Wednesday, 31 October 2012

shopping list

If I am going to do this right, then I need to have the right equipment. Simple.

I plan to exercise mostly outdoors as I am lucky enough to have a footy oval 50 metres from my doorstep. There I can run laps of the oval and do fitness circuits. I am really excited that it is so close to home and I don't need to get in the car! One thing it doesn't have is a staircase to sprint up and down, so I might have to substitute another exercise or find another place for stair work.

My back-up will be exercising at home when the weather is bad or when it is late at night. To make this work I will buy fitness dvd's and a portable step (preferably an adjustable one), as per Michelle Bridges' recommendations. The last time I did fitness dvd's was years ago doing Aerobics Oz Style when it was on free-to-air tv. I enjoyed doing that at the time... hopefully the dvd's I pick up will be good to follow along and will make the time exercising fly by. I already have at home 3kg hand weights, a mat and skipping rope. And I have enough fitness clothes and shoes... but I could do with another workout top and a hat.

I am not sure if I can justify the cost of a heart-rate monitor. Perhaps it will be encouragement to push myself more during training? Perhaps it will just be interesting to observe but not change my training habits a great deal? I am reluctant to buy stuff just for the sake of it and overcomplicate my training. Often I find a simpler approach suits me best. Something to consider at least.

So, on the shopping list for this weekend are fitness dvd's, a portable step, a new top and a hat! And speaking of shopping lists, I am really looking forward to our weekly menu plans which begin in a couple of weeks. I am a sucker for good food photography but the meals look so yummy. And what a timesaver to have supermarket shopping lists ready to go. Can't wait to officially begin!

Sunday, 28 October 2012

fitness goals

I was going so well for a couple of days there. It feels as though I took one step forward and two steps back. I've gone back to old habits due to the stress of upcoming uni exams. But today, thinking of my fitness goals, I feel inspired to make better choices. I am sure that exercise will break the monotony of study, too.

I have started with my twelve-month goals, and worked backwards. In twelve months I will...
Have lowered my total blood cholesterol by 10%
Maintain my body weight at 58-60kg
Run the 2013 Melbourne Marathon
Be self-disciplined!

And here is how I will get there...

Checking my cholesterol means a trip to the doctor and a fasting blood test. I will ask for a cholesterol test at my annual check up. In the meantime I will...
Eat well by reducing saturated fat intake and eating more fruit and veg
Use plant sterol enriched margarine
Eat more omega-3 fatty acids (found in seafood, especially salmon which I love!) and take fish oil capsules

Goal weight
In one month I will have lost 2kg
In three months I will be at my goal weight of 58-60kg
In six months and beyond I will maintain my goal weight
And to get there... I will stick to the 12wbt program.

Run the 2013 Melbourne Marathon
In three months I will run a 10k fun run (with the iPhone app training program, Bridge to 10k)
In six months I will run a half-marathon
In twelve months I will run a marathon

Be self-discplined
I have committed to the 12wbt and now I want to make the most of the experience. I've always gone it alone (with limited success). In three months I hope to look back and be proud of myself for sticking with the program.

For every day that I (1) complete my exercises and (2) stick to my calorie limit (+/- 10%) I will put a gold star on the kitchen calendar. Thank you Jackie who suggested that I track self-discipline by recording how many days I stuck to the program.

A few notes on cholesterol...
The Heart Foundation have tons of information available on reducing cholesterol. It's all very straightforward and easy to understand. My plan to reduce my cholesterol is based upon their recommendations.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012


I am growing more and more confident in my own abilities in recent days. All of a sudden, I feel that getting fit and changing around my lifestyle are achievable. This morning I did a session at the gym. Rather than look at my watch and find a reason to leave after 45 minutes, I did my complete exercise program and really enjoyed the process (with no excuses). I felt confident enough in my strength and fitness to do another set of reps and to do a cycling sprint for an extra two minutes. When I go for a jog I push myself to run a little further before I take a break to walk. Sure, it's only an extra 500 metres, but I am slowly improving.

