Beach Body Ready?

beach body ready?

Yesterday I was in London, and it was difficult to miss the bright yellow adverts from Protein World around the city. I was so busy concentrating on getting the right tube they disappeared into the rest of the advertising clutter for me, so it wasn’t until I settled with my coffee this morning to catch up with Twitter that I saw the backlash and the company’s terrible response to them.

I find it difficult being involved in health and fitness whilst also promoting body positivity. I firmly believe that you should be proud of what your body can DO and the non-aesthetic targets you’ve hit; however, working out and eating well also changes how your body looks, and I’d be lying if I said that wasn’t something I cared about, even if it isn’t my primary concern. The fitness industry thrives by target our worries about our looks – I doubt that as much protein powder would be sold or gyms have as many members if they focused their advertising on how much better you will feel as opposed to how good you might look.

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The Art Of Healthy Moderation… Or Not?

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Every week Grazia includes a Real Lives piece specially commissioned to irritate, or so it seems. Ones that stand out in my memory include “I married my husband so we would have good-looking children” and “everybody hates me because I’m beautiful” (around the same time as Brick-gate, so that one probably angered more people than normal). This week, though, was particularly relevant to me. ‘Wellness junkie’ Amy Molloy tells us about her friends who are disappointed when she never takes up the offer of going for a drink, friends who have dared to buy cupcakes for her after a break-up (she refused to eat any, FYI), and friends who have stopped bothering to invite her out for pizza, because of her reaction to the P-word. Sound like terrible, jealous friends, right? Erm, not to me. They just sound like people who want to spend some quality time with a pal.

Amy talks about the fit-shaming she gets, both online and off. Now, I have never been fit-shamed. Maybe I am too thick-skinned to notice or perhaps I laugh it off with the good humour it is intended.

Mostly nowadays I spend time with friends I have made in the past few years in the city I live, most of which are active, outdoorsy people; but I make an effort to meet friends I’ve met through life, too – whose current lifestyles are not ‘compatible’ with mine. It’s only natural that your interests change and you have less in common: some of my core group of friends live in London and have media jobs, which means they spend a lot of time out drinking, one friend is a capoeira instructor and travels to far-flung places a lot, and another two live on different continents. None of them are particularly interested in fitness, nor do I bore them with the minutiae of my clean diet. Because when we are together, we laugh, joke, and talk to each other about everything and nothing, and not once have I been fit-shamed.

Probably because I practise the art of moderation.

Seriously, Amy, if for some reason you are reading this: your friends don’t pick on you because you are fit. I’m sure they’re just tired of your refusal to be flexible so you can spend time with them – because that’s what relationships are about, a bit of give and take. Go out to the pub with them (it’s fine, I do it all the time) and maybe they will go on a bike ride with you another day.

I understand the neuroses about an unhealthy lifestyle making you ill – trust me, I’ve had enough people close to me have serious illnesses to know how important it is to keep yourself well. But you’ve got to give yourself some slack. Anything in extreme is unsustainable, whether that’s an extreme alcohol habit or an extreme fitness habit. If you go out with your friends one night this week for pizza and drinks, I promise you will not end up “bloated, tired and spotty”. In fact, the stress relief and release of endorphins you will get from seeing people you love and laughing with them will be beneficial for you and you may even be healthier than before!

Although I try not to let stuff written in magazines bother me, it does sometimes get tiring seeing people with unhealthy lifestyles applauded – whichever extreme they are unhealthy in. Everything in moderation is key, which includes working out and eating clean! Now I’m off to train my legs hard so I can go out for beer and burgers with my running club tonight. Give and take, give and take…

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OP-ED: On Yer ‘Ead, Lass

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To the dismay of many a boyfriend (alright.. two. I haven’t had THAT many boyfriends) I have always held a bit of a disdain for football. It’s not the game itself I dislike, it’s everything that surrounds it: the players’ ridiculous salaries, the controversies, and the unruly fans. My ears pricked up a few weeks ago though when I heard England women’s team beat Montenegro 9-0 – mainly because I didn’t even know we HAD a national women’s team!

For once, I paid keen attention when my boyfriend watched MOTD that night. Surely with such an achievement there would be at least a small mention – but no. Backofbeyond United’s 1-1 draw with Arsend Rovers was clearly much more important.

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As a sport we are actually quite good at, why does it get such little exposure? It would be too easy to say that men are not interested, as I know this isn’t true. I paid the grand sum of £3 to watch Manchester City Women’s play Chelsea in the FAWSL quarter final and I’d guesstimate men represented 60% of attendees. Though matchgoers’ numbers were low passions were high as a men’s game, with the same comments about the referee being bellowed as you’d expect in the Premier League.

