Marvel’s Shipyard

Today I’m examining relationships in the MCU. Watching Agents of Shield last week led me to the realization that there are very few functioning or healthy relationships over at Marvel.
Maybe it’s the superhero business…there’s hardly time for love much less relationship counseling. Has to be hard to find time for romance when you’re trying to save lives and save the world.
Let’s see who stands a chance of making their ship sail… (and see how many ship analogies I can possibly come up with!!)

1. Tony Stark and Pepper Potts (aka #Pepperony)
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This is currently the strongest ship in the fleet. Tony and Pepper flirted in Iron Man, were together by the time Whiplash tried to take Tony out in IM2 and have survived not one but 3 other Marvel movies (Avengers, Iron Man 3 and Avengers: Age of Ultron.) It’s funny to think that the most narcissistic Avenger is the one in the healthiest relationship. Shows real growth! Good for you Tony (but we really mean Good for you, Pepper, cause we know who’s the Captain of this ship!)

2. Bobbi Morse and Lance Hunter (aka #Huntingbird)
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These two were on again/ off again all last season, but currently things seem to be on the rise for these two. Bobbi is back in the field and Hunter has let his vengeance against Ward for almost killing his ex-wife cool off a bit. It’s tough to find a happy ending in the line of duty, but these two are really making a go of it. Their chemistry is great and I can’t wait to see where this ship sails off to.

3. Hope Van Dyne and Scott Lang (aka #Scope)
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Coming in third place would have to be the newcomers to the Marvel Universe. From Marvel’s Ant Man, I present Scott Lang and Hope Van Dyne. This is a budding romance. So new that it hasn’t even made it through one full film yet. We’ll keep an eye on these two. But seeing as Hope already has title billing in the second Ant Man film aptly titled, Ant Man and the Wasp, chances are that come 2017, this ship will still be floating.

4. Daisy Johnson and Lincoln Campbell (aka #StaticQuake)
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This ship is still on it’s maiden voyage. Having just met last season and surviving some pretty heavy stuff, Lincoln went on the lamb. But he’s back and already making out with our girl, Quake. Definitely a ship to keep an eye on. (Although, am I alone in dreaming of Grant Ward secretly being on the side of good and eventually getting back together with Daisy/Quake/Skye? I’m willing to eventually give up on the dream…but not just yet. Come on #SkyeWard)

5. Thor Odinson and Jane Foster (aka #Fosterson)
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Talk about long distance relationships. These two don’t just have the pitfalls of a ‘normal’ couple, they have entire realms between them. They said goodbye at the end of the first Thor after a couple steamy kisses. Thor was far too busy fighting his brother in Avengers to visit his lady love. In Thor 2, the couple is reunited temporarily because of that pesky ether. But after returning Jane to Earth and heading back up to Aasgard, where he belongs (and returning for a quick, steamy kiss) they are parted again. While Thor does take time to brag on his girl in Avengers: Age of Ultron, I don’t see this ship surviving the long voyage. But hey, you never know. Long distance works for some people. Maybe Thor and Jane can make it.

6. Steve Rogers and Peggy Carter (aka #Steggy)
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Get out your tissues. We all know how this one ends. This ship never had the chance to get out of the dock. Luckily Peggy goes on to have a kick ass career as a spy and Rogers…well, we know that Marvel is pushing Peggy’s granddaughter, as a potential future ship. But for now, Steve has new Avengers to train and old Avengers to war against.

7. Bruce Banner and Natasha Romanoff (aka #Brutasha)
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This is one ship that has split the fanbase. In the comics both of these Avengers have very different love lives that don’t involve each other. Bruce was always destined for fellow scientist, Betty Ross (played by Liz Tyler in the Edward Norton film, The Incredible Hulk…but we won’t mention that one.) And Natasha had a couple ships in the comics including but not limited to Hawkeye, Daredevil and Captain America. So imagine everyone’s surprise when the MCU turns it all around and has Black Widow turning up the heat with Bruce in Avengers: Age of Ultron. A little flirting and a passionate kiss does not a solid ship build. But it gives us something to look out for in the future.

8. Jemma Simmons and Leo Fitz (aka #FitzSimmons)
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Grab those tissues again, cause so far this is a ship that could rival the Titanic. At the end of season 2, Fitz and Simmons were on the verge of exploring their feelings for each other. Then along came the Kree Monolith that held a portal to another realm where a dark, handsome stranger and his arms were waiting for Simmons to cling to. (Not cool, Marvel. Not cool!) Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is currently in season 3. So the jury is still out on this ship. But given the givens, a happy ending is a long way off for these two.

9. Melinda May and Andrew Garner (aka #Meldrew)
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Tissues…you may as well hang on to them. (Are you sensing a trend here?) After the events of season 2, the future looked bright for Andrew and May as they rode off into the sunset. But come season 3 and this couple is not living happily ever after either. Agent May is busy fighting bad guys and Andrew…well, he’s a little busy being a bad guy. I’m still keeping hope alive for these two.

10. Agent Colson and Rosalind Price (aka #Coulsalind)
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I don’t know if anyone was really on board with this one. But I never was. Coulson is very special to the Marvel Universe and he deserves a lady love who is equally special. Rosalind does not fit the bill. Plus…after last week’s episode it seems like she may not be on the side of good after all. It’s only a matter of time before this ship runs a ground. (Thank goodness.)

