This Isn’t A Real Post

realThis isn’t a real post, it’s just some thoughts.

  • This video popped up on my Facebook recently, and what I found most interesting about it wasn’t the amazing will and determination of the athlete depicted in it, but the fact that a huge percentage of people’s comments (on Facebook, not BBC where the video was originally posted) were really derogatory. People actually commented that the video was disgusting or stupid because she ‘obviously wasn’t fit enough’ or ‘shouldn’t run before she can walk’. This is astounding and obviously ignorant. It baffled me. It’s also worth noting, this runner still managed to finish in 3rd place. Not too shabby.
  • I’ve been getting back into running, mainly with the help of a podcast called Serial. I’d never listened to podcasts before, and I’m finding I’m able to plan my runs in accordance with how long the episodes are. They have been gradually increasing in length, and so have my runs since I know I’ll want to stay on the treadmill for the duration. I’ll talk more about Serial once I’ve completed the series, but with only two episodes left I’m wondering what to listen to next. Another podcast, an audio book? If anyone has any podcast recommendations I’d love to hear them. It also got me to wondering; if you listen to an audio book, is it cheating to say you’ve read that book, if asked?
  • I’m off on my holly-bobs in a couple of days. We’re off to Las Vegas, and for the exact time we’re there they are experiencing a cold snap… typical. However a cold snap in Nevada is the same as late Spring in the UK so who am I to complain? I’m looking forward to cocktails, yummy meals, shopping and seeing the sights. It might not be poolside weather but I’m ready to drink in some sun rays and enjoy some long lazy days! Does anyone have any tips for quickly getting over jet lag, so I can get straight into holiday mode?
  • It’s almost March…. where’d February go?

 

50 Shades of Snobbery

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few months, you’ll be aware of the latest blockbuster buzz in movies – 50 Shades of Grey. I haven’t read any of the books and I don’t plan on making a trip to the cinema. Apart from the fact that I really dislike the cinema experience at the moment (though I am looking forward to trying out the 4DX) I really don’t have the need to make an effort to see it. That being said, after all this hype, I probably will watch it once it appears on the tv (most likely for next Valentine’s Sky Premiere) just out of pure intrigue.

There’s been a huge amount of hype and chat about this movie. People (all 5 of them) picketing the London Premiere to point out that Christian Grey, the male lead, is a domestic abuser. People deciding who they will go and see the movie with, whether it be a loved one, a group of girl friends or on their own. People discussing whether they liked the movies or books or whether they were a step too far. A LOT of chat. Radio, TV, print.

It got me to thinking for what reason I have something against these books or the film. Sure, I feel a little uncomfortable with the subject matter, but not because I’m a prude. I have no problem with two consenting adults doing whatever they like in the privacy of their own bedroom, in fiction or reality. I wondered how I could have such a strong negative opinion of something I haven’t read or seen, but saying that I know I wouldn’t enjoy watching a pubic beheading without needing to see one in order to decide.

I think it boils down to that fact that I’m a book and movie snob. I have an issue with the fact that it’s really just bad writing, and from what I have heard in reviews of the movie it’s also bad screenwriting. 50 Shades is doing for people’s opinion on sex as The Da Vinci Code did for people’s intelligence. I strongly believe that Dan Brown’s books helped those who were less scholarly to feel more so. And in this rationale, EL James has made women (and probably men) feel naughty, empowered and less boring in the bedroom. It’s made it okay for people to read, and discuss erotica in public and not feel grimy or sordid. For that EL James should be applauded. There are plenty of books that err on the hot side of raunchy, but people would rather keep those strictly to their kindles where no one can tell what they’re reading. But 50 Shades was seen being read poolside all around the world (as was The Da Vinci Code, incidentally).

I’m reminded of the feeling I got when I went to see Avenue Q a few years back. When I came out of the theatre I was disappointed. People around me had belly ached to the puppets singing about porn, whereas I thought the whole thing was unfunny, childish and just not extreme enough. It was like your prudish [insert family member here] saying ‘crap’ in a sentence and then looking at you like they’ve just said the naughtiest word ever. Cringe.

