But this gives me something to work on.
  • Double kicks become triple kicks.
  • I don’t feel the burn I’m supposed to be feeling in my standing leg, probably because I completely fail to hold my balance.
  • 2 Chainz takes over the song and we drop down for push-ups (with the same lower-body involvement we saw in the warm-up) in increasing reps.
  • Mountain-climbers. Of course.

Track 5: Power Training 2 (“Dirty” (Metrik Remix) – Dirtyphonics)

  • Music: Drum & Bass. Great vibe, and again, great music for this track!
  • Striking combos with level changes.
  • Plyometrics: Squat jumps, then lateral squat jumps.
  • This is a short but intense track.

Track 6: Combat 3 (“She Got It (Club Mix)” – Vandalism & Angger Dimas)

  • Music: Sick beat. Not my favorite track, but clearly this DJ knows what’s what.
  • Side kick, front kick, back kick combination.
  • Back kick repeaters.
  • I couldn’t count the number of kicks in this release if I wanted to.

Track 7: Muay Thai (“The United Vibe” – Scooter)

  • Music: Okay, after two years of Body Combat, I’m now used to practicing Muay Thai moves to music other than death metal and gangsta rap. Thus acclimated, I can get into this techno/Eurodance jam for the Muay Thai track.
  • Jab, up elbow, double knee combination.
  • Four knees. Two knees. Running man knees.
  • Four levels of running man knees!
  • Downward elbows.
  • This is the part that knocks the wind out of me: Downward elbows IMMEDIATELY following level 4 running man knees.
  • Level 4 running man takes a lot out of me. Downward elbows take a lot out of me. I need a brief pause to recover between the two, but there’s no such thing. So here’s the second major area I need to work on (the first being my balance): Breathing management to get through this track.
  • Ground and pound.

Track 8: Power Training 3 (“Out Of My Hands” – Olympic Daydream)

  • Music: I like the instrumental sequence, and it makes sense for this last cardio track.
  • Jabs!
  • Hooks!
  • Jacks!
  • More jabs!
  • I always like track 8. It’s an opportunity to use everything up, if anything is left.

Track 9: Conditioning (“Turn Down For What” – DJ Snake & Lil Jon)

  • Music: A classic. Great song for a killer ab track.
  • Laying on back: Criss-cross legs in the air.
  • Crunches added to the legs.
  • Laying on side: side crunches (side plank)
  • Flip back over: More. Just more. And flip over again. And again. Maybe I’m exaggerating at this point, but I don’t think so.
  • My abs hate me.

Track 10: Cool-down (“I See Fire” – Sol3 Mio)

  • Music: I looked up this song, and sure enough, it’s famous for representing the All Blacks, New Zealand’s rugby team. (Les Mills is a New Zealand company.) The vocals are beautiful.
  • Stretching.

 

 

*****

In summary: 68 is an intense release.

 

Us being us.

Us being us.

 

I’d give it an 8.5.

Lopsided eyes and mild panic: A cautionary tale.

Life changes and I’m back to a routine of walking to work every morning. I’m loving the extra little workout every day! I also walk home three days a week. The big change in the equation is that on the other two days, I take the bus home so I can get there fast, change my clothes, and drive to Mesa for Body Combat. Why? Callaghan now works on-site full-time, and the site happens to be in BFE (very far away, in case you didn’t know the acronym). This necessitates me taking myself to the gym. Which is fine. As long as I can get there!

(The adjustment to Callaghan’s new schedule and location has been a learn-as-we-go process in many ways. Our lives are very different now. And on Monday, I did NOT make it to the gym, because I literally had no way to get there. That was the last time that was going to happen!)

On Wednesday, I got to the bus stop early and wondered what to do with the spare 15 minutes. People-watching opportunities were oddly nonexistent at University and Mill. What else is there to do while waiting? Take a selfie. Or twenty.

I don’t take selfies very often. It doesn’t occur to me because I’m always looking for interesting, stationary subjects to photograph, or I’m stalking my cats with the camera. There was nothing of interest from my vantage point at the bus stop, and my cats were selfishly sitting at home, so I thought it would be amusing to capture a rare moment of myself being bored in an unusual place.

All that happened in the end was I freaked myself out, though. A little bit. Just a little.

The selfies I took showed my eyes looking lopsided. They were mismatched. One eye looked larger and different than the other. This alarmed me because I thought I remembered reading somewhere that psychopaths often have in common a noticeable difference between their eyes. While no one’s features are perfectly symmetrical, the eyes of a mentally unstable person can be very obviously unlike each other. (I know I read this somewhere, but now I can’t find anything about it, of course.)

Thing is, I do live with mental illness in the form of clinical depression and PTSD, but I never thought I looked mentally ill. The selfies suddenly made me feel paranoid. Then I became paranoid about being paranoid, and that made me feel crazier. I wondered if my mental health situation was really what I thought it was, only. And very quickly, the whole thought process took off on a continuous, self-perpetuating loop inside my brain.

To stop the merciless cycle, I deleted all of the selfies.

I went about the rest of the evening not thinking about it. I went home, went to the gym, and went out to dinner with Callaghan, and I didn’t think about it at all.

Later that night, I went to remove my make-up and saw that my eyeliner was thicker under one eye than the other, and the two lines didn’t match in shape. All along, it was my eyeliner that didn’t match! That would do it. Eyeliner can change your face dramatically. Of course the eye with more liner would look larger, and the two eyes would look different with different liner shapes!

I looked like that before I went and sweated at the gym, so I’d gone around at work with lopsided eyes. How fun.

Either I was in too much of a hurry when I was getting ready that morning, or the eyeliner wore off unevenly during the day. The result was the same, though: I looked like a Picasso painting at work, and I almost drove myself crazy wondering if I was crazier than I actually am.

Yesterday morning, I took extra care with my eyeliner. In the afternoon, I took a selfie in my office:

 

(February 18, 2016)

(February 18, 2016)

 

I came out looking more normal, though the left eye still had slightly more liner than the right. Probably only I would notice it, now that I’m hyper-aware of the thickness and shape of my eyeliner. I may have to just set the camera down and back slowly away. It’s hard to get the two eyes to look exactly the same, and I only allow myself 15 minutes to do my make-up before going to work. It is what it is.

The lighting was surprisingly flattering, too, though. Also, it was a rare day that I put on e.l.f. primer under my foundation. I think I like it, after all.

And Callaghan loves his new job!

Martial arts fitness workout in the garage!

This is something of a New Year’s resolution update post. I said I’d work on strength-training this year. I haven’t started lifting weights yet, but my garage workouts have involved body-weight strength-training – so does Body Combat, for that matter – and that counts!

I’m going to post training updates regularly to share with any of you who might be interested, and also as a way of holding myself accountable for my resolution. I found this worked well last year when I made my resolution to go cruelty-free with my cosmetic and personal care products.

On that note, as I did with my Tae Kwan Do post a couple of weeks ago, I filmed parts of my last garage workout so I could clip some pics! My workout on Sunday morning consisted of the sort of general fitness workout I enjoy the most, which is conditioning geared toward martial arts. The strength-training aspect is significant in these kinds of workouts, though I just realized that the pics I chose don’t reflect that part as much. Go figure.

Before I get started, I have a few cautionary notes in case you want to use this post for workout inspiration:

[**DISCLAIMER** I’m not a certified trainer or a nutritionist, and I don’t claim to be either one. If anyone finds inspiration here, that’s great, and it’s for that reason that I’ll explain some of what I do in these workout posts. If you have health concerns and you’re thinking about starting any kind of fitness program, get medical clearance from your doctor first, just to be safe!]

1). I got started later than I’d wanted on Sunday morning, so I didn’t have breakfast. I had a Larabar and called it good. The simple fruit and nut combination did the job, but I would normally fuel up on something more substantial, and something containing whole grains. Eat substantially several hours beforehand, or eat something light 30-60 minutes before starting. I feel most energized when I have some combination of protein and complex carbohydrates (i.e. peanut butter on a slice of whole-grain bread) about an hour before working out.

2). Stretching was one of the things I did that I didn’t film. It’s important to stretch! Stretch at the beginning of your workout, but don’t stretch without warming up your muscles first. At least jog in place for 5-10 minutes before stretching.

3). You don’t see me drinking water in these pics, either, but I drink water periodically during my training sessions, usually between rounds/exercises. Hydrate regularly throughout your workout, but don’t overdo it. Just a swallow or two of water at a time will suffice.

4). I incorporated some punching into my abs workout, and, as per usual for me, I didn’t wrap my hands or wear gloves of any kind. This is NOT advisable. Wear gloves or at least hand-wraps when punching things. For several reasons, I usually go bare-knuckled when training in the garage. Do not follow my lead here. Protect your hands with wraps and/or gloves (either boxing or MMA) if your knuckles are going to be making contact with solid objects.

5). Also unlike me during this workout, Wear pants that don’t fall down. (Another thing you won’t see in this post: my underwear.)

Now let’s jump in!

 

Cardio. I don’t know what these are called… you hold onto the top of the bag and take quick, continuous, alternating hops, tapping the base of the bag with the ball of your foot each time. It’s like doing the leg part of mountain-climbers, but standing.

 

100 alternating foot hop-ups (or whatever you call them) on the standing bag.

100 alternating foot hop-ups (or whatever you call them) on the standing bag.

 

I like to start a workout with a few rounds of jump rope.

 

Jump rope intervals

Jump rope intervals

 

You can’t see the jump rope as I’m jumping, but it’s there. Jump ropes in motion are the ghosts of workout equipment. They can’t be photographed.

 

Jumping rope

Jumping rope

 

(These pants are weird, by the way. I don’t think I’ll be wearing them again.)

 

Cross-overs with high jumps to mix things up.

Cross-overs with high jumps to mix things up.

 

A jump rope is a fantastic piece of training equipment. Jumping rope conditions the entire body, and you can bring a jump rope anywhere and jump anywhere. Just make sure to wear pants that don’t fall down.

 

I stopped to pull up my pants (I hadn't worn these in a while and forgot that they don't stay up!)

I stopped to pull up my pants (I hadn’t worn these in a while and forgot that they don’t stay up!)

 

I practice front and back rolls because they’re fun and they help you to learn how to fall in martial arts situations. Always roll on a padded floor!

 

Coming out of a front roll

Coming out of a front roll

 

Front rolls in all directions

Front rolls in all directions

 

Here I’m doing what I’d said wouldn’t suffice for my strength-training goals – shadow-boxing with weights. It’s actually great if I do it regularly as a component of a complete workout. These are five-pound dumbbells.

 

Shadow-boxing with weights.

Shadow-boxing with weights.

 

“Keep your hands up and your chin down.” ~Golden rule of boxing~

 

Uppercuts with dumbbells

Uppercuts with dumbbells

 

Hooks with dumbbells (great shoulder work!)

Hooks with dumbbells (great shoulder work!)

 

Keep moving!

Keep moving!

 

Abs! I usually do these toward the end of my workout.

 

Stabilizing the MMA dummy for crunches

Stabilizing the MMA dummy for crunches

 

This is great core work. Hold the bag in place with your ankles, crunch up, and punch the bag diagonally to the opposite side. Lower yourself down, crunch up again, and punch with the other arm to the other side. You can do these without a bag, too. The important part is the twisting to punch diagonally across your body at the top of the crunch, as that works your obliques. Using your ankles to stabilize something like this bag works your lower abdominal muscles.

You can make this exercise harder by ditching the bag (have someone hold your feet, or hook your feet under something stable) and holding a medicine ball or a dumbbell as you crunch up. Thrust the medicine ball or dumbbell diagonally across your body at the top of the crunch. Alternate sides and do as many as you can.

To make it even harder, do it without someone holding your feet. In any case, your abs and obliques will hate you the next day, which is what you want.

 

Crunches and punches!

Crunches and punches!

 

Crunches and punches on both sides

Crunches and punches on both sides

 

Don’t forget to keep your non-punching hand up!

 

Stabilizing the bag with your legs is half the work

Stabilizing the bag with your legs is half the work

 

Bonus exercise when you’re done with your abs: Plant your foot on the MMA dummy, forcefully kick it down, and immediately jump on it to get in some ground-and-pound!

(Kidding. Unless you have frustrations to work out. Then do it.)

(But make sure your hands are wrapped or you’re wearing MMA gloves. Or both.)

 

La Fin.

 

Body Combat Release 66 – Informal Review!

[This post is subtitled: “(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66”]

Today I’ve got a review of Les Mills’ latest Body Combat release (#66). I’ve actually done release 66 three times now, so this isn’t exactly a “First Impressions review,” but I did throw my first impressions down on paper after the first time… so it’s like a “first impressions” dragged through three classes, if that makes any sense.

Like last time, I used a voice recorder in class so I’d have an audio guide to remind me of what we did.

That being said, here’s my concise run-down of the new release (and my thoughts about it)!

*****

Les Mills Body Combat 66

Track 1a: Upper-body Warm-up (Justice Crew “Everybody” Jump Smokers Remix)

  • Standard high energy music for an upper-body warm-up.
  • Standard boxing combinations for an upper-body warm-up: hooks, jabs, crosses and uppercuts.
  • Shoots! Shoots always make for a nice segue into the lower-body warm-up.

Track 1b: Lower-body Warm-up (DJ Fresh & Jay Fay feat. MS Dynamite – and “Dibby Dibby Sound” (The Partysquad Remix)

  • Love this electro/house track for the lower-body warm-up.
  • A nod to capoeira! Awesome, as always.
  • Front lunges though. I fear for my very near future. (The warm-ups foreshadow the actual workout.)
  • Roundhouse kicks.

Track 2: Combat 1 (R3HAB & KSHMR – “Karate”)

  • Okay music. More electro/house.
  • Power upper-body combination work: punches and ascending elbows.
  • Power knees.
  • Kicks! (This track is, like, power everything.)
  • Single-leg triple roundhouse kicks at varying levels (good core work going on here with the balancing).

Track 3: Power Training 1 (David Guetta – “Titanium” ft. Sia)

  • Fast tempo electronica with high-pitched vox – not my favorite music track ever.
  • Upper-body combinations – jabs, uppercuts, etc. (Great shoulder work!)
  • Footwork – slips and weaves worked in with the striking.

Track 4: Combat 2 (David Guetta – “Hey Mama” ft Nicki Minaj, Bebe Rexha & Afrojack)

  • More electro/house; catchy song. I actually like this song a lot.
  • Grab our mats? That means push-ups….
  • Front lunges. (Oh hell – here they are.)
  • Lots of lunges!
  • Too many lunges.
  • Switch lunges. (At this point my quads are hating me.)
  • Kicks; kicks mixed into the lunges…??
  • (Holy crap these lunges)
  • Push-ups. (Yes! A break from lunges.)
  • MORE LUNGES. (*dies*)

Track 5: Power Training 2 (Chase & Status Ft Plan B – “Pieces” – Ram Records)

  • Drum & bass? Love the build-up and the lyrics.
  • Power upper-body/hook-uppercut-hook combination on speed.
  • Add footwork (scissors).
  • HIIT training – sprints! 6 seconds. 6 seconds. 6 seconds. 6 seconds. 7 seconds. 7 seconds. 7 seconds. 12 seconds 12 seconds. 15 seconds. 17 seconds!!

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-beast-mode-300

 

Track 6: Combat 3 (McBusted – “Get Over It”)

  • First rock song in the release; fast-paced, electric guitar.
  • Back kick/front kick combo.
  • Adding a Jab-cross-hook combo.
  • Side shuffle to side kick/back fist combo. (I was kind of so-so about this track until now. Love back fists.)

Track 7: Muay Thai (Scotty – “The Black Pearl” (Rui Festival Edit)

  • Sounds like Pirates of the Caribbean on electro crack.
  • Muay Thai! (Always one of my favorite tracks.)
  • Elbows and knees. (Fantastic. I’m feeling it!)

Track 8: Power Training 3 (DOUGAL & GAMMER Ft. CAT KNIGHT – “Reach Out”)

  • This must be standard high-intensity cardio music, or else I’d remember it.
  • Punches as you’d expect in a final cardio track.
  • Body shots!
  • Because of the body shot combinations, this seems more like a Combat 1 or Power Training track. Pretty great for a final cardio track! I get to work harder than usual at the end.

