Friday, 28 August 2015

Ayoade on Ayoade: a cinematic odyssey - my impressions

Time for my obligatory mini review of my impressions of my latest read - Ayoade on Ayoade: a cinematic odyssey. 

If you don't recognise him from the cover, Richard Ayoade is one of the actors from The IT Crowd and the Mighty Boosh and is the director of films such as Submarine and The Double. 

I enjoyed this read, it's witty, intelligent yet bizarre. The main meat of the book is Ayoade interviewing himself in different scenarios about his attitudes towards film, directing and acting. I read this book constantly imagining Ayoade's self acknowledged nasal tones reading it to me, which makes the bizarre sense of humour in these pages somehow funnier. 

The constant numerous side notes and references to the apendix make it a slow read, but worth it for fans of Ayoade, especially of his direction. He's humorously self deprecating whilst somehow being simultaneously ironically immodest. It's hard to explain, but it's never dull, always funny and occasionally interesting and insightful. Would recommend. 

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

My struggles with healthy living, weight loss and body image. Part 3.

So my doctor recommended I download an app called 'My Fitness Pal' in an effort to track my calories and to make sure I was in fact getting enough to sustain myself. Unfortunately though, this had the opposite effect.

Positive comments about how I looked had started my obsession with losing the pounds. I began using the app to obsessively track my caloric intake, going so far as to weigh out my salads and listing the calories in the app's daily tracker. 

I'd noticed I could earn back calories from physical exercise - the app has a built in pedometer which equates to calories the more steps you do. Over my lunch time supervisions I began pacing the playground, counting my steps over and over in my head. It began as an effort to keep warm and maybe have the occasional sweet treat with my extra calories, but I always felt so guilty for cheating the diet no matter how small the sin, I was still regularly under my rda or cals, clocking in at around 1500 instead of a minimum of about 2k. The counting of calories and steps became a coping mechanism. OCD is about control, and when you feel like you have none, your body and mind develop ways to cope. When I felt out of control I would count. Constantly. A cycle of numbers would always be going around in my head, and I began to rapidly decline into an emotional well. It would hurt my head to be so fixated on this. Combined with my lack of energy I felt worse than ever, but I still looked good which was (and still is unfortunately) important to me. 

Every weight loss felt like a victory. I'd also obsessively begun to weight myself every day, a habit I still struggle to get out of. I was exercising, walking home and doing a strict weights regime. If I missed this I would feel so guilty it would make me sick to my stomach. If I ate something unhealthy, I would loathe myself and the feelings of guilt would overpower me. I began to really dislike myself. Counting became worse, and my head became more crowded with negative thoughts, until one day in a particularly difficult ICT lesson I was delivering, I snapped, breaking down into tears and very quickly needing to find cover for my lesson. My school friends and colleagues were great, all comforting me and trying to help, but I just hated what was happening. My head was constantly in pain, I felt weak and tired and just couldn't cope. I went back to the doctors who prescribed a mild dose of Sertraline - an OCD combatant and anti-depressant, and signed me off work with anxiety. 

My struggles with healthy living, weight loss and body image. Part 2.

So I began dieting over a year ago now, when my then girlfriend began semi-following a weight watchers plan. I was 24 stone and it just made sense to try and make myself a healthier person. At this point I wasn't particularly concerned with how I looked and just wanted to improve my health. I began half counting points and cutting out foods like bread and white pasta and potato, replacing them with good healthy alternatives - whole wheat pasta, rivitas, brown rice and sweet potato became and continue to make up a large part of my meals. 

I stopped drinking beer and cider, opting for shorts with diet mixers when going out with friends, something which I still maintain. I'm definitely more of a spirit fan anyway. 

Unfortunately, my girlfriend and I stumbled upon rocky ground and split up, and I made the conscious decision to keep going with the healthy eating. The pounds began to drop off. I was eating  porridge in the mornings, weighing out a strict amount of pasta and tuna with veg for in the day, and mainly eating salad for my evening meal, with chicken more often than not. I was still enjoying life and treating myself very occasionally, but still steadily shedding the weight. 

I began back at work after the summer holidays in 2014 and received a spontaneous round of applause from the whole staff for my efforts - by this point is lost about 10 stone in a year. Over the six week gap I had dropped weight more quickly than previously, and this obviously showed when I was back at work. The compliments kept coming and I kept losing weight. 

Towards Christmas, my duties at school saw me supervising the children on the playground during lunch times. Whilst the weather did cool down, I found I was uncomfortably cold all of the time, more so than other people on duty. I decided to book a doctors appointment to make sure I wasn't anaemic or lacking something else that was bad for my circulation. 

I know now my doctor was only trying to help, but what happened next kind of began my decline into OCD and calory counting, eventually spiralling into depression. Whether rooted in my recent relationship upheaval or just a deep seeded general subconscious unhappiness with how I looked I'm not sure I'll ever know for definite, but I became immensely unhappy at myself, and my head was often full with negative thoughts and feelings. Unfortunately, things began to get worse. 

Monday, 17 August 2015

#YesPlease by Amy Poehler

It's been a while since I've read something other than the i newspaper or a cheesy Star Wars novel, but upon seeing Amy's ridiculously bright book cover in Waterstones, then realising it was buy one get one half price (this is definitely important) I just couldn't resist. I'm a massive fan of Parks And Recreation and will endeavour to seek out more of Any's television and film work now I've read this semi-auto-biographical collection of humorous essays about her life, from how she broke into comedy and television, to her family life and raising of her two sons, covering much more in between. I don't like explaining too much about books when I do these mini reviews but just wanted to type up my impressions straight after finishing my read through. 

I didn't find the book laugh out loud funny as stated in some reviews I'd seen. It is funny, and I did chuckle occasionally, but more often than not it was making me smile rather lovingly, like sharing old stories with a really good friend that you've not seen for some time. That's how it feels reading this book - it's comforting, life affirming, witty and emotional and genuinely insightful. I wish I knew Any Poehler but Yes Please is definitely a good alternative. She comes across always intelligent yet never too much - and she's humble, something I consider important. She's obviously talented but she is always seemingly grateful at the opportunities she's been afforded through her life, and how events bad and good have shaped her. Her essays on her career in comedy are illuminating and interesting, and her almost self-help style life advice is genuinely, well, helpful. 

Anyone interested even remotely in Any Poehler's body of work will feel like they're catching up with an old friend when they read Yes Please. And if you're not, then it's a still a great read about an extremely talented and beautiful (but non symmetrical) actress, writer, director, producer and comedian; mother, sister, friend, hipster, stoner, drinker and authentically human funny person. 

Should you read Poehler's book? Yes Please. 

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