A life of health and wellness…with kids!


Leave a comment

Holiday Hapennings

IMG_6282 IMG_6288 IMG_6296

Now that the christmas period is over and we are getting back into the swing of the daily happenings of life I thought that I should come back to giving this space more attention. The garden is overflowing with produce, not completely providing us with everything we need but doing a fine job of supplementing our fresh (organic!) vegetable intake. There is art and craft happening on a daily basis and we are enjoying the outdoors during this not too hot high summer.

I haven’t made any formal resolutions for 2015 but over the past few weeks I have definitely had some goals beginning to formulate in my mind about the direction I want 2015 to take for our family. Rhythm and health need to be the main focus as we have one boy heading into grade one and one boy heading into preschool. Healthy living with less (less than we already do) reliance on processed and packaged foods in our diets. Fortifying our mental health with more crafting and time spent doing introspective artistic pursuits. Reading…novels and more intellectual tomes, and Rhythm, instilling that daily ebb and flow that helps us all to be more calm and get everything done that we need to do.

So in light of that the goals that I have set for myself include the following:

  • Read 12 books in 2015 – one per month
  • Sew (or knit) – 12 garments in 2015 – one per month
  • Try one new whole foods based recipe each week – and share it in this space!
  • Take a weekend getaway – or two – this year (We already have one planned for March!!!)
  • Learn form our work in the garden over the past year and implement these learnings so our organic produce is even better in 2015 – I’ll write about this more over the next week or so.
  • Focus on the sentiment that we have everything we need to live this life – we do not need to spend money on unnecessary wants and desires – just the things we need. (This is a hard one for me but something I need to work on!)

And thats it!! If I achieve all of these things then 2015 will have been an awesome year!

These too are the things that I will be focused on writing about this year, I really hope that anyone who does read my blog continues to do so and that I might even see some new readers hop on bard this year!!

Happy 2015!

xxAndj


Leave a comment

How does my Garden Grow November 3 – 16

Garden progress

Ii has been a few weeks since I have posted any garden pictures – I have been absolutely flat out with work and during those times the blog has to take second place. The garden however still gets the normal level of attention. It is my therapy to be able to go outside when I get home from work and check the progress of all my little plants. These photos are actually about  2 – 3 weeks old – the garden looks very different now. I will take some pictures this weekend.

IMG_6058

Tomatos and Capsicum

IMG_6055

Zucchini and Eggplants

IMG_6056

Kipfler potatos at the front and a larger variety at the back

This is the first time in a while that I have grown potato’s. When we first moved in there were lots of potato’s in the garden beds but then we renovated and all those beds had a house built over them. I will be interested to see how they go in this spot. I have buried them about 10 – 15 centimeters deep and then hilled up around the stem of the plant about 20 cm.

I didn’t have good luck with the tomato’s last year so I am hoping that this year they will be a bit better. I have done a few things differently with the tomato’s also. Enriched the holes they were planted into and had them started in pots early in spring.

Zuccini’s usually go alright here but I haven’t grown eggplant in about 5 years. Mainly because we didn’t really eat eggplant but I figure it might be nice to have some variety. I have planted Lebanese eggplants here and have a different variety growing from seed on the windowsill.

IMG_6060 IMG_6061

The other thing I have done differently this year is planted some companion flowers and let some of the Coriander and Parsley go to seed – just to invite some more critters into to help with pollination.

It will be interesting to see what the result is of all these variations.

Andjxx


Leave a comment

What I ate Wednesday

Food Diary 12wbt

 

I must admit that this isn’t exactly “What I ate Wednesday” – but more a selection of things I ate in the past few days….   I decided to sign up for the Michelle Bridges 12wbt again, mainly to get access to the menu plans – because the Exercise plans really haven’t changed all that much since I last did it a few years ago. They are OK (the exercise plans) but I find some of the exercises fussy and using too much equipment – so I switch them out for something that works the same muscle group.

