What Do I Do With The Retired Possets?

Musks not tusks.One of my clients asked me what I do with the Possets that have to retire and are not chosen to be part of the Permanent Collection. Good question, here is the answer:

Dear XXXX-You asked me what I do with the retired Possets after their Collection comes down. …Here is the answer. About two years ago, I realized I had run out of space in my office for all of the retired Possets. I looked around my neighborhood (which is a place where they do a lot of light manufacturing) and there was a climate controlled storage company fairly close. I boxed up the retired Possets and rented a space and they are kept there in the dark at the same temp until they are brought back at Retour. At Retour, I have to rent a bit more space to set up alphabetically, I bring back all of the retired Possets from storage and start filling orders. Everything gets smelled before it goes to you, and if anything has gone “off” or is past its prime or has weakened, I stop and remake the blend. Most of the time, the oils just get better with age.

At the end of Retour, everything is packed up and re-stored to wait for the next Retour. As you know, Retours happen on a whim and have no schedule. They last for 2 weeks and are a real madhouse during that time. We have not had a Retour for about two years now. The name Retour comes from the French, “to return”. I hope that answers your question. It was a good one. Fondly, Fabienne

This blog is brought to you by Possets Perfume which is featuring The Deep Winter Collection now. Musks, resins, florals (tis the season), foodies and the new category Dry. Peep in on the ever changing offerings at Possets.  So, click here and go exploring!

Cityblis

Posted in Art History, Changes, General Comments, Perfume Oils, Possets, Winter | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Spikenard-The Anointment Of The Magdalene

Orientals ImageToday marks the beginning of the Christian season of Lent. It is Ash Wednesday and with it comes quite a few arcane rituals involving unusual items, many of them scented. One of the most famous of all the Lenten perfumes is spikenard.

Spikenard became famous because Mary Magdalene brings an entire jar of it to Jesus and in front of all, she anoints his FEET with a small fortune of it! Spikenard was hideously expensive because it comes only from the Himalayas (Nepal in particular) so you can imagine how drawn-out and dangerous a trek it was to get it from the foot of Mount Everest to the Levant. It is distilled from the root of a valerian-like plant, much like vetiver.

That is all fine and well, but the question you might be more interested in is: how does it smell? I decided to find out what Spikenard was like, being a perfumer, and bought a small sample from one of my natural suppliers. Sure enough, it was from Nepal; and, as usual, I was in a tearing hurry and dabbed some on the back of my hand to make my snap judgment of it. “UR-BALL” was my disappointed conclusion. After running it under my nose I was utterly unimpressed. “Maybe it was wonderful back in the old days when no one could wash much, your clothes stuck to you, and everyone was pretty poor and could not afford anything but the cheapest perfumes. We are so much more sophisticated now, thank goodness,” I thought disparagingly. I put the little vial of herb smelling goo away.

Today, because it is Ash Wednesday, I thought I would give spikenard another try. I had opened my naturals cabinet and the vial was lying on its side waiting for me. I took off the top, put a small amount on the back of my hand, recorked it and thought,”There HAS to be something alluring about this stuff. It was just too expensive to be ho-hum herbal,” I sat at the keyboard waiting for some magic to happen.

Then I forgot about the spikenard and got busy answering my e-mails and trying to fix the usual little bugs which infest my software. And all of a sudden I got a whiff of something WONDERFUL. It was, well, divine. It was green, surely, but there was a particle of cumarin to it (a greenish vanilla), then there was a definite tinge of men’s very expensive hair pomade. There was something about it very masculine, and a stinky little backlash which some people find fetching, so it could go from: feet–>mint–>green vanilla—>green–>expensive pomade–>dense green boxwood bushes where a handsome man has just walked. To find all this beauty, one had to be quiet, one had to be aware, and the oil had to be rubbed on your skin and heat up to combine with your chemistry and then this fabulous fragrance would erupt, spread, and stay on you. It seems to be a base note, it lingers for hours. It is very mutable, it changes from the moment you breathe in, as the vapors fill your sinuses, as the apex of your breath occurs, on the start of the exhale, and the end of the exhale. This is pretty constant, each breath brought the change-wheel of spikenard.

I must say that now I am in love. I think it would make a wonderful companion with galbanum. I just have to tear myself away from this shimmering green jewel long enough to compose something.

This blog is brought to you by Possets Perfume which is featuring The Deep Winter Collection now. Musks, resins, florals (tis the season), foodies and the new category Dry. Peep in on the ever changing offerings at Possets.  So, click here and go exploring!

Cityblis

Posted in Art History, Changes, General Comments, Perfume Oils, Possets, Winter | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Bad Guys Can’t Smell

fallingAs it turns out, bad guys don’t have an easy time with their sense of smell. This must explain why my customers are such nice people. Take a look.

This blog is brought to you by Possets Perfume which is featuring The Yule/Winter Collection now. Based on Music, the set was inspired by the grand and tingly compositions by such musicians as: Bach, Chopin, and Mozart not to mentions a few anonymous tunes and a couple of just plain fanciful creations. Oh, and there are three fitness perfumes which are engineered to be light and refreshing and let you smell more like a goddess and less like a wet dog after your workout: Vim, Vigor, and Victory. So, click here and go exploring!

