How To… be rational, not rationalize.

In our home we often say humans are not rational creatures, we are rationalizing creatures. That is to say, we spend more time thinking about why we do what we do, explaining and justifying our actions, as well as those of others, than we do thinking through what we are about to do and planning ahead. There is a lot of research into why this is, but it boils down to:

  • most behaviour is driven by instincts and thus most processes begin before we start thinking
  • we are often stressed, which lets instincts run wild
  • we don’t actually think of our future selves as “us”
  • we want to feel good about things we have already done
  • we want to feel good about the people “in our tribe”

This is why your average person will see chocolate cake, feel hungry, eat it distractedly, feel briefly bad about it, then excuse it and seek validation from others for the excuses, even though it is not in their long-term interests to eat the cake. Quite simply, instincts and now won out over reason and the future. It is also why depressive cycles can be so strong, why we enjoy disassociative drugs, or why people with personality disorders often feel the best about themselves.

But there are ways to improve our ability to be rational, that is, to think about our actions in general, our future, and what we do… before we do it.

1. List your instincts and their intensity.

We all have three base instincts that give rise to other instinctive behaviours. Think of which apply to you, as you might find one or two do not, and think about how easy you find it to resist them.

1: Survive.

  • eat
  • hydrate
  • sleep
  • hide from danger

2: Reproduce.

  • partner
  • have sex
  • create safety
  • locate resources

3: Find worth.

  • relax
  • work at something you enjoy
  • feel pride
  • feel belonging

So, for example, I would say my drive to eat is very strong, whereas I can resist the need to drink or sleep for a while. I would also say my drive for sex is strong, but still far weaker than my drive to partner, and that my drive to partner comes before my drive to avoid danger or feel group belonging. This means I am very centered around what I eat and around Jon, and not easily swayed by groups or fear.

2. Consider the biological reasons for your instincts.

There is a biological reason for every instinct. Those you feel intensely are probably there for two reasons:

  1. They are hardwired in almost every human.
  2. They were reinforced during your childhood.

For instance, a childhood lacking much parental security, group solidarity and physical resources has made me very prone to disordered eating and eager to attach to one person very intensely. Both are at their core instinctive, but they were reinforced later on.

Likewise, your instincts will have a purpose.

3. List your life goals and how instinct may interfere with them.

But not all instinct is good nowadays. We have an instinctive urge to get fat, because at times of scarcity, we never got too fat, just about fat enough to keep us through a famine. But today there are no famines and the instinct doesn’t work. Likewise for every instinct. Fear becomes paranoia, sexual need becomes single motherhood or multiple child benefit claims, desire for pride becomes arrogance, desire to belong becomes dependence. They can all become dysfunctional when let run wild.

4. Whenever you feel an urge, ask if it is instinct.

Now you know what they are, when you feel a pull towards something, ask yourself what instinct it could be based on. The urge to buy the latest smartphone may be a need to belong, or a need for a partner, or a need for sex. The urge to eat the chocolate cake may be a need for food, or for drink, or for safety. The urge to slap someone may be a need for belonging, or a sense of fear, or a spike of pride. Every self-destructive knee-jerk is your instincts screaming in confusion at the modern world.

5. Whenever you identify an instinctive drive, think long term.

You won’t catch every instinct, but you need to think long term as soon as you spot one. Think about your bank, or future purchases, or the group you belong to before buying the smartphone. Think about your weight, your health, or bad habit cycles before eating the cake. Think about social and legal repercussions, loss of friendship or the risk of physical harm before slapping someone. Ask yourself where your actions will take you, and whether you really want to be there.

In summary:

1: Know yourself.

2: Know your body.

3: Know your priorities.

4: Identify your problems.

5: Plan ahead.

Because it may be easier to rationalize, but it does nothing to help you better yourself.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

 

For help starting out homemaking, check out The ESSENTIAL Beginner Homemaker’s Guide. For help budgeting all your everday and not-so-everyday essentials, from food to transport to clothes, check out On A Budget: The good homemaker’s guide to economizing.
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“What is a normal bump?” 5 Pregnancy Variables.

