How to eat.

Seems simple right? So simple almost to the point that it seems silly to be told how to eat. However in today’s society, media is constantly telling us how to eat: what foods to not eat, how much to eat, how many calories, carbs, protein, macros… It’s easy to get carried away with the latest trends and become obsessed with how to eat, when in fact, it should be the simplest thing – a no-brainer – you do in life.

I used to be obsessed with calories. I would count all of them. When I was fourteen, I was so silly to the point that I would not eat a sweet (which was probably just 4cals) because I  was scared it was going to make me fat. However, I had my times of ups and downs (in weight and relationship with food) and I can say that to a large extent, despite weighing 10kgs more than I did when I was counting, I am more comfortable in my body than I ever have been. Confidence is really not a number but a feeling. More importantly, after over nine years, my relationship with food is starting to become somewhat normal again.

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I’m sure many dieters have come across the term: intuitive eating. With its fancy name, it sounds like another trend. However in my opinion, intuitive eating is just the fancy term for how we ate as children – or even how we were born to eat.

When I was a kid, I couldn’t care less whether I finished the food on my plate. I just wanted to go play the moment I felt my food didn’t taste as good anymore because I wasn’t hungry anymore. As a twenty year old, I get a sick satisfaction out of knowing I am able to finish everything on my plate despite my body saying its had enough. I believe this satisfaction is partly due to my restrictive past, where I would weigh out and calculate food and eat it even if it wasn’t what I wanted to eat at the time – let alone, if you body was hungry for it. I was completely out of touch with my body and myself.

Despite not being at my dream weight (although I am by no means overweight), I am claiming to be no expert on being ‘lean’, I believe I have come across the secret on how to have your cake and eat it too aka. how to eat and BE thin or at least a healthy weight natural to your body. That secret is: intuitive eating (eating when you’re hungry and stopping when you’re full).

But I understand that for people who have gone through diet after fad diet, it’s natural to have lost touch with our intuitive appetite. What I’ve come across that helps to get back to eating naturally is a japanese teaching: hara hachi bu. This means to eat until you’re 80% full. It takes a bit of experimenting and practice to get the hang of but if you practice it enough, you’ll slowly start to hear your body again, and you’ll become your natural lean self again.

This teaching is beautiful because it allows you complete freedom. No more forbidden foods or overeating in calories. Nothing is black/white. You learn that if you want something you can have it, and funnily, you don’t go crazy when you have it.

Again, I am no expert in eating this way. I seem to love/hate overeating. I find that when I focus too much on my eating/diet then that’s when I tend to start gaining weight and find it most difficult to practice. When I am busy with my actual life (not revolving around food) then I start slimming down. Therefore, I find the secret is not to obsess over what you eat or trying to get this natural way of eating right. Listen to your body and it will happen naturally.

Furthermore, it is important to keep in mind that eating this way is not just for your waistline. What I find most liberating, is that it gives me the free to eat whatever I what and whenever I want – so long as my body (not my mind) is hungry. With this freedom comes time to focus on other things that are more important in life: my studies, friends, family, future career… which I believe is beautifully summarised in this quote:

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If you get one thing out of this post: remember that there are more important things than losing a kg in life. I’ve been there and I understand how fulfilling seeing the scale go down can be – but I find true fulfilment comes in leading a truly happy life, one where your time of day isn’t confined to and defined by counting numbers.

Trust me, I’ve never felt so full as when I’m fully living my life.

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I want to be a housewife.

I am nearing the end of my time at university (I am over halfway at least) and the worry of getting a job looms. The last few weeks at university we have had some guest speakers come in to talk about our future career and opportunities. There were a few inspirational speakers and others who were quite dull and discouraging, yet all of them seem to say the same thing: it is a competitive world.

The other evening, I was talking to a classmate and her friend who was in third year (we are in second year). We ended up talking about our future plans and she asked me what I wanted to be. I said I used to be so sure that I wanted to be a writer but now I’m not so sure. The truth is, I am a person who hates competition – you’d rather let you win if that’d make you happy. And I am frightened by how competitive the field (world) is. She asked me again, ‘so what do you want to be?’ So I half-serious, half-jokingly said: ‘I want to be a housewife’.

