Friday, April 1, 2011

On The Couch: The Company Men

What's the story? Set at the start of the GFC, it follows three men trying to survive a round of corporate downsizing at a major corporation. Because what happens when you give one company everything you've got for sixteen years and they throw you out with three month's severance in the middle of a jobless economy? It's hard – on everyone.

Why it's worth paying $17.50 to see: I'm a sucker for a Ben Affleck film, and this one is quietly satisfying. It's sad – heartbreaking even, in parts – but it gets you asking yourself what's really important. Is a job just something you do, or is it a part of who you are? And as the guy who took my ticket at Hoyts commented, there are a lot of Oscar-winning actors in this film – Ben Affleck, Tommy Lee Jones, Kevin Costner and Chris Cooper – and they bring the talent in spades.

Wait, You Read What?

Let's be clear, I'm not big on self help books. I just picked this one up because Bethenny Frankel has always been my favourite Real Housewife Of New York City and I absolutely loved her two spin-offs Bethenny Getting Married and Bethenny Ever After. I think she's hilarious. But I also think she's got some rockin' advice on how to stay slim and enjoy yourself. I mean, any girl that can lose 30 pounds of baby weight in three weeks and still enjoy a margarita gets my vote.

So aside from the fact that I ended up really enoying her new book A Place Of Yes and getting much more out of it than I ever thought I would, there was one little part of it that I wanted to share. And it's a part where Bethenny talks about diet...

"Focus on your life. Food is just food. What are you using it for?"

This pretty much sums up Bethenny's attitude to healthy eating. She's a chef so you know she can appreciate the value of a really good dish. But she eats and exercises with the primary purpose of treating herself well. So simple, yet so effective.

You don't need to deprive yourself of any food that you really enjoy (in fact, often when you do, it's the only thing you want), but you don't need to overindulge either. Next time you start preparing a meal or reach for a snack, ask yourself: what are you using it for? To fuel your body for a workout? To satisfy a craving? To fill you up for the next few hours? Think about why you're eating. Listen to your body, and pick your food accordingly. Then, move on. Don't let it consume you.

Food is just food, after all.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Introducing: Nike Training Club.

I have a hard time understanding why everyone doesn't love Lea Michele as much as I do, but even if you don't have a soft spot for Glee's resident diva, I think you'll like this app that she's currently talking up. It's called Nike Training Club and it basically just has loads of exercises that you can organise into full-body workouts with instructional videos and audio cues. Plus, you can set your workouts to your favourite music tracks. It's all kinds of awesome, but the best bit by far is it's free. Seriously, yours for nix. On Nike. As long as you've got an iPhone 4.

Want Not, Waste Not.

My former housemate Emma (who left me for greener pastures – let's just call him Alphe) always had a thing for waste. And when I say she had a thing for it, I mean she absolutely hated it. I would throw out an entire jar of out-of-date pasta sauce and she would look at me like I'd just told her Masterchef was never coming back on TV. To be honest, I just got used to the rants and to seeing her have weird leftover combos for dinner "because it's perfectly good and you can't throw it out" – but I didn't really change my tune.

Then I read a story in Girlfriend magazine (because, yes, I am secretly a 15-year-old girl) that talked all about how bad food waste is for the environment. Did you know that every year in Australia we throw away $5.2 billion worth of food? Crazy, I tells you. And it all contributes to landfill, combining with other organic materials to produce that dreaded greenhouse gas – methane.

So tonight I'm cleaning out my cupboards and taking stock of what I have, because tonight's dinner is going to use the stuff I've already got. No matter how wacky it looks mixed up on the plate. Emma would be so proud.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

On The Couch: If You Happened To Miss This...

Here is the extended trailer for Chris Lilley's new show Angry Boys. In a word: Hilarious.

On The Couch: Is This The New Mad Men?

Boardwalk Empire is the new show that's got everyone talking. So what's it all about? In a nutshell, all the action takes place in Atlantic City in the Prohibition period of the '20s and '30s, where the city's treasurer Nucky – part corrupt politician, part gangster – is running an underbelly of organised crime.

But are you ready for the really hype-worthy stuff? The epic pilot episode, directed by Martin Scorsese, cost nearly $20 million to make. And while the show's creator Terence Winter (yep, he's the guy that brought you The Sopranos) wasn't sure the studios would have the moolah to keep the series running, after the Boardwalk Empire crew picked up a Golden Globe for best dramatic series and reviewers started throwing around words like "breathtaking", "brilliant" and "purely enjoyable", HBO picked it up for a second season.

