2014 Health Challenge: Week 5-6 – Keep asking Why

I’m doing a health challenge with my group PT instructor Lauren from Phyzique to start 2014 off.  This challenge follows five years of slow sustainable progress and you can read more about this period of my life here:  Health & Fitness – Week 1 and a follow up in my food diary in Week 2 – 4.

I’ve just finished week 5 & 6 of this 10 week challenge and am feeling great about the increase in raw & whole foods in my diet.

Keep asking why

The thing is, to make positive changes that are sustainable, I have found it’s important to have a deep focus for why. Why? Why? Like a four-year-old, you have to keep asking why to find it.  It’s easy to focus on the surface — I want to lose weight — and by doing that: missing the reason that underpins it all; the reason that makes for sustainable change.  I’ve learned this the hard (and long) way.  If I was to write it down the why? progress, this is what it might look like:

lose weight - ask why?

In terms of health and fitness, it’s the deep why that gets me out there running every week, even when I don’t feel like it. Because I know, that it’s the consistent investments that add up to the freedom to live fully so I can give back to those around me.

It’s freedom. Freedom from anxiety. Freedom to throw on my clothes and go. Freedom from relying on drugs for back pain; sustained a chronic injury when I was pregnant with my fourth child and keeping my core strong has made a huge difference.   It’s the freedom to live and give. Freedom to live and give.  

I learned this the hard way and if you’re struggling with health and fitness, I encourage you to forget the focus on weight loss and keep asking why until you find the real underpinning. For you, it might be different to me but keep asking why until you find it.

Progress

I tried chin-ups this week. Hard. HARD! Did 3 pretty poor ones but it feels good to challenge myself. 

I’ve noticed that my clothes are looser, especially on my waist line, which after four children, is a nice change.  My PT often says to me that you can’t outrun a bad diet and I know that’s where the changes are coming during these last 6 weeks.  I’ve had a good exercise routine for a good year now, and although my diet was relatively healthy, I know I needed less refined carbs and more whole foods and raw veges and fruit in my diet.  Really happy with the changes to my diet I’ve made so far.

chin-ups

Week 5

Notes:

  • It’s easy converting family meals to my own meals.  If I’m making a creamy chicken dish for the kids, I’ll keep some chicken aside for me and grill it with salad.
  • I eat nuts instead of biscuits.
  • I add seeds and fibre where I can.  
  • I try and always serve a portion of veges or fruit at every main meal.  
  • Most of my meals are served on a smaller plate.  
  • I usually have an indulge day each week.

clean eating - week 5

Day 29

Breakfast: Porridge with psyllium seed husks, blackberries & natural yoghurt

Snack: Ryvita with vegemite

Lunch: Celery & carrot soup

Snack: Pear & Ryvita with ricotta cheese

Dinner: Rice, tuna, lettuce, tomato, carrot

Other: –

Day 30

Breakfast: Porridge with cranberries & almonds

Snack: Date & oat ball

Lunch: Vegetable soup with bok choy, carrot

Snack: Ryvita with tuna

Dinner: Pumpkin soup

Other: natural yoghurt with blackberries

Day 31

Breakfast: Porridge with sunflower seeds & blackberries

Snack: Beetroot, carrot, ginger & celery juice

Lunch: Greek salad (lettuce, fetta, olives, tomato, low fat dressing)

Snack: Pumpkin seeds

Dinner: Tuna, sprouts & tomato on a barley wrap

Other: –

Day 32

Breakfast: Egg, mushroom, tomato, spinach

Snack: Date & oat ball

Lunch: Ryvita with peanut butter & banana with 2 carrots

Snack: Brownie (small) – with 70% cocoa chocolate

Dinner: Vegetable soup with crackers

Other: 

Day 33

Breakfast: banana & egg pancake with kiwi fruit (Pancake = 1 egg with half mashed banana – makes 2 pancakes)

