Thursday, 24 April 2014

Vagenda Strikes Again

Oh you took the words right out of my mouth. It must have been while you were kissing me.

Wait, no, that's wrong. That's Meatloaf, not me. But that's exactly what played through my head when I read this article by Vagenda Magazine. (Disclaimer: clearly I didn't think that the website was kissing me. That's just strange. The second line just flowed right out after the first, okay?!)

I love fitness, it interests me, and I love magazines, and I'm a woman, so surely a fitness magazine for women should be the perfect fit. WRONG. Totally wrong. The kind of wrong that happens when I pick up a Primark dress on a size twelve hanger and try it on, only to find it's actually a mislabelled size six. I'm sure that if I'd properly read those magazines and applied their logic those accidents would never happen: I would already be a UK size 2, existing on a diet of lettuce-infused water, hunger pangs, and a side of I-only-worked-out-for-6-hours-today guilt.

Can you imagine the misery? Unfortunately, a worrying percentage of people can. A quick glance over this HSCIC article and this one from KCL give a number of statistics that are much better read all together (hence why I'm not listing them here). I'm not about to write an article on eating disorders because that would take a lot more research and I'm already very late for bed, but could we please just take a moment to reflect on the gender gap in fitness?

Perhaps I've been a little too harsh on Women's Health (I'm also going to include Women's Fitness, although they are not dealt with by Vagenda. See my comment on the original article). I don't mean that they start eating disorders, because we all know that this doesn't happen (if you are under the illusion that celebrity gossip magazines and fitness articles cause eating disorders then I suggest you go and educate yourself. Pronto.), but I would suggest that they have played their part in the societal trend that women are only worth their looks, and a size eight figure brings in the big bucks. Even the articles that don't hint directly at this are often ever-so-slightly demeaning, downplaying the fact that a lot of women just want to be strong and healthy. Skinny does not equal healthy, my friends.

I don't have much more to say than what's in the Vagenda article, which might get you asking, why write this blog about, well, nothing much? Because I wanted to bring the article to your attention, and also because I'm sick of the importance put upon and the way we scrutinise women's bodies: eat healthily but not too much in case someone sees you, run a lot but not too much so that you don't get muscley legs, lift weights to tone up but don't lift too heavy otherwise you'll look like a man. The final straw really came last week at the gym. I booked a training session with one of the male trainers because I wanted some tips on my deadlift technique. He wasn't able to do the session in the end, so the female trainer stepped in instead. When I asked her how many reps/sets I should be doing to progress beyond my current 30kg, she gave me a look and said that if I wanted I could do 3 sets of 8 reps of the highest weight I could handle, but that she usually just did 10x10 of a lower weight to stay toned but not get bulky. Sigh. Subtle body shaming from a fitness instructor. Loving life. (Yes, she has the right to her own opinion, but she didn't need to give me that look. I asked for tips, not her life story.)

I'm going to stop my late-night rant now and go to bed. In the morning I'm going to go and buy all the men's fitness magazines I can find, and when I no longer fit into my jeans because my quads are too big, I'll just go and buy a bigger pair.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Make It, Eat It: Homemade Granola

Well hello again. This has certainly taken a while. I hate saying, "Work's been too busy to even think about blogging!" but it's unfortunately true. Thankfully the crisis is dying down a bit and I have room to breathe now, although I still go to bed every night thinking about all the things I meant to do, but didn't.

One of those things I finally got around to doing at the weekend: making my own granola. It was the result of seeing a lot of recipes recently for it, and also having a bowl of Jordan's granola and wondering whether they'd just tipped a bag of sugar into it for fun. Seriously. I thought my tongue was going to burn off. So on a sunny Sunday morning I woke up and make some just in time for breakfast, and it was delicious.


  • 1 cup oats
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup desicated coconut/coconut flakes
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped almonds (put them in a blender for a little while)
  • 1/4 cup whole almonds
  • handful sunflower seeds
  • handful pumpkin seeds
Melt the coconut oil, and then mix it all together. Put on a lined baking sheet at 150 celcius for around 25 minutes, and then try not to eat the whole lot all at once.

Step 1: arrange ingredients on aesthetically pleasing wooden chopping board

In my second batch I forgot the cinnamon and it tastes just fine without. You could also use nutmeg instead.