And that’s it, it’s all a little cringe. Ann Summers’ mannequins in submissive positions with fuzzy handcuffs dripping from their wrists. Leave it out.

I’d like to touch on the domestic violence issue, lightly, again having not read or seen 50 Shades. This subject has obviously pushed buttons and there are two very separate schools of thought on this. One side state that 50 Shades promotes domestic violence, abuse and stalking. The other side protest that women (and men) should be a little looser and realise that when two people consent to this kind of thing, as is the case in the story I understand, that it’s up to them what they do. People like this, and if you don’t then don’t do it. My opinion is people can do what they like, but what we need to remember is that 50 Shades of Grey was written as a Twilight fan fiction. I’ve read (and written) plenty of fan fiction in my time. Some is wonderful, some is truly drivel. I understand that this particular book is written extremely badly. I’ve read snippets, out of context granted, and it’s truly awful. So when EL James defends her book and states that this isn’t domestic abuse, but two consenting adults enjoying an alternative sex life, we need to remember that she also believes she’s penned a novel worth reading and well written. What I’m getting at is that she might have written it so badly that it does boil down to domestic abuse. She might have been so off the mark that it turned into bad taste. And also, remember that the original character was Edward Cullen, a stone cold killer vampire who can enter a room unheard and unseen and with the strength of a really strong thing.

And after all this, yes I’m intrigued, but I don’t think enough to go and read the books or see the film. I have a lot of way more sexually charged books on my book shelf and if I want to read something like that I’ll choose something I consider to be written well, thank you very much. (Incidentally, all my Dan Brown books were donated to the public library and I only read 1 and 3/4 of them….. yes I stopped about 15 pages short of the second book to make a sandwich and never went back.)

So, obviously I can’t make up my mind as I haven’t experience the subject matter. But I’m fine with that. I’m fine with the befuddled looks I get from women who can’t understand why I answer ‘No’ to ‘Haven’t you read 50 Shades?’ – I’ve had this look from people for years now. (It’s the same look I get when I tell them I haven’t seen Magic Mike either.) I’m just a book snob and a movie snob and that’s the way I am, just like Christian Grey is, apparently, just a hot weirdo in a suit.

I have read the odd review of the movie, and this one stuck out, so if you’re so inclined then go ahead and look at it. I’ve yet to read a positive review, but to be fair I doubt I’ve really been looking for one. If you’ve read one then go ahead and paste a link in the comments. If you’ve seen the film and or read the book I’d love to hear your opinion.

This whole saga intrigues me, can you tell?

When Did it Become February?

And all of a sudden it’s mid February. I’m not sure when that happened but for sure it crept right up on me. And the cheeky thing about February is that it’s a short month. I’ve spent a lot of my spare work time getting things prepped for when I’m away on holiday, to make things easier when I get back, and most of my home time training. And before we know it, it’ll be March!

I’m on a 9 month training plan (of my own making) to gain a bikini confident body by September when I go to Ibiza on my first girly holiday, and hen party. I have some kind of training planned for every day of the week apart from one which is a rest day, but I’m out on that evening anyway. I’ve maintained the same weight for the last 4 weeks and it’s 2lb under my topper most happy weight. So it’s all going well and I feel more toned and less wobbly. I’ve been taking progress photos and not seeing a huge amount of difference so far, but I’m only a month and a half in.

Eating has been the hardest thing at the moment, since discovering I’m lactose intolerant, all I want is cheese and clotted cream, but I’m experimenting with foods at the moment and seeing how they affect me. A lot of the stuff I normally eat is dairy free anyway, and I’m not having a hard time substituting ingredients in other recipes to create a dairy free version.

Since the weather has been so so cold of late, I’ve been really fancying soup for lunch, which is odd because I’m usually against soup. I feel like I need to digest something for my lunch and soup, to my brain, is just a hot drink. But I found a recipe for a lentil soup a while back, which I think I’ve mentioned before, and it’s so easy and filling (and healthy!) that I have been making a batch on a Sunday morning and dividing it between 5 tubs for lunches throughout the following week. I’m able to buy the ingredients and use any left over for other meals in the week, and also get a wholesome and filling meal in the middle of my way, all week! Win win. My affair with soup won’t last long, and as soon as the weather picks up a little I will be back onto salads, but it’s great for now.

