Sunday, 31 March 2019

Lately [Bypassing The Frets]

   It's been quiet on the blog this year. As always with me, I try to do too much, and something always goes on the backburner. It's usually the blog.
   January was spent finishing the second book of The Devoted trilogy, February was spent editing it, writing the short stories for Project Tarot and following The Art of Storytelling course, and March has been split in many directions: completing the course, planning out the third book, planning out the story I intend to write for Camp NaNoWriMo (which begins tomorrow), injecting life into my Instagram account and trying to make it work for my writing, trying so hard to bring my Etsy shop back from its own ashes after a disastrous Christmas and a first quarter so dead that I considered packing it in all together if not for the fact that it is my sole income, pouring a lot of hope and dedication into my current workout plan and final stages of my calorie experiment, and fretting over Brexit and what it will mean for my Dutch husband and I.
   So, though a lot has been going on, I've had nothing to say. It's been the busiest and, so far, most emotional month, and while I used to blog about every single little thing on my mind, I didn't want to waste a post talking about my feelings when they all stem merely from hopes and worries, with little solid foundation. If I was worried about something inevitable, something actually happening, fine. But it's all based on nothing but conjecture. I'm an unreasonably pessimistic person for someone chasing a life-long dream of a creative career.

   And, given that I no longer switch my workout up every single month, there's not much to check in with on that front, either. Especially right now, because I really want to get a well-rounded picture before I present anything.

   I'm not really sure why I'm writing this post, to be honest, but I'll focus on the positives.

Author Instagram Adventures
   Disregrading the approval of Article 15 & 17, I've got a lot of hope for my Instagram account. After stumbling across Wildmind Creative while setting up my author website (which still feels so ridiculous to have), I read up on their free advice for optimising an Instagram account to promote your book. I doubted it would work, since Instagram's audience have the shortest attention span, but actually, it's a lot easier and more enjoyable than I'd thought. Reviewing books relevant to your own work, posting pictures of inspirational people or places, text images of writer or book quotes, with every 4th image related to your own work. Taking good photos is the tricky thing, but I'm muddling through, and having found #FantasyWIP[Month] has also given me daily prompts. I'm not posting daily, of course - I've got too much on my plate right now to come up with pleasing pictures every single day - I'm aiming for every 3-4, but it's helping to fill the gaps when it's time to post and I have nothing to say. I'm hoping to do it a little more often in the near future, but all my pictures are from adventures in forests and my feed would look rather green and rather forestry-commissiony. So I'm spreading them out and holding them back.
   I also read about optimising my twitter and how to use hashtags.
   Alllll of this has resulted in a huge boost for my social media. I'm not spamming "bye my buk lol" but rather actually posting content, and I'm getting likes, follows, retweets and even interactions from other writers and book lovers. I'm so excited! I feel like there are actually people listening to me now!
   I've also learned that your follow count on Instagram is extremely fickle; I can gain 5 followers in a day and then lose 4 of them two days later. So I'm not taking that to heart. As long as I post content that is relevant and enjoyable, that's fine with me. If people come and go, they come and go. Numbers mean nothing if only 20% of them are actually listening, and I never follow someone to get a follow back.

Camp NaNoWriMo
   I'm also feeling really positive about Camp NaNoWriMo. I have given myself a 15,000 word count goal. I don't know how doable that is - I have never kept track of my word count, and I guess that shows - but it boils down to 500 words a day, which is about a page. In which case I ought to be able to manage that, because I average 11 pages a week when I'm being lazy, distracted or struggling. We will see.
   The story is actually a window into the wildlings between books 2 and 3. There's an event in the second book and I wanted to see how the wildlings would handle it, and as those wildlings are made up of a combination of my own creatures and creatures from Scandinavian folklore, I wanted to look closer at them in general. They have a much bigger part in the third book, so if I have a better idea of them, they will get their chance to shine.
   I've no idea what I'm going to do with the story. I like to think I could self-publish it if it's any good, and I'm trying to write it as a stand-alone, but I don't know how well that will work. I'd have to give it to someone who hasn't read The Zi'veyn and find out from them if it seems confusing at all. If it does, publishing isn't an option.
   But the point of my writing it is twofold: establish the wildlings in my own mind in preparation for the final book of the trilogy, and to put into action the things I learned from Neil Gaiman's 'The Art of Storytelling' - which I do intend to review, now that I've finished it.
   Also, how's that for a place-holder cover image? It's made up of a photograph I took in Sonsbeek in 2012, and another I took in the dark ages of the mid 00's. It's awful. But better that than a blank space. If I were to publish it, the cover, and the title, would improve, I promise.

