Wednesday, June 30, 2010

My Problem with Twilight

I like the Twilight books; I really do.  A coworker loaned me her copy of Twilight almost two years ago because I had forgotten a book to read during my lunch break.  I was skeptical, but I'll give any book a chance.

I didn't love it.  The actual writing isn't that great and the main character (Bella) was kind of annoying.  Annoying like I want to slap her and explain to her that a 17 year old in love is, well, laughable.  That's not to say that 17 year olds can't fall in love.  My mom got married at 17 and will be celebrating her 30th wedding anniversary in a few days.  But my God, is Bella an example of how not to be at that age.  Anyways, despite my better judgement, I bought New Moon.  I love New Moon.  It's one of my favorite books.  So, I anxiously order Eclipse and Breaking Dawn -- which both suck. 

But the series is entertaining if you can suspend your disbelief long enough to get into the story. 

In fact, this post isn't a tirade against the books.  I've read the books (especially New Moon) at least a dozen times over the last two years because I really like the relationships between the characters.  I realize that Stephanie Meyer isn't Jane Austin or Charlotte Bronte, but she doesn't pretend to be.

Rather, this post is about how much the movies suck.

Twilight sucked.  I watched it a total of ONE time and I cannot bring myself to watch it again.  It's like they said, "Let's take all the redeeming qualities from this book and throw them out the window."  I felt like I was watching two hours of Kristin Stewart biting her lip.  I've seen Robert Pattinson in other movies, and I know he can act.  Kristin Stewart, well, not so much.  I kept waiting for the movie to develop the characters.  I kept waiting for the bond to develop that turns Bella into an Edwardcentric shell.  It never happened. 

Then New Moon came out.  Remember, that I love New Moon.  The previews were pretty awesome and I thought, okay, I'll bite.  I even bought the movie because I was sure I would love it as much as the book. 


I love New Moon because of the relationship Jacob and Bella have.  I love New Moon because it's slightly less "Oh, Edward."  But again, the movie lacked any depth.  I realize it's hard to put a 500 page book into a two hour movie, but it really seemed like they cut out the best parts.  Even the screenwriter, Melissa Rosenberg, claims that the series isn't exactly high art.  Thank goodness Taylor Lautner is hot, or I'd be out $20.  Hell, even Robert Pattinson said he's bored of the saga. 

So I was pretty much over the movies by the time the 50 billion trailers and clips of Eclipse were released.  Just the fact that Eclipse is probably the most boring book in the series and that the trailers are centered around Riley, who's in the book for all of three pages, put the proverbial final nail in the coffin.  Maybe I'll pay the $1 for the redbox rental in a couple of months, but I doubt it.

I realize that the Twilight franchise doesn't care.  There are enough vampire wannabes out there to make Summit rich. 

I also realize that I'm not the target demographic for Twilight.  I'm not all "Oh, Edward" and I don't desire to be Bella and have a sparkly vampire save me.  Interestingly, the facebook status updates that are constantly blabbering on about Eclipse are from friends who are over the age of 40 or under the age of 21.  I think I was lucky enough to be raised with a generation that was taught you don't need a man (or vampire) to save you from your life.  Or maybe it's because I'm happily married and have no reason to imagine myself giving birth to a vampire spawn.

Or maybe it's because I watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer and realize it's been done before, much better.
Photo source:
Angel will always be better than Edward if for no other reason than he doesn't sparkle.
Also people, please don't name your kid Bella, Edward, or Cullen.  Seriously, Cullen is the fastest growing baby name of 2009.  Twilight is a fad that will fade like NKOTB (look it up, young'uns) and your kid will NOT appreciate it in 20 years.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

I Need New Tunes

I have a superfantastic running playlist.  It's been so superfantastic that I haven't updated my iPod in about a year and a half.  The thing is, my music interests and my running music interests don't really overlap.  I'm about a 75% rock/grunge/metal sort of gal while my running playlist is mostly pop and rap -- things that have a strong beat.  Since I don't listen to pop or rap on any sort of regular basis, I don't know what new and awesome songs have come out that should be on my playlist.

