Archive | August, 2014

Lazy Girl Fitness: A week in workouts

28 Aug

As promised on yesterday’s post, here is a sample [new and improved] workout schedule.

I emphasize toning/resistance/strengthening whatever you want to call it more than cardio. Cardio is important, but it’s muscle tone that speeds up metabolism (aka enables you to eat ice cream sundaes on your rest day).

Monday: HIIT workout (see below)

Tuesday: Rest, or leisurely 30 minute stroll outside (or let’s get real–on a treadmill, since it’s 112 degrees out)

Wednesday: Focus on two body parts. The Tabata and HIIT workouts make my legs sore, so I usually focus on arms, shoulders, back, and abs. I do a 15-20 minute workout with no rests at all. Depending on your laziness level of the day, you might up the ante with some cardio. You could do a ten minute run at the end, but if you get bored easily try one minute cardio bursts between moves, like a minute of burpees or on the elliptical, or if you’re coordinated, jump rope. A few of my favorite resistance workouts are linked below.

Thursday: Rest, maybe some stretches or a brief yoga flow (I lurv this desk job yoga sequence and it’s pretty easy).

Friday: 30-1 intervals (sprint 30 seconds, power walk 1 minute, repeat 8 times) OR Tabata workout (see below)

Saturday: Rest

Sunday: Take a dance class or hike up Stone Mountain


HIIT 15-minute total body workout

Do each exercise for 45 seconds, then rest for 15 seconds before moving on to the next. You can either repeat each as you go or repeat the whole thing. Be sure the weights are the heaviest you can handle without getting hurt.

1. Push-ups

2. Squats with weights

3. Bicep curls

4. Alternating reverse lunges

5. Burpees

6. Plank

7. Tricep extensions

8. Squat jumps

Tabata 20-minute workout

Do each of these exercises for 20 seconds, then rest 10 seconds. Repeat 8 times (4 minutes) to complete 1 round. Rest 1 minute after each round. The point is to work at your highest intensity in those twenty seconds.

1. High knee run

2. alternating jumping jack/tuck jump

3. Burpees

4. Side leaps (mine started to get real dancer-y, but I think it’s supposed to look more like the Heisman maneuver from Insanity)

Tabata and HIIT workouts courtesy of Moms Into Fitness

Resistance Links

And in case you are like me and go on Pinterest to look at workouts but get side tracked by food pins, here are some of my tried and true favorite toning workouts. Choose two for one workout, then add cardio bursts as described above:

Pilates ab workout – this one is customizable by adding planks or burpees (I like to alternate!) between each set of reps.

Paper plate ab workout – I have a wrist injury so I can’t always do this one without pain, but it’s great if you don’t like crunches or can’t do them.

Shoulder workout – Looks easy. Is not. (BTW, if you click through this chick’s blog, you will see why she looks so great. She says she used to only “run 3-6 miles in the morning and do a full body workout at lunch.” Huh whoa).

I’ve posted this total body workout before – I like the booty and inner thigh sections.

I did this crunch free core series yesterday and found my sides and back got a better workout than my abs.

Awesomesauce Arms – #11 is killer.

Five-minute arms – this one is so short you could do a total of three.


Lazy Girl Fitness: Don’t forget the lazy part

27 Aug

Summer is winding down and yes, I am still plugging away at my fitness plan anyway. I told you it was a lifetime thing, right?

But the success of my efforts was debatable. Sure, you can see muscles on my thighs, and I have lost maybe a pound. But my waist is the same number of inches… and I have lost maybe a pound (I’ve been doing this since February, people!).

My health-conscious brother was in town recently and joined me for a few workouts, so I picked his brain about it. He said that I probably wasn’t working hard enough or eating right. To which I bristled. Wouldn’t you? (I remind you–February!)

But then he explained. It’s better to only work out every other day, but make those workouts more intense. And to make sure you eat enough before you do. What he meant, in other words, is that I wasn’t working efficiently. I was forgetting the two most lazy parts of lazy girl fitness: resting and eating.

I know, as we all do, that your muscles need recovery days to actually build up. I usually took mine on either Saturday or Sunday and went to the gym the rest of the week. What was happening is that I was getting tired, but thinking that some kind of work out was better than nothing, I was hitting the gym and just kind of putzing through. It was creating a vicious cycle of weariness where I was really only getting one intense workout per week, sometimes none.

