All posts by vgirl80

About vgirl80

Hi there and thank you for taking the time to read my profile - I am a geeky, glitter goff who loves colour, makeup, leggings and wigs. I have a complicated relationship with my cat and adore memes. My blogs are pretty much an indication as to what is going on in my head - I am sorry, this isn't the place to come for consistency. I will do reviews where warranted, I will discuss mental health, have the odd feminist rant and some some research type blogs. Please note that any opinions stated in this blog - unless explicity stated - are my own.

Period, pants!

I remember when I was barely a teenager, my mother was at the till in Boots and asked the cashier (who was only a few years older then myself) about period pants. Aparently it was a thing when she was a girl, and made the entire thing a lot easier to deal with. The cashier blushed furiously and had never heard of anything like that. So we ended up going home with a box of pads that a small child could have slept on. So yeah. I got where she was coming from, pads used to be rather cumbersome and it was a lot for a young girl to get her head around.

I remember looking at them and wanting to die of shame, there was no way that I could possibly wear them to school, to work, when I went out with friends, did sport… it would be so OBVIOUS. And we were doing sex ed at school so it was also topical.

Fortunatly I caught adverts on TV for companies like Body Form and Always – they looked tantilisingly thin, looked much more comfortable, I would easily be able to squirrel them away in my bag… plus the marketing gimmicks spoke to me.

Periods are perfectly normal

I won’t lie, it was never easy… they were a generic size, and that seemed massive. It was never a pleasent expereince. I mean it isn’t anyway, but you would at least want your sanitary products to be kinda comfortmable. I switched over to tampons as soon as I was able to – but they present a whole different book on discomfort.

Now a few years ago, Mooncup was launched, and there are now countless other period cups, and they are a great idea, and obviously a lot better for the environment. But not for everyone, and no, I didn’t even try. I knew I wouldn’t get on with them.

Before you think ‘but you didn’t even try!’ I use the implant as contraception, and it means its all or nothing with me, but generally, even when my flow goes on for what seems, FOREVER, it is light. So yeah, its not something I feel is worth investigating. IN MY CASE.

So anyway, I couldn’t even say how or why, but last year I found myself looking at a website for period pants. Unfortantly they were based in the USA so it would be prohibitive to order. I did a few searches but couldn’t find any shipping from the UK. I was excited though, finally period pants! My mother hadn’t been imaging it, and clearly others had been working to a solution as well.

Eventually I found a UK company, called Flux and ordered from them – I went with a thong, because its a style I wear the most, due to my booty. I was really excited to try them out – they were a little tight but they otherwise were pretty comfortable. I couldn’t tell the difference between a standard pair, and I didn’t have to worry all day. Absolutely blown away.

I tried a pair of lace top on the advisement on their customer service staff, however, this was for a heavily period and the lace was only there to look pretty. So they didn’t feel as secure while I was wearing a skirt. Because of the difference in capacity and fit, I have designated them as my overnight pair. Which isn’t a bad thing!

So I was well and truely down the rabbit hole on period pants at this point – I decided to order some more, as the stress of washing and drying was doing me no favours. So this time I mixed things up, I tried a thong from Modibody, a standard pair from Wuka and a pair of boy shorts from Flux (as I had a discount). So yeah, getting quite the collection!

So I have to say, on presentation, delivery and product, Modibody is my favourite, they feel really nice and comfortable, the material is cotton like, which is what I prefer over a more silky feel. They were a better fit as well, no digging in. Wuka, I just don’t reach for, again there is the fact they are for a heavier flow, but they just feel very bulky. The boy shorts from Flux cut in slightly on my thighs… but #thickthighssavelives

Now, I can only tell you about the ones I have tried, ad obviously is it down to personal preference, and body shape. If you interested, I would honestly recommend them – a lot of the companies also do swim and workout items, as well as incontinence so there are a lot of options. And a few are now catering to teenagers which…. yeah my heart sings. Can you imagine being 12/13 again and instead of being mortified trying to figure out if it can wait until a break, then sneaking into a cubicle without your friends making a big deal?

Now the science bit – but no! Sorry but I am not getting bogged down. The principal is the same as a pad, there are layers that absorb the fluids, trapping them and thats really it. All the websites have a really good information page, detailing their own materials, and help you chose the right pair for you (based on flow etc) so I honestly would recommend having a look around. There are also options for returns as well, which can be important considering the outlay for just one pair.

Keeping abreast

So … as some of you will remember, a couple of years ago, I shaved my hair off to raise money for Cop a Feel https://strangemadeup.com/2017/10/16/copp-a-feel/

This is a subject I am pretty passionate about, mostly because I was caught with a lump in my breast in my twenties. That isn’t to say that breast cancer was a new idea to me. My mother trained as a nurse and had shared some horror stories growing up. However, I can be a tad complacent when it comes to health because I have no family history. Something my mother complains about when she thinks about her current list of ailments (A list far longer than a middle aged woman should have, apparently.).

As usual, I digress. I had a couple of days off at the end of February and decided to make a GP appointment in my time off for a few things that have been niggling me. One of these things is a lump in my left arm pit. This is not new, I had first noticed it as a teenager, and was dismissed by my GP, telling me that he wouldn’t have it removed because what teenager wants a scar in her armpit..

So anyways, I have grown up with this lump and it has caused some dis-figuration. But the reason that I wanted to speak to someone is because it had been causing me some pain, and look at the possibility of it being removed. I saw a locum doctor who told me that this would need to be checked in the breast clinic, and a letter with an appointment would follow.

So far, so good. Except for the phone call that afternoon by the practice secretary telling me that an emergency appointment had been made for me at the breast cancer clinic. Now if that isn’t a sobering call to receive.

So to time line this, my GP appointment was on Monday, 24th February. I was seen at the hospital on 6th March.