At the moment I get a lot of “you’re still so small!” Especially when it comes to weigh-ins and I still haven’t gained since that week of super-gains at the start of the second trimester. But when I look at pictures of other 21 week women online, I see plenty of women my shape and smaller at this stage. And plenty of variety in the shape and size of bumps at all stages. Some women have huge bumps and have hardly gained weight. Some have tiny bumps but are heavier. Some gain more of both, some almost none of either. And these are women who all went on to have perfectly healthy babies. What gives?

Here are five variables I have found that seem to make all the odds.

1: Age of the mother.

A big one: younger women stay smaller for longer, then “pop” more in the third trimester. Almost across the board, the younger you are, the less bump there will be until later.

2: Sickness and cravings.

We will all likely get at least a little queasiness and a bit of the hungers at some point during our pregnancy. But some are affected more than others. If I had had my travel sickness 24/7, I’m pretty sure I would still be 68-70kg today. There is no way I could have ate anything like that. Likewise, if I was as hungry all the time as I get some of these days, I would probably be nearing my 80kg safe-limit already. Your appetite will sway you one way or the other, regardless of how hard you work to eat well.

3: Muscle tone.

I had figured I would “pop” fairly quickly, due to having been obese as a teen. I thought that, seeing as my abs have already been overstretched, there would be no resistance for the baby to grow against. Turns out it doesn’t work like that. Because I do plenty of core exercises in my yoga, lifting and belly dancing, my abs are pretty solid. And solid abs are solid abs, stretch or no stretch.

4: Height.

Yeah, it seems obvious, but if you’re a shorter woman: you could still be carrying a 6-8lb baby. And that means you will have a “regular” bump on your petite frame. It’s going to look huge. Likewise, on a woman with hips as big as mine, or a much taller woman, the same bump may look moderate or even small. It’s an optical illusion you can’t escape.

5: The other mothers around you.

Finally, this will not change how you gain weight, but it can create another optical illusion. As I said, I have been told I was quite small for my stage. Which I may be. But I live in an area where many other women are older, unfit, overweight and happy to snack on sugary things. My culture does not lean towards small bumps. On the other hand, women from a closer group to me (same age, same fitness and dietary habits] tend to be about the same size as me. I might only look small. Likewise, you may appear bigger or smaller if you compare yourself to a demographic which does not represent you.

And you can’t really win with this. At first I was terrified of getting fat. Then I was disappointed at how small the bump was. Then, when I knew baby was healthy, I was proud I was controlling me weight. And now I’m somewhere between thinking I’m too fat, but the bump is too small. No winning at all. I guess you just have to work hard to stay healthy, see where pregnancy takes you and work out where to go from birth when you get there.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

FitFriday, FatFriday IX. I could eat a house.

Baby.

Still nothing obvious other than we saw the scan and s/he’s literally floating around in there. And I still can’t eat mussels or pilchards. They’re nasty, apparently.

Keep wondering about an odd sensation I get. It’s like a period or digestion cramp, but weird and “bouncy”. Makes me curious as to whether that’s when baby bounces off the wall, like s/he did during the ultrasound.

Weights.

Sticking at my 6×4 routine and working my squats up to 60kg before I can’t do squats any more. I’m sure I’ll be fine, but my damaged abs might not hold much longer.

Everything else is going great, though, and all this work in the garden, squatting on hills as I plant beans, making steps up and down the hill, moving rocks and weeding beds, is keeping me nicely busy throughout the day. Got drenched through when the sky literally opened a few days ago, but seems I managed to get in and change fast enough to avoid catching anything.

Bee haven:

20150928_184120

An overview of the garden a week ago:

20150928_184659

Pictures of the edibles (potatoes, peas, beans, tomatoes, assorted berries, turnips, leaves, etc] will be up next week, when everything has bedded down enough to get a good look!

Diet.

Why am I so hungry???