My brother also had thoughts on eating–not what, but when. He suggested eating an hour before working out in order to have enough energy. I’ve heard so much conflicting info on whether/what/when to eat in relation to working out, so I’d chosen to ignore all of it and follow my natural hunger.

My natural hunger, however, wasn’t being cooperative. My eating schedule is such that I wasn’t hungry until right before my lunch break–which, duh. The problem is that I usually make the choice to go ahead and push through some semblance of a workout and eat lunch afterward. I’m able to do this because I eat a large breakfast when I arrive at the office (I like to leisurely chow while sifting through emails). Unfortunately, by the time I get hungry it’s too late–I have to put off eating.

I say unfortunately because I usually don’t feel like eating after exercising. I’ve told you before that exercise makes me seriously hungry, and it does (as it turns out, women more so than men. I knew I wasn’t crazy!). But not until several hours after. As a result, I get a massive chow attack around 3:30 PM, which then spoils my dinner. So not only do I eat a larger amount of calories later in the day, but it contributes to putting off my breakfast, starting the whole cycle over again the next day.

Basically, my way of doing things was taxing my metabolism.

So I’ve made a few small changes. I now work out every other day. On my workout days, I am doubling the intensity and cutting down on time with HIIT and Tabata style workouts (Tune in tomorrow for a sample workout schedule!). Not only do I feel like I’m getting a better workout, I now have time to actually eat on my break, if I feel like it. And on my off days, I can even go home and do chores or run an errand. Or even read a book — gasp!

The eating has been a bit more of a challenge. My ideal is to eat breakfast at home, i.e. earlier, giving me time to get hungry for a mid-morning snack, but that is very challenging for several reasons, most of them having to do with getting out of bed. So far all I’ve managed to do is force myself to eat a healthy snack (today it’s a green smoothie) an hour before working out. I’m still not hungry for it–yet–but I have to admit that I’m not so weary during lunch break workouts any more. I still don’t feel hungry for lunch until late in the afternoon, but I think my stomach just needs time to adjust to the new schedule.

It’s only been a week, and already I’ve noticed an increase in energy not just during workouts, but in general. Here’s hoping I start seeing some body changes soon!


Happy Labor Day and remember: every body is a bikini body!



What I’m Reading: YA gets topical in Thirteen Reasons Why

25 Aug

In Summary: Great premise, OK execution. And by virtue my lengthy critique here, we have to tip our hats to the fact that it’s a book worth a full review, whatever its issues.

Positives about this novel: It was engrossing, unfolding almost like a mystery. Props to the author for pulling that off (not all such attempts succeed). You don’t need to actually be a young adult to enjoy this on the whole. I also appreciate that the book and its evident popularity might be the impetus for discussion of important subjects–teen suicide certainly, but also depression, mental illness, slut shaming, #yesallwomen, the effect of gossip, sexual harassment and rape–among teenagers and their peers and parents.

On a more concrete level, I liked the huge web of characters, and the references to even more that weren’t seen directly. That’s how we truly interact after all, but it’s extremely difficult to convey that in novel without being confusing and/or needing a flow chart.

Eyebrow raisers: My hang up with this novel was not, as other reviewers have complained, with the believability of Hannah’s 13 reasons. On the contrary, I found them rather compelling, particularly the snowball effect described. Even though we aren’t really given any clues to this, it’s statistically safe to assume Hannah is suffering from mental illness, since a large percentage of those who commit suicide are (the professional source in this story as well as the NAMI quotes the figure at 90%). Operating under that assumption, it then follows that she lacks the coping mechanisms necessary to deal with trials, even so-called “normal” ones. Plus, let’s not forget that all teenagers have an underdeveloped prefrontal cortex, meaning she isn’t able to fully conceptualize life beyond her high school reputation — in other words, a way out.

My problem was with the whole tape conceit. I’m not an expert on the subject by any means, but Robin Williams’ death earlier this month means that mental illness and suicide is a national topic of discussion. (As well it should be. God forbid young people put off the discussion until it becomes personally relevant). And from what I understand, the act of putting together a series of tapes…very coherent, logical, well-thought-out tapes I might add, complete with foreshadowing and recurring characters…and then orchestrating their movement through the bowels of your school…that sort of elaborate thinking seems a little beyond a suicidal person, who by all accounts have trouble thinking past their personal and present emotions. Suicide notes and videos are a well-documented phenomenon of course, but I think you would be hard pressed to find this advanced level of legacy-leaving of any suicidal individual, much less a teenager. The same source in the article referenced above adds that while suicidal thinking can recur, it is temporary, going so far as to call it a “passing urge.” The act of recording hours of tapes could possibly have been galvanizing, sure, but it more likely would have been therapeutic. I think Hannah even admitted as much. Just another small fact that makes the suicide less believable. Or to be more specific, it makes Hannah less believable as a suicidal person.

