Monthly Archives: March 2012

Philosophizing, or being my silly self :P

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“God sleeps in the rock,
dreams in the plant,
stirs in the animal,
and awakens in man.”

— Sufi Teaching

Amazing, isnt it! I guess to some extent I disagree with this ancient Sufi belief though. I think the God that awakened in man has gone back to slumber.  Now I sound like a true cynic. Not so….I love life, and believe in the essential goodness of all things God created. Which, it struck me as some kind of great realization, that we humans are created by the same Creator too! And just like that, my respect for my kind increased three fold!

Im not a great Michael Jackson fan..What has MJ got anything to do with respect for life, the power of the cosmos etc etc? Well, the other day, I heard “Heal The World” on my way back from work. You’ve got to admit, it is very hummable. While I uncaringly hummed along with the car stereo, I realized just how profound the song really was. And I silently included the song to mean that we need to protect this earth, our home and that of every other species and race that lives here. All of a sudden, the interstate, and the 70 miles that stretched out between me and home seemed so full of life and color. I was cheering the crow that flew off the road in the nick of time, the squirrel that ran along with a nut, and the little herd of deer that grazed so peacefully not 10 feet from the interstate, before I realized that my car does not  have tinting and any fellow travelers in the next lane that glance in my direction might think me insane. So I muted my expression of cheer to a silent appreciation of all creatures living.

All creatures living with pure innocence ingrained in their souls includes my dogs. Is there any pleasure greater than the unconditional love and loyalty we get from these amazing creatures? Their infinite capacity to forgive and accept us for who we are is unbelievably inspiring. No doubt holding your own little baby and rocking her to sleep is claimed to be one of the best joys of life (source: my sister)….but can anything match the gratitude and non judgemental support we get from our pets? I dont know, I dont have kids. But if how I was as a kid is any clue, the nicest of kids (hey, I was a nice kid!) are capable of meanness to the saintliest of mothers…..I still regret my many teenage tantrums.Unfortunately, not all can be blamed on hormones. Life is simpler in doggy world.

Ive met many people who are “dog” people or “cat” people. Very rarely are they equally fond of both. And then of course, there is the lesser population that will love and care for birds and more unusual pets like snakes and lizards, who I respect also. Having said that, I am a confessed dog person. I adore dogs, I would do anything for them, and my two are my babies. I know I could probably be one of those that loves dogs and cats, but I havent interacted with too many cats to know how I vibe with them .

I love them, adore them, but today I was a bad pet mom. I left my black lab out in our screened porch and totally forgot about him for about 3.5 hours!!! I know, I was equally aghast at this sign of animal cruelty I never knew I could be capable of. Generally, leaving a dog out is not cruelty. They love  being out, and the screened porch is as safe a place as any. However, as most of us know, the summer is here already, and leaving any A/C addicted pet out in the middle of the day, in the sunshine state, is an unforgivable offense. When I finally realized that my black boy(black absorbs heat more than any other color-that doubles my offense!!) was not curled up beside his brother on the couch, and remembered that I had left him out, I panicked. The ingenious dog, who never will damage the screen or the plants in the porch, had neatly pushed open a triangle of space in one of the nets and was gone!! Being a mamma’s boy, however, he came trotting right back from the golf course the minute I called him, and stood waiting patiently while I fixed up the net again. I was so remorseful, thinking of the poor dear waiting outside the door for hours before attempting to open the net and get under the trees! And such is the love and loyalty of dogs, that in spite of all, my victimized doggy forgave me and followed me around all day!! Can anything beat that?

I know, I ramble. Isnt it great though? I can be self centered, start every sentence with an “I”, ramble about my favorite things here, and all because nobody really cares on the internet. I cannot feel self conscious when no one is judging. I love blogging!!!! Yay for a friend substitute!!!