Oh yes, baby. 😛

In all seriousness, I’m not sure if I’m running a low level deficiency, starving for protein or just overdoing the gardening, but I am starving right now. As I type this I have had rhubarb tart with a pint of sweetened soy milk for breakfast, two hard boiled eggs and half a mango for snacks, egg and sausage oatcakes, another slice of rhubarb tart and am still eyeing up some corn cakes to load with peanut butter. A part of me wonders if I need more calories, but another part of me knows that you only need to add around 200/day in the second trimester and that my calorific needs are well under 1800/day when I’m not hiking around with 27kg on my back every day. And I am well over 2200 today anyway.

Still want to eat everything, though. 😦

How did your week in fitness go?

Proteiny Low-Carb Tart Base.

I do get a few requests here and there to post more low-carb and high-protein foods. Ultimately, our diet is pretty low-carb, but the recipes aren’t much fun because there are only so many ways to say “vegetable omelette”, “avocado and egg salad” or “mince in wine sauce”.

BUT sometimes I do get a bit crazier with our proteins. So here’s a proteiny low-carb base for tarts. Can be made for savoury or sweet dishes, and used to lower the GI of open pies.

Ingredients:

Makes 1 thick or 2 thin 12 inch diameter bases.

  • 1 cup brazils
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 3 eggs
  • 2tbsp peanut butter
  • 2tbsp flour
  • flavourings as desired

Utensils:

  • chopping board and knife (or food processor]
  • mixing bowl and fork
  • greased or nonstick baking tray

Recipe:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C.
  2. Finely dice the brazils and walnuts.
  3. Mix in the other ingredients until a thick paste is formed.
  4. Pat into the bottom of the tray.
  5. Bake at 200C for 5-10 minutes.
  6. Cool.
  7. Use as a pie base.

We used ours with a filling of stewed rhubarb, apple and bananas, so not a low-carb result, but would be pretty cool with a ham and cheese filling, or a tuna bake filling too!

20151013_200414

 

For help starting out homemaking, check out The ESSENTIAL Beginner Homemaker’s Guide. For help budgeting all your everday and not-so-everyday essentials, from food to transport to clothes, check out On A Budget: The good homemaker’s guide to economizing.

How To… nurture desire.

It’s a common refrain in the manosphere and red pill circles that desire cannot be negotiated. Which is true. When you simply do not want someone or something, there is very little that can be done about it. However there is a big difference between something we simply do not want and, unless we change radically, never will, and something we do want, but not the way it is presented to us.

This philosophy starts with sex and sexuality, but also extends into self-improvement, diet, employment and, realistically, everything you will ever do.

For me right now the problem is alcohol. When TTC, pregnant and breastfeeding, I will not drink. But everyone around me still does and did so during last weekend’s BBQ. And I had to remember that what I wanted was not best for me right now.

As a simple, relatable example, we may want pizza, not omelette for dinner. We don’t dislike omelette. We just want to eat a pile of junk. However for some reason it isn’t in our best interests to have pizza. Maybe we’re saving money. Maybe we’re on a diet. Maybe it just doesn’t fit into our day. Our desire for pizza cannot be negotiated: we want it and that’s final. And if we were presented with food that we definitely do not enjoy, perhaps brussels sprouts, our desire not to eat that cannot be negotiated. We will if we must, but even if we make ourselves we do not want to. However the emelette exists in a middle ground: we do desire it, but the circumstances right now mean we do not currently desire it. And that is where nurturing comes in.

1: Identify your desires and non desires.

In this case our main desire is pizza, our non desire is brussels sprouts and our secondary desire is omelette. We really want pizza, would be OK with omelette, and be unhappy with brussels sprouts.

2: Identify the reasons for your desires.

The reason we desire pizza and omelette is because they suit our palettes. They are savoury dishes with salt and fat and protein. They fill us up and the taste tells our bodies they are good. Likewise, we do not desire brussels sprouts because they are not savoury, salty, fatty, proteiny foods. They are bitter and plant-ish and lacking in calories.

3: Identify the pros and cons of your desires.

The pros of our desire for pizza are that it stimulates our taste buds and provides calories. The con is that it is expensive, unhealthy and/or inconvenient.