Now this was … this was an expereince. I don’t want to scare or worry anyone, I just feel that if I am going to write at all, I want it to be reflection of my person experience.

I was called into the consulting room and asked to undress. Not going to lie, I thought I would t least speak to the consultant initially fully dressed. The consult came into the room and asked if a junior doctor could sit in. Not a problem for me, everyone has to learn.

Now this bit, this is … so I was asked a few basic questions, nothing really, that couldn’t be gleaned from my notes. I would say that there was a slight lack of bedside manners but I also understand that these clinics are very busy. I was lying down, having met this doctor moments before when he started checking my breasts, clinical but I still felt violated, like a slab of meat on a chopping board. I am, for once, not being melodramatic. He assessed that there isn’t anything serious, just some breast tissue that has migrated. And my first thought was “could y’all not stay in your lane?”.

I was directed to the breast clinic for scan, this is now familiar footing for me, in my first breast cancer scare, I was biopsied and scanned in the first instance and never actually saw a doctor! So I was called into a clinical room, again, undressed, positioned and the clinician for this part of my day was so calm and relaxing. She did a scan, and had a look at the lump. More because of the dubious history (is this new, or is this the same lump?) she recommended a biopsy to rule out any concerns. I could hear the nurses and HCA’s laughing and joking outside and it actually helped me relax, knowing that they clearly have a good working relationship.

Now, well the biopsy was something else. When I had the lump in my breast biopsied, that was not fun, not at all. Not a little bit. And I had expressed my concerns. However, this was a whole new ball game and the implement that was designed to take the biopsy .. I didn’t look because, frankly I can’t stand needles and having the implant is bad enough. But I can tell you what it feels like!

Have you had your ears pierced with a gun? It is exactly that sensation. A punching sensation but it didn’t hurt. It was just odd. Similar to dental work, you can’t feel any pain but the movement?

So anyways, I chatted again to the nurse as I got dressed and got sent back over to the main clinic. That was short and sweet, I was told that a follow up appointment would be made with my results, but again, dismissively rather that reassuringly, telling me he didn’t feel it was anything to worry about.

Sidebar – I am the worst for making doctor appointments, I will only do it when absolutely necessary. And that is because I have time, and again, been treated like a hypochondriac. Which I could understand if they saw me more often. Its an appointment every 3 years if that..

So anyways, there we are waiting for a letter, for a followup appointment… eventually one comes, cal I attend on 18th March.

I saw another consultant this time, again in the consulting room, sat on the bed, so I was genuinely worried I was due for another exam. But no, the good news is that the lump is benign, and they would remove it (post lockdown) and in the meantime, to monitor and let my GP know if it got worse.

And so .. this is my concern, could this not better have been handled with a phone call, it was good news, there wasn’t a clinical reason to have me reattend and I would have saved some time?

So that is my story, and what I want to reiterate to you, is that please, check your boobs and your pits, if you have any lumps, swelling, heat, anything abnormal (that is, not normal for your boobs!) please call your doctor. I realise that I am writing this in the middle of a lockdown but you will need to address it and make sure you are checked out!

Running from my problems

So in January I was suddenly inspired to download the Couch to 5k app. I had started running on the treadmill last autumn and managed to keep it up instead of giving up after a few weeks. My stamina and cardio fitness have been issues for me since having to give up dance but maintaining progress has been difficult. Running is just something I never saw an appeal in. Which is odd, as I ran a lot, and long distances, up hill, cross country, as a teenager.

So anyways, back to my story, in January I downloaded the app, I decided that my first run would be on the following Tuesday. Tuesday came around and wouldn’t you believe it, so did a storm. I was undeterred and went for a run, wearing a bright yellow hoodie and an owl beanie hat to try and keep warm. To say I got wet would be an understatement. I was drenched. But what was important is that I didn’t use the weather as an excuse. Really after that introduction, it could only get better.

Well if i am honest, it didn’t really, not where the weather is concerned, it was pretty wet and windy for 90% of my runs, and I quickly learnt that it doesn’t matter how much lighting, bright colours, hi vis or reflective items you go out in… cyclists will always act like they can’t, or hadn’t see you and try and push you off the path.

A quick run around the lake

As I progressed, I was finding my initial path ( the same I take to the gym at the weekend) was not long enough, so I sat down and had a look at possibilities. I am lucky, I have a river, canal and common land in what I refer to as my back garden. It means that I don’t spend a lot of time running on the road. I spend enough time as a pedestrian that running on roads has absolutely no appeal to me.

I also downloaded Strava to help me track my workouts – I wanted to see what my pace was, have an accurate way of analysing and recording my runs. And this does also seem to have helped motivate. A lot of the time, you need to figure out what works for you, what makes you tick. I found the map on this even easier to use and found a nice reservoir that I could run around… well not around. Every run I pushed myself to run a little further, and I was able to judge how far I was and when to turn around. But between the high winds which felt that I was going to be pushed into a lake or a river, and cyclists pushing me off the path (not as often as my original route) regularly, it was becoming frustrating.

Well, I have found a third route which I have done for the last 2 weeks and honestly, it is like an awakening. As its alongside a canal, so is pretty straight, and there isn’t much variation on the incline. Running around the lake, the path was so bad that I was worried about my knee or tripping and twisting my ankle. The final straw was having to walk back after my knee gave in which I am fairly sure has a lot to do with the appalling state of the path. But the path I am using now is almost bouncy and is a pleasure to run along.

Last night was my final run, I have officially completed the Couch to 5K but you know what really got me, I didn’t hit 5k! How? Well I was going with the timings and now the distance so tomorrow will be my first solo run and I am aiming to hit 5k.

So there are a couple of things that I have learnt – I do not yet have the ability to run without slowing down – I slow down for a few steps before setting off. This is mostly to catch my breath. I am not annoyed with myself, I try and go further and further between breaks and know I will get there, I am not training for anything so there is no pressure. I am a social runner – I take bread out to feed the local birds, ducks and swans.