Snack: -

Lunch: Barley wrap with cottage cheese, bean sprouts, carrot, ham

Snack: Macadamia nuts

Dinner: Lemon petter grilled chicken with broccoli, crushed tomatoes & mushroom

Other: –

Day 34

Breakfast: Avocado on 1 piece of wholemeal toast

Snack: Wholemeal crackers

Lunch: Spinach, grilled chicken, mushroom, tomato, cottage cheese

Snack: Pistachio nuts

Dinner: Lean mince with beans, salad & tortillas 

Other: 

Day 35

Breakfast: Porridge with linseed, sunflower seeds, apple & crushed almonds

Snack: –

Lunch: Lasagne & beans (out – yum but not part of the plan)  ;)

Snack: Corn chips

Dinner: Ryvita with vegemite & cottage cheese / spinach & tuna

Other: Small brownie & piece of brie cheese

**bit of an indulge day**

Exercise

  • 3 group PT sessions
  • 2 x 6k runs

Week 6

At the point now that I’m looking for a bit more variety.  I enjoy the foods I’m eating but I am looking for a bit more variety so hopefully will be able to make a bit more time to try a few more recipes.

Clean eating - week 6

Day 36

Breakfast: 1 high-bran weet-bix with linseed

Snack: Macadamia nuts

Lunch: Grilled chicken, cucumber, avocado, broccoli, tomato

Snack: Half a banana & blueberries

Dinner: Tuna, broccoli, beetroot, cottage cheese, cherry tomatoes

Other: –

Day 37

Breakfast: Porridge with linseed & blueberries

Snack: -

Lunch: All Natural Berry Protein smoothie

Snack: Macadamia nuts & strawberries

Dinner: Zucchini, egg & tomato slice with spinach.

Other: 

Day 38

Breakfast: Porridge with sunflower seeds & berries

Snack: Almonds & cranberries

Lunch: Barley wrap with grilled chicken, avocado, sprouts, tomato, cottage cheese

Snack: Macadamia nuts

Dinner: Lean mince with beans & corn with beetroot, tomato, mushroom & lettuce

Other: –

Day 39

Breakfast: Beetroot, carrot, celery & ginger juice

Snack: Ryvita with only-peanuts peanut-butter

Lunch: Quinoa & white bean patty with grilled chicken, avocado, lettuce & tomato

Snack: Macadamia nuts

Dinner: Grilled chicken salad (with cucumber, carrot, purple cabbage & tomato)

Other: 

Day 40

Breakfast: Avocado with lime & cracked paper on 1 piece of wholemeal toast

Snack: Green vege juice

Lunch: Barley wrap ham, beetroot, cottage cheese, tomato, lettuce & a ginger nut biscuit with tea

Snack: Dried apricot

Dinner: Tuna, pasta, lettuce mix, tomato

Other: –

Day 41

Breakfast: Porridge, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds & berries

Snack: Ryvita with cottage cheese

Lunch: Barley wrap with tuna & spinach

Snack: Chocolate bar

Dinner: Lean mince with beans, salad & tortillas 

Other:  Dried apricots

Day 42

Breakfast: Egg, lean bacon & spinach

Snack: Green apple

Lunch: Chicken, raw coleslaw (no dressing), beetroot, tomato, cucumber

Snack: Macadamia nuts and 2 Date & oat balls

Dinner:  Ryvita with tuna and cottage cheese

Other: Small brownie & piece of brie cheese

**bit of an indulge day**

Exercise

  • 3 group PT session
  • 2 x  6k runs 
  • 1 x 15 min run / 15 minute circuit / 5 min warm down (35 min total)

Health and Fitness Challenge

Week 1

Week 2-4

2014 Health Challenge (week 2 – 4)

My daughter came up to me the other day, and told me how proud she was of me: of my determination & commitment to health and fitness.  Sometimes I forget how being an example, living it out, is the best way to teach our kids, and I felt so encouraged by my daughter’s words.

I recently shared how my health has improved slowly over the last five years.   To kick the year off well, I’m doing a 10 week challenge with my PT, Lauren Phillips from Phyzique.  I have a good fitness plan in place now, after doing group PT sessions with Lauren and running for over a year now, but I needed support (and accountability) when it comes with food choices. Mainly, I want to get more fresh vegetables into my diet and less sugar and refined carbs.   I’m still working it out as I go along but I’m happy with the progress I’m making in this area. Keeping a food diary has been a huge help and I’ve set out some of my notes below.

