Sunday, March 31, 2013

Day 30 of 30

So, March 30th was the last day of my Eat Cleanish, Train Mean challenge. How did it go?

I had a few slip-ups (especially with STEALTH POTATOES!), but over all I managed to maintain a diet for 30 days, which is impressive because I tend to rebel against the idea of food restrictions.

Things I learned...
-It's a good thing that I don't have food allergies, because I suck at paying attention to what is in stuff. I got thwarted by stealth potatoes at least 3 times, and on my very last day I forgot that Yakisoba is not made with soba (buckwheat) noodles even though soba is in the name.

-I have good willpower about not ordering things I shouldn't eat, and I even managed to give up some cookies that came with my meals, but by golly if my dinner comes with garlic bread I am going to eat that stuff.

-I get bored with diets really quickly. I didn't even really crave most of what I wasn't allowing myself to eat, but I craved more variety in my food.

-People on diets have depressingly limited choices when they go out to eat. Why is it so hard to get a delicious meal that comes with veggies on the side? Why do so few things come on yummy multi-grain breads?

-I can live without potatoes, white bread, white pasta, and cheese-based dinners, but wow did I miss my cookies.

-Smoothies are awesome for lunch.

It got really warm here really quick but our cooler still isn't on, so that made it hard to want to train. Add to that Chris has been way too busy to go running. I thought training was going to be my main deal on this but I really dropped the ball. Guess I will just have to do better in April!

Other stuff:
This month really flew by and I didn't really find much time for fun or journaling or friends. Another thing to work on in April.

I lost a little weight. Most of it came off of my waist, so I look like I lost a lot! Sadly, I also lost enough that my fabulous Melos that fit like a glove when I bought them in January now shimmy right off my booty (as I learned when I wore them for a private lesson. *sigh*). I have to decide whether I want to lose more weight (because I still have a lot of fat on my belly), or if I want to stay about where I am. Whatever I decide, I have to stay pretty much whatever size I am in May because I am going to buy so many costumes at Tribal Fest and I don't want to shrink out of them like I did with my Melos.

This confirmed my opinion that restrictive diets are not for me. But it has inspired me to want to continue to eat a little healthier than my already pretty healthy lifestyle. I want to continue having smoothies for lunch. I know smoothies have a lot of sugar, but they help me make healthier choices in general. Before I would just snack for lunch and then also snack all afternoon, which meant I was eating a lot of junk throughout the day.

I made a couple of good changes during my diet. I stopped sweetening my oatmeal and I broke my reliance on granola bars. I've been getting lots of fruit and vegetables thanks to my smoothies, and I got a lot better at hydrating. So I feel like I can maintain a good, healthy lifestyle while still allowing myself cookies and garlic bread. I'd call that a win.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Make it Stick!

I want to practice my newly improve makeup skills a little more before I do a new cosmetics review, so today I'd like to talk about the invisible products that help us keep our makeup where we want it. Because after all, it really doesn't matter how beautiful your look is if it slides right off your face, right?

The first one is probably a "Well duh" if you're not a makeup newbie. It seems like almost everyone I know who wears eyeshadow loves their Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion. I have to admit, when I first heard about it I was new to cosmetics and I was like "What? ANOTHER layer of makeup to put on my face? I think they are just trying to milk me for more money. I am having nothing of this!" Then I got a free sample, tried it, and was hooked for life. That little bottle in the picture is my second one and it's almost empty. Anyway, these days it comes in little squeezy tubes so it's not as hard to get every last drop out, and it comes in four colors. I still prefer the original, as it has a nice pink base that matches my skin well, but depending on your complexion you may want something different.

So what is so awesome about this product? Well, it goes on nice and smooth and then it serves as a good base for your eye makeup to adhere to. It tends to make products go on better, stay longer, and be less likely to crease. A little dab'll do ya... just put it on the center of your lid and pat/smooth it out with your finger. Let dry for a moment then start piling on the eyeshadow!

