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Winter Workout Blues

Published on January 26, 2013, by in Fitness, Health, Life.

I need to change things up. I’ve lost my workout mojo over the past few months due to the cold weather, early darkness, traveling, moving, illness, and a bit of apathy thrown in as well. I tried to give myself some inspiration by signing up for a two mile open water swim in May as well as an Olympic distance triathlon relay (bike leg) but, well, May is just so far away. Due (to be honest only partially) to a pretty bad respiratory illness I haven’t swum in ages and missed a few weeks of biking as well. I feel pretty much human again so now I need to take this opportunity to kickstart my workouts. For the umpteenth time.

I've almost forgotten what these are used for...

I’ve almost forgotten what these are used for…

The past year I’ve really neglected weight training which was always my favorite way to work out. It was hard enough to get swim/bike/walk/run workouts in for triathlon competitions much less hitting the dumbbells. Fortunately, and unbeknownst to me until I saw the results, training for a triathlon helps you put on some muscle as well. Not as much as I want but more than I expected. My biceps and triceps are larger and more toned than they were before I began triathlon training and my legs have shown quite a lot of improvement in strength and tone. Thanks, hills. Even my abs (if you could see them beneath the belly fat) have toned up. But now it’s off season and I want to change it up a bit. The first change being to get off my rear and back to the gym…

The only thing I’ve been doing consistently lately is biking. In these cold and dark winter months I signed up for an indoor training course with Spin90, the training program that got me ready for my first triathlon last year. I’ve found that paying for things in advance greatly helps my motivation. So now I need to get back into the water so I’ll be ready for that swim in May. And start a new weight lifting program. No problem, right?

Can't get those guns without some weight training.

Can’t get those guns without some weight training.

My plan is to bike and swim 1-2 times a week each and weight train 2-3 times a week with a session of yoga thrown in there somewhere as well. I want to focus on weight lifting so I can get back into the habit and find a way to incorporate it into upcoming training for triathlon season. Then I’ll put the emphasis more on the bike/swim but I want to maintain some weights as well.

Lofty goals for a woman who hasn’t been to the gym in weeks, right? That changes today. I’ll bid you all adieu, go pack my gym bag, and go get my workout on. Wish me luck.

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Film Review: Beginners

Published on January 16, 2013, by in Movies, Reviews.

On Christmas night my boyfriend and I had to grudgingly pack up our belongings and trek back home from our holiday. And yes, it sucked we had to come back that night and couldn’t drag out the vacation a little longer. Ho hum. Therefore instead of rushing to bed, I insisted on staying up to paint my nails and watch Beginners on Netflix.

I’d been wanting to watch it since first I’d heard of it. It seemed positive, pretty to look at, and starred three people I like – Ewan McGregor, Christopher Plummer, and Melanie Laurent. I sometimes get a little wary of movies based on whatever (false) impression I get from their previews, and I get especially suspicious if I’m afraid they’re going to be terribly depressing. This is a battlescar I completely blame on the movie Atonement, which I entered into thinking was going to be sweet and romantic. *hint* – it’s NOT.

Beginners focuses on Oliver (Ewan MacGregor) and his navigation through recent, major changes in his life. His mother has recently died from cancer. While taking care of his widowed father, who comes out as homosexual at the ripe old age of 75, he begins to see life in a whole new perspective. When his father, too, passes of cancer (this isn’t a spoiler, since it happens within the first few minutes of the film), Oliver is overcome with grief and bewilderment at what to do. Luckily, his friends force him to a costume party where he scores with a girl big-time while dressed up as Sigmund Freud (who knew that would work?). Anna, played by Melanie Laurent, needles Oliver out of his shell in the way only a hot stranger could. She distracts him from his sorrow and he begins to reflect upon his last few months with his father.

Oliver doesn’t appear to be someone who likes change very much. He draws his scribbly caricatures at his job the same way. He re-enacts the same pattern in his relationship with women. He sticks to what’s safe. When his father decides to embark on a lifestyle change in his golden years, Oliver sits by, shocked, observing from the sidelines. But when he embarks on a relationship with Anna, it’s clear that his exposure to his father’s journey has seeped in and made him realize he wants to change. It’s heartening to see someone respond to the loss of a loved one by choosing to tiptoe into adventure rather than hide themselves in a hole.

I’m choosing to review this movie now because - har har – we’re in January and it’s called BEGINNERS! And I’m never tired of reminders to go out and explore what life has to offer. Do something weird, talk to someone you never would have had the balls to, adopt a talking dog (just watch the movie). And never ever be afraid of the unknown.

It also happens to be one of those movies I could have replaying as ambient background noise – peaceful, relaxing, and full of a gorgeous house in California and Ewan McGregor.

