Updates on EAB Program, Dancebody, Shoe Peace (?!), and Vacay

A few weeks back (a month and 5 days back to be precise), I had announced a lovely little plan that TCG and I had undertaken. We have voluntarily become each other’s Exercise Accountability Buddy, which means we each exercise and motivate the other to do the same by checking in with each other every time we complete a workout.

It’s been 6 full weeks of this EAB program, and I’m happy to report that it is going rather well (and hope I haven’t jinxed it with this declaration). We have managed to work out 4 times per week on average, and we consider it a big step forward considering we hadn’t been consistently this active in the past few months (YEARS). I’ve had spates of a few weeks, usually about 3-4, when I get super active, and the enthusiasm fizzles down. It’s no show for 3-4 months, and then a month of intensity. I wanted to stick to a change which becomes a much sought after “lifestyle change”. So far so good!

6 weeks back I signed up for this AMAZING dance cardio workout program called Dancebody (online streaming). 2 Signature classes in, I felt that this is basically what I’ve been looking for for AGES. It’s got variety, great music, is actually challenging and not repetitive (unlike most dance cardio videos out there), and gets fresh content every month. I have been a pretty long time subscriber of Les Mills on Demand and Physique57 but they were just not cutting it for me. They weren’t “the perfect fit”. I’ve had spates of being obsessed with both, but I guess I just tired of their format after a while.

Coming back to Dancebody, I love it! If you love dancing and high energy cardio, you have to try it. It’s FUN and challenging. The perfect combo, right?!

I did however come across a small stumbling block in my indoctrination as Dancebody Fanatic.

Shoes.

Dancebody’s dance cardio sessions involve a LOT of bouncing around and plyometrics. You need highly cushioned shoes (the kind that runners wear) for it to be a comfortable workout that doesn’t wreck your knees/ leg muscles.

The instructors all swear by Asics (Gel Nimbus especially), so like a good devotee, I too tried out Asics. However, after a couple of sessions in the Asics Gel Cumulus and half a session in Gel Nimbus, I felt like my toes were being punished for a crime they committed in a past life. It did NOT feel good. No no no no no.

I returned the Gel Nimbus (they were from Amazon) (Amazon, I LOVE you and your free 30 day return policy). I was still stuck with the Gel Cumulus because I’d bought them from an actual store (rookie mistake). From then on ensued a 4 week process of obsessively researching highly cushioned running shoes, ordering them online, trying them on for a Dancebody Signature session (you really don’t know if a pair will work until you DANCE Dancebody style in them), returning them broken hearted and looking for more.

In the meanwhile, I got the Gel Cumulus to work for Sculpt sessions and also for shorter Signature classes. The problem with these was that the toebox in the left shoe was too tight, and my little toe would be hurting like CRAZY by the end of a class. To get that shoe to “open up” a bit, I followed this Youtube video by a nice teenage kid who showed how to use socks and heat from a hair dryer to achieve this result. I’m happy to report that that method worked and now my Gel Cumulus is comfortable during Sculpts and not too bad during full Signatures!

However, through all of this, my search for a GOOD shoe FOR MY FEET continued. I tried a couple of models and sizes in Asics, Saucony (two styles including the famed Triumph ISO), Puma, I even gave Power Mello Shoes a try (too unstable to do anything but walk in). I even tried a men’s shoe in Saucony for its width, but sadly it was not to be. Finally, I ordered Brooks Glycerin 16 which was available in my size on Amazon. These shoes do not stifle my toes, they have tons of cushiony cushoin (much like the Gel Nimbus), and are soft overall and are much better suited for lateral movement than the Gel Cumulus, which quite frankly feels really stiff in comparison.

So, yes, Brooks Glycerin are perfect for my Dancebody Signature classes!

Are Brooks Glycerin my holy grail Dancebody shoes?

Yes and no.

Yes because they are perfect for me! They fit my feet well, and have the cushion I need. No because I want to leave room in there for EVEN MORE CUSHION (yes, I am aware of Hoka One One, and really badly want to try the Bondi – sadly they are not available in India yet).

Will I stop trying out shoes and researching them?

Nope! Shoe research is kind of addictive, and now I really want to try Hoka One One Bondi. I also want to try out New Balance 1080v9 just for fun. I don’t actually think New Balance will be better than Brooks, but WHO KNOWS?!