Let me describe the look on her face and my friend’s face when I said these words. They were of shock and almost, pity. Ashamed, I hurriedly said: ‘I was joking’ but they knew I wasn’t really.

Fortunately I had to go and meet another friend. So I was saved by that.

I feel feminism is at its highest point – in the sense that, it is celebrated and praised in mainstream media. Yet if feminism is really for people being whatever and whoever they want, if it is for equality and the freedom to choose, then why should I feel ashamed when I say: ‘I want to be a housewife’? It is because being a housewife is considered less ambitious than having a ‘proper’ career? Or is it because being a housewife somehow fits into the “stereotype” of what a woman should be and therefore it is un-feminist?

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One criteria that I have when picking a career is that it must be something that I enjoy and find fulfilling. I believe that being a housewife is something that I can enjoy and is highly fulfilling, and therefore why should I not consider it as a future possibility? I believe I will enjoy cleaning the house, waking up to make breakfast, making packed lunches, cooking dinner, walking the dog, knitting in front of the fire, vacuuming the carpet, ironing my husband’s shirts enjoyable. And yes, I’d say I even enjoy doing the dishes. It is not the activity itself that is ‘fulfilling’ but the idea of getting to take care of those I love, which is. I consider that as honourable and respectable as any office job. And if I can be a housewife and write alongside that, then I’d be a very happy and fulfilled woman indeed.

Perhaps my idea of what I find an enjoyable and fulfilling career will change someday. But at least, today this is what I believe. I just wish people, girls like me, wouldn’t look at me as though I’ve just committed murder when I say those words. And that they’ll someday realise: I am no less woman for wanting to be a housewife.

 

Let me know in the comments what dream(s) you have that you are afraid of telling others of because it may be considered ‘anti’ feminist.

On being 5’0

So I’m not a very tall person (as you can see from the title). In fact, I’m short. Like, really short. My height isn’t something I’m insecure about (I suppose it used to bother me a little when I was younger but  I’ve (ironically) grown into it). The tallness of other people does not bother me. In fact the only time I’m made aware and feel uncomfortable about my height is when I find someone shorter than me (apart from children of course, but did I mention, I’m the height of the average 12 year old?). I am 152cm (although I usually just tell people I’m 150cm because sometimes the doctor tells me differently, so I just round it down).

There are times I wish I had long, super model limbs but there are also perks to being short like wearing a long shirt as a dress, a jacket as a coat, sneaking into tiny spaces, and not having to bend my neck when I stand near the door on the tube. But of course, there are downsides to being short (like not being able to hold onto the overhead railing during rush hour).

I thought it would be fun to do an ‘imagined’ Q&A on questions I think people would want to ask a super-short person but might think its too mean to ask. (I am by no means answering for all short people, the answers are specific to me).

Ask a Short Girl

What’s the weather like down there?

Honestly, I think it’s the same as up there, unless it’s on the tube at 8.30am during rush hour! Then sometimes I find my head burrowed in someone’s armpit.

How do you reach the top shelf?

I have tall friends for that. Or I just ask someone for help. Or I get a stool (if I’m at home).

How do you talk to tall people?

Ironically, my close friends have been pretty tall people. My best friend back in middle school was over 15cm taller than me. She was built like a model. One time another friend made a remark on how I’m making my friend slouch when talking to me! But that’s not true. You can talk to me standing normally.

Why do you like tall guys so much?

Okay, ask any of my friends and they’ll tell you I’m crazy about tall guys (by tall I mean over 6’0). I don’t have a direct answer to this question because there are so many. I just like how tall they are and their long legs! Or maybe, I can say it’s the whole feeling ‘protected’ thing.

What do you do with all that height difference? 

Get picked up!

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How do you find clothes?

I fit into normal clothes. If it’s jeans then I sometimes fold the legs up but they are fine down too. Sometimes, I shop from the petite section but it is not necessary.

You must wear heels all the time.

I actually am not a big fan of heels. Simply because even when I wear them, I am still short so I don’t see much point in it.

How much do you eat?

Despite my size, I can eat A LOT but I really shouldn’t. Being smaller means that I can’t eat as much as someone who is 5’9 and not face the consequences… a couple of kg’s shows a lot on me.