Likes: wheat germ, sunflower seeds, berries, avocado, mountain bread, Ryvita, baby spinach, cottage cheese, almonds (and all nuts)

Not-so-likes: kale (I eat it when it comes in our fruit & vege box but I find it rough and tough), boiled egg, psyllium husks, red meat (not a big fan)

Week 2

It was a bit tough this week, and I found myself craving something highly sweet.  I ended up enjoying a brownie, because I love a good brownie. I think I’ll need to   enjoy something like that approximately once a week (but I’m looking for healthier alternates if I can).

Clean Eating - Week 2

Day 8

Breakfast: natural yoghurt, blueberries, wheat germ, sunflower seeds

Snack: almonds

Lunch: triple quinoa with kale, carrot, tomato and cottage cheese

Snack: oat and honey slice (no added sugar)

Dinner: grilled chicken, spinach salad with pasta

Other: brownie

Day 9

Breakfast: kale and berry smoothie

Snack: —

Lunch: pumpkin salad

Snack: almonds

Dinner: quinoa & white bean patty with raw beetroot, snow peas and tomato 

Other: apricot & oat ball

Day 10

Breakfast: Natural yoghurt, raspberries, wheat germ, almonds

Snack: nectarine

Lunch: quinoa & bean patty, grilled chicken, raw beetroot, cucumber, cottage cheese, chilli sauce

Snack: 2 dates and almonds

Dinner: 1 piece of peanut butter toast on multigrain toast

Other: —

Day 11

Breakfast: plumb and almonds

Snack: nectarine

Lunch: omelette (cooked in coconut oil), bok choy, parmesan cheese, tomato

Snack: 1 apricot oat ball & 1 date oat ball

Dinner: nachos (lean mince with baked beans and spice – no cheese)

Other: almonds & carrot

Day 12

Breakfast: Porridge with sultanas, sunflower seeds & small juice

Snack: almonds & dates

Lunch: tuna, raw beetroot & carrot, lettuce, quinoa & bean patty

Snack: nectarine

Dinner: 3 grain quinoa, snow peas, carrot, grilled chicken

Other: 2 ginger nut biscuits

Day 13

Breakfast: Oats, wheat germ, blueberries, raspberries

Snack: almonds

Lunch: brown rice sushi with tuna and avocado

Snack: —

Dinner: chicken salad (lettuce, carrot, avocado, capsicum, cucumber)

Other: date

Day 14

Breakfast: 2 high-bran weet-bix with sunflower seeds

Snack: 1 date and coconut ball

Lunch: wholegrain wrap with ham, spinach, and beetroot & Cashew relish

Snack: natural yoghurt with strawberry and pineapple

Dinner: smoothie with spinach

Other: macadamia nuts

Exercise

3 group PT session & 1 run

Week 3

The challenge for me this week was to keep variety up.  There are staples foods I will continue to use often because I enjoy them, like wheat germ, sun flower seeds and almonds.  I also enjoy berries & avocado so they will frequent my meals often too.

Clean Eating - Week 3

Day 15

Breakfast: Porridge with kiwifruit, macadamia nuts and psyllium seed husks

Snack: —

Lunch: salmon & bean salad

Snack: date & oat ball

Dinner: rice broccoli, mushroom, tomato & soy sauce

Other: —

Day 16

Breakfast: Egg, spinach, tomato, beetroot & cashew relish

Snack: —

Lunch: green smoothie

Snack: almonds

Dinner: 3 grain quinoa, baby spinach, tomato, lemon tuna

Other: 1 x gingernut biscuit

Day 17

Breakfast: multigrain sour dough with avocado & lemon

Snack: carrot & celery sticks

Lunch: chicken breast slices, 3 grain quinoa, kale, tomato, beetroot & cashew relish