Personally, I think it comes down to sponsorship. In 2011 women’s football received only 0.5% of all sports sponsorship, with men’s at 61.1%. Interestingly the same report claims there was interest shown by the general public in women’s sports, and whether these figures have changed since the Olympic sports boom is unknown; but it is clear that investment is needed in women’s football to help it reach a wider audience. Without the huge investment from sponsors – like AON, Standard Chartered and Etihad – men’s football and the players’ salaries would not be at the heady heights they are today: it seems to be a “chicken or egg” situation.

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In 1921 the FA claimed that “football is quite unsuitable for females” and banned the game until 1971 – taking this into consideration I’d say it’s come on in leaps and bounds the past few years! After all, there must be others like me who aren’t keen on the egos and earnings in the men’s game, but are interested in the skill, speed and teamwork required. At the measly price of three quid maybe a selfish part of me doesn’t want the whole country to know, however this can’t be sustainable for the long-term. Organisations like the WSFF are coming to prominence and teams like Manchester City are taking their women’s teams seriously; perhaps in the next few years sponsors will follow suit and women will have their rightful place in football.

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Why I Want To Work In Sportswear

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Images L-R: Charli Cohen, Alexander Wang AW14, Pinterest (no source), Sweaty Betty.

As a third year student, I’m often asked what I want to do when I graduate from my fashion marketing degree. And my reply?

I want to work in sportswear.

People are often surprised at not only how definite my answer is but the area I want to go into. Surely if I’ve studied fashion, I’d want to work in fashion, and ladieswear at that?

Let me explain. In my degree I’ve studied marketing, financial management, international business, product design, corporate strategy, and business simulation. Throughout, we had to relate the theory back to fashion practice, but it’s basically prepared me for a career within any business and marketing sphere, with knowledge thrown in about fibres, threads, quality control, and garment construction. In that respect clothes are the same as underwear, the same as kidswear, the same as underwear, the same as bedding, and so on.

I admit, at one point I dreamt of working for the luxurious Chanel, or the ever-youthful, fast-moving Topshop. Over time, though, I have become jaded with the passing fashion seasons. They seem to pass quicker each year – and indeed they do, with the new fashion seasons, cruise and pre-fall, being pushed on customers, encouraging them to spend even more money. And on what? The same stuff they were pushed into buying last year but were then told was out of fashion, hence the clothes being stuffed into bags and sent to the charity shop, or worse – forgotten about in the back of a wardrobe.

Now, I’m not saying sportswear is perfect, not by a long stretch. Normally, though, much-hyped new releases are because of new technologies and developments in fabric that complement your existing workout kit. It’s a slower-moving industry, that allows more time on quality control, product development, and consequently marketing. That’s why you will find that, cared for well, your gym stuff will last longer than similarly-priced fast fashion. And, normally when you buy performance gear, it’s because you want or need it – and not because a celebrity has been spotted wearing it. How novel!

Sportswear is not so far away from fashion nowadays, anyway. Thanks to runway designers like Alexander Wang and Philip Lim showcasing sports luxe trends, with mesh, lycra and sleek cuts trickling down to Topshop and Zara; on the flipside, brands like Nike, Sweaty Betty and Charli Cohen creating street-ready looks just as at home at Fashion Week as in the gym.

So where will I get with my desire to work in sportswear? Watch this space – only time and hard work will tell.

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Women’s Unhealth | Do Magazines Encourage Us To Eat Too Little?

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Now my beloved Zest magazine is no longer, I’m trying out a few alternatives to see if they can fill the lovely, positive, healthy hole Zest has left. Women’s Health seemed a good bet, with its claim to have won awards and its successful Men’s equivalent, but sadly I didn’t enjoy the style of writing, nor the contradictory articles (for example: sushi is a bad choice for lunch due to its high carb and low protein nature, but next page shows the 10 best sushi rolls. OK then).

What really got my goat, though, was the article on the final page: “My life on a plate“. Nicole Winhoffer is a celebrity trainer who, according to the article, does 12-14 hours of exercise a week. Let’s assume that’s 13 hours of running about 6mph – an added 1114 calories a day on top of her BMR – guesstimated at 1200 calories. Unless the portions are enormous, it looks like she is consuming about 1500 calories maximum from the food diary on the page.

OK, so I wouldn’t eat that little for that amount of activity, but everybody is different, and I am not judging Nicole’s intake as she has clearly figured out what’s best for her. However, this magazine is called Women’s Health, and any health and fitness professional probably wouldn’t recommend such a restricting diet – would they? Which is why I was glad to spy the “expert verdict” at the bottom.

No mention that her intake may be too little for a regular female human. In fact, the expert advises Nicole on how to lean out her food even more.

Am I overreacting by being a little shocked about the expert’s advice? What are your thoughts on magazine articles like these?

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