You must’ve been a tiny kid.

Funnily, up until about year 5 I was average height. In fact in year 5 I was on the taller side. I don’t know what happened but this changed when I reached the height I am now in year 8. I basically just stopped growing.

How tall are your parents?

They’re not short surprisingly. My Dad is almost 180cm and my Mum is 163cm. So I can’t blame my parents for short genes.

Can you walk faster?

I try! This is probably the only time I get annoyed about my height – especially when I’m rushing somewhere. Longer strides do no work for short people, we have to take quicker and shorter ones.

Something you dislike about your height?

I feel that sometimes being short means people take you less seriously, or you feel inferior. I once read an article somewhere which said that study has shown that taller women have better careers and shorter women make better wives, which is completely ridiculous (at least, I hope!).

Favourite thing about being short? 

Getting picked up! But seriously: cliché as it is, it’s something that makes me, me. I would not feel the same person if I were any other height.

Grown ups have told me, sorrow is caused by wishing we had the things we don’t have and wishing we didn’t have the things we do. In other words, we think the grass is greener on the other side. As a short girl, I can imagine some short girls wishing they were taller and I presume the same applies to some tall girls. Therefore, we should just embrace the height we are as it is what makes us our quirky and unique selves.

 

 

 

 

(Practical Ways) to Be Happy.

Last week I wrote a post on how to be happy. It was a very cognitive approach to happiness and suggested that happiness is largely about shifting our thinking. Sometimes it is difficult to get in the right mindset, therefore I’d like to write a post on the physical and more practical steps you can take to become happier when you are feeling down.

Write.

I find that writing is very therapeutic. It is like talking and confiding in a close friend, only that you do not have to hold back. You can write about your darkness secrets and (if you’re afraid of someone finding it) burn it. I always believe that by expressing how we are feeling we are acknowledging it and therefore accepting it. This is the first step towards solving a problem or discovering why or what is making you unhappy. Once you are aware of the root then you can work towards solving it.

Furthermore, writing is a good way of documenting your thoughts and turning your sadness into something ‘useful’, or even beautiful. I know sadness should not be romanticised but sometimes I find myself reading over a poem I’ve written when I was sad and thought, I couldn’t write like that when I’m happy. So write – and you’ll find, it changes your sadness in a way, it makes you see your sadness in a different light.

Make a list of the little things. 

Again, similar to writing but this time you should focus on expressing the good things in your life, the little things you appreciate. Whether it be a musician playing the harp in the underground or the late night conversations you have with a close friend, that A you got on an assignment to the delicious meal you cooked last night, how the sky looks at 5pm or how warm your bed is when it is raining outside… the little things that makes life enjoyable is endless. When you really can’t think of anything, remember to be grateful for the people you have in your life, the body that allows you to live, your health, the roof over your head, food on plate or even this computer screen in front of you. There is always something to be grateful for even on the bad days. There is a quote that I like to remind myself of on bad days: no everyday is a good day, but there is something good in everyday.

Get out of the house. Do stuff.

I would say go for a walk (or better yet exercise) but I understand that I have little motivation to go for a run even when I’m happy, so asking me to exercise when I am feeling low is unrealistic. The point is to get moving. Lying around the house all day is not good for your health (both mentally and physically) even if it is what we are inclined to do when we feel down. It is fine to have a lazy day where you mope about from time to time but then remember that a world exists outside your bedroom. There are people to talk to, places to walkthrough and new experiences to be experienced!

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When you are doing nothing because you feel there is nothing to do then it can become a cycle which becomes difficult to break. You feel sluggish therefore you don’t want to do anything, and vice versa. Break the cycle by getting up and getting dressed and stepping outside of the house (and also yourself).

Go window-shopping (or spend time doing a favourite hobby).

This kind of ties in with my last point, do something that makes you happy and makes you appreciate that you are alive. I like to go window-shopping and try on all the pretty clothes even if I don’t have the intention (or funds) to buy them but I still enjoy the sensation of it. If you have a particular hobby you life, like knitting, baking, reading, playing music, singing, dancing or a sport then do that. Not only will it take your mind of your sadness but it’ll make you appreciate that there are still things that make you happy simply because you enjoy doing them. Better yet, do something completely pointless with the only point being that you enjoy doing it.

