Update #21

As with my previous update, I mostly focused on fitness on my blog since I was preparing myself for my first half marathon, which I successfully ran on Sunday 15th October at the Leicester Marathon.

After finishing my first half marathon

It has almost been three weeks since I completed my toughest physical challenge so far, and I’m still buzzing about it now! The atmosphere was electric and it was amazing to see so many people running for different causes and charities. I enjoyed the experience so much that I am tempted to sign up for another half marathon on Sunday 11th February 2018. Starting at Prestwold Hall in Loughborough, this will be the first ever Leicestershire Half Marathon, so it would be exciting to run at a new event.

After reflecting on my first half marathon, I have decided not to opt for the full 26 miles. I consider myself to be fit enough to run a half marathon but I would need to be much fitter to run the distance of a full marathon. I found 13 miles hard enough to do and the Leicester Marathon was certainly my hardest challenge yet. For the meantime I would like to focus on improving my time of 2 hours and 47 minutes, which is what it took me to run 13 miles almost three weeks ago.

I am also considering participating in shorter runs, such as the Charity Santa Fun Run in a village called Broughton Astley. Taking place on Sunday 3rd December, there is the option to run 3km or 5km dressed up as Santa Claus! I am very tempted to have a go at this for fun, as well as getting in the Christmas spirit (even though it’s before my birthday, which is on the 7th December!). I would opt for the 5km option, and it would be nice to have a run somewhere new.

It had been a while since I wrote a feminist blog, but I managed to post one last month about the negative stigmas associated with women, including periods and body hair. The blog explores how the negative impact of these issues affect women, and how we are also starting to gradually talk more about it.

I’d like to get back into parkruns, as it has been almost five months since I last ran a parkrun! Training for the half marathon means that I have been focusing on running longer distances, but 5km is a nice distance to run. Plus there are people I haven’t seen for a long time who make up the friendly community of the Braunstone parkrun.

 

Happy reading and blogging!

Clare Bear 🙂

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Let’s talk about…

You’ll be glad to know that I have fully recovered from running my first half marathon! I haven’t done any intense exercise or been to the gym since running the half marathon, but I will be aiming for a regular exercise routine soon and getting myself back down to the gym.

I haven’t written a feminist piece for a while, so I decided to write a piece about subjects which are traditionally taboo, after watching an advert for sanitary towels.

I was scrolling through my Facebook timeline and saw an advert from Bodyform, which is not unusual, although this advert was different from any I’ve ever seen for women’s menstrual products. Traditionally adverts demonstrate the absorbency of period pads and liners by using a blue liquid however, I saw a red liquid! The advert also shows a man buying a packet of Bodyform sanitary pads, and a woman in the shower with blood running down her thigh.

New Bodyform advert showing period blood

For an area which is a taboo and has a negative stigma, I think it’s a great step forward that Bodyform has produced the first ever advert to show the absorbency of its pads with a red liquid, rather than an unrealistic blue one. For something natural to happen which shows signs that a woman is fertile, society is just great at making women feel ashamed about it.

The notion of blood coming out of a woman’s vagina on a monthly occurrence seems to be uncomfortable for many people. I’ve seen men squirm when other people talk about periods, and yet we see blood on almost a daily basis, on the news, in TV series and films. We have become desensitized towards the presence of blood on screen, but some can’t stand the thought of a natural bodily function?

Another area which I myself have felt embarrassed to talk about is thigh chafing. I am thrilled that society is starting to become more accepting of different body shapes with less of a focus on women trying to be as thin as possible and have a thigh gap, but I feel that thigh chafing is not talked about much.

As a child I used to suffer from eczema quite badly between my legs, which made it difficult for me to walk comfortably. While I don’t suffer from this anymore, I do experience chafing between my thighs. I have large thighs which means no thigh gap, so if I wear dresses or skirts I always opt for tights or leggings. When I finally achieved the confidence to not wear tights or leggings (I used to feel ashamed if I had my legs on show), I would apply talcum powder between my legs but unfortunately the effects of this didn’t last for long, so I would end up with red raw thighs. The summer of course is the worst season for chafing.