Jen's Running Mix
Let's Go -- Trick Daddy
Lose Yourself -- Eminem
Pump It -- Black Eyed Peas
Tainted Love -- Soft Cell
Nookie -- Limp Bizkit
Rollin' (Urban Assualt Vehicle) -- Limp Bizkit
Gimme More -- Britney Spears
One Step Closer -- Linkin Park
Somewhere I Belong -- Linkin ParkBleed It Out -- Linkin Park
Click Click Boom -- Saliva
Ready to Go -- Republica
Stronger -- Kanye West
Jesus Walks -- Kanye West
Pain -- Jimmy Eat World
Over My Head -- Sum 41
Hip Hip Hooray -- Naughty by Nature
Awake -- Godsmack
I Stand Alone -- Godsmack
Sweet Home Alabama -- Lynard Skynard
4 Minutes -- Madonna (ft. Justin Timberlake)
SexyBack -- Justin Timberlake
Magic Carpet Ride -- The Crystal Method
Party Up -- DMX
Temperature -- Sean Paul
Beverly Hills -- Weezer
California Love -- Tupac (ft. Dr. Dre)
Fighter -- Christina Aguilera

So I need your help.  Give my music, um, interests... what should I add?  (I realize I'm severely lacking in Gaga, but like I said, I haven't updated in a year.)  I like motivating songs.  I like songs that make me want to dance.  I like songs that will take me from mile 20 to mile 26. 


Thursday, June 24, 2010

A Day at the Battery

Last week, we took the kids downtown to do a little sightseeing and buy Jason a new pair of shoes.  (Good Lord, he needed new shoes.)  The day started with Harper's 4 month check-up and shots, followed by a lot of errands, then we finally made it into Charleston.  I have to say I was pretty impressed with Harper.  Even though shots usually make her grumpy, she only cried once and we were gone for a long time.  Kaelin even kept the complaining to a minimum.  It seemed like everything was working out in our favor. 

Except the weather.

Weather guy said it was supposed to be sunny.

I checked the forecast before we left.  I checked it again on our way.  Sunny, hot, and humid (completely the norm for South Carolina).  Of course, as soon as we get downtown the clouds rolled in and the thunder started.  We had lunch, Jason got his shoes (the guy at the running store was an ass, btw) and decided to walk down King St to the water.  It's only about a mile each way, but it starting misting a few block into our walk.  Not knowing if it was going to stop or start all-out raining, we turned back.  I have to say, I was really disappointed.
The view from the car.
Since we couldn't walk to the water, we decided to drive by and at least look at it.  But there was a parking spot!  Right there on the battery!  Yay!  We parked, got the stroller back out and walked along the river.  It was way too hot.  It was way too humid.  There was so much static electricity that our hair was standing up!
My little lightning rod.
We were completely wiped by the time we got home, but it was definitely worth it!  I can't wait until our next outing.  Maybe the aquarium?  The beach?  A museum? 

Kaelin enjoyed it.
Harper wasn't nearly as impressed.
Family Time!

My Shoes May be Trying to Kill Me

Hydration belts, identity bracelets, iPods, Garmins, sleeves -- just some of the gear a typical runner might use on a regular basis.  (Trust me, I've been begging for a Garmin since Christmas.)  But there's really only one piece of equipment that you need to run.


Okay, I know the barefoot running craze is hot right now.  However, I don't live on dirt roads in Kenya and I'm not entirely sure my tetanus shot is up to date.  I have to deal with rocks, melting asphalt, and gross stuff that people through on the road.  I could try to run in the grass, but that brings up the issue of dog poop.  I NEED shoes.