The pros of our desire for omelette are that it stimulates our taste buds, provides calories, is healthier, cheaper and more convenient. The con is that, lacking carbs and cheese, it does not make us as hungry as pizza.

The pros of our lack of desire for brussels sprouts are that we do not eat a food we find unpleasant which provides few calories. The con is that we are avoiding a perfectly healthy food.

So, as we can see, the one that wins out is omelette, meeting our needs and desires in the middle. However it is not enough to deny ourselves pizza. We need to work on our desire for omelette. And, though we cannot eliminate desire for pizza or create desire for brussels sprouts, we can reinforce our desire for omelette.

4: Feed your desire for the best options.

Work on making that omelette an important part of your day. Season it well, cook it well, make it an enjoyable experience. When your mind drifts to pizza, remind yourself why you do not want to eat pizza: it is unhealthy, expensive and inconvenient. Think of the tastes and textures of the omelette. Feel the hunger. Build a craving for it.

5: Promote the best options with in-betweens.

And, of course, sometimes you will feel strongly pressed to go for something more like pizza. Sometimes the craving will be very strong. At times like this, you find a compromise which does not take away from the benefits of the omelette but allows you to enjoy the experience of pizza. Maybe you will fold cheese and cured meats into your omelette. Maybe you will make a pizza at home with cheap and healthy ingredients. Whatever you do, try and go for the best option for you.

In other words, desire cannot be negotiated. But to assume that means “I want pizza so I will have pizza” is ridiculous. We have more than one desire in the choices we make. And by nurturing the productive desires, we can make the most of our options. So pizza-omelette, here I come! 😛

What are some choices and decisions you find hard to make? Would love to hear about any time you overcame a craving, inertia or another conflict of desire!

 

For help starting out homemaking, check out The ESSENTIAL Beginner Homemaker’s Guide. For help budgeting all your everday and not-so-everyday essentials, from food to transport to clothes, check out On A Budget: The good homemaker’s guide to economizing.

10 Ways To Slim Your Waist.

A post I put on the RedPillWives reddit, on how to make the most of your natural figure and build a feminine shape healthily.

I have been asked about this before and explained to friends and people who inquired, but decided to deliver a proper post, to help everyone out.

As we all know, men like a teeny tiny waist. Being slim indicates youth, fertility, that you are not pregnant, health, etc on many levels. However, the most important aspect is not actually the waist on its own. Men also love hip and bum fat. Hence why the waist to hip ratio (WHR] is so important in human sexuality.

Besides that, we want a nice WHR for ourselves, as we are programmed to want to look pretty for our partners and to pursue health and wellbeing for ourselves and our children. Which means that overall, a small WHR is a great confidence boost!

So, how does a girl get herself a booty without sacrificing too much of that whittled waist? She tricks her body into giving her both.

Well, not so much tricking, as using what we know about biology, human evolution, nutrition and exercise to train our bodies to be the best they can be. Without further ado, here are some tips to maximize your WHR.

1. Know your body.

Sorry, but this won’t do magic. If you already have a WHR of 0.7, are very lean or are just straight boned, you can’t change that. However, all the following tips will help to make the most of your body and make sure it stays where it ought to be.

2: Eat omega oils and fat-soluble nutrients.

When your waist is small and your hips are wide, that booty is made of omegas. Designed to nourish fetuses and infants, the fat in these areas is rich in all sorts of tasty nutrients! When these nutrients are scarce your body may strip your hip, thigh and bum fat to get them, resulting in a smaller hip than you might like.

Make sure to supplement omegas 3, 6 and 9 either through oils or through diet. Also make sure to consume plenty of vitamins D and E, which can contribute to growing healthy hip fat.

The added bonus to this vanity: you will be more fertile and your kids will come out slightly smarter and better fed as babies.

3: Cut fast release carbs and excess salts.

Things white sugar and table salt have in common:

white

shiny

granules

in everything

make you hold onto water weight

Focus on natural sugars, sugars with fibre and sugars with fat so as to not play around with your insulin and water storage. Limit your added salt, especially when combined with simple starches and sugars.

