Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

VR Mindfulness?

So the Supernatural app that I'm quite enjoying has an accompanying phone app that has your stats, info on every workout you've done, etc.   It is also where you set goals and it tracks your "streaks".  So I set a goal of 4x/week.  Week one - each day I did got a dashed gold circle around it, and when I had four gold circles all the lines turned solid.  Sweet.  Extra circles got stars in them :)    So this is week two now, and I had two done, and then I had one day where I was *really* not feeling well.  I had a headache, was frustrated with work, and all other randomness.  But somehow I decided it would be a useful time to try meditation? And I recalled that SN had that too, so figured I'd give that a go.   All good - not my favourite meditation for sure, but not horrible.  I spent more time looking around the pretty scenery than listening to the dude talk, but I guess that's it's own form of meditation.   I also played Tripp - another meditation app - for a bit and it was... different ;)   lol but I'll do it once more and then give it its own post.  Definitely interesting.   Anyways - back to SN.  I don't remember why I went into the app this afternoon -- I think somebody might've followed me or something -- but when I was there I noticed that yesterday had a blue dashed circle???  hmmm it appears meditation counts for something?   So then I was curious if it would also count as one of the days toward my four-day goal.  So when I completed today's workout (of the normal variety), I went into the app...  

And sure enough, all the circles are solid!

And what interested me is that my first reaction was "meh - that's not exercise, it shouldn't count", but then it occurred to me if what I was going for was health rather than just workout, it's arguably as, if not more, important and they're absolutely right to count it.   So now I'm both bemused and surprisingly motivated that on a crummy day where I just don't have a workout in me, I can keep my streak alive by a few minutes of mindfulness.   So I'd say that's a win to the SN developers.  And for me.

Part of today's workout was a failure due to the fact that my batteries died :(   That is one thing that never happens irl.   So I'll try and repeat it tomorrow or the next day cause it was a *riot* but not easy.

And my other mental exercise -- I've been experimenting with my trial month for the Spanish lessons I'm going to use for boot camp.  So far I've been really disappointed, but I'll wait till the end of the trial to see if that changes.  One thing that is good is that lessons are available any half hour between 5am and midnight EST and you can book at literally the last minute (I have absolutely tested and been successful at booking a lesson for 8:30 at 8:29 ;)   Anyways - in today's lesson, which was conversation based, the feedback was that my comprehension was really good but my accent was horrible.  lol and honestly, this is a huge win because, well, I've heard that my accent is horrible before -- I'm hoping that's what March Madness (aka boot camp) will help address -- but this is the first time ever I've heard that my comprehension was good.  Woohoo!!!   I've been doing a lot of focused work on comprehension - maybe that's actually helping???  Of course this teacher I've never spoken with before, so no comparison.  But I'd like to pretend it is ;)

Some days you just don't want to workout. So play games instead :)

So once again, I have to say one of the benefits of VR fitness is how little commitment it can take.   I did *not* want to work out today, but the shortest Supernatural routine is 8 minutes and the shortest FitXR is 3...   So really, "I'll sign in and do one" is enough that it makes me feel like I've accomplished something without actually committing to a full "workout".  

So I dragged my sorry ass downstairs.  I did at least put on workout clothes, so I *could* potentially do a real workout if I became inspired.  My thought was I'd do the week's team challenge on FitXR and at least knock that off and then be done.   Except that when I went to use FitXR it needed an update.  *sigh*  That's an issue I've never had going to a real gym lol.   So okay, it's cold in the basement so while it was updating, I did an 8 min Supernatural round, which was fun and I was warmed up.  Then did the boxing round - this week's challenge was a 15 min class.   Okay fine.  So I got that done, and was pretty pleased with my score...   Which meant I went back into SN and loaded up a 15 min one - chose country music for a change of pace.  lol and it was a really solid workout, by the end I was definitely struggling.   I'm not sure if that's cause of the workout itself or if it was cause it followed 15 mins of boxing at full power, but either way, good workout.  So then I was having fun and wanted to keep going, but was also spent, so just did an 8 min cool down one (on light) to round it out.

Seemed an appropriate local for a country workout :)

But all in my "few minutes" that I convinced myself I could do, resulted in a 48 min workout, solely because it's fun.   And I was in such a better mood after too - so much more energized.   Win :)

Day 3...

Okay so yesterday was day two of Supernatural, and I had a really good time playing (other than the one that crashed *mutter mutter*).  Although even the one that crashed I got a “partially complete” in my workout history, so that was good (showed up a few hours after the fact.

Anyways - after the workout I was sitting for a couple hours due to work and then realized…   I wasn’t sure moving was even an option?!?!  I was SO stiff and SO sore.  On the *same* day.  Definitely not a good sign.  So I did a couple calls on the treadmill, on stroll pace, just to make sure I could move.  

Then I remembered SN has stretching routines too…   So I signed back in, but it’s cold in the basement so I did another (short) round to warmup again, and then did a stretching routine.  Remarkably helpful.   Actually pretty pleased at at.

That night, I took some Aleve and off to dreamland I went.

Pretty sore this am, and was pretty sure I wouldn’t be working out, except two things: one, today is the day my scores are due for the team challenge for FitVR, and I won’t be *that* person to not contribute to the team.  So at very least, I *had* to box.  And two, Supernatural comes with a streak counter.   šŸ˜‚ it’s amazing how motivating such a completely pointless tool is.   Like nobody cares about my two-day streak on a trial subscription, but look at me go.

lol my streak ;)   Kinda sad, but it's a start.

Okay so I did boxing first and gave it everything I had.  Actually got a good (for me) score and felt amazing.  Go team!   lol doesn't involve the same muscles as Supernatural so didn’t hurt at all, and, well, I have a lot more practice with boxing.   So all good.   Then I wanted to keep my SN streak so went in there, but those muscles DO hurt, so I figured I’d be smart and pick an 8 min “low” (aka easy).  Except I couldn’t find an 8 min one I wanted to do that wasn’t the same one I did on day one, but did find a 13 min one whose playlist was SO fun.   So okay.  I was warmed up and feeling good, this should be no problem.

