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Lauren Fogazzi

Lauren Fogazi is in her final year of journalism school at Ryerson University in Toronto, Ontario. She is an avid reader, inventive writer and a crusader for everything that is holistic wellness. While she does love the written word, Lauren has an intense passion for yoga and has just completed her first yoga teacher training (Hatha/Vinyasa).

Are You Counting Numbers or Counting Nutrition?

The other day, I came across an intense debate on the ever popular social media outlet, Instagram. A photo of a diet coke can and one of a fresh fruit smoothie had the caption “200 calories of this is better than 0 calories of that.” I swear to you, some people had a field day with that. They couldn’t wrap their minds around thinking that drinking something packed with [good] calories could ever be better than drinking something with no calories. We could get into the issue of aspartame and how detrimental it is for your body and mind, but that’s a different topic completely.

Reading the comments below that image got me to realize that this is an epidemic plaguing most women. They like to see the low numbers on the nutritional information but never bother to look at the ingredients. My morning protein smoothie has about 300-400 calories in it, but I pack it with super-foods that have me energized and full until it’s lunch time. If you decide to drink the diet coke in the morning over the smoothie you’ll notice how it effects your day. It’s the same with all other food too. At this point I have completely tossed out counting calories, fat, carbs, blah blah blah. It’s all bullshit really. If your foods are rich in nutrients, your body will be able to utilize them and put those ‘numbers’ to proper use.

Take for example those 100 calorie packs. The first ingredient is enriched wheat flour. Sounds nice, huh? “Enriched” is actually the opposite of what it sounds like. It means the nutrients have been stripped out of the wheat in order to achieve a better texture and longer shelf life. Once you ingest it, your body breaks down the flour too quickly and adds a huge shot of sugar to your blood stream all at once, and what does it do with all that extra sugar? It stores it in fat cells so that you can use it later…which let’s face it, we don’t always do. So next time you’re wondering where that spare tire in your mid-section came from, give your bread a glare!

The next few ingredients are not a surprise at all: sugar and canola oil. And with the company being Nabisco, a known GMO-supporter, you better think twice before grabbing this “healthy” snack off the shelves. This one example can extend to most “health” foods and foods that are found prepackaged.

So with all of this in mind, why don’t you try half an avocado instead? It’s 160 calories, with 15 grams of fat, but it’s packed with protein and vitamins that have been proven to stabilize blood sugar, prevent cancer and Alzheimers, and even help you to lose weight (avocados are packed with fibre).

Here are some other foods that get backed away from due to their calorie content, even when they’re actually much better for you than many low-calorie meals:

  • Peanut Butter: 100 calories in every tablespoon looks a little dangerous, yeah? But peanut butter is rich in proteins and improves your metabolic fat-burning rate – it’s the top alternative to fatty meats that have the same protein count and aren’t nearly as good for you

  • Nuts: Not pub nuts so much as walnuts, almonds, pistachios, and peanuts. Nearly 190 calories in each ounce of these but,  to be fair, yet you’d be hard-pressed to find better food that’s so rich in fibre and protein and also helps stabilize your blood sugar.

  • Olive Oil: So what if it’s great for cooking? 120 calories in each tablespoon of it means people tend to pass on it. But olive oil has been known to protect against certain types of cancer, and it holds anti-inflammatory properties that are linked to a lower risk of heart disease.

  • Bananas: In fairness, the calorie count in bananas (120) is almost double what you’d find in any other fruit. But they’re packed with fibre, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin B6, folic acid, and countless other nutrients. They’re basically nature’s nutrition energy bars, made specially for you.

  • Granola: Granola gets a bad rap for containing almost 600 calories in one cupful. Yet it’s made from whole wheat and compressed nuts, and often mixed with yogurt and sweetened with molasses or sugar. It’s rich in essential oils, incredibly nutritious, and tastes great.

So forget counting calories and start counting nutrition. It may seem a little scary at first, especially for those who write down every single detail. I challenge you to forget the numbers and instead, eat foods that are beneficial to your health, despite the calories.

You’ll be the better for it! The nutritional benefits will easily outweigh the calorie cost. You’ll have more energy – and you’ll wind up burning off those extra calories in a heartbeat, anyway. You’ll love the food you’re eating and you’ll be happier. If anything is worth a few extra calories, it is certainly that.

What Women Want

Women are sexual beings, yes, this is a truth we already know. But another truth is the double standard in our society and the ease with which ‘man’ can essentially do as he pleases. Meanwhile, women are left to struggle beneath the magnifying glass as men are glorified for their sexual conquests. The question is then, where do these double standards come from? And the answer lies within history. From the beginning of time women have been portrayed as the docile sex. We are demure, sensitive and highly emotional, often being accused of irrationality. Then we are described as being left to fight the uncontrollable sexual desires and advances of men. So this is how we are categorized… and then placed neatly at our spot in the home or at the reception desk.