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And speaking of the weather picking up, which it seems it might start to do from next week, it’s been lovely seeing all the Valentine’s flowers about and a recent visit to my Mum’s saw a lovely bouquet of tulips in her living room. Spring touches are out and about and it’s wonderful.

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G Man and I don’t really do much, or anything, for Valentine’s Day. I’m not about to go on about commercialisation and a fake holiday, but you get the drift. It doesn’t have any impact on us. And that’s not because we’re not romantic or we don’t love each other, but because we love each other just the same all 364 other days of the year and don’t need a card or stuffed animal to show each other that. But on that cynical note I hope you all had a lovely day. Our day was made more Valentine-sy but being invited over to our friend’s house for Valentine’s lunch and cuddles with their new baby.

Lunch was amazing – a huge spread of salads followed by afternoon tea cakes and scones.

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And of course the company was great and we got plenty of cuddles with little Leo. It made for a much more festive Valentine’s and we were able to spend it with friends we love!

So it’s all go here in the Mason house, with preparations for all kinds of trips and lots of eating, with some running and training thrown in to boot. Not at all bad!

Red Lentil Soup
This recipe serves 4, but I tend to add a little more boiled water once the stock has gone in, just so I can stretch it comfortably to 5 lunch sized portions. This doesn’t affect the thickness of the final soup.
1 tbsp olive oil
1 lrg carrot, diced
1 sml onion, diced
2 lrg ribs celery, diced
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup red lentils
4 cups water or low salt broth
1 whole bay leaf
2 tbsp lemon juice
In a large non stick pan (with a lid), heat oil over medium heat. Add celery, carrot, onion and 1/4 tsp salt. Stir to combine and then cover. Let vegetables sweat until onions are soft and translucent (about 5 mins). Add the lentils, water/broth and bay leaf. Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and let simmer, covered, until lentils are soft and starting to fall apart (about 20 mins).
Turn off the heat, and add 1 tbsp of lemon juice. Stir and taste. Add the other tbsp of lemon juice, if you’re happy to. (You do need both as the acidity cuts through the creaminess of the lentils, but please don’t ruin your soup!) Add salt to taste (this also reduced the lemony-ness of the juice and it all blends really well).
Don’t forget to remove the bay leaf! This will keep refrigerated for up to 5 days.

Do I Hate Running?

I have an odd relationship with running. When I first started out, I read about all the addiction that was running and that I would get head over heals to the point where I would actually miss running if I had to take a break.

I’ve never felt that. And when I’m running I really don’t feel like I’m enjoying myself. I don’t run along with a huge grin on my face. Instead I picture my sofa and the massive meal I’m going to eat when I get home because ‘I’ve earned it’. I have been regularly known to shout ‘Why am I doing this?!” to my running buddies….. motivating for them I’m sure!

On a recent shopping trip I popped into Victoria’s Secret PINK and spotted a vest which proudly stated ‘I Hate Running’. Sadly they’d run out of stock, but should I see it again, I’ll snap it up. Other than the amusement I’ll get from wearing it at the gym on a treadmill day (though, probably to no one else’s amusement), the vest bears a statement which is fairly true.

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So why do you keep running, I hear you ask? Well I do get something out of it – achievement and well deserved smugness. I love the after feeling of a run, knowing I’ve just slogged it out for half an hour or more. I like the feeling of sweating more than I’ve ever sweated before and it feels like some kind of really gross detox. I enjoy the muscle aches I get after a really hard workout, and I really enjoy seeing improvements in speed, distance or general fitness no matter how long that takes. And I really REALLY like getting shiny medals.

I’m very hard on myself. I love learning new things, but I hate the learning part. I want the skill or knowledge NOW and have little patience for getting things wrong. I think this adds to the struggles I face when running. Plus the little voice in my head telling me I can’t do it is very persuasive at times.

After completing a half marathon last year, I know I wasn’t ready physically or mentally for it. It had seemed, at the time, like the natural next step from the 5k and 10k races I’d been running. But what I should have done was take off the pressure and just get better as those shorter distances. So that’s what I’m doing now. I currently complete 2 runs a week of around 5k (depending on whether the little voice throws a wobbly – I’m starting to sound like a schizophrenic….) and that’s fine with me. Incidentally, the voice is winning less often.