And here I learned how much easier L is from M, which I’ve been playing.  Which makes me really look forward to H ;)    I bebopped along to the music, and tried to get as close to a perfect score as I could.   I also learned how the triangles are actually supposed to work (eg actually move your feet!) as some of them were way on the left side of my mat and some were way to the right.  šŸ˜‚  The coach for this one was also WAY more useful.  There’s one who drives me insane, the rest I’ve tried have mostly faded into the background.  But this one was helpful.   So noted.

End result - I learned some things that will be useful in the faster level, and got a nice stretchy routine that wasn’t nearly as entertaining but totally appropriate for my capabilities today.   Look at me setting the bar at a reasonable height for once ;-P  Although honestly, it's been a few hours now and I kinda want to go play again...   

Spanish immersion steps it up a level

 So as some of you may know, I’ve been doing Spanish immersion month in Feb to prep for my week of boot camp the first week of March.   Partially, this involves significant dedicated listening practice (about an hour a day of active listening with more casual listening - tv or music - when I have time for background noise), and partially this involves making as many things in my life Spanish as possible.  

I started by making FB Spanish — that’s not really all that much of a challenge given I could prob also navigate reasonably successfully in Greek ;)   I loaded a Spanish novel to read on my kindle — also not super challenging as I picked one targeted to B2 learners, which is exactly the level I’m “officially” at (usually when I read I go up a level, so this feels v easy, definitely nowhere near as challenging as the “real” novels I’ve read - even if they target tweens ;).  Note, I don’t actually speak anywhere near this level.  I just test here cause online tests don’t involve speaking *g*  But for the other three parts of language, it’s actually correct.

But then I also made my phone Spanish.  And I admit, I had NO concept of what that would mean to my life.  To recap, since then I’ve had:

  • Alexa in my car, now speaks Spanish.  Which I love!  Cause really, awesome practice with instant feedback on whether it was understood.   But yeah, was a surprise, and a disturbing number of things I have to think of other ways to say.   Eg - in English I tell her “skip this song”, but I don’t know how to say ‘skip’ so now in Spanish I tell her “next song”.  Pretty much the opposite of fluent, but slowly slowly becoming competent.
  • Wikipedia is in Spanish.  Yeah that was thoroughly unexpected ;)   And made my “quick lookup” much slower than anticipated.
  • My Fitbit is now in Spanish.  The app, the physical watch, AND the email report they send me every week.  lol this was more challenging than otherwise as I had only *just* gotten a new-to-me fitbit the week before.
  • On social media, when people post in other languages (I get posts from a fun number of countries/cultures/languages), instead of those other languages automatically translating to English, they now translate to Spanish.   I honestly was fairly oblivious how much behind-the-scenes translation was happening until now.
  • Bitmojis are in Spanish.  This one makes me sad, since nobody I send bitmojis to understands Spanish.   Also, it very much highlights my complete lack of colloquial Spanish as I have no idea how to search for things — and they’re things Google Translate isn’t going to help with.   Like I know lol = jajaja, but what does WTF translate to?   I really wanted that one today.   Because often there are images with no text that would still suit, but I need to be able to search for the text I want.  So this is proving to be a frustrating exercise, but I’m disproportionately pleased when I get it.  I found a good teacher one for C’s first day, so I was happy about that :)
  • Work email and Webex Teams...  You got it: Spanish.   I had a definite moment today when it told me I had a P&PM Reunion.  I was like 'Really?  That project only ended on Friday, do we actually need a reunion so soon?'   Until I remembered....  Reunion in Spanish translates to meeting ;-P    And it was one I could cancel *because* said project finished on Friday ;)

And today’s adventure…  Google maps.   By this point, I didn’t even really notice the app itself being in Spanish, like with FB, I can pretty much navigate the app without any of the written cues.  Connected to the car and started driving and…   Directions in Spanish.

This is what the first few seconds felt like...
But it got better :)

Sigh, followed by an eye roll, and eventually a laugh because well, I wanted immersion and here it is.   Fortunately, I know the words left and right and they don’t sound anything remotely like one another, so even if rapid-fire Spanish syllables get lost, I still knew which way to turn.  Unfortunately, one of the gaps I’ve noticed in my listening exercises is the ability to accurately recognize numbers.  Even when I’m listening for them, I get them right maybe 50% of the time.  Which makes the distance to the left or right turn a bit of a question mark.   And then the HUGE challenge is that Spanish Google Lady does *not* read English street names in any way I could even pretend to understand.   Like even leaving my block, where I knew fully well the name of the street, I couldn’t pick it out.   So I was relying strongly on a combination of my faulty ability to understand numbers, and the fact that Google Lady always reminds you right before it’s time to turn ;)

However, Spanish Google Lady and I made it where we were supposed to go on the first try, so I was pretty pleased at that.  And the new pizza place was very much worth the challenge ;)

Entering the supernatural world

So I've mentioned before that Supernatural, one of the most highly recommended fitness games, is one I'd yet to try, due to its subscription costs.  I've seen videos of people playing and kinda thought meh - it's like Beat Saber and, well, I already have Beat Saber ;)

I honestly really didn't see what the big deal was, or how it could really be *that* much better of a workout.  And definitely not worth the price.

Except for the moment, the price is free.  Lol they're doing a one month free trial.  Well okay - may as well have a look at it then, esp as my fitness scores this week were, ummm, less than spectacular *sigh*  More on that later.

Well.  Honestly, I'm *still* not sure how it's such a better workout, but I can tell you, it definitely IS.  lol So it follows the same basic premise as Beat Saber -- moving to music, hit the floating things in the direction they're pointing with the bat of the correct colour (have to admit, the light sabers are way cooler).  Instead of the occasional wall to duck under or around, Supernatural has triangles that you duck through.  So depending on how the triangle is oriented, they're either low squats or lunges to one side or the other.  I admit, I wasn't proving coordinated enough for the lunges so they tended to be more of squat and side-crunch lol - but honestly, that's a great workout too, so I'm okay with it.   They also have long streams to follow -- you can feel in the controller that you've got it (yeah haptics!) -- these can cause quite the vertical stretch if you happen to be short.   So between the squats and the reach I'd go from almost on the ground to standing on my toes and back multiple times in a few mins.   And the arms are everywhere.  And then on top of it all, it has *stunning* scenery and the game itself is both fun and addictive (as per Beat Saber).

