Musclebound

Exercise is bloody hard work. Believing that simply taking protein supplements is going to give you a body like The Rock’s is, like it or not, living a massive delusion. I have to admit, the implication that under 30’s would believe this feels pretty insulting, and without any kind of hard facts that prove the point, the bigger issue is teaching better nutritional awareness. Protein shakes have their benefits: my husband’s using them to very good effect currently as a way to maintain weight, in tandem with what is a stupidly healthy diet prior to another bike race on Sunday. They can be incredibly useful to kick-start weight loss too. The article that started all this talks about what an average body requires to stay healthy in terms of protein: no two bodies are alike, and if you don’t sit behind a desk every day the number of calories needed will vary.

Mostly, the press can only ever talk about health issues in general terms. Studies and reports increasingly are taken out of context to highlight particular issues, headlines created as clickbait. It is quite rare to be presented a whole truth in reporting: like it or not, that doesn’t make for very engaging content. History reminds us however that promising people better bodies using advertising is hardly anything new. This kind of ‘persuasion’ has been going on as long as newspapers have needed advertising: this isn’t about buying anyone into the idea of supplements or aids either, it is convincing the gullible that their physique is flawed. In the modern world, obsessed now with body image in all its various forms, that is probably more concerning that handing over money to companies for anything that could be considered largely pointless if you just amend your diet and exercise more.

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I was asked at the weekend why I’d started weight training by a total stranger. The answer is twofold: it has always been something I wanted to do, because I equate strength with physical fitness. Body image is largely irrelevant, but keeping asthma in check is far more important: I can have a direct and positive effect on managing an illness which, as a child, meant exercise was off the cards… except, now I find myself wondering what might have been different if my parents had encouraged that urge and not suppressed it. I’ll never know, of course, but now I’m in a position where breathing difficulties are the exception due to my own hard work. The sense of satisfaction and achievement that gives is beyond significant.

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The irony for me is that my stomach refuses to process either protein shakes or gels: I can swallow them but they’ll be straight back up in short order. If I want to lose weight and build muscle, it’s good old fashioned food groups: chicken, lean meat and white fish, flapjacks and nuts, or protein bars at a stretch. On days like this when the sugar craving is strong, that can be a hard ask, but my brain’s spent over a year grasping the undeniable truth that you really are what you eat. If protein shakes help people be healthy, honestly, what’s wrong with them? In 40 years, if Global Warming has its way, we could all be eating proteins in powder form anyway. There’s an assumption only one real way exists to be healthy, and that’s simply not true. Sure, you can eat cake and drink coffee but if that’s your life without exercise, it’s as bad in its own way as never eating a ‘healthy’ meal. The key here is not one thing or the other in excess, but balance.

The truth about health is never hard and fast. Reality, as always, depends on the individual deciding to make a change, and then sticking with it. There are many success stories, but for every miracle weight loss or transformation there are the many who can never make it past the scales or the next meal. Like so much else in life, change must be yours to instigate. If you want something enough, it will happen. For myself, I can attest that a healthier lifestyle has transformed my life at 50, but that is only part of a far larger and more complex set of circumstances. Knowing that, I’ll never discourage anyone wanting to start the journey, but it has to be on your own terms.

Decide what you want, and then make a plan to get there in the healthiest manner for you.

This is Mine

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There’s a ‘thing’ doing the rounds currently on Twitter, which promises that for every ‘like’ one can garner, a fact about that person’s life will be revealed. Here’s a fact for you: I’ve been doing this for seven years, on and off, across multiple platforms. All you need to know is here, if the time is given to sit and read, but that’s the issue with social media. If it takes longer than 45 seconds to consume, you’ve forgotten it anyway. Needless to say, there’s one simple trick to knowing me better, you can just ask. Or, if you subscribe here I can promise, every day, to reveal a fascinating fact about myself if you read to the end of the post. I won’t get mad if you skip the other stuff either: at least you turned up.

