Sunday, October 16, 2011

Skinny Sundays

This will be a regular post each Sunday, talking about low-calorie recipes and tips on eating healthy.
I don’t know about you, but to me, as soon as I’m at a party, my diet and self-control tend to go out the window, especially after a couple of wines!
I’ve found that the trick is to be prepared. If I’m going somewhere where I have no control over the food, I eat a healthy but filling meal beforehand, or I use my “diet day off ” day for that event.
If it’s a catch-up with friends though, the best trick is to offer to bring the food yourself! It’s a win-win situation, the hostess falls over in gratitude at one less job to do, and you get control over what you eat.
So what to bring? It has to be healthy, but no-one wants to go to a party or barbeque and eat boring food.
We went to a barbeque with friends this Sunday, and I had offered to bring a salad and some nibblies. The salad bit was easy, throw some lettuce, celery, cucumber, capsicum and tomato in a bowl, then segment an orange, peel it and cut it into bite size pieces and sprinkle over the top. Then use your knife to scrape to juice that is left on your board over the salad, season with some salt and pepper and you’re done.
I also did a potato salad, as it’s my husband’s favourite. Not so healthy, but you can use light sour cream and mayonnaise, and cut every skerrick of fat off the bacon (using short-rind cuts help).
I find the nibblies part can be tricky, so here’s some ideas on what you can bring that are healthy, tasty and look impressive on a plate!

Salsa and Baked Tortilla Chips
Finely diced tomato, Spanish onion, parsley and yellow capsicum mixed together, squeeze over some lime juice, season with salt and pepper. Serve with low-fat baked tortilla chips.

Rice Paper Rolls
1 cup cooked chicken breast, pork fillet or prawns (or leave it out altogether)
1/2 cup wombok, finely shredded
1/2 cup bean sprouts, trimmed
1 small red capsicum, thinly sliced
1/3 cup fresh mint leaves
1/2 cup fresh coriander leaves
1 lime, juiced
1 tablespoon fish sauce
12 x 22cm rice paper rounds (see note)
Sweet chilli sauce, to serve

Combine everything in a large bowl (leave a bit of coriander out to sprinkle over the top to serve).
Soak the rice paper in lukewarm water til soft, then put on a damp clean tea towel, fill with mixture and roll up, tucking the ends in to keep the filling in. Keep them damp til serving, or they’ll dry out and go gross.

Lettuce Cups
300g cooked crab meat or prawns
1 large fresh red chilli, deseeded, finely chopped (keep some for serving)
2 tbs finely shredded fresh mint leaves (keep some for serving)
2 tsp finely grated lime rind
2 tbs fresh lime juice
Iceberg lettuce or witlof leaves, use the nice crunchy part.

Combine ingredients and season with salt and pepper. Spoon into lettuce cups and sprinkle with leftover mint leaves and chilli.

Easy peasy!!!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Buns of steel, legs of... concrete.

I did Session 2, Week 1 in the Couch to 5K programme today. I think this will become my regular routine, Mondays, Wednesdays before the kindy pick up and one on the weekend. I’m still debating whether I do my existing Zumba class too on Mondays as well as my Thursday night class, but I hope to.
I pulled up okay after my first session on Monday, my thighs were a bit achy, but all in all, I felt good.
I decided to change up the location today, to Burleigh Esplanade, hoping the sea breeze would help keep me cool, since it’s a hot day and I only had the early afternoon at my disposal.
I started out well, after a 5 minute warm up; I was alternating between 60 seconds of jogging and 90 seconds of walking. Sounds easy-breezy, doesn’t it? Well, it was... for the first 5 minutes! After that, my legs that had just been a bit achy were turning to concrete stumps and I discovered the downside to Burleigh. It’s real busy, even on a weekday afternoon, and it’s jam-packed with uber-fit people running up and down.  I started to feel very noticeable.
The other downside is that my usually energetic training partner, my dog Scout, decided to turn traitor. Maybe it was all the new smells, the heat, or maybe it was the heaps of other dogs strolling around, but he decided running was over-rated. If I had thought I was slowing down before, hauling along a reluctant Labrador certainly wasn’t helping.
Lesson Learned: Don’t make a Labrador Run....
My poured-in-place legs were only able to achieve this dilapidated kind of shuffle, and my self-consciousness levels were rapidly rising. I felt like an absolute tool, shuffling along in a half-hearted jog and stopping every minute, while supermodels and action heroes blew past me, effortlessly eating up the pavement.
I simply wasn’t able to keep alternating between running and walking, my legs just couldn’t do it. I may have been able to keep up with a little shuffle-step, but honestly, I was too self-conscious. I felt like everyone was looking at me and judging me, the red-faced, pudgy girl who can’t run.
Then I thought, “Oh, hang it. They don’t know me, I don’t know them. Why do I care about what they think?”
I spent the last 10 minutes mainly walking back, determinedly adding in a quick run where I could, (admittedly only 2 or 3 times, but it was really all I felt capable of), no matter how stupid I felt I looked.
I’ve decided to repeat this stage until I can complete the whole 20 minutes of alternating, and then move on. I’m a little down-hearted that I wasn’t able to do it, but I have decided to be kind on myself. It didn’t take me 9 weeks to get this way, so I won’t be able to fix it in 9 weeks.
This is a big breakthrough for me, usually I am very tough on myself, expecting way too much, and then getting very down on myself when I don’t meet those expectations. Part of my new “fit inside and out” mentality came from a decision I made a little while ago to be easier on myself, to care about myself and give myself all the breaks and understanding I would extend to a good friend. For more of my thoughts on this subject, you can check out a guest post I wrote on Sharnanigans a while back.
I’ve also decided that unless I’m running at the dog park, where the dog can do his own thing, I’m running solo.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Let it begin...