So do I hate running? Well, kinda. But it’s very possible I’ve done that to myself. With the Bupa 10,000 booked in for May, all I have to do is be able to run a comfortable 6 miles by then. And that’s more than achievable. By taking the pressure off and continuing loosely scheduled training I’m hoping that by the end of the summer I’ll be able to switch off, enjoy myself and just run.

Listening, Learning and Looking Forward

This week has been tiring, but rewarding. When I’m busy I tend to go all in or nothing, and this week was an all in week. I have a problem pacing myself in all aspects, not just running…. I’m aware.

Anyway, last weekend I trained Saturday (weights and core), Sunday (my first 5k run in 6 months), Monday (Yoga) and then I was busy Tuesday and Wednesday nights. Thursday was more yoga and friday I sat on the sofa and dribbled…..

So it was busy but rewarding. I really enjoyed my Sunday treadmill run and even though my legs ached for the next few days, it was a familiar ache – like welcoming back an old friend! Today I was back at it with another weights session, but this time I was able to train with my friend Tash who wanted to try out a little more in the weight section. It’s really rewarding to start finding certain areas of my workout getting easier and also gain some of the fitness back that I’d lost over the last few months, whilst not training.

My yoga sessions were completed using the improved Nike Training Club app which I’m really liking this time around. When it first launched I looked at it, but ended up deleting it from my phone as it was taking up too much space. Since my phone upgrade I hadn’t remembered the app, but they’ve been pushing it fairly heavily on social media and I thought I’d give it another go. What I like about it is your workouts add to your existing Nike Fuel however you earn it. I’ve linked my Nike Running app to it, so I already have a fair bit of fuel.

The app can be used to strengthen, lean down, tone and what they call ‘focus’ which incorporates yoga. You choose the workouts you like to look of and download them for later use. What I like about these it you’re talked through the moves, with the option to watch a video on how to perform each section.

I might even try some of the cardio workouts in the spring when I can use the space in the back garden.

Other than knackering myself out, I’ve been getting rather excited about a couple of trips I’m going on this year. In 5 weeks I fly out to Las Vegas for a week. It’s been 8 years since I was last there and so much has been built since then. We’re trying to decide on a show to see, though I think Gary and I are most looking forward to eating and shopping! The other trip isn’t until September but I’m going on a holiday of firsts – my first hen party, my first all girl holiday and my first beach holiday – I’m off to Ibiza! I really can’t wait! I’m determined to have worked out enough to be happy to put on a bikini by then too!

This week I’ve also been doing a lot of online reading and a couple of articles caught my attention. I’ve mentioned periods in the past, and in the past felt I’ve had to apologise for it. Well it was a breath of fresh air to read what this journalist wrote. Have a look here if you’re so inclined. I also read this article about positive morning rituals. I was interested in how the author rejected most social media in the morning and replaced it with simple things to start his day on the best possible foot. Another interesting point was his choice to continue to include instagram as a positive stimulus in his morning, making the point that you just don’t see anything negative posted (as long as you haven’t chosen to follow spam or troll instagram users, but who would really want to do that?). And finally this article and accompanying video from a very intelligent and articulate victim of revenge porn. Technology and social media has changed the world and changed how people interact with each other. It’s a new kind of warfare and even though some of the blows people hit others with are horrific, it’s wonderful to see women this eloquent and head strong come out of it fighting.

How was your week?
 

A Little Bit About Me

aboutI originally read this post featured by Abigail at A Floral Crown, and she opened it up to all her readers so I thought why not!
Here goes:

Four names that people call me other than my real name:
I often get called the wrong name by people who weren’t listening properly when I told them my name (Emily or Emma are favourites of those people) but most common nicknames are El, Erni, Schmez and E

Four jobs I have had (not counting any current jobs):
I have worked in sales for a bank, been a retail assistant, retail assistant manager and saturday assistant at a library.