The music was fun AND the location was amazing

Also, I suspect I'm right in their target demographic cause the amount of 90s music to pick from was moderately amusing.  I did a 90s Pop run and a "Prom Night" -- which definitely had music from my prom days.  Tells me they're not going for the current prom audience ;-P   Certainly a decent amount of $ from their subscription cost is going for music rights.

The other thing the $ is going toward is the coaches.  Who, honestly, I could probably do without, but they do certainly add a "workout" vibe.  There's a warmup before and cool down after every round.  Which got annoying very quickly when instead of one long workout I wanted to do multiple short ones.  Fortunately FB saved the day and told me how to skip those ;)  They also comment as you're playing the game but since I ignore them as effectively as I ignore Josh (sorry Josh!), I have no idea if they're useful or not ;)   Also, new workouts daily?  This seems slightly excessive -- I'd prefer they drop it down to once or twice a week and lower the cost, but not my call.   

This was my coach in Iceland

I've only played the light and medium level.  Medium seems about right atm, but will prob move up to hard before too long.  Just cause, well, me ;)  There's also a leaderboard so you can compete against friends.  Unlike Beat Saber or Oh Shape, it doesn't give you the whole world of scores, only those people you're "following".   I didn't know about this so I had a very empty leaderboard.   A quick post on a FB forum garnered me a whole collection of new competition though so my leaderboard won't be empty tomorrow.  When I checked this afternoon I was somewhere in the middle, which is pretty well the most motivating place for me to be.  At the top is boring, at the bottom is frustrating or overwhelming.  In the middle means room to get to the top ;) 

There's a phone app that goes along with it that tracks your history etc.  I haven't done enough to see if it'll be at all useful or not; I suspect not, but look forward to being proven wrong ;)

Now as for the less-than-successful...   Last week's FB stats came in and they're all red.  Boooo.  I blame a complete lack of meetings at work and two papers being due at school.  There was a lot of sitting still and moving only for the bare minimum 250 steps / hour.  Sometimes not even that.   Also - I've discovered it doesn't count about 1/3 of my workouts?  So random.  Don't *really* care (esp as it does seem to count those steps) but have learned not to stress too much about the exercise count cause it's so inaccurate.

Room for improvement next week!

On the plus side - both papers submitted!!!  Now we wait...  

If you listen, you may learn something new...

So the Spanish adventures continue - was watching TV and went to do a quick google of something and...  Wikipedia is also now in Spanish?!?!    Lol so random.  Also, makes it way more challenging to look up that “quick thing”!  That being said, I'm disproportionately proud of myself when I can get Alexa to do what I want in Spanish.  lol and getting slightly more confident about talking to her.

This month I’m focusing on improving my listening skills — a key part of conversation and solely lacking — in hopes of setting me up for my bootcamp week that will hopefully address the speaking part of conversation.

I have multiple “intermediate conversation” courses available to me, collected from a variety of sources over time.  The general concept is you’re given an audio clip of people speaking Spanish, a brief blurb to set context, and a transcript.  Theoretically you listen to it a few times, then read and listen together, then if needed, just read.   All good right?  

Except that I hate repeating myself - in anything.  So once I’ve listened once, even if it was a complete failure, I zoned out for half of it and didn't really get the other half, I still don’t tend to listen again.  And as a result, this really wasn’t proving helpful.

Amazing skills!

But now I’ve gamed myself into learning.  So step one is I don’t read the context.  ALL the literature about improving listening practice says you should, so this is prob a mistake lol, but - for me it’s important.   Because - the first time I listen, it’s with a goal of being able to tell somebody what they were talking about.  Essentially - I write out what should very closely align with the blurb, and any details I can remember.  I do this in blue.  Then, I listen with purple pen in hand, and as they’re talking, write down as many details as I can.  I listen through as many times as necessary until I think I’ve got as many details as possible.  I intentionally banned the pause button to force me to listen more (it’d be too easy to pause, write it down, listen to the next sentence, pause, etc.  Arguably still listening but not quite as useful).   When I’ve gotten as much as I can - THEN I listen and read and, in red, fill in anything I missed.   Since my reading is WAY ahead of my listening ability, I’ve yet to need the “just read” option, but if I did it would probably need an even angrier colour ;)   Orange maybe?

This has made SUCH a difference.  It’s on my iPad (*love* my Goodnotes app) so I’m not wasting a ton of paper ;)  so I can scroll through and see what’s up.  And some interesting trends:  

  • I’m writing in both Spanish and English lol.   No rhyme or reason - my guess would be whatever’s fastest at the time.  
  • Time of day makes a difference — I’m *much* better in the morning than in the evening.  Which if you’d asked me, I would’ve reversed for sure.   Esp as I do 90% of my Spanish learning in the evening.   Also, the evening practice the notes are almost entirely in English.  
  • I also seem to find it easier to understand men than women — all but one of my Spanish teachers (I’ve had 4 total) have been men, so that likely contributes to that.  And I cannot understand children.  Like, not at all.  lol  I’m not particularly concerned about that atm tbh, but figure I’d make a note of it so in a year or two when I look back and suddenly *can* understand littles, I’ll know I’ve gotten somewhere. 

But the best part of this is that I’ve gamed myself — because now it’s a challenge to have as little red as possible.  So I listen more intently, my mind wanders less, and I’m more likely to do “just one more” than my half-assed once through I was doing.  So I’m deeming that a win.   But it’s evening and my last one had almost as much red as purple, so I’m calling it a night ;)   I’ll try again in the am.

A virtual sport I won't be taking up ;)

So it turns out I'm even worse at VR Table Tennis than I am IRL.  lol and let me tell you - I was definitely setting the bar low (for the curious...).   As per IRL, I want to hit the ball WAY too hard.  lol and unlike IRL, it's not nearly as entertaining when you're playing against a computer who not only doesn't try to return your wild serves (thanks Abdul!) but just stands there completely blasĆ© until you manage a decent one.   I can't even imagine how bad it would've been if I'd set it to match me with a live person.  Yikes.   Also, completely unrelated -- it is a really bad idea to lean on the table to reach for the ball when playing on a virtual table.   lol  I managed to catch myself before face planting on the basement floor but graceful it was not.   A quick google taught me that the "pros" in this game, play in front of an actual table or their bed.  Apparently it's a standard hazard.   It does say something about the quality of the graphics and the immersive environment though.

