Thursday, October 19, 2017

Cathe Friedrich: Gym Style Chest and Triceps (Review)

Now that I've done a month of Gym Style workouts, I can share with you my opinions of these workouts - such great additions to your workout library!

Coming off of Cathe's STS program, the style of these Gym Style videos was a shock to my body.  There's very little rest between exercises and you work on one group of muscles until complete and utter (shaking!) exhaustion.

Chest and Triceps was the hardest of the Gym Style DVDs.  Why?  Because you start with drop sets of push-ups.  You do a total of 72 push-ups.  I was so proud of myself for getting through all of them....  Only, you have to use those same muscles for the rest of the workout and you just exhausted them.  Seriously.  I could barely lift anything after those push-ups and I had to turn around and do chest presses.

So do not expect to lift as heavy as in STS.  Your muscles are just too worn out.  By the time I got to triceps, my chest muscles were shaking so much that my triceps could barely work.  Ouch!

This workout is 48 minutes long and contains a warm-up and stretch.  You need dumbbells, a step (not really required), a barbell (I used only dumbbells), and a resistance band.  Every single chest and tricep muscle will be worked to the point of exhaustion.  This is a very difficult workout.  But.  It's one of the best I've ever encountered.

Bottom Line: If you are serious about gaining muscle, this is one of the most effective workouts on the market today.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Post-STS 12-Weeks: Week 5

Okay, moving on from Gym Style workouts, it's time for a change: two weeks of Cathe's Low Impact Series.  I'm excited to try something new!  

Cathe designed this 12-week rotation to keep your muscles healthy and happy after STS.  It makes sense, after 4 weeks of hard work, to take it down a notch with some low-impact work.  I'm going to add in a high impact workout or two, juts to keep things interesting!

Monday: Cathe's Low Impact Series (LIS): Cardio Supersets + YWA

Yay, new workouts!  This morning, I tuned into Cardio Supersets for the very first time.  It was good - but a change, for sure.  Some of the moves required hand weights to increase the intensity.  There was also a lot of floor work, which is always a challenge.  I jumped on some of the moves where Cathe uses sliding disks.  But otherwise, this was a great low-impact workout.  After a very long day of work, I managed to squeeze in this short YWA.  It wasn't much but I'll always take whatever YWA I can get!

Tuesday: Cathe's LIS: Total Body Tri-Sets - Upper + walk + YWA

Upper body today, though I was still sore from the weekend's chest and tricep work.  Ouch!  This LIS workout was different, in a good way.  I love new weighted exercises - the same ones get boring.  So this was a good morning, though I would have preferred fewer push-ups. Ha!  At lunch, I walked at the rec center and did some ab work.  Finally, after an especially tiring day at work, I did this YWA.  It was good and really stretched out my legs!

Wednesday: Cathe's LIS: Total Body Tri-Sets - Lower + walk + YWA

Yay, lower body work!  This was a good leg workout and definitely different than the others I've done from Cathe.  And I always like new moves!  One, in particular, I couldn't master.  You stand on one foot, squat, put a weight down, put the other weight down, and then pick them up, all while doing squats on one leg.  I just did single leg squats while holding weights. At lunch, I walked at the rec again, and did ab work, again.  Fun.  This YWA was the perfect length once I got home from work.  A good way to end the day!

Thursday: Dozois' Peak 10 Cardio Interval Burn

I can't adequately say how tired I was this morning.  Working out did not sound doable but Michelle got me going....  Slowly.  I soon learned just how much my bum was worked yesterday because it was screaming!  At least I know it got a good workout!  Ha!  Since the temps are slowly dropping here in Texas, the house is cooler in the mornings.  That really helps me get through this type of challenging cardio!

Friday:  YWA + abs

Ah, a rest day.  I love it when I can do yoga on a rest day.  It's the perfect amount of work!  This YWA is from Adriene's Yoga Revolution, which I did in January.  It was perfect for a morning workout because Adriene really eases you into the whole moving thing.  Ha!  After that 30 minutes, I did 10 minutes of abs.  At lunch, I walked outside for 20 minutes - but nothing taxing.

Saturday: Cathe's Cross Fire Express Live + LIS Turbo Barre (arms + planks)

Wow.  So, this Cross Fire workout was hard.  My legs were still aching from Wednesday so all the jumps were torture.  I made it through, though I modified one or two moves....but my heart was pounding like crazy.  After this 35 minutes, I did the weighted arm work in Turbo Barre along with the push-ups, tricep dips, and planks.  Whew!  Upon watching a preview for Turbo Barre, I thought the arms would be easy.  But, no!  I used 8 lb weights and had to take a few breaks, this hurt so much! 

Sunday: Cathe's LIS Afterburn + Turbo Barre

Yay, low impact!  I was worried about my heart rate staying elevated but I'm learning something....  These workouts, like Afterburn, that alternate a cardio move and a weighted move really keep my heart pounding.  And it was so this morning - even with the low impact moves.  After that 45 minutes of cardio, I did 40 of Turbo Barre - the leg and ab portion.  OMG.  This leg work is crazy intense.  I was in so much pain.  Anyone who thinks barre is easy has obviously never done it - or done it correctly.  Because, ouch!

Calorie Counts:

I ate really well Monday through Thursday.  Then I blew it on the weekend for football.  Oh, well. 

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Cathe Friedrich: Gym Style Back, Shoulders, and Biceps (Review)

I have more Cathe to share with you!  I just finished a month of her Gym Style videos and let me tell you - these are effective!

Coming off of Cathe's STS program, the style of these Gym Style videos was a shock to my body.  There's very little rest between exercises and you work on one group of muscles until complete and utter (shaking!) exhaustion.