 

 

 

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Algebra, Schmalgebra

Published on January 15, 2013, by in Life.

I’ve never been much of a “math” person. I’m a liberal arts, history loving, book reading kind of gal and math was always my least favorite subject in school. Pre-algebra and algebra classes turned my apathy over math into active loathing and probably scarred me for life.

I don't even get this. Ugh, math.

I don’t even get this. Ugh, math.

I’ve long felt a little embarrassed at how I let algebra get inside my head. I did actually pass the class but up until then I had never even had to really try to do well in school and this was a nice cold dash of reality splashing me in the face. You can try really hard (or at least sort of hard, I was a lazy teenager) and still only end up with mediocre results. I keep thinking “One day, algebra! One day I’ll show you who’s boss!”

I’ve managed to get a bachelor’s degree and a master’s without having to take any classes more strenuously mathematical than what was nicknamed “Math Class for History Majors”. My math ambitions have been shelved for years; every now and then I’ll search “Algebra for Dummies” books on Amazon or think about maybe signing up for a remedial class at the community college but have never followed through. Can you blame me?

Now there’s this new phenomenon taking place online. Colleges and universities are offering classes free of charge to anyone who wants to sign up. This sounds right up my alley. I  LOVE taking classes (non-math related of course) and the free-er the better! I started perusing Coursera’s course catalog and realized that many things that sounded interesting to me require more of a mathematical foundation than I have (astronomy, for one). I’ve decided it’s time to bite the bullet and face this nemesis of mine. I signed up for an algebra class and start in two weeks. This will be my first undertaking on Coursera and I’m not sure what to expect.

Have you taken any classes on Coursera or similar sites? How has it worked out? I’m excited about finally confronting my dread of math and mastering darn equations or whatever it is that used to stump me back in the day. Sic semper algebra!

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Jessie’s January Jeers and Cheers

Over the past month or so I’ve been keeping a mental list of things to mention on this blog. These things are small and need no more then a word or two about why they are awesome or suck. Here is that list.

1. JEERS to the U.S. Postal Service. When you are running a business that everyone knows is nearly obsolete, you would think that would be the time you start focusing on good customer service. Well at the old USPS, they don’t seem to agree. I think I go to the post office maybe 3 times a year and I dread it every time. My experience has been that the clerks are rude and unhelpful, and that the whole place is disorganized and slow. This past time I brought with me a package- a returned item- which required me to send the receipt for the shipping expenses. So I taped up the entire box leaving a little slit for the shipping receipt to slide into. This is where things started to go bad. I asked the clerk if I could get two copies of my receipt. Every retail establishment in the world uses registers with a “reprint” button. This is not a crazy request, I wanted one receipt to mail with my package, and one to keep. “No, I can’t do that” the clerk tells me. “Ooooookay….” I said, trying to remain patient. I solved this issue by taking a cell phone picture of the receipt and slipping the original into the box. Then I asked the clerk for 3 inches of packing tape, sitting on the counter in front of him, to close the small gap. He replied “no, I can’t give you things for free.” Three inches? Seriously? “Nope, but you can buy a roll from us though.” Ahhhhh…. now I see the game.

2. CHEERS to Dooney & Burke customer service. As I mentioned above, I recently had to return a Dooney & Bourke bag I had been carrying for about 6 months. It was white, with black trim and the trim seemed to be turning the purse yellow around the edges. This was a bummer and a bit of an inconvenience, but after 6 months and with no receipt I wasn’t expecting much pity from the folks at Dooney. Well I’m happy to say I was wrong. I shipped the bag back and was fully refunded very quickly, and I was also refunded for my shipping costs. While I was upset about the bag not working out, I was really pleased with how easy this transaction took place. Kudos to Dooney!
Logo courtesy of seeklogo.com

Logo courtesy of seeklogo.com

3. JEERS to Women’s Health Magazine’s “Curvy” model. I finally got on the treadmill the other day and as I was briskly walking I was paging through the January issue of Women’s Health Magazine. Occasionally WH does a fashion feature where they show you a style for different body types (straight, athletic, pear, and curvy) and this month it was workout gear they were touting. So I flipped to the curvy workout gear, as that is my category, and the model made me do a double take. Was this really the curvy example? How is she wearing only one sports bra? And with no underwire! I see that her Beyonce booty might make one eager to put her in the curvy category but I’m gonna have to disagree on this one. Workout gear for “curves” is a big deal, one of life’s biggest mysteries, and a multi-billion dollar industry- it is pretty unacceptable for Women’s Health Magazine to act as though anyone who fits into this curvy category is going to dress like that for a workout.

