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Life, love and loss

Well, I’m back in the blogging gig. I was going strong for a little bit last year and then my world somewhat fell apart; in late August 2013 we found out that our much beloved fur-kid had cancer and potentially months to live. Then followed a whirlwind of surgery, chemo, vet visits… We were fortunate that the treatment did extend her life and that she actually wasn’t sick during her treatment. Unfortunately though, we lost her in March this year.

Waiting for the Vet with the fur-kid back in January.

Waiting for the Vet with the fur-kid back in January (I’m already a lot smaller than I was in this pic!).

Rightly or wrongly, my fitness took a back seat for those 6 months, with about the only exercise I did involving walking the dog or playing ball with her in the yard (that time was precious).In April though, I had a serious wake up call. I was sitting at the airport, waiting for a flight for a work trip – and was so, so uncomfortable in my pants that I actually went and bought a new pair in one of the airport stores. A size 16. Um, what happened to me? I had packed on over two dress sizes in 6 months. No way nelly – I swore I wouldn’t do this to myself again. I needed to get my butt into serious gear!

Since April I have been training like a machine (well, I like to think it’s like a machine. Maybe a slightly rusty, slow machine).

To kick things off, I entered myself in the Muscle Meals Transformation challenge – kicked off May 1 and managed to drop just over 9k in 8 weeks. Not too bad. A couple of re-fuel weeks across August (chilled out, but not out of control) before I headed back into another round of serious training, working with a meal plan created by my Trainer. Muscle Meals were great, but I did get sick of microwaved food after 8 weeks! (A review on Muscle Meals to follow in coming weeks).

I am now sitting at almost my lightest in my entire adult life, in the gym most mornings and absolutely loving it. I am fitter, healthier, happier, less stressed and overall just feeling better about myself. This is the longest that I have ever maintained a fitness regime – I think that it actually has, finally, become a life style.

In the last few days, I have decided to take a different tact with training and will be working towards INBA Season B 2015. Bit scary putting that in writing! Off season officially starts October 1.

This blog is going to follow my progress over the next 12 months heading for INBA, as well as tales of my fitness adventures – I am on a mission to try as many different fitness type things as I can over the next year, just to keep it fun. Going to be an interesting ride.

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A new approach

Well, Michelle’s 12WBT Round 2 2013 and I didn’t work too well together.  I kicked off, full of bravado and confidence, only to fall in inglorious heap as work mounted up (again), going through a death in the family and finding out that our fur-kid has cancer.  The last month to six weeks in has been particularly rough and worrying about losing a few kilos was not high on the priorities list.

Instead, I have been taking care of myself by not stressing about what I am consuming, or a missed workout.  Generally speaking, I have been letting myself eat what I want, although overall, trying to keep it pretty healthy.

the-fast-metabolism-dietAt some stage though, I need to get this sorted and am now trying something new – “The Fast Metabolism Diet”.  Whilst the principles in this are pretty sound (ie lots of whole foods, no dairy, no caffeine, no WINE! etc), the plan itself is a four week gig.  I’m looking at it as a reset.  The book claims that you can lose up to 9kg in the four weeks – but for me who only has about that to lose entirely, I don’t expect it to happen in just 4 weeks.  But I am going to give it a damn good crack!

(I should add that I am giving this a go after a friend tried it recently and saw some good results).

The plan is based on the idea of ‘confusing’ your metabolism and that you need to EAT in order to get your metabolism firing and keep it burning.  As such, there are three phases each week, with different dietary and exercise requirements:

Days 1-2: high-glycemic, moderate-protein, low-fat phase. High in carbohydrate-rich foods, high in natural sugars, high in B and C vitamins.  Cardio training.

Days 3-4: very high-protein, high-vegetable, low-carbohydrate, low-fat phase. High in foods that support liver function (onion family, leafy greens, lemons), high in lean proteins, rich in alkalizing green, low-glycemic vegetables, high in carnitine-producing foods.  Weight training.

