Archive | October, 2010

Don’t Miss Out!

26 Oct

I love a good spaghetti bolognese as much as the next person but spaghetti (or any pasta for that matter) just doesn’t seem to want to be my friend! Even though many pastas are low GI they just don’t seem to agree with me. I find I get incredibly bloated. Like, I seriously look like a pregnant lady at 4 months. Not cool.

So when my husband said he was making bolognese I was sad. Then a brilliant idea came to me! Quinoa! Oh how I love thee! I will have you with my pasta sauce, you superb little grain! And you will be delicious!

Delicious it was. I also added a serve of steamed vegetables and there you have it. I still get to have my favourite dinner without the bloat. I’ve also added extra nutrition with the quinoa and vegetables. I iz smart.

What healthy substitutes do you make when cooking?

Goodbye Burgers! Hello Health!

26 Oct

I had an interesting conversation in the kitchen at work yesterday.  There was another girl in the kitchen preparing her lunch.  Hers – a salad and tuna wrap.  Mine – a tuna salad.  I overheard her talking to her colleague about how she was ‘detoxing’ (shudder - THAT word) as the party season was coming.  I might just add here that this makes absolutely no sense to me.  So you’re eating healthy because you want to pump alcohol and bad food into your body in the near future?  I can’t even begin to express what is wrong with that theory.

Okay, so there we were making our lunches and she turns to me and she says, “Wouldn’t you rather be eating a burger right now?”.  Now, dear readers, what do you think my response would have been to this question?

a) “Oh yes!  I would much prefer to wrap my mouth around a big, greasy burger!  Let’s run away now to McDonald’s!”

b) “What are you, some kind of moron?  I am a picture of health!  Why would I want a burger?!”

c) “No, I actually would not as it would make me feel sick.  Eating healthy makes me feel good”

If you guessed a) get off my blog right now.  No, don’t look at me like that.  You think those puppy dog eyes work on me?  No way.  You go and don’t come back, ya heard?

If you guessed b) then you are nearly there.  I mean I AM a picture of health, let’s face it (cheeky, cheeky).  But I’m not that rude.

If you guessed c) then congratulations!  You are officially my favourite reader!  Well done you.  Come here, let me kiss that little face of yours.  *MWAH*

Right, so where was I?  Oh yes, I replied to her, “No, I actually would not as it would make me feel sick.  Eating healthy makes me feel good”.  She looked at me skeptically and said, “Yeah, maybe you’re right”.  Hopefully that’s another person I’ve reached with my healthy living message!  Only time will tell.

Don’t get me wrong, of course I love to indulge every now and then but the majority of the time I eat healthily.  This took some time though.  It wasn’t overnight that I suddenly said, “No more treats!  No more chocolate at night!  No more booze sessions every weekend!  No more subsequent hangover food!  No more this!  No more that!”.  It took me a LONG time to get to the stage where I can simply live without it.  Not only did it take a long time but it took a huge internal battle.   I spent months (if not years) self sabotaging and going back and forth in an endless tug of war between mind and body before I finally gave in to my body and did what it wanted me to do.

I’m a realist.  Most things I see are in black and white and living in such a grey space was making my head hurt.  I wanted so badly to be healthy and have the body of my dreams but I was living in a fairytale world of eating badly, boozing and then exercising.  I’d cry and say to my husband, “But I work SO hard and I’m not getting ANY results!” whilst eating icecream.  He would nod and make soothing noises, god bless him.  But the reality was too loud to ignore.  If I wanted to be healthy and have the body of my dreams then I needed to clean up my act.

So slowly I eliminated foods from my diet until I got to a point where I now eat mostly unprocessed, natural and whole foods.  I’ve found balance where I can still eat the things I love occasionally and not feel like I need to have them all the time or that I am missing out on something.

I’m feeling fitter, stronger, sexier, more confident, happier, healthier and wiser than I have ever felt.  This is how I stay motivated.  I’m addicted to the feeling of wellness.  I don’t want it to ever go away.  So I work hard and eat well.  In my down time I relax, I eat what I “want” (and what I want differs from eating junk just for the sake of it) and I enjoy life.  Because I work this hard for a reason – to live.

 

Image from weheartit.com

Enough about me – let’s talk about you.  Do you struggle with motivation?  Or are you the opposite and motivated like a mo fo?  Let’s chat.  :-)

Lean Pork Stirfry & Guilt-Free Dessert!

25 Oct

Apologies in advance to my lovely vego readers!  Things are about to get meaty!

