Book Review: Glorious

A few weeks ago I won my friend Missy’s book giveaway (I’ve known Missy since we were about 12, I think) and Akashic Books (a local publisher – they happen to be in Brooklyn – did you know I still haven’t been to Brooklyn? I keep getting made fun of for that…) sent me a copy of Glorious by Bernice L. McFadden. Glorious was a quick and easy read and I really enjoyed it. And did I mention it was autographed?

From Akashic: Glorious is set against the backdrops of the Jim Crow South, the Harlem Renaissance, and the Civil Rights era. Blending fact and fiction, Glorious is the story of Easter Venetta Bartlett, a fictional Harlem Renaissance writer whose tumultuous path to success, ruin, and ultimately revival offers a candid and true portrait of the American experience in all its beauty and cruelty.

Missy does a much better review than I could ever do, so I encourage you to check it out here. I will just say that I thought the book was great and I breezed through it in a few hours. I really like historical fiction and I haven’t read many books with African American heroines (I don’t know why, maybe there just aren’t that many?) so this was really new and interesting for me. I’d highly recommend it.

I’m excited to check out more books from Akashic too; I like supporting small and local companies that are not evil and corporate.

What have you read lately? (I feel like I ask this question a lot – but I love hearing the new responses.)

Nature Made Award!

A while back Nature Made contacted me to be part of the Healing Hearts Club which they started to promote heart health. Nature Made nominated me along with 4 others (Roni, Brett, Elise, and Melissa – all lovely ladies; go check out their blogs) and asked us each to pass on the award to another blogger. I chose my good friend (online and in real life) Coco.

When I got the Healing Hearts package I was very impressed. Nature Made sent me (for free) a six month supply of CholestOff, CoQ10 and Fish Oil supplements as well as an aluminum water bottle, yoga mat and carrying bag.

I have been using the water bottle constantly. I even brought almond milk (for coffee and tea) to work in it. My one coworker and I really like almond milk. We always chat about organic stuff and health food and we like to go to Whole Foods together on our lunch breaks. I used the yoga mat once, and while it can’t measure up to my favorite Gaiam mat, it was still very nice. I will probably let Bobby use it or I might give it to my sister or brother. I love the carrying bag so I’ll keep that.

A little bit about heart healthy supplements…

Fish Oil. Fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acids, which have “cardio-protective” benefits and improve hearth health in general. Nature Made doesn’t mention this next nugget of knowledge – EPA and DHA (the omega 3’s) are also really good for your brain. They can help prevent depression and they also help with brain function in general. Pretty cool, right? I learned that from Dishing Up Nutrition, my latest obsession. So I take the fish oil for my brain in addition to my heart.

CoQ10. This is actually Coenzyme Q10. It’s kind of like a vitamin and it helps with energy production. It’s also an antioxidant. It’s good for metabolism. I’m a metabolism fiend so I am definitely a fan.

Cholestoff. I don’t really know how this works, and I am pretty sure I don’t have high cholesterol, so I think I am going to give this to my parents or older relatives. I’m sure it’s awesome because Nature Made seems like a solid company.

Thanks, Nature Made and congrats to my nominee, Coco! And congrats to the other Heart Healthy Club members too. I hope we can spread the word and encourage people to think of their hearts. Nutrition is the basis of good health… I’m so glad people are starting to realize that.

I have a few other product reviews and mentions that I have been putting off out of pure laziness but they will be up this week. In case it wasn’t obvious, Nature Made sent me the goodies in this package for free and I am not receiving any kind of payment from them for the review (which wasn’t really a review, it was more of a thank you for thinking of me).

Do you take supplements? Which ones? I started up with calcium again this week – calcium and I have an on-again, of-again affair that is only ever off because I run out and keep forgetting to buy more. I used to take a multivitamin but I don’t think they actually do anything. Sometimes I take L-Glutamine and probiotics (bifido bacteria in particular).

East Japanese Restaurant Review & Contemplation

I had my first acupuncture treatment this morning. So far I am very impressed with Nicholas Steadman, but I’ll probably write a more thorough review after I’ve gotten it again (I signed up for another session on Thursday night). I think I am very lucky to have found this.

