Saturday, 1 February 2014

Eating & Exercise

A few people have asked me lately to elaborate on my diet and exercise, so I thought I would. I guess the thing is that I have only started this a few weeks ago, and I haven't yet discovered how well it's going to work! So far so good though I think, like I said, I've lost 3kg this month and have been eating the greasiest food imaginable.

I've just put together all the things I know that genuinely work to help lose weight. Like it or not, it comes down to what we've all been told a thousand times: diet and exercise. There is no "secret" to weight loss, and it isn't easy.

1) Burn more calories than you eat in a day. One uses energy doing usual things, but doing actual exercise i.e. at the gym, an enjoyable sport, walking or running, etc. is a good way to know you've achieved something. I visit the gym most days and do about 40 minutes of cardio (burning roughly 400 cals) and maybe 30 minutes of weights. I've also started Zumba, there are free videos on YouTube. Doing 20 mins of Zumba in the morning is actually pretty fun.

2) Discover how many calories you should have each day. I can have 2,000 to be healthy, but to lose weight, I can consume only 1,200. I used an online calculator to find this out. I also joined which is a useful way to track how many calories you're consuming.

3) Having muscle helps your body burn calories. I do weights at the gym, machines not free weights, which hurts but is worth doing. People, mostly women, worry that if they do weights it'll make them look bulkier, this is absolutely not true.

4) You don't have to starve yourself, but you do have to feel hungry. I figure it's more how much you eat, rather than what. Obviously unhealthy junk food is a No but you can eat other stuff you like as long as you don't eat big amounts of it. A small calorie limit means you do spend much of the day feeling hungry, but really there are worse ways to feel.

5) Focus more on being healthy than thin. If you eat healthy food and learn more about what you can do to improve your health, the rest will take care of itself. I consider what is in everything I'm eating and what the benefits are, such as antioxidants, things to benefit the liver or kidneys or skin and so on.

6) Remove starch. Not eating starch all the time is a great way to help lose weight, so remove pasta, rice, potatoes, and bread from your diet, even for a few months.

7) Water. I find it's a bit yuck to pour water from the tap and drink it at tap temperature, so I bottle and refrigerate it and just drink that throughout the day. Water also helps one feel less hungry.

Basically all of the above are the things I have learnt, and am applying to my lifestyle every day. It all makes sense, right? I believe in being healthy and good to yourself. My diet every day currently consists of bacon and eggs for breakfast fried in extra-virgin olive oil, sometimes with mushrooms. I put on a lot of olive oil because it is unbelievably good for you. It has numerous health benefits as well as being great for skin. The best part of this meal is that the oil now tastes like bacon *thumbs up*.
I haven't been taking lunch, but I'll have a small supper of either fish and steamed vegetables, or avocado on wholegrain Ryvita, or yoghurt with fruit and nuts. I've been drinking 2-3 litres of water each day too as well as green tea. I drink a lot of ordinary tea during the day too which isn't going to change for any reason, the caffeine keeps my face off the floor. So it's a small amount of food, but it's all yummy things that I like!

Anyway, I have to go to work now but I hope I've managed to help at least one person out with their New Year's resolution or something :p Take care now, bye bye then. xox

Friday, 31 January 2014

Oh Look It's 2014 - Achieving Goals

Seeing as it's been 5 years since I last used this blog, I thought it was about time I launched it into action again, or something. Really I've done too much throughout those five years to give any sort of update, so seeing as it's a new year, I might as well start with a few new year things.

Almost everyone sets goals for the year they would like to achieve, and I am no different. What's different for me this year, compared to previous years, is that I started mine by reading some very, very good, somewhat life-changing articles. First I read this one from Cracked, and because I put the Pro in Procrastinate, I read this, followed by this. In my opinion, EVERYONE SHOULD READ THESE. Unless your life is already flawlessly awesome, and good for you if it is, you probably have something great to gain by reading these three articles in the above mentioned order.

I immediately stuck a note behind my computer, where I can't ignore it, which reads, "Stay out of the Dark Playground". You'll understand why once you read the articles. In putting that unavoidable note there, I've actually managed to achieve a lot more stuff.

I've learnt the importance of being specific with goals, and not vague. A vague goal would be, "learn French this year", whereas a goal you will actually do, will look like "Buy a Teach Yourself French book, then begin studying on March 18th at 4:00pm." This, followed by reserving time every day to working towards to goal of speaking French. If you're lacking motivation, imagine how disappointed in yourself you'll feel in December if you haven't progressed any further.

