Monday, September 23, 2013

A Life Changer

A little backstory
So, for the past three months I've been trying to seriously become healthier in both my eating and exercising habits. When I moved from Pennsylvania to South Carolina two and a half years ago, I slowly gained 25 pounds. This made me ten pounds overweight for my height, and needless to say, I was not happy about it.

I hated the weight I'd gained. I tried so hard to lose it, but it just wouldn't come off. Over the past few years, I've accumulated quite a few workout DVDs, walked almost every morning, and tried to eat smaller portions. Let me just say here that I cannot stand exercising, particularly cardio workouts. They are the bane of my existence. Despite this deep-seated hatred, I worked out hard five days a week, every week, for months on end before giving up because nothing was happening. Well, I continued to gain more weight, actually.

Time for a change
This past summer, I decided that this was it. I was going to lose the weight come Hell or high water. I was unhealthy physically, and I honestly didn't feel good about myself at all. It was time for a change for real this time.

After discovering yoga on one of Jillian Michaels' DVDs (Yoga Meltdown), I scoured YouTube for more sequences so I wouldn't get bored. Best. Decision. Ever.

If you are not familiar with yoga (like I was), and don't feel like dishing out the money to go to a studio, I highly, highly suggest you check out Yoga With Adriene. Adriene lays down the foundations of the practice to newcomers with clear instructions that make the poses seem a million times more doable. As she guides you through each movement, Adriene maintains a personable and humorous demeanor that is refreshing compared to some other YouTube videos I've seen. When you do eventually make your way to a studio, class will run more smoothly since you already know the poses.

Why am I telling you all of this?
Because yoga changed my life in more ways than one. It even helped me tone down my temper a little. Okay, so that particular personality trait of mine is not gone completely, but then I'm Irish, so I can't help it. Everyone's just going to have to deal with it. At least now I breathe deeply instead of holding in my scream of frustration when I'm confronted with an annoying problem. I'd even stopped worrying about how I looked and started caring more about how I felt after each practice. Yoga is something I actually want to do, rather than something I feel I have to force myself to do. It honestly doesn't even feel like exercising to me. It's a very personal practice, which is one of my favorite aspects. I don't feel like I have to push myself past my limits as with cardio activities. Sadie Nardini (another great online yoga instructor) points out in one of her videos that yoga isn't a competitive sport. It's all about you. You do what feels good for you.

The results?
I've lost all 25 pounds. Combined with diet and some long walks several times a week, yoga has helped me loose almost all of the weight I had gained. I feel so much better about myself—even better than I had when I lived in PA. I'm not going to lie to you: it took a lot of hard work and a bunch of my time was devoted to diet and exercise. Even though I was active before starting yoga, I still had to build the muscles needed for all of those Chaturangas and high lunges, but it was so worth it.

I'm extremely proud of the results and how fit I've become, but I'm happier to have found yoga. I really consider that the best part of this whole summer adventure of mine. I plan on keeping yoga as a part of my daily life from here on out. I’m completely addicted, and find myself turning towards it to relieve stress or just because I feel bored.

Not looking to loose weight? That's okay! Yoga is also notable for a slew of other reasons. The Yoga Health Foundation has a great list of health benefits associated with the practice here.

Are you interested?
So, have I piqued your interest in this lovely practice yet? I thoroughly hope so. If not, I guess I'll just mention that September happens to be National Yoga Month. The Yoga Health Foundation is offering a promotion in September and October for those interested in trying out yoga. What you do is go to their website here and sign up for a week of free yoga classes at a studio near you. (September is almost over, so hop to it!) A list of places that are participating will show up after you type in your zip code when prompted. Before submitting your pass request, I suggest double checking with the studio to make sure they're participating so you don't waste it. You only get one pass.
I have been looking forward to my free classes for what seems like forever. Last week I devoted much of my time to yoga. I wanted to check out other types in order to expand my practice, and have actually found ones I liked and some I didn't like. I do plan on returning to the classes that I enjoyed in the near future.

Not sure you want to go to a public class? 
Then try YouTube! It's free and you get to stay home! Seriously, that place is rife with yoga videos. And don’t think that because it looks hard or because you don't have a "yoga body" that you shouldn’t try it. Seriously, anyone can do it. It really doesn't matter what you look like or what your age is or where your level of flexibility is at. Obviously, as with anything, you have to work up to the more challenging poses, but everyone has to start somewhere. Just do it and keep doing it. I love each time I discover I can go deeper into the poses. It makes every sequence that much more exciting.
You need to make time for yoga and time for change, both internally and externally. Once you get the hang of the basic poses, the possibilities are endless. Yoga for weight loss, back problems, hip openers, stomach issues, balance, a strained neck...the list goes on forever. Just go to YouTube, type one of those in, and enjoy. You can even do it in your pajamas if you feel the need to do so! It’s your practice. Do whatever the heck you want. This is your time for yourself and to revolutionize yourself.

