A Time to Wait for Love

Couple embracing

Like many Millennials around the world, I learned a significant amount of information about sex from health and fitness instructors while I was in high school (sex education was actually required in my school district). My mother was grateful that the school system made an effort to teach me and my classmates about safe sex practices and sexually transmitted diseases. I spent most of my sex ed classes reading about the long-term consequences of unintended pregnancies and staring at photos of disease-stricken genitalia.

Condom demonstration.
Condom demonstration.

At best, I learned how to apply a condom to a penis. At worst, I learned that all of my school administrators thought that their students were having reckless sex behind closed doors. At 17, I remember leaving one of those early morning classes feeling like I was the only virgin left in town, and that I needed to hurry to catch up to my more-experienced peers.

What I do not remember discussing during those painfully awkward sex education classes was the subject of love. So much of the lesson was based on the assumption (no, the expectation!) that all of the students were going to engage in careless, casual sex sooner or later. Sure, my teachers covered basic bodily functions and taught us about the insemination process, but none of the adults discussed the importance of being emotionally connected to a partner before deciding to have sex.

At no point did any of the instructors discuss the fact that humans are wired for long-lasting love, not just casual sex. In fact, we have evolved three distinctly different brain systems specifically for love. Helen Fisher is a Rutgers University biological anthropologist and the chief scientific advisor to Chemistry.com who says that casual sex cannot exist because of our brain functionality. She states:

What happens in the brain is, a tiny little factory near the base of the brain called the ventral tegmental area become active, and in some particular cells, called the A10 cells, they begin to make dopamine. Dopamine is a natural stimulant. And from the ventral tegmental area it’s sent too many brain regions, particularly the reward system; the brain system for wanting, for craving, for seeking, for addiction, for motivation and in this case, the motivation to win life’s greatest prize, which is a good mating partner.

Any kind of sexual stimulation of the genitals triggers the dopamine system in the brain and can push you over that threshold into falling in love with that person. And in fact, with orgasm, there’s a real flood of oxytocin and vasopressin, other chemicals in the brain associated with the feeling of deep attachment. So, casual sex is really never casual unless you’re so drunk you can’t remember it; something happens. …So, casual sex is just plain old not casual. Something can happen. You can either fall madly in love with this person, or you can begin a deep sense of attachment to them.

I had forgotten about my sexual education classes completely until my mother stopped by to give me a bag of condoms and flyers she collected at a health conference. There was a flyer in the bag that championed the benefits of pledging abstinence until marriage. If only I had stumbled upon a flyer like that 15 years sooner, when I was in middle school. I’m sharing notes from the flyer:

Why We Are Waiting Until We Are Married to Have Sex…

What Does it Mean to Wait?

  • Saying no to sex until you are married
  • Refusing to participate in sex games in groups or at parties
  • Staying away from oral sex or other kinds of sexual activity

Did You Know?

  • Many teenagers like you are waiting until they are married to have sex
  • Many women who had sex before they were married wish they had waited
  • Every time you have sex you could get a sexually transmitted disease and get pregnant

But I Feel Like I Am Ready to Have Sex…

You might feel as if you are ready to have sex. But are you really sure? Consider all the things that could happen if you have sex before you are married:

  • You will probably disappoint your parents
  • You could get pregnant
  • You could get a sexually transmitted infection
  • You could get your feelings hurt
  • You may have to put your life on hold
Photo by Keener Marketing
Photo by Keener Marketing

All great advice. Unfortunately, like many woman my own age, I learned about the value of waiting to have sex by having poor experiences and witnessing the heartache my friends faced from engaging in casual sex. Now as an adult, I know that casual sex is a terrible idea, especially for vulnerable young women. Why would a rational woman risk pregnancy, HIV, genital warts, loneliness or humiliation from a sex partner they barely know?

If I could talk to a young woman today, I would tout the benefits of abstaining from sex. Or at the very least, I would encourage a young woman to first acknowledge that humans are wired to get attached to their sexual partners and to recognize that casual sex is very risky behavior for women. I’d also tell them to wait to have sex until they feel certain that they know their spouse’s character, motivations, goals, trustworthiness and intentions. Forget about arbitrary third date rules; think instead about how well you know your partner’s character. Are they trustworthy and genuine? Obviously, you can’t figure out a person’s true character by just knowing them for a few dates, or a even a few months. Take your time dating them.