But what if you want to put some glitter on top of that shadow? Some people swear you can just use a little water, but I find that when I do that, I get more fallout than I'm really comfortable with. Others use eyelash glue, but that's a pain to remove and can leave your lid feeling gunky, so I only do that when I either want a TON of glitter or I need to draw a really defined line. When I just want a nice application that is super easy and stays in place, I always turn to The Fix from Medusa's Makeup (you'll have to scroll past all the glitter to find it. Oh no! Don't get distracted by the shinies!). This all-natural wax goes on really lightly but holds the glitter right where you want it. It's also safe to use on your lips if you want, or really, any part of your face that could use some glitter. I like that it comes in a nice little pot for ease of transportation just in case you need a glitter touch-up on the go. I've used this a few times with several different brands of glitter for various gigs and it has always done its job.

By the way, if you are in Tucson you can pick this up at Razorz Edge on 4th Ave, and while you're there you can also sample the colors of mineral shadow and glitter, and then buy some, because hey, you've got to support local businesses and there's no such thing as too much glitter (I'm always happy to justify your purchases!).

Now back to Urban Decay! Once you've got all your makeup on, you want it to stay there, and that's what the All Nighter Long-Lasting Makeup Setting Spray is for. A few spritzes and your cosmetic's artistry is there to STAY! How effective is this? Well, remember that gorgeous eye makeup from Wednesday? I was worried about how it would last through class so I hit myself with some All Nighter on my way out the door. When I got to the studio our room was already pretty muggy from the class before us and we just made it sweatier. We danced for two hours straight and I was dripping with sweat. I came home, looked in the mirror, and everything was still perfect. So I'm pretty sure it will hold up for just about any gig you do, as long as you're not dancing in the pouring rain.

By the way, this is another product that UD has recently changed the packaging on, so you'll see that the one in the link looks different from mine, which I only purchased a few months ago. I also have the smaller sized bottle, which is easier to throw in your gig bag (to share with your troupemates!), and honestly, it takes 2-4 quick spritzes to set your face, that little bottle is going to last forever.

Best thing about these products? Through some strange magic, even though they hold your makeup on while you dance and sweat, at the end of the night they don't make your cosmetics any harder to remove! There's really nothing worse than scrubbing at that last bit of stubbornly glued-on glitter when you just want to go to bed after a late-night gig.

Readers: Do you have a favorite primer, adhesive or setting product that keeps your makeup looking amazing after dancing all night or being in workshops all day?

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Oh, zee drama

Another great pic from Pedro Romano, taken at Temple of Eden. I am being all dramatic, oooooh.

Ok, here's the thing... I'm not good at talking about feelings. Every now and then I'll sit down at this blog and write a deep post about issues in the community, or my struggles with dancer's block, but in general I approach things with a thick veneer of sarcasm, self-depreciation, and downright smart-assery. I am not good at letting my guard down and letting people in, so I am especially not good at really showing my true emotions on stage.

That said, I can really connect with a song, and I can really show my passion for dancing. People react pretty strongly to the solo that the above picture is from because I just feel that song so damn hard that it shows. It's very emotional, but it's mostly positive emotions.

So this brings us to next week's Open Stage and my special challenge for it. I have to dance out some of my feelings. I am still struggling a bit with the loss of my friend Marilee. It's weird, because I've never struggled with a loss this much, but I've also never lost someone that I talked to almost every day, and who had given me lots of little things (beads and books, mostly) that I see around my house all the time. I think this sadness is one of the issues that has really kept me from being inspired to dance lately. I was talking to Jolie about it, as part of a gripe about how little I've been dancing at home lately, and she suggested that I work on something for Open Stage that would express those feelings. The funny thing is that I almost did so for the last Open Stage, but it felt too raw.