Cityblis

Posted in Changes, fitness, General Comments, Perfume Oils, weight loss, Winter | Tagged , , , , , ,

Stretching-Thoroughly Necessary

victoryWith It Or On It-

Whenever I am lifting weights, I look forward to the part of the routine where I can “pull my muscles out” after a good hard set. It always feels so good to get your muscles going in the opposite direction, and that is the way that nature intended it all to be. Macho lifting is showy, but without stretching your muscles out, you may be headed for a nasty surprise.

Several years ago, I was working out daily and doing a LOT of cardio (Zumba, Latin Heat, Kickboxing, etc.). I started to feel an intense pain in the top of my feet, and I actually contemplated stopping exercising because it was so fierce. I finally found my way to a foot and ankle surgeon who told me that the problem was my Achilles tendon was shortening and acting like the master puppet string for my entire foot! As the tendon shortened, all of the other muscles were being pulled and it was being centered around the top of my foot. If I wanted the pain to stop, all I had to do was stand on the edge of a step on the stairs and hang my feet off the step and stretch my heels and Achilles tendon. Simple.

I did that, it works! I am including that story as proof of the power of stretching.

What You Do-

At the end of most exercise classes, there is a short cool down. So many people leave then, figuring that is just window dressing and isn’t important. It is important so pay attention and put a good effort into stretching at the end of cardio class. It will save you a lot of pain.

I see some people standing on one leg like storks, pulling out their quads. More rarely I see people pulling out their shoulder muscles or trying to get the kinks out of their necks.That is good, but I do believe that you need a routine of stretching which is just as important as your workout.

What You Need To Start Doing-

Put in an exercise group separately to your routine, and make it a stretching group. I did what a lot of people started to do, I chose a yoga style to perform and that has done me a world of good. I like yoga because you can find classes just about anywhere at a time which suits you, and there are many styles, so finding one which is right for you is totally possible. The bottom line is that if you have a  routine for stretching then you will do it and be better off for it. Just saying you are going to do it, won’t make it happen.

I found the best way to approach choosing a yoga style was to be honest with yourself about the kind of person you are. I am a pretty fast paced, get it done, active person and so I took a long look at yin yoga. In yin you slow way down. You get into one pose and hold it for 3-5 minutes. You really stretch the muscles and connective tissue in yin; it takes a long time and you are practicing patience at the same time as you are stretching your muscles. This works well for me, and so I say that giving myself a dose of the opposite of what I am worked wonders for me.

If you are a naturally indolent soul who has a hard time getting started, try revving up with power yoga. Tense? You might like a hot yoga like Bikram or Modo. One of the best ways to make up your mind is to go on a yoga tour in your city. Take a class in a variety of places and see which one suits you. Do this as a conscious sampler, so you are not feeling like you can’t be honestly disappointed in one or the other place you go. The right form will become obvious to you. I took a class in a sweet little studio in my neighborhood. The teacher was really really nice and concerned but it was so gentle that it didn’t do anything for me, even with one impossible pose thrown in in the middle of the practice. Another one was just too trendy (and everyone was trying to be too bendy). In some the teacher was all about herself, in others it was a Lululemon fashion parade, some of the hot yoga places were excruciating, some spots weren’t all that clean, some were so dull you will fall asleep (which you can do at home for free). I knew I had found a good class when I was being challenged but felt that I could get through it and they were concentrating on areas where I needed help.*

I went ahead and signed up for extra yin yoga classes and I think it’s one of the best investments I have ever made. It has done wonders for pain and forestalled future pain as well.

The Payoff-

I wish I could say that lots of yoga and stretching has allowed me to bench press 260lbs. It hasn’t, but it’s not meant to. I can say that my muscles are much looser and I have a far better feel for what they can do, when they are in good shape, and when they are approaching their limits because I do yoga. I think my recovery time is far better and the smoothness of my lifting is much improved. My mental state is much better for having done yoga as well. I have a long weightlifting session with myself on Mondays (about 1.5 hrs) and I follow this with a 1.5 hr yin yoga class. I have not been sore ever since I started to do that tandem workout, I believe it’s because I am stretching my muscles right after I do a lot of clenching, and that makes all the difference in the world.

Of course, there are other benefits, too: greater flexibility, great attitude, more relaxed, more aware of what my body can and can’t do. I highly recommend yoga to any athlete, and if they don’t think it’s hard enough, ask them if they think they can do the peacock!

*In my case, hips. I have a nasty angry piriformis and  this practice is great therapy for that.

This blog is brought to you by Possets Perfume which is featuring The Yule/Winter Collection now. Based on Music, the set was inspired by the grand and tingly compositions by such musicians as: Bach, Chopin, and Mozart not to mentions a few anonymous tunes and a couple of just plain fanciful creations. Oh, and there are three fitness perfumes which are engineered to be light and refreshing and let you smell more like a goddess and less like a wet dog after your workout: Vim, Vigor, and Victory. So, click here and go exploring!

