Tag Archives: television

Binge Watching Without Binging

10 Jun
Courtesy of Tumblr

Courtesy of Tumblr

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been waiting for this weekend for what seems like forever. “Orange Is the New Black” comes back on Friday. For the past two years, I hole myself up in my apartment with a several bags of popcorn, a bottle (or three) of wine and my Apple TV remote to catch up with the ladies of Litchfield.

No more, I say. Oh, I’ll be holed up in my apartment. But this time I plan to not overindulge myself.

Netflix has been a beast with its programming. From “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” to “Grace and Frankie,” I’ve watched wonderful women do extraordinary things on television, all while watching my waistline expand over a couple of days.

I’ve only recently figured out the trick. Here’s how to get through your binge-watching weekend without becoming a gluttonous mass.

1. Prepare your snacks early. You’ve known OINTB was coming back for months now. You’ve got a day to prepare. Go to the store and slice up your fruit, get your lightly salted popcorn ready, and have plenty of water. You’re going to need to stay hydrated for this.

Don't stay cooped up in the house. Courtesy of Tumblr

Don’t stay cooped up in the house.
Courtesy of Tumblr

2. You will need to get some air. Around episode 4 is when the “Oh, shit!” moment happens. I promise you’ll be OK. But you’re going to need a breather to prepare for the remaining nine hours of television that await you. Go for a walk. Get the blood pumping. If the blood is pumping, that means you’ll be more alert for the next “Oh shit!” moment.

3. Do a check up. By episode 7 or 8, another emotionally draining event has occurred. You know you’re not the only one watching the show, so call and check up on a friend or family member who has also dedicated their weekend to Netflix. Walk around your home while you chat. Again: blood flow increases awareness. You’re doing yourself and Netflix a world of good.

4. Prepare an actual meal. While apple slices, popcorn and veggies and hummus are great, they will not fulfill all of your nutritional needs. You’re going to need to check some items off of the food pyramid before you finish the season. On your shopping trip for item 1, make sure you grab some things for later (items for a salad, some grilled chicken, some roasted veggies). Take a break from the show to prepare something delicious. It will take your mind off of tampon sandwiches.

5. Take another walk. By now, you’ve finished the season. Good for you. I hope you enjoyed it. Celebrate with some more fresh air. Take a couple of laps around your block and enjoy the freedom that many of your favorite characters will never see.

How do you stay on track during a binge-watching session? What are your go-to binge-watching snacks?

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Hulu Is My Personal Trainer

31 Mar
My favorite show: cardio kickboxing.

My favorite show: cardio kickboxing. Courtesy of Hulu

My weight-loss journey has taught me a lot about myself. I’ve learned how to challenge myself to do new things. I’ve learned that raw kale tastes like the boulevard of broken dreams. And I’ve learned I’m an outdoor person.

I had never really seen myself that way. I have pretty tricky allergies that make it feel as though my throat is closing up on me. But since I began running, I’ve found out that I can barely tolerate the treadmill and would much rather be on the trail. Having the breeze in my face to cool me while I’m packing on the miles and watching the city go by is an ideal Saturday morning for me. It’s been almost three months since I was able to do that.

This has been the coldest winter ever, forget what Sister Souljah told ya. I haven’t experienced temps above 60 degrees since September. And I hate the cold. I’m miserable. Calgon needs to take me away to a beach with a mojito and a cabana boy to adjust my umbrella. I’m holding out hope for a little warmth soon, but really I’m just tired of being cold.

Me, three weeks ago

Me, three weeks ago

Still, a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do. And this girl’s gotta stay on her grind. Sure, a workout will warm me up for the time being, but I’ve still got to go outside and deal with the elements.

Or do I?

I’ve made a new winter friend. His name is Hulu and I pay him $7.99 a month to help me with my workouts.

I’m ridiculously cheap. I really don’t like pulling out my check card for any reason. Every time it happens, I feel a little piece of me is being deducted from my account. I’m two steps away from being a cord cutter. Still, I’ve been able to find value in my new workout partner.

Hulu often touts its current programs like “Scandal” and “Gotham.” It’s great if you want to catch up on your shows from the past week or even look at some old stuff (hey, “Mary Tyler Moore Show”). But the hidden gem is the workout programs it has available. You can get an hour’s worth of cardio kickboxing, Pilates, zumba, yoga, etc., right in your living room.

To me, it’s better than buying a workout DVD because if you don’t like the Hulu video, you’re not stuck with it. You can try a different instructor or workout. The downside, however, is that the videos aren’t updated very often, so you can get in kind of a rut if you haven’t found an instructor you like.

There are lots of cheap options out there besides Hulu, like CosmoBody or DailyBurn. But I prefer Hulu because the workout programs are in addition to the other programs I watch. Plus, at just under $8 a month, it works within my especially thrifty budget.

Still, there are those pinching pennies much harder than I am. For you guys, YouTube is a great option. You have to do a bit more digging to find what you’re looking for, but the options are greater. If you find a YouTube channel that works for you, good for you. And let me know which ones you like, because I’m always on the lookout for a new workout.