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Yesterday was awesome, not gonna lie. To and from the Gym was a breeze, when very little aggravated affected muscle groups. The trick, of course, is to not do anything that might. The Octane was tough, but probably because there’s been no serious exertion for several weeks. That should get easier every day, and only under supervision will ‘serious’ weights happen, though press ups today should be doable and that can be an effective fill in going forward. Mostly, I am waiting for the all clear from my body to know when I can ramp stuff up again, and in the meantime working on all of my core to strengthen it and prevent the possibility of the umbilical hernia popping again. Once the work for the day is done? I’ll be off down the Gym.

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However what mattered more was finally organising a bunch of domestic shit that has laid dormant for a while, and might never have been completed were it not for my 12 year old’s searingly accurate take-down of what happens when parents stop focussing on the domestic. As a result, three bags of recycling are outside, and the front room is tidier than I can recall for quite some time. The trick of course is to learn from this and not let the issues pile up over time, which is why I need to make a day next week to go out and finally cancel a credit card, pay in some money and shut a bank account. Then there’s a list of ‘maintenance’ jobs to do and, as soon as I am back to lifting duties again, serious attacks on dirty parts of the house.

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Then there’s the Patreon, which I sat down and talked over last night with the husband. I’d not factored surgery into my timescales and as I’d planned to early launch tomorrow… well, frankly I’m not ready to go. The last time I rushed myself into a major project it was never completed and that’s not something that can afford to be done when I’m going to take people’s money. Therefore, we will launch in June, but not until the 15th, which means Early Access will now be available on the 12th. I’m still missing a Patreon reward that needs to be chased from the manufacturers, so hopefully I can get that in house too before the new deadline. All this will be detailed on the Patreon site later, but you heard it here first. Consider this an additional reward for your loyalty, or summat.

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So there you have it. Starting tomorrow, we’ll do a proper countdown and try and drum up some serious interest. I can do marketing, I’m sure we can make the whole shonky mess work and still look professional…


Fact of the Day

I told my first story to an audience in Primary School. I made it up, on the spot and it went down so well I made the story into a daily serial…

Mexican Standoff

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Today, has all been about a woman called Gina Miller. That’s her in the picture, and she and her challenge to the belief that the Prime Minister nobody voted for could just tell Europe we were buggering off in March has set the entire Brexit ‘situation’ on its arse. Now, we’ll need an Act of Parliament and at least a parliamentary vote to make the whole thing legally binding because GUESS WHAT? That vote in June wasn’t. Back then the smart pundits said it: the vote might indicate the country wanted to leave, but without the ratification of Parliament? It won’t happen. The High Court’s judgement is already being called one of the most significant in modern British legal history, and with good reason. It pretty much roasted the Brexit people before chucking them out of court on their ears.

That vote in which you lied and deceived people to get your way? You know the one that many people called a veiled Tory leadership challenge in disguise? Well now it doesn’t matter that much. In fact, the first thing that happened when I turned on the radio after the judgement was the BBC suggesting we could have a General Election next year in an attempt for the Tories to secure a fresh mandate. I’m looking forward to Mrs May and her cronies trying to convince the 48% who didn’t vote for this that the ‘will of the people’ is what matters in this situation because if that were the case, you wouldn’t have tried to bypass Parliament, which is our publicly elected body.

Shortly afterwards the Daily Mail imploded and frankly after that, everything was glorious.

Honestly, if I made up this shit, people would laugh at me. It’s like the party in power refuses to listen to the advice its been given and instead feels this mistaken sense of obligation to entirely trash the UK because they had a vote that told them to do just that. It doesn’t matter how much damage and ruin will be wrought for future generations, let’s just do this anyway because we have to say we were good on our promises. Sometimes, it’s okay to admit you were wrong, and now the law of the country tells you how frankly awful this idea of the vote was to begin with?

STOP DIGGING.

Frankly, it’s been fucking fantastic theatre. It’s also a reminder to my mates in the US. You can still stop the trainwreck. There is time.

