Summer of Self-Improvement – AKA Summer of Unemploment

During this past spring, I gave my notice at my full time job, as I intended to move to Los Angeles in May.  Well, things happened, and the move was postponed indefinitely, but my replacement had been hired before the change in plans and so I found myself still living in Chicago and unemployed.

Rather than jump into another full time job immediately, as several have been placed in front of me, I decided to take a Monologue class that I have been trying to take for several years, which is only offered Monday afternoons.  I am searching for a part-time job and working as an extra to supplement my savings, but my days have been filled mostly with focusing on my own improvement and studies.  The goal is to focus on improving myself before I deal with the outside influences.

So, here are my daily tasks:
*Acting – I have lots to do with the monologues I am assigned in my class.  In addition, I am reading other plays in order to further build my knowledge of theater.
*Fitness – I am really cracking down on burning 1k calories more than I consume each day, and on building my strength back up.   I have a number of exercises I do throughout the day (cross jacks, torso twists, chest presses, shoulder flies, planks, plank with knee taps, Russian twists, leg raises, mountain climbers, squats, grips, and a few others I work in), plus walking/biking/hula hooping, and soccer on various days, and each night now I have been doing 30-90 minutes of cardio (Zumba mainly…my current full routine burns about 800 calories) depending on how many calories I have left to burn, and rotating through the four sections of my stretching routine.
*Reading – I am reading two books at once right now, one is Dune, as I am participating in an online Dune Reading Club, but it is only 5-10 pages a day.  The other book is up to me.  Last week I read four books and started on a fifth, generally reading 50 or so pages a night.
*Crash Course – I have posted before about Crash Course on YouTube, a channel that does short lessons on various subjects.  I am trying to do at least one lesson a week right now, but I want to work up to two to three.
*Italian – I am watching one Italian show per day (currently children’s cartoons), and reading a chapter a day in an Italian book (currently Pinocchio).  As I rebuild my vocabulary, I will work my way up to more difficult shows and texts.  I might start working on DuoLingo again, though I have finished the Italian course once, so I needed more.  Perhaps I will reinstall Rosetta Stone and see how far that gets me.
*Cleaning – All of my belongings were staged in the garage for my move, so now I need to start moving them back down to the basement.  At my current rate, I should be done by mid-September, though I am going faster than scheduled.  I also need to go through things, reorganize, pack loose items, sort through my to sell/donate pile, and generally condense everything.
*Meditation – I am meditating at least twice a day right now, but I would like to get back up to three or four as I was doing before last summer.
*Blogs – I am trying to get back on schedule with this blog, as well as two of my other blogs: Death by Chocolate (a chocolate blog), and Deciphering Lolita (a Lolita blog).  I currently have blog ideas into October for DbC and this blog, I just need to do that for DL now.  The biggest thing for this blog is choosing a new name, as I would like to change things over with the one year anniversary coming up in two weeks.  I have a few ideas, though nothing that I really love.  I might have to find someone to bounce my ideas off of for an impartial opinion.

So there is what I have been up to this summer.  I apologize for lack of posts, but I have needed to do a lot of soul searching.  I also had to remind myself that ultimately, I am writing this blog for me, and that people are not always going to agree with my opinions.  More on that later though.

Travel Workout

The best laid plans of fitness are often completely derailed by travel plans.  You have your routine at home, whether it is a trip to the gym after work every evening, a run every morning, or time set aside each day in your home gym; when you travel, you are not following your daily routine of work, play, or work-out.  Often times this is due to equipment.  Someone used to going to the gym or using at home equipment are not sure what to do without their machines and weights.  Sometimes you stay at a hotel with a good fitness center.  Sometimes you stay at a hotel with a very bare bones fitness center.  Sometimes you stay at a hotel with absolutely no fitness center, or you are staying with friends/family.  Whatever the situation, there are a few solutions.

First, survey the area.  If you have a fitness center at the hotel, great, check it out, it may suit your needs.

If you are interested in cardio, they may have a treadmill, or you can look up possible routes near where you are staying.  I have a friend who goes to Sci-Fi conventions and sure enough, every morning as I am just rolling out of bed and onto the con floor, he is walking in in his shorts from his morning run (I prefer to workout at night).

Another option is to see if their are gyms nearby where you are staying (that is within commutable distance, whether that is walking, public transportation, or if you have a car) that offer free trials.  Even if you only get a day or two during a week long trip, it is better than nothing at all.

Finally, the no-fail option, is to have a travel routine that requires no equipment, or only equipment that you can easily fit into carry-on luggage.  This can work as your entire workout routine for the trip, or as a supplement to whatever else you are able to find.  Here is a list of some of my favorites (with links for more information):

  • Lunges – Works Glutes, Quads, Hamstrings – No equipment necessary
  • Squats – Works Glutes, Quads, Hamstrings – No equipment necessary
  • Calf Raises – Works Calves – No equipment necessary (also try toes turned out, toes turned in, and single leg)
  • Standing Hip/Leg Abductions – Works Upper Glutes, Outer Thighs – No equipment necessary
  • Resistance Band Bicep Curls – Works Biceps – Resistance Bands
  • Resistance Band Upright Row – Works Delts, Biceps, Traps – Resistance Bands
  • Hand Grip – Works Hands – Hand Grip
  • Plank – Works Core (seriously) – No equipment necessary
  • Donkey Kicks – Works Glutes, Hip Flexors, Lower Back, – No equipment necessary
  • Laying Leg Abductions and Other Laying Leg Exercises – Works – No equipment necessary
  • Laying Resistance Press with Butt Lift – Works Pectoral, Triceps, Glutes – Resistance Bands (I cannot find this with the butt lift, but it is an added bonus that adds  the glute element.  Just plant your feet so you are in a standard sit-up position, press down on them so that your butt lifts in the air, with all the weight on your feet and shoulders.  Hold that while doing the exercises, or press up and down with each rep.)

There are many more, including your standard jumping jacks, push-ups, crunches, ecc.; and a simple search for “travel workout” can lend numerous results for you to tailor your own routine.  It may not be as intense as your regular workout, but it will help maintain your fitness and schedule in the interim.

My Practice – TV Routine

Autumn is back (well, almost)!  That means changing leaves, Halloween, my birthday (boo), hot chocolate, and the return of TV shows!

Back when I was in school, I never watched TV.  I was at Acrobatics, or Tap, or spotting Acrobatics, or at Diving practice, or Color Guard, or Orchesis, or Tech Crew….the list literally goes on forever, I was very active.

Then, a few years ago, I realized something.  I watch a LOT of television.  Seriously…from 7-10 Monday-Thursday I am pretty booked solid, and then Sunday nights too, and there are still shows I have to record because they overlap.  I do not know how or when that happened, but it did. When they cancel shows I watch, it is sort of a relief.

All that time in front of the television means time not spent training though, so I created a TV Routine.  A circuit of exercises I can do while watching television…then during commercial breaks I can read or work on something that requires my brain.

TV ROUTINE
16 Jumping Jacks
16 In and Out Bicep Curls
16 Squats
16 In and Out Lateral Raises
16 Calf Raises (alternating 45-degree, parallel, and toes in)
16 Shoulder Presses
16 Pliés
16 Overhead Tricep Extensions
20-Second Plank
16 Laying Shoulder Flyes
16 Laying Hip Raises
16 Ball Squeezes
16 Each of Four Wrist Grip Positions (two each hand)

The routine is much longer than when it started, and it usually takes me two sections of shows (commercial breaks between sections) to complete a circuit, but even if I only did one of these per show on a week night…that is three sets, and it is better than sitting on the couch.