One Time for the Little People

21 Jul

Meet Kacy Cantanzaro.

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She’s my new hero. Kacy is an athlete like you’ve never seen. She’s 5’0″, barely 100 pounds and she is a mother-effing beast. Kacy competed on NBC’s “American Ninja Warrior” and wrecked shop. On four different obstacle courses, she barely stumbled. She faced each task at her own pace and killed shit.

In a conversation with pop-culture site Vulture.com, Kacy says “I … wanted to make these big steps for everyone, for all the women out there and for everybody else that thinks that they can’t do something or that they have an excuse.”

She has. Kacy is a little dynamo. She’s a NCAA Division 1 gymnast, so she was already used to heavy competition. She just wanted to challenge herself a bit more.

And that’s what we can all learn from her. This is the second time she’s competed on the show. The first time didn’t go as well as she’d liked, so she tried again. She continued to train to meet her goal. Nowhere in the interview does she say she wanted to just make it to this round. Kacy is a competitor. Her boyfriend/trainer even acknowledges this in while she’s on the course. An “American Ninja Warrior” participant himself, he calls her “the best competitor I’ve ever met.”

Not the best female competitor, but the best competitor. Kacy accomplished something no other woman has done on the show. And she’s not even done yet. The fact that she’s a woman was brought up several times by the hosts. I tried not to let that bother me so much. The fact that she’s small seemed to be a disadvantage, at least to the hosts. But watching the video, it seemed like a benefit. Kacy is small and light. Sure, running up the vertical would require great thigh strength, but she’s a gymnast so that’s taken care of. That thing with the poles would seem difficult if you had to stretch, but she’s light so she can leap.

Kacy took what would seem like disadvantages and used them to her advantage. She even had a great response for the Vulture interviewer who brought up her height as a disadvantage.  “Obviously, I’ve been on the shorter side my whole life, so I just know that sometimes I need to make adjustments and find my own way to do it,”

Obviously.

You don’t have to be in any major competition to feel the need to prove something to yourself. If you are still on your weight-loss journey or even if you’re trying to maintain, you are still in competition, only with yourself. Your are trying to meet your goals and you will hit some roadblocks. They may not be the quad steps (the first part of the obstacle course). Your goals could be breaking a 10-minute mile, running up a set of steps, pressing 100 pounds or even getting into a headstand at yoga.

It doesn’t matter what your goals are. It matters what you’re willing to do to achieve them. Kacy was willing to go on a strict diet and train for two years straight to prove to herself and inspire others that women could compete at the top levels on this insane show.

I’d never watched the show before I saw the clip. Now that Kacy is moving forward, I really want to see what else she can do.

What are you willing to do to get to the next level for you health, your fitness or even your training?

Kacy competed in the Dallas quarterfinals. Tonight’s episode goes to my hometown of St. Louis. I’ll be watching on NBC.

photo courtesy of NBC

What I Learned From the BET Awards

30 Jun

bet_logo

Last night’s BET Awards were, as expected, full of talking points. For the purposes of this blog, I’ll list a few things that had me going throughout the broadcast

* Missy still looks and sounds great! There’s nothing like watching someone smile through a performance

* Chris Rock: forever funny. My favorite Chris Rock joke of all time can be switched up to apply to fitness: If you’re a gym rat, has to be a gym rat, too, or the shit don’t work.

* I’m an old so I’ve never heard of this August Alsina character, but he’s awfully emotional for a BET Award. Do you, boo.

(but for real, doe)

(but for real, doe)

* Keke Palmer has grown into a beautiful young woman…who is following Kendall Jenner down the path of trying to make pelvic bones sexy. Maybe it’s something else I don’t understand because I’m an old.

* Lil Wayne, despite his penchant for excessive drug use, has stayed in shape all these years. Now if only he could see a dentist about his gums.

weezy

* A few more awards are handed out before we come back to Weezy again, this time with Breezy. These brothers in prison arms performed “Loyal,” an interesting choice for two men not known for being faithful to their women.

*Breezy’s time behind bars left him in a six by eight-foot space didn’t allow him much space to take advantage of the stage, so he gets a pass for his limited dance solo. Still, dancing is a great form of exercise.

breezy

* Yay, Travis Barker. Another guy who gets all kinds of props for recovering from tragedy and remaining healthy. Good for you, guy!

* I must admit that during Usher’s entire performance I worked up quite a sweat dancing around my living room. Usher took me back to eighth grade when he first started. It was fantastic!

usher

* Sometimes, it’s not always about looks. Like Pharrell looking like he’s just getting over a cold, walking around in a sweatshirt and Uggs. I don’t always look my best on sick days. But I’m not rich.

* While I’m not a big fan of Weight Watchers, I fully support Jennifer Hudson’s road to a healthier lifestyle. All that hard work paid off because that waist was snatched! Plus, that last song she sang would be great to skate to (another alternative form of exercise)

* Eva Marcille four months after giving birth: not universally realistic, but she still looked great.