Additionally, it is also a great idea to know your partner’s health status (i.e., do they have Herpes, etc.?). No condom or birth control method offers 100% protection against STDs or pregnancy. Don’t risk your health for someone you barely know. Let’s not also forget that premarital sex takes away an incentive for men to get married or commit to you.

As a society, I think we have had enough of the misguided notion that casual sex is normal, healthy behavior. It is time for ladies to take the time to wait for love, not sex.

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The Best Way to Test Your Relationship Isn’t Living Together

Photo by Adam Tinworth via Flickr

Did you know that couples who live together before marrying are less satisfied with their marriages and more likely to divorce than couples who do not live together? And yet, nearly half of twenty-somethings surveyed say (pdf) that they would only marry someone if he or she agreed to live together first, so that they could find out whether they really got along. And two-thirds of twentsomethings believe that cohabitating before marriage is a good way to avoid divorce, Meg Jay writes in her book “The Defining Decade: Why your twenties matter—and how to make the most of them now.”

Living together before marriage, or at least the promise to commit to marriage, is a terrible idea. It’s such as bad idea that sociologists have a name for this broken phenomenon: it’s called the “cohabitation effect.” First, couples who cohabitate are usually moving in for conflicting reasons—women think of moving in together as a step up in their relationships, while men think of moving in together as a way to get easy access to sex. Oh, and yes, let’s state the obvious: cohabitation is also cheaper and convenient….because that’s what solid relationships should be based on, am I right?

Yes, living together is cheaper…at first. Cohabitation actually becomes expensive when you want to get out of it. “Cohabitation is loaded with setup and switching costs,” Jay writes in the New York Times. “Living together can be fun and economical, and the setup costs are subtly woven in. After years of living among roommates’ junky old stuff, couples happily split the rent on a nice one-bedroom apartment. They share wireless and pets and enjoy shopping for new furniture together. Later, these setup and switching costs have an impact on how likely they are to leave.”

Moving in with someone without first being engaged is a deal-breaker for women who are serious about getting married. Jay explores the long-term effects of this phenomenon in her book, writing:

“It is the couples who live together before an engagement who are more likely to experience poorer communication, lower levels of commitment to the relationship, and greater marital instability down the road. Multiple studies have shown that those who live with their partners before an engagement are less dedicated before, and even after, marriage. A life built on top of a “Maybe We Will” simply may not feel as consciously committed as a life build on top of the ‘I Do’ of marriage or the ‘We Are’ of engagement.”

If you really want to test your spouse’s personality and see if you two would be a good fit for one another, there is a much better way to get the job done. I recommend that you travel abroad (preferably, to a developing country) with your spouse to see how you both respond to unpredictable situations. When you are overseas together as a couple, you will have wonderful new experiences together for sure, but you may also lose your credit card, get robbed, have trouble speaking fluently to the locals or experience less-than-stellar hotels. Those experiences will help you see your spouse at their best and worst moments.

Photo by Ernie & Katy Newton Lawley via Flickr
Photo by Ernie & Katy Newton Lawley via Flickr

Jay agrees with this idea in her book. “Traveling in a third-world country is the closest thing there is to being married and raising kids. You have glorious hikes and perfect days on the beach. You go on adventures you would never try, or enjoy, alone. But you also can’t get away from each other. Everything is unfamiliar. Money is tight or you get robbed. Someone gets sick or sunburned. You get bored. It is harder than you expected, but you are glad you didn’t just sit at home.”

So plan to have an experience with your significant other, and make it a long vacation—the trip should last 20 days at a minimum. Pay attention to how your partner handles budgeting/spending, cleanliness, conflict and sudden changes.

Read next: 3 reasons why salsa dancing is the most feminine thing you can do

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How to Find a Husband Who Really Gets You

Photo by -=shutterbug=- via Flickr

I’m in love with all of the knowledge and insights packed in psychologist Meg Jay’s book “The Defining Decade: Why your twenties matter—and how to make the most of them now.” It is for this reason that I decided to break down her guidebook into parts, dissecting each chapter into tidbits that will help us on our quest to pursue femininity. As a psychologist who has all too often listened to confused and underemployed thirtysomethings who wasted their early years, Jay offers helpful advice for young men and women swimming in the sea of youth. The book encourages young adults to remember that their twenties do indeed matter and have an effect on the rest of their lives.

