What a Performance

I haven’t posted in a long time, and for that, I apologize. Many people ask me when I’m going to write again and have even made topic requests. One question that is asked of me time and again is, what is/are my favorite active wear line(s)?

As a lot of you might know, I’m an avid gym rat and fitness enthusiast. Also, I sweat. A lot. So it’s very important to me that my sportswear’s performance is top notch. There are myriad brands to choose from, and the prices range from super affordable to do-I-need-to-sell-an-organ expensive. Other fitness/gym enthusiasts can identify with me when I say that buying gym wear is a sickness–you can never have enough!  That being said, I’ve spent a not-so-small fortune on my gym wardrobe and can now discuss the performance of a couple of lines for you today.

(If, after reading this post, you are interested in knowing about more high end, boutique lines as well, please let me know and I’ll be more than happy to oblige.)

Forever 21

On the more affordable end of the spectrum, Forever 21 has a stylish, colorful and well-planned line. They have bottoms ranging from sensible yoga pants to bright and somewhat sexy tights, to skimpy and cute shorts for the more daring (hi!); they have tops that go from crop to tank to short sleeved mesh tees and long-sleeved message tees.  All pieces are made in a variety of materials from basic cotton to dri-fit fabrics. They even carry sports bras that vary from low to high support. I always get compliments when I wear their items to the gym, and women are always shocked when I tell them that my outfits are from Forever 21; it never fails.

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Unfortunately, the clothing line’s lack of performance in the dri-fit area only allows me to wear its items when I’m not doing intense or long-term cardio; I only wear them during my weight training days or light cardio days because their materials can’t withstand the amount of sweat my body produces. For the price point however, I’m not too upset–like I said, they still serve a purpose in my wardrobe and so they stay in the rotation. At least they don’t have me slipping in my own sweat…another brand is responsible for my bruised knees…stay tuned.

Rating: 3.5 sweat drops out of 5

Calvin Klein Performance Wear

The next line under scrutiny is from Calvin Klein. Their active wear is medium-high in pricing and is a bit more modest in style than Forever 21, most likely due to their target demographic, and that suits me just fine. (I’m no spring chicken and sometimes I have to remind myself of that.) They have tops and tights of all lengths, colors and patterns, yet they have a wider and more forgiving size range (much more forgiving than teeny bopper Forever 21). Whenever I wear this line, I receive compliments on the colors and fit–before my workouts. Post-workout, I look like a walking puddle. Every. Single. Time. The tops and bottoms (more so the tops) completely lose their shape and make me feel disgusting. The material Calvin Klein uses doesn’t have any moisture-wicking capability whatsoever and they totally missed the definition of “dri-fit.” Oh the embarrassment of walking around, looking like you had a bladder malfunction!

Once my workout is complete, whether it’s cardio or weight training, I’m always standing in a pool of my own sweat; my treadmill has sweat splashed all over it; my weights are slipping in my hands–and this is with sleeved shirts;  the gym machines are soaking wet and I have to wipe everything down with multiple towels. When I walk through the gym to get to the locker room, freezing cold from the air conditioned atmosphere (due to my soaking wet clothes), while creating a trail of sweat  behind me, I literally have to peel my clothes off and wring them out like wet rags before packing them in plastic bags.

I’m highly disappointed in this active wear line. Calvin Klein needs to take “Performance ” out of its name. It doesn’t perform in any way except aesthetics–and again, that’s only pre-workout. For the price range, the reputation and the claims the line makes regarding its performance, it should far exceed the quality of Forever 21, Champion (which I like very much), and a slew of other brands, yet it misses the mark completely. The makers of Calvin Klein need to reconsider their presence in this category altogether if they don’t get the right consultants and testers on their team. I honestly can’t recommend this line to anyone in good conscience. The only high note for this brand is the sports bras–good compression and support.

Rating: 2 out of 5 sweat drops (because I like the sports bras, and I like the pre-workout compliments)

Nike (Pro)

If you follow my Instagram and/or Snapchat accounts (both TheVickylicious), you’ll see that I mostly wear Nike, specifically the Nike Pro line. Moisture-wicking technology is on point, their tops and bottoms fit like a second skin, allowing for full range of motion with no constraints. They’re always on trend and coming out with new and exciting colors and patterns; they continue to create new performance technology for weather conditions, compression, fluidity and support. Nike has gotten sportswear down to a science: aesthetics, fit, price range (from medium to high, but you can always find items on sale, and Nike outlets have great selections), need requirements for each activity, durability and performance technology–you name it, Nike has it figured out for us all.This is one brand that knows what it’s doing, proving why they have achieved world domination. There really isn’t much I can say about them, unless you’d like me to attempt a love poem…

Rating: 4 out of 5 sweat drops (shave a point for margin of error and some of the items that are insanely priced, just because Nike can get away with it)

There are a few brands I patronize more than others, and I’m always on the hunt for what’s different and new. If you’d like me to review more, just say so and I will document all my findings for you. This is an ongoing hunt for me because, as much as I continue to exercise, the need for gym wear will continue as well.