Track 9: Conditioning (Iggy Azalea – “Bounce”)

  • Rap; the music is more energetic than usual for an ab track.
  • Spider crawl – shoulders and core on the floor.
  • Crunch sequences on our backs (abs)

Track 10: Cool-down (Imagine Dragons – “Bleeding Out”)

  • Imagine Dragons for the cool-down. Yes.
  • Stretching.

*****

In summary: This is one of the more athletic releases I’ve done. If I were to rate Release 66 on a PERSONAL scale of 1-10, I’d give it an 8, because…

–It challenges me to work on my balance.

–The mostly electronica/house music is stuff I wouldn’t mind listening to myself while training out in the garage.

–I like the changes in levels in this release.

–The HIIT sessions in the middle mix things up with an extra hit of badassery.

Great release overall!

LA Fitness takes over 24 Hour Fitness in AZ, and AU REVOIR Body Combat.

Last Tuesday, I wrote about my recent psychedelic Body Combat experience at a gym in France.

MEANWHILE, back at home, our own Body Combat classes have been placed on life support, because our gym is no longer our gym. Toward the end of November, our gym got yanked out from under us in the most unceremonious way possible. As in, one day our gym was there, and the next day, it “went out for cigarettes” and we never saw it again. But we know where it went. It went to either Oklahoma or Nebraska.

In the words of French songwriter Serge Gainsbourg, Il est parti chercher des cigarettes. En fait, il est parti. (“He went to get cigarettes. In fact, he left.”)

The president of 24 Hour Fitness (our gym) traded his 11 Arizona locations for THREE LA Fitness locations between Oklahoma and Nebraska. 24 Hour Fitness no longer has gyms in AZ, and we’re now members of LA Fitness.

“It’s almost like the president of 24 Hour Fitness lost his 11 Arizona locations to LA Fitness in a game of poker,” Callaghan said. I have to agree.

I doctored up this map from 24 Hour Fitness’ website to create a visual of the development:

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-24HourFitness

 

In offering an explanation, 24 Hour Fitness’ president said that “Phoenix was not a market where 24 Hour ever ‘gained the kind of cluster that we ought to see’.”

24 Hour Fitness never “gained a cluster” in Phoenix?

About 4.5 million people live in Phoenix Metro. Oklahoma City Metro has 1.3 million people – roughly a third of our area. We had 11 locations in Phoenix. What kind of “cluster” was he hoping to gain? How does a trade of 11 Arizona locations for three locations in the Midwest make sense?

“Our assessment of (Phoenix) was that it was not a core market for us,” continued 24 Hour Fitness’ president. “At that time, we discussed the possibility of selling that market to a number of players. Ultimately, the only transaction that made sense to us was with LA Fitness… we believe the Midwest offers interesting possibilities for us to make those cities core markets for 24 Hour Fitness.”

Callaghan was outraged. “I call bullshit,” he said. “It was a crazy night at the casino. He lost.”

Rumors about the impending trade filtered through to us less than a week beforehand. If it wasn’t for Facebook’s gossip mill, we would’ve been blind-sided. We got our “Welcome to LA Fitness” email BEFORE we got this email from 24 Hour Fitness, after the trade was finalized:

“After much deliberation, we have made the difficult decision to exit the Arizona market, effective November 20, 2015, but we are pleased to announce that we have reached an agreement for your membership agreement and your personal training agreement (if applicable) to be assumed by LA Fitness,” read the email. “Thank you for the privilege of being able to serve you. We truly regret any inconvenience that this situation may cause, and we wish you success in your fitness efforts.”

So yes, our gym dumped us and ran off to the Midwest with some floozy, and it waited until after it crossed state lines to send its Dear John letter/”OH BY THE WAY we left Arizona and now you belong to LA Fitness” email. Probably just “business as usual” in the cutthroat world of chain corporations, except it was a big deal to us when 24 Hour Fitness left, because ultimately, Les Mills’ Body Combat and Les Mills Everything Else are leaving, too.

LA Fitness isn’t contracted with Les Mills International, so it’s not supposed to offer Body Combat or any of the other Les Mills group fitness classes. LA Fitness has been allowing our instructors to continue teaching the classes in the wake of the take-over – a temporary arrangement.

I spoke with an LA Fitness corporate rep and was told that the Les Mills classes at the Arizona gyms-formerly-known-as-24 Hour Fitness WILL be replaced by LA Fitness’ own group fitness classes. He assured me that “the classes will basically be the same, but under different names” (i.e. “Bodyworks plus abs”). But we know from some members’ experiences that the classes are actually not the same. Les Mills classes are unique and cannot be replicated. We’ve made phone calls, we’ve sent emails, we’ve started a petition… but there’s pretty much no chance that LA Fitness corporate will contract with Les Mills International merely to provide us with the same classes we had when our gym was 24 Hour Fitness.

So now we’re waiting for LA Fitness to shut down our classes completely. This could happen at any time, since Les Mills has basically been squatting on LA Fitness’ premises.

Still, anything could happen! It never hurts to think positively, right? I like to hope for the best while planning for the worst (could I squeeze any more clichés into this post?), so we’ll see what happens. It seems obvious that Body Combat at our gym is running on fumes, though. There… signing out with a cliché AND a pun. BANG.

Here, enjoy Serge Gainsbourg’s song “Nicotine,” charmingly performed by Jane Birkin:

 

 

Il est parti chercher des cigarettes. En fait, il est parti. “He went to get cigarettes. In fact, he left.”

Body Combat in da club.

We were thankful that we could fit two Body Combat classes into our schedule while we were in France last week. We went on Sunday and on Wednesday.

As I may have mentioned before, our friend Chantal’s gym, FitLane, is like the 24 Hour Fitness or LA Fitness of the French Riviera in that it’s a popular gym with multiple locations. Last time we were there, we did Body Combat at one of the Cannes locations. This time, we did one each at two locations in Villeneuve-Loubet.

I wasn’t planning to write about it, but guys. I would be doing you a great disservice in keeping this experience to myself, because should you ever find yourselves in the south of France and you decide to jump into a Body Combat class, you need to know in advance in case you land at this particular location in Villeneuve-Loubet. (I emphasize that because the other Villeneuve-Loubet location had been pretty standard.)

Wednesday evening last week, for the second time in a week, I entered the Twilight Zone.

Just when you thought that deserted hospital in Antibes was strange enough…

 

"WELCOME TO BODY COMBAT. No, we are NOT turning on the lights."

“WELCOME TO BODY COMBAT. No, we are NOT turning on the lights.”

 

The Body Combat room was blacked-out dark except for thousands of tiny, colorful lights moving frenetically all over the floor, in the air and on the walls.

 

Body Combat IN DA CLUB.

Body Combat IN DA CLUB.

 

JUST LOOK AT THIS.

Needless to say, this is not a Power Ranger-friendly Body Combat situation.

I might have asked for confirmation that I was in the right place had the room not been outfitted with this handy tell-tale stage for the instructor:

 

Body Combat up next, bitches

Body Combat up next, bitches

 

…and if Chantal hadn’t been standing there going, “See, I told you!” (Love you girl!)

Chantal had tried to warn me beforehand. I just didn’t get it until I saw it. Even then, I couldn’t believe it. When I looked into the room, I turned to Chantal as I thought, For sure they’re going to turn on some kind of light when class starts?

Chantal was laughing.

Callaghan was also laughing, sitting comfortably at his little table outside of the room. He was not participating in the class. He was laughing at my pain.

I entered the room with Chantal and stood still, holding the side of my head against the instant dizziness as I tried to make sense of my surroundings in the dark. I’m night-blind without glasses, so it was just a frenzy of wildly moving dots of colored lights, the room awash with chaos over its inky nonexistence.

“Don’t look at the floor,” Chantal advised. “That’s the only way I can do it.”

Of course I looked down. The floor was a bottomless black sea alive with ethereal, multi-colored, round flying fishes.

I held onto hope, still incredulous that the instructor would teach in such darkness and confusion. The room was a spinning disco ball in outer space. I couldn’t stand still without my head swaying inside my skull. I’m supposed to orient and balance myself in this HOW?

The only mirror at the front of the room was about 15 feet away from the front row, tucked in a dark corner next to and behind the stage. I use my reflection as a tool in Body Combat, and I stand in the front row so I can see it clearly. In this room, I might as well have been looking at a black wall.

“This is why I usually don’t come to this location,” Chantal said as I quietly went to work on my mental game.

Because it was a mental game. The challenges here were dramatic; I had to turn the circumstances to my advantage. What if I ever have to use my skills on the street at night? It would be dark, and the darkness might include random, flashing lights or some other kind of sensory chaos. In the darkness, I started to see how this change of training environment could work in my favor. This was good. It was certainly better than dwelling on how the room looked like an 80’s nightclub hooked up and procreated with the blackbox theatre/iStage we have at work.

I enjoy a good challenge. I made it through the class without falling over or throwing up, and I got in an amazing workout! For some reason, I worked harder than usual in that environment of simultaneous sensory deprivation and overload. Rawr.

What I’m Digging Right Now – November Favorites

Oh, wow… December 1st! Time to rave about some of November’s memorable Little Things. How about this for a change: I’m starting with food this time, because there’s a lot of it. The month that just passed had a culinary focus. I actually didn’t experiment with any new cosmetic-type products in November, so this list is devoid of that kind of stuff. We didn’t see any movies, either (I guess we’ll catch The Martian at the cheap seats or online when it hits the site we use), and we only started one T.V. series… but man, we’re enthralled with that series!!

Let’s dig in.

 

1). Callaghan’s 7-spice Masala tofu.

 

Callaghan's 7-spice Masala tofu with brown Basmati rice

Callaghan’s 7-spice Masala tofu with brown Basmati rice

 

Callaghan enjoys dabbling creatively with Asian flavors in his cooking, and he often comes up with concoctions that are out-of-this-word delicious. This tofu dish was one of them. I can’t tell you what’s in the sauce because it’s a secret (all I know is that it includes masala), but I know it doesn’t contain coconut anything or any kind of nut butter, which makes it unusual.

 

2). Coconut Aminos (Coconut Secret original).

 

Coconut Aminos (Coconut Secret original)

Coconut Aminos (Coconut Secret original)

 

In my recent endeavor to drastically minimize the amount of processed food I eat, a lifestyle change I haven’t mentioned before (I embarked on this journey in October), I’ve been on the hunt for substitutes for old staples. One thing I learned is that coconut aminos make a fabulous stand-in for soy sauce, and in fact, we actually prefer it. No lie. Coconut aminos is simpler than soy sauce, more flavorful, and healthier. Get this: Coconut aminos contain TWO ingredients, zero chemicals, and a mere 90 mg sodium! Compare that to Kikkoman’s “less sodium” (green cap) soy sauce, which contains chemicals and 575 mg sodium. 575. That’s their lower sodium version. We haven’t touched it since we started using coconut aminos (which, by the way, tastes plenty salty to us). Last night, we finally just threw out the soy sauce. Our new motto is coconut aminos or GTFO.

 

3). Simple Truth walnuts halves and pieces.

 

Simple Truth walnuts halves and pieces

Simple Truth walnuts halves and pieces

 

I’ve been eating a lot of these unsalted walnut pieces lately. There’s something about fall that makes me crave or think about walnuts more, and when I get going on eating them regularly, I always wonder why I don’t think of them as much year-round. Walnuts in salads are great, but I also love them by themselves. They’re an awesome source of plant-basted protein, healthy fats, and trace minerals, too.

 

4). Sting ‘n’ Linger Salsa Co. (hot).

 

Sting 'n' Linger Salsa Co. (hot)

Sting ‘n’ Linger Salsa Co. (hot)

 

I know I recently included a salsa in a “favorites” post… I know! But I’m back with yet another one, and let me tell you, this one makes the other one taste like glorified ketchup. Sting ‘n’ Linger hot salsa is made locally here in Arizona, and it’s completely unprocessed. There isn’t a single chemical in it, and the flavor is fantastic. We get it at the Tempe Farmer’s Market down the street… I’m not sure where else it’s available, but you may be able to find it online. This stuff is the shizz as far as store-bought salsas go, and that’s coming from someone who’s lived on the Mexican border in three different states her entire life (except for temporary overseas living situations).

 

5). Lindt Excellence 85% Cocoa Extra Dark chocolate.

 

Lindt Excellence 85% Cocoa Extra Dark chocolate

Lindt Excellence 85% Cocoa Extra Dark chocolate

 

Like walnuts, I cycle in and out of periods of keeping the kitchen stocked with bars of bitter dark chocolate. This one by Lindt has been a favorite of mine for years. I have one or two squares a day, usually in the evening, and I cherish a kind of ritual around eating them: I take tiny nibbles from the square and let them dissolve in my mouth with just a little biting with my front teeth. Somehow, this slow melting prolongs the chocolate euphoria. I indulged thusly all through November, and I don’t see the end of the cycle as of yet.

Now for the T.V. series that took off with our brains (and a lot of our free time) in November….

 

6). Marvel’s Jessica Jones (T.V. series – Netflix)

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-MarvelsJessicaJonesNovFavs2015

 

What can I say about Jessica Jones? Stylish. Sexy. Smart. Badass. Beautiful. Oh, and the show itself is awesome, too, in pretty much every way. The only other comic book-based dramatic project I can think of that matches this one in all-around excellence (okay, in my personal enjoyment… I know art is subjective) is the movie Sin City. Netflix does it again!

Moving on to the objects part of the list:

 

7). Asics Gel-Venture 5 running shoes.

 

Asics Gel-Venture 5 running shoes

Asics Gel-Venture 5 running shoes

 

I knew from past experience that running shoes work great for me in cardio/plyometrics situations, so when we started Body Combat and I needed shoes, I got running shoes from Asics, my favorite brand. That was a year and a half ago, and the pair I got were Gel-Venture 4’s. They were amazing. Naturally, when I decided to splurge on a new pair a few weeks ago – my reasoning being that I was walking to and from work again and therefore needed good shoes for everyday street wear – I got another pair of Asics. They’re Gel-Venture 5’s now, and I honestly can’t tell the difference between them and the 4’s, though apparently the technology’s been updated somehow. I love them. Shoes aren’t my thing and I generally dislike shopping for them, but I do get excited about athletic shoes.

Yeah, if I can help it, I prefer not to wear street shoes in the gym. And yes, that picture shows me with my shoes up on the furniture. What.

 

8). Pentel EnerGel liquid gel ink pen, blue (needle tip 0.7).

 

Pentel EnerGel liquid gel ink pen, blue (needle tip 0.7)

Pentel EnerGel liquid gel ink pen, blue (needle tip 0.7)

 

It might seem silly to put a pen on a “favorites” list, but this pen and I were meant to spend hours together bonding over coffee. You know the feeling. There’s that one pen that feels perfect when you write with it. For me, that’s this one.

 

9). OfficeMax mug.

 

OfficeMax mug

OfficeMax mug

 

Okay, I have a thing for mugs, and I’m particular about them. I love drinking coffee from mugs of a certain size and shape, so when I found this cheerful yellow one for $2.00 in a clearance bin at OfficeMax, I had to get it. And I had to share it with you here, because it was truly a Little Thing that added to my enjoyment of November. (By the way, this pic makes the mug look a lot smaller than it is. I was more concerned with capturing the sunlight than the dimensions of the mug.)

 

10). Method foaming hand wash in Pink Grapefruit.

 

Method foaming hand wash in Pink Grapefruit

Method foaming hand wash in Pink Grapefruit

 

We’ve been using Method hand soaps for years, but we just recently picked up the foaming one in pink grapefruit. Its sparkly, bright citrus scent reminds me of the lemon kitchen hand soap from Trader Joe’s, but I love this one even more. We don’t even care that it’s pink.

That brings this post to an end, and 2015 is about to go away, too. Next time, I’ll write my last “favorites” post of 2015! That seems surreal.

I fall, therefore I am ridiculous.

I have a new embarrassing story to share. It’s a pretty relatable one, I think.

It happened as I was walking home from work on Thursday. There was this crack in the sidewalk, see, and I stumbled on it and pitched forward. At least a billion people saw it.