I found some of the best takeaways from her book in her chapters in love, marriage and relationships. She encourages young men and women to take their dating lives seriously while they are in their twenties, rather than play the field and engage in casual sex. Jay argues that romantic relationships are important because they offer people the opportunities to pick and create their own families.

“There is something scary about picking your family,” Jay writes. “It’s not romantic. It means you aren’t just waiting for your soulmate to arrive. It means you know you are making decision that will affect the rest of your life…Twentysomethings who aren’t at least a little scared about their relationships are often the ones who are being the least thoughtful.”

Jay implores her readers to be thoughtful in several relationship arenas: Selecting a mate carefully, refusing to move in together (unless you are already engaged), choosing to marry young and deciding to have children early. As a single young woman is who currently dating, I was particularly interested in her advice on mate selection. She encourages young singles to think less about their deal breakers and more about selecting a spouse based on personality traits. Eliminate potential suitors only on extreme differences in values, goals or personality.

“One match maker to consider is personality,” she writes. “Some research tells us that, especially in young couples, the more similar two people’s personalities are, the more likely they are to be satisfied with their relationship. Yet personality is how dating, and even married, couples tend to be least alike.”

You don’t need to take an official test to determine your personality traits. Instead, decide where your personality falls on the Big Five personality test, which identifies five factors that describe how people interact with the world. Neuroticism, which is the tendency to be anxious, critical and moody, is “more predictive of relationship unhappiness and dissolution than is personality dissimilarity.”

Big Five Personality Test

In the book, Jay provides an example of a patient named Eli, a young man who is high on Openness and Extraversion, and low on Conscientiousness and Neuroticism. Eli is a poor match for his girlfriend, a withdrawn and responsible person who is low on Openness and Extraversion, but high on Conscientiousness and Neuroticism. This couple needs to break up because their personalities are too different for the relationship to work.

So what if the guy you like isn’t very romantic or likes watching listening to sports talk instead of NPR? Forget the trivial details and choose a spouse with a personality that is similar to yours. Here’s solid advice from Jay: “The more similar people are, the more they are able to understand each other…Two people who are similar are going to have the same reactions to a rainy day, a new car, a long vacation, an anniversary, a Sunday morning, and a big party.”

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My 4-Hour Body Plan | Eat like Ground Hogs Day

"to eat or not to eat" by daniellehelm via flickr
“to eat or not to eat” by daniellehelm via flickr

I read somewhere a long time ago that the best way to lose weight is to stick to a routine (i.e eat the same things every day).

I’ve heard this same piece of advice over and over again over the years from different successful dieters.

My guess is that keeping a routine creates discipline and consistency.

I have not been applying this piece of advice, but after failing at weight lost for the past 4 months, I have decided that it’s worth a shot.

via fourhourworkweek.com
via fourhourworkweek.com

My sister recently emailed me some blog posts from The 4 Hour Workweek blog, and I have decided to implement these strategies.

I will link to the articles below for your reference.

Here is my plan that has come out of reading these articles:

First of all the rules:

  1. No fruit
  2. No white “starchy” carbs
  3. Drink only water
  4. Eat the same meals every day
  5. Have one “cheat day” where you can eat anything you want.

So, for me my plan is to eat:

B- Eggs, beans and veggies

L- Turkey, beans and veggies

S- nuts and veggies

D- Fish, beans and veggies

 Have you found that variety or monotony was more effective in your weight loss journey? Please share in the comment section below!

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Weight loss Journey Update | #Positivethinspo

It’s been a while since I have updated this blog with regards to my weight loss/health journey.

I have not been doing well with my weight loss journey.

I am sure these two are correlated (i.e. not blogging and doing poorly).

I don’t know if I have not been blogging, because I have not been doing well or if I have not been doing well, because I have not been keeping up with blogging.

I know a lot of bloggers and vloggers who say that they do best when they are updating their viewers.

What keeps me hopeful, is the knowledge that habits take time to cultivate.

For this reason I will not give up.

I will not give up trying to get into the habit of updating regularly, and I will not give up trying to get into the habit and mindset of fitness.

positive thinspo I shared today
positive thinspo I shared today

If you recall, there was a period of time when I was trying to stay motivated and get into a warrior mindset, by punishing myself when I did not stick to my weight loss commitments as well as rewarding myself when I did.

I tried to get my social media followers involved as well for accountability.

