Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Restless

Three weeks ago I entered both a new job, and a new home.

Naturally, I've been going through a period of adjustment that's left me feeling... well, slightly unravelled. Nothing gives me anxiety more than the feeling of incompetence. And in a new job, most people will feel incompetent. I am most definitely one of those people.

To top it off I've been settling into a new house, belonging to a family whose culture is very different from my own. I'm always worried about my actions or words and how they might be misunderstood, which pretty much just makes me withdraw and keep to myself. Which leads to me worrying about how that comes across.

It's all rather tiring.

What with all the moving, unpacking, working, and travel time involved with working, I've been finding it really hard to stay on top of my workouts. I wake up at 5:30am as it is, and I generally get home at around 7:00pm. I am not an evening person when it comes to working out. I have to do it in the morning or at the very latest mid-afternoon, or else I just don't have the energy. The last few weeks I have been so exhausted when I get home that I've pretty much been showering, eating, watching a bit of T.V and then falling straight asleep. The few times I did work out I just wasn't capable of going as hard as usual.

Oh, and then there was that one time, two weeks ago, where mid Pilates work out my body completely lost its shit.

There I am, listening to Cassey Ho's chirpy voice telling me to hold that plank and then the room started moving. My eyes lost focus, my head got heavy, and I felt like I was going to throw up. I spent the next half an hour sprawled out on my workout mat, eyes clamped shut, occasionally trying to sit up only to be overrun with more spinning and subsequent nausea.

It eventually went away. I showered, ate and felt better.

Until yesterday morning, when my alarm starting screeching at me at 5:30am. I sat up, like usual, to turn the damn thing off and... ohnotheroom'sdoingthatthingagain....

This time I managed to stay sitting up and call my work's healthline. This being the second time I'd dealt with this exact sensation, I knew something was up. The moment I hung up the phone I collapsed and went back to sleep. My boyfriend woke me up at about 9:30 and we made a doctor's appointment near his work. I headed off to work with him at 11:00am, and ended up sleeping in the car until 2:00pn. Anyone who knows me well knows that I'm pretty much incapable of sleeping anywhere but a bed. The only exception would be a couch at times when I'm really, really exhausted. Me sleeping solidly for a few hours in a car was seriously shocking.

On my way to the doctor I was thinking about how it would probably be a virus, a flu or maybe low iron levels due to my vegetarianism.

The real offender?

Vertigo.

It turns out that there's most likely some debris caught in my cochlea, and that's causing me to have some pretty ewey vertigo. Not fun. The doctor told me to take today off as well, and I obliged.

Though seriously, I was not happy about having to do so in my third week. I'm still technically in training and every day is a valuable experience for me. But I guess that's just life? I don't know. I just hope it doesn't look to poor on my part, taking two sick days so soon in.

Here's to good health, guys. If you have it right now, treasure it.

 I want my head back to normal.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

And then she went RAW-R!

Mid 2012 I chose to take on a vegetarian diet. After a few months, I switched to a pescetarian diet; deciding that I wanted to reintroduce seafood back into my life. I did this because, quite simply, I missed seafood. In particular, sushi. Vegetarian sushi just doesn't cut it for me, I'm afraid. I did not miss any other type of meat, however, and to this day do not suffer from any carnivorous cravings.

In February 2014, I began to experiment with veganism; or more, my own version of veganism. At first I gave up all animal products other than seafood. No dairy, no eggs, no gelatin, etc. I lost an astonishing 8kg by doing this, and felt amazing. After the first few months, I reintroduced eggs and egg products, such as mayonnaise, and found that I still felt healthy, and suffered no weight gain. In fact, I ended up losing another 4kg. I maintained this diet for a very long time. I fell off the waggon at the end of last year, mostly because I started cooking for more than just myself; I began to cater to y boyfriend's very typical meat and dairy inclusive diet.

I never introduced meat back into my own diet (and I never intend to) but I started to add dairy to our dinners, and would sometimes make meat version for him. My weight gain from this was staggering. Those dairy additions, combined with Christmas, New Years and birthday indulgences, saw me gain a grand total of 10kg. Basically, I lost most of the progress that I made during my months of gruelling willpower earlier in the year. I'm still pretty shocked this went down; I still wasn't drinking milk, or eating normal cheese. My dairy inclusions were butter, feta cheese and the occasional dessert of chocolate or ice-cream.

Now, I'm trapped between the two dietary phases. From January 1st this year I began to cut out dairy again. There is no dairy in my home; though I have eaten it on occasion when we've gone out. That's also going to stop.

