Tuesday, 5 August 2014

We are addicted to sugar!

Recently, my eldest sister Hannah (who has recently just turned 21) and I, have been healthily obsessing (excuse the pun) over healthy diets and lifestyles. Unlike my naturally slim older sister,  Rach, I have inherited my mother’s curvy body making those biscuits cravings a burden as it clings to my thighs, butt, boobs and of course, that ever protruding ever annoying muffin top – a common burden I'm sure most of you can relate to. So off we went to the gym at the beginning of summer, determined to shift the weight and FINALLY not just look good, but feel good and maintain it. Now don’t get me wrong, I'm not exactly over weight, but there’s no harm in wanting to look your absolute best. Especially when you only get one body and one lifetime to do with it as you wish, right? Well as for me I plan big things for the future, and having a good bod is definitely on the top of my list. 

So as I was saying, we joined a gym that although is a distance from home, ended up giving us a good deal before Hannah goes back to Durham University. The benefits of being under 18 means I just qualify to getting the cheap deals. At least there are some perks to not being 18 yet. It’s NERVE WRACKING though. Wearing tight clothes that expose everything and seeing those beefy men lifting weights the size of car wheels in the corner. But I cannot tell you how much better it is going with someone. It’s reassuring and allows you to talk to someone to stop yourself from feeling awkward or embarrassed. And if you can’t go with someone… get chatting and make friends! You’d be surprised by how awkward everyone else is feeling and is probably craving human interaction. 

However, it’s all very well going to the gym three or four times and week and pushing your limits, but it’s worth jack sh*t if your diet isn’t right. Exercise only does 30% of the task when wanting to improve your body, diet does the rest.

My sister and I started researching into high protein diets and what not. Getting confused at the contradictions that each diet had: low fat, low carb, high carb and low fat etc. So to cut all the confusion for you, Hannah did a little deeper digging and found a revolutionary food routine that shreds the fat in weeks.

The truth is, the human race has become addicted to sugar. Hence the enormous rise in obesity in particular countries such as the USA and even Britain. The reason for this? Well when you see on a package that the item is “low in fat” or has 0% fat, they need to substitute something into the product to taste good. And that product is gram after gram after gram of sugar. Also known as: Carbs. Now there is nothing tastier than sliced white bread, cow’s milk etc. But our bodies are clinging onto these unnatural, unhealthy carbs and using them up as energy. So we all get this massive sugar rush and then a hard come down making us grouchy and moody. Therefore we’ll eat more processed food to get our energy levels back up.

You may be sat there thinking, I eat fruit, alpen bars, special k, salads! I’m healthy. But what do all those foods have in common? Sugar – Carbs. Like I said: we are addicted to sugar!

But have no fear because I have a solution. 

When you hear the word “fat” what do you picture? Yellow gloop sticking to your organs and making your body jiggle? I think we all do. But you have to get that image out of your head when you see it written on packages of things. My sister explained it to me like this: if you call the fat in products a different word like vegetable, then everyone would see “fat” as another substance that is in our food like protein! But don’t forget, the fat in cheese is very different to the fat in a McDonald’s cheeseburger.

So here are some tips that have been tremendously helping my sister and I tighten the stomach and shed the fat…

1.       1. Try a low carb high fat and high protein diet.
You’d be AMAZED at the things you can eat that are actually benefitting your body! Tasty things like cheese, meat, cream! As long as the amount of Carbs you eat in a day is under 50g (differs for men), then your body uses the fat and the protein as an energy source and ends up EATING YOUR BODY’S OWN FAT!

2.       2.Women – You can lift more than you think.
I see so many women at the gym doing cardio on the treadmills or bikes with bright red faces with a look of utter defeat and exhaustion. Don’t do it to yourselves! Lift some weights! I promise it does not make you bulky… we don’t have the right hormones naturally to make us huge like men. And strong is sexy … Believe me. Lifting weights is actually better than cardio at getting rid of fat. The other day my sister and I braved ourselves and went to the area where very few women go: the free weights, you know, where those beefy men lift twice the size of you on one arm? But we don’t realise just how strong we are naturally. With the help of a member of staff, he got me and my sister with a bell bar across our shoulders squatting with 20kg! That’s a quarter of how much I weigh! Push yourselves you’d be surprised. The trick is to rip your muscles so that when you rest they repair stronger – and that’s when a protein shake comes in handy! We have a cookies and cream one by “Whey” and it tastes amazing.

