Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Eat Chocolate

Weight and over-eating has been an issue with women, i imagine, since the beginning of time. Or, perhaps, since the first time cave-Husband dragged in a dead wooly mammoth, made fire, and cave-wife figured out how to skin and sauté the thing. Regardless of when it all started, there is no woman around in the modern world who has not at one point in her life looked at her body and thought, “Shucks, i should really do something about this.”

Regardless of where it came from, either hormonal attacks, or thyroid problems, heartbreaking bastards, winter-comfort food séances, claims of ‘i’m just big boned’ or simply because it was filled with jam – women have a problem with food. We eat to fill a hole that don’t need fillin’!

i never knew i had a problem, though, till recently. For the last three years, in fact.

Being a naturally tall, somewhat slender person, i spent most of my life up till recently being the thin girl with the healthy appetite. But before you all start throwing your half eaten chocolate bars at me and label me ‘skinny bitch’, know that i really am one of you now. i am a self-made convert, i saw the light in my heaviness - i do fee your pain! i have watched my scale creep up kilo by kilo over the past few years, and let me tell you, it has not been a pretty journey.

 i discovered my once hot little hip huggers became muffin top pants. Choosing a bikini, which used to be all about stripes verses spots, was suddenly all about how much of the cellulite will it hide. Stretchy jeans? Less a fashion statement and more of a necessity when i went up a dress size with no money for new clothes. And i could literally feel my once ‘leetle’ rear-end follow me around with ever growing presence!

Yip, i was getting fat. i had not only one, but many ‘Shucks, i should really do something about this’ moments. Then finally, when the scale tipped what i consider to be unacceptable (i will not put actual weights in here for fear of judgement and discrimination) i decided it was time to get serious. i realized the problem was partly that i was eating too much, but mostly that i did not care what it was that i ate. i was eating irresponsibly and there-by damaging my body. It's not about being thin, its about being healthy, and excess fat rolls are just our body's way of crying out to us, saying 'please help, please save me, please feed me better!'

 Diets are a joke. Seriously, people, diets are bad bad BAD for you. Yes i heard about those little pills that diminish your appetite and supposedly really don’t do anything bad to you, just stop you from craving food… Really? Things that are so packed full of caffeine and much, much worse that send your heart rate through the roof are good for you? Uh, no. I don’t think so. They actually put strain on your internal organs and basically just cause havoc to your poor inner-body. i have also heard ‘Eat just protein, lean protein it really makes you break down your fat faster and you don’t feel hungry and you can live for ages on boiled eggs and lean skinless chicken breast’… Wrong again. Meat only diets are picking up more and more flack as research shows the link between them and higher levels in cholesterol as well as other health problems. There are even links between meat only diets and hormonal problems. i would go so far as to say, attitude problems! (no seriously, its true.) It's not good for you to eat only one food group. Sure you might loose weight initially, but at what cost later?

So no. Diets are not for me. i love and respect my body too much.

 AND SO, i have been trying to go back to what my mother taught me. Eat Healthy. Eat a well balanced diet. And eat as many ‘natural, unprepared’ things as possible. WHAT A REVELATION!

The less processed a food, the better it is for your body. All it takes to eat this way, making sure you are getting all your nutrients, vitamins and minerals and pretty much everything else you actually need to eat food for, is a little Googling and some personal admin. i started researching these natural foods and found that my problem with anemia that i have been battling most of my teen-to-adult life can be helped by natural foods. No more supplements. Brussels spouts have more vitamin C in them than most citrus fruits. Who would thought?
Broccoli is so high in calcium that it should be called an honorary dairy product! Not to mention it helps protect from prostate, colon, urinary bladder, pancreatic, and breast cancers! And don't even get me started on the wonders of peppers...

 Natural foods are fascinating! i am really loving learning all i can about it now, so that one day, when there are mini-me’s running around, i can feed them a well thought out, well balanced diet too, just like my mom used to and i took for granted all these years.