Finished my final run in Couch to 5K

I have learnt that some days will be better than others, and it is important to recognise when you have had a bad run. It is no good ignoring it, or glossing over it. If it was shit, it was shit. You know you can do better next time. I had a few bad runs but yesterday, my final run of the program? I smashed it! I ran further, faster and longer and there is no real reason for it. But go with the flow, don’t force it, don’t fight it. What is important, is that you tried.

What I can say, is that, outside having a pair of running trainers, and wearing high vis, making sure you are warm, the one thing that is REALLY important when running is a decent sound track! It helps you pace, even if its subconscious. Oh and leggings with a pocket 😉

Fighting Fit – food for thought

Sooooo in my last post I explored the last year and what has been going on with me.

cently, I was at the gym, and I was actually really pleased with myself – both at what I was seeing in the mirror but also with improvements that I had been seeing.

I stopped myself from comparing myself to others, its easy to do, and if you are planning on hitting the gym … word of advice. Do not compare. There is no point in looking at how flexible someone is, how much stamina someone has, how much are they able to lift. There are so many variables and if you are going to compare, file it under goals. I have said it before, and I will say it again, everyone in the gym is there to work out. No one is looking at you and judging. Most people are wrapped up in their own workout and even if they appear to be looking at you, are not focusing on you!

Right, now that I have offered the same piece of advice …

A couple of things that I need to get off my chest, and I don’t mean to offend people but they are niggles that are pretty unhelpful when trying to make positive changes.

  1. When you weigh yourself and your weight has increased. Someone telling you that your weight naturally fluctuates is true. But unhelpful. Do not just assume that it was a glitch and keep on as you have. Think about what you have or haven’t done, activity wise, food wise. And make sure that you don’t fall into the trap of complacency. I am not suggesting that you beat yourself up over a couple of lbs … as long as it is just a couple and you claw it back. But letting it slide, and not keeping it in check is a slippery slope.
  2. Women …… HORMONES ARE NOT YOUR FRIEND BUT THEY ARE NOT AN EXCUSE. I have seen a lot of posts regarding a weigh increase due to hormones, and that time of the month. But think about it objectively. Do you eat differently? I certainly do. I have struggled massively with snacking. Its all the grazing, and frankly chocolate that I crave. And what is the obvious outcome?
  3. Muscle is heavier than fat. Wow… yeah you got me there. That is exactly why I am not losing weight! Its all those gains…. yeah no. No it isn’t. Muscle is indeed heavier than fat. But its down to density and unless your body fat % is nice and low… so no, I personally, am fat, and my weight is down to fat and not muscle. Don’t get me wrong, weight training is amazing but you are just not going to be gaining muscle quickly unless you are eating super clean.
  4. Telling people they don’t need to lose weight is NOT HELPFUL – it is the same as when you tell people to eat a burger. Do you know what they are going through? I have been told that I am fine, that I don’t need to lose more weight, what am I worried about etc etc I of course appreciate that it is coming from a good place. But ultimately it is not helping. It leads to complacency and that is not going to see you reach any goals.

Now everyone’s journey is going to be different – it depends on their starting point. How much you want/need to lose, why you want to lose, do you want to gain, are you more concerned about fitness, have you had to change up your workouts due to injury, are you switching from cardio to weight training, are you working toward a competition. I am absolutely down for accountability, it is a throw back to being a sports wear ambassador and it got me into the habit of posting my workouts. I mean if you don’t post it on SM, did it really happen? But it evolved into not cheating myself and showing some accountability for where I was with training.

But only do what works for you, are you posting so that you can connect with others on the same journey, is it a checklist, do you want something to look back on? You need to be honest with yourself, accountable for yourself and don’t make excuses. You can be reflective and offer a reason but only if that is going to help you understand, overcome and improve.

Fighting Fit : Reboot

I guess this should be a whole, New Year, New me post.

It isn’t, it is reflective and a little bit of an apology.

When I started the series, I was fully immersed and training hard. Since then, a bunch of stuff has happened and to a degree I have probably mentioned it in previous posts. And if you follow me on SM you will already know.

A lot of it will be the same excuses I have trotted out but it comes down to, Life. Life happened. Things changed, I changed. But let us just quickly run down what has been going on before i tackle a few things.

  1. 18 months ago, I broke my wrist. At this point my training was, I felt, going really well so it really knocked me for six.
  2. In that same period, I changed job 3 times, with 3 very different working hours and schedules. Things have thankfully settled down.
  3. I put on A LOT OF WEIGHT
  4. I got a PT (the last 2 are not mutually exclusive)

So lets unpack. When I broke my wrist, my consultant suggested it was probably safer for me to continue at the gym. Which I did. It was okay. But until you have an injury that limits you like this, its really hard to understand how limiting it is. This isn’t just the adjustment while you are recovering. It is how long the recovery actually lasts. I mean. I would say, even now because of the tendon injury and referred pain… I am still not 100%.

Changing jobs – so while I was at the hairdressers, I was working part time and this meant I had a greater deal of flexibility and could spend more time at the gym without worrying about time. It was great. When I changed to, ironically, working at the gym, I was working longer weeks and hours, and walking more. Now walking is something I will come back to. But one thing I struggled with, is getting to the gym. Because I was on a mid shift, I struggled to get to the gym on either side of my shift and when I was on a day off, I avoided the gym. So that didn’t help. I have since started another job which involves a lot of sitting, including my commute. Which leads me to my next point…

My current job involves little in the way of activity. With all my employment while living in Northampton, I have walked a lot, walking through town to get to the bus stop, popping into town during lunch breaks, while at the gym I spent a large chunk of my way canvassing, and working to and from work. So I have now got a job that sees me spend a great deal of time on the bus and at my desk. So yeah… not ideal.