Here is some food! Bobby and I have been to this Japanese place called East 3 times now. We have definitely learned what to get. The menus have pictures for every dish:

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I like to get tea (complimentary) with my meals.

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The first time we went I got this grilled broccoli. Kind of a ripoff ($2.50 I think), but very good.

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Bobby got this burdock noodle soup with tempura and fish cake things. He said it was delicious and finished it… I got to taste the broth though. Pretty yummy.

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The first night he also got this salmon roll ($10?). I’m not that much of a sushi person, but I tried it and I thought it was alright.

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I had to get a salad, and this one rocked. It was only $6 and it was huge.

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And I got this grilled salmon (miso glazed, $9) and horseradish with some sort of roe. I actually chopped most of this up and put it in the salad – so awesome. If this were cheaper I would get it again (it was a fairly small portion).

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The next time we went with my mom (she had been up to help me paint). I got the salad again ($6). It is gigantic and probably the best deal I’ve seen in New York.

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My mom got a bento box which came with a small salad and miso soup.

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That night I got the chicken teriyaki ($5 something?). Ahh, this was delicious. It came with a piece of broccoli and a piece of carrot.

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This was the rest of my mom’s bento box – seaweed salads, rice, salmon teriyaki, tempura, and a roll. I helped her 🙂

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Bobby got a soup again that night. I don’t remember which one. Or maybe this was the burdock one and the other one was something else. Anyway, this was delicious as well.

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And that same salmon roll (I want to say it’s called salmon lover’s).

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We went again last night for Salmon Thursday! Lots of salmon dishes were super-reduced, so Bobby and I went all out for salmon. Happy couple:

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I got the salad yet again. Bobby got that salmon roll yet again.

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Then… I got something called “salmon neck” for just $4. This plate is twice the size of a normal dinner plate. So huge!! It wasn’t all meat though (bones, eyes – you know – the usual).

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It came with some horseradish stuff. Bobby also got a natto roll (fermented soybeans – I do NOT like this).

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And another ridiculously cheap salmon roll (normally $14 or something, but on Salmon Thursday I think it’s $8).

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Wow, what a lot of delicious Japanese food. I would highly recommend East. They have a few other locations as well. Bobby was the mayor briefly at this one, but he was ousted just last night.

What are your weekend plans? I am going to IKEA!

Review: EarthRise Yoga (at Equinox)

Continuing with my exercise kick…

On Tuesday morning I got up and went to EarthRise yoga from 7:30-8:30am at Equinox on 63rd and Lex (3 blocks away).

Okay – *this* is my yoga. This is exactly what I practice when I do yoga on my own. This is it!! It’s like dance… but yoga. It’s breathing and moving and flowing nonstop. It’s invigorating. Here is the description from Derek Beres’ site (that’s the instructor):

“Derek Beres is the creator of EarthRise YogaTM, a rigorous Vinyasa-based practice pulling from his decade of study in various yogic practices, as well as studies in various martial arts and dance disciplines, including certifications in Budokon and Thai Yoga Massage.”

It’s completely clear that this yoga is built on so many different foundations – martial arts, dance, vinyasa – you are constantly moving with the breath and really getting into the practice.

The hour long class had 2 major flows (each done on both sides). The flows were probably about  10 minutes per side (!). The first one went something like this (forgive me for butchering the sequence if I do):

  • leg up; knee to nose (repeat a few times)
  • leg up; knee out to the side like an L
  • lunge with back knee down and arms up; straighten legs to pyramid (repeat a few times)
  • something…
  • warrior 2 and half moon back to warrior 2
  • forward to a squat; straighten up and do a back bend (repeat a few times with the breath)
  • birds of paradise (going slowly through the whole preparation)
  • bound half moon play (!)
  • side straddle
  • warrior 2
  • something…
  • lots of side planks thrown in there
  • more stuff that I’m forgetting

That was not a very good layout of the flow; it was so long that I couldn’t even remember it at the time! I loved it though. Most of it was moving with the breath; even when we did hold poses for longer it felt like nothing. I loved the half moon bind – I didn’t even know that was a posture. And I finally got birds of paradise.

