Healthy Again: Day 16

I am currently sipping on a two banana smoothie while my hard-boiled egg cools. It’s been 16 days since I made that initial post declaring my intention to train for and run a half marathon on April 4th of 2015. I said in that post that I would update about how I’m doing once a week, I have not been successful with that, but I am now adding a “to do” note about this to my calendar (I believe it will help me keep my focus). This coming Sunday is my “weigh-in” day. It won’t be quite a full month since I started, but I wanted to maintain consistency in when I did my weigh-ins to fall on the first Sunday of each month so that my final weigh-in will occur the day of the race. My goal for my first weigh-in was written as ~213, but considering that a full month hasn’t passed I don’t think it would be realistic for me to expect to have lost 10 pounds. So, I will settle for ~216.

How I’ve been doing

So far I have kept to my running schedule.

Running – I am able to run about 3.5 miles now without stopping (to be fair, I am not new to running). I run pretty slow, though. My fastest is about an 11 minute mile. However, I don’t want to pay too much attention to time right now, because I feel like it would discourage me.

Eating – In my original post, I said that I wanted to switch to a plant based diet, but I found it very difficult. I have learned that it is more effective to make little changes over time that amount to big changes in the long run. For this reason, I will cut back on certain types of meat for now (like beef and pork) and over time cut out others. I also hope to create an eating plan and schedule that works for me. I am concerned that due to my current pattern of eating, that although I’ve been averaging running about 10 miles/week (plus a couple miles of walking), I may not see the 7 pound loss I’m hoping for.

Reflections

About three years ago I began a weight loss journey that led me to engage in risky behaviors (including about 26 days of fasting). During that process I lost 70 pounds. The following was the result which I documented in a e-book entitled “Black Ana: One Black Woman’s Struggle With Body Image and Disordered Eating” available in the Kindle Store.

dutch-b4-afterAlthough, I have not presently mastered the art of portion control, I do believe that what I am doing now is a step in the right direction. My “Ladies Again goal” is total health: mind, body and spirit. Through the work that I document on this blog, I hope to escape the mental slavery that our society holds us through twisted mix of seduction and demoralization. My mission is to encourage escape from a false freedom promoted by pseudo-feminist dictators and promote the true freedom that can only be achieved via a healthy mind, body and spirit.

A healthy mind allows us to make sound decisions about lifestyle choices.

A healthy body gives us physical freedom and opportunity to experience life to the fullest.

A healthy spirit gives us a sense of peace and joy about it all.

That’s true freedom that no dogmatic slogans and sound bites can offer.

If you are also going through a journey to become healthy again (or a lady again) share your story or show support in the comments below!

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Are You the Person that the Person You Are Looking for is Looking For?

Disclaimer: I am a Christian. However, even though many of the examples and analogies I am using will be done through the Christian perspective and using Christian references, I believe there is a take away message that any woman of any faith (or lack of) can apply.

Last year, a friend and I created a round table forum entitled “Christ-like and Dating”. It was a one day event for young adults (ages 21 to 35) to discuss issues in dating and relationships from a Christian perspective. In researching for the forum, I stumbled across a video of a sermon in which the pastor asked the question: “Are you the person the person you are looking for is looking for?”

Source: http://northpoint.org/messages/the-new-rules-for-love-sex-and-dating/the-right-person-myth/

The pastor tells the story of a young girl who lived a loose life by dating and having sex with many different men. I imagine her as any of my college friends who spend a lot of time trying to “find themselves” through binge drinking, drug use, tattoos and piercings. (Implications of these things upon the concept of femininity to be discussed in future articles). The story went on to say that this girl went to church one day with her mother and upon seeing one of the focused and driven Christian men gushed to her mother that she was in love and had found the person she wanted to marry to which the mother coldly responded, “do you think he would be interested in a girl like you?!” Upon hearing this the girl fell on the floor and wept. This was the point where the pastor asked the question “Are you the person that the person you are looking for is looking for?”