Back, Shoulders, and Biceps is 50 minutes long and includes a warm-up and stretch.  You start with back - rows, one-arm rows, supermans, and pullovers.  I was so happy to do supermans on the floor after all the rows!  You then move to shoulders: overhead presses, lateral raises, front raises, rear flies, reverse flies....  After some of these weighted exercises, you switch to the band for a "finisher."  That means, "ouch."  And finally, you move to biceps - endless curls, hammer curls, concentrations curls, and finally, wrist curls.  Those were new to me and just a bit painful!

Because you do so many exercise with one muscle group in fast repetition, I learned very quickly that I couldn't lift as heavy as with the STS program.  This isn't bad, overall - I was greatly challenged by all three Gym Style workouts.  But I think STS helps you gain more muscle overall.  

Equipment needed: a band, dumbbells, barbell (I used dumbbells), a mat, and a step/stool.  

Clips are available here.

Bottom Line: This is an advanced, challenging weightlifting workout.  

Monday, October 9, 2017

Post-STS 12-Weeks: Week 4

Yay!  This is the last week of Cathe's weighted Gym Style workouts.  They are super effective but tough, so I don't mind shelving them for a while.  I hope to get them reviewed and post those reviews soon.  

Though this has  been a tough four weeks, I've really enjoyed the new and different workouts.  Cathe has put together some incredible workouts throughout her long career!

Monday: REST

A stomach bug or something kept me from working out today.  Boo!

Tuesday: Cathe's Gym Style: Back, Shoulders, and Biceps + walk + YWA

I was feeling better today so I tackled this Gym Styles workout at 5:30am.  I was dreading it but I got through it and am happy to not see it for a while!  The bicep work seems endless!  At lunch, I walked at the rec center since I got so few steps in my morning workout.  It was nice to get away from the office for a bit!  This YWA is a great one to come back to - all about flow and breathing.  Lovely!

Wednesday: Cathe's Rock'm Sock'm

This was just what I needed - kickboxing!  It's been a while since I had a morning of kickboxing so it was a nice change today. Rock'm Sock'm is part of Cathe ICE - intermediate - series but it really packs a punch with some serious cardio drills throughout the workout.  The punch combinations were fun.... I really like this one!  Obligations after work meant no YWA - which really saddened me.

Thursday: Cathe's Rock Body Boot Camp Live + walk

Time for another metabolic workout (weights + cardio).  I'm loving these!  This one was a doozy.  While the cardio wasn't crazy intense, it raised my heart rate and the weights kept it up.  Wow!  I was almost struggling to keep up with Cathe's pace with some of the weighted work.  But it was fun and I'll definitely have to do this one again!  At lunch, I walked at the rec center, working up a nice sweat!  I even added on some core work.

Friday: Dozois Peak 10 More Cardio Interval Burn

Since I had an unexpected rest day on Monday, I had to do this CIB on Friday.  Oy.  These CIBs are not easy in the morning.  I got through this one but, like last week, I kept the peaks "low" instead of going all out.  This is one of my favorite cardio workouts - it really makes you work!  This was definitely a productive morning!

Saturday: Cathe's Quick Fix Cardio Live + Gym Style: Legs + YWA

Time for some serious work today!  I needed some cardio and this short, 30-minute Quick Fix was perfect!  You go straight into snowboarders after a 5-minute warm-up and you don't stop for the next 25 minutes.  Whew!  I then did my last Gym Style: Legs workout.  Yay!  This one is tough and it kept the sweat pouring off of me.  And finally, after some sit-ups, I tuned into a nice, relaxing YWA to stretch out my legs.  A good morning!

Sunday:  Cathe's Cardio Core Circuit Live + Gym Style: Chest and Triceps + Lean Legs and Abs (leg + ab tracks)

I was not looking forward to all this today!  I started with cardio - and this live workout really gets my heart rate up there!  I like it so much more than the DVD, though.  Ha!  After that, I did my 72 push-ups and all the rest of this Gym Style workout.  What got me through was knowing this was the last time or a long time.  I then tuned into Lean Legs and Abs to do the 10-minute toning leg portion followed by the ab track, which I did last week.  After all that - almost two hours, I stretched.  

Calorie Counts:

I had four really good days and then another bad weekend.  And I don't regret the bad weekend - much.  Sigh.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Second Pair of Socks!

I knitted my first pair of socks in 2009 - and I wasn't 100% happy with the results.  This time, I had a new ally: Charlene Schurch's Sensational Knitted Socks.  Prior to starting my second pair of  socks, I read all of her instructions, which include fabulous tips you won't find anywhere else.  And having knitted several pair of baby socks definitely helped, as well.

Pattern: Four-Stitch Ribbing Patterns by Charlene Schurch
Yarn: Must Stash Yarn & Fiber - Perfect Self Striping Sock

Needles: US 1 (2.25mm)
Made for: me - I think
Time to completion: 4 months

I loved knitting these socks with this yarn.  It is amazing.  I've already bought more for more socks!  The pattern was great - super easy to follow.  Schurch lays out exactly how many stitches you need for every size of foot you will encounter.  My only little gripe about her pattern is the heel flap....  It has some garter stitches that I don't love.

But, yay!  Socks!  Adult socks!  Lovely adult socks!

Monday, October 2, 2017

Post-STS 12-Weeks: Week 3

Last week ended with a cold so hopefully this week will have me feeling better.  And new thyroid meds....  I'm ready to feel normal, sooner rather than later.

Monday: Cathe's Gym Style: Back, Shoulders, & Biceps + walk + YWA

I was tired this morning - but this is quickly becoming the norm.  When did I last wake up feeling refreshed?!  This Gym Style workout is tough.  I went up, just a bit, on some of the weights, which felt like a huge accomplishment given the number of reps involved.  At lunch, I walked at the rec center to get steps and activity points on my FitBit.  At the end of the day, I decided upon this YWA - for dancers.  It was different and provided a lovely stretch.