Which ships are you hoping will get a little work done in the MCU? Let me know in the comments below or connect with me on Twitter: @nerdinthecity

#AvengerinTraining – Recap

After 6 weeks of weekly challenges, superhero meal plans and different classes all around New York City, I lost 15 pounds and I feel stronger than I ever have. 15 pounds is by no means as extraordinary amount of weight to lose. But it’s a good amount and it’s enough to be very proud of. There were times I faltered. Times I gave in to the temptation to fall off track. But it’s the getting back on part that makes the difference!!

If you decide to take this #Avengerintraining challenge, remember that any amount of activity is better than none.

-Staying motivated is sometimes hard, but never impossible.

-The second you make it about more than just a number on a scale…that’s when you find out the reason you want to do it in the first place.

-Never compare yourself to someone else’s goals or progress. Not the models in a magazine or fit actors in a movie or your coworker who is always hitting the gym. Their plan isn’t your plan. Their plan might not work for you. Find what does and ignore the rest!

Thank you for reading! I’ve got a couple ideas for some new nerdy workouts in the future. So I hope you’ll check back! And come follow me on other social media platforms! I love to connect with new people.

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Iron Man Week (photo by Cristina Fowler)
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Hulk Week (photo by Cristina Fowler)

 

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Black Widow Week (photo by Cristina Fowler)
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Thor Week (photo by Cristina Fowler)
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Hawkeye Week (photo by Cristina Fowler)
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Captain America Week (photo by Cristina Fowler )

Let me know what you thought about my workout. Did you try it, did you like it? And which week was your favorite?

#AvengerinTraining – Captain America Week

Finishing Strong

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Photo by Cristina Fowler

Entering the final week, I felt strong. Stronger than I’ve ever felt before. I discovered muscles I didn’t know could ache. I had better balance and control in my workouts. And since Captain America is my very favorite Avenger, I’d been looking forward to this week since the beginning of this challenge. And this week certainly did not disappoint!! It was an amazing finish to an amazing 6 weeks of focus and determination. I’m not an actress! And I’ll probably never be in a big budget action film. I’ll never have a crazy six pack or weigh 140 pounds. But I lost 15 pounds on this program and I have felt healthier than I ever have before! And that is success.

Week 6: Captain America Week

Watercolor Art by Blule
Watercolor Art by Blule

Steve Rogers, an average man with above average morals and a desire to do more than he was born to do. After joining the Army, Rogers was given a “Super Soldier Serum” that transformed him from a small town Brooklyn boy into the superhero known as Captain America.

To become what he needed to be to play the Super Soldier, Chris Evans packed on 30 pounds of muscle and spent a lot of time in the gym training as he never had before. Take a look over at BodyBuilding.com for the full report.

Inspiration

Movies

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Avengers, Age of Ultron, Captain America: The First Avenger, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier are all obvious. And if there’s on other comic book hero that will bring that all-American spirit, it’s DC Comic’s Superman. The alien who started it all. Without Supes there might be no Cap. And just imagine that sad, sad world!!

Music

In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Cap comes back the world but is out of his time and has missed decades of pop culture, music, movies, etc. To try and catch up, Cap keeps a running list of things that people suggest he see or do or listen to. I tried to add some of the music to this list that Cap might have missed in the decades he spent in the ice. Including Falcon’s suggestion, Trouble Man by Marvin Gaye.

Meals

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I really loved having steak back on my shopping list!! Thanks Chris Evans!! Take a look at Evans’ meal plan at BodyBuilding.com

Weekly Workout Challenge

I chose an army crawl challenge for Captain America Week for the obvious reason. Before becoming Captain America, puny Steve Rogers joins the army to try to make something more out of himself, not knowing at the time what that would mean for him in the long run. So army crawls it was!!

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Photo by Cristina Fowler

Day 1: 2 Army Crawls across living room (Hands and Feet)

Day 2: 3 Army Crawls across living room (Hands and Feet)

Day 3: 4 Army Crawls across living room (Hands and Feet)

Day 4: Rest Day

Day 5: 3 Army Crawls across living room (Elbows and Knees)

Day 6: 4 Army Crawls across living room (Elbows and Knees)

Day 7: 6 Army Crawls across living room (Elbows and Knees)

Extra Credit

Boxing @ Church Street Boxing Gym

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Photo from Church Street Boxing Gym

This was my favorite class of the entire 6 week program. I’d never taken a full on boxing class before. Church Street Boxing Gym is everything a boxing gym should be. It’s in the basement of a building in downtown Manhattan. There are pictures plastered on the walls, a giant ring in the middle of the gym and punching bags hanging around every corner. Church Street offers a free intro class and it was so great! Best workout of the entire series. I love that they allow you to start punching the bags right away. Halfway through the class we were hitting the bags. I gotta tell you, it’s addictive and after all the other classes I’ve taken, I would sign up to do this weekly!!