I actually have personal experience with this topic. When I went to college at the age of 17, I was an innocent virgin who had only kissed one boy one time and didn’t like it. (To be fair, it was an awful first kiss. He had no idea what he was doing). Anyway, when I was exposed to the freedom of a co-ed dorm and many horny and willing men, I got excited. Even though I never really lost my virginity to full intercourse until well after I graduated (I was 28 when it happened), I was on the prowl to experiment with the feelings that I had kept pent up for so long.

I had my eye on one particular guy. He was a white man; Bosnian and of the Muslim faith. The iSearching-for-Lovedea of what my African, Christian parents would think of the situation didn’t matter, I wanted to marry this guy. The fantasizing began long before he gave me a playful peck on the lips in a friendly prank, but imagine what something like that would do to a barely legal teenager with a  crush. I had fallen and fallen hard. Unfortunately, he and I were never to be. After years of flirting and dancing around the issue, I got the feeling that I was being a pest. I later learned that real men don’t play games and that if a man is truly interested in you, you will know and you will know quickly. Through this painful experience of unrequited love, I learned a lesson that never truly sunk in until I read the book He’s Just Not That Into You in 2003 or so, and that lesson is that if a guy is making excuses or you are making excuses for a guy for why he isn’t getting serious with you, then you’re wasting your time.

It was only recently (this year in fact) after playing a dangerous game of long distance, late night phone flirting that ended with a chance meeting at an airport terminal and the cessation of the receipt of further calls from the same aforementioned crush, that I finally wizened up and had to talk myself out of that sad unreciprocated fantasy.

In the weeks and months that followed, the picture started to become clear in my mind of why we didn’t work. Other than the obvious, surface-level, cultural differences (the implications of which I intend to discuss in future articles), he and I just would never had worked, because as blind as my love for him was, I don’t think his love’s vision had quite the same impairment. He saw me for who I was and for some reason that person did not fit into his world and if I had stopped to take off my rose-colored glasses, I might have observed the same signs of incompatibility. Honestly, I think I was just excited by the nuance of an unexpected caliber of gentleman recognizing my femininity and showing me attention of a flattering kind.

At the end of the day, for that relationship to work, I would have had to change in ways I was not motivated to at the time due to my core understanding of who I was at the time. The fact of the matter is, I was not the person that the person I was looking for was looking for, and I had no intention of becoming that person. The problems (including depression and low self esteem) came when I continued trying to force myself “as is” into the life of someone who was not interested in what I had to offer.

Now, more than 10 years later, I am finally realizing my worth, including a feminine value not worth compromising for anyone. I am learning that my joy comes not from the validation of that worth from men who never saw it before (but eventually see it through clever manipulation and coaxing), but from the shutterstock_106728764maturation of the original value through nurturing, cultivating and protecting it’s intrinsic nature and freedom of expression.

So, today, the question remains, am I the person that the person I am looking for is looking for? Well, I think so. However, I believe that in order for me to recognize the person that I am looking for when he comes looking for me, I too must recognize whether and if the person that I am trying to be is the person I am ready and willing to be for the rest of my life…

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Healthy Again: Beginning My Half Marathon Journey

My 31st birthday will be on April 7th 2015. That’s about six months away.

This morning I was having a very long conversation with my very good friend and roommate, much of the content of which will become fodder for future articles on this site.

One of the things we discussed was the importance of a vision.

We concluded that it is not always necessary to know the road that will lead to the manifestation of your vision, but ultimately what is most important is having the end goal in sight.

As much as a talk about being a housewife or stay-at-home mom as noble professions, I am in no way endorsing a woman’s total dependence on a man or children for her sense of worth. I definitely believe that a woman should have a clear perspective of how she sees herself and how she wants to be viewed.

That being said, in my post about why I decided to become a lady again, I mentioned vaguely that I had weight loss and image goals.