Four movies I’ve watched more than once:
(only 4?!)
When Harry Met Sally
Role Models
Life of Pi
Paranormal Activity

To be honest I’ve watched most of the movies I liked more than once!

Four books I’d recommend:
A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg
Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Through a Glass Darkly by Jostein Gaarder
Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson

Four places I have lived:
Bletchley, Dunstable, Edlesborough, Bletchley (I’ll count this twice since one was my home and one my parent’s!)

Four places I have been:
New York
San Francisco
Las Vegas
Paris

Four places I wouldn’t mind being right now:
On Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco
On a hot beach somewhere
At a Disney park
Drinking coffee in a city coffee shop and watching the world go by

Four things I don’t eat:
Anything with a snotty texture
Seafood
Spicy food
Sushi (unless it’s vegetarian)

Four of my favourite foods:
Avocado
Extra extra mature cheddar
Smokey bacon
Any form of potato

Four TV shows that I watch:
The West Wing
Girls
Veronica Mars
New Girl

Four things I am looking forward to this year (next 12 months):
Las Vegas
Ibiza
Spa evening with the Book Club girls
V Festival

Four things I’m always saying:
Awesome (and I hate myself every time I say it)
I’m so tired, I really need to go to bed earlier tonight (first thing in the morning. By the evening I don’t want to go to bed!)
What did you say? (because, apparently I’m deaf)
I’m hungry

Like Abigail, I don’t want to tag a specific person so I open this up to any of my readers who want to participate. Comment if you take part because I’d love to read your answers!

This Week I Have Been Mostly….

this week i have been mostly

The first week in January is complete and rather successful it has been! We’ve started this year with a bang, and already have masses planned. But sticking to this week….

  • Eating – The christmas period has really taken its toll on me and having lost a lot of weight just before Christmas I have, unfortunately put it all back on over the festive period. So, as unoriginal as it sounds, we’re trying to get back into the swing of healthy eating, and though I didn’t fall completely off the wagon in December I did get into the nasty habit of grazing. It’s made all the more hard with the amount of left over nibbles we have in the house. This weekend I will be throwing out a lot of it and giving some away, just so that the temptation isn’t there any more.

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I’ve been busy in the kitchen though, and above is Quorn shepherd’s pie in the making.

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I also found a lovely lentil soup recipe on Pinterest and made that last weekend. It’s so yummy that I’ll be making it again soon.

  • IMG_1552 Another Pinterest recipe is the above, oven baked cheat’s KFC chicken. I was a little skeptical as how could it really taste like KFC especially as it’s not fried, but I was very surprised (and delighted) when I began to tuck into it that it really does taste just like it. Granted I used skinless chicken breasts so it doesn’t have the same texture as peeling the skin from a KFC piece, but the flavour was there and the coating wasn’t soggy either. I’ll be making that again soon too!
  • Adjusting: Still on the subject of food, I’ve been coming to terms with the idea that I might be lactose intolerant – mainly with milk but also with soft cheeses. I changed from cow’s milk to coconut milk around a year ago, purely for its health benefits, but over the winter I’d fancied real milk again so substituted it in tea and lattes made at home. Bad idea – my body really didn’t like it so I started to realise maybe coconut milk was what I needed to stick with. The trouble is it becomes bitter very quickly and can ruin a nice cuppa. Today in the supermarket, on my way to stock up on coconut milk, I saw a new milk called A2 which claims to be better for the digestive system than standard cow’s milk. I bought some to give it a go – no harm!
  • Training: We’re back at the gym and we also acquired some York dumbells over the Christmas period so we’ve got weights at home now. We also have some races planned – MK 10k, Bupa 10,000 and Women’s Running 10k (just for me!) so we’ll be training for those.
  • Travelling: Excitedly and very unexpectedly we have quite a few trips planned for this year. I already knew I was off to Ibiza in September and I’m so excited about it. I also have some short breaks planned. But I’m now also returning to Las Vegas in 7 weeks time for a week and I couldn’t be happier!
  • Learning: This week I read this very interesting article about self-doubt and those annoying voices in your head, I found it really useful. I liked the perspective and it was really thought-provoking. Maybe you might find it useful too.

All this and just one week into the year….. It’s shaping up to be a good one!