If you don't already own a jar of coconut oil then you are missing out, largely because of its prowess as a moisturiser.
Don't take any notice of my quantities when it comes to adding extras. Go crazy, live a little, take your life in your own hands. As long as it makes you happy it won't hurt you, so add whatever takes your fancy. I just used what I happened to have on hand. Aldi is great for cheap nuts and seeds, about half the price of Tesco etc.
You can tell it's done when it's golden and beautiful and crunchy and tastes like heaven.
Granola is for life, not just for cereal. I had mine with melon and passion fruit. Twice. Partly because I had two halves of a melon, but also because it tastes great. I'm waiting for this weekend to try it on top of a smoothie bowl. Unless I've eaten it all out of the jar by then, in which case I'll just have to make some more...
This made 3-4 servings. I think. I don't think I've ever eaten a 'serving' in my life, not intentionally. If you want to eat the whole lot at once, why not?! It should keep for a good few weeks in a sealed container so just multiply the recipe accordingly. I'm hoping everyone here is going to enjoy this so that I have to make more, it's going to seriously help me get through the remaining 7kg of oats I bought back in November...

Monday, 6 January 2014

New Year, Not So New Me.

I really dislike the whole "New Year, New You" thing. As if who you were last year wasn't good enough. I suppose that the sentiment behind it means well, but it's a bit over-done now, isn't it? And who has the energy to be a whole new person every single year? Even if you've had a terrible 2013, surely you'll strive to become a Better You, who has learnt from all the disappointment and sadness and uses the experience to improve your life, rather than a New person altogether?

I'm looking forward to 2014, but I'm not going to become a New Me. I'm going to keep trying to do all the things that I tried to do last year, only this time around I'm going to try harder to actually do them. Including, amongst other things, blogging. I have big blogging plans for 2015, but I feel like I should lay the groundwork and actually use it this year first. So watch out for more random musings. I feel those are my forte.

When I first thought about it, 2014 loomed ahead as a dull year of work and living at home (obviously oh-so-grateful that I can, but it is sometimes a little testing...), the less beautiful older sister of 2015. But things are often only as bad as you make them, so I wrote down all the things that are going to be great this year:

  • Brussels for the company catalogue launch - it was going to be the slightly-better-choice of Barcelona, but the powers that be deemed Brussels superior, so off we go in less than two weeks on a coach full of alcohol. More amusing than exciting, but I'm always up for seeing a new place.
  • A whole year of training and races - I've been banned from running for over a month now and I'm itching to get back into it. Especially because post-Christmas my jeans are not quite so comfortable. Unfortunately a really dodgy shin is holding me back, but I'm on the mend and once the right size pair of running shoes turns up I'm going to attack it. This weekend's cross country was cancelled because of the weather; I wasn't going to run because of the aforementioned shin, but fingers crossed it'll be postponed for a while and I'll be able to run, and therefore will only have missed the December race. I'm going to try (again) to get a place in the Yorkshire marathon, as well as enter a couple of half marathons and shorter races so that I have something to work towards.
  • Paris with Sofie - I haven't been since I was 13 and I'm slightly too excited to go and explore, dress like Amelie, and find the perfect cafe. I will rave about this more in the distant future...
  • Cornwall in May - I've already booked the week off work because it is one of my two favourite places other than home and I wouldn't miss it for the world. Last year I spent the month before it as excited as an eight year old on Christmas Eve, probably because the only other activity in my life was dissertation writing. This year I will try to forget about it until two weeks before.
  • Doing more cooking - I bought a recipe book by one of the owners of Leon, a new favourite place to eat. The recipes inside sound so delicious and really look homemade: most of them are old family recipes of people who work in the restaurants, or are ones for the perennial foods served that are customer favourites. I do love cooking, but most of the time it is purely functional. Porridge for breakfast, half a forest of fruit for lunch, and a giant smoothie for super. Not exactly the stuff of dreams. So I'm going to try to cook at least one meal ever weekend, regardless of who is at home, that I've never made before. Who knows, maybe by the end of the year I'll have made the whole book.
  • Various projects - planning travels for 2015, learning how to use my camera properly again, yoga, printing photos and putting them in albums, redecorating our attic and making it amazing.
I'm pretty certain that more things will crop up along the way, but for now that will do. I have two pairs of running shoes in the post, plus gym clothes and jewellery from someone I've followed on social media for a long long time. She wanted to make jewellery and so she went out there, learned how to, and is doing it. If I can do half as well as her then I'll be having a successful 2014 all round.