My final point, arguably the most important, is that when i left the gym, I stayed as a member, and got roped into a PT session … and honestly I am so happy that I did. I had wanted to get a PT for a long while but seriously the money was a big issue but also finding someone who I felt I could work with.

Now, that is obviously more than a year, but it all is linked in. I put on a lot of weight when I changed jobs, not so much not going to the gym, because I was spending a lot of time on my feet, but changing to an office based job again. And what is worse, I didn’t realise. It sounds silly, I know. How did I not realise I had put on so much weight. I knew I was over weight, again something i had discussed before, and again I could pinpoint why the weight had crept on. But this was not slow, over a few years, lets not kid ourselves. I got lazy with what I was eating, and I wasn’t doing enough exercise to combat my lifestyle changes.

I started seeing my PT just over a year ago, and I would argue with him about the fact eating plans don’t work for me, that I know how many calories are in the things I am eating (to an extent this is true) and that I was fine. I can’t exactly remember what it was that pushed me. But I took scales into work for a coworker and jumped on myself. And nearly died. I was mortified at the weight. over 2 stone heavier than I expected. So I got chatting to a friend who also happens to work in the fitness industry and she gave me some pointers. The biggest was downloading MFP (and this isn’t an endorsement, just my own experience) and I then started logging my meals. I got a smart watch for Christmas last year (I spend a lot of time debating Fitbit or smartwatch but ultimately decided that this was better for me personally) and it tracks heart points (rate – time spent with an elevated heart rate… or cardio) and time spent walking. The recommendation is 60 mins activity per day and 10 heart points per day. Easy you would think. Right? Well on a non gym day, I would struggle to manage 45 mins / 8 HP …. so yeah, no surprise why I was putting on weight. So anyway, in May last year, that is when I changed up my fitness journey. I started tracking meals, I worked out 3/4 times a week. I averaged 1lb loss per week. Some weeks I maintained. But it was actually, was easier to do than I ever expected. It was a lot of gradual adjustments.

So, why did I go down the calorie deficit route, and not say, Slimming World or Weight Watchers. I have no personal experience of either. I have a lot of friends who have used them to lose weight. And for those who stick with it, the results and fast, and they are amazing. No honestly, they really are fantastic. However, once you stop following the program, the weight comes back and it comes back quickly. So I wanted rather, to make sustainable changes that worked for me. Do I fancy a donut today? (silly question) but then that means, I have to work a little harder. As long as I can stick in a deficit, or as close to… then it works. Of course I am not perfect, I mean I eat donuts. I drink. I enjoy myself. Now, the whole deficit thing, I am not being extreme, I am down to roughly 1400 per day. I won’t go below that. Because I still need to be able to function.

How, one thing that I have found, is that your body is not predictable, some days I weigh myself and i have lost 3 lbs. Some days I have maintained, some days I have…. put weight on. It is hard, not going to lie. When you think you have tracked well and worked hard.. and then your body appears to betray you. Its one thing that I have found particularly hard. When people say, hey its normal to fluctuate, or its hormones… its just not helpful? It feels like an excuse and honestly that is the last time i need to hear. Did I forget something, did I not work out enough. After I had been doing well on the weight loss, I started to lose traction again and I gave myself a kick. I decided to take the long way how. Now … this is a great idea. In theory. Its along a canal and in the summer, I am sure it is a perfectly nice way of getting some fresh air. I don’t suggest it in the winter as walking home in the dark is not fun. So i reset, and decided to go for a walk at lunch. I had avoided this previously because I like to have the time to decompress, but I was out of ideas. It does seem to have worked though.

Now when I say I have run out of ideas, and this is an explanation… I usually get home at at around 18:00 having left the house before 7am. This generally means that I am really, really hungry. So if I have not gone to the gym that evening, the last thing I want to do is throw some food down my fact, let it settle and then go back out. What I am trying to say, is that it is all about being smart with your time. On a typical week, I have bellydance on a wednesday, gym friday night, PT saturday morning, gym & swim sunday. This means that I have a couple of nights off, and a day to play with. Sure, I could go for a run… or spend more time at the gym, work out at home. But if you are going to start a fitness journey, you try and see what works for you, and be realistic. This works for me.

 

Now, I have mentioned him a few times but lets have a look at the PT issue – like i said, I had wanted to get a PT for a while, I have had PT’s previously so I knew roughly what to expect. I guess for me, part of the issue with working at the gym is that I got to know them and how they trained. When I got roped into a session with Zack I didn’t know what to expect, which I think was an absolute plus. Now to cast back to my broken wrist. When I said recovery was a bitch, this was 6/8 months after the break and Zack had an uphill struggle with me and my inability to really do much with my right hand. But another way of looking at it, is that he also helped me strengthen my wrist so I could push more.

I am not going to lie, Zack had had an uphill struggle with me, I am argumentative, lazy, awkward, I like to chat shit. I also hate not being able to do something and half our sessions have been bargaining and debating. I am sure he has spent many a session thinking about throwing the towel in with me as a lost cause. He spent a got chunk of our sessions, undoing all the bad habits i had picked up or been taught. It was harder in a way because I was not new to the gym so I had things ingrained and that takes time to undo. One thing that I really wanted to get on with, is weigh training. That is one big reason that I knew i needed to have a PT for, as well as getting my wrist back in shape! So over the last year, I have made a lot of progress and am a lot more confident than I was this time last year. One thing that did also change… I had an epiphany … similar to the one relating to my stepping on a scale… I jumped on the treadmill. Now most of you will know that ‘not even my tights run’ but I just decided one day that… I felt like having a run. So I did. It hasn’t been easy, what with the whole ‘cardio is evil’ thing I have maintained for a number of years.  I have also really made progress overall with my workouts over the last couple of months and actually feel like I have been getting there rather than treading water.