Now, I have decided to add another element to my social media campaign.

#Positivethinspo is a hashtag that I don’t see very often.

I see a lot about #thinspo which is used by the ana/mia crowd (of which I used to be one) who glorify eating disorders and share tips about how to lose weight in unhealthy ways.

I left this self-destructive culture, because many of these people are depressed and often suicidal.

If you are curious about my experience, I wrote a book about it which can be found here —> click here

Now, I am learning to have more positive ideas of body image and learning healthier methods of losing weight, which I will share as much as possible here and on by social media accounts as I go on my weight loss journey.

At the height of my extreme weight loss, I lost about 70 pounds in less than a year (22 pounds of which was lost during an extended water fast that lasted 24 days).

My writing partner (known on Ladies Again as Lilac Blue) is very slender. In fact, in my opinion, her body is comparable to many of the “thinspo” pics the ana/mia community posts and are willing to die for (literally). However, I have watched her eat…(and she eats!) and she definitely does not deprive herself. However, she is aware of and careful about what she consumes.

I know that she has been to a naturopath and been allergy tested due to gluten sensitivity.

And before you conclude that gluten is what you should be giving up, I’ve seen fat people who don’t eat gluten!

Being healthy takes discipline no matter how you slice it!

There is no quick fix or one size fits all solution.

I look forward to sharing more of my journey to good health with you all.

Follow me on twitter @fastinggirl for updates and #positivethinspo tweets!

Love you all!

Are you currently on a fitness journey? If you have one, we would love to know your current routine. It might help motivate someone. Please share in the comment section below!

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20 Facts about Sex Feminists Don’t Want You To Know

Women smiling

I just returned from a three-week tour of Central America. While there, I joined members of my group tour in going out to dinner in Rio Dulce, a bay city in Guatemala. At dinner, I had the pleasure of getting to know a young Australian woman,19 years old, on the trip who seemed to have sex, dating and marriage all figured out. She was tall and naturally beautiful, with long brown hair that extended down her back. Despite her young age, she decided that marriage was bullshit and unnecessary (she thought of marriage as a relic from old history), that men actually like opinionated and strong women, and that it was okay to sleep around while you are figuring out life. She was loud, masculine and opinionated; a middle school boy’s fantasy tomboy come to life.

We were both fresh out of failed long-term relationships. She broke up with her boyfriend so she could be free to travel, and I broke up with my long-term boyfriend because he refused to get married. As I sat at the table trying to explain my newfound desires to get married and have children, she shook her head, saying “Life is for living! Don’t be so rigid!”As she spoke, some of the men at the table nodded in agreement. They wanted to enjoy their youth too by hooking up, experimenting and traveling. Nearly everyone at the table (besides the one couple in our group) said that they wanted to settle down and get married in their late thirties or early forties. When they were ready, of course.

I was the odd woman out at the table trying to share some of the knowledge about dating and relationships I learned over the past few years. Knowledge about the declining fertility and beauty of women and about the emotional baggage of useless hookups. But the young Australian did not want to hear it. Eventually, I gave up after I realized that the differences between us―at 26 years old, I was at an age where I am beginning to see the physical consequences of casual sex and careless living.

I have felt the sadness of causal empty sex with hookups and the resulting loneliness. I have friends who are already single parents, unmarried friends who are stuck in rental leases with ex-partners they despise and relatives on the verge of divorce (I myself am actually the product of careless hookup sex―my father was married to another woman when I was born and I am just three months older than one of my brothers). Worst of all, I have female friends over the age of 35 who may have missed their opportunity to get married because they spent their entire youth (when they were at their sexual peak) working overtime at the office to get ahead. These women are the most regretful people I have ever met.

Advertisement: CLICK HERE TO LEARN THE SECRET TO GETTING YOUR EX BACK!

But to the young Australian, life was for the taking. She is beautiful and her career is on the way up. If she is getting everything she wants now and a constant stream of compliments from men, why should she need to think that someday men will stop finding her attractive? Or that the men at the table will have the opportunity to pick up family life and marriage any time they want (usually with younger women), but that she will not have those options if she waits too long? I dropped the topic because I realized that I was wasting my time.