This is where I was playing
I definitely bounced a ball off the TV
and landed another in the closet ;)

Lol Suffice to say that game was returned quickly.

About that - for anyone interested -- it seems most Quest games don't have a demo version to try, but they do have an amazing refund policy.  Basically if you've owned it for less than two weeks and have played for less than two hours, they'll take it back and refund your money.  I've returned more games than I've kept -- some because they made me motion sick and some because, like table tennis, I was just too horrible at it to enjoy it and definitely did not care enough to get better.   On the flip side, I've bought a couple games I otherwise wouldn't have because they had the option to try them first and I decided they were worth the cost.   Table Tennis was the deal of the day today so I thought I'd give it a try, but no go on that one.

I did pass my second Expert + in Beat Saber ;)  Unreasonably pleased about that.  I had to work up to it, playing it on slow first and then on full speed, but I got there.  Win! :)   

Stepping the exercise up a level

So in an effort to make my workouts slightly more intense, I've been trying different ways of incorporating weights...  I tried both weighted arm bands and weighted wrist bands, which were both a failure.   As soon as I had to punch down or sideways the weighs would shift and either pinch or become too loose and interfere with the controls and movement.  They also couldn't be worn with a fitbit.  Complete fail.

I honestly hate actual boxing gloves,
but these ones have open fingers and palm so it's all good ;)

However, today I discovered weighted GLOVES!  These are awesome!!!  lol only a pound each, but it's amazing what a difference they make.  They are open palm, so they don't interfere with grip, and they do up with a tiny wrist band that's narrow enough to fit between my hand and where the fitbit sits.  So win.

There is  NO point to this image except that it made me laugh ;)
The ultimate Beat Saber bitmoji! 
AND I found it in Spanish.  
lol accidentally, but we don't need to mention that.

Used these and my scores across all three platforms dropped by 1/3.  lol So clearly impacting my speed and movement.   My scores in dance weren't noticeably impacted, but I think that's more due to my incompetence in dance.  Lol when the bar is lying flat on the ground, it's hard to go lower!   

Even this bar is higher than I've set for dance!

But I definitely felt sore by the end, and a couple hours later, lifting my arms above my head is now a challenge.  So I'm deeming that a win.

Virtual January Results are In

Virtual January is over...   And the question of can virtual fitness create real results...  It would seem they can :)   Although I would argue, that depends on your starting point...   For the super-fit, it's probably not going to do too much for you.  For the rest of us average humans though... Read on :)


- it's FUN.  The last couple weeks I've been less good about riding the bike, mostly cause when I get down there I want to go right into boxing.  And by the time I'm done boxing, I don't have time left to bike.

- because it's fun I do it longer, and put more effort into it, than I otherwise would.  Especially the bike games -- the riding one toasts my cardio in < 15 mins because I go all out to catch the bad guys.  Like buckets of sweat and barely able to breath.  It's awesome ;)   Unless I'm lazy and just go for a ride - that I can do without breaking a sweat

- there's a great online community that makes it even more fun.  Weekly challenges, other people to work out with, and just constantly reminding you that this is here and other people are doing it, so why aren't you ;)

- it can be as long or as short a workout as you want.  Also, as intense or not.  You can totally cheat the system for sure, but if you're actually in it to get the workout...  For instance, in FitXR (boxing) I find myself constantly swinging harder or faster to try and improve my average punching score (about 6.1 now - up from 4 something when I started).   I'm really good at hooks and uppercuts.  Lol those are usually in the 8 plus range.  Unfortunately I absolutely suck at straight punching.  They're usually 4 or less...   So yeah - average meh.  But I get a very good workout trying to get that average number up.

- lots of games also involve squats in an effort to get lower body workout in too.  And there are definitely days I feel this after.

- there are multiple games to choose from that all involve movement.  So if you redefine exercise to mean "it got me off the couch for 30 mins" there are a TON of options.

- super flexible -- want to work out a midnight?  No problem.   And yes, I have literally done that.  


- your core will get a workout only if you go out of your way to engage it.  Upper cuts and hooks are great for core, IF you intentionally engage those muscles.  But it's just as easy to score highly without.   Dancing does slightly better at forcing core engagement, but nothing like a solid plank will do.

- no weights - if you're strictly looking to build the kind of muscles you get by lifting heavy stuff up and putting it down again, this probably isn't for you.

Other notes:

- Holofit is now a thing -- this is for use on the bike or the rower.   Since we have a rower, I'm partially interested in trying it, but I can only afford so many subscriptions and atm I like my bike subscription better (AND it's cheaper :)

- likewise, the game that pretty well everybody I've spoken to raves about for VR fitness is Supernatural, but it also comes with quite an expensive subscription service (more expensive than either of the others), so I've refrained from trying it.  By all accounts it's sort of a cross between boxing and Beat Saber but apparently a far better workout.  

- I did add more walking into my day, so that may or may not have contributed to the end results...

The Results:

Sorry it's in Spanish - if you read the rest of the blog you'll know why ;)

Okay so from a Fitbit perspective, compared to last week I was up in everything except flights of stairs.  So that's all good.  Again, not sure it's super sustainable, but at least I have a new target to beat.  And my resting heart rate has been the same for two weeks - although that's higher than it was at the start of Jan, which is pretty much the opposite of what we're going for?  So not sure what that's about.

Otherwise - I lost the weight that I gained in Dec, so that's good.  Not down any beyond that, but at least back to neutral.  I also lost 3" which is lovely and BETTER than the start of Dec, so pretty stoked at that.  I did *not* lose any arm inches, but what's there is definitely feeling firmer than what was there before, so I'm deeming that a non-quantifiable subjective win ;)

So for Feb I will continue to track.  I'm going to bring my Stealth and my ab-chair back into play so those two between them should help with the abs.  Will continue with the VR games I've been playing but make a point to incl 3x/week on the bike with actual cardio.  That's the goal for Feb.  

Eat ALL the Things!!!

Alright continuing the virtual fitness accountability...  Honestly, I was a little terrified to step on the scale today because I've done nothing but eat -- and primarily junk food at that -- for the last 3 or 4 days...   Candy, cashews, more candy, cake, fries, ALL the bread, more candy, and all the coke I didn't drink for the first four weeks.  *sigh*.   It was not a good week and I definitely can feel the physical impact.

