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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Fighting the Flab - end of week 2

This week I have neither lost weight nor inches, but I haven’t gained any either. I’m pretty happy about this because the last three days have been difficult in a kilojoule counting sense.

On Thursday night we had pizza for dinner. I’m not at all ashamed of this. I worked hard all day Thursday to finish and submit two assignments and once I had hit the last “submit” button I was way too tired to cook, or even think of what to cook. The boys both wanted pizza and I was also too tired to argue in favour of a healthier alternative.

On Friday night I went out with a friend of mine. What started as a few drinks and some Japanese influenced snacks, led to a small but satisfying dinner of Chinese dumplings. I had never tried edamame before but I’ve now added it to my list of foods I definitely like. The dumplings were wonderful, soft and light and perfectly cooked.

Last night I went out to dinner with some friends. We tried out a Nepalese restaurant and the food was delicious. We had mo mos to start with, which are a Nepalese style dumpling (it must have been my weekend for dumplings) and some samosas. This was followed by a chilli chicken curry, a prawn curry and a mushroom and spinach dish accompanied by saffron rice. After already leaving my diet far behind, I also indulged in dessert – a couple of atrociously sweet gulab jamin – semolina balls in a very sweet syrup.

Yesterday I spent 50 minutes on the exercise bike and another 30 minutes walking and jogging on the spot after a 30 minute weight session. Today I haven’t done anything much, but plan to do at least 30 minutes of cardio later on.

This coming week I haven’t any plans to dine out or get takeaway, so hopefully I will be able to stick to a lower kilojoule count!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

When a bit of knowledge is not enough!

My computer is driving me crazy. Not only is it running slow, there are times it decides to freeze. Even the mouse disappears and once the keyboard turned itself off. I’m going insane. So, as I have got two assignments to churn out before the end of this week, I know a little about computers and I thought I would be clever and run some diagnostic tests.

I should have held that thought for awhile.

I checked out the Dell site and found the instructions. I should have stopped there. But I didn’t. I made my first mistake. I started running the test on Monday night. According to the instructions the test was supposed to finish in an hour. I’m not sure which clock they were using to time the thing but the test was still running strongly on Tuesday morning. It finally finished around 9am. The error messages told me the mic wasn’t working. That would probably be because there is no mic!

Then I made my second mistake.

I found another test that looked at “system locks up”. I should have stopped there but of course I ran the test. It flew through the first few options and I was quite pleased with myself. Then it told me the next test would take 173 minutes! I got my son’s notebook and started working on that instead.

In the end, by late Tuesday night, the testing had finished. I could see there were certain tests that hadn’t made the “pass” grade but I couldn’t work out how to find the error messages. I pressed something and the screen disappeared and the computer restarted. I gave up.

Later on that night I wondered if the whole testing thing was just another way of procrastinating on my part. Perhaps I’m trying to put off writing these assignments?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Fighting the Flab - end of week one

I’m not happy. After weighing and measuring myself this morning, I’ve only lost 1kg (approx 2.2lbs) and one inch off my waist.

Now before anyone thinks I should be happier than I am with those results and I’m sure there are plenty of you who will say just that, my head is still in my teenage years where I could easily lose 1kg a day or even more. So it’s obviously my mental state that needs to grow up and get used to being middle aged.

Of course I’m also not happy because I lost the bet I had with my middle son! He lost 4kgs this week to my 1kg. Next week I’ve told him we will be looking at percentage of body weight instead of number of kgs. I have to win next week!

Each day I’m doing a bit more research into weight loss and trying to find articles on losing weight in middle age. I’m adding flaxseed oil into my protein shakes, trying to have protein when I wake up (thank you mermaid gallery) – a couple of tablespoons of natural yoghurt – and playing around with my exercise routine. I’ve also started to end my morning shower with cold water (thanks again mermaid gallery!) in an attempt to boost my metabolism.

I’m attempting to drink a lot of water. This is not an easy task for me as I don’t drink much of anything normally. I have a large cup of black coffee in the morning and about ½ cup of pomegranate juice to wash down my vitamins and maybe a glass or two of water during the day. So I’m changing that and making sure I drink a lot more water. I’ve also read that drinking icy cold water can help boost your metabolism, so I’m only drinking water from the refrigerator.

I read yesterday that eating caraway seeds after a meal can reduce bloating and prevent constipation, as well as being a rich source of dietary fibre and anti-oxidants. I tried eating a handful after dinner last night and they were awful! So I’m going to see if there are any recipes that include raw caraway seeds that might be more palatable.

Hopefully next week I will be happier!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Parenting and Leadership

“You learn far more from negative leadership than from positive leadership. Because you learn how not to do it. And, therefore, you learn how to do it.
Norman Schwarzkopf

I didn’t realise that someone else had said these words. I always thought they were mine – well similar ones anyway. I’ve always believed that I learnt more from the way my parents brought me up because they did so much that was wrong, than I would have if they had been perfect parents. I hope I’ve been a better parent by learning from their mistakes and remembering how I felt when I was the child.

