Archive for March 2008




Musings: food

I finally caved in and ordered Gourmet Nutrition. The international shipping price made me wince a little, however I acknowledged the pathway to pleasure often involves some degree of pain. I wouldn’t normally order a cookery book since our bookshelf is loaded with books that our chef-flatmate has, but after seeing pictures from Swigg’s blog, I knew that this book would feature largely in the kitchen.

I have mostly had a good relationship with food. Having seen a friend successfully recover from anorexia nervosa, it made me appreciate this even more. I grew up with my mother and my grandparents (who moved in with us after my father died). My granny [or Nonna, as I call her] is a post-war Italian. She lives to feed people. I recall their stories from wartime Italy; when times were tough, my paternal great-grandmother had 1 potato to feed a family of 10 (it was made into a watery soup), to this day I cannot fathom what everyone went through.

As a household, we weren’t a particularly rich one, but not on the breadline either. My grandmother, through generations of teaching could make delicious, healthy meals from very little, and often the cheapest cuts. We often grew vegetables in the garden, and I always enjoyed walking back into the house with an armful of vegetables, earthy and fresh (and of course, be told off for getting mud on the pristine kitchen floor). In the summer we would cook batches of plums and make preserves from the berries. Years after my grandparents moved out, my mum remarried and I flew the nest to go to university, I can still come home to be told to take home whatever has been growing in season. I always look forward to the summer months, where I’m handed over dozens of tomatoes and runner beans.

The period of time where my eating habits took a bit of a tumble came during my A levels. Revision would start at 8am, and would sometimes finish at 1am (masochistic much?) and every 20 minutes,  I couldn’t help but take a break. That break would involve invading the kitchen cupboard. Bread, pasta, noodles, chocolate, I was in carbtastic heaven/hell, depending on which way you look at it. Compounded by huge amounts of stress, satisfaction didn’t last very long, and I was again drawn to the kitchen cupboard again. By the time I had finished my A levels, nothing in my wardrobe would fit. That summer, I took a trip to Italy and bike riding with a mediterranean diet helped to shift a lot of the body fat I had gained.

I then started university and the food in student halls was off putting enough for me to start making my own meals (a vegetarian friend of mine was served a baked potato as her main, with new potatoes as the side vegetable) and living in central London came with the added lure of eating out. I did lose a little body fat, however I wasn’t entirely happy with how I looked, so I joined the student gym. I was prescribed a diet of lots of cardio (moderate pace) and a few isolation weight exercises with low weights/high reps. I paid for a year’s membership, and after seeing no results (!) I stopped going after a couple of months.

I’d say I only started eating properly again after I met my boyfriend. I was surprised at how an indivdual could eat so few refined carbohydrates, and I started switching all my white products (white bread, white rice, white pasta, white flour – I know, how racist) to brown. I had expected the change from white to brown pasta to be the hardest, having been raised on white pasta all my life, however, I was surprised to find how easy it was, especially as the robust texture could take heavier sauces. After some research and lots of time later, I evolved to eat 5/6 meals a day, as balanced as possible.

My tastes have changed a little. I try to stick to a range of 90% good eating, with the remaining 10% being whatever I want. However, I find I’m much more decadent with the latter. I don’t just want to walk into a corner shop and pick out a couple of chocolate bars like I used to. I want to go into a specialist chocolate shop and take in the fresh, dark chocolate smell. I want to see the small, handmade chocolates proudly on display and hear the charming little ‘click’ when I break some dark chocolate squares. My personal favourites are the zagora ganache from La Maison Du Chocolat: think a small dark chocolate square with an infusion of mint; real mint, not sugary plastic mint. I keep a small bag in my bedside draw and help myself to one over some bedtime reading (currently: Club Cultures by Sarah Thornton).

I wait in anticipation and impatience for the book to arrive. I have my eye on the granola recipie and fruit crumble. Hurry hurry hurry.

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Add comment March 29, 2008

Sq-what?

I had an excellent squatting session today. I’m not on a heavy load (30kg) but I could really feel it working in my legs, and the plank I had been working on has really helped my core to stay strong, and I was able to feel this in my abdominal muscles. I knew it had been a good workout given the fact that my legs were shaking as I was walking down the stairs, and I only had to look at the escalator at Victoria station and I felt exhausted.

Thanks to weight lifting and occassional intense sessions of cardio, I truly understand the meaning of physical exhaustion. Prior to this, I would come home feeling emotionally exahusted after a long day at medical school. The aches in my muscles, the tired haze I get in my head, the heavy lag of my drooping eyelids, I almost cherish these moments, as I know my head will touch the pillow and I will get a well rested sleep, soaking it up like a sponge draws in moisture, even the way I breathe changes. It’s almost like slipping into a delicious coma… until of course, I wake up the next morning, leap out of bed and feel the DOMS (and not the domme I have in mind)

 Speaking of Victoria station, oddly enough, I saw an advert for the School of Meditation. I think I might give it a go.