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FitBit

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Plum FitBit

I obsessed and waited for my fitbit to arrive in the mail like a child awaits a brithday present. I wasnt disappointed. Ive worn my fitbit every hour of the last week, except when taking a shower (its not waterproof)., and the few minutes it took to charge it.

It tracks the number of steps I take, the number of stairs I climb, the calories I burn, the hours I sleep. The fitbit website www.fitbit.com also lets you track the food you eat and exercise that is not walking or running (like swimming, exercise bikes etc). I do not use these features, however.  I also love how it displays cute messages when you pick it up and if you have been sitting for too long 🙂

My fitbit telling me it loves me, lol!

I use myfitness pal to track my food and exercise. Its amazing that the fitbit integrates seamlessly with myfitnesspal. So the calories I burn (tracked by my fitbit) syncs to my myfitnesspal account, and that app (which also I love) auto adjusts the number of calories I can eat for the rest of the day based on my weight goals. How cool is that!!!

It is kind of scary though. How much detail of your life will the world know with such devices in the market? Already, there are complete strangers (the fitbit people) out there who know how many hours I slept last night (and this is with my privacy settings high) which of course they may not care to know. But anyhow, it got me thinking about how much of ourselves we put out there in the world.

That aside, here is what the website looks like:

My fitbit dashboard for today

Obviously I havent been very active today. And I had pizza for lunch!!! Not the way to go if I want to get fit!

Summing it up, I think I love the fitbit now, when its a brand new toy. Will I love it as much a few months down the line? I dont know. I sure hope so, since a $100 toy is a bit expensive to only love for a few weeks!

However, if you have money to spare and are fitness cum gadget enthusiast, this is probably one of the cheaper toys you can get your hands on. It does what it says it does, and its cute too! With something thats tiny, inconspicuous and reasonably accurate, I think its an awesome little e-friend to push you along on the road to fitness.

So, how come you are still sitting in front of a computer? As my fitbit would say “Let’s Go! Rock On friend ” 🙂

What I Made Today: Potholder

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Lately I have become a strong champion for using cast iron for most of my cooking. I have quit using non stick altogether. That said, using pure cast iron (not enamel coated) can be a little difficult since the handles get hot and usually dont have wood or anything else to hold with.

Most of my cast iron is Lodge, and I also have some enamel coated cast iron Le Creuset. When I bought the pot, I got a potholder with it, which cost something like $8 (not sure)….so now that most of my things are cast iron and I have only one holder to go with them all (which is used so frequently, it has changed color), I decided to make my own.

I didnt have any of the soft spongelike material that makes these things comfortable to hold, so I used double layers of fabric and a layer of interfacing in between. Tried it out tonight, and it works just as well as the shop bought one.

A potholder is intuitive enough to make, so I will only add pictures here, but I just realized how easy it is to do small things around the house and save up for the luxuries 😛

I cut two pieces of interfacing and 4 pieces of fabric in this shape

Sew each interfacing between two pieces of fabric, wrong sides in

You will end up with two pieces like this

Seal the tops in like this

pin the two pieces together , folded sides out leaving the top open for the skillet handle to enter

Sew them together and turn it right side out

And use it on your skillet or griddle

Hope you liked it. I know its not much, but it took me only 10 minutes and saved me 8 bucks 🙂

Update and New Stuff!

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Time for an update! Its now week 2 of my Insanity (LOL, my insanity for sure!) My ankles creak when I rotate them, and I dont think I ever properly appreciated a rest day in my life before. Every minute of the rest day is precious. Just like every microsecond of the 30 second water breaks you get during the workouts is heaven. I very literally sound like Im having an asthma attack, my body is so starved for oxygen during these intense cardio sessions.

Here is what I did today:

I will admit, I havent been perfect. I did skip one workout and my diet has been way below par. As soon as I started Insanity, I started getting hungrier. Which is a known phenomenon. However, unfortunately, PMS struck and I ate truckloads of junk instead of the prescribed salads and fruits. I am now suitably humbled by my lack of drastic weight loss and I vow to stick with some form of healthy eating going forward.

