Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Rebel Queen

While on vacation, I read a book in my favorite genre, historical fiction.  I've always enjoyed the novels by Michelle Moran and Rebel Queen was no exception.

My Goodreads review:

I don't think I would hesitate to read anything by Michelle Moran - in any time period, involving any character.  She's a wonderful writer of historical fiction.  I don't have a lot of interest in India - and I'm not a fan of the British Empire - but the premise of this novel sounded intriguing...  Girl power and all that.

Moran did a lovely job introducing the main character, Sita, and explaining the religious views of Hindus in 19th century India.  I was ashamed bu how little I knew.  Sita quickly finds herself in the employ of Queen  Rani Lakshmi, who will become India's last queen before the British arrive.

This story is riveting and I found myself flying through this novel.  Sita was a lovely heroine and the dynamics of court life were enlivened by Moran very well.  The atrocities committed by the British made me truly ashamed to be a part of Western culture.

A great read!

Monday, March 27, 2017

Cathe Challenge: Week One

If you read my post last week, you'll know that I'm now a subscriber to Cathe Live Streaming.  For the next eight weeks, up until our next cruise, the majority of my workouts will be from Cathe.  That should make a good eight week Challenge, for sure.


Tuesday: Michelle's Rockin' Body Cardio + weights + YWA

After so many days of not working out - ahem, 11 days - I needed to ease into it again.  So I did my traditional first-workout-after-vacation video: an older one by Michelle Dozois.  It definitely gets you moving and while the moves aren't crazy hard, I always work up a sweat!  At lunch, I got to the rec to do weights, for the first time in TWO weeks, and was so proud of myself. After work, I did a 16-minute YWA, which focused on lower back pain.  My back was not happy today, for some reason.

Wednesday: Cathe's Kickboxing and Barre + YWA

Today, I didn't know what to expect from Cathe.  Her kickboxing is different from others.  She focuses more on arms than legs and scatters cardio bursts throughout this workout.  It was really effective.  The cardio was so much - jumping! - that I was tempted to take it down a notch, but I persevered.  After work, I wanted to do a more flow-y YWA so I chose this one - though I do not have a broken heart.  Ha!  It was lovely!  And it made me sweat a bit!

Thursday:  Cathe's Intensity + walk + YWA

I'm continuing to ramp up my workouts, post vacation.  Cathe's Intensity is challenging on any day!  I did all the step and then the Lo-HIIT.  I was sweating up a storm and breathing hard - yay!  At lunch, I walked the track at the rec center.  It was good to get out of the office, for sure!  And after lunch, I did a 30-minute YWA for feet!  My feet have been a bit achy - partly from my plantar fasciitis.  So this YWA was lovely!  

Friday: Shape's Bikini Body Camp Transforming + The Gymbox's EDI: Walking + YWA

Since I had Monday off, there was no rest this Friday.  I did Michelle Dozois' cardio from Shape's Body Camp.  It's such a good 30-minute workout, including burpees and lunge jumps.  Whew!  I didn't want to kill myself afterward, so I did 10-15 minutes of Dana's walking workout on The Gymbox.  It kept me moving.  After work, I did a short YWA because I was already cleaning for the weekend.  Ugh.

Saturday:  Peak 10 Cardio Interval Burn - Fat Blaster + The Gymbox's Extreme Cardio + YWA

I love this CIB so I chose it to be my first Peak 10 workout, post vacation.  Yay!  And I made it all the way through!  This one is so much fun, it's hard not to - except that it gets harder as you go along.  Ha!  After that 55 minutes, I did 15 minutes of Dana's low-impact Extreme Cardio on The Gymbox.  I like Dana's workouts so far - she definitely pushes you, even when doing low-impact work.  After all that, I stretched, did some sit-ups, and, finally, a short YWA to check in with my tired body.

Sunday: Cathe's Crush It Low Impact Live + The Gymbox's Advanced Kickboxing + weights + YWA

So because I won't have a light, yoga-y day until Friday, I need to not get completely exhausted before then. So I decided to take it down just a bit today.  I did Cathe's low-impact, which was 75% low-impact with weights.  It was good, though Cathe went way too fast on some of the weighted portions.  Then, after that 30-minute workout (yes, a short Cathe!), I tuned into The Gymbox for Jodi's kickboxing.  Some of the cardio was high-impact but it wasn't too bad.  All in all, a good workout.  I did that for 35 minutes, then did some work with the weights for 5 minutes.  Then a stretch, planks, and a chilled out YWA.  