About two months ago I commenced “Operation Get Andjxx fit again” and I was going really well for the first month and lost about 5kg – I was feeling great and really  on top of things. They I had a crash off my bike, shortly followed by another accident at  home that left me with a big gash on my leg (Which is really really ugly), and well I basically lost all momentum and just stopped exercising and eating well for the who second month. I kept telling myself I would get back on top of it and kept feeling like it was all too hard. But it was all in my head – just the simple act of telling myself it was all too hard was enough to stop me from starting. So after starting to read the book “If not dieting then what?” by Dr Rick Kausman, I talked some of my cognitions and am back on top of things again. The book is actually really good because it helps me to tackle some of my “black or white’ thinking behaviors – and also my tendency to become obsessive about every little morsel I eat.

The bottom line is I know that I feel better when I eat healthy foods the majority of the time… and I still need to lose about 7 kg to be at a good healthy weight for my body…and exercising helps with my Anxiety – all excellent reasons to get back on the wagon!

I have been pretty happy with the 12wbt food choices this week – I just changed up a couple of things to match more with things that we already had in the house. One of the things I dislike about the 12wbt food plan is that it often requires you to buy things that expensive just for one or two meals – so I will often substitute – because frankly I just can’t afford $200 a week on shopping!

This week I have been eating Banana Porridge and eggs (on separate days) for breakfasts; chicken and salad pita pockets for lunch and a variety of things for dinner – Lamb kebabs with Cous cous salad; Lemon and garlic marinate chicken and salad, Roast chicken with Asian vegetables and my favourite – Asian BBQ  cooker chicken with chinese broccoli. For snacks I have been alternating Chobani yoghurt (Coconut or banana) with Hummus and vegetable cruidites or an APple and about 10 almonds.

I will say up front that the food on the 1200 calorie MB plan does not keep me full…in fact I would wake up starving at 3am most nights (and it’s not head hunger – it is real stomach grumbling, anger causing hunger) – so I do actually consume around 1300 – 1400 calories per day on a typical day. I lost weight on this amount of calories and it basically means I have a snack after dinner – I know that if I don’t do this it is a sure fire way to a binge – so I see it as better to eat slightly more than what she recommends and reduce the risks of a binge session.

The other thing that I do to make it fit into our family lifestyle is I often will cook something different for my children – or provide them with an alternative side dish. I have fussy eaters and I would much rather they eat dinner than have the fight with them about eating at all. I will do a post about this next week actually!

Is anyone else who reads my blog following the MB program at the moment?

Andjxx


Leave a comment

School Canteens and the Food Giants

evil food giants

Many of you may recall the recent *ahem* disagreement between certain high profile chefs and nutrition experts over the marketing of ‘liquid breakfast supplements’ as a healthy alternative for kids who don’t like eating breakfast.

It could certainly be easy to think that these food products have been created with the best interests of those who consume them in mind – especially considering that  Kelloggs is marketing their products in particular, directly at parents who are short on time and need a fast solution. Kelloggs marketing director John Broom is quoted in FoodMagazine saying “The new breakfast drinks are made with 90 percent low fat milk are low GI and contain around 10 percent sugar. They also score green on the Schools Canteens approval rating system, which indicates the drinks are among the best commercial products available for young children”. Sounds good right?

It’s true – they are BUT – and there is a big but – does this mean they are healthy and that it is perfectly OK for your child to consume these on a daily basis?

My question is How does a highly refined product such as this, without a skerrik of whole food (other than sugar) as an ingredient – even get onto the Green rating in the school canteens approval rating system?

Lets take a look at the ingredients?

cocopops ingredients

The reason it is allowed under the green category is because it is a low fat milk product – and low fat milk products under 375ml are considered to be in the green category. See below:

Canteen guidelines

However, what is alarming is that plain old full fat milk – the type that was forced upon our parents and grandparents at primary school on a daily basis – falls into the Amber category – Why is this so? Because of the FAT content.