Best YouTube channels (in my opinion, anyway)
As I mentioned before, Yoga With Adriene is probably the best place for beginners. Once you’re ready for more sequences, go and explore the Internet for them. Try out numerous videos to see what you like. If you're not sure where to start, I think you should give the following YouTube channels a try. They each have some awesomely challenging sequences:

Friday, August 9, 2013

Review: Poison Princess (The Arcana Chronicles) by Kresley Cole

She could save the world—or destroy it.
Sixteen year old Evangeline “Evie” Greene leads a charmed life—until she begins experiencing horrifying hallucinations. When an apocalyptic event decimates her Louisiana hometown, killing everyone she loves, Evie realizes her hallucinations were actually visions of the future—and they’re still happening. Fighting for her life and desperate for answers, she must turn to her wrong-side-of-the-bayou classmate: Jack Deveaux.
But she can’t do either alone.
With his mile-long rap sheet, wicked grin, and bad attitude, Jack is like no boy Evie has ever known. Even though he once scorned her and everything she represented, he agrees to protect Evie on her quest. She knows she can’t totally trust Jack. If he ever cast that wicked grin her way, could she possibly resist him?
Who can Evie trust?
As Jack and Evie race to find the source of her visions, they meet others who have gotten the same call. An ancient prophesy is being played out, and Evie is not the only one with special powers. A group of teens has been chosen to reenact the ultimate battle between good and evil. But it’s not always clear who is on which side…

In Poison Princess, New York Times bestselling author Kresley Cole introduces a dark and intriguing world, full of unspeakable danger and irresistible romance. (From Amazon)

My thoughts…

Guys, this book was AMAZING. Seriously. Read it now. I actually listened to the audiobook version and it blew me away. First of all, the actors who read the two parts of Evie and Arthur (Emma Galvin and Keith Nobbs) were so freaking good. It starts out with Arthur who’s this seriously disturbed guy that lures Evie in to tell her story. His narration was so creep-tastic that I actually liked listening to his point of view. I caught myself chuckling darkly at some of his more disturbing thoughts. I don’t want to delve too deeply into what that says about me, but I’m willing to chalk it up to Nobbs’ narration abilities. He really delivered and enlivened Arthur. If I’d read a physical copy of the book, I probably wouldn’t have liked Arthur quite as much. Galvin also did a superb job with Evie. She narrates most of the book, and she actually sounded like she could be her character. I have listened to some audiobooks where it was done well except for the fact that it was totally noticeable that the actor was not the same age as the character. It kind of kills the illusion of the narrator’s portrayal.

(A little side note: If you haven't already signed up for Audible, they give you a free book with your first month's free trial. Such a good deal.)


As far as the plot goes, I found it to be a unique idea. The supernatural aspects were based on the high arcana cards of the tarot deck. Can I just stop and say that I LOVE tarot cards? Seriously cool stuff, and to read something that was inspired by them was way interesting. I don’t think I’ve seen it before.

I’m a huge fan of the road trip type of plotline too. It sort of reminds me of one of my favorite shows, Supernatural. It’s a perfect way to get two people to bond together. Anything that does that pulls that off has won my approval.

The romance part of this book was really well done, as well. I’m pretty sure I felt Evie’s anxiety as she tried to deal with it. Even when I wasn’t reading the book, I was still feeling it since I couldn’t keep my mind off of it. If I’m being honest, this was kind of inconvenient when I was at work. Customers kept looking at me like I was a weirdo. Don’t you just love it when you find a book that consumes you like that?


Evie was a really relatable person. I liked seeing her grow throughout the novel. She doesn’t start off as being very strong at all, but Evie tries to make herself less burdensome for Jack. As she began to develop her supernatural abilities, she was understandably freaked out without being annoying about it. I could see myself acting in the same way as her.

Okay, now let’s talk about Jack Deveaux. Jack was a realistic character to me in that he was deeply flawed in some aspects of his character. For instance, he could be incredibly violent to his opponents. I could understand why he would be, but it was kind of hard to take sometimes. I will admit that such a hardened personality kept him and Evie alive after the apocalypse. Besides that, Jack was pretty darn attractive. He had the whole French-Cajun thing going for him, and he could be caring when he forgot to act tough.