There hasn’t been a point in the last year that I didn’t want to go to the gym, that I felt I should give up. There have been several points where I was frustrated and annoyed, with myself mostly. And I think that a lot of that stems to where I was before i was injured. That I think is what is all boils down to. Knowing where I was and where I let myself get to.

IMG_20191223_173657
December 2019

As it stands, yesterday I hit my goal weight for 2019, in that I lost 2 stone. I have 2 stone to lose and i have given myself the deadline of August – because this is the same length of time it took for the first 2 stone to be shed. I have given myself an arbitrary number to reach, it is based on my ideal weight for my height. So yes, it may need adjusting but lets cross that bridge if and when I reach it.

So anyways, that has been my recent fitness journey – thank you for reading! I hope that you reach your goals for the next 12 months, stay healthy and smash some personal bests!

 

How to Con a Queen

So in my last post i kind just walked through my first MCM comicon experience. I know it was long, and I appreciate people taking the time to read it. But also, if you didn’t? I completely understand.

So basically in my last post, i mentioned the length of time that we were waiting to see ‘the talent’ and honestly, calling them that feels …. odd. I mean, it really just turns them into objects?

How many times have we read that someone is difficult or awkward in an interview, that it felt that they were not bothered, interested, invested. That we hear about how they are doing ‘press’ surrounding a movie release, that they are doing appearences, that this is part of the package?

Well I never really thought about it before, not really. It isn’t that I hadn’t met famous people before. While living in London, I frequently brushed shoulders with ‘famous’ people, from TV, or film. But because of the situation… they were off duty, its the UK, you kinda just let them be? There are a couple of notable exceptions, but generally speaking I find it easier to pretend to be above all of this instead of acting like the flailing fangirl that I really am.

mde

Now what I have become more and more bothered by, over the course of meeting 3 celebrities in such a way, is that they cease being people. They cease having their own life outside providing a service. I PAID TO SEE THESE PEOPLE DAMNIT. .. i sat on the train home, having spent all day on my feet, thinking about how much I ached.. and then it hit me. The celebrities (or talent as people kept referring to them as, but I find weird…) had been on their feet for the same length of time.

When I was waiting for Jason, I was in batch 23, they have opened up over 30 batched. The demand was certainly there…. while we had been asked to stand against the wall by his security (I get it, honestly I do) I looked over at the photographer. She was waving one hand around, and looking unhappy. I mean… how many photos had she taken by this point. It is just a production line. There was little or no personality. All the people involved, they just had to make sure that we all go what we wanted. A photo with someone we loved, admired, lusted after? But there was no break for them.

So as much as I was complaining about how much I ached and hurt, how annoyed I was at standing so long, all the people in the booth, taking photos, hearding, securing, hell Jason himself, they had all done it for as long. But he had a big grin on his face, he was generous, hell he gave my boobs a thumbs up (I will actually scan the photo on the make it clearer). Now I know that this is all down to good customer service, and they are all there providing a service, and that there was a lot of money made.

mde
mde

But this is still bothering me a great deal. We are all used to consuming what we want, we want our celebrities to be accessible, to be relatible, to be viable. We want to be able to follow, to see, to be able to use our knowledge and experience of them to make informed decisions. We base our choice of movie, of entertainment, hell we even base medical decisions like whether to vaccinate our children based on celebrity culture.

We sit on SC, IG, Twitter, we consume everything, we want to have what they have, we buy what they tell us to buy, we want to look like them, live like them, we mimic their diets, their fashions. We have almost forgotten that these are people, just like us. Lets not layer this up. They are like us. Their jobs may be different, and we really won’t understand their lives looking in. They do live in a glass house. There are held accountable for everything that they say and do.

Speaking of which, I adore Jason Mamoa, I really do. I won’t lie, he is very attractive, he is physically my type. Along with 80% of the population. But there is more to it, he comes accross as just… so nice, he has just a life force, he is passionate, he appears to be fun to be around. Right? These are all qualities that we manage to pick up from various appearances, interviews, videos. But a couple of years ago, at a panel, he made a comment about his time in GoT which I think we are all aware of. I am not going to condemn or defend the comment. He is one of many who have been caught up in an age where things are shared instantly.

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We do not own these people, we do not ‘pay their wages’, a phrase anyone working in customer services will have heard numerous times. I am incredibly grateful that I had an opportunity to meet these people, all three are very special to me, for different reasons. I am happy that they exist, that they have made a difference. And that I have something to remind me of the time i got to meet them.

But they own me nothing, not at all. I don’t have a hold over them, I don’t even want to know how much money even goes to them at these appearances. But you know, it has given me a much better respect for the hard work they do, that they sign up to do, are contracted to do, that they are expected to do.

I honestly can’t say if I will ever do another photoshoot at a convention, whether I will buy an autograph. Getting to meet someone you admire is always scary and exhilarating. But we all need to remember, that they are giving their time to do this, and it is not easy. Just a little sense of prospective.

Queen at a Con

So on Saturday, 27th July I finally made it to MCM London Comicon. I have only been to local ones previously and honestly my anxiety was making even the idea of such a big event impossible.

However, I had a lovely FB friend who invited me along and we even cosplayed together! This is not to say that i wasn’t utterly terrified about everything, meeting new people, the sheer amount of people there, the cost, let alone the cosplay.

Now i am no stranger to cosplay, but there is a big difference between taking photos and sharing them (albeit publicly) and having to worry about everything looks and how it will last.

So lets go back to the costume, I had a dress which i had bought last year, for a cosplay. Now I am fairly sure it was always destined for a Cersei cosplay but you never know with me. Now, as it stood, it was plain and a little frumpy. I sat down and tried to see what I could do to it, how it could start to look like something she would wear, while staying within my ability. Also please note, I am bloody lazy.

I had a few ideas, bought a few bits but shipping was taking too long, so i had to come up with some new ideas… and eventually it all started coming together and took shape. Now the final bit was sewing into the panel at the front of the dress.. but more on that later.