I also realized with shocking horror that I was talking in real-time to my past self. The Australian girl was me! When I was 19, I would not have listened to my blabbing about fertility and marriage either. Why, I had a career to pursue! There were other women at the table from Western countries (the U.K., Germany, the Netherlands) who shared the young Australian’s sentiments―that marriage was oppressive and restricting, that having a family was not everything and that a woman’s independence and career should come first. I felt sickened at that moment with feminism’s ability to to defy not just logic but also geographical barriers. That flawed ideology has spread across the world, infecting young women by tricking them into believing that they can have everything―the loyal, attractive husband, the high-flying career, loving and stable children―all without having to lose anything in return, like fertility, independence or femininity. Lies! All of it lies!

If I could go back to my younger self, I would share all of the facts that paint a different picture about female independence, love and marriage:

Fertility is More Relevant Than Your Bullshit Career

  • After 25, female fertility slowly drops off. After 30, the decline in fertility begins to hasten. By 35, difficulty in conceiving children is commonplace and accounts for the boom in fertility clinics. By 40 you are playing Russian roulette.
  • One in five men who remarry wed a woman at least 10 years their junior, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of Census data. By contrast, only one in 20 men on their first marriage pair up with someone that young.
  • While 80 percent of men in their first marriages have spouses within five years of their age, that share drops to 57 percent by the second marriage.
  • Men across the age spectrum have a sexual preference for women in their mid-20s. This remains true for men of all ages—men in their early-20s or younger are attracted to women older than themselves and older men are attracted to younger women.

Hookup Sex is Terrible

  • In one study, among participants who were asked to characterize the morning after a hookup, 82 percent of men and 57 percent of women were generally glad they had done it. Forty-three percent of women regretted it! [Thanks to Hooking Up Smart for finding the statistics]
  • In a sample of 507 undergraduate students, more women than men hoped that a relationship would develop following a hookup. Only 4.4 percent of men and 8.2 percent of women (6.45 percent of participants) expected a traditional romantic relationship as an outcome, while 29 percent of men and 42.9 percent of women (36.57 percent of participants) ideally wanted such an outcome (Garcia & Reiber, 2008).
  • Twelve percent of women say that it is sometimes easier to have sex with a guy they don’t know than to make conversation (Glenn, Norval and Marquardt, Elizabeth, 2001).
  • In a study of 832 college students, 26 percent of women and 50 percent of men reported feeling positive after a hookup, and 49 percent of women and 26 percent of men reported a negative reaction.
  • In a qualitative study that asked 187 participants to report their feelings after a typical hookup, 35 percent reported feeling regretful or disappointed, 27 percent good or happy, 20 percent satisfied, 11 percent confused, 9 percent proud, 7 percent excited or nervous, 5 percent uncomfortable, and 2 percent desirable or wanted (Paul & Hayes, 2002).
  • In a large Web-based study of 1,468 undergraduate students, participants reported a variety of consequences: 27.1 percent felt embarrassed, 24.7 percent reported emotional difficulties, 20.8 percent experienced loss of respect, and 10 percent reported difficulties with a steady partner (Lewis et al., 2011).
  • In another recent study conducted on a sample of 200 undergraduate students in Canada, 78 percent of women and 72 percent of men who had uncommitted sex (including vaginal, anal, and/or oral sex) reported a history of experiencing regret following such an encounter (Fisher et al., 2012).
  • In a study of 270 sexually active college-age students, 72 percent regretted at least one instance of previous sexual activity (Oswalt, Cameron, & Koob, 2005).
  • In a report of 152 female undergraduate students, 74 percent had either a few or some regrets from uncommitted sex: 61 percent had a few regrets, 23 percent had no regrets, 13 percent had some regrets and 3 percent had many regrets (Eshbaugh & Gute, 2008).
  • In a study of 140 (109 female, 31 male) first-semester undergraduates, women, but not men, who had engaged in intercourse during a hookup showed higher rates of mental distress (Fielder & Carey, 2010).

He Does Not Like You Just Because He Has Sex with You

  • He is going to ejaculate, whether he likes you or not: Men reached orgasm more often than women. In first-time hookups, 31 percent of men and 10 percent of women reached orgasm; in last relationship sexual activity, 85 percent of men and 68 percent of women reached orgasm.
  • Armstrong, England and Fogarty (2009) addressed sexual satisfaction in a large study of online survey responses from 12,295 undergraduates from 17 different colleges. Participants were asked about oral sex rates and orgasm in their most recent hookup and most recent relationship sexual event. In this study, men reported receiving oral sex both in hookups and in relationships much more than women.
  • In first-time hookups that involved oral sex, 55 percent included only men receiving oral sex, 19 percent only women receiving oral sex, and 27 percent both mutually receiving; in last relationship sexual activity, 32 percent included only men receiving oral sex, 16 percent included only women receiving oral sex, and 52 percent included both mutually receiving.

