Sunday, 30 November 2014

My Kind of Music, part 8

This week's song is Never Underestimate A Girl by Vanessa Hudgens. The sound is totally basic, dime-a-dozen pop, but the lyrics are fun and quite empowering. A song I like to sing along to!

Saturday, 29 November 2014

So Much to Be Thankful for - 2014 Edition

The people who celebrate Thanksgiving have just had their celebrations. This is not a holiday we celebrate here in Finland, but as I am in the mood to write, I am going to make a list of the things I'm thankful for below anyway.

My body - Thank you for having remained so capable in spite of all the ways I have neglected you. I have caused you to put on weight, I have unintentionally deprived you of almost all of the unsaturated fats you needed, and I haven't given you nearly enough exercise. Yet, you've still been good to me, enabling me to keep going about my daily life unencumbered by any injuries, dysfunctions or illnesses. You've done everything I've asked of you, never letting me down. Thank you for being so healthy, strong and resilient! You are amazing! I promise I'll pay more attention to you and take good care of you from now on!

My mind - Thank you for always keeping me entertained, for seeing the beauty in the moment and for enjoying the little things. Thank you for having the capabilities to analyse and think things through yourself, the patience to look before you leap, and the strength that enables me to remain my colourful, compassionate, creative, unique self. Thank you for so frequently taking me on such wonderful trips of imagination, insight and contemplation. You are a treasure!

My friends - Thank you for being there, for listening, for sharing my interests, for being such beautiful, unique individuals and for offering me support, perspective, inspiration, role models and entertainment. Thank you for frequently taking me out of my head - it's nice to see other places, too, occasionally. I love you!

My boyfriend - Thank you for always being there, for listening to me ramble on about cross stitching, fitness, health stuff and weight loss, I know you only do it because you care about me, and that is just so thoughtful! Thank you for being so kind, patient and thoughtful, and for making me feel I'm never alone. I love you, too.

My home - it's wonderful to have a home that is so nice, affordable, roomy and quiet, just perfect for two people who both need their own space but would rather live together than alone.

Fitness Blender - Thank you for your hundreds of inspiring, motivating, challenging, free workout videos! You are doing such an amazing thing, motivating and enabling people from all around the world to take better care of themselves and get stronger and fitter! Lots of success to you two miracle workers!

Heaven and Earth Designs - Thank you for your huge, beautiful, highly enjoyable, 100% cross stitch (no back stitching or specialty stitches) charts! I love working on my Fairy Wishing Well, it's become like an old friend to me that's always so comfortable, peaceful and relaxing to get back to. One of the things keeping me grounded and sane in this crazy, cruel, depressing, shifting, insecure world.

Audible - Thank you for making your huge and ever-growing selection of audiobooks available to this godforsaken corner of the backwoods of the world! Instead of having to choose between cross stitching or enjoying a book, thanks to you I can do both! There are countless wonderful stories I would have missed if I hadn't had the opportunity to get them in audio form.

There are other things I'm thankful for as well, but I think these are the biggest of them. I'm pretty lucky to have them all! I hope everyone had a happy Thanksgiving, and also found plenty to be thankful for.

Friday, 28 November 2014

To Carb or Not to Carb?

The discussion on weight loss and carbs makes emotions run quite high every time the topic crops up in the Finnish weight loss group I belong to on Facebook. Everyone has a very strong, absolute opinion on the matter, and there seems to be no room for compromise or relativity. Most people think that carbs and weight loss cannot go together - their advice to everyone is that if you want to lose weight, ditch the carbs. Myself, I am of the relativist mindset, thinking everything is subjective, even - or perhaps especially - when it comes to losing weight. Not everyone's body responds to everything the same way as everyone else's. My advice: as long as something works for you and doesn't do you any harm, go for it! For myself, instead of no-carb or low-carb, I prefer slow-carb.