 

WH

Anyway, thanks for sitting through my rants. Anything been bugging you guys lately that you want to get off your chests?

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Heather’s resolutions

I don’t do resolutions as a general rule. It just seems so contrived- “It’s January 1st! What’s wrong with your life???” I prefer a slightly more optimistic approach to self-improvement. Also a more moderated approach. If there’s something I need to work on I don’t like to set January 1st as THE starting point of change. I like to work on self improvement year ’round. Mondays seem to be the day for me. Like, “I’ll start that diet Monday,” or “I’ll start that new exercise program on Monday!” To me, Monday is the start of the week (and to many other cultures, thank you high school Spanish class).

There have been a few times I’ve decided to undertake New Year’s resolutions. One year I decided to honk my car horn whenever I saw someone throw trash out of their car (I hate litterbugs!!). I’ve kept this one for quite a while with the change of flashing my brights instead of honking the horn. I still do this so beware cigarette butt flickers and Happy Meal throwers, I see you!

Gross

Gross

I do have some goals this year but since I decided on them before New Year’s Eve I hesitate to call them New Year’s resolutions. I signed up for a two mile open water swim (the furthest I’ve done so far is one mile). I also will be doing an Olympic distance triathlon as part of a relay team; this will be the furthest I’ve done so far on the bike portion of a race. I just moved into a new house so I have lots of goals regarding that but I’m not making any resolutions about paint colors. I’ve also signed up for an algebra class on Coursera; I’m determined to master equations!

Do you have any resolutions or sort-of but not really resolutions?

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Fresh Start

Published on January 10, 2013, by in Food, Health, Life.

Have you ever done a cleanse? I haven’t but coming off of the holidays I can see the appeal. I came across this cleanse on Dr. Oz’s website and it sounds DELICIOUS which is not what I think of when it comes to detox. Truthfully, I don’t know anything about “cleanses” and “detoxing” but I totally trust Dr. Oz. Three days seems very reasonable to me.

Dr. Oz Three Day Cleanse

The ladies at Gen-Her clearly have fresh starts on their minds with the new year and I think this fits right in.

 

 

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2013: Small Easy Pieces

Published on January 9, 2013, by in Life.

I tend to get overwhelmed when I try to make resolutions. It starts off all fun, everyone’s in a circle grasping champagne and trading ideas for how this year will KICK SO MUCH ASS. Then it’s your turn for resolution naming, but you can’t say yours aloud. That would take way too long. All you have is one big honkin’ list of everything you’d like to do differently.

So last year I decided to do something different – layer my resolutions.

  1. Top Resolutions – The big stupid ones that I have every year (get stronger, create more comics, be amazing, etc.) those would always sit there and judge (motivate?) me.
  2. Middle Resolutions - New things I haven’t tried before that seem simple enough and I might be able to tackle.
  3. Lower Resolutions - Random teeny changes I could filter into my day-to-day and could slowly get me to better myself.

In 2012 I resolved to start composting, grow an herb garden, run a 5K 3x/week, go to London, take the stairs at work, and use hand dryers instead of paper towels wherever possible.

Aww yeah.

This is how I weighted them:

  1. Top - London, 5K’s
  2. Middle - Composting, herb garden
  3. Lower - Hand dryers, stairs

Can you guess which ones I was successful at?

  1. Top - London, 5K’s
  2. Middle - Composting, herb garden
  3. Lower - Hand dryers, stairs

So I didn’t get around to everything, but I found this much more manageable. I gave myself a small pat on the back for all the paper towels I was sparing (oddly enough, I found out in London they ONLY have hand dryers, no paper towels! Which FYI produces a much cleaner city. *hint hint* AMERICA *hint hint*). I had to bring flats to work so I could tackle the stairs, and it is embarrassing to be out of breath at your desk first thing in the morning (I work on the 4th floor and yes, it still gets me out of breath), but it made me feel good. The 5K’s, however, are still on the list (in my defense, my boyfriend oiled the gears of the treadmill and it was like running on one big banana peel). And I’m proud to say my parsley and chives have survived to this very day. The basil couldn’t take it anymore, but I couldn’t really fault him for that. I moved, it was cold, he had suffered enough. Composting still scares me. Not gonna lie.

Poor baby.

I’m still compiling my list for this year, but this is what I have so far:

  1. Top – More creative endeavors within my reach (stop comparing myself with others and getting dismayed)
  2. Middle – Explore more within my city
  3. Low – Try cocktails :)

 

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2013: Reinvigorated and Resolving

Published on January 8, 2013, by in Home, Life.
In the days before New Years Eve I was so disenchanted with the whole resolution thing. I think I feel the way many people do- each year I resolve to do something, most of the time it is to get in shape or eat healthier, and every year I forget what a resolution is around February. So this year, as I told E, I felt just too tired to pretend.