Yes I understand that our current Australian Dietary Guidelines place an emphasis on the consumption of low fat food but in doing this, the green light has been given to food companies to change the composition (read increase the amount of added sugar) of their foods to ensure that the flavours, taste and textures remain unchanged. What alarms me most is that the same serving of full fat milk contains less calories than the example given above.  Remembering that it is consuming more calories than our bodies expend that causes excess weight gain – when food companies are telling us that it is OK too feed this manufactured ‘food’ to our children on a daily basis – it is not surprising that we have an obesity epidemic.  I haven’t even mentioned how the conversion of unnecessary (added) sugar in our diet actually contributes to fat gain metabolically – because others have done it far more eloquently than I. While I am not generally an advocate of Sarah Wilson and her I Quit Sugar tirade I do agree with her on the topic of ‘quitting  added sugar. If you are feeling scientific and would like to watch a video on the topic go and have a look at this talk by Dr Kieron Rooney from the University of Sydney speaking on the topic – it is truly fascinating.

Back to the milk.

milknutr

You will see that a 250ml serving of Full Cream milk contains 703kj, 12.3g Carbohydrate (which is all Lactose – no added sugar) and 9.5g Fat. In comparison, the product above contains 740kj, 24.3g of Sugar (of which 13.8g is Lactose) and 3.3g of Fat. Yes the full cream milk has more fat, however it also has approximately half the sugar – and none of it is added sugar – assuming you are not lactose intolerant – our bodies can metabolise Lactose very well. So in the flavoured liquid breakfast you get extra sugar  AND extra calories – not to mention extra chemicals in all those stabiliser and enhancer numbers.

I know that I would much rather my children to have plain old full cream milk with half the sugar (and I don’t know about your children but mine go a bit cray cray when they have extra sugar) and a little bit extra fat than the chemical laden liquid breakfast substitute.

We as parent have to wise up to the evil marketing that the big food giants use to appeal to parents and children if we are to win the battle against childhood obesity. If you think – who am I to be able to do something about this? Actually, you can!

Sarah Wilson has teamed up with Kieron Rooney to lobby the NSW government to make changes to the NSW School Canteen guidelines – and they need 10 000 in person signatures to make it happen. If you live in NSW and the food your children have access to in school is something that you feel passionate about then do your best to try and sign this petition. Every little bit of effort from an individual helps.

What else could you do? If you see a food item in your school canteen that you are unhappy with – let your P&C know, have a look at the healthy school canteen strategy (Other states have similar guidelines/strategies) – to back up your lobbying efforts. Many small efforts add up to results and your opinion can make a difference!

As a disclaimer to this post – I am not in any way affiliated with Sarah Wilson or her petition – it is simply a topic that I feel passionate about. Real food is more important than processed food and it is only though people power that we will get any government to take on multinational corporations. Additionally, I attended the Australian and New Zealand Obesity Society 2014 conference last week and saw Dr Kieron Rooney’s key note presentation on this very topic – but it is the type on information that all parents should know – so if it enrages you too – please share!!

Andjxx


1 Comment

How does my Garden Grow? October 13th – 19th

homegrown peas

The Garden is making me so Happy right now!

I know that the beginning of spring is usually a time when people feel a bit despondent about the produce (or lack there of) that is coming from the garden but as this is the first time in 3 years that I have had a productive vegetable garden, it is making my heart sing.

homegrown produce

 

I brought in the last of the Broccolli this week – a crop which I planted with no expectations of actually eating anything from the planting – purely just to fill a gap in the garden over winter. The peas are being extra abundant this year – and the chickens are still warming up to the fact that it is spring. We getting 3 – 4 eggs every two days at the moment.

