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Healthy Game, Healthy Body

March 2, 2011
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Great, we want to be healthy! We know that exercising makes us feel great by improving our mood, gives us more energy, improves our body’s athletic performance, helps our self-control — an important quality both in a relationship and out of it — and helps us look great.

So we’re going to exercise.

But how’re we going to do it?

First, incorporate activity and movement into your daily life.  Fidget more often. Take the stairs. Run for the bus. Go out for a walk. Take advantage of any activity and any chance to move your body. Let your inner child out. Skip if you’re feeling happy. Dance when music is on. Don’t balk when physical activity is involved.

Second, you need to find exercise that you actually enjoy doing.  Most exercise can be pleasurable from the endorphin rush. However, there’re certain forms that we have more fun with. Make a regular date once a week perhaps with some kind of outdoor team activity. In my beloved London there’re plenty of courts in the parks, from tennis to football (soccer to you Americanos). It could be rock climbing. It could be salsa dancing. You need to find what’s your favoured exercise and just do it.

It is much more easier exercising when there’s a goal in mind, from having fun dancing away with your partner or doing better against a friend who has beaten you one time too many.

Third, you can form a gym workout. Commit to three times a week or so. When I feel unmotivated for a workout, I try and go to a class at the gym; I like the ones which are functional and fun, like dances or martial arts-based classes. I do try out some yoga to try and get flexibility into my stubborn ligaments.

Myself, I’m more a fan of focusing on muscle building than aerobic exercise (“cardio”). A lot of women worry that they’re going to look like some overmasculinised hulk if they work their muscle groups, which just isn’t true. It’s true only at the extremes. You’ll find it pretty difficult to build a substantial muscle bulk, because you don’t have as much testosterone as a man.

I think it’s best if you design your workout with a trained instructor, but if you’re cash-strapped, you can even do a basic routine using weights and stairs at home that you can vary by researching. I started with twenty minutes cardio in an interval style (alternating between high/moderate intensity and low). Then I did 2 sets of 15 repetitions of the following, with thirty second breaks in between each set: chest press, bicep curls, squats, side raises, tricep kickbacks, leg curls, sit ups and planks. Then I did some stretches. I tried to gradually increase my reps, after which I’d increase my weights. With us girls, its usually the lowest weight or the second lowest weight that you start at, but your mileage may vary.

The reason why I’m into muscle building over cardio primarily is because cardio doesn’t really expend that much energy practically above baseline, nor does it have much use outside the gym unless I want to indulge in extended bouts of running or endurance. Not only does muscle building expend energy during the work out but that keeps on going once you’ve built the muscle: the extra mass needs more energy. I also want some definition and tone to my body, as well as strength.

I need an objective measure of what my body’s doing; my relatives tend to think I’m constantly thinning down, and I tend to think my weight fluctuates more than it does. The objective measure I use are scales. I like watching my weight and keeping it stable; not thin, not overweight.  Buy a set of scales and watch your weight on them. Stay within the normal limits of waist-hip ratio/waist circumference(<35in)/BMI* (in order of best measures in terms of health), unless you’re working out and what you’re seeing on the mirror reflects health.

Some people find watching their weight is too much of a psychological issue. If you can accurately estimate where you are in terms of health and don’t have issues in terms of body image, then that’s fine. If you do have issues, then you need to find someone you can trust to help you evaluate where you are.

Lastly, don’t forget to increase your protein intake!

*Some measures are not so good if too much muscle is built up, which can happen and is probably more common in men. The healthy limits can change depending on the constitution given to you making you naturally of a miniscule physique by individual genetics or ethnicity.

ETA: College Slacker has a post up I just noticed on the importance of the gym for guys, and he happens to make the same point about cardio for girls as I did as an aside.

Let me just say that I love the eyecandy at the gym. I love a fit man, and more and more appreciate it as I mature. I don’t think becoming musclebound is always called for and always appreciated by girls, but a certain level of fitness helps.

The Truth Behind Being Single in the Suburbs

February 27, 2011
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The truth behind Single in the Suburbs ?

Emotional porn: emotional responses and visual porn

February 23, 2011
by

Emotional porn, chick porn.

Women who express, embrace or indulge their sexuality via the media face criticism from many sides, many angles. Of course to me the most explicit manifestation is in the stigma of reading a romance novel.