Calorie Counts:

Not great eating this week but I had some good days.  It's always hard after a cruise, when you eat so much and your body gets used to that amount of food.  I had to to try to reign it in this week!  

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Hidden Figures

For the month of March, my book group chose to read Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly.  

My Goodreads review:

I was very curious about this novel because a) I had no idea women worked at NASA back in the days of the race to space and b) I didn't know black women were among them.  When I picture NASA in those days, I see a lot of white men in polyester suits with cigarettes dangling from their mouths.  Yep, no joke.

So I was happy to read this novel and learn that among those cigarette smoking, polyester-clad white men were professional black women.  And what intelligent women they were!  It blows my mind - especially because I'm horrible at math - that these women worked as computers.

And to consider what black women had to overcome just to receive a good education.  I'm so proud of of them and for their accomplishments at NASA.  Shetterly wrote a wonderful book and it was a pleasure to read.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Cathe Streaming

This week, when I return from vacation, I'll start an 8-week Cathe Challenge.  

Earlier this year, when I learned that FitnessGlo was going down, I started investigating other streaming workout sites.  I knew that Cathe streamed workouts but I had to investigate her site more before I fully understood what she offered.  

There are two options:

1.  Stream Live workouts from her gym.  

2.  OnDemand access to all of Cathe's DVDs.  

*If you purchase the OnDemand package, you also gain access to the Live workouts.  

My one gripe with Cathe's DVDs is that they require too much equipment - and to many are step workouts.  So I was not inclined to try the OnDemand option.  It's also quite a bit more expensive than just doing the Live workouts.  

The Streaming Live workouts cost $10/month.  That's not bad.  That's what I'm paying for The Gymbox.   To get me started, I asked for a gift card to the site, which I used to purchase a 6-month Live plan.  Cool!

Cathe's Streaming Live workouts are more appealing than her DVDs - to me, anyways.  She's more personable and she gives you water breaks.  Amazing.  So far, my one gripe (and I've only done two workouts but perused the site extensively), is that 75% of the workouts, if not more, require weights.  That's all good and fine but you can't do weights every day.  At max, you can do weights three times a week.  

Given this knowledge, I think Cathe's Streaming Live workouts will compliment my subscription to The Gymbox, which has more cardio and less cardio/weight integrated workouts - which is what Cathe has too much of.   They seem to be a good pair to subscribe to together.  

We'll see!  Stay tuned!

Friday, March 17, 2017

Shoal Bay

My week of pictures continues....

Shoal Bay, Anguilla, had some of the most amazing colors.  The water was just....iridescently beautiful.  I wish we had had more time to spend here but we were hampered by ferry schedules.  If you get a chance to go, don't pass it up!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Nelson's Dockyard

A picture to distract you while I'm away....

This is Nelson's Dockyard on Antigua, where the British navy had a foothold in colonial times.  It's an amazing place and one that sailors of the Caribbean know very well.  Every year there's a Regatta here and it must be quite a sight.

Monday, March 13, 2017

One Week Before the Cruise! - Workouts

It's actually less than a week: we leave on Thursday night.  Eek!

After eating healthy all weekend, I'm hungry.  But I've got to keep this going for four more days...  

Monday: The Gymbox Cardio Dance + YWA

Today I cannot tell you how sore I was - either from weights or kickboxing yesterday, I don't know.  But I could barely lift my arms - or anything else.  Ouch!  So it was good that I'd planned to take it down a notch today, before my final three day push to the cruise.  I did a dance workout with Jodi, who is a really good instructor, successfully breaking down complicated steps.  My heart rate didn't get too high this morning but I had fun!  In the evening, I wanted to work a bit harder with yoga so I did this "energizing" sequence - it got me sweating!

