The Lone Vegetarian

The sky was an eery shade of red and the vermillion hues in the grass matched it perfectly. The sounds of cattle crying out sounded throughout the field. A baby piglet stared up at me with its lifeless eyes, its mouth slightly ajar. Blood was pouring out of its neck profusely.

#datvegetarianlyf

#datvegetarianlyf

This was the nightmare I had as a teenager that made me want to become a vegetarian for the right reasons. I had tried it once before, with the goal of losing weight by taking meat out of my diet, but it didn’t work out. Now, I can happily say that I’ve stuck with my vegetarianism for the past six years because of that conscious decision I made.

As a Pacific Islander – who are infamous meat eaters in their own right – living life as a vegetarian in a family full of carnivores is definitely as difficult as it sounds. With my busy schedule of combining college, work and my outside hobbies, I barely get enough time to cook a decent meal for myself. When I get home and there’s a chicken dish sitting on the kitchen counter, it’s either my job to a) Pick around the deceased animal and eat or b) Think of something quick and easy to make. On my most busy days, a pot of boiling water and a bag of pasta becomes my best friend.

Nine times out of ten, I have to cook for myself on my days off. Dinner will usually consist of meat which means I’ll have to cook my own vegetarian option. If my family is feeling sorry for me, they’ll either make the main dish vegetarian acceptable or take out a bit for me before they add the meat. When I go to extended family events or social gatherings, the meat-eater in my relatives and friends are very apparent and my options are very limited. I am usually only left with a bit of salad and baked potatoes on my plate.

Dining out as a vegetarian has become a lot easier than it was when I first started: I am aware of my options and know which restaurants cater to the eating-conscious. There are a few restaurants that have little to no vegetarian options so I’m left with ordering an egg and mayo sandwich and a glass of water.

I’ve learned most of the dishes in my arsenal from my mother. When there’s meat involved, I easily just substitute it with tofu and my own version of the meal is created! One of my go-to dishes is called a “Hawaiian Haystack” which was passed down from my mum: it’s basically a dish where you have rice and stack honey mustard tofu on top of that, and you continue to stack various ingredients on top of that, including cheese, dry noodles and pineapple. Seriously. Try it. Honey mustard tofu is to die for.

Life as a vegetarian in a family full of meat eaters is challenging,  but it’s not impossible. Nothing is impossible for me. Insert arrogant hairflip here.

– by The Black Widow

From Doing Diddly-Squat to Actual Squats

If there is one thing we can all agree on, it’s how much we hate our friends on Facebook who do nothing but check-in at the gym and post statuses about how good their workout was. We get it; you do in fact lift…bro. The trouble with these irritatingly fit friends, though, is that they’re smarter than the rest of us. Why? Because – spoiler alert – exercise actually is good for us.

Endorphins are wonderful little neurotransmitters released during exercise that make us feel happy and amazing. Because I have the mentality of a four-year-old, when I’m running I sometimes like to imagine them as happy little dolphins in my brain cheering me on. Don’t judge me.  If I may quote Legally Blonde for a moment, “Exercise gives you endorphins and endorphins make you happy. Happy people don’t shoot their husbands…they just don’t.”

This wonderful, happy feeling also leads to increased self-esteem. Note, this does not mean that being skinny makes you happy. What I mean is that increasing your fitness levels gives you an amazing sense of achievement. Eighteen months ago, I was the last person anybody would expect to be a runner; a massive dweeb who spent all her time reading and watching old films. Now, I run every day, or I train on my spin-bike. Hell, I even started Pilates despite months of cynicism and active resistance (turns out, it’s not half bad). My point is, that I look back on where I was and compare it to who I am now and I beyond proud of myself for my accomplishments.

I know I’m the girl who advocates for chocolate in any scenario, and while it’s true that chocolate releases the same endorphins as exercise, unlike eating half a block of Wonka’s Marvellous Creations as a pick-me-up, you’ll never regret a workout. It may not be until a few days after said workout, when you finally get feeling back in your thighs and butt that you feel good about it, but damn, when the limping stops you will feel like a Goddess (or God, for those of you with XY chromosome).

I may in fact smack the next person I hear shout “no pain, no gain!” at the gym or the mini-workout stations along the running track. I know it’s true, but working out should not be torture. It’s not like we’re all lining up to get whipped or strappadoed. Let’s come up with some new chants. Repeat after me: “I am only a little bit uncomfortable and I am not in fact dying so I will do five more squats before the Maccas run.” I know it’s not as catchy, but at least it’s realistic. You are in charge of your body. You know your limits and you know your goals. The tip to a good workout is making it fun for you, whether that means bringing a friend to keep you motivated or just mixing things up every now and again. As long as you have a wicked playlist, you’re good to go.

Personally, I’m a huge fan 90s pop music.
Wannabe – Spice Girls
MMMBop – Hanson
Dr Jones – Aqua
Backstreet’s Back – Backstreet Boys
I know admitting this to you is only making you judge me more, but I’m cool with it. You listen to your white noise, techno crap and I’ll be on the next treadmill rockin’ some Venga Boys. Game on.

The best advice that I can give you is this; if you’re at the start of your fitness journey, the important thing to keep in mind is that you need to set realistic goals for yourself. You will not wake up looking like Alessandra Ambrosio or Charlie Hunnam after just one gym session. Start slowly to avoid injury and build up from there. Arnold Schwarzenegger was not born with -0% body fat. He started with 10 reps lifting small cars, then slowly moved on to trucks and larger buildings. You should start with kettlebells though. Or toothpicks…just to be on the safe side.

Oh, and it’s best to work out in the morning before your brain has time to wake up properly and hate you.

– by Blaire Gillies