The class was set to some very cool beats (I think done by the instructor himself) and the music definitely kept the energy flowing.

There’s another one tomorrow (Thursday) morning at 63rd and Lex (same time: 7:30-8:30am) and I’m going to try to go in before work.

I am *so* glad to have found my perfect yoga class. This maybe be reason enough to join Equinox (even thought I would probably join for the showers and free Kiehl’s alone).

What’s the best exercise class you’ve ever taken?

Review: intenSati (cardio class & warrior challenge) AND yoga AND pilates (Equinox gym)

A few weeks ago I mentioned that I was applying for the Warrior Challenge – well, I got in! I get a free 1-month pass to Equinox gyms in Manhattan and I have to dedicate myself to taking 3 intenSati classes each week. What’s intenSati, you ask? I’ll explain.

IntenSati is a super high-energy cardio workout that has elements of kickboxing, aerobics, dance, yoga, martial arts, and strength training. It is ridiculously intense. It’s a 60 minute workout and I bet you burn upwards of 500 calories in one session. It’s not just a high-energy workout though: while you work out you yell positive affirmations that will hopefully spill over into other areas of your life.

It was created by Patricia Moreno, a very strong and inspiring NYC fitness guru. She just wrote a book!

Okay, the positive affirmations thing sounded a little weird to me. I walked into the orientation on Sunday and I was kind of apprehensive. Is this religious? Is it weird and cult-y? It was NOT. Not at all. We started the workout and we were yelling things like, “I am ready to be stronger,” “I am ready to go further,” “No more excuses!”, “I am not afraid!”. I have never been one to believe in that “power of positive thinking” stuff, but I think I might be changing my mind. It’s kind of working 🙂

Anyway, I went to the orientation class on Sunday, and it was a little over an hour. Before class started I met up with Missy so I felt much more at ease knowing I had a blogger friend with me. Patricia Moreno was actually leading us! The class starts out with some dynamic stretching (deep squats, etc…) and you learn 2 poses. 1) Ready (essentially mountain pose); and 2) Warrior (essentially a wide squat with arms outstretched).

mountain warrior

That part took maybe 5-10 minutes. Then we started doing amazingly crazy cardio stuff and yelling for about 45 minutes. Sweat was pouring down my body (I don’t sweat). Then we did yoga-like strength-dancing for about 10-15 minutes, and we ended with more stretching (5-10 minutes). This class was a little bit longer than usual because it was the orientation class.

Yesterday (Monday) I was going to wake up for the early morning class, but I was exhausted. I decided to do a class after work at the Equinox by my apartment (63rd and Lex). This intenSati class was 60 minutes and it was led by Erika Shannon. She led us through the same dynamic stretching, and then we started the cardio craziness. This cardio only lasted about 30 minutes, then we did about 15-20 minutes of strength, and a few minutes of stretching at the end. It was still an amazing workout even though it was slightly shorter than Sunday’s class. After the craziness Erika made us hold “warrior” for about 2 minutes! After the intensity (intenSati?) of the craziness this was really hard – I was sweating so much, but it felt amazing.

Missy and I were a little bit crazy and we decided to stay for Erika’s Hip Hop class (just 45 minutes). It was 30 minutes of dancing and then 15 minutes of strength. I was pretty tired from intenSati, but managed to keep up my energy for the duration of the class. I definitely prefer intenSati because I look like a dork when I try to do hip hop.

Missy has 2 really good reviews on her blog, too:

Today I went to Equinox again to take 2 more classes: Pilates/Bartenieff Fusion with Laura Ward and then Slow Flow Yoga with Maja Sidebaeck. I was about 10 minutes late to pilates and felt bad, but I thought the class was great. Yoga was really nice as well – it was very flowy and exactly how I would lead a class. Definitely going back.

I also LOVE the Equinox showers. I think I’ll just shower there from now on. They have great shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and lotion… and they have razors, q-tips, deodorant, hair products, mouth wash, and probably a bajillion other things I didn’t see. I have this horrible feeling that I’m going to sign up with Equinox after the challenge is over.

I am now going to go do some work and crash into bed. Later, peeps! Go drink some water!

What’s your favorite killer workout?