Posted in health & fitness, review, running

So You Want The Perfect Body?

OK it’s been FOREVER since I actually complained about something, so now there is no better time than the present to let it all out.

Aside from working constantly this winter and shoveling every weekend (see previous posts!), I have done something different with my fitness/workout routine that I have never done before. I cut out CARDIO! GASP! Someone of us out there are absolute cardio bunnies, trust me I was one of them, and the thought of removing 30 minutes on a machine from my daily routine is in the area of heart-attackville. OK..I’ll admit it, I didn’t completely remove cardio. I did keep one day for short runs because as most runners know, you don’t ever want to lose that base but I did cut out everything else. The reason being was after years of playing a cat and mouse game of losing weight and building muscle, I finally woke up and realized you cannot do both. Ultimately I had to pick one and muscle building was it!

In order to do this, I enlisted the help of James Wilson, who is a certified trainer that has a number of programs available to help people meet their fitness goals. 123..Grow was the program that I committed myself to for 12 weeks and at the end, although fluffier, I was a lot stronger! It really helped me get passed the mental part about letting go of cardio because I could see a lot of changes just from lifting.

Two year progress. I remember thinking I had a lot of muscle in the picture on the right.
Two year progress. I remember thinking I had a lot of muscle in the picture on the right.

With the 12 weeks completed, spring had started to slowly show itself and I was faced with a tough decision to either repeat the program and continue to grow or sign up for the same half marathon I did last year. “You’ll lose muscle and strength” others that have done the program preached in the group Facebook page. “You need to decide what your goals are,” they said.

For a while, I was absolutely stuck with my decision on what to do. Yes, it would be nice to run again and shed some of this extra fluff from the winter. Yes, it would be great to continue to the program and see how much stronger I can get. What do I do? Well I finally figured that I needed to do what was best for me. I decided to train for the half and also keep lifting with the understanding that I won’t get the same desired results as I did before all the running. This plan will be give and take. I’ll only run 3 days a week and lift heavy the other days while making sure I am eating enough.

The quest for a somewhat perfect body will always be there and most likely not attainable but I have set goals and will continue to achieve them. What’s next? Beating my last year half marathon time in May and then returning to the 123..Grow Program. You have to live for you and no one else!

Posted in review

Book Review: Columbine


Even if you don’t remember the date of April 20, 1999, the day itself known as Columbine will forever be the day that everything changed.

I was in seventh grade, in the middle of class, when the first shots were fired in Columbine High School sixteen years ago. I don’t recall knowing about the shooting until I got home from school and saw it plastered all over the television. The image of the boy, now known as Patrick Ireland, hanging out of the library window trying to escape the horror inside has been forever etched in my memory. I along with the rest of the world was shocked, terrified, and utterly confused over the idea of students firing guns inside of a high school. At 13 years old, school was the place for friends, teachers, and a lot of homework but overall it was a sanctuary from the outside world. That day in April would not only forever change my perception of that sanctuary but the world’s as well. 

It’s unreal to think that the tragedy of Columbine hit its’ 15th anniversary last year and the names of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold remain infamously linked to the utter mayhem they ensued on that Colorado campus. What was their goal? To be bigger than Oklahoma City and leave behind a legacy of violence and tragedy. Dave Cullen’s book, “Columbine,” brings to light the darkest hours, days, and even years surrounding the effects of the Columbine massacre while addressing myths and stories through thorough research and evidence.

The victims, the people of JeffCo (Jefferson County), and the world were forever changed by the events of that day. Although the media lights have darkened and the newspapers have found other headlines, the pain in Columbine continues to be very real. Cullen’s “Columbine” although heavily encompasses the life of the shooters, also brings humanity back into the picture by giving a name to each victim; their first and last name. Each is described as an individual rather than a Columbine number and how their life before, the day of, and after has drastically changed. That boy from the window that I remembered so vividly from my TV screen, Patrick Ireland, had reappeared with an even bigger story to tell. He was shot and paralyzed on one side as he made his way out the window to try and save his life. He was in the library studying at the time in hopes of becoming his class valedictorian and going off to college, a future most of us can relate to. His story transported me back to my own high school library and what I would do, if anything, if I was in the same situation. This is what this book does to you; it all becomes so real. 

That realness and no holds barre tone of “Columbine” also translated through exploring who the shooters really were. They were not members of the “Trench Coat Mafia” or outcasts and Marilyn Manson worshipers. Harris was the boy filled with hate on a mission of destruction. Klebold was downright sad and depressed with little desire to live or die in this world. This inside look into the psyche of both killers is rather intriguing and at times horrifying. 

After reading this book, you will do what I did and Google one word, “Columbine.” Cullen gives readers a better understanding of Columbine, it’s people, and how it forever changed the world. Do yourself a favor and shed what the media told you and take some time to read the facts in this book.


Posted in review

Review: Orange Is The New Black

Is it June 6th yet? The anticipation of the second season of Orange Is The New Black is overwhelming and I’m on pins and needles waiting to see the aftermath of the Piper and Pennsatucky showdown! Although this hiatus seems to have been longer than any other show I have ever watched, I gave the the book a shot to see how closely it matched up with the Netflix series. I knew from internet articles and interviews that the show was pretty different and from the beginning, it was clear that Piper Kerman (author/ Real Piper) and Piper Chapman (character) had a truly different experience. 

Image by Google

Reading through the book, I anxiously waited for “Alex Voss” to make an appearance in the same facility as Piper. Page after page, I continued to become confused and disappointed that the estranged exes would not cross paths like they did in the show. When “Alex” did finally appear, there wasn’t this messy love story and in fact, they became allies for the short time period that they shared a cell.

One of the intriguing things about the show is the development of the characters; each with their own personality and story. Red, Tasty, Pennsatucky, Ms. Claudette, to name a few, have been really interesting to the overall drama. It’s great as viewers to be able to see prison through their eyes and experiences, not just from Piper’s point of view. 

Is it weird that they almost make life in prison seem like summer camp?!

The book also allows the reader to follow the growth and change of Piper’s fellow prisoners during her stay in lock down. I have especially enjoyed reading about the real “Red,” with her no-nonsense attitude and her superiority towards other inmates. It was almost gratifying to hear Piper talk about Red getting ready to be released and what she hoped her life would be like after many years away. I believe the book and the show do an excellent job in opening the door to the fact that, yes, these women have committed crimes but they are human beings too. Mothers, sisters, daughters, all of whom have done things that have brought them into this life.

I did just say that they are human beings locked in a prison together right? The show really capitalizes on this fact and portrays a constant sense that sexual relationships between inmates and correctional officers are happening around every corner. It even goes as far as showing encounters happening in places around the prison (even the chapel!). According to the real Piper and author of Orange Is The New Black (OITNB), although there were rumored love affairs, she never once saw any inmates engaging in any of those activities. It was almost as if she was shocked that more were not happening because of the misconceptions and portrayal of women in prison through the media.

Although there are many differences between both, the underlying question of OITNB is quite clear; how will these women survive in the real world once they get out of prison? Piper was lucky. She had family, job, and home waiting for her to come back to. Other inmates are not so fortunate and sadly, won’t recognize this new world they will encounter when they exit the prison gates. What will happen to these women? Hopefully we as viewers, will get some closure on this. 

I have closed the cover to Orange Is The New Black for now but I’m excited for the second season to begin. Granted, I know television series needs to be provocative and push the envelope to keep viewers engaged, my hope is to see new references and tales that Piper Kerman introduced to the readers.