Before I could register what was happening, my hands shot out (yay reflexes!), so my upper half landed on my palms. My knees took the fall for my lower half. The heavy backpack on my back slammed forward onto my upper back and lower neck area, adding to the impact of the fall. On the street next to me – University Road, a busy street, to give you an idea of the embarrassment factor – a long line of cars sat waiting at a red light, OF COURSE. As I said, there were a billion of them at least, and everyone was bored and watching me and so they all saw me.

I stumble on sidewalk cracks sometimes. I don’t usually fall.

Is it ever not embarrassing to fall?

I got up quickly and kept walking, resuming my pace. Like, “OH HEY EVERYONE that was no big deal, NOTHING TO SEE HERE.” But in my head, I was thinking OW OW OW OW OW.

My palms stung a little, but my knees. My knees instantly tightened into bands of pain holding my upper and lower legs together, the right side worse than the left. The pain was actually stupid, but I got up quickly and power-walked to my house, which, thankfully, was literally just around the corner. I reached the front door two minutes later.

Why are we so embarrassed when we fall that we’ll sometimes pretend it didn’t happen? Is it simple self-consciousness, or is it more along the lines of how a cat instinctually conceals pain and weakness for self-protection reasons?

I could ditch the stoic act once I got home, because Callaghan is away and I’m the alpha cat so our cats wouldn’t take advantage of my vulnerability.

The first thing I did was I sat down to investigate the aftermath. My palms didn’t hurt anymore, and they looked surprisingly normal – despite landing hard on the pavement, I found no marks, no scratches, and no redness. They looked clean, too, somehow. Okay, fine. Then I looked at my legs, and I was vexed to see that my newest jeans were ripped over the right knee. It couldn’t have happened when I was wearing anything else, I thought. I slid them off and found a colorful strawberry just below my right kneecap, the top layer of skin peeled back from a large spot in shades of deep red and purple.

Who gets road rash from walking? I DO.

I touched the wound to check it out. (No, I didn’t think to wash my hands first.) The skin on top was intact; there was no blood or other fluid. It was perfectly dry. Perfectly smooth. And perfectly excruciating when I touched it.

Having had no experience with wounds that look bloody, but aren’t, I decided to err on the side of DO NOTHING because I’d had a tetanus shot within the last 10 years, so I figured I was covered.

(I wondered where the top layer of skin went, though, because it wasn’t flapping over the strawberry… it was just gone, leaving the wound neatly frayed around the edges in a complete circle. I decided that the missing skin was either stuck to the sidewalk or to the inside of my jeans.)

While the wound looked superficial, the knee itself had inflated in a lumpy non-pattern all the way around. I considered what to do. Place a bag of frozen peas over the swelling? I decided to just elevate my leg.

My right knee took the worst punishment. Left knee was just bruised, but also painful to the touch. Palms got away with the whole thing completely, though I swear they also met the sidewalk with considerable force. A headache had developed – I’m guessing from the heavy backpack landing on the back of my neck – and (spoiler alert!) it lasted for three days.

So that was that, but it didn’t end there. The embarrassing effects extended into the weekend.

On Friday, my head and knees throbbed all day, and I felt useless at work.

On Saturday, I woke up with an intensified headache and almost ate a handful of Advil, but I resisted and went to Body Combat un-ibuprofenized. I’d missed class on Wednesday night… there was no way I was going to miss Saturday morning!

Body Combat mostly went fine. I went easy on the knees. I just got disoriented at some point, almost fell backwards at another point, and couldn’t let my knees touch the floor.

Then I went to do some grocery shopping at Sprouts, where I got disoriented again and nearly drove my shopping cart into one of those cardboard display things piled high with products, but I managed to swerve around it, which worked, but the edge of the cart got caught on the corner of the display, and I almost tore the whole thing down.

Some version of this has happened to most of you, right? Right?

Things have improved a lot at this point. The headache is gone, for one thing. My knee looks a lot better, albeit scabby, and the pain has lessened quite a bit. (I went to Body Combat last night and still couldn’t put pressure on the knees, but it was better than Saturday.)

I’m thinking of writing to the City of Tempe to ask them to either fix the sidewalk cracks or post signs like this in the more cracky areas:

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-TrippingHazard_Fromcvsignsandsafetycom

 

I have to admit, I’m kind of hoping they go with the sign option. I love that tripping cartoon person!

The last bro standing. (Perceptions of fitness.)

At Body Combat a few days ago, Rebecca, our Wednesday night instructor, went to close the door before starting class. She called out to the group of guys gathered on the other side: “Are you coming in or staying out?” There were five of them.

“What kind of class is it?”

“Kickboxing.”

After some hesitation, they gamely filed in and arranged themselves in the back of the room.

I don’t usually look at others in the mirror during a workout, but this time, I couldn’t help but glance in their direction every once in a while. I was curious to see what would happen. The guys seemed to be in their 20’s, and looking at them, you’d assume that they work out. But how would they fare in Body Combat?

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-beastmodeorawake

 

They started out on point, striking, kicking, and keeping with the pace, doing pretty well considering they didn’t know the material. They were killing it, actually.

At the end of the lower-body warm-up, I cast an eye back there again and saw the first visible signs of fatigue. The guys started falling back as we worked through the tracks. Soon, each one was going at his own pace, which is normal… it’s how anyone, at any fitness level, can do Body Combat.

Release 65 is intense. If you go full-power when your muscles aren’t used to Body Combat, you’re going to feel it fast. The first guy to give up left the room during the second half of track 2 (Combat 1).

A little while later – I want to say it was after the H.I.I.T. session Les Mills planted in the middle of the workout – another guy fell out and left.

By then, I was totally entertaining myself watching to see who would leave next. I think it was during the capoeira track that two more made their escape.

The last bro standing started taking longer rests, and more frequently. I was rooting for him to make it to the end. The capoeira track was a quad-burner, but the Muay Thai track required more energy, and it looked like he’d exhausted his stores. Still, he powered through. During track 8 (Power Training 3), he finally waved his white towel in defeat (I say figuratively – he had a towel, but he didn’t wave it) and departed. He almost made it through that last cardio track! He’d been running on fumes, and he had nothing left; he didn’t know Body Combat, so he didn’t know that there was less than five minutes of cardio left. If he had stayed, he would have been rewarded with the abs conditioning track and the cool-down. It was impressive that he lasted that long, though!

Maybe these guys mostly just lift weights, and they’re less into cardio. Or maybe they used up all of their beast-mode at the beginning of the class, so they ran out quickly.

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-beast-mode-300

 

In any case, the moral of the story…

Q: What do you get when reasonably athletic-looking bros spontaneously jump into a Les Mills Body Combat class?

A: A reminder of how Body Combat is a no-joke, super intense workout… and also an appreciation that you can do it.

The second and most important moral of the story? “Don’t judge a person’s fitness level based on appearance.”

In other words (I’ll say it again), someone’s body size or shape is no reliable indication of his/her fitness level.

You can look strong and fit, but have poor endurance. You can be overweight, but be in better shape than a thin person. You can be a thin person and have a higher body fat percentage than a heavier person. You can be a skinny person with a high enough body fat percentage to land you in a not-healthy category. You can have a Body Mass Index score that designates you as “obese,” but you’re actually a super strong power-lifting athlete or a football player or a body-builder or a fighter. You can be big and bulky, but extremely flexible. You can be “fat” while being exceptionally strong and fit cardio-respiratory-wise. And so on.

Just because you’re young and in shape doesn’t mean that you can make it all the way through your first Body Combat class as a drop-in.

The parameters we have to measure someone’s fitness level are loose at best. The fact is, we don’t know the story behind the exterior we see when we set eyes on someone’s physique, so it’s useless to judge a person based on his/her weight.

Body Combat Release 65 – Informal Review!

The latest Les Mills Body Combat choreography launched at our gym on Saturday. (For those who don’t know, a Body Combat workout is a group fitness class consisting of an hour of cardio with choreographed martial/fighting arts moves done to high-octane music. We get a new choreography release every… six weeks, I think…?)

ETA: New releases happen every 12 weeks. Thank you, Izzy!

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-FavThingsMAR2014-BodyCombat

 

So Les Mills released Body Combat #65, and I thought it would be fun to give it an informal review, because why not? I routinely blather about movies, T.V. series, food, cosmetics, pulp fiction, etc., so targeting Body Combat for my blathering seems like the next natural thing to do. I go to this class three times per week, after all. It’s kind of a big part of my life.

I went to class on Saturday with the idea that I might blog about the release, so I activated the voice recorder on my phone and left it on the floor, off to the side. I wanted to be prepared, and I knew there was no way I was going to remember everything we did after just one class if I didn’t document it somehow.

Enough of the pre-blather blather… without further ado, here’s what I thought of Body Combat #65!

(Disclaimer: These are my first impressions, and that includes the music. I may feel differently about all of it after a few more classes in this release.)

 

Les Mills Body Combat #65

Overall impression: Some unexpected combinations and variations in pacing necessitate attention to your mental game. The methodical, slower sequences feel awkward against the fast-paced, high-energy music, and at other times, when given the option to speed up without limitation, you’re again working with the timing. All of this incongruity heightens the challenges expected when learning a new release, and the choreography encourages precision in striking, for those concerned with their technique. This release features some advanced attacks (i.e. flying knee strikes and consecutive jump kicks), power moves (i.e. jump squats and explosive push-ups in the middle of the workout), and High-Intensity Interval Training (H.I.I.T.) (i.e. sprint options). The workout is plyometrics- and conditioning-intense.

After Saturday’s class, I went online and found the music track-list (which also gives me a guide for the workout tracks):

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-LesMillsBCrelease65TrackList

 

Here are my “nutshell” first impressions of the actual tracks.

1a). Upper-body warm-up: (Decent song for an opener – “We Came to Bang”)

First impression: Kind of a mind-bender.

Warming up with your basic jabs, crosses, uppercuts and hooks

 

1b). Lower-body warm-up: (Also a pretty good song – “Levels”)

First impression: Robot-like moves? Different!

Throwing roundhouse kicks, side kicks, front kicks, and teeps (Muay Thai push kicks)

(Do my quads usually burn this much during the warm-up?)

 

2). Combat 1: (Decent music – “Ah Yeah So What”)

First impression: They should re-name this track “A million kicks.”

Combination of strikes and kicks, including consecutive jump kicks and lowered front kicks for a major quad burn

 

3). Power training 1: (DISLIKE the music – “Lifting Me Higher”)

First impression: They chose this song because it’s so terrible, we’re being forced to exercise our minds to overcome it.

Endless upper-body strikes; running (including high knees)

It’s only track three and I don’t think I can throw any more hooks…

 

4).Combat 2: (Good song – “Enemies”)

First impression: We need a mat for this? Push-ups, like in the last release!

Combination of kicks and knee strikes, then on the floor for push-ups (including explosive push-ups)

 

5). Power training 2: (Good song – “No Problem”)

First impression: Love this Drum & Bass track!

Running, striking combinations, more running, jump squats in ascending sets

Nooo don’t take away the pause in between jump squats! My legs are done. I’m out.

 

6). Combat 3: (Okay song, but not my favorite – “The Day is my Enemy”)

First impression: This is the capoeira track wanting to be capoeira, but not quite committing to it.

Typical combination of lunges and kicks; atypical pivoting, robot-like pseudo-capoeira move; knee strikes

 

7). Muay Thai: (Decent song – “Party Monster”)

First impression: Muay Thai!

Punching combinations, ascending and descending elbow strikes, knee strikes variations, 4 levels of running man

Flying knee strikes!

 

8). Power training 3: (DISLIKE the first of the two songs – “Heart Bleeds Re-Con & Demand”)

First impression:  They’re trying to kill me with this music. The music is the real test here.

Running, striking combinations, scissors, striking combinations, jacks, running, striking on crack

 

9). Conditioning: (Okay song – “Black and Blue”)

First impression: The kind of ab track that works your neck as well as your abs.

No push-ups, since we did them in track 4… a series of “C” crunches and modified bicycle crunches (“cross-crawls”)

 

10). Cool-down (Whatever. I’m done.)

 

 

In summary, I like release 65. We had another class last night, and after a few more, the parts that feel strange won’t feel strange anymore. That’s what new releases are for!

Fitness routine changes afoot! (Also, what’s new with Nenette)

Fitness update! This may only be interesting to me, but I’m excited about it, so I’m sharing it. AT LONG LAST, I’m going to round out my workout routine with weights. I mean, I believe I’ve figured out how I can fit it into my day.

I hadn’t added a strength-training component to my routine yet due to limited time, and Body Combat three times a week is non-negotiable. This last week, I finally applied some serious thought as to how it could be done.

My friend and Body Combat instructor Izzy the Trainer inspired me when she posted a fitness selfie during her lunch-hour workout. She’s eight weeks post-partum, and she seriously looks like she could take the competition stage in a month! I wish I could train in the middle of the day, I thought, marveling at her drive. Then it occurred to me that my recent move to a new office put me within walking distance of the gym on campus. I did a re-con a few days ago and found that the walk is a mere eight minutes. The idea of working out over my lunch hour started to take serious shape. It is feasible. I can do this.

Still, I vacillated. There’s a small financial commitment involved, and though it’s really not much, I balked at the idea of paying for two different gyms. I got to the point, though, where I decided that the investment would be worth it.

I haven’t jumped in just yet… I’ve been giving thought as to how I could maximize the time I’d have, when and how it would be the most beneficial to work what muscle groups, how often I’d go, and how I’d manage the gym attire/personal hygiene aspect in the middle of my workday. I wouldn’t do a workout that leaves me dripping with sweat, but still, I’d want to clean up somehow before returning to work, of course.

Updates to come!

In kitty news, Nounours and Nenette have been good. We’ve been seeing Nenette’s playful side emerge, and that’s been a lot of fun. The nature of her playfulness actually calls her age into question even more… she really seems more like three or four, rather than the six years old we were told.

Here are a few pics:

 

This made us laugh... Nenette playing with Nounours' tail! He seemed to be flipping it around on purpose.

This made us laugh… Nenette playing with Nounours’ tail! He seemed to be flipping it around on purpose.

 

So many toys! Too many decisions! Just like the Wrah-Wrah.

So many toys! Too many decisions! Just like the Wrah-Wrah.

 

The gold heart tag is new… it’s her microchip tag. Her pink I.D. heart is on the other side.

 

Nounours, the blue-eyed photobomb master!

Nounours, the blue-eyed photobomb master!

 

In this picture, Nenette reminds me of Louise from Bob's Burgers.

In this picture, Nenette reminds me of Louise from Bob’s Burgers.

 

(I was slightly traumatized last night when I went online looking for an image of Bob’s Burgers’ Louise for a possible “Not Unlike” of Louise and Nenette. In the process, I accidentally traumatized Callaghan. Needless to say, I didn’t find what I needed for the “Not Unlike.” Oh, well.)

 

Nenette discovered that she loves playing with this black string.

Nenette discovered that she loves playing with this black string.

 

Tomorrow, both Nounours and Nenette are going to our vet for checkups and updated vaccinations. We also need to get Nounours’ international microchip scanned so we can finally register it to us. We’re hoping to discover Nenette’s actual age… or that she really is six.

Happy Friday, All!

Body Combat was cancelled on Wednesday. Here’s what I learned.

My passion is martial arts and combat sports. It’s the only reason I go to the gym, as I found out on Wednesday after work when we got there and discovered that Body Combat had been cancelled (due to a misfortune that befell our instructor. Thank goodness she’s okay! That’s the only important thing, of course).

There were other choices. Another group fitness class was scheduled to start within the hour, and another class after that… not to mention the tiny detail of the gym, itself, full of weights, weight machines and cardio equipment.

Callaghan works out with weights two or three times a week on the regular, so he was game to stay for some lifting. On the other hand, he had design work to do at home, so he was also fine with heading out to get an early start on that.

On my part, all I could think was, which combat sports gyms have sessions scheduled for now, and what are their walk-in rates?

Presented with the conundrum without warning, I was surprised to find that I had ZERO interest in doing anything at the actual gym, even though I’ve been going around saying I’d like to find time to lift weights. It’s not like I don’t enjoy lifting weights, either. I do… or, I did. In the past, I’d spent years dedicated to strength-training. But I’m not doing it now, and I couldn’t see how the benefit of doing it one, random time could outweigh the benefit of getting home to my furbabies, a bowl of popcorn mixed with salty pumpkin seeds, and the latest episode of The Whispers, as mediocre a series as we’re finding it to be.