Spend time with a loved one.

A love one does not necessarily mean a boy/girlfriend but your mum or dad, grandma or grandpa, your cousin, a close friend, a new friend, a dog or cat or even your parrot (if you have one). As important as it is to recharge your happiness in yourself, you shouldn’t forget that there are people who love and care about you. Talk to people because it is fun to talk to people but also listen to them, for there is a lot that you can learn. It was a while ago but I recall from psychology class that when we talk to people and form bonds, our brain releases oxytocin and it makes us happy. So spend time with your loved ones.

Do something for others.

I am aware that my advice has been quite cliche and preachy so far, and this one is probably the most cliche of all but it is true. Nothing compares to the happiness that you feel when you see someone you care about is happy. I feel we are born quite selfish (children are pretty selfish to be honest) and it was not until later on did I really understand the meaning of being happy from another person’s happiness. The first time I really felt this (a deep intense happiness) was when I took my mum out for a dinner on her birthday last year. I surprised her with flowers and a Pandora charm and cake (in which I’d lost the candles for). I was so happy that she was happy.

You don’t have to go out and volunteer at a shelter or donate a ton of money to a charity (although these are amazing things to do) when I say do something for others. It can be as simple as baking a batch of brownies for your flatmates, or smiling at a stranger walking by.

 

Let me know in the comments if you do any of these tips, and what other things you do to be happy.

 

 

How to Be Happy.

Happiness is something I struggle with. When I am sad I long to be happy but when I am happy, I dread that something awful will happen to ruin my happiness and make me sad again. It is easy to be sad, anyone can be sad. It takes a lot to be happy. Sadness is a safety-net, a comforting space in which I know I am ‘safe’. Other times, happiness makes me guilty – for I often I think what did I do to deserve such happiness? But when I think of my friends, family, a child on a playground… I think, of course everyone deserves to be happy – happiness does not need to be earned.

Because I am sad a lot, I am by no means an expert on happiness but through my being sad, I have learned a few things from my sadness. The first thing is to accept that is it is unrealistic to be happy 24/7. Life has its up’s and down’s and happiness is all the happier because of it. False-positivity is no way to live.

Another (probably the most important) thing about happiness is that happiness is a choice. I don’t mean in the sense that you can wake up one day and choose to be happy. You have to work on being happy. But the first thing you must decide is that you want to be happy. That you will try to be happy. Like I mentioned earlier, it is tempting to stay in our sadness – it protects us from the world, people who might hurt us, uncomfortable situations… but it also prevents us from all the great opportunities that are out there. Sadness isolates you, even if it is not physically. It mentally isolates, it makes you think: it is you against the world, when the only thing against you is yourself. The first step to happiness is opening up to being vulnerable again. For one needs vulnerability to trust, love, and be loved.

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With this being said, you have to realise that your happiness should never rely on anyone. People can make you happy, but the person who can make you most happy of all should be yourself. This is why self-care is not selfish. Loving yourself is not selfish. It is true that if you want to love anyone, you must love yourself first. If you cannot take care of yourself then how can you of another person? Therefore, pamper yourself. Indulge yourself in the things you love: good food, shopping, warm baths, a childhood hobby. Do what makes your heart sing, even in the midst of your busy life. If you like baking, bake. It is vital that you make time for you too, it is important that you learn that you are not lonely but can be happy even when alone.

Your me time gives you time to reflect and draw things together again, try to be in the moment. Often my happiness is disrupted by my regret for the past or desire for it, and other times, my anxiety of the future. I find if there is one ‘secret’ to happiness, it is to live in the present. Think of children, they do not fret about the small things. Audrey Hepburn once said that she’d heard that ‘Happiness is good health and a bad memory’. So be like children, forget easily and don’t worry about what you are going to eat next Monday night.

The past is beautiful because we romanticise it. We remember our ex’s lovelier than they were, our best friend funnier, our childhood self happier than our older self. We need to be grateful for the things and people we have now. Of course, no person or time can replace the past ones, but that is not to say that the currents ones are not as happy. They are just happy in a different way. As for the future, it can be a little trickier. Especially in this fast moving time and age, it is always go, go go! and when we do find time to ‘relax’, we are left worrying that we should be making better use of our time. Which brings me back to the importance of living in the moment.