So! Applying this good advice to my life, I've compiled a list of goals I would like to achieve. Maybe they are a bit ambitious? But blah blah put your mind to things, where there's a will there's a way, and all that.

To start with, I have the same goal and many people do: 1) lose weight. I realised, with horror, that I've been unhappy with my weight for a whole decade. I'm not overweight, I have a healthy BMI, but I am pudgier than I would like to be. Weight sits on me in an unflattering way. I get frustrated when none of my outfits seem to look good. So to achieve this, I am adopting a low-carb controlled calorie diet. Usually, I get some exercise, and eat healthy food, but I think I eat too much. I've joined which turns out to be a useful way to count calories. I've learnt that to achieve my goal, I have to stick with a maximum of a piddly 1200 calories a day. Which means a lot of being hungry, but as my fiancé points out, being hungry is part of the process.

I also want to eat food that I like, because I like eating, and get pretty miserable if I have to go without. So, for the last few weeks I have started my day with bacon and eggs cooked in olive oil, sometimes with mushrooms. I'll have a smaller supper of avocado on wholegrain ryvita, or yoghurt with fruit and nuts - all things that I like eating. I've abandoned energy drinks in favour of iced coffee (which I'm trying to convince myself to like) and am drinking a lot more water. I'm also going to the gym and aiming to burn 300-400 cals every visit. I've also just started doing a few minutes of Zumba in the morning.

Since NYE, I've lost 3kg. That's 6.6 pounds eating bacon every day.

My chief motivation for wanting to lose weight, is so I can look my best on my wedding day! YES I AM GETTING MARRIED OMG I can't believe it either. And to the best, cleverest, loveliest, handsomest man I've ever met. So goal number 2) get married.
I am pretty much planning the whole wedding by myself, which is fine, people fret about wedding planning, but those people probably have never planned a film shoot. Which is almost certainly harder. I'm intending to keep an up to date vlog of progress on wedding planning, because naturally, I'll have to put on the Goth wedding to outdo all the other Goth weddings ever.

I started a few projects last year for other people, and I learnt a valuable lesson: do not overcommit yourself. Trying to do too much at once for others will end up letting them down, instead of helping them. As a result, I have nothing finished. It's also meant I've put my personal projects on he back shelf to gather dust. So 3) finish what I started. I want to finish the projects I started for others, so I can stop feeling so terrible about having taken so long.

Since all the work and stress burnt me out so much, I have goal 4) go on holiday. Since I've become engaged, this can probably now take the form of an extended honeymoon. I love travel SO MUCH and it's been SO LONG, I need to get out of New Zealand.  I have no idea how to pay for this.  So therefore, goal 5) get a full-time job, ideally relevant to my interests or qualifications. There is a lot of competition for jobs where I live, especially in film, TV, writing, or media of any kind. And looking like a weird person makes it even harder. I've been applying for many jobs lately, I'm becoming slightly desperate since I'm struggling for money, but if one shoots lots of arrows, one is bound to hit a target.

I would also like to 6) finish my novel. I wrote a large, convoluted book several years ago, it took five years but I finished it. No one will ever get to read it though, I mostly wrote it to prove to myself that I could write a large, convoluted book. Ages ago I started a smaller, simpler one. It was going to be a novella, but it's becoming too long, hence it's a novel now. Anyone who's read an excerpt from this work in progress seems to like it, and I think the characters aee some of the best I've ever created, so I really want to finish it.

Being in two bands, one for nearly 2 years, I think it's about time we 7) record an album. Victorian Goth Rock is definitely a thing I would like to share with the world!

Projects aside, I also need to work on improving myself in general, which will affect everything else in my life. I REALLY need to 8) diminish self-doubt and gain confidence, because as I said in one of my videos, self-doubt can really hold you back. I've spent my life thinking that everything I do is terrible, which is a good and bad thing in the sense that I will keep working to improve things - but I never like them, think they're no good, and therefore show them to no one. Which is probably stupid.

So now that this blog entry is incredibly long, I think I'll leave it there. Now, go read those articles, do it! Off you trot! And good luck to you for achieving any goals you may have for yourself this year.


Monday, 28 September 2009

Rome wasn't reached in a day

On my last day in Romania, I decided to do nothing. I thought I would go to Bran, accepting that there was no way I could go to Poenari Castle. It is this which motivates me to one day come back to Romania. I walked all the way across town, bought two local bus tickets, found the bus stop, but in the heat perhaps I felt very lightheaded. My money was dwindling and I was starting to think that if I did go to Bran, which I didn't particularly want to anyway, I wouldn't have enough left for the other things I needed to do. So I went back to my hostel and sat on my arse indoors for a few hours, away from the evil sunlight.