But shoes are bad.  The big argument is that we, as a species, have been running since the dawn of time without shiny new Nikes.  We managed to evolve without a pair of Saucony's on our neanderthalic feet.  New studies are even showing that running shoes are directly linked to knee, hip, and ankle injuries.  As someone who is ALWAYS plagued with running injuries from plantar fasciitis and shin splints to chrondromalacia, this really interests me. 

I regularly change my shoes every 300 - 400 miles.  Physical therapists have watch me run (I have a very slight overpronation but they recommend neutral shoes).  I get professionally fitted at a running store.  I tend to spend about $100 a pair for quality shoes.

And they're hurting me?

To be fair, I have completely sucky form.  Nobody ever taught me how to run.  Not in middle school during the hideous Presidential Fitness Test.  Not in high school while doing splits on the track.  Not in boot camp where running is a mode of transportation.  Like most untrained (or badly trained) runners, I'm a heel striker.  That means I land on my heel, roll my foot, and push off with my toes.  This puts a metric crapton of force on your heel that travels up your leg.  To combat this, companies started adding more and more cushioning to the heel of their shoes.  The heels on the shoes started getting bigger which has led to even more heel striking because the heel gets in the way. 

However, when you run barefoot you land on your midsole or your forefoot while your heel barely touches the ground.  The whole movement is much more efficient and easier on your joints.  Of course, that brings us back to the dog poo.

So what's a girl to do?

That girl could buy a pair of Newtons!

Apparently, these shoes are the bee's knees.  (Whatever that means.)  I have read review after review about these shoes and I am SOOOO excited to try them.  I'm nervous because they're pretty $$$, but the research seems pretty solid.  The shoe has a very small heel and lugs midfoot that force you to run with proper form.  Their website has a TON of information and videos so I'm not going to repeat it all here, but I think they are definitely worth a try.  If I don't like them, I'll go back to my old running shoes. 

Unfortunately, I can't buy them yet.  No store in South Carolina sells them so I was planning on buying them when I go on vacation in a few weeks.  You can buy them online, but I'm really nervous about getting a pair of shoes without being able to try them on.  Of course, while I was researching this article, I just discovered that the HOT PINK shoes that I'M IN LOVE WITH are being discontinued and if I don't buy one of the few remaining pairs on line, I'll either have to settle for bright yellow or neon orange

Aarrgghh!  I'm so confused now.  Should I order the pink ones without trying them on?  Would I look okay in yellow shoes?  Should I call the running store in Virginia and see if they have pink Newtons in my size?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Bye-Bye, School

I know I'm a few weeks late here, but Kaelin's last day of school was June 2.  I can't believe I have a 4th grader.  It wasn't all that long ago when she started kindergarten.  Over these last few weeks I've really enjoyed having her home -- almost as much as I've enjoyed not having to take her to school in the morning or interrupt my afternoon to pick her up!

I'm definitely nervous though, since it means our homeschooling adventure is just around the corner.  I have no doubts in my ability as a chemistry teacher on the college level, but am I going to be able to teach my own kid Greek history?  What about Latin?  There are books on her 4th grade reading list that I've never even opened.  How am I going to teach her Shakespeare?  What about when she starts giving me attitude? 

Am I even going to have a free minute to myself?

Anyways, I was originally going to write my own curriculum, but after HOURS of research I realized that I have no clue what 4th graders should learn.  Plus, I might have the tendency to pack a little too much into a school day.  I found what I think will be an amazing Catholic homeschool program so we're going to try that, for at least her first year.  If we like it, we'll stick with it, otherwise we'll try something new for 5th grade.  I also found most of the books she'll need cheap so the whole thing will probably only cost us $200 for the year.  (Between fundraisers and school events, I probably spent over a thousand bucks at her old school -- free education, my ass.)

For the summer, she's working through a summer bridge book and a pretty hefty reading list in addition to the activities we have planned like the aquarium and some Civil War battle sites.  As much as I dislike living in South Carolina, I love that Charleston is full of history. 

