Friday, 27 March 2015

"Lifting makes women huge? FALSE, cupcakes make women huge!"

I gym like 3/4 times a week, sometimes more and when I'm there I lift weights. When I tell people this and when they see my protein shakers at home they 1. assume they belong to someone else? 2. tell me not to get "too bulky" or "too big" or 3. ask why I want to change my body when I'm not fat. These are literally the most annoying comments that can be said to a girl that gyms (and they always come from people that don't gym). 

The worst comment I've had is that "weights are for men". To know anything about fitness and the body is to know that women don't and can't look like men when they lift. Why? Because we don't produce nearly enough testosterone to look like a 'bulky male', it's because of the sciencey stuff basically. I assume the average person thinks this because the only thing they associate women and weights with is women that bodybuild. Yep their bodies look incredibly muscular and defined (especially if you're associating the fake tanned up to the eyeballs bikini comp pictures, where the whole point is to look as muscular and ripped as possible). But I can tell you now, bodies like that don't come from just 3/4 weight workouts a week. Hours upon hours of training, science, time, clean eating, more training and god knows what else go into achieving that kind of body and I applaud them for it. And to be fair, day to day the average person wouldn't even know whether a girl has just deadlifted 100kg and is rocking a steel set of abs, because funnily enough they don't walk to Tesco bikini clad. 

No matter how far you want to take your fitness levels, be it that you just want to shift a stone or two or you want to compete in bikini competitions, these are personal goals that are usually done for no one else except the person trying to achieve them and they should be encouraged, not ridiculed. If a girl wants to get as big and as huge as possible (which is HARD) let her. Don't tell her not to get "too bulky", she's not doing it for you or your approval, she's doing it for her. No one reminds you to not get "too big" when you've ordered your second dominoes of the week do they?

But the same goes for those who just want to shift a few pounds and nothing more. Even these people will find that there is so much stigma attached to 'dieting' and working out. People don't want to know what you've eaten or not eaten or what you've done at the gym in the past few days, and pull their faces when you say no to the biscuits that are being offered out. God forbid if you upload a gym selfie or instagram your meal prep. But it's ok for us to bombard facebook with our calorific desserts and alcohol fuelled weekends. Changing the way you eat and how you take care of your body is often a lifestyle change when it is taken seriously; it becomes a part of peoples lives. So why is a picture of chicken and broccoli so hard to stomach? Probably because people don't like what they don't understand and I know this because I too have been a diet and gym-goer hater before embracing it for myself.   

I'm not pretending I'm an expert in anatomy and I've got perfect form with every rep, because I don't. I'm still learning and so is everyone else, be it that you've worked out for years or started just last week. What I do know though is that working weights will leave you with the defined, shapely body you want, not 'bulk'. Prime example...shape to your butt? You need weights...ain't gunna happen in the cardio section. There are so many benefits to pumping the iron (I know, sorry) that once you realise them you'll never want to go back to that cross trainer ever again (maybe reluctantly on cardio days). With weights your metabolic rate increases, like, dramatically. Your body has to work harder to rebuild those muscles that have been broken down, burning energy and recruiting calories to do this even hours after you've left the gym. Ultimately strength training is an effective way of achieving fat loss and gaining muscle strength. And as long as you aren't pumping your body with testosterone and aren't consuming more calories than you burn, you won't get 'big', you'll get fit.

And as for me personally and why I want to do it, is purely enjoying it not enough? I LIKE going to the gym and I LIKE working out. I know I'm not fat but I don't need those who aren't happy with their bodies to tell me I should be happy with mine just because I weigh a few pounds less? I'm certainly not doing it because I think I'm fat, I have goals that I want to achieve in terms of what I look like, just as much as someone who is overweight might have. I want to be healthier, stronger, fitter, the best version of me and let's face it there is nothing quite like the buzz of finishing a top workout. It's addictive and when you start seeing results it becomes even more so. This post is merely just to try and dispel the female fitness myth, to remind the ill-informed to think before they speak and to say to females that are reading this, get lifting! You don't know what you're missing! 

Friday, 30 January 2015

What Is It That Makes Young Love So Bloody Hard...

Last year I experienced my first ever break up. From my first ever boyfriend. And I'm surprisingly ok about it. 

We'd been together since I was 15 and he 17, 5 and a half years all in all. What I'm wondering is whether a childhood relationship can ever really last these days? Of course, I've seen my mum and dad do it, my aunties and uncles, my gran and grandad but 2015 is a different time. There are more factors than ever that have the ability to change or end a relationship, and you have to be the sort that 100% want one another to get past those obstacles. Plus, there are 7 billion people in the world, you might find the love of your life on the next street, but who's to say that's the only person destined for you? 

With the fact that we have a thousand opportunities at our fingertips, it's not like back in the day when our parents would settle down with their sweetheart at 21 and acquire a home, a dog and 2.4 kids. You don't have to think about marriage and babies until at least 30, you have ten whole years to see the world, make something of yourself, get a career going and maybe dedicate some time to the opposite sex if you fancy it, there really is no pressure. I'm not saying avoid love, if you're lucky enough to come across it then do your best to choose a love that grows you. I know I certainly feared I would never get chance to do the things I truly wanted to because of being in a long term relationship. How could I travel the world for a year and still have him there waiting? Truth is, I would never have done it because I knew he wouldn't wait and that risk petrified me. The one you're meant to be with with let you out into the world, be it travel, career or education wise and neither of you will fear that the other won't return.  

In terms of the smaller, less-life changing factors that are imposed on our everyday lives and relationships, smart phones are an evergrowing problem. We can see what our significant other is doing and thinking every minute of the day. We can look at pictures from nights out, scrutinise every awkward photograph...what's that girls hand doing? Who's that they're talking to? There's also this weird necessity for them to text you, be it a boyfriend or a potential one, you NEED to know they're thinking about you. And God forbid if they only put two kisses instead of the four that you've become accustomed to, that totally means they're not into you anymore and you're probably just going to play it cool from now on. Phones and social media mess with your head, not to mention the inevitable heavy sigh of jealously that prevails as you scroll through the travelling uploads from an old acquaintance. It's hard not to compare what you've got and what might be waiting for you on the other side of the world. Especially as you catch your boyfriend mid ball-scratch, who's still wearing those pizza stained joggers from three days ago. 

Due to the eruption of technology, cheating has now taken on a different from, it isn't just as simple as not coming home after a night out anymore. We can talk to anyone we want, at any time and it's even easier to do it inappropriately. Apps like snapchat wipe away any evidence of straying before your partner even has the opportunity to pry on your phone. Texts, whatsapp, messenger...there are a multitude of methods that enable us to get cheap thrills out of talking to that probably average looking girl you kissed back in high school. 90% of the time it's usually meaningless but it's all too easy and doesn't make it any less hurtful. And prying in itself is a problem. Logging into their accounts, checking their messages is dangerous but also a godsend. You see things you don't want to see, get the wrong end of the stick but it can reveal truths that are worth knowing.

All in all despite all these factors that have the ability to shatter everything you've worked for, I do think that a good relationship can last until you're both old and grey. I do think you can ride out the hardest parts of growing up, changing and experiencing together but you've got to both want it. A break up tears up your heart and you do think you'll never be able to find anyone that thinks that video on Facebook is as funny as you do and it's going to take you a really long time to be able to fart in front of a boy again, but the bigger picture is that there is a whole world beyond what they can offer. Better sex, better laughs and hey, you'll probably get taken somewhere better than Nandos and get to see the world in the meantime. 

Han X