For the month of February, I planned a raw vegan detox. Four weeks indulging in nothing but fresh fruit and vegetables. A raw diet prevents one from cooking anything, and thus from eating anything that even requires cooking. On my first day, after consuming 1 banana, 1 nectarine, 1 apple, 1 bowl of chopped carrot, 1 full bowl of grapes and a salad consisting of spinach, spring onions, extra grapes, extra carrot and capsicum, I found myself starving by 8pm. It wasn't normal hunger, either. It was the kind of unbearable starvation that makes you think about nothing but satisfying it. The kind that no amount of water, tea or grapes can fill.

My boyfriend, who is Vietnamese, had a family engagement that night in celebration of the Lunar New Year. He came home at 9:30pm, to find me in an uncharacteristically deplorable mood. He then proceeded to tell me that he had brought home food for me. Sent by his lovely mother. And that that food was lobster.

It's embarrassing to admit this, but I actually got teary. I was so hungry and so frustrated at that point, but I was clinging to my pride. I couldn't fail on the first day. Maybe day four or five, but not the first. After about half an hour of internal (and, I admit, external) whining, I gave in and gulped down half of those lobster noodles as if I'd just suffered months in a malnourished state. And fair enough, I sure felt that way.

Thus, a new plan was created. Raw meals during the day, one cooked meal at night. I'm still not eating dairy, and I am cutting out sugar and caffeine. So basically, I believe I will still be getting the same benefits with this new plan. In all honestly, despite raw food being packed with goodness, I believe a 100% raw diet is quite extreme. Cooked foods can be healthy for you, if you do them right. I tend to eat a pretty damn healthy diet, especially when I abstain from dairy.

Raw fruit is an amazing breakfast; it leaves me feeling healthy, happy and energetic. Veggies go down great for lunch. But at night, I like to have something packed with lots of yummy spices, flavours and textures. Vegan Italian baked rice, noodles with spring onion and lobster, steamed corn and asparagus with Mediterranean stuffed and baked potatoes - yum! It gives me something to look forward to.

Health isn't something you can gain from fads or famines. It's something you have to work for long term. It's a lifestyle I'm aiming for, not a diet. I just hope I can still manage to detox my body from all the nasties of this current plan. Cravings are my worst enemies. I was dying for cookie dough the other day. It took me all of my willpower to restrain from going down that road. I'm doing pretty good.

For now, I'll keep working out on a day to day basis (my New Year's Resolution is still going strong one month in; I'm pretty stoked) and I'll keep trying to get my body's cravings back on track.

Kudos to the raw vegans out there. Seriously, you guys are crazy. Strong willed, but crazy. All of the health medals; you deserve them.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

A "Brief" Background Check, Pt. Nomad

I love moving.

I'm moving next month. I moved to where I currently am eleven months ago. And there were ten moves before that. Basically, I have moved an awful lot throughout my twenty years.

It started when I was young. We moved around for my father's work. Later, when I was eleven, my parents' divorce led to me eventually choosing to move interstate to live with my Dad. By that point I had already lived in eight homes, and moved states four times. I didn't even bat an eyelash at the thought of adding to those tallies. It was exciting.

Not much has changed. When high school ended, I chose to pack up and move to the other side of the country. I wasn't much a fan of Perth, where I had lived with my father. I'm still not a fan. It's very hot, it's very dry, and in my opinion is very dull. Melbourne, on the other hand, I never seem to tire of. I've lived here for two years and its beautiful greenery, wintry weather and bustling culture still thrill me.

There's just one problem with moving very long distances; you leave your friends behind.

Last week I attended a surprise party that was held for a good friend of my boyfriend's. I'd never met the party's center of attention, nor over half of the people that attended it. I know only his close friends that he sees on a regular basis, and only know of his university and high-school friends that he sees very rarely. It was a fun night, and I really did enjoy myself and the fact that I got to talk to some new people.

But overall the evening left me with an overwhelming sense of loneliness. I have made some great friends here; but only a few from the small workplace I was a part of. Back in Perth, I had a huge circle of friends that all got to know me over a period of four years. Here, my relationships are very new and undeveloped. They're good ones, but they're still in the fragile "getting to know you properly" stage, and sometimes it's a little hard to bear. There are days where I would do anything to give my best friend back there a big hug, to go and eat myself into a coma with another close buddy, and then head back to someone's place for a big ol' nerdy movie marathon.

I miss my friends. The ones that I know love me unconditionally, for me. The ones that threw me a surprise party. I put time and effort into those relationships, and even though I love my new home, I still feel guilty for prioritizing it over them.

But most days, I stay positive. Here I've found a different kind of love; the amazing boyfriend kind. He's truly my closest friend, and his presence is always a comfort to me. I'm slowly getting to know some of his very extensive friendship group, and I know some kick-ass girls from work that I adore. It's not all bad.