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

When Do You Run?

I'm struggling. I really am. I want to run; I really do. But I can't seem to find the time. It's not time in the usual sense. You know, the 'I don't have time to workout because ...' excuse.

Rather, I can't find the right time of day to run. Currently, Jason is undergoing some pretty intense Navy training and is working 12 hour days 7 days a week doing rotating shiftwork. Last week was awesome. He worked 12:30 PM to 12:30 AM which gave me plenty of time in the morning to run before he went to work. He even went with me a couple of times. (Note, we might want to invest in a jogging stroller.)

This week, he's working 8:30 PM to 8:30 AM. I had originally planned to run when he got home at 9:00. But I ran into two problems. First, the Navy has a warped sense of time. Several times this week, they wouldn't let the class leave on time because such and such happened or so and so was late. So they punish everyone with push-ups and making them stand at attention for an hour. Meanwhile, I'm sitting by the door in my running clothes wondering if he's in a ditch somewhere because he fell asleep at the wheel. By the time he gets home at 10:00, I've usually gotten wrapped up in something else and don't make it outside.

Or he does make it home at 9:00 and it's already 90 degrees and 125% humidity. I suppose the weather wouldn't be a big issue if I was used to running in it, but being a new (returning?) runner, my stamina is crap. Besides, it's going to get a lot hotter before it starts to cool off again and my runs are only going to get longer.

I suppose I could run at 7:00 PM before he goes to work, but usually it's hotter then than it is in the morning. Plus, by 7:00, I have to make dinner, do baths, etc. I *could* go to the gym when he gets home, but I really despise the treadmill and while it's great now and then, it shouldn't make up the bulk of training for anyone who does road races. I also can't afford a running stroller right now, although even if I could, I wouldn't use one. Strollers completely jack with your form.

So any thought? Should I just suck it up and run in the heat? Is there another answer I'm just not seeing?

Monday, June 21, 2010

Another Pointless Committee

Last month, Roni (of Roni's Weigh) did a completely awesome post about the obesity epidemic and what the Healthy Weight Committment Foundation aims to do about it. While Roni offered some great ideas of her own, the new organization was basically just rehashing the same old, same old -- exercise and eat right. Well, duh.

Anyways, I wanted to share my very long-winded comment to her here on My Inner Fit Chick (previously KUrunner).
I agree that something needs to be done, but I very much disagree with their methods. Obesity is not as simple as calories in versus calories out. I think most Americans are already “conscious” that we need to eat better and exercise. Weight loss and health is so much more than that.

Why are we overweight in the first place? We know more about nutrition and exercise now than we did 100 years ago, even 50 years ago. But the numbers keep going up. Telling me that I need to eat X number of calories doesn’t change the fact that I want that candy bar.

We, as a society, is stressed to the limit. Moms are expected to be super; we are supposed to get up, make a healthy breakfast for the family, get the kids dressed, pack the husband’s lunch, drop the kids off at school and make it to work by 8:00 for a staff meeting. Then, we are supposed to workout during lunch while magically working on a presentation, pick the kids up and cart them off to soccer, dance and band. We go home and make a wonderful pasta primavera from scratch while entertaining three kids without resorting to TV or video games. Don’t forget the laundry that we have to do or the bathrooms we need to scrub. Then, we are expected to make time for the husband.

Yeah, right. No wonder that McDonald’s looks so tempting on the way home.

If HWCF wants change, maybe they should go after the source. Change the goverment that makes boxes of processed crap cheaper than fruits and vegetables. Go after the fast food restaurants that are on every corner where an extra value meal is cheaper than a pound of meat. I’m not saying that there isn’t personal responsibility involved, but it’s kind of unfair to the crack addict when society willingly puts a dealer on every street. (And yes, I believe that being obese is just as dangerous as being hooked on drugs.)

But telling us what we’ve already been told thousands of times before isn’t going to change anything.

