Posts Tagged ‘advice’


February 15, 2011

It may not come across particularly strongly in my writing (apart from like, that thing I wrote about having babies, and all that shit about feminism, OK SHUT UP) but I am a lady.  I am a lady with lady parts and occasionally I am interested in lady stuff so all you manly types bulging with testosterone will probably want to turn away now.

Now back in the day (like two whole years ago when I was young OH GOD I AM SO OLD) I was quite a tomboy.  Like I would literally buy guys’ clothes.  I never did anything with my hair, including cut it, so it was waist length and mousy and I would literally just put it in a pony tail.  I rarely bothered with makeup and when I did, I wasn’t confident enough and it still looked like I hadn’t bothered – and not in a dewy ‘au naturel’ way, just a ‘slept in and left the house without even looking at my face’ sort of way.  The only thing I had going for me was my figure, which was a size 10 mainly because I was too poor to eat and spent most of my money going out dancing.  You get the picture.  Sophisticated and womanly, I was not.

So it was a bit of a surprise to me when I started going out with Chris and realised I actually wanted to be pretty.  I guess I had always figured my previous boyfriends considered me so far out of their league that I didn’t have to make any effort at all.  Hey, I said I was a tomboy.  That doesn’t mean I wasn’t an arrogant bitch.  I’m pretty sure at least one of them was actually gay, so maybe that’s why he didn’t mind my habitual wearing of mens’ clothing.

I subsequently cut and dyed my hair and studied magazines until I had figured out how to apply basic makeup without looking like a clown.  I even bought some dresses, ladies’ jeans through which you can get the general gist of how nice my backside is, and shoes other than green mens’ skater shoes – but that bit took a bit longer because, like I said, I was poor as hell.

Anyway, several years and some undeniable outfit mistakes later, I have arrived at a point where I consider myself qualified to bring you this article: a list of my favourite, life-saving, essential lady-type products.  So buckle up!  It’s gonna be a wild ride.  (That’s a lie, it’s not, but just go with it.)

Ladies, I know I am not the only one who sometimes wakes up, groans at the alarm clock, tentatively sniffs myself and thinks “yeah, I can get away with just freshening up my hair”.  I KNOW this is disgusting and I also KNOW that at least one of you reading has done this too so DON’T JUDGE ME.  As for brands, I recommend Batiste.  This is largely because I have never used any other brand.  The Tropical one smells the nicest and that is not up for debate.

It should be noted that I do not tan.  I do not tan naturally, or with the aid of UV prison cells or chemical sprays.  BUT occasionally my poor clogged-up pores want a week off from wearing foundation, and one light spray of Garnier no-streaks bronzer for light to medium skin takes the edge off my corpse-like pallor just enough for me to get away with it.

They call this the ‘supermodel in a bottle’ which is a nice description but maybe a little dramatic.  Once I’ve dotted this along my cheekbones, under my eyebrows, and on the bow of my lip, nobody is mistaking me for Giselle Bundchen that’s for damn sure – but I do look a little less papery and hungover, which is always nice.  If I only have time to put on one thing, it’s this and some mascara.  Ok that’s two things.

Because for some reason we are still convinced that it is better to spend £15 on a pair of tweezers and repeatedly decimate our own eyebrows than to occasionally pay a trained beauty specialist a small amount of money to do it properly.  Whatever, if you’re going to ruin your own face, these are the best tweezers to do it with.  This is a popular opinion and although I can’t quite figure out why, I do own a pair, and they seem a bit less shit than other pairs I have owned I guess?  Ok, I’m not the world’s best reviewer.