Pairing this with calorie counting has made my life so much easier. Now i don't need to wonder 'am i eating because i am hungry?', because i can count my way through the day. i use an app on my iPhone called ‘MyFitnessPal’ (you can get it on android too) It helped me realize just how many calories things have in them, and has not so much stopped me from eating certain foods (though it definitely has done that) as it has allowed me to start eating things i love again. Yay! Potatoes! I mean, the years and years i spent believing that potatoes are fattening is a thing of the past. Baked, boiled or steamed (no oil of course) they are seriously healthy and not that high in calories after all. Especially sweet potatoes. So now, i get to eat one of my favorite things 3 or 4 times a week, guilty free! And the best part is, i am loosing weight! Yes, you can loose weight when eating potatoes, corn fritters, pumpkin pie and chocolate. Its all about not lying to yourself, preparing things properly, portion sizes, having more knowledge of what you are putting in your mouth and just having fun with it.

Now, i have not lost ’10 pounds in 10 days’ or dropped a dress size over night, but i am loosing that excess fat, little by little, and for the first time in years, the scale is actually coming down again, albeit one tiny ticker at a time. And i feel fantastic, energized and healthy again! Which is what it's all about, surely.

By the time i reach my goal weight, i am going to be so used to this new healthier eating lifestyle that i am positive i wont go and put it all on again any time soon. Chocolate covered strawberries to me!

Love, lust and fairy-star-dust
Cherry Blossom

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Fifty Shades of Excuse My French

Bondage, by Phil Warren
Today i'm going to talk about my recent encounter with the hit novel, Fifty Shades of Grey, by EL James.*

i’m not being rude when i call it 'Fifty Shades of Excuse My French', i am merely quoting the author herself. In the book, EL James describes her character, Christian Grey, as ‘fifty shades of f####d up’. And i have to agree.

When i first heard twitterings of this new book, which was taking the world by storm one housewife at a time, i wasn’t in the slightest bit interested. Oh dear, i thought. Some trashy mommy-porn for the sad and deprived. i’m a bit of a self-confessed prude, not into that kind of thing. However, through a series of unfortunate eventual reviews, i decided that i needed to see what all the fuss was about myself.

i made the decision to read the book based on 2 things.

1) i AM said self-confessed prude and need to loosen up the corset strings a little (as Husband so eloquently puts it) and

2) i am embarking on a novel** literary career path and feel that i need to know my business. If there was one thing i learnt from my time in the actual business world, it was know your product. Know your competitors; Know your allies; Know your clients; Know your target market; Know your broader market; Know your playing field; Know your team players; Heck, know the grandmother of the guy who once sold things totally different to your product! Basically, the more you know about your piece of the pie-chart, the better you will do in the bakery business as a whole.

And so, as i have chosen to tuck into the pie that is modern fiction, it's my job to read as much of it as possible.

(And then of course there is that ‘do one thing you wouldn’t normally do every day’ thing i aspire to – see my blog post Cherry Blossoms Quickie Cures for Writers Block)

So i read it. Boy was that a tough week! i found the writing style annoying at best, tedious, and downright repetitive. i don’t like criticizing another author as i know how much hard work goes into these things, but lets just say it was not for me. The sex scenes were graphic, but not all that sexy. Gaurdian Books put it best when they said, “Alas Fifty Shades of Grey is as erotic as wet wool; As Polyfilla……..The writing is so intrusively awful that the mind rebels against it.”

i personally found the books' love-making descriptions to be unrealistic, and think women would find a more true-to-life account of the act of coitus in a smut magazine aimed at science-fiction Trekkie nerds. In fact, good old misogynistic porn would capture the moment better, what with all the instant-coffee cries of rapture emitted from these pages. As Anastasia Steele goes from virgin to professional sexoholic in less than 1000 words, i would have to say, no, not likely.

Christian Grey’s expectation of Ana Steele’s submission, in and out of the bedroom, is creepy. Take it from someone who has actually broken up with a boy when he said to me, and i quote, “Woman, Don’t defy me!” In real life, would this girl really stick around? i don’t think so. i certainly wouldn't! i would send him packing, as Miss Steele so often debates with herself, yet stupidly stays for more.