Welcome to the first post of the rest of my life!

Who am I?

Well, long story short, I’m a once fit and lean girl who through a combination of many things, including meeting a man who nurtures with food, giving up smoking and having a child, is now far from fit and lean.

But all that’s going to change. I’ve been unhappy with my shape for quite some time, but too daunted and depressed about the fact I let it get so bad to find the motivation to change it, until earlier this year when I got some bad health news. Nothing drastic, but it was confirmation that my weight wasn’t just damaging my looks, but also my health. It was a real, tangible result of my being overweight, other than the fact my clothes had shrunk.

I decided to get fit and healthy, and take a long hard look at WHY I did what I do.

Then I heard these words:

“We don’t take care of anything we don’t love.”

After that, everything just kind of clicked. I stopped hating my body, because it wasn’t its fault I was unhealthy, it was mine. And then I stopped hating myself, because, well, I have to live with me, and it’d be nice if we could get along.

I decided to take care of myself, inside and out.

So far, I’ve been pretty good: I’ve got the diet sorted, although I still have the odd day where I let myself have those foods I think life isn’t worth living without, but I make up for them with an extra workout.

I’ve discovered Zumba, which is a God-send for a girl who would rather open a vein than spend 30 mindless minutes on a treadmill. It’s fun, loud, energetic and gets me sweating! Kind of like another favourite activity of mine come to think of it... ;)

Along with this, I’ve made time for myself. I’ll take the dogs for a walk at the park or the beach, I’ll get a massage, I’ll go for a bushwalk, I’ll paint my nails.

So far, I’ve lost about 7 kilos in 2 months (I didn’t actually weight myself in the beginning, but it’s an educated guess.) It’s enough that people are starting to notice, and I’m starting to feel and see the difference.

So now, my motivation is up because I can see results and I’ve decided to work in with my natural goal-setting nature and competitiveness and do the Couch to 5K program.

Why? Well, I’m not so much a people person or a “team player”, I prefer to do things on my own, and as well as working on losing weight, I also want to be fit, cardio-vascular wise. I don’t like the concept of being a “jogger” – I want to be a runner. Jogging feels like a half-assed, pissing around kind of way of not running. So running. Me. Me running. I’m also kind of a stress-head, and I have a feeling running is cheaper than therapy.

Couch to 5K it is then.

I first heard of the Couch to 5K program when my friend and fellow blogger Sharnanigans did it to raise money for The Afghan Women’s Writing Project.

When I was looking for a challenge, it was the first to pop into my head, so I looked around online and found a heap of great sites, then I set a start date, the start of the next week, which of course, is today!

I decided to use my usual dog park, because it’s lovely and green, with trees and a river, a concrete path and very little people in the middle of the day. Plus I could take my dog. He’s very helpful, I clipped my car keys to his collar and he held his own leash and off we went.

I couldn’t remember the kind of fussy details in the “official” programme, so I decided to do a bastardised version. I walked for 5 mins or so, ran for two minutes, walked til I could breathe, ran til I thought I was having a heart-attack, walked til I thought I may live... and so on, you get the drift.

I decided three things:

I shouldn’t have made Day 1 the same day I do a Zumba class.

I REALLY wish I’d remembered my water bottle.

I can DO THIS.

Coming into this challenge I set for myself, I was already making my own excuses: My knee won’t hold up (I was hit by a car when I was 14, my right leg and hips have been dodgy ever since), I always get cramps ... I used to get cramps in my calf muscles all the time, but not today! I did get a stitch, but walked it out. My shin hurt a little bit when I ran, but nothing major.

All in all, yes, I’m pretty unfit compared to a lot of people, but I bet there’s a truckload of people (even ones who are all skinny and lean), who couldn’t do this, but I CAN!!

Stay tuned, people.