The world building in his novel was fantastic. In the beginning of Evie’s narration, we see her normal life. It was so developed that I felt the loss of it after the Apocalypse. The ruined world was described just enough where I could envision what it looked like without annoying the crap out of me with too much detail. It was rich in its desolation and seedy characters. Not a place I’d like to experience firsthand.

My recommendation?

Read it; listen to it; whatever. Just get your hands on it! (although, if you have the opportunity, I definitely suggest listening to the audiobook). You are going to love this novel. It was so good I may end up rereading it again sometime in the future. I can’t wait for the next one to be released in October. I give Poison Princess five out of five stars.

You can find it here:

Friday, March 15, 2013

I'm obsessed with the Doctor...

...To this question, you might ask, Doctor who?
Exactly,” I would say. Doctor Who is one of the greatest television shows you will ever see in your life. I kid you not. I haven't been this obsessed with something since the Harry Potter series. I know, I know. At first you might want to just write it off because you feel a little iffy about it. Don't worry, I was too! But that’s right when it’ll get you. Before you know it, you’re using phrases like, “Allons-y” and you've developed a strange wariness of statues. You might even start thinking that bow ties are cool. That's how wrapped up you can become with it. This video perfectly describes the road to becoming a Whovian (yes, it’s a real word; look it up in the Oxford English Dictionary):

What exactly is this show about? (Warning: some minor spoilers)
Okay, I’m not going to lie to you. I’m trying to convert you into a Whovian. The most exciting thing is when you meet another person who is into Doctor Who. In result, this happens:

No, really. You make this face. I have on quite a few occasions. It's like you instantly bond just because you can both appreciate the amazingness of Doctor Who

The basic plot
So, without further ado, let me try to describe this beautiful show to you without sounding completely insane (almost impossible, I assure you). Doctor Who is a British show on the BBC. It’s been on since 1963 in the UK, but it hadn’t started broadcasting over here in America until its reboot in 2005.

The show is about an alien called the Doctor (please, please, please don't make the mistake of calling him Doctor Who; that's the show's name, not his. And also, while I'm thinking about it, it's DOCTOR Who, not Dr. Who). The audience doesn’t know his real name, and to be honest, most don’t really want to know it. The Doctor is a Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey. He travels through time and space all over the universe saving just about everyone. He also has the nifty trick of regeneration. When the Doctor is dying, his body heals itself by changing into a new man (currently, we are on the eleventh regeneration). Here is what he has looked like over the years:

His spacecraft is called the TARDIS, which is an acronym for Time And Relative Dimensions In Space. When you become a Whovian, you're probably going to get the urge to either put the TARDIS on everything, or use TARDIS blue any chance you get. This is normal. Just let it happen. On the outside, the TARDIS looks like a big blue Police Box. 

On the inside, though…well, it’s much bigger on the inside. And just like the Doctor, the interior changes a lot. These are the most previous ones:

The Ninth and Tenth Doctor's control room

The Eleventh Doctor's control room
Being the last of the Time Lords alive, the Doctor likes to have (mostly) human companions to keep him company. Usually this is someone who needs the Doctor because they're unhappy with their life, and it turns out that he needs them just as much. Each person affects the Doctor in some way. Since the list of companions is a very long one, below are the most recent long term ones (Note: Unfortunately, Netflix only has up to series six, so I haven't been able to watch the most recent episodes. I am awaiting not-so-patiently for my library to get it, and I don't want to encounter spoilers. In result, I'm not as up-to-date with the Doctor's companions as others may be):

Martha Jones 

Rose Tyler

Donna Noble

Amy and Rory Williams
(aka the Ponds)

River Song

What Doctor Who is actually about:
So, now that you know the basics of the show, do you want to know what it's really about? Because it's so much more than simply an alien traveling with his companions and saving the universe. This is a show about friendship and love and courage and, yes, heartache. Through the struggles that these characters overcome, we can see ourselves in them one way or another. By identifying with the Doctor and his companions you see that you're more than just a girl who works in a shop; more than just a "temp from Chiswick;" more than just someone's fiancee. You're the Bad Wolf. You're the most important woman in the universe. You're the Last Centurion. It's a show about taking a stand because you're doing the right thing no matter how difficult. The Doctor doesn't just change his companions, he changes the viewers too.

In a sense, I guess Whovians could be considered a companion as well because he really does show us a better way to live. We become so enthralled by this fictional character that we want to be more like him and his friends and proudly show that enthusiasm off. We want to be clever and absolutely brilliant and to be the best part of ourselves. So, now you know. Doctor Who is more than just a show. If what I've said hasn't made you more interested, then just watch an episode. Experience it, because then you'll realize what you've been missing.