New thing #4: BodyCombat

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Tonight I tried Les Miller’s BodyCombat workout.

And I thought I looked dorky doing Zumba!

It’s easy for me to fall into ruts, especially at the gym, so trying a new class was one of the first things I put on my list. I had nothing specific in mind, I just looked at what worked with my schedule, and from there picked the only one I hadn’t tried yet: BodyCombat. I had never heard of it before, and in case you haven’t either, here is the description from the website:

BODYCOMBAT™ is the empowering group fitness cardio workout where you are totally unleashed. This fiercely energetic program is inspired by mixed martial arts and draws from a wide array of disciplines such as karate, boxing, taekwondo, tai chi and muay thai… During this ultimate warrior workout, you’ll strike, punch, kick and kata your way through calories to superior cardio fitness.”

I think I would need to go to a few more classes before feeling “totally unleashed.” The workout was good, I was definitely sweating, but I felt like I was half-assing the intensity as I struggled with the fairly simple choreography. It’s easy, but fast, and most of the time my brain couldn’t keep up. I hooked when I was supposed to jab, did single knees on the double count, and messed up more than one kata. I was a total spaz (although the teacher was nice enough to lie to me and told me that I did great). Meanwhile, the 70+ year old woman in front of me was kicking ass.

The good news for me though, is that I wasn’t the only spaz. A great thing about the gym is that you are never the most uncoordinated or out of shape person. There is always someone better, and there is also always someone who’s having just as much, if not more trouble than you are, and that’s okay! We all progress together.

Check out some BodyCombat moves on YouTube here.

New thing #2: War and Peace

Due to this being a really busy Sunday, my new thing for today is one of the smallest and easiest things on my list. Though, it’s literally the opposite of small and easy.

Today I started reading War and Peace. For those of you who aren’t familiar, this is an epic Russian war novel by Leo Tolstoy, and is known as one of the longest and most daunting books of all time. “It is the seventh longest novel ever written in a Latin or Cyrillic based alphabet.” If you say so, Wikipedia.

I have never read it. I haven’t even come close to wanting to read it, which is why I put it on my list.

As an English major and all around lover of reading/writing/poetry/and all things written word, I often feel like I don’t challenge myself enough with what I read. I am easily seduced by bestseller lists and don’t get to the classics as often as I’d like. In my mind, this book for some reason has always stood out as the hardest and most intimidating read.

I mean, dude, it’s no joke long. The version I picked up from the used book store is 1215 pages, and I only got to page 30 tonight. Who wants to bet that I’ll finish before the end of March? I wouldn’t bet on me.

Not surprisingly, I like it so far (it’s a classic for a reason, and it’s always these kinds of small fears that turn out to be the most unfounded), but it hasn’t gotten to the heavy stuff yet. I’m especially enjoying the notes in my used copy, probably left behind by some well intentioned undergrad who dropped the English class he had to read it for (I couldn’t help but notice that the notes and highlighting stop before page 50).

So here’s to challenging ourselves in our hobbies, whether it be reading, running, cooking, beer pong, whatever!

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The Plan

I’ll be the first person to admit that I have always made a big deal out of my birthday.

As most kids do, I looked forward to my birthday parties all year. I wanted to wear a great dress (something with enough skirt to fan out when I spun in circles), hire top-notch entertainment (although most of the girls at my 4th birthday party hid from the clown), and eat as much cake as I could stomach (chocolate, always chocolate). From skating rinks and picnics, to sleepovers and scavenger hunts, there are so many standout soirees, it’s hard to choose a favorite *.

Even now as an adult, I love having a birthday. But before you dismiss me as a spoiled, self-involved brat, the people who know me best (get to know me better in the “About Me” tab) will tell you that it’s not because I want to be the center of attention or because I want lots of gifts. Far from it.

I just like to celebrate. Because, well, why not?

Even more so, I love to plan and organize, design themes, build traditions, and not just on birthdays. In my own, inherently innocent ways (my idea of celebrating usually doesn’t involve anything a Bieber or Lohan would be in to), I like to escape my routine and simply give special days their due.

This March 24th, I will turn 31. This is the year that I thought would put an end to my party planning appetite, at least for a while. Everyone knows that 30 is the big year, and the point after which most people start celebrating in fives (35, 40, 45, etc.), or stop counting all together. Or better yet, backwards! Who cares about 31?

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Turns out, I do. Without fail, I got that familiar late-February itch. That it’s-almost-time-to-plan-your-birthday feeling.

So, I’m going with it. Who am I to fight my nature? And again I ask you, why the hell not?

I decided though that this year I should do something different. Something I’ve never done before. For the past few years I’ve planned nice dinners, and fun days/nights out in San Francisco with my friends. They’ve all been great birthdays by my standards, but since I’m well over the 30’s cusp now, it may be time to branch out. After all, if I have to get older, I may as well be growing too.

I started making a list of things I’ve never done before, and the list eventually got so long that I thought about how hard it would be to pick just one. Then I thought, maybe I don’t have to.

My theme-drawn brain came upon the realization that since I’m turning 31 years old, and since there are 31 days in March, maybe I could try one new thing every day in March.

31 days. 31 new things.

And there it is, my 31st birthday plan.

I began by continuing my list of things I’ve never done, and the list is still growing every day. A lot of my ideas are bucket list type things— most of them small, easy things, and some are bigger (and possibly less likely to happen if I go broke half way through the month). Some things are random, some were suggested by others, and some are 31 themed. A handful of ideas are things I don’t really want to do at all, that I put on the list in the spirit of going outside my comfort zone.

Part of this plan is that I’m going to chronicle each new thing here in this blog with short posts and pictures, mostly to keep myself accountable. I’m notorious for getting excited about a project and not following through. If I tell myself that you, my friends, family, and possibly curious strangers, are taking 5 minutes out of your day to read about my adventures, it will inspire me to be braver, more creative, and most importantly to keep going. When I just feel like staying home and watching that Friends rerun for the hundredth time, I will think about you, dear reader, and how you are counting on me to get out there and do/see/try/experience something new.

*Who am I kidding? The hands-down winner is my 15th birthday party. A BBQ at the neighborhood park, and the first party I invited boys to. My friends and I filmed it, and over the years we have watched/reminisced the shit out of that old VHS tape.

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