That’s the sweat life for ya!

 

***This post is not sponsored by any of the brands listed above. This post is not to offend any readers’ beliefs in business practices or politics.

Cycle for Survival 2016–Stronger Than Ever!

Greetings, everyone!

It’s time for me to start annoying the hell out of you over the next two months—all for the very worthy cause, Cycle for Survival. My team and I will be riding to raise money that funds lifesaving rare cancer research at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Together we can ensure tangible progress and give real hope to patients and their loved ones the world over.

Why do I ride?

BECAUSE I WANT TO HONOR FAMILY AND FRIENDS AFFECTED BY CANCER. My family and loved ones have been hit hard by different forms of cancer, as have I personally. I will be riding for them and for everyone else affected by all forms of cancer. Cycle for Survival is my way of fighting back and making a difference.

BECAUSE RARE CANCERS ARE MORE COMMON THAN YOU THINK. When you add all of the rare cancers together, approximately 50% of all cancer patients are fighting a rare cancer. And these are familiar diseases: pediatric cancers, leukemia, lymphoma, and thyroid, ovarian and pancreatic cancers are all classified as rare.

BECAUSE THERE AREN’T ENOUGH TREATMENT OPTIONS FOR PATIENTS. There is a critical funding gap in rare cancer research, but we can change that. In the first nine years of events, Cycle for Survival already had raised more than $51 million, arming doctors and researchers with funding to discover new and better treatment options.

What can you do today? Please donate to my ride to support lifesaving research!
Click here to donate.

100% of every dollar you give will go directly to pioneering research within six months of the events.

Cycle for Survival has contributed to more than 100 clinical trials and research studies, and also to major research initiatives that will change the way cancer is diagnosed and treated.

Together, we can truly make an impact.

I humbly thank you in advance for your support,
The Vickylicious
Please click here to donate.

Something Old, Something New…

Although it’s a new year (and I haven’t posted in months), I came across an old essay I wrote years ago and wanted to post it here because its contents are timeless.

6.08.2005 (I can’t believe so much time has passed!):  I am an Anarchist.

While browzing through one of my many poetry sites, I came across this interesting speech about the true definition of anarchy. Everything in it was so well stated, I don’t quite know what else to add, only: Oh how the media distorts the true meanings of things! After reading the Anarchist Goldman’s speech, I must say, I guess I am an anarchist, too.

An Anarchist Looks At Life: Speech Before the Foyle’s Twenty-Ninth Literary Luncheon
by Emma Goldman, Anarchist

March 1, 1933

Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen, the subject this noon is, “An Anarchist Looks at Life.” I cannot speak for all my fellow anarchists, but for myself I wish to say that I have been so furiously busy living my life that I had not a moment left to look at it. I am aware that a period comes to everybody when we are obliged, perforce, to sit back and look at life. That period is a wise old age, but never having grown wise I do not expect to ever reach that point. Most people who look at life never live it. What they see is not life but a mere shadow of it. Have they not been taught that life is a curse visited upon them by a bungling God who has made man in his own image? Therefore most people look at life and upon life as a sort of stepping-stone to a heaven in the hereafter. They dare not live life, or get the living spirit out of life as it presents itself to them. It means a risk; it means the giving up their little material achievements. It means going against “public opinion” and the laws and rules of one’s country. There are few people who have the daring and the courage to give up what they hug at their hearts. They fear that their possible gain will not be the equivalent for what they give up. As for myself, I can say that I was like Topsy. I was not born and raised–I “grewed.” I grew with life, life in all its aspects, in its heights and in its depths. The price to pay was high, of course, but if I had to pay it all over again, I should gladly do it, for unless you are willing to pay the price, unless you are willing to plunge into the very depths, you will never be able to remount to the heights of life.