When things are too much, I sometimes find myself thinking, I have so much to do – poor me! I feel I am losing my way. It is in these moments that we should sit back and appreciate that it is in fact a good thing that we have a way to lose at all. It is better to have things to do than to have nothing at all. The best way to not outrun and worry yourself is to keep organised. Make a plan and list all the things you have to do – often you will find that, with it written down, it is not as vast and intimating as it is in your head. And stick to that plan, don’t over-do it and once you’ve said that a project is done, it is done. Set it aside, let it go, and let it be.

Therefore, perhaps the key to happiness is to have faith. Have faith that when things are sad, they will be happy again. Faith that you are exactly where you’re meant to be. Believe in faith, even if with is something illogical, uncertain, even scary, for it is still something beautiful at the same time, just like happiness.

I’d like to know in the comments what are the little things that make you happy.

My flatmate’s dream is to own a country.

I was having a late-night conversation with my flatmate the other night, and he told me how he wants to be ‘rich’. Not to generalise, but that’s what most guys say when you ask them what they want to be when they grow up: rich. To make lots and lots of money seems like a vain and unfulfilling life goal but there was more to it. He wanted to make seven trillion pounds so that he could have his own country which would have hospitals, a 24/7 district with shopping malls and clubs that never close, on top of that he wanted to give all his friends a house (which all include a swimming pool) each. What I thought was a selfish, bizarre and quite silly life goal turned out to be something quite inspirational. When he asked me what I wanted to be, I said: a successful writer (which seems completely mundane and unambitious next to his crazy dream) he then asked me: why not the best writer in the world? I told him, because that’s unrealistic, and he said I’d achieve way more if I aimed for that than to be any everyday writer as, if he aimed to make seven trillion and own his own country, he would achieve loads just from getting halfway there.

Then having a dream to own a country didn’t seem so unrealistic and childish anymore. It made perfect sense.

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When we are growing up, we get asked all the time: ‘what do you want to be when you grow up?’ And children have no trouble in telling their teachers, they want to be a doctor, nurse, vet, lawyer, businessman/woman, policeman/woman, firefighter etc. yet I know twenty year olds who have no idea what they want to do. I don’t believe it’s because they’re unambitious, it’s just because they’ve been taught that there are things they cannot do, they’ve learnt to be rational about things.

As a kid, I’ve wanted to be almost all the typical occupations under the sun. I wanted to be a doctor but then I discovered my fear of blood and dislike for gory stuff. I wanted to be a vet but again, I cannot stand open wounds. I wanted to be a professional ballerina, but I outgrew ballet. I wanted to be an actor but I can’t act to save my life. I wanted to be a painter, yet I am too impatient. That’s when I discovered that I wanted to be a writer: as cliche as it sounds, I love that I could ‘paint’ an image in someone’s mind with just a few words in seconds (instead of spending ages in front of an easel). I wanted to be so many things yet I didn’t pursue them because something got in the way to make it inconvenient. But I’ve realised nothing is convenient – when you want to do something enough, you do it. Time is never an excuse. You make time just like you make excuses. And the only way to stop making excuses is to have a complete, bursting passion for what you want to do. And I feel, I am so lucky to have found it.

Yet I am still stuck with a problem of not having enough ambition. Not in the sense that I want to lie around the house all day and never do anything. I do what I have to do. Just that, I still cannot bring myself to follow my wildest dreams because to me, they still seem unreasonable.

What I would deem a practical dream: to be a successful writer with a flat in London and a dalmatian.

What I deem as an impractical dream: to be a number-one best selling author, own an apartment walking-distance from Regent’s Park and have seven dogs (including a dalmatian and teacup poodle).

Still. What I deem is an impractical dream still seems practical next to my flatmate’s dream. I wish to rekindle that childlike mindset within myself that anything and everything is practical. I suppose it is more difficult for me, as I have always been quite a practical kid (which sounds like an oxymoron, because why should a kid be practical?) and my most impossible dreams have been to be a mermaid or a princess with her own castle.