Tuesday: Cathe's Gym Style: Legs 

This morning, I was so tired - and so dreaded this workout.  I took it one exercise at a time and made it through.  But this one is tough.  The slow pulsing static lunges....OMG.  I can barely get through those, they're so painful.  And I still can't do all 32 reps of the leg presses....  I use a step-stool and stepping up on to the highest step is not easy, 32 times over.  I didn't feel like walking at lunch today and then I had to work late, which meant no yoga.  Bummer!

Wednesday: Dozois' PeakFit Anytime Anywhere No Excuse Workout + YWA

When I was putting together this 12 week rotation, for some reason, I decided to do a few AAs in there.  I have no idea why.  I hate this stupidly effective workout.  Even Michelle can't make me like it.  At least her hubby designed it so I can't blame her.  Ha!  I got through it a lot better than the last time I attempted it but it was not at all easy.  After a very stressful day (and week) of work, I tuned into this relaxing YWA.  It helped....until I remembered it was only Wednesday.

Thursday: Cathe's Blast, Barre, and Bands Live + walk

Another cardio + weights metabolic workout!  This was a fun one.  It alternated a cardio blast, a barre - "recovery" - move, and weights.  Cathe says to keep the weights lighter and I did, using 8s.  I loved the barre work in this and would have been happy with more of it!  But I had fun!  At lunch, I walked at the rec center.  I just didn't want to do more weights after everything this week.  Oy.  I'm tired.

Friday: Peak 10 Cardio Interval Burn

My Sunday workout got moved to Friday since I'll be out of town for part of the weekend.  My body was super tired today so I didn't do the peaks in this workout.  Instead, I kept up steady cardio to keep my heart rate up.  It was still a great workout.  I'm enjoying these original CIBs....they're so much fun!  At lunch, I walked outside for a bit - not enough to be a workout but it was definitely good to move around.

Saturday: Cathe's HIIT Pyramid + ICE Blizzard Cardio Blast + Gym Style: Chest and Triceps + 100 walking lunges and hip thrusts 

I did a lot this morning!  First up: HIIT.  Whew!  That lasted a painful 25 minutes.  I followed that up with the non-stop cardio of the Blizzard Blast - so much fun!  I added on my own cardio to get another full 25 minutes in (for 50 total minutes).  Then, 100 walking lunges....and then 100 hip thrusts with a 12-pound weight.  It was then time for what I dreaded most: Gym Style.  I did my 72 push-ups - not quite getting easier - and pushed myself through the rest of this workout.  It was difficult.  Once that ended, I did a 10-minute ab routine off of Cathe's Lean Legs and Abs - very hard.  And then I stretched.  Finally.

Sunday: REST

Calorie Counts:

I was great and super health Monday - Thursday!  I wasn't horrible on Friday but I ate a bit more.  The weekend was killer, though, when we went to my parents' for a birthday celebration.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017


I saw this pattern at a fiber festival several years ago and then, after completing my first sweater, I found the courage to actually cast on.  I'm super happy with this FO.  My only gripe is a bit of dissatisfaction with the armpits, which you sew together after it's all done.

The pattern was a bit annoying at the end when it said to attach a button...but didn't say how to attach a button.  I lost several months trying to figure this little detail out.  Ugh!

Pattern: Sorrel by Catherine Harrison
Yarn: Colinette Jitterbug

Needles: US 2 circs
Made for: a little girl
Time to completion: 12 months

I wish these pics showed the detail of the pattern around the hem and collar.  It all turned out quite well!  Now, I wish I'd finished it in time for my BFF's new baby girl. Curse my slow knitting and that button!

Monday, September 25, 2017

Post-STS 12-Weeks: Week 2

I think my thyroid is out of whack: I'm exhausted all the time.  The last three weeks or so have been torturous. When I switched meds, after about two months, my energy came back.  Now, two more months later, I'm back to feeling like I've been hit by a train.  Ugh.

This Gym Style rotation, which will last for the first four weeks of this 12-week cycle, is challenging.  Every workout leaves my muscles aching...  I guess that's a good thing but I could do with a little less pain.  Ha!

Monday: Cathe's Gym Style: Back, Shoulders, and Biceps + YWA

I was still aching today - so much so that sleep was difficult - from Saturday's Gym Style workout.  Oy.  But I tackled this workout early in the morning and made it through.  There was some pain, for sure, and I'm having to go down in my weights a bit, considering the number of reps, but at least I'm getting through these.  After work, I did a longer YWA - which was nice and flowy!

Tuesday: Cathe's Gym Style: Legs + walk

Wow, these Gym Style workouts are difficult.  The legs workout is no exception.  You start with weights and then move to the floor for band work.  But the band work is not something to look forward to - it is just as painful, if not more, than the standing work.  Ouch!  At lunch, I walked at the rec center to loosen up my legs.  No yoga today as I got home late and felt icky.

Wednesday: Peak Fit Pure Cardio + YWA

Besides feeling like I have no energy and being head achy (for two days now), I woke up with a sore throat.  Oh, yay.  I forced my way through this workout, determined to burn calories after two days of weights.  I even skipped to the end of this workout to do the lunge jump circuits first.  Yay!  I made it through - in a sweaty mess. After work, I managed to fit in this short YWA, before having to do family stuff.

Thursday: Cathe's Total Body Cardio and Weights Live + walk 

Still not feeling well, but I made myself do this workout.  I was looking forward to something different!  When was the last time I did a metabolic cardio/weight workout?!  And this was so much harder than I'd hoped.  Ha!  The cardio was high impact and the weights seemed so much heavier than they actually were.  I made it through but had to lift lighter than usual.  At lunch, I managed a walk, needing to get away from the computer.  

Friday: Ellen Barrett's Grace and Gusto + Cathe's XTrain Abs One

It seems I have a full-blown cold.  Ugh!  I got up and debated doing yoga....but down dogging it with a head full of snot did not sound appealing.  So, I tuned into Barrett's fun and light workout instead.  Ellen is so nice to workout with and this DVD is perfect for a rest day!  After about 25 minutes of that, I did Cathe's 10-minute long ab workout.  Ouch!  Her ab workouts are never easy and this was no exception!

