Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Now that I have been really watching my snacking for the past 3 months, I’ve been careful to ensure that extends to everything I put in my mouth – even liquids! As part of the Leptin Reset, which allows absolutely no snacking, I’ve had to give up my morning cup of tea with a splash of milk. Doesn’t sound like it would be too hard for the girl who’s given up bread, pasta, and all other chocolate bar the 85% organic stuff! But this has been my hardest battle to date. I still allow myself one cup with my breakfast, since you are able to take in liquid calories while you’re eating your main meal of the day, but apart from that, my beloved cuppa is no more!
The one good thing about this is that I’ve had to seek out other options for drinking, because, let’s face it, plain water does get a bit boring after a while! I’ve started adding slices of lemon to my iced water and also occasionally indulge in sparkling mineral water just to break the monotony. The best bit however, is that in my searching I’ve stumbled across some really great alternative teas – ones that you don’t need to have milk in and therefore don’t promote a spike in my blood sugar! 

Chamomile – this has to be my new favourite tea. It’s subtle yet interesting and doesn’t leave a bad taste in my mouth. I’ve been drinking a Twinings version that is combined with Spearmint which is great, and I recently stumbled across the most amazing brew at my local Zaraffas coffee house. I’m somewhat hesitant to buy tea from a specialty coffee place, but will be going back there again as it was tea-licious!
Ginger – I usually drink this in the evenings with 1 small square of my 85% chocolate – there’s something about that ginger and chocolate combination that immediately makes me feel content! Plus, there’s mountains of health benefits attached to ginger, so I’m sure some of that is working its way into my system!
Chai – Oh chai! How I love your beautiful cinnamon and nutty flavours! I have been drinking chai tea with milk for ages, but am slowly weaning myself off the milk so I can still enjoy it. I’m certain that the combination of spices in chai are not only delicious, but beneficial for my health as well. I do keep in mind that chai still has black tea in it, so try to keep my consumption of it to before 2pm.
Rooibos – This is one that has slowly crept up on me and now I quite enjoy! I initially started drinking Rooibos during a detox that called for zero caffeine and I think I was a bit angry at it for replacing my regular cuppa. It has a fairly rich taste, so I don’t drink it on a daily basis, but it’s nice if I feel like something a bit stronger.
Other teas that I occasionally dabble in include peppermint, lemongrass and rosehip – all teas that just over a year ago, I wouldn’t have ever touched!
What’s your favourite tea?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

What to say?

People have started noticing and commenting on my weight loss (6 kilos in 3 months which is by no means outstanding, but it’s obviously noticeable). With the comments come the inevitable “how are you doing it?” questions. These are the ones that I still cringe at. Not because I don’t want to share, but because I know that my answers will cause some raised eyebrows.
Here’s the thing. When you say to people “I’ve started eating 200g steaks for breakfast” they look alarmed. They also don’t understand when you say “I only use full fat dairy and put butter on my vegetables”. Other concerning statements include “I cook in coconut oil – yes it’s high in saturated fat!”, “Soy makes me sick”, and “Potatoes don’t count towards my vegetable consumption.” And the most outrageous thing you could possibly mention is that you don’t eat whole grains. EVER! 
I shall never eat this way again!

The only way I can justify some of my eating habits is with my gluten intolerance. That gets most people off my case with the bread/wheat thing, but still doesn’t explain why I don’t eat rice or beans. The fat debate is one that I know I will never win, so I don’t even go into that argument except to say that coconut oil is the absolute best thing to cook in because it has a higher heating point than most things – including olive oil! It also helps that Miranda Kerr has spoonfuls of it each day ;-p 
This is more like it!

With the start of my Leptin Reset challenge, another difficult thing for people to understand is the no snacking thing. We have had the 6 small meals a day mindset drilled into us from all angles… Most people don’t take the time to understand the logic behind this – they just hear it and think “Yay! Another couple of times I can eat!” By following an eating plan which advocates eating windows allowing at least 5 hours between meals, I don’t only feel better, I feel free-er!! It’s less meals per day that I have to think about preparing.
In the exercise stakes, it’s a similar pattern, although a bit easier to explain away. At my first session at my new gym, the personal trainer assigned to me looked a bit crazed when I said I only wanted a weights program from him. “But you need to do cardio at least 3 days per week for weight loss!” No, actually I don’t. Apart from the fact that 70% of weight loss comes from what you eat, excessive cardio actually stresses the body! I told him that my main daily cardio would come from walking, and I would do one HIIT session per week (sprints on the treadmill or intervals on the rower). The rest of the time I would divide my workouts between weights, pilates and yoga.
Now that the weight loss is showing, it’s nice to know that I’m finally on the right path. I’ve been trying the excessive cardio route for years and combined with a conventional wisdom eating plan with whole grains in abundance, I didn’t lose any weight! So much for busting my gut at 5am every morning and starving myself by eating “low – fat” (but high sugar) yoghurt and calorie restricted meals! Conventional wisdom certainly does have a lot to answer for…