Days 5-7: high healthy-fat, moderate-carbohydrate, moderate-protein, low-glycemic fruit phase. High in healthy fats, higher-fat proteins in moderate amounts, lower-glycemic fruits, lower-glycemic vegetables, moderate amounts of unrefined carbohydrates, thyroid-stimulating foods, foods rich in inositol and choline.  Relaxation – yoga, massage and the like.

One of the key requirements is eating every 3 hours or so.  Kicked off this morning with an ‘Oaty Berry Smoothy’ – pulverised oats, frozen berries, water and cinnamon.  Flavour was good, but texture was not – so I microwaved it and turned it into porridge!  Much better.

Overall, I’m not sure that I would stick with the plan as prescribed in the book forever – the three different phases each week require a fair bit of thought and planning to keep it all straight.

So we’ll see how it goes.  You can do anything for 4 weeks, right?

The three P’s.

If anyone has studied business or marketing, you might be familiar with Kotler’s 4P’s (although someone did tell me recently that apparently there are seven now – boy, does that make me feel old!).  It occurs to me through this fitness journey that there are a new set of P’s, although by my reckoning just three (who needs seven?!).

Plan, Prep, Perform

Three key legs and if any of them breaks, it’s all over.

three PsPlan  Sitting down on the weekend, working out what I am going to be eating for the week and the training that I will be doing.  Yes, I am following the 12WBT plan at the moment, however I am customising each week’s menu for convenience and personal taste.  I’m also taking the time to work through the Shopping List to ensure that I’m not over-shopping – what ingredients can I sub in for each other so that I don’ t have to buy a tub of ricotta/cottage cheese/etc for a single recipe calling for one tablespoon?

Prep Literally food prep – go do the grocery shopping, pre-cook anything that I can on the weekend.  As silly as it sounds too, making sure my gym gear is all washed and ready for a new week!  (It will derail good intentions pretty quickly if you want to head to the gym only to find all your t-shirts stinky in the washing basket)

Perform As Michelle Bridges would say, ‘just f-ing do it’.  Get your butt out of bed and go to the gym.  stop dialing the pizza joint, put down the phone and cook the damn healthy food that you have purchased.

1 point for planning and prep’ing – 9 points for actually doing.

Bad days and a good support network

Yesterday was a bad day, work wise.  One of those days that results in you sitting at your desk around 3pm, head in heads, wondering how it all went wrong.

Normally a day like that would send me into F it mode.  I don’t care what I eat/drink today.  One day won’t matter.  Gym – um, no.  I am just so stressed out, I can’t cope with worrying about it food and diets and weight…

I did have a brief moment of that and snuck a few squares of chocolate.  Then somewhere in my angst, I found some element of balance.  I had planned on going straight home and inhaling the better part of a bottle of wine.  Somehow, I instead found myself at the gym for a quick session.  It’s true what they say about exercise making you feel better.

Got myself home, only to find that we didn’t have mince for the planned meatballs for dinner (kind of a key ingredient!) and promptly announced that I wanted pasta for dinner.  Husband, god love him, instead of challenging me simply said, “OK, if you want pasta, that’s fine.  But you need to cook it.  I’m going to cook steak and veges”.  The petulant five year old inside me sulked for a moment and then realised what he was doing.  He then went on to point out that if I have the steak & veg, instead of pasta, then I can have a glass or two of wine – guilt free.  Smart man, that one.  So steak and veg it was.

I had my wine.  And I enjoyed it.  And I lost a kilo in the last week.  Feels good and feels so much better knowing that I am doing this in a sustainable way – I’m not depriving myself, just metering the ‘F it’ moments!

Last night made me realise just how it important it is to have a good support network – without it, I would have spent a rather drunken night chowing down on pasta.  Sometimes you just need a little nudge!

The goal outfit

Could I have found my mojo in a sparkly, sparkly mini skirt?

sequins

My very sparkly motivation 🙂

Watching various weight loss shows over the years and they tend to have a goal outfit – something that they haven’t been able to fit into for some time, or perhaps a fabulous frock a size or two down from where they are now.  As I understand it, the idea is to have a visual goal of what you will be able to achieve when you slim down.

I have a couple of queries with that: just ’cause you like an outfit or piece of clothing and it comes in a smaller size, doesn’t mean it’s going to look any good on you once you can fit into it!  The number of times that I have gone shopping, seen something on the rack and thought “perfect!” only to try it on and relise just how un-perfect it is.