I realized a while ago that in today’s world, there are plenty of women who have relationships and children who are less pretty and more fat than I am. However, I have also made the decision that I will never compare myself to any other women, but to myself.

I do not believe that the way you look weighs very heavily on how much of a lady you are, but I do believe that who you are as a lady is affected by the way you look.

Let’s face it, the way people treat you affects the way you behave and the way you carry yourself affects the way people treat you.

For this reason, I believe every woman should take a clear and sober inventory of who they believe they are and how they are perceived.

Furthermore, as one of my goals involves marriage, my fitness goals and my romantic goals are reciprocally intertwined. I think there is a lot you can tell from the way a man treats a well-kept woman versus an ungroomed woman.

Some men treat well-kept women better than ungroomed women. Depending on who you are you may or may not be flattered when these types of men show you attention.

Some men treat ungroomed women with more kindness than well-kept women. This too might be an appealing quality to you.

I prefer a man who treats all women with respect, but has chosen to adore me.

However, because he adores me, I think I would want to give him the gift of a sexy and physically fit woman.

So, in order to achieve this, I have decided for the rest of my life to set “birthday goals”. These goals are things that I can accomplish every year to keep me sharp and classy.

Also, I’m not a gold-digger, but I hope to marry a man who is financially well-off. (More on this in future posts.) I have read in various books about marrying wealthy men and observed from the high profile men in the media that men who do well often marry women who look good. More often than not when a wealthy man marries an overweight or unkempt woman, they have a history that goes back farther than the man’s wealth does. So, since I am not currently dating a diamond in the rough, I’m going to go ahead and “get right” so I can catch a big fish.

All this to say that I have decided today that I’m going to start setting yearly fitness goals (as well as goals of other kinds). My goal by my 31st birthday next year is to run a half marathon.

I have found this marathon near me: http://www.marathonguide.com/races/racedetails.cfm?MIDD=1923150404 which will occur near my birthday (April 4th) and I’m setting this as a goal to complete with my friend.

We have also found  5 month half marathon training program here: http://www.halfmarathons.net/20-week-half-marathon-training-schedule/

I have also always desired to switch to a plant based diet and I want to attempt it during this time so in searching for a “vegan runner’s diet”, I stumbled upon this: http://www.runnersworld.com/nutrition-runners/eat-vegan-run?page=single

My goal is to update this blog weekly with regards to my progress on this goal (including which days I slacked and which days and rocked it) as well as revelations and reflections about femininity and it’s implications on what I’m doing and then once a month (most likely the Sunday of the week of the 7th of every month until the race) I hope to update this blog with “body shots” and measurements for comparison along the road of my fitness journey.

The following is where I’m beginning. Consider this Day Zero.

Measurements
Starting Weight: 223.2
Current Weight: 223.2
Goal Weight #1: 213.2
Birthday Goal Weight: 163.2

Bust Size: 112cm
Stomach Size: 115cm
Arm circumference: 36cm
Thigh circumference: 69cm
Glutes: 123cm

~::*BEFORE Pictures*::~

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Feminist lies: The myth of gender equality and the working woman

Controversial blog post alert! The last article about my employment situation inspired a new blog topic the subject of which is the title of this post. I’m going to get straight to the point.

What is the Myth?

The myth is that in order for a woman to have any value, she must be gainfully employed. In fact, she should be earning an equal or exceeding income as that of a man.

Where did this Myth Originate?

All myths have origins, so where did this one start?

This myth, in my opinion, is the extension of a CREAMist* agenda. This surreptitious agenda seeks to redefine every part of human life through the lens of the almighty dollar.

While the feminists of the 1960’s fought for equality in the workforce, I do not believe that what Susan B. Anthony was fighting for was for women, who were not interested in or capable of working in positions comparable to those of their husbands or other males in their lives, to be ridiculed for the decision to work in more modest roles, or not at all. I do not believe that all of the 1960’s Civil Rights activists were fighting for the death of the housewife or cultural homogeneity.