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Importance of Routine

I went to visit my parents on the weekend. They’re awesome and I love seeing them, but staying at their place for 4 days threw me completely out of whack! Don’t get me wrong, they are healthier than 99% of the parents out there, this I’m sure of. But there’s something about being in someone else’s place (even if they are your nearest and dearest), with a different kitchen and fridge, that makes it harder to stick to your tried and tested eating plan.
Breakfast wasn’t too difficult as they always have an abundant supply of eggs, and I was lucky enough to scrounge some left over curried mince to add to that. It had some vegies through it but I also added some broccoli to flesh it out. Lunch and dinner too was generally some kind of meat with vegies, but it always seemed to have an additional sauce or not huge range of veg… Overall, it was still okay but there was still small room for improvement.
So what is the big deal then you might be asking? Well it was just the little things that threw me. My parents drink a lot of tea, and will usually have at least one for morning and afternoon tea. With my new ‘no snacking’ rule, it was difficult to overcome. The worst was the morning we went to my grandparents and, knowing that my brother and I were coming and it was my dad’s birthday, my grandma had baked all manner of delicious but decidedly not-primal goodies. Sitting there drinking a cup of iced water while my family chowed down on pikelets, date and fruit cake was tough!
The issue there was that because I remained strong at morning tea time, when it came around to lunch I was able to rationalise having a piece of fruit cake with my cuppa! Perhaps ‘able to rationalise’ is not the right terminology, but with everyone commenting on my weight loss and me feeling like I’ve been eating really well, I just went with it.
I know what you’re thinking… So what?!?! You ate a piece of fruit cake – oh you’re just on a downhill spiral now!!! And yes, granted it is probably a bit of an extreme reaction. But do you know what? I didn’t really even enjoy the fruit cake (sorry Grandma!) It was too sweet for my palate which now associates sweetness to the tart berries I occasionally have as a ‘treat’ after dinner. Even the chocolate (85% at a minimum) I eat is bitter. But I love it!  And so I have learnt that I still need a bit of work when it comes to emotional eating. I wanted that fruit cake because it reminded me of summers at Grandma’s!
I guess the biggest lesson is that routine is so important. There is no way I would ever eat fruit cake at home because I just don’t have that sort of stuff in my house! It’s easier to skip morning and afternoon teas because I don’t have the social expectations surrounding it. Plus there’s never going to be a load of goodies silently chanting “eat me” in my ear.
So this week it’s back on plan. I won’t see my family again until Christmas, and even I know that I will give myself a cheat day then! I figure as long as I can eat fairly cleanly up until that point, I’ll be doing alright.

Monday, November 14, 2011

There's a reason they call it "Break-Fast"

Breakfast is a funny meal. A lot of people I know don’t eat it. Or count coffee as their morning meal. I have to admit that there are times when I wake up before 6am and the thought of eating something leaves me a bit nauseous. Those times are becoming few and far between the more I commit to a primal lifestyle however.
I used to have some issues with eggs. Not all the time, but I would occasionally eat them and feel average. Luckily those issues seem to have resolved themselves (couldn’t be because of primal again could it?!) and I enjoy them freely now. Which is lucky because breakfast is otherwise fairly difficult.
You've probably heard it before, but you can get literal meaning from the "Break-Fast" name. In principle, you've been fasting for 12ish hours when you wake up, and so it makes sense to fuel your body with the best food possible. 
With the Leptin Reset, the aim is to eat 50g of protein within 30 minutes of waking. I won’t go into all the reasons for this – read Jack Kruse’s website if you’re interested. The best protein sources are meat, fish, chicken and eggs, so this is predominantly what my current breakfasts are made up of, with some sautéed vegies thrown in for variety.
I’ve been eating primal breakfasts for a while now so I thought I would share some of my favourites…
  • 4 egg frittata with ham, spinach, mushrooms & tomato (and fetta if I’m feeling generous)
  • Grilled lamb cutlets with 2 poached eggs and sautéed mediterranean vegies
  • Big Breakfast of bacon, eggs, chipolatas, avocado & spinach
  • Grilled steak with cabbage, brussel sprouts and asparagus
  • Beef rissoles with sunny side up eggs
A lot of people in the primal world have concocted ‘primal-friendly’ recipes for some of the more traditional breakfasts. For example, I’ve tried the coconut flour pancakes and almond meal waffles. I have to say however, that I don’t see the point in trying to re-create these recipes… For one, they are never going to taste as good as the original, and two, it does seem like a bit of a stretch that cavemen would have sat down to feast on coconut pancakes with blueberries and heavy cream!
For this reason I have pretty much given up any attachments I’ve had to non-primal foods such as pancakes and bread. I mean, seriously, have you ever tasted gluten free bread?!?! My advice is save yourself the trouble. If you’re really desperate, I think just eat the regular stuff, because otherwise it really just defeats the purpose don’t you think?!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