You can read more about fast and slow carbs here, but basically, the difference is that fast carbs get digested quickly, causing a spike and then a crash in blood sugar, making you get hungry again soon after you've eaten them, whereas slow carbs take time to digest, causing a gradual rise in your blood sugar and sustaining you for much longer, avoiding the crash. Brown rice and lentils are both staples in my diet, and both of them belong to the slow carb group. I would never even want to consider ditching them from my diet! I also eat some fast carbs, like fruit for instance, but most of my daily energy intake comes from slow carbs like lentils, vegetables, brown rice and other whole grains. Yummy and healthy!

Of course, in addition to carbs, I also include the recommended amounts of protein and unsaturated fats in my diet. I believe in the good of diversity, both in my diet and in my exercise routine. I think the bad reputation some of the basic, natural nutrients such as carbs and fats have comes from the food industry abusing them for its own needs, adding "too much of a good thing" into the food products to make more money by appealing to our appetites to make us consume more of them. These super sugared and/or super greasy "foods" and drinks are indeed unhealthy, but it is because of the giant quantities of fats and sugars/carbs in them are unhealthy, not because fats and sugars/carbs themselves are unhealthy - because they aren't, not when consumed in the right quantities. Moderate quantities of each carbs, fats and proteins are, in fact, essential for our well-being. That's why I believe in getting my energy from diverse sources, that are as unprocessed as possible in this day and age, and that I can afford with the very limited income I have. As much as possible I steer clear of refined, white flour and sugar, pre-packaged meals, anything with added sugar and/or fat, and basically try to buy everything as "clean" as possible, with as few additives as possible.

But remember, this is only my personal approach to healthy eating, and not necessarily the right one for everyone else! You do what you think is best for you, find your own personal answers, the main thing is that both your body and your mind approve of your choices. Health and healthy eating are always very subjective matters, for we are all individuals both on the outside and on the inside. Whatever your personal choices are, make sure they are right for you.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

My Kind of Music, part 7

This week's song is Have A Nice Day by Bon Jovi. It's got the beat and the attitude just right, and is also a great song to work out to.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami

Keywords: mystery, surreal, science fiction
My Rating: ★★★★☆ story, ★★★★★ narration

by Haruki Murakami
read by Adam Sims, Ian Porter

Publisher's summary:
"Information is everything in Hard-boiled Wonderland. A specialist encrypter is attacked by thugs with orders from an unknown source, is chased by invisible predators, and dates an insatiably hungry librarian who never puts on weight. In the End of the World a new arrival is learning his role as dream-reader. But there is something eerily disquieting about the changeless nature of the town and its fable-like inhabitants. Told in alternate chapters, the two stories converge and combine to create a novel that is surreal, beautiful, thrilling and extraordinary."

I wholeheartedly agree with the last sentence of that summary. The stories are beautifully told, both visually and intellectually engaging, and unlike anything I've ever read or listened to before. The narration has a quite markedly hetero-masculine flair to it, especially when it comes to descriptions of and interactions with the female characters, but this didn't really bother me, just made me roll my eyes a couple of times. Both of the narrators are pleasant to listen to, fluent and actually invested in the story - they do all the voices and accentuate the atmosphere by changing intonation, tone of voice, rhythm of speech etc. as befits the different situations and characters. This was my first book by Haruki Murakami, and I will absolutely be seeking out more of them in audio form to listen to while cross stitching.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

My Kind of Music, part 6

This week's song is Unwritten by Natasha Bedingfield. The music by itself is rather unremarkable, but I like her sound a lot and the lyrics in this song are something really special. Also, this video is just adorable.

Friday, 7 November 2014

My Kind of Music, part 5

This week's song is Night On Fire by Reckless Love. I really like glam rock (yes, '80s / early '90s Bon Jovi is right up my alley), and this song is a beautiful specimen of it. It has the sound and the attitude just right, and is also a great song to work out to as it really makes me want to move.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

My Kind of Music, part 4

This week's song is Rescue by Yuna. It's light, upbeat and beautiful and has very empowering lyrics.