But then came that night, I gathered with friends to ring in 2013 and my first hope for the new year came to me:

#1 This year I will spend more time with my friends. I have all these wonderful people in my life that make me laugh until tears are streaming from my face, and I need to stop putting them off. There will always be laundry to do, sleep to catch up on, or days I don’t feel like putting pants on at all- but the friends I’ve gathered at this point in my life are smart, interesting, kind, funny, crazy people, and spending time with them is really good for my soul. This is an easy resolution that I would be a fool not to keep.


More time with friends… not these friends, but similar ones.

The next day a friend texted me and asked “Do you want to go ice skating?”

“No.” was my initial reaction, but when my husband expressed interest in going I realized that I was just being a lazy poop. That’s when I stumbled upon my second resolution.

#2 Do things. Stop using your hectic work schedule as an excuse to be lazy and not experience the rest of life. Say YES.

 (Ice skating was terrible by the way. Painful, crowded, and downright dangerous. But I’m glad I tried something different!)

It was when searching for stamps that I came up with resolution #3 to round out the list:
#3 Develop this roll of film. I’ve carried it for close to 10 years… to 6 different apartments and houses… it’s time to officially move on from the film portion of my life.

Okay so that one is easy, but they can’t all be year long ventures!

On top of these, of course, I would like to get healthier… drop a few pants sizes… things like that. But I don’t think making that a resolution is something I need to do this year.

So what do you think? Do you think my resolutions are too easy or just achievable enough? What do you have going on this year?
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A Whole New Year!

Published on January 7, 2013, by in Life.

Holy crap. That Christmas season just FLEW by, didn’t it? One minute I’m doing Christmas crafts in mid December, and the next I’m trying to play “What are you doing New Years?” on the piano. Long story short, stuff got busy and the ladies of Gen*HER got all wrapped up in it. While we were gone I got my new aforementioned piano, took a break from my dance studio, and made it through some of the sadder occurances of this particular December with a new appreciation for all that I have. On that note- STAY TUNED- this week we are going to be sharing some of our New Years Resolutions (or lack there of).
- Jessie

Holy crap is right! A lot has happened in the land of Gen*HER, but we’re back and ready to share some of our experiences and things we’re excited about. I for one am going to need some thrifty tips for help with decorating my new house. Pinterest can only take you so far, y’know? As Jessie mentioned above, we’re going to kick off this week with everyone’s favorite topic – RESOLUTIONS! Woo! You’re probably sick to death of hearing about them, but I’m one of those nerds that likes resolutions (and spreadsheets and notebooks). I like having some general plan for how I want to make the most out of the year, but more importantly I like hearing what other people have vowed to do, too. So please feel free to share!
- Monica

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Unrealistic House Expectations

Published on December 6, 2012, by in Home.

Hi Gen*HER! It’s been ages, did anyone miss me? I apologize for being gone so long – I’ve been swamped with projects and travel and … because apparently things happen in threes around here … along with Jessie and Heather, I TOO bought a house! LOL. I decided to look at all the meticulous planning the two of them were doing, skip all that, and just buy the first house I saw.

Maybe it took a little more thought than that. I actually saw several houses (eight in total), but my boyfriend and I still ended up with the first one we stumbled in on. I knew from the moment we’d walked into that Open House and encountered other people already in there, looking around, who rudely greeted us with “Welcome to my new home!” that it would be ours. Oh yes, it would be ours.

Now, in the week leading up to our big move-in, we’ve spent hours packing and shuttling over all our ridiculous piles of belongings piece by piece. And despite the mounds of recycling, trash, and donation bags, I’ve come to the realization that we just have SO. MUCH. STUFF. This is not a new concept for me to grasp, but seeing as how I haven’t moved in eight years, I’ve forgotten how good I am at collecting and never, ever letting memories go.

That’s right, I have bags of notes from my friends in high school. BAGS.

This was just the start of what has become an entire room full of books.

So in the midst of all my junk transporting, I’ve come to the other realization that, as stressful and obnoxious packing up all my junk is, there is going to come a time when I’m going to have to UNPACK it all too. And one of the many many reasons why I love my new house is because it’s a fresh start. Clean, modern, and most importantly, empty. Now that it’s slowly filling up with stuff, it’s time for me to face the music. No longer can I transport my junk from one place to the next. Sure, I may have moved it, but now comes the hardest part of all. Organizing it. Finding a place for it. Finding a justification for it in my next environment. I thought that if stuff survived the filtering process before the move, then I was meant to keep it, but oh no.

It’s time to get serious!

(Any/all organizing suggestions welcome) ;)