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It occurred to me, driving back from dropping off my daughter at her first day of ‘Big’ School, there’s potentially seven years of this ahead of me. There’s not an ounce of concern or resentment in my body: I’ll run her anywhere, as I would her brother, and the time it takes will enrich my life going forward. There’s never any thought that the time spent with them isn’t anything other than precious and worth remembering. It makes me realise that although I’ve not wasted a lot of time in the last decade pursuing goals that ended up as being fruitless, there have been moments when I could have picked my directions better. However, the last year has more than made up for my previous shortcomings. I can comfortably attest that my body’s being well taken care of.

Now all I need to work on is my soul.

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New York will go a long way towards assuaging that issue, and should last for some time to come. It wasn’t just the notion of being in a place that I loved, but it had a lot to do with being able to deal with everything truly on my own terms. I am extremely lucky in my current situation, a fact I make sure to remind myself of every single day. This is a finite resource as well, that is all too apparent, and once it is gone, there will be no time like it again. Bearing that in mind, the choices I make in the next few months going forward will be significant, and I need to ensure that the direction I’m travelling is no longer littered with good intentions that aren’t acted on. That’s why I have plans in place for the next six weeks or so, none of which will include anything that’s hugely impractical. Even starting the running challenge yesterday was done slowly and in pieces. There’s no point in breaking myself at the start and then putting everything back weeks or months.

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There’s an awful lot to think about in the weeks going forward. The priority now is to make sure I’m using my time productively and not simply procrastination, which is often my default. That means a lot of words too, if I can get my brain around everything that needs saying. I also suspect it will involve some visits back to my past, if only to try and work out what parts of those experiences I’d like to bring with me. I’d also like to be able to eat without worrying so much, and to make that happen it might be time to bite the bullet and start cooking more from scratch and less from a packet. For now however, I’m counting the time before I have to go get the youngest from school, so I can work out relative journey times. I’ve already found my Car Park for Tuesday’s ‘Walk to and from School’ project, which I’m already looking forward to. I’ve go a plan for what’s the best route, a shopping stop along the way for Breakfast, and a reward when I’ve done both directions. I’m very much already anticipating completing this, and taking pictures as I go.

How things have changed in a year.

 

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Day Six: Yes, I’m fucking middle class, twats who love to label shit. I make no pretensions as to what I am. So when someone comes up with a bright idea to show your support for the open and welcoming nature of this county to ANYONE who wants to live and work in it? Yes, I’m gonna do that, even in a town where welcoming is often a dirty word, and where xenophobia isn’t just alive, its kicking your teeth in. Don’t start with me that this is an empty gesture and will do no good. You sitting there voting QUICK LEAVE EUROPE BEFORE ITS TOO LATE was what started this whole shit storm to begin with. I’m not a sore loser, I’m just fucking terrified because I know what’s going to happen. Nobody’s gonna save us now except ourselves. Don’t expect the Labour Party to step up and somehow salvage this situation, they’re too busy fucking self-destructing too.

In good news, it’s unlikely we’ll get to leave the EU until Parliament enacts a Bill, and good luck getting THAT through Parliament with the Scots as shit hot as they remain (absolute pun intended.)

Until that happens, I’m wearing a #safetypin, and if you don’t know why? Read about it here:

Then, there’s the Conservative Party elections. YOU SHOULD BE SCARED.

It is a sad state of affairs when you grasp that you’d rather have Cameron stay in charge than be replaced by the people who seem to want the job. In fact, having voted none of these twats into power to begin with? It all seems completely and utterly ludicrous. In Good News however I’ve only shouted at the radio once since 7am and that’s on 7 hours sleep, so things are improving.

At least the Football is back tonight, and Andy Murray’s still in Wimbledon.

It’s not Apocalypse Now, but it’s getting close.

In My Head

One of the many games people like to play on the Internet is ‘Why’dDeyDoDat?’ This involves looking at why a celebrity makes a decision, and then attempting to insert themselves into that person’s head-space as a means to rationalise their thinking. It’s the game an entire family can play, it’s often capable of running for months at a time unaided, and can cause massive amounts of both good and bad fallout. I’m getting better at catching myself and stopping my tuppence worth fuelling the fire, but it still happens. If the lovely lady wants to show herself naked on social media, for instance, she’s going to have to prepare herself for a measure of criticism as well as praise. If the very attractive actor decides to have an affair whilst still married? Well, there’s likely to be criticism well after the love is dead and gone. However, the fact remains: not your choice. You might get to hear about it before, during or after the fact, but that’s it. Nobody made you an arbiter of anybody else’s life except your own, with the possible exception of kids under consent/legal age and as a designated carer.