They face criticism from conservative and religious factions, who object to uncontrolled sexual expression and increasing temptation. They face criticism from liberal factions for ingesting and enjoying the memes of the so-called patriarchy [note, I believe this version refers to earlier novels as marriage doesn't have as big an emphasis these days]:

Based on these testimonies and her own examination of romance novels, Radway asserts that romance reading is the result of dissatisfaction with traditional gender roles and relationships within patriarchy. Required to nurture their husbands and children but receiving little nurturance in return, romance readers turn to these novels to fulfill their emotional needs in a way sanctioned by cultural norms. Their reading expresses discontentment with dominant gender norms, but does not pose a challenge to the larger patriarchal structure of society.

In a move typical of cultural studies, Radway refuses to label romance reading as definitively hegemonic or oppositional, instead highlighting the complexity of reading practices and the multiple meanings that are contained within reading romances. Romance novels do reinforce gender roles: their characters conform to gender norms and their plots support the belief that women attain fulfillment through marriage. Even more so, however, these novels strengthen patriarchy by providing women with temporary emotional relief, allowing them to continue in their roles as wives and mothers and potentially circumventing more radical acts of resistance. At the same time, however, romance reading can be viewed as subversive. Female readers do momentarily escape their proscribed roles and responsibilities when they choose to read romances over performing their other duties as wives and mothers. Furthermore, romance reading reveals that women are not satisfied in these roles, pointing to places of discontentment within patriarchy.

MarxWiki

They face criticism from other women who do not share their exact tastes, but almost invariably have their own sources of emotional porn which ‘do not count’. They face criticism from academics and intelligentsia who see them as fluffs, easily influenced and empty-headed creatures. Judgement, ignorant judgement, presumptive judgement and hypocritical judgement abounds.

They also face internal criticism, because they live in a society with all these pressures. Because they live with the question…

Is what they’re indulging in…

Is it…

“chick porn”?

Ridiculous!

Yet, what’s so objectionable about the label “porn”? What’s so viscerally disturbing about it? The core of it is of course in the comparison to visual porn. Visual porn has been marginalised in the wider social world, though it goes without saying that excluding very religiously isolated men, most males in this society have experienced visual porn and used it.

But the vast amount of freely accessible visual porn targeted at men is still repulsive to the majority of women. We are talking about the stereotype of explicit sex, no foreplay, no emotional content, rapidly changing sequences from one position to the other, focused on the female body in a gritty way. It’s quick and dirty. It’s not beautiful or pretty. There’s no love, commitment or safety involved. There’s no personality or connection. It’s an act purely reduced to its basic, impersonal, visceral and bodily parts. It’s wham, bam, not even a thank-you ma’am.

The one thing I’m pretty sure of is that abusing porn damages a man’s Game, both from observation and some experience. His main problem is not understanding sex from a female point of view, but also lacking a certain imagination with it that heightens the enjoyment. A hyperawareness of sexuality, but not sensuality. He can only enjoy sex the more kinkier and novel it gets. It’s like cooking without ever using any herbs or spices or experimenting with ingredients, just using more and more exotic meats until someone draws the line at frog legs or escargot or sheep brains.

Note abusing. If he has a holistic view — where he draws his information and sources of pleasure from sex in many different ways — porn can be a fun accessory to his life if he has no moral, ethical, aesthetic or other objections to it. There’s a certain level of sexual objectification that should happen with women, especially when talking about short-term prospects.

I don’t think I’ll ever understand a man deriving purely pleasure from the kind of  visual porn I mention, but I’ve learned to respect that it appeals to his sexuality. To be clear, it isn’t that that kind of material doesn’t have an effect on me — it does — but it’s a mixed response (the terminology for this in sexology is an aversive response). I don’t know if any woman can enjoy sex the way a porn star is portayed to do, but many can to certain limits once properly trained. It is more likely that women will go further today than they ever have done thanks to porn, though whether that’s a good thing is something I’d be very hesitant to say.

In any case, it’s the meme of despising visual pornography and by extension masculine sexuality that ‘emotional pornography’ becomes a terrible label. Porn is also known for being horribly made (it’s ‘erotica’ if it isn’t!) hence there is that objection, since you can take the view that no source of emotional pornography can be as horribly made as visual porn (though, honestly, emotional porn can get pretty bad.)

Yet visual pornography has only taken the shape it has to the extent and form it  currently is in due to modern society and modern fashions. Does visual pornography really represent male sexuality?

An interesting question. One I don’t feel qualified to answer.