But it gets better. This "health-minded" group is made up of CEOs from companies such as Coca-Cola, Nestle, Mars, Hershey, and Kraft. They are the same ones that make it cheaper to buy a 2 liter of soda than a bottle of juice. They are the ones that sell sugar, sugar, and more sugar to our kids. You think that dinosaur on the macaroni box is targeting adults?

Here's what they should be saying:

Eat less, but keep eating our neon orange processed macaroni. Watch your calories, but keep buying our high fructose corn syrup and aspartame laden sodas. Don't be fat kids, but make sure to save room for a candy bar later.

Anyways, if you're as pissed off as I am now, feel free to send them an email at telling them that if they really want to enact change, they should start with their own products.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Brazil Butt Lift

I am so BORED of P90X. Don't get me wrong, it's a great workout, but 90+ days of it gets really old even with 12 different DVDs. I love Tony Horton, but I can recite every single one of his jokes in my sleep. How do people do 2, 3, even more rounds?

Since P90X was always a little too light on cardio for someone needing to lose serious weight, Jason got me Insanity. It's VERY high intensity cardio featuring calisthenics to build muscle. Although, it is highly debated just how effective Insanity is. There are those who are diehard weightlifters who believe that unless you are throwing around dumbbells, you aren't going to gain muscle. Some people say that it's unrealistically intense and that even someone like Lance Armstrong would have problems keeping up. Others love it.

Anyways, the plan was to combine the P90X workouts I like with Insanity. But then, I saw Brazil Butt Lift.

I'll be honest here; I'm a fitness snob. I quietly mocked my mother every time she bought another contraption or workout video from an infomercial. AbRoller? She's got it. ThighMaster? Check. What about an Ab Lounger? Yep. She even spent the money on the electrocute yourself to better abs thing. I spent a couple days trying out her collection of Firm videos, and sure, they may be great for your average unfit, overweight housewife, but they did nothing for me -- the overweight housewife who runs half marathons. So, I was really skeptical when I saw Brazil Butt Lift on Beachbody's website.

Could the people who make P90X and Insanity really sell something so... easy looking? I mean it looks fun. People dancing around on the beach shaking their booty? Very carnival. The workout was made for Victoria's Secret angel, Alessandra Ambrosio and she does have an amazing ass. But then again, she's a supermodel with freak genes and already had a pretty decent backside before the program. Besides, she doesn't have any muscles. There's no way she could out bench me. Hell, she probably can't run more than 5 miles.

Of course, this discussion went on in my head otherwise Jason would probably be a little weirded out.

But I figure, there's a money back guarantee and I really do appreciate what P90X did for me. If people think Brazil Butt Lift works, I'll give it a shot. If I don't like it or if I feel like I'm losing too much fitness, I'll start Insanity.

BBL comes with a workout plan designed for your butt shape; mine is "too much." Day 1 was basics and Bum Bum (Brazilian slang for butt). Basics is just a tutorial about how to do the moves with proper form. Stuff like, put your foot here and your knee here and engage your core, etc. I even thought about skipping it. It's 10 minutes long and to quote a wise man, my biscuits were burning.

I hadn't even started the real workout yet.

Bum Bum is a combination of cardio while doing moves that target your tush. Instead of endless lunges like P90X, you did lunges as a part of a dance move. Squats, leg lifts... they were all there but as part of the cardio. Bum Bum is 30 mins long and I had to pause the disc twice.

How can I make it through 60 mins of Plyo X and then PAUSE a silly little cardio video?

I mean, I didn't even put on my heart rate monitor. Hell, I almost did it in my pajamas because I didn't think I would sweat. I definitely underestimated it.

There are 3 more workouts in the series, and I'm still skeptical that I'll maintain my upper body strength, but I'm going to give it a shot. If anything, I can substitute BBL in for some of the P90X workouts. But for the next few weeks, I want to see what Brazil Butt Lift can do for me.