Monthly Archives: July 2015

A year of studying and working.

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Photo by Ryan Wilson

My first year of being back at work and in school is done. I haven’t really had much time to reflect because of all of the work travel I’ve done in the last two weeks – Melbourne and then Jakarta a week and a half later.

In retrospect, it’s been a tough year. I went freelance last September, which is a completely different mindset to working permanent and started the first year of my nutrition course a week later. I put a lot of pressure on myself to get things right and try to balance work, study, family and social life. The wheels fell off a bit in March when I moved from working three days to five and into a much more high pressured job. Now that I’m back to working three days, I realise that I’m not only very fortunate to have the option to be part-time and freelance, but that a less pressured schedule is necessary for me to keep my sanity and do well in my course.

The last time I was a full time student was in 2004, when I completed an M.A. in Marketing. In the intervening years, it seems that the intensity of studying and how I, as a visual person, need to study, seemed to have dimmed in my mind. For my exams in February and June, I needed to remember how to study and remind myself of the tips and tricks I used to use. Tricks like summarising all of my lecture notes by hand, then going over them in highlighter, then using lots of acronyms and mnemonics to help remember the reams and reams of information. Each time, it was intimidating and I almost psyched myself out.

Going into year two, I feel ready. My passion for nutrition and helping people is still strong and I’m ready to jump in again.

Stories I loved this week.

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Photo by vincenzo di giorgi

It’s finally the end of the week and by the time you read this, I’ll be in Jakarta (!) on another work shoot. I had my Hepatitis A and typhoid fever jabs last week and have been researching weather, food and local customs to get me prepared for this trip.

I love this perspective from Lauren Laverne on how inequality at home is contributing to women dropping out of work or being ‘underemployed’ so they can try to balance everything they need to do at home with trying to keep their hands and earning enough money to pay the bills. (The Pool)

It seems that communication, similarity and thinking long term are the secrets to a long marriage. (Aeon)

20 ways you’re spinning wrong. (Cosmopolitan)

Why telling kids to dream big is a con. As a parent, this is a fascinating subject – you want to encourage your child, but it seems like to also need to manage expectations a bit. “The shift in expectation has resulted in tremendous anxiety over achieving these goals and, paradoxically, sheer delusion.”  It seems that you should teach self-control and hard work instead. (Aeon)

This woman gave up processed food for a year and after starting at the extreme (grinding her own flour!), she ended up at the most sensible place – eating real, whole food. (Well + Good)

Could you scale down your digital world?  Not a digital detox, but intentionally avoiding certain apps and using your phone and laptop with intention, rather than mindless scrolling. I’m not on Facebook anymore, I don’t use Whatsapp or Snapchat and don’t plan to and am very conscious about how much I use my phone around my son. Children learn by what they see, not what you say and I’m trying really hard to set a good example for him. (Stylist)

Self-perception vs. reality.

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Photo by Elena Berridy

Is there ever a point where you ever feel 100% comfortable with yourself, a point where your self-perception changes to fit reality, in a good way?

A bit of backstory: I was a happy, athletic child who was hit hard by puberty. As a teenager, I suffered from depression, gained quite a lot of weight and used food to self-medicate. I was in a better place during university, as I was forced to walk everywhere, be social and make better food choices.  My physical self changed, but my emotional self did not.

There is something about your self-perception vs. the way others perceive you and the reality of who you are. In my mind, I still see myself as an awkward, dumpy 17 year old girl and occasionally get a surprise when I walk past my reflection and see a strong 35 year old (often carrying a toddler!) woman striding past. Strange. Is it another form of imposter syndrome, where your beliefs about your strengths and weaknesses are misaligned with how good you actually are, what you’ve actually achieved?

Many women talk about being more comfortable with themselves in their thirties than in their twenties, and getting even more comfortable in their forties than in their thirties. And so on. (Here’s a great article from India Knight where she says stop worrying and start enjoying! More of this in her fabulous book, In Your Prime)

From my perspective, there is a lot of truth in this. I feel more comfortable with myself than I ever have and would never want to return to my twenties or teenaged self. I know my own mind, what I can tolerate and what I can’t. What I like and what I don’t. What I’m willing to try and what my red lines are. I know things are not black and white and that some things just take time. Some of this has come with time and maturity and some of this comfort has come from motherhood – the broken sleep, the initial hard graft of breastfeeding and the many moments of just waiting (still waiting for the sleeping through the night!). Knowing that I don’t have the time or even the energy to indulge in the constant cycle of negative self-talk. And yet, in those quiet moments, the negative self-talk is still there.

Life’s too short. It sounds trite, but it’s true. It’s annoying to think of all the time and brain power, I’ve dedicated to thinking about how I hate my stomach (the only body part I’m not 100% comfortable with). What a waste of time, when I think about all the things I want to do and what I want to achieve.

Stories I loved this week.

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Photo by Daniela Cuevas

It’s Saturday and I’m looking forward to some sweet relaxation time with my two guys. A lot of cooking, playing, laughing and eating is planned for this weekend before I head off on another work adventure to Jakarta next week! Here are some stories I loved this week.