Parkour @ Brooklyn Zoo

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Photo from Brooklyn Zoo

Parkour, for those of you who don’t know this word, is a form of free running. You’ll often see it in high speed action chases in movies/ TV like: Casino Royale, Arrow and of course Captain America. It’s the art of being able to handle any challenge that comes in your path as you run. Jumping, swinging, ducking. Throwing your body into the movements needed to keep your momentum up. Brooklyn Zoo specializes in a lot of amazing high intensity classes. And their parkour class did not disappoint!!! If I thought the boxing class or the cirque class was intense, I was mistaken after taking this!!! Another class I would definitely try again sometime. And their gym is really cool!! Classes are $20 if you pre register online. Give it a try and stretch yourself far beyond what you think you can accomplish!

Check out Iron Man week,  Hulk weekBlack Widow WeekThor Week and Hawkeye Week in case you missed them.

And make sure to comment below with any questions, comments, etc! And let me know if you are trying any of these. I would love to hear from you!!

#AvengerinTraining – Hawkeye Week

Pushing Through

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After hitting the wall during Thor Week, I was back on track and pushing through Week 5. Spring had returned, making morning runs a joy to complete! I really love to workout in the morning. I feel like it’s my personal time to get things done. Like the rest of the world is asleep and the early morning hours were made just for me. I live right across from Astoria Park in Queens and I love to run along the water. It’s a gorgeous view and if it’s a particularly warm morning, the breeze from the water feels wonderful. It’s definitely one of my happy places!

Week 5: Hawkeye Week

Watercolor Art by Blule
Watercolor Art by Blule

Clint Barton was introduced to the Marvel Cinematic Universe in Thor, when he was sent to the compound to keep an eye on a certain grounded Asgardian Prince. Barton, aka Hawkeye, is a proficient marksman in archery and joined the Avengers to help save the world from it’s biggest threats.

Jeremy Renner has been doing action films for a while now, The Hurt Locker, The Bourne Legacy, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, so stepping into the role of Hawkeye seemed like an easy fit (though I’m sure the workout regiment was not easy.) Renner is 44 years old, though you’d never know it. Take a look at his fitness regiment over at Muscle World.

Inspiration

Movies

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Avengers, Age of Ultron… duh. You can also go ahead and rewatch Thor if you’d like, since Hawkeye is introduced to the MCU in that one. I also added a couple excellent films starring Jeremy Renner. In Bourne Legacy, Renner takes Matt Damon’s place and runs around being awesome! Also, try Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol to keep with the spy spirit. And for good measure and an extra dose of archery, go ahead and watch The Hunger Games.

Music

Hawkeye is a warrior and a soldier, so I put a lot of music in this playlist that made me feel that way. Like I could run through bootcamp and finish the toughest challenges.

Meals

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For Hawkeye’s meal plan, I took my shopping list from CelebritiesExercise.com Honestly, I really believe that if you are watchful in your eating and keep to the simple rule of moderation, you could eat just about anything and maintain your health (with glaring exceptions of course.)

Weekly Workout Challenge

To channel my inner Clint Barton, I worked on my abs and did a crunch challenge. I know we see a lot of arms from Jeremy Renner, but the core always comes in handy, no matter which Avenger you are channeling! And since I have a serious sweet tooth, my stomach is one of my problem areas. All that sugar just sits right there. So working on the core and getting it strong was a big priority for me!

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Day 1: 30 Crunches (Middle, Left, Right)

Day 2: 60 Crunches (Middle, Left, Right)

Day 3: 90 Crunches (Middle, Left, Right)

Day 4: Rest Day

Day 5: 150 Crunches (Middle, Left, Right)

Day 6: 175 Crunches (Middle, Left, Right)

Day 7: 200 Crunches (Middle, Left, Right)

Make sure to take all the final day’s challenges from each Avenger with you into Captain America Week.:

-2 sets of Full Front Planks (60 second hold, rest in between)

-Chest Flys, Dumbbell Chest Presses, Standing Shoulder Presses, Arm Curls (25 reps)

-40 Squats (2 reps)

-20 Kettlebell Swings/ 20 Pushups

-200 crunches (Middle, Left, Right)

Extra Credit

Archery @ Big Apple Archery

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I loved archery! And Big Apple Archery in Queens is a really great place to learn. They do a great job of showing you proper technique and give you plenty of time to practice what you’ve learned. They have excellent equipment and a great range on which to practice. The class had a decent number of students, but wasn’t so full that it seemed overcrowded or anything. Plenty of room on the range for everyone in the class. I used a Groupon deal to take this class, but the first equipment rental is free and if you purchase a bow from there, the first class is free. Definitely worth a try!

Sports Conditioning @ Velocity Gym

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Photo from Velocity Sports Performance

Hawkeye is a warrior, a soldier, an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. So I figured he’d have done a lot of different things to train. I took an intro class at Velocity where they focus on conditioning the whole body for different sports. We pulled weights, ran sprints (thought I was gonna die after the sprints) and worked with resistance bands. It was indeed a full-body workout! Every inch of me ached the next morning. An introductory class is free and when you walk in you might be a little intimidated, but don’t be. The instructors are really great and will help you make it through the whole class and finish strong. I trained with 3 other men on my team and it was a really great experience!!

Stay tuned for the following Avenger: Captain America. Check out Iron Man week,  Hulk weekBlack Widow Week and Thor Week in case you missed them.