I have a song tentatively picked out, a song that has a small connection to my friend -- it's a song I like, but also a song that was used as the theme for a TV show she told me about, one she really enjoyed and which I would watch too, when I got a chance. And it's a beautiful song, a song that feels like floating, flying out, reaching towards a goal and never quite reaching it.

But I am scared to do it. I'm really scared of stepping out onto the dance floor and baring my soul to a bar full of people, people who range from my fellow dancers to my gaming friends to random people just out for a drink. I mean, what if I start crying? I feel like crying on stage would be the most awful and awkward thing ever.

For most of my dance career, I've focused on dance as entertainment -- either as a way to entertain myself, or an audience. And over the past year I have stepped out of my comfort zone a little bit, trying moody and sad music, but not music that actually made me sad. Not music that had any real deep meaning to me. To take that leap from entertainment to performance art, to try to make people really think and feel, it's a little scary. There's more chance of failure, more vulnerability. And I just don't do vulnerable well.

We'll see how this turns out. It may be beautiful and therapeutic or I may end up crying in a bar bathroom.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

I'm Fancy!

I had a private makeup lesson with Jolie today and now I am looking -- and feeling -- extra fancy! I learned how to improve my contouring and blush skills, how to do a smoky eye properly and how to do a cat eye (which did not turn into a panda eye, whew!). I couldn't bear to wash all our hard work right off of my face, so I'm going to be super-pretty for dinner and troupe practice tonight.

I'm pretty excited because not only will this help me with looking nice for performances, but it also means better skills for my weekly Beauty Blogging for Bellydancers columns! If I keep practicing hard, I might even get good enough to start doing the occasional tutorial -- for instance, I wouldn't mind sharing how I did my elytra-themed look, and I'm going to be doing some hardcore woodlands faerie makeup soon.

Really, I have to admit that next to the actual dancing, and the costuming, one of my favorite parts of being a bellydancer is having the excuse to spend an entire afternoon just playing with makeup, all in the name of professional development. My inner girly-girl loves it!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Technique Time

One of the many gorgeous photos that Pedro Romano took at the Temple of Eden show.

Lately it feels like when I've been dancing at all, I've been entirely focused on pushing out new material. Not only do I try to have something new for every Open Stage, but I also had a mock audition as a private lesson, and I had to come up with three all-new solos for that. Not easy to do when I was in the middle of hating all of my music, let me tell you!

So for the next month or so, I want to turn my focus towards refining what I already have. Whether it's practicing troupe choreographies that I've grown rusty on, or drilling basics, or playing with layers, or trying to add a new move to my vocabulary, I'm going to be working on growing as a dancer rather than growing my collection of pre-made solos.

I do have one more new, special thing that I have been challenged to do for the next Open Stage (more on that tomorrow or Thurs), but after that I'm good for the next few months thanks to the things I worked on for my mock audition. I feel like unless something comes up that I need a specific themed piece for, I should have enough solos to draw from for any event that comes up. I don't need to make something new until I really feel inspired again.

Besides, between troupe performances coming up and Mira Betz and Tribal Fest around the corner, I really need to be at my tip-top best to keep up!  