I wasn’t keen on doing straight-up cardio, either. Without being committed to a regular-gym regimen, even the idea of spending 30 minutes or an hour on a piece of cardio equipment bored me. I knew I’d be bored, too, because that was the situation before we discovered Body Combat… I’d go to the gym with Callaghan and force myself to walk on the treadmill, my mind lagging miles behind and scattered in all directions like a fragmented weight tied to my legs with many lengths of rope.

What I’m getting at here is the crux of the issue: Goals, and, driving that, Passion. I used to be passionate about strength-training at the gym, and working out on cardio machines had been a part of that picture, so I enjoyed it. There was a time in my life that I lived for all of that.

Anything I do at home is ancillary to martial/fighting arts. Push-ups (which I did do when we got home on Wednesday night), pull-ups, stretch kicks, ab-work, shadow-boxing, bag-work, even working with the dumbbells that we have – in my mind, it’s all a part of the same thing, which is not weight-lifting, even if the dumbbell part technically is.

 

This pull-up bar in the door-frame of my home office is a great way to keep from getting bored while I'm walking down the hall, haha!

This pull-up bar in the door-frame of my home office is a great way to keep from getting bored while I’m walking down the hall, haha!

 

Having a goal is a driving force, and passion works as the fuel that gets you there. You could have passion without goals, and, I suppose, goals without passion, but more often than not, they go together.

For me, getting in shape again (after years of sitting on my butt) was a by-product of indulging my passion for martial arts and combat sports. My sense of purpose in Body Combat is about making sure my muscles remember everything, and maintaining the shape I’m in isn’t a vanity-driven objective… it’s a stay-in-fighting-condition one. Likewise, when I walk to work, my purpose is to get to my job, not to “work out,” even though that mile and a half brisk walk does constitute a workout.

It’s how you look at it. Fitness is a mental game.

What I realized on Wednesday night is that these days, I don’t go to the gym to “work out.” Maybe I will again in the future, but for now, I’m going for the joy of doing what I love. This is what I’d suggest to anyone wondering how to go from sedentary to active when the thought of working out leaves you cold: Find a physical activity you love, or at least enjoy. Bowling, dancing, hiking, tennis, swimming, whatever it may be… go for it, and suddenly, that is what you’re doing to be good to your body. Rather than “working out,” you’re engaging in something you love. Psych yourself out. Improved fitness levels will be the icing on the guilt-free cake.

Nenette – Nounours’ 4th of July kitty

We suddenly have a little girl kitty. To put it more precisely, Nounours suddenly has a new little sister.

We knew we’d eventually have to adopt another cat for Nounours, but if the deciding criteria was going to be me being emotionally ready, I couldn’t see it happening, ever. Losing Ronnie James left an open wound with tattered edges in my heart, and the idea of putting something there seemed excruciating.

But on the other hand, it’s been upsetting to see Nounours so distraught. Nounours would seem okay one minute, then desolate the next. He’d start crying, and we’d rush into the bedroom to discover him rubbing his head on Ronnie James’ urn. Or, on the occasions I’d leave Ronnie James’ urn up on his favorite barstool in the bedroom, Nounours’ yowling-crying would summon us to find him standing on the bed, mournfully facing the urn as if it were an unreachable island barely visible across a vast sea. We’d set the urn back on the foot of the bed, and Nounours would snuggle up to it, quieting down immediately.

We didn’t know what to do. We didn’t know how to help Nounours. It got to a point where we started talking more seriously about adopting another sibling for him. I was starting to realize that my own reticence wasn’t fair to Nounours, who had never been an only cat. He was lonely and missing his Wrah-Wrah as much as I was.

Things happened quickly from there.

Saturday morning, the 4th of July, we had the conversation again as we headed to the gym, Callaghan and I. “I’d definitely want to get a girl,” I said, echoing sentiments I’d previously expressed. I thought that a girl kitty would feel less like a Ronnie James replacement; moreover, it wouldn’t be a good idea to bring a strange Tomcat into Nounours’ territory. Callaghan agreed.

So we knew we wanted a girl. We also knew that we wanted her to be a full-grown adult, but one who was younger than 10-year-old Nounours. Nounours has a generous maternal streak, and we thought that allowing him to indulge it would help him to feel less lonely. It seemed that a slightly younger kitty would be a good fit for lovable, cozy Nounours and his penchant for cuddling. “Five at the youngest,” I thought out loud. “Maybe five or six….” Callaghan thought this would be ideal, as well.

But again, we shelved the conversation without making a decision. We got to the gym and went to Body Combat.

Not two hours later, we found ourselves peering into a clear Plexiglas case at PetSmart, where we’d stopped to get more treats for Nounours. Inside the case was a little girl whose tag read that she was six years old. (But she was so small!) Her tag also told us that she’s an Abyssinian/Manx mix. The Abyssinian part explained her beautiful, dark-golden ticked coat. The Manx part explained her lack of a tail.

She looked so sweet and sad. As we held her gaze, her waves of loneliness cut through the Plexiglas to touch us. We learned that she’d belonged to family who’d “run into hard times.” They were being evicted, so they surrendered her to the shelter. She’d been at the shelter for over a month.

When we left PetSmart, my heart had been replaced with a ball of mixed emotions, which I promptly expressed on Facebook. Some of my friends – you know who you are! – were so encouraging and supportive and wonderful, commenting and texting me. The conundrum was that (in accordance with policy) the adoption folks wouldn’t hold her for us for even half a day, even if we paid the fee; if we wanted to adopt her, we had to make the decision and do it tout de suite. It would have to happen quickly, lest someone else swoop in and adopt her!

We went back.

We changed her name. It was funny how we arrived at it: I suggested “Nenette” – we both wanted a French name – and Callaghan replied with, “My Godmother’s name was Nenette!” I hadn’t known that. (Also, we found out later when talking to Maman, Callaghan’s Mom, that “Nenette” had been slang for “chick” in France back in the 60’s and 70’s.) We both loved the name, and it suited the little girl. Nounours et Nenette. We purchased a nametag and fed it to the engraving machine at the front of the store before leaving.

 

She already knows her new name.

She already knows her new name.

 

At home later that evening, we sat in the living room and watched as Nenette explored her new forever home.

Here’s one of the first pics I took of her:

 

Part-Abyssinian, part Manx, Nenette has no tail (a characteristic of the latter).

Part-Abyssinian, part Manx, Nenette has no tail (a characteristic of the latter).

 

Sometimes, the way she moves her head reminds me, comically, of a velociraptor à la Jurassic World, and I want to call her “Blue,” my favorite (kick-ass female) character in that movie. Other times, her shy expression reminds me of Princess Diana, and I want to call her “Lady Di.”

 

Nenette on the small round ottoman in the bedroom (7/6/2015)

Nenette on the small round ottoman in the bedroom (7/6/2015)

 

Her shy expressions remind me so much of Princess Diana!

Her shy expressions remind me so much of Princess Diana!

 

As I post this, Nenette has only been here for about 60 hours, so she’s still getting acclimated to her new home and to the three of us. Nounours started showing interest in her within 24 hours, but his tentative approaches drew soft hissing. Nenette will need some time to develop trust and confidence. We suspect that she’d been either neglected or otherwise mistreated in her past situation(s).

 

Nenette has the uniform, ticked coat of the Abyssinian, with velvety soft fur.

Nenette has the uniform, ticked coat of the Abyssinian, with velvety soft fur.

 

She’s as much an Abyssinian/Manx mix in her personality as she is in her appearance. She’s talkative, but her conversational voice is soft and extremely feminine, and I do mean girly-girl-level feminine, with her quiet mewing and trilling sounds. At the other end of the spectrum, we never heard a cat yowl as loudly as she did in the carrier coming home from the shelter! It was funny to think that such a sound could come from this tiny, adorable little being. This kitty has quite the vocal range. She loves the scratch pads we have all over the house, even though she’d been declawed (to our horror). We’ve also observed that she’s intelligent, inquisitive and playful… and she’s quite skittish. When people come over, she disappears beneath furniture whether the visitors ring the doorbell or not. But overall, she seems to be adapting quickly.

 

We thought this pink heart tag said "Nenette" even before we engraved it, so it was the obvious choice.

We thought this pink heart tag said “Nenette” even before we engraved it, so it was the obvious choice.

 

As of yesterday, she and Nounours have been on nose-touching terms. Those brief touches are a magical balm for Nounours, as he seems to be more at peace now than before we adopted Nenette. We’re looking forward to the day we find him nurturing her!

I wanted to capture an image of Nounours and Nenette together, but it’s too soon for such an opportunity. Last night, when I went into the bedroom to take a picture of Nounours by himself, I found him like this, as usual:

 

Nounours still missing his Wrah-Wrah dearly.

Nounours still missing his Wrah-Wrah dearly.

 

Wrah-Wrah will always be with us, and I like to think that Nenette understands that she has two big brothers to adore her. We love her, too. Nenette has been a blessing for us all. The only promise we can make to her is that she’ll be unconditionally loved for the rest of her life.

Typical Food.

Several friends have been asking me what I typically eat, and I find it difficult to answer on the spot, because, I guess, I don’t put all that much thought into food… so the last time I was asked, I decided to do a food journal over the next two days, which happened to be Sunday and Monday (yesterday). The timing was great for the experiment because my documentation captured a weekend day and a weekday that also happened to be a gym day. It covers a pretty good idea of the average food picture in my life. I’m sharing the results here this morning, for anyone who may be curious.

Since this was a spontaneous decision, I didn’t premeditate it or go shopping for it or anything. That’s my excuse for not exhibiting dishes prepared from scratch. Some weekends, I cook food to feed us for a few days, if not for the week, and some weekends, I don’t… and this last weekend, I didn’t.

Here are a few generalities:

1). Water is key to starting my day right. First thing in the morning, I drink three big glasses of chilled water, and I continue drinking water all day long. I have a little idiosyncrasy about water: I prefer very cold water, except I like to drink room-temperature water when I’m eating.

Water is the only thing I drink besides coffee and the occasional cup of tea or iced tea. (I stopped drinking grapefruit juice last year… I used to have it with breakfast.) I’ll sometimes squeeze fresh lemon juice into my water when I’m at home. I’m hyper-vigilant about keeping myself hydrated – I also drink a big glass of water right before going to sleep. I’m just really into water. Fun fact!

2). You’ll notice a lot of carbs on both days, since that’s my favorite food group. I prefer complex carbs and actually avoid simple carbs (white bread, white pasta, white rice, white potatoes, refined sugar, and alcohol… I think my last glass of wine was back in either October or November). (Oh wait, did I have champagne with my in-laws when they were here visiting from France for New Year’s? Yes, I believe did! December 31 was the last time I drank alcohol, then.)

3). I’m in the habit of waiting until 9:00am to eat breakfast, even though my alarm goes off at 5:00-5:30am in the morning five days a week. I get up and drink the three glasses of water with my thyroid medication, and then I wait 30 minutes before consuming anything else, because that’s how thyroid medication works. (I have Hashimoto’s disease – hypothyroidism. In my case, it’s autoimmune thyroiditis.) When the 30 minutes has passed, I take my other morning meds, and I have my first of two mugs of coffee.

4). I take supplements twice a day (different ones with my morning and evening meals).

5). I tend to cycle through certain foods. For instance, for a few weeks recently, I was having a Trader Joe’s blueberry-bran muffin for breakfast every weekday. Then I moved on to waffles and berries. I change it up every two to three weeks.

6). While there’s almost always some overlap in the things we eat (like salads, guacamole, fruit, etc.), Callaghan and I eat different meals about half of the time, I’d say. He’ll incorporate non-vegan elements into his.

7). Have I mentioned that as of about a month and a half ago, I’m back to 100% vegan, 100% of the time? It feels good. I’m my old self again.

So all that said, let’s jump in! Here’s what I ate over the last two days:

Sunday

Breakfast: Bear Naked Honey Almond Granola (10g protein!) with plain, unsweetened almond milk, blueberries and raspberries; coffee with stevia and the same almond milk; whole wheat toast with Earth Balance buttery spread.

 

Granola with a generous topping of fresh berries and almond milk, and whole wheat toast - and Sumatra coffee, of course (my favorite)!

Granola with a generous topping of fresh berries and almond milk, and whole wheat toast – and Sumatra coffee, of course (my favorite)!

 

Lunch: Sandwich with vegan lunch slices in turkey and ham flavor with fresh spinach, Roma tomato, Dijon mustard (that Callaghan brought back from France!) and grapeseed-oil Veganaise on whole wheat bread; a nectarine.

 

I usually default to sandwiches for lunch, which is fine, because I love them. I usually have fruit, too.

I usually default to sandwiches for lunch, which is fine, because I love them. I usually have fruit, too.

 

Snack: Kind Healthy Grains Maple Quinoa Clusters with Chia Seeds (1/3 cup), dry.

 

A handful of dry granola for a crunchy, sweet afternoon snack - one of my favorites! This is Kind Healthy Grains Maple Quinoa Clusters with Chia Seeds. YUM.

A handful of dry granola for a crunchy, sweet afternoon snack – one of my favorites! This is Kind Healthy Grains Maple Quinoa Clusters with Chia Seeds. YUM.

 

Dinner: Black beans and brown rice with HOT salsa; sliced avocado; a side salad of mixed baby spring greens and tomato with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, sea salt, coarsely ground black pepper and oregano.

 

This was a quick and easy dinner of brown rice, black beans, salsa, and avocado, with a salad on the side.

This was a quick and easy dinner of brown rice, black beans, salsa, and avocado, with a salad on the side.

 

Dessert: Justin’s organic dark chocolate peanut butter cups.

 

Justin's organic dark chocolate peanut butter cups are my favorite vegan treat!

Justin’s organic dark chocolate peanut butter cups are my favorite vegan treat!

 

Monday

(The standard two mugs of coffee with stevia and plain, unsweetened almond milk)

Breakfast: Two of Van’s Multigrain 8 Whole Grains waffles with Earth Balance buttery spread; blueberries and raspberries.

 

I toast and "butter" (it's Earth Balance) the waffles at home and bring them to work loosely wrapped in foil. Van’s Multigrain 8 Whole Grains waffles, blueberries and raspberries.

I toast and “butter” (it’s Earth Balance) the waffles at home and bring them to work loosely wrapped in foil. Van’s Multigrain 8 Whole Grains waffles, blueberries and raspberries.

 

Lunch: Sandwich with Trader Joe’s Mediterranean hummus, fresh spinach and Roma tomato on whole wheat bread; a nectarine.

(On gym days, I’ll usually have peanut butter and jelly for lunch, but lately I’ve been alternating with hummus for the savory goodness of it. It’s still a great high protein/healthy fat sandwich spread.)

 

I ate lunch at my desk yesterday: Sandwich with Trader Joe’s Mediterranean hummus, fresh spinach and Roma tomato on whole wheat bread... and a heavenly nectarine for dessert!

I ate lunch at my desk yesterday: Sandwich with Trader Joe’s Mediterranean hummus, fresh spinach and Roma tomato on whole wheat bread… and a heavenly nectarine for dessert!

 

Snack: Small handful of roasted, unsalted almonds; a mini chocolate chip Clif bar.

(Workout fuel! I like a combination of protein, healthy fats, carbs, and a little unrefined sugar an hour or two before going to Body Combat.)

 

A small handful of roasted, unsalted almonds and a mini chocolate chip Clif bar fueled my workout after work. That mini Clif bar is so tiny! It's exactly the right size.

A small handful of roasted, unsalted almonds and a mini chocolate chip Clif bar fueled my workout after work. That mini Clif bar is so tiny! It’s exactly the right size.

 

Dinner: Homemade guacamole and an Amy’s Sonoma veggie burger (organic vegetables, quinoa and walnuts) on whole wheat toast; side salad of spinach, mixed baby spring greens and tomato with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, sea salt, coarsely ground black pepper and oregano.

(Post-workout delicious combination of complex carbs, plant-based protein and healthy fats.)

 

Callaghan made his guacamole to go with our dinner, and it was fabulous, as usual! Homemade guacamole and an Amy’s Sonoma veggie burger on whole wheat toast, plus a side salad.