The greens garden is now empty of Kale – which all went to seed at the first hint of heat – and was fed to the chickens, but the spinach is still going very well and I am enjoying it in my green smoothies.

spinach

I planted Calendula all through the veggie garden – both for a touch of colour and to attract some beneficial insects to the garden. They are just starting to flower now and while I should be collecting the flowers to save the petals for Calendula Salve (For Little B’s eczema) – I am just enjoying the flowers right now.

gareden

 

I have been very organised this year and have created a fenced area for the veggie garden – just in case those pesky chickens escape – at least they won’t be able to get in to the main veggie beds. I am planting my pumpkin plants into compost at the far end of the picture also. The cabbages at the top of the picture have been totally eaten by cabbage moth caterpillars and have also gone to seed – so they will be being pulled out soon and replaced with something else – not 100% sure what yet.

seedlings

Last but not least are the babies – waiting patiently to be put into the garden one the chances of frost have passed. I planted a few tomato plants into big pots to allow them to grow big prior to planting out this year and it has been a successful strategy so far. The plants are doing really well. In there I also have some Chilli, Capsicums, and eggplant. I may end up keeping one or two eggplant in a pot – just to see how they go. I have a few varieties of Tomato planned this year. I will save that for a future post.

How is your garden growing this spring? Trying your hand at something new?

Andjxx

 


Leave a comment

and so I bought a Dehydrator…

Aldi Dehydrator

I have been waiting and waiting for Aldi to stock these Lumina Dehydrators again so that I could justify buying one – just to have a go and see if I like the result. So last week when I saw these in the Aldi catalogue, I put it in my diary so that I didn’t forget to go and grab one.

So far I have only used it a couple of times and having absolutely no experience whatsoever with food dehydrating – I had no expectations of what it should perform like.

My low expectations aside – I think that if you want a basic dehydrator for dried fruit and nuts that you make yourself – then this is  probably a very good option – at least until you out grow it and need something bigger and more comprehensive – by which time, I dare say you could probably justify spending more money on an expensive dehydrator.

On  the first day I bought a punnet of Cherry Tomatos and I had some strawberries in the fridge and I thought that I would just give it a go. I put them in at 70 degrees and the strawberries were done at about the 7 hour point and the tomato’s ‘semi-dried’ by the 10 hour point. The strawberries were great – like tasty little lolly treats. The tomatos were a bit tart – and I have since discovered that certain varieties of tomato make for a better ‘sun-dried’ affect than others.

On Saturday I put in some pineapple, banana, apple and kiwi fruit. The apple, kiwi and banana were all dried enough for our liking at the 10 hour point, the pineapple had an extra 4 hours the next day and probably needed longer – however, the little ones wanted to eat it so it didn’t really matter.

Dehydrated pineapple

The key is to choose good tasting fruit to start with – as if the fruit is sour then this is only intensified. The kiwi fruit tasted a little bit like sour lollies. The pineapple and banana were divine and the apple tasted like – well – dried apple.

I look forward to doing some more experimenting with it and to being able to use it to preserve any excess that we might have rather than it going to waste or simply to have another preservation option available. It is definitely a good feeling to be able to put these things into the school lunch box knowing that it is just fruit and nothing else.

On the downside, I had to say goodbye to my bread machine as a trade off to getting the dehydrator. It went to a good home though and will see many more loaves yet I am sure.

Andjxx

 

 


6 Comments

A return to blogging…

A quiet day

A quiet day

It has been quite some time since I have blogged and I have been umming and ahhing about whether it is something that I want to continue. However, over the past few weeks I have been progressively finding things happening throughout my days where I have thought to myself – gosh that would be good to blog about – and so here I am.

So what do I want to blog about?

Our life has evolved so much since I first started blogging – but I am still as passionate as ever about food, good nutrition, healthy living and living a simple sustainable life. So that is what I plan to blog about.

Once upon a time I was caught up in trying to have my blog be about making money and becoming a famous (!) blogger. But now I realise that it was more important to capture the moments and the memories of our life as it passed us by.

When I say things have evolved I think that in a way I was trying to find my place as a mum of two small boys who works part time. I think that I am much closer to finding that now. I am starting to really notice the things that fill my cup and make me buzz with happyness and giving these things more attention.