I’m not going to beat about the bush, ladies (and no, ‘bush’ wasn’t supposed to be a crappy hair removal pun): this might be the most useful feminine grooming product I have ever bought from a dodgy-looking website for £10.  This is not generally something which we women like to discuss but I am a pioneer and I am going to break down the barrier, like so: all ladies have hair on a part of their face where they do not want to have hair.  It is a horrible fact of life.  At the risk of all of you dismantling your secret shrines to me (HA) I am going to admit that I have been waxing my upper lip since the age of sixteen because an old boyfriend once casually mentioned that in a certain light he could see some fuzz on it.  I don’t consider this “trying to conform to a sexist ideal of female beauty” and I don’t consider it extravagant and excessive.  It is in fact very simple.  I do not want people to look at me and notice a moustache.  If what I have to do to avoid this is spend five minutes every three weeks or so forcibly ripping tiny hairs out of my face then damn it that is exactly what I will do – and thanks to the Epicare facial hair remover I now have a much better way of doing it which doesn’t leave my upper lip feeling sticky for the next three days.  The thing is essentially a long spring with a handle on each end.  You bend it and roll it over the hairy area (there is a reason I am not in marketing and this is it) and it rips out all the hairs!  It is basically a form of DIY threading.  Before you ask, YES, it hurts like fuck; but it is free, has no side effects, and you can do it in private instead of going to sit at one of those damn threading booths which is always in the middle of fucking Debenhams or somewhere equally exposed and humiliating.

It’s not sticky and it tastes amazing.  You can sort of tell I ran out of steam on the Epicare thing.

So there you have it, folks.  Irrefutable proof that I am a lady!  Apart from the, uh, moustache.  But I’ve got that under control.



February 1, 2010

… well, if nothing else, that title should garner me a couple of thousand hits.

What I’m here to bitch about today is the relationship between dieting and the internet.  Everywhere I go online at the moment, all I see is this advert about “lose a billion pounds of your belly fat in three hours by following this one weird old tip” or whatever.  I’ve got a few problems with this, and of course, I am now going to explain them to you in long and probably fairly boring detail.

First, and this is very important: it’s not WEIGHT you need to lose – it’s FAT.  Fat is the flabby disgusting stuff that is clogging your arteries and increasing your chances of heart disease and cancer and all that other stuff.  Fat is a substance which you can rid your body of.  Weight is not.  Weight is a measurement of how much everything in your body weighs – the good as well as the bad.  This is absolutely critical. 

Second: YOU CAN’T TARGET YOUR FAT LOSS.  Sorry, but it’s true.  You can’t deliberately lose fat from your belly or your thighs or your upper arms or whatever.  If you have more fat stored there then yes, it might be the place where you first notice the fat disappearing, but there’s no magic food that will remove your stomach flab, or special pill that will vanquish your bingo wings. 

Third: crash diets do not work.  Most of the weight you lose on week-long fad diets is water weight.  You stop dieting; it goes straight back on.  Short term, drastic diets are not only quite dangerous for your health but they simply do not work in the long term.  If two of your three meals a day, for two weeks, consists only of a bowl of cereal (which itself consists pretty much completely of refined white sugar – and you might want to look that shit up for yourself) then yes, after those two weeks, you’ll have shed a few pounds.  But once you go back to whatever you were normally eating for those two meals a day, the fat will pile right back on, and it will have brought a few little fat friends. 

To digress for a moment, I want to explain how this works.  When I asked my mum – who is far, far more educated about this stuff than I could ever hope to be – for advice on improving my diet, she said this:   “Get your first diet right, because it will be the most successful diet you ever go on.”  That’s because in very basic terms, the first time you drastically change what you’re eating, your body notices and it panics.  Your metabolism slows down, which is very bad for any diet, and as soon as you come off the diet your body starts stockpiling fat in case you decide to starve it of its normal intake again. That’s why the more diets you go on, the more weight you put back on when you eventually come off the diet.

And just to quickly explain the metabolism, because even I had never had this properly explained to me until I started taking an active interest in my own health: you need to eat regularly and exercise regularly to keep your metabolism up.  If you find that you don’t really get hungry between breakfast and lunch and between lunch and dinner, or you can skip breakfast and not feel hungry until lunch, don’t be mistaken and think that’s a good thing; it means you’re not processing your energy intake fast enough.  You should eat at least a small (and obviously healthy) snack roughly every 3 hours, and exercise for around 45 minutes a day, to bring your metabolism up to the right level.  I know this from experience; when I first started cutting the crap out of my diet and going to the gym three times a week, it took literally two weeks for me to start feeling genuinely ill if I didn’t eat every three hours.  That’s because the regular eating and exercise had boosted my metabolism to a healthy level.  Not feeling hungry might seem like a blessing when you’re on a diet, but it’s actually not a great sign.

