Posted by: Bin VFA | November 10, 2013

No longer to blog

So I’ve thought about this for a while and have finally made a decision that I don’t intend to blog any longer.

There are very many people who do what I had originally set out to do here and do it infinitely better than I am capable of. That’s fine as we all have our strengths and this is not one of mine. I am really starting to work out where I fit in and what kinds of things are the best use of my time, energy and contribution to the world. It’s all good.

I intend to keep my Facebook page active here and will post links to anything that I think is worth reading.

You can also follow me on twitter @BinVFA

I won’t delete what’s here but won’t renew the domain name when it’s due so it will be available at bvfanfematheist.wordpress.com

I’ve put up a page with links to the many podcasts I listen to and I will probably update that as appropriate.

~ B

Posted by: Bin VFA | October 26, 2013

Reasons to be vegan – #2

Because there are no eggs, you can feel free to eat as much of the cookie dough or cake mixture as you like. Yum!

 

~ B

Posted by: Bin VFA | October 24, 2013

Reasons to be vegan – #1

I was thinking in the pool again today, as one does, and coming up with several reasons that being vegan is good, positive and all around awesome. I think there are so many reasons to be vegan that I have trouble keeping up or keeping track, so I thought I’d start a little list here.

#1 – when I see those cattle trucks on the road carrying all the sad and uncomfortable animals, I might very well feel sad, and I do, but what I don’t feel is guilty

~ B

Posted by: Bin VFA | July 27, 2013

Self-indulgent ramblings

I went for a swim this morning. Swimming is pretty much about my favourite thing in the world to do. It clears my head like nothing else and enables me to really think through issues and problems that have been building up. Running enables this to a lesser degree but the best for me is swimming. There’s something about being surrounded by water. Today was no exception. I’ve found myself a nice quiet pool with just 5 x 25m lanes of which 2 or 3 are generally being used for squad training. There were 2 lanes available for public lap swimming today and there were only 2 of us swimming so I had a lane to myself which was simply perfect. Sometimes life can just be so hectic that we just keep moving without really thinking about what we’re doing or where we are going. It’s good every now and then to slow down and take stock. Swimming enables me to do this while also getting in a really good workout. And I’ve come up with a bunch of thoughts about my goals, wishes, hopes, dreams, whatever you want to call them over the coming months so I’m getting them down here before they all disappear again.

Blogging

I’ve been thinking a lot about firstly whether I want to continue blogging at all and if so, where I should go with it. The thing is, I’m not a writer, nor am I an expert on any of the issues that I am passionate about. There are so many people that say the things I want to say so much better than I do. I’m okay with that. We all have our strengths and I have realised that I am never going to be able to create some kind of popular, highly read or whatever blog. The original concept of this blog was that my life, thoughts and decisions are often led by my values which are well encompassed with the descriptors of vegan, feminist and atheist. These 3 things, though most especially the first 2, are certainly as important to me as when I started. So anyway, what I’m thinking along those lines is that I will do a bit of linking to and recommending of some of those people who are saying this stuff better than me. And continue to read and learn as there is still just so much of that for me to do.

The other thing is, while I consider myself a runner, a swimmer, a vegan, a feminist, a mother, an accountant, etc, etc and have never and likely will never consider myself a writer, I do enjoy writing. I’ve almost always had some kind of diary or space to get my thoughts down and when I haven’t I believe this has ultimately been to my detriment. So I will continue blogging. I’m happy if people do read what I write but not that many people do and that’s ok. If somebody reads what I write and gets something out of it then that’s awesome, but at the end of the day I’m getting something out of doing the writing so regardless it is a beneficial thing and while it is I will continue.

My writing will probably be mostly about my fitness plans and goals although I guess that could change tomorrow too…….

Parenting

My boy is 10 years old, so this aspect of my life is still a pretty important one. My goals here are fairly simple though maintaining them on a day to day basis still remains a constant challenge. I just want to continue to facilitate his growth into a decent, healthy, thoughtful and happy adult. I’m pretty proud of who he is right now and think I’m on the right track here as best as one can be.

