Wednesday, November 28, 2012

DVD workout: morning v night.

I've been experimenting with Jillian in the morning for the last week. There are pros and cons. Con: I have to have two showers, one in the morning after Jillian, one before bed. I will always be a night showerer. Pro: It's nice to have free time after work, especially at this time of year, where Jillian keeps getting pushed out by things to do after work. But it's always harder to work out in the morning—although supposedly you get more out of it and you benefit more for the rest of the day, metabolically. I hear people say that morning exercise gives you more energy for the rest of the day, but I haven't found that with Jillian, it probably is true for a morning swim, walk or light jog, but Jillian makes me muscle-tired, which I like, it's a pleasant tiredness, but it's not easy to feel energised and tired at the same time. I'm occasionally more likely to feel sick in the morning if I've pushed too hard, which is the main reason I have avoided mornings, but I've found that if I am fit, it's just a matter of carefully putting a little bit of food in my stomach but not too much. A few spoonfuls of yoghurt, or a small banana. SOME energy to burn, but not a full breakfast. I love googling and reading forums about these things. When I'm trying to find the best way to do something, the internet is full of obsessed people.

Monday, November 26, 2012

DVD workout: clothing and stuff.

Now I said before that it doesn't matter what you look like, because you can do a Jillian DVD in complete privacy. But for me, it still does matter what I wear. It's part of the motivation side of things.

Don't add irritation to effort, is my rule for exercise and housework. If I'm going to be doing something hard, I don't want to be annoyed or handicapped by ANY difficulty whatever. It is POSSIBLE to do Jillian in your pyjamas and bare feet, but I can't tolerate my pants falling down or anything, so I have a pile of purposed clothes just for Jillian. They aren't pyjamas, or mooching around the house clothes. When I put them on, I mean business. I feel like business, too.

And I have quite a lot of clothes. I haven't spent a lot of money, but I have been deliberate about building my stock. Some is old tshirts and stuff. Some is proper exercise gear from a girly fitness shop—I've got a pair of fast-drying black trackpants that I used all winter, they've been brilliant. I happily take scissors to old clothes to cut the sleeves off skivvies or widen the necks on tshirts or cut the legs off old trackpants. I'm the only one who sees me in these chopped-up clothes, it's all about repurposing and dressing functionally. And if I have an ample supply of clothes, I don't have "need to wash clothes" as an excuse for not working out. I've never opened my bottom drawer and not found something to put on. I keep my sneakers right at my bedroom door, as well. I don't want to waste time hunting around, when my motivation is low or it's early in the morning before work.

The equipment: a yoga mat if you have hard unsuitable floors, and 2 hand weights. Hand weights are cheap, the 0.5kg are $6 per pair, the 1kg are like $10 per pair. Really, you could just use some water bottles or tinned food or something, but they are uncomfortable to hold, so eventually it's worth getting weights.

The setup: Again, I keep this stuff handy so that I can efficiently spring into action. My weights live right on the DVD player, the disc is usually in the machine and my yoga mat is rolled up and slid under the couch. Quick to get out and put away. I also have a cheap pedestal fan, which is indispensable at this time of year already. This is what my workout zone looks like:

It's all about making the start of workout as easy as possible, having everything available and handy.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Rude awakening.

I've been waking up before the alarm this week. This morning I woke up and thought "ahhhh, Sunday!" for 3 happy seconds before I realised it was only Friday and I just hadn't heard the alarm yet.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Alright, what happened to packaging?

I used to be able to pull plastic packets open, or tear them from the top where it's sort of a zig-zag cut, with my bare hands. Now I can hardly ever open anything with my hands. It's gone from the occasional stubborn bag of lollies to EVERYTHING. Everything needs scissors.

Friday, November 16, 2012

When smartphones are not social.

Slight rant.

Last night having a KFC picnic with 2 friends, I noticed another group of 3 young women sitting nearby, transfixed by their own phones. The contrast between us three and those three was interesting: they were silent. I felt a bit sorry for them, they were wasting an opportunity to be with their friends and get laughter endorphins and so on. Screen time was overriding face time, and screen time was not as fun. Do you get endorphins from lol? I don't think so.

Worse story, from a little while ago: I sat in a cafe having breakfast with two people, not teenagers—older than me, and while we were waiting for our food they both played with their phones. I didn't have the right sort of phone to play with, so I couldn't "join them", and I just sat there. I was astounded, it felt like the electronic equivalent of them turning their back on me.

However, rudeness aside, I know it is nice to be in a cafe with friends and read the newspaper and stuff, tune each other out while still being in company. Especially if you see a lot of each other. Not giving each other your full attention isn't automatically rude. It's a fuzzy line.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Avoiding iTunes.

I like to buy music, but I like to make my money go further. So buying an album full price on iTunes is my last resort. Partly because I don't like the fixed prices when the exchange rate is so different, and partly because I don't like a monopoly and Apple is just a little bit too big for its boots. Here are some other resorts I investigate, before spending $16.99.