Friday, March 22, 2013

Lipstick Review

 Today I'd like to discuss a decent drug store brand lipstick: COVERGIRL blastflipstick. Hey, before I get to reviewing, can we just agree that Blast Flipstick sounds like the two-fisted man-of-science hero of a 1950s monster movie? "Blast Flipstick! Manhattan is under attack by a giant pterodactyl! Jump into your FlipJet and save the day!"
 Silly name aside, these are a nice product because they have two blendable colors in each affordable tube (retail is about $7ish and they're often on sale at Target and I recently had a coupon). It's basically three colors in one, because you can wear either color on its own or layer or blend them (so probably more than three if you get really creative in your blending). The two colors I have are "Intense" (a plum and frosty pink combo) and "Minx" (chocolate brown and gold). At the top of this post I am wearing the darker shade of Intense with just a touch of the light over it.
 Here's your handy-dandy hand swatch. Pretty smooth colors!
This is an attempt at an ombre look with the lighter shade of Intense and a bit of the plum blended in at the center of my lips. You can see the that light shade is a nice, shimmery nude on me. I could actually do this for day wear if I ever wore lipstick when I wasn't performing.
Here's Minx, with the dark all over and the gold at the middle (bad lighting makes it look uniform). I like this color because it is brown, but it also allows my natural lip color to come through just a tiny bit, so it doesn't look weird (because brown lips are not always the best look for a fair, freckled Irish-Welsh girl like me). This is going to be my go-to color for steampunk and forest faerie looks, but it could go for a lot of other styles too! I could see it for a jungle girl look with leopard print, a chocolate-themed looked, or paired with brown leather. It's also nice for some vintage-inspired looks. I also have a feeling that it would look even browner if you put down a brown lip pencil over your lips first. I'll experiment with that.

So how does it rate for dancers? Well, it comes recommended by my teacher Jolie, and I generally feel like if a pro likes it, it must be good. But I took it for a test-run today. It held up well through an hour-long dance lesson. Then I went to lunch where I suffered a bit of color loss but still had most of it. So if you have a restaurant gig with two sets a night, you could wear this, eat a little hummus between sets and just need a quick touch-up. It might hold up even better with a lip primer -- I haven't worked much with those but they're on my to-try list.

I'm also pretty happy with the stickiness factor. I was whipping my hair around like a fiend and it only grabbed on a little bit and then let go. There's nothing worse to me than super-sticky lip products. This one seems to dress and settle pretty well, without drying your actual lips out like a matte lipstick.

This gets a definite thumbs up for me. I think it's a great way to add some color variety to your lip products without a huge money investment, which is great if you pretty much only wear lipstick for performances. And since it's a drug store brand it's easy to grab on the go if you realize on the way to a far-away gig that you forgot your lipstick.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Dance Hard!

Whew. What a night. We did leaps and turns and extensions. Since we were doing leaps we had to do a major warm-up, which included stretching and splits. I have the worse splits of anyone in class. When I have to do splits, I just hate my body. But then Jolie said "Ok, run 5 times around the room as fast as you can" and you know what? I owned that. I outran everyone and I was ready to keep going. I guess I could have ran faster than I did.

My turns are also getting a lot better, which is a nice feeling. It's really good to feel like I am making progress on things that have been difficult for me for a long time.

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Epic Emerald Review

Are you ready for this? Are you ready for the fruits of a Sephora shopping spree and two days of makeup testing? Because here it is... My review of a significant chunk of the items in the Sephora + Pantone Universe Color of the Year Emerald Collection. The only item in that pic that didn't make it into the review is the green glitter eyelashes because I am saving them for a special occasion.

First let's look at some of the items from the big Color of the Year box set. You can buy all of these individually, but if you want most of the items it's probably worth buying the whole box. 
 Here's the color grid block in Bionic. I love how it's packaged! Those are little magnets in each corner, so you can have it all stacked up, or flip the lid and mirror out. Clever! There are two other color grids available and this was actually the least-interesting one to me, but it came in the box and I wanted everything else in the box, so there you have it.
And this is Color Code Prismatic Shadow Block, with a bonus mirror picture of me and my sparkly phone. I actually didn't use this on my first day of testing for reasons that will become obvious when we get down to the swatch.
Here's the Graphic Sculpt Waterproof Jumbo Liner, a big fat liner pencil. This is one of the few items I wasn't going to buy separately, because I wasn't sure what I'd do with it.
 Lightspeed Glitter Dust. Aw yeah! This is one of the things I was most excited about. Green. Glitter. Microglitter! Shown here with Medusa's Makeup glitter base, which I will totally review another day because it is also awesome.
 Color Cube Lid Stain. I don't know what "lid stain" means but as far as I can tell it's a gel liner, and I love gel liner and I love this color. I guess you can also use it as a shadow, so this will require future experimentation.
 Hand swatch, hand swatch! I swear I rotated this picture, but Blogger rotated it back, so whatever. We'll go top to bottom instead of left to right.

