A Lofty Existence Closing…For Now

alofty-night-sky

I have come to a decision: as much as I would like to, I will no longer be adding new posts to this blog on a regular basis. In other words, A Lofty Existence is closed. However, not completely. I will likely be adding new posts on an infrequent basis, so if you are a new reader or an old one and really enjoy the blog, you may want to keep your subscription or subscribe if you have not. The blog will stay up, complete with all posts and comments, and I will be approving new comments.

After three years of blogging on a regular basis, this was not an easy decision. I learned a lot in that time, and enjoyed sharing and interacting with commenters. I would like to say thanks to everyone who contributed to the blog, in one form or another. I truly do appreciate it and I’ll keep in touch!

alee

Nope, Not Buying It Lululemon

lululemon-thighs-rhymeOkay, okay, Lululemon — you win! I will never even think of buying one piece of your overpriced clothing.

Athletic apparel brand Lululemon has, once again, turned off their consumer base by making insensitive, belittling comments about women’s bodies. Not too long ago the brand was forced to recall some of its yoga pants after customers complained that the pants became see-through when worn. In response, Lululemon founder Chip Wilson blamed women for the recall, claiming that “Quite frankly, some women’s bodies just actually don’t work” with the pants; it’s because of “rubbing through the thighs, how much pressure is there over time.” In other words, “Hey, you big-thighed/overweight/bottom-heavy women, please stop wearing our pants. You’re killing them! They’re meant for slim women.”

As if it couldn’t get worse, their latest “Huh?” commentary comes from their location in Bethesda, Maryland. For the holidays the store decided to play on Wilson’s comments about women’s thighs with a lovely poem in their front window: “Cups of Chai/Apple Pies/Rubbing Thighs” This, on top of comments by former employees that the company discriminates against bigger sizes and wants to be the go-to brand for the “fit” and stylish.”

Lulu is clearly suffering from an incurable case of foot (thigh?)-in-mouth syndrome. As anyone could have predicted, Chip Wilson took back his comments after a petition was lululemon-shares-fallcirculated, demanding that he apologize for his words, and the Maryland store promptly removed their window rhyme, adding that they were “deeply sorry”. But what are they really sorry about? Making hurtful, disparaging comments about women or the dollars that they see slipping from their hands? Moreover, the damage has been done and their shares continue to fall.

Now, some ask, what’s the big deal about their comments? Why should those who have extra weight or bigger bottoms wear stretchy, tight pants material? Why can’t a brand be particular about its customers?

This issue is bigger than the right of women with big thighs to wear trendy yoga pants. The issue is one of a culture which green-lights a negative, shaming attitude toward women and their bodies which don’t fit its idea of beautiful. When comments like this are made, all women are affected by the perpetuation of thinking which values (and devalues) women based solely on their outward appearance. Even the slimmest of women are made to wonder what flaws of theirs people are secretly laughing at, as they have another plain salad for lunch. Women who are attempting to work out and be healthy should be encouraged, not shamed.

So, nope, not buying it Lululemon. Not buying your numerous apologies after making hurtful, sexist comments about the women who made you into a multi-million dollar company. And definitely not buying your poor quality, $90+ Spandex.

A Lofty Existence is Three Years Old

third-birthday-cupcakeThis week the blog reached its third year in existence. A long time coming, for a tiny blog at the corner of the Internet.

Now that A Lofty Existence has reached true blog seniority, it is time to make a decision. Should the blog remain active and reach its fourth year and beyond, or has it served its purpose?

When I began this blog I had few plans as to how long it would remain open, I just knew that I wanted to write and have a place to share my thoughts, as well as connect with online acquaintances. And when I began this blog I was at a totally different point in my life than I am now. Currently, although I still love blogging, I don’t have much time to dedicate to writing posts. And as is obvious, a blog is nothing without its posts.

At the moment I’m weighing the pros and cons of two very different options — end my blogging by the beginning of the new year or make my new year’s resolution to stick to a strict schedule for posting and move my blog to a dedicated server. It will be a tough decision, but whichever option I choose, the blog will remain open.

As the new year is still several weeks away, I still have time to come to a decision, which I will post at that time. Right now, I’ll wish A Lofty Existence a Happy Birthday and all readers Happy Holidays!

Attractive Personality Traits in Men

man-intellectual-crownA previous post, Attractive Features in Men covered the physical features I find most attractive in men. But what about a man’s mental and emotional traits? Which personality characteristics increase a man’s appeal? Here is my personal list of the most attractive personality traits in men.