1. Direct from the artist. A quick google might turn up an artist or record label website where you can buy direct. If it is an artist from the US, you get the US price which is usually at least 30% cheaper, and the artist doesn't miss out on the cut iTunes takes. Even if they don't have a webstore, they might point you to their preferred retailer like Indi artists and labels seem more likely to sell direct or bypass iTunes. Big names not so much.

2. Check if JB hifi has the physical album for a good price. I wanted the Paul Kelly album Foggy Highway, it was $13 at JB which is a few dollars cheaper than iTunes, plus you get the album art.

3. Wait for an iTunes sale. I ended up getting Foggy Highway for $10 cos he released a new album so iTunes did special prices on the back catalogue.

4. Bigpond is slightly cheaper than iTunes. If it comes down to the principle of the matter, avoiding iTunes and saving money, it's a good option.

5. If I'm buying on iTunes, I only use iTunes cards which I buy on sale.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Vanilla essence.

A bottle of vanilla lasts a really long time. You buy it by the bottle but use only a few drops rarely. But it has to be there for those times. I feel like getting more use out of it, like making my own gourmet porridge, because fancy porridge always has vanilla in it. I googled some more ideas:

Wipe down the inside of the fridge with vanilla extract. To prolong the fresh vanilla scent, soak a cotton ball or a piece of sponge with vanilla extract and leave it in the refrigerator.

Microwave some vanilla to deodourise the microwave.

Put a drop of vanilla on a lightbulb and turn on a light: the house smells like cake.

Wear it as perfume. It will smell relaxing, or like cake.

Motivation: don't think.

I've blogged about the big motivation stuff, like wanting to be healthy. But that's not always enough to get exercise to happen daily or regularly. It's a whole lot of smaller things like having a strong routine, doing things you enjoy, doing things with friends.

However, I have one special tip. This is the best motivation advice I've found. It's counter-intuitive, but it makes a lot of sense: Don't think, do.

Don't think about something you don't want to do, or you'll use up all your willpower too early. Which means, in the middle of the afternoon I sometimes feel really tired. I hate the thought of exercise. Actually, I hate the thought of doing anything after work, like grocery shopping. This afternoon I actually googled "I need a grocery shopping list" because I know I need food but I'm too sluggish to anticipate the supermarket.  Massive energy dip. And I start thinking "I'm too weary to do Jillian today, should I skip it? I should do it, but I'm really not in the mood" over and over and then I exhaust myself mentally way too early and by the time I get home I hate myself and I've given up and there is no energy to do anything.

But I googled this, and realised I should just cut out the whole afternoon of thinking part. I try and not spend 3pm onwards worrying about how tired and unmotivated I feel and use up all my willpower long before I actually need it, hours later. The amazing power of not thinking! Harness that power, my friends. I try and block out the thoughts, forget about future exertions, go home as normal, put my Jillian clothes on, put the dvd on, and start warming up. None of that is hard, it's only hard if you think about all the actual exercise. So don't think. Once I'm warming up, it's usually not so bad. Sometimes it IS so bad, I find I actually AM genuinely tired, but I really can't tell until I start.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

DVD Workout: Boredom.

I always thought a workout DVD would be boring. Actually a challenging DVD is less boring than you think. I am generally happy just doing the one DVD over and over—I like not having to make a decision, it makes the habit of doing it stronger. And although boredom does sort of mean I don't look forward to Jillian time, it doesn't stop me from doing it. General laziness is a bigger barrier.

The best thing that stops a workout from being boring is doing it with a friend. I have exploited many friends to this end. But they have enjoyed it too, so that's OK.

When I'm on my own, though, I enjoy the "time out" of going through the same familiar routine. If you are focusing on your form, there is enough to keep your mind busy in just keeping your toes pointed or whatever. If your mind wanders, that's good too, exercise is a great time to defrag the brain.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

DVD Workout: Big motivation.

I've been doing Jillian for 18 months, as so has the friend I originally started with. We are both AMAZED that we have been able to keep going so long. Originally, I was motivated by being a bridesmaid to tone my arms a bit by the wedding, since all I did for exercise was a lot of walking and all you could see in my bridesmaid dress was my arms. Also, to offset my Eat Street Challenge shan dong chicken and all that. I asked A to join me for company, and she said yes with no particular aim at all. The bridesmaid deadline passed long ago, and we both kept going.

A and myself are both examples of people who started off feeble, with no exercise routine at all, and worked our way up to finishing a whole DVD and doing it a few times every week. I did start by measuring myself to see if my dimensions changed or I lost weight, but it was imperceptible and I gave it up, I don't care anymore. My body shape is pretty set. However, we both noticed a subtle difference we would describe as "more toned", and better posture and nice little things like that. Now I've got that, I am keen to keep it.

One other thing: the surprise reward has been enjoying feeling strong. I still can't do a set of proper push ups, mind you. But building any muscle at all was a totally foreign concept to me. I never expected to get stronger or enjoy strength.

So there it is. Exercise sometimes changes your motivations, and the payoff was different than I expected.

Post Melbourne Cup: the beginning of the end of the year.

Every year, on this day, the day after the Melbourne Cup, James Valentine declares "the beginning of the end of the year". The end of the year to all intents and purposes. The theory is that life winds down from now on. The Cup marks the end of the REAL year. Nobody will take on anything new. Nobody starts anything big or commits to a new plan, everyone just finishes things up and plans the Christmas party. It's the Friday of the year.