However, I recently saw, also on Facebook, an advert for garter bands. These bands are worn around the upper thighs which help to prevent chafing. As soon as I saw them I thought to myself, that’s such a great idea! The advert shows women wearing them underneath their dresses and skirts. The bands are discrete and offer a comfortable solution for women who want to free their beautiful legs without the dreaded issue of chafing.

Cute garter bands to help prevent chafing

I became aware of gels and lotions earlier this year to help prevent chafing, but the garter bands look adorable and help to make women feel great! I don’t know how long they have been available for, but they will certainly open up the eyes of people who don’t talk about or avoid talking about thigh chafing.

While I’m on the subject of legs, another area which I feel is not talked about much, even though it’s advertised on a daily basis, is hair removal.

It has always irritated me that adverts for hair removal show women using a razor on a hairless leg or armpit… if you really want to show how effective a product is, have a woman shaving or waxing a leg with hair on. There are adverts of men removing facial hair which is actually on their faces; we don’t have adverts of men shaving a hairless face, so why don’t we have adverts of women removing leg hair? Is it because there are people who are disgusted at the thought of women having body hair in certain places, just like they are disgusted with periods, that they don’t want to see it on TV?

A classic meme about removing body hair

The issues I have focused on in this blog are associated with women’s bodies, since the female body has long been a controversy and subject to criticism, as well as denial. I know that there are issues men face which society doesn’t talk about, such as the issue of toxic masculinity and men’s mental health. Overall I believe that people are generally getting better at discussing issues related with both sexes, although I feel that the taboos are still ever looming. The more we talk about these issues, the more normal they will become and the more accepting people will be.

 

Happy reading and blogging!

Clare Bear

Update #20

The month of the half marathon has finally come around! And as usual it’s hard to believe that it’s October already; there’s only this month, November and December, and then it will be a new year before we know it.

Looking back on September, all of my blogs have been focused on fitness. This comes as no surprise since my main focus has been training for the half marathon in Leicester. I ran 18km for the third time at the start of September, and then I very recently ran the distance of a half marathon for the first time. I was very pleased with how it went, despite being absolutely knackered afterwards. I now know that I can run that far and I’m raring to go for Sunday 15th October.

To facilitate my training I bought a fitness tracker which counts the number of steps you take in a day. I have found it more useful as a timer for my long distance runs, as I don’t think it’s entirely accurate for running. My mother has a fitness tracker as well as she’s walking 10,000 steps a day this month, so it’s more suited for her challenge.

I was aiming to post foodie and feminist blogs, but time and life got the better of me, and I’ve been mainly focused on my biggest physical challenge yet. I did however write a few poems last month which are on my poetry blog. I wrote a pessimistic poem about the current state of the world called ‘Ticking time bomb‘, and a more upbeat and satirical poem about online dating called ‘Swiping away‘.

 

Happy reading and blogging!

Clare Bear 🙂

Update #19

I didn’t actually post an update last month as I was away in France, where I had a lovely time away and enjoyed the sunshine and French cuisine. I didn’t quite get round to writing an update post as I wrote one about my break in France, but this update looks back at July and August together, since July was a quiet month on my blog.

So back in July I ran 18km for the first time. Since then I’ve managed to run 18km again for my third attempt, as my second go at running this distance didn’t quite go to plan. During my second 18km attempt I experienced ‘The Wall‘, but I’m glad that I overcame this obstacle in my recent 18km run. I’d like to increase this to 21km for my next long distance run, which will be the distance of a half marathon (only 39 days to go until the big day!)

Last month I managed to write a blog with a slight feminist tone, which is about our perception of body image and how this affects our health. Interestingly there was a news story recently about a study which suggests that even if you are fit and do regular exercise, you are more likely to suffer from heart attacks and other diseases if you carry too much weight. I might write a blog about this, as I consider myself to be fitter even though I am carrying a bit too much body weight. It’ll be an interesting study to look into.