Then there is the question of sexual and/or blatant assault, otherwise known as a BDSM lifestyle. Mr. Grey manages to bestow on his new ‘victim’ two sound thrashings in the first book which left me staring at the scenes in horror. Really? Are we condoning this behavior? Is it OK that thousands of women have fallen in love with a character, fictional or not, who beats his girlfriend and expects that to be normal? That it's a turn-on? i admit i haven’t read book 2 or 3 (and don’t intend to) so things could very well be turned around, but the only way i think this should end is with him behind bars and under severe mental therapy.  There is a BIG difference between a little light banter with some pink fluffy cuffs, and a heavy handed assault.

 Or maybe its just me. Maybe Joseph Fritzl was just mis-understood. Maybe sadomasochism is a very real and ‘healthy’ form of relationship for many, many people. Then again, people eat blood sausage. People are morons.

Is this the real face of Christian Grey?

Having said that, i do actually see why this book became such an overnight success and continues to be so popular. EL James is no fool. She has the winning formula tucked right in there under the bridle straps and ‘vanilla sex’ silken scarves.

It’s as simple as this:

Step 1: Boy (Christian Grey) meets girl (Anastasia Steele). Their surnames match. There is chemistry. There is sex. Lots of it. All the time. Like three times in a row, then again first thing in the morning, then again right after that. And then again. And then…you get the picture.
Step 2: Boy unwittingly reveals deep hidden wounds and childhood scars. Girl falls in hopeless sympathetic empathy for damaged boy and is tormented by thoughts of his past. Girl accepts abuse at hand of boy, because, well I can only imagine she blames it on boys own experience of child-abuse. In related news, boy is billionaire who flies helicopters and is a Calvin Klein underwear model look-alike. Girl isn’t in it for the money. Girl is in love. Girl gets brand new Apple laptop, phone, car and first class air tickets bought for her while considering a dominant-subdominant relationship with damaged billionaire boy. (rolling my eyes HEAVILY here)
Step 3: Boy suddenly finds that his protective walls (which were so determinedly built round himself since his unspoken abuse up to age 4) are all too subtly being scaled by girl. Or boy doesn’t realize it at all, but its happening. Girl is getting through – the first and only to ever have done so to boy, it would seem.

And then it all ends in book one with a big bang, or should I say, beating, and Ana Steele has a wave of sanity and escapes with nothing more than a sore bottom and a broken heart.

BRILLIANT! Because now, all these housewives and pent-up women around the world are DYING for Ana to go back and fix poor old Christian with her ‘love’. Because who can resist a love story so deep and tragic? A little sexual healing? They will have their fill, oh yes they will. So says EL James. The women of the world will have their fill of Christian Grey being saved by Ana Steele. And more sex, i guess.


And now of course, even i want to know what happens! Damn Twilight-saturated media brainwashing. Damn sympathetic empathy. Damn soft, malleable lady-ness!

Things i Hated the Most:
- The phrase “Oh my…”
- The over explicit, over told, overtly unrealistic sex scenes
- The boring as hell look-at-me-look-at-me-I’m-so-hot-and-so-rich-and-can-fly-helicopters-and-stuff theme of it all.

But not to be one to only complain, and who tends to try find the silver lining in all things in life, i do have a list of Things i Liked:
- The correspondence between Ana and Christian, which was actually quite playful and entertaining
- The contract between Dominant and Subdominant, and the subsequent changes thereto throughout the book. Just cus it was so very formally ‘WTF?!?’ Very interesting.

So there you have it. My take on the Fifty Shades. If anyone is willing to read books 2 and 3 and will sit with me over coffee just to discuss, i will be ever so grateful to not have to wade through any more oh-my’s and endless sex scenes, but still find out how it all turns out. Thank you!

Love, lust and fairy-star-dust
Cherry Blossom

*This is not a book review. This is just my personal opinion about a book i have just read. My opinion is just one, please don’t feel offended if you don’t agree and i promise i wont be offended if you loved the book.
**(haha – sorry, a little dry book-worm humor there…)