I recently overheard something in a clothing store that got me thinking. A woman in the cubicle next to me was complaining loudly to her friend that she hadn’t eaten bread for two years because she was on a diet. As I was leaving I caught sight of this poor
person and was not surprised to discover that she looked dreadful. Now, I’m not talking about physical beauty here. No, I’m referring to countenance, bearing, and charisma, in short, the subtle signals we emit that tell the world who we are and this woman was not a happy
I don’t have a perfect body. I’m middle-aged and have a figure that, if one was being generous, could be described as rubenesque. But you can bet your last dime that I would rather be fat and happy than thin and miserable. Perhaps, my mystery lady was just having a bad day, it happens. But she got me thinking about my own struggles with weight loss.
I should tell you that I have always grappled with my body image. It started when I was a teenager and my mother told me I should lose a few pounds. When I think back I realise that I was not large at all, in fact I was slim. But it was an era when Twiggy was still famous and thin was in. And so, I began to believe that to be happy I
would have to maintain a size two. By the time I was fifteen I was secretly hiding food the way other teenagers hide alcohol or drugs.
Because of this I have been on almost every fad diet out there. The
Grapefruit Diet, The Slim fast Diet, The South Beach Diet etc. It’s a long boring list and I’m sure you don’t need all the details. But you do need to know that none of them worked, not surprising really when you think about it. I mean the grape fruit diet. Seriously? Who in their right mind can live off grapefruit? How did I ever imagine that was going to work? But, you see, I wasn’t thinking, I was reacting.
Most of us feel social pressure at some time or other. Personally, I blame the media. There are companies out there that make money by encouraging feelings of inadequacy. Just think of all the commercials. Do you have bad breath? Are your teeth white enough? Do you have cellulite? Is your hair frizzy? Is your hair flat? Would you like to shed your unwanted belly fat? Until one day you look in the mirror and see a fat, lumpy
woman with flat, frizzy hair, bad breath, and yellow teeth. That’s what these companies want you to see, because they want you to buy their products.
But I digress, back to the dieting. For most of us even the good diets like Weightwatchers are hard to do because they’re based on eating healthy. Sounds good right? And they are, but the trouble is that for many of us it’s all too much at once. You have to eat healthy, start exercising and watch your portion size all at the same time.
For the first few months we can handle it, but at around the three-month mark it all becomes too much and we start climbing the walls praying for our next chocolate fix.
If you are planning to make a New Year’s resolution to shed a few pounds start by eating healthy. Don’t worry about losing weight. Just make sure that the food you eat is beneficial. Give it about three months before you try and shed some pounds.
I have a few simple rules I follow. Don’t eat too much, fat, salt or sugar. (This is particularly hard for me because I’m a sugar-freak) I’m not saying you should cut these out altogether. I’m a great believer in treats. One treat a day should be enough. And don’t eat white foods. What are white foods? White bread, white rice, white pasta, and white sugar. They just don’t have the fibre your body needs. Once
you’re used to eating healthy foods then you can worry about portion control but that’s another blog for another day.
And just so you know. I finally lost weight through Weightwatchers and have managed to maintain a healthy B.M.I. for the past two
Lastly, I want to leave you with these words from diet expert and comedian John Pinette about the Irish diet. It’s a short video lasting one minute and fifty
As we approach Remembrance Day my mind wanders back to the days of my childhood. As a sickly child I missed a lot of school and spent much of my time with my grandparents. My grandfather would sit in his favorite chair, light his pipe and share his life and wisdom.
He was regular army before the start of World War II serving in a tank regiment with the Royal Hussars, but I don’t think any of his military experience could have prepared him for Dunkirk. For those of you who don’t know Dunkirk (or Dunkerque in French) was the beachhead in Northern France where the allies were forced into
the sea by the German army.
For nine days, from May 26th until June 4th 1940, the British
navy along with an armada of small ships worked tirelessly to evacuate 338,000 men.
Although my grandfather didn’t go into details, I can picture him as a young man, his feet sinking in the fine sand as he choked on black smoke, dodging mortar shells and bullets. He would have witnessed the wounded on the beach dying, some of them his friends. Then he would have waded into the sea and waited for hours, shoulder deep, in the water hoping the small ships would pick him up and carry him away from death. Some men drowned as their uniforms became heavy with water or simply succumbed to their injuries before they could be plucked from the sea.