Saturday: Cathe's HIIT 30/30 + Gym Style: Chest and Triceps + YWA

Still under the weather.  I convinced myself I could get through this HIIT - and I did.  Thankfully, there are some intervals that don't kill you....because there is no break in this HIIT.  Whew!  I then did the cursed Chest and Triceps workout.....  This one left me hurting for days last week. Once again, I did all 72 push-ups....and my arms/chest was burned out then and there.  I got through the rest by decreasing my weights a bit.  After that 50 minute, I stretched, did my sit-ups, and then found this YWA......  It was perfect for today.  And then I was exhausted.

Sunday: Peak 10 More Cardio Interval Burn + 100 lunges + Barlates Thigh Workout + Cathe's XTrain Abs Two

Today, I thought I felt better so I went ahead with my regularly-scheduled workout.  First up: a tough CIB.  But I love this one - it was my first Peak 10 workout!  And it's a serious workout.  Then, I did 100 slow, double-pulsing walking lunges.  Ouch!  To finish off my legs, I did an 8-minutes Barlates thigh workout.  This was all standing and more than a little painful at times.  I finished off my morning with Cathe's abs.....and then a stretch.  Whew!

Calorie Counts:

Monday - 1282
Tuesday - 1282
Wednesday - 1433
Thursday - 1354
Friday - 1457
Saturday - BAD
Sunday - bad

On Sunday, I switched thyroid meds.  Hopefully, this will give me some much-needed energy!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Still Alice

Several people suggested I read Still Alice, by Lisa Genova, and considering the age of my parents, I thought it prudent to do.  

My Goodreads Review:

I can't remember the last time I read a book so quickly - and was so fascinated by the subject. Maybe it was because of Genova's excellent prose or maybe it was because this topic hits close to home.... 

Alice is a Harvard professor who starts forgetting things....though not in a typical forgetful manner. Soon, she is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's. Her very quick decline is heartbreaking and profound due to her extreme intelligence and, otherwise, great health. The examples of how her mind changes and how it fails to perceive reality is fascinating and torturous to read. 

But perhaps the most difficult thing about Alice's decline is the effect it has on her husband. The caregiver's plight is superbly written in the character of her husband, a biology researcher and professor at Harvard. Can he pause his career to take care of her? Should he give up parts of his life to be a caregiver? Can he still love his wife if she no longer has her brilliant mind? Because she has Alzheimer's, does she now come first in all things? 

Everyone should read this novel. Sure, it's about Alzheimer's, but it's also about dignity, compassion, and love.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Post-STS 12-Weeks: Week 1

Cathe has a great forum on her site and one of the most frequent questions of any member who has done STS is what to do after the program is done.  This piqued my interest, of course, mainly because I don't want to lose the muscle I've gained.

So for the next 12 weeks, I'll be following Cathe's suggested regimen, with a few changes.  For the first four weeks, for example, I'm throwing in a few Peak 10 workouts for the cardio, just to have a short break from so much of Cathe's cardio.  Hopefully, this shocks my body.  I'm also curious to try new-to-me Cathe workouts - there are so many!  This should be fun!

After these 12 weeks, I'll do a more intense Peak 10 session before and during the holidays, to get an even longer break from Cathe.  You need to mix things up, after all!

So, here we go!

Monday: Cathe's Gym Style: Back, Shoulders, and Biceps + walk + Jessica Smith's Breathe Stretch & Relax

Wow.  So.  After having done STS, this Gym Style program moves fast.  I could barely grab the right weights before Cathe was lifting them!  This will take some getting used to.  And I may need a weight sheet.  Oy.  I have four weeks of Gym Style videos and I want to make the most of those four weeks.  It's so different from STS, I can see why Cathe chose them!  At lunch, I walked at the rec center to get steps and stay awake.  Once home, I decided to take a slight departure from YWA.  I've heard a lot about Jessica Smith's free YouTube workouts and decided to try one of her yoga workouts - this one was a very lovely stretch.  Super good after a long day!!

Tuesday: Cathe's Gym Style: Legs + YWA

After yesterday's abrupt introduction to Gym Styles, I was a bit nervous about this leg workout.  Cathe continued to move quickly through exercises but at least I know what my legs can handle.  But the reps.... so many reps!!!  This workout hurt.  And while holding the weights for these exercises, I learned just how much my arms ached from yesterday!  Sigh.   No workout at lunch today - in an effort to not do too much.  After work, I did a slightly longer YWA - for tired legs.  I needed it after this morning's torture session!

Wednesday: Cathe's Rock It Sock It Live + YWA

I was excited to do cardio this morning!  And kickboxing!  I did this workout six months ago but nothing about it seemed familiar - except the classic Cathe moves, of course.  It was a lot of fun and kept my heart pounding!!  At the end of the day, I wanted to work, but not too hard.  This YWA was a good compromise - and I did not remember doing it with Yoga Revolution.  My memory is horrible!  It was a nice practice and made my body happy!

Thursday: Peak Fit Pure Cardio + weights

Time for some serious cardio this morning so I turned to Michelle Dozois!   This workout is non-stop - but still fun!   It works you hard without killing you, which is nice!  I had to skip the last circuit, which has lunge jumps.  So sad.  At lunch, I did weights at the rec center.  I hadn't done these in a month!  Wow!  I was able to keep my weight amounts but decreased in some of my reps, which is expected.  It felt good to get this done!

Friday: Peak Fit Dynamic Flexibility + Cathe's Ripped with HIIT: Abs One

It was so nice to do something light this morning.  I love Michelle's Flexibility workout - it flows so, so nicely and really stretches you out.  After that, I tuned into one of Cathe's many ab workouts.  This one was 10 minutes and started with standing work, which was different and nice.  Thankfully, none of the moves were impossible - as some that Cathe devises frequently are for me.