Exercise

This is where I have some very specific goals and plans. I have been exercising regularly for several years now and between reading different books and sharing others’ experiences my routine keeps getting tweaked. Also, I have been seeing a physio about my foot which I was unable to run on for a while and it looks like that is likely to be pretty okay from here on, enabling me to get stuck back into running again. So my plan for this is:

Monday, Wednesday, Friday – weighted squats and lunges followed by a run. The run will begin at the 3k run/walk I am doing at the moment and build back up to 10k which will either be a full run or a 10k run/walk when I run 4 refugees in October

Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday – upper body weights, 4 sets of one exercise for each of biceps, triceps, shoulder, chest and back followed by 10 minutes cardio which will be either exercise bike, or some jumping, skipping type exercises

Saturdays, like today, I will swim as the pool opens at 6:30 so I can get in a good 1 hour swim and still have time to do whatever else for the rest of the day

You might notice that there are no rest days in the above program. This is because I don’t personally do well with scheduled rest days. I will get up and then just get shitty because I want to work out. That seems counterproductive. What I tend to do instead is that when I wake up feeling as though I should rest and not work out, that’s exactly what I do. I have noticed this generally happens about every 7-10 days which really works out close enough to one rest day per week for me. No doubt this will continue to be modified but I want and need to build my running back up, I want to continue to get stronger and I want and love to swim so this just seems like a perfect fit all around.

Food

I’m not strictly doing the #killsugar thing in the sense of not having any refined sugar at all any more. It was good to have done it for (over) a month, but in the long run I am not convinced that strict rules about things like this are necessarily beneficial. We’re all different I guess but I tend to work better on the general concept of constant improvement and continuously trying to make the best choices and every now and then eating some junk is okay as long as you don’t go overboard. To that end I plan to keep looking into, finding and trying out lots of new recipes for good healthy foods and just generally filling my day with so many of those kinds of foods that there is no real desire for anything less nutritious. I intend to continue not having any soft drink which aside from a handful of individual times I have done for well over a year now anyway. I also prefer not to have easy junky food at home though now I have my partner living here this is not always in my hands. I do find that I don’t get the urge or cravings for lots of junk like I used to though, so maybe that will be okay regardless. If it becomes an issue I will re-evaluate. For instance, last night after work I had a small piece of chocolate. There was more there but I was satisfied and that seems like a pretty positive thing all around.

Of course I will always be vegan. That’s just a no-brainer.

Work

Ok, this one is a little trickier but I’ve been thinking a lot about the whole concept of utilising what you are good at towards the best goals for your life and the world around. While I admire so many activists and people much more involved in causes than I, so much of it is just not me or something that I am good at. The thing is, what I am good at is money, finance and accounting. And while I admire people who can completely walk away from much of the mainstream, capitalist world and live in their cars, etc to survive I can’t see myself doing anything like that. For starters I have a child to support, but even without that I’m not sure that would be something I would seriously contemplate. Again, there are so many people who do these things better than me, so my short term goals here are to make enough money to support my family and so that we can move to an area where we can rely more on public transport than a car and to send my son to the (public) school that I think would be ideal for him and would continue the parenting philosophy and priorities I have for him at home. I also like to be able to afford to give some to the causes that matter and the people that are better at doing these things better than I am.

I know that within the next 12 months at the latest I need to leave where I am working now for many reasons. For starters, just from a pure career progression perspective, there is not a lot further for me to go there. There isn’t a position for another qualified accountant and I couldn’t and really don’t want to move into the position of my direct superior even if he were to be planning to move on, which he isn’t. However, there are things I can get out of being there for the next 6-8 months and being (much more) involved in another year end process. Ideally I would move on around February/March next year.

Which brings me to the other reason to move and that is that it is in many ways a toxic environment and on that basis getting out sooner rather than later will be good. However, I do at this point think that what I can benefit from seeing it out until early next year will be worth it. I will just have to prioritise setting myself up to be somewhat immune to the toxicity as I have felt it affecting me lately.

