Keeping abreast

One of the major struggles of my surge in weight has been finding a good quality bra. What never used to be A cup struggle has increasingly become an awkward experience. So after years of lacy comfort and basic designs, I was reacquainted with the sports brassiere.

After a fitting guided by the preening eye of the sales person (who has clearly kept abreast of the many shapes and sizes behind fitting room doors) I was happy to purchase two sport bras and looked forward to, at least, a year without struggle. But the honeymoon was short-lived. The material that felt so comfortable and sat so well just two months earlier, began to rub into my skin and bruise my back. I put on more weight and the sports bra could no longer hold me down.

And so, I returned to the factory version of the store and – after a fitting guided by the preening eye of the much younger and perkier sales person – I was happy to purchase another two sport bras. Initially, I enjoyed the bounce and support but over time, the heat made wearing any material so uncomfortable that I began to ditch the bra completely.

And so I went to the mall, the hair salon, (once to) the gym and other frequently visited places commando at the chest. Whilst this habit had a very Miley Cyrus-risque liability to it (as a colleague once put it) I was genuinely comfortable in my skin. Unfortunately, this came with a few frustrations:

Society

I remain unclear as to the production date of perceptions around not wearing a bra and the comments or enquiries that come with it but I look forward to its expiry date. It is rather awkward for a male to ask as to whether you are wearing a bra for little other reason than the fact that he may have been obliviously looking at your chest. From a female-to-female perspective, that a woman can exit the home without wearing a bra is nearly seen as a form of poverty. I would think that with all of the problems in the world, people would be worried about more serious issues.

Weather

Exposure to the elements is a blissful thing but when commando at the chest you are often left with a few bloopers to reconcile with. If it gets too hot or hard-working, you sort of feel as though lumps of clay are melting. If it gets too cold or corporate, you get the inevitable nipple-stand. I have personally resorted to covering the latter with items ranging from my wallet, piles of paper, cardigans and my forearms. Also, even when you do rock a sports bra, it could double as a seaweed body wrap and your top is a sauna.

Look and feel

The look and feel of being bra-less is not necessarily as coordinated ‘glam’ and coordinated  ‘sexy’ as may be when wearing a bra. Also, even when you do rock a sports bra, it creepily emerges at the shoulders of every item that you wear and comes off a bit tacky. Of course, this depends on the occasion in which you may find yourself and is only a minor challenge if-when anticipated.

Weighing out the pros and cons, there is merit and madness to rocking a bra. Having tried nearly every reputable brand and cut[Free 2BU, Wonderbra, JT-One, Cotton Body, La Senza and even Pick ‘n Pay’s Real Clothing] I have found that a bra does more to constrain me than it does to contain me, at least at this stage of my body, whilst I continue to regulate my burgeoning band size.

2015: The Ultimate Food Challenge

Today, I had a good laugh reading the flurry of New Year’s Eve messages and words of wisdom for the new year. Goodness, people sure get so darn deep and smart on this day of the year. And (as you may have gathered through the tone of the first two lines by now) much of the 31-December’s of my adult years have been spent successfully failing to figure the impetus that is: mismatched clocks ticking over the Julian calendar and the thoughtful resolutions that people actually come up with.

My bubble was burst, however, when I stumbled upon this checklist on Popsugar (courtesy of which I would like to happily share for anyone whose resolution entails anything to do with:

EATING A LITTLE WISER

LOOKING A LITTLE LEANER

&

FEELING A LITTLE HEALTHIER

The Ultimate Food Challenge

So, back to that Julian calendar: there are 52 weeks in 2015 and 51 boxes to champion – work toward 1 box per week. 

Oh, and for all the good that it is worth, happy new year!

Clean out and reorganize your fridge.

Make a recipe from your Pinterest boards.

Learn a new cooking technique.

Go meatless on Monday for a month.

Flip over a fried egg without the yolk breaking.

Make tomato sauce from scratch.

Perfectly roast a whole chicken.

Break down a chicken.

Read a nonfiction food book.

Slow cook something.

Visit a winery and/or brewery.

Organize (and purge) your cookbook collection.

Cook a new-to-you whole grain.

Bake bread from scratch.

Master a family recipe.

Make a layer cake from scratch.

Invent your own cocktail.

Deep-fry something.

Cook dinner at home at least three nights a week for a month.

Make perfectly poached eggs.

Host a dinner party.

Clean out your spice rack.

Make a condiment from scratch.

Learn how to sharpen a knife.

Visit your neighborhood farmers market.

Make a soufflé.

Try at least one food that scares you.

Cook a steak to perfect doneness.

Learn a new French knife skill.

Pack your own lunch for a week.

Make homemade mac and cheese.