Saturday: Cathe's HIIT 40/20 + Gym Style: Chest and Triceps

This morning started with HIIT.  It's amazing how fast my heart can't keep up once this HIIT starts.  This is one effective workout!  I added on some of my own cardio to get in 35 minutes.  Then, Gym Style.  Okey, dokey.  I just finished 3 months of STS....and this workout almost killed me.  It started with 72 push-ups, with short breaks along the way.  I did ALL 72 push-ups (on my knees).  Yay!  But....I burned out my muscles before the the weights began!  So I was hurting and shaking like nothing else for the rest of this workout.  I've never seen my muscles shake so bad.  I got through it but I didn't get all the reps in sometimes.  It was that bad.  I won't be able to lift my arms tomorrow.  A stretch and sit-ups after that.

Sunday: Peak 10 Cardio Interval Burn + my butt, legs + 160 lunges + Cathe's Ripped with HIIT: Abs Two

I woke up aching this morning.  Wow.  I did this CIB - which I haven't touched in quite some time - and really enjoyed it.  It's deceptively difficult and my heart rate stayed way up there.  I then did 20 minutes of walking lunges, deadlifts, hip thrusts, and other leg/butt exercises.  It was fun coming up with my own routine!  I used a 12-pound weight for my hip thrusts and 20s for my deadlifts.  Whew!  Then, Cathe's ab workout was a doozy.  It was  nice to finally get to stretch after all that!

Calorie Counts:

Monday - 1256
Tuesday - 1256
Wednesday -1321
Thursday - 1355
Friday - 1474
Saturday - BAD
Sunday - bad

I think I may have lost weight for our wellness program's summer challenge.  That doesn't mean anything because I remember when I weighed in and thought, "there's no way I could weight more than I do today."  Ha!  But at least I haven't gained weight in two months.  

Friday, September 15, 2017

Cathe Friedrich: HIIT DVD (Review)

I'm in the midst of a Cathe journey and am really enjoying myself!  I only truly discovered Cathe earlier this year when I subscribed to her Live streaming workouts.  Now, I subscribe to get all her workouts via streaming - and I love it!  Cathe excels at HIIT - High Intensity Interval Training - so this DVD really showcases her talents.

The first time I did this video, I was a bit scared.  Most of Cathe's "normal" cardio is HIIT/circuit-like - so what was a DVD dedicated to HIIT going to be like?...  Great!

There are three HIIT workouts on this DVD, all of them are about 30 minutes in length, and that includes the warm-up and cool-down. That makes these workouts a great addition to weight days when you want just a bit of cardio in addition to all that strength work.

HIIT #1 - 40/20, which means 40 seconds of work, 20 seconds of rest.  For this workout, you'll need a step, which I don't have.  The warm-up is fast and intense to get you ready to go.  There are 4 HIIT circuits and after each one, you are given a full minute of rest.  Thank goodness!  This HIIT has a lot of jumping and tuck-jumps. It works you hard...but it's not the most difficult HIIT on this DVD.

HIIT #2 - 30/30, which is 30 seconds on, 30 off.  This HIIT was the easiest of the three for me, though you don't get the full minute rest like in the 40/20 HIIT.  Instead, you go and go for the full time.  You need a step for this workout, as well.  Since I don't have a step, I squat deeper, jump higher, and go faster to work as hard as Cathe.  Whew!

HIIT #3 - Pyramid....  This one is the toughest.  The HIITs get longer and longer....and then it reverses - they get shorter and shorter, to come back down - like a pyramid.  Then you have a break (a minute) and do the entire thing over again.  No equipment is needed for this one and yet it is the most difficult.  When you're at the top of the pyramid, these HIITs just won't end.  This workout exhausts me.  

But I love being able to say that I can get through these and still do an hour-long strength workout afterward, like STS.  This is a great addition to Cathe's library of DVDs. 

Clips are available here.

Bottom Line: This is an advanced collection of HIIT workouts. You won't find a better HIIT routine - all of them are that good, making this DVD a great investment.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Laughing Without an Accent

I've finally finished reading a short book - that took way too long for me to read...  My university chose this book as it's common reading for 2017. That means that every incoming freshman is required to read this book.  Every year, it's always fun to see what the common reading committee will choose.  This year, Laughing Without an Accent, by Firoozeh Dumas, was an appropriate, though somewhat lackluster choice.  

My Goodreads review:

My book group chose to read this and it is a good, solid memoir. It is in no way groundbreaking or terribly insightful, but Dumas has a nice humor that makes her stories endearing. The stories of her youth in Iran were, by far, my favorite. I guess the main thing I disliked about this novel was not knowing what happened in the gaps between her anecdotes. How did she meet her French husband? Was she impacted by 9/11? That being said, I enjoyed this book and am glad to have read it.

Monday, September 11, 2017

STS Rotation #1: Mesocycle 3 Recovery Week

Wow.  I'm all done with my first rotation of Cathe's STS!!!  I'll have a review of the series soon, but for now, I'm ready to enjoy a "light" week of workouts.  My body needs to recover. 

Monday: Cathe's Strong and Sweaty Cardio Slam + YWA

After all the over-eating on the weekend, I needed cardio today. And since I had a rest day on Saturday, I thought my body could handle it.  And it could!  I attacked this Cardio Slam for only the second time and did so much better than the first time!  Yes!  It's non-stop circuits - though not technically HIIT - and Cathe works you hard.  At the end, I did some of my own cardio to get in 50 full minutes.   I then did a wonderful YWA - for digestion!  I figured, after all that eating, that it couldn't hurt!  Ha!

Tuesday: Dozois' Body Fit 360 + walk + YWA

In the spirit of recovery, I did a lighter workout today - Michelle's Body Fit is so great.  But I even took it down a notch by not jumping and shortening the cardio to about 20 minutes.  I then did the full stretch and some of my own ab work.  At lunch, I walked at the rec center and got surprisingly sweaty!  And then after work, I did this nice YWA - full of good stretches.  Today was apparently my stretching day!

Wednesday: Cathe's ICE To the Mat: Legs and Glutes + walk

I know it's a recovery week but...  I wanted some leg work.  And I was trying to lay off the heavy cardio a bit.  This workout is done entirely on the floor and uses a ball, a band, a loop, and a weight.  But the weight isn't used as a weight - it's a prop.  This was a painful workout.  Even though you're on the floor - you work your legs hard.  At lunch, I wanted to move so I walked at the rec again.  At least I got steps!

Thursday: Cathe's IMAX Live

Today, I wanted something different and not too crazy.  Like the DVD IMAXs, this one is mostly a step routine with blasts thrown in at regular intervals.  I'm not too keen on step aerobics, especially complicated routines, but I decided to give this one a try.  It was mostly alright, though a few of the step combos were just too convoluted for me and some of the people in the class (thank goodness I wasn't alone!).  But it was fun - and not too much for this early morning.

Friday: YWA + abs

I was so looking forward to yoga this morning!  This YWA for Valentine's Day was lovely!  It was the right amount of flow, relaxation, and stretch.  My body has felt very worn out this week so it was good to give it some love this morning.  After it finished, I had about 5 minutes left for ab work.  

Saturday: Peak 10 Cardio Interval Burn Remix + abs + Dozois' On the Go Workouts

Time for some serious cardio this morning.  I was looking forward to a CIB and this one is my favorite!  It was fun to have a break from Cathe's circuits but this workout wears you down because there are no breaks.  Whew!  After that, I did ten minutes of Cathe's abs.  My obliques were crying by the end.  And finally, a stretch, followed by Dozois' Flow and Release on her On the Go Workouts DVD.  Very nice!  It was a very productive morning!

Sunday: Cathe's Cardio Boxing Plus Plyo Legs + YWA

I was ready for something different today so I tuned into a Cathe Live workout - which are always fun.  This one, from 2016, was fun and had tons of cardio to keep your heart rate up amidst all the fun boxing combos.  In fact, there was a lot more jumping than I expected!  Once it ended, I added on some of my own cardio to get 50 minutes in.  Then, some sit-ups and a stretch.  And, finally, a flow-y YWA that really made me work.  

Calorie Counts:

Monday - 1389
Tuesday - 1229
Wednesday - 1229
Thursday - 1425
Friday - 1361
Saturday - BAD
Sunday - not good

I weighed on Friday morning...  I didn't gain anything, despite all I ate over Labor Day weekend.  That's something!  

Friday, September 8, 2017

STS Rotation #1: Thoughts and Conclusions

I have now finished my first STS (Shock Training System) 3-month rotation.  Whew!  When taking into account the recovery weeks after every 4-week Mesocycle, the 3-month rotation is really 3 months and 3 weeks.  I started this in the latter half of May!


What kept me motivated?  Honestly, the hope that doing something so different will change my body. And it did.  I think.  More on that later.  But I've never done such an intense program and I'm proud of myself for getting through it.  

The workouts change enough to keep you from getting bored.  Each Mesocycle is completely different - different exercises and different reps...  Just changing a weight by 2 pounds can have a major difference, as well.  

As I started this program, it was nice to look forward to mornings where I didn't have to do cardio...  But weightlifting provides its own challenges.  And I enjoyed that different challenge.  


I have no idea what kind of results I had.  How crazy is that?!  The bad news is that I didn't lose weight - but then, my eating wasn't great.  I definitely gained muscle - I can lift more and I can see more muscle definition, especially in my legs.  In a perfect world, I was hoping that this system would shock my body so much that it would finally shed a pound (I'm still dealing with the repercussions of having no thyroid).  But it didn't.

That doesn't break my heart because I know I gained muscle.  And that made me a Cathe believer.  This woman knows a lot about fitness!  She broke my cardio obsession - I know I don't need it every day.  I now know that weightlifting is just as good - if not better - for your body.  So now my goal is to keep weight training but also keep up my health, cardiovascularly, with the right amount of cardio.  

Going Forward

Cathe has a schedule of what to do after STS, to keep your muscles challenged but also to keep your body guessing.  That'll be fun - new workouts!  So together with that and a short Peak 10 session in December, I'm good through the rest of the year for workouts!  

I hope my thyroid comes around - well, that the meds actually start acting like my thyroid used to.  And I hope I didn't irreparably damage my metabolism by eating too little and doing too much cardio before STS.  

So, now that I've had a recovery week, it's time to work again on Monday!  Calories won't burn themselves!

Monday, September 4, 2017

STS Rotation #1: Mesocycle 3 Week 4

My last week of STS!  Oh, my.  

I'm sure I'll have plenty of reflections for you next week, when I'm officially done, but as of now, I'm in shock.  This summer - and this STS program - has flown by.  I started STS during the last week of May!  

Monday: STS Shoulders, Biceps, and Triceps + walk + YWA

My last STS bi and tri workout - wow!  I wasn't feeling particularly strong this morning, which was annoying.  But I got through this workout and was glad to be done.  My muscles were hurting!  At lunch, I walked at the rec center.  I got my heart rate up a bit, which was nice.  After work, I did this nice YWA from Yoga Revolution.  It was a good amount of stretch, considering how sore I still was from Sunday's STS Legs.

Tuesday: STS Legs + YWA

Wow.  So, I just did last week's STS Legs on Sunday and now it was up again today.  Can you say, ow?!  I got through this workout, but barely.  It's tough!  And today, I was on my second day of sleep deprivation.  Oddly, the one dream I remember from last night was about Cathe.  Weird!!  After a long day, I did this YWA to open up my tight shoulders - it was very nice!