My main point is that there is no quick fix, and this is what the internet is guilty of; offering everyone that magic pill or secret solution that will melt their fat away with no effort on their part.  If you just type the words “how to” into Google, the second result is “how to lose weight fast”.  If you type in the full phrase “how to lose weight”, the phrases offered to finish the sentence are “fast”, “in a week”, “on your face”, “fast and easy”, “on your stomach” and “in a day”.  This is because PEOPLE ARE LAZY.  Everyone knows, deep down, the only way to lose weight is really much simpler than a special type of berry or a pill that makes you poop pure gooey orange fat: eat right, and exercise regularly… but they just don’t want to do it.

There is a lot of misinformation and a lot of just plain lying about weight loss out there on the big bad internet, and a lot of it is designed exclusively to get you to part with your money.  It’s a sad fact that if you pay for a lot of the weight loss ‘programs’ or ebooks or pills available out there, the only thing getting any slimmer will be your wallet.  The saddest thing is that all the real, true, honest information is out there too, but people just won’t look for it because they know they won’t like the answers they find.  And that’s a shame because there are people out there who are totally miserable with their bodies who think that the next fad diet, the next pill, the next superfood will be their magic cure and it just won’t, and in reality all they need to do is pay attention when they’re doing the weekly shop, and think whether they’re really hungry, and change a few habits and just join a fucking gym… and they’ll ignore that advice even though in the long run, even though it might take months or a couple of years to get the effect that they want, there is some bullshit out there being advertised to take a fraction of that time. 

So do me a favour: if you found this site because you were genuinely looking for weight loss advice, I want you to answer this question to yourself, and I want you to answer it honestly.  How long have you spent scouring the world for a quick, easy way to lose weight where you can eat all the shit you like and sit on your arse constantly?  A few months?  A year?  Two years?  Do you realise that if, when you first started looking for the miracle diet, you had just started eating healthily and exercising regularly instead, you could already be your target weight by now – and you wouldn’t have had to suffer through weeks of cabbage soup or choking down Kelloggs Special Shit twice a day or shitting yourself in public!

If you came here looking for a quick fix to buy, I’m not offering that.  What I am offering you is the hard, simple, but ultimately unavoidable truth:  eat better.  Exercise more.  Be healthy, live longer, and enjoy your life.  Love yourself!  It’s that simple.  Give your body what it needs; don’t starve it of the substandard stuff you’re already giving it. 

I mean, taking a pill that makes you poop out some of the fat you’re eating – often involuntarily and in public?  You really need to think about how desperate you are, and how much simpler it would be if you could just muster some goddamn fucking willpower.

Winter survival tips

December 17, 2009

So as I’m sure you’ve all noticed by now, winter is here again (arguably it has been here since around September, but let’s not get picky) and we Southerners have even had some snow in the last few days.
In light of this drastic event, I’d like to share my tips on surviving the winter chill.  Having lived through two particularly harsh winters in the Scottish Highlands, in a caravan with no running water, I happen to consider myself something of an expert on the subject.  Clearly I can’t teach you to build a fully-heated ice hotel (or, let’s be honest, even a basic igloo) but perhaps I can at least offer some guidance on remaining warm in your own home.  It might not sound that difficult, but there are several factors at work here.

The most prominent factor in keeping warm in your own home, is your partner (or whoever else you live with).  For some reason, there is a universal law dictating that everybody you live with, ever, will hold the exact opposite preferences to you on pretty much everything – but most importantly, central heating.

I like to be warm – very warm – at all times.  In the middle of winter, I like to be able to sit on my sofa in shorts and a tank top and still feel like I am on the verge of being too warm.  Chris, on the other hand, will open the windows ‘to let some air in’ no matter what the weather outside.  When I complain, I am told to ‘put a jumper on’, and my protests that I am in my own house and do not wish to wear outdoor clothing generally fall on selectively deaf ears.  Now I like the place to smell fresh as much as he does, but I don’t like said freshness enough to lose all sensation in my extremities in pursuit of it.

I don’t know any other couples who can agree on heating either.  This includes my earliest example of a cohabiting couple – my own parents.  My love of warmth is nothing compared to my mum’s.  She will happily lower herself into a bathful of water so hot that if I were to so much as get splashed with it, I’d rush to casualty to be treated for my burns.  My dad, on the other hand, would happily walk around in the aforementioned unheated caravan, in the middle of winter, wearing shorts and a t-shirt.  I used to think it was funny the way my mum would go out into the hall to turn the heating up, and five minutes later my dad would invent an excuse to go into the hall and sneakily turn it back down.  I certainly don’t think it’s funny now, when I myself am engaged in this endless war.