Food wise I recently made a chocolate banana loaf for my sister’s birthday. It went down very well and I’d definitely like to make another one for future occasions. I do like the combination of chocolate and banana, it tastes great!

Many of you will know that I have a poetry blog as well called ‘poclaretry‘, where I have recently posted about a new poetry night I went to called Bohemia. I read out a few poems at a restaurant called Boneyard in Leicester where I had the opportunity to perform in front of a new audience, and meet other poets as well.

Performing at Bohemia

This month I’d like to focus on my training for the half marathon, since it will be my biggest physical challenge so far!

 

Happy reading and blogging!

Clare Bear 🙂

Body image and health

I’ve always been a supporter of positive body image. Everyone should embrace their own body without having to feel that they must conform to the masses. Everyone should feel comfortable in their own skin.

It’s quite a common occurrence now to see ‘plus size’ models being portrayed as loving their own bodies, especially on Instagram. When I was growing up all I saw in the media was, what I used to call, ‘stick thin’ women which most girls wanted to be like. Dieting was an important issue for young girls while I was at secondary school, when we were just aged between 10-14 years old.

I consider myself plus size and I had the confidence for the first time in my life to wear a bikini last year when I went to Spain for a short break. I felt fabulous and I plan to wear it again soon when I head over to France on holiday this Saturday.

In Spain last year

 

What initiated me to write this blog is when I read an interesting article the other day while I was browsing my Facebook feed. While the article supported body image, it was very frank about how the UK is facing an obesity crisis, and that people are not looking after their health how they should be.

We all know how to eat healthily, but it can be very challenging. It can be a struggle for me, as I have a sweet tooth and probably eat more food than I really need to. I am also on a never ending journey of trying to lose body weight, which I’m finding difficult for various reasons, but it’s probably mostly due to lack of motivation in this area.

The article then went on to suggest that even though it is good that people are becoming more body positive, they are doing so at the expense of their own health, e.g. models who are very/extremely overweight but are not attempting to lose weight.

We also all know that being overweight carries a lot of health issues, including high blood pressure, an increased risk of heart attacks and diabetes. It’s also a big cost for the NHS in the UK; medication to help with diabetes is on the rise as well as the amount of people having heart attacks due to being overweight.

However, there is still this increase in positivity towards larger people who are models or those who have the confidence to wear clothing which was once deemed only suitable for ‘thinner’ people.

After reading the article I must admit I found it hard to comprehend and get my head around at first. I support people who have the confidence to wear what they want, especially larger people since I class myself as ‘large’, but I also support those who are working hard to lose body weight. I guess it’s because I support people in how they want to embrace themselves and if they want to change their body to make themselves happier, then I support that too.

I am also a big supporter of the NHS and I think that a lot of money could be saved if people did look after themselves more, such as taking up exercise and eating healthily, since these would decrease the risk of heart attacks and other diseases related to being overweight/obese.

Another interesting point raised from the article is what constitutes being healthy. We are all different shapes and sizes. For example, there are some larger people who eat healthily and exercise, while on the other hand there are some thinner people who do not eat healthy food and rarely exercise. Of course I’m generalising here, but they serve as examples that we are diverse and everyone’s bodies are different.

Not all larger people are unhealthy and unfit. I know that I’m overweight, but I consider myself fitter than I ever have been in my life. I ran 18km the other day and then stuffed my face with birthday cake later on to satisfy my sweet tooth.

The article does raise some good points, I’m annoyed at myself that I can’t find it now as it was an interesting read. It certainly made me think about myself and my opinions on body image and health. I don’t really know how to conclude, but I do agree that while we all should be body positive, we need to look after our health as well.

 

Happy reading and blogging!

Clare Bear

Update #18

My blog has been on the quiet side recently. In fact, I only wrote 3 blogs last month: my previous update, one about my current situation and the other about my third attempt at 15km.

