Back in the gym! (Autoimmune B.S. notwithstanding.)

Today, I feel the need to report that I went to the gym this morning. It felt momentous and amazing, even though I haven’t missed that much… I just missed last week Thursday and this week’s Tuesday and Wednesday. Today felt momentous even though I did what I could in the garage last week, and even though I did make it to the gym on Saturday. There are lulls in the doldrums of agony, and you can bet I’m racing to the gym when they occur!

It just felt like a long time. The thing is, as I was realizing this morning while talking to my BodyPump instructor, I have a lot of physical energy, so I feel like I’m literally jumping out of my skin when I’m grounded by stress-induced autoimmune flares such as the one I’ve been dealing with lately. My body is full of energy at the same time that it’s grounding me with joint pain. It’s like a librarian surrounding me with all the books I want to read, then setting a ring of fire between me and them so I can’t get to them. That would be a sadistic librarian. Autoimmunity makes for a sadistic body.

Maybe I’ll post more in-depth about my current autoimmune situation in a future blog post. Right now, I’m enjoying this almost-100% feeling. Things aren’t completely settled down yet; I have more appointments lined up, and lab-work pending review. I’m taking each day as it comes, doing what I can, when I can. I have a lot of writing catch-up to do, too, as a result of all of this.

I’m just so grateful for the V.A. hospital, which has been treating me very well, and for my rheumatologist there, who’s the best I’ve ever had.

And BodyPump this morning was awesome, as usual! I love seeing my people there as much as I love the workout!

 

So happy to be at the gym this morning! I took this before-workout locker-room selfie thinking “BodyPump in 15!!”

 

The rest of the week’s looking fabulous, too. Callaghan’s birthday is on Saturday, so there’ll be shenanegans of some sort in honor of that. He would love to know what’s involved. He’s not going to know until then. Heheh.

Happy Friday Eve, everyone!

Failing at sleep. (New Year’s Resolution progress.)

Progress, of lack thereof.

Here’s one thing I’ve achieved so far in my 2018 resolution to get more sleep: I’ve acquired a fitness tracker with a sleep component that reviewers online seem to like. At the end of Month 1, that’s all I have to report… because I haven’t really used it yet.

I know.

Callaghan gave the tracker to me for my birthday. I wanted one, I said, because the tyranny of a device might be the only thing that can hold me accountable. I need to be able to look at the tracker every morning and be dismayed.

I dawdled, deciding on the fitness tracker gift a few weeks post-New Year’s. (My birthday is at the end of December.) I charged it and looked at it and said “I don’t have time to figure this out so I’m going to exchange it” and then grudgingly put it on last night, and this morning I was, indeed, properly dismayed – though not surprised at all – to see that I only got 4:58 hours of sleep. I know that it’s pretty much 5 hours, but seeing the number “4” makes it worse psychologically.

Ironically, it took me a little longer to fall asleep with the fitness tracker around my wrist. I could feel it thrumming, and from that and the tingling sensation in my wrist and hand came a sudden panic that the tracker was going to electrocute my brain during the night.

This is good. This is what I need. I’m failing at sleep, and I’m counting on this fitness tracker to deny me of my denial.

Changing an ingrained bad habit is one of the hardest things to do. If it wasn’t, we wouldn’t have New Year’s resolutions, right? Generally speaking?

Incidentally, I decided to wear the tracker at the gym this morning, just to see. Clearly, I need to do more studying to learn about this device. There’s no way you can burn 852 calories doing a Les Mills BodyPump class, is there? I did nothing else while wearing the tracker this morning. I put it on immediately before picking up my barbell, and removed it immediately after the cool-down. 852 calories doesn’t sound right. The Les Mills website says that you can burn “up to 560 calories” during BodyPump! I don’t know how the tracker is coming up with 852.

That aside (I didn’t get the tracker for actual fitness tracking, though I will wear it to BodyCombat, too, also out of curiosity), I do trust that using the tracker will motivate me to get to bed earlier.

Here’s to the beginning of Month 2!

You’re a seasonal beast (October Favorites!)

Our daytime temperatures hung out in the 90’s all October, right up until yesterday, when it dropped into the 80’s… but it’s been fall enough for me!

Lots of food to talk about again. In October, I started making a point of watching the amounts of processed food and refined sugars that I consume. The situation has gotten better (it wasn’t that bad before, but there was a lot of room for improvement). I’m still a fan of protein/energy bars and cereals, though, so I’m always trying new ones. My latest discoveries are included in this list.