Better late than never

   Though Etsy is flopping severely and we are incredibly skint, we have paid off the honeymoon and we're all set to go in May. I'm so excited. It's a year after the wedding, so it's more like a 1 year wedding anniversary, but we don't really mind at all. The place should be worth it - I would hope so, at least, having saved up for a year! It's cost three times as much as the wedding! Though, granted, the wedding cost £500...and we loved it.

   I also blame my friend Rini for this, but I've developed a rapid obsession with the Moomins. I didn't realise how little I'd seen when I was young, but I bought the first season on DVD and watched it cover to cover in one day. I actually planned to work on my book plan while watching it, but that didn't happen. I was riveted. Snufkin is my favourite <3 which is ironic, given how down to earth he is. I'm in the clouds all the time. But, perhaps I'm just seeing similarities between him and my own husband. Except my husband doesn't have a green hat, live in a tent or play the harmonica.
   I should get him a harmonica.
Side note: there's a man that walks his dog in the field behind our house, and he bought a harmonica just over a year ago. He plays it while he walks. He was not good initially, but we've heard him improve. He's enviable now, it's genuinely a pleasure to hear him out there.
   Especially when compared to the idiot man who stands outside our house at 6-7am every day, shouting at the top of his lungs and clapping as loud as he can to get his dog's attention. If he doesn't trust his dog, he should get an extendable leash. I am this close *pinches fingers* to calling him out on it. He's oblivious to his surroundings. It's a residential area. Taking three steps over the threshold into the park doesn't suddenly muffle voices!!

   The weather has been rather nice lately, too...

Tuesday, 26 March 2019

A Guide to Creating a Small Home Gym

   I was speaking to my cousin recently - who is currently training for the BDFPA 2019 Home Nations Championships in Glasgow April 6th - and she brought up how hard it is to find the motivation to train at home. Personally, it's not something I suffer with. Being a full-time carer for my mum (Multiple Sclerosis) means that I am always at home. Gyms have never been an option for me. I've never been in one. Instead, I gradually built up my own home gym. I started working out with DVDs and basic dumbbells. Then I gave kettlebells a go, starting off with a cheap set of 3 for £25, which I have since built up, and then, last year, turned at last to barbells in order to try to shift my mindset away from results in the mirror and onto results in my abilities. I fell in love, then. And all my workouts take place in my living room, with kit hidden behind the sofa. You'd never know it for looking.
   But part of that lack of motivation to work out at home can stem from space. Some people need designated areas for certain things, like an office for work, or an art room for painting. Me, I can sculpt, paint and write pretty much anywhere. So I haven't suffered from the need to designate a space for my workouts, either. But, if you just can't do that, take a look at the below article for tips on working out at home, and creating your own gym-space at home.


   Creating your very own home gym can be intimidating, but it’s actually easier than it sounds. There has always been a debate about which is the better choice: working out at a commercial gym or at home. The answer depends on your personal goals and preferences. Working out at home allows you to move at your own pace and free from feeling self-conscious. You can also make as much noise as you want, and use gym equipment without worrying about other people waiting for you. If those reasons persuade you to build your own home gym, here’s everything you’ll probably need:

A clear and well-thought-out objective

   Your gym’s layout and all the equipment in it depends on the type of workouts you will be doing regularly. Is your goal to create a space for Pilates and yoga or do you want a workout area that is essentially for one person? Your fitness objectives will determine the type of home gym you build.