While my blog has been a little inactive, I got up to some fun things in June, which I thought would be nice to mention about for a change.

On the 9th June I went to see a stage version of Willy Russell’s play Shirley Valentine in Coventry with my parents. We’re all big fans of the film version and we admire Russell’s works (Blood Brothers is my favourite musical!). The production was really good and it was fascinating that Russell wrote the play with only one character on stage: Shirley Valentine.

The following weekend I went on a small trip to the National Justice Museum in Nottingham. It was an educational day out where I learnt about the history of the judicial system in Nottingham. There was also some history about women’s campaigning for the right to vote during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. I liked the artwork that I saw below:

National Justice Museum, Nottingham

I also had a go at putting my head in the stocks, which was harder than I thought it would be (I have a big head!).

What crime did I commit?! 😛

The weekend after Nottingham I went to Skegness for the day with one of my best friends. It was my first time driving over 200 miles in one day, which I actually enjoyed as the route was nice with pleasant views. We got up to all sorts including shopping, walking on the beach, a game of pirate crazy golf, trying our luck on the 2p machines and eating ice cream and fish and chips, although the fish I had was more like a whale!

A huge portion of fish and chips!

The weekend just gone was a very social one- my parents held a surprise birthday party for two friends who have recently turned 65. My father cooked on the BBQ and we had lots of scrumptious food over the weekend. Yesterday I ended up going to an afternoon tea with my mother, which was delicious (and a sugar overload!).

Yet another afternoon tea

My blog will probably be similar to last month, but I will try to post some content for the next few weeks. I have some more exciting stuff coming up this month. I’m off to France for two weeks for a much needed break on the 22nd July, which I can’t wait for. I will definitely write a blog about my fortnight away in France.

 

Happy reading and blogging!

Clare Bear 🙂

 

Update #17

Wow! We’re half way through the year already! Last month seems to have flown by in a blur, but I got up to a lot looking through the posts on my blog for May.

My blog was busy food wise last month. I made two lemon drizzle cakes, one for a bake off at my new job and the other for a ladies’ night in. I preferred my second attempt at making lemon drizzle cake. I used a metal tin rather than a silicone mould and using plain flour with a little dash of baking powder seemed to make a better sponge.

I recently went to a food and drinks festival at Alexandra Palace called StrEAT Life. This was a fun day out where I got to catch up with one of my university friends, and where we got to try some tasty food (and drink a lot of Pimm’s!). Last weekend in general was a binge food weekend, as I also went to a lovely afternoon tea and had fish and chips in Cromer.

Fitness wise was a series of ups and downs in May. I managed to complete a second 15km run and my 16th parkrun, but I have started experiencing pain in my shins. This has made it rather difficult when running. I attempted to run 15km at the start of the month but I only managed 5km because my shins were hurting a lot. I intend to go out running this weekend, so I’ll make sure to put some Deep Heat on my shins which my father has recommended to help ease the pain. I’d like to complete another 15km run before I move onto 17.5km for my training for the half marathon (which is only 4 months away!).

Despite the pain in my shins, last month marked one year since I discovered the parkrun in Guernsey. I am so glad that I was told about the parkrun; I enjoy going to my local one when I can make it on a Saturday morning. I ought to have a go at other parkuns around the area for a bit of a change and to meet more runners.

I mentioned about a night out for the fitness aspect of my blog, which was Peter Kay’s Dance for Life. It was a 3 hour dance-a-thon, which I think counted as a good form of exercise. The Dance for Life was so much fun and everyone was knackered by the end of the evening from dancing so much, but everyone had a big smile on their face.

I’ve been very quiet on the feminist front as of late. There’s lots of things I’d love to write about, but it takes me more time to write a feminist blog. I think it would be good for me to write at least one feminist blog this month. Do you have any suggestions for what I could write about?

 

Happy reading and blogging!

Clare Bear 🙂