Here is my challenge: Do one more thing. Set a goal and finish it. You have 6 weeks. Finish the garden, or the painting, or the cross-stitch. Or something work-related.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

DVD workout: reviews.

You probably won't be interested in this series of posts unless you are also doing some kind of fitness program or routine, but a lot of my friends are doing Jillian or do training for some mudder or other. I'm going to blog everything that's in my head, because that is why I have blogs.

Ah, the many advantages of fitness DVDs! The VALUE! A one off spend of $25ish (plus a mat and 2 weights if you are too fancy for a towel and 2 tinned foods) for unlimited training! The PRIVACY! It doesn't matter how ungraceful you are or what you are wearing or how ugly you look when you sweat, nobody is judging you in your own lounge room! The EFFICIENCY! No commuting to and from a gym or pool or park. The only disadvantage is a lack of accountability to spur you on if you get tired, bored or lazy, so I find I need a really good routine to stick to (my Monday is all about leaving work at 5pm ON THE DOT so that I can be doing Jillian before 6pm). It is really good to work out with a friend, so I sometimes do that.

If you are considering converting to Jillian Michaels, here are three DVD reviews. There are other DVDs I don't own or haven't tried. I have tried Tracy Anderson once and some kick-boxing woman once, but I prefer Jillian. Once you get over her intimidating abs (she has no body fat) she is a good trainer. Not too bright and perky. She just gets down to business.

This is where I began. It takes the best part of an hour to do the whole thing, and it mixes and combines a lot of different moves in short sets so you don't get bored. It's pretty much all just strength training: circuits of lunges, squats, planks, crunches and arm stuff. The moves are good for beginners, as they don't require much skill or balance: they are simple, but tiring. I feel like this workout covers the whole body, so for me this is the DVD to use regularly. If you want to begin, start with 3 or 4 circuits which will take you about half an hour, and don't go too hard on the lunges and squats for about the first week, or else you won't be able to walk. (I only did Jillian once last week, lost a bit of fitness, and am walking a little stiffly today from my session last night!) Build up to the 7 complete circuits over a month or two. Start with no hand weights, or just 0.5 kg. Do the DVD 3 to 5 times a week. 3 times is about enough for me to maintain.

Yes, the name is funny. But "killer" is not an exaggeration. This is the hardest DVD I've tried. It's not a friendly workout, it's a maniac workout. There is a stuff like balancing on one leg and kicking slowly in the air. It's the sort of workout that I feel amazed at even finishing. It's a little bit shorter than NMTZ, about 45 min to do the whole thing. George gave me this DVD and I do it occasionally, when I want a real challenge.

This is for when you do a 30 minute workout every day, which doesn't suit my routine at the moment. I've never gone past level one. There is a good mix of strength and cardio on this DVD, whereas NMTZ doesn't have any pure cardio at all (NMTZ still gets your heart pumping though). I like it, it is short and manageable but I still feel physically tired at the end, particularly my upper body.

Jillian DVDs are pretty much all hard. They are a proper, sweaty workout for a fit person. But they are easy to use and get into if you start small and work up, adding circuits and weights over a few weeks.

Friday, November 2, 2012

It's 50 days til Christmas.

Hardest person to buy a Christmas present for.

In my family, it's not the dad or the brother. There are no in-laws. I know what DVDs people will like. Even if I haven't seen the DVDs myself. My greatest triumph was getting dad Life on Mars, even though I hadn't watched it.

For me it's Grandma.

The jessenomics of food waste.

I think it's something like a quarter or a third of groceries are spoiled and wasted. Australian stats. I think it's often good intentions and bad planning—people want to buy fresh food, but they don't have the lifestyle suited to cooking and eating it. All it takes is shopping for what you realistically WILL eat, and giving up the idol of freshness—tins and frozen food don't waste as easily. Cooking shows make such a big deal about fresh food, perhaps because the supermarkets pay for the ads and get the most benefit from food you buy and don't eat.

Waste is against my nature anyway. I just can't allow it happen, if I can possibly help it. I feel like a moral failure if I throw anything out. For me, a waste of food is both a waste of money and a waste of effort, because of carting it home from the shops on foot and unpacking it into the fridge only to fill up the kitchen bin and carry it out to the wheelie bin. So there's the jessenomics of it, 10 minutes each week of thinking properly about what to buy and cook can save your money, and effort, and the environment. Apparently it's bad for the environment because it's a waste of water and fuel and landfill—not wasting food is the easiest way to reduce "food miles" and all that footprint stuff, it's just not so trendy a "solution". A "solution" has to involve a farmer's market or a veggie patch or something.

No Eat Street on 8th Nov.

It is someone's birthday, so we may see you at that do.


I recently discovered a radio station of reading out loud. Newspapers, books and magazines. This is an excellent thing, even if you don't have a reading impairment. I think the night programing is pretty good for falling asleep. I don't listen during the day.

Community radio stations have almost completely taken over my ABC radio time! I didn't realise there were so many non-commercial radio options for an ad-hater.