We don’t live in an equal society.

A friend of mine recently posted on Facebook about HBO’s intention to air an ‘alt-history’ drama called Confederate, which takes place in an alternate timeline where the South won the Civil War and slavery still exists.  This post inevitably inspired a friendly debate about why a show like this is should or shouldn’t be aired in this day and age.  Some people expressed similar amounts of outrage, while others questioned if this type of show is any different to other apocalyptic shows like The Handmaid’s Tale.

It’s very different, and I’ll tell you why.  Women have been oppressed for centuries – that we know.  However, western society has overwhelmingly changed its view of women.  Aside from the stigma of Eve and the apple, women by and large have been considered to be humans and worthy of all the rights humanity affords for quite some time.

African-Americans haven’t.  It wasn’t that long ago that people believed that black people were a completely different species to white people.  Anti-miscegenation laws were introduced in the USA as early as 1691, and these laws weren’t completely abolished in many states until 1967.  Despite this ruling, the difference between races is something that continues to be ingrained into society today.  There is still a huge stigma against anyone with a skin tone darker than mildly tanned – from everyday things like the lack of makeup and nude shoe options to suit darker skin, to things that affect current and future generations such as inequitable access to affordable housing, quality education and job opportunities.

When you think about heaven and the concept of good, you inevitably think about the colour white.  When you think about hell and all things bad or evil, you probably envision the colour black.  Children are taught from an early age that dark skin is bad and ugly and light skin is good and beautiful.  Don’t believe me? Watch this heartbreaking video:

Go have a look at children’s movie heroines and villains and you’ll see that, by and large, if the villain doesn’t have darker skin then they have dark hair, eyes and/or clothing.  Adolescent girls learn pretty quickly that bright coloured eye makeup is light and fun while dark, smokey eyes are risqué and dangerous.  Products that claim to lighten and brighten your skin tone are touted to those with darker skin, all to apparently make them appear more friendly and welcoming.  There are even lightening products for vaginas because apparently no part of our bodies can be dark.

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I could provide so many more societal and even personal examples, but I think you get my point.  The inequality of race in western society is still very much alive and kicking.  Unfortunately with the current political climate in the USA and elsewhere, there’s no sign of it slowing down anytime soon.  The problem with airing a show like Confederate in this day and age is that it only plays into this inequality.

The vast majority of people watching The Handmaid’s Tale would be outraged at the inhumane treatment of women in the program.  The sad fact of the matter is that there are simply too many people in this world who wouldn’t be all that outraged about the alternative reality portrayed in Confederate because at the core of their belief system, darker-skinned people aren’t equal to them.  It’s 2017, and African-Americans still live in constant fear for their lives.  As my friend said, we still cannot have a real conversation about race in America because it’s still so divisive.  The alternative reality in Confederate is just too close to society’s current reality.  And it turns my stomach faster than any other force known to man.

Here’s a thought: Let’s ditch TV shows that feed inequality of class, wealth, race, religion, sexuality, etc. and create something that actually promotes kindness and compassion and hope.  Where are the stories about overcoming all the odds to make a better life, or helping someone through a difficult time?  Violence, inequality and apocalypse porn don’t inspire me to make a better world – stories like this do:

People laugh when I profess my love for Star Trek and dismiss it as my ‘nerd flag’, but you know what?  Star Trek is all about society getting its collective shit together and making a better, more equal society for all.

Sounds pretty fucking good to me.

Week 1 lessons –

This has been an interesting week.  For the most part, I’ve done really well food wise.  As I mentioned before, I’ve decided to stop having cow’s milk and wheat wherever possible.  That has been surprisingly easy.  I’ve replaced tasty cheese (for the non-Australians amongst us, tasty cheese is like cheddar) with goat’s milk feta and drastically cut down on the amount I eat.  I switched out normal bread for gluten-free mixed grain bread which is surprisingly delicious.  I’ve also added loads of vegetables to my diet.  I know it sounds absolutely feral, but I used to go literally a week or two without having a single vegetable.  (How gross is that?!)  Now I’m eating them every day.

After doing this for most of the week, I did slip up twice and have things I shouldn’t have.  One night, I went to Maccas (McDonalds for the non-Aussies) one night.  I used to love that shit, but honestly I was less than impressed with it.  Sure, it tasted okay but I wasn’t doing my happy food sway when I ate it.  On Friday night, I ended up caving into my kryptonite: Pizza.