Callaghan made his guacamole to go with our dinner, and it was fabulous, as usual! Homemade guacamole and an Amy’s Sonoma veggie burger on whole wheat toast, plus a side salad.

 

Dessert: Fresh strawberries.

 

Fresh strawberries for dessert.

Fresh strawberries for dessert.

 

The strawberries look kind of weird in the picture, somehow, but they were wonderful.

Not pictured: I had a cup of Celestial Seasoning’s Honey Vanilla Chamomile tea last night before bed. It’s my favorite nighttime tea.

Et voilà! Two typical days.

My favorite thing to eat besides carbs is seasonal produce. The nectarines are fantastic right now. You know they’re a June favorite!

What I’m Digging Right Now – May Favorites

Let’s face it… in our dusty little speck of the world, we’ve had better months this year so far than May. Like all of them. I photographed some of the things for this post in the days leading to Ronnie James’ death, because I knew they were destined for the list, and I couldn’t see motivating myself to do much of anything afterward.

But that’s what these Favorites lists are for, right? It helps to think of life’s pleasurable Little Things, and I’m going to tell you about the ones that stood out in May, as per usual!

Let’s shake things up and start with products this time.

 

1). Yes to Blueberries Age Refresh Face and Neck Oil and Deep Wrinkle Night Cream.

 

Yes to Blueberries Age Refresh Face and Neck Oil and Deep Wrinkle Night Cream

Yes to Blueberries Age Refresh Face and Neck Oil and Deep Wrinkle Night Cream

 

In my quest for Holy-Grail-caliber cruelty-free skin care, I’ve tried many different products. I listed the Acure night cream in a previous Favorites post, noting its strong herbal scent as its only draw-back. While I liked it enough to talk about it as a favorite that month, I didn’t repurchase it, and I’m so glad, because if I did, I wouldn’t have stumbled upon this magnificent night cream by Yes to Blueberries. Inexpensive, cruelty-free Holy Grail night cream, check! This cream is thick, soft and rich with natural, good ingredients. It feels incredible, and I love its mild, sweet scent.

I thought I’d try the facial oil from the same line, and I’ve been loving that, as well. I put three drops on my cleansed face at night, and two more on my neck, and gently work it all in. The oil is potent; it disappears into my skin and pulls an instant glow to my cheeks. After a few minutes, I mist my face and neck with water and layer the night cream on top. Done.

 

2). Tarte Maracuja C-Brighter Eye Treatment.

 

Tarte Maracuja C-Brighter Eye Treatment

Tarte Maracuja C-Brighter Eye Treatment

 

But before the facial oil and night cream, there’s eye cream, and this one by Tarte has also earned Holy Grail status in my book. Unfortunately, it’s high-end and therefore pricey, but none of the drugstore eye creams I tried really did it for me. Tarte’s Maracuja formula brings to mind some of my past favorite eye creams, such as Clinique’s All About Eyes and Benefit’s It’s Potent! eye cream. Tarte managed to create this beautiful, luxurious cream without testing on animals, and I love them for it. Thank you, Tarte! 

 

3). Burt’s Bees 100% Natural Lip Crayon in Redwood Forest.

 

Burt's Bees 100% Natural Lip Crayon in Redwood Forest

Burt’s Bees 100% Natural Lip Crayon in Redwood Forest

 

I’ve actually had this Burt’s Bees lip crayon hanging around on my vanity for a few months now, but I didn’t really start using it until May. It was love at first wear. I LOVE the formula of this product, and its Redwood Forest color perfectly delivers the shade I’ve always been drawn to the most for lips. Redwood Forest is a gorgeous reddish-brown, but its rosier, almost pinkish cast saves it from severity. It’s not long-wearing, but it reapplies well, and it doesn’t dry out my lips.

Here’s what it looks like on… I took this selfie yesterday morning in the bright outdoors hoping to capture the true color of the product. I think I succeeded, though the rest of the picture got kind of washed out from the brightness (there’s no filter or anything like that… the haze is from the blinding sunlight. I was standing in the shade in my backyard).

 

Current favorite lip product: Burt's Bees 100% Natural Lip Crayon in Redwood Forest.

Current favorite lip product: Burt’s Bees 100% Natural Lip Crayon in Redwood Forest.

 

For me, it’s that elusive, perfect your-lips-but-better color. LOVE IT.

 

4). Crystal Essence Mineral Deodorant Roll-On in Lavender and White Tea.

 

Crystal Essence Mineral Deodorant Roll-On in Lavender and White Tea

Crystal Essence Mineral Deodorant Roll-On in Lavender and White Tea

 

I feel the need to share with you the awesomeness of this product, because it was quite a find. Finally, I’m happy with a cruelty-free deodorant! I’d been intimidated by the idea of finding a natural deodorant that could stand up to Body Combat, and here’s this formula by Crystal Essence! It works well, it’s natural, it’s inexpensive, and no animals were harmed in the making of it. I couldn’t ask for more.

 

Now for food!

 

5). Artichokes.

 

Artichokes... the Food of Life.

Artichokes… the Food of Life.

 

We all know how I feel about artichoke season, right? (If you didn’t before, you do now. Welcome to my world of artichoke obsession.) It seems that I post a new artichoke picture every year in some social media account or another (or three), so here’s my 2015 artichoke cover shot! (Oh, it really is the Little Things.) My favorite dip for artichokes is still Veganaise with grapeseed oil, by the way.

 

6). Hass avocados.

 

The best avocados make the best guacamole. Fact of life.

The best avocados make the best guacamole. Fact of life.

 

The month of May well-addressed our love for a good avocado, let me tell you. We ate many, mostly in the form of Callaghan’s ultra-delicious homemade guacamole. Sublime!

 

7). Amy’s Sonoma veggie burger with organic veggies, quinoa and walnuts.

 

Amy’s Sonoma veggie burger with organic veggies, quinoa and walnuts

Amy’s Sonoma veggie burger with organic veggies, quinoa and walnuts

 

This Rolls Royce of pre-packaged, frozen veggie burgers is my favorite vehicle for the above-mentioned guacamole. I discovered it at Sprout’s one day, recoiled at the somewhat ridiculous price-tag, then thought to myself, it’s not more expensive than the free-range/grass-fed/chemical and antibiotic-free meats I’d be purchasing were I an omnivore. The veggie burgers promptly went into the cart, and they’ve been a staple in our freezer ever since. They are TASTETACULAR. Callaghan enjoys them, too, even though he does eat meat!

 

8). Strawberries.

 

Strawberries every day!

Strawberries every day!

 

Strawberries bloomed fully in May, and, as with the artichokes, we didn’t squander their fleeting season. We’re still eating them. They’re still good. Somehow, the ones we get at Target are the best!

 

And lastly, entertainment….

 

9). Mad Max: Fury Road (film)

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-MadMaxFuryRoadposter

 

THIS MOVIE. See my thoughts here, if you haven’t already!

 

 

10). The series finale of Mad Men (T.V. series)

 

Mad Men series finale (2015)

Mad Men series finale (2015)

 

Some people loved it. Some people were disappointed by it. I thought it was groovy and wonderful, and I admit that a little fizz of rapture actually bubbled along the backs of my arms when the episode ended with that Coke commercial. Most people I’ve talked to who were born in the 60’s, like me, also appreciated that moment of unexpected nostalgia. I just loved the way everything got wrapped up for these characters!

What a series.

So, here we are in June… I have a feeling it’s going to go fast, and I’ll be back here with June Favorites before I know it!

The Wrah-Wrah’s paw print.

Why good morning, friends. As of three days ago, I have a new tattoo, and I wanted to share it with you. It’s a small one, but of all my tattoos, this one is the dearest to my heart.

Right after Ronnie James died, I suddenly, desperately wanted to apply ink to his little paw pads and press his paw onto paper. It wasn’t a thought I’d taken the time to formulate beforehand. As much as I’d tried to prepare myself, his passing was harder for me than I’d imagined it could be, and in the aftermath, I wanted something of him that would stay with me forever.

Since it was a last-minute decision, we were ill-prepared. The inks in Callaghan’s studio yielded fuzzy prints, but we thought we could work with them. They were certainly better than nothing. My idea was to have his paw print indelibly inked on the inside of my wrist, where I could see it all the time. I wanted a permanent, visual remembrance of how Ronnie James loved to touch me, and of how comforting and sweet his touch had been.

 

The Wrah-Wrah's first fuzzy little prints. The one I chose didn't come from this set, but we're going to have this sheet framed.

The Wrah-Wrah’s first fuzzy little prints. The one I chose didn’t come from this set, but we’re going to have this sheet framed.

 

When our house-calling vet brought the Wrah-Wrah’s cremains home to us two days later, she surprised us with another sheet of paper on which she’d stamped some lovely, clear Wrah-Wrah prints, a thoughtful gesture that touched us deeply. I vacillated between my two favorites before deciding on this one:

 

Getting an idea of how it would look....

Getting an idea of how it would look….

 

Callaghan loved it and decided to get the same tattoo. We went to the Club Tattoo down the street here in Tempe to make an appointment with the person who’d done my last (spiral of hearts) tattoo. We made our double appointment for Saturday afternoon.

 

Ronnie James' paw print realistically done in four shades of black/gray.

Ronnie James’ paw print realistically done in four shades of black/gray.

 

The same tattooist did that spiral of hearts around my arm in 2011, right before the move to France. (In case you're wondering, no, I don't lift weights. I just do Body Combat 3x / week. I do want to get back in the garage to work out, though... it's been a good couple of months.)

The same tattooist did that spiral of hearts around my arm in 2011, right before the move to France. (In case you’re wondering, no, I don’t lift weights. I just do Body Combat 3x / week. I do want to get back in the garage to work out, though… it’s been a good couple of months.)

 

I explained to our tattooist that I wanted the tattoo to look smudgy and real, as if Ronnie James’ inked paw had been pressed directly onto my wrist. He expertly used four shades of black/gray to achieve the effect with shading. I’m extremely pleased with how it turned out. I absolutely adore it.

 

Now I'll always have the Wrah-Wrah's paw on me.

Now I’ll always have the Wrah-Wrah’s paw on me.

 

And here’s a bad selfie, just for fun. (How do people take mirror selfies, anyway? It never worked out the few times I tried it. It must be an art form.)

 

Thwarted by lighting! Useless selfie attempting to show my freshly bandaged wrist... but you can see Callaghan in the background getting his tattoo done, so there's that.

Thwarted by lighting! Useless selfie attempting to show my freshly bandaged wrist… but you can see Callaghan in the background getting his tattoo done, so there’s that.

 

Callaghan loves his tattoo, as well. He asked to have the print altered just a tiny bit, and we wanted ours angled slightly differently, and he positioned his further down his wrist than mine, and he has his on his left wrist, while mine is on my right… so our Wrah-Wrah prints aren’t exactly identical. The Wrah-Wrah loved us both, but differently. He touched us both, but differently.

The Wrah-Wrah is Forever.

BodyCombatversary!

It’s the last weekend of March. You know what we did last year on the last weekend of March? We went to our first Body Combat class! This is momentous, guys. On March 29, 2014, I finally got off my ass and ended the longest period of inactivity in my adult life. Planners and agendas are useful like that… you can look back and note such things. I love celebrating -versaries of all kinds. There has to be one for everything! Happy BodyCombatversary to Callaghan and me!

The idea of getting established in a workout routine was hard, but it hurt my brain more than my out-of-shape muscles. I’d been sedentary for so long, and out of training for even longer. We’d actually signed up at our gym a few months earlier, but I hardly went because zero motivation. Callaghan had way more determination than I to get to the gym. When I did manage to drag myself there to half-heartedly walk on the treadmill for 20-30 minutes, all I felt was this weird mixture of boredom and accomplishment and more boredom. Like, YAY, I went to the gym, go me! OH NO… I just spent 20 minutes of my life on a piece of cardio equipment. I could have been doing laundry. The struggle was real, folks, as they say. It’s HARD to get back into habitual exercise once you’ve fallen out of it for any length of time!

Then I decided to check out the group fitness class offerings, and everything changed.

According to my 2014 agenda:

–Tuesday, March 18, 2014: I went to a Body Pump class, just to try it. I didn’t hate it, but I never went back. I think I’m too lazy to do Body Pump. The very idea of making numerous trips to the equipment corner and hauling things over to the floor and then having to quickly change the configuration of the weights in between sets and then hauling all the stuff back to the corner at the end makes me feel annoyed (and bored)! Conclusion: I’m not badass enough to do Body Pump.

(Side-note 1: You know who’s really badass? THE PEOPLE WHO DO BODY PUMP IMMEDIATELY AFTER BODY COMBAT. I marvel at all you guys who do the classes back-to-back! When I’m done with Combat, I’m done. I got nothing left.)

(Side-note 2: I really should start some kind of strength-training routine, though. Shadow-boxing with dumbbells in my garage for five minutes once a week ain’t cutting it.)

–Wednesday, March 26, 2014: I tried a boot camp class. It was super hard. I loved it. Conclusion: Yes!

–Saturday, March 29, 2014: I tried Body Combat. The word “combat” on the schedule caught my eye, and my interest perked up immediately. I hadn’t thrown a punch in almost seven years. Okay, I thought. Let’s try this! So I went, and that was it. I was hooked. Body Combat is simple: I go in and follow the instructor’s commands until we’re done, and that’s it. No fuss, no muss, no equipment! You’re in and out and home before you know it, dripping sweat and feeling accomplished.

Overall conclusion: I made a standing date with the gym for Monday evenings and Saturday mornings (Body Combat), and Wednesday evenings (Boot Camp).

There was no reluctance from that point on; I surprised myself with my 180 turn-around. I’d been against the idea of group fitness classes before I even saw the schedule, because even though I really wanted to work out, in my advanced state of workout apathy and gym-self-motivating-brain-cells-atrophy, the notion of committing myself to a workout “schedule” seemed about as appealing as escaping from jail by digging a tunnel with a teaspoon. Sunken deep in my routine of sitting on my ass, I was perversely comfortable in my little prison cell of inactivity.

Of course, doing Body Combat brought back the old obsession with actual training (the sweet science addiction never really goes away once it bites you), and this led to the equipment in our garage. We went out there to play a little late last night. Callaghan took pictures.

Excuse the demon eyes. It was late and we had to use the flash in the dimly-lit garage... plus, these pics were taken with my phone, as usual. I still haven't replaced my camera since my last one died.

Excuse the demon eyes. It was late and we had to use the flash in the dimly-lit garage… plus, these pics were taken with my phone, as usual. I still haven’t replaced my camera since my last one died.

Elbows on the WaveMaster

Elbows on the WaveMaster

Jumping rope

Jumping rope

Elbows on the ground

Elbows on the ground

 WaveMaster, bare fists

WaveMaster, bare fists

Now, we do three Body Combat classes per week and no Boot Camp, because the Wednesday night Boot Camp went away and was replaced by the third Body Combat.  I’m not complaining about the extra Body Combat, though I do miss the Boot Camp! In a perfect world, I’d be able to get away from work one morning a week just long enough to do Suzy’s Core, Cardio & More class (Wednesdays), or Geeny’s H.I.I.T. class (Thursdays). If I’m ever off work on either of those days, that’s where I go! Huge shout-out to those ladies, and to our phenomenal regular Combat instructors and friends Izzy, Rebecca and Amelia, and also to our sometimes-instructors Jessica and Diane!

That’s the best part… in the last year, I’ve gained much more than a higher level of fitness with increased energy, strength and balance. I’ve gained new friendships with other class participants and the instructors, themselves.  I’ve also gained something concrete to look forward to, three times a week (looking forward to stuff is so important if you have clinical depression, by the way). Each time we leave the gym, I can’t wait for the next time, and that is awesome.

Happy Friday, Everyone! =)

Body Combat en Français!

My triceps are sore today, and I love it!!

Perhaps the best thing about Les Mills International is the “International” part. It means that their classes are held in 20+ countries, so it’s feasible to get in your usual workout even when you’re traveling overseas. Thanks to our friend Chantal, we were able to do Body Combat with her at her gym yesterday. She got the passes for us in advance, and we found a Thursday 6:30pm session at her gym’s Cannes location (she usually goes to the one near her in Villeneuve-Loubet). It fit into our schedules perfectly.

 

Well isn't that convenient!!