3.       3. Drink water.
Fruit juices, especially those from concentrate, are infested with sugar. Fruit itself have a natural source of sugar in them so it’s best to have fruit as a treat. Try clouded apple juice or simply a bottle of ice cold water. Make it more interesting by freezing it with some fruit inside! Try blueberries as they have the least amount of sugar in them than any other fruit (oh and maybe avoid banana’s, keep them for a treat).

4.      4.  Experiment with meals!
Preparing your meals is probably the difficult part as it takes time and imagination. But by planning ahead, it stops you from rushing into buying that night’s meal and getting one with sugar and Carbs in it – your body with then cling to the carbs and you’ll have to start over again. But don’t just restrict yourself to some meat and veg! There are so many interesting recipes that taste like it’s not healthy and fills you right up! Last night Hannah made a healthy pizza with cauliflower for the base, I swear it’s one of the nicest pizza’s I’ve ever had. Here’s a link to some high fat, low carb recipes.

5.     5.  If it’s not natural, don’t eat it.
This is how I think when I want a snack. Things like pies, snack bars and chocolate bars don’t grow in the ground or off trees. Things like vegetables, meat, cheese etc. But when it comes to chocolate, switch to dark chocolate! Instead of fatty cows milk switch to Almond Milk! It takes getting used to but it tastes great in smoothies! Peanut butter with 100% nuts will become your new best friend. As will cooking everything in coconut oil. These things are a little more expensive to your normal oils and milks but it balances out when you stock up on veg and meat instead of bread and sugary juices and snacks.

6.      6. See the difference!
This lifestyle isn’t for everyone but give it a go! Try it for a month. I guarantee in the first week you’ll drop the pounds like their basket balls. Take a before and after picture, get a friend to measure your arms and legs. But most importantly, enjoy it! Don’t see it as a strict diet or a burden, see it as a lifestyle choice. Chat to people about it, spread it around! I am amazed at the results and I haven’t been doing it for that long. If it helps, Meryl Streep preaches about this diet. 

If you want to know more, this diet is formally known as the “Ketogenic” diet. Get researching into it! If it’s not for you don’t worry, or give it a go.

Some before and afters of people who are on the “Ketogenic” diet:

Want to know more?
Contact me on my email at: sarah.naomi.dean@hotmail.co.uk
Research into the “Ketogenic diet”.
Here are some inspiring Instagram accounts I follow:
Or follow me at @sarahnaomidean and get in touch!
A little something to think about over a cup of tea on this dreary, typical British weather, kind of day.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Half the world is starving, the other half is trying to lose weight.

In yesterday's (July 19th) weekly edition of British and International Media magazine “The Week”, an article that caught my eye and got me thinking was one about obesity, aptly named: “Obesity: is stomach-stapling the answer?”. It talked about how obesity is becoming a growing product of the rise in diabetes. The NHS is in a “£30bn black hole” due to having put 800,000 obese people on a waiting list to qualify for gastric bands and stomach stapling, operations that costs around £6000 each. Each. Times that by 800,000. I almost don't want to. On my calculator I currently have “e+9” looking things screaming at me. However, I simply have to believe that the increase in such a massive volume of obese citizens in our rich countries is mostly because of the manipulating ways of the media. Specifically speaking: fast foods. I believe that obesity is a psychological problem that should be treated with the utmost respect and care. But it's times like these when sick children and cancer patients are being denied treatment for illnesses unwillingly inflicted upon them, because of budget constraints, that I can't help but wonder, what on earth is going on?

Now in all fairness, I don't agree that people suffering with obesity should lack sympathy from others. Although, I can see why it makes people angry, my God I'm furious. But my anger is aimed solely at the media. Their never ending propaganda of cheap and easy ways to get a delicious meal for only £4.99! McDonalds using creative adverts to promote their succulent McNugget, McDohnut, Mcheartattack, for ONLY £1!!!! It sickens me to the stomach. I myself am a victim to this style of dining which is abusing, manipulating, brain washing people. There is a McDonald's a stones throw away from my college. It takes a lot of will power to ignore the double cheese burger beckoning me on every single flipping bus stop whilst my stomach is groaning at me. But what of those who think, f*ck it, it's a treat. It's so easy! Place your order, a minute later you have your meal. Next thing you know, it's a lifestyle. But what I see and what makes all this so unjust is not the rise in obesity. Not the cancer patients being denied treatment, not even the media trying to collect their millions. Out of all the above, the one thing that makes me sick to my core is what is happening below the equator. In the poorer countries. Who are dying from starvation whilst the other half of the world are eating themselves to death.