As you can see, the silver color in the Bionic block is almost invisible on my hand (but it's actually pretty nice in real life, a shimmery white/silver that really brightened the corners of my eyes), the blue is really "meh" and the emerald green is a spot-on match for the Pantone color.

Then there's the Prismatic shadow block. Ok, this is NOT emerald. It's a nice color, and I like it, but it has way too much of a yellow tone compared to the very blue emeralds in this collection. I had to save it for Day 2.

Graphic Sculpt liner looks pretty good! It's like coloring with a crayon. I decided it would probably be good for under-eye, so that's how I ended up using it, as you'll see soon.

Lid Stain. Oh wow, look at that yummy metallic green. This is one of my new favorite things.

Lightspeed Glitter. Kind of like a mineral eye shadow. Will require future experimentation. Lots of experimentation.

 And here's the look I made with those items (minus that not-emerald eye shadow). Looks pretty good with my eyes open! I threw on a little black mascara to complete the look.
Eyes closed, you can really see how weak that blue is. Yuck! This was applied over my usual Urban Decay primer, which was just not enough to make that color stick. But also look at that lid stain liner. So pretty!

And how did it hold up? Well, I wore it for about 6 hours, which included going to dinner and then two hours of dance class. By the time I got home, my emerald and blue eyeshadows had become one and I had naked patches on my eyes. Not pleased. Not pleased at all. I have received a lot of advice on Facebook on how to possibly get the colors to be more intense and last longer, but you know what? That Bionic block retails for $26. At that price, I expect it to be comparable with my Urban Decay and MAC shadows, not some department store cheapy.
 Hey! Let's take a break and talk nails! I bought the three pack of Mini Graphic Effect Lacquers. There's a shimmer, which is pretty nice and simple and looks great. There's a glitter, which is more of a shamrock than emerald green and has a slight green tint to the base. I want to try it over other colors for sure. And then there's what they labeled as a metallic, which is more like a semi-matte opaque with lots of glitter. I like how that one looks but it feels kind of chunky. I applied them over a base coat, but since I was in a hurry I didn't use a top coat and I used the quick-dry drops. My left hand (with all three colors) is holding up fine, but my right hand (with just the "metallic") is already chipping a lot.
 Please take a moment to admire the awkwardness of this picture where I tried to show all three bottles and all three colors on my nails.
 Heyo! Back to the big box! Here is the Graphic Lift Liquid Eyeliner. It is a pretty metallic emerald green but you won't be able to tell until you get down to the swatches because this is a bad picture.
 Oh, you like eyeliners, you say? Well how about we also take a look at the Glitter Strobe Eyeliner Set, which contains four different mini-tubes of emerald liquid liner with different effects, similar to the nail polish. I am super-excited about this!

By the way, this release is heavy on the eyeliner. Look, I bought 7 liners and there's still one more I didn't get. And that's not counting the liner pencils that were already available in emeraldish colors. So basically what I am saying is that if you want emerald green eyeliner, they have you covered and then some.
 Hey look, swatches! Yep, all those liners are different. There's a nice plain opaque and a few different metallics and glitters, for whatever sort of look you want to do. I also swatched that eyeshadow again so you can see how it doesn't really go with any of these but I'm using it for this look anyway.
 Lastly, here's some Color Watt Highlighting Mascara which I did not swatch on my hand, because I don't want to know how many tiny, tiny little hairs grow on the back of my hand, OK?
 So what's a girl to do when she has five different eyeliners to test in one go? SWIRLY LINER! Ha ha. I'm like a green Goth. Actually, this was kind of fun and I could see doing it for an over-the-top faerie or mermaid look. The brushes that come with them are a little soft, so you'd probably want to use your own prefered liner brush for drawing the swirly lines a bit more precisely. I also went back to that gel liner and used it to do more water line.

