Could You be Loved?

Firm Meditation

Don’t let them fool ya
Or even try to school ya
Oh no!

We’ve got a mind of our own
So go to hell if what you’re thinking is not right
Bob Marley, “Could You be Loved

Once upon a time, when America was as great as Donald Trump wants it to be again, professional and college sports were the near-exclusive domain of white athletes. Mainstream media coverage of sports back then was dominated by old white men, a condition that largely persists to the present day.

And back then, when athletes and commentators were a racially homogenous group, a stereotype was born: The “Dumb Jock.” The athlete as moron – physically gifted, affable, capable of awe-inspiring acts. But dumb as a post. The stereotype was likely created by the pens of sportswriters who wanted to create a line of demarcation between the dumb…

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Top 10 hetero/sexist moments in Caribbean Politics REDUX: 2015 edition

This really just speaks for itself at this point.

Feminist Conversations on Caribbean Life

Sexism refers to prejudice, stereotyping or discrimination, usually against women, on the basis of sex.

Heterosexism refers to the assumed primacy, supremacy and normalization of heterosexuality and the resulting attitudes, bias and discrimination. 

Hetero/sexism is often used to represent the extent to which heterosexism simultaneously encodes binary gender, unequal relations of gender, naturalised notions of male superiority and female inferiority as well as homophobia.  It calls attention to the interconnections between and among a binary and unequal understanding of gender, heteronormativity, misogyny and homo- and transphobia. 

Since we first published our Top 10 Sexist and Heterosexist moments in Caribbean politics there has been no end to the misogyny, rape shaming, rape jokes, homophobia and support for patriarchal privilege by both women and men in positions of state power.

Number 1

St. Vincent and the Grenadines communications official working in the Prime Minister’s office shames a rape survivor on live radio

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Sexual Harrassment and UWI: Can we talk?

Active Voice

campusregoffice

Everyone agrees that in order to deal with a problem you first have to acknowledge it exists. I thought of this when listening to Camille Bell-Hutchinson, University Registrar, energetically refuting the charge that gender-based violence is out of control on the Mona Campus of the University of the West Indies. Today the Letter of the Day in the Daily Gleaner is from the University’s Director of Marketing, Recruitment & Communications, Carroll Edwards. Like the Registrar she denies allegations of rampant attacks on campus women made in a Sunday Gleaner article dated February 1, 2015, ‘Halls of horror: gender-based attacks haunt UWI, Mona’.

The denials come in response to a study cited in that article quoting Taitu Heron, currently National Programme Coordinator at UN Women Jamaica, who chronicled some of the reported cases of violence against women on the campus in her 2013 study Whose Business Is It? Violence Against Women…

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Back in the game! Lower Body Max Effort.

Well, life happened.

About two weeks ago, I got what we all thought was Chik-V or dengue fever. Headaches, joint pains, lethargy and all of that. Except when I went for a blood test, my platelets were normal (no dengue) and the Chik-V test was negative. So I essentially had no idea what was wrong, so I went home and fell face-first into my bed and stayed there. For more than two weeks.

I know when to push it and when to sit down and do what’s right for my body, so I didn’t try to stay with the programme. The persistent headaches, coupled with the joy of midterms and coursework was really, really fun, let me tell you.

I still have headaches every now and again, but I don’t feel as horrible as I did before, so I decided it was time to start Westside for Skinny Bastards (yeah, after a whole lot of flip flopping I decided I might as well not waste time with PHAT if powerlifting is my main goal).

I also decided it’d be a good idea to try this sample of a MusclePharm preworkout that I got from the new protein store on campus.

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Vile, vile substance.

Firstly, it tastes like hell. As in ‘HOW THE FUCK DO I DRINK THIS’ levels of bad. It’s horrendously sweet. I choked down as much as I could (one does not simply have leg day when nauseous). It didn’t do much, but again, I didn’t drink the whole thing. And I never will.

I’ll just stick with C4 for now.

