80’s-themed entertainment. Food. JULY FAVORITES.

It would be an understatement to say that July is the month that’s gone the fastest in 2016. July sped by. No, actually, it parkour’d by. It sprinted, scaled walls, and jumped rooftops so fast that it got way ahead of me and I lost sight of it.

Now it’s August.

Maybe I spent my free time too absorbed in watching T.V. shows or movies while indulging the less-healthy range of my appetite, but at least I can now share some of those things with you!

Entertainment items 1 and 2 on this list take place in the 80’s, number 3 is an 80’s film remake, and number 4 takes us into the 90’s. Number 5 is in theaters now for your spooktastic viewing pleasure.

Let’s get into it!

 

1). Stranger Things (T.V. series)

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-StrangerThings

 

Netflix has done it again. First of all, this series showcases one of the most spectacular come-backs I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching, and if Winona Ryder doesn’t earn nominations for Emmy and Golden Globe awards for it, then something is wrong with both of those organizations. In fact, we should see Stranger Things as a whole nominated for numerous awards. The series’ excellence stands alone, but I have to also note that its genre (sci-fi thriller/horror/mystery) is a difficult one to pull off, and Stranger Things nails it. You may think of The Whispers or Wayward Pines or Poltergeist, if you’re familiar with any those, but now, the standard has now been set, and soundly. We can’t wait for season two.

 

2). The Americans (T.V. series)

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-TheAmericans

 

We’re glad that it took us so long to discover this series, because it’s fun to have four seasons of a well-made show laid out before us and to laugh at cliff-hangers’ attempts to frustrate us as we load up the next episode. The Americans lets us in on some fascinating insights and interesting tricks of Cold War Russian spies in the U.S., whether they’re 100% true to reality or not. Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys perform exquisitely. This is just a fun show to watch.

 

3). Ghostbusters 2016 (film)

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-Ghostbusters2016

 

I said what I wanted to say about Ghostbusters 2016 in my recent non-review review post. To sum up: Loved it.

 

4). Stop at Nothing: The Lance Armstrong Story (documentary)

 

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-StopAtNothingTheLanceArmstrongStory

 

Here’s one to add to my list of documentary favorites, and of course, it’s a biographical one (my favorite kind).

I wouldn’t normally recommend a film that enraged me to where I wanted to reach into the screen and grab (Lance) by the neck, but this is a very well-made documentary that is worth watching. In fact, this is a great film to watch if you’re tired of being mad about current events and you wish to direct your anger elsewhere. This film tells the atrocious story of American cyclist Lance Armstrong and his cheating scandal. By the time we were done watching it, I was ashamed to be American.

Most of us are now aware that Lance was doping while “winning” all those cycling races, but we were floored to see the extent of what he did. Unbelievable.

Anyway, good film.

 

5). Lights Out (film)

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-LightsOut

 

Lights Out is a recent theater release. I saw its trailer not too long ago and knew I wanted to see the film on the big screen, but when it came out and my friend (with whom I saw the trailer) reported that it was good, I wasted no time in getting tickets! Callaghan didn’t know what we were going to see, because I wanted to surprise him. My surprise was a success. He knew nothing about the film, and we both enjoyed it. I’m going to write a little non-review review about it, so I’ll leave it at that.

 

Now for the food half of this list!

6). Fortune Yakisoba stir-fry Hot and Spicy.

 

Fortune Yakisoba stir-fry Hot and Spicy

Fortune Yakisoba stir-fry Hot and Spicy

 

I’d been craving hot and spicy ramen, so when I spotted this hot and spicy yakisoba at Safeway, I had to try it. It says “stir-fry” on the package and you can prepare it that way, but I prefer to nuke it. You put it in a bowl with water and dump the seasoning mix on top and stick it in the microwave for four minutes. Then you break up the cooked block of noodles, integrate the noodles with the sauce, and inhale eat it. The package also says “add vegetables,” to which I say, “Bah.” I will eat veggies on the side, but I like noodly pastas unfettered.

 

7). Daiya Delux Cheddar Style Cheezy Mac.

 

Daiya Cheezy Mac

Daiya Cheezy Mac

 

Oh yes, Daiya did. Vegans, we should have known this was coming. All the warning signs were there; Daiya is awesome and it is relentless. Now they’ve brought us macaroni and cheese in a box, like there isn’t already enough vegan junk food around.

But this mac n cheese is gluten-free, soy-free, and dairy- and lactose-free, and it has protein and calcium, so it’s not a box of empty calories… we don’t even have to feel that guilty about eating it!

I’m usually not a fan of gluten-free food products, but honestly, I can’t tell that this mac n cheese is gluten-free… or dairy-free, for that matter. The ready-made sauce is thick, creamy, and rich, and it would make a great queso for nachos. Yum.

We get this from Whole Foods.

 

8). Kashi Go Lean Peanut Hemp Crunch bars.

 

Go Lean Peanut Hemp Crunch bars

Go Lean Peanut Hemp Crunch bars

 

My energy bar discovery of the month came from Go Lean, whose original cereal I sometimes eat as a post-workout meal (for its carb and protein composition). This bar has an interesting, different sort of texture that I like, and I like the way it tastes, too. Not everyone may like it. I like it. I like 8 grams of protein, 4 grams of fiber, and 8 grams of sugar in a tasty 200-calorie bar. This is well worth trying if you’re looking for a new energy bar! Oh, and it’s gluten-free… and vegan, of course.

 

9). Thomas’ English Muffins Light Multi-Grain.

 

Thomas' English Muffins Light Multi-Grain

Thomas’ English Muffins Light Multi-Grain

 

Because what’s a Favorites list without some kind of bread, right? For me, breads and pastas are life. I change the bread I eat for breakfast every four to six weeks, just because I don’t want to get tired of eating the same thing every morning. I’m currently enjoying these multi-grain English muffins that happen to be “light” (I wasn’t looking for that designation). I have two of them toasted and literally drenched in original Smart Balance every morning. I’m not exaggerating… there’s always a puddle of melted buttery goodness left on the plate when I’m done eating.

We’ve also discovered that these make wonderful breakfast sandwiches with Field Roast apple sage vegan sausage, tomato, and spinach. The possibilities!

 

10). Monster Energy Zero Ultra.

 

Monster Zero Ultra energy drink

Monster Zero Ultra energy drink

 

Meet my guilty pleasure of the month: an energy drink. Not healthy. Not something I’d drink to excess. Like all energy drinks of its ilk, this is a chemical-infused, glorified diet soda. This particular one, Monster Zero Ultra, is actually a glorified Mountain Dew. It’s wonderful. I have maybe three per week on afternoons I work out during breaks from writing. (Superstarch is great, but it’s too expensive to consume every day!)

 

This concludes the list, and let August linger a little longer, please, 2016. The month is starting out with relatives visiting from France, which I believe is how last August began, too. Fun times ahead!

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.