1. Intellectually Curious

Intellectual curiosity adds tremendously to a man’s attractiveness. The eagerness and willingness to learn new things and increase one’s knowledge makes a person that much more interesting. There is more to discuss, share, and do.

2. Open

Related to intellectual curiosity, a man who shows an openness of mind is receptive to new ways of being and is able to adapt and accommodate the unfamiliar or unknown. Such a trait makes it easier to deal with all the changes life brings.

3. Independent

While independence of body is great, independence of mind is most attractive. Independence of mind means being able to absorb and analyze information and come to decisions without needing the input of others. An independent man knows his own values, wants, and needs, and doesn’t mind if others may disagree with them.

4. Committed

It might seem obvious but being able to stay committed to what they start is a trait which distinguishes certain men from others. Too many become distracted, lose focus, or can’t muster the will to stick to see something all the way through. A man who can stay the course has wide appeal.

5. Quirky

Just a pinch of peculiar makes a person more exciting to be around. I enjoy a man who is a bit offbeat, one whose behavior and way of being isn’t quite expected. A man who is different from the crowd catches my eye and holds my interest.

6. Emotionally Intelligent

A man with emotional intelligence understands his own emotions and how they affect him and those around him. He is able to foster positive relationships and minimize conflict with others. It goes without saying that this is a very valuable trait to have in an intimate relationship.

7. Loving

A man who is truly loving has depth of feeling for those close to him and isn’t afraid to express these feelings from time to time, in the way he knows how. He considers it important to make sure that those significant in his life are reminded of his love for them. Whether that be through words or actions, a loving man is attractive to women and in general.

Which characteristics are on your list? What make a man attractive to you?

See also:

Sugar Nation

sugar-nation-jeff-oconnell

Sugar Nation, a 2011 book by fitness writer Jeffrey O’Connell, is an honest, fresh look at the nutritional roots of insulin resistance and diabetes. Combining extensive research and personal experience, the author offers a compelling intimate account of his own battle with run-away blood sugar and its many effects. At the same time Jeff O’Connell takes on the advice of the medical establishment and drug industry which call for treatments which not only don’t help the condition but can make it worse.

Whether you have issues with insulin and diabetes or a genetic predisposition to it, this book is an informative and entertaining look at preventing a range of health issues and improving your well-being, simply by cleaning up your diet and increasing your fitness.

So Much More Than Sugar

Although the book is titled Sugar Nation, the author’s main point encompasses more than that: he uses a wealth of research to demonstrate that empty, refined carbohydrates and their prevalence in the modern food industry have caused an epidemic of insulin resistance, diabetes, and the accompanying conditions of high blood pressure and heart conditions.

This is both the book’s strongest and weakest point: while recognizing that other carbohydrates beyond sugar, such as potatoes, rice, and wheat products wreak havoc with the blood sugar, the author seems to overreach by condemning a whole food group. While everyone could benefit by introducing more whole foods and eliminating nutritionally deficient carbohydrates, the fervor with which the author advocates for avoidance of all carbs is reminiscent of the anti-fat and meat advice of those which he opposes.

Thin and Healthy, So What?

This book proves insightful because it presents an atypical case. Outwardly, Jeff O’Connell was the epitome of health: fit, slim, and active. As a fitness writer and head of a large fitness website, he prided himself on being informed about nutrition and health. Most would not expect, including the author himself, that his body was constantly in flux.

His condition also presented an atypical case of insulin resistance where a person’s blood sugar dips to extremely low levels. What do you do when, by all appearances you are healthy, but you can’t help feeling something is not right?

Pass the Meat

O’Connell struggled with blood sugar which was usually quite low, but after meals reached levels which would be considered diabetic. As a result he felt jittery, moody, and was always looking for his next carbohydrate fix. Wondering what was wrong, on one doctor’s appointment he received his diagnosis: pre-diabetes. Having a father who avoided treating his diabetes and faced the severe consequences later, O’Connell was determined to control his blood sugar and find a path to better health.

Noting that foods high in carbohydrates caused his blood sugar to destabilize, the author read more into the link between carbs and insulin resistance and decided to completely overhaul his diet. He cut out the snacks and fast foods he was accustomed to and based his diet on meats and vegetables. As he suspected, on his next appointment his health profile was better than it had ever been; most notably his blood sugar returned to normal range and A1C –the measure of your blood sugar levels over a few months– drastically improved.