Cityblis

Posted in Changes, fitness, General Comments, Perfume Oils, weight loss, Winter | Tagged , , , , , ,

Strength-The Olympian Ideal

NikeA Classic-

Everyone has an opinion on strength training. Do you perform a lot of repetitions with relatively low weights or Super Boost a LOT of weight very few times? Do you drink protein shakes or kelp smoothies when you lift? Machines or free weights? Personal trainers, apps, or just make it up as you go along? Arggggh! Where to start and what’s right?

Laws! I could write a book on all those questions above, and I bet any other enthusiast can as well. I will tell you what works for me, then you figure out your routine and maybe I can offer you some inspiration/ideas/encouragement.

I am a woman and I like lifting relatively small amounts of weight very frequently. Know this: things get heavier the more you lift them, so that 20 lb weight which was so easy to pick up at first becomes immobile after you lift it 15 times. Or almost. I strive to pick up enough weight so that when I have done it 25 times, I feel like I can’t lift it again.

I lift in sets of 50: 25 lifts with weight until I exhaust my muscles, then 15 reps more slowly after I recover, then 10 last reps more slowly still. I really feel the burn, and the goal is to feel it at each of the sets. If you are not feeling the burn, slow down…I guarantee that you will fell it!

Where Do You Want To Improve?

I had to decide where to concentrate my lifting efforts. That was easy: I have a lightly built top half, and a heavier bottom half. I concentrate on exercises above my waist. Lat pull downs and shoulder development moves are my friends. I do the chest presses and shoulder press machines as well. I have developed my upper half so that it matches my lower half and that is a point of great pride. My muscles are somewhat larger but they are very much better defined now, and that means I look pretty buff in a strapless evening gown (Lisa Lyons, anyone?).

Water-

When you are lifting, you need to drink a lot of water. You will surprise yourself with the amount of liquid you need. If you don’t get enough hydration, you will cramp up and get sick to your stomach. I didn’t believe that and, sure enough, I got both problems. Simple water eliminated discomfort. I like to bring mine to the gym in a 32. oz Nalgene bottle. I often put in flat soda water (it still has a tang to it) and squeeze a couple of lemons in it. Don’t put sugar or sweetener in it, that just makes liquid into a candy sort of addiction and I don’t want that.

The Machinery-

100% of the machines you will see have the directions printed on them. They show which muscles are worked and how to set up your session. Read the information carefully and then start to experiment with weight. Adjust it until you are really feeling the lift after 10 repetitions.

Machines are great because it’s hard to hurt yourself on them, they are engineered to be safe and effective. Just be sure to use the machine once you get on it, and don’t “ride” it for half an  hour before you do something. Wipe it down before and after you use it.

Another good thing about machines is that they are non competitive, and so the  only person who competes with you is you.

The Freeweights-

Freeweights are excellent. You can truly challenge yourself with them, they are simple things (usually), and they give you a feeling of true independence. However, you can hurt yourself with freeweights (backs and knees really take a beating if you are too enthusiastic here) so go slow when you start up, don’t lift far too much.

You will need to know what to do with freeweights, they are deceptively simple. So a reliable app on your iPhone would be a good idea, it will show you pointers on how to approach the weights and how to use them, often they even had videos for instruction. If you feel anything: rip,pop, crunch, tear or just feel a sharp pain—STOP. This is supposed to be good for you, not to make you another client of a sports doctor.

Moar-

This is just the tip of the iceberg with strength training. I am going to stop here because it is a lot to digest in one sitting. I will certainly come back to strength training, what I have learned, what works for me, and the pitfalls of “picking up heavy things”. Until then, here are some things you might want to explore which have to do with strength training:

  • Buy a 32 oz. waterbottle, one that will go through the dishwasher. You will be surprised at how much water you drink when you are lifting weights, especially in cold weather when the indoor atmosphere is dry.
  • Check out some of the excellent apps there are which explain weightlifting to you. I am partial to Fitness Buddy which shows you muscles, exercises for each one (group of them), how you can exercise them on various pieces of equipment (how to do abs exercises with: kettle balls, barbells, hand weights, just with your body weight, on a variety of machines, with resistance bands, on a Swiss ball, and more, more, more).
  • You just need some comfortable clothes to wear for lifting. Nothing fancy or chic is necessary.
  • I like to use my heart rate monitor with chest strap when I am working out with weights. It is good to know when your heart rate has come down to the lower range and you can start up again with another move. I also like the fact that I can save my workout and load it up to weight loss/maintaining apps like LoseIt.

This blog is brought to you by Possets Perfume which is featuring The Yule/Winter Collection now. Based on Music, the set was inspired by the grand and tingly compositions by such musicians as: Bach, Chopin, and Mozart not to mentions a few anonymous tunes and a couple of just plain fanciful creations. Oh, and there are three fitness perfumes which are engineered to be light and refreshing and let you smell more like a goddess and less like a wet dog after your workout: Vim, Vigor, and Victory. So, click here and go exploring!