To (binge) drink or not to drink?!? That is the question...

My well meaning and loyal friends have been a pillar of strength for me during what has been the most stressful and gut-wrenching time of my life. So when they suggested a night out to celebrate my new found "freedom" I couldn't turn them down! I didn't want to turn them down either. I know that I need to get out and see the world and meet new people.
But this of course brings up a dilemma - whether or not to drink, and if so, what to drink?!?
I know that binge drinking is bad. Really bad. Alcohol is not really acceptable when you're eating primally either. Beer is definitely off the agenda, as are most spirits - mainly because they are served with soft drink mixers. I suppose I could drink them on the rocks, but not sure that would go down too well!
So I'm left with the choice of wine (if you're going to drink, this is the best choice) and cider (not really acceptable, but at least it won't play havic with my digestive system). My problem is that I don't like wine... I guess I've never been classy enough to enjoy the stuff! I mean, I can have it occassionally with a meal, but to think about drinking it all night long while I'm supposed to be socialising, dancing, and generally having a good time - well that thought leaves me a bit cold.
One of my friends who will be with me tonight is pregnant, and I did think that I could go down the 'sympathy' route. The problem with that is, I actually do feel like a drink, not to get plastered, but just to loosen me up a bit. Even though I'm on the forward path towards my (hopeful) happiness, I still have my moments every now and then... Moments when all I want is a Tequila slammer... Oh wait, no that reminds me of my ex! Ummmmm, a Cowboy then ;-p That just reminds me of high school!
So what have I decided? I'm going with the cider. I tried to find the low carb stuff but they didn't have it at my local bottle-o. I did look at the wine, but honestly, half the battle is the endless choice when choosing wine! Cider has the choice of dry or sweet, so I went for the dry stuff in the hope that it has less sugar(?!?!?)
I'm trying to be okay with my choice by reasoning that I have been eating really clean lately (even though I only started the Leptin Reset yesterday). Plus, sometimes we all just need a bit of a night off from the emotional rollercoaster that is life!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Re-organising my priorities in life!

I'm back!

Since this is my first post in over 10 months, I'm feeling excited but overwhelmed at the same time. I have had what only could be described as a 'hellish' time this past year, but am now finally feeling like I might be coming out the other side!
How do I know this? Well mainly because I'm now really keen to get my health and nutrition back on track. Like many women going through a relationship breakdown, I turned to comfort foods to help me ease my pain... My comfort of choice was chocolate, and lots of it... I'm talking mars bars, rocky road, milo - the works!
A mars a day does NOT keep the doctor away!

I certainly didn't forget my intolerance to gluten in all this, but the few times I did go all the way with my cheating, I paid for it in the days afterwards. If anything, it has helped to further cement my commitment to the primal lifestyle!
So now that I have removed all the distractions from my life and surrounded myself with people who are truly understanding of my choice to live this way, I'm hoping to get back on track. I wasn't necessarily wildly out of control, but I also wasn't completely committed to the cause. This is probably why my weight didn't actually change, so while I'm happy that chocolate didn't increase my paunchy stomach, I still know I need to lose about 15 kilos to get to a healthy weight.

