authors, book reviews, Books, Women

A book for Mother’s Day?

Inspired by Lisa’s post on books for Mother’s Day, I thought I’d write about one of my current reads. The main character is a mother and wife. Thus, it’s loose Mother’s Day connection.

At book club recently we discussed adult fairy tales. The patterns in the narrative. The occurrence of a magical event that transforms. The presence of a mentor or helper. The repetition in plot. The novel I write of below does not fit this genre and yet…there is a  thread of the repetition and mentor in all spy thrillers. Think John Le Carre here, for example.

Need to Know by Karen Cleveland is both a domestic novel and a spy/espionage thriller. Written by a one-time CIA analyst herself, the book provides a strong sense of realism. The reader can imagine the day-to-day work of an analyst, the drab ordinariness of what often seems to be an exciting career in espionage to an outsider.

Viven, the  protagonist, is a CIA analyst who comes across a file of Russian agents. One of whom is her husband, the father of her four young children, the husband she loves and with whom she shares a life, worrying about children, schools, money, the mortgage.

What would you do? Much of the first part of the novel involves Viven asking herself that question, amid flashbacks to the first meeting with her husband, the moment they became engaged, the time they discussed having children. Each flashback provided me with the firm conviction that Matt, Vivien’s husband, is a manipulator and not to be trusted – but is he? Vivien herself seems unsure.

Written in first person active narrative, this thriller kept me interested. I admit that I am a fan of thrillers, and of espionage stories in particular. It is a Mother’s Day story with a difference. Not flowery or happy or breezy but an edge of your seat thriller. I kept thinking – What would I do? (The answer is turn him in, to be honest. Vivien’s deliberation and neediness just pains me. Her almost helplessness in the face of the threat that her husband poses is a flaw in the novel.)

Interestingly, the book’s film rights have been sold to Universal Pictures with Charlize Theron taking the role of Vivien. Should be interesting. A possible future Mother’s Day film?9780593079591.jpg

 

 

 

Books, fitness, food, intuitive eating, Life, life hacks, self-help

Making peace with food

Recently, somewhere on the web, I read an article by a woman who detailed (in great detail!) what she ate to avoid being fat.

Now, her eating habits are totally her choice. I get that. As is her desire to weigh a certain weight.

But I still felt sad after reading the article. Sadness which I grant that the original author may not feel but sadness nevertheless. Sadness because the daily diet of sameness  implied that food was an enemy, to be kept at bay with a strict routine and self discipline.

And it reminded me to pick up my  copy of Intuitive Eating once again. Because intuitive eating is all about making peace with food. 235869

Food and hunger are not the enemy.

Nothing is. Really.

It’s just life and choices and enjoyment and health, all  stirred together with a dash of exercise and a sprinkling of self care. Like chocolate and bananas in the same meal.

What is intuitive eating? The book outlines ten principles (Note to self and others: principles, to be tried over time and re-visited. Not rules):

  1. Reject the Diet Mentality.
  2. Honour your Hunger
  3. Make Peace with Food
  4. Challenge the Food Police
  5. Respect your Fullness
  6. Discover the Satisfaction Factor
  7. Honor Your Feelings without Using Food
  8. Respect your Body
  9. Exercise – Feel the Difference
  10. Honour your Health

This is a gentle approach to nutrition, exercise and self care. It builds on what nutritionist Ellyn Satter calls the ‘competent eating ‘ model.

Satter notes that child who hasn’t been pressured to eat or not eat certain foods, who hasn’t been pressured to have a different body size to that which is natural for them, is a competent eater, one who feels good about eating…and eats as much as they need.

It really is that simple. Indeed, research shows that prescribed dietary guidelines most often result in restrictive eating, weight preoccupation and conflict or anxiety. In adults and in children.

The alternative is the intuitive eating model.

  • Eat competently (Are you hungry? Are you using food to cover another need or emotion? What are you hungry for? Eat it. Stop when satisfied..).
  • Allow for sustainable activity (Being active in every day life, finding movement and exercise that you like to do and/or that fits into your life so that you don’t neglect other parts of your life and don’t beat yourself up over a magical amount of time for exercise).
  • Work on physical esteem (Valuing all people and all bodies, including yourself and your own).

What does that mean in reality? Many people have written of their experience in making peace with food and exercise. For me, this week, it has meant a lot of walking, both in my work and as part of my use of public transport (I don’t own a car), but little formal exercise. I often do yoga or light weights or cardio but I have a cold and listening to my body meant rest apart from my active life.

It is a similar tale with food. I have been craving fish the last two days, and eaten fish each of these days. As it turns out, fish is incredibly healthy for those with colds and a weaker immune system. In listening to my body, I have fed my nutritional needs.

As Evelyn Tribole notes, in Intuitive Eating: If you don’t love it, don’t eat it, and if you love it, savour it.

The same really  could be said of life.

 

Life

The way of the happy, healthy woman.

A fitness instructor, one whom I respect, one whom has energising, feel good workouts, wrote a post about the ways of skinny women.

I felt disappointed. Betrayed even.

When will we stop categorising people, and most especially women, according to their weight?

Since when is skinny a compliment, a goal to which to aspire?

I’ve had eating disorders. I’ve been thin, very thin, but never thin enough to please the significant others in my life.

I’ve had exercise addictions.

I’ve been a “normal” weight.

I’ve been obese.

I am “overweight”.

But I am no longer obsessed about weight and appearance. I am no longer cold and tired and achey all the time, in retrospect the side effects for me of dieting and exercising to maintain a “good” weight. My health and blood tests are good. I’m healthy. And I am no longer willing to maintain the level of obsession needed for me to have a certain look. For there was a level of obsession. And now I have other things to think about, other dreams to follow.

I take care of myself, or at least I aim to. I aim to look like me, a good enough me. I aim to be heathy and happy. I love working out, for my health, for my “me” time, for fun, as a challenge. I aim to spend time on my looks but more time on who I am, on prayers, in using my mind, on my vocation, my work, on others, on my dreams, on the me that is more than weight and looks.

I think I can be me and still look good.

And so do “Intuitive Eating”, “The Rules of Normal Eating”, “Beyond Chocolate”, “Nice Girls Finish Fat”. (You can find those books on Amazon or Kindle or the groups on Facebook.)

It’s the way of the happy, healthy woman.