Two weeks ago, I managed to pick up a cheap kitchen scale, which is great since I’ve spent *way* too long trying to estimate portion sizes. I once calculated the volume (then the mass) of a steak by displacement. Don’t ask.

It’s not digital, but I figure I’ll live.

Today’s workout was okay considering I’ve been out for so long; my legs are usually the first part to get really weak. I took it somewhat easy considering how long I’ve been out. My deadlift is *still* stagnant at 100lbs, but at least it’s not down from that.
I weighed in at 88lbs just now (*ugly sobs*), which means I’ve lost about 2lbs.

Fitocracy   The Fitness Social Network To Level Up In Real Life

The glute ham raises were done like this. And this is the layout of WFSB that I’m doing; I’ve read all of the official articles, but I like this format. Operation ‘raise dem deadlifts’ is still on, and hopefully the goodmornings and the GHRs will help with that. I’ll probably add in some deficit deadlifts too, since my pull is the worst off the floor.

Torisinanan's Food Diary   MyFitnessPal.com

This is my food log for the day; I’m a teeny bit short on calories, but otherwise, I think I managed pretty well considering I rolled out of bed at 11am this morning. It’s also a good time to note again that I follow IIFYM, and I’m a hardgainer. It’s quite literally on both sides of the family; my mother only crossed 100lbs when she got pregnant with my sister, and my paternal grandmother didn’t even hit 100lbs through any of her pregnancies. We’re really little.

Granted, most people can’t tell I weigh so little by looking at me, which is good, I guess, since most people hear 88lbs and think of a starving anorexic girl. For perspective’s sake, I’m a bit under 5ft 3.

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All 88lbs of me.

I’m probably not going to put on a lot more than this (I’m thinking I might be able to hit 110 tops given a lot of committed bulking and heavy lifting) but it’s worth noting that I was even lighter before I started lifting more than a year ago. Back then I barely tipped the scale consistently at 80lbs.

I’ve got the metabolism of a shrew I tell you. Or as this article so quaintly puts it: ‘…the metabolism of a hummingbird on methamphetamine.’

PHAT Day 3: Back and Shoulders Hypertrophy.

Well, life happened. Because of university being such a time suck (it’s the midterms, mostly), I had unintended rest days on Wednesday and Thursday since I had to focus on an exam. In any case, Tuesday’s workout went as planned, and here are the results:

Fitocracy   The Fitness Social Network To Level Up In Real Life

I haven’t done plain hypertrophy work in a long time; I’m not sure how I feel about it to be honest. I think doing powerlifting-style methods for so long has jaded me haha

I also tried out BCAAs for the first time (don’t ask my why I got it in pill form, it seemed like a good idea at the time). I’m experimenting with the dosage (on account of me not being a fully grown 150+lb man like most of the articles I’ve read assume). Luckily the pills aren’t that annoying to take, which is a small blessing.

I’m keeping a sharp eye on how I feel my body is responding to this programme; Westside for Skinny Bastards was my second place choice, and I may end up doing that one anyway if this one doesn’t pan out. My upper body seems to respond to more volume, but my lower body seems to need a lot of intensity. My priority is strength over size, and I’ve heard some people got good size gains on PHAT, but not much in strength. While I *do* want some quality muscle, I don’t want it to be at the expense of my lift progress. I’ll give this programme a chance to see what progress I make for now, but I’ll probably be side-eyeing Westside while I do it.

Welp, we shall see how it goes. Lower Body Hypertrophy today :3

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PHAT Day 2: Lower Body Power Day

Alrighty, so, I’ve made it through day 2, and it wasn’t that bad. Now, to be honest, my deadlifts positively suck. I have no clue why (I suspect a mixture of lower back weakness, grip weakness and being too chicken shit). Admittedly, they’ve gotten better today because usually pulling 100lbs once would have murdered me.