Cityblis

Posted in Changes, fitness, General Comments, Perfume Oils, weight loss, Winter | Tagged , , , , , ,

Cardio-The First Of The Holy Trinity Of Fitness

VigorHere Is Where You Lose Weight-

When you think about fitness, you usually think of cardio first. To lose weight you have to get your heart rate up and nothing does that like cardio, hence they call it “cardio”. Designed to make you take your maximum physical exertion, it should ideally take you from resting to max and within that range over the course of the workout. Just staying at your highest possible rate for an entire hour is not good. Your body thrives on change and difference. I highly recommend that you buy a chest strap and put it on to monitor your heart rate; not only do you not want to go into your danger zone but you want to make sure that you are working hard enough to have your cardio do some good.

Where-

I workout at the gym BUT you can get a great workout at home, you just need the discipline. Working at  home can involve walking in your neighborhood, just make sure the pace is brisk enough. Hilly areas are great for getting your ticker to ramp up and bringing along some fast tempo music always helps. There are quite a few radio programs and albums on iTunes designed just for workouts and power walking. You can’t always walk as weather has a habit of getting in the way.

When it’s raining, too cold, or icy out there, you can get a few DVDs and use them at home. Check out the selection at Target or anyplace which sells athletic equipment, of course Google will help out here. You can find DVDs to suit you in any intensity from a killer “shred” to a gentler healing guided workout. Try an “interval” or “circuit” workouts where you combine one minute of your best exertion with one minute of rest, this burns tons of calories and strengthens your heart. Most of us need more of a push though, and so the calisthenics sort of a disc will do you more good in the long run but start off slowly if you haven’t been working out. Of course, do ask your doctor before starting on a fitness regimen, she/he will probably be delighted you finally got the message and will be part of your cheering section.

Keeping your enthusiasm with home workouts isn’t easy but one thing I have found which spurs me on in a private non-competitive way is to keep a diary of your efforts, and signing up for the app LoseIt is just about perfect for me. You log your daily activity there and it makes up charts for you, calculates your calorie burn, and there is a nifty forum for suggestions as to what you can try which is new. I thought this would be a hassle, it turns out to be one of the most simple motivating routines ever…just looking at your accomplishments will make you want to continue.

In A Gym-

Gyms are famous for their cardio arrays. Mostly classes at set times, they are a lot of fun and draw on your basic instincts to move with the herd. There are dance based workouts which will have you flying and laughing with the right instructor: Zumba is probably the most popular, and Latin Heat which is similar. More traditional cardio classes include: Step (considered “vintage” but still VERY effective), “Bootcamps” (hybrid strength and mad cardio), Spinning (group lead on a stationary bike, your rump needs time to adjust to the seat but enthusiasts adore it), and for the very enthusiastic there is Kickboxing/Cardio where you will perform burpees until you are exhausted.

In class, there is no slacking off and we have to admit that you can find yourself slacking at home unless you get out of the house and away from the icebox. Group fitness workouts provide another invaluable feature: enthusiasm. You never see anyone just stop and walk out in the middle of a group class. Just the exhilaration of being with others  while working your heart out satisfies a very primitive need. Maybe we are hardwired to hunt in packs and group fitness brings us back to those palmy days of our ancestors (minus the saber toothed pursuers).

Cardio Machines In The Gym-

Machines are not just for strength training, they are great for cardio as well. Try out the humble treadmill and don’t forget you can change it to an incline and burn even more calories. Ellipticals really burn up fat though some people have a hard time getting the knack of using them, you have to learn how to shift your weight and which way you like to have it go (frontwards or backwards). Stationary bikes can burn a lot or a little. If you sit on your rump and pedal in a leisurely style, it won’t do too much for you. Pedal like you are chasing Lance Armstrong and it will rack them up. Finally, I would like to put in a good word for a machine I have eyed but not used until recently, the Stair Climber. I was amazed at how high my heart rate was on it! It didn’t feel strenuous either, amazingly enough. I was bopping along at 155 bpm an not feeling out of breath at all. Go figure. I like that, I think you will do.

With all machinery, make sure you keep your attention on the machine. You can trip, fall, and get hurt unless you are aware of the moving parts and consequences of it all. I like to listen to books being read when I am on a machine, less possibility of injury for me, just a thought.

This blog is brought to you by Possets Perfume which is featuring The Yule/Winter Collection now. Based on Music, the set was inspired by the grand and tingly compositions by such musicians as: Bach, Chopin, and Mozart not to mentions a few anonymous tunes and a couple of just plain fanciful creations. Oh, and there are three fitness perfumes which are engineered to be light and refreshing and let you smell more like a goddess and less like a wet dog after your workout: Vim, Vigor, and Victory. So, click here and go exploring!

Cityblis

Posted in Changes, fitness, General Comments, Perfume Oils, weight loss, Winter | Tagged , , , , , ,