   You need to make sure that you choose the right equipment, too. There are many cheap products out there, but compromising on quality might put you at risk. Some faulty gym equipment could break while you’re in the middle of a workout, which will not only lead to injury; it will also cost you more money in the long run. Life Hacker suggests you start with at least three dumbbells that you think you will use the most often. Adjustable dumbbells are ideal as they allow you to add plates with the click of a switch. Good yoga mats, stability balls, resistance bands, and a jump rope are good investments as you can perform multiple exercises without using up much space. Also, getting a good quality elliptical trainer takes up less room than a treadmill. We’ve already discussed on A Blackbird’s Epiphany the benefits of elliptical machines, and talked about how it’s a low-impact exercise machine. Perfect for those with joint problems.

A room with optimal conditions for fitness

   A home gym with integrated smart technology will allow you to control the temperature in it, which can enhance your workout. Shape explains that you burn more calories during hot-weather workouts, which means if you have a way to control the heating in your home gym, you can increase the temperature so that you sweat more. The heating controls that are featured on Screwfix, show how a room’s temperature can be controlled using a connected device. These devices can be adjusted using your smartphone, allowing you to change the temperature without having to stop your workout.

A home gym in the garden

   A good place to have your home gym is in a separate location in the garden, such as a converted shed or a conservatory. The benefits of this are that you can build a space specifically for working out. If you drop a heavy weight it won’t matter as much, and you also won't disturb the rest of the people you live with at home. The Telegraph suggests that the perfect home, should reflect your personal style as this can help you condition your mind to workout and continue moving through your sessions. If you’re someone who loves the outdoors then working in a dedicated space in the garden could help motivate you. On a nice day you can take your equipment outside and workout in the garden.
   Your garden doesn’t need to be complex, or filled with different bits of equipment. Often the most effective workouts are the most basic. A home gym should be convenient, as this will motivate you to exercise more. The more you use it the more you can expand your gym to include different equipment. You can even be more experimental than your local gym and maybe invest in something like a mini trampoline (for tips on how to use this checkout our article ‘How To Use A Rebounder Effectively’). The choice is yours, so create the gym that suits you.

Friday, 15 March 2019

Camp NaNoWriMo

  Having met a few writers and wonderful people over the course of this still very young tarot art & short story book project, I also heard about Camp NaNoWriMo. National Novel Writing Month, while national to the US, has become international in recent years. I've never participated - it falls in November, and for the last 8 years, November has been *filled* with Etsy shop work to the ends that I can't even write my own novel, let alone embark upon a new writing project or attempt to start and finish a novel of 50,000 words in a month. That remains the case.
   However, Camp NaNoWriMo falls in April and July, are much smaller, and, while they can be used for starting and finishing new projects, they're often used to just lay out the details for their November projects.
   I won't be doing that, though. I'm opting for a whole story.

   I heard about this very early this month, but because the plan for the third and final book of my trilogy, I disregarded it.
   But, I knew there were a couple of short stories I wanted to write - both to submit to competitions - and one of them tied in quite tightly to the trilogy (though could still be written as a stand-alone). So tightly, in fact, that knowing what happened in it would only help in writing the third. And as it tied into an existing piece, I already had a pretty solid foundation.

   I've spent the past 5 days working on planning, laying out the details and seeing if it could just about work out. I'm not sure it will reach the length I'd like, nor if it will read as much of a stand-alone after all, but I can say this: I really, really want to write it.
   I'm going to give it the whole of April. I have a lot of ideas for it, and I have a very workable plan - so workable that I could start right now, but I won't - and I'm very excited. And, since it ties into the trilogy, it doesn't feel like a separate project or a waste of time, just an indulgence, really.
   I would rather write the next book, but I also want to write this, and I know that, if I leave it until the trilogy is finished, it won't actually ever get written. I'll have moved on and the matter I'm writing about will have been resolved. I won't have any incentive to backtrack. Not only that, but the work I would (and already have) put in to it, even if I kept the story private and never let anyone read it, it would enrich the world I've created so much and give me much more to draw upon and put into this last book, when the elements are supposed to truly come into their own.
   Yes, I'm being cryptic again, what a surprise.