And make sure to comment below with any questions, comments, etc! And let me know if you are trying any of these. I would love to hear from you!!

#AvengerinTraining – Thor Week

Hitting a Wall

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Photo by Cristina Fowler

By week 4, I was tired. I just wanted to sleep. Scheduling was getting difficult. The nice promising Spring weather had turned cold and my motivation almost left me completely this week. Morning runs were hard to come by (because I don’t like running in cold weather.) So I had to find other ways to stay energized in the morning. One particularly lazy morning, I forced myself up and out of bed and I started making a list of reasons why I was doing this. Why did I want to train to be an Avenger? Why did I want to get healthy? Why had I given up my beloved mint chocolate chip ice cream? Was it really worth it?

After writing down 2 pages of reasons why I should continue on with this journey, I found out that I did believe it was worth it and I went out and ran, in the rain no less. It was never going to be easy to do this. And if you take that step towards a healthier life, it won’t be easy for you either. I’m sure it wasn’t easy for Chris Hemsworth who has children and a wife and a job and a lot of things that demand his attention. And the world will be against you. I pass by 3 Dunkin Donuts on my commute to work every morning. Giving me not 1, but 3 opportunities to cheat. But this week, despite hitting a wall… I refused to. Something about reaching a limitation really made me want to kick it down and press through. It won’t always be this way. But it was this week!!

Week 4: Thor Week

Watercolor Art by Blule
Watercolor Art by Blule

Thor Odinson, god of thunder, ruler of Asgard, wielder of Mjolnir. Thor was born into a privileged life. He was raised to be a king of Asgard, along with his adopted brother Loki. Stripped of his powers, he was sent to Earth by his father, Odin, to learn the true meaning of kingly responsibility. Upon his return he was welcomed back and was shown to be a worthy prince of Asgard. When Earth was once again threatened by his brother, Loki, Thor joined up with the team known as The Avengers to fight the threat to Earth, home of his beloved Jane.

Chris Hemsworth plays the mighty god of thunder. To prepare for the role, Hemsworth started training with former Navy seal, Duffy Gaver. Gaver applied an “old school bodybuilding approach” to train Hemsworth. Take a look at the full article and  workout over at MuscleandFitness.com

Inspiration

Movies

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Avengers and Age of Ultron, are on the list as usual. Adding in Thor and Thor: The Dark World for all kinds of Asgardian goodness!  Thor is a great figure of mythology so I added Clash of the Titans to the list because it’s all about the gods and demigods of Greek mythology, to keep with that mysthological theme. And for good measure I added in Star Trek, the JJ Abrams reboot, which stars none other than Chris Hemsworth himself, as James T. Kirk’s ill-fated father.

Music

The music used in Thor and Thor: The Dark World have that heavy epic feeling to them, so I also added a lot of Star Wars music and other epic movie themes. Along with Carmina Burana. Anything that makes you feel like you are in a sweeping epic. This music definitely made me run with purpose!

Meals

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I crafted my meal plan based on what Chris Hemsworth ate during training. Take a look at HealthyCeleb.com

Weekly Workout Challenge

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Photo by Cristina Fowler

Day 1: 5 Kettlebell Swings/ 5 Pushups

Day 2: 8 Kettlebell Swings/ 8 Pushups

Day 3: 11 Kettlebell Swings/ 11 Pushups

Day 4: 14 Kettlebell Swings/ 14 Pushups

Day 5: Rest Day

Day 6: 17 Kettlebell Swings/ 17 Pushups

Day 7: 20 Kettlebell Swings/ 20 Pushups

By now you should have layered on the final day’s workout from Iron Man Week, Hulk Week and Black Widow Week. Take the last day of Thor week with you into Hawkeye week. It should look like this:

-2 sets of Full Front Planks (60 second hold, rest in between)

-Chest Flys, Dumbbell Chest Presses, Standing Shoulder Presses, Arm Curls (25 reps)

-40 Squats (2 reps)

-20 Kettlebell Swings/ 20 Pushups

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Photo by Cristina Fowler

Extra Credit

Kettlebell Kickboxing

Photo from Kettlebell Kickboxing

I chose kettlebell class because I thought the kettlebell could stand in for Thor’s hammer, Mjolnir. At Kettlebell Kickboxing they teach you a lot of different ways to utilize the kettlebell. They also incorporate some kickboxing and cardio into the routine as well. It made for a really great full-body workout! I brought a friend with me to this class and we were both smiling and sweating by the end. Intro class to Kettlebell Kickboxing is $20. A great class!!

Diesel Class @ Crunch Gym

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Photo from Crunch Gym

If there is one member of The Avengers who could be described as “diesel” it would be Chris Hemsworth’s Thor. So I decided to take Diesel Class at Crunch Gym for Thor Week. I didn’t quite know what I was getting into. It was an intense 60 minutes of weights, cardio and floor work. Cruch offers a free trial at their gym where you can take advantage of their gym equipment and/ or their classes. I’m a classes person myself and I really loved the group energy in this class as well as the unbridled enthusiasm of the instructor!! If you are a Crunch member or thinking of joining, definitely give this class a try!