So: Let us come back to the point. A discomfort with the label ‘porn’ comes from a derision of male sexual expression, regardless of its prevalence.

But the problem in both genders is of abusing porn. I don’t think criticism of any kind of porn is unfounded; it has a basis. At the same time, I don’t think we need to be extremists about this. How porn affects you, how you deal with it individually, are very important things. If I’ve educated myself in a certain ideology, watching Eat,Pray, Love isn’t going to suddenly convert me. I see what I’ve been trained to see and primed to see. That frame of reference has been instilled in me by personal events and forces  much stronger than 90 minutes of fiction.

Yes, abusing ‘emotional porn’ has the potential of doing damage to a woman. Acknowledging that is important. Conversely, using it wisely has the potential of enriching her.

So what we’re talking about really is a problem of balance. The mystic traditions always emphasise health as a problem of balance. Men and women must seek a certain balance, in all things.

Do we have it these days?

You know what?

Too often, I don’t think so.

Emotional Pornography: definition and categories

February 21, 2011
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Discussing emotional pornography is necessarily problematic. The term needs a definition, a working definition, and I will give it. Let us take emotional pornography as any content depicting an emotive scenario that causes the audience, the reader, the viewer to experience sexual arousal through an emotional response. This emotive scenario usually occurs within the context of interactions within a relationship or drama surrounding it. That does not necessarily contain visual or descriptive sexual acts, although this may be implied or they may be tension that implies they are desired. It is the common understanding that women are primarily aroused in this way, through the socio-emotional content of relationships.

Defining the term has illuminated the problem. Why, we could be describing pretty much every single piece of film that the media manufactures! It does not have to be within the context of a romantic relationship: the interaction of men with other men for example, can be arousing to a female audience. Let’s limit ourselves now to emotional pornography for women (FEP, female emotional porn, if you wish to abbreviate); I can’t say what is emotional pornography for men.

We need to somehow narrow the field. So I’ve come up with some categories, divided in different ways.

Literature or film: Dramas
This is a wide term encompassing media representations that do not necessarily focus on romantic relationships, but portray men in a sexually desireable way and contain emotive content. This may be through their personality, their physique, their social interaction combined with dramatic tensions between familial or social ties.  This category is essentially a category designed to exclude what could be considered emotional porn, but does not fit into others.

Examples are Gladiator, Braveheart, Desperate Housewives, Mad Men, dating reality TV shows and innumerable soap operas from modern times to previous.

Literature: Women’s fiction and ‘chick lit’
These are books focused on the modern woman, usually urban. She if often neurotic, imperfect and somehow designed to appeal to the everyday woman in an urban environment from her 20s to 40s, perhaps even into the 50s in some cases. Difficult issues can be dealt with like sexual confusion, drug addiction and infidelity. These types of novels are the main vehicles of  current feminist angst and tropes. There’s a confusion over feminist ideology here; there’s a ‘have your cake and eat it too’ attitude in attempting to resolve different pressures. Radical feminists are usually not writing these, but the ones who’ve ingested their ideology to different extents are.

Examples are Bridget Jones’ Diary, The Devil Wears Prada and Eat, Pray, Love.

Film and TV: Romantic comedy and ‘chick flicks’
Many of these have their origins in literature of women’s fiction or chick lit, although some are original screenplays. There’s a greater amount of male submission abounding; sometimes the pleasure is in the conquering of men with girl power and triumphing over them. Sometimes it’s simple romance. Sometimes it’s a combination. There’s often a casual attitude to relationships, with multiple partners over the course of the story.

Although I categorise these as emotional porn, these aren’t always like that. Sometimes it’s purely emotional gratification without sexual, a Let’s Just Be Friends: the movie.

Examples are Sex & the City, When Harry Met Sally, currently No Strings Attached in the box office, The Break Up, The Ugly Truth and How to Lose A Guy in 10 Days.

Literature: Romance novels
Romance novels make up over half of the novel market. They range far and wide in quality, presentation, subject matter and explicit sexual content. However these are the most explicit category in terms of emotional porn. They are geared to be emotionally satisfying and focus on emotional romantic relationships. As such, they have a less conflicting attitude and a different audience than the chickflick/chicklit audiences.

Romance novels have been experiencing dramatic changes from when they were first popularised. The landscape in the 70s was that of protagonists of women who were unapologetically beautifully feminine or somewhat “feisty”, helpless to forces before them including unapologetic alpha males. Whilst the women themselves may occasionally show feminist ideology (in which case they generally show themselves as a bit stupid when they attempt to take charge, with our hero having to rescue them from a fix, or occasionally being the executor of the punishment for  it– eep,example, being dumb enough to attack a big strong male physically whilst alone with him herself!). It was not remotely rare for the alpha males to be alpha asses, which treatment our heroine often enough richly deserved. There was a great deal of rape, pseudorape which toed the line and also reluctance. The heroines were virgins at the beginning of the story and these were often historical romances.

There was also a separate category of romance novels, in what can be called the Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer school. Sweet romances with no explicit sexual content, of likewise sweet heroines.

Over time, this has all been changing. Romance novels have diversified so that there is pretty much a subgenre of romance novels for every genre that is currently popular. The heroines have been increasingly powerful and feminist, occasionally Buffy the Vampire Slayer-like. The rape-y behaviour has been phased out largely, though elements of it can still be found in historical lines since some of that is judged to be accurate for the historical context. At the same time, the sweet novels have also been decreasing in popularity, with increasing sexual content in all these novels, and some lines produced which promise more graphic content in themselves.

Film & Literature: Love stories
These are necessarily different from the romcom, erotica or wider drama category. If a romance novel was adapted, these may more often be the product, although the caveat that a happy or emotionally satisfying ending must take place is not adhered to. They are emotional romantic relationships, with a greater focus on the drama of the relationship.

Examples are Romeo & Juliet, L’Appartement and A Time Traveler’s Wife.

Film: Erotica
This is any visual pornography that is targeted at a female audience, with a focus on emotional and social buildup or tension. The content is primarily acts of sex and female sexual fantasy. There is explicit sexual content akin to the usual visual pornography directed at male audiences. To my limited knowledge, this market is not catered for adequately.

Examples are works by the pioneer Candida Royalle or some by Tinto Brass.

Emotional Porn

February 20, 2011
by

Read CR’s post here on emotional porn; below is a response:

Hmmm… Since modern feminism is such a rational, right-thinking argument, we’ll use (a) the exact same argument they do and (b)explicitly refuse to recognise gender differences we explicitly ourselves have argued for.

That’s pretty much what his post was saying. Which is frankly, to understate, greatly imprecise.

First, there will always be so-called female emotional porn in as many varieties as is socially sanctioned. An uber religious conservative granny is watching a dubbed Turkish soap with souped up alpha males and drama somewhere in the ‘repressed’ Gulf as we speak, where so much as a kiss is censored in daytime TV.

There has been more explicit badboys since Byron. There probably was a lot of emotional porn before him. The rise of the novel as a popular  form itself is pretty much about female porn and a female audience.  Emotional porn isn’t new nor is it controllable.

Second, female emotional porn does not have the same effect generally as male visual porn on her sexuality. (For more on the effect on male sexuality: an excellent article that goes beyond feminist criticism). This is because female sexuality as the OP has stated explicitly in his post, is very different. The desire for sex in a woman builds greater and greater the more she fantasises, the more experience she builds, the more she is exposed to it. She has a lower baseline drive; she needs a good introduction to function sexually (this is where female supression of female sexuality comes in). Exposure to emotional porn in conjunction with various degrees of physical sexuality increases her sexual desire for betas, regardless of whether the men depicted are beta or not. It is an increased total desire for sexual experience; this total desire is something men can take for granted. If male sexual drive is a push — an impulse that pushes him whether he knows it or not, is stimulated or not, a desire that becomes closer to satiation the more he experiences — then female desire is a pull: the more pleasurable experience of sex, the more she wants. Yes, they overlap, but the difference is very significant. Generally, those who indulge in more explicit emotional porn (in contrast to those who do not have any impulses towards any kind of porn, aside from moral objections) lead better sex lives with betas; I say this anecdotally and with some scientific basis. I’d link you to the original studies but they’re not freely available; this article will suffice.