Activism/Advocacy

I think I’ve covered most of this above, but it all comes down to the whole concept of figuring out where your skills and ability to best contribute lie. In the long run, when my son is older and not so dependent on my time, I want to volunteer for refugee and similar organisations and help people to navigate our government departments, budget and otherwise plan financially. That seems to me to be a need that I would be well placed to meet. In the short term, I’ll continue to help the ARSC fundraise with my running, donate where I can and to start joining the Campaign for Women’s Reproductive Rights in their weekly defence of the Fertility Control Clinic in East Melbourne. I will also continue to attend relevant rallies and increase in my letters to our members of parliament because, yes, I am as pissed off as all decent Australians about the latest attack on asylum seekers by both major parties.

~ B

Posted by: Bin VFA | July 15, 2013

One of my heroes

There are so many people in this world who inspire me and none more so than Kon Karapanagiotidis. Kon started in 2001 and continues to run the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre in Melbourne which does amazing work on very little and with no government assistance. This is a very deliberate decision as Kon understands how important it is not to owe anything to the government. How important it is to be able to speak your mind.

Seriously, listen to this guy talk passionately about the farce that is democracy in Australia and how we can make it better. He’s a bloody legend and truly, just the kind of person this country and this world needs more of.

Watch. And listen….

I’m not sure whether I can embed the file but this link will take you straight to the point where Kon starts.

~ B

Posted by: Bin VFA | July 14, 2013

Is this #killsugar take 2?

I thought I should give an update as to where I’m at with this. There are 2 separate stories really, one relates to the food and the other to my running program and while they are of course connected, I’m not convinced of quite how much.

I have been working for a couple of months now to try and change my running technique to a more natural style. While I ran 10k last year and I felt ok with it and had continued to run up to 5k at a time while studying, it just felt like it was not quite right. So I decided to run less on my heels and more on my forefoot. I was sensible enough for a while and started with short distances and started slowly building up, but I didn’t really look into how to make such a transition properly. Then it started to feel good, in fact way better than it ever had before running the old way and I got over-confident. I started running with the Zombies, Run! app which includes commentary and sporadic sprints where you need to run from the zombies. Because it was so much fun I figured it was perfectly fine to just push it. It turns out it wasn’t and I really hurt my ankle. For a week or so it hurt even to walk.

So I’ve rested my foot, while keeping up other exercise that didn’t put pressure on the foot and I read Natural Running: The Simple Path to Stronger, Healthier Running and it helped me realise some of the ways I went wrong. Firstly while I knew how I didn’t want to run I hadn’t put a lot of thought into how I do want to run. I should have. Also, I did push the transition too hard. So I got lots of ideas from the book about how to tackle the transition and I am now 1 week into his 8 week transition program. It includes very slowly building up the distance, something different to focus on each week regarding the technique and there are a bunch of form and strength exercises which I can already tell are really helping all the right areas. Tomorrow I get to run (slowly!!) for 15 minutes and I’m pretty excited. I’m enjoying running more than ever and the 10 minutes at a time I’ve done the first week doesn’t feel enough. But when I get those itchy feet I re-read the bits in the book where Abshire gives his pep talk about how important it is to not get carried away and that being patient now will mean being able to run better for many more years. And it helps.

So this might mean that when I run my 10k for Refugees again in October that I have to run/walk it, but if that’s the case so be it. This is a long term plan and I want to be a runner so it will be worth it. Being injured and unable to run for a couple of weeks has really reinforced that fact to me that I want to run.

The other part of the equation here is somewhat of a confession. The whole #killsugar thing had been going really well. I got through all of June and beyond with not a single slip up and I was pretty pleased and aside from the fact that I picked up a cold toward the end there, feeling much better for it. But then my official email came through to say that I was a CPA and can now use those letter after my name. Naturally this meant that everybody at work wanted me to bring in cupcakes. Despite people insisting that eggs are necessary for baking, my vegan cupcakes are everybody’s favourite. And it was *my* celebration dammit, so I licked the bowl and then on the day I had a couple of cupcakes.