Other options for Thor Week:

Weight Lifting

Other Kettlebell Classes

Helpful Tips

Here’s a list of tips that really helped me through this fitness plan. They are nothing new. They are nothing you couldn’t easily find online or in Shape magazine. But they are things that really worked for me and I hope will work for you, if you need that extra bit of motivation!

-Be honest with yourself – Try using a food tracker, I like My Fitness Pal. And make sure to be accurate in honest in your tracking. Lying only hinders your own progress. And unless you allow someone to be your accountability, you will be the only to know if you are creating a faithful accounting of your eating habits. But I truly believe that if you start being honest, even if it means tracking the 2 bowls of mint chocolate chips ice cream you ate one night, that you will start to change your habits because you want to see healthier stats. And because it will start to feel so good to make better choices. It did for me

-Stick to serving sizes – For dry goods and things that can be broken into portions, I tried to split up the portions way before meal time came around. For example, as soon as I got home from the grocery store I divided up the whole wheat pasta into ziploc bags with the correct portion size in each bag. Same with things like grapes or chips. Anything that would be easy to overeat in one sitting. That way when the time comes to eat the food you want, you can judge it based on an accurate portion and log it into your food tracker correctly. It’s ok if you need more that 1 portion of the food. But that’s where the honesty comes in.

-Shop the outer rim – When you go to the grocery store, try to stick to the fresh foods. Dairy, fruit, veggies, meat, eggs, etc. These can be found along the outer circle of more super markets. The aisles generally hold dry, preserved goods. Some of which you might need. But to eat cleaner, greener, healthier meals, the best things are the ones that might not survive a nuclear apocalypse (I’m looking at you Twinkie!)

-Keep what you like, ditch the rest – There’s nothing worse than a fitness plan that feels like it was meant for someone else. That’s why I want you to be able to take what you like from it. Sure, working out everyday, never losing focus and living only off the land is probably the healthiest way to live. But it’s not practical. I’m a firm believer that some effort is better than no effort. So even if you just do a weekly challenge or hit one class a week, it’s better than nothing. I went on Pinterest and just made a whole board of things that inspired me (after all, that’s what Pinterest is for!) This allowed me to visualize and then I went ahead and took the things I liked and ditched all the rest. Enjoyment is really half the battle!!

Stay tuned for the following Avengers: Hawkeye and Captain America. Check out Iron Man week,  Hulk week and Black Widow Week in case you missed them.

And make sure to comment below with any questions, comments, etc! And let me know if you are trying any of these. I would love to hear from you!!

#AvengerinTraining – Black Widow Week

Going Strong

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Photo by Cristina Fowler

By week 3 I felt like I could take on the world. My muscles were aching  because I was constantly using them in new ways. My endurance was getting better. My eating was clean and really healthy!! It’s the healthiest I’d ever felt. And I loved it!! An added bonus, my skin was looking so great cause of all the water I was drinking. Food started to become fuel. I loved Week 3!!

Week 3: Black Widow Week

Watercolor Art by Blule
Watercolor Art by Blule

Natasha Romanoff, aka Black Widow, was introduced to the Marvel Cinematic Universe in Iron Man 2. Using the alias Natalie Rushman, she was placed in Stark’s circle of trust by none of than Nick Fury, director of S.H.I.E.L.D., himself.  Natasha was originally trained to be an assassin in the KGB, but after Hawkeye was sent to eliminate her, by Nick Fury, he saw her potential and convinced Fury to recruit her to S.H.I.E.L.D. instead. When Loki threatened Earth, she joined Earth’s mightiest heroes to stop the impending threat.

To prepare for the r0le of Black Widow, Scarlett Johansson turned to trainer Bobby Storm to get her in shape and able to fit into her signature catsuit. Check out the full breakdown over at HealthyCeleb.com

Inspiration

Movies

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Still keeping both Avengers and Age of Ultron on the list, because Black Widow really has a chance to shine in both films. Iron Man 2 is where she’s introduced to the franchise and while it’s an extremely weak entry into the MCU, ScarJo has a really kick ass scene that you can feel free to fast forward to (if fast forwarding were still a thing… clearly I’m old.) I’ve also added Lucy to the list, in which Scarlett plays… you guessed it, an extremely bad ass female! She’s really good at that! Speaking of ladies who kick butt… I’ve added Wanted and Mr. & Mrs. Smith to the list for Black Widow week because if there is another female actress out there who could be on the team with the rest of the Avengers, it would be Angelina Jolie. Let these movies also motivate you to get in shape!!

Music

This list is comprised of music from The Avengers and a lot of music that puts me in a bad ass female state of mind.

Meals

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Head back over to HealthyCeleb.com to see the full report of Scarlett’s weekly meal plan, I based my sh0pping list on hers and then, once again, just made up my own meals with the ingredients.

Weekly Workout Challenge

For Black Widow Week, I focused on the booty and did a Squat challenge.