The Holy Trinity of Fitness

victoryFor The Umpteenth Time-

There are three things I find I have to have in my fitness routine, or else things fall apart: 1) Strength, 2) Cardio, and 3) Stretching. The last one, stretching, usually is the one no one takes as seriously as the first two. Stretching isn’t sexy, it’s girly, and it looks too easy. Don’t be fooled! There are quite a few people who have had to curtail their workouts because of injuries due to lack of stretching. One of my gym friends took off on a marathon run several years ago. She was in great shape, about 23 years old and in all ways fit. She decided to start out cold on race day and didn’t get too far before her legs cramped up and stayed that way for long enough to eliminate her from the race. That is a very hard lesson to learn but you need to learn it. I had a condition come up on me which threatened to stop my workouts entirely, my feet felt like there was a 10 penny nail being driven into the top center of each foot. It just got worse and worse and finally I was driven to see a doctor. It turned out that my Achilles tendon was contracting, and I had to stretch it out by standing on the steps, hanging my heels over the edge and pulling out the offending tendon every day. It worked. This is also a lot of the cause of the now highly popular plantar fascia; simple stretching would take care of most of that.  These episodes taught me the importance of stretching after exercise, before, and in a class all by itself. So, I devote three days a week to stretching as my primary concentration of exercise! I like Yin yoga especially because you get into a pose and hold it for 3-5 minutes, and that will pull out those muscles so they perform like greased Bentley ball bearings. So, when it comes to stretching and keeping your muscles limber, make this activity a bona fide part of your routine.

Yes, You Need Strength Training-

Ladies, you do need strength training. No, it won’t make you look like a linebacker, either. Mother Nature has seen to it that you will retain your womanly curves, but you will have flatter abs, rounder booty, better defined arms, and will look less like a pear if you work out. I will get into greater detail later about women’s strength training later, but suffice to say it is one part of the package you cannot do without.

Note that it doesn’t burn calories like cardio, but it keeps your bones dense and lets you not be a weakling. Your arms will look so much better, and tastes have changed considerably over the last few years, where you were regarded as unfeminine if you were strong, now it is the standard. Take a look at the ladies on TV, every one of them who wears sleeveless dresses has great shoulder muscles. That is no accident.

I will leave you with this thought, too. If you have some sort of a figure “fault” then you can do a lot toward “fixing” it with strength training. For instance, say you are a pear shaped woman, start working on your upper body. Before you know it, you will be looking so much more in proportion! All shoulders and no hips? Start working on your booty and your legs, that will go far to bring you back into focus. I have tried this trick and it works so well that I am a real tiger on strength workouts.

Cardio, Do Not Be Afraid-

People either love or loathe cardio. If you are overweight, the thought of leaping around like a tuna fish and getting totally out of breath is not something you want to do. However, if you lose just 5 lbs, the difference is amazing! Cardio burns calories like mad, you can’t do too much more to melt off the fat. It also builds muscle, helps build muscle, keep your balance, and makes you more graceful. Besides, it’s a blast…you get to listen to loud music and shake your hips like you don’t do otherwise. Just about every gym out there has a cardio class every day: Zumba, Latin Heat, Jazzercise are all dance based cardio classes you can take.

Of course, there are the bootcamp sorts of courses and they can be called cardio as well. Step used to be a staple but has been eclipsed by Zumba but it might stage a comeback.

Cardio is always more fun if you wear a chest strap to record your heart rates and length of time you were at it. don’t forget your towel and water bottle for this class! You will need both if you are doing it right.

The bottom line is that all 3 types of exercise are needed by everyone whether you are trying to lose weight or maintaining. You don’t need a gym to participate in them either. If you are a gym-phobe there are loads of great YouTube videos on each of the 3 types of fitness and you can participate in them from home. The more esoteric stuff can be had on DVD, too. I have a DVD of Yin Yoga which is very tough and I use it when the weather is so bad I can’t get to class. There are lots of series of workouts of all kinds, every thing from “Shreds” to “Insanity” and more. Just Google them and you will see. You might want to invest in a couple of them in case you are stuck indoors.

This blog is brought to you by Possets Perfume which is featuring The Yule/Winter Collection now. Based on Music, the set was inspired by the grand and tingly compositions by such musicians as: Bach, Chopin, and Mozart not to mentions a few anonymous tunes and a couple of just plain fanciful creations. Oh, and there are three fitness perfumes which are engineered to be light and refreshing and let you smell more like a goddess and less like a wet dog after your workout: Vim, Vigor, and Victory. So, click here and go exploring!

Cityblis

Posted in fitness, General Comments, Perfume Oils, Winter | Tagged , , , , , ,

Gymnasia–Where You Work Out

NikeWhy Go Elsewhere To Exercise-

I am as much of a do-it-yourselfer as the next woman. I have bought exercise equipment to use at home, and made up a regimen of walking in my neighborhood and stuck to it. BUT there are problems which crop up in even the best intentions and well-executed plans. Owning your own equipment is great BUT you have to put it somewhere and you have to maintain it. Also, do you really want to spend 1+ hrs every day doing the same thing? I thought I did when I bought a rowing machine. Not only is doing the same thing every day boring as hell BUT it’s not good for you. Mix up your workouts and do something different every day for best results. If you get one of the all-in-one machines, you run the risk of something breaking, and then you are in for some Big Bucks to fix it (and sending something elsewhere is out of the question). Sigh, and don’t forget that the great schedule for power walking can look quite unappetizing when it’s 104 deg F outside, -12 deg F, or it’s raining/snowing/hailing out there.

I really do think that gyms are a great idea and a worthy investment. But how do you decide, and I am sure that you have heard the horror stories from friend and foe alike. But you can win, if you think a bit and get prepared.