This is where it gets interesting.  From the first bite, I was like, “Ehh…so what?”  It was just your average local pizza shop pie – nothing spesh whatsoever.  Usually I would be in full happy food mode with that.  This time, I ate it simply because I had committed to it for dinner and I ate half as much as I usually would.  I just wasn’t feeling it.  That’s right, folks: Just one week of avoiding cow’s milk dairy and adding greens broke my bad pizza cravings.  Don’t get me wrong.  I still LOVE pizza!  But now, if I’m going to do it I’m going to do it right.

Some observations this week:

  1. When I caved and ate cow’s milk cheese and wheat-based bread, it felt like someone had beaten me with a frying pan.  I was SO physically exhausted most of the next day, and my lower back was screaming at me even after just a short walk.
  2. This is going to sound gross (and I apologise for that), but I’ve noticed that the general taste in my mouth has changed.  It’s hard to describe, but I’ve noticed it.
  3. I don’t know if this is a side-effect of Point 2 or what, but I’ve also noticed that my cravings have curbed way back.  I’m generally only hungry at normal meal times now, and I’m eating a fair bit less than I usually would.  This is (you should excuse the pun) huge for me.

As of this morning, I’m down 1.1kg (2.42lb).  On Friday morning, I was down 2.1kg but I made some bad choices since then (the pizza and I had some hot chips last night – so bad!) messed it up again.  Still, I’m really impressed with how much simply changing my diet has helped me.  I’m going to start adding exercise into the mix this week.

Hubby and I just got back from our weekly grocery run, and I’m pretty proud of how it went.  Usually five minutes into it, my back would be screaming at me.  Not today!  It didn’t start getting sore until we were at the car ready to leave.  I’m also REALLY proud of the food choices I made.  Hubby caved in and got himself a few bad things, but I did exceptionally well.  I got enough bananas and frozen fruits to make a month’s worth of breakfast smoothie packs.  Out of sheer curiosity, I worked out how much it costs me to do a month’s worth of breakfast smoothies when I got home tonight.  The grand total: $3.50 per smoothie.  Not at all bad!

There’s a bit more going on with me than the health stuff, but I’ll form my thoughts around that and post at some stage.  For now, it’s time to cook a nice dinner for my man.

Navigating diet changes –

It’s funny the lengths people will sometimes go to in order to enjoy something they love.  I will be the first to admit that cheese is my kryptonite.  I fucking love it!  You say the words, “Let’s visit the cheese counter,” and you’re my friend for life.

Problem is, cow’s milk is bad for my body.  My mom revealed to me years ago that I was allergic to cow’s milk when I was a baby.  When I grew older, I drank loads of milk because clearly I started being able to tolerate it.  It didn’t much matter back then because with the dancing, I metabolised anything I put into my body.  It’s only has I have grown older that it has become more of an issue.  But despite knowing that I have a problem with it, I’ve ignored it for years simply because I love cheese and milk so much.  I’ve let myself suffer over and over again for a momentary pleasure.  How stupid is that!

This past week, I decided to avoid having cow’s milk products wherever possible.  For cheese, I selected goat’s milk feta which I’ve been eating in moderation.  For milk, I’ve started using almond or soy milk.  It’s amazing what switching to alternatives for a short amount of time will tell you about how your body responds to things.

What have I discovered happens when I eat cow’s milk?  First of all, my skin looks like crap.  I’ve always had issues with my skin, but I’ve noticed that it’s already clearing up since giving up cow’s milk.  The oil pockets that are in there now are starting to come out which is temporarily making my skin look worse, but they haven’t come back yet once they’ve gone.  The colour of my skin has also improved, particularly under my eyes which are usually rather dark.

The second thing I noticed is how much less sore I feel without cow’s milk.  I’ve known about this one for a while because if I eat something with a lot of it such as pizza, it feels like someone has beaten me with a frying pan.  Even just walking makes my lower back hurt like you wouldn’t believe!  I’m still experiencing some pain because of how out of shape I am, but I don’t hurt nearly as much since I gave up the cow’s milk.

The third thing is that I have more energy.  I don’t feel like I need a nap or to veg out in front of the TV after I’ve eaten when I avoid cow’s milk.  I’m not saying that I feel like I could run a marathon, but I don’t feel like asking my hubby to do the grocery shopping by himself anymore.  It sounds so simple, but that’s a pretty big step for me!

Needless to say, I’m on the right path.  I did make the mistake of having a slice of pizza and some cow’s milk cheese at dinner last night and started paying for it as early as an hour after eating it.  I’m still feeling it, but luckily not that much since I didn’t have a lot of it.  That was definitely a wake-up call, though!