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Photo by Cristina Fowler

Day 1: 20 Squats

Day 2: 30 Squats

Day 3: 20 Squats (2 reps)

Day 4: 25 Squats (2 reps)

Day 5: Rest Day

Day 6: 30 Squats (2 reps)

Day 7: 40 Squats (2 reps)

Extra Credit

Cirque Class @ The Art of Fitness

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Photo from The Art of Fitness

I fell head over heels in love with this class. I’d never tried any sort of class on the silks like Aerial Yoga or Cirque or anything of that nature before. And let me tell you… it was certainly a challenge! We started doing floor work to get the feel for the movements that would be employed while in the air on the silks. Once our muscles were loosened, we went up on the silks and started climbing. I made it to the ceiling a few times and felt so powerful when I got up there (coming back down was a little different experience.) But after a few climbs I really started to get the hang of it. And then the instructor had us do a flip which was really fun but super difficult. If you’ve never been on the silks before it’s a really humbling experience to watch a class full of people who have done this before and be one of 2 new people to the class. We all need a little humbling every once in a while. Cirque class at The Art of Fitness is $20 and after doing a lot of research, this is one of the more reasonable rates in the greater NYC area. So worth the money!! I will definitely try this class again!!

Muay Thai @ Sitan Gym

Photo from Sitan Gym
Photo from Sitan Gym

One of the crafts Black Widow has mastered is Mixed Martial Arts. In order to be considered proficient in MMA, one must study many different forms of martial arts. So I started with Muay Thai which is a form of Kickboxing. I took class at Sitan Gym in Astoria. It was a very full class and again, I was one of 2 new students to the class. I really liked how they managed the new students. They throw you in with everyone else, but then there is a secondary instructor to help newbs with the movements. I enjoyed this because I like to do workout movements correctly, as you can really injure yourself if you don’t do things the right way. Sitan offers a free introductory class. Give it a try!!!

Other options for Black Widow Week:

Kickboxing

Barre Class

Ballet

Stay tuned for the following Avengers: Thor, Hawkeye and Captain America. Check out Iron Man week and Hulk week in case you missed them.

And make sure to comment below with any questions, comments, etc! And let me know if you are trying any of these. I would love to hear from you!!

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Photo by Cristina Fowler

#AvengerinTraining – Iron Man Week

Introduction

I would consider myself a fairly fit person. I enjoy running and Soul Cycle and walking and when I’m vigilant, I eat marginally well. But then came the winter and I was discontent. Chilly weather caused my motivation to disappear. The running stopped. The Soul Cycle stopped. I still tried to walk and get at least my 10,000 steps a day. But I counteracted that by overeating fatty ‘comfort’ foods.

One day, I realized I had gained 20 pounds that I did not want on me (it may not sound like a lot of weight, but it sure felt like it.) Somehow I’d let the weight sneak up on me. And that wasn’t ok with me!! My sugar intake was at an all time high, due to eating a lot of macaroni and cheese and mint chocolate chip ice cream (my favorite comfort food!) And I am genetically at risk for diabetes, but I just didn’t seem to care. This was the heaviest I’d been in quite a while. All the previous progress I’d made in the fall was being wasted thanks to laziness and a complete lack of discipline.

One night, while watching Avengers (for the 19th time), I realized that if aliens did invade Earth or the zombie apocalypse finally happened or some other menacing force became reality, I’d be one of the first to go. And as I watched Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow kick serious ass on screen, I knew…that wasn’t gonna work for me!

So I embarked on a journey that would eventually become a transforming experience.

A lot of what I’ll share is not ground breaking. It’s not even new information. It’s constantly posted and reposted in many forms. You just have to tailor it to you. That’s what I did. I made something that would be fun, inspiring and made just for me!

Now, I prefer fantasy to reality sometimes…it’s true. But I know I’ll probably never be called on to fight for my life or to save another person’s. But if I ever was called upon, I wanted to be ready.

I delved into each of the 6 characters that make up the team known as The Avengers, Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. Iron Man, Hulk, Black Widow, Thor, Hawkeye and Captain America. I researched what each individual actor did to prepare for their roles, then I went about crafting a 6 week fitness plan that I thought would be fun and that I knew I could accomplish. Most of the workouts I found online that were based on the Avengers, were mainly geared towards men. The meal plans too. I’m not about to start eating 2300 calories a day. That just wouldn’t work for me. This plan is meant to be tailored to individuals, men or women. If you like it, keep it in the plan. If you don’t, take it out. (Keep in mind I am not a fitness or medical professional. Just a nerdy fangirl who wanted to make a change.)

I do not have the money or the time to dedicate to actually looking like an Avenger. (and I am not being paid by Marvel to do this either.) But I knew that I wanted to do more than I was at the time and I decided to use the inspiration I felt while watching the Avengers to help transform my lazy habits into constructive discipline.

Below is the complete breakdown of Week 1, including the things I turned to for inspiration, the weekly challenges I made for myself, my food shopping list, and the amazing classes I took all in my endeavor to get healthy and become an #AvengerinTraining

Photo by Cristina Fowler
Photo by Cristina Fowler

Week 1: Iron Man Week

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Watercolor Art by Blule

The first Avenger on my the list was Iron Man. I decided to go in order of their introduction to the franchise. And who better to start it off, than the Iron Avenger himself. Robert Downey Jr., at 50 years old, is in the best shape of his life. Physically and in his career (as of 2014, RDJ tops Forbes’ list of highest paid actors in Hollywood). His onscreen alter-ego is Tony Stark who, after getting kidnapped by terrorists, witnesses the damage of what has become a destructive legacy at Stark Industries. While incarcerated in an Afghanistan prison, Tony discovers himself to be more than just the “genius, billionaire, playboy philanthropist” that he always had been and starts down the road to becoming so much more.