Add comment March 27, 2008

“Happiness is the sublime moment when you get out of your corsets at night”

I bought my first corset before I started working out. It’s a beautiful dark red colour, overbust with a large flowery pattern embroidered into it, which bounces back lighter/darker shades of red depending on the light hitting it. The first time I tried it on, the woman in the shop had laced me up so tightly that I had no idea my figure could distort in such a way – but… I loved it.

 When I started to gain fat, it became harder to do up, and at one point, the modesty panel had a gaping space down the side where my skin+fat was protruding out. I had additional flesh spilling out underneath the bottom. Nonetheless, I still think I looked presentable, the good thing about having bigger breasts is that they can never look wrong in a corset.

 Then over a year and a half, by body fat dropped. I hadn’t taken my corset out in a while, so I was a little nervous about getting into it on Friday for this Easter’s Torture Garden (NSFW), I had bought this corset on the basis that I had a few extra rolls of fat and I wondered if the leaner look could pull it off. This time, there was no overspill of skin at the bottom and while my breasts are smaller, I was still able to get enough cleavage out of it. What I really liked was seeing how working out had changed my perceptions of myself. 2 years ago, I would have picked out every little flaw in the harsh grimness of the changing room light, but in the comfort of my own room, I was able to marvel at my developing quads, or how good my triceps looked in the light.

 I got a very nice compliment from a couple saying how my corset was the nicest one there, and a girlfriend of mine cheekily placed her knee in my lower back and tugged on the strings, saying how I could have done it up tighter (note: at this point, my ribs were starting to ache and I felt a little faint). All in all, a good little outing.

Add comment March 25, 2008

Haiku: on the gym my boyfriend went to this morning

Fancy gym, not cheap

Hardly any free weights but –

lots of powerplates

😦

Add comment March 21, 2008

Gym Voyeurism: Pretty

I must admit, I spend my resting between sets checking out what other people are doing. Or what they’re not doing. It’s a habit of mine, one I don’t wish to break just yet, as I think the gym is often the perfect place to get voyeuristic.

One particular favourite of mine was in today. I like to call him Pretty.

I’ve only seen Pretty on a few occasions, but each time I see him, my heart silently misses a beat, as I wonder what kind of adventures he’s about to get into next. Well, this of course, is untrue. Unfortunately, he’s entirely predictable. For this reason, I can’t take my eyes off him.

 Pretty has very pretty hair. He must straighten it with straightening irons, because it really is that straight. And he likes to fiddle with it, while beaming at his reflection in the mirror. The only exercises Pretty does, are bicep curls. But when and where he will do them next, nobody knows! I’ve seen him curling in the squat rack. He curls in the corner. As long as there’s a mirror in front of him, he’ll curl. That isn’t the best of Pretty. When he is done, he likes to 1) play with his hair, 2) flex his muscles in the mirror, or as I discovered with joy today, 3) he lifts his arms slightly, gives them a little flex, mouths something at them (grow, my pretties?) and then proceeds to give them a little ‘tap’ with each hand.

 As if Pretty couldn’t get even more delightful, he goes above and beyond my estimations. He leaves all his plates and weights out. I’ve never seen him put anything back. Someone almost tripped over a rolling dumbbell of his once.

 So really, what’s going on in my head when I see Pretty? Pretty makes me feel pretty damn sadistic. I tend to lean more towards masochistic, however, there’s something about this calibre of gym goer that just makes me want to cast off the bondage tape. I’m hoping that like Samson, all of his strength is in his hair. The sadist in me is telling me to tie him up, sit him in front of a mirror, and cut every little strand off, one by one, in a painstakingly slow manner. He can then pick up every little morsel of hair, as a stark reminder of the importance of picking his mess up off the floor. I don’t know exactly what I would say to him, as I’m still growing into a role of dominance, however, I’d like to do it wearing my lifting gloves. And burgundy high heel shoes.

Add comment March 19, 2008

Chin up progress, part 2

No. of unassisted chin-ups: 2.

 I was pleasantly surprised by this today. Possibly because I had managed to add weight to my bench press so I was expecting my body to be a little exhausted by that. Somehow though (with gritted teeth) I managed to push through that barrier telling me to stop at one, and I managed to get the other one in. Having the hard house remix to Carte Blanche booming in my ears helped, it was a welcome break from the crappy garage with or without chipmunk vocals in the background.

 I also added weight to the lat pulldown, and managed to add time to my planking (2 minutes, 15 seconds). Bon.

Add comment March 19, 2008

First day at the gym

I’ll go back in time slightly, and give you a brief description of the first time I walked into the free weights area. I walked in, had a look, then walked out. I decided to do 20 minutes of HIIT on the cross trainer instead. I knew by the next workout, I’d have to do something with the free weights, so I bit the bullet, and went to the gym on a Monday morning.