Kick-starting towards my goals

In the last week, I've been rediscovering the absolute gold in the Marks Daily Apple forums and among other things, have stumbled across the Leptin Reset challenge. After reading all the info on Jack Kruse's site, I thought this sounded like a good way to kick start my weight loss again. And given that it is now 6 weeks until Christmas, it seems like the perfect time to give it a crack.
The general premise is that you eat your biggest meal at breakfast, eating no more than 30 minutes after waking, and making sure it's full of protein (at least 50g) and good fats. You eat a maximum of 3 meals a day and there is no snacking allowed. This includes coffees and teas unless you drink them black without milk and sugar (and who seriously wants to do that!) I think this is going to be the most challenging thing for me, as I am used to my morning cuppa at about 10:30am. Carbs need to be limited to 25g, which basically means no grains (duh!) and starchy vegetables. You should try to allow at least 5 hours between meals and not to eat 3 hours before bed (this is difficult for most people!) Exercise is discouraged in the initial stages, but I will still do my walking and light resistance training.
One of the tricks with the protein thing, is that it needs to be 50g of protein. That ends up being a lot of meat or eggs. For example, a 170g fillet of steak has approximately 42g of protein in it, and 1 egg has about 6g. So my breakfast this morning consisted of a 200g rib fillet steak and 2 x poached eggs with sliced avocado. I would usually chuck some vegies in there but was in a bit of a rush this morning. Other okay sources of protein include cottage cheese and tofu (no thanks!), and nuts have a small amount too.
Did someone say vegetarian?!?

What do I want?

I've got some short- and long- term goals that will help me to stay on track, particularly with the silly season nearly upon us! My major goal is to lose 15kg by 10 March 2012, which is when I take off overseas for 6 weeks. I'll be a bridesmaid at one of my best friend's weddings in Thailand, so I'm keen to look my absolute best. Considering that is 16 weeks away (I'm not counting the Christmas/NY week), I'm hopeful that that isn't too great a goal. And now that I've written it in the blogosphere, I've got a constant reminder! Along the way, the major things I'm hoping for are better sleep, improved fitness, no sickness, and more energy.
Once the initial 6 week Leptin Reset period is over (and I've survived Christmas!), I'm keen to start experimenting with IFing, and heavy lifting. Everything I read tells me that these two things could make an even greater impact on my health. I figure since my parents were once both bodybuilders, I must have the genes somewhere in there to be really toned!
In the meantime, I've subscribed to basically every Primal/Paleo blogger and have renewed my subscription to most of the primal newsletters. I'm also going to pledge to update my own blog regularly, if only for my own needs. And now that I have a Twitter profile, I'll have to learn how to use it!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The End of Joke January!

Joke January is a joke (haha) between my work colleagues that centres around the fact that January was a write-off. I know that excuses are always a sign of lack of commitment, but hey, a major natural disaster and big move aren't regular occurrences!
The floods hit us in the second week of January, which meant that my well planned start to the year was thrown into chaos! Certainly we were some of the lucky ones, in that the floods didn't get anywhere near our home, but they did manage to inundate the basement of my workplace... Our team had a lot of work to do and nowhere to do it!
My regular routine was disrupted and in the madness of having nowhere to go to work, my husband and I made the big move into our first 'house' together! Due to the floods, we weren't even sure that we would be able to do that up until the day the move was scheduled for... So it wasn't exactly a stress-free time.
I am still displaced from my workplace. While it's still disruptive, now that Joke January is over, I've really made an effort (psychologically) to turn February into a good month! I'm a bit disappointed that some of my 2011 bucket list has already been put onto the backburner, but I'm sure it won't take much to turn it around.
So, efforts towards a morning workout (either a walk or swim) will be stepped up and our eating habits will definitely improve! We've already joined the local pool as members and found some great local places that sell fresh food. I've started a pole dancing class with my friend (it deserves a separate post!) and found an adult education centre that offers music and sewing lessons!
Here's to February being fabulous!

Friday, January 7, 2011

What's the World Wide Web saying this week?

Here's some more mainstream advice that saturated fat may not be as bad as we think... Well, duh!

We've all most likely made and already broken new years resolutions and this article explains how our bad habits become ingrained in our brains. Don't give up though, you can get through it!

Among other things, this Birth Psychology newsletter reports on the impact of a mother's diet during pregnancy... It is interesting to consider that we can shape our child's eating habits based on what we do or don't eat during pregnancy. I can certainly vouch for my mum - she ate everything and has produced four children with amazing appetites!

As we warm up to summer, the 'sun smart' campaign would have us slip, slop, slapping all day long. John Herring argues this as another load of conventional wisdom gone mad in his article "The Skin Cancer Myth". I don't know about you, but I'm looking forward to getting some real vitamin D!

The fact that this woman's stories continue to get air time is quite disgusting!