Well isn’t that convenient!!

 

I didn’t know what to expect going in. Would the instructor teach the class in French or in English? If in French, would I understand the martial arts-specific terminology in the commands? I didn’t think so. Callaghan, who usually prefers to be in the back, graciously agreed to stand near me so I could look over and see what he was doing if I got lost. I stood in the center of the second row, between two people in the front row, so I could see myself in the mirror. Callaghan stood behind me and to the left. Chantal took a place next to him, directly behind me.

Here’s kind of how it went:

1). The instructor did, indeed, teach the whole class in French. (I learned a new word, “crochet,” which means “hook.” Makes sense.)

2). He started out explaining that he was substituting for the regular person. He wasn’t the usual instructor, so he was new to everyone, not just to us.

3). Unlike in Arizona, Callaghan was the only guy in the class.

4). Some of the tracks were familiar, while others totally weren’t! And that was good. There was some music I’d never heard, and moves we hadn’t done in class before. Those were probably older tracks.

5). The instructor was high-octane and clearly trained in martial arts.

6). There was a T.V. with a running loop of fitness footage that Callaghan said was distracting him.

7). Today, I feel it in my upper body. 10 days is a long time to go without working out when you’re used to going 3x/week!

It was fantastic, and it felt AMAZING to work out again after ten days of nothing (lots of walking and impromptu fake Parkour in Paris notwithstanding).

On that note, I’ll leave you with a few pics:

 

I took some of these brochures for souvenirs.

I took some of these brochures for souvenirs.

 

The group fitness schedule is posted on the classroom window, like at our gym. Unlike our gym, though, it's packed with classes.

The group fitness schedule is posted on the classroom window, like at our gym. Unlike our gym, though, it’s packed with classes.

 

The vending machine at FitLane is all Evian water, except for two rows of snacks at the top. Something you'd never find in an American vending machine: Madeleines. There's no junk food in our gym in Arizona, at all... just energy drinks, protein shakes and water.

The vending machine at FitLane is all Evian water, except for two rows of snacks at the top. Something you’d never find in an American vending machine: Madeleines. There’s no junk food in our gym in Arizona, at all… just energy drinks, protein shakes and water.

 

A last look on our way out. Au revoir, FitLane!

A last look on our way out. Au revoir, FitLane!

 

Happy Friday, All! =)

Today is March 6th, and this is significant.

Good morning! I have a few announcements.

One: Next week’s posts will come at you from a different time zone, as we’ll be visiting family and friends in France. I plan to post on Tuesday and Friday at around the usual time, so we’ll see how that works out. Also, I’m thinking there’ll probably be more images here than writing next week. I’m not anticipating having much time to write while we’re overseas, but I know a lot of pictures will be taken!

 

My hats from France, collecting dust on the back of a door, as black hats do.

My hats from France, collecting dust on the back of a door, as black hats do.

 

Two: Today is my brother’s birthday. Happy birthday, Bro! (Trivia: Callaghan and my brother are the same age almost exactly. They were born in the same year, 10 days apart.)

Three: Today is also the 17th anniversary of the opening day of The Big Lebowski in the United States.

LET US TAKE A MOMENT.

17 years ago today, the Coen brothers introduced Americans to The Dude. Can you believe it’s been that long? I can’t.

“The Dude abides.” That three-word quote is genius. The Dude’s paramount personality trait is being laid-back to the point of almost-apathy, but rather than being apathetic, he’s just free of constraints (especially self-imposed ones)! He does care, in his way. He teaches us how to live in moment, and how to prioritize. For example, getting thrown into a police car is secondary to the more immediate and pressing concern of the beverage in his hand that’s in danger of spilling in the process. It’s easy to see why some of The Dude’s admirers would take it upon themselves to create a religion (Dudism) after the sub-cultural icon who embodies “go with the flow” to the point where he simply abides.

I’m not cool enough to exist in a perpetual state of moment-by-moment abiding. In addition to roaches and Costco, my two legendary hang-ups, I can think of several things by which I cannot abide. In honor of the Dude, He Who Has Been Abiding for Seventeen Years Today, I will present you with those things.

I CANNOT abide by:

1). Dubbed movies.

2). Celery.

3). More than two consecutive days of overcast weather.

4). Doing the ginga to Thai music instead of to Afro-Brazilian capoeira music. (This is my only Les Mills annoyance. Would it be so hard to throw a birembau into that Body Combat music tracklist, Les Mills?)

5). The little “silica” packets you find in such things as new bags and outerwear pockets.

And on that note, I’ll wish you a Happy Friday!

New Year’s Resolutions and 2014 Favorites!

Just over a week into 2015, I’m finally posting my “2014 Favorites” list with the little things I enjoyed the most, reached for the most, or just generally all-around dug the most last year.

Some things that landed on my Monthly Favorites lists in 2014 turned out to be notable UNfavorites, such as the Revlon ColorStay Moisture Stain lip color, which started out feeling great, but ultimately caused my lips to flake off, and the T.V. series Stalker, which started out fun, but ended up proving to be a big disappointment.

Before we get too far into the New Year, I also wanted to share my 2015 New Year’s Resolutions with you, especially since one of them ties in nicely with these “Favorites” posts. I have two resolutions this year:

1). Get more sleep!! (7-8 hours/night)

2). Switch to cruelty-free skincare products, cosmetics, hair products and other personal care items as much as possible.

I plan to make every effort on that second one, but I’m looking sideways at my beloved Korean Epielle facial sheet masks and the Jergens Natural Glow gradual self-tanning lotion that keeps my legs from blinding my Body Combat class with their natural snowy whiteness.

I’ve been wanting to do this for years, but I’ve been too intimidated by the challenge, and too reluctant to spend money on expensive products. Things are different now, though, and I’m not anticipating any difficulties in finding great, budget-friendly, cruelty-free products. The time is right! Throughout the year, I’ll refer to this list on mybeautybunny.com, as it’s meticulously updated. For instance, if a brand starts to sell in China, a country that requires animal testing on products, a warning will pop up on the list.

As for that first resolution about sleep, I’ve already got a good start on that one, thanks to the stomach flu. I actually blame sleep deprivation for coming down with that bug in the first place. Callaghan gets more sleep than I do by several hours per night, and he did not get sick. Silver lining to the stomach flu: I have a fail-proof incentive to make sure I get enough sleep on a regular basis! Adequate sleep keeps the bad things away.

So, as I was starting to say before I veered off into resolutions, of all the things I’ve listed over the months of 2014, some stood out more than others. There were T.V. series and movies that left us speechless, foods I couldn’t get enough of, and products that were game-changers. Some of the things on this list didn’t even appear in the Monthly Favorites lists, so they’re appearing here for the first time.

That being said, onward with this sampling of some of my favorite little things from 2014. I’ll start with products, since they follow my cruelty-free resolution (see… I got a head start)!

 

1). Face: Alba Botanica Hawaiian 3-in-1 Clean Towelettes Deep Pore Purifying Pineapple Enzyme.

 

The facial cleansing wipes that changed my life: Alba Botanica's Hawaiian 3-in-1 clean towelettes.

The facial cleansing wipes that changed my life: Alba Botanica’s Hawaiian 3-in-1 clean towelettes.

 

This is advertised as a makeup remover-cleanser-toner product, but the refreshing, invigorating wipes quickly became my go-to facial cleansing product in harried times, and I’ve been re-purchasing them continuously. I don’t use them for removing makeup… I use them in lieu of actual cleansing on days (or nights) I don’t have time for the whole soap-and-water thing. Without fail, I use them on Saturday mornings before putting on sunscreen and heading to the gym. I jump in the shower as soon as I get home, and I don’t see the point in washing my face “for real” twice in a morning (I do put sunscreen on twice, though).

 

2). Cosmetic: Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion in Original.

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-urbandecayprimerpotion

My favorite eyeshadow primer by Urban Decay.

 

Urban Decay is one of the high-end cruelty-free brands. I don’t mind splurging on their eyeshadow primer potion, because each tube lasts forever, apparently, and it works so well. I’ve been using my current tube for almost a year; I finally picked up another one just because I figured it’s got to end any day now, and yet that was almost two months ago, and it hasn’t. It’s magic!

 

3). Fast food: Chipotle’s sofritas (tofu).

 

My go-to fast food nosh: Chipotle burrito bowl with Sofritas

My go-to fast food nosh: Chipotle burrito bowl with Sofritas

 

Chipotle’s black beans and brown rice were always a good enough reason for me to enjoy going there, but now they’ve completely won me over with the brilliant creation of their vegan sofritas dish. It’s basically a hearty, spicy, perfectly seasoned tofu chili. The omnivorous Callaghan loves it, too, because its texture is pretty much the same as ground beef. An omnivore would never take a bite of this and say, “I’m eating tofu.”

My standard Chipotle order is a burrito bowl with sofritas, brown rice, black beans, grilled onions and peppers, pico de gallo, hot sauce, lettuce and guacamole. I don’t mind paying extra for the guac. It’s one of my favorite things in the world, and I value the addition of the healthy fats!

 

4). Beverage: Sumatra ground coffee from Starbucks.

 

Ground Sumatra coffee beans from Starbucks.

Ground Sumatra coffee beans from Starbucks.

 

“Beverage.” I just love that word. Careful, man, there’s a beverage here! I’m just so pleased that we stumbled upon some really good coffee on the humble shelves of Target, I can’t even tell you. I don’t drink a lot of coffee every day, but I like the coffee I do drink to be solidly satisfying. Starbucks’ ground Sumatra kills it.

 

5). Protein bar: Clif (snack size) Builder’s bars.

 

Clif Builder's Chocolate Mint Snack Size protein bar

Clif Builder’s Chocolate Mint Snack Size protein bar

 

Clif Bar makes my favorite everyday treat. As far as protein bars go, the snack size bars aren’t terribly high in protein (10 grams – it’s a small bar), but they’re higher in protein than your average candy bar, certainly higher in protein than most treats with only 140 calories, they’re nutrient-dense, there’s nothing bad in them, and they are, for the most part, vegan. The peanut butter ones are my standard 10:00-10:30am snack at work. If I have one after dinner instead, I go for the chocolate mint.

 

6). Activity: Body Combat.

 

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An hour of someone guiding me through a kick-ass cardio workout in which I can practice almost every martial art I’ve ever studied? Yes, please! This is like cardio shadow-boxing at someone’s command (mostly bad music notwithstanding). All I have to do is show up. It’s fun, it’s an awesome workout, the instructors are fantastic, we’ve met some wonderful people there… it’s a no-brainer!

 

7). Big Thing: XXL WaveMaster heavy bag.

 

Thanks to the arrival of my XXL WaveMaster heavy bag (standing), our car no longer lives in our garage.

Thanks to the arrival of my XXL WaveMaster heavy bag (standing), our car no longer lives in our garage.

 

Practicing my form in Body Combat is one thing, but cardio shadow-boxing only whets the appetite for the next level. I did a drop-in kick-boxing class at a place with bags one day last year, and the surge of excitement as I made actual contact and worked with a partner had my head swimming with twinkly visions of heavy bags, target mitts and medicine balls ever since. Then Christmas rolled around and Callaghan’s gift arrived. Awesome!!

 

8). Small Thing: Travel cup from Starbucks.

 

Blinded by the shiny things. What can I say.

Blinded by the shiny things. What can I say.

 

Not one, but two Starbucks products on this list! What is happening?! I remember being tempted to travel back through the dusty spring desert to Blythe, California early in 2014 to get this travel cup where I first spotted it, but then hitting numerous Starbucks stores around the Valley, instead, until I found it here. I’m so glad I did. I’ve become kind of embarrassingly attached to it. I carry it with me practically everywhere at work, and it starts a lot of conversations with various aspects of its design. I love it just because it’s awesome, though.

 

9). T.V.: The Killing, Homeland and The Good Wife

 

thatasianlookingchick.cm-the-killing-season-4-poster

 

HOMELAND (Season 4)

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-thegoodwife

 

Here we have a murder mystery/crime drama, a spy drama, and a legal drama. All of our cliffhanger needs were met in 2014. Figuratively speaking, our nails were bitten to the quick during these shows (especially during Homeland last fall, holy smokes)!!

Honestly, we saw so much good T.V. in 2014, I had a hard time narrowing it down. We loved House of Cards, The Following, True Detective, Hannibal and Mad Men. For comedies, we love Modern Family and Bob’s Burgers. Our token fluff comedy is Hart of Dixie. Gotta have the fluff!

 

10). Film: Edge of Tomorrow, Nightcrawler and The Babadook

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-EdgeofTomorrow

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-nightcrawlermovie

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-thebabadook

 

I love action, intrigue and terror, and between these three movies, 2014 delivered big time with this excellent trio of releases. That reminds me – American Sniper was released yesterday!!

That about wraps up this list – I’m looking forward to the fantabulous little things of 2015; in the coming year, expect to find mentions of books, articles and music (along with lots of cruelty-free products)!

Happy Friday, All. =)

My Super Bowl Curse.

This is not the post I’d planned. This was supposed to be my 2014 Favorites post, but it turns out it takes energy and strength to put such lists together, neither of which I’ve had at all for the last two days… so instead, I’ll tell you the weird little story behind that.

19 years ago, in 1996, the Super Bowl was hosted here in the Valley. All of Phoenix metro prepared for the arrival of the Dallas Cowboys and the Pittsburgh Steelers, who were set to play in Arizona State University’s Sun Devil Stadium, and the requisite chaos ensued. Super Bowl fever is a thing in and of itself, so you can imagine that Super Bowl fever in the hosting city is madness. Sun Devil Stadium holds almost 70,000 people, and ticketholders flooded into the Valley from elsewhere to fill it up for the annual championship football game. Exciting times, right?

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-SuperbowlXXX1996

 

I was a senior at Arizona State, carrying a full course load and working 20 hours a week in the foreign languages department, so I pretty much lived on campus.

At some point during that last week of January, I started to feel sick with nausea that ebbed in and out for days, getting progressively worse. I visited the student health clinic on campus twice. They said I had an ear infection, though I had no pain in my ear, and they sent me off with stuff for the nausea. Finally, I woke up one morning and headed to my 17th-century British literature professor’s office for his early office hours. Our class was scheduled to take an exam that day, but I knew I wasn’t going to make it. I went to his office, told him I was sick, and asked if I could take the exam early. (I still remember the expression of trepidation-bordering-on-disgust on his face as he regarded my sick ass sitting there in his office for an hour!)

I finished the exam, went to the language lab, told them I was sick and wouldn’t be able to work my hours that day, and left. Soon after I got home, all of proverbial hell broke loose.

I’ll spare you the graphic detail and skip ahead to the part where my friend came to my apartment almost six hours later to take me to the Emergency Room. When we arrived, the triage nurse took my vitals and said, “I don’t understand how you can still be conscious” before installing me in a bed. Wow! How to avoid waiting for hours to be seen in the ER: arrive severely dehydrated!

Bits of the night surfaced and wavered before me between periods of oblivion. At some point, my boyfriend arrived. I remember him watching me and remarking, “When you do get sick, you REALLY get sick.”

Truly, I had never been so sick with infectious disease. I had an I.V. drip for hydration, another with anti-nausea meds, a third one with a painkiller (for the lower back pain resulting from dehydration) and a catheter. The situation was described to me as my stomach was drawing the water out of my muscles and that’s what I was throwing up, which was a ghastly notion, but I was more intrigued by something I overheard as I drifted in and out of consciousness. A doctor and a nurse were standing over me, talking, unaware that I could hear them. One of them said, “Yep. This is how they all end up.” This is how they all end up. The words sounded sinister. I found out later that they’d been talking about what the medical community was calling “the Super Bowl flu,” an epidemiological phenomenon. When thousands of people visit an area at the same time – as in Super Bowl week – the local germ pool gets infiltrated with foreign germs to which the locals have no immunity, and the locals get sick. Phoenix residents were getting clobbered by this vicious stomach virus, with many of us landing in the ER. I was a Super Bowl statistic.

Toward noon the next day, the crisis was over. I was feeling slightly better from all the treatment, and I wanted to go home. “You’re not going anywhere until you pee,” said the matter-of-fact nurse in her matter-of-fact nurse way. “We need to see you pee!” But I couldn’t. They kept me there until I could, and then it took a whole week of bed rest at home to completely recover.