The quest for work life balance is erroneous according to this wonderful article. I wrote about this a while back as I truly believe there’s no such thing as balance. (The Pool)

A fascinating article on how our childhood experiences can impact on our health as adults. Find out what your ACE score is. (Aeon)

8 things to eat and drink on when you get your period. Unsurprisingly, magnesium and calcium rich food are high on the list. (The Chalkboard)

A smarter way to ease the return to work after maternity leave. Companies are slowly starting to understand that not only are mothers an important part of a company’s culture, but that easing their return to work has long term benefits. (Washington Post)

Would you make your own treadmill desk? (Guardian)

Love this initiative. IBM’s travelling breastfeeding moms can now ship their milk home for free. (CNN Money)

Under pressure.

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Photo by Eli DeFaria

There is no doubt we as women put way too much pressure on ourselves. We want to be the perfect mom, the perfect wife, have the perfect body, do our very best at work and cook the best food. The list is endless and we want to be the best at all of it.

Why do we put ourselves under so much pressure and feel such guilt when we’re not meeting these entirely subjective standards that we’ve set ourselves? This wonderful article by Lauren Laverne on the Pool talks about how the quest for the perfect work / life balance is a waste of time. She uses a nice example from the renowned astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, who says, “We presume that balance is a good thing, but you don’t go to the amusement park roller coaster and say, ‘I want to be balanced.’ No, you want to be as unbalanced as possible, because that’s the thrill ride.”

She follows up this point by saying, “Most of the women I know are part of the ‘sandwich generation’. Their lives are out of whack because they are a mix of conflicting obligations: work, children, money worries, parents who are getting older… The problem isn’t that we have too many passions to pursue, it’s that we have so little time for ourselves we don’t even remember what our passions are any more.”

The point she misses is the additional pressure women feel to be perfect in all things. A pressure that seems to be uniquely female. When we aren’t perfect, we feel guilty, and then seem to double down the pressure instead of asking ourselves if something has to give (something that men are more often than not, able to do).

This pressure has an emotional and physiological effect. We get stressed and put our bodies into sympathetic, fight or flight mode, which increases the amount of cortisol going through our bodies. Cortisol is the stress hormone, and too much cortisol going through the body on a long term basis can do a lot of damage. It can lead to depression, weight gain, a weak immune system and a host of other issues.

So, to paraphrase Lauren Laverne, let good enough be the new perfect.

Stories I loved this week.

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Photo by James Douglas

Tomorrow I’m heading out to Melbourne on a work trip, which I’m so looking forward to as I’ve never been there before. Do you have any Melbourne recommendations? Let me know in the comments! Here are some of the stories I loved this week!

Do you know how much your partner earns? I do and I’m surprised that people aren’t more open about this stuff in their relationship. (The Pool)

Female friendship and the great baby divide. The haves and have nots. I definitely feel a difference in my friendships now that I have a child. Some have dropped off and have some gotten so much better. (Stylist)

Is the Paleo diet supported by scientific research? This article thinks so. (Mark’s Daily Apple)

That Sugar Film looks great. The story of a guy that eats 40 teaspoons of sugar a day from ‘healthy’ foods and sees the negative effects you would typically expect from ‘unhealthy’ foods. (Telegraph)

Another great, well researched article from Chris Kresser looking at why we get sick and how to get well. (Chris Kresser.com)

Six beauty ingredients every woman should avoid. (The Chalkboard)

Food rules. 


Photo by Julia Caesar

It seems that most people these days have rules that they use to help them navigate their day to day food choices. No wheat. No eating after 8pm. No wine during the week. The busier our lives get, the more these food rules help make a complex area seem simpler and easier to control.

Control is the key word, especially for women. Food is the one area of our lives that we tend to have absolute control over, especially after you start living on your own or with flatmates / a partner. Most women use their personal food rules to navigate food choices through busy, complicated lives.

A recent book called Simple Rules: How to Thrive In A Complex World says that the best way to succeed is to establish a set of simple rules. These rules are shortcut strategies that save time and effort by focusing our attention and simplifying the way in which we process information.

So it seems that there is something to the idea of having food rules, however the key is to make them as simple and realistic as possible in order not to self-sabotage. A rule like no wheat might not work if you don’t cook for yourself and your partner loves making pasta and bread based meals. It’s all about knowing limits and setting rules within these limits.

One of my major food rules is no snacking. This gives me much more control of what I eat and makes more aware of how hungry I actually am. Another rule is no drinking during the week. I love red wine and if I limit myself to just drinking a few glasses on the weekend, I get much more pleasure out of it, compared to using it as a stress release during the week.

Sometimes my food rules get me into a bit of a frenzy, so I’ve learned to keep it simple.

I wrote this post when I was on holiday in Greece a few months ago and it really typifies how stressful I find too many food rules.

Like many of you, I have food rules that I use to navigate my day to day life. Food rules like no snacking unless absolutely necessary, avoid eating wheat, dairy and sugar to prevent breakouts, joint inflammation (especially my left index finger!), bloating & a bad stomach and chew my food as much as possible (remember – there are no teeth in your stomach!). But then I go on holiday and I see loads of amazing, fresh local food that I need to try! So it becomes a case of making choices that my body won't necessarily thank me for later, but just enjoying the moment while it lasts! Which brings me to this amazing seafood platter with fresh Cretan squid, octopus, swordfish, sardines and perch – so much goodness that in that moment I chose to overlook the batter on the squid and just enjoy the food and the beautiful Greek sunshine and hospitality! #realtalk #holidayvibes #notapaleoperfectionist #paleoish

A post shared by Le'Nise Brothers (@eatlovemove) on

 

What are your food rules? Do you have any?