I awoke at 5am the following morning for my bus trip to Rome. When making this booking, it had not occurred to me how long this trip would be. The site was entriely in Romanian so I think I had just been proud of the fact that I had managed to book it, and was never informed of the duration. In the end, this bus trip was just over THIRTY FIVE HOURS long.
It started off well. I had a few provisions, two rings of poppyseed bread, a packet of crisps, and some chocolate. It took twelve hours before we were even out of Romania, and at some point, the road became less of a proper road and more of a dirt road smeared with ashfelt. Many of the people are wildly religious, there were people on the bus crossing themselves whenever we passed a church, and there were crucifixes randomly everywhere on the side of the road. I saw more of the country which I suppose is good. There were many people getting around on horse and cart, we passed loads of those. Small towns with chooks wandering around, stray dogs everywhere, and stereotypical gypsy-looking women; large nose, warts, grizzled grey hair, headscarf, missing teeth etc. My conslusion is that Romania is a weird blend of the old and new, an old fashioned place struggling it's way into the 21st century.

Anyway, for the most part of this lengthy trip, I had been sitting by myself. Infact, no one sat next to me until all the other seats were full, and the only one left was the one beside me.
Eventually I was stuck sitting next to a rather large man, typically. Sleeping, let alot sitting, was extremely uncomfortable. He said he could speak English but he really couldn't. No one on the bus spoke English really, not even the  drivers, so I was stuck talking to myself as usual. There were several people who it seemed, didn't know how not to stare at me.
I did drift to sleep every now and then over the night, but awoke ever half an hour or so not because I was on a moving bus, but because of the ungodly pain in my neck. I'd get up and move and my neck and back would make an audible cracking. My knees were also in pain from having to keep them bent, and we had to stop at every fucking station under the sun, and wait at each one for ages. Also, when we crossed the border from Romania to Hungary, the patrol took my passport off me and it was about half an hour before a random girl gave it back to me.
The bus trip, to say the very least, SUCKED, but atleast now I can say that I've been to Hungary and Austria aswell. Astoundingly, my ipod lasted the distance, which ensured I kept my sanity.

Over thirty-five hours later, we finally arrived in Rome. But the fun doesn't stop there!
The bus dropped me off at a random station, and suddenly I found myself stranded somewhere that I had no idea where the fuck I was. I tried asking for help at a ticket desk but the woman didn't speak English. I called up my accommodation who recommend me take  a bus, but could I understand the buses, or find the right stop? Of course not.
I approached a random man who couldn't speak english, but I asked him, "Metro?". He took my arm and pointed across the street. I said thank you and crossed the busy road, and soon enough, found myself in a train station. I tried to decipher the confusing train map and by some amazing works of cleverness, I got a train to the central termini station. From there I found my way into the metro to get to Barberini, where I needed to be. It took me ages to find my hostel because there was no sign outside, but in the end, a staff member waited outside and hailed me over. I was eternally grateful to have a comfy place to sleep.

Thursday, 24 September 2009


Well today was another huge writhing pile of fun. I'm actually genuinely surprised to find myself sitting comfortably in my hostel, talking to a large group of Antipodeans. I decided to go to Sighisoara, but was not 100% sure exactly how to get there. First I went on a mission to find food and came away with two bananas and a pack of mini croissants which are to last me for two days. I then needed to get some more money changed but all I had was some left over Danish Krones, and £60 worth of Scottish banknotes. I brought 20 Euro with me for backup, not wanting to use it since I have Italy and France still to go to. I went into around a dozen different exchange places and banks, but no one would take the Danish Krones or the Scottish banknotes, they'll only accept English. In the end I had to change the Euros or I would have no money for anything.

Then I was unable to find the bus that goes to the train station (which has a bus station next to it) so I cheated and took a taxi. I located the elusive Maxi-Taxis, and after much poor communication with people who could only speak Romanian, I found a minibus to Sighisoara. It left the station a full two hours after I arrived there, and while I was there, met another Kiwi bloke and his English girlfriend. Chatted to them for a while and they were just as baffled as I was. The station was filled with shady characters. Two men kept coming up to me, one came up three times before I eventually just said, "stop talking to me!".
I got on the bus, paid 26 Lei, and pointed to a phrase in my Romanian phrasebook for "Can you let me know where to get off?", and two hours later, I was dropped off in Sighisoara. Fortunately, there was a young man on the bus who could speak english quite well, and was translating for the bus driver for me. They told me where I could go to flag down a bus back, and when the last one was. I thanked them and went wandering.