I love pork.  There are few things that I enjoy in life as much as I enjoy munching on crispy, salty pork crackling.  Bake me a nice piece of succulent pork and I will be as happy as a pig in mud!  Pun totally intended!

But alas, this deliciousness is not intended for those watching their waistline so I will settle with a lean pork stirfry instead.  Whilst we’re being good to our waistlines, why not be good to our animal friends too and choose free range meat?   The earth will thank you.

Now.  Let’s talk pork.  The following excerpt is from http://www.pork.com.au.  Check it out for all your pork needs!

Research conducted in 2009 into the benefits of lean, trimmed pork has found that, if you have type 2 diabetes and are overweight or obese, then regular lean pork intake may be beneficial. Specifically a high protein, lower carbohydrate diet that includes regular lean pork intake in conjunction with resistance exercise will give you excellent weight and fat loss results.

The most recent research that preceded this was the Pork Nutrition Survey which found that lean, trimmed pork is as lean as skinless chicken breast – and has half the fat of red meat. The survey also named pork as a low fat, high protein dietary source. The report – which based its research on actual pork cuts purchased in retail stores across Australia to accurately reflect the pork that ‘real’ consumers purchase everyday – concluded that pork is lean and nutrient dense. It contains essential vitamins such as B12, B6, thiamin, niacin, and minerals such as zinc, selenium, iron and magnesium.

In everyday language, this means that lean pork is beneficial for growth and maintaining nerves, cardiovascular function and muscle strength. Lean trimmed pork has something for everyone.

Great news about pork right there folks!  So what did I do with my pork to make it not only nutritious but delicious as well?  Read on!

Lean Pork Stirfry

I’m not great with measuring things out when I am in the kitchen creating my own concoctions but here is roughly what went into this stiryfry:

  • 4 lean pork loin medallions (visible fat trimmed, cut into strips)
  • 2 bunches of bok choy (cut in half so you have stems and leaves)
  • 1/2 red capsicum (cut into strips)
  • 1 green capsicum (cut into strips)
  • 1 brown onion (halved and cut into chunks)
  • 3 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1/2 cup of soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • Chili to taste
  • 1/2 tablespoon of peanut oil
  • Brown rice to serve

Combine the garlic, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, honey and chili and pour over pork strips.  Leave to marinade in the fridge for an hour or so.

Heat oil in a wok or frying pan and saute onion until soft.  Add pork and cook until pork has turned white all over (if you are unsure if it has cooked through take a piece and slice through to see).  Add vegetables and cook until just softened.  Serve with brown rice (a half a cup is enough).  Easy peasy pork!

As the title suggests, this post also includes a guilt free dessert!  How much do you want it?  I can’t hear you!  Okay, okay stop screaming at me.  Here it is!

*Cue heavenly music*

I introduce to you my Choc-Banana-Coconut Delight!  At about 200 calories (depending on the size of your banana eg. a large banana is 122 calories) this baby is virtually guilt free.  (Note:  The main meal contains approximately 400 calories so you will need to be the judge on whether you can allocate calories to dessert aftewards!)

Simply chop up a banana and freeze it overnight.  Put it in your food processor with a teaspoon of cocoa powder, a teaspoon of honey and a teaspoon of dessicated coconut or coconut flakes.  Blend until it resembles a soft serve ice-cream consistency, garnish with a pinch of dessicated coconut, admire your handiwork and then gobble down!  Yum!

I am so into frozen bananas right now!  Have you tried it yet?

 

 

Oh My SALAD!

22 Oct

I’m a firm believer that there is no excuse for not eating healthily.  It just requires a little organisation and preparation.  Yes, yes I know we all lead busy lives, have jobs, kids, husbands, wives, partners, pets and what have you but if we want to be able to perform at our best and be able to juggle our busy lifestyles then we need to fuel our bodies with quality food.

I’m putting the spotlight on lunch in this post.  It can be so easy to make a poor decision at lunch time.  There’s work cafeterias with their huge servings of hot greasy food, cafes with seemingly innocent but ENORMOUS white bread sandwiches and focaccias, fast food restaurants emitting the scent of salty, fried, heart clogging burgers and chips… It’s easy to choose these things when you’re in a rush and under prepared.

To avoid grabbing an unhealthy lunch on the go I buy all my healthy lunch items for the week on Monday or over the weekend and keep them at work.   If you can’t keep these at work then you will need to set 5 minutes aside out of your day to prepare your lunch and bring it from home.  5 minutes!   You CAN do it.