I say this, because I come from a family where all of my siblings are college graduates. I have two sisters (a doctor and an engineer) and three brothers (a Physical Therapist, a Chemistry doctoral candidate and a Packaging Engineer). I enjoy writing. However, that does not seem to be an option in the eyes of my family. In their eyes, I should work a full-time job or two saving money towards taking time off to write or writing on weekends and/or evenings towards completing my dream novel.

Am I the ONLY one who sees the BACKWARDS nature of this thinking?

If I want to write, and writing in and of itself (creative writing) is and of itself a skill that adds value to society and should as a matter of fact should be worth money; why shouldn’t I be writing? Especially if it is something I love to do.

Why do I have to defend my decision to do what I love? Why should I defend my desire to be healthy and stress-free instead of risking stress-related illness like depression, anxiety, obesity and cardiovascular disease by slaving away in jobs I hate and working for people who want to wield their appointed authority as a means of expressing repressed aggression because of others who used their own authority to do the same to them in an endless pyramid of oppression?

When did it become a not only acceptable, but a requirement that if you want to live contrary to the dominant culture (the CREAMist culture) you MUST work twice as hard for the “life, liberty and pursuit of happiness” promised by the founding fathers of this country?

When did the mentality become “I’m working a job I hate so I can have three weeks of fun every year, so YOU should too. In fact, YOU BETTER do it, because if you don’t you will be considered a disgrace!”

Now a days, if a woman doesn’t make enough money, she suffers the threat of starvation, homelessness and ridicule. Even if she becomes a housewife or a stay-at-home mother, she stands the risk of being ridiculed or comparably, getting those patronizing comments such as: “Oh, you’re a sta35t796y-at-home-mom? That’s a full-time-job too!” *insert self-assured smile here*.

When did it become unacceptable for women to live the lives they want? When did families stop being supportive of women’s healthy lifestyle choices? When did society stop being supportive of women who choose stress and disease-free lifestyles?

Is this not it’s own form of oppression? Am I the only one who sees that when stripped of the option of a choice…a healthy alternative…the pin-striped pantsuit becomes a Western hijab?!

hijab2

*I will henceforth be using the term CREAMist to refer to what I believe is the current cash-supremicist society. The term CREAMist comes from rap lyrics made popular by the CASH Money Millionaires which says “Cash Rules Everything Around Me. CREAM makes the money. Dolla dolla bills y’all!”

 

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Seeking my attention

After receiving a call from my employers/co-workers on my day off for the umpteenth time, I feel like the people at my job are seeking my attention in a big way. Why? Well, that’s a whole other convoluted story that I may perhaps tell on this blog one day; a story involving racism, classism, age-ism, entitlement and humility. The point as it relates to this point is that my co-workers (an all-female workforce) will not let me rest. They keep hounding me to be there and do things that they themselves are not willing to step up and do. I just want to quit. I do. I am sick of being their scape goat.

It’s really really hard to explain, because sometimes you just sense things, but you can’t really define it or place a finger on it. This is one of those situations. I have been complaining about this job for a very long time, and from the very beginning people have been telling me to quit and find something else. However, they also tell me to not quit without having a back up plan. There are others who are just like “what is your long term plan?”

The weird thing is that I do have a plan…a long term plan. However, my long term plan requires a lot of free time. There are websites I want to build. There are books I want to write. I have them all mapped out in my head. These plans are concrete. However, with this well-crafted slavery spelled “J-O-B” there’s just no way I can execute this plan.

690f5c14da732e49278b9ae20befbe5e8392f6648d65ed8c7c0cb7ea2909d79cI feel like the folks at work are getting the sense that I’m uncomfortable. I mean, how can someone tell you “please do not call me to come in this week” and then you call them. I feel like…no, I KNOW that they are aggressively seeking my attention in a way that is uncomfortable. They want me to be at the forefront of their minds all the time and it makes them uncomfortable when this is not the case.