Just like that ;)

However, I actually still managed to drop a pound?  lol only one - but really, I should've gained like 10.  So I'm pretty pleased at that.  Imagine how much better it would've been if I hadn't eaten like a teenage boy all week.

Actual measurements to be taken tomorrow.
Or prob Wednesday really - after papers are both submitted ;)

So as far as exercise goes -- the last time I rode my bike was the 23rd, so yeah.  Not this week.   I did box most days, with some dance thrown in.  And I'm getting better at making both of those significant workouts.  My heart rate goes up, I'm soaked in sweat, and I feel good.  Some days I'm even muscle sore the next day -- mostly depending how many squats were involved.

Oh Shape I don't think I used at all this week.  I just don't really enjoy it.  Some of them have some fun side to side jumps, which I like.  And it's an amazing arm workout -- if I put my arm weights on, I usually am struggling to lift the left one by the end of the first or second round.   To be fair to me - this is always *after* boxing, so they're slightly fatigued already, but I'm still shocked at how quickly this game exhausts them.  But mostly I just don't enjoy it.  I think at least partially cause the scoring is so random and very frustrating, so the motivation to do "just one more round" isn't there at all.  I did finally get the video off my Quest, so here's one that shows all the things...   Cut short cause of file size and, well, it's not that exciting to watch after the first minute ;)

Knock floating things out of the way
Dodge or duck under yellow walls
Punch red walls
Otherwise, make your body fit through the hole in the wall

Fitbit results were in line with the rest of the week...   I won't get my summary email till Mon or Tues but will be interesting to see if it was improvement over last week, cause it definitely didn't feel like it.  I had two days where "active time" was higher than sedentary time, so I was super pleased at that.   There were four days where I got my 250 steps every hour (it is set to track for 12h each day), and two days where I had 11 of 12, so pretty damn close (given that flipping back to the start I was pleased to achieve 6h....)

Last week vs this week (Saturday)

I earned Saturday's results.   They certainly weren't the best of the week by any means, BUT - I was writing a paper all day.  So without concerted effort, I would've sat at my desk pretty well all day with maybe a lunch and a snack interruption and not much else.   Not sure it was great for the quality of my paper lol, but it definitely helped from a health perspective.

Spanish Immersion Games

OMG lol the law of unintended consequences just attacked me ;-P   But I won!   I'm not sure how, but I did.

Let me back up...   February is Spanish immersion month, to be followed by boot camp the first week of March (that week chosen solely because that's the week I have off my MBA classes).  So to help with this, I changed both my FB and my phone to Spanish.

Okay so FB isn't too big a challenge.  Primarily because I'm more familiar with the platform than I'd like to admit so the words don't really matter.  I find it moderately amusing when I have to do a double-think about what it's telling me, and now when it translates somebody's post from another language it changes it to Spanish instead of English which alternates between amusing and frustrating.  But overall, neither my ability to use the app nor my real life are impacted by this cause, well, social media.  I can turn it off with zero impact to my day.

One of the first double takes was figuring out which alerts are actually comments...
Hint - none of these ;-P

Okay so that's all well and good.  It'll give me a tiny bit more exposure to Spanish with the translating of other people's comments, but otherwise...   Pretty minimal.

Now, my phone...   I had kinda thought I'd change some labels, the instructions/settings/etc would be in Spanish.  

This is honestly about what I expected.
The top two apps don't even have a Spanish option...

All good, right?   Yeah - except INSIDE every app changes too!   The saddest is bitmoji...  Since none of my friends speak Spanish, I can't use that at all anymore :(   

Except dinos -- they're the same in any language :)

I found the setting to switch it back to English and was super excited but all it did was make it so I can search for bitmoji's in English (sort of - very limited), but all the ones it gives me are still in Spanish.  So my bitmoji usage may be limited for a while.  Or you may just get them in Spanish instead.  May the odds be ever in your favour.

My work apps...   Yup - all Spanish!
Again, I'm pretty familiar with their functionality,
so not a big deal, but definitely did a double take!

But then there's my fitbit, which I've been relying heavily on to help meet my movement goals....  (she types literally as it buzzes to say I need to go get steps).   Pause.  *insert 250 steps* Okay, I'm back.   So by this point I had accepted the app would be in Spanish - somehow I'm still surprised by it every time?  Clearly what few learning skills I have have been thoroughly demolished by Finance - but had generally got the concept into my head.  What I didn't expect is that my watch is ALSO in Spanish now.  lol because of course the watch and the phone are synced.

Honestly though - the one that's driving me crazy - is everywhere there's a time, instead of saying am or pm it's a. m. or p. m. -- too many dots and WAY too much space.  I literally cringe every time I see it.  lol apparently it really is the little things in life?

Okay - but none of this has anything really relevant to the intro?  Remember that... Waaaaayyyyy back?  Right.  So my car's hands-free system is, uh, less than useful.  I mean, it theoretically exists, but it essentially never works.   Since I do occasionally need to send or receive phone calls while driving, I now have Alexa in my car.  She manages calls for me, adds random things I think of to my to do list, and plays music when I'm tired of my playlist.  All good.   So I, being a dedicated immersion student, was listening to a Spanish podcast (only Duolingo - I can't follow normal speed Spanish yet) while going for groceries, when I decided I needed to call C.  I stopped the podcast (which I wouldn't normally do) before asking Alexa to place the call...

And was answered in rapid-fire Spanish.  Wtf?!?  So first I did a quick glance at my dash, thinking I'd somehow reactivated the podcast (remember, slow learner...) - but no.  And that didn't make sense anyways as it definitely wasn't the podcast voice or tone.   hmmmm.  Wait.  Alexa is glowing?

And slowly the light dawns...  While house Alexa still cheerfully speaks English, car Alexa is powered by my phone.  She now speaks Spanish.   "Call Chris" shouldn't have been hard to come up with, but it did take me a second.  And amazingly - I was even nervous of speaking in Spanish alone to a computer?!?!   I mean, I really need to get over that.  So she babbled rapid-fire Spanish back at me, I missed 90% of it, but it ended with Chris' name and and uptone, so I took it to mean "do you want me to call Chris?" which she generally confirms in English.   Uh "Si?"  lol - it definitely came out as a question.  But it must've been the right answer, cause it worked.   Win!   So then I decided to ask Alexa for music, but since I couldn't remember the word for "play" in the context of music -- I just knew it wasn't the same as play a game and that was the word stuck in my head -- I just went with "music please" and hoped my accent wasn't so atrocious she couldn't understand.  lol but she got it, and went with my favourites list.  So it all worked out.