So, the workout itself – all I have breath left for, and barely- is WOW! Who TH came up with this? Im so glad I was not  a couch potato when I started. It would have disheartened and scarred me for life. As it is, I take more breaks than my pride allows for and end the workout breathing in carpet fibers. Who would have thought a warm up could be this hard???

I love the workouts, dont get me wrong. The best thing about them is how quickly time passes when you are stretching, drinking water etc. And how slowly it moves when your body is screaming for mercy and your mind tells you to push through the last 10 seconds.

I am not here to review the workout really, just analyze my reaction to it. So my results? Ive lost a sum total of 2 lbs as of this morning, in about a week and half. My body hurts (could have something to do with the fall I took the other day, and that I havent slept well in a few days), and I think I have given up the idea of doing two workouts today to make up for the one I missed. I cant find any day on the calendar that I want to do two workouts on, and no, I am not missing my off day for anything! So….still thinking about the extra workout, and that makes me more determined to not miss any more, so I wont have to make up any more!!!

Onto funner stuff than WO make ups. I have been obsessing on and off for a while about getting a calorie tracker that tracks the calories you burn through the day. Mostly because I am curious to see how my metabolic rate burns the calories I eat (which I track on MyFitnessPal ) . So I spent a while hankering after the famous bodybugg and the slightly less famous but equally pricey bodymedia. Though these were very tempting, I realized that even if I could afford them, which I probably could with some stinginess on the side, they still charged monthly fees for the website and I would feel guilty spending that…..

Enter FitBit!! I read over 500 reviews of this, I was so obsessed that I even watched YouTube videos of people reviewing the FitBit!!! My better half calls me crazy, but thats me 🙂

My dad used to say that the best way to deal with temptation was to give in (within reasonable limits of course). So I, being the obedient daughter that I am ;P, finally gave in to the temptation and ordered a FitBit. Now, I am not the most reasonable person on the planet. Sometimes I do take things a little to the extreme. So when I saw a fitbit that was pink and black (plum, they call it) instead of the blue and black thats been around a while, I went ahead and got that. And yes, it was a whole 10 bucks more. Why did I do it? No idea. I love pink….Will it make a difference if something thats clipped to my clothes is pink or blue so long as it works? Maybe not. But I thought I would feel that much happier clipping on a pink fitbit than blue. Call me crazy…my dear family does. Now that I have twinges of guilt rearing their ugly heads, I hope its worth the extra money.

Come to think of it, I couldve gotten me a nice Thai lunch for that amount :(….Well, the milk is spilt, or in this case, Amazon has my money, so if the thing works, Im a happy girl!

I cant wait for it to get here-it will arrive the day after tomorrow. Im still reading about it so I am all ready to set it up soon as it arrives 🙂

Women’s Day…

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Yesterday was International Women’s Day. Do these “days” even matter any more? For sure, Valentine’s day has achieved a near cult status. But what about Mother’s day and Father’s day and the rest? Maybe it makes a difference if you have kids.

I come from a culture where everything is celebrated in a big way, we have festivals all months of the year. But it seems to me that as the years go by, people in general are more concerned with making a living than celebrating anything. The joy I used to see on the streets as a kid, with people wishing strangers and taking the day off to spend with family and friends is no longer there. Makes me nostalgic….and sorry for the kids of the next generation that wont grow up with the sweet memories I did.

Anyhow, I digress. The point of this post was to discuss women. Being a woman, I spent some time yesterday pondering about womanhood universally.

Has the life of the average woman improved over the centuries in all parts of the world? Given that women are not as oppressed as before, I’d have to say yes.

In a strange but true way, though, hasn’t life gotten harder for us women? We try to have it all, and thats a great thing. But is it uncomplicated? Simple? Easy? No.