My typical shopping list looks like this:

  • Eggs
  • Tins of tuna or salmon
  • Fresh vegetables for salads and omelettes
  • Fresh seasonal fruit
  • Extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar for dressings
  • Low fat greek or natural yoghurt
  • Low fat fetta cheese
  • Olives
  • Brown rice
  • Quinoa
  • Nuts and seeds (unsalted and natural)
  • Natural muesli (not toasted)
  • Honey
  • Green tea
  • Multigrain corn thins (I’m still trying to locate brown rice cakes!)
  • Lite hommus and cottage cheese to have with carrot sticks
  • Small tins of four bean mix

Once you have all of these items on hand you will find your options are endless and exciting!  It will blow your mind. ;-)

I also am a big fan of making extra grilled chicken at night (I did grill chicken on the sandwich press at work a couple of times but to be honest it’s a real pain in the ass to clean the thing) so that I can bring it the next day to put in my salads.  Examples:

 

Grilled chicken (in olive oil, salt & pepper) with brown rice & olive salad

AND…

 

Basil, garlic, chilli & lemon marinated chicken with cannellini bean salad

Looks delicious, yes?  And it is!   You too can have a healthy yet EXTREMELY delicious lunch if you just prepare.

Please share!  What’s your favourite healthy lunch recipe?

Ah, Push It. Push It Good.

20 Oct

I’ve been pushing myself to the max this week. To the max I say! I have my bridesmaids dress alterations on Saturday (getting it taken in – yippee!) in preparation for my best friends wedding next week so I want to look mighty fine.  Not better than the bride, of course, but it’s a strapless number in a pale fabric so I have to make sure I do the dress justice!

The dress and shoes. That's one of the other bridesmaids. ;-)

On Monday I went for my first run since injuring ‘the toe’ and it felt okay. I had to stop a few times to stretch but apart from that I managed 25 minutes.  Could have gone longer but I was on the treadmill and I just find it so incredibly boring. I much prefer to run outside! I then headed over to the leg press and did 3 sets of 12 with 45kg. After that I thought I’d give the old squat rack a whirl and I did 3 sets of 12 with 30kg (this includes the weight of the bar). My legs were like jelly afterwards!

On Tuesday I had my group personal training session with the gals from work. This entailed lots of running, pushups, step ups, burpees, shoulder presses, squats with weights and dips. Over and over again… And then repeated for good measure.

Yesterday marked the return of my nemesis – the 20kg sandbag. Started off with some deadlifts and then moved into lunges holding the sandbag against my chest. Then it got crazy – running with the sandbag, dips with the sandbag on my lap, more running, then high step-ups with it on my shoulder, back to running, back to lunges, hey how about deadlifts again, maybe some more dips? And on and on it went until I was on my knees, pelvis tucked under, trying to hold the sandbag above my head for a minute (yeah right!). I think I managed a few lots of 15 – 20 seconds. That shit is HEAVY. The session was hard. Very hard. I was a crumbled mess on the ground once done but I felt strong and proud of myself.

 

It's baaaaaaaack!

Today I’ll go for a run at lunch and I’ll play indoor soccer tonight and tomorrow will be a rest day. Saturday will be another group training session and on Sunday I mayyyy take myself for a run.  Depends on how hard Nat punishes us on Saturday!

I’ve been sticking to the protein shakes (made with skim – so much tastier) after each session and I’m really noticing a difference in recovery. After a session like yesterday’s I would usually not be able to walk without resembling a cowboy but today I feel good. I have an all over ‘worked’ feeling but nothing too extreme. I think I’m on to a winner here!

I asked this question in one of my recent blog posts but unfortunately didn’t get much of a response! I would love some suggestions for future blog posts – what do you want to read about? What would you like me to try? What would you like me to investigate for you? This is your chance for feedback so make it worthwhile! :-)

I’m Nuts for Coconuts!

19 Oct

Coconut water is being touted by celebrities and health nuts as some sort of miracle drink so of course I had to try it for myself!

Cruising through my supermarket I noticed cans of Ayam Coconut Water on sale so I grabbed one (albeit apprehensively) to try.

The label said:

- No Added Water
- No Added Sugar
- No Artificial Flavours or Colours
- Gluten Free

The contents were basically 97% coconut water and 3% pulp.

So what’s the deal? Why is everyone drinking it?

Coconut water is the clear liquid found inside a young coconut. It’s low fat, low carb, low in naturally occurring sugars and contains only 25 calories per 100ml. That’s an incredible difference to what most juices and soft drinks contain!