Snack: almonds & 2 dates

Dinner: pita bread chips (multigrain), baked beans, snow peas

Other: —

Day 18

Breakfast: Natural yoghurt, sunflower seeds, wheat germ, blueberries

Snack: wheat bites

Lunch: quinoa & white bean patty, tuna, kale, zucchini, corn

Snack: raw carrot & date ball

Dinner: lean mince, onion, lettuce and beans

Other: natural yoghurt with wheat germ

Day 19

Breakfast: ginger, pineapple, apple & carrot juice

Snack: cashew nuts

Lunch: 1 piece of 9 grain bread with spinach, tomato & ham

Snack: 1 apricot & oat ball

Dinner: corn chips, lean mince, onion, baked beans, avocado, tomato, spinach.

Other: brownie

Day 20

Breakfast: Porridge with blueberries, sunflower seeds & wheat germ

Snack: —

Lunch: ham with raw beetroot, carrot, broccol & cashew nut salad

Snack: raw carrot & date ball

Dinner: tuna, baked beans, tomato, spinach, a little cheese

Other: 2 x gingernut biscuit

Day 21

Breakfast: natural muesli with greek yoghurt & blueberries

Snack: —

Lunch: wholemeal pasta with veges & salad

Snack: energy nut & fruit mix

Dinner: Ryvita with avocado & cottage cheese

Other: —

Exercise

2 group PT session & 2 runs

Week 4

This week I’ve noticed a difference in how my clothes fit (in a good way). I wore a dress I haven’t worn in years! So that felt awesome.

Clean Eating - Week 4

Day 22

Breakfast: Sultana Bran

Snack: raw carrot & date ball

Lunch: warm chicken salad

Snack: Ryvita with vegemite & cottage cheese

Dinner: ham and spinach salad

Other: —

Day 23

Breakfast: Pear

Snack: raw carrot & date ball

Lunch: Ryvita with avocado & lemon juice

Snack: a carrot & pretzels

Dinner: tuna, quinoa & spinach salad

Other: natural yoghurt, blueberries, wheat germ, sunflower seeds

Day 24

Breakfast: blueberry & banana smoothie

Snack: raw carrot & date ball

Lunch: multigrain sandwich with ham, cottage, spinach

Snack: almonds and crackers

Dinner: chicken & spinach meatballs in soup with tomato & bok choy

Other: —

Day 25

Breakfast: avocado on Ryvita

Snack: raw carrot & date ball with celery sticks with cottage cheese

Lunch: quinoa & white bean patty with spinach and ham

Snack: energy fruit & nut mix

Dinner: lean mince, rye mountain bread, broccoli, tomato — natural yoghurt, sunflower seeds, wheat germ, dried pear

Other: 1 gingernut biscuit, yoghurt with blackberries

Day 26

Breakfast: banana & mango smoothie

Snack: gingernut biscuit & a teaspoon of hazelnut spread

Lunch: rye mountain bread, spinach salad, raw carrot ball

Snack: natural yoghurt with wheat germ, dried apricot, sunflower seeds, almonds

Dinner: porridge with honey

Other: 1 small piece of ham and pineapple pizza  (in a weak moment – ha!)

Day 27

Breakfast: 2 x high bran weet-bix with sunflower seeds

Snack: –

Lunch: rye mountain bread with tuna and salad

Snack: dried pear

Dinner: chicken & salad (olives, lettuce, jalapeno chilli, carrot, capsicum, cucumber)

Other: gingernut biscuits with hazelnut spread

Day 28

Breakfast: pear

Snack: –

Lunch: 1 sausage with lettuce, tomato, onion and a little cheese

Snack: almonds & dried pear

Dinner: quinoa & white bean patty with raw beetroot, carrot, broccoli & cottage cheese

Other: natural yoghurt with wheat germ

Exercise

2 group PT session & 2 runs and a group fun bonding outdoor challenge

First month down, 6 weeks to go.