But really, I’d love to be able to make a living off of the prose and poetry I write – but more so, to be read in universities and even more so, to be taught in schools where most students groan at the thought of having to read me except for that one kid who is glad they didn’t die before they’ve read me, that words do understand, that what they have to say matters, that they too can inspire because they too can dream, and that they too want to be (and could be) the best writer in the world.

 

I believe rekindling this childhood silliness and dreaming the ‘impossible’ is something we can all work on. Tell me in the comments what you would consider a practical dream and what is your ‘impossible’ dream you want to achieve if you could achieve anything and everything (you might find that it is harder than it seems).

F*ck-boys and Where to Find Them.

Short answer: online ‘dating’ a.k.a Tinder.

I have to admit, I’ve had my fair share of tinder dates, the majority of which I never go back for a second date. Tinder is a strange thing (I am not quite sure what to label it; it is a place, a platform, an internet club?). Many of us are guilty of it (I don’t mean to say that having a tinder profile is something to be ashamed of but there is no denying that it comes with a certain discomfort; imagine having to tell your parents that you met your partner on tinder). There is a taboo to it. I don’t think it is necessarily because of the app itself but because it takes this concept of ‘dating’ (ultimately resulting in love and commitment) and turns it into something you can swipe, match or un-match without even having to bat your eyes. Bottom line is, tinder is quick and easy. And as the saying goes: easy come, easy go.

About a month ago, I saw a video on Facebook by a motivational speaker who was talking about the impatience of our generation. We can get almost anything online these days. We don’t even have to leave our beds. There is an app for almost everything and anything, even a person to call a ‘date’. We want a date, we swipe on tinder. Then the speaker brought up at point that hit me hard. Most of us (I hope) desire love and commitment, but there is no app for that. You cannot demand love and commitment, right here and right now. The only thing that brings those two things about is time.

Which brings me back to the point that tinder is easy. It is quick and easy to get a date (especially if you are a girl). Tinder requires no commitment (it doesn’t even post to your Facebook page). A rejection on there is not really a rejection. You can say whatever you want and there are no consequences. The perfect place and combination for f*ck-boys to roam.

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Of course tinder is not all bad. Nothing is ever good or bad. And yes, a person you meet on tinder is no less of a person just because you’ve met them on tinder (even though some people tend to forget that). I have had quite memorable times and meaningful conversations with guys I’ve met on there. Something quite serious even at one point. But how can anyone take tinder seriously? You can take it seriously but when you’re crying over your tinder-guy and friends are consoling you, they’ll still have it in the back of their minds: ‘what did you expect, it’s tinder?’ So if you’re looking for a meaningful and fulfilling relationship that will last a lifetime, I recommend that you delete that devilish app once and for all.

I know that is much to ask. A girl once said, tinder is like crack. Who doesn’t like having numbers (matches) to add to their self-esteem. We all like to be liked. Until we like, genuinely like someone and they break our heart. We swear off online dating, delete the app(s), mope around the house for a while and become okay again. Yet we never learn. A few months (or even weeks down the line) that red flame is back on our screens. When I say get rid of it, I really mean, get. rid. of. it. Enough is enough. Don’t learn the hard way (or maybe you have to) to realise that you’re more likely to find the love of your life walking down the road then swiping all night on tinder.

I don’t think there’s a definite definition for a f*ck-boy. A f*ck-boy will be defined differently to everyone depending on their experiences. But I dare say, a f*ck-boy doesn’t do just that, worse is, he f*cks with your feelings and that’s not okay. And they’re called  ‘boy’ for a reason, because often they are not man enough to owe up to their actions. He will not give you a reason to why he decided to ghost you the day after he’d asked you how many dogs you wanted the night before. If he were a man, he’d be off tinder and finding you in real life. Tinder is not real life. It is a game (harsh as it is). Perhaps not to you but (9/10 times) to him. Stop playing the game. Stop looking for love because love isn’t a match. It isn’t an algorithm of some app on your smartphone, calculated by how far they live from you. Go out and see the world, the love of your life may be further than 10miles.

And if you’re still sad about that f*ck-boy, I’d say: f*ck him (and no, not literally).