I’ve done some lower back work in the weeks before I started PHAT, and I also switched up my stance. I really do like the sumo stance; I feel so much more comfortable and strong. I figure my short torso and long arms probably had something to do with my previous deadlifting fails when I stuck to the conventional stance. I think maybe my bar was also a bit too low, (which would make the pull harder than it usually would be) but there’s little I can do about that with my limited equipment at home.

It’s also been such a long time since I did so much assistance work. I took it very light, but even then, if I feel my recovery suffering a bit next leg day, I’ll cut it down a tad. If not, I’ll add in a little more weight to some of them and see how it goes.

Today’s bodyweight was about 90~lbs.

Fitocracy   The Fitness Social Network To Level Up In Real Life (2)Also hooray for me, I remembered to take my creatine today! I’ve been eating like a horse all day, and I *still* need to find out how to cram about 100g of carbs into my day (and that’s not counting dinner and my pre-dinner snack, both of which I have yet to eat). I’m already cringing at the prospect of having to add more calories if this current configuration doesn’t work, because while I have a big appetite, I am really tired of eating for today.

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Tomorrow is a rest day, and hopefully I remember to sign up for the campus gym (and get new headphones, because my current pair has gone AWOL). It remains to be seen if I can walk to the admin building though!

PHAT Day 1: Upper Body Power day!

Yesterday was my first day of doing Layne Norton’s PHAT, and it went pretty darn good. I think I underestimated myself when it comes to upper body for this one, but I did feel a good burn and I struggled a bit for some of the reps.

Fitocracy   The Fitness Social Network To Level Up In Real Life (1)My goal is to get to full chin-ups by the end of the year and pull-ups by next year. I also really want to get my bench press up at least to 75% bodyweight. Nutrition and supplement wise I took creatine before I trained and drank a fair bit of my Isogainer after (two scoops instead of the usual three dose). I should have probably finished the whole thing, but I just couldn’t stomach it for some reason. I think for today’s workout I’ll blend it with ice instead to see if that helps. I was also under my calorie/macro goals, but I *did* also sleep in until noon that day, so I didn’t have much time to eat.

Leg day today!

In search of dem gains.

How I got into lifting:

So, I started weightlifting in early 2013 in an effort to put some weight on. See, being 90lbs is not exactly fun, especially in my family where it’s almost mandatory that my grandparents be perpetually worried about how much I eat. The average morning when I encounter my paternal grandfather goes a little like this:

Tori: “Good morning!”

Grandfather: “DID YOU EAT BREAKFAST YET WHAT DID YOU EAT”

He has literally offered to pay me to hit 100lbs. I think it’s a Caribbean thing; I’ve noticed we’re not really a part of the skinny-fad that grips pop culture elsewhere. We even have a derogatory word for skinny people in the local parlance: magga.

Anyway, I came off a bad breakup and decided I wanted to improve my self image, so I decided to start working out. Naturally, the first thing I did was P90X, which probably was about the worst thing I could have done to gain weight (I actually started at 80lbs!). I saw some changes in my cardiovascular fitness, then I did to Body Beast, a weightlifting programme from the same company. It was a good start, and I gained 10lbs.

What struck me though, was that I was really damn weak.

I did more research and figured barbell training to be the best thing for me; I somehow managed to get a barbell, and started New Rules of Lifting for Women. The bar I got wasn’t an Olympic one; it’s about 20lbs and I *still* had trouble hoisting it around at the start of the programme. I believe I got through maybe four phases or so of NROLFW before I realised I wasn’t making much progress.

Then came Stronglifts 5×5 and my love for powerlifting-type routines.

I took my squat from a measly 50lbs to 135lbs in a couple months, and I realised then what I’d really been missing. The scale didn’t matter much any more, the numbers did. I wanted to be stronger. I started keeping track of progress with measurements and tracking the weight lifted instead, and I saw I was making progress, despite remaining practically the same weight.

The next issue was my puny upper body strength, which seemed at this point to be the bane of my existence (and still is). Stronglifts was able to bring up my squat and deadlift, but my overhead press and bench press were the first to stall, and they did at some pretty pathetic weights. Pound-for-pound, it’s not bad but I kept thinking, if I can squat 1.5x my weight, why the hell is my bench barely half of it?!