#1 What Is Available And What Do You Need-

There are several broad categories of gyms. The Country Club is a large complex with many different sorts of activities available. There are cardio and strength training and usually the latest sort of yoga to enjoy. Squash and tennis courts, indoor pools, basketball/volleyball courts and the lot. Often, there is a nice restaurant to take your friends to and the emphasis is social. Oh, and personal trainers are also part of the available amenities (for a hefty premium). Be prepared to pay for all this nicety. Sometimes they offer sliding scale memberships (you can not use the club at the busiest and most desirable times for instance) or cheaper memberships for people of a certain class (youth or seniors). If you like luxury, this is your best bet. There are not a lot of Country Club gyms as chains, usually these are local and locally owned.

The Big Empty Box is another class of gym which is very popular because it’s so cheap. 24 Hour Fitness and Planet Fitness are good examples. They basically offer you a big box with equipment in  it for you to use when you have the time. There are no classes and bare bones surroundings. It’s up to you to make your own schedule and go there to work out for however long you like. Also, you choose what you do and how you do it. No personal trainers are around to hire, no one is there to help you learn the machines but they are great for the budget conscious self starter who really doesn’t want to be bothered by class schedules or dealing with other people.  These are often national chains which have gyms in big cities. Many Big Empty Box gyms don’t have contracts so you just pay month to month, and they are pretty insistent that this is an automatic payment every month. As convenient and inexpensive as this might seem, it’s astounding how many people sign up for Big Empty Box and never go there. They probably have the lowest use rate of any of the gyms! So, know yourself. If you need the prick of expense or dedication to work out, Big Empty Box might not be for you.

The National Chain has the features of being a big box full of equipment and machines for you to use when they are open. They often have a swimming pool, saunas, squash and basketball courts, yoga and pilates (as well as cardio) fitness classes, nice changing areas, and free parking. They always offer expensive personal training, which you might need especially at first. Now you will find National Chains which will offer you month to month deals and not make you sign a contract. However, if you want to make this your most inexpensive deal, ask about multiple year pay-in-advance plans. You will have to fork over a pretty good chunk of change all at once BUT you end up paying peanuts every day if you use the National Chain every day. I use my gym daily (that is right, every single day) and it costs me 75¢ a day to go there and work out! If you are a gym rat, this is a very good option to investigate.

The Boutique Gym is a specialized workout establishment. For guys it can be a place which is bare bones, run by a very muscle bound crew, where you work out on tattered well oiled machines and are offered concrete balls to pick up. You get the feel of the sweat and testosterone kick just by walking in the door. Everything about the Meathead Boutique gym shouts,”This place is NOT for sissies!” On the other hand, there is a ladies’ boutique gym which is usually locally owned and specializes in things: pole dancing, ballet/barre, special pilates, the latest in weightloss/toning workouts, hybrid yoga classes. These are usually quite expensive, don’t have many locations around town, and likely to tailor a class or workout just for you. If you have special needs/wants and like to be part of a seriously devoted fan base, a boutique gym may be the best choice for you.

The Yoga Studio-of all the workout areas popping up over the past 5 years, yoga studios are the most varied of all. Hot yoga, yin yoga, power yoga, Tri yoga, aromatheraputic yoga, Indian yoga of all types, highly meditative yoga, flow yoga, pre/present/post pregnancy yoga, yoga with baby, and all sorts of yoga has blossomed in every city and whistle stop in America. Usually, these are local establishments run by earnest local people. However, there are some national chains (like Bikram Yoga) and you would find a standard sort of workout across the US with them. You really have to do your research because what you need and want is so very personal that one man’s meat is another’s poisson here. I found I needed to work on keeping my hips open and take special care to slowly stretch my muscles frequently and so I buy extra Yin yoga classes which help me immeasurably. If you have particular needs, you might be wise to supplement your workouts and gym trips with specialized yoga to keep from needing physical therapy. Frequently you buy blocks of classes and use them one by one.

This blog is brought to you by Possets Perfume which is featuring The Yule/Winter Collection now. Based on Music, the set was inspired by the grand and tingly compositions by such musicians as: Bach, Chopin, and Mozart not to mentions a few anonymous tunes and a couple of just plain fanciful creations. Oh, and there are three fitness perfumes which are engineered to be light and refreshing and let you smell more like a goddess and less like a wet dog after your workout: Vim, Vigor, and Victory. So, click here and go exploring!

Cityblis

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The Gear You Need For Weight Loss

victory

The Essentials, First The Wearable-

There are a lot of things out there which make losing weight a lot easier. Among the gadgets are the wearables. These small devices are set up to track your daily: steps, heart rate, attainment of goal, and even the time. They are usually unobtrusive and simple to use and they sync with your smart phone or your computer. I have had just about all of them from 2005 onward. The field is now crowded and the prices have plummeted (my first fitness watch was a Polar for $290+ and used a chest strap). The information they report is amazingly more complex as well. Here are my picks: Polar Loop, Fitbit, and Vivofit. I have the Polar Loop. I chose that one because I had a Bluetooth chest strap which was a Polar and would pair with the Loop. The Loop is about $75 now ( six months ago it was $100) without the chest strap (watch and strap are about $150 together). It will sync wirelessly with your iPhone/Android and with a wire with your computer as well. It is quite accurate, but the GUI interface is pretty phffffft. Sometimes it’s persnickety and the chest strap transmitter has a pretty short lifespan (mine don’t last much longer than a year). They do have a 2 year warranty though, and so you can send it back for a new one if you end up with a dead one. The Loop is waterproof and you can shower with it. It looks good, actually it’s pretty unobtrusive and the clasp isn’t fussy.

The Loop isn’t perfect, it’s readout is only one color, it does not pick up your heart rate without the chest strap, its ability to gauge your strength workout is limited (it’s great for cardio and walking BUT strength is all about exertion and that isn’t as easily measured by just a chest strap). The Loop is finicky about wirelessly syncing with your phone. However, I chose it and it’s the best thing I can use at the moment. I am indeed Jonesing for the Apple Watch.

The Other Things You Need-

Apps, there are loads of them and they will be a great help to you. I have an account with LoseIt, and have had since many years ago. They are great. You can scan the bar code on the side of a pack of anything you eat and know what the calories are in a serving. They have a huge selection of the calorie content of supermarket and restaurant foods. The logging function is rock solid, and when you put in your weight in the morning, it calculates the amount of calories you can have in a day to lose weight or maintain. Their community is robust and sensible. It interfaces with the Health App that Apple just put out (which is huge…everyone is interfacing with them). LoseIt is well worth having, one of the original weight loss apps which helped me lose 30 lbs and others lose much much more. It’s free.

Digifit-I often use this in place of my Loop to pick up the data from my chest strap and calculate the number of calories I used during my exercise. The Loop will not tell you how many calories you expended during an exercise but only the total calories you expended during the day. I like to know what I put out during my workout. That is why I use Digifit. It interfaces with the Apple Health app and LoseIt, too. It’s free but there are add ons which are pretty appealing. Worth it.

Sleep Time-A most amusing app by Azumio. This one monitors your sleep habits (are you asleep, deep or shallow), this one tells you. Also, it’s a great alarm clock which wakes you when you are close to being awake so you are not jarred. You can wake to tropical rainforest or to the songs in your iTunes library. It feeds into the Apple Health App and you will be interested in how you sleep, which is a really important part of your weight loss attempt. By the way, the Loop also gauges this but the Sleep Time app has a better interface with an alarm. Worth it.

With the advent of the Apple Watch, all of the wearables might be outmoded before the end of the year. So many have come on line recently, notably the Microsoft Band (which is sold out everywhere and <$200). You might want to opt for a simple pedometer (if you can find one, look in Dick’s) or a cheap Fitbit clip on, both are less than $50.

Clothes-

This is the easy area. You need good sports shoes. I look in DSW for those and stick with the known names (ASICS, Nike, Ryka, etc). You can get some great shoes for <$50 by being shrewd. The next thing is good pants, that is where you head for Target, Meijer, Old Navy, or your local Costco. Look for the 3 pak of yoga pants, they will do for any exercise from Zumba to Yoga. They are cheap and look fine, everyone wears them all day long now. As for your shirt, tee shirts will do nicely. As you lose weight you might want to invest in a nice workout shirt or two, but be warned that they are form fitting and long so that you will be showcased. Better wait until you are at your goal before springing for that kind of expensive and formfitting garment.

One thing to avoid: the grossly overpriced name brands. If you enjoy shelling out $70+ per shirt or pants, be my guest but I am telling you now, shopping at the discount houses will give you great clothes for a sane price. Also, lots of the expensive places do have a discount bin (Athleta is famous for that), so try looking on line for the deal.

The Socks-

Socks are so popular. There are all kinds of socks out there at all kinds of prices. Go at your own pace here. The only thing I will add is that compression stockings are making a big splash in the athletic area. I wear them. They squeeze your legs gently so that the blood does not pool in your below-the-knee area. If you notice your calves, ankles, and feet swelling then you need to think about compression hose. I use a medium-firm and followed the instructions on the website. There are a load of sites selling compression hose now, from Amazon.com to sites which sell nothing but. Google “compression stockings” and take a look at the possibilities. If you are overweight now, you might want to invest in a couple of pair of compression socks now so that your vascular system isn’t overtaxed while you lose weight. It would be a good investment as exercise can encourage the blood to go to the bottom of your limbs and compression hose can keep things flowing properly.

Other Things-

There are very few other things you need: a water bottle (actually two so that one can go through the washer while you are using the other). I go bigtime here with Nalgene 32 oz. bottles at Target or online at Amazon. Then there is the towel to mop your brow after you spent half an hour in Zumba. Rather than a towel (with the washing machine/dryer and spreading around the germs) I use paper towels and throw them away after my workout. I avoid germs and wasting water. Aside from those things, I can’t think of anything else you need for your workouts.

So, get out there and go get ‘em, tiger!

This blog is brought to you by Possets Perfume which is featuring The Yule/Winter Collection now. Based on Music, the set was inspired by the grand and tingly compositions by such musicians as: Bach, Chopin, and Mozart not to mentions a few anonymous tunes and a couple of just plain fanciful creations. Oh, and there are three fitness perfumes which are engineered to be light and refreshing and let you smell more like a goddess and less like a wet dog after your workout: Vim, Vigor, and Victory. So, click here and go exploring!

Cityblis

Posted in fitness, General Comments, Perfume Oils, Winter | Tagged , , , , , ,

How To Lose Weight–Everyone’s Favorite New Year’s Resolution

Moi

After 30 lb. weight loss.

The First Step-

Everyone resolves to lose weight in the new year. Few attain their goal. I was one of those who actually made their new years resolution come true. The picture is me after I lost 30 lbs in 2011. I had realistic expectations, a lot of help from my support system, and the right attitude to make it happen. In 6 months the weight came off, and it has stayed off ever since. It wasn’t a snap and it wasn’t divinely easy but I did achieve some substantial weight loss, and you can, too. There really is only one way to lose weight, and that is to eat less and move more. My father told me that long ago and he was right he was also a surgeon, so he had seen it all.

I am going to tell you what I know about weight loss and maintaining your weight at the proper level, and that is considerable. Please believe that if you want to just eat exotic berries or garf down rainforest vitamins and think you are going to lose weight without cutting down your food intake, you are going to be sadly deceived. A journey of 10,000 miles begins with the first step, so lets take that step.

The Second Most Important Step-

The very first thing you are going to have to do is: weigh yourself. Yes, that is essential. You don’t have to do it now but make your mind up that you are going to faithfully weight yourself every day at the same time and record the result. Do this for the rest of your life. You will get in the habit, and as you get used to it, you will really come to regard weighing as an essential part of your day. I recommend that you weigh yourself first thing in the morning after you get up. That way you are the lightest you are going to be, and it is a more true snapshot of what you weigh.

Now that you have the number, look up what you should weigh (of course you can do this step right now and weigh yourself tomorrow morning if you like). There are a lot of places where you can find out your ideal weight, they usually have you put in your height, gender, and sometimes your age and voila, your weight is calculated and that is your goal. Here are a few I found:calculator.net, a fun interactive one at Health-calc,and a particularly good one at WebMD.com. Armed with that information, you are ready to go.

The MOST Important Step-

The most important component of my weight loss journey was one forgotten or never-noticed part of my “equipment”: the fact that we think we are hungry when we are not. In Western Civ we are constantly bombarded with messages to eat, temptations, calls to indulge, promises of forgiveness, and the certain knowledge that all will be better if we just eat. We are told that not to eat is automatically anorexic or inhospitable, that you really need more and that to deprive yourself is foolish. Count the number of food and drink ads on the TV in one hour. How lovingly they are put on and just how much food is being pushed. Your house is full of “snacks”, and the right to snack is almost a human right.

Poppycock! Gnawing hunger pains are real but they are just as much the product of expectation and habit as they are of real hunger. We consume many more calories than we need to maintain our weight, so how can we really be hungry? We aren’t, but we are eating for amusement, for a treat, because we eat at the same time every day and so it’s a habit, because it’s there, because we are disappointed, or because we are getting away with something. There are loads of reasons we eat too much, but the bottom line is that…we eat too much.

So, the first thing you have to do in order to get through the diet which will change your life is to realize that you are not HUNGRY all of the time, that you are trained or fooling yourself into thinking you are hungry. So examine the hunger you feel inbetween meals. Ask yourself,”Am I really hungry or am I just looking for a treat?” I bet you will be surprised at the number of times the latter is the answer. Once you realize you are not really hungry, pursue that thought. Enjoy realizing that hunger isn’t really at the root of your desire, and think about what is. Is it 11:00 a.m. and you are anticipating lunch, are you driving by MCDonalds and you remember that triple cheeseburger ad you saw on TV, is your birthday coming up and you want a treat in advance, are you really just a little hungry and a snack will be “good for you”? This is the moment when you really need to know yourself and turn your back on excess eating when you are not really hungry. Once you banish fake hunger, you are at least 50% closer to your goal, and all you have to do is to keep at it.

So, if there is one thing I hope you take away from reading this essay, it’s that we have a lot of false hunger in our lives, and that encourages (demands even) that we overeat. Examining that false hunger before we give in lets us realize that we are not really in dire need of a snack and then we can get on to doing something productive instead of chowing down.

Distraction Is A Good Thing-

Oh, now is a great time to take up that pastime you have been thinking of: reading a very life-changing book or series of them, learning a foreign language, needlepoint, or getting into that one piece of software you have been avoiding. Taking your mind off your appetite and putting it on something useful is the very best employment of your attention.

Best of luck. This is your first step and you should feel proud of yourself. Keep on coming back for more help in your quest to lose weight from someone who did just that. I will be blogging about this all during the month of January, and I am sure it will make your task that much easier.

This blog is brought to you by Possets Perfume which is featuring The Yule/Winter Collection now. Based on Music, the set was inspired by the grand and tingly compositions by such musicians as: Bach, Chopin, and Mozart not to mentions a few anonymous tunes and a couple of just plain fanciful creations. Oh, and there are three fitness perfumes which are engineered to be light and refreshing and let you smell more like a goddess and less like a wet dog after your workout: Vim, Vigor, and Victory. So, click here and go exploring!

Cityblis

Posted in fitness, General Comments, Perfume Oils, Winter | Tagged , , , , , ,