But yeah - that was definitely the most immersion I've ever had without leaving the country.  So I know how to override it now, but I'm not going to because...  Well...  That's kinda the whole point.  The only thing that's kinda disappointing is with the stay at home order, I never drive, so I won't actually get to talk to her much.

Still learning...

So I looked up a word in Spanish today: cicatrizaciĆ³n.  It was just a word, with no context.  The exercise was “select the word that doesn’t fit” - since I knew the other words in the list, I knew this would be the right answer.  But as part of my learning, and word in the list that I don’t know, I look up.

Except in English, it’s the exact same thing?!?!?  lol the only difference is the t instead of the c at the end, which in my brain at this point isn’t even noticeable.   So that was ZERO help and I had to check my ego and go googling.   

Lol so those of you who do know - congrats, you have more medical training than I do.  Don’t be too proud - that’s not hard to do ;-P   For those who don’t, it’s a type of wound healing.   Don’t you feel smarter now?  You’re welcome ;)

I have the first week of March off school, and am hoping to do some form of Spanish boot-camp that week.  Obviously can’t go anywhere this year (sad) so looking for online options.   To prep, I decided Feb would have any spare minutes given to Spanish practice.  To help enable this I turned both my FB and my phone to Spanish.   So for FB, that’s pretty much a non issue.  But my phone and I have a love hate relationship even when we speak the same language, so it might be an interesting month ;)   Wish me luck!   Also - FB’s list of languages is impressive.  I was slightly horrified by how many of them I’d never heard of.  And that was just the ones with the latin alphabet!   Although “English Upside down” made me laugh - for the Aussie’s maybe?   And I was disappointed that Pirate doesn’t seem to be in the list anymore?

I wonder how long I'd last reading upside down?

Fun and games in today's virtual reality

Awesome boxing today with online friends :)  And I figured out how to box outside!!!  Lol given the whole winter situation in real life, this was lovely :)

Loving the outdoor boxing!
Also, this class was impossibly hard and I loved it.

Dancing I left the mat maybe half a dozen times?  lol - I have a gym mat that's ...?  idk maybe 6' x 6' which fits just inside the boundaries of my virtual world...  So I know if I step off the mat, I'm in danger of hitting a wall, or gym equipment, or whatever else.  Super handy.  Dance, RacketNX, and now SuperHot are the ones where I find it happens a lot.  

Do NOT play this in a small space.
This is a beginner level, because I'm awful at it and watching me play would be painful ;)
Higher levels have much more cool stuff - skulls, floating targets, moving targets, etc

Also, Dance is the only game where I tend to step off my safety mat backwards?   Lol it would seem I *really* don't like being at the front of the class, even in virtual.  Beat Saber and Boxing you lose if you're not standing in just about the right place, so they pretty much save me from that.  Although one of the boxing ghosts walked across my play area today so that was moderately entertaining ;)

For the curious, this is the second half of a beginner dance class...

On a joint recommendation I tried SuperHot which I had stayed away from as it's a shooter, but it's a very odd shooter -- I had better luck using my gun to punch people.  šŸ˜‚ I only have the demo version but was quickly getting a decent workout playing it.   Serious issue in that I travel ALL over the place with this one.  Like my poor little mat didn't stand a chance.  Which definitely increases my risk of injury significantly lol.  The premise of this is that people are attacking you (why?  What'd I ever do to them), but they only move when and as fast as you do.   So if they shoot a bullet, you can dodge it (which feels very matrixy, I'm not gonna lie), and if you need the chaos to stop for a bit, just stop moving.   But I honestly had no idea what I was doing or why, and mostly waited till the people got close and then punched them.  Did get my heart rate up though, so will certainly try it again.

Vaguely related, I got this feedback from Fitbit, that sadly does not align with my week for blogging purposes but was still interesting to read.  I don't believe for one second that everything improving is sustainable, but it was still nice to see :)    

Also Mon was my first day ever (well ever since selling the riding school ;) where the "active" percent was higher than the "sedentary" percent so woohoo!   Tuesday followed, alas today will not.   Way too much typing required both for real work and school work.   I basically get up when the fitbit buzzes, run around the house for my 250 steps, and then sit down again.  

Alright, back to writing the stuff I'm supposed to be writing today.

The games continue...

Alright so I'm struggling with the fact that it's week 4 but not the last week of January...  lol in a *normal* year 5 Saturday months are awesome.  Right now they're just confusing.

Okay so this week my weight remains stable with where it was last week.  Which is better than it was through most of 2020 but not as good as pre-2020 ;)   Still, progress.  I'm generally feeling better (as long as we don't count muscle soreness) and I definitely have more energy.  I'm also sleeping more consistently, which is lovely.  And, the Apollo arms are on their way back.  Lol - those who know...   

I'm comparing Thurs to last week's Friday because on Friday my Fitbit died a tragic death.  Or more, it went on strike, deeming it was no longer going to remind me to move (like seriously lady?  Can't you figure this out on your own?), relay messages to me, or wake me up when it was supposed to.  It was still technically counting steps, but honestly, without the reminder to move time just passes and there are no steps to count.  A new (to me) Fitbit was brought to life today (thanks to Mum getting a new smartwatch for Christmas, I got to inherit her last Fitbit, which is still newer than mine - woohoo!) - so count should be good to go next week.

Definitely getting better; also definitely not every day yet!

Generally I'm finding the bike still gets the best workout, but it really depends how into it I am.  The games almost always guarantee a top heart rate, but just riding if I don't go out of my way to make an effort, I don't even get into the orange zone, much less the DARK orange zone ;)   Today, for instance, I was not at all into it ;)   Boxing and dancing are not far behind; if I'm lazy, they'll outrank the cycling (like today!)

For comparison - today's "workouts"

It was kinda meh in Vancouver today and I wasn't really into it
Still gorgeous though!