I will add the caveat that I was listening to the audio book, and the actress reading Hannah played her on the angry and bitter side. More the voice of someone with a twisted revenge plot than one who had lost hope. But the writing isn’t entirely blameless. Hannah talked about death rather overtly when it’s pretty well documented that suicidal people aren’t focused on ending their life, but rather stopping the pain. They use terms like “make it all go away” and “just disappear” and things like that, and the author neglected to put such phrases in her mouth, with the possible exception of the last side of the tapes. She’s very removed from herself, in a way, almost as if she’s telling the story from another perspective–another person’s, or her own self in the future–rather than living it personally.

That, along with the fact that there was no funeral, led me to develop a working theory that Hannah wasn’t really dead and the whole thing as a cry for help. My back up theory, and one that would have made the whole book make a lot more sense, was if she hadn’t meant to actually die (pills are a notoriously unreliable…I hesitate to say passive-aggressive, maybe a better way to put it would be “slowly effective” method and one that is more common to females for that reason) and it was, in the words of the article referenced, a botched attempt “to survive with changed circumstances.” That would be in keeping with the character both as written and as read. There was even some reference, albeit speculative, that Hannah might have actually drowned in a tub after taking pills rather than dying from an overdose itself, giving credence to this theory. P put forth the idea that had the tapes been recorded sporadically over a number of years, as the events unfolded, and been socked away until a trigger moment, that would have made sense also. And I concede I could have bought that to an extent as well.

Also, I was surprised the book was written by a man (who one assumes must have been a teenage boy once), because I found Clay unbelievable as a character, and not just because he had a perfect reputation that was actually true (his self-blaming/loathing only serves to make him more perfect to the reader, not less so). We get an idea that he has a very supportive home environment from the mother, which is the only aspect that lends credibility to his perfection. The author did have a better voice for him than he did for Hannah in terms of perspective. By which I mean we were less distant from his personal truth at that moment, unlike Hannah. I also liked the actor’s interpretation in the audio book. But overall, Clay operated as a literary device, the means through which we hear and experience the tapes. Something about Clay and Hannah’s relation to each other, while poignant, was uncomplicated and most certainly unambiguous. The Feelings just aren’t messy enough for real life. And poor Tony–talk about a story device. All he was good for was playing outdated audio cassettes and following people around.

Bottom line recommendation: Go ahead and read this book. It won’t take you that long, I was able to listen to the whole thing in six hours, including some [inevitable] rewinding. I’ll recommend the audio version. I was able to borrow it from my public library for free. Despite my problems with Hannah’s voice, I hear the point of view switches toward the end are confusing in writing, and you don’t want to be taken out of the story at that point trying to figure out who’s talking. Despite some believability caveats, you’re going to get sucked in to this.

If they end up making a movie, which I think they are, there is a lot of potential to prop up some of these weak spots while retaining all the best aspects of the novel. I sincerely hope that they succeed in that. (And if they do, you can count on my companion review of the film…provided I can stand the actors they pick. In my brain-casting, I pictured the daughter from Homeland as our leading lady…alongside some people from my actual high school, but I’m sure they’ll go a different route haha).

A still of that chick from Homeland. Alright, alright, her name is Morgan Saylor.

A still of that chick (aka Morgan Saylor) from Homeland.

And regardless of whether you have serious problems with Hannah or you can sort of relate, it’s going to make you analytical in a meaningful way. I got uncomfortable with some of my own thoughts (spoiler alert: they were leaning towards victim blaming), and I really appreciate that in a book. It’s always good when something makes you think critically, even–and perhaps especially–of yourself.

NAMB: My kid can be boring (and I bet yours can too)

20 Aug

“Sweetie, mommy has no flippin’ clue how to recreate the scary snowman from Frozen.”

A few days ago we met up with some of P’s coworkers at a ballgame and concert (#summer4eva). One of them asked me, “so, no kid tonight? I thought you might bring him.”

“Nah,” I said. “He’s fun, but he’s not that fun.”

Cue awkward pause.