I learnt not to ridicule my children, not to call them names or point out their deficiencies. I tried to give them positive messages, even when I was aiming to correct something negative.

I learnt to let my children make their own decisions, although I always endeavoured to present all sides of the story to them first, making sure they realised the consequences of whatever action they decided to take. And I learnt to live with their decisions, even if I didn’t agree with them.

I learnt to give my children the level of independence that suited their age and I always attempted to hide my worry when they were out with friends or late coming home or putting themselves at whatever risk might come their way. I knew they knew I worried, so more often than not they would let me know where they were or when they were coming home.

I learnt to be honest and open with my children. I kept them informed at all times. I remember my parents making major decisions like migrating to another country and not telling me until our journey was under way. I was devastated. I remember that feeling all too well and I have always encouraged my children to be a part of any decision, no matter what their age.

My children are now no longer children. I can only hope that the lessons I learnt from my parents made their passage through childhood that much easier.

Similarly it has been the negative leadership I’ve worked under that I’ve learnt more from than the positive leaders I’ve had.

I’ve learnt it is better to be open and honest with your workers than it is to try to hide things from them.

I’ve learnt that in order to get the most out of your workers it is better to nourish them, help them develop their skills and be patient with them rather than ignoring them or ridiculing them or getting frustrated with them.

I’ve learnt that sometimes a leader has to make the hard decisions and have the difficult talks with their workers in order to prevent undesirable situations, even if they don’t want to.

I’ve learnt that leadership isn’t just about doing the things you want to do. It’s also about doing the things you need to do and the things you would prefer not to do, and doing them as well as you do the things you want to do.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

In the Kitchen

Tonight my middle son helped me to cook dinner. We made Fettuccine Carbonara. It was great to have someone else in the kitchen helping me and chatting and just being there. Normally cooking dinner is such a lonely affair. The greater percentage of people worldwide who prepare meals for the family are females and the preparation time for me is one of the loneliest times of the day.

It is the time when we are almost all home at the same time and the time when my boys catch up on what they have done during the day. I usually feel left out, stuck around the corner, chopping and stirring and sipping my wine. By the time dinner is ready their conversation has finished and they can’t be bothered repeating it to me.

Cooking is such a great activity to do as a family. I remember when the boys were little and it took no effort at all to get them to help with baking cakes or cookies or even main meals. There might have been a gigantic mess left at the end of our efforts but it was only equalled by the amount of fun we had and the pleasure we got from eating our home made wares.

It was important to me that I taught the boys how to cook. They can all make a variety of main meals – steak, schnitzels, parmagiana, spaghetti bolognaise, hamburgers and stir fries to name a few. At least they can survive without having to eat out or getting takeaways all the time. I’m happy to say my eldest son often cooks for his girlfriend (or so he tells me…).

They can clean too. I made sure of that. Even though I do the bulk of the cleaning in the house, now and again I make enough fuss that they grudgingly join in. You wouldn’t believe how quickly the house gets done when all of us pitch in and help!

I’ve never believed in the division of labour according to sex. It’s not solely the female’s role to cook, clean and wash and it’s not totally up to the male to make the money. Life flows so much easier when all the burdens are shared. As for raising children, in my mind it is definitely a joint effort. Men who chose to leave the raising of their children to their mother miss out terribly.

My boys know well how I feel about the equality of the sexes. They often tease me, it’s easy to push my buttons, but in the end I believe I’ve brought them up to treat everyone equally and as they would like to be treated themselves. I hate that it’s a male dominated world but I hope that at least by teaching my boys that females and males both deserve the same treatment, the same respect and the same advantages perhaps I’ve done a little bit to change the world.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

That Woman, My Sister

Today I attended an International Women’s Day luncheon where the guest speaker was Virginia Haussegger, an award winning journalist, author and commentator. The message this International Women’s Day is about the empowerment of women. Haussegger’s speech was powerful and made more so with the images she showed us. She spoke of the women in Afghanistan and Pakistan and Africa and many other countries, including those we think of as “developed”. She spoke of forced marriages where the brides can be as young as 9, female genital mutilation, the lack of education and the lack of financial security that comes with being born a female. She spoke of the distinct lack of females in upper management positions and on boards in Australia and the games men play to keep women “in their place”.

I know about these games. I’ve lived with them. I come from a European family where, although I was never physically mistreated, I was looked upon as a second class citizen. I was given an education but never encouraged to do more than marry well. Growing up I was smiled on in a condescending sort of way whenever I expressed an opinion, but if a male peer expressed the same opinion he was held in high regard. My ex-husband, who had only met my parents once, was immediately allowed to drive their car. I was never given that privilege.