Because, as I have mentioned, I am lazy, I also procrastinate and I was still working on the dress a couple of days before the con, and the wig… well it was a little hot this week and i can tell you, doing wig restyles in a bathroom in the heat… it leads to a very melty face and a tiny bit of frustration. For this reason, I really didn’t do a dress rehearsal before putting it all on, on Saturday morning.

And now. Now we are on the day of the con, because of the weather, I had planned to wear a maxi dress and get changed at the con, get changed and changed again when I was on my way home. But of course when Saturday rolled around, I was met with a lot of rain. Instead I got on a train in my outfit sans the wig. At the station, I had a member of staff ask what was going on in london as a lot of people had already left for London dressed in costume.

Now, the train, the train was on time (unlike the 2 trains that were running vert late) and not all that busy, and journey was quick. I got a message to say my friend was meeting me at Victoria so it was a shot couple of stops from Euston. So far, so good. Although while chilling at the station, she called to say that there was a burst water main and delayed. Added was trying to find somewhere to park… but we figured it out, headed toward the Olympia and …. tried to find a space to leave the van.

And so we join the queue to get in, which moves quickly, and enter the con. Already there are a lot of people standing around and so many amazing costumes, but in a panic over when the photoshoots would be taking place I ran off upstairs to find out who was when.

Now I finally manage to locate the list of when, and where people are having shoots, and spend far, far too long looking for my first, with Sylvester McCoy. I finally find him, and try and work out when his shoot would be taking place. A guy I am standing with, leaves his son with me and goes to find out. We get told that we are early, come back in 45 mins. Fine, no problem.

I go for a walk around. get stopped by a gentleman with a camera asking for a photo (quick possibly by best.. ) and get offered a chip. I head downstairs to see what is going on. As I walk past a group I hear ‘is that supposed to be a slutty Cersei?’ and move along. Now the reason they are asking is that my thighs are viable when walking. This was not intentional, but a symptom of my leaving things to the last minute and not realising that the waist of the dress sits higher and therefore I needed to pin the panel in further down.

Now a few seconds after the above comment, while i am debating how annoying my dress is going to be, I get chased down by a Daenrys who asked for a photo. Now she was gorgeous, and cute and we had fun taking photos. While we were having a play, a few people snapped photos and suddenly we had a Arya running toward us. Who I proceeded to strangle. Luckily I managed to control myself long enough to rope her friend into taking photos and we eventually made our own way. I went back upstairs, and there was a massive queue still waiting for Sylvester, as there was yet another photoshoot going on and over running. Eventually I got in the queue, and got talking to a few of the guys who agreed that McCoy is pretty damned amazing.

Now I had no idea what would happen, basically we are called in, still in a queue, and got to briefly speak before a photo is taken and printed out. I was super excited by the photo and that I had managed to meet one of my childhood heros (true story, while I don’t watch Dr Who now, I loved it growing up and McCoy was most certainly my doctor. although I was most certainly expecting someone taller!).

After McCoy, I had to shoot over to the other side to the venue, difficult given the sheer amount of people and having no bloody idea where I was going. Eventually I was somewhat sure that I had the right place, and asked a girl if I was in the right place. I was – but I was batch 9. Luckily so was she, and we got chatting. It really is great to meet people who understand your desire to dress up, and fan girling etc. Her SO was having to keep half an ear out for her on another photo shoot. You see, you couldn’t pick a time for these things, they are batched out. So you might end up having 2 at the same time and have to make a mad dash. Another issue, is with so many people, it was hot, sweaty, uncomfortable, and it was gone 14:00 and I had been on my feet since 9:30am. We also couldn’t hear what batch had been called, it got to batch number 8 and we joined, knowing that we were in the next batch. Well our batch didn’t get called which just shows how much stress and confusion was involved.

Now, Christina Ricci might seem odd, I mean I don’t often mention her, or suggest I have a deep love for her. But its Christina FUCKING Ricci. As we got closer, we started getting excited. She was so gorgeous and doll light up close, and I … I may have told her that she was beautiful. As I grabbed our bags while waiting for the photos…. we hand flapped our excitement at having met Christina Ricci. We were feet away from her, and I honestly would be surprised if she hadn’t noticed.

Now, at this point, I have a break, I went to find the toilets, find one set with men and disabled. While waiting, a disabled person joined and I couldn’t wait longer so I ran off to find an alternative. Heading over, I ran into my friends hubby waiting for her – I ran in, found her and we decide to have a little walk around while I waited for my final photoshoot of the day. This was pretty much the only time I spent with her – how awful?

At 16:00 I trotted upstairs and attempted to find the right booth for Jason Mamoa, basically I kept going around in circles, until I came accross a Mamoa lookalike asking for… well Jason. He was being told that we were in the wrong place and the steward went off in search of answers. However, a couple of people in front of us turned around and told us were in the right place. Apparently another photoshoot had overrun so Jason was moved at the last minute. I get chatting to a couple of people and suddenly I was aware of something behind me… that something turned out to be Jason Mamoa, which led to a lot of cheering, clapping, and chanting. It really was quite something. Now, during this time, a lot of people were coming and going, asking where we were. Another steward escaped the scrum and for reasons that now escape me, we collared him. He mentioned not having had a bio break since 7:30am so we suggested he gets on. He was collared by a deaf couple looking for another photo op (basically the one that had moved since Jason had taken up residence) and it was causing a deal of frustration.

Now at this point, the crowd had gotten worse, more people turning up and melting away when they realised exactly how long a wait they would have. We started getting concerned that we wouldn’t be able to hear the batch being called. This had been an issue for me earlier, and clearly others. Well, nothing to worry about, we had a Scottish steward who happily stood on a stool and bellowed. He got standing ovations for his services to geeks. And caused backlash from our escapee steward working accross the room.