   The idea of NaNoWriMo and its spring & summer camps is that you set a month of your free time aside to just write. You probably won't finish by the end of the month, but that's fine - it takes 21 days to make something a habit, and if you've spent a month writing and you're still enjoying it, you just keep doing it! All NaNoWriMo is is an incentive to get you to start, fall into a writing routine or revisit an old hobby. I've never needed that, since I've been writing non-stop since I was 12 - the only time I fell out of the habit was after my first rejection, which led to 6 months of neglect before I recovered, and even then it was my insatiable passion that drew me back (I'd not heard of NaNoWriMo back then).
   I'm hoping to get it finished in a month - my target is well below 50,000 words - but if I don't manage, I'll probably just keep going until I do. It won't take me anywhere near as long as a trilogy book.

Friday, 8 March 2019

Illustration Experiment

   With a new book on the horizon, I've been thinking more and more about digital art. That, and this tarot book. That's also spurred my interest, I'll admit.
   The trouble is, while I love the swoosh of a pen over a tablet, I much prefer working with pencils - I love the mess, the texture, and the hand-eye coordination is much simpler. But I hate colouring with them. Instead, I love colouring on tablets. The thing is, you rarely see the two combined, and my twitter feed is full of digital artists with nary a pencil in sight. So, naturally, the thought of combining the two comforts just doesn't seem acceptable because I'm constantly comparing myself to them.
   Well, I recently decided, when drawing the skogsrå from my short story, October's Blood, that I would just try it. I had nothing to lose, especially since it was Saturday night and I had 2 hours before my husband and I put on a movie (The Terminal, that week). And I was shocked by how quickly I made progress, and how well it came out. So much so that, when Faebelina announced a new twitter drawing event - #OCGardenParty - I thought I would have a go. I'd been following these kinds of things for a while now but never felt my work was worthy of being submitted. But, because I was drawing with pencils and not inking the lines, I realised that it couldn't really be compared to other people's since it was kind of a different style altogether.
   So, I went ahead (cheekily using characters from my book). I got the pencil lines down in about 3 hours, with shading, and the colouring took about 4. And I realised a few things when breaking the mould:
1. By keeping the pencil lines and pencil shading in, I immediately eradicate any possibility of realism, which is a trap I constantly fall into. Instead, it's become a little more stylised, but not in any forced kind of way. It's something that, with practise, I could really hone and turn into something wonderful.
2. With the gritty texture of the pencil lines, I can also get away with doing less. It looks more detailed than it actually is, and much less smooth and flat, which had always bothered me.
3. Even if I'm working with pencils, because I'm scanning it in to colour it, I can still resize and rotate things. There's nothing worse than spending 2+ hours on a pencil drawing and then realising that one of the figures is wonky, or too large. Both were the case below. Rathen was tilting to one side, and Aria was too far forwards. She would have come up to Rathen's shoulder. She's eight. And a small eight, at that.

   For only my second attempt, I'm pretty pleased. No, it's not perfect, but it's presentable. There are so many drawings I've done digitally that I've never shown, and more still that I've never completed. But with just 7 hours of work - a weekend, if taken easily - I've made something I'm really, really happy with, and was brave enough to show in a thread that I knew much better artists would both see and participate in.
   I also got around the problem of backgrounds with a green square :B It makes a shocking difference.

Aria has dragged Rathen along, and insisted that he bring flowers for the hostess.
She's also hoping for strawberry tarts.
Don't tease her about her 'antlers' - she wants people to think she 'belongs'.
Rathen, sadly, made little effort aside from actually attending. He looks so uncomfortable...

Edit: I wrote a little snippet to accompany it! Read it on my website!