It’s naturally packed with vitamins and minerals too.  Zinc, selenium, iodine, sulfur, manganese, boron, molybdenum, ascorbic acid and B-group vitamins can all be found in coconut water.

It has great uses as a sports drink.  In fact, it’s better than the sugary, brightly coloured junk you find in the shops! Coconut is a natural isotonic and contains calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, sodium and potassium.  Great for supreme athletes like myself *cough*.

You can find it in cans, bottles and juice boxes but the best way to get coconut water is straight from the source – the coconut itself.  Look for it at your local fruit market!

Wow – that all sounds incredible! But what does it TASTE like?

Cracking open the can I felt that ‘first taste’ anxiety.  I wanted so badly to like it — and I did!  I thought it was refreshing and delicious.  I especially liked the little bits of pulp floating around.  To be honest, I have been day-dreaming about it ever since… I really need to get my hands on some more!  It’s like a trip to a tropical paradise in liquid form.  And with all these nutritional benefits I’ll definitely be stocking up and drinking it regularly!  Just in time for summer!

Have you tried coconut water yet? What did you think?

ETA: I have just found out that Ayam stocks this in Woolworths Supermarkets only so head on over to your local Woolworths ASAP!

Treading a Thin Line

18 Oct

Earlier this year, when I got serious about losing the excess weight I was carrying around, decreasing my chances of contracting diabetes and disease made up a big part of the reason why I wanted to lose weight.  Of course I wanted to be thinner as well (because I have to admit… I’m pretty vain! Haha) but getting healthy was a huge factor.

A couple of months ago a Doctors check-up revealed that I was no longer in the ‘danger zone’ for diabetes.  This news was awesome but not for a second did I think, “Great!  Now I can just settle into a healthy pattern of eating and exercise and not worry about the weight loss part anymore”.  Is that because I, like so many women out there, also feel the pressure to be thin?  Could be.  But I set myself a goal of 68kg and by god, no matter what I WILL get to it.  Once I put my mind to something I am a force to be reckoned with and I will not give up.

I was chatting to my trainer (and most importantly, friend!) about how I’m starting to struggle finding balance between work, my relationship and losing weight.  I’ve put so much into thinking about my health and my body that I felt like I was starting to let other areas in my life slide.  She said, “Well, do you think you might be ready to stop with the weight loss and be happy with where you’re at now?”.  Immediately I said, “No – that’s easy to answer.  I am not happy with where I’m at now so that’s not going to happen”.  So we launched into a plan on how to get the other areas in my life back on track.  I’m happy with that plan and I’m already noticing positive changes.

But why can’t I be happy with the size I am now?  I’m just under 75kg, a size 12, I’m healthy and I’m fit.  Isn’t that enough?  For me it simply isn’t.  Again, it’s because I set that goal and I would feel so let down and disappointed if I didn’t reach it.  However, I do worry about what happens when I get there.  Will I stop then?  Will I be happy?  What about if I’m not?  I’m not going to know the answers to those questions until I get there I suppose.

What I do know though is that I love a womanly body so I don’t want to lose my curves or my femininity.  I love the look of healthy, toned girls! It’s what I aspire to be.  I just hope that’s enough to prevent me from going overboard.

So this is a call to my supporters and friends – give me a cold hard slap if I get to a point where I’ve gone too far (it’s very unlikely)!  Because bones are out baby, and curves are IN.

Best advertisement I've seen! (From weheartit.com)

Quinoa! Nature’s Superfood!

17 Oct

I’ve only just recently heard of quinoa (pronounced ‘keen-wa’) and have been meaning to try it. Apparently I’m a bit slow because people have been buzzing about this little wonder for a while. I’m used to being one of the first to hop on a bandwagon so obviously I had to get onto this one quick smart!

I found it hiding away in the health food section of Woolworths. If you don’t go down this aisle you really should start. It is a haven for all things nutritious, tasty and of course, healthy!

Quinoa is surprisingly high in protein. It also has excellent amounts of calcium, phosphorus, iron and magnesium. It is low GI (which should know I am a massive fan of) and is rich in dietary fibre. So you can really see why it’s touted as one of nature’s superfoods!

To prepare the quinoa you must wash it first. Rinse a cup of quinoa under water in a sieve. Put the rinsed quinoa in a pot. Pour a cup and a half of water over the quinoa and then bring to the boil. Once boiling reduce to a low simmer and put a lid on the pot. Leave for 20 minutes.