Tuesday:  Peak 10 Cardio Interval Burn - Fat Blaster + walk + YWA

Changing it up this morning!  I wanted cardio so I turned to Michelle.  I love this CIB!  Since it was so early, I didn't know if I'd feel up to the peaks, but I did about 75% of them.  Wow!  Talk about a great workout!  At lunch, I meant to do weights but I was still so sore from Sunday, that I walked instead.  I felt like a disappointment - I'm weird that way - but at least I didn't hurt myself.  After work, I decided to do a tougher YWA - and this one made me sweat!  So many lunges - wow!

Wednesday: Cathe's Metabolic Circuit Blast + walk

For my weights today, I decided to do another streaming Cathe video.  This one was a lot like the one I did last week.  The cardio, though, was intense and I was sweating like crazy.  I'm still not 100% sold on Cathe's style but maybe my Cathe Challenge in a few weeks will change that.  One thing this workout showed me, though, was how tired I am.  I'm just rundown.  Sigh.  I may have to take it easier than I'd planned tomorrow.  At lunch, I walked ten minutes to and from a cafe to meet my old boss for lunch.  A lovely 20 minutes outside!

Thursday: Cathe's Intensity

My last workout before the cruise!  I needed to make the most of it, though I was really feeling rundown.  Cathe's Intensity is not my favorite but I can do it in the mornings - it's not too bad, if I do the low-impact HIIT.  And that's what I did this morning.  It was a good workout, without being crazy.  

And that's it!  We're off.  

For the first time ever, I'm thinking of workout out on a cruise - well, doing yoga.  I've gained some fantastic flexibility - I'm so close to the splits! - and I don't want to lose it all.  We'll see how it goes.  

On Tuesday, I finished my 30-Day Squat Challenge.  Yay!  I can't say my bum feels any different but we'll see after I spend time in my bikinis next week.  Ha!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Two Days....

....until we leave.

I'm so ready.  I can't remember a time when I've needed a vacation more.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Two Weeks Before the Cruise! - Workouts

Well, you guessed it.  Two weeks until the cruise.  Actually, less than that; we leave a week from Thursday.  Eek!

After being so depressed at the number on the scale last week, I may not get back on it.  I may stick to measurements only.  Thankfully, I have my measurements all in one notebook - and they go back years.  Sometimes it's not so good, actually.  Ha!

I have a few more days left of my Les Mills On Demand subscription so let's put those to good use!

Monday: Les Mills' Sh'Bam #22 + weights + YWA

My last Sh'Bam for a while - so sad.   I went back to the newest routine, which I'd only done one other time.  It was fun!  I kept it all low-impact because I needed a break.  It was still a good workout and it was nice to not kill myself.  Ha!  At lunch, I forced myself to the rec to do weights.  I hate them but it felt so good to get them over with for the week!  After work - and  a horrible commute - I did a 19-minute YWA.  Very nice!  And very calming, which is what I needed.

Tuesday: Les Mills' Combat #67 + YWA

And my last streaming Combat for a long while. Sigh.  This one was a good one - not too crazy for an early morning.  I was dreading the leg portion but it wasn't too bad.  All in all, it was a good, energizing workout for a Tuesday.  Work kept me from a lunch-time walk but I managed to do some YWA after work.  This YWA was tough - lots of lunges which really got to my legs.  Dang!  Adriene still manages to surprise me!

Wednesday:  Les Mills' BodyAttack #93 and 92 + YWA

My last Les Mills workout for this Challenge.  Sniff, sniff.  Instead of torturing myself with Grit, I decided to make myself work hard and fast with not one, but TWO BodyAttacks.  This is pure aerobics.  So much running and hopping and jacking....  Whew!  It gets hard to keep up as you get tired but I made it through the cardio of most of these two.   Yay!  A birthday lunch at work meant no workout but I did a nice, calming YWA after another crazy commute home.  It really helped to soothe my frazzled nerves.

Thursday:  Cathe's Ramped Up Cardio and Weights + walk + YWA

For Christmas, I'd asked for a gift certificate to Cathe's streaming videos.  I finally joined this month, and plan to do a Cathe Challenge after the cruise.  But I wanted to check it out and this workout seemed good on a morning when I needed weights.  And it was good!  I like Cathe live more than on her DVDs.  Ha!  After work, I did a 33-minute YWA, focusing on balancing.  I thought it'd be a bit lighter with balancing stuff....but it was a lot of flow and really got my heart rate going.  Nice!