Beat Saber is by far my favourite. This vid below was from a few days ago, but it took till today for me to manage to get it onto a computer :)   I don't love this song, but sharing partially because it has a TON of squats and demonstrates how (especially when you play the same game half a dozen times in a row), you can actually get a workout doing this, and partially because I *earned* this one.  Lol when I've played against live people, a few times they've picked this song and I am always eliminated within a few seconds.  So I finally got frustrated enough that I decided I needed to learn how to pass this song.  Played it on slow motion a few times so I could figure it out, then sped it back up.  And now I can pass :) Woohoo!  I'm not *good* at it yet, but at least i can get throughout.  Also, this is the first round of Beat Saber that's ever come close to making me motion sick -- I'm guessing cause of all the walls :(   But I played other songs after and they were np, so assuming it's just this song.  

For those who've never played before, you can feel when you cut a block (there's feedback in the controller you're holding) so you know if you've hit it or not.  Objective is to hit each block with the matching colour light saber, striking in the direction of the arrows.  And to duck or dodge walls and avoid hitting bombs.  It is wildly addictive.

In related news - I passed my first ever Expert +!!!  Woohoo!!!  But because it's a recognizable song, they won't let me share the video :(   Boooo.  It is on my FB if you're interested :)   K recommended a song that might be a good first attempt and she was right :)

I'll try to remember to film a dance one next week.  I'm still thoroughly in beginner mode there so it'll be pretty boring to watch ;-P   But at least I'm up to the 6 minute rounds now *g*   Of all the games I play, that's the only one where the "coach" makes a difference.  There's one woman who gives clear instructions with enough notice that I can always follow.  The other two I've tried (one woman, one man) either give instructions too late or that don't make sense, so I have to watch what they do and then mimic it -- but I lose a ton of points when I "miss" to see what we're supposed to do.

Mindfulness Adventures Continued

 So binge watching Headspace was an interesting experience.  I’ve been playing, inconsistently, with meditation for the last few months.  The science behind it fascinates me; the application, less so.  Although the one thing I have noticed is that I consistently sleep better after meditating...

I also was stitching while watching one episode and they were talking about counting the breaths as I was counting stitches and, well, the light went on.  Lol clearly this is why I find stabbing so hypnotic, and also why it’s only the complex patterns that cause it - cause they take all my brain focus and other thoughts can’t wander in to interrupt.  Less complicated patterns are just to keep my hands busy when I’m paying attention to something or somebody else.   

This one was completely mindless

The Bomb one had a relaxing “colouring” impact with that immediate sense of completion after every colour.  But it wasn’t hypnotic to do it as it required negligible attention.  

Each episode of Headspace I gave a solid effort at participating in the guided meditation part of the episode.  I didn’t make it all the way through most of them, but was interesting to me which ones really worked for me, and conversely, which ones absolutely did not.  Lol one completely stressed me out; so I figured I needed to watch another episode to undo that one.  And it worked :)

I do like that most of them had a “let your mind wander” break in the middle.  That was helpful.  I’m also getting better at doing it slightly longer, but I get bored so fast and then stressed about all the things I could be doing instead.  Which is precisely why I’m working on this but still.  Argh.

Ah well - should sleep well tonight!

I went... dancing?!?!

So today was the opposite of productive.   It was C's knee surgery day, which meant driving to London and spending the majority of the day there and then driving home.  Now normally I'm all in for a road trip, and I can entertain myself alone in any city fairly easily.  Except...  Winter and stay at home order.  Everything would be closed AND no access to washrooms.  Fortunately, having discovered this the last time we went for an appointment, I thought ahead and booked a hotel room for the day.  Rental choice was 10-5 or 11-6, pretty much ideal.  Win :).  And the room was excellent - kitchen, desk, couch, bed...  I definitely could've moved in for an extended period and it certainly worked for the day.  

Not a bad place to spend the day :)  There was both a bed and a couch too.

Since I had booked the day off work my plan was to spend most of it doing schoolwork.  But then I thought a good way to kill some time would be a Spanish lesson...  C had to be dropped off at 10, so I booked a lesson for 10:30.  Got there, got checked in, connected to wifi.  All good.   Lesson was actually awesome.  Then after the lesson I was doing followup Spanish....  And then it was lunchtime, so I ventured out to find food.  When I came back watched some Spanish Netflix, thinking I'd start schoolwork after lunch...   And then C texted at like 1:10 to say he was awake.   Uh... Cool.  Okay, but I wasn't even done lunch yet?   lol.  He wanted to be picked up at 2:30 so I had a short nap (win!) and then went to get him.  Ended up being a little later than that but I was rocking out in my happy place at that point so no big deal.  

So drive home...  And I'm thinking order meds, work out, pick up meds, have dinner, do school...  All good, right?  Yeah.  Except then we hit construction which meant the drive would be longer than expected...  And the meds C already had were wearing off.  So reschedule and prioritize meds and just wait there till they were ready.   And when we got home, Dad offered to grab dinner for us so - awesome.  Just skip the workout idea and eat.

The second leg of my first ride creation

Which was awesome.  Except that then I felt SO blah.  Waaayyy too many calories and zero exercise today.   And zero inclination to do anything.  Ugh.   So decided I need to tackle either exercise or school.  And I *really* didn't feel like school.  So exercise for the win.  And this is where VR really is a win.  Because I 100% didn't want to work out...  But I could "just finish" my ride - there was less than 10km left.  And unlike in reality, the hills don't actually cause misery so it wasn't off-putting.  I could dial down to zero tension and just keep spinning the wheels and it counts.   And by the end of the ride, I was sweaty and my heartbeat was up -- so even though it was a definitely half-assed commitment (and I completely ignored Josh; I believe I even told him to F off at one point ;), I was still getting a workout.  And I felt better, so I decided to continue the ride.  Awesome right?   Except technology failed shortly after and I blue screened.   But then I was feeling good so I figured I'd do some of the games.

It didn't feel great while I was doing it,
but the gold boxes are very motivating :)

I started with boxing.  Just one round.  But then I broke all kinds of my own records and felt really good at the end, so decided to do just one more :).  To be fair, it was the easiest one I've ever done (I don't usually do the "light" workouts but I thought it was on this week's challenge so I figured I should - turns out it wasn't.  *sigh*  Ah well).  But yeah - highest streak ever.  So now I was thoroughly warmed up, arms slightly sore, and feeling good.  Okay.