But the worst thing is my father’s constant reminders that he is the last of his line and the end of his family. Being an only child and a daughter I do not have the right to continue the family, nor does the heritage pass on to my sons. And he is proud of this. To him and many others, I have no rights to my own family; I might as well not exist. The older I get the more important my family and my heritage is to me and I have tried to teach my sons about its history. The fact that my sons can be swept off one of the branches of the family tree, simply because of my gender, is appalling. That my father is pleased with this outcome is atrocious.

I married a man who also didn’t think highly of the equality of women. After staying at home with my boys until the youngest went to kindergarten, their father couldn’t understand my need to go back to work and, once I found a job, made it difficult for me to give it 100%. In an industry that demands both overtime and after hours work, I was continually under stress trying to work, study, run the household and look after the children. He also worked but apparently had the option to either socialise or relax when not at the office.

I know I’m one of the lucky ones. I haven’t been physically abused, sold into marriage or thrown out on the streets. But those girls, those women who have to live in appalling conditions are my sisters. I can chose to ignore them or I can chose to do the best I can to bring attention to their plight in the best way I know how – by writing about them.

The recent social media campaign “Get Kony” proved how quickly word of mouth / social media can spread through the world. We should all be spreading the word about the mistreatment of our sisters. I might not have enough readers to my blog, but my readers are read by others and they are read by more and if all of us highlighted even one issue, maybe we could change the world…

Monday, March 12, 2012

To Keep or not to Keep?

Reading the paper at lunchtime as I usually do, I stumbled across this article which points out the difficulties future archivists will have when faced with our current trend of communicating by technology rather than our past history of either letter or email writing.

I find it an interesting dilemma. How does one preserve the text messages, tweets and chats that now form much of our daily communication? History has proven that, in some cases, letters were not only a means of transmitting messages but also a permanent tactile memory to be felt and relished and stored. Email messages, while they can be printed and physically handled; lose something in their lack of personal handwriting and uniform paper. But what of text messages, tweets and chats? It is slightly difficult to feel them, relish them or handle them!

Of course one of the issues with technological communication methods is that they are often devoid of emotion. Many years ago my then boyfriend was overseas for a lengthy time and we communicated by email. Often he would misread the meaning of my emails and would have to call me to clear up any misunderstanding. The abbreviations and “eslang” used nowadays also sometimes cause confusion and one can only wonder how they will read in the next century!

Historians and archivists often rely on people other than the one they are documenting to provide the letters and articles of interest. In the above article it is the family of Malcolm Fraser who preserve the letter he wrote in 1940 as a 10 year old boy at boarding school. In modern times how many of us would keep an email, text message, tweet or chat that long? Should today’s writers make an effort to save all of their correspondence just in case they are one day famous? One would have to buy several hard drives for storage!

How are you keeping your technological communications? Or are you keeping them?

Sunday, March 11, 2012

I'm Back!!!

I’ve been away for a rather long time, but I’m back now. I guess I’ve turned a new leaf in my life and I’ve started writing again so I might as well throw my offerings out to the Universe and see what comes back.

Yesterday I decided I was tired of being middle aged, frumpy and chunky. Nothing I can do about being middle aged, but I can change the frumpy and chunky into fit and fabulous. So I embarked on a new way of living including a new way of eating together with adding more exercise into my life.

I’ve started counting kilojoules (calories). I found this website: worked out what I wanted to weigh and how many kilojoules per day I’d have to stick to in order to achieve my goal. Then I found this website: and have used it to work out the kilojoule count for the food I eat.

By the way, I don’t make any money from those sites, I never saw them before yesterday and I’m sure there are sites out there that are just as good you could use, these two just happen to work for me. They aren’t the only sites I use, just the main ones.

My trick on weekends is to stick to two main meals a day. Yes, I know that would be difficult for many people, but it works for me. I usually wake up around 8.30am and read in bed for an hour or so. Sometimes I put a load of laundry on in that time. This is my quiet time. The two boys I have still at home are adults now and perfectly capable of looking after themselves. I calculate the kilojoules for everything I eat and note them down, ensuring I stay under the total I’ve set for myself.

When I finally get up I exercise. On Saturdays I do weights and then get on the bike for 30 minutes, on Sundays I just get on the bike. Then its time for a shower and, only after I’ve got dressed, do I have breakfast, usually around midday. Later on, sometime in the afternoon, I’ll put ankle weights on and jog in front of the TV for 30 minutes.

I don’t manage to fit as much exercise into my weekdays but I do get on the bike for 30 minutes, three times during the week – usually Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. I’ve started playing tennis with a friend once a week, just a “hit and giggle” but it means we run around for an hour, and I’m waiting for another friend to check out either hip hop or Zumba classes.

So, it’s early days yet but I believe I can keep to this routine. I just hope its enough to lose the kilograms and the inches and get back something like the body I used to have!

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