Independent Women are Lonely Women

  • People with higher numbers of past sexual partners were more likely to form hookups, and to report lower relationship quality. Through the acquisition of partners they begin to favor short-term relationships and find the long-term ones less rewarding. (Paik)
  • A third of unmarried women have not had sex in the past year, compared with less about a quarter of the men. About 20 percent of single women have sex two or more times per week.

Your Career is Not Everything

  • According to Pew, a strong majority of working moms (62%) would rather work part time; a job situation enjoyed by just 26% of working mothers. Over a decade ago, just 48% of working mothers said a part-time job would be ideal.
  • Fully 79% of working fathers prefer to work full time, while just 21% say part-time employment would be ideal

Divorce is a Mistake

  • You can get the divorce if you want to, but there are consequences. Fully 64 percent of divorced or widowed men have remarried, compared with 52 percent of previously married women. (Pew)

In closing, here’s great advice from blogger Susan Walsh that I learned the hard way:

“When a man shows interest he won’t know right away whether you go into the short-term box or the long-term box. If you’re looking for a serious relationship, being very selective about sex is one way of ensuring you’re perceived as potential [long-term relationship] material. Signaling your willingness to have sex immediately with a man you just met says that you are not particularly selective, so there is nothing special about this man. You’re also signaling that there is nothing very special about sex. It’s the fastest route to “one and done.”

Read next: I’m a Woman with a Career I Don’t Want

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Comfy Feet While Wearing High Heels

Photo by Calvin Fleming via Flickr

The contest to win a free Ladies Again swag bag is still underway. So, keep sending us your pictures of your favorite pair of pumps!

In the mean time, people will tell you that pretty hurts. Well, we at Ladies Again know the feeling. That’s why we have taken the time out to compile our favorite youtube resources to encourage comfort and safety even as you strut your stuff.

You can find more resources in the High Heels Academy section of our Book of the Month!

How to Make Your High Heels Feel More comfortable (from amiclubwear)

5 Tips to Make Your Heels Comfortable (from AprilAthena7)

5 Ways to Stretch Your Shoes At Home (from POPSUGAR Fashion)

A Tango Dancer wears high heels all day long with the help of something called Insolia (by Insolia Heels)

 

How to Walk in Heels with No Pain (Evelina)

How to Walkin in Heels like a Pro and Minimize Pain (from beautyprofessional74)

~::*BONUS VIDEO*::~

How to Make Shoes that a 2 sizes smaller fit (from glamazontay)

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Easy Cooking for Busy Women

Photo by Jamie McCaffrey via flickr

I am a terrible cook. I burn things, I undercook meats, and I cannot seem to find my way around a spice rack. Did I mention that I burn things? Like, every week. So much so that I have an intimate relationship with my smoke detector (if it goes off, just wet a towel and fan the detector; that should turn the alarm off in a few seconds). I have even burned pots…with water! Another tip: If you find yourself boiling water for tea, remember to make sure that the pot has enough water in it first, otherwise you will melt the pan. My cooking skills are so bad that I have had to throw away four pots within the last two years. I know, I am that bad.

But there is room for improvement. I have made it one of my resolutions for the new year to learn how to cook excellent meals. Why? First, I want to be more feminine and have cooking skills is part of being womanly. Second, I am getting bored with my own meals—I usually I cook gluten-free spaghetti every week, since it is so easy to prepare and bring to work. My next commonly-prepared meal is turkey tacos. Next, is turkey meatloaf and steamed vegetables. Boring… Then there’s also the issue of taste. I often have to force myself to eat my own bland and overcooked meals, since I already paid for the food with my own money (no point in throwing the food out, am I right?).

Learning how to cook was not on my radar until I traveled to San Francisco earlier this month to visit my godmother. Being the morning person that she is, she woke up early every day (around 6:00a.m.) to fix me a hot breakfast of bacon, grits, eggs and fresh biscuits (while I slept). She even offered me fruit in case I wanted some. Now, if this had been the reversal, and she came to visit me, I would have woken up at my usually weekend time (9:30a.m.) and walked with her to the nearest diner for breakfast. I would have assumed that she would enjoy a decent breakfast at a local eatery—I would have never even thought to cook her home-cooked meal. First off, I can barely cook for myself, let alone another person. Second, I did not bother to buy a dining room table, which makes home entertaining nearly impossible.