No gold boxes this time, but I did it.

I didn't really want to do another round, and I definitely didn't feel like Oh Shape tonight.   Wait - why not try... Dancing?  Now those of you who know me, will understand why that's a question.  And those of you who don't know me but read the blog, will know I tried it once before and lasted less than 30 seconds before I quit with a strong feeling of "never again".   

Essentially you follow this dancer's movements...
Suffice to say, she's *slight* more graceful than I ;)

So this time I was a little smarter -- I picked the easiest level and one that was only 3 mins long.  Well, not only was it a riot, it was a really good workout?!?!  Certainly equal to, albeit very different from, boxing.  So yeah -- I'll try that again, but will have to work my way up from the bottom level.

Notice the "light" intensity and the almost dead last placing ;-P

After that, decided I just wanted to play.  So Beat Saber was up.  To put into perspective, I was now a sold 45 minutes into the workout I wasn't going to do.  And in Beat Saber I broke record after record after record.  And I was having a blast.  And oh my god were my arms ever feeling it.  They don't usually feel it but after weights on the bike, boxing, and dancing (?!?!) I guess it was the final line.   

Notice "New Highscore" in both :)  
Better still if that A was an S, but I'll get there...

Somebody else in one of my forums passed her first ever Expert + level today, so I was all inspired to try that.  She'd gone back to one of the original songs to do so, so I did as well.  And I failed.   Hard.  Time, after time, after time.   Lol sharing this too just so you have a realistic picture of it :).  BUT what it did, was improve the workout portion of the day as "just one more time" over and over, every time is a workout.  Alas, I never did pass the level although I got close.  I suspect someday soon there will be an excited "first Expert + ever" post.  But today is not that day.

I saw this many, many, times tonight.
And then I did it once more, just to take a picture.

I did go back and do one more round of the songs I like just to finish on a happy note :)

One more for the win :)

So yeah -- admittedly, my schoolwork remains undone, I'm still *way* over the calories for today and will just barely make my 10,000 steps if I go do another lap around the house.  But I feel SO much better and am more alive.  And it was fun.  Like legitimately fun, not go-to-the-gym, "I suffered through this with other people so we're going to pretend it was fun" fun.  So that counts for a lot.  And this is where I think VR fitness succeeds when many other types fail.  It may not be as intense as many of the other programs I've tried, but it's very easy to pick it up even when you *really* just can't.   And any time I have done this, I've gotten a far better workout than I'd intended.   Without my Quest, at *most* I would've done maybe 5 minutes on the bike today.  So yeah.  Deeming it a win.

Week 3 of Virtual Fitness Adventures

So this week was the first real challenge of my virtual fitness journey in that both work and school have returned to their full time states, so I'm pressed for both time and energy.  That being said, while I switched the order of some days, my participation was decent.   

Josh and I were having some trouble in Ireland this week, so we went to Arizona instead.  I didn't love this ride -- partially it was choppy but mostly it just got boring quickly.   It did have some nice moments though.

I've found a great online community for FitXR (the boxing game) which makes it way more fun.  I've done a couple workouts with them -- I find the breaks between exercise are longer as people chit chat and get organized, but I do more workouts than I would on my own.  Also it's more fun.

I've also added a non-virtual component of a treadmill desk, which I kinda love, that I can walk on during meetings.   This is more to break up the "sedentary hours" than improve fitness and it definitely helps with that.  Also to help with that, I've set my Fitbit to buzz every hour from 9-9 if I haven't moved so hoping that helps too.  I used to come home from work and then do stuff, but now work is at home and the only stuff to do is school -- which is sedentary.  So yeah, I'll take any help I can get.   

Last Fri vs this Fri.  Still not *good* per-say, but creeping toward better.

I've dialled back the amount of water -- still *way* more than I was drinking pre-adventure but not quite the crazy amount of last week, and I feel like this is a much better balance.  My weight is sorting itself out now too -- I dropped the extra I picked up last week and even a little more, so pleased about that.

Tomorrow I'm planning to cycle from Sea to Sky (or -- the Vancouver part of it anyways; realistically, that's a very long ride ;).  It's the first ride I've created (on Jael's recommendation and trusting Google) so we'll see how it goes.  Lol wish me luck!   The intelligent thing to do would probably have been to start with a ride I actually know *g* or even a short trip, but really, when have you known me to do things the easy way?

Is it really procrastination if I'm writing about Finance?

Honestly, the best thing about this course is
I now have a valid reason to use this image,
which I've loved from the day they first put the girl statue up :)

Lol so I had to laugh that Finance is the only course I’ve taken so far that hasn’t claimed to be the most important function of any business, when arguably it’s the only one who could truly lay that claim.  I mean, if you’re not trying to make money, why are you in business?

I don’t love finance.  I will never love finance.  But I am gaining an appreciation of how much truly brilliant financial people can gleam from financial statements.    While I will never enjoy the analysis portion of this and am dreading the assessments, I am learning a ton and definitely have a new appreciation for what can be ascertained if you know how and where to look.   The assessment for this course involves taking financial statements from two companies in the same industry and doing a bunch of analysis on them in comparison to one another.  I am *painfully* slow at this.  And struggle to get beyond the obvious; it’s going to be a challenge to get to master’s level skills in the next few weeks for sure!

On the other hand, it is making me appreciate the skills and knowledge I do have that have made such analysis in other subjects super easy.  Marketing was even fun.

HR has been sidelined in the same way that Marketing was sidelined so I could focus on Ops.  But I did start the assessment for that the other day and had a few exchanges with the prof who I’ve so far been super impressed by.   He answered a question for me on the weekend before the class had even officially started - bonus points!  Lol or maybe he was just bored.

The one fun thing this term?  A classmate has introduced me to the GoodNotes app, which combined with an Apple Pencil has revolutionized my life.  Lol.  I use it endlessly both for school and for real life.  And side bonus - have saved a small forrest in paper as a result.  Win!   I’m also impressed by how well the app can translate my scribbles to text and also by how well the scribbles that I choose not to make text can be searched.  Very cool.

Alright that was fun procrastination, but must get back to finance now.   Key learning of the day: “the major objective is to avoid insolvency”.   Lol welcome to MBA 101. I’m not even kidding - that’s a direct quote from our materials.  So now you’re caught up too.  You’re welcome.