My diet is slowly changing too, mainly because my ideas about food are changing. This week I am holding back on the sweet treats... rather than every day, I am having a couple each week only. I am also eating dinner every night at the dining table, rather than on the couch in front of the tv.

I have just watched Michelle Bridges' video clip on setting goals for one month, 3, 6 and 12 months. I am considering what matters most to me and I keep returning to this idea of self-discipline. But how will I know when I get there? How do I break it down? I am thinking of ways to convert this lofty goal of self-discipline (and a goal that can potentially be never-ending) into something a little more measurable. I want to be able to celebrate when I achieve it!

It's really important to me that these goals are well thought out, as I want to stick to them and hold myself accountable. I think I might sleep on it and put up a blog post tomorrow with my goals listed (and how I plan to get there).

Monday, 22 October 2012

excuses, excuses

Pre-season of 12wbt has begun this week and the program seems to have stepped up a notch. Our first "assignment" is to examine the excuses we make time and time again that justifies our inaction.

The major excuse that I use is that I am so tired. I have a long commute each day and often I head off before the sun rises, and get home long after the sun has set. So yes, I am tired. To overcome this I will need to think back to better times, when I was fit, and remember that exercise gives me an energy boost. Rather than the traditional Sunday off, I will exercise throughout the weekend and take a break from exercise on one of these long days.

Did you know that I am also busy? Ha! Isn't everyone?! But really, when I think about it, I am more disorganised than busy. I have enough time each day, and each week, to get everything done. But I choose to leave things to the last minute. For instance, last week I was aiming to complete 30km of running/walking/cycling. By Saturday evening I had completed 20km and had grand plans to get the 30km finished on Sunday. I also had an important assignment that I hadn't yet finished due Monday morning. The assignment won over, and I didn't go for a run. But when I reflect on the week, I know that if I had planned for everything, I could have fit in both study and exercise. I feel disappointed in myself for letting this slip. Is diarising the answer, or is that over-engineering the issue? Maybe I just need to get on with it.

Here are some more excuses I use not to exercise:
It is raining. It is too hot. It is too dark outside. My gym clothes are in the wash. I can't be bothered. I am comfortable on the couch and I don't want to get up. My favourite TV show is about to start. I need to go to bed soon and I want to wind down. I haven't seen my fiancé all day and I want to chat with him.

I am thinking of my excuses in the context of not only exercise, but also having the motivation and time to prepare healthy, nutritious meals. When it comes to healthy eating, often I take the easy option, or alternatively, I take the food that is in front of me, regardless of its nutritional status.

Some more excuses regarding healthy food:
I need some comfort food because I feel like crap. I don't have all the ingredients. I am hungry now. We are having guests over and they will be expecting something nicer. I am craving something sweet. I don't want to offend my host by not eating everything on my plate. Healthy meals means more dishes to wash up. I deserve a treat.

Pretty lame, right?

Sunday, 21 October 2012

my week in calories

My average calories each day last week was around 1700. This makes sense, seeing as I've maintained my current weight for the last six months. I know what I should be eating but sometimes doing is harder than it should be.

The good
Coming home late and remembering I had a healthy meal in the freezer for dinner.
Lemon poppy seed muffins, a really nice and easy Weight Watchers recipe.
Just one alcoholic drink this week! I had a glass of red wine last night and really enjoyed it.
Just 1215 calories consumed on Wednesday, because I chose healthy food throughout the day that left me feeling satisfied.

The bad
An average of one piece of fruit per day on average, and only two serves of vegetables.
Maxing out my sugar and saturated fat allowance six days out of seven.
Forgetting my water bottle when heading out for the day.