Friday: BodyFit 360 Vol. 2 - Dance Conditioning + walk 

It was nice to go back to BodyFit this morning, after a two-month hiatus.  I kept this low-impact....and still started sweating like crazy.  There's no one like Michelle: fun with some serious work. The floorwork gets me every time!  I skipped two tracks but did most of this workout.  At lunch, I walked outside - it was gorgeous - for about 20-25 minutes.  

Saturday:  Peak 10 Cardio Interval Burn Remix + The Gymbox Cardio Dance + YWA

After everything is said and done and another Challenge is over, it's always fun to go back to Michelle for a good Peak 10 workout.  This one is a favorite of mine and I really enjoyed it today....and I got a great 55-minute cardio workout.  After that, I tried a Gymbox dance workout with Kaycee.....and I'm learning that she's not my favorite for dance.  But I persevered for 15 minutes.  Then, a nice stretch and a lovely YWA.

Sunday: The Gymbox Advanced Kickboxing + weights + YWA

I wanted something different today.  I've done a few of Dana's workouts on the Gymbox and I like her style, though she's tough.  She has some kickboxing workouts so today, I decided to give this 60-minute workout a try.  Dang!  She warms you up well and then you do some major cardio before settling into some kickboxing combinations.  After every combination, you do intervals to get your heart rate up.  That was a very effective hour.  Wow!  After that, I did 10 minutes of weights with the 12-pound weights.  Then, a nice 7-minute stretch with Adriene.  And then my arms were killing me all day.  

Calorie Counts:

Monday - 1359
Tuesday - 1310
Wednesday - 1290
Thursday - 1189
Friday - 1217
Saturday - 1235
Sunday - 1178

So I didn't freak out at my extra calories this week.  I'm beginning to think I'm eating too little when I stay at or under 1200.  Come the weekend, I was afraid to get on the scale as it's that time of the month.  But I did....and I was down almost 3 pounds from last weekend.  OMG!  I was ecstatic.  That means I'm 2.2 pounds away from my ideal 5-pound range.  Yay!

Friday, March 3, 2017

Happy Birthday Door Sign

The cruise we're taking next Friday is for Mr. Higgins' dad's 70th birthday.  It's a big birthday and it needed a big cruise - so we're taking a 10-night cruise on a line that's a bit more upscale than what we're used to.

A fun thing to do on cruises is to decorate your cabin door.  All the doors are magnetic, making it easy to buy - or make - cool decorations to differentiate your door from all the others.  It's fun.  Except when people steel your stuff....which has happened to us.  

BUT.  I wanted to make something for my father-in-law's door.  Mr. Higgins suggested a big cupcake....  But I don't do well with cutting.  After trying to get ideas on websites, I came up with this.

Nice lines that I can cut - with a paper cutter and small things to do by hand.  Ha!  

I hope he likes it.  He deserves to have fun and hopefully some festive decorations will help set and keep the mood of happiness.  

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The Misremembered Man

Somehow, despite being crazy - or maybe because of it - I flew through The Misremembered Man, by Christina McKenna.  An overnight trip to Chicago, meaning about 5 hours on a plane, means a lot of reading time, apparently.

My Goodreads review:

Someone loaned me this book, suggesting that it's one I might enjoy. The synopsis made me think that, as well.

This was an endearing novel....but it was also very difficult to read, at times. It's the story of a man, James, orphaned, now grown and living on a farm by himself. He decides that it's past time to find a special woman to complete his lonely life. A schoolteacher, Lydia, has a similar epiphany when she needs a date to a wedding. The two end up exchanging letters and eventually meeting.

What is difficult about this novel is the flashbacks to the orphanage where James grew up. I had no idea the houses run by the Catholic Church in Ireland were so absolutely despicable and abusive. The actions by those who ran such places made this a terrible thing to have to read - so much so that I cannot imagine living through it.

The novel ends well, though a bit too quickly. McKenna's novel has a steady rhythm throughout until the conclusion, which feels rushed and disjointed. But I enjoyed James - a man whose simpleness is greatly endearing - and Lydia, with whom any woman can sympathize.