As for the mascara, I put it on over black. It doesn't show well in the pictures but it is an obvious green accent in real life. Probably more ideal for situations where you'll be right up in the audience's face instead of a stage production, which pretty much seems to be the case with colored mascaras. Stick with colored false lashes if you want to be seen from a distance!
LOOOOOOOOK at the SWIIIIIIRLS! Also notice that the green eyeshadow is weak-sauce. I noticed myself losing color already when I started applying the liner. What the heck? I hadn't even started dancing yet. And in fact, I had sprayed my face with setting spray in hopes of gluing that stuff in place. I am pretty disappointed because it's a nice, shimmery, sparkly shade of green that isn't really represented in my collection yet, but I am obviously going to have to work hard with this and with the emerald in the Bionic block if I want to actually make use of them.

Anyway, I did a bit of dance practice in my house and built up a bit of a sweat, and I found that my liquid liners had transferred a bit to my crease, which seems to happen to me a lot. I should probably set them with powder in the future. The other liners all stayed in place and the shadow didn't fade too much more. Also when I tried to remove the swatches from my hand with a little lid wash on a cotton square, they lingered! I removed the top layer but there are still five distinctly green lines on my hand and some green smudging, even though I've also since washed my hands. So I think they'll hold up to a little sweat. They might even hold up if the fire sprinklers come on in the middle of your palm flame performance.

Over-all impressions? The liners are probably all good buys. The shadows are NOT. As a wise friend said, with emerald being the color of the year, most lines will be releasing their own versions if they don't have them already, so go buy from a brand that is more reliable. The polishes and mascara also seem like fine investments. I only used the glitter sparingly, but I didn't get any fall-out even from all the dancing I did on Wednesday night, so it's probably a good choice, too. I'll likely revisit it in the future.

What do you think? Will you be rocking any of these new products for St. Patrick's Day and May birthday parties? Or do you think that the Pantone collections are just an excuse to sucker us into buying shoddy eyeshadow and more eyeliner than we really need?

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Green Makeup and New Material

This image is here to remind you to come back to this blog tomorrow for my biggest cosmetics review yet! It's pretty insane. Don't miss it!

Anyway, my inspiration is slowly coming back. I'm working on some new solos at home, and new choreographies in class. I'm playing with skirt and sword (separately, not together) because I haven't been doing those lately and I feel like I should be able to whip out any of my props at any time. I'm still not practicing as much as I should, but I'm working up to it. At least I don't hate all of my music anymore.

Oh, and you know what I just realized? TWO MONTHS UNTIL TRIBAL FEST!!!! If that's not enough to get me excited about dancing, I don't know what is.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

12 Days In

This image is from the comic Happle Tea, so if you find it funny, please follow the link and read some archives. It's a favorite of mine!

Well, this month has just flown by already! Here I am, 12 days into my 30 day challenge. I planned to post weekly updates but it's taken me over a week and a half to do one, so whatever. Diets are boring to read about anyway, right?

So how am I doing? Amazingly I have managed to stick to my diet pretty well. I've only slipped up once by eating a cookie (and it was a really good cookie, so I regret nothing), and I've only had one cheating meal and even then I kept it pretty healthy other than, you know, having a milkshake for dessert. I am finding that it is really easy to stick to my diet when it comes to planning meals at home, but when we go out I have to run a mental list of the menus at our favorite places and think of where has something that fits my plan and tastes good. Snacking is also a bit of a struggle, because I'm accustomed to just going into my kitchen and "grazing" when the mid-afternoon hungries hit.

I've rediscovered a love of smoothies. Chris and I have been having fun figuring out what all fruits and veg we can throw in the blender for delicious combinations. That's been my lunch of choice most days, especially after a jog.

Hydration has proven to be a little more difficult, as some days I just plain forget to drink my water for most of the day. I've always been like that.