Things have been busier than usual with writing, plus preparation for various trips (those had and those to-be-had). So I’m just going to get right into these little things I loved in October. Happy Fall!

 

1). The Shallows (film)

 

thatasianlookingchick-com-theshallows

 

This wasn’t the greatest film ever, but it was entertaining and suspenseful and different, so we had a good time with it. Good shark films, let’s face it… because Sharknado movies don’t count (“good” being the operative word)… are few and far between. I can’t think of a decent one since Jaws, and that was something like 40 years ago. The Shallows filled that void nicely, despite its absurd ending. Nancy’s predicament was plausible enough, but the contrast between that modicum of believability and the big problem-solving action she takes at the end was just too stark. After all the time we spent balancing on the edge of our seats, waiting to see how she’d get out of her situation, we ended up, like, “…really?” It almost killed the whole thing for us (pardon the pun). But we enjoyed The Shallows 95% of the way through, and I do recommend it if you’re in for a shark-menaced thriller!

 

2). Speechless (T.V. series)

 

thatasianlookingchick-com-speechless

 

Speechless is a new sitcom that stars Minnie Driver and features a main character with a disability. If there’s ever been a sitcom centered on a family with a specific set of challenges not only working into their dynamic, but shaping their dynamic, I haven’t heard of it. Speechless has us amused and charmed, impressed and appreciative… there’s a lot to appreciate about this series, on many levels. Highly recommended!

 

3). KIND Nuts and Spices bar (dark chocolate nuts and sea salt)

 

KIND Nuts and Spices bars (dark chocolate nuts and sea salt)

KIND Nuts and Spices bars (dark chocolate nuts and sea salt)

 

Yes, it’s another KIND bar… but this one has 5 grams of sugar, which is less than the others I’d loved. This is a satisfying little bar with a decent amount of protein, for what it is. It’s been a delicious staple all month.

 

4). Clif Kid Organic Z Bar (iced oatmeal cookie)

 

Clif Kid Organic Z Bar (iced oatmeal cookie)

Clif Kid Organic Z Bar (iced oatmeal cookie)

 

And another bar! This one lands on the list because it reminds me of fig newtons, which I love… especially when I close my eyes and savor its aftertaste. This bar is more sugary than the KIND bar, but I like its solid good carb content, and it’s not devoid of nutrients. I have this as a treat once or twice a week.

 

5). Organic apples

 

organic apples

organic apples

 

I’m still enjoying red grapes every day, but I’ve added apples to the mix. It was time! Apples… I like them, but I tire of them quickly, so I save them for the fall and winter, for the most part. They’re always a surprisingly tasty twist after months of delicious spring and summer fruits.

 

6). Bragg’s organic raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar

 

Bragg's organic raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar

Bragg’s organic raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar

 

This is certainly new: I’ve been drinking apple cider vinegar, stirring a teaspoon of it into a glass of cold water three times a day. It’s an acquired taste, I guess… I found it strange, at first, but it’s become an oddly refreshing concoction that I look forward to drinking.

 

7). Kashi Organic Promise Autumn Wheat cereal

 

Kashi Organic Promise Autumn Wheat cereal

Kashi Organic Promise Autumn Wheat cereal

 

This is one of my favorite cereals! For some reason, I seem to gravitate toward Triscut-like Kashi cereals this time of year. I like the Autumn Wheat and the cinnamon one equally. The latter has more sugar, but neither of these are that sugary. I have them with fresh blueberries and soy milk.

 

8). Trader Joe’s Just a Handful of Raw Almonds

 

Trader Joe's Just a Handful of Raw Almonds

Trader Joe’s Just a Handful of Raw Almonds

 

For years now I’ve been cycling in and out of raw almond phases. I usually eat roasted, salted nuts and seeds (every day), but I crave plain old raw almonds every once in a while. Trader Joe’s (“just a handful”) raw almonds is a time-saver. You can grab a pre-portioned packet on your way to anywhere.

 

9). Nature’s Wick Bonfire Nights candle

 

Nature's Wick bonfire nights candle

Nature’s Wick bonfire nights candle

 

Another candle! When last month’s candle died its natural death, Callaghan went to repurchase it… but there weren’t any left. So he got this one, instead. And I like it even better. It was slightly alarming at first (its wooden wicks are designed to crackle like a fire, which isn’t necessarily a sound you want to hear in your kitchen), but I’m used to it now, and I’m enraptured. I can’t even describe the scent. It really does evoke the woods in the fall, with a bonfire, and the crackling fire sound adds to the experience, as intended. It is lovely.