I think the best part of leaving a place behind is the sense that you're starting something new. I love the feeling of catharsis and how I feel both cleansed and excited by it. I don't believe that this will be my last move. I don't believe I'll stay in Melbourne forever (although I feel it will always be my chose "home"). I don't believe that this will be the last "adjusting" period that I go through.

To be honest, I downright hope that there is more of this to come. If I live my life right, I will see as many new places and meet as many new people as possible. Because, if I've learned anything from my constant travels, it's that your past moves on without you, anyway. When I went back to visit Perth a lot had changed. Most of my friends hadn't seen each other in a very long time. It wasn't just me that had moved on. Geographical distance can only take people so far. Time can take them much further.

So, here's to my background.
But from here on in, this blog will be focusing more on the future.

See you then.

Friday, 17 January 2014

A "Brief" Background Check, Pt. I

Something that I've inadvertently come to identify as one of my most distinguishable characteristics is my somewhat "nomadic" past. It's quite normal for me, and wasn't something I ever placed much value in before recent years, but the older I've gotten the more people have taken an interest in it.

I currently live in Melbourne, which is the capital city of the south eastern Australian state of Victoria. I have lived here for just under two years, and I came here by choice. The original plan was to spend 2012 (my first year out of high school) working and establishing myself, before beginning university in 2013.

What actually happened:

As an 18 year old with no working experience,* I found it incredibly difficult to secure myself employment. I searched for a few months before taking up volunteer work at a charity shop, whilst still looking for jobs in my spare time. Thankfully, the volunteer work was next to a cafe, and one of my organisation's higher-ups badgered the owner until I was given a trial. I never thought I would end up in hospitality, but that job ended up being a lot of fun, and I was finally able to get on my feet. By the time that work was secured, however, I was already seven months into the year.

I worked on until the following March, in 2013, when I cut my shifts from full time to part time, and started university. I was studying Arts and intended to major in linguistics. It didn't work out, for a few key reasons.

  1. I chose a subject that I was merely interested in, and not very passionate about.
  2. I had no idea what I actually wanted in regards to my long-term career, or even my life in general.
  3. I had gotten used to an income of six working days a week, and halving that was incredibly difficult.
  4. I was no longer used to having work that followed me home, and was not all that enthused about reading 50 pages on World Religions after doing a 10 hour shift at work.
  5. My previous year had been 50% survival/employment struggles and 50% laborious working weeks made up of six ten hour shifts. It had, quite frankly, made me grow the fuck up. The majority of my university peers were fresh out of highschool, and I found very little common ground with them.
  6. At the time, I thoroughly loved my job.
So, after a couple of weeks I deferred and resumed my full time position at the cafe. These days I have no problems telling people that I'm not at university and do not know if I ever will be. I grew up thinking that I would definitely go, and always had great results in my education. Thus, it was a huge blow to my pride when I dropped out. But I have learned that whether or not I get a higher education does not reflect my intelligence, skills, ability to succeed in life or my self-worth. I believe it was a lesson I needed to learn.

Another lesson that I needed to learn, and only very recently did, is not to put all my eggs in one basket. A year ago, quitting university and resuming full time work at my beloved little cafe seemed like a great idea. But things change. It's a fact of life and existence that cannot be avoided. In my case, it was the cafe's new higher management.

Long story short, I ended up leaving my job late last November. Here I am, two months later, and I still have an unfortunate abundance of spare time on my hands. Alas, I shall prevail. There are many things in my life that bring me happiness; the fact that I still have a roof over my head and am well fed are two prominent ones.

I turned 20 last Sunday, and I cannot even begin to describe how happy I am that the teenage years of my life are finally over. The first few were awkward, the middle few were angst-y and the last two were just downright testing.

But they're over. Gone forever... even though they'll always be a part of me. And thus I have arrived at this week of introspection; my life so far has been blazing through my mind like wildfire. I'm half convinced I'm in a coma, and this is the classic montage that preludes a morbid fate.

Assuming that's not the case, I'm going to finish the "nomad" part of my history in my next post. I didn't expect the summary of my past two years to be quite so in-depth. Oops.

Until then, sayonara.

*I chose to focus on my education and fleeting youth during highschool, as opposed to prioritizing a job. Many of my friends had done the same thing, but as they went straight into university it did not affect them the way that it did me. Moral of the story? I should have at least gotten a summer job or something. But back then I was very adament about taking advantage of my care-free years while I still had them. I get where I was coming from.