I stalled and I stalled and I stalled, so I decided I should move on to an intermediate programme after about six months, and here I am.

The current plan:

I took a gander at Westside for Skinny Bastards, Wendler 5/3/1, the Texas Method and Layne Norton’s PHAT first. My sister had some results with the Body Sculpting Bible and was now doing Strong Curves, but after reading them, I wasn’t convinced those were going to fit my obsession with lifting a tonne of weight and also getting some aesthetic benefits, plus the big lifts weren’t as incorporated as I’d like them to be. (Though, as you’ll see, I will incorporate Contreras’ barbell hip thrusts into my lower body days).

Wendler seemed like a good fit, but I was pretty curious about PHAT; I did some more digging and I decided on doing it, alternating the Lower Body Power/Hypertrophy days with squats and deadlifts. (Layne Norton is a natural bodybuilder, and holds powerlifting records, hence I realised he was more in line with my goals than anyone else.)

Now, PHAT is a 5 day on, 2 day off programme and that’ll be hard to adjust to after months and months of 3-day/week training, so I expect my first week or so will be hell. I also haven’t been able to get into my gym often with university taking up so much of my time; so I’m stuck with my home weights until I join my uni’s gym next week (which means I’ll only have 110lbs to work with.)

Meal Planning FTW:

My current calorie goal per day is about 2200 kcals, and slightly less on training days. My macros are:

Carbs: 330g

Protein: 110g (going by the 1.2g per lb of bodyweight calculation)

Fat: 49g

Which roughly translates to about 60/20/20.

I’ve been taking Isogainer by Nutrabolics simply because it has 60g of protein and only 3 reasonably sized scoops per serving (Have you ever seen the Serious Mass scoop?! It’s ridiculous!). Granted, it tastes like shit, but I add enough unsweetened cocoa powder to hide the overly-sweet-artificial-vanilla taste that makes me gag.

I’ve also decided to load up on creatine again (I’m taking the creatine monohydrate by Optimum Nutrition) and I take Cellucor C4 Extreme whenever I think I need an extra boost. I’m toying with the idea of a pump-enhancer, but I’ve never really looked into their efficacy (I’ve heard NO3 Chrome is good, but I’m going to research it a bit and maybe see if I can get a couple pill packs before I commit to buying a bottle).

The current and most pressing issue is getting enough to eat all day; university is annoying and I have to start prepping more seriously or I pretty much don’t eat. Really, all we have on campus is Arabic food, some local stuff and assorted other crap. Oh, and Pita Pit, but they’re expensive as hell.

As for my general diet plan, it’s IIFYM. I’m already pretty lean (the one perk of being a hardgainer), so I’m not really watching what I eat per se; I don’t eat a lot of fast food anyway, but I freakin’ love my pasta.

I was probably Italian in a past life

Anyway, that sort of wraps up this long post. The next one will be of my first day of Layne Norton’s PHAT, which I actually did yesterday evening. (Which means today is leg day!)

Hi, my name is Indecisive: A rant on careers and the shortcomings of Trinidad.

It’s 2:00am here, and I am still awake.

I’ve got a cup of tea, but I’ve also got a mind full of buzzing thoughts that just won’t let me sleep. I’ve tried watching funny videos and killing time talking to whoever is still awake on facebook… but still, I’m up.

I’m not an insomniac, not by a long shot. I love sleep more than I love a lot of things.

I’m having one of those moments; those introspective little periods where you take inventory of your life. The past, present and possibilities of the future, pretty much. Well, my past stings a little; I think, personally, it’s filled with wasted opportunities, misplaced worth and a whole lot of bad decisions (but those stories are for another time). My present is a bit more…ah…put together. I know what I have to do right now. I like that feeling; I have some sense of direction, I can plan things easily and I always know what I’ve got to do next.

Then there’s that pesky future. You know, the one you can’t see shit in.

True story.