Wednesday:  Cathe's Ripped with HIIT: Low Impact HIIT Two + Ripped with HIIT: Plyo HIIT One + YWA

This was one sweaty morning!  Low Impact HIIT is only about 25 minutes long so I added on some of the Plyo HIIT to get in a full 40 minutes of cardio.  Whew!  I was sooooo sweaty and tired after all this!  Talk about a great workout!  I'll have to return to the Plyo HIIT to do it all at some point.  After work, I did this yoga for the psoas - which I've only done once before.  It was a really good stretch, holy cow!

Thursday:  Cathe's Kick Punch Cardio Live + YWA

I wanted something different today so I tuned into a live workout.  Fun!  This was a good kickboxing workout that didn't have too many drills.  Yay!  I'm a bit tired of drills.  Cathe does so many of them!  Instead, I kicked and punched my way to a great workout!  I love it when I enjoy my workout!  I meant to do weights at lunch but life happened.  Sigh.  At the end of the work-day, I did this short but intense YWA.  I love it but I sure get sweaty!

Friday:  Cathe's Birthday Bash Live + abs

Tomorrow will be my rest day - in honor of the first day of college football - so today meant cardio.  I love this workout, which includes kickboxing, HIIT circuits, and straight cardio.  I warmed up and then did the entirety of the straight cardio, since I did kickboxing yesterday.  I then finished off with some circuits and kickboxing.  For something different, I stopped five minutes early and did ab work.  Ouch!

Saturday: REST

Sunday:  STS Chest and Back + Cathe's HIIT Pyramid + 280 lunges + YWA

After having a full day of rest yesterday - and eating way too much - I was ready to work super hard today.  I started with Cathe's HIIT - which is extremely difficult.  It only lasts 25 minutes, but those minutes are not at all easy.  After that finished, I did my own cardio HIIT for an additional 15 minutes.  Then, 280 walking lunges.  Ouch!  That made for almost an hour of heart-pumping cardio.  It was then time for my last STS!  Wow!  After that, I stretched and did my sit-ups.  I then wanted to relax so I did this pre-run YWA, which was short and sweet.  

Calorie Counts:

I was mostly good this week, in preparation for a bad holiday weekend.  So, yay - and, oy.

Friday, September 1, 2017

The Scottish Prisoner

I recently finished an Outlander companion novel, The Scottish Prisoner.  This story takes place while Claire is back in modern times and Jamie is a pardoned prisoner after Culloden.  This is a very interesting time since Jamie has many relationships while Claire is gone.

This novel was enjoyable but it wasn't my favorite - mainly because this time in Jamie's life is mostly uninteresting to me.  

My Goodreads review as a bit short.  Ha!...

I very much enjoyed this addition to the Outlander timeline.  It filled an interesting gap in Jamie's story and shed new light on his relationship with his son and Lord John Grey.  It also made me want to know more about Grey's brother, Hal, and his wife.  They seem like a very interesting pair with colorful backgrounds.

Monday, August 28, 2017

STS Rotation #1: Mesocycle 3 Week 3

STS is definitely having an effect on my body.  I'm sore after every workout.  Thankfully, it's the nice kind of sore, where you know you've worked hard but aren't in actual pain.  

This week will be a bit different since I'll be on a short vacation at the end of the week.  That means I'll miss my weights at the rec center.  Overall, I think it may be for the best, to give my muscles a little break...

Monday: Cathe's MMA Kickbox + YWA

MMA Kickbox is an advanced kickboxing workout.  You definitely need to know your boxing terms before you begin this workout and even when you know them, this is still a complicated workout.  But that made it fun!  The combinations, while advanced, kept me on my toes early this morning.  The cardio drills weren't as crazy as some of Cathe's workouts but they kept my heart rate up.  A good workout, for sure!  I didn't have much time after work but I managed to get this short, but sweet YWA done.

Tuesday: STS Shoulders, Biceps, and Triceps + walk

It was nice to not have to jump around this morning.  And I really enjoy most of these exercises - except the concentration curls and most of the tricep work.  Ugh.  I hate my triceps.  But, all in all, a good morning.  At lunch, I braved going out in the hot, hot sun to walk at the rec center.  The worst part is always coming back when I'm so hot from walking and it's 100 degrees out.  But I survived!

Wednesday: Cathe's Strong and Sweaty Cardio Slam + YWA

This morning, I woke up dragging - tired and devoid of energy.  I guess that's what made this workout so darn challenging. Or it was all the lunge jumps.  Either way, it was a struggle to get through and my heart was beating out of my chest.  At least it was a great workout - but it was not fun today.  Given how tired my body appears, I think I'll take the recovery week after STS (1.5 weeks away!) seriously.  My body  needs a break.  After work, this YWA was the perfect amount of work and relaxation.  A good way to end the day!

Thursday: Cathe's HIIT 40/20 + STS Chest and Back

I did Saturday's workout today since I'll be gone on Saturday.  And this one was intense!  This HIIT is no joke and the only redeeming thing about it is that Cathe gives you a full minute to recover every 5 minutes or so.  Thank goodness!  After that, it was time for weights - and a lot of them.  I must admit to getting a bit bored with some of these exercises now.  But there's only one more week left.  Wow.

Friday: YWA + walk

Since I was out of town today, my workout was a bit different.  I went on a 30-minute walk outside and got nice and sweaty (it was really humid due to a huge hurricane being only a hundred miles away).  Afterward, I meant to do Cathe's yoga but there was no internet in the bedroom where I can workout....  So, I did one of Adriene's Yoga Revolution practices, which I bought and downloaded.  This one was really good and it felt great to do some vinyasa flows....  I miss that in the short videos!

Saturday:  Dozois' On the Go Workouts, Vol. 1 

I just got this workout, the day before I left for my trip.  And I threw it in my suitcase, just in case.  Hallelujah!  Since I didn't have internet, I couldn't stream Cathe's Tabatacise.  I didn't cry too hard because I was not looking forward to that crazy intense video.  Instead, I did a nice warm-up on my own and then did both of the HIIT routines on Michelle's video.  Then, I did my own cardio for five more minutes to get in 30 minutes of cardio.  Next up, Michelle's ab track on this video - which was intense.  I got through the full ten minutes and then stretched.  It was a good, abbreviated, morning workout!