The buck always stops with you.

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Why is it therefore that everyone decides they know what’s going on without understanding all the motivations? What is it about speculation that sells units and sticks bums on seats? If your favourite musician said this is their Farewell Tour three sell out events ago and is still going, do you care that you know they’re lying and you’re happy to throw money at them regardless? When your reigning monarch apparently has an anti-European stance (because that’s what sovereign nations have done for thousands of years) should it really be enough to fuel a massive media spat? The problem with the developed Western World is that in the absence of conflict, we simply invent our own. Other people’s wars and hardship are not enough, there needs to be drama and plenty of it. It is no surprise that so many people are excited about a bunch of super heroes having a bust up, for instance, because that’s utterly not what these people do. To make this franchise interesting? Make a fight break out, and force people who as a default stand up for good into a choice.

It’s hardly rocket science, now is it?

Except sometimes? You don’t want drama. Things are hurtful and horrific and you simply need to vanish. You might be the kind of person who doesn’t want to even be in the fight to begin with but ends up stuck in a  corner where they can do nothing about it. It might end up as a reaction to something after years of anger and contempt from sources that others aren’t even aware of. If you choose to tell people why something happened? That’s great, but actually you’re not obliged to say anything at all. That’s where I stand now. A few years back I deliberately cut ties with a number of people who clearly believed that they had become more important in my life than they actually were. One was actually making me more emotionally unstable than I needed to be, the other made me frightened. I couldn’t find a way to tell either of them the truth so it was simply easier to walk away. Now I know what was wrong, should I go back and explain? Absolutely not. All I can do is make sure that when issues reoccur that I’m clear and precise with the people involved about what’s going on, and why I’m doing what I do.

Most importantly, nobody owes the World an explanation for their actions. If you’re the sports professional who’s relied on a substance for years that everyone knew secretly was bad but nobody talked about? If you’re the aggrieved partner who tries to sell stories of the decades of marital infidelity you put up with to make money? How you choose to deal with this, in the end, is nobody’s business but yours. I don’t know you, and I don’t care. Nobody else should either, and yet that’s at least 90% of what passes as ‘news’ in my World this morning.

Be true to yourself, before you begin deciding you’re the arbiter of others’ lives.

The End

Some things are required watching, listening or reading. Those moments that define what a generation stood for, or encompassed. For many, the Beatles were that for music, and that means the passing of George Martin is extremely significant. If four lads from Liverpool made the music, Martin was the way that sound evolved. His production is legendary and frankly amazing considering the time he was in and what was at his disposal to use. If you’ve never listened to anything he’s been involved in? Think again.

Martin produced a lot of people, including Shirley Bassey : he’s credited with the production on this Bond theme, but Wikipedia would like to dispute that.  Mostly, Martin was a genius for the fact he thought outside a box that became increasingly restrictive for the Beatles during a period of quite obvious experimentation. I’m not a big fan of the Fab Four, I’m a Rolling Stones girl when all is said and done, but there are moments where I’d be lying I didn’t get influenced. Ironically, the animated ‘Yellow Submarine’ is a key point in my life at 16, especially the sequence that accompanies ‘Eleanor Rigby’. You can see it here, and those images became an obsession of mine. The strings alone are a work of genius.

Mostly we’re now at a point where a lot of the seminal influencers of modern life for the older generation are going to leave us, purely due to the ravages of time. As they do, it gives us an opportunity to reflect on how influential a number of these people remain. Martin’s legacy to production will never be undersold, and should never be understated. It doesn’t matter how great a band you are live, when it comes to being remembered for eternity, production matters.

This guy was like it or not, an utter genius.