Learn to cut a whole pineapple.

Perfectly steam rice.

Feast on an ethnic food you’ve never had before.

Make hummus from scratch.

Organize your tupperware containers.

Pack a mason jar salad.

Create a well-stocked pantry.

Make chicken (or vegetable) stock from scratch.

Can/preserve something.

Brew coffee at home for a month.

Make homemade pasta.

Flip pancakes without them folding.

Follow a recipe to the T without making any changes.

Caramelize onions.

Churn a pint of homemade ice cream.

Grow something.

Ferment something.

Make an on-point French omelet.

Clean and put away dishes immediately for a month.

Find your signature drink.

Neon Run JHB 2014

I ran my first 5 kilometres on the Neon Run “the other day.” In review of the experience, here are 9 pointers worth sharing that I figured out along the way.

BEFORE
Nerves
During the week of the race, I contemplated withdrawing from the team at least once every few hours. I had enough pride and sense not to do so and realized that the better part of the nerves lay in the thrill of seeing the challenge through. Let nerves fuel you.

Detox
In the days leading up to the race, cut out down on the alcohol, tobacco and whatever other garbage you habitually ingest. Turn down for what, you might ask? Turn down for substance overload, that’s what!

Pack the necessary essentials
Not a lot of thought goes into Vaseline, a mobile phone and cash in a sling pack. But on a chilly evening, tissue will come in handy for the inevitable running-runny nose. If you have a good phone or camera, keep that with you too. Hairclips and gum are also a must-have (trust me).

Neon Run JHB 2014 Route

DURING
In it to win it
As much of a fun run / walk / skate as the Neon Race was advertised to be, I refused to think of it as anything less than a competition. I took all of this rather seriously and this mind-set kept me determined to commit and continue throughout.

Expect the unexpected
In my head, the mission was to: keep breathing, don’t faint, and stay awake. Blessed to have conquered all three, I did not expect the unexpected scenarios which included swerving through couples strolling on romantically and having to slam momentum to keep from slamming into a pregnant lady. 

Screen_20140530_215054

Playlist                                                 I – subconsciously – compiled a playlist before the race commenced. Over the time, it served me well to control thoughts and even breathing. If you are lucky, the songs will present themselves at just the right moment to keep your rhythm going. I had a good sprint to Neyo’s ‘Sexy Love’ – coincidence. 

AFTER

Hydrate
At the finish line, I remember carrying on “I want a drink, who wants a drink.” My fundamentally stupid error was to take in no liquids the hour before the race, the hour of the race and the hour after the race. The idea of stopping at the water point felt like a waste of time for the weak but it is best that you take in liquid, even if just once.

Forget your fear
Our team of 5 broke up within 5 minutes into the run. At first, I panicked. But the panic soon turned into a peaceful space in which to pace oneself. I think I even tied my top back and let my tummy out. Let go of the inhibitions.

Stretch
On the rise of road to the finish line, I felt a strain on the left groin side. This grew sharper and lasted for just over a day. I felt hip bones that I did not know existed with every move that I made for a good few more days. Warm up your body before you run; and warm it down thereafter.

As the crowd from the starting point slowly dispersed to allow enough running space, congestion along the route remained high. Instances in which you will be forced to stop and walk will be too many. 38 minutes was 8 minutes over the time that I had intended to finish within. I was left proud but somewhat frustrated.

V, N, G, M

So proud and frustrated that I would do this again. It was good to follow through on a first-time experience. Of special mention is that I had a bunch of winners for teammates which made for genuine fun. Here’s to a next night race!

 

It’s a new art form

When you train, when you exercise, when you compete, you become particularly aware of the lyrical content that subconsciously stimulates you. You become aware of the tone, pitch, and touch of it all, every line, every word, and how you relate to it at best. Characterized by bass drums, pump-up value and sing-along songs, young music has, however, taken to forms of lyrical truths that lay bare passion and pride. And this is how I came to wonder as to whether this specific song could fall into the Playlist category. [Cue: Lorde]

Lorde - Tennis-Court

By stripping away the upbeat all-I-do-is-win vibe, could the self-same references to battle, pain, joy and victory provide subconscious stimulation of the mind and body in the scheme before / of / after training, exercise or competition? On a scale of one to conscious embodiment, I give it a good nine. Call it a new art form or something. Press play.

Run the Block

The unforced error that has culminated in my hiatus from blogging means that I may reveal more than I should. And that is fine – it is, after all, what a good lil’ blog is all about!

I always said that I would never run for leisure and I really prefer to run from something as opposed to something, except say the late train or to give someone something urgently, you know, pressing matters. Having a fast metabolism and not-yet your own vehicle can condition one to such thinking.

