Friday, September 16, 2011

What Alice Forgot, Liane Moriarty (2011)

Reviewer: BeezusKiddo

Rating: 4 pierogies

Review: Alice Love is 39 years old, has three children, and in the midst of a bitter divorce and custody battle. She faints during a spin class and knocks her head on the bike handlebars, suffering a severe concussion. When Alice awakes, she thinks she's 29, fourteen weeks pregnant, and happily married. What Alice Forgot is her journey to piece those ten years back together, and find her way back into her own life.

This is a book that is above all about feelings and themes. The plotline is engaging, but is secondary to the emotion. I easily connected with the characters. Early on, I was worried that Moriarty was setting me up for disappointment, and blame all the hurt and heartbreak in Alice's 39 year old world simply on her being cold and bitter. Moriarty artfully avoids placing blame. Moriarty explores relationships tenderly, and with full consciousness that they are complex and that they can truly be (and not just seem) different depending on the perspective.

The driving theme is the momentum of conflict--how a problem in a relationship can develop and grow until you lose sight over what the conflict is about and you can't extricate yourself from it any longer. It wasn't just Alice's anger that built upon itself, all the characters consumed with this problem. Alice's amnesia creates a pause where the characters are able to stop and consider what the real problems are, and how they got to where they are.

Moriarty skilfully expresses Alice's emotions about having no memory of her three children, not even being able to recognize pictures of them, and that the men is (when she returns to consciousness) deeply in love with viciously hates her. I read much of this book laying in bed, and it gave me such deep heartache that I wanted to wake Baby Beez up and snuggle her. I gave my husband an extra few hugs and was extra thankful for our happiness. It's painful to see Alice wake up in love, after she had already fallen out of it.

The novel does become progressively happier. It's not a "feel miserable" book. The sad feelings just resonated with me the strongest. As she struggles, Alice grows. She makes the best of her circumstances, and truly works hard to repair relationships. What Alice Forgot works to a resolution that's satisfying, but not sappy. I look forward to reading Moriarty's other books, because this one was certainly engaging and well-written.

EPIC FAIL! 30 Day Shred Attempt #2

By: Elle Ewok

"YOU SUCK EWOK!"Well, I got to Day 11 of the 30 Day Shred without pooping out this time. In my defense, I came down with a vicious sinus infection on Day 12 and was put on a Z-Pack and other prescription meds. Z-Packs kill all my energy - I could barely walk up the stairs so the 30 Day Shred fell by the wayside. That said, I still intend to do it. I just started playing intermural soccer this week and my legs are destroyed (soccer at 32 is much harder on the body than at 12 or 22). A soon as my legs function again, I am back on the program - starting from the beginning.

Excuses aside. I was able to finish Level 1 of the Shred with some notable results so I figured I share them. The 30 Day Shred is comprised of three levels: Levels 1-3. My intent was to do each level for 10 days.

I completed Level 1 in 11 days. Level 1 was extremely hard at first and I had to stop numerous times to catch my breath or let the burning in my calves subside. I also had to follow Anita - the lady demonstrating the modified (i.e. easier) versions of the exercises a lot. The exercises are old school (push ups, lunges, crunches, jumping jacks) but Jillian presents them in Circuits (3 minutes strength, 2 minutes cardio, 1 minute abs) so you are moving the entire time. It makes the time go fast and keeps you from getting bored. This work out is HARD but it is only 20 minutes.

I really enjoyed the program though. Some people complain that Jillian yells too much and is mean but I like it. I have always responded better to negative reinforcement in the exercise context. When she says, "I have 400 pound people doing this SO CAN YOU!!!" it really motivates me. You should hear the horrible things I yell at myself when I am running and feel like quitting. Seriously, it is deranged.

The best part of the Shred is that the improvement in your strength and endurance is so remarkable and noticeable. By Day 10 I was doing Level 1 all the way through without stopping and following the medium to advanced versions of all moves. I'm convinced it is impossible to do the Advanced versions of the exercises (as demonstrated by Natalie) the whole way through. Why? Because even Natalie can't do it - watch closely she cheats all the time and I love her for it.

So here are the results after Level 1 (11 days). I tried to tick to a 1200-1400 calorie a day diet as well but fell off the diet wagon a couple times:

Weight: -2 pounds
Waist : - 1 inch
Hips: - .75 inch
Thighs: -.25 inch
Chest: Same

I was a little disappointed in the weight loss but I understand that many people actually gain weight doing Level 1 because of all the strength training (as we all know, muscle weighs more than fat). However I was THRILLED with the loss of inches around my midsection. Especially with only a 20 minute work out a day and inconsistent dieting.

I did one day of Level 2 and HATED it. It is almost entirely plank work. I can handle a plank exercise here and there in a workout but this was ridiculous. Although I am tall and "curvy" I have the bone density of a toddler with osteoporosis and my wrists just cannot take that much planking. Seriously, my wrists look like those of an 8 year old Japanese child. Plus I have a short torso and long legs so my weight cannot be distributed - it all goes on my puney wrists. Level 2 is going to be torture but I'm going to try to finish it on Attempt #3.

All in all I am really encouraged by the results from Level 1. Hopefully Attemp #3 at the Shred will be successful and I can share the total results.