I’ll often hear many people, usually women, complain about their upper body strength. Most likely, this is because women (and I know I’m generalizing here) tend to stick to cardio like running, biking, or ellipticalling, which is great for their health, hearts, and legs, but they’re completely ignoring an important part of their body! Or else, they aren’t working out at all.

There is no judgement in this post, I’m just pointing out what I’ve heard and trying to remedy that! Cardio is easy- hold the pitchforks- in the sense that you hop on the machine or head outside and you pretty much know what to do.

Strength training is intimidating. There is equipment involved, whether complicated looking machines, funny-looking dumbbells, heavy-looking barbells, or the even stranger kettlebell to name a few. Also, it can be difficult to know what to do and why.

If you are starting out with weight training, exercising, or coming back from an injury, I recommend checking out the weight machines offered at the gym (this is the only time I’d recommend the machines for the record).

Otherwise, if you’re interested in lifting, take the time to do some research, whether in online tutorials or trainers at your gym (we’re always happy to help!) to learn exercises and the proper technique, whether the workout involves equipment or body strength.

Below is an upper body workout that targets all the main muscle groups, including the biceps, triceps, shoulders, back, and chest. If you perform each move properly, the core will always be engaged.

Upper Body 1

Come back next week to check out the lower body workout!

Advertisements

The Entertainer

Last night I went to see Billy Joel at Fenway. This is my second time seeing him and he does not fail to impress. Both of my parents are big fans and I started listening to his music on a family trip to Ireland. There is not one song that I don’t like. It’s funny because he could have played a complete different playlist last night that still would have been full of hits.

  
After every song, I kept shouting, “that one’s my favorite!” I don’t think there’s anything quite like hearing a packed stadium of 30,000+ people singing along to Piano Man or an a Capella version of The Longest Time. Even the two songs I didn’t know, I enjoyed. It was a perfect night for an outdoor concert too. Not too cold or warm, a few stars speckled the sky, and a great time with my parents and cousin Maura!

  
  
We started the night by hitting up a restaurant and getting a few drinks. I had a watermelon beer (the piece of watermelon on top was my favorite) and then had a glass of raspberry sangria. For my meal, I selected the chicken and shrimp sesame stir fry that was chock full of peppers, snap peas, and mushrooms on top a bed of jasmine rice. The portion size was just right so that I easily polished it off and washed it down with a soft serve cone in the stadium.

  
My workout for the day was a body strength circuit that had my sweating and sticky before I jumped into the pool to swim a mile. I was feeling strong yesterday and was in the zone and could have swam another mile (at least it yet like it) but I was on no time crunch and had to get ready for the concert! To add to my exercise for the day, we did quite a bit of walking to the concert and a ton of dancing! Once Billy came on stage, I didn’t sit for another two hours.

I was feeling sleepy this morning and took my time getting out of bed. Somehow it seemed easier at 5. I eventually got up and grilled up some French toast. In my batter, I tossed an egg, an egg white, a splash of milk, cinnamon, and vanilla together, soaked the bread, and fried it up. I thought I would get a little fancy with my topping and mixed a fourth of a cup of plain Greek yogurt and two tablespoons of dark chocolate peanut butter together. Combined with blueberries and banana, it was quite tasty. I ended up having too much for the toast, so I just ate the rest of it as a parfait.

  
As I enjoyed my breakfast, I watched a clip of Amy Schumer on Jimmy Fallon’s show talking about how she engaged in a bread eating war with Mindy Kaling and sexted from Katie Couric’s phone when she got up to use the bathroom. Comedy right now is huge, especially as people realize that women are actually funny. I am actually going to see Amy’s movie that comes out tonight, which she stars in and wrote. I think it’s so important to have celebrities, especially female, get so much positive exposure for being smart, funny, confident, and strong. And she was just nominated for an Emmy for her show Inside Amy Schumer, which is great!

Now onto a day of studying, writing, and exercising! Happy Friday!

All Hail the Chief!

My only complaint about Veep is that the seasons simply are not long enough. It took me far too long to start watching because I didn’t have access to HBO, but now it’s taking me no time at all to fly through the show thus far.

From the start, the characters have defined characteristics and dynamics with one another, without getting overly sentimental with providing too much backstory. A quality show builds backstory as it continuously moves forward, careful to establish moments that an audience will find endearing.

We want to grow with characters, not be caught up in things that were supposed to happen before we “met” them.

The show reminds me of a cross between Parks and Rec and The Office, with the quirky characters, underdog storyline plots, and quick, smart humor. It almost seems that a camera crew is following them, which is not the set up of the show, but in some ways might be considered because of how it’s a political show. The media could be perceived as that camera crew because it’s always around and shows different perspectives.

I’m obsessed with the dialogue of this show and how real it seems. It flows and moves quickly, incorporating enough political jargon without being over pretentious. If I could write for a show, I would want it to be this one.

Also, something has to be said about the talent of Julia Louis Dreyfuss. People always talk about Amy and Tina-rightfully so- but look at how much Julia has done for women in comedy. She was the single female in one of the funniest, greatest shows of all time, Seinfeld. Elaine is incredibly defined in pop culture, and yet, I have no trouble in believing Julia as Selina. She is hilarious and genius as a woman in power struggling through politics and the dynamics of Washington. Sometimes she bumble and is silly, sometimes she’s mean and ruthless, but mostly she has a good heart that is prevented from doing much of anything because she’s only Veep.