But I took to a sporadic instance today on a mission to the local store. This was not the plan, but as a Cassie tune began to convince me to get moving in the strong drizzle, my soles in New Balance 470V2’s felt a little turned on. I also happened to be wearing my grey Rocky-style hoodie: the scene was set. So I began …
… running for a block.
And another block …
… then trailing downhill and running another block.
And then, another …
… running the block.

I ran until my fisted hands began to lose their confident positioning at the front of my chest and when I began to lose breath I stopped. Needless to say, I had a natural spring in my step and made it to the store faster than I have on foot in years.

So there are three things that I have revealed about myself in my overdue return run to the blogosphere: (1) my too-often conscious run for the late train (2) my subconscious Sunday urge to run the block; and (3) oh, how I have missed The Underscore. Talk about endless possibilities to finding your greatness, run with them, those endless, endless possibilities.

You can do anything that you put your mind to

Major credit to Ana Ivanovic for showing off against Serena Williams. All right, well, perhaps not as extravagant as ‘showing off’ which would deem some level of consistent performance, but definitely reminding one that you can do anything that you put your mind to in the moment (even against Serena Williams).

Sports Illustrated put it perfectly in a post-match review which reflected on the battle – and triumph – to which the average female full of potential can relate to all too well:

Sports Illustrated: Beyond the Baseline. ‘Ana Ivanovic upsets Serena Williams in fourth round at Australian Open.’ 18 January 2014.

QuickPick: North vs. South Women’s Invitational T20

CellC Festival of Cricket

Not a fan of triple-headers, I struggled to warm up to rugby players playing cricket in a white-pants-striped shirt getup reminiscent of 80’s baseball. But the CellC Festival of Cricket has redeemed itself in my strait books by bringing the Women’s game to greater recognition. Credit where credit is due.

North team:

Savanna Cordes, Mignon du Preez, Lara Goodall, Marizanne Kapp, Lizelle Lee, Marcia Letsoalo, Suné Luus, Magdeline Mphahlele, Andrie Steyn, Nkhuli Thabethe, Chloe Tryon, Dané van Niekerk.

South team:

Bernadine Bezuidenhoudt, Alexis le Breton, Trish Chetty, Moseline Daniels, Shandré Fritz, Shabnim Ismail, Ayabonga Khaka, Sunette Loubser, Nadine Moodley, Yolandi Potgieter, Robyn Searle, Elriessa Theunissen.

The Cricketers Noir, Part3

My parade of cricket is – more often than not – rained upon by the most inconvenient elements of the game: piss poor play, closely drawn Test matches, bad media reports, and debaucherous claims. More recent rains on my parade, however, have been the wind of claims that being of black African race is a make-or- break factor in player selection. Now, poor play, draws, and bad behaviour are as generic as natural to any historically male sporting code. But I have never quite understood how race could sway the selector / administrator / coach to inhibit a good black African prospect the opportunity to play.

To put this in simple terms, mull over a scenario: Muzi is a cricketer, catchy player, and a key bowler in the senior leagues – a definite candidate for selection. He bats too (bottom middle order enough). And then there is Hector, the selector / administrator / coach / who gives Muzi a chance at play – twice on the field, twice on the bench and not for another few months at least. In between his amateur List 33.00 batting average, 4.00 bowling economy and prospective aspect, he is deemed unfit to continue play. Muzi never really gets a break beyond this level until he lands a corporate job or is ushered into the very role of cricket selector / administrator / coach. Ironic: easy to believe but difficult to make sense of.

 

What makes sense is the package that makes up a prime player: raw talent, manner, confidence, approach, and statistics. Not race, surely, as it would be imbecilic for anyone in a professional position to develop and advance a sporting structure to be going about it in such a narrow way? The abundant qualities that go into what it takes to make a prime black African cricketer are often more compound than raw talent, manner, confidence, approach, and statistics. We know this, right? So, that anyone vested in the game would act against this dynamic would be wrong. But I may very well be wrong.

 

When Tim May (resigned FICA Chief Executive Officer) eluded to the reality that ‘cricket increasingly seems to be pushing aside the principles of transparency, accountability, independence, and upholding the best interests of the global game, in favour of a system that appears to operate through threats, intimidation and backroom,’[1] I began to loosely associate that with the ideals of transformation in national cricket and slow (albeit sure) progress in this regard. Has the game become so non-transparent, unaccountable and dependable on the objectivity of cricket selectors / administrators / coaches that performance indicators favour frivolous subjective criteria … I wonder.