As I stood, and stood, and stood some more, a couple of friends that I had made, while standing, and were in the same batch had agreed that there was really no point in moving forward until our batch was called. I am not going to lie, I nearly expired waiting, it felt like there was no air conditioning, and between the outfit, wig, and amount of people… my mood was really heading south. We then had a guy trying to make small talk, and when his batch got called, stating ‘well, you should have bought a ticket earlier’ .. riiiight. It was at this point that I gave up entirely and sat down. I was joined by one of the people who peeled off earlier on realising that they had a long wait. My friend, who I had all but abandoned for photo opportunites, needed to go, and was trying to find me which as I have pointed out, I had no idea exactly where I was. And amongst all of this, my new friends looked over when our batch was called. I said good bye to my new friend, left her on the floor and ran to join my friends while basically also cutting in.

Now, the queue moved pretty quickly, I was surprised by the number of people bringing babies to meet Jason because it wasn’t really an environment i would personally have bought such young children. As we got our ticket scanned, we nervously waited, but got told that we had to wait with our back against the wall by Jason’s security detail. Now we joked about Jason not wanting to see what was coming… on reflection, it is more likely a safety precaution. My friends went ahead of my, and the female half was extremely tall. As she had her photo taken as I was called forward Jason joked with her, and they realised that they are the same height. That is pretty impressive (side bar, Peppa Pig is apparently 7ft tall?). I completely lose my cool, realise I am sweating buckets, don’t get a chance to really pose and it is over before I realise.

So now, I have lost my friends, I have my photos, I am leaving the con… I am wondering if there is any chance I can make my train…. I decide a taxi as I hadn’t really spent any money…. could I find a taxi? Nope. No problem I think… I can hop on a tube….. the district line… being the district line… was FUBAR. After waiting for what seems FOREVER, it moved.. but not far. After 2 stops it was the end of the line, so I switch to the circle line, and finally get a seat (been on my feet since landing in london at 9:30) and … well of course this is stopping early. I get off at Paddington and head out for a taxi. Clearly, nothing is easy, so I end up walking against traffic to flag one down.

As I near Euston, I mention my travel woes, the driver quipped, ‘ there was me thinking you liked taxis’ … dude where were you outside the venue.

Now, I get into the station, and of course. More delays, apparently nationally. So I start walking to pick some food or drink up. As I had only had breakfast and a cola during the day. I am on the phone when I start listing trains off… and … and there is one leaving imminently . I start heading down to the platform… I feel it is a good time to mention that I don’t even run my tights. I made it, just… and collapse in a seat near the toilets. In a world of my own but a little people watching, I settle into the relatively short journey home, letting Pete know that I have made it onto a train, albeit an hour late. Now the toilets on the train are quirky with a rounded sliding door. A couple are sitting opposite. As the journey leaves MK, a girl uses the toilet, she sits next to me, and she is closely followed by a guy. On exit he announces ‘And tonight Matthew….’ which just shows how ingrained some things are in a national psyche. This ended up turning into a rambling conversation involving his friend who had then used the facilities, leaving Trip Advisor reviews for the toilet and how no-one is ‘from’ Northampton and having abandoned one of their friends in MK. Which I have to be honest, is standard on this journey. Every time I make the trip, random conversations erupt around me.

I am going to end it here for now, it really got away from me, but I wanted to get it all down while it was relatively fresh in my brain. As always the time between writing and publishing is … yep!

Climate of change

I keep meaning to write a blog relating to my fitness journey – I mean honestly I just keep meaning to write anything at all. So this is going to be a little bit of an odd approach but please bear with me…

I was walking to work, thinking about how I am trying to be as waste free as possible, and this led me to thinking, wouldn’t be awesome if places like Lush gave you the opportunity to refill instead of having to buy another bottle, jar, pot. Specifically I was thinking about their face masks.

Now, this led me to think about how things have changed, exercises was where this thought led. These days, going to the gym is normal. How many people do you know that don’t have some sort of fitness schedule, either classes, or the gym, maybe its cycling, running. We have all realised that with our lifestyle changes, and the ease of access to quick fix food.. we need to look after our bodies. Indeed, my mother would probably be the first to point out that it is better to do this as a preventative measure.

So … this brings be around to the title. You are getting 2 for the price of one with this – climate change. We have been blissfully, or willfully ignoring what is painfully obvious. Plastic is everywhere, and it is killing the planet. In Germany, for as long as I remember, recycling is standard, taking back bottles, normal, reusing bags…. you get me? But we are all so immune to what happens to the plastic we throw away. We are all so blind to the fact that it isn’t somleone elses problem, that having 2 bins instead of one is not actually such an issue.

The plain fact is that we have gotten so used to everything being ..easy. The point for me that I realise the level of reliance on convince is when StarBucks opened a drive through locally. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love to spend time in a cafe, chatting with a friend and enjoying cake. But StarBucks (and all the other coffee shops it seemingly spawned) created the take away coffee in a way that was previously unseen.

Now I am not ANTI starbucks as such, I even spend money in their cafe’s – now i am not sure if it is because I don’t drink coffee, but a lot of the attraction is lost on me. I mean, surely you can wait to get to your destination to have a coffee if you aren’t going to stick around? But also, think about the amount of waste this generates. This alone, I mean if we are going after straws… take away coffee with it has so many elements, the cup, the lip, the stirrer, and i could go on. But does any of this get recycled? Because if you are on the go, and so desperate for a coffee fix, are you going to be able to dispose of it properly or are you going to dump it in the nearest bin?

There are so many elements to recycling, why we need to do more, but it feels as if we are doing less, but lets stay with fast food – not long ago, we would bring in lunch and maybe have a treat on a Friday and go get something locally. Now, it is normal to pick someone on our way in, say a coffee. At lunch, go to SubWay, Greggs etc and for our way home? Why not pick up pizza or a burger. This is not only extremely wasteful but how much more additional packaging is needed? Even if you go pick up lunch in a store, a prepacked sandwich, a drink, it is all packaging that isn’t needed. And let us now forget how expensive this is.