To prepare for the role of Iron Man, Robert Downey Jr, “started training using the Wing Chun technique, made famous by Bruce Lee.” (MensFitness.com) He also cut way back on the cardio in favor of increased weight training. By the time filming for Iron Man began, RDJ had backed on 25 extra pounds of muscle. Check out his full training regiment over at MensFitness.com

Inspiration

Sometimes the hardest part is taking that initial first step out the door. Being inspired is a fleeting experience, but it doesn’t have to be. Movies and music are two of my favorite things to partake in. So while preparing to take on this 6 week challenge, I thought a lot about what would keep me moving towards my goals.

Movies

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Obviously, Avengers and Age of Ultron are on the movie list for each of the Avengers as they serve as inspiration for all 6 characters. For Iron Man Week, if I needed a little extra oomph of energy or motivation I watched some or all of the above movies. Iron Man and Iron Man 3 are also obvious choices. Spiderman may seem like an unlikely choice (Peter is a poor college kid, Tony is a wealthy man), but I think there are a lot of themes that overlap between Iron Man and Spiderman. And Casino Royale has billionaire, playboy written all over it. Plus I LOVE James Bond!!

Music

This list is comprised of music from Iron Man and music that makes me think of Iron Man. Anything to get me in the mindset while on a run in the morning. Hope it pushes you like it pushed me!

Meals

I created a meal plan (you won’t hear the word diet in this blog series, I don’t believe in them) based on the foods that Robert Downey Jr ate while training. Again, I’m not being paid by Marvel and I don’t have unlimited time on my hands. So I had the master list of items that I used to stock my refrigerator and pantry and then I made meals out of them that I knew I would enjoy and would be easy to make on a daily basis. I did a lot more cooking this week than I had been doing and I liked it!!

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Weekly Workout Challenge

For Iron Man week I chose a plank challenge. Here’s the daily breakdown:

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Photo by Cristina Fowler

Day 1: 2 sets of Kneeling Side Planks (60 hold second, rest in between)

Day 2: 2 sets of Kneeling Side Planks (60 second hold, rest in between)

Day 3: 3 sets of Incline Side Planks (30 second hold, rest in between)

Day 4: 2 sets of Front Elbow Planks (30 second hold, rest in between)

Day 5: 3 sets of Front Elbow Planks (30 second hold, rest in between)

Day 6: 2 sets of Full Front Planks (30 second hold, rest in between)

Day 7: 2 sets of Full Front Planks (60 second hold, rest in between)

When Iron Man week ended, I took the last day’s challenge activity and rolled it over into the next Avenger’s weekly workout schedule. So Day 7 of the above plan will be used for the rest of the 5 weeks of training.

Extra Credit

If you were to call me an overachiever, you might be right. Especially when it comes to doing things I love and enjoy. I’ll go the extra mile and I’ll run the whole way there. So when I came up with this idea for my time as an #AvengerinTraining I chose a couple different workout classes and gyms for each week that I thought might represent the Avenger of that particular week. For Iron Man week I did:

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu @ Lifestyle MMA Academy

Photo from Lifestyle MMA Academy
Photo from Lifestyle MMA Academy

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is not for the faint of heart or the shy wallflower. If you are squeamish about being up close and personal with complete strangers… this isn’t for you. If you find the prospect of hand to hand combat daunting… turn the other way. But if you want to be pulled out of your comfort zone and challenged beyond what you think you can do… find the closest Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu studio and give it a try. Channel your inner Iron Man. And if you live in the New York City area, head to Lifestyle MMA Academy in Astoria. They will kick your butt. They sure kicked mine and, bonus, the first trial class is free. So you have no excuses!!

Power Pilates @ The Art of Fitness

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I’ve done pilates before, it’s one of my favorite ways to workout, but Power Pilates at The Art of Fitness will take your practice to a whole new level. And at just $10 a class, it’s a really great deal for a whole lot of workout!

Other options for Iron Man Week:

Rock Climbing

MMA

Stay tuned for the following Avengers: Hulk, Black Widow, Thor, Hawkeye and Captain America

And make sure to comment below with any questions, comments, etc!

Avengers: Age of Ultron

In a word: AWESOME!!!

(No spoilers, I promise!!)

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If you aren’t planning on heading to the theaters this weekend to see Avengers: Age of Ultron… you’ve made a mistake. Or you’re finally watching Daredevil on Netflix and have taken to the reclusive life for the weekend. When you emerge from your binge watching, head to the theaters and back into the darkness and watch this movie!

Here’s all the reasons to watch it:

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The Scene Stealer
Elizabeth Olsen’s Scarlett Witch, one half of the Maximoff twins, completely steals some big moments in the movie. Her powers are epic. Her acting is perfect. Her introduction as an Avenger… well I already said perfect, but I’ll say it again!!! PERFECT. Marvel’s casting department definitely knows what it’s doing!