Switching cheeses was easy for me since I love goat’s milk cheese so much.  (Not having as much cheese is going to be the hard part!)  The big question for me with this transition has been what type of milk to use.  I’ve previously tried rice milk and absolutely hated it, so I tried both almond and soy milk this week.  Almond milk has been fantastic in everything, particularly smoothies, oatmeal and coffee.  The soy milk hasn’t been bad (except in coffee – ugh!) but it’s not as flavourful.  I’m thinking almond milk might be the winner for me.  Looking at the two purely from a health standpoint, 1.5 cups almond milk has a couple more grams of sugar and less calcium than soy milk, but it has more protein, less fat / saturated fat and half the calories.  Clear winner as far as I’m concerned.

On that note, I’ll finish this post with my new favourite recipe: Breakfast smoothies!  I’m not a huge fan of a full breakfast unless it’s a brunch situation, as I grew up rarely eating breakfast.  Nowadays, I feel better if I keep it light.  I dusted off my poor, neglected Nutribullet this week and got back into smoothies with a dairy-free twist and am loving it!  This is my basic breakfast smoothie recipe:

  • 1.5 cups Vitasoy Almond Milk Original (113 calories, 6.8g fat, 0.8g saturated fat)
  • 3 tablespoons Nudie Natural Coconut Yoghurt (71 calories, 6.7g fat, 6.3g saturated fat)
  • 1/2 cup sliced banana, frozen (68 calories, 0.1g fat, 0g saturated fat)
  • 1/2 cup frozen strawberries (20 calories, 0.2g fat, 0g saturated fat)
  • 1 packet Uncle Toby’s Oats Quick Sachets, Original (130 calories, 3.1g fat, 0.6g saturated fat
  • 5 ice cubes

Total Calories: 402
Total Fat: 16.9g
Total Saturated Fat: 7.7g

To ensure consistency day to day, the only part of the recipe I would recommend changing is the berries.  Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries are all fantastic, but I’ve also used apple with a bit of cinnamon as well and it’s equally lovely albeit a slightly different texture.  You could even add another 1/2 cup of banana and perhaps a bit of honey or vanilla if you just wanted to keep it simple.  I split up the fruits I use for these into single servings in my freezer, so it takes me about 2 minutes to whizz it up in the Nutribullet and walk out the door.  Then I drink it slowly on the train ride to work.

Until next time!  ❤

The swan song of an unhealthy lifestyle –

This is an incredibly difficult thing for me to do.  To me, this post is more than just an introduction to my situation – it’s a glimpse into previous failures.  It’s acknowledging all of those times I said, “I’m going to make a change!” and never really did.  I guess that’s healthy though, right?  Isn’t admitting you have a problem the first step in pretty much any support group?

Okay, so here goes: I have a problem with my health.  I could easily start this by saying that I’ve struggled with weight my entire life, but that would be a lie.  I was a classical ballet dancer for 12 years of my adolescence.  While I was never skinny by any stretch of the imagination – a size 12/14 at my healthiest adult size – I was certainly not overweight.

What I have struggled with my entire life is confidence, and that is what eventually bit me in the ass.  As I grew older, I slowly started to let my self-doubt creep into everything I did.  I listened to people that I should have ignored.  People like my ballet teacher, who refused to let me bump up to the advanced class simply because of my size.  “You’re too big to be a real ballerina!” she would say.  So after several years of waiting and trying my hardest – of skipping my classes just so I could make them up in the advanced class and dancing circles around most of the girls in there – I quit.  I listened when I should have told her to go to hell.

Then the weight really did start piling on.  It was a slow trickle at first, but definitely enough to notice.  Suddenly, I was the ‘fat one’ and I hated every pound of myself.  I listened to the stupid high school boys that poked fun at me for my weight.  I always thought I was the most hideous, fat, disgusting blob of a person in the entire world.

I couldn’t see myself.  Long story short, I steadily gained weight from graduation onto today.  Now that I’m 34 years old and have more life experience under my belt, I realise that there’s more to a person than their looks.  I also realise how wrong I was.  My mother has my senior picture on her desk, and it breaks my heart to look at it.  Back then, my size was nowhere near what I always saw in the mirror.

Now, it is.  I don’t think I’m the grossest person in the world anymore – not by a long shot.  But size wise, I am exactly what I always feared becoming.

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I need to make a change, and I need to really mean it this time.  There are so many reasons why, but the overarching reason is to save my life.  I am at a real risk of dying if I don’t get my shit together.  But the other reason is that I want to be a mum.  I haven’t ovulated in years – YEARS – because I’ve been acting like nothing’s wrong.  If I don’t change my life, I don’t have a prayer of having a child.

I’ll go more into my plans in a future post, but here’s my jumping off point (of sorts).  Consider this the swan song of an unhealthy lifestyle whose departure is long overdue.  Today I commenced a new way of life, and I’m doing to do my damnedest to make it a great one.