The current battle in my house (or flat, if we’re being pedantic) is over what should be done with the heating while we’re asleep.  My vote is for leaving it on, and I might concede to lower the setting a little.  Chris’ vote is for turning it off – and opening the bedroom window, to combat the damp on the windowsill.  I daren’t even mention the prospect of turning the electric blanket on, even if I tie it down to my side of the mattress.  But it doesn’t end there – if I take the initiative and wear pyjamas, I am berated for the lack of nudity. 

Luckily for me, Chris works away quite frequently (it is lucky for me only in this sense – clearly I am not thrilled with the arrangement in general) so I get to have my own way with the heating four nights out of seven.  But I appreciate some people are not so lucky.

So in light of all this, and to finally get to the point, here are my winter survival tips – gathered from years of experience:

  • Invest in a good pair of slippers – and don’t be ashamed to wear socks to bed.  If your feet are cold, the rest of your body will feel much colder than it otherwise would.  I’m sure there’s some scientific reason for this, but I won’t pretend I know what it is.
  • Try to reach a compromise with anyone you may happen to share your abode with.  Heating on for an hour, off for an hour?  In fact, a lot of modern boilers can actually be set to turn the heating on and off at preset times – ours can, but we can’t be bothered to dredge through the manual and figure out how to do it, so the endless war wages on. 
  • If you have to leave the house, it’s worth remembering that, although you may not be a five year old being dragged to the local firework display any more, it is still ok to wear tights under your jeans!  I mean who’s going to know, really?  Obviously, make sure you’re wearing a t-shirt long enough that it’s not going to ride up and reveal your secret.  While it’s not the most embarrassing thing you could possibly reveal at the office, it’s not exactly the sexiest either.  Not that you should be revealing sexy things at the office.  Ah, you knew what I meant.
  • Food makes a big difference to how warm you feel.  Make a point of eating hot, stodgy winter comfort foods to warm yourself up from the inside – casserole, lasagne, chilli, pasta bake.  Not exactly diet-friendly, but fuck it – ’tis the season, eat yourself stupid and blame it on Christmas.  Come on, everybody does it.  Just remember to dust off your gym membership card ready for spring.  Hey, this is called ‘winter survival tips’, not ‘how to get slim for Christmas’ – you certainly won’t find anything on that subject here, although I’ll probably have a bitch about internet weight-loss fads at some point.
  • Christmas shopping presents a tricky dilemma.  Most cities nowadays are equally divided between under-one-roof type shopping centres, and High Street areas, meaning you have to brave both ridiculously busy shops with central heating and no air conditioning, and the freezing conditions of the outside world.  Obviously you don’t want to go unprepared, but you also don’t want to lug your coat around for two hours, along with all your bags, while you shop inside.  Now, I have a particularly wonderful solution to this: DON’T EVEN LEAVE YOUR HOUSE.  That’s right, you heard me.  Folks, I don’t know if anyone has ever pointed this out to you, but you can do all your Christmas shopping, every last bit, from the comfort of your own house – if you have a laptop and wireless broadband, you could even do it from your own bed!  (I only discovered internet shopping this November, and clearly I have not gotten over the novelty yet.)  It is brilliant.  You don’t have to deal with Christmas-time traffic, or the fight to park, or the parking cost, or sweaty fat people, or parents with twin prams who for some reason think it is their god-given right to glide ever so slowly down the middle of every aisle with their two screaming brats steamrollering anyone who gets in their way… none of that.  You sit on your arse, click on some buttons, and hey presto – a couple of days later, your stuff is delivered TO YOUR DOOR.  It is magic.  Well, maybe not magic.  But I think it’s pretty neat.

My final tip for winter survival, although it has little to nothing to do with keeping warm, is RELAX – and by ‘relax’, I mean ‘do your Christmas shopping on the internet, in November’.  This may seem unrelated but look at it this way: you don’t have to leave the house, and while your partner is out doing their Christmas shopping in the cold, you’ll have complete control of the central heating.