Recently, I was talking to my friend from Australia who was in the middle of fasting because of Ramadan. At first I thought there is no way I could possibly not eat. But then I heard of the reasons why he and all others in the Muslim Religion fast. Out of respect and being in awe of what they do, I decided to give it a try. Every time my stomach grumbled and the nicely stoked fridge beckoned me I thought. I thought about those who don't have a fridge, tap, kettle. I thought about their suffering and suddenly mine became insignificant. Of course I couldn't fast for much longer than couple of days, my friend had been doing it all his life, one month a year. But how beautiful of them? I look up to them and admire them so much.

I was having a deep chat with my father who like me, likes to question a lot of things in this world. We got onto the subject of the inevitable apocalypse and I asked him what scenario does he think that humans lose their humanity and stop caring about each other, and what would bring them together in the end of the world. Now we started talking about Zombies, earthquakes, the sun exploding but he said something that startled me. He said food. He said you'd think that the most important thing in this world would be human kindness. And I realised that you can't be kind to people if you don't have any food to give them.

I asked my Dad the obvious question which I'm sure a lot of you have mulled over. Why can't everyone just have what they need? Sure it's nice to have a couple million tucked away in the bank to splash out on yourself and live a secure life. But scientists have discovered that there is enough food to go around to feed every person on this earth a couple times over. We are constantly finding faults within this world. Things to fix. Things to improve. Things to discuss. Politics. If everyone had just what they need to survive, we'd be in Utopia. The world would be at peace and politics, government, Malibu houses... they would cease to exist. The world would be boring. There would be no faults. So the answer? Fatten up one population and starve the other.

It's times like these when I question and at least try to fathom a solution. A better life. A way to make all this right. How can you not? But instead I go on to read about a child dying every second, whilst someone suffering with obesity, brain washed and victimized by the media's obsessive ways, under goes the knife. Now ask yourself, how can you live in a world like that?

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

I like being quiet ... so what?

Is being an introvert as bad thing?
Early evening in 1955 on December 1st in Montgomery Alabama sat a woman on a bus after a long hard day of being bent over an ironing board in a shabby basement tailor shop. She was exhausted after a long day of work and so had every right to sit down on the bus, right? That is until she was asked to give up her seat to a white passenger. It's then that she uttered a single word that would go on to change history... “No”.

Rosa Parks. A quiet woman, with a quiet voice, yet changed history due to a quiet response that spread like wildfire. Rosa Parks, an introvert.
It's interesting how a woman with no important title or outspoken values could inflict such power by quietly expressing her view. But what's changed from then to now? Why is it that influential speaker Martin Luther King who loudly voiced a convincing speech to thousands, reiterating what Rosa was trying to do, is remembered perhaps more than she is? Why is it that being introverted is considered weaker than being extroverted?

Because of what Rosa did, the black movement sparked to life. Because a quiet old woman stood up for herself. It had perhaps a bigger impact than say King's speech did about having a dream. Rosa made the dream a living reality. All in her quiet strength.

I myself am not outspoken all the time and I see myself as being an introvert. I prefer to stay at home and read an excellent book than go out and be sociable with friends. I prefer to quietly watch a film rather than comment on every awesome stunt that Jackie Chan performs or question out loud the political issues put forth in V for Vendetta. But my question, hence this blog post, is why is being introverted considered a bad thing?

Look all the way back to primary school days. When you were an innocent child. Parents apologising to others for their child being shy and not saying hello to a stranger. Or that we're not only put into school to get an education, but to grow into our personalities and grow out of the shy phase.

Our lives are shaped around our personalities similarly to our gender and our race. There are differences within those characteristics: male and female, black and white. There are also saddening connotations attached to these characteristics. But it is becoming more and more relevant that the different personalities: introvert and extrovert, have now their own connotations that automatically appear to make being an extrovert more superior. Now don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with being extroverted. The error that I perceive in society is what about the people who's voices are quiet, who prefer to sit in and read a book? Is it now becoming the inevitable that quieter people are less likely to get the better job? The better lifestyle? Has it really come down to the survival of the strongest in society which gives introverts a near to nothing fighting chance of making a difference?

Allow me to exercise a test so that you yourself can see where you fall on the introvert-extrovert spectrum. Simply answer true or false. (This is an informal quiz and not a scientifically validated personality test).