Naturally, life presents itself in different forms to different ages. Between the age of eight and twelve I dreamed of becoming a Judith. I longed to avenge the sufferings of my people, the Jews, to cut off the head of their Holofernos. When I was fourteen I wanted to study medicine, so as to be able to help my fellow-beings. When I was fifteen I suffered from unrequited love, and I wanted to commit suicide in a romantic way by drinking a lot of vinegar. I thought that would make me look ethereal and interesting, very pale and poetic when in my grave, but at sixteen I decided on a more exalted death. I wanted to dance myself to death.

Then came America, America with its huge factories, the pedaling of a machine for ten hours a day at two dollars fifty a week. It was followed by the greatest event in my life, which made me what I am. It was the tragedy of Chicago, in 1887, when five of the noblest men were judicially murdered by the State of Illinois. They were the famous anarchists of America–Albert Parsons, Spies, Fischer, Engels and Lingg who were legally assassinated on the 11th of November, 1887. Brave young Lingg cheated his executioners, preferring to die by his own hand, while three other comrades of the executed–Neebe, Fielden and Schwab–were doomed to prison. The death of those Chicago martyrs was my spiritual birth: their ideal became the motive of my entire life.

I realise that most of you have but a very inadequate, very strange and usually false conception of Anarchism. I do not blame you. You get your information from the daily press. Yet that is the very last place on earth to seek for truth in any state of form. Anarchism, to the great teachers and leaders in the spiritual aspect of life, was not a dogma, not a thing that drains the blood from the heart and makes people zealots, dictators or impossible bores. Anarchism is a releasing and liberating force because it teaches people to rely on their own possibilities, teaches them faith in liberty, and inspires men and women to strive for a state of social life where every one shall be free and secure. There is neither freedom nor security in the world today: whether one be rich or poor, whether his station high or low, no one is secure as long as there is a single slave in the world. No one is safe or secure as long as he must submit to the orders, whim or will of another who has the power to punish him, to send him to prison or to take his life, to dictate the terms of his existence, even from the cradle to the grave.

It is not only because of love of one’s fellow-men–it is for their own sake that people must learn to understand the meaning and significance of Anarchism, and it will not be long before they will appreciate the great importance and the beauty of its philosophy.

Anarchism repudiates any attempt of a group of men or of any individual to arrange life for others. Anarchism rests on faith in humanity and its potentialities, while all other social philosophies have no faith in humanity whatever. The other philosophies insist that man cannot govern himself and that he must be ruled over. Nowadays most people believe that the stronger the Government the greater the success of society will be. It is the old belief in the rod. The more used on the child the finer will it be when grown to manhood or womanhood. We have emancipated ourselves from that stupidity. We have come to understand that education does not mean knocking in, does not mean crippling, warping and dwarfing the young growth. We have learned that freedom in the development of the child secures better results, both so far as the child and society are concerned.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is Anarchism. The greater the freedom and the opportunities for every unit in society, the finer will be the individual and the better for society; and the more creative and constructive the life of the collectivity. That, in brief, has been the ideal to which I have devoted my life.

Anarchism is not a cut-and-dried theory. It is a vital spirit embracing all of life. Therefore I do not address myself only to some particular elements in society: I do not address myself only to the workers. I address myself to the upper classes as well, for indeed they need enlightenment even more than the workers. Life itself teaches the masses, and it is a strict, effective teacher. Unfortunately life does not teach those who consider themselves the socially select, the better educated, the superior. I have always held that every form of information and instruction that helps to widen the mental horizon of men and women is most useful and should be employed. For in the last analysis, the grand adventure–which is liberty, the true inspiration of all idealists, poets and artists–is the only human adventure worth striving and living for.

I do not know how many of you have read Gorki’s marvellous prose-poem called “The Snake and the Falcon.” The snake cannot understand the falcon. “Why don’t you rest here in the dark, in the good slimy moisture?” the snake demands. “Why soar to the heavens? Don’t you know the dangers lurking there, the stress and storm awaiting you there, and the hunter’s gun which will bring you down and destroy your life?” But the falcon paid no heed. It spread its wings and soared through space, its triumphant song resounding through the heavens. One day the falcon was brought down, blood streaming from its heart, and the snake said: “You fool, I warned you, I told you to stay where I am, in the dark, in the good warm moisture, where no one could find you and harm you.” But with its last breath the falcon replied: “I have soared through space, I have scaled dazzling heights, I have beheld the light, I have lived, I have lived!” (personal side note: I must find a copy of this poem!)

Who would like to join me?