The ugly
Four Magnum icecreams.
Monday's 2400 calorie effort.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

good morning yoga

A few years back I was a regular at a local yoga studio. It didn't look much from the outside; it was in an industrial area on a busy road with McDonalds nearby. But inside it was as though I had stepped into another world. A carpeted room shut off from the outside and scented tea light candles scattered around. What followed was one hour of bliss and when I left, I felt as though I was walking on a cloud.

I was so happy to find a fifteen minute yoga sequence via this blog. Just looking at these images makes me feel so calm already.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

menu plan

A few weeks ago I made a commitment to pack a healthy lunch and snacks each day. To be totally honest, this hasn't happened. Mornings at my house are a crazy rush to get ready and out the door. Usually I throw together the same old sandwich of processed meat, cheese and a few limp salad leaves. Yuck. So I've decided to get my act together. Today I spent twenty minutes googling recipes, followed by a big supermarket shop.

Here is what I am eating this week:

My usual (yoghurt, muesli and fruit)

Rye wrap with smoked salmon and cucumber
Egg salad sandwich on wholegrain bread
Aranchini balls with homemade hummus
Homemade sushi

Grilled chicken breast; chickpea and fetta salad; salad leaves
Jamie Oliver pork and prune stew from the 'Jamie Does' cookbook; steamed rice; steamed veg
Baked salmon; leftover chickpea and fetta salad; steamed veg
Turkey and green onion meatballs with chinese broccoli

Lemon and poppy seed muffins
Hazelnut oat slice
Homemade hummus and vegetables
Fresh fruit
Mini pretzels

I am not planning my meals around calories and calorie counting. In fact, I was standing in front of the cream cheese at the supermarket today, and I had the choice between full-fat, light, or extra light. I did think for a moment, 'what would Michelle Bridges' do'... but I went with the light option, which is what I would usually select. Extra light seems a bit extreme to me right now.

I am focussing on preparing food with plenty of fresh vegetables. Food I know that I will enjoy. I will by writing down everything I eat and tracking it on the 'My Fitness Pal' app which will give me a daily calorie summary. I will be interested to see the results.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

write it down

The 12WBT challenge this week is to document all food intake for seven days. This morning I downloaded the free iPhone app, 'My Fitness Pal' and have been using it to record what I eat. The great thing about this app is that it forces me to be precise and record exact serving sizes. It also tracks my calorie intake as well as specific nutrients such as sodium, fibre and calcium.

So far today I have eaten my usual breakfast (yoghurt, muesli and a piece of fruit), lunch (salad and cheese sandwich on wholegrain bread) and morning tea (six squares of Cadbury chocolate and a 250ml iced coffee - not my usual fare but it was being given out for free at the train station). I was having a great time logging it all into the app, until I saw the calorie count creeping up and up and up. It is 12.30pm in the afternoon and I am already at 1028 calories. I am also over my saturated fat and sugar allocation for the day. Gah! How on earth did that happen! Actually I know darn well why I am over my calorie count and I think it has something to do with the iced coffee and chocolate...

As suggested in the 12WBT challenge email I will try to resist adjusting my food intake to hit my calorie target. I want to get a real picture of what I eat this week. Surely I will be horrified with the result, but shock tactics may be necessary to inspire me to take action.

For someone who has never bothered with counting calories this is going to be an eye-opening week.

Thank you to those who commented on my blog entry yesterday. It's so great to have your support and words of encouragement. You have also inspired me to use the spell checker.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

sunday afternoon reflections

Sometimes I get to the end of a day and feel guilty for not doing enough. Not making enough progress on my university work; not sewing more; not spending time doing "fun stuff". Sometimes I get to the end of the day, and I struggle to verbalise what I have done. I might have slept in and wasted time looking at blogs and internet sites, then procrastinated when it came to university work. I look around the house in the evening, and of course, it is a mess. My notebook page has today's date on it but not much work. And to top it off, I have no idea what to prepare for dinner.

This weekend I tried to make the best of my time. Not only did I write up my university Immunology notes and help C with his upcoming exam, I also made time for a beachside walk with C and a night out at the movies on Saturday.

