Thursday, January 26, 2012

January Books

It looks like I'm on track to meet my book quota for the month. Let's hope I can keep this up for the rest of the year.

Book #1: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Because I love YA novels

I got on this Hunger Games bandwagon a little late, but anyway. I think I mentioned before that I love YA novels. It's the reason my Lit 101 term paper was about themes in Newberry Award-winning books (I had to read a bunch of YA books for school, hurray!). I borrowed the first book from a friend, and ended up buying a boxed set because books 2 and 3 weren't sold individually. That's how much I wanted to finish the series. I normally don't like anything sci-fi-ish, but this one was strangely touching. Movie's coming out in March. Since it's action-packed, it might just translate better on film. We'll see.

Book #2: The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas

Because everyone should read the classics

Wow, this book sure has a misleading title. I don't think I've ever seen a Three Musketeers movie, so it really surprised me that it was in fact about three musketeers and one guard. Hmmm. I was also astonished that it was filled with cheating spouses and swordfights that end in death, but somehow all this was told in a light, playful tone.

Book #3: The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Because I'm also trying to read as many contemporary books as I can (in other words, gusto kong maging "in." Haha)

I'm told the movie is a tearjerker, but OK!'s Kabbie recommended that I read the novel before seeing the film. And read I did. I sped through that thing--I couldn't put it down because it was so engaging. And poignant. And even funny!

Book #4: On Writing Well by William Zinsser

Because, much to my husband's delight, I resolved to read at least one non-fiction book a month

I was hesitant to pick up this book because it just looked so...prosaic. (Yes, sometimes I do judge a book by its cover.) But how could I expect a book about writing well to be anything less than, well, well written? About a third of my way through it, but I think I'll be able to finish it before the month ends. A more detailed post about this extremely helpful, unexpectedly charming book soon.

What have you read lately? Anything you'd like to recommend?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Ringing in the New Year (Again)

This is how my husband and I rang in the Year of the Dragon...

Fireworks onstage as Katy Perry sang "Firework"! It seems The Secret is working for me again. Got free tickets unexpectedly late that afternoon! (Thanks to my brother!) So instead of a dragon dance, we got peacocks and a kittycat.

Hope this is a sign of all the good things in store for me this year. Happy New Year (again), everyone!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Scenes from December

Because I barely got to blog in December, a few snapshots.

Brunch at a fairly new all-day breakfast place, Milky & Sunny...

Cheery, isn't it?

Dinner at my favorite, Ninyo, to celebrate 11 years with shekh ma shieraki anni (GoT fans would know what that means!)...

Oysters, three ways

D's "21st" birthday. Another "intimate" celebration that wasn't quite so...

The sweaty me can attest that I had fun dancing all night!

Two weddings in one day (one in Daang Reyna, one in Tagaytay!)...

Outfit details here

Our group winning first place at the Summit Christmas party...

Cheerleader na cheerleader! Photo by Red Redrico

The Warriors Christmas party, with our new recruits (woohoo!)...

Ang sosyal ng venue!

Noche buena al fresco with the family...

One brother, back from NY. Not shown: Our adopted British brother (long story)

A very quiet birthday...

At Silya't Sili for dinner

A quickie trip to Baguio for a wedding, my first time back after about 15 years. We took the deluxe bus, complete with fully reclining chairs, a lavatory, wi-fi, and even a "stewardess"!

At Camp John Hay. Sunnies can't conceal my eye luggage from the red-eye road trip.

On the road for about 10 hours. From Baguio, straight to Casa San Pablo to spend New Year's Eve with my family...

Dad stepped out for a bit.

Family, friends, food, and an extra five pounds--that's what December's all about!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

I Miss You

It's been a while since I last did major styling work. I miss it. Maybe I should find time to style more pages for GH myself.

I styled these setups for Martha Stewart Weddings in 2010. Doing work for MSW was incredibly stressful--I was constantly pressured by their exacting standards. So I would plan, draw, source, re-plan, re-draw, re-source, and so on until I found juuust the right items (and some extras, just in case). Exhausting work, but in the end...