It started here in Oz last weekend and if you're curious to see what all the fuss is about, you can check it out on Sunday nights at 7.30pm on Showcase.

Is This Really The Worst Burger On The Menu?

There has been a lot of talk about KFC's new bunless burger The Double Down, which consists of bacon and cheese sandwiched between two bits of fried chicken. But, hey – at least there's no bread.

It's hardly surprising though that nutritionists aren't giving the "burger" their seal of approval. With 1939 kilojoules and 32.3g of fat, it's certainly not something you want to be chowing down on a daily basis. But is it really that much worse than all the rest of the fast food options being handed out at drive-thru windows?

It still has less kilojules than the McDonald's Double Quarter Pounder (which contains a whopping 3560kJ) or the Grand Crispy Chicken (with a not so grand 2510kJ) – and the Hungry Jack's Ultimate Double Whopper leaves them all for dead with a massive 5085kJ and 80.5g of fat.

So it might not be the worst of the lot, but it's safe to say it's not going to do your waistline any favours. Bread or no bread.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

While Other People Dream About Real Stella McCartney...

I'm dreaming about her killer collection for Adidas. I don't know how she does it, but the campaign shots just get cooler and cooler every season. Bravo, Stella. Bravo.

Take The Plunge.

Mel: "Let's go in the plunge pool."
Me: "No way. It's freezing in there."
Mel: "You'll lose three kilos, just by jumping in."
Me: "Hang on, I'll get my towel."

I should have known better. Or at least I realised that when I actually gained 200 grams after my first plunge pool experience. But I went back for a second dip the next morning and I have again pretty much every day since. I start with a few minutes in the steam room and then jump into the ice-cold plunge pool.

Why? Because, it turns out, the hot-cold contrast is really good for your muscles. "The lazy person's cool down" is how one of my fellow gym-goers describes it. The heat of the spa or steam room relaxes your muscles and then the shock of the cold water from the plunge pool makes them contract. Then when you hop back in the spa, they relax again. And you gear up enough courage to take the plunge a second (or third) time.

It's become part of my morning routine now and while I still haven't lost the three kilos Mel promised, my muscles are grateful.

Monday, March 28, 2011

On The Couch: You Go, Glee!

It was the moment pretty much every Glee fan was waiting for and it happened last Monday – Kurt (Chris Colfer) and Blaine (Darren Criss) kissed. You've gotta hand it to Glee. They put all types of teens in front of around 10 million viewers each week, and whether you love or hate the show, I don't think you can deny that it sends a flipping awesome message to young people, or for that matter, all people. So I'm giving the absolutely adorable and very admirable Chris Colfer a huge virtual high five right now, because think Blaine said it best when it sang, "I can be myself now, finally. In fact, there's nothing I can't be."

PS. If you missed it, you can watch the full ep here, or check out the Gleeks on Oprah tonight at 7.30pm.

I'm Never Doing Spin Because...

I've tried to encourage many a new gym member to come and try a spin class and I've heard all the reasons why they won't. So I thought I'd just rebuff the most popular ones here, so I don't have to keep repeating myself...

1. It's too hard. I'm too unfit.
That's rubbish. You see, in a spin class you control the resistance dial. The instructor might give you some friendly (or in some cases a not-so-friendly) encouragement to put up your resistance but at the end of the day, you decide how much your legs can take and it's up to you to push yourself to that next level. Plus, the only way you're going to get any fitter is if you get on a bike. Sorry to break it to you, but fitness doesn't just come to you while you get some much-needed shut-eye. I wish it did. That would make things a lot easier and really free up my mornings.

2. I don't want to get big thighs.
You probably won't, actually. You need a little thing called testosterone to build muscle and most of us gals just don't have enough of it to get really big and muscly. We'd have to lift weights and work out for hours and hours every day. And lucky for you, a spin class only goes for 45 minutes.

3. I'm not risking a knee injury.
No one wants you to that, but honestly you'd be more likely to hurt your knees running. Cycling is a low-impact activity, which means you can have a high-intensity workout without putting the stress on your joints that running or jumping would. There is always the risk of an injury – especially if you don't set up your bike properly or use enough resistance during the class – but it's no reason not to give cycling a red hot go.

4. I don't have a towel.
Okay. Well, if you forgot your towel, there's really nothing I can do for you. Because spin will make you sweat – like lots and lots of perspiration. So go buy a towel and I'll see you next week.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Wake Up And Do This.

Meet Tara Stiles. She's a yoga teacher from the Big Apple and she puts a lot of her tutorials up online, where you can enjoy them for free. This one's all about morning yoga for flexibility. Don't thank me, thank Tara.