Separately, I am going on vacation next week! This is a small trip to Bhubu to chill with my family back home. I’m trying to do this thing this year that I take some time off every second month. Breaks and recharging my batteries is essential for my creativity, but I never end up taking PLANNED breaks frequently enough. I read interviews by many artists who swear by taking frequent breaks away from their studio to come back refreshed.

Although, as of now, it’s also causing a bit of extra stress because as you might have experienced yourself, the week or the couple of weeks leading up to a break are quite jam packed and stressful because you’re desperately trying to meet a firm deadline. Also, I take about 2-3 days after a break to get back into the flow of things at work, so the week after a break also ends up being a bit stressful on account of lack of productivity (which makes me think, am I really benefiting from frequent breaks?). Though that’s also mostly on account of not having a firm plan on tasks to be done that first week back. Any way, we’ll see. This time I’ve prepared a firm list of tasks to be accomplished the minute I’m back in the studio/office, so that should help.

I’m also carrying another Maud Montgomery book with me for this trip – Pat of Silver Bush. Excited!!! I prevented myself from reading it in the past few weeks because I was saving it as a treat for vacay!

Will report back soon!

p.s.: Delhi has been DELIGHTFUL. The skies are gorgeously blue with puffy white clouds, tree tops sparkly clean & green, and evenings are nice and breezy up on the terrace. Is it humid? Yes. But I LOVE this version of Delhi weather, and will take the humidity any day for the lovely temps and clear air the rains bring!! Please can it stay this way?

Clean blue Delhi skies with puffy clouds. L from an Uber, R from my office window. NO FILTER!

Mangoes: The Measure of a Summer Well Spent

Since May, BO has come across numerous lists on fast internet publications titled “Summer Bucketlist”, “Things to do this Summer”, “Summer To Do List”, “Plan Fun Activities for this Summer” and the like. They were mostly written by and geared towards people living in cooler countries where Summers are the only time when the sun shines down, and it’s warm enough to go out to the park. BO lives in a hot, sticky, tropical country. People here wait for the winters (well, not BO on account of feeling grossly inadequate in body heat generation capabilities and being constantly cold in the winters). Summers are for being indoors, doors shut, air conditioning on. And for one more very special thing. MANGOES.

BO measures the success of any summer by the metric of how many types of mangoes she got to enjoy. Listing here are the current favourites (and ones that have been well enjoyed this season).

Alphonso Mango – The perfect mango for Milkshakes & Aam Ras

Alphonso mango is the mango that first comes to the shops in Delhi. You can find it at fancy places like Foodhall and this year BO’s online vegetable vendor (Everything Organik) carried lots of lovely fresh and organic Alphonso mangoes.

BO LOVES alphonso mangoes in the form of aam ras (with a bit of milk), and in milkshakes. To say an alphonso mango milkshake is DIVINE is an understatement. Thick, creamy, fragrant, and refreshing at the same time. PERFECT.

Unfortunately Alphonso mangoes cost quite the bomb, and there’s only so much milkshake one can have before it starts showing on the, ahem, weighing scale.

During early May, many Alphonso milkshakes were had, and thoroughly enjoyed. Total success.

Safeda Mango – The Perfectly Delicious Filler Mango

BO considers the Safeda as the “filler mango”. It’s nothing great by itself, but it’s a great mango to stay your mango-hungry stomach while awaiting the arrival of Dussheri. Safeda mango comes in pretty much with Alphonso, but once you’re done with your Alphonso phase, you can swiftly fly by a couple of weeks with Safeda. BO enjoys these cut up into pieces. They don’t have quite carry that oomph that a milkshake mango needs (like the Alphonso), and milkshakes with Safeda don’t quite turn out as thick, creamy or fragrant. Cut up, perfectly acceptable & yummy. And hey, they’re still lightyears better than cut up apples (yurgh).