C is about to head off to work so I will shortly have the house to myself. Tonight I want to spend an hour or so cleaning up the house, make a menu plan for dinners for the week ahead, listen to a few lectures I have skipped and get some sewing done. Gee, that's a lot now that I see it typed out.

I also want to squeeze in a 3km run. Following Michelle Bridges 12WBT challenge to move 30km this week I have done 27km thus far. I am really keen to tick this challenge off as I haven't gone well with the others. I need a 'win' to keep me motivated.

Monday, 8 October 2012


I used to be a runner. I ran 10km fun runs regularly and once I even ran a 15km fun run. All without stopping for a walk or a breather. Then I registered for the 2011 Melbourne half-marathon. But I didn't work hard enough in the lead up to the event. Two weeks before the event I knew that I was not fit enough and was at risk of an injury... so I pulled out. And I have hardly been running since.

Since registering for the 12WBT program I had a sinking feeling that the program would include running. This was confirmed with an email yesterday morning challenging me to move 30km this week. I simply don't have the time to be walking for 30km this week... I need to run (and cycle) at least some of this distance.

Last night I went for a 5.6km run down my street and back. I had anticipated that I would have to stop for breaks constantly and be panting and wheezing. But it wasn't that bad. I ran further than I thought I would. Yes, I still stopped for a few breaks, and I did walk part of the distance. But I felt really good for having challenged myself and for not making excuses.

That this challenge has been assigned to us during week three of pre-season makes me worried for what is to come. The program has not even begun yet. This is going to be the hardest I have ever worked.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

upping the ante

This morning I received an email with the Week Three 12WBT challenge: move 30 kilometres this week. My first thought was that this is a typo. How on earth am I going to accomplish this? Here is my plan:

Monday  4km jog
Tuesday  4km jog
Wednesday  8km at the gym (bike; cross trainer)
Thursday  rest
Friday      2km swim; 2km jog
Saturday  5km walk
Sunday    5km walk

I have also had time to reflect on Week One and Week Two challenges. Honestly, I haven't been taking these challenges seriously. But I have come to a realisation that if I want real results, I need to push myself outside my comfort zone. I am not as healthy as I would like to think. To get where I want to be I need to make a change. Today is my first real day of change.

For Week One, "make one small change", I chose to pack a nutritious lunchbox on weekdays. I usually don't pack enough healthy food and I am tempted by fatty fast-food options. Today in my lunchbox is a salad sandwich, two pieces of fruit and a homemade muffin.

Week Two, "halve your non-water drink intake", I instead chose to drink more water. Before the challenge I drank 1L per day. Today I have packed a 500ml water bottle and I am aiming to drink two litres by bedtime. Now that I think more about the original challenge of drinking less non-water fluids do I realise its importance. Sure, I don't drink soft drink often, and I don't drink coffee, but there are certainly changes I can make. So, starting today, I will drink one cup of tea each day, and one glass of alcohol once a week.

Friday, 5 October 2012


My most recent post might have been overly optimistic... this is going to be so, so hard. Who am I kidding? Last night, mere hours after I had signed up for 12wbt I was feeling hungry on my way home from uni, so I bought a potato cake. A greasy, fatty potato cake. And this is not a rarity. Often at uni, or waiting around for my train, I buy things like this. Because I am hungry, and fried food is cheap, easy and comforting.

So, in light of this, I have decided to dedicate my 12wbt Week One warm-up challenge to preparing a nutritious lunchbox to take out for the day in order to avoid the pitfalls of the fast food shops. For Monday lunch I will prepare a delish sandwich on wholemeal bread, fruit pieces, healthy snacks (not quite sure what they will be yet...) and water. The challenge we have been set is to make one small change. I think that this might be one small change that delivers big results.

