One year anniversary of my ridiculous accident. (+ a few pics)

Three days ago on the 25th of July I sort of “celebrated” the one-year anniversary of me slamming a steel door on the back of my ankle. It was a dumb accident followed by a dumb action plan that resulted in no cardio for over six months. I’m linking to the posts in case you’re new and you’re interested in reading of these follies of yore.

Seriously can’t believe it’s been a year. Really. It seems like a whole forever ago!

The wound healed poorly, of course, because that’s what happens when you fail to go to the E.R. within six hours of cutting your foot halfway off. The scar still intermittently burns with pain and itchiness, but I got my doctor’s permission to ignore it after she had it thoroughly checked out in February. It hasn’t kept me from my workouts since.

Today, I grabbed some screenshots from the video clips I recorded during my Body Pump workout. Please excuse the lighting situation here. I’ve got a huge window in front of me, with light oddly filtered through its closed gray blinds.

I didn’t record more than a few minutes of back, biceps, and shoulders, and the recordings weren’t great. They were tests, more or less, and these few pics are more vanity shots than workout shots. I’ll get a proper LIVING ROOM GYM WORKOUT post together at some point.

First, though, we have short hair!

 

Back to short hair and loving it, and yeah, I’m working out in the living room these days, which is rad.

 

Next, we have deltoids we never had before, thanks to the gym shutting down and forcing me to work out with dumbbells at home. (I’d rather say “thanks to the gym for shutting down” than “thanks to the virus for creating a pandemic.”)

 

Pandemic delt gains. I’m looking at the T.V. on which I’m playing my workout streaming on the Les Mills Roku channel. [28 July 2020]

 

Next, we have a glance at the phone (camera) to see whether it’s recording.

 

Testing, testing. [28 July 2020]

 

Now I know where I’d situate the phone for said forthcoming workout post, right?

Then we have clean and presses, 15 lbs. (Body Pump is high reps with light weights. I have no idea what weight I’d be able to lift in a bodybuilding workout scenario.)

 

[28 July 2020]

 

Aaand we have the biceps track about to start (10 lbs) and I’m still looking at you guys, apparently. I wasn’t smiling like this at the end of the biceps track! It was awesome, though.

 

[28 July 2020]

 

By the way, if you’re familiar with Les Mills Body Pump, this was release #104, my new favorite.

A splendid week to you, friends. If you suffer an injury that creates a bleeding wound, please go to the E.R. in a timely manner. I learned my lesson so you don’t have to.

 

 

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!

 

 

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!!

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.

Body Combat Release 67 – Informal Review!

1). I’m stoked to be here talking about the new Les Mills Body Combat release (#67), because that means the class still exists at our gym! So far, all is well in the aftermath of the great gym take-over.

2). I’ve done the new release a few times at this point, so I can say with zero hesitation that this tracklist is my least favorite of them all… of all the ones I’ve done, that is. I enjoy the workout, itself, but… the music.

I can train with no music at all, but if there’s music and it’s unappealing to me and it doesn’t motivate me, that’s a challenge. The first time I worked out to music was in Army basic training, where drill sergeants yell melodic cadences at you and you have to yell them back. The “songs” are meant, among other things, to motivate troops during company runs and marches, and they inspire a strong esprit de corps among the ranks. That experience set my standard of a motivational training soundtrack. I’m beyond hope with Body Combat #67’s music. Dear Les Mills Body Combat music-selecting team: It’s not you, it’s me.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m still getting in a kick-ass workout with #67. I’m just having to reach deeper to seize motivation from within, which, actually, is probably a great exercise in and of itself. So really, no complaints. I’m just saying.

3). Since the music does nothing for me, though, I’m not going to list the names of the songs and my thoughts on them in this review.

4). Someone on Facebook posted a handy meme with the number of techniques done in release #67, so I thought I’d share the info here. Within an hour, we do:

720 jabs, 294 crosses, 389 hooks, 432 uppercuts, 30 circular elbows, 36 ascending elbows, 43 back fists, 80 karate punches, 418 knees, 56 roundhouse knees, 118 front kicks, 44 side kicks, 29 roundhouse kicks, 32 jump kicks, 30 shoots, 32 lunges, 32 scissors, 88 jacks, 64 plank climbers, and 32 push-ups.

And that doesn’t even include the ab track with that one move that always makes me feel like I’m going to throw up. You know the one. That side plank thing where you lift and lower your hips a million times.

Here’s how it breaks down:

Les Mills Body Combat 67

Track 1a: Upper-body Warm-up

  • Jabs
  • Combinations: hook/cross, jab/cross, double uppercuts
  • Lateral shuffle to scissors (I like how they always finish the upper-body warm-up with a move to segue into the lower-body warm-up)

Track 1b: Lower-body Warm-up

  • Shoots
  • Kicks: side kicks; double front kicks; roundhouse kicks
  • Down on the floor? During the warm-up? Plank climbers. Gah.

Track 2: Combat 1

  • Double upper/hook combo
  • Roundhouse knees
  • Back fists; back fist/roundhouse kick combo

Track 3: Power Training 1

  • Jabs, crosses; double jab combo
  • Hooks; hook/jack combo

Track 4: Combat 2

  • Karate punches
  • Roundhouse knee/side kick combo
  • Roundhouse knee/side kick/repeated front kick combo
  • **Dying**
  • Down on the floor for push-ups/plank climbers

Track 5: Power Training 2

  • Uppercuts
  • Upper/cross combo
  • High Intensity Interval Training (H.I.I.T.): running/wide-stance running/4-second sprint intervals

Track 6: Combat 3

  • Back knee/front kick combo
  • Jump kicks
  • Lunges and jump lunges

Track 7: Muay Thai

  • Circular elbow/front knee combo
  • Ascending elbow/knee combo
  • Double knee/single knee combo
  • Running man knees

Track 8: Power Training 3

  • Jab/cross combo
  • Jab/cross/hook combo
  • Jabs (variations)

Track 9: Conditioning

  • Abs: Pulsing side planks super-setted with another torturous plank exercise, then
  • Ab-work lying down
  • Admittedly, it does help that this track is Rihanna. Rihanna makes abs easier somehow.

Track 10: Cool-down!

*****

In summary, #67 is a great lower-body destroyer and upper-body stamina squeezer… shoulders, in particular. I also feel my calves more than usual (during Track 4). The release is heavy on knees and kicks, but light on footwork. The H.I.I.T. sequence in Track 5 isn’t as killer as the H.I.I.T. in the last few releases. #67 brings new challenges, and that’s what’s awesome about it.

For lack of a pic that makes better sense here, I’ve got a selfie I took yesterday morning. This post was in progress and I was thinking how great it is that we still have Body Combat at our gym!

 

T minus 8 hours before heading to the gym.

T minus 8 hours before heading to the gym.

 

BC #67: Great release overall!

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.

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!

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.

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!

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. =)