The sun was already fading so I decided it would be wise not to stay for too long. I scribbled a map of the path I took so that I could find my way back. I had no idea which way to go so I guessed, and evidently correctly, because I almost immediately found the places I wanted to see. Well it wasn't hard really, Sighisoara is fairly small. Unfortunately, they were doing alot of roadworks and quite a few of the cobbled streets had been torn up and were occupied by diggers and tractors, which did a good job at spoiling the atmosphere. I found Vlad Tepes's birthplace, which is what I had wanted to see the most, I suppose. It's now a cafĂ©, so I didn't go in, but was sure to take atleast one stupid picture of myself standing infront of it. 
I took a wee few pictures, which I will have up soon. I only spent an hour in Sighisoara after all the effort I gad gone to to get there. I was actually rather worried about not being able to get back to Brasov. So I followed my map back and found the spot where a bus might stop. I waited by the roadside for some time, and made myself a little sign reading 'Brasov'. A couple of buses went past, but going to other locations, and I kept trying to stifle the worry I felt about being stranded in this piffling, tiny Medieval township. Luckily, a bus went past with 'Brasov', amongst other locations, written on a sign in the window. I held up my  sign and flagged the bus down with my other arm, and it stopped. The driver only spoke Romanian but let me on when I told him where I wanted to go. I couldn't believe it had worked and that I was going to get back, I was so happy, BUT! It was probably the scariest bus trip of all time, the driver drove like a fucking nutter, and at one point, pissed off a guy from a taxi. I had no idea what was going on but there was alot of shouting and police around when the bus pulled over. Then the guy from the taxi got onto the bus for the rest of the trip, and the shouting and arguing continued, and then another man got involved and I really wanted to tell them to shut up, but after ages they finally did. I wasn't sure if he was taking his anger out on his driving, or if he always drove like that badly. Finally, after what felt like an eternity, I got back into Brasov and the driver charged me 15 lei, no idea why the trip back was so much cheaper. Got a bus back to the hostel, and by this point had a splitting headache and thought I might fall over. Hopefully tomorrow will be smoother, whatever I end up doing with it. Something easier, methinks. So now I am watching crappy movies in the hostel, still plagued by the headache caused by the stress of the day, and am very much looking forward to bed!

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Epic Photo-Post of Doom

Finally I have some photos up of my mighty journey so far. Each link will open into a new window where you can see my pics form each place.

Brasov, Romania

It's been a fairly lovely day which somewhat makes up for the shitty one yesterday. It's been sunny but mild, and I spent somewhere around six hours walking around the town. It's a long narrow town, so it only took me about 15 minutes to walk from one side to the other. I saw most of the sights to see in Brasov, the remains of the medieval wall that once enclosed the town, the Black Tower, the Weaver's Bastion, Strada Sforii (Rope Street), the Black Church, St Nicholas Church, the Schei Gate, and two Synagogues, one of which I went into. It was beautiful inside, all decorated in gold, but everyone was walking around praying to things so I thought I probably shouldn't hang around.

I've been sort of living off iced tea and am having difficulty obtaining proper food. Today I bought a chocolate covered, chocolate filled croissant, and a small thing of bread, but that's it. Yesterday I had half a calzone. The day before that I had a bread roll and a hotdog, and the day before that I had an apple. That's all for the whole four days, and I'm beginning to feel crappy because of it. Maybe I'll lose some weight, but probably not if I eat things like chocolate covered, chocolate filled croissants. I would happily kill for a vegetable or piece of meat right now.

During the times while I wasn't walking today, I was sitting down and writing things for my books into my diary. I did this for ages, because for some reason I seem to find this place highly inspirational. One point I remember was particularly nice, I was sitting near the Black Tower with bushes all around, and the bells from the nearby Black Church were all ringing for ages and it sounded so cool. The air was smokey, the birds were chirping, the sun was out, and I had somewhere to write, it was lovely.
I plan on spending the rest of today planning what to do with the next two days. I really want to see Sighisoara. I was pondering hiring a car and driving to the ruin of Poenari castle, Dracula's actual castle (not Bran castle, the one they pretend is Dracula's castle for tourists) but three things are holding me back. One, they drive on the other side of the road, two I can only hire a manual car and I can only drive an automatic, and three I haven't driven for over a year. I'll probably end up going to Bran castle anyway. Well I'll update tomorrow probably and can let you know what I ended up doing!