Quinoa has many uses – you can have it as a breakfast food by adding some fruit, yoghurt and honey, put it in your salad, or use it as a substitute for rice like I have here.

I marinated some chicken breasts in lemon, chili, garlic and coriander and then grilled. I sliced the chicken and placed it on a half a cup mound of quinoa, added some steamed vegetables and drizzled a little soy sauce. It was DELICIOUS. Even my husband liked it! It has a grainy texture which is a little similar to cous cous but better! So give it a try ASAP!

Protein Products – Trial Continues!

14 Oct

Protein powder is not good with too much water.  Let me start off by saying that.  It tastes like watered down dirt and I was not happy with this result at all.  Alright, now that I have said that let’s talk about how the protein trial is going.

I had my first protein shake on Tuesday after my group training session.  I tried it with skim milk and it was really quite tasty!  Made with skim milk it’s only 185 calories and I found it to be very filling.  I made a salad to eat afterward and I struggled to eat it!  I had to eat it in two lots!  Usually I just gobble that shit down!  Also,  I did note that I wasn’t too sore the next day.  Even after doing 100 tricep dips (I did more than just the dips, might I add)!  That usually makes me sore for days!  So it seems that it works quite well so far.

On Wednesday I finally addressed an issue that I have been referring to as Toe-gate 2010.  You see, last week at indoor soccer I was playing in goals and a girl kicked me hard in the big toe.  I thought that I was going to be bleeding when I took my shoe off!  I saw that there was a small crack in my toenail and thought that was it.  Wrong.  The next morning the toe had blown up to double it’s usual size so when I got to work on Friday morning I iced it on and off throughout the day.

By Monday night the toe was still swollen and I was getting concerned.  I showed it around to a few people at work (“Hey! Have you seen my toe??  What do you think is wrong with my toe???”) without much of a conclusion as to what could be wrong.  Eventually I decided on Wednesday that  I would get an actual Doctor to look at it and see what they thought.

After having an x-ray it was determined that the toe had no joint or bone damage, thank god, and all I had to do was strap it up, take some nurofen and wait for the swelling to go down.  I can’t play indoor soccer tonight, which I am quite upset about, however the toe is already getting better so you win some, you lose some!

Okay, let’s cut to today with the water and the protein powder incident.  I added a scoop of protein powder to 300mls of water after my training session today (no exercises that included the toe!) and it tasted awful.  Really, really bad.   I had mistakenly thought that the container said to add it to 300mls of water but it was actually 200mls!   So I will remember tomorrow to use the right amount of water.   It wasn’t as filling with water than it is with milk but I’m hoping that I get the same results.

Things have been pretty busy with work at the moment so I do apologise that I haven’t posted for a few days but I have some interesting stuff coming up including my first tastes of quinoa and coconut water!  Stay tuned!  It’s RIVETING!  Don’t you dare yawn.  You know you’ll read it.

I would love some ideas for upcoming blog posts – what would you like to read about?

Love this poster! (found on http://weheartit.com/)

Protein Products – Trial Begins!

11 Oct

For a little while now I have been considering protein shakes and specifically whether they would be of any benefit to me. I train 6 – 7 sessions a week and am still having issues with recovery even though I do stretch, foam roll, get massages and have long soaks in the tub!

Reading other blogs and advice from my lovely twitter followers has led me to think that maybe protein shakes could be a good option for me so I considered it a sign when Vitalstrength announced the were giving some samples away to their followers on their Facebook page. I contacted them and they were kind enough to send me a few goodies to try!

I will be trying the Carb Clear Protein Bars (Chocolate and Cherry Coconut) and the Define Womens High Protein Powder (Chocolate) and I have passed over the Hydroxy Liquid Lean capsules to the lovely Chanel from Vineyards, Veils & Vows who is soon to be married (squeal! OMG!). She will be trialling them and I will report back.

As I was rushing to my hair appointment on Friday afternoon (in preparation for Chanel’s Hens Day!), I grabbed the Cherry Coconut Carb Clear bar to have as a snack. The bar contains only 205 calories but has a whopping 17.5g of protein! Protein makes for a great snack as it keeps you full and provides you with long lasting energy – just what I need!

What I liked about the bar was that it took a long time to eat and by the time I had finished it I was quite full. The flavour was quite good too – it wasn’t overly sweet and had a good texture. I didn’t even think about food again until dinner time which is very unlike me! ;-)

I’ll give the protein powder a whirl tomorrow after my training session and let you know how it goes!

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