Photo by sv_timemachine
Photo by sv_timemachine

I also saw beautiful examples of feminine women cooking when I traveled to Guatemala and Mexico this year. As I traveled up and down the east coast of Central America, I saw dozens of women in aprons cooking fresh corn tortillas on the side of roads and in front of their homes. It was amazing to watch men pulling over in their cars to purchase tortillas from the women. I thought, can I offer any home-cooked meals that men are willing to pull over to buy?

I guess I am your typical American woman in that I cannot cook a decent meal. I want to change all that this year. I want to be a women who entertains. And does not burn things! From this point forward, I am vowing to learn how to cook decent meals. Since I am busy running out of the house during the weekdays for my office job, I would like to make it a habit to cook a basic breakfast of eggs, plantains, turkey bacon and grits on the weekend mornings. I also plan to try two new dinner recipes every week. I am also henceforth eliminating brunch from my routine—I will cook my own meals instead, even when I have guests.

I’ll blog about my cooking experiences in the next few months and share recipes. Look out for the photos on our Twitter feed @Fastinggirl. Here are a few beginner recipes I want to try:





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3 Reasons Why Salsa Dancing is the Most Feminine Thing You Can Do

Guatemalan street.

I just returned from a three-week vacation in Central America, which included stops in sunny Belize, Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala. While in Mexico, I did something I have not done in years: tried salsa dancing. I learned the basics of salsa dancing when I was in college and I have taken a few newbie salsa classes over the past few years, but I was not a salsa expert by any means when I first arrived in Mexico. While there, I went out with friends to a popular nightclub, which was packed with people dancing salsa and merengue.

Many of the other dancers in the club danced like professionals, with all of the quickfire twirling and spinning that comes along with salsa dancing. Being the beginner dancer that I am, I logically kept my distance and observed the dance floor from the sidelines. I would have watched the dancers the entire night if a man had not extended a hand to me and asked me to dance. As I tried my best to keep up with his movements, he attempted start a conversation with me in Spanish, which did not last long (my Spanish is crap). After a few minutes of dancing, he must have figured that our conversation was not going anywhere because he abruptly stopped dancing to bring over one of his friends who spoke English. His friend, a tall man with a strong build who was wearing a crisp white t-shirt, immediately walked over and took my hand. As we danced merengue, the new man told me that he once lived in Chicago and Miami, and that he came to the U.S. occasionally to earn money.

The new man was an excellent dancer, who was very patient with my fumbling and knee-knocking on the dance floor. He was an excellent teacher because he was willing to dance slowly with me, showing me new turns and spins, and telling me to stand up straight. Best of all, I felt comfortable letting him take the lead by showing me how to dance with the beat and spin in unison with him. To be honest, dancing with him made me feel like a girl. For the first time in weeks, I actually felt feminine and sexy. We danced the rest of the night, right up until the bar closed. I had the time of my life, and I knew then that I would have to make salsa dancing a part of my regular routine.

As I danced that night, I learned a lot about myself and my dancing abilities, but there were a few major takeaways:

Salsa is very masculine because the man leads.

In salsa, it is up to the man to lead and create room for the woman to move her body. With a gentle nudge, the man decides the next move or turn, and it is the woman’s responsibility to surrender and follow his lead. As I was dancing, I thought of salsa dancing as a type of “femininity training.” Sometimes it may be difficult for women to fall back and let the man take the lead, but it is rewarding in the end to be with a man who feels in charge. That night, I learned dance moves I have never tried before, and it was all possible because I decided to let the man take the lead.

You dance together in a partnership.

As we salsa danced, I could feel the value of the partnership. Similar to being in a romantic relationship, salsa dancing makes you feel as though you are moving in an orbit that is bigger than yourself. Together, we moved in a rhythm that was unique to all of the other dancers in the room, and it felt amazing.

The spontaneity is magic.

While you are dancing salsa, you do not know which move your partner wants to do next, and the mystery of it all is incredible. You are relying on your partner to feel the beat and the movement and decide which turn or step should come next.