I’m a psychology major and I like it that way…however, things do change. I’ll graduate in about a year and a half, which means I’ll be officially unemployed, and my only hope in hell will be finding and getting into a post-grad programme. (Because what do you even do with a BSc in psychology?)

Simple, right?

Well, if you know university, you know the answer. I’m also not entirely sure if this is what I’ll want in a few years, but at least I’ll be comfortable. I always figured I’d be one of those eternal students; always up to something new. I’d probably collect degrees like trading cards given the opportunity (read: money). Field wise, psychology is my first love. I adore everything about the field, and I love learning more about it, because, well, it’s interesting. Who doesn’t want to know how the human mind works?

However, I am beginning to see the shine of other disciplines… and I’m not sure that’s a totally great thing for me. Knowledge is great, but really, there’s only so much you can do with some of these degrees, even at postgrad level. My main goal is supposed to be getting an MSc in Clinical Psychology so that I can legally practice here (PhDs in the field are prohibitively expensive and only available abroad). So getting a MSc in something that’s more research based would probably not equip me with enough earning potential to even think about getting a PhD. Hell, considering what my sister is going through as a doctoral candidate and researcher, I might be short on money for food.

Those other disciplines won’t cease to be shiny and amazing looking though. A few of them are getting to the core of my curiosity about my country and the region it’s in. I hate to admit it, but I don’t know a lot about this place, and I think a lot of other Trinidadians don’t either. We don’t value this sort of information, generally. I’m learning more now than I ever did doing Caribbean Studies in sixth form. Compared to this (and these are about two courses, mind you), that year of ‘teaching’ was practically worthless.

Those people who do have post-grad degrees in the wider Social Sciences aren’t really taken on by those in power (…who should probably be taking notes). They’re the ones doing the research, finding out the hows and the whys of this place and its issues. However, like I said, hardly anyone outside of the academic sphere appreciates it…and certainly not the government! Who needs policies shaped by research and careful deliberation, amirite?

In a perfect world they’d have more influence because they’re the experts in their field, and they should be listened to. Right now though, they’re doing their research, and no one is looking at what they’re finding. I don’t want to be like that. It must be frustrating. I know how it feels to think you’re talking to a brick wall, and nothing good will come of your hard work. I don’t want that feeling for my career.

Psychology won’t be a walk in the park, by any means (the Caribbean is shit when it comes to mental healthcare), but I will have clients/patients, and I will be able to assist them individually. I keep telling myself it’ll be different for me if I do that, and leave all of the other awesome things I want to study on the back burner for a while.

But will it really? Here I go again.

This is an accurate representation of the author.

Finding a family.

Growing up in the Caribbean is a unique experience.

Firstly, every island has its own culture, and each maintains that it is vastly different from all the others. Secondly, chances are, you’re mixed. Third… sometimes you have a hard time knowing what you’re mixed with.

For me, I’ve got a lot going on, and it took my sister doing a DNA test to actually get it sorted out. So, as much as my grandfather would like to maintain, I’m not ‘pure Indian’ (read ‘Indo-Trinidadian’, they’re used interchangeably here).

The Caribbean also has a hell of a history behind it, and uncovering that is a small step in finding out who I am. We are a region descended from freed slaves, former indentured workers, expatriates and everything you could think of. It’s beautiful… until the self hatred settles in.

You see, my grandmothers are both mixed race and don’t like to talk about it. They don’t like to admit it. Why? Maybe, for too long they’ve been led to be ashamed of it. I’m not.

I want to know.

For the first time, this year I saw a picture of my great-grandmother. She was a woman who looked nothing like me; if I were to see her on the street, I would have passed right by. Yet, I carry this woman’s name as one of my own.

I’ve made the decision to make a family tree, even if it takes forever. I know for sure we’ve got roots in Grenada and Venezuela as well, but I’m not sure how I’m going to deal with those. Right now, I’m wading in blind.

I’ve got a recording app and four grandparents. Wish me luck.

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My great-grandmother Lena.

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