The added bonus to this vanity: Your body will be glad of a sugar detox and resensitizing your insulin response to sugar and kidneys to salt is great for your overall health.

4: Cut the booze.

Not out, but at least down.

Alcohol may be estrogenic, but it also promotes fat retention around the torso, especially beers and ales.

Opt for a casual glass of wine and be sure not to drink more than once or twice a week, if that.

The added bonus to this vanity: Sobriety has many benefits, health-wise and also in your social life. Consume fewer empty calories, relax your liver, spend more time actually talking to friends, keep cool and focused all day.

5: Drink plenty of water.

Yes, I said to avoid water retention. But drinking more water does not make you retain it. If anything, water in bulk goes through you. What drinking more water does do is it helps to keep your digestive tract and kidneys cleaner and ensures you don’t dehydrate. Dehydration can cause water retention and inflammatory responses, so it’s better prevented than cured.

The added bonus to this vanity: Drinking more water may elevate your mood, help clear your skin and reduce cravings for salt and sugars.

6: Exercise your bum.

Not everything about your bum is fat and bones. Some of it is muscle. To develop the curved spine, strong and sleek thighs, and firm cheeks you desire, do bodyweight or weighted exercises designed to build up the upper leg and buttocks, such as squats or stair sprints. Not only will the extra muscle tighten and shape your healthy omega fats, but the activity will work on your posture, bringing your hips into the perfect position to show off your assets (giggle].

The added bonus to this vanity: By improving your overall muscle tone you are increasing your base metabolic expenditure, lengthening your life and making your immune system stronger (except against colds]. By improving your overall fitness you are making life in general much easier and more pleasant.

7: Do the upward abdominal lock.

I have done this since I rediscovered yoga and I didn’t even remember what it was called til I looked it up again earlier. But doing this over the years seems to have been working wonders on counteracting the muscle expansion I get from powerlifting.

When you build your abs with situps, crunches and weights, you are building them out, making your waist wider. What this does is the opposite: by tucking your waist in and holding it there you are activating the parts of your belly muscles that pull everything front to back. Over time this becomes an aspect of your posture, giving you a permanent, natural “sucked in belly”.

The added bonus to this vanity: better digestion, reduced menstrual cramps.

8: Belly dance.

Again more muscular whittling. Belly dancing activates all the muscles in your core and trains your hips to move in their full range of motion. The result is twofold:

Firstly you are tightening your lateral muscles, making your front profile more of an hourglass.

Secondly you are making your hip movements wider, so they move more as you walk, giving the illusion that they take more space. The sexy slink, basically.

The added bonus to this vanity: Bellydancing is great fun, a good way to exercise and a fun addition to bedtime routines.

9: Destress.

It is a well documented fact that stress masculinizes the female form, making our waists bigger, our hips narrower and even making us grow additional body hair.

Find out something that lets you destress mentally, physically and emotionally. Indulge it. Reducing your stress and relaxing is crucial to a feminine figure.

The added bonus to this vanity: Lowered risk of mental health problems, ulcers, heart problems, etc.

10: Lose weight.

Ultimately, whatever you do to maximize the body you have, always bear in mind that sometimes the key is just to drop the pounds. If you have folds around your belly when standing casually, there is plenty of fat to be lost there. Beyond losing the folds it really is up to you and your man to decide what you like, but I would say that aiming below a UK 16 is better for your health, statistically speaking.

The added bonus to this vanity: Losing body fat is well documented to improve your all round health, especially in the long term.

And there you have it, several ways of making your waist smaller, your hips and bum bigger and your body curvier in a natural, healthy way!

Hope it is helpful, and feel free to ask questions about, add to or correct any of the points.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

 

For help starting out homemaking, check out The ESSENTIAL Beginner Homemaker’s Guide. For help budgeting all your everday and not-so-everyday essentials, from food to transport to clothes, check out On A Budget: The good homemaker’s guide to economizing.

How (And Why) To… exfoliate Roman style.

Warning: this post contains grossness. Gross picture. Gross. You have been warned.