Thursday, 7 March 2019

World Book Day 2019 Giveaway

   Yes, it's that time of year. In the UK, anyway. I'm not so sure we can call it 'World' Book Day when it's only happening in the UK.
   It was originally created by Vicente Clavel Andrés in honour of Miguel de Cervantes, falling first on October 7th, the birth date of the Spanish writer, and then moved to April 23rd, the date of his death. In 1995 this became the official date, as it was also the anniversary of the deaths of many prominent writers, Shakespeare included.
   Then the UK decided to move it to March 7th so that it wouldn't clash with Easter or St George's Day. On April 23rd, however, the UK holds World Book Night. Again, in the UK.
   I shall keep my opinions on the matter to myself.

   Either way, this gives me two opportunities to promote my writing, and promote it, I will. But, because I can only hold a free Kindle book promo once every 3 months for each title, I have only one book to promote, and I'd rather keep that for the true World Book Day in April. Next year will be easier, as the second book of the trilogy will be out, too, so I can rotate!

   For now, though, I'm holding a giveaway across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to win an exclusive (ie PoD) hardback, signed copy of The Zi'veyn! Two winners will be picked from across all three platforms. Enter one, two or all three. They will all count!

Otherwise, The Zi'veyn is only £1.99 on Kindle, or free on Kindle Unlimited, and you can already read chapters 1-5 for free right here!

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

It's Been a Literary Few Months

   It's been a quiet year so far on the blog. My last post, Project Tarot, probably gives some insight, but I have been absolutely and utterly consumed with work these past 2 months aside from that.
   Early January, I was accepted onto the project immediately to write 2 short stories for Frenone's book of tarot cards - which provide the story motive - and to help compile a list of suitable mythical creatures for those cards - which provide the story's subject. Eventually assigned to writing a story for one card at one page, and for the cover image at three pages (!!!) I have been working on them solidly.
   But I also finished writing the second book of my trilogy early January, too, and for the past six weeks have put all else on hold and have absorbed myself in reading and editing.
   I always redraft a chapter after I write one, fixing what doesn't work, improving diction (word choice and use) and syntax (the sentence structure), shortening unnecessary drivel, and so on before moving on and writing the next chapter. When I've finished the book, however, I go back to the start and read through and edit the whole thing from cover to cover, and in order to make sure that the whole book makes sense, that things aren't accidentally repeated, that the passage of time is properly conveyed and that I've answered all the question I needed to, I have to chain myself to it. It's the only way to spot the problems - though that doesn't mean I'll get them all.
   So for the past 6 weeks I have spent several hours every day reading, editing, cutting and pasting, deleting, staring and chin-tapping. I finally finished editing the second book last weekend, and, if I'm's not bad at all. I didn't need to edit as much as I thought I did - though there were a few chapters that needed a complete overhaul.
   I also did some work adjusting the original book cover and I'm so happy with the result!