Training has been iffy since I was so busy getting ready for WWWC, but now that that is behind me I'm looking forward to working hard for the rest of the month! The weather is really nice for jogging, I'm hoping it will stay that way. I'm also hoping to rediscover my dance inspiration and practice a lot at home between classes again.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled non-diet-related programming.     

Friday, March 8, 2013

What's in the bag?!?

My apologies for not posting an actual cosmetics review today. I had hoped to do a steampunk-themed one in honor of Wild Wild West Con being this weekend, but I've been so busy making jewelry to vend at that event that I unfortunately never had time to sit down and play with makeup.

HOWEVER! Next week. Oh wow guys. Next week! You see, Pantone has declared Emerald the Color of the Year for 2013, and Sephora teamed up with them to do an entire collection of green makeup to celebrate, and I might have gone on a little shopping spree. There is a LOT of green makeup in that bag, and St. Patrick's Day is next weekend, so I hope you are ready for an emerald-hued Wearing O' The Green Spectacular! I will spend next week creating looks with as many of those items as I can.

It's going to be awesome!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Open Stage Tonight!

Tonight is our monthly Open Stage at Sky Bar! It's going to be a good night. I'll be performing a couple of numbers with my troupe and a fan veil solo. Plus there will be a number of other local Tucson bellydancers performing in a variety of styles. All this and you can have a pizza and a beer, soda, coffee, tea, cocktail, wine, juice, whatever floats your boat. Please remember that because it is held in a bar this is a 21+ event. However, there is no cover charge! Really, where else are you going to get that much free entertainment on a Thursday night?

(Photo by Liora K Photography. Learn more about our troupes at Skirt Full Of Fire)

Monday, March 4, 2013

Fighting with my music

Music and I have not been getting along for the past week or so. I've been trying to find new things to dance to, or rather, things I already have but have not performed to yet, and I'm just not really liking anything. I had to go way back to something from the 90s for open stage this coming Thursday, and then I had to fight with editing it, because I am bad at that.

I don't know if it's burnout, or if I'm feeling the pressure to just really make amazing choices, or if I'm still feeling a little bummed out and thus not really connecting to anything. I can get into music in class, but there I don't have to pick it out, and I'm also soaking up the good attitude of my troupemates.

I probably need to spend some time just listening to things, without worrying about whether I can dance to it or whether someone else has already performed to it locally or whether a famous dancer has an iconic choreo set to that particular song. I need to remember how to enjoy music for music's sake, and maybe then I can find some inspiration.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

30 day challenge for March

Belly dancers are strong and fierce! Rarh! Skirt Full of Fire and Fire & Gold Bellydance performing "Jednou." Photograph by Pedro Romano.

I'm doing something very unlike me this month... I'm going on a diet. Ish. Jolie challenged the troupes to join her on a 30 day Eat Clean, Train Mean thingie for March. Out of solidarity and a desire to shake myself out of some bad habits, I decided to get on board... with my own modifications. I'm not a big fan of super-restrictive diets. In general I don't like being told what to do, and I really don't like to be told what to eat. And at this point in my life, I don't feel like I NEED to be on such a strict diet. I'm pretty healthy and I only need to lose a small amount of weight. But I do feel like I could eat healthier than I have been.

In general, I tend to eat right. I gave up soda a long time ago (occasionally I'll indulge in a gourmet root beer, cream soda, or ginger ale, but it's rare), I don't eat fast food if I have a choice, and I drink alcohol less than once a week. I also generally avoid fried foods, red meat is a rare indulgence, and I prefer multigrain bread over white. But I also have a few vices. I'm pretty sure my entire mouth is full of sweet teeth. Chips and salsa are an addiction for sure. And when the weather is cold, I love me some grilled cheese and soup. Or pizza. Or a quesadilla. Or a loaded baked potato. Basically any sort of carbs topped with melted cheese. I consider these to be fine in moderation, but I have not been moderate this winter. So it's time to cut myself off and force myself into a healthier mode.