Week Two warm-up challenge is to halve my intake of fluids other than water. But truth be told, I don't drink much fluid other than water and cups of tea. I am considering swapping my tea for green tea, as I've heard that green tea has substantial health benefits, but I want to research this first. In the meantime, I've decided to double my intake of water. I estimate that I currently drink one litre of water per day. Having a water bottle will help so much with this challenge so I plan to buy a water bottle this weekend. And while I am at it, I had better buy a lunch box.

I am old enough (29) to be a little set in my ways and doubtful of my ability to change my habits. But also old enough to know that if I do commit to change that I will benefit in so many ways. So my emotions are a little mixed. I will throw myself into this challenge but I anticipate there will be set backs. So I am doubtful, yes, but also hopeful. I would love to go into this challenge, all guns blazing, but I must be honest with myself. Wish me luck.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

post gym pain

I am hurting today. My session at the gym may have been too much, too soon. Maybe it is as simple as not stretching enough before and after gym. Maybe I should just suck it up.

Today I will do some simple stretches and go for a walk so that I am at least moving.


Yesterday I committed to Michelle Bridges 12 Week Body Transformation. I have been looking at her website for a couple of weeks now, googling for blog reviews and generally um-ing and ah-ing about whether or not I would join. I wasn't sure if it was right for me. I want (need) to develop healthy habits but don't have a lot of weight to lose. Regardless, I think it will give me structure, and take some of the hard work out of planning and researching the best healthy diet and exercise options, so that I can spend my time doing.

The program officially kicks off on Monday 19th November. In the meantime there are tasks and challenges to get into the right mindset. I am nervous about what may be around the corner. I don't know what my goal weight should be. I don't know if I won't collapse from exhaustion from so much exercise. I don't know if I will feel satisfied eating a low-ish calorie diet and I wonder if my stomach won't be growling from hunger in the evening.

I want to put myself 100% into this program and not second guess the advice. The hardest thing I think for me will be balancing my commitment to the program while also listening to my body. I am determined enough that I will make time for the exercise and food preparation. I can afford to buy basic exercise equipment to complete a good workout. My partner is encouraging and supportive. I just need to arrive at a happy medium where I am eating well and feeling strong, and my weight is stable. While I  am not quite sure what the numbers (calorie intake and body weight) will be I hope I know when I get there.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012


Last year I had a membership to the university gym, but let that lapse over the summer holidays. This year I made excuses that I was too busy with class and study and commuting, and that it wasn't worthwhile, so I didn't rejoin. Though it is the final four weeks of class for the year before exam period begins, I decided to return to the gym today as a casual visitor.

Gosh, it was hard work. I haven't sweated in such a long time. Though it was hard I feel good for having done my workout. Unfortunately since it has been such a long time since my last visit, the gym no longer has my exercise program. So, I tried my best to remember what to do, and what weights to use. For my cardio routine I used the exercise bike and cross-trainer. Strength exercises were done using various machines and small handweights. I also completed lunges and stretches. Total time spent working out: 50 minutes. I could have spent more time but I ran out of ideas on what I should do, and I didn't want to continue cardio exercises.

I have 3kg handweights at home that I think I will begin using more of. I will google, or look at Pinterest, for ideas on what exercises to do with handweights to ensure I tone my whole body and not just select muscles. And I will continue going back to the gym once or twice a week when I have a two hour (or more) break between classes.

Monday, 1 October 2012

inbox is (officially) sorted

My most recent post, a few days ago, I commited to only publishing a blog post when I had done something. Up until now I had endless plans and aspirations but very little action was being taken.

Today I cleared out my personal and student email accounts. This blog is so good for me. It keeps me 100% honest. Finally, I can see all of my emails at a glance on the one page. It seems my timing was spot on as logged onto one email account I hadn't been too for a while to find an email from a previous employer with an offer for more work!

Not only was I deleting emails and creating new folders, but also unsubscribing from mailouts that I now consider spam. I hope that managing my inbox becomes a habit. Bit by bit I am clearing away the clutter to make room for real change. Maybe then by blog posts will become slightly more interesting...