* Just caught a glimpse of Busta Rhymes. Do you remember when he was tall and scrawny, then he hit the gym and was on swole? For a while it looked like he was on steroids, he’d gotten so big. That’s not the case anymore.

Now he's being compared to Cheesecake Factory bags.

Now he’s being compared to Cheesecake Factory bags.

* I’m not perfect. I’m not trying to fat shame Bussa Buss. Let’s just say that life happens.

* You gotta give it to Nicki: Her dancer is in a nude bodysuit and still put on boy shorts for a bit of modesty. Nicki Minaj just DGAF and walked around cheeks out. Do you, boo.

* A meeting of the not-quite Usher minds. At this point in the show, it became evident that the sound people weren’t really in it for the money, because I couldn’t hear August, Trey or Breezy over the background music.

* Was it me or were all the men in the ’70s just really thin? Those Commodores photos had me thinking they weren’t taking advantage of the Tuskeegee southern cooking.

* Cheers to Ledisi, who obvs lost some weight. She looks great and sounds the same. But now she looks like she has more energy during her performances. Good for her.

* All I wanted was for Lionel to sing “Zoom.” All I got was “All Night Long.” Blech!

What Lionel said when I asked for "Zoom."

What Lionel said when I asked for “Zoom.”

* I’m not a fan of T.I.’s new song, but the video did take me back to Rio—so A+.

* I like “Fancy.” Sue me.

* Poor Chadwick Boseman. All he wants to do is portray of Black History’s biggest pop culture figures. Instead, he has to fix the mic Weezy broke while embarrassing his teenage daughter on live television. Poor fella.

* Floyd Mayweather proves that reading is fundamental

* Once again, a the awards show dance break came from some blasts from my past: Troop, Color Me Badd and Silk. (Side note: that first Silk CD was the business. I have stories bout that album. It was defined an era for me.)

* Seeing Myrlie Evers-Williams and Phylicia Rashad just warmed my heart. They are still so graceful, so composed and so stunning. Whatever unicorn tears they’re dropping in their tea, I’d like a few hits of it.

* This…

nicki

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nicki3

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* And to cap it off, Jay and Bey perform via YouTube clip.

All in all, it was not a great show. It was very slow, despite Chris Rock’s efforts. Plus, producers kept making him stretch the show and it still went over.

Because I don’t watch BET all the time, I don’t see howthese people’s bodies are changing. Some were shocks while others were welcome surprises. Can’t wait to see what everyone looks like next year.

What did you think of the show? Who wore the best red plaid? Who wore the best hat?

Making the Boob Tube Your Ally

19 Feb
Decisions: Getting up to burn a few calories or snuggling on the couch with him.

Decisions: Getting up to burn a few calories or snuggling on the couch with him and my remote.

I learned early on in the fitness process that working out at home might not be in my best interests. If I planned on doing an exercise video, of course I would have to use my television. My television sat in my living room not eight feet from my couch. My couch has a fluffy throw blanket on it. And you know what’s hooked up to my TV? My DVR. How can I work out when I have a backlog of “The Vampire Diaries” to catch up on?

I began my journey in Atlanta, where the winters—at the time—weren’t too terrible and I had a car. I’ve continued my journey in New York, where 11 inches of snow is followed by subzero wind chills on gusty days. Living here, you tend to carry a lot of stuff with you because sometimes you just go where the day takes you and it’s good to be prepared. That can become a problem when I get impromptu drinks/dinner/party plans and I have a giant gym bag with me.

As I’ve said before on this blog, I sweat profusely. My clothes need to air out and dry. Leaving my drenched clothes at the office isn’t really an option for me, but how do I get a workout in and still be able to hang with my peeps later?

When I moved here, I brought with me a set of exercise DVDs I’d bought from an infomercial (don’t judge me). I barely used them in Atlanta figured they’d get equal use here. Then the winter doldrums came, as did the pounds, and I needed something else to do. My gym is closed on the weekends, there’s waist-high snow on the ground and I needed to burn some calories. So I cleared some space in the living room and popped in the DVD. It was only 30 minutes, much less time than I’d spend on run. But I was sweating so badly when it was over. My towel got great use and my glass of water was gone. And did I mention it was only 30 minutes.

That necessity for change sparked something that I long thought impossible. I am a self-confessed couch potato. I like curling up in a corner of my sofa with a blanket, book and remote control. I binge-watched “House of Cards” this past weekend because it’s something I like to do. But I also took 30 minutes out of my day to burn a few calories.

Most experts will tell you that you need at least 30 minutes of exercise a day. Well, there you have it. It will take you more time to shower and pick out your clothes for the day than to do some exercise videos. But that’s not all you can—or should—do.

There are plenty of exercises you can compile into a half hour. Try doing sets of different exercises. A combination of jumping jacks, hip hikes, crunches, squats and lunges. Do a few reps of each and then repeat the set. There, 30 minutes and you’ve done some work.

Just remember that staying active is only half the battle to losing or maintaining your weight. And while 30 minutes is a good pat on the back, you should try to challenge yourself to do more. But don’t let the winter blues get you down in the process.