Amrapali Mango – A sweet little gem of a Mango

One of the little known mangoes, but a lovely, fragrant and unique variety. BO loves the perfect size of Amrapali mangoes – big enough to fill you up when eaten as a snack, but also perfectly small enough to be had as a dessert post lunch. The yummy fragrance of Amrapali mangoes, and their non-fibrous juciness makes them perfect for enjoyment as is. You do have to be careful while picking out Amrapali mangoes, and make sure they are ripe enough. They seem underripe for ages and quickly go bad after ripening to perfection. Amrapali mangoes feel a bit like avocados in that they are perfectly perfect for a short window of time. You do have to wait patiently until end of May and June to find fresh & ripe Amrapali mangoes (if at all!). They are quite common in Bhubaneswar, but not to be found easily in Delhi. Y’s late grandmother’s house has a lovely Amrapali mango tree from which bucket loads of Amrapali mangoes were enjoyed a few summers back. Blissful!

Dussheri Mango – The safest & sweetest of them all

The safest mango of them all! Sweet, super juicy, not fibrous, lots of fragrance and flavour. These are probably most Indians’ favourite mangoes. They also stay in a perfect state of ripeness for quite a while, making them easy to store and enjoy. The quintessential June mango.

Langda Mango – Delicate balance of tartness, fragrance and sweetness

Langda mango is Y’s favourite. Of course, anything that has the potential to be tart is Y’s favourite. BO also likes Langda mangoes but only when they are properly ripe and sweet. In that state, they achieve that perfect delicate balance of mango-ey fragrance, sweetness and just a hint of tartness. The tartness ends up lending more strength of the sweet notes in the mango. The only downside of Langda mangoes is that they are a bit fibrous which can get annoying when those strands of fibre get stuck in your teeth. Langdas hit the market in July and are perfect to stay your stomach while you await the delightful….

Chausa Mango – The one which makes it hard to say goodbye to Mangoes

Chausa mangoes are pretty much BO’s favourite mangoes to eat as is, and is totally up there with Alphonso mangoes when it comes to Overall Mango Rankings. They start coming in mid-July, so you have to eagerly anticipate their arrival. Many a trip to the super market is loaded with excitement, in quiet excitement over the arrival of Chausa mangoes. Repeated questions are asked of the fruit-wala, much to his annoyance, about when would Chausa mangoes make landfall in Delhi. Quiet, eager eyes glance through heaps of Safeda, Langda and Dussheri, in search of the elusive Chausa. When they finally arrive, it’s time to stock up!!!! And enjoy them!!! Because these are pretty much the last (and the BEST!!) mangoes each summer. High levels of mango picking skills are not necessary for picking out good Chausa mangoes. 99% of chausas will be lovely, ripe, sweet, fragrant and delicious. Guaranteed.

Speaking of Mango Picking Skills, that is for another post, another time. BO feels that MPS is no less than Wine Tasting Skills. You need to use your senses of sight, smell and touch to properly pick the right mangoes, and once it’s yours, TASTE TASTE TASTE 😀

Update 18th July 2019: Last Sunday (a couple of days after writing this post), I received a little batch of Amrapali mangoes from Y’s mum! Talk about serendipity! Here’s how they look:

Amrapali mango
Amrapali mango

Workout Buddies, Warm Ice Bath, Petrichor

Hello, the non-existent readers of this blog. If you exist, make yourselves known (by leaving a comment).

For some time now, BO has been wanting to get back into the swing of regular workouts. You might remember she had also joined her neighbourhood Zumba classes. That didn’t work out too well because those were in the evening, and evening workouts might have led to some acidity issues. Any way, since then she has done a few morning workouts here and there. But you know how it is? You do something one day, and then that’s about it.

Hopefully, not any more! Beloved TCG (formerly TC (sidenote: we have grown up so much, but internal world still feels the same)), messaged saying she plans to join a gym. BO jumped at the opportunity and proposed being “Exercise Accountability Buddies“. Meaning, the two girls, fine, LADIES, will do their respective workouts and let each other know. They will encourage and prod each other on in the hopes of accomplishing their fitness goals.

BO casually mentioned this EAB plan to Y, who then proceeded to laugh at said plans, and ALSO MESSAGED TCG a scathing review of BO’s former performance as Y’s EAB (when basically neither of them went to the gym, and each convinced the other to promptly go back to sleep instead of the other way round).

With such lack of faith in display, BO got extra pumped to prove Y wrong. As a result, BO and TCG have managed 2 days of back to back morning workouts. Today was a break (unintentional).