 Because I knew absolutely nothing about weight lifting bar what I had read in my boyfriend’s Body for Life book, I had no idea of what to actually do. I didn’t want to ask the fitness instructors as I was a little worried they wouldn’t take me seriously, and would give me exercises to do on the machines, and I knew I didn’t want that. So instead, I came in armed with a sheet of A4 paper, and drawings of little stick men with the exercises I wanted to try.

 There weren’t too many people in the free weights area, but enough so that I was the only woman, and one bench free. I remember struggling to do the chest press with 4kg dumbbells in each hand! Now when I add weight to the 20kg bar, I look back at myself and rather than be amusingly embarrassed, I’m quite humble at the fact that it wasn’t bravery or courage that got me in there, I was more driven by my fear. I don’t know exactly what that fear was, but the nature of it changed, and soon afterwards, I no longer needed a piece of paper with drawn on stick men and I was no longer bothered by the presence of other people as they were not always doing the impressive looking exercises correctly.

Add comment March 18, 2008

Arse watch, part 1

For as long as I can remember, I have always reffered to my lovely posterior as the ‘ironing board’ – pretty self-explanitory: straight up and down, nowt to see. It also runs in the family, my mum and my granmother have always had flat posteriors (yes, we’ve discussed it).

 Truth be told, I never really took much notice of it as I had always had a complex about my breasts. At their biggest they were a 30G, they’re now 28FF thanks to the drop in body fat. As a teenager, it wasn’t that fun to be that far into the alphabet (I’m happy to report, I love them now) so the ironing board was happy to be in the background, as that was something I didn’t have to draw attention to.

 Until now. I must admit, in the first year of working out, I neglected my glutes a little bit. And given that my thighs are quite strong now, it might be a little more difficult to engage them. At the moment, I’m splitting my routine, and on lower days, I try to include either the deadlift or squat and lunges. Outside of this, I take 2 or 3 steps at a time, giving my glutes a squeeze on the way up. It’s nice to shoot up the escalator at Victoria station.

I must admit, I shamefully didn’t squat very much in the last year. My form wasn’t great, and an instructor held no punches in telling me, but didn’t offer much help in improving it, besides telling me to, “Do cardio.” So I let the deadlift take over. It wasn’t until a month ago I started squatting again. At first with a 10kg plate, going as low as I could – which wasn’t that low to start with. The first time I went really low, my muscles ached for 3 days afterwards.

I looked at the videos on stronglifts.com, gubernatrix.co.uk and stumptuous.com. Then I picked up a small bar and did some squats. Felt ok.

 In the last week, I have been using the olympic bar confidently, and I felt that my form was good enough to add some weight, so I put on the tiny plates which all added up to 27.5kg. I found it almost easier having a little more weight helping me down, and I made a conscious effort to give my glutes a little squeeze during the exercise. In the next coming months I’m confident I’ll be adding more weight.

So in terms of arse watching, the ironing board has started to get a little ‘blip’. Even my boyfriend noticed (a bum man) and he happily told me, “Your bum is getting bigger!” He rarely picks up on tiny subtle changes, so I was pleased with this. Watch this space.

Add comment March 18, 2008

The gym environment

I studied anthropology for a year before continuing with medical school. Following on from this, people watching became quite easy to do. Nowadays, I tend to look at people on the Tube and wonder if they have sadistic or masochistic tendencies. Or both, even.

 My gym is a student gym in a union building. Most of the floor is taken up by cardio machines and weight machines. The free weights area is tucked behind a corner, and I like it this way as I can make a twit of myself in peace.

As expected, the majority of the women in the gym are using the cardio machines. I can recall 4 separate occassions where I have seen a woman in the free weights area, and I have been a member for 15 months. Most of the men who are using the free weights area are concentrating on upper body work, mainly bicep curls or the bench press. Occassionally some guys squat or deadlift, but they are few and far between. There is one man who does pull-ups, and watching the muscles rippling in his back is almost hypnotic. It’s strangely beautiful.

I occassionally get looks of, “Oh my, there’s a woman in here, best make it look like I know what I’m doing!” but generally I’m left to my own devices. I’ve had a couple of supportive comments which have been welcome. Some guys are a little rude (in terms of basic gym ettiquette – put your weights back!) but I imagine that’s the nature of many places.

I tend to go early in the morning, or mid-day if I have a ward round that has finished early. I prefer not to go in the evenings as I’m tired and want to collapse on the sofa, and it tends to get quite busy.

Time to go and use a rolling pin on my quads

Add comment March 17, 2008

Haiku: on putting your weights back

Please put your weights back

It’s not that hard, you’re strong men…

I want to hurt you!

2 comments March 16, 2008

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