That was in 1996, and that was the last time I had the stomach flu… until two days ago, when my blissfully long run of avoiding the dreaded throwing-up virus came to an end. Again, I’ll spare you the details, but suffice it to say that it flattened me pretty good. Yesterday morning, I wanted to work on my 2014 Favorites post for today. I was sitting on the couch with my laptop next to me, and I literally did not have the strength to pick it up and set it on my lap. Flattened.

Out of curiosity, I stepped on the scale this morning. I don’t often weigh myself, but I know the general weight that I maintain, and by my estimation, the scale showed nearly six pounds less. I either lost over five pounds in the last two days, or I’d started out weighing less than I’d thought I did. I wouldn’t be surprised if I did weigh what I thought I did and lost almost six pounds, though, considering the efficiency with which my body evacuated itself of everything I’d consumed in the last week.

Why is this all of this significant, you might ask? Well, THE SUPER BOWL IS COMING BACK TO PHOENIX THIS MONTH. Coincidence? I think not. I think the next time the Super Bowl comes to the Valley, I should lay in a stash of supplies and barricade myself inside the house for the entire month of January.

I’m feeling better now. I’ve been sleeping a lot. Though plenty dramatic, this time was not as severe as last time. My temperature is back to normal, my headache is mostly gone, my lower back pain is subsiding and I’m recovering some energy, but I’m still weak. I’m taking today to start eating again and regain some strength so I can return to work tomorrow.

Also, my gym bag is packed for Body Combat tomorrow night. Yesterday, I was so lacking in energy I thought for sure I’d miss Wednesday’s class, too, but now I’m jumping out of my skin because I missed last night!

Long-Overdue Yoga Fix Ahead!

Since we’re still on Christmas break at my work, I’m seizing the opportunity to do something I’ve been wanting to do for a while. My schedule is pretty well packed during normal life hours, so this is what’s happening this non-normal morning: I’m going to spend 90 minutes twisting my non-flexible self into the various poses prescribed by Bikram, I’m assuming, in a room designed to accommodate the activity (heated to a high enough degree to assist your body with said positions).

This will be my first yoga class in almost 10 years, and I’m looking forward to it. I have a brand-new yoga mat that I purchased last year with earnest intentions, but have yet to use. The day has arrived!

I’m pretty sure my body’s going to hate me within 24 hours of this Bikram yoga class, and it will probably start plotting its revenge faster than you can say “shavasana.” I’m expecting it, hence my plan to pick up some Epsom salts on my way home. I already have the essential oils I’m going to add to the hot bath I’ll take tonight. I just want to be able to give 100% in Body Combat class tomorrow morning, and being able to walk without soreness would help with that. I’m counting on this yoga class to make me feel muscles I’d forgotten I had. Bring it.

Although… here’s a little secret… in the past, I’ve powered through Body Combat class while in pain. I’ve literally hobbled through the parking lot thinking what the hell am I doing, then getting to class and forgetting all about it, feeling nothing but the awesomeness. The secret is adrenaline. Adrenaline is what drives me through Body Combat because mentally I flip into training mode, which my brain is hard-wired to link to my “fight or flight” response. This is the up-side of PTSD. It’s a great natural painkiller. (Yes, I know Body Combat is a cardio class, but as far as I’m concerned, if I’m kicking and throwing punches, I’m training… so I know I’ll be able to get through the class tomorrow, regardless.)

I’m still picking up Epsom salts for a hot bath later. My muscles, tendons and ligaments will deserve it! Plus, I’ll enjoy it. Yeah. I don’t need an excuse!

10 years is a long time, though; I feel like I might as well have never done yoga at all. I remember that my first yoga class ever was at Arizona Combat Sports back in 2002… there was an advanced student there on the Brazilian Ju-Jitsu side who was also an advanced yoga practitioner and instructor. They added a Saturday morning yoga class to the schedule with him teaching it, so I figured I’d try it for a few sessions. I thought it balanced out my Muay Thai training well, so I was inspired to try yoga at other places. I enjoyed it, though I never felt like a “natural” in any yoga studio. For one thing, as I said, I’ve never been particularly flexible.

Random: My favorite long-term effect from yoga is my affection for Deva Premal, who sings Hindu and Buddhist chants so beautifully. It was only because of yoga that I discovered her.

Okay, I’m off to get ready for this yoga class… Happy Friday, All! =)

 

Kitties with their Christmas stocking stuffers! They do yoga every day.

Kitties with their Christmas stocking stuffers! They do yoga every day.

 

Calf Encounters of the Third Kind.

Wednesday night after Body Combat class, I met Callaghan out on the floor, as per usual. [Side note: have I mentioned that I’m doing Body Combat class three times a week now, since our gym changed its group fitness schedule and replaced Wednesday night Boot Camp with another Body Combat? I love the extra Body Combat, of course, and the instructor is excellent, but “Find another way to get someone to kick my ass with a varied workout combining strength-training, compound exercises, plyometrics and cardio on a weekly basis during a day/time slot that works with my existing schedule” has since been a lingering, problematic item on my “To Do” list. I had relied completely on that weekly Boot Camp class for strength training, and one thing I’d especially appreciated was that the class was different every time. No two Boot Camp classes were the same, so your body never knew what was coming, and therefore, it couldn’t plateau. Plus, that instructor was excellent, as well.]

[Additional side note: Word did not recognize the word “plyometrics” when I keyed it in just now. This, I believe, points to a deplorable deficit in our system somewhere. I mean, what does it say about us as a society when Word doesn’t recognize “plyometrics,” other than the obvious conclusion that the people who develop that software must not work out?]

[Another additional side note: due to a recurring rib injury I was nursing at the time, I wasn’t even able to attend the last two Boot Camp classes, so I didn’t know it was going away until it was gone. I was still attending Body Combat because there I could power through the pain to the best of my ability and simply avoid the weight-bearing (push-ups) part at the end, but there was no point in attempting Boot Camp class at all with that injury.]

Anyway, so I met up with Callaghan – he lifts weights while I’m in class on Wednesday evenings – and as we walked out through the parking lot, he suddenly remembered he had something to tell me.

“Oh I talked to John tonight!” he blurted.

“John? John who?” I was thinking, John? Jean? Who is he talking about?

“JOHN, the Beautiful Calves Man,” he answered, leaving a silent “duh!” hanging at the end.

“Oh.”

“He told me that he’s a massage therapist,” he informed me.

“So are you going to get a massage from him?”

“Oh yes,” he said. “Actually, I’m going to ask him if I can massage his calves.”

We laughed at his joke. But I had to follow up.

“To see if they’re real?”

“I’m sure they’re real,” he replied. “Why would he put so much work into his body and then get fake calves?”

I went online last night in search of a video about calf implants, figuring I should educate myself. This was the first one I found:

 

 

So clearly, there’s a niche of jokes about calf implants out there. In a weird way, though, the video gives me additional impetus to find time for another gym session each week. I’ll have to give this challenge some serious consideration.

Meanwhile, Happy Friday!

Sometimes, when one door closes, another one opens – with a hard right hand.

Body Combat class was cancelled at the gym last Saturday because of the holiday. Reluctant to miss a workout, I thought, what better time to find a heavy-bag somewhere? It had been so long!

I jumped online and honed in on a Saturday cardio kickboxing class at a boxing gym near our apartment. Going as a walk-in, I could avoid missing a workout and get in a heavy-bag bonus while I was at it. Their web site said to bring your own hand-wraps, so I knew I’d be punching something.

The rental fee for an hour with the heavy-bag walk-in cost for the class was only ten bucks. I was excited. It’d been about six years since I’d touched a heavy-bag, and just as long since I’d taken part in any kind of martial/fighting arts training (Capoeira and Kali were the last. Boxing, Muay Thai, Tae Kwon Do and T’ai Chi – many people don’t realize it, but T’ai Chi is actually a deadly form of martial arts – seemed ages ago). The last time I’d climbed into the ring to spar was maybe 2008. My six years away from combat sports felt more like six cat years… that would be 40 human years, which is about how long it felt!

The class was fun, and I did get to work the heavy-bag. I had my old hand-wraps that I’d dug out of storage the previous week, and I borrowed some gloves from the gym. During the hour-long workout, we did cardio kickboxing drills (including punching with weights, which I’d never done before, so that was interesting, and throwing kicks), push-ups, bag-work, partner-work and abs.  It felt great. I felt great.

Until two days later, when I found myself gobbling four extra-strength Advil as we ran out the door to Monday evening Body Combat. Everything hurt. The boxing gym workout had settled into my muscles, and I literally felt it from my neck down. Trapezius muscles? RIGHT, those exist! And to quote Doc Holliday in Tombstone, “Oh. Johnny Anterior Delts, I apologize; I forgot you were there.” Pecs. LATS! Triceps. Abs. QUADS… I felt the intense soreness in my upper legs just walking.

It didn’t help that I’d forgotten to eat something beforehand, either. In addition to the post-workout soreness, my energy stores felt depleted in class that night. But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t love feeling that kind of pain again, and I still had a great workout!

When we started Body Combat on Saturday, March 29, Callaghan was looking for general fitness benefits, and I was looking to re-gain my skills and get back into shape after being ridiculously sedentary for over three years (NEVER AGAIN). Three and a half months later, I’m feeling immensely better, but I still have a long way to go. There’s the two Body Combat classes and a boot camp class each week, and sometimes I go an extra day to walk on the treadmill. I feel like I should be doing more.

On Wednesday, it happened again… we had tickets to see Def Leppard and Kiss, which meant ditching boot camp class. We made it up last night by doing a Body Attack class at a different gym location. I’d never heard of Body Attack (like Body Combat, it’s a Les Mills International class). It was a pretty good workout!

Here’s a picture of Callaghan and me at the concert on Wednesday night:

 

None of our pictures of us came out at the concert, but here's this, for what it's worth...

None of our pictures of us came out at the concert, but here’s this, for what it’s worth…

 

Happy Friday, All!

What I’m Digging Right Now – June Favorites

June outdid all previous months with its disappearing act. Where did it go? On Friday morning, I said to Callaghan, “Oh, wait… TUESDAY is July 1st? Didn’t I just do my May Favorites post, like, very recently?”

Several exciting things came to pass in June, but the point of my Monthly Favorites posts is to highlight the little, tangible things that helped to elevate the month. I’m starting with entertainment this time because I have a bit of raving to do with this first thing…

 

1). Edge of Tomorrow (film)

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-EdgeofTomorrow

 

Let the appearance of this film in my June Favorites post stand as evidence that I don’t hate Tom Cruise just because he hijacked Reacher. (Hijacked Reacher, get it? Haha!) I’m always up for an insane, high-octane sci-fi thriller, and if Cruise is in it, that’s fine with me. We went to see Edge of Tomorrow Saturday evening. The last time I enjoyed a sci-fi action flick that much was Pacific Rim, and I enjoyed this one even more. Edge of Tomorrow is marvelous storytelling and explosive escapism to the nth degree. The Christopher McQuarrie/Tom Cruise team nailed it with this one!

May I just say that movies like this make me wonder why Reacher? Cruise doesn’t need to be Reacher! Let someone who is Reacher be Reacher, and Cruise can keep doing roles like this one in Edge of Tomorrow, because honestly, I can’t think of anyone who could have done it better. He brought his charisma and unique brand of flair to the role, yet we never once found ourselves thinking this is just Tom Cruise being Tom Cruise. In Edge of Tomorrow, Cruise doesn’t simply own his character. He locks it up and throws away the key. That’s a rare thing in an action flick, in my opinion.

I loved Emily Blunt in her role, too, make no mistake… and the story, writing, direction, editing, cinematography and CGI, all amazing. Yes, I would see it again, and maybe even again after that. I enjoyed it that much. The poster slogan reads, “Live… Die… Repeat.” It should be “Watch… Rave… Repeat.”

 

2). Modern Family (T.V. series)

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-ModernFamily

 

We fired up season one of this comedy series because of Sofia Vergara, who captured our attention in May in the film Chef. Hilarious! It brings the LOLs in an off-beat Arrested Development kind of way, and it hooked us instantly. We’re in the middle of season four now. Once we’re caught up, we can get our lives back catch up on some movies.

Moving on to skin care and cosmetics….

 

3). Physician’s Formula Mineral Wear Talc-Free Mineral Oh So Radiant! Powder in Translucent.

 

Physician's Formula does it again! Radiant powder is radiant.

Physician’s Formula does it again! Radiant powder is radiant.

 

What a name for a simple face powder, but radiant, indeed! I wanted to add more of a glow to my skin, and this brightening powder by Physician’s Formula delivers. This is my new setting powder and highlighter in one, and I think it’s going to be a long-time favorite.

 

Kind of a weird picture, but see the slight glow on my cheekbone? That's this powder by Physician's Formula.

Kind of a weird picture, but see the slight glow on my cheekbone? That’s this powder by Physician’s Formula.

 

I’ll say it again: I love that Physician’s Formula products are cruelty-free (not tested on animals). Not all the products I use are, but at least I’m conscious of the matter, right?

 

4). Maybelline Eye Studio Color Tattoo 24HR Cream Gel Shadow Eye Makeup in Tough as Taupe 35.

 

Tough as Taupe Color Tattoo by Maybelline over Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion.

Tough as Taupe Color Tattoo by Maybelline over Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion.

 

Another unwieldy name, and this product apparently suffers an identity crisis, as well. Is it a cream? Is it a gel? Could they not make up their minds, so they dubbed it both a cream and a gel? Whatever. This richly pigmented, creamy eye shadow formula wears beautifully, and the “Tough as Taupe” shade is gorgeous.

I mean, in the pot, the color sort of reminds me of wet cement, but it applies as a perfect, soft taupe with just the faintest tinge of a lilac undertone… it’s a lovely, muted, silky gray-beige-lilac, like a smooth old stone. Depending on how much you build up the color, it’s an all-purpose neutral on the medium-dark end of the neutral shade spectrum, a shade that would be flattering on anyone. I apply it with my fingertip over a base of Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion (cruelty-free!), and it lasts all day… and by “all day,” I mean from 7:00am-11pm.

 

5). Alba Botanica Hawaiian 3-in-1 Clean Towelettes (Deep Pore Purifying Pineapple Enzyme).

 

Another time-saver! Refreshing towelettes that clean well and smell great.

Another time-saver! Refreshing towelettes that clean well and smell great.

 

(Alba Botanica = cruelty-free!)

This has become my go-to Saturday morning cleanser, because on Saturday mornings, we basically sleep in as late as possible, roll out of bed, fuel up with coffee, inhale some breakfast and run out the door just in time for our 10:00am Body Combat class at the gym. I shower afterward. So, instead of doing my usual morning cleansing and skincare routine, I sweep one of these cleansing towelettes over my face, put on sunscreen and apply a little concealer, Revlon Nearly Naked powder (I don’t bother with the glowy face powder when I’m planning to be drenched in sweat an hour later) and my usual lip-color… just enough to make me feel dressed.

Callaghan loves using these cleansing towelettes, too. They’re refreshing, they leave you feeling super clean, and they smell great. Pineapples. Who doesn’t want to smell like pineapples at the gym on a Saturday morning?

This brings us to the food things on this list!

 

6). Nature’s Path Organic Optimum Power Blueberry Cinnamon Flax cereal.

 

My favorite power cereals have always been by Nature's Path.

My favorite power cereals have always been by Nature’s Path.

 

I guess the theme for this Favorites post is “Little Things with Long Convoluted Names.”

Anyway, this is my new favorite cereal. I like to sprinkle on a little cinnamon to boost the healthy cinnamon factor, and I add fresh blueberries and almond milk. It’s crunchy and satisfying, and it keeps me full all morning!

 

7). Pears.

 

Organic pears from Argentina are everywhere right now, and they're so incredibly good.

Organic pears from Argentina are everywhere right now, and they’re so incredibly good.

 

PEARS! Simple. Just pears. But… organic pears. Organic pears from Argentina. Okay, now I’m making pears complicated when they don’t have to be, but they are organic, and they are from Argentina, and these organic pears from Argentina are abundant in all the stores now, and they’re amazingly juicy, sweet and flavorful. They’ve been a staple in our refrigerator for a month. So let’s complicate things even more and make that chilled organic pears from Argentina. Anyway, delicious, is what they are… in a word!