That said, I don't want to go on a diet so strict that it inconveniences Chris (he's supporting me, but not joining me), nor that prevents me from eating out (something we do often due to busy schedules). I need a diet that is practical and still allows me to have some things that I enjoy. So starting yesterday, here's what I'm trying to do:

1. No more carb and cheese meals! I can have carbs, and I can have cheese as a garnish, but there will definitely not be any bread bowls full of baked potato soup.

2. No cupcakes, cookies, or other baked treats. This one really makes me want to cry. I love baked goods, but I know they're bad for me, so we have to take a break from each other. That said, I'm not giving up sweets altogether. I will be eating dark chocolate covered dried fruit or nuts, in moderation. Because life without chocolate is not worth living.

3. No chai lattes or hot chocolate. The fact that the weather suddenly warmed back up will make this one a lot easier.

4. No potatoes. This will force me to choose sweet potato fries or a side salad over delicious, delicious french fries. Honestly, I love sweet potatoes anyways, so this isn't a huge sacrifice.

5. Whole wheat whenever possible. No white pasta or white breads. I'll also be getting brown rice over white rice when possible.

6. More fruit and veg! Fresh when possible, but also frozen or cooked or whatever. Smoothies for lunch, salads with dinner (or for dinner!), fruit as a snack. Hoping to hit some farmer's markets for a little fresh produce from time to time.

7. Water, water, water. I live off of tea when it's cold. I need to hydrate, especially if I'm going to be training harder. At least one 16 oz bottle of water per day, no matter what else I am drinking and doing.

8. Cheat, but cheat wisely. One day per week I will throw these rules aside for a special meal. After all, I am going to Ren Faire this month and our anniversary is coming up, so I'm going to let loose a couple of times.

And that brings us to the "Train Mean" half of things. Oh yeah. Now this I can get behind! I used to do CrossFit when I first started dancing, and while I found the high cost and semi-cultish atmosphere a bit offputting eventually, I do sometimes miss being a total freaking badass (a badass who still couldn't do a pullup, but whatever). I don't think I'll be doing that level of training, but I do want to work hard to make up for a winter of sloth. My workout plans:

1. Really buckle down and do Couch to 5k 3x a week when possible (I'm vending at WWWC for three days next weekend so obviously I won't have time to run then, but otherwise, no excuses unless I am sick and can't breathe). Take corgis for brisk walks around the neighborhood on non-running days. Corgis love walks!

2. Finally do the lower body conditioning videos on Datura On-line. Maybe some arm and ab conditioning too, if I have time.

3. Get back to drilling at home. I have not been practicing much and my technique is suffering because of it. My troupe and my audiences have certain expectations of me and I want to exceed them!

4. Stretching. I've made some progress but my hips are still stupid tight. Honestly, right now this is even more important than building strength or losing weight.

There's also an optional mental/emotional/spiritual improvement aspect to this challenge. My goals on that front:

1. Get back to daily dance journaling. I failed on this yesterday, because I was exhausted by the time my guests left, but I want to get back to recording my thoughts and also using my journal to work on my self esteem.

2. More time for fun. Didn't I already set this goal at the new year? Yeah, haven't really been sticking with it. My life is all work, work, work, or being lazy on FB. I need to dance for fun and create just for the sake of creating, and maybe go out and do some fun things.

3. Spend more time with friends. I've been a little anti-social lately. I wasn't even particularly excited to see my gem show friends, and that is weird for me.

My over-all goals for this 30 day challenge:

1. Force myself out of the bad eating, non-exercising, and being antisocial habits that I fell into over the winter.

2. Be super-supportive of my troupemates who are also participating in this challenge.

3. Lose a few pounds and increase lower body flexibility.

4. Emerge from this month healthier and happier than I entered it.

5. Figure out which changes I want to keep in my life beyond the end of March.

I'll post occasional updates on my progress. Wish me luck!