Putting aside the general pall of awkwardness that colors my daily life, I probably should have anticipated the reaction and come up with some more parent-appropriate response, such as “this is going past his bedtime,” or, “he doesn’t like crowds.”

I should have anticipated it, because I would have had the same reaction a few years ago. That is, before I had kids.

Let me disclaim. My love for my son is fierce. To paraphrase the words of somebody more intelligent than myself: he is my heart walking around outside my body. Not to mention, he’s a fascinating and entertaining individual in his own right. This morning he woke up pretending to be a dragon hatching out of an egg–literally no segue between deep sleep and surprisingly realistic dragon peeping. At a party last week, he cracked up the gang when he shot the bird with scary expertise and a deadpan look. He may or may not have known what that gesture meant (let’s hope not), but he certainly understood the value of making people laugh. Like I said, he’s interesting.

For a preschooler.

There’s this perception that once you become a parent, your children are the center of your world. They’re more than that, they’re your reason for being. I postulate that that’s part of the reason so many adults are putting off having children until later: they assume that their lives will belong to someone else. That’s the underlying reasoning behind the shock that many people have when *gasp!* somebody admits that hanging with their kid can get old.

As a matter of fact, my first instinct when I read that (that’s right: I’m not the originator of this particular revelation) was to recoil. But when I allowed myself to think about it, I realized that yes, you can think your offspring is speshul and amazazing and yet simultaneously find yourself coming up with excuses to get out of “playtime.”

The fact is, little kids are discovering for the first time things that to you, as an old fart grown person, are rather stale. You’ve literally been there, done that.

There certainly are things an adult can relish reliving. I’d call them parenting perks. You can go into the little kid playrooms at the Natural History Museum and McDonald’s. You have an excuse to go down water slides, ride a pony/camel/elephant, and of course the mother-lode: go trick or treating. And to be sure, some things are fun to “rediscover” through a child’s eyes (ever watch a baby catch bubbles?).

But those things will get old faster for you than for them, as anyone who has read the same story six times in a row can attest to. And the daily play? The arrange dinosaurs by the position of their little plastic legs type thing? I really can’t even understand it, much less get into it. If I present T with a toy and start playing with it my way, I guarantee that he’ll start playing with it in some other [extremely opaque] way.

And getting back the original set up here: my grown-up activities (read: ball games and concerts) are not always fun for him either. We actually do include T in many of our adult pursuits (like the time I took him not only craft shopping at Michael’s, but to the actual craft night itself, complete with gossiping ladies). I cherish many a memory of being dragged to football parties with my parents as young tot. Everybody would be drinking beer and having loud conversations I couldn’t really follow, I couldn’t hold my mom and dad’s attention for more than 45 seconds at once, and there weren’t any good toys there. I usually ended up falling asleep in the corner, more from boredom than sleepiness. I would have much rather stayed home with a babysitter who let me eat frozen waffles for dinner and watch Snick. Does that mean there was something inherently wrong with me, for not finding my parents’ parties interesting? Of course not. We were into different things. It didn’t affect how much they loved me or how much I loved them.

So why should the inverse be true? There is nothing wrong with a parent who is not utterly consumed by everything child.

Me and T? We’re into different things.

That doesn’t mean we never have fun together, far from it.  He helps me cook. I read him books complete with character voices. We made up a game called eau-de-toe (I’m not going to explain it to you). I’m not saying that quality time with your munchkin isn’t important or fun: it definitely is. But it’s also OK if you enjoy solitary kayaking, wine tasting with friends, or watching Dance Moms while eating peanut butter straight from the jar equally as much.

Mamas and Papas, let’s give ourselves a break. You can love being with your child and still think his idea of a good time is boring as crap. She probably feels the same. And I submit to you that that is not a bad thing. After all, play is a child’s work, and you can’t do his work for him, right? (Answer: no. Put down the magic markers, mom).

And to my un-childed peeps: there’s no need to be shocked if a parent admits this.

(Related: check out my review of All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood–and go read it yourself!)