But this greatly depends on what kind of emotional porn we’re talking about, because not every show, film or book is created equal which brings me to…

Last, the actual problem we’re failing to articulate here is that female porn is being increasingly used for feminist tropes and a certain feminist female suppression of sexuality. It’s also invariably an expression of the wider cultural zeitgeist, heavily influenced as all media is by the left. This is where false expectation comes in; it’s the most marked and marketed propaganda in the area of gender wars. The definition of the alpha male became urbanised and unrealistically balanced, within reach to the everyday woman… rather than a former clearcut departure from the immediate reality of the average woman. The women in female porn have gradually become less feminine, less beautiful, less perfection, less practical about relationships, whilst still landing the same status man. They’ve eradicated any mention of rape or pseudorape, in the literature or film. Feminists hate any work that contravenes the lies of the feminist movement, and especially the lies about male sexuality. There is no work that contravenes this more than expression of true female sexuality. Ad we’ve seen in the archives of the chateau, the inkling of feeling hypocrisy comes when a heterosexual feminist struggles with her own sexuality. Feminists hate romance novels, and often criticise them.

The only positive push from them is for pushing for increasingly more beta heroes and explicitly sexualising them as a subgroup — but the market will remain resistant to buying too beta, and the laments against the dearth of beta heroes will continue.

Healthy Body, Healthy Game: Why Bother?

September 30, 2010
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Why’s becoming unhealthy something to be bothered about? Note I say becoming unhealthy, which isn’t solely the possible problem of becoming severely overweight.

It’s a disaster:

iacmusic.com

  • For Your Relationship
    • If your physical appearance is a problem then your spouse will experience a lessening of their sexual attractiveness to you. As most counselors can tell you, the beginning of the end can usually be noted in the decline in the sex life. Sexual issues are difficult to speak about: him telling you he’s less attracted to you isn’t considered acceptable behaviour or indeed something he may acknowledge is affecting him. A problem within the sexual dynamic therefore often becomes expressed in other aspects of the relationship.
    • If you experience bad health, then this has an effect on your mood. You will be less able to enjoy the time you have together, and less able and willing to please and be pleasant.
    • Bad health can suck up time and resources that both of you would rather spend doing something else, which will certainly put a strain on you. One of you may have to care for the other, which can be very difficult to cope with.

      inloughborough.com

  • For Your Fertility
    • Assuming you want children or want the option, you want to remain fertile for as long as possible. This means safeguarding yourself and in turn your eggs. Whatever harms you also harms your ovaries!
    • Being underweight or overweight both mean a limited fertility.
    • Substance abuse has an effect on fertility, as well as some medications.
    • Being under stress means a limited fertility.
  • For You
    • Obesity isn’t only an aesthetic problem. Fat cells (adipose tissue) release molecules into your bloodstream that are essentially the same as those in inflammatory processes. It’s an active illness in itself, leading to the twin friends of high blood pressure and diabetes, with all their serious complications. Not only that, but walking around carrying a lot of weight damages your knees (leading to osteoarthritis of the knees). Even sleeping at night can become difficult with obstructive sleep apnoea, where the  changes in your body means its more difficult to breath. This makes you drowsy during the day. Overall, it can get pretty miserable.
    • An unhealthy body means an unhealthy mind. We tend to see them as distinct entities, but they are not. Our psychology is inescapably linked to our body, and often emotions express themselves via pains in our body and vice versa. Emotions are signals to and from our body. In sum, it is essential for your happiness that your body is happy. You will find that your moods are consistently brighter, that you have more energy to confront everything in life, that you enjoy everything around you more. This is all a natural byproduct of the healthier you feel.
    • Note: Even if you do have a chronic illness, this doesn’t mean you should give up on living and living well! Living healthy is about how you feel in the short-term as well as the long-term.

Disclaimer: Despite being a medical student, these views are not representative of any organisations I am allied to, or the medical profession. All effort has been made to ensure the material is accurate, but there are some simplifications. Consult your own doctor and verify information stated herein for yourself.

Healthy Body, Healthy Game: Introduction

September 27, 2010
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animals.howstuffworks.com

Perhaps it’s a good thing marriage rates are declining, because apparently we sweet-lovin’ sweeties are blowing up into formidable whales upon entering the sacred institution. The same isn’t quite true of cohabitation.

It’s true, we take marriage for granted: over and over do we prove that as we gain a spouse, we gain some pounds, too. Interestingly, I found some evidence that reflects my own anecdotal evidence that weight is more of a problem in minority groups and low socioeconomic groups. The former may be due to a mix of culture and biology, whilst the latter seems largely environmental.

All of this data made me ponder our lifestyles and the way we treat our bodies. It clearly has an effect on our Game.

In this series, I’ll be exploring living a healthy life. The first question I’ll be asking is: why bother being healthy? Life’s too short to not have fun, isn’t it?

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