Finally some doctors and nutritionists are waking up to the idea that carbs are what's making us fat! Imagine if everyone caught on to this - it would be revolutionary!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A 2011 Bucket List?!?

Can you have a bucket list for just a year? I’m not sure, but hey, why not?! I am hopefully not anywhere near dying, so a ‘kick-the-bucket’ list is a long way off. Still, I was thinking last night about things I would like to achieve this year, so why not make a list?
I have the advice of many wise people floating around in my head too – set realistic and achievable goals. It’s no good saying “I will lose 20 kilograms this year” because, while that might happen, it doesn’t actually verbalise how you will actually do that! It’s much better off to say “I will eat no grains or sugar” or “I will do 30 minutes of exercise every day” which is measurable, achievable and should, if done right, lead to that 20 kilo weight loss!
My 2011 bucket list will not just be weight/health related, though I’m hoping that some aspect of my life will be improved by achieving them (duh, otherwise what is the point!). So, here is my list for 20-11…

  • Eat no grains (this one starts on 3 Jan, as my previous post explained my unpleasant start to the year!)
  • Learn a musical instrument (at this stage, I think it will be guitar, though I could do always do something really unusual – bagpipes perhaps?!?)
  • Take a course in how to use my digital SLR camera (no point having it if I don’t get the most out of it!)
  • Grow and maintain a herb and veggie garden (this one can start when we move into our house on 15 Jan)
  • Learn pole dancing (I already have a friend on board to do this with me!)
  • Get a membership at our local pool and swim at least 3 times a week (our pool at home is not quite big enough to do laps!)
  • Start studying for my masters (the jury is still out about what my specialisation will be!)
  • Eat seasonally (no more ‘fresh’ strawberries in winter!)
  • Take a photo a day with my husband (an idea I read in some relationship magazine – this will have to start when I’ve discussed it with him!)
  • Learn basic sewing (this might have to wait until I have a sewing machine!)
  • Maintain this blog with at least one post per week!
Notice I haven’t numbered them. I don’t want this to become a tick and flick type list, and create that mental barrier that I have to complete number 1 before I do number 2 (especially since the eat no grains thing is a year-long attempt!).
I’m sure I will add to and/or change this list as the year wears on. I’d like to be able to look back at it regularly to remind myself of what I’m aiming for this year…. It will also be good to reflect on it at the end of the year and identify if any of these goals have led to other positive changes in my life. For example, I’m hoping the eating no grains and swimming will lead to some weight loss.  Possibly eating seasonally with a herb and veggie garden, and learning to sew will save us money! Who knows what else this could bring…
Now it’s your turn!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Happy New Year!

Yeah, I know I’m a few days late! Better late than never but… I actually started off the year feeling terrible, but not from what you might think. I had a couple of drinks on NYE but certainly not enough to make me drunk, or sick… I was horrified to wake up at 5am on New Years Day as sick as a dog then! Hubby joked that I’d had too much vodka, but I knew the culprit – NYE dinner and the chicken kebabs that obviously hadn’t been quite cooked…
While it was horrible at the time and not exactly pleasant looking back on it, there was one good thing about it. It cleaned me out! Seriously, I was an empty vessel on January 2, ready to start the new year afresh. I couldn’t stomach anything serious however and unfortunately settled for a small cup of oats with banana and milk. I know, appalling! But honestly, it seemed to balance out my stomach, so at the time I was quite thankful.
Hubby & I had planned to really kick into the 30 day challenge on Sunday, but my physical state didn’t quite allow it. I was left feeling very sore and sorry for myself, and I guess you could call it a fasting day (which is not a bad thing when you think about it!)
By Monday I had perked up enough to stomach a small serving of bacon and eggs for breakfast. Lunch consisted of meatballs and strawberries (served separately!), with chicken and salad for dinner. I knew that my stomach was considerably smaller than it had been at the end of last year, so I took it really easy to make sure I didn’t overdo it.
This led me to thinking that I should really make a conscious effort not to overeat. I should explain, I come from a family of overeaters. It was almost a competition, especially with 2 younger BIG brothers! I know that over the years, I have definitely maintained generous portion sizes with my meals. Why not use this as an opportunity to curb my ways? Combined with primal eating, this must be a good pathway to a healthier weight!
So combined with my New Years Resolution to eat no grains and minimal sugar, I’m adding watching my portion sizes and eating slowly. Defined goals that are achievable. I can’t guarantee that I’ll lose 15 kilos, but I can stick to my ‘no grains and sugar’ mantra!