Dear reader, also be reminded that this is the Peak of Summer, and as such, the heat is rather painful. Cold water (or NOT HOT water) is impossible to get (except from the refrigerator), and “room temperature” is a HOT 45 degrees celcius. BO found post-workout bathing particularly torturous. What kind of a place is Delhi where you get scalding hot water at 8 am in the summers??? Enter, giant block of ice. B (BO & Y’s domestic help) has been freezing giant blocks of ice in the fridge for cooling things quickly when needed for cooking purposes (mainly for setting dahi). Yesterday morning, BO remembered said ice, and dunked it in the bucket of 8am-hot-as-hell water. Tada! No longer hot water, but acceptable temperature (still not COOL or COLD, but we’ll take it).

As BO writes this post, heavens choose to contradict her and have showered Delhi with a lovely little rainshower. BO happened to be dreaming about petrichor yesterday and how she longs to smell it, and now, here it is!

As for the actual workouts being followed, TCG has been doing zumba until she joins a gym. Turns out, in a classic case of Google Maps Treachery, the gym she had her eyes on is 850m away from her place, and not the Maps version of 250m. Speaking of GMT, it is apt to remind self of the time delightful Google Maps led BO and Y into an actual forest in the middle of Delhi (Rajokri Forest, Google it).

BO, the video exercise enthusiast (she’s been exercising to videos since 2005 and has done it ALL) has recently signed up for Deanne Berry’s new online workout platform – Deanne Berry Bodies. She is one of the thousands who did and loved the original Pump It Up DVD (and erm, also lost a good amount of weight with it). Considering Deanne Berry Bodies Online is a super new platform, there is a good amount of variety already. There are full on dance workouts, aerobics, kickboxing, strength training, stretch. The only slightly strange thing is that the glammed up costumes in the videos is not really necessary. Sure, on the Pump It Up video, the marketing was all flowing from the original Call On Me video’s success, but well, on DBB Online it’s not really needed. BO surely does not want any one walking in while she’s doing these workout, not because of her own super embarrassing moves, but because of what’s on the screen!! BUT the workouts themselves work up quite the sweat, are not super high impact but high intensity, and should be effective if stuck to. BO hopes to update with success story.

And with this, it is now legitimate to create a “Fitness and Workoutlabel and congratulate self on said achievement.

Optimism

It’s 11th June, and the temps have hit 48 degree celcius here in Delhi. You can certainly start a teppanyaki operation on your terrace tiles.

Felt quite windy (and dust-stormy) this morning, and the sun was not visibly ablaze (i.e. said blaze was obscured by passing clouds).

BO is going down to Mother Dairy to pick up some milk. It isn’t raining while she is leaving. It isn’t even drizzling. But she did here a thunder or two in the past few minutes. As she’s making her way out the main door, she decides to turn back and pack an umbrella in her bag.

Goes down. Does milk shopping. Takes umbrella out of bag to fit in milk packets. Quickly hides umbrella before co-shoppers or Mother Dairy guy judge her for her naive optimism in carrying one this morning. Back upstairs.

By this time the sun is out and bright and shining hard.

Poor umbrella (and BO) will have to wait for another day.

Blogging about Plogging

BO has been rather pleased to learn that the idea of voluntarily picking up random trash from places has a word now. It’s called Plogging.

I came across this term while on one of my Instagram suction spirals, and read about the Ploggers of India, Ploggers of Delhi, etc. who are basically groups of runners who voluntarily pick up trash on their running paths – most of this trash being plastic waste.

I remember doing exactly this on my school compound many, many years ago when I’d newly moved to Bhubaneswar and just entered 9th Standard. I didn’t have friends until a few weeks into school, so in those early days when I didn’t have any one to “hang out with”, I’d spend some time going around the campus by myself (getting to know it), and picking up bits of plastic waste like empty wrappers and plastic bags, collecting them and depositing them in the main waste bin. I don’t know if anyone saw me doing this back then (and found it strange), but I don’t think the thought that someone else might find it weird ever stopped me. Though I must confess that once I’d made friends, I stopped doing this… my plogging wasn’t done with any major noble motive, just a little pastime at snack break.

Back then I did only think of it as random trash picking, and it felt rather therapeutic. Now there’s a nice little word (and hashtags galore!!!) for it!

More power to all the ploggers out there – specially to the ones who don’t know that there’s a special word for the good work they’re doing!