Tutorial: Emma Watson’s cat eye in Elle

14 Aug

When I was a kid, Back to School (which BTdubs, happened like 3 weeks later than it does now–what’s up with that?) was my New Year’s. A time to reinvent myself, make resolutions, and try new things. Even though I haven’t had a summer off in eons, I still get a bit of that urge to revolutionize when the buses reappear. So recently when I was flipping through an old mag in that purgatory of civic responsibility, the jury selection waiting room, this definitely caught my eye (HA-get it?):

original image: Elle magazine, 2014

I’ve always been kind of wary of a heavy eye on us pale-skinned, freckled ladies. So often it veers into goth territory. But if this peaches n’ cream chick can pull it off (which she absolutely does), then maybe I can too. So in the spirit of reinvention, I tried it on moi-self. I even had an opportune event for such a look: I was going to a cast party for a play called — get this– Secret of the Cat. Ha! Aha! Ah…

The description, which you probably can’t read here, says the makeup artist used a black liquid liner layered with a gray kohl pencil. Reinvention or not, I didn’t really have the time or funds to go shopping for new stuff, so I used the products I had on hand.

I bought this NYX black liquid liner for my theatre makeup kit (hitherto the only occasion, other than Halloween, that I use pure black liner).

And this subtly shimmery twist up pencil. Not exactly matte Kohl, but the closest I had to gray.

I also kept a stack of cotton swabs and eye makeup remover handy. Because I’ve found that applying complicated makeup is like skiing…you’ll never get better if you’re afraid to fall down.

This look takes about 10 minutes and is great for a liquid eyeliner novice.

Step 1:

I used primer and BB cream all over my face, including my eyelids. Then I went over some spots including all around the eye area with concealer (Bare Essentials in Bisque, if you care). I have always thought doing concealer first helps eye makeup adhere. Plus you can always add more after.

Step 2:

Forget that nonsense about making a dotted line and then connecting it. I simply tugged my lid a bit to the side with one hand and used the other to make the thinnest of lines right next to the lashes. Just get allllll up on those lashes. The line doesn’t even need to be perfectly straight; because you’re going over it with a pencil later, it will even out.

I may look like a goofball, but opening your mouth really does help!

Goofball looks aside, opening your mouth really does help!

Step 3:

Go over the line again, thickening it this time. All you have to do is press a little harder–that flattens the brush and makes a thicker line. Brace the heel of your hand against your face. Do that as many times as you need to, but remember you’re going back over it with the gray pencil which is easier to use, so no need to be perfect with the liquid liner if you (like me) are less than pro at it. You will notice that both the top and bottom lines thicken in the vicinity of Emma’s pupil, so in subsequent passes over the line you might start there. (see step 5 for a picture of the thickened line).

Here are my two thin lines.

Step 4:

For the cat eye part, flick the bottom line up a little and the top line out toward your temple.  Note: if your eyes look droopy at any point in the process, 9 times out of 10 you need to adjust or fill in the top line. It looks best going straight out, maybe a tad upward. It shouldn’t go down at all.

Here is my flick. It looks like it's going upward, but that's just because I'm looking down. It really was mostly straight.

Here is la flick. It looks like it’s going upward, but that’s just because I’m looking down. It really was mostly straight.

Step 5:

Do the thinnest of thin lines under the eye, again right up against the lash line. I didn’t do but one swipe across the bottom–no need to thicken this part. It doesn’t need to be on the waterline, thank goodness, because I really do think that invites infection.

full line crop

Step 6:

The top and bottom line should touch to form a little wedge. It doesn’t need to be a huge wedge or go far out toward your temple if it’s just for a regular night-time look. Fill in the wedge with the liquid, then the pencil.

wedge crop

And if you are like me and have one eye that looks purrrr-fect and another that looks like shite, just take a deep breath, erase a bit, and try again. I had to do that a lot. Especially since this was happening.

Tenny interuption

Step 7:

Go back over it with the kohl pencil. This is the time to thicken the top. Make a hill-like slope (meaning, not steep) from the inner to outer eye. You can always go overboard with it and then shape it back with a remover-dipped q-tip, which is what I did. Make sure the line does go all the way to the inner corner (as you can see, it looks really good in the mag photo), but be careful–tears can make it run. It needs to be really thin at that inner corner too, just barely there.

Color in with pencil

Color in with pencil

hill close up

While it looks really thick… isn't really.

…it isn’t really.

Finish off the look:

Fill in above the crease with a neutral eyeshadow. Something a tiny bit lighter than skin tone looks really nice.  For the rest of the face, do a neutral pinky lipstick (not too pale) and a dusting of light bronzer. I used Mark Total Kiss Hook Up Plumping Gloss in Sexy.

side by side compare

Exactly the same, right? *snort*




So as you can see, my look came out somewhat less dramatic than the original, but a it’s surprisingly easy to both accomplish and pull off. Enjoy!