I have been wanting to walk away from this job for several months now (even over a year). My very soul has been screaming about leaving for a very long time. However, every tangible aspect of my life is begging for my attention as well, informing me that I have no choice. This is painful for me, as a child who was a victim of domestic violence. A person who was unable to escape her perpetrators. People who physically abused her yet claimed they loved her. People who perpetrated violence on an innocent who was left vulnerably in their care.

The feelings that emerge from this form of captivity are very conflicting and scary. These same feelings arise in my current job. Wanting to escape. Seeing the door wide open. However, feeling the fear of knowing that cutting your current lifeline could be your undoing. “Quod me nutrit, me destruit”, the Latin for “What nourishes me, destroys me” has become the mantra of many young women today, many of whom are intentionally starving themselves through fasting diets and extreme calorie restriction to escape the obesity that is inevitable on a conventional American diet.

The funny thing with that, and this, is that cutting that lifeline is not anyone’s undoing. Walking away from what is destroying you does not necessarily lead to another form of inevitable destruction. Perhaps it is the confusion of living a life for so long in which a thing so comforting and so intrinsic to ones very existence had been a source of poison and pain, leaves on feeling that to live and to die are one and the same.

But just like walking away from Big Macs does not have to mean living only on water (baby spinach salad, with dried cranberries and almonds anyone?!), walking out of an abusive relationship does not have to mean living without love and/or security. It may not be obviously now, but just beyond your current line of vision there may be a new security, a new source of life, that may not be recognizable to you now, because it looks nothing like what you’re used to but if you just walk through the open door and embrace the dreams faintly call out to you of safety, love and stability; I believe that you will find exactly what you’re looking for if you are not discouraged.

Look at me pleaseI’m not saying this for anyone, but myself. These are things that I know from self help books, church and wise friends; but things that I have not accepted due to the difficulty of looking away from the attention-seekers that refuse to leave my line of vision. Bosses calling me on my weak off, family members asking me when I will “get (my) life together”. Bills filling up my mailbox and bill collectors “blowing up” my phone. As much as I want to walk away from emotional manipulators, ridiculers and psychological bullies who use a paycheck as their leash on your life, all signs point to a glass house where you can see that there is a life beyond, but getting there means…well…the possibility of shards of glass piercing your body.

So, I guess, at the end of the day, the answer to getting out of the life you have currently that is unsatisfying; when the option of sticking it out until another opportunity comes along makes you want to swallow an entire bottle of extra strength tylenol so that the bullet you put through your skull doesn’t hurt as much; might be just to walk away…into the unknown…confront the uncomfortable nature of what’s out there while holding on to that vision of the ideal that chased you away from what was. All of this until you find something new that, while it may not be perfection, gives you a better understanding of what that may be.

Note: This article was painful to write, because it speaks directly to my current situation. I know that everyone in my life will hate me and think I’m stupid if I quit my job and pursue my dreams, even if my dreams cost nothing to pursue. However, I want, more than my very life, to get out of the situation I am in at work (which will never change no matter how you slice it). As I’m writing this, I know that what I must do is write a plan of how I will get back on my feet by pursuing my dream. One that involves a timeline, a budget and financial projections. I might want to present this timeline to my mother since I’m really hoping that she will house me while I pursue this dream. However, if I have this plan, then maybe I should be prepared for her to say no and present the plan to other friends and/or family who may be willing to house me and supportive of my goals/plan. Writing this post has empowered me to develop this plan (a one month strategy, hopefully) to produce something valuable without depending on others for subsistence. I guess I will try to draw up this plan today and post the redacted version for educational purposes on this blog. I look forward to sharing my exciting yet trepidatious journey with you all. I’ll be sure to let y’all know if I actually follow through…

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A Dream Deferred: Why I Decided to Become a “Lady Again”

I don’t remember when I stopped dreaming, but I remember that I used to dream. I specifically remember a time (pre-high school) when I would lie on a couch in my family’s basement in Washington, DC in the 1990’s and fantasize about married life.