Thankfully though, over the years in a tough battlefield women have been able to rectify their spot in society and contribute to our constantly growing culture. We are almost seen as equal. There is one unfortunate aspect that is still at the forefront, and that’s the struggle to be recognized as highly sexual beings. A very important issue is that most women are unsure of their own sexuality and feed into the societal norms of female sexuality. We let men dominate with their self-proclaimed sexual energy and insatiable desire to ‘fuck her.’

Journalist Daniel Bergner has just released his second book on female sexuality and opens the discussion to hopefully paint a true picture of whatfemale sexuality actually is: sordid, ravenous and animalistic. Bergner’s book, “What Do Women Want?” is a collection of scientific findings, interviews and observations that really re-examine women as sexual beings. He unearths information through science, history and scrutiny to debunk the unnatural assumption that men are ‘hardwired’ to be more sexual than women. According to Bergner, women are NOT more docile and may actually be less committed to monogamy, while also being harder to satisfy.

So why is it now that people are just beginning to figure out this nonsense and why hasn’t anyone ever noticed that we are wildly diverse? It’s because men are scared of what women may achieve if our true Eros is ever unleashed. In many interviews, Bergner made mention of a few male friends who had read his book and felt deeply ‘concerned’, while other male friends mentioned it ‘scared the bejesus out of him.’ A lot can be taken from these reactions, as well as from the normal Western Judeo/Christian views on female sexuality that have barely budged.

Men have been dictating on our behalf what our desires should be, how we should react to certain situations, how we should feel and what we should do with our sexuality. If they are concerned now then it is us who should be feeling empowered. As teenagers and young 20-somethings, a lot of us have been told that women don’t like sex; we do it as sort of a trade off. If we wanta loving, monogamous husband and beautiful children then we must submit sexually. Our desires are not important and we really should not be acting upon them. It’s also been noted in history that men tried to dampen and constrain women’s sexual energy by discouraging fantasy, which they rely on to keep the energy high.

Within the book, Bergner also discusses a lot of social constructs and uses them as an excuse for women’s lack of sexuality in their everyday life. He says social structures can blind us to reality, with monogamy being one of the major culture cages that distorts our of understanding female desire. Now, there is nothing wrong with monogamy and there are plenty of happy and successful relationships that are based on it, but to say that women only strive for a relationship with a one man as their end-all-be-all is completely incorrect.

Monogamy can even be blamed for the flagging sex drive in women over 40. According to Bergner, even the hormonal decrease of menopause can be entirely overridden by the appearance of a new sexual partner. He mentions psychologist Kim Wallen’s discovery of the “thought that monogamy was, forwomen, a cultural cage — one of many cultural cages — [that] distorts libido.”

These findings are only the beginning to a long journey of sexual exploration. Pick up the book and encourage other women to read it too. This information is powerful and can help women reach complete equality. As for enhancing your libido now, why not try a few of this tips…

· Watch Porn – Just like men, we love anything visually appealing and what’s hotter than watching someone else get it on… or someone else enact the fantasies we most want ourselves? Watching porn can get our blood pumping and open our eyes to the variety of sex out there. Porn can help us discoverwhat we didn’t already know and may even introduce us to a fantasy we never knew we had. Our sexuality is constantly changing and constantly progressing.

· Be a Flirt – Even if you’re attached, try flirting with the hot bartender on your girl’s night. It will be thrilling and can spark a passion within you that has been itching to ignite. If you aren’t attached, go as far as getting his number. You aren’t that shy and you aren’t that docile. Break out of the shell society has placed you in and explore your sexuality. You may find a sultry new side…

· Try Swinging – If you are with a partner suggest a swinger’s club. There are no expectations and everyone stays true to their comfort zone. It could be an eye-opening experience for you and your partner, and who knows, perhaps you will both learn something new. If you’re single, don’t feel bad about giving your number out to that guy, or exchanging a kiss with a stranger. Don’t be afraid of the labels of ‘whore’ or ‘slut.’ They are merely categories constructed by fearful people. You are a woman, you are strong and you are empowered.

· Act Out All Your Fantasies- Don’t be ashamed of something you want to try. There is nothing wrong with sexual fantasies as they are the life energy force that keeps our sexuality going. Just remember that there is no fantasy that is deviant or gross. Exploring our sexual side is completely natural and actually quite necessary. So next time you want to be tied up, or you want to do the tying up, don’t hesitate to bring it up to your partner.

· Back Off From Oral Contraceptives – There is considerable new research that shows negative side effects from the contraceptive pill, and one of them happens to be a lower libido. Women who take the pill will have lower testosterone, which regulates our sex drive.

Now that you’ve learned ways to get that libido up and running we suggest you put that sexy body to good use and go give them a try! Put your inner prude away and let the animal inside you come out. Meow!