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The Payoff

To anyone still smarting from the lack of Hawkeye action in Avengers, this is our boy’s moment to shine!! And shine he does. Jeremy Renner takes every moment to shine! And we get some rather unexpected twists where his character is concerned. Good ole Clint Barton really is a standout among the gods and demigods that make up the team of Avengers.

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The Favorite

And by favorite, I mean my favorite. Cap has always be my guy!! He’s the eternal boy scout (something they take time to poke fun at a little bit in the film.) Because Captain America has 2 solo movies under his belt, we don’t need character development or back story here. We just need Cap to be Cap. And as always, Chris Evans brings the heat. You can also see the threads they are setting up for the Civil War story line in his scenes with Robert Downey, Jr. The bromance is still alive and well, but there might be a little trouble in paradise.

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The Villain

It’s no surprise to anyone that James Spader (excellent actor that he is) took the role of Ultron to the next level. This is no mindless robot bent on torture and mayhem. Ultron is an intelligent entity of Tony Stark’s own creation. Granted, his creation takes a turn for the dark side. But even in his darkness, James Spader manages to keep that Stark humor alive in his voice work.

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The Vision

The duality of good and evil is explored throughout the whole movie in a wonderful way. A discussion about how humanity is bent on preventing bad things and in doing so eventually end up creating bad things in the process some times. This is brought to life in the form of Ultron’s antithesis, The Vision. Paul Bettany’s Jarvis finally gets a face… sort of. The Vision is meant to be an instrument of destruction for Ultron’s evil plan, but ends up… well, no spoilers!

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Lady Love

Black Widow (as bad ass as she’s ever been) gets to explore a different side to her character that we haven’t really seen yet. (Although one might think that if she had a stand alone movie, we might have the chance to see all of her different sides!) I think that this will be one that people are a little divided about, but I really loved it! I love a softer Natasha Romanoff. And it doesn’t effect her ability to kick villainous butt in the least. As if anyone believed for a second that it would!

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The Classic

What needs to be said about RDJ’s Iron Man that hasn’t already been said a million times. There’s a reason Marvel started the entirety of their world building, mega franchise, phasing plan with him. He’s irreverent and funny. He’s a leader, but he makes mistakes. He’s relatable and untouchable all at the same time. Again, Joss and company really took some time to give beats to each character. Play on their fears and their pasts. And like basically everything else in this movie, it works!!

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The New Kid

Quicksilver, aka Pietro Romanoff, aka brother of Scarlett Witch. He’s a great character, but really loses some ground in the presence of his overpowering sister, Wanda. I will say that he does have some good moments. But he’s not as strong as he could have been. And not quite as funny as Quicksilver in X-Men: Days of Future Past played by Evan Peters. My favorite part about him was his relationship to his sister. He’s the older twin (by a whole 12 minutes) and it’s sweet to see how he takes that to heart. He is a protective older brother who…NO SPOILERS.

Ok, this is getting tough. The more I talk about it the more I want to tell you everything!!!!

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The Hulk

I love Hulk. And Mark Ruffalo really gets to explore a little of the mental torture that comes with being a mean, green fighting machine. Plus he gets to explore a softer side of himself as well.

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The god

And Thor is Thor! God among men. Son of Odin. Ruler of Aasgard. Wielder of Mjolnir. Boyfriend of Jane. You get it. He rocks!

Yeah, I’m gonna stop before I give all the major plot points and twists away and you get mad at me! Go see and then we can talk. 🙂

Come join me tonight at 9pm EST for my #NerdySlumberParty to talk more about Marvel’s many projects including Avengers: Age of Ultron!

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Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N. part deux

In honor of all the big news coming out of Marvel Studios this week, I wanted to post about the Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N. If you don’t know what news I’m talking about then click here, or here, or here, or here. But seriously… if you don’t know, then I suspect you’ve just emerged from that cave you’ve been living in and probably have many other shocking things to deal with like the fact that they no longer make Pepsi Clear and that Kimye is an actual word people say nowadays! I have many thoughts on this news and I will expound on it a little later after I’ve dissected it and assimilated the information. TOO MANY THOUGHTS… all of them amazing!!! (CAPTAIN FREAKIN MARVEL!)

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A couple months ago I had the opportunity to get a sneak peek at the new Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N. exhibit at Discovery Times Square, before it was fully up and running. And last weekend they invited me back to see it now that it’s completed.
It was cool before. It is awesome now!! Make sure to get tickets: Click Here!

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You start your tour by getting issued your very own S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent badge with your name and your probationary agent status. As you start your tour you are debriefed by a fellow agent and given instructions about what to do. First Avenger up is Captain America (rightly so.) Test your strength and stats against Steve Rogers.

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See if your Gamma radiation count is anywhere close to Bruce Banner’s. Explore the stars of the Nine Realms and the Rainbow Bridge of Asgard.

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And experience the advanced technology of Stark Industry’s flight simulator. The technology in this part of the exhibit was particularly impressive! They track your body movements so that they can put the Ironman suit on you in virtual reality and then you can move around and manipulate the movements of the Ironman on the screen. Including firing at targets and simulated take off! Very fun!

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It’s an immersive experience made for children and Marvel loving adults alike.
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Thank you to the PR teams at DKC Public Relations and Discovery Times Square for setting up our tour!!