  1. I prefer one-on-one conversations to group activities.
  2. I often prefer to express myself in writing.
  3. I enjoy solitude.
  4. I seem to careless than my peers about wealth, fame, and status.
  5. I dislike small talk, but enjoy talking in depth about topics that matter to me.
  6. People tell me I'm a good listener.
  7. I'm not a big risk taker.
  8. I enjoy work that allows me to “dive in” with few interruptions.
  9. I like to celebrate birthdays on a smaller scale with only a few close friends and family members.
  10. People describe me as “soft spoken” or “mellow”.
  11. I prefer not to show or discuss my work with others until it's finished.
  12. I dislike conflict.
  13. I do my best when on my own.
  14. I tend to think before I speak.
  15. I feel drained after being out and about, even if I enjoyed myself.
  16. I often let calls go to voice mail.
  17. If I had to choose I'd prefer a weekend with absolutely nothing to do to one with too many things scheduled.
  18. I enjoy multi-tasking.
  19. I can concentrate easily.
  20. In classroom situations, I prefer lectures to seminars.

The more you answer “true” the more introverted you probably are.
The more you answer “false” the more extroverted you are.
But if your answers are half and half you're probably ambivert. (Yes there really is a work for in between).

However. I believe us all to be beautifully complex creatures who can't all be stereotyped into a category. We can't say that just because you're introverted means you like books or you party every week because you're extroverted, anymore than we can say men like the colour blue and women pink. Just as we can't possibly decide that one is better than the other and so it's a bad thing to be the weaker personality type. Just as it's unanimously wrong to say it is weak to be a woman and better to be male.

So if there's one thing that you take away from this post, it is that I hope it's found a new entitlement for yourself that you are aware that quiet people matter too and that if you have a dream all it takes is to quietly voice your opinion.


Saturday, 12 July 2014

Over thinking is a sign of intelligence.

The Lake District - June 2012
Over thinking is intelligence.

Hello there fellow reader and welcome to my blog. I have created this simply to express all the tangled up thoughts I have locked up inside my ever buzzing, ever questioning mind. I feel the only way to untangle and make sense of my never ending thoughts about the meaning of life is to, ta da, write them down. As an aspiring writer I think it's important to constantly write and keep practicing. 

Unfortunately, I stopped doing that. I used to write a lot. Stories, poems, articles, the lot! However, if I'm honest, I got a bit too deep and researched depressing things and questioned too many things that would mess up anyone if they questioned them for too long, and also became this wrinkly hobbit who never went outside and squealed at the sunlight. Well maybe not that bad but I was always shriveled because I took long baths where, as I'm sure most of you can relate to, that's where you question life, and also when you're on the loo but we don't have to go into that. 

So there I was, a fifteen year old girl who was spending her summer locked in her room, depressing herself over romance novel after romance novel, book after book and getting way over my head thinking that if I wanted to succeed in life, I needed to start there and then. I'll admit... I became very depressed. I did things I shouldn't have done and I lost a piece of myself, I lost that buzz, that drive to express myself through writing. Two years have passed since then. Two years of not being myself. Being alone and convincing myself that being alone isn't the same as lonely and I was beating myself up over body image, sexism, political issues and I just surrounded myself with negativity and ended up HATING myself and the world. I'd convince myself that I was too fat, or maybe I look okay... I am perfect the way I am, I'm disgusting, I need to lose weight, I am more than just my weight! Who the f*ck cares about anything, I AM GROSS, I don't know maybe curves are beautiful, I hate myself. You get the picture. 

But enough is enough people. I am tired of hiding myself away and trying not to face this big scary world. So here I am, Sarah, declaring that instead of hiding from the truth and pretending it's not there, instead of constantly shutting yourself down because of your weight, because your nails aren't done, your clothes aren't nice, you had eight cheat meals and are trying to convince yourself that you deserve it, or simply because you had your heart broken and have no idea how to get back up, I say STOP. For goodness sake just stop listening to that part of you and listen to this: You.are.you. You get one life, one body, and a certain amount of years to cram it with memories. Make mistakes. Be a twit. Snort when you laugh, eat as many cheat meals as you want, listen to that song that is embarrassing because it's years old, scream Adele lyrics at all your cats and be proud of it. LOVE YOURSELF. I've learned that I can never expect anyone to love me, unless I am in love with myself. I don't mean being full of yourself, but love is kind, it is patient, it isn't proud, boastful or self-seeking. Love is loving a person completely in spite of all their flaws. I wear that bible verse in a locket around my neck not because it's a bible verse or because I'm religious. I wear it to remind myself that I need to stop beating myself up and acknowledge that I am beautiful no matter what the media or society tell me. 

To sum up, I have made this blog “A Village By The Sea” because I am a 17 year old girl, who lives in a crappy village in a crappy town surrounded by people with small minds, small ideas and small futures, and I have a voice. And I think it's about time that more women out there used their voices to express the real them. So stay tuned because you're about to hear a lot more from me. Thank you for reading this. You're beautiful.