Honestly like most things, exercise, recycling, climate change, cutting meat, it isn’t about a grand gesture that seems difficult, insurmountable, and your brain breaks figuring out where to begin. It is about small gestures, don’t have that coffee, use a paper or metal straw, cut down meat to a day or 2 a week, try getting off the bus stop early, try working out with a friend. I am not preaching, it is merely personal experience. So many people come accross as … all or nothing. A gym instructor at a previous gym once told me that if i wasn’t in the gym at least 4 times a week, why bother. If you are not completely over hauling your diet, why bother, if you are not sorting and washing every recyclable… why bother. Well the answer is that, collectively small changes amount to big changes and if everyone made a couple of adjustments it would really make a difference.

Pretty, fat

So I am basing this on the above image. This image is an argument that i have been having over the years, both directly and indirectly.

You see, the comeback to announcing that you are fat is ‘..but your pretty..’ Not every time, and maybe the wording is slightly different, but the intention is the same. I know some of you will not use the word fat as it is not fair to label people. And honestly, I commend your postive action. I am not merely a fat girl. I am more that what I present to the world or rather the first impression that I leave. However, please don’t stop me from using it. If I am using it to describe myself – it is what i need to do.

You see, as per the other posts, being told that you are not fat, you are perfectly fine, you have nothing to worry about. These are damaging things to say to a person. What you see in the mirror is completely different to what others see. I might think that I am not too fat, but I then stand next to a slender friend and what can I say? I am fat.

I am going to keep using the word. Fat. It is important and empowering. By using the word, I am giving it meaning, and strength but I am also owning it. I am fat and I am the only person who can do something about it.

Telling someone that they are pretty when they are discussing their weight, shape or dress size is extremely unhelpful. Have they asked about how they look, have they dropped a hint about wanting a compliment? Or are they just having a moment of clarity or honesty. Are they explaining why they don’t want to have a slice of cake, or that they won’t be joining drinks after work, or why they have switched to a packed lunch.

If someone is making changes, by all means take an interest but make sure that you don’t make a big deal about it. If someone is trying to make a change, having a spotlight shone can be damaging and their motivation or willpower can evaporate. Swinging words around like diet, likewise can be unhelpful. Don’t start wading in with some magic pill that worked for you, because it worked for you. It may not work for someone else. And be aware of why someone is making lifestyle choices. Often we are given ‘quick fixes’ we are told how to drop a dress size, or lose a couple of stubborn pounds.

What is most helpful, is being honest. Not to the point of rudeness. Don’t start expressing that a person shouldn’t be having that snack, or wearing that dress, or asking how much they have lost. If someone says they are fat, let them use the word. Lets not sugar coat it. It is a word, and an explanation. I personally, am carrying too much fat on my body. Until this has been resolved, I am fat.

To summarize, I am fat, I am pretty. These are not mutually exclusive terms. It would be better if we could all learn to separate the two.

The V word…

Vagina, vixen, vaccination, vinyl….. I won’t go on.

What i would like to talk about Vegan products. Disclaimer: I am not vegan.

I have a number of vegan friends, and the reason for their diet is varied, it can be down to health, going ‘free from’, not liking meat, animal rights and everything inbetween.

Now this isn’t the first time that I have spoken about being Vegan – and i was of a mind to write this in January when we were all having the benefits of joining in on Veganuary but you know, life happens!

One of the things that I came accross and that seems to garner a lot of backlash, is Holland & Barrett’s Veganuary campaign. The idea was that you could be a vegan part time. Either you chose to go down the cruelty free makeup route (there is a difference between vegan and cruelty free) or you are vegan only when you are at home. There were a lot of other examples, like I said, an entire advertising campaign was designed around this idea that you could be ‘Vegan: your way’. This seemed especially abhorrent to be people, on both sides of the fence.

Now there is an argument, for example, people not using a brand (Urban Decay, Body Shop) because they are owned by a company that isn’t vegan or still uses animal testing. But this argument for me, fails. SImply because these same people are still shopping in supermarkets that sell animal products, buying a latte in a coffee shop that serves 90% of their hot drinks with cows milk.

Like my previous blog, I would say that buying vegan/cruelty free products no matter where, sends a clear message to companies that this is something to invest in. Now like I have said, I am not vegan, but try my best to buy vegan as and where I can (to the point i rope the fiance into it by making him vegan meals). I don’t like meat, I don’t like the smell, texture, flavour. So for the longest time, I couldn’t understand why people would eat ‘fake meat’. I mean if you won’t want to eat meat, why would you want to eat something that reminds you of meat.

Well it is pretty simple. The meat industry is failing, the amount of stock needed to break even, let alone make a profit makes the farm a bad business model. We don’t have the space either, and with leaving the EU soon, farmers will be losing the EU subsidies that they have become reliant on. That is just the UK. Globally the population continues to rise, and we aren’t able to produce enough food.

So yes, the idea would be that we all become vegan, it would be great if we could help our planet, our selves, stem global warming, and be kinder. But lets be realistic, as anyone who had attempted to diet will tell you, the moment your restrict access to a certain food; the more you want it.

So what do we do? Well we start looking at alternatives, we start looking at like for like swaps, so that people won’t miss the animal by products. And you know what, I am all for it – I am here for the vegan cheese, the vegan pain au chocolate, for the vegan burgers. And I would honestly encourage you to try some. Even if you just do it for one meal. Pop into a super market ( I personally recommend M&S and their fab range) and grab a vegan meal. Sit down with friends or family (both) and see how you enjoy it. Because trust me, you will.

And every item sold, encourages the company to make more, try more, invest more. Which can only be a good thing.