White spaces are for text, in case you were wondering about the composition. Photos by Louie Aguinaldo. was worth it.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Through the Fire

The Kindle Fire, that is. Blogging for the first time through a tablet and I gotta tell ya, if I had done this the old-fashioned way, I'd be done by now! There are reasons why I have a Blackberry instead of an iPhone! (Pudgy fingers being 10 of them.) But for the sake of trying something new--and in the hopes of not getting completely left behind and finding the future completely unnavigable--I thought I'd give it a shot.

Well, Kindle, you're great at giving me access to Amazon books and letting me play DroidWords, but blogging will have to wait til keyboards become obsolete!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Kiss #9: Surigao

This is what my first Groupon purchase got me:

A spacious villa...

We stayed here

...with a view that can't be beat...

An encounter with a jellyfish...

Jellyfish Lagoon

Some exercise...

Sohoton Cave

And the chance to jump off a cliff again...

The most awesome deck, where we ate breakfast and read...

...sat and soaked up our breathtaking surroundings...

...and just enjoyed talking from sunset til late in the evening, wine in hand, watching fireflies and stars come out...

Our ninth kiss--our first time in Mindanao together. But more than that, it marks a time when I was truly happy and at peace.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Let's Get Crazy!

Workouts like this make me ask God why I wasn't born skinny.

This, ladies and gents, is a sample of Shaun T's Insanity workout. And when he says "insanity," he isn't kidding. I gotta tell ya, this sh*t be crazy!

The workout was introduced to me by a teammate who lost 15 pounds in three weeks (!). My relatives also did the workout with varying results--some didn't lose weight, but got toned (remember, muscle is heavier than fat!). My 22-year-old niece had abs after doing it!

Readers, meet my niece's abs. Photo reposted with permission!

Insanity was put together by Shaun T, better known as the Hiphop Abs guy. According to the pamphlet, Insanity is...

"...a 60-day cardio-based total-body conditioning program. We believe it's probably the most intense workout ever put on DVD. (The 30-Day Shred's got nothing on this, I attest.)

Insanity was created by fitness expert Shaun T, based largely on years of study plus his collegiate track and field training. Keep up, and you'll work past your max with explosive cardio and plyometric drills and nonstop intervals of strength, power, and resistance moves. Plus you'll do ab and core training techniques that will push your limits to produce amazing results in 60 days."

When I tell friends who want to change their bodies that it takes 60 days, they lose interest, because most people want a shortcut. Well, people, 60 days is a shortcut. You don't pack on the extra pounds overnight, so you're definitely not going to lose 'em overnight either!

The program uses nothing but your body weight--you just need a bit of space to do some of the drills (like suicides, globe jumps, and--gulp--moving pushups). It starts off with a fit test, which you're supposed to do every two weeks to track your progress. Then each day, you do something different--it could be plyometric cardio circuit, cardio power and resistance, pure cardio (with or without cardio abs), or cardio recovery (which is kind of yoga-ish, but still with pushups!).

The first day was agonizing. That fit test made me realize that my arse was in such a sorry state. I was sweating, grunting, and swearing through the whole thing, and you could hear the constant thump on our wooden floors as I did switch kicks, power jumps, and all the other exercises. (Which led to my husband suggesting that I work out on the first floor, because our neighbors might be getting weird ideas...)

The second day, plyo, I wanted to cry. It got kind of easier as the weeks progressed, mostly because I already knew what I was in for and was no longer caught by surprise ("Did he say 'moving pushups'?!"). But every workout was (and still is) a challenge. I don't think I've ever gotten through a workout without a bunch of colorful swear words.