   In between my writing and editing, however, I also enrolled into an online writing class - or, rather, storytelling class. I spotted a sponsored post on Facebook from Neil Gaiman talking about his 'The Art of Storytelling' class on Masterclass, a platform I'd never heard of before. But I clicked it immediately - the title and the teacher suggested that it was going to be more than just a creative writing class - and investigated the website, online reviews and so on.
   I signed up the next day for a measly £85.
   Because of my editing, I've only managed to spare the time for one class a week, usually on a Saturday, which involves about 20 minutes of watching a video of Mr Gaiman telling me so many wonderful things, and then 15 minutes reading through a PDF summary, and then between 30 and 90 minutes of a writing exercise.
   I've done only 9 lessons (out of 19), and a few have left me in tears because, so far (with the exception of technical work on short stories, which I had never tried to write before last month), everything else he's taught me, I've already been doing. But I was unaware I was doing it.
   An example: Gaiman talks about sources of inspiration, and that most young/new writers will just list off other writers who do similar things. And, while that's not wrong, it's not honest. His wife is a musician, and so she lists off other musicians. He said it took her a long time to realise that novelist Judy Blume had always been a big source of inspiration for her. And just as Neil Gaiman will list off other writers, he doesn't often talk about musician Lou Reed, whose honesty in songs showed him that he could be honest in his art, too, and that he was and is a massive influence, because, as he said, 'words in songs matter, because you don't get many of them. You have to make them count.'
   I can list off Sapkowski, Eddings, Tolkien - and I always did when submitting to literary agents. But only upon watching that video did I realise that, actually, they don't inspire me that much. Not actively. I just enjoy reading them the most. No, my inspiration comes from a passion for anthropology, for nature and natural sciences, from folklore, from Lindsey Stirling and Two Steps From Hell, from archaeology and  history. These are the things that shape my stories.
   When that was drummed in, I realised that, actually, while I've been doing it right (ie not trying to copy other writers), I've been presenting myself all wrong. The inspiration was there, my own individual influences, but I never noticed them even while I applied them. And just listing off other writers doesn't do anything for publishers or literary agents because all it shows them are your reading habits. It doesn't show them who you are or what you write. They don't want to know what's in your bookcase, they want to know what's in your heart.
   This has been the case with every lesson so far, and while I've not necessarily learned anything I can apply to my work (please don't think that I'm boasting!) I have learned that, if I were to resubmit my work to agents, I might actually have a better chance because I'll be giving them the insight into me and my work that they actually want, not what I think they want.

   I also finally got my eyes tested. Staring at screens as rigidly as I have been has left me with gradually increasing eye strain, and my husband suggested a while ago that I get them checked. I refused, adamant that I was fine. Well, I finally got around to it last month, and while my eyes are in perfect health, there is a weakness in my left eye, and my mid-range isn't great - mid-range being computer-distance. So they recommended concentration glasses to wear whenever I'm using something at that range for more than 20 minutes, and since I got them, I've definitely noticed that my eyes shake less, my vision doesn't blur as much and I've not gotten any headaches at all.

   I admit, I've always wanted glasses, but not if I didn't need them. I was never going to buy clear glass lenses just as an affectation. But the fact that I have some now for computer work, well, that's kind of cool. And I won't need them all the time, because when I actually write, I only tend to look at the screen for five minutes before staring out of the window at the trees outside in thought, or looking up to the TV if my husband is playing a game.

   So it's been a heavily literary two months, and now that I've finished the concentration-editing (all that's left is formatting, spell check, word alterations and replacements) I'm moving on to the book cover. That's still going to take a lot of time, but it is what it is, and I'm going to study The Art of Storytelling more closely. I don't want to do a lesson every day because nothing will sink in, but two a week should be good. I usually listen to the lesson again at some point a few days after the first watch to recap, refresh and really let it sink in. It seems to work for me.
   I plan to resubmit The Zi'veyn in May, so I'm hoping to have the course finished by then so that I can apply as much to my presentation as possible, and be able to say that I've done it (they want to know about courses, too). With 10 lessons left, I can be done in 5 weeks, by the end of April. That can work.

   I've been planning the third book in between all this work, of course, and I think I could be ready to start writing it in a few weeks. I've been planning on paper, so I have to get all my notes typed up and arranged, but the plan is coming together quite well. I wanted the second book to feel different to the first, but I'm not sure that it did. The third book, however, should be quite different.
   I'll update again when I actually make a start - and when book covers are done!