Sunday:  STS Plyo Legs + 240 lunges

Today, my workout was a bit short because of my travel-time coming home.  But I did STS Plyo Legs in its entirety....and upped my walking lunges by 20.  And....ouch!  None of this was easy today but the weights were especially difficult.  My heart rate was through the roof and the sweat was pouring off.  Whew!  After that, I did my sit-ups and stretched.  With the lunges, I had a total of 30 minutes of cardio for a full 60 minute workout.   

Calorie Counts:

None this week since I was out of town for part of the week.  I was good on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, though!

Wednesday, August 23, 2017


There comes a time in your life when you must admit to yourself that you're now the adult.  There's no one to go ask for help, advice, or simply for understanding.  You're it.  

And it sucks.


The area where I see this most in my life is when something physically falls apart. My dad is a car fanatic....but he's not there when I have car issues.  I have to deal with them myself.  The refrigerator breaks and it's up to me and Mr. Higgins to fix it.  (Thankfully, Mr. Higgins is incredibly handy when he puts his mind and time to it and we (I was handy myself) fixed a potentially devastating refrigerator problem recently.  Woot!)

But perhaps the most alarming truth about adulting is that you inevitably become the adult in the relationship you have with your parents.  As they age, they become increasingly dependent upon you to fix things in their house, to update their technology, to teach them technology, to help them in medical crises.  The roles reverse - and sometimes this happens quite suddenly.

It's not the best position to be in.  It's definitely not fun and is usually accompanied by extreme sadness.  We watch our parents deteriorate.   No longer can they fix our problems; we are asked to fix theirs.  It is, after all, a very natural process.  But like a lot of things in nature, it's not pretty.  

This is the beginning of a new chapter in our lives.  Since we're not having kids, our best years may now be behind us.  Mr. Higgins seems partly convinced of this but I still have hope that this is not the case.  

Actually, I desperately hope that it's not.  

Monday, August 21, 2017

STS Rotation #1: Mesocycle 3 Week 2

Only three more weeks of STS?!  Holy cow!

Monday: STS Shoulders, Biceps, and Triceps + walk

I did this workout during a raging early morning storm, praying that the electricity wouldn't go out amidst tons of thunder and lightning.  And it didn't!  Yay!  I increased my weights a bit and felt a bit stronger in some areas - and weaker in the triceps at times.  Ugh!  At work, I walked at the rec center.  That was a nice break from the office!

Tuesday: STS Plyo Legs + YWA

Wow - these Plyo Legs workouts are intense (as you can see from the clip I found)!  I was happy to see some different moves in this week's workout but there was a lot of repetition.  Since I don't have a step, I know some of the cardio moves are not as effective for me, but I try to make them as intense as possible by squatting low etc.  As it was, I got a great workout.  At lunch, I walked for a bit outside, but it wasn't enough to be called a workout.  After work, I did this new YWA - which was nice for my sore, tired legs.

Wednesday: Cathe's Ripped with HIIT: Low Impact HIIT One + Afterburn + YWA

Low impact today - which means high intensity when it comes to these Cathe workouts.  Dang!  Ripped with HIIT is quickly becoming one of my favorite Low Impact options.  This is such a great workout.  After it's short 25 minutes were over, I tuned into some of the cardio portions of Afterburn - which are even more intense.  Dang!  Talk about a workout!  After a long work day, I did this YWA - a root practice so it had some balancing.  I rarely get to do tree pose so that was fun!

Thursday: Cathe's Warrior Kickboxing + weights

Yay, a new live kickboxing workout!  This workout was so much fun!  It had many good combinations, which I love.  In between the combinations, jacks and shuffles kept my heart pounding.  Cathe even threw in some blasts before heading to the heavy bag boxing.  I had a lot of fun with this one!  At lunch, weights at the rec center.  The students are back - moved in with no classes to attend, so they were all working out. I couldn't even get to two of the machines I needed but I made do.

Friday: Cathe's Stretch Max (bands) + Icy Core 1 + YWA

I wanted relaxing with a bit of work this morning so this was a good mix. I started with Cathe's Stretch Max, which is a 17-minute workout using a band.  It really stretched my legs well, which was super nice.  After that, some real work with Icy Core.  This workout was close to eleven minutes of core torture.  Ha!  I then tried to relax again with Yoga Chill - a short YWA that was a good end to the morning.

Saturday: Cathe's HIIT 30/30 + STS Chest and Back

Time to work this morning!  First up - HIIT.  This workout is non-stop - 30 seconds of work, 30 seconds of rest.  Some of the moves are brutal.  But I got through it - 25 minutes total.  Next up: STS.  I'm really liking these Chest and Back routines.  Lots of chest presses and rows, which I like.  And I'm always sore afterward - not painfully so, but I can feel it.  It's the good kind of ache!  I stretched for a bit afterward and did some sit-ups to round out my workout.

Sunday:  Cathe's Kick Max + 220 lunges + Pauline Nordin's Butt Bible Lower Level 2 + abs + YWA

So, a brutal day for my lower body.  I started off with Kick Max, which I was naively looking forward to because I love Cathe's kickboxing.  I made my own premix - warm-up, two of the combos, and the drills.  So....  The boxing combos were fun - advanced and different in a good way.  Then the drills - 10 of them with no rest, only jogging in between.  I thought I was going to die. After that 40 minutes, I did 220 walking lunges.  And then Butt Bible.  The only good thing about it is that I like level 2 the best because it's well rounded and not too long.  But it hurt so bad.  I did 7 minutes of Cathe's abs afterward and, finally, a 17-minute YWA to stretch and relax.  I needed that.

Calorie Counts:

Monday - 1290
Tuesday - 1314
Wednesday - 1394
Thursday - 1519
Friday - bad
Saturday - 1387
Sunday - BAD