If that was the end of it, then it would probably have been okay to just ignore and move on. But then during the week I took my son to see Man of Steel. I wasn’t thinking because I had a couple of days off for the school holidays it was a Wednesday night. I had it in my head it was a Friday night and that the food court would be open and that I’d be able to get a healthy dinner. Of course it wasn’t and the only real option for dinner was chips. Then once I’d had chips it didn’t seem like it would make any difference to just go all the way and have popcorn and soft drink as well. And for the next couple of days I felt like crap. So I need to say it out loud to make it real. I am back on this whole not eating crap thing that Jamie has called #killsugar. And I’m admitting that I messed up but it’s now time to look forward not back. Oh, and I made some really awesome lasagna yesterday that should get me at least a couple of work lunches.

~ B

Posted by: Bin VFA | June 27, 2013

It’s not about me (TW)

It’s not about me (TW).

You should read this.

It’s very good.

Posted by: Bin VFA | June 26, 2013

No more female PM

Well, it’s been a rather intense day politically. All day at work I was checking in to twitter to see how the filibuster was going in Texas. We don’t have an equivalent here, so I found the whole concept a bit bizarre. The rules seem so unnecessarily strict and almost torturous and while I hated that the situation is such that it led to that, I was nonetheless inspired and impressed by Senator Wendy Davis and her determination and stamina.

And then back home, as it turns out, our first female PM is no more. I have mixed feelings about this to be honest. I’ve been frustrated for a long time about all the instability and infighting within the ALP as this just makes it all the more likely that the country will end up being run by the awful Tony Abbott once the election happens. The thing is, there are many things that the ALP have done this term that I haven’t been at all happy about. In every single scenario though, an Abbott led LNP will be worse. As anybody who reads my blog knows, I am appalled at the way we are currently treating asylum seekers and refugees. Tony Abbott however has made riling people up about ‘illegals’ (it’s not fucking illegal to seek asylum and he knows this) an art form.

I was always going to vote for the Greens and that won’t change as they have continued to stand up for all the things that are important. They are the only party that has stood up for human rights and basic decency. For community radio. For marriage equality. For treating asylum seekers like, wait for it…. *gasp* people!

Given that the Greens are nowhere near in a position to really compete with either of the major parties, my ideal scenario would be a Labor government (and yes I would have preferred Gillard to Rudd for several reasons, none of which are because of her gender) with the Greens controlling the Senate. Not just the balance of power. That is probably the best we can realistically hope for (and we may not even get that, scary!) but it isn’t enough. We’ve seen that in this current term. All the awful legislation gets through without the Greens because if there is anything the major parties can agree on it’s being jerks. Shooting down marriage equality. Passing asylum seeker policy that is condemned by various human rights organisation. Cutting benefit payments to single parents. Sure, those things we can get bipartisan support on. So we need the Greens to control the Senate to stop this anti-human rights and dignity legislation from passing.

Ahhhh…. It’s all kind of frustrating but then I think of Senator Wendy Davis. And all the people, just members of the general public in Texas, who helped make that happen. Then I remember. People. People matter. And when people get together and stand up for what is important, it matters and it makes a difference. So I will continue to support the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre in any way I can. And when the boy’s dad is back and has him every second weekend again, I want to join the clinic defence in East Melbourne where the local Anglican Church harasses women on a Saturday morning. And I will continue to support and campaign for the Greens in the lead up to the election.

So maybe my vote won’t count for as much as I’d like it to come election day, but there are still things I can do to help make this world a place I want to live in.