I eventually reached max levels, which can only be described as lunacy. Alas, I got sick in the midst of all the late nights and stress that December brings, so I was unable to continue.:( But the five or so weeks I did Insanity did produce results:
  • I lost four pounds in the first two to three weeks--not an easy feat, considering my age and slow metabolism. It was hard enough for me to lose weight in my teens and 20s!
  • I lost a bit of my belly fat. Yay! I'd post a pic but it's not quite as impressive as my niece's. Haha.
  • I lost an inch from my hips. Considering my hips were over 36 inches (gasp) already, I guess it's a good thing!
  • I progressed to doing proper pushups, after years of doing girl pushups.
  • My tricep muscles, which had been buried under a layer of arm fat, were visible again.
  • I built up my endurance and felt stronger.
  • My sweat glands were jacked up to max levels--seriously, I have never sweat so much in my life.
So if you want to get rid of that holiday fat, I highly recommend Insanity. It's not for everyone though--you have to be truly committed. The workout itself isn't easy, but possibly a greater challenge is getting your butt moving at home, by yourself, with no one to encourage you. (It's the reason I'm thinking of setting up an Insanity Skype date with my family here and abroad.) And if you've been sedentary for a while, best to get an OK from your doctor first.

Now, off to do plyo!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

My Last Day on the Calendar

The night before I turned 32 (yes, I'm saying it out loud), Hamil took me to a swanky restaurant, tucked away in a nondescript building in Makati. I wanted to wear something both polished and relaxed, two key words to describe my style in my 30s. (BFF M would call it "effortless chic.")

My birthday suit: Dress by Philosophy; nude pumps by Parisian; belt (not seen), earrings, necklace by WWW; clutch by Aranaz

I pretty much wore H-to-T SM! Haha. Polished doesn't have to mean expensive. (I don't really do expensive. I'd rather spend my money on travel.)

The night before my birthday, I used to really freak out. But birthdays have gotten easier with my husband around. I still kind of fretted for a bit, thinking about jumping off the calendar and falling into the abyss (haha). But I think I've learned to embrace my age.

There are a lot of reasons to love being 32, but for now, let me focus on one: Appreciating the body I have. While I still have a dream body in mind, I love the one I'm already in. I used to avoid anything form-fitting, but I've learned not to hide behind loose clothing (much to the delight of ze huzband). I have learned that gaining five pounds does not mean the end of the world. But beyond that, I have a much greater appreciation for what my body can do, rather than what it looks like--I ran a half marathon. I did 30 days of Insanity. And even with my rickety bones and layer of belly fat, I can pretty much outlast my team when it comes to doing core exercises. The anxieties and insecurities from my teens and 20s are fading fading fading, and some days, I feel quite at peace. I imagine that, the older I get, these days will turn into status quo. (Of course, it doesn't hurt that people always tell me I don't look my age!)

Here's to growing old gracefully!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

To Start the Year Off

Happy New Year!

The last couple of weeks were b-u-s-y (the things to blog about took a backseat to actual blogging), but now that we're easing out of holiday mode, I'm back! And to start the year off, let me present the January 2012 (!) issue of Good Housekeeping Philippines!

This is a first for GH Philippines, putting a "real person" on the cover. I put quotation marks because, well, celebs are real people too, but you know what I mean. Angela was one of the finalists on the first Biggest Loser: Pinoy Edition, and she wanted to lose weight so that she could try to have a baby. She looks fantastic, doesn't she? We also shot the other finalists for the cover story, and they were just inspiring. I have a hard enough time losing five pounds--they each pretty much lost the equivalent of an entire person! So, grab a copy of the mag and prepare to be amazed.

Our fashion feature is also chock full of incredible weight-loss stories, including one woman who lost 220 pounds--no surgery! (Yes, you read that right. Two hundred twenty. You have to see the "before" and "after" photos to believe it. Even her own family doesn't recognize her!)

Other features:
  • A diet plan that will help you lose 10 pounds in four weeks
  • A bra guide--did you know that 7 out of 10 women are wearing the wrong size? Find out if you're one of them!
  • Other bloggers! Topaz Horizon's Frances is in our "Multi-Hyphenate Moms" story, and The Drama Queen Can Tell Stories' Crickette wrote something for our Good Health section.
  • New monthly sections: Man of the House and This Mom's Life, featuring celeb dads and moms (you'll see that they're real people too!)
  • A quickie four-course Valentine meal you can prepare in a jiffy, so you'll still have time for, er, other romantic pursuits
  • 10 tips to help you (finally) stick to your resolutions--because, if you're like me, you're probably just recycling past years' resolutions!
And many, many more. Still just a hundred bucks.:)

Wishing you all a happy, healthy, blessed 2012!