Do we want the simple easy decisions of life that dictated that a woman’s place was at home? A big, definite NO. Id rather juggle career, family, being a wife, a daughter, a sister and a pet parent than have no choices at all. But does life still give as much freedom to women as it does to men? Unfortunately, the answer is still no.

That said, Im still a lazy girl. And all ye women’s lib feminists, do not condemn me if I sometimes want to forget about the stress of work and be at home, leave all the financial and “world outside” struggles to my husband and be a simple little housewife! Sigh! My hubby will be the first person to laugh if I say that. He knows I am only partially domesticated. Taking care of the house full time?? Ha! I admire those that do it, but so far Im not ready to join the ranks. I bore easily, and doing dishes and folding laundry top my list of hated chores. My floors do not always (???) get vacuumed in spite of dog hair, and all the sand my dogs track in (I swept up the backdoor entrance this morning and I had enough sand for a little kid’s sandbox!) make my porch look like a mini beach.

So….I would have to say, hard as it is to compete in the world of men, to try to pretend enthusiasm at work when the guys talk beer and cars just so I wont be left out, to read about things that dont always interest me, like building robots and the next great technology…..hard as it is, I wouldnt trade it for the kind of life my grandmother, probably even my mother in some respects, had. The lack of independence to go where I wanted or buy the smallest things, to dress as I like or sleep in once in a while would drive me nuts.

As Voltaire was called, I will also claim to be a bundle of contradictions. I want sometimes to stay home, have kids, take afternoon naps, sew clothes and learn the piano or something like that (T’is an impossible dream! What woman, with kids any age below 15, has the time to do any learning of hobbies???). At the same time, I want to be a go getter, successful in my career, financially independent and a woman who is capable of taking care of myself and, ironically, be the “son” my parents never had.

Like my sister says, Oh, I juggle! Is it really possible for me to have my cake and eat it too?

Are you a woman who has it all? How do you do it? Time to reflect….

Day 2 of Insanity

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I had decided on a week by week update, so I only subject the site to 6 torturous reads through my workout phase. However, I had to write about the beginning of this crazy new step in my life.

It is Day 2 of my Insanity challenge. I am sore in places I never expected (back????). Usually I am sore in all the good usual places with any new workout- arms, legs, abs. So, I was a little concerned that I might be doing something wrong. The whole workout (Plyometric Cardio Circuit) involved a lot of jumping and squatting, so naturally I presumed that the parts of my body that would be hurting would be my calves/quads/hamstrings.

Weirdly enough, I guess because the whole workout is insane, its my back that hurts. My ankles were killing me halfway through, but I have low arches and my ankles always hurt after any kind of running/jumping…another reason I was never an athlete.

That said, I did some research on why my back was hurting. If it was bad form, I sure as hell wanted to know so I dont end up with long term problems…turns out it might be that I have a weak core, so am not using my core as much as I should, i.e if you jump and lunge around a lot ad dont use your core, you will end up with back pain. Good to know.

Im excited about noticing these details and trying to better myself the next day!

Another thing that everyone (online) says is that a heart rate monitor is a great tool. So I got one from Walmart for cheap (29$), an S7 SportLine Heart Rate Monitor. I guess you get what you pay for. All through my workout, I tried at intervals to measure my heart rate, but had no luck. I will try a few more days and return it if this doesnt work. Probably my finger position was not right, not sure. Anyhow, how picky can something be if its supposed to measure your heart rate during exercise?? Ive tried a BodyTech heart rate monitor in the past, but Im not a huge fan of chest straps. The one I got was so big that the last hole was still too big and the strap would constantly slide down, which can be very distracting during a workout.

I have to drive two hours to work tomorrow, so I may not WO in the morning, but cant wait to take on the next workout in the evening! 🙂

Working out – Insanity??

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Spring is here already!! Shouldnt it have waited a week or two? Im not complaining, but this gives me less time than ever to work off the candy and cake pounds that were packed on well into February!