I have been trying over the past month to find some balance with prioritising my own health and fitness – and this is something that I would like to have a space to write about. Because you know what? It is really hard  to exercise and eat healthy and work and raise a family – and if my musings can help just one person to feel encouraged then it is worth putting them down here.

I do hope that if you have followed my blog in the past that you will come and say hello again and that if you happen across my blog for the first time – you will also come and say hello.

I look forward to spending some time in this space again.

Andjxx


Leave a comment

The Trials and Tribulations of Losing Weight

Willpower and weightloss

So it has been about a month since I started on this fitness kick and things were going really well. I had some ups and downs over the course of the month and things were going quite well – I had lost about 3.5 kg. Then…sometime last Thursday it all went to pot.  I can’t really pinpoint what was the trigger but  I do remember that it started with being tired. Extraordinarily tired. Perhaps I overdid it last week – or something along those lines. I have found that I find it difficult to fit in all the different bits of exercise that I want to do. I want to do strength training so as not to lose muscle mass through cardio. I want to do Cardio because thats what I enjoy. I need to play Hockey on a Sunday afternoon. I want to ride my bike on the weekends. Problem is – it’s all too much – and perhaps I was pushing a little too hard.

The food thing is also proving challenging to me – as it seems that I have developed an intolerance to wheat and dairy (at least Milk based things apart from Yoghurt – I seem to be able to tolerate Yoghurt). Now I have fallen into complete denial – I will not be denied these foods that are so good – binge eating – for the past 5 days.

I don’t even want to look at the scale. I had been weighing myself daily – but I am not going to do that anymore as I tend to obsess over the number – I feel as though it is a trigger for me. I have bought some Tanita body fat % scales because in reality I don’t care what the weight in kilos or pounds is – I care about seeing the BF% number go down.

The thing is – I have been seeing improvements in other areas – such as strength and endurance – going ahead in leaps and bounds. I have managed to get my Parkrun PB for 5km down to 29min 15sec – that means in six weeks I have knocked about 4 and a half minutes off my PB – an awesome improvement given that the only actual running that I have been doing is Parkrun – the rest of the Cardio I have been doing is on the bike or HIIT at the Gym. The other thing I noticed is how much easier it was to run that PB this past Saturday – when I was fully loaded with Carbohydrates and had relatively fresh legs from not training the previous two days.

Now I have a dilemma because I want to run – I want to commit myself to running a half marathon later in the year – but I also want to strength train – but for the specific purpose of building strength for running – I also still have about 10kg to lose – and running makes you hungry….Very hungry.

So I think the bottom line is that I was trying to do too much – especially when I add work into the mix – and if I want to make gains in speed and train for a half marathon then the extensive strength training has to go to the side and the running specific training has to take precedence.

I would also like to post here about my training more often – particularly about learning to manage these apparent food difficulties and balancing it all with two very demanding small children and my work. All I can do is try.

Andjxx


Leave a comment

2014 – All About ME!

IMG_3562

So I have spent the past 5 years giving every part of myself over to others – to children and family, to work and employers – I have decided that 2014 is going to be all about me – at least for the first 6 months.

I am going to get myself back to a point of fitness and health – two things that I have been severely neglecting for the past few years – the past two in particular. IT is time to change that so that I am back to where I was fitness and health wise by the time 2015 rolls around.

First cab off the rank is losing the excess weight I am carrying right now. 10 kilos to be exact. It doesn’t sound like much right? But go and find something that weighs ten kilos, pick it up and carry it around for a while and you’ll find that it gets pretty heavy after a while. This is something that I have been working on finding the right head space for for some time – most of last year actually. Then I read something somewhere on the internet that said something along the lines of…it’s going to be difficult and challenging at times…get over it now. As soon as I came to terms with this my head space changed and I got going.

So rather than waiting until new years day  and being all cliched – I decided to start on boxing day. So I am now 1 week in.

What have I been eating this week?

After much research (and a year of experimenting) I have decided to set my calorie intake a little higher than the golden number of 1200 calories – Why? The simple answer is because I know that 1200 leaves me cranky, tired and extraordinarily binge prone. When I binge I get negative self talk, when I get negative self talk I give up – ‘it’s all too hard’…’I can’t be this hungry for the next 12 weeks’…’how on earth am I going to get through the next 12 weeks being this hungry’ and so it goes on….bottom line is the extra weight loss that I *might* get from the lower calories is not worth feeling like crap. The more complex answer that goes into the science of the higher calorie choice? That’s for another post!

How have I been active this week?

Given that I have had the week off work due to the Christmas break, I have been  trying very hard to set up some good routines and planning so that being more active can fit into my life on a normal week where there is work and school drop offs to consider. The first thing I did was change to a gym that was more convenient to me – it has a creche and it is close to my work – I can go to the gym in my lunch break if I need to. The second thing I did was exercise everyday between boxing day and new years day – even though for some of those days I could barely walk due to muscle soreness. Here is a summary of the week:

Thurs 26 – 1 hour walk

Fri 27 – Gym (Shoulders, Chest, Tri, Abs) + 30 minutes cardio on treadmill (10 HIIT)

Sat 28 – Parkrun (5km – pb 31.55) + leisurely bike ride

Sun 29 – Gym (Legs, Abs) + cardio

Mon 30 – Road Bike 26km (1 hr 34 min)

Tue 31 – Gym (Back, Biceps, Chest) + 30 min cardio

Wed Jan 1 – easy 3km walk

At the start of the week I weighed 76.2, this morning I weighed 74.7 – so a drop of 1.5kg this week.

I don’t expect that there will be a drop like this every week – I am hoping for more in the vicinity of 0.5 – 0.7 kg per week. At that rate it should take me another 14 – 16 weeks. So you know that there should be at least another 14 – 16 posts here in this space over that time!

 

xxAndj


Leave a comment

So I have to do some work on myself now…

Time for me

Four and a half years is approximately how long I have been neglecting myself now.

Sure there was a time there in the middle of the two boys where I was doing pretty well and it has mostly been all downhill for the past two years in particular. But I have had a little health wake up call of late and it is time to heal and mend from all of the increased stress that has been the past two years. Gosh I am getting all teary just writing this. I don’t even know if my new job is actually going to be less stressful but in a way I think that it just has to be.

The first thing I have done is I have given up caffeine. What! I know …crazy right. But it has been almost a week now and the only time I have missed it was on Sunday morning with our cooked breakfast. A nice pot of plunger coffee was part of the ritual. I have replace it with peppermint tea mostly, with a few other herbals thrown in for good measure and the odd decaf cappuccino at the shops. The biggest thing was the diet coke. I was a can a day, had to have it, drove to the shops especially kind of addict. For the first few days I switched to Caffeine free Diet coke, but it gave me a really strange feeling in my chest, similar the the one I get from Coke Zero – it is such a strange feeling that drinking it isn’t worth it. So that’s gone too.

Why all this? Well I have a feeling that I may have a bit of adrenal fatigue going on  and along with a host of vitamin supplements, giving up the caffeine is strongly recommended.  I am giving it 6 months to see how my energy levels are and try to determine if it has made any difference at all.

The second thing I am doing is giving myself the next 6 months to get back down to my happy weight and back to running regularly. I have also started playing field hockey again for the first time in about 20 years. Having a sport to play every week gives me a bit more motivation to get some level of fitness back again – just so that I can run around for 50 minutes with out feeling exhausted and tired the next day.

So I have signed up to the Michelle Bridges 12wbt again…because I absolutely don’t have a choice but to lose weight. I am six kilos about my previous ‘happy’ point and my ideal weight is around 66kg – right now I am 10kg over that.

So I decided it is time and that this will be my focus for the next six months.

Wish me luck!

xxAndjxx