While Sugar Nation can go off on tangents at points and isn’t without its flaws, it is an interesting read for the seemingly simple idea that it presents and achieves: that, equipped with the right tools, a person can take control of their own health.

 

Blogging on Blogging: Criticism

writing-criticismFor those who love blogging, it can be fun and rewarding. At the same time, owning and keeping up an engaging and informative blog is hard work — much more than it may seem to those reading the finished product. Feedback on posts and topics of discussion are always appreciated, however, feedback sometimes crosses the line into criticism which isn’t so constructive. Some even extend their criticism to other outlets — other blogs, forums, and the like.

While even unwarranted, negative feedback can help and spur a blogger to improve their writing, it for the most part detrimental. Besides the obvious result of demotivating the blogger who is criticized, it wastes time and creates a negative atmosphere. Among others, here are a few more reasons you should rethink or reformulate any critiques you’re contemplating sending a blogger’s way:

1. Blogging takes guts

To blog means to lay out your innermost thoughts and feelings. Needless to say, this isn’t the easiest thing to do. Scrutinizing a particularly personal post teaches the blogger that their ideas and thoughts are not welcome and discourages them from ever bearing their literary souls again.

2. It easier to tear down than build up

Those who criticize a blogger or blog post tend to feel that they can do better, or that the writing is simply not good enough. However, there is a world of difference between reading and critiquing, and creating. If you don’t believe this, try it.

3. A blogger is their greatest critic

Yes, before you ever see the blogger’s post it’s usually been raked over for the slightest mistake or misstep. While some may simply type and publish, most posts are read, corrected, and rewritten a few times. The act of writing makes a critic of any writer; it creates it own improvement.

All of the above said, criticism is necessary and I welcome it. But criticism can overstay its welcome when it hinders rather than promotes. Critics are needed, but thoughtful, honest writing is in short of supply. Instead of criticizing, it seems some chronic criticizers could better use their time by writing themselves; showing by example how a wonderful article or post is written.

How do you feel about criticizing blog posts and bloggers? If you have a blog, have you encountered criticism and how did you deal with it?

10 Cities I’d Love to Visit

The world is full of places to see and things to do, and at times I’ve wondered about the many places I’d go if I could take a grand trip around the world. The list of gorgeous cities and historical sites I’ve compiled would take days to list, but here is a short list of cities around the world that I’d love to see and explore one day. Feel free to add any suggestions!

innsbruck-picture

10. Innsbruck, Austria

Innsbruck is a historic city in western Austria known for its mountain backdrop. It has beautiful constructions dating back to medieval times, like the Golden Roof built by Archduke Friedrich IV, and Maria Theresien Street, pictured here.

chaguaramas-picture

9. Chaguaramas, Trinidad

Meaning “The Land of the Palms,” Chaguaramas is a small coastal city in northwestern Trinidad. The beautiful beach area has must-see natural scenery, such as The Bamboo Cathedral, a stretch of road hailed by sky-high bamboo stalks on either side.

aurora-borealis-reykjavik

8. Reykjavik, Iceland

The capital of Iceland and most northerly capital of the world, Reykjavik, like most of southern Iceland, is an area unlike any other. The chilly climate manages to house a range of arctic wildlife, from mink to reindeer. It’s also a great place to view the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights), a natural light display caused by solar winds in northern latitudes.

accra-picture

7. Accra, Ghana

Historically a trading city, the capital of Ghana is now a busy area of over 4 million, and a center for banking and foreign exchange. The city now contains fascinating modern architecture, but it once included major portions of the vast Ashanti Empire in the 18th century.

Poland Jewish Museum

6. Warsaw, Poland

Although historical events may indicate a city in conflict, Warsaw has a large and culturally diverse population including many of the world’s major religious groups. The city contains picturesque constructions from various time periods. Warsaw continues to renew itself while preserving its history, with projects like the Museum of the History of Polish Jews, which opened in April.

Bern-picture

5. Bern, Switzerland

Bern is an amazing culturally rich city which features medieval structures contrasting  with a modern culture of unique shops and theater.The photo here is of The Kramgasse, a curved street in the Old City popular for its shops. It also the site of Albert Einstein’s former home.

