lauantai 14. huhtikuuta 2018

Fitness Update // Dark Humor // Isle of Dogs

It's Saturday morning which means that I get to lie on the couch drinking coffee and eating chocolate! I switched up my diet a little bit since about one month ago and I decided to limit eating sweets to just one specific day per week. At the same time I also committed to working out at least half an hour five to six days per week. I had already been doing yoga almost daily since the beginning of January, but around mid-March I felt ready to integrate some more challenging exercises. The thing is that I have quite a fragile body that gets really easily injured if I go too crazy with exercise. So I have been making sure to avoid all jumping and stick to low impact alternations of jumping jacks and such (the bright side: no bra needed!). I have been loving the content of POPSUGAR Fitness on Youtube. They have so many good quality workouts which almost all include suggestions for low impact modifications. One I have been loving is this 30 minute barre sculpting workout! So, today it's been one month since I switched up my routine and I have so far lost almost 2 centimeters off my waist. It's also obvious that my body has also toned up and sculpted quite a bit since the beginning which is exactly what this is all about: building a strong, healthy body.

Anyhow, I couldn't be more relieved that we have made it to the weekend. It's been one long, rainy, boring week. By the end of it I was feeling so tired that the smallest of things would make me laugh hysterically. Yeah, when I'm tired that's what happens and everybody thinks I'm crazy. But seriously, I would never have thought that a class full of different nationalities would be such a delicate environment especially when it comes to humor (it's obvious though when you think about it...) I feel like it's so easy to hurt someone's feelings by laughing at the wrong moment. This makes me miss Finns so much. I love that despite of our depressive tendencies, we do have a wicked sense of humor. Luckily we had a skype meeting with my parents yesterday so my mom and I got to cry-laugh to our hearts' content.

Since the week had taken such a toll on me, I didn't have much inpiration to do my homeworks on the Friday afternoon. Q decided to take a look at how I was doing and we ended up howling with laughter since my foul mood couldn't have been more obvious. Here's how I had decided to complete the sentences of one exercise:

1. Bien qu'il soit beau, il n'est pas intelligent. 
Even though he is handsome, he's not intelligent.

2. Il ne fait rien quoiqu'il devrait.
He doesn't do anything even though he should. (Q: Is this for me?)

3. Malgré sa richesse, elle est malheureuse.
Despite of her wealth, she's unhappy.

4. Sans eau, il n'y a pas d'espoir.
Without water, there's no hope.

5. Elle ne veut pas le faire cependant elle y est obligée.
She doesn't want do it, however, she's obliged to.

6. Il est audacieux en dépit de ses échecs.
He is daring in spite of his failures.

Anyhow, Q and I wanted to wrap up the week with a nice movie night as Wes Anderson's new film, Isle of Dogs, is finally out. Well, the movie started at 21:50 which has never before been a problem for me. However, half an hour into it I started to feel more drowsy by the minute which I tried to fight the best I could. It was a struggle to no avail: next thing I knew was my head tilting unconrollably to all possible directions and then bouncing back after a few seconds of unconsciousness. I managed to feel a bit more awake for a moment after I thought the protagonist had died, but even that wasn't enough to save me from my body's all consuming tiredness. At one point my eyes were completely closed and I  was just imagining the scenes based on the sounds. The funny thing is that meanwhile Q was so wrapped up in the movie that he was completely oblivious to the struggles going on next to him! So, in the end I can just say that the  Isle of Dogs by Wes Anderson seems like a very good movie, but can't really give my word for it as I basically slept through the whole thing.

Apart from eating lots of chocolate and drinking espresso from mugs, this weekend is going to be actually quite a busy one as we are involved in a few house renovation and moving projects. We will surely find some time to drink some wine too, of course.

Have a great weekend!  

torstai 5. huhtikuuta 2018

Gathering Experience To Level Up

Q and I have both been lately in a true "I got goals" state of mind. I keep working on perfecting my French and waking up early to strengthen my body and mind. Q plays his viola and writes. I think that this personal development enthousiasme has a lot to do with the fact that we are both nearing the end of our twenties. Yeah, as much as we love adventuring and living on the edge, I think we have had quite enough of that. The last few years have been so turbulent that now we both just crave for stability in life and in order to reach that we need to level up. In my case this means that I need to gather enough experience to level up my language skills. My university studies will be done in may which means that I will then finally be ready to apply for jobs. I feel that this time studying has really helped me to get over the somewhat desperate state of mind I was in last year. Even though I'm constantly talking about improving my French, it's not something that I would be anymore vulnerable about. If a native French now tried to bully me for the way I speak, I would be able to answer back very clearly.

So, as a part of this whole "let's be the best versions of ourselves" -movement, we have started hiking. During the Easter holidays we managed to get through a three-hour track that included lots and lots of uphills. Actually this was only the second time we went hiking in like three years buuut we are definitely planning to make this a weekly habit from now on. Funny story: the first time we completed a three-hour hike we headed straight to a chinese buffet to stuff ourselves. A bit like the time we went to a nutrition coach and then decided that we deserved a banana split. Grhmmm...We have really come a long way.

Here's some pictures I took during our hike which we started and finished in the beautiful village of Venasque!

À la prochaine!

torstai 22. maaliskuuta 2018

On Toxic Beauty Standards

I mentioned in my last post that last week wasn't such a good one for me. One thing you got to know about me is that I'm one of those who just can't turn off their brain and "not think" or "just let it go". I have a tendency to constantly build patterns and connections based on my observations and past experiences. Everything is linked. What people do in their day-to-day lives does matter since as those patterns are repeated by hundreds, thousands, millions of individuals, they are suddenly impactful. So when something happens it is seldom just "a thing" among others for me as these incidents often demonstrate important aspects of the human nature and the current state of the society. Therefore it can keep me trapped in my thoughts for days contemplating "the world".

There were a couple of these things that happened last week and one in particular made me extremely disheartened. It all started with this video which our French teacher showed to us as an introduction to the theme of the lesson (plastic surgery). She played us the first about 15 seconds and asked: "Can you describe the physique of this woman in the video?" While I was thinking that there's not much to say except that she is in all aspects completely normal, I hear someone stating out loud: "She's FAT!" The class exploded in laughter while I could just stare at them speechless, unable to believe everyone's reaction. A class of adults was laughing at the "fatness" of a normal weight woman. I don't know which was really worse: laughing at her in the beginning of the video or at the end of it as she abuses of surgeries, becoming more and more plastic. After all this they went on saying that weeell it's better to stay natural. If I hadn't been so baffled by all this, I would have opened my mouth but with all the thoughts racing through my mind it wouldn't have made any sense. Plus I was so angry that there was a big risk of it becoming just a huge dispute. Anyway, what could I have said in a situation like this to make any difference? The core values of someone don't change by someone they barely know disagreeing with them.

This incident made my blood boil also for the experiences I have had in the past as an expat in Japan. From the beginning of my one year stay to the very end, people felt entitled to comment on my weight. I was at a completely normal, healthy weight but for the japanese I was enormous. My host father told me once that if I jumped off a bridge into a river it would create a tsunami. No matter how wise and educated a woman is, this kinds of comments start to take their toll when they are repeated on a regular basis. Like on that day in the classroom I had a moment of desperation: that woman they are all laughing at is like 10 kilos lighter than me. How skinny does one need to be to be accepted? Why are people like this? 

The world envies the French women for their slender figures which they seem to be able to maintain so effortlessly. To be honest there is a huge pressure in France to be a size 36 which is the equivalent to the Finnish 34. The stores carry mostly the sizes from 34 to 38 and the biggest size is often 42. Size 44 is available in stores that have a more mature target group. These "larger" sizes are also often much smaller than the actual measurements announced on the size chart of the brand. So, the message is quite clear here: lose weight or you'll struggle to find anything to wear. The French woman who has reached the ideal is so skinny that her chest bones have become visible. Imagine the pressure on all the young girls growing up and trying to fit in. Knowing that even if they did sports and ate clean, it just might not be enough? That to be "normal" you need to be at the verge of serious underweight.

One more story. This happened here in France about a year ago as I was telling someone that I was very happy with my weight (as the conversation was around this topic). I explained that your ideal weight is normally concidered to be the last two numbers of your height in meters. So for example if your height is 1.70 meters your weight is in a good place at 70 kilos. She leaned towards me and whispered: "That's for the men. For a woman it's ten kilos less." Even though I'm supposed to know better and not let this sort of nonsense bug still does. The ironic part is that if I ever managed to reach such weight, I would be told that I have gone too far. If only it was possible to keep a clear head surrounded by all this madness.

So that's a little part of the thoughts inspired by this classroom incident. When I tried to open up to someone about all this, I was  told that I take things too seriously. What is too serious about being concerned about attitudes that cause thousands of young women (and men) to sturuggle with self-loathing and self-destructive behaviour?

lauantai 17. maaliskuuta 2018

Care Package From Home

My family back in Finland always seems to send their packages at the exact time that I need them the most. Such was also the case when their latest surprise arrived a few days back and I had had such a bad day. I literally just sat on the couch with the unopened orange package against my chest weeping my homesickness. Some days just are like that, but there are still a few precise things that have been dragging my spirits down lately which I will be sharing in one of my next posts. I also want to tell you guys about the plans I have for this coming summer and what's the plan after my French classes are over!

It's extremely expensive to send even the smallest of things from Finland to France so my Mom had to choose carefully. The main reason for this package was the book Kävelyn Filosofiaa (A philosophy of walking) by the French Frédéric Gros which I requested already long ago but at the time it was sold out everywhere. I also absolutely wanted the book in Finnish as I really need to have something in my mother tongue to read. I have just books in French and English and maybe two in Finnish. When I opened the book and actually understood everything at the first glance, I felt as if I could breath freely for the first time in a long while. Having such a rare mother tongue, I get to read or speak it extremely rarely. In person basically never these days as I don't know any Finns living in the area. Sure, there's the entire internet full of content written in Finnish, but the literary level doesn't match that of a good book.

The Jenkki xylitol chewing gums are always a must! They are exremely beneficial for the teeth and most Finns like to chew a few after each meal. It's a sort of national ritual.

I also got the latest issue of a fashion magazine called Gloria. It's nice to have something light like this to read with a cup of coffee. Back at home I was always going through all of the magazines at my parents' place while consuming ungodly amounts of coffee.

My Mom didn't either forget my favorite candies which are these half fruit flavored, half salty licorice gummies. Finns are definitely some hardcore candy lovers and our candy isle is quite epic. One of the things I miss from home...mmm. These sirkusaakkoset will be consumed under strict supervision once a week (on our "treats day") to enjoy them as long as possible!

Thanks to my lovely home troops for all of this goodness!

perjantai 2. maaliskuuta 2018

Freezing In Avignon

Did you know that the South of France has this special sort of wind called Mistral? The name stands for masterly in the Occitan language of the southern France. Masterly it indeed is and during winter it feels as if it could rip the flesh off of your bones. The thing is that the French houses handle very badly cold temperatures so it's been quite a quest to battle the cold also indoors. Our heaters work  rather well but, thanks to nonexistent isolations, we are basically just heating the street and the birds sitting on the roof. The walls and tile floors are also stone cold. Quite a culture shock for a Finn who is used to be able to wear sleeveless shirts in the house regardless of the weather! Well, luckily as soon as these cold air masses from Siberia are gone the spring will be here in no time.

Despite of the record-breaking cold temperature (negative degrees almost never happen here in the south) we decided to have a little stroll around our dear Avignon. To be honest, we were desperate to get out of the house as the whole last week Q was bedridden thanks to influenza. With our woolen hats, socks and mittens we were ready to face the last of the winter winds.

Ps. Both of our knitted hats are my recent creations to keep our heads warm against the unexpected freezing weather!