Keep on Keeping on: Health and Fitness (week 1)

Keep on Keeping on: Health and Fitness

It isn’t a great heading for this post and I know it.  There’s a lot of noise about weight loss around these days, and much of it is sensationalised.  If I really wanted to get good click throughs to what I’ve written here, I probably should have titled it something like:

How I Turned from a Frumpy Mummy into a Yummy Mummy

or

The Secret to My Weight Loss

or

5 Tips to Lose Weight

or

Be a Hot New You

or…even better…

I was a FATTY

or wait…just…

FAT

(just like that in big capital letters)

Ack! No, no, no! I’m sick of sensationalism.  But I am interested in health and fitness, and sharing the story of my journey.  Here’s another headline:

I was overweight and I’m grateful for it

The Journey

Stage 1: Realisation aka a crash (1 year)

You see, I never had an issue with my weight before. Not even during my pregnancies.  Then my mum died, and it was like a brick that…fell…crashed…and life suddenly overwhelmed me; it caved in on me, and around me. I was depressed.  The weight crept up on me slowly as did the heaviness in my person.  Anxiety turned into an undercurrent of permanent fear.

I had to learn an entire new set of skills.  It was tough when the usual challenges of life didn’t let up. Still four children to care for. Still moving every year at that point of my life. Still with a husband working very long hours. Still motherless.  Nothing stopped and I felt like I was drowning in bricks, with life throwing more bricks, never stopping.  That peek was over five years ago now and I am different now.  I am different than when I was under a cloud…sure — but what I mean is I am different now, than before was depressed.  And I’m glad for the experiences I’ve had and the opportunities to learn from them.

Stage 2: Small Changes (+2 years = 3 years)

People who haven’t seen me for a while say, “Wow, you’re looking fantastic,” and it always surprises me.  Why? Because losing weight wasn’t my goal.  I didn’t weigh myself (I don’t own scales) or track my progress. I simply changed my life in small and simple ways: learned more; stressed less; moved more; ate better. Losing weight was an outcome, a consequence, not a goal.  I can’t even tell you how much weight I’ve lost between these pics, but I was surprised at what small sustainable changes DO over a long period.  

Then

weight loss journey

Now

Health Journey - before and after

In the first pic below, that was probably close to 2 and a half years ago now, and I think I had already lost some weight at this point.  I tend to carry weight evenly around my body (rather than having problem spots)…which is good — and bad. Good because I tend to hide weight well…and bad for exactly the same reason! 

Health journey - before and after weight loss

Stage 3: Mindset (+1 year = 4 years)

Changing my mindset has taken much longer than simply making small changes.  (It’s taken more than a year — ha — many, many years — but there was a fixed year that I had enough space in my head and seeing the outcome of small changes helped it all click. 

I changed my mindset—> that affected my choices —> which in turn changed my body.

Five Don’ts That Worked for Me

1.Don’t try and lose weight

Do aim for a healthy life.

2. Don’t focus on the number on the scales

Do look forward to feeling well, and strong, and having the freedom to wear swimwear so you can swim without a care with your kids. Don’t focus on how you look (don’t buy into the RUBBISH society loves to splash around – just don’t). Do focus on how obtaining health feels and the freedom that comes with that.

3. Don’t do low fat

Do eat good food.  Whole food is good food.  It it what it is. What matters isn’t high fat, or low sugar, low carbs or other marketing ploys. Over the years, I’ve been trying to introduce more whole fresh foods in my diet, and you know…my ‘fat’ intake may even be higher now. It’s when we mess around the gorgeous food, change it and warp it beyond its form,  that it’s wrecked.  

With the risk of appearing like I’m contradicting myself here, I do eat low fat yoghurt and milk sometimes, but the point is I don’t worry too much about ensuring food is low fat, because when you treat each food with respect, you just accept it for what it is and how it fits in the big picture of overall health.  For example, I love a creamy brie and I’ll enjoy it sometimes in the big picture of my health. I don’t want a low fat version!! Haha.

4. Don’t make big changes

Do make small sustainable changes…and keep on keeping on.  For example, buy natural yoghurt and have it with fresh fruit rather than buying ‘low fat’ (usually WAY higher in sugar) flavoured yoghurt. Swap whole nuts for biscuits.  That sort of thing.  There are a million little ways that make up to big changes.