 

And whilst I remain wondering, I hope that the black African cricketer stays working on his nuanced package to make sure that he is counted in this competitive age. Unfortunately, cricket hinges itself on a player’s ability to stand out and be counted even if on a rainy day. Long-term economic investment in raw talent, confidence to unabashedly break away from the socio-historical shadows of a parochial gentleman’s game and statistics that back it all up would really look smart. It is then, perhaps, that (s)he can make an undisputed claim to a rightful place in a starting XI. Less rain over my cricket parade, please.


[1] Coverdale, Brydon. 2013, Frustrated Tim May quits FICA. 5 June 2013. ESPN Cricinfo: News Index. Available from: <http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/content/story/639114.html&gt;. [23 December 2013].

I went from zero, to my own hero

There has been a word that has stuck out at me without backing down (as much as I have tried to duck and dive from it): champion. The meaning of ‘champion’ has evaded me for a long time but it has become increasingly difficult not to embrace. Like a long-lost pastime sport, or the good feeling you wish you had and know you have been missing … so if – like me – you’ve had a challenging past few thousand and something hours, that is probably the very stuff that champions are made of and there is no backing down from it, nor ducking or diving. Just press play.

This is so hard

When you’re riding an ebb tide of motivation there aren’t many songs that can pick you up. You sort of pick yourself up from the ground in the shattered pieces of what’s left of you to give. The good thing about being at your bottom is that there is nowhere to go but upward and this track can literally get you going on that track. An unlikely collaboration of electro-dance-rock, the more you listen to this cut, the more it makes sense and serves as a kind reminder that when things get very hard, you just have to go harder. The Underscore rates it makes for a positive wake-up alarm tone. Press Play:

Is being a leading player not enough?

The running idea that Maria Sharapova will bulldoze the US Tennis Open with her candy line has turned me off like a winter power cut. This cannot possibly be serious?

Sharapova - Sugarpova (Flirty)

Is it not enough that the sanctity of sport has been threatened by technological innovation, maladministration and the voracious desire for absolute entertainment, at all costs? Scantily clad promotionettes, in-crowd commentary that ambushes live match experiences, ‘celebrities’ lifting historic trophies weeks before the winners do, digital adscrolls with sms-txt spelling, and the voyeurist undertones that kinesio-taping has developed – is it not enough?  Just for a second, imagine a tennis Grand Slam in all of its glory (already under threat by the abovementioned) now potentially cheap-thrilled by the third ranked female player in the world and the goods she is selling. Oh, is it not enough that women in sport already traverse hurdles to remain professionalism in an androcratic environment?  Were clever means of conventional marketing like ‘chew like a champ’ not enough?

Sharapova - SugarPova (Chew like a Champ)

 

Over the next six days there are two simple possibilities: either sports media has spun a catchy rumor on Maria Sugarpova’s extension of an individual brand cheekily for awareness purposes [1] not to actually be used during the US Tennis Open or this will turn out to be a real deal that is legally approved, signed, sealed and delivered to the world. But if real, surely, that would just be an ingenious approach serving little to the traditions of tennis and nature of athlete competition. Any Directorate who would consider passing this motion would be flirting with lowering Tournament rules and regulations and any player with the time to follow through on such moves off of court leaves one wondering as to whether it is enough to simply be a leading [2] player in a world-class game anymore; because it should be.

___________________

[1] Ask yourself, did you know that Sugarpova even existed? I did not. So think: upsurge in candy cravings, online clicks, buys and referrals, random searches linked to Maria Sharapova and baited breath awaiting official press release refuting or confirming details.

 

[2] Back to tennis and just off of the Western and Southern Cincinnati Open: if you are ‘only as good as your last game’ and Sharapova last lost to US native, Sloane Stevens, who then crumbled to Jelena Jankovic (and then having the whole tournament lost from Serena Williams to Victoria Azarenka) could the US Open look to a not-so-obvious comeback this year?

 

 

Smart, portable, and protein rich “fitness snacks”

AFN Fitness

Hello everyone

Today I will share some easy recipies for portable, protein rich “fitness snacks”. All of the presented snacks are fast and easy to prepare and they can be brought anywhere (school, job, training, etc.).

The only thing limiting you in your choise of healthy snacks, is your imagination. I hope this post will give you some ideas of what qualifies as a healthy snack and inspire you to create your own tasty, portable “fitness snacks”.

Basically, the “fitness snack” needs to consist of a protein source and a “good” source of carbohydrates and/or healthly fats. The optimal “fitness snack” will contain all of the following three elements:

3D Protein Food High Crossword

  • Lean protein (poultry, pork, cottage cheese, whey protein, etc.)
  • Healthy fats (nuts, fish/shellfish, avocados, etc.)
  • “Healthy” carbohydrates (vegetables, fruits, berries etc.) Basically plant foods with a high fiber, vitamin, and mineral content)

So, let us have a look at some portable…

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