Im a pretty determined girl. If it comes to being disciplined and the rewards are worth it, I usually stick it out. Not being embarrassed to get in a swimsuit this summer is definitely worth it! So, given that I work all odd hours of day and night, gym is not an option. I have been an at-home exerciser for a few years now. I love the comfort of wearing whatever works and not being conscious about how fitter and leaner everyone else (at the gym) seems to be.

Now, a top seller of a variety of home workout stuff has been Beachbody, and Ive done a number of their workouts, Including Slim in 6, P90XTurbo Jam and Chalean Extreme. Ive got great results with most. The first time I did SI6, I lost around 20 lbs. But since then, it hasnt done much for me. Possibly because the music is so boring, and it is unbelievably tedious to do the same thing every single day for 6 weeks that I havent been super dedicated either.

So, I spoke with a friend who had tried Insanity. I will admit, I am intimidated by it…I have never been very athletic and jumping too much hurts my knees (wrong shoes??). Anyhow, she was convinced that nothing works as well as this, so I decided to give it a shot.

Insanity is a, well, insane program with Max Interval Cardio training (interval training turned upside down- with most of the training at your maximum and the “intervals” are your breaks) that pushes your limits. What pleases me so far is that it does not require any additional paraphernalia. So getting the videos and the guide is it. No weights, bands, pull up bars etc etc.

Now that I’ve gotten the videos, I am all set. And nervous. VERY nervous. I am starting with the Fit Test today….I will write here regularly about how its going, just to hold myself accountable that little bit more…..

Summer beaches, here I come!!

Curly Hair Stylin

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I went to get my hair “done” today…after months and months of leaving it be. And as luck would have it, I found this on another blog – Curly Hair Type Guide for Ethnic Hair Types, Biracial and Black Hair.

Looks like the Universe agrees that it is time to pay attention to my hair!

OK, so I am not biracial and not black…and I still have curly hair. (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/ethnic). I had no idea that my hair was a rebel in following my “ethnic” hair structure!!

Anyhow, so I went to the Avantgarde salon across the street, and as I mentioned, I havent gotten my hair done in a very very long time. So when I finally set up an appointment with a well reviewed salon, I hoped to come out looking completely different and have at least my hair looking like a model’s hair. No go.the girl there told me to get my hair trimmed and leave it alone.  She said it was pretty and healthy and no “styling” was ever going to suit it. I liked the pretty and healthy part, but I was disappointed that I wasn’t going to look in the mirror and find a stylish me with a funky new hairstyle….it was going to be the same ol’ me staring back after all!

The one good thing that did come out of the whole appointment was that I learned to curl my hair without a curling iron. In fact, with nothing but my fingers. I used to try wrapping my hair around a finger to curl it. That , however, only produces horizontal spirals- not pretty.

So this is how you create perfect curls:

Apply some kind of leave-in conditioner. I tried Aveda’s be curly http://www.naturallycurly.com/curlproducts/view/944/aveda-aveda-be-curly-curl-enhancing-lotion

gather a portion of hair, depending on the desired thickness of your curl and twist it like you would twist a single rope to look like this- like so:

This is a rope, but very clear about what you need to do 🙂

So a single curl (and this is pretty messy but you get the idea) will look something like this when it dries ( it doesnt look very pretty till it dries, but since you dont have to do anything for that, you can twist your hair and forget about it while it air-dries):

Repeat it on the rest of your hair, taking more hair for each twist if you want bigger curls. Let it air dry and voila! you have perfect “yesteryear movie star” style curls!

Now, my hair is pretty frizzy, so any kind of control is good. After a very long day at work, this is how my hair looks. Note: I put my hair up in a ponytail and took it down for this pic, so that messed it up a bit also 🙂

my curls after a messy long day

And the best part? I did all my curls in 10 minutes (I have waist length hair, so styling is never a short process) while I took my dogs out and made my morning shake. For a lazy girl like me, this was a thumbs up style 🙂

A little more attention to the job, and you can avoid those stray strands too!

Let me know if this works for you!