5. Don’t follow anyone’s ‘plans’

Do learn to listen to your body. I’m not against plans.  In fact, I’m doing one at the moment. However, I follow my own path, and I use programs as a tool, not as a goal. If you don’t have your OWN big picture, a plan will most probably become a fad.

Stage 4: Challenge (+1 year = 5 years)

So this is the fifth year now, and made many changes to the choices I make, and how I approach life in terms of health.  I’m always looking to push myself further.  I found a wonderful PT group here in Brisbane, Phyzique by Lauren Phillips, and I attend 3 classes a week. I’ve been with Lauren for over a year now.  When it came to the start of this year, I recognised the need for some support when it comes to putting more fresh food in my diet so I’m doing a 10 week challenge which will help me to be disciplined about the food choices I make.  It’s just another step.

Week One

Clean Eating -- Weekly FoodDay 1: 

Breakfast: Whole apricot

Snack: Blueberries with small amount of greek yoghurt

Lunch: Quoina & almond salad with egg 

Snack: Almonds, carrot & celery sticks

Dinner: Black Rice, whole steamed vegetables, tuna, drizzle of soy sauce

Day 2:

Breakfast: 1 piece of 9 grain toast with peanut butter, lady finger banana

Snack: 1/2 cup fruit smoothie

Lunch: Black quoina & rice salad with a carrot

Snack: 2 chocolate date balls

Dinner: Deconstructed taco: lean mince, cooked with onion, herbs and baked beans, raw beetroot, raw carrot, lettuce

Day 3

Breakfast: Natural yoghurt with blueberries with half an orange

Snack: Tuna sushi (out)

Lunch: Roast vegetable cous cous (150g)

Snack: 1 homemade ginger biscuit

Dinner: Warm chicken salad: with avocado, capsicum & vinaigrette dressing (out)

Day 4:

Breakfast: Porridge with sunflower seeds, wheat germ & small lady finger banana

Snack: Carrot & celery sticks

Lunch: Black rice with corn bok choy, dressed with cream cheese and a drizzle of sweet chilli sauce 

Snack: 6 cherries

Dinner: Homemade chicken & ginger wonton soup with carrot and bok choy.  After dinner: Apricot & oat ball

Day 5:

Breakfast: Porridge with blueberries and sunflower seeds

Snack: –

Lunch: Black rice with tuna, cherry tomatoes, corn and kale

Snack: 2 chocolate date balls

Dinner: Ham, spinach, avocado & fetta with sweet potato chips

Day 6:

Breakfast: High bran weet-bix with sunflower seeds

Snack: Almonds plus a few dates

Lunch: 9 grain bread with ham, avocado, cottage cheese, spinach, cucumber & tomato 

Snack: Cherries

Dinner: Warm chicken salad (out)

Day 7

Breakfast: Porridge with blueberries, natural yoghurt, sunflower seeds

Snack: Celery with peanut butter & snow peas

Lunch: Black rice, tuna, spinach salad, parmesan cheese (instead of dressing)

Snack: Apricot & Oat Ball

Dinner: Wholemeal muffin with lean bacon, egg, wholegrain mustard and spinach

Exercise

3 Group PT Sessions, 1 x 7K Run

Note: I have more time to exercise now my kids are older.  When they were younger, I couldn’t manage as much, but still found ways to maintain fitness and I shared some in this guest post for Diminishing Lucy.

Changes and Observations

Week one down.  I honestly like the food I’m eating and it hasn’t been too difficult because I’ve already made many small changes to the way we eat as a family so for my meals, I’m just tweaking them a little. The trick is taking the time to fit in more (smaller) meals during the day and being smart about preparing food (so I don’t get caught out).  I don’t have a diet to follow or anything like that — I choose my own food — but am trying to eat more whole foods, less refined, and making the calories count (like choosing quinoa instead of white rice; that sort of thing).

After a week, I’ve noticed a difference in the clarity of my skin.

I’ll update again next week.

HERE’S THE SECRET TO MY WEIGHT LOSS!

Five hard years learning, changing & growing. It’s as simple as that. ;)

Wherever you are on the journey, keep on keeping on. Just start somewhere. Onward.