Churchill called the evacuation “a miracle of deliverance” because he believed they would be lucky to save 50,000 and had prepared the country for the loss of many of its young men. And so the final number of those saved could only be seen as a miracle.
When I asked my grandfather about his experiences at Dunkirk he would only say that he lost a lot of friends, men he missed until the day he died.
Both my grandfathers fought and served in the British army, my paternal grandfather in the WWI and my maternal grandfather in WWII. Both men volunteered. This is surprising given that they were both Irish but I’m sure they had their reasons.
I’m proud to say that both were decorated and were lucky enough to return home to their families once their service was completed. Men of that period came home with no thought to their emotional injuries, there was no such thing as Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. Both were irreparably damaged by their experiences. How could anyone not be changed by the horrors of war? Unfortunately the cost of their sacrifice affected not only themselves but their wives and children too.
This leads me to an article I recently read on Johnny Jet’s blog where he describes his emotional experience of travelling from Atlanta to L.A. on a plane that was also transporting a fallen soldier.
As I read my eyes began to tear, I was touched not just by the sacrifice the soldier and his family had made for us, but also by the
respect shown to him. We send our men and women to fight for us, and protect our way of life. It is only right that we show them our support not just when they fall but when they need a helping hand.
If you do nothing else this Remembrance Day please buy a poppy and support our veterans.
It seems to me that when the medieval period is portrayed
both on screen and in literature we hardly ever see a complete picture of what life was really like. I think this is partly due to storytelling taking precedence over reality; and in part due to the fact that it is almost impossible to recreate history. And do we really want our favorite stories marred with the unhygienic realities of life in the middle ages? I have to admit that I am guilty of this. When I write I concentrate on my characters and setting, and omit the unsavory truths.
With this in mind, I’m surprised that there is so much fiction involving
time travel. I for one would hate to travel back in time, and here are three
Knights and Lords Were Little More Than Murderous Thugs.
The feudal system was such that it rewarded the cruel and punished
the just. So if the king asked you to murder you neighbour, who also happened to be your brother-in-law, you had better be prepared to do it. Or he could accuse you of treason and have you killed instead. Yes, most successful kings were murderous thugs too.
For example; in 1377, in the town of Cesena, Italy, John
Hawkwood, an English knight, and his company of mercenaries massacred between 2500 and 8000 men, women, and children.
He was under orders from Cardinal Robert of Geneva, who in turn was acting in the name of Pope Gregory XI. After a lifetime of murdering and pillaging for money, Hawkwood is said to have retired to England as a country gentlemen.
It hardly seems fair does it?
No Tea or Coffee. Both tea and coffee were unknown
in the middle ages. With tea originating in China and coffee in Ethiopia both drinks made their way to Europe at the beginning of the seventeenth century.
So, as a peasant, (and yes, most of us would have been peasants) you would wake up in the morning, if you were lucky you owned a bed and a blanket. Your feet would hit the frozen dirt floor of your stone hut and your breakfast would consist of last night’s leftovers. Leaving you to face the stark reality of a cold, damp morning without a single drop of caffeine. I don’t know how mankind survived
And lastly and most importantly
No Indoor plumbing. Not only was there no plumbing there was no clean drinking water. Everyone, including the children, drank a
weak fermented liquid called small beer. So by the end of the day you might be pretty sloshed. And just imagine that after facing your morning without a daily cup of Joe you would also have to deal with the fact that your bathroom was a hole in the ground? or if you lived in the country, a bush?
Can you imagine the smell from the open sewers? Let alone the diseases this lack of sanitation would create.
Some of you might rough it when go on holiday and call it
camping and you might even enjoy it. Personally, I don’t call it camping I call it cruel and unusual punishment, and it’s my number one reason not to travel
back in time.
I’ve only mentioned my top three reasons but of course there are many more. What would be your biggest reason not to travel back in
Here’s a 24-second video from comedian Jeremy Hotz with
his view on camping.