Bonus: How to be a good salsa dancing partner.

Here is a set of tips (10 Things to Avoid on the Dance Floor) from Joel Salsa, which is based in New York City.

Which type of dancing is your favorite? Are there other dances are more feminine? Share below!

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Why I’ve Decided to Start Wearing Heels

This week, Ladies Again kicks off “31 Days of Heels,” our campaign to encourage feminine women to look their best every day. The campaign has a special meaning for me, as I just recently came to conclusion that I barely put forth an effort into my physical appearance.

Heels, Photo by Fashion by He via Flickr
Photo by Fashion by He via Flickr

Like most American women, I came into age believing that it was only necessary to make the effort to dress up only for certain occasions, such as late nights out with friends, theater shows or special occasions. Since I was not a celebrity or socialite, it just didn’t seem to make sense to me to take the time to look nice on a everyday basis. This is how I justified skipping the high heels for the comfy moccasin flats, forgoing the smokey eyeshadow for the plain unassuming black eyeliner and letting my flat iron literally get dusty. My thought process was, if I’m already skinny and attractive, why should I have to do more? I have a college degree dammit! Won’t the guy who likes me respect the fact that I am not shallow and self-absorbed enough to fret excessively over my appearance?

The answer is no, no he will not appreciate my intellect if I do not create the opportunity for him to notice my existence first. One opportunity comes before the other. Men like “shiny things,” as talk show host Steve Harvey said in his bestselling book “Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man.” And he’s right: One 2013 survey found that men are much more sexually aroused by visual stimuli, while women are more sexually aroused by concrete, auditory, olfactory, touch and emotionally relevant sexual stimulation. As a woman, I can feel the reality of Harvey’s words when I take the time to enhance my appearance―I receive a much higher response from men when I wear my hair long (or put in hair extensions, let’s be honest), apply makeup, slip into a form-fitting dress and strap on a pair of fabulous heels.

Now, while I realize that looking “shiny” is important, my ongoing goal is to look “shiny” and feminine everyday, not just when I feel up for making the effort. Unfortunately, as a busy single career woman, more often than not, I look shoddy, unkempt and well…like a typical American woman. Or worse, I look business ready in my slacks and flat shoes, but not sexy. In order for me to improve my appearance, I need to make femininity a habit by committing to dressing up everyday. One way to start is to take femininity one day at a time.

Today, I’ll start by wearing heels. High heels display the female form to advantage and are one the simplest ways to look feminine. In the past, I avoided heels for two main reasons: First, heels are painful (and dangerous), and second, heels are impractical.

Photo by Iam Khatuvi a Flickr
Photo by Iam Khatuvi a Flickr

First, there is no denying that high heels can be painful, depending on the height of the high-heeled shoe, the point of the heel and the quality of the materials used to make the shoe. Anyone who has seen amateur heel-wearers leave a nightclub has seen the pain that high-heeled shoes can inflict on unsuspecting victims. High-heeled shoes have been known to cause corns, calluses, ingrown toe nails and painful, aching bunions (also known as bony protrusions) that appear at the base of the big toe and distort the shape of the foot. Also, amateur heel-wearers take the risk of tripping and toppling over in their sky-high heels.

Second, heels are tragically impractical. A high-heel-wearer cannot walk for miles in their shoes, nor can they walk safely in rainy or snowy weather. And as a bicyclist, the idea of commuting in a pair of high heels terrifies me, considering that a heel could easily slip into a pedal and cause me to fall off my bike. It is just much easier to put on a pair of boring flat shoes than it is struggle and wobble in a pair of painful heels.

So what is a girl to do if she wants to look feminine by wearing heels all month long but is afraid of the pain she is sure to endure? If you are also taking the heel challenge, there’s a few things that can help you get through the month:

  • Start small. Start with low two- or three-inch high heels first and gradually move up to six inch pumps.
  • Select the right shoe: Choose a shoe with a relatively wide toe, laces or a strap across the top of the foot which prevent the foot from sliding forward in the shoe and straps or other materials that enclose the ankles entirely.
  • Choose a stable shoe with a chunky heels, such as an espadrille, as opposed to a spiky heel.
  • Apply padded insoles to your shoes. Padding helps with foot pain and provides a buffer between you and the high heel.

Practice makes perfect. Tweet us pictures of your high heels using the #ladiesagain hastag. Good luck ladies!

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