Friday, 3 January 2014

And then God said, "Let there be Nutella"

Yesterday I met up with my mother for coffee, having last seen her on Christmas Eve, when my family's festivities occurred. As I was chatting away and sipping a very decent soy mocha, a metaphorical light-bulb suddenly flashed above her head, and she proceeded to dig into her bag and pull out a small jar of Nutella.

"This is for you," she explained, setting it down on the table before me, "I bought it for you for Christmas but forgot to wrap it!"

Slightly shocked, I stared at the quaint little jar, filled with luxurious liquid that leads to very quick obesity, and I honestly had no idea whether to celebrate or weep.

Let me back up a little.

Nutella could quite literally be my religion. I love it. Aaaand, until yesterday, I had heroically resisted its temptation for a good eighteen months or so. Many times, when picking up a jar of peanut butter, I would glance at its unhealthier counterpart just a bit further down the isle, and nearly falter. A small voice inside of me would whimper, begging me to just give in. But I didn't.

Even when I began dating my boyfriend, and my previously vegan diet was demoted to pescetarian, I managed to resist. Sometimes only because the man in question would forcibly yank me away into another isle so I could regain my composure. Nevertheless, I stayed away, and my thighs stayed a nice size 10.

Well, for a while. The dairy that I re-introduced (just feta cheese, butter and the occasional chocolate or ice-cream) when I began cooking for two has now pushed me back into a size 12; a fact I am not all too happy about. Hence why one of my 2014 resolutions was to get back to my old vegan ways.

Then, three days into my cleanse, I'm given a jar of Nutella. My vegan kryptonite.

Is it a sign? I wondered. Is it possible that the gods of indulgence want me to join them in the realms of obesity, when I inevitably die of a heart attack at age 39? Maybe I should just eat all the butter, feta, ice-cream and Nutella I want, and damn the consequences. But these thoughts kind of led to me panicking about how much willpower I appear to have lost in just six months.

I ended up, very pathetically, downing the entire jar in one night. That's right; I don't eat it on toast or in desserts or in hot chocolate or anything of the like. I have the stuff straight. And I generally have it all in a very short period of time, because I tell myself that it's better to suffer short term than to drag the excessive calories out long-term. I have no idea how accurate that theory is. I'm sure it's probably wrong. But it gives me both peace of mind and an excuse to go all out.

The morale of this story? Nutella is too powerful a force to be reckoned with. If you try to resist it, it will find you, and tempt you. It is a wholly unnatural substance, it is pure irresistibility... made edible.

And it got the better of me.

Strangely enough, it also helped to further motivate my healthy living plan. Because the aftermath of eating an entire jar of Nutella, small or otherwise, is incredibly unpleasant.

Thank you, Nutella.

Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Concerning Good-Bad Omens & New Beginnings

It is the first day of 2014.

In my part of the world, that makes it the middle of summer. You can usually count on January 1st to outfit itself with blue skies, blaring sunlight and sweltering heat. But this January 1st is different. I am currently listening to the comforting sound of rain pitter-pattering on the roof outside my bedroom window. They sky is grey and cloudy, the breeze is cool, and I am very cozy snuggled up here on my bed.

I'm taking this as an omen.

I know people usually have negative associations with this kind of weather, but I absolutely love it. 2014 is going to be good. It's going to be different.

Which is exactly what I want; a nice fresh start. In eleven day I am turning twenty years old. My nineteenth year was my craziest, most up-and-down, most self-evolutionary year yet. I'm hoping that age twenty sees me find a tad more stability, and lets me focus on what's truly important.

What's truly important is as follows:

  • Saving for my trip to Europe, which will start in September and end in December.
  • Getting fit and healthy again
  • Catching up on my hobbies, like food-blogging
  • Starting this shiney new little space

Between 2010 and 2013 I maintained another blog under this URL. It was pretty consistent and I'm really happy with what I managed to learn through it. However, the coming of this new year and this new decade made me lean towards a fresh start. A lot has changed since I was sixteen; my attitude, my goals, my city of residence, my priorities, etc. So I think it's about time my blog changed, too.

If you're reading this, I hope you will consider joining me in the unfolding of the newest chapter of my life. Whilst I don't know if I will ever become a truly functional adult (my love for cartoons, Harry Potter and sprinkles, among other things, appears to be undying), I would like to at least try to act like one from time to time. Basically, I'm getting my shit together, and this blog will document it. I hope.

So far, I'm doing okay. Today I got up at a decent time, worked out, had a healthy breakfast and then proceeded to go on a four hour long cleaning spree born from an uncontrollable fit of semi-OCD. Just before I sat down to blog I prepared a massive roast dinner, ready to cook for when my boyfriend gets home from work. Progress.

On that fine and dandy note, I'm off to warm myself up with a cup of tea before I embark on an Assassin's Creed binge.

Happy New Year!