Exfoliation is a common practice and for good reason. Between skin oils, dirt and grime from outside, makeup and other assorted elements, our skin often has a greasy film over it that sticks dead skin cells, dust and dirt to our bodies. Exfoliation gently removes this whilst stimulating the healthy skin to keep our pores clean and our natural barriers strong. All in all, exfoliation can improve our skin health, produce a radiant glow, eliminate dirt and discourage acne and black heads.

Which is why I’m surprised that we only use gritty exfoliants, like sand, sugar, salt or walnut shells, to clean our skin.

You see, a good part of exfoliation is scraping. And when we use a gritty rub, we aren’t really scraping all our skin. Sure, we think soap will “get it”, but the reality is quite different.

For illustration purposes, this is my two day unexfoliated face.

Roman Exfoliation How To

Bear in mind that the above picture is older as I forgot to take that day’s “before”, so my face is a bit plumper. However the complexion is a perfect illustration of my usual skin health a few days without exfoliating.

This face is washed once or twice daily with a bit of soapy water and when I wear makeup I use baby wipes to remove it before the end of the day, missing only a bit of eyeliner each time. So how much grime could be on this face?

How about this much grime?

Roman Exfoliation How To

Normally I would use a soap or a natural oil to lift it more easily, but specially for you guys, this is just the oils and sediments that build up on my face when I don’t do deep exfoliation.

That is a lot of grime, right?

Yet this is how my face looks literally minutes after a Roman exfoliation, which removes all that nasty buildup:

Roman Exfoliation How To

And that is why we need to try and learn to exfoliate, Roman style.

1: The oils.

The first step to Roman exfoliation is something we all would rather avoid putting on our skin: oil. But like dissolves like and as the thing that is gluing all this gunk to our skin is oil, using an oil to dissolve it is only natural. Pick a soft oil like olive oil or coconut oil and apply a thin coat, just enough to get a little foam, over the body part you want to exfoliate.

Start under a warm shower, to open the pores. Step away from the stream. Rub in the oil nice and gently until it’s warm and a bit foamy. Let it sink and rub it again before moving on to scraping.

Ancestral origin: The Romans did this with olive oil!

2: The scraper.

Here anything that is firm but a bit soft will do. The scrapers you get with hair removal gels work great for large body parts, as does plastic cutlery, but for face and neck I much prefer just to use my nails. Pick something that scrapes off the oil, but doesn’t irritate your skin much.

Then, drag it over your skin, rinsing after each stroke. You want to lift off the oil and then wash it away, along with the grime it’s loosened. Press down firmly on spot and blackhead prone areas to empty and cleanse the pores and squeeze out any excess oils.

Ancestral origin: The Romans used a copper scythe-shaped scraper and were often assisted by servants!

3: The rinse.

Once you’re all scraped, wash yourself down in warm water. If your skin is dry or healthy you may want to use a bit of soap just to take away the remaining oil. But if your skin is very oily you don’t want to dry it too much, or your body’s natural oil production could be messed up even more. Just be patient and let the water do most of the work.

Once you no longer feel any oil on your skin, turn the water temperature as cold as you can stand it and wash yourself in it, to close the pores and tighten the skin.

Ancestral origin: The Romans loved nothing better than a cool dip after a good wash!

4: Drying.

Were possible, air dry your skin. Any extra rubbing or stimulation could worsen any slight abrasions and encourage your skin to produce more oil defensively.

If you can’t air dry, at least just pat gently with a very soft, nicely clean towel.

5: Frequency.

I don’t recommend doing this more than every other day. Scraping causes slight abrasions on the skin and, even though they won’t bleed or hurt, they can build up over time. A day is all it should take to recover, but a 48 hour cycle gives you safer parameters.

But don’t worry! Even though my skin is quite pink in that post-shower picture, this is how I look a mere four hours later:

Roman Exfoliation How To

It isn’t dangerous. It’s very healthy and good for your skin. Just be careful with it, is all.

After all, most Romans didn’t shower or wash every day and you can definitely have too much of a good thing!

TTFN and Happy Hunting!