 

10). Les Mills BODYPUMP

 

Les Mills BODYPUMP [pic from lesmillsdotcom]

Les Mills BODYPUMP [pic from lesmillsdotcom]

Body Pump just became a favorite last week, as you may know! I’m thrilled to have added two of these classes to my weekly workout schedule.

That wraps it up for October! I’m guessing that November will fly by, and I’ll be back with another Favorites post before I know it.

I started Les Mills Body Pump. (First impressions report!)

In workout/fitness news: After over two years of whispering tempting testimonials into my ear, my Body Combat crew finally succeeded in dragging me over to the dark side: I started Les Mills Body Pump this week! I added two Pump classes to my weekly schedule when it suddenly hit me that self-motivated weight-training was never going to happen (it only took me a year to figure this out, can you believe it).

Also (I had to remind myself), I can make my own schedule, so morning classes during the week are totally doable.

And! By the luck of the schedule at my gym, I have a Pump instructor who’s as kick-ass as the class, itself.

 

Les Mills BODYPUMP [pic from lesmillsdotcom]

Les Mills BODYPUMP [pic from lesmillsdotcom]

Now I have a concrete workout schedule of five days a week… three Combats, and two Pumps. [::rejoices::] …plus whenever I can get into the garage.

After this week’s two Pump classes, I’m already hooked! I’d done the class one time before, over two years ago (before we started Combat), but I wasn’t on board for various reasons. (Namely, laziness.)

I felt tight in my upper body after the first class, so I expected to be incapacitated the next day, but it wasn’t that bad. My legs were super sore, and my biceps were straight-up mangled. I didn’t feel anything in my chest, back, shoulders, or triceps. I took four Advil for my legs and biceps before going to Combat and managed to get through without too much trouble.

Back in Pump the day after that – yesterday – I almost didn’t make it through the biceps track, because my bi’s were still struggling to recover from Tuesday… I mean, I probably only actually did 65-70% of the track. I had to rest a lot. My legs were mostly back to normal (thanks to Combat the night before).

I. Am. Loving. It.

Izzy the Trainer advised me to start out with just 5 lb plates on the barbell, which was excellent… she saved me the hassle of fumbling with weights in an unfamiliar format when I had no idea what those weights should be! Now that I’ve done the class twice, I know that I definitely need to increase my weights for chest, back, shoulders, and triceps. I’m not increasing the weight for biceps. I’m not increasing for legs yet, either, because I like going deep in my squats, and it’s already a challenge maintaining that depth during the faster bottom half reps/pulses.

As for the lunges, I’m thinking of dropping down to even lower weights, or using no weight at all, so I can optimize my form and depth. I have a hard time modifying my knock-knees in bent-knee lunge position; it makes me somewhat unstable. If I take it slow, I can adjust my feet and sink down low, but there’s usually no time in class, so I end up doing shallow lunges. (FUN FACT: I was late to walk and wore metal leg braces up to my hips as a child… thankfully. The braces corrected things quite a bit. No complaining here!) I’ll probably start next week with no weight for the lunges, and then work my way up gradually as my muscles adapt.

Some of my first-impression thoughts during my first class:

YAY there’s a warm-up *** Clean and press? What? Wait!! How??? *** Awesome, legs are done. *** [::deep breath::] OMG How long was I holding my breath? – Can’t believe I actually forgot to breathe. *** HOLD UP all that was just the warm-up!! *** Sweat dripping down my elbows. Weird. *** Starting with legs, good. Then they’ll be done. *** Loving the burn from these low-squat pulses!!! *** More sweat dripping down the inside of my arms to my elbows. *** […] *** Okay I totally need a remedial class in clean and press. *** I’m not feeling anything in my back – this is too easy – am I doing this right?? *** Skull-crushers, cool *** Holy crap What is even happening to my biceps right now *** Legs AGAIN?! *** Make sure we’re successful in this lunge track, she said. –  I am NOT being successful in this lunge track. *** Squats, YES. – These I can do! *** Shoulders, hell yeah *** This ab track though!!!! LOVE IT. *** Okay – It’s over and we only did a thousand clean and presses and I had no idea how to do them but I think I faked it pretty well.

…After the second class, I had the clean and presses down.

Good times!!