This very sensible theory of course didn’t stop me picking up a rather sparkly, sequinned and beaded, mini skirt on ebay last night.  Nah, who am I kidding?  It’s bling all the way!  I decided to minimise the risk of the goal outfit though, by picking it up on ebay – afterall, just cause it fits (or WILL fit!), doesn’t mean it will look any good!  But I am aiming to look the best that I can in it!

When my sparkly mojo creator arrives, it will be hung inside my wardrobe door, so that every morning when I open the wardrobe to get dressed I’ll see it hanging there, as a shimmery reminder to stay on track.

Mmmm… pizza

Friday night pizza is a bit of a thing in my house.  Usually from the local – cheesy, saucy, doughy… so good, but so bad!  So this week I decided I was going to have my pizza and eat it to, so to speak, by making healthy pizzas at home.

photoA lot of people question making ‘healthy versions’ of junk food and how good an idea that really is – is it just encouraging consumption of junk food?  Maybe.  Personally, I like pizza.  It’s probably one of my favourite foods, but I know that I need to change my eating habits, so if I can find a healthier alternative that means I can still have my pizza, I’m going be one happy nomes.

Below is the recipe for the pizza I made tonight – both Husband and I had this for dinner – we were both surprised at how good this was!  It was light, fresh and filling.  Although the caramelised onions take a bit of time (very easy, but just need a bif of time in the pan), they are so worth it.  I am TERRIBLE when it comes to cutting onions (I cry like a baby!) so I use a mandolin slicer to speed the process up as much as I can – I don’t have a good processor, but if you do, more power to you.

Let me know if you do try it – I thought it was delicious!

Caramelised onion, prosciutto, mushroom and rocket pizza

(Apologies for my very poor food photography!  I’ll need to work on that!)

Ingredients

  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 3 Red onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbs Balsamic vinegar
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Lebanese Bread
  • Mushrooms, thinly sliced – around half a cup per pizza
  • Prosciutto, torn into pieces – 1-2 slices per pizza (remember that this is going to be salty, so don’t go overboard)
  • Low fat mozzarella – 1/4 to 1/2 cup per pizza
  • Rocket – a handful per pizza

Method

  • Pre-heat oven to 180deg, fan forced
  • Heat the olive oil in a large pan over a low heat and add onions.  Cook, stirring occasionally to avoid sticking (don’t be tempted to raise the temp!  This needs to be done slowly to get the onions nice and gooey)
  • When onions have started to get ‘gooey’ add the balsamic vinegar and a pinch of salt and continue to cook over low heat for another few minutes.  Remove onions from pan to a bowl.
  • TIP: onions could take up to half an hour to cook, giving you ample time to prep other ingredients.  If you find that they are starting to dry out, add a little water to the pan.  This much onion should comfortably make 4 pizzas – you don’t want to completely cover the pizza base like you would with a tomato pizza sauce.
  • Give the frying pan a wipe out and throw in the mushrooms on a med-high heat for a minute or so – just want to get a tiny bit of colour in them, but still want them nice and firm.  As soon as they start to brown, remove from pan.
  • Assemble your pizzas!  Spread a couple of heaped tablespoons of onion jam over a lebanese bread base, then scatter a handful of mushrooms and your prosciutto over the top, followed by your cheese.
  • Bake until cheese is golden.
  • TIP: if you have a pizza stone, I advise using it.  I had great results as it protected the lebanese bread base whilst allowing the rest of the ingredients to cook through – within 10 minutes I had a beautiful crisp base and golden cheese on top.  Just remember to pre-heat your stone if using and I would suggest increasing oven temp to 200deg.  If you are putting your pizza straight on the oven rack, just be careful your base doesn’t cook and burn before the top cooks!  If this looks like it’s happening, get it out and throw it under the griller for a minute to finish off the top or put on a baking tray.
  • Remove from oven, crack or sprinkle some fresh pepper over the top and add a big handful of rocket to each slice.  I cut each one into 4 slices.
  • Enjoy!