Monday, 4 March 2019

March & April: Kettlercise & Core de Force

   March, and so ends 4 months of strength training (3 months of this, and 1 month of this). As usual, I'm sad to see the back of it - especially knowing that there are 2 months of cardio and HIIT ahead of me which...just...doesn't bear thinking about...
   I've mentioned time and time again about a calorie experiment I'm doing - for which I'm hoping to finally talk about with solid figures in two months' time - and now I'm moving into the final stage. If it's going to work, now is the time I'll know.
   I've been trying to shift stubborn fat for years now - and I've done well, dropping from a (UK) size 16 to a size 8 - and while I've turned my attention over the past 12 months towards muscle-building instead, which has been infinitely more enjoyable and subsequently both easier to stick to and more rewarding, my shame and hate over squidgy arms and tummy has gone nowhere.
   Part of what has made strength and muscle building so much better for me, personally, is that I'm not running on steam. After hovering around 1350 calories a day for a few years and seeing zero change in my body, I gave up and finally dared to eat more. I was at my wit's end. I raised it to 1600, and, to balance it, in March last year I decided to turn towards lifting heavy weights so that the excess calories (and the fat I was terrified of gaining back) would be put to use repairing my body. And it has done exactly that. For the past month I've been eating 2100 calories a day, I feel so energetic and happy (despite a few loathsome trouble zones) and I'm still a size 8.

   But, while the first stage of this experiment involved increasing my daily calorie intake by 100 every 4 weeks (from 1600 to 2100), my body has given me the sign I've been waiting for that it's time to move on to the second stage.
   And that involves calorie cutting, and cardio. Turning away from resistance training - and the need for higher calories along with it - and towards cardio and HIIT instead with fewer calories.
   But I'm not talking about 1350 a day. I'm talking about 1700, 50 either side. This gives me an effective and safe calorie deficit (my calorie experiment has yielded my maintenance calorie level), which grows a little broader when coupled with high-intensity workouts (I'm opting for a rotation between Core de Force and Kettlercise, both of which have proven to be the most personally effective cardio & HIIT workouts I've ever seen). The original plan was to use just Core de Force for a month, but I really want this to work, so I've doubled the time and added Kettlercise in to stretch it out and make it more bearable. We all need change.

   So, for the next two months, I will have my fingers and toes tightly crossed, very sweaty kit, and hopefully only a vaguely rumbling but flattening tummy.
   Whether it works or not, I'll blog this whole 7-month experiment when it's finished in May.
   I'm terrified of failure. It feels like, if this doesn't work, nothing will.

   I have 8x 20-40 minute Core de Force videos, and 8x 20-30 minute Kettlercise workouts. I'm considering adding a little extra Core de Force on after Kettlercise, but I shouldn't have to repeat any full workouts for a month.
   Kickboxing and kettlebell workouts are some of the best fat-burning workouts you can do because they are total-body workouts that involve a lot of power driven out from your muscles. Aerobics, dance, things like that don't recruit as much power though they still burn fat, but because of this, muscle mass can be lost. I've worked my ass off to build my ass up, and I have no intention of letting it go. I want to lose fat, not weight. This doesn't mean that kettlebell and kickboxing workouts build muscle, at least not to the extent that a barbell circuit would, but it does mean that what muscle you have built up will still be put to explosive use, which in turn means it won't be lost, and that you'll burn more calories.
   This is because muscle is calorifically expensive, and that also means that if you don't use muscle, you lose it. Your body sees no reason to carry it around any more. This in turn means that you need to eat less - which is also the root of the 'muscle turns into fat' myth. If you don't use your muscle, you lose it; if you don't reduce the amount you eat along with that loss, the excess that would have gone on to feeding and maintaining the muscle will be stored as fat instead.

   After that little science lesson, loooook, I have a new kettlebell! This gorgeous and motivational kettlebell is cast iron (heavy and compact, which means it's a space-saver) and 10kg, so it should be pretty effective. I've had my eye on it for months, but Kettleboobs sell out pretty quick, so I had been watching their website since early December for the 10kg of this beauty to come back. I finally got it mid-February.

   I'll update in April, once I'm about half way through. Scientifically speaking, there's no reason this shouldn't work. But I'm extremely dubious. You only get out of it what you put in, so I also know that, if I fail, it's my fault.
   And I'll just have to make do with the skin I'm in.
   And, if I'm honest, upon typing that line, it struck me that my skin really isn't so body can do pretty amazing things. And I am currently the healthiest I have ever been in my life.