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

The Rocky Road to Transylvania

Holy fuck did I ever have a shit day. It started at 5am (another early morning, hurrah) in Copenhagen where I successfully got to the airport on time. After that it all started to go pear shaped. First I had difficulty checking in because I had checked in online the night before, but was unable to print out the boarding pass. So I was sent to three different places until I ended up back where i had started and the whole thing could have actually been very simple. Still being in possession of several hundred Danish Krones that I didn't need and couldn't get exchanged, I thought I'd spend some at the airport. For the first time ever I bought one of those massive things of sweeties that you always see in the duty free area, it cost me a fair bit but was still cheap considering it's massiveness. I was looking forward to making them disappear and thinking that so many would last quite a while, but oh no, I left them on the plane, what a stupid bitch.

It was when I arrived in Bucharest that everything became horribly stressful and scary.  Firstly I could only change a few pounds into Romanian Lei because they would only accept the English notes, not the Scottish. The people were very rude and unhelpful, which sucked because most of them didn't speak a word of English.
I had read on several places online that the best, easiest, and cheapest way to get from Bucharest airport to Brasov was to walk out to the main road and flag down a Maxitaxi, and that it should cost only 20 Romanian Lei for the trip, which is about 4.70. From the moment I stepped out the door I was hounded by taxi drivers competing for my custom. The first man offered me 200, another 100, one 60, and one 25, they kept trying to haggle and I kept trying to get rid of them. Eventually I was shouting at them and telling them to fuck off and leave me alone, but more kept approaching and were like, "Lady, lady! Where you go?". The worst was one guy who followed me in his car very slowly and shouted at me down the street as I strode angrily away, shouting back and him that I don't give a fuck, please leave me alone. It took a very long time for me to reach the main road because of these arseholes.
I made it to the main road and stood there for about an hour, several Maxitaxis came past but none of them were going the right way, eventually I threw a wee tantrum and walked back to airport, carrying my case the whole way because it's still being retarded. It was also really hot which made it suck oh so much more. The Maxitaxi idea was NOT as simple as the internet had made it out to be, infact it failed on several levels. I was besieged once more by taxi drivers as I went back into the airport, it was bloody awful.

Anyway I found someone inside who spoke a smidgeon of english and told me where I could get a bus that would take me to Gara de Nord, the northern train station. I didn't much like this option because I had heard that the train system is really complicated. Anyway I found  the bus straight away, didn't know where to get a ticket, jumped aboard thinking I could just ask the driver, but he was behind a window and the doors shut behind me and the bus started moving, so an hour later I found myself in Gara de Nord, for free.
There were no signs in English in the train station so I sort of had to guess, and again, everyone spoke only Romanian. Amazingly, I ended up with a train ticket to Brasov, for 35 Lei. Fortunately for me, a man must have over heard me, because he came up to me and told me that he was going to Brasov too, and showed me where to go. He was Romanian but spoke some English because he lived in Chicago. I told him I was going to follow him which he was fine with, and stuck with him the whole way. We shared a compartment with another woman who he spoke to while I listened to music and watched the scenery change around me. For a while I felt like I was on the slow train to nowhere, since the trip took over three hours.
Being in Romania feels a little like being back in the Czech Republic, only that it's dirtier, poorer, and has more gypsies. I swear that everyone here has the same face. There's a strange similitude in all the people that makes them all look like they could be related.
Many of the houses in the little towns I passed looked like they were  about to fall over, and there were alot of places that looked completely abandoned. It was like everything was built ages ago and then left to fall apart. There was alot of pretty scenery around that, however. At one point, the man told me to come out into the corridor so that I could look at the view, which was of towering, intimidating mountains with a river slithering past. In the end I think it was better to take the train.

I could hardly believe it when I reached the hostel, I would have jumped for joy, had I had the energy. I'm sore all over and I had a headache (which has finally gone, thankfully) and I truly cannot wait to go to bed. The hostel is very nice, feels like being in a big house. They give you a free drink every night you stay, free tea and coffee all the time, free laundry service, and free internet, nice! I think I'll be utilising the free tea and coffee quite alot. So it was an interesting day, to say the very least, but as always, I managed and got where I wanted to be.