I would dream of the perfect family, a husband who loved me and was generous with hugs and kisses; happy and obedient children and dinners around the dining room table. I’m not sure how common dreams like these were for children growing up in the (then) murder capital of the world. I don’t even know where those dreams came from considering that my family was nothing like that. They must have come from Full House, the Cosby show or any of the other gratuitous amounts of television shows I would watch at every free moment I possessed.

Who am I?

On this blog, I go by “African Femininity”. This is because I hope to blog regularly from an African perspective regarding issues of femininity. This was a natural choice for me, because I am a first generation American-born Nigerian which means I was raised in a household utilizing selective values from both traditions. Obviously, this left me irreparably conflicted about what exactly femininity is supposed to look like. For this reason, on my blogging adventures here on “Ladies Again” I hope to focus a lot on reconciling these cultural, traditional and societal conflicts within myself.

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marilyn monroe

Why I decided to Become a “Lady Again”.

When my friend “Lilac Blue” introduced me to the idea of this blog after a spirited discussion about the rise of a confusing sort of feminism in today’s society and the loss of the feminine identity, I was immediately sold. After all, I’m a 30 year old, unmarried and chronically single, underemployed “boomerang child” who is waiting for her “career to take off” (i.e dream job, high income, zero debt) before she can begin her “real life” (i.e. married life with white picket fence and 2.5 kids). In short, I feel like a grown a$$ woman whose teenage identity crisis lasted way too long! What better way to “find myself” than to join a blog with that very focus. So, here I am, joining the hoards of millennial 15-minute-fame-seekers in their weapon of choice except, without the promise of recognition due to intentional anonymity.

I believe there are benefits to anonymity on the internet. I think that because of the anonymity of this blog, I will be able to be much more open, raw and uninhibited. For this reason, I believe we will be able to give more of ourselves without as much pretense or pandering. Which (as you will soon see) speaks, to a certain degree, in the direction of my views on femininity.

What does Becoming a “Lady Again” mean to me?

This is a difficult question to answer, honestly. I hope to talk about several different topics on this blog. Sometimes, I intend to do strictly opinion pieces about my views on certain hot topics. However, I also hope to offer a window into some of my personal struggles as well. Such as:

  • Weight loss and image issues
  • Dating
  • Career
  • My Personal Mission to Become a World Traveler and/or Travel (at all)
  • Christianity

Ultimately, though, I guess becoming a “lady again” means, to me, reclaiming womanhood. Now-a-days, I think that anyone who claims to know definitively what womanhood is must either be delusional or selling something. After all, the LGBTQ community along with the universal merger of the international community (i.e. the blurring of cultural border lines) turns asserting any one definition into a highly controversial and even offensive act.

Gone are the days when we could define a woman by the clothes she wore, the role she played in society or even her biological attributes. So, for this reason, I hesitate to expound on what becoming a “lady again” means to me. The answer is in part that I hope to discover the answer through involvement with this blog. However, there is a strong yet dormant part of me that whispers the answer daily to my soul. That part has a definite vision of what I hope to become by the end of this journey which (at this time) I envision ending with me breast-feeding my 2.5th child as my protective husband gives me a loving peck on the neck. Perhaps Lilac hopes her story concludes differently, but this is mine and whether or not you agree, I hope you can respect the fact that this is a conversation worth having out loud. So that at least some of us can rest peacefully in the security of our version of womanhood.

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Reclaiming Femininity

Photos of women

Hello, everyone! This is our first blog post at Ladies Again, and we’re excited to discuss femininity with the world. We originally wanted to name our site Reclaiming Femininity, since that’s the subject we’ll explore on this blog, but the site name was taken by another another covering the same subject. Femininity must be popular all of the sudden! Either way, check out the blog Reclaiming Femininity when you get a chance.

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