~ B

Posted by: Bin VFA | June 26, 2013

Just an update

I have a couple of blog posts in progress but they’re kind of heavy and I’ve not put into them what I think I should yet. So instead I’m just going to ramble for a bit :) At the moment my foot is injured which means I haven’t run for a week. I’m finding this a lot more difficult to cope with than I would have thought. My favourite thing for chilling, clearing my head and generally staying sane is to swim. However, being a single mum and with the closest public pool closed for renovations at the moment, swimming just isn’t something I can manage. So I run. A few years ago I would have scoffed at anybody who said that I would enjoy running one day. But enjoy it I do. Love it in fact. No, I don’t love every minute of every run and some days it’s really hard and I look forward to it being over. But overall, I really do love it. I love the sense of achievement. I love that I can go outside and run when it’s pretty darn cold (and I really am generally a wimp when it comes to the cold!) and not be bothered. I love that I can run to raise money for that awesome and much needed organisation that is the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre. I love that I can join in with a closed skeptic women’s running group on facebook where the support for everyone wherever they’re at is unconditional. And nobody’s going to recommend homeopathy, aligning chakras, or any of that spiritual stuff that I am just not into.

So yeah, not running is tough. I think (hope!) it should only be a couple more days. My foot’s a lot better than it was. I actually thought it might be ok today but as soon as I tried I realised I needed to give it some more time. Thanks to Jamie Kilstein’s good example  I’ve still been eating well and not succumbing to the temptations to just eat rubbish and yes the temptation has been fairly strong. I’ve also still been doing a decent workout at least every second day, with very gradually putting a bit more pressure on my foot.

The thing is though, life is pretty exciting right now. After over 2.5 years of living in cities 700 km apart, my partner is moving here next month. I’m really looking forward to it and it’s just in the last couple of days that he’s sorted out a work situation that he’s happy with so that’s a huge relief with the whole change. It will be a big change and adjustment for everybody but I’m definitely more than ready for it.

So I’m still on track with #killsugar and hopefully I will be running again soon.

~ B

Posted by: Bin VFA | June 4, 2013

#killsugar

20130604-174337.jpg

Another of my favourite podcasts is Citizen Radio and Jamie and Allison keep me sane often when I am surrounded by people who don’t get it. People who think I’m weird because I’m vegan and don’t want asylum seekers to be punished for trying to make a better life. Stuff like that. I’ll review the podcast properly another day. Suffice to say I love it.

I had also intended to improve my diet from 1 June, once the exams and holiday were over. My partner is mostly the one who keeps me motivated and on track with these things even though there is currently nearly 700 km between us. We text each other when we work out in the mornings and we share ideas and research on improving our eating habits. The thing is, after more than 2.5 years of a long distance relationship we will be moving in together by the end of July. So between planning for an interstate move and trying to get a job down here, my training partner is not up to prioritizing exercise at the moment. I am super excited about the move though!

So anyway, it has worked out really well for me that Jamie Kilstein has started to get his health and fitness back on track and enlisted the Citizen Radio maniacs to get involved with his #killsugar hashtag. This is certainly providing some added motivation for me and I want to start sharing some of the things I’m doing in the hope that others find it helpful in the same way I find following others’ journeys helpful. People that work hard to be at their best physical health while refusing to exploit animals are the ones that inspire me.

The picture above is of one of my lunches this week I take to work. One of the things I have got into a good habit of when studying is preparing a week’s worth of healthy lunches on the weekend. Usually quinoa, rice, pasta or Jamie’s vegan better than pad thai that he mentioned on an episode a few months back.

I’m looking forward to inspiration, ideas and recipes from other maniacs that are also taking the #killsugar challenge. For now I’ll leave you with the recipe/hopefully decent enough instructions for the above:

Tons of veggies, chopped finely
Mushrooms, chopped
Brown rice (I do this in my rice cooker so it’s always just right with little effort)
Vegetable stock (I used 1 litre)
Garlic and onion, chopped
Beans, lentils, etc as you wish

In a wok, heat up a small amount of vegetable stock with the onion and garlic and stir
After a few minutes, throw in the mushrooms and stir
Add more stock as needed to keep it from getting dry
After a few more minutes, throw in the rest of the stock and the pre-cooked rice
A few more minutes (see a pattern?) and add the veggies
Keep stirring until you feel like it’s enough – this is really subjective in my opinion
I had a bunch of black beans leftover from the boy’s tacos so I just tossed these through at the end

This makes 5 serves to dish out into microwave safe bowls to heat up at work.

~ B

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