Part One: “All is Full of Love…”

…to quote one of my favorite Bjork songs ever. This weekend was definitely a special one for me, emotionally and physically. Completely banged up and tired as I am while writing this entry, all I can do is smile. Yes, I might look crazy and creepy for smiling in an empty apartment. All alone. In the dark. While all is quiet. But, hey. No one’s around to judge me, and even if there were, would I care? Of course not.
Moving on.
Yesterday, I participated in the 2015 Citi Field Spartan Race with a new team comprised of friends, old and new. Although a member of New York Health and Racquet Club for several years, this was the first time I was in an event representing them, more specifically one of their best group fitness instructors, Cedric Dujon, as one of his Fit Warriors. Some of you may remember that I participated in my first Spartan Race last year–that was with a team of over 70 people. The Fit Warriors was a team of 14 feisty and fun-loving individuals who made this event even better than I could have imagined.

PhotoGrid_1431316969604_wmNot once was there an “every man for himself” mentality; it just felt natural that we should help each other through ever obstacle and finish as a team, rather than to be competitive against one another and leave teammates behind. The comradely spirit that flowed between us gave everyone hope, strength and confidence that we could all get across the finish line, no matter how daunting the obstacles were. In all my years, this was the first time I understood what it felt like to be on a real team. Even more impressive was the fact that Cedric was the last team member to cross the finish line — our team leader made sure no one was left behind, that we were all accounted for and in good condition and spirit. Not only is this man a physical specimen, he has a heart of gold. Even now as I type, my heart swells with respect and appreciation for Cedric’s good nature and ethic. The people he attracts are all genuinely good people: caring, generous, helpful and kind. If this isn’t a testament to his good soul, I don’t know what is.
My membership at New York Health and Racquet will end soon and I’ll be at another gym through corporate subsidy, however I will support Cedric Dujon, Cedric Dujon Fitness, and will remain one of his Fit Warriors, ready for action whenever duty calls. CYMERA_20150509_172646Stay tuned for part two of my “Love Fest” Weekend…!
The Vickylicious

Avo Maria

No, I didn’t make any spelling errors. I’m referring to one of my favorite produce items on the planet, the avocado. I can avocado any way it’s given to me–plain, in a smoothie, as guacamole, on myriad savory dishes, and now…in pudding.

If you’ve been reading my blog, you’ll know that I have a serious ice cream problem and am on a quest to find as many healthy substitutions to assuage my cravings. Since my chia seed pudding post (click here to read), I’ve made several different variations and make batches on a weekly basis. It hasn’t gotten boring at all and the versatility of the recipe is impressive–I’ve even made a pumpkin version and fell deeper in love with the recipe as a result. However, while in Chicago a couple of weeks ago, I was reminded of how much I missed drinking avocado smoothies from one of my favorite Vietnamese restaurants, T.A.N.K. I don’t know what voodoo they do, but no one makes an avo smoothie quite like them. Trust and know, I’ve done my research and have the healthy hair, skin and nails to prove it! Sipping the green goodness triggered me to think of other ways to incorporate avocado into my diet, namely as an ice cream substitute. Once again, the internet and diet gods chose to bless me, for I came across a great recipe for a chocolate pudding that uses avocado as its base. Experimentation was calling my name! For those of you that are interested in giving this pudding a try, here’s the recipe:

Ingredients (2 servings):
– 1 large, ripe avocado
– 2 tbsp. of cocoa powder
– 1 tbsp. Stevia (or sweetener of choice)
– 4 squares of dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa)
– Almond milk (or milk of choice)

Directions:
– Cut the avocado in half, remove the stone and scoop the flesh into a dish.
– Add the cocoa powder, Stevia (or preferred sweetener), and mix well.
-In the meantime, melt the dark chocolate in a microwave, then pour it into the avocado mixture.
– Give it another good mix.

The texture should resemble a traditional pudding. If not, add almond milk a little at a time, until the pudding reaches your desired consistency.

Not only is this pudding delicious, it’s also loaded with healthy fats and fiber. Good times all around!

I’ve made this pudding a few times since my initial trial and am in love with the recipe. It’s simple, quick to make, and quite versatile. For second attempt, I added some coconut flakes and was very happy with the turnout. The third time, I sprinkled a small amount of pink Himalayan sea salt on top for added health benefits and because I’m a sucker for sweet/savory combinations. It. Was. DIVINE. A couple of nights ago, I was feeling ambitious and decided to combine my chia seed pudding recipe with this one and was blown away–it worked awesomely well.
20150422_223240I simply had to add more almond milk and use less seeds. I will definitely be adding avocado pudding to the dessert rotation as I continue on my quest for more easy healthy sweet treats.

If you decide to use this recipe, let me know what you think!