I also really like all of the other characters who I can just imagine being in these positions. It almost makes me wish I could get into this line of work, which is a mark of a great show because I would be horrid in politics. I am far too dramatic, sassy, and sensitive.

Even though it took me awhile to finally get to watch it, I’m already dreading finishing this up. I’m going to need to check when it comes back because a few half hour showings of this creative genius is not enough.

All hail the Veep, or Pissface, which is one of her nicknames. Watch the show!

Joan Rivers and the Importance of the Bitter Comedian

This Thoughtful Thursday is very sad. With someone like Joan Rivers, you’re always surprised to hear old how she actually is. That kind of person, the Hollywood fixture, seems like he or she will live on forever. Death strikes me as particularly harsh when it happens so suddenly. Anyone who is of good health and mobility, who goes from the norm to death, takes the air right out of you.

It doesn’t feel right.

Many will remember Joan Rivers as the cranky old woman with the plastic face who made fun of celebrities. Sometimes I think she took a sort of pride in this, though I did not know her nor could I speak for her, but I think it was one of those things where she said, “Well, they’ll talk about it and then they’ll remember me for it.

And we are.

I’ve also never understood how people become so upset or defensive when she made fun of celebrities. Sure, sometimes she was way harsher than she should have been. Sometimes she was crass and offensive. I’m not sure how that’s different from other celebrities of her nature. Celebrities are put so high up on a pedestal, and okay yes I am guilty of this as well, but in reality, we should be making fun of them as much as we are making fun of ourselves for being so obsessed with this culture. No one should have as much power and wealth for doing what they do. Our culture being as it is, and again I do perpetuate that so I say this with a smile, celebrities do, but that doesn’t mean we can’t point out how ridiculous this is.

The biggest thing for me and so many about Joan Rivers was that she was the first true female comedian. Many point out that she had a bitter edge to her, causing her to make the jokes she did in the manner she presented it. Of course she did. In all great female comedians, and in male as well, there is a bitter tendency to them. This could in part be due to the fact that they are struggling through a male-dominated business, always needing to defend themselves as funny.

Not funny for women, but funny in general.

Chelsea Handler has too been called a bitch and a crank, but it forms a more interesting personality. We remember her for that. There’s also an intelligent purpose behind it, knowing that in order to succeed and to do her job well, she will be loud-mouthed and she will put the celebrities on blast when they do stupid things or take themselves too seriously. Celebrity culture is fun, but it’s absurd.

We see this from Tina Fey and Lena Dunham. Their shows are quirky and hilarious, but always with a touch of bitterness, as though as to say, “Eff off, just laugh.” Even in shows like Parks and Recreation, where the humor can be softened and sweet, though still hilarious and wonderful because Amy Poehler is a goddess, there is still that bitter undertone emanating from Leslie Knope as she too struggles in a male-dominated field. She, and Amy as her pen, are saying, “Enough already, I’m here, I’m successful, and that’s okay!” Julia Louis-Dreyfus certainly held her own on Seinfeld and in so many other excellent shows. (Sidenote: I want to watch Veep!) But Elaine, surrounded by men who are her friends, is the voice that’s saying women are funny too and she is hell on wheels if anyone tries to dispute that.

I’ve been told that my humor borders on the bitter and to that I say, thank you. Because that means in some way, I have something in common with these hilarious icons who are a fixture in our culture. Whenever I watch The Emmys- except for this year because my television was broken!- I don’t care who wins Best Actress in a Comedy because I love them all (though Amy deserves a win), but I love watching to see what antics the nominees are getting up to when their names are called. Even this year, when announced as a presenter- the only moment I saw- Amy asked to be introduced as “Beyonce,” clever, funny, and slightly bitter because who isn’t bitter that they aren’t Beyonce? Maybe Oprah…

I am not saying that females base their humor off of being pissed off by men or whoever stands against them. But there is something to this bitterness and their success. Miss Congeniality is one of my all-time favorite movies. Sandra Bullock is a gem, not afraid to fall face first and look anything like glamorous. Gracie Lou Freebush is a bitter woman trying to navigate through the FBI with her majority of male co-workers and she does it with a rough exterior and an attitude that will tell it like it is. In The Heat, both Sandra’s and Melissa McCarthy’s characters are pissed off at the world for whatever reason, are told that they have too strong a personality or too much gruffness, but they don’t care, they just are.

That’s funny, male or female. We’re just starting to see it represented in women more and more.

That is the epitome of what Joan Rivers was about.

Yes, she was acerbic and borderline, okay downright, rude. She wasn’t afraid to tell someone if they looked like a turd in a dress because they did look like a turd in a dress. The woman had a crutch on her shoulder, was bitter as hell, but I’ve realized all the great comedians do. That’s what makes them want to make the world laugh. Because at the end of the day, with all the ridiculousness of this world, the stupidity of people, and those moments in everyone’s life when irony bites you in the ass, you have to laugh. Laugh, laugh, laugh or else we’d cry. And that’s just sad.

I’m still laughing Ms. Rivers, though I might be crying a bit now too.

RIP