 

8). Justin’s Organic Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups.

 

Yes, there are three packs here. I ate one right after I took this picture. Then the next day, I ate another, and the next day...

Yes, there are three packs here. I ate one right after I took this picture. Then the next day, I ate another, and the next day…

 

THESE THINGS. These things are fantabulous, and I ate way too many of them in June. I ate so many, in fact, that I had to stage my own intervention, asking Callaghan to not let me go near them in the store for at least a few weeks. I’m currently in rehab for addiction to Justin’s Organic Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups. “But they’re healthy!” is only relevant to a point. Overindulgence is overindulgence.

Rounding out the list, here are two random things that made me smile extra in June…

 

9). Cork phone case.

 

 

Cork phone case by GAIAM. The design is called "Marrakesh."

Cork phone case by GAIAM. The design is called “Marrakesh.”

 

This unusual phone case caught my eye as I wandered the aisles of Office Max one day. I’d been looking for a more protective phone case (the one I’d been using was hard plastic, and I have a tendency to drop my phone), so when this one lured me in with its lovely mandala-like design, I was ready with my justification.

And I did, in fact, drop my phone after I got this case, and the cork did, in fact, insulate the phone on landing! Cork phone cases… recommend.

 

10). Hummingbird feeder.

I got a hummingbird feeder for Callaghan when he told me that hummingbirds don’t exist in France. You could have knocked me over with a feather when he told me that. (Har, har… couldn’t resist. Sorry.) We brought the feeder home and he mixed the sugar water, filled the bottle and hung it up on an existing nail near the edge of our balcony awning, and presto! We now have a small contingent of hummingbirds who perch and circulate near the feeder, and the pleasurable occasion to sit by the living room window to watch them, especially in the early mornings. We often see the littlest hummingbird hanging out on “his” branch outside our balcony. We call him “Nectar,” and he is beyond adorable, I’m telling you.

 

Nectar, our favorite little hummingbird! Callaghan took this photo from our living-room.

Nectar, our favorite little hummingbird! Callaghan took this photo from our living-room.

 

That’s it for June, Friends! July lies before us, and I’m excited because it’s going to be a month of solid back-in-the-day metal madness… we’re going to see Def Leppard, Kiss, Faster Pussycat (shout-out to Tara!), Alice Cooper and Motley Crue. Some friends from France are coming through town for a few days, too; all of that’s going to happen within a two-week period. Fun times ahead!

Oh, side note (literally): I added these “Monthly Favorites” posts to my sidebar as a category, so if you’d like to go back and see them all in one place, there you go. =)

1:30AM Post. File under “I’m Even a Bigger Dork than I’d Thought.”

Hi. You must be here because you wish to read about last week’s Fiasco of the Week, because you know there was one.

This one involved a stench hovering like a putrid cloud near the corner of our bedroom, near my side of the bed. I noticed it as I was falling asleep one night early in the week. It was a distinctively organic smell, so I just assumed that either Ronnie James or Nounours had had an accident or sprayed, neither of which they’d ever done (since we’ve had them, anyway), but it wouldn’t have been surprising; their demeanors had been somewhat off-kilter due to recent, albeit temporary, changes in their routine. You know how cats are about their routines.

We sniffed all around the corner of the bed, trying to identify the odor’s exact location and source – up near my pillow, where it seemed to be the strongest. We stripped the bed of its sheets, mattress cover, pillow cases, bedspread… and threw the whole shebang in the wash. We cleaned the bed’s headboard and side planks. We pulled the bed away from the wall and sprayed pet odor neutralizing carpet cleaner on the carpet, though there was no stain to be seen. Just to be sure, we scrubbed the pristine brick wall behind the bed with soap and warm water, and then went over it again with a “green” all-purpose cleaner.

The smell didn’t go away. In fact, over the next few days, it worsened.

We weren’t angry with Nounours and The Wrah-Wrah, because we understand How Kitties Are. But by Wednesday evening, I became convinced that the kitties weren’t the culprits, after all. The odor seemed to be coming from something that had died. It had that sweet/sharp cloying dead smell. We performed another exhaustive search and found nothing.

On Thursday night, I stood near the bed, utterly perplexed. We’d done absolutely everything, but the odor was stronger than ever! I couldn’t bear the idea of sleeping with my nose in the ghastly fumes another night. There was only one thing left to do. It was drastic, but it had to be done. Obviously, the odor was either coming from the carpet or the wall, and it was being very stubborn. I would have to outsmart it. I would have to move the bed to the opposite wall.

Moving the bed entailed the rearrangement of pretty much all the furniture in the room, which I did by myself, because Callaghan and Chantal had gone out to Rawhide and elsewhere.

Honestly, though, I enjoyed the chance to get more exercise into my day. Because our queen-size bed is a sleigh bed, it’s heavy and ungainly, and I had to get all the other furniture out of the way before I could re-position it. I moved out the chest of drawers, the two night-tables, the long under-the-window table (aka the kitty window seat), my desk and chair, the corner shelving thing (no idea what it’s called), the vanity-less vanity stool (the vanity itself is outside on the balcony, having been re-purposed as a table for plants) and the clothes hamper. I shoved it all into the hallway, the bathroom, Callaghan’s studio and the main room, along with the objects that had been on the floor and on the furniture surfaces. Then I worked on moving the bed, which had to be turned around 180 degrees. I did some dragging and pulling, but I mostly sat on the floor, planted my feet on the bed and used it as a leg press. Great work-out! Once the bed was situated in its new spot, I could move all the furniture and stuff back in.

In the end, I’d basically flipped the room around, putting the bed and one of the night-tables against the wall opposite from where they used to be, and the chest of drawers, my desk and chair, the other night-table (there’s no room for a table on both sides of the bed now that the bed is against the wall with the door) and the vanity stool on the long wall where the bed had been. I returned the long, low table to its spot under the window, so the kitties could keep their window seat… it’s a tight squeeze getting around that side of the bed, but it works. I folded the corner shelving thing, leaning it up against the wall, since there’s no longer an available corner for it.

I stood back in the doorway to examine the new configuration, and I liked it. The room still looked good, and the mysterious awful odor would no longer be next to my head at night. Plus, I’d gotten an amazing impromptu work-out while I was at it. I’d worked quickly for a full hour, taking no breaks, pushing, pulling and carrying furniture, removing the heavy drawers from the dresser and hauling them out and back in, holding each one high up in front of me to get around stuff piled up in the hallway. I’d maneuvered the cumbersome queen-size sleigh bed around to the opposite wall, and moved everything else back in. I’d vacuumed along the way, working up a sweat and getting my heart-rate up (great cardio-respiratory work-out in addition to strength-training)!

I must admit, it was gratifying to discover the extent of the progress I’d made in regaining my strength and endurance since dedicating myself at the gym in Body Combat and Boot Camp classes (and the occasional hour on the treadmill) over the last few months. I was happy to feel more like my old self again while making strenuous physical effort. My fitness levels are getting back up to where they were before I moved to France – check! The bed was no longer against the wall with the horrid odor – check!

I felt quite satisfied and pleased with myself.

I went into the kitchen to wash my hands before going around the apartment to collect the random objects that belonged in the bedroom, and… the dead smell was in the kitchen. It hadn’t been there before.

It hit me the second I got there. I stood still and inhaled the offensive odor as my disbelieving eyes followed it to the counter by the sink. The flowers that Callaghan had given me 10 days ago were sitting there where I’d placed them before moving the bedroom furniture.

The dead flowers. The flowers that I’d set on my night-table back when they were fresh… the night-table next to my side of the bed. The flowers had expired, and they reeked. I cautiously bent my head to smell them. The dead flesh odor was unmistakable. There was no doubt about it. I’d found the source.

I couldn’t believe it. All along, the offending odor had come from a vase of dead flowers!

All I had to do was remove the flowers.

But I do like the new room arrangement, and so does Callaghan (who is still laughing at me for this, by the way). I’m enjoying my new office corner even more than my previous one, as well.

 

My new office corner in the bedroom!

My new office corner in the bedroom!

 

 

And I got in a great work-out.

And the room is more in keeping with good feng shui principles now that our feet aren’t facing the open doorway while we’re lying in bed.

And in the end, I did manage to get rid of the odor.

And I learned to be more mindful of flowers that have died and require disposal!

 

I put the noxious flowers out on the balcony so I could present my discovery to Callaghan when he got home. As Johnny Ringo (Tombstone) would remark in perfectly bad taste, "Smells like someone died."

I put the noxious flowers out on the balcony so I could present my discovery to Callaghan when he got home. As Johnny Ringo (Tombstone) would remark in perfectly bad taste, “Smells like someone died.”

 

They were lovely when they were alive, though.

What I’m Digging Right Now – March Favorites

It’s the first day of April! It’s time to show you some of the things I loved last month. There was an abundance of “little things” treasures in March, but I chose nine for this list.

Without further ado:

(ahem)

1). A new phone, which means a new camera… and it’s an Android, which means Instagram. Yes! I’d thought I’d forever avoid Instagram, but I actually really dig it now that I have it. I haven’t been that active on it yet, but I will be.

 

Thing 1: That picture in the middle of my Instagram collage is Callaghan's portrait of my parents, and it's my favorite work of his. Thing 2: Yes, I took this photo at 11:00PM, and yes, it's 82 degrees outside.

Thing 1: That picture in the middle of my Instagram collage is Callaghan’s portrait of my parents, and it’s my favorite work of his. Thing 2: Yes, I took this photo at 11:00PM, and yes, it’s 82 degrees outside.

 

The reason for the new phone was the fact that my camera died at the end of February. I needed a camera, and Callaghan and I both needed phones, and Verizon was offering a Buy One Get One Free deal on Samsung Galaxy S4s, and I had additional perks due to my “loyalty status” from my former years with Verizon… so it just made sense. Now I have a camera. It’s good enough for what I like to do with a camera, which is point and click.

 

2). Flowering cactuses!

 

Complete with a Southwest Airlines plane in the background, equally colorful. In fact, they match! haha

Complete with a Southwest Airlines plane in the background, equally colorful. In fact, they match! haha

 

Here are some of the emerging blooms closer to the ground.

Here are some of the emerging blooms closer to the ground.

 

IT HAS BEGUN. Between now and mid-June, the desert flora will display its myriad of flowers – the different species bloom at different times. Many pictures will be taken. How I’ve missed spring here! Our two visitors from France (one is coming in April, the other in May) are in for a treat.

 

3). New glasses.

 

New glasses. Not BCGs.

New glasses. Not BCGs.

 

These are not the ones I got from the V.A. in Austin. Those turned out to be a disaster in every way, starting with an inaccurate prescription and ending with that wrong prescription being put in the wrong frames that didn’t fit. Long story short, I couldn’t wear them. This is why mall optometrists exist. I walked in, made my appointment for the next day, went back for the appointment, and walked out with this new pair of glasses that seem to be perfect. Instant gratification glasses! I mostly just wear them for driving and watching T.V. and movies.

 

4). Body Combat class at the gym.

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-FavThingsMAR2014-BodyCombat

 

Over the last few months, I’ve had to face the fact that I’m just not as self-motivated at the gym as I used to be. Add to this the fact that when I join a group training situation that carries even the slightest semblance to martial/fighting arts, I feel as at-home as a bat in a cave… my so-called muscle memory knows what to do, and how to do it… and voilà! Body Combat is an ideal group fitness class for me. The instructor’s mission in life for that hour is to kick our butts. I don’t have to do anything but show up and follow along.

The Body Combat classes incorporate techniques from boxing, Muay Thai, capoeria, karate and MMA, all of which my muscles know and enjoy, even though they haven’t trained in years. The fast-paced classes focus on cardio rather than on form, but I’m loathe to execute the moves sloppily, so I end up getting a fantastic workout as I concentrate on form while trying to keep up (to the extent that my out-of-shape self can safely do. I’m careful to not exceed my limitations). We leave the class completely elated, worn out and drenched in sweat. I love it so much I can’t even tell you.

 

5). True Detective, season one (T.V.)

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-FavThingsMAR2014-TrueDetective

 

Simply stated, this new series right here rather blew our minds. That is all.

 

6). Hannibal, season two (T.V.)

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-FavThingsMAR2014-HannibalS2

 

As The Following continues to hold our eager attention, we’ve added Hannibal to our current series line-up, as the second season began on the last day of February – meaning, we picked it up at the beginning of March. It’s just as darkly sick and warped and luscious and richly textured as season one. What is this fascination with serial killers? Hannibal is so beautifully done. It’s mesmerizing.

 

7). Stila Smudge Stick Waterproof eyeliner in Stingray.

 

Stila smudge stick waterproof eyeliner in Stingray

Stila smudge stick waterproof eyeliner in Stingray

 

Finally, I’ve found a retractable black eyeliner pencil capable of drawing a line that stays where you put it! I’d thought I’d also be able to appreciate it for its status as a cruelty-free product, but when I got home and got online, I found that Stila Cosmetics has been struck from the list of cruelty-free cosmetic companies. The reason? “3rd party animal testing.” *sighs*

 

8). Tourni, our new sunflower.

 

Here's Tourni! It's hard to see him in this picture. He's the slender, yellowish stalk with two little leaves on top, rising up from the center of the pot.

Here’s Tourni! It’s hard to see him in this picture. He’s the slender, yellowish stalk with two little leaves on top, rising up from the center of the pot.

 

I met a new friend for lunch one day in March, and she surprised me with a thin, pale greenish-yellow stalk from her garden. Loosely wrapped, it appeared to be quite frail. She told me that it was a sunflower. Un Tournesol, I thought immediately. His name is Tourni! “Tournesol” is French for sunflower.

I left the restaurant with little Tourni hanging limply over the side of a plastic water cup, his vestige of a root-ball submerged in two or three inches of water. I pondered what to do with him. He looked so fragile. Our balcony is completely shaded; we have no real direct sunlight in which to grow a sunflower.

By the end of the day, Tourni was looking pretty lifeless and pathetic. Unsure of what to do, I left him in the drink holder in our truck for the night while I figured it out.

At the end of the next day, we went to retrieve Tourni from the truck, and I couldn’t believe what I saw. The scant amount of dirt in the cup had absorbed all of the water, and there was little Tourni, upright, happy and spry! He looked like a completely different plant.

 

Alive and proud! I should have taken a "before" picture!

Alive and proud! I should have taken a “before” picture!

 

We brought him in and put him in a pot with some potting soil, both of which we happened to have on hand. He loves the close heat of the truck, so we set him in there during the day. At night, we bring him up to sit on our balcony with the other plants in our growing (ha!) collection.

 

9). Oil-pulling

 

Unrefined, organic coconut oil - the remaining two jars of the three my parents sent home with us at the beginning of March.

Unrefined, organic coconut oil – the remaining two jars of the three my parents sent home with us at the beginning of March.

 

At some point over the winter, an enormous can of unrefined, organic coconut oil appeared in Mom and Dad’s kitchen in California. Dad stirs a teaspoon of it into his coffee every morning. I noticed it when we were there at the beginning of March, and I was intrigued… I’d been reading about the Ayurvedic practice of oil-pulling, and contemplating starting it.

The morning we left, Mom and Dad generously tucked three jars of the oil into our luggage. Dad started oil-pulling that morning, Callaghan started that night after we got back to Arizona, and I started the following morning.

It’s now been three weeks, and so far, I’ve noticed the following two effects: 1). I haven’t had a problem with insomnia since, and 2). my teeth, while never horribly discolored, are indeed much whiter now; many people who do this practice report whiter teeth as a result.

The whiter teeth thing is great, but the sleeping thing? Incredible!

Maybe it’s just a coincidence, but what an odd coincidence it is. From Day One of swishing coconut oil around in my mouth for twenty minutes as a part of my morning routine, I’ve been able to drop off to sleep effortlessly. This is unheard of, and it’s been consistent. The only thing I’ve been doing differently is the oil-pulling, so I’m thinking there’s a reasonable chance that there’s a connection.

Whatever the case, I’m going to keep doing it. It’s relaxing, and the whiter teeth are definitely a bonus!

On Callaghan’s part, he says that the quality of his sleep has improved greatly, and his teeth are definitely whiter now.

Okay… that’s it for March favorites! Here’s to spring. =)