Iquitos-picture

4. Iquitos, Peru

Containing a large portion of the wondrous Amazon Forest, Iquitos, Peru’s Amazon River is one of the New Seven Natural Wonders of the World. Its equatorial climate hosts contain almost 900 separate species of animals and just as many plants. Iquitos was officially established as a Jesuit station in the 1750s.

amsterdam-canals

3. Amsterdam, the Netherlands

The Dutch capital features a vast system of canals, some of which is pictured here, and a booming economy based in the financial and tourism sectors. Known for its nightlife, Amsterdam also has a notable arts culture with sites such as the Van Gogh Museum, dedicated to the influential Dutch painter.

the-shambles-york

2. York, England

The city of York dates back two millenia when it was founded by the Romans. Now a major tourist attraction, this north England city features attractions such as the York Minister cathedral, and the lovely narrow streets of The Shambles (shown here, at night), containing many small shops and restaurants.

malmo-picture

1.Malmö, Sweden

Starting out small, Malmö has become Sweden’s third largest city and is a center of innovation, bustling city life, and natural beauty. A continuously growing city and the definition of European modernity, it has a young and varied population, with almost one-fifth of its population hailing from other countries.

Summer Break

hammock-summer…Even bloggers need a break!

I’ll be taking a two-week summer break starting next week and ending in early August.

UPDATE: The next post will be published on Sunday, September 1st.

During this time I will be reading, approving, and commenting on previous posts, including those in the Clouds, but no new posts will be published.

I will also be working on a new layout and hosting for the blog, which will likely be up and running by the time I return from break or shortly after. These improvements will hopefully provide a better reading and commenting experience for everyone.

Have a great summer!

Open Question: To Be Confident or Humble?

confident-womanIs it greater to have confidence in yourself or be more humble? And is it possible to be both at the same time?

It is one of the greatest ironies of life – people are encouraged to have confidence in who they are and believe in their worth, at the same time they are discouraged from displaying too much confidence. Instead they are told to stay humble and are praised for presenting themselves as unassuming and self-effacing, especially when their accomplishments or skills appear to be more praiseworthy. Public figures are criticized for displaying pride in their achievements, those who are lauded as attractive or intelligent are chastised if they note such qualities in themselves.

Thus confusion is created; most are unsure if they should show any confidence in their innate gifts or practiced skills. How much confidence is too much, when is it warranted, and when will it be considered arrogance? Perhaps it would be better to display humility, after all, it is a virtue.

Due to being unsure of what side of the fence they should be on, some end up choosing one side over the other — complete confidence or utter humility. As a result these people are labeled as arrogant or lacking in self-esteem. No matter which you choose, you can’t win.

So today I’m wondering: do you personally find it better for a person to be confident or humble? Which are you and which would you like to be: confident or humble?

Why I Prefer (Much) Taller Men

tall-man-preferenceIn earlier articles I discussed the features I find attractive in men, as well as some features I don’t find as attractive. This post is dedicated to discussing my strongest (and perhaps most controversial) preference in men — height. A man’s height is one of the two most obvious and decisive factors in whether or not I will find him physically attractive.

So, don’t most women have a preference for taller men? Yes, for various reasons which many people have speculated on — from evolutionary influences to social influences to biological reproduction. However, according to many studies most women prefer men who are around 5 inches taller than them, and within the range of 5’9″/1.75 m – 6’2″/1.88 m. My preference is a bit more extreme — I am most attracted men who are on the upper end of that spectrum, and nearly a foot taller than myself.

I’ve long contemplated my preference for tall men, attempting to understand the roots of it. For as far back as I can remember I’ve had this overarching interest in noticeably tall men. There was no particular incident or outside occurrence that influenced the formation of this preference, it always just was; an innate preference. Since I’ve been asked in the past what drives my attraction to extremely tall men, I’ll add the few motivations that can be logically explained:

3. A large height difference increases contrast

As cliché as it sounds, in some ways, in a relationship I’m looking for an opposite, someone different from myself. A taller man provides a clear and large difference, especially for women like me who are also on the taller side.

2. Height adds to the impression of masculinity

Not to increase feelings of insecurity among shorter men, but I find that height can cause a man to appear more traditionally masculine. As men are naturally taller than women, perhaps instinctively taller men are viewed as more masculine.

1. Tall often mean slimmer and longer limbs

In addition to my preference for height, I also have a preference for slimmer men with long limbs. Height spreads out weight so a person appears slimmer, and the taller someone is the longer their limbs become.

While I can add a few reasons, most of my preference simply can’t be logically explained. And it is important to add that while I have a strong preference for tall men, it is a preference, it isn’t a requirement. I’m open to dating and have dated men who are shorter than my preference and even shorter than average, given that I’m attracted to them for other reasons.

What do you think of physical preferences? Do you have a height preference for those shorter or taller than you?

See also: