Back to the start: big changes needed

imageAlright, alright….I’ll write a blog! First things first, I needed to get my head around how you write a blog….think I’ve mastered that….maybe!

Three years ago I was teaching teenagers in a busy department and was extremely stressed out. My body was trying to communicate with me, but I didn’t read the signs. I was constantly sick, felt like I was running empty, couldn’t handle lots of noise, had poor memory, had severe abdominal bloating, referred pain in my wrists, back sensitivity and exhaustion. Things had to change.

In February 2011 I landed on Sydney’s Northern Beaches feeling overwhelmed but much less stressed! The Aussie way of life really challenged the way I thought about food, diet and lifestyle in general. Although I had been on a wheat free and mostly dairy free diet for years, I realised that it did not make my eating healthy by any stretch and I was addicted to diet coke, carbs and sugar….uh oh.

I started by taking advantage of the outdoor lifestyle and swam in the rock pools and walked the beaches every evening after my temp job. My weight improved and I gave my size 16 jeans to the guy we lived with to use as rags to polish his motorbike! I was determined not to go back.

Exercise was my main focus for a while, but living with a healthy Aussie family made me realise just how many carbs I was eating. I did my research and discovered that one baked potato converts to the same molecular structure as a tablespoon of sugar in my system…..hmmmm. And here was me thinking I didn’t have a sweet tooth!

I will never be a no carb girl, but the aim is for once a day and less in the evening. This was hard to break an English habit of a lifetime. But I started connecting that when I’d had a day lighter on carbs, I felt lighter the next day.

This was my first small change. Simply observing how food made me feel the next day was an encouragement to try to be healthy again. Maybe this could be your small change too? How do you feel after eating certain foods? We are all different, but the first step in my journey was listening to my body.

What’s your body saying to you?

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Sugar Free Christmas….?

Chocolate Mousse8

So it hasn’t been as hard as I thought.  I’m in week 7 at the moment (so badly timed for Christmas!) but I really haven’t felt like I’ve missed out.  I have made ‘sweet’ treats to get me through and chamomile tea has become a savior!    Of course I have had moments where I’ve craved a treat, especially at 3.30pm, but have had to separate needing a treat and it being something sweet in my head.  Avocado on a rice cracker, a spoon of peanut butter, raw almonds, a chai tea, sparkling water…anything but sugar or (worse) fake sugar.

Tomorrow is going to be interesting – but as always preparation is the key.  We are having a traditional Aussie Christmas – salads and meats on the BBQ with family…and then deserts.  I will be making something for desert that is sugar free to ensure I don’t fall at the last hurdle!

My latest favorite treat is Chocolate Mouse – and it is so easy!  Even if you are not a cook – try it, super quick and really tasty – promise!

 Chocolate Mousse

Get Buying!

400ml can of coconut cream
1/2 cup raw cacao powder
1/4 cup of rice malt syrup
1/4 cup of chia seeds

Whisk all the ingredients in a large bowl until smooth.  Pour into 4-6 glasses and chill in the fridge for 3 hours – enjoy!

Research the internet to find where you can buy these things and get going!  Make one small change until it becomes habit or normal routine – then change another thing.  

Next week is the last week of the ‘I Quit Sugar’ plan.  (Maybe check it out for the new year to see the health benefits yourself?) I won’t go back to eating sugar, but will introduce some fruits back into my diet and keep sugar to lower than 5g per 100g in everything I eat.  I’ve lost weight, seen my skin improve, it is easier to get out of bed in the mornings (hoorah!) and I’ve had fewer headaches.  My ‘I Quit Sugar’ friend at work used to suffer from excruciating acid reflux and this cleared up pretty much as soon as she started the plan with me – years of tablets from the doctor hasn’t had the effect that quitting sugar has had on her health!

Have a wonderful Christmas and enjoy the break – don’t eat yourselves sick, allow yourself a treat or two and make 2014 your healthiest yet.

Jo xx

 

 

Operation Eat Fat

Gut Feelings

Healthy fatsWe all know sugar is bad for us, but I had to get my head around fat being good for me. I think they should start a new marketing campaign and call good fats something different….yummos?! Health blocks?! Maybe….whatever they do, we need a shift in our thinking.

For the past three weeks I have been consciously eating minimal sugar and fructose. I didn’t think I had a big sweet tooth but as usual, a little well informed research highlighted to me that I was wrong. I gave up fruit as an experiment to see if my body improved. It has.

I have observed that for me, fruit seems to bloat me and cause some discomfort. Discovering that a banana has 55% fructose (sugar) was an eye opener! I ate one a day usually. My sisters will tell you that for years it was the only thing I would eat…

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Seed Crackers & Basil Pesto

I’m cracker mad. I love a good cracker and dip for lunch or a snack. Yesterday I made a healthy alternative to rice crackers and they even got the boyfriend seal of approval. Eat them on the go as a … Continue reading

Operation Eat Fat

Healthy fatsWe all know sugar is bad for us, but I had to get my head around fat being good for me. I think they should start a new marketing campaign and call good fats something different….yummos?! Health blocks?! Maybe….whatever they do, we need a shift in our thinking.

For the past three weeks I have been consciously eating minimal sugar and fructose. I didn’t think I had a big sweet tooth but as usual, a little well informed research highlighted to me that I was wrong. I gave up fruit as an experiment to see if my body improved. It has.

I have observed that for me, fruit seems to bloat me and cause some discomfort. Discovering that a banana has 55% fructose (sugar) was an eye opener! I ate one a day usually. My sisters will tell you that for years it was the only thing I would eat for breakfast. My daily sugar hit! I know this topic is controversial and fruit has a lot of health benefits, but for me cutting it out has made me feel healthier.

On Monday I start Sarah Wilson’s ‘I Quit Sugar’ detox. Cutting back on my sugar intake has been the first step and I am now following her 8 week plan. It’s not forever (yes mum, I will eat fruit again!) but I want to give my body a taste of what is normal without sugar overload. I am expecting that weight loss, more energy, better skin and healing will be the reward.

I don’t want my energy zapped by my body having to process what it doesn’t like – I want to be free to live life to the full.

Sarah recommends ‘crowding out’ the sugar cravings with good fats and satisfying foods – I love this idea! I firmly believe that operation eat fat will prove to me once and for all that healthy fats, avocado, coconut, nuts and seeds etc are SO GOOD for us and necessary for a healthy body.

As always, make small steps towards your own health. Eat more veggies, good fats (health blocks!!), cut down on sugar….whatever resonates with you. Do just one thing at a time and observe your body. What it is telling you? Cut out dairy and you don’t see an improvement? Reintroduce it and you’re no worse? Great! Eat dairy! Try something else, observe how it effects you. Once I found a new health focus became normal and part of my routine, I would introduce something new. Don’t be a superhero and try it all at once. Be kind to yourself.

Remember it is all about small steps to a healthier you.

PS check out Sarah Wilson’s website http://www.iquitsugar.com

Healthy Yellow Chicken & Veggie Curry

imageJust a quick recipe for you to try this week.  I was given Gwyneth Paltrow’s cookbook ‘It’s All Good’ for my birthday and CAN’T WAIT to test out and share those recipes with you soon.  In the meantime…..

 

Get buying!

2 organic chicken breasts

1 teaspoon coconut oil

3 teaspoons of Yellow Thai curry paste

1 tablespoon of LSA mix (linseed, sunflower and almonds grounded down)

1 can of organic coconut milk

1 tablespoon of fish sauce

1 onion

2 spring onions, frozen peas, baby spinach, snow peas

Get cooking!

Heat the coconut oil in a wok, add the brown onion and chicken breast and cook on low.

Add the curry paste, heat gently for three minutes. Mix in the LSA.

Add the fish sauce, coconut milk, frozen peas and snow peas and gently bring to the boil.

When chicken is cooked through, add the spinach so it wilts in the pan.  Add the spring onions and cook for two minutes.

Serve with brown and red rice, topped with chia seeds.  YUM!

Hey, can you burn my calories for me?

 

Soon after arriving in Sydney, I realised that the ‘Keep Australia Beautiful’ slogan was less about litter and more about getting your gym kit on and getting out there.  It seemed the whole of   Sydney was up and about at the break of dawn swimming, running the beach, at yoga or something.

I have always enjoyed exercise and have gone through different phases – including Mr Motivator and Rosemary Connolly exercise videos…..embarrassing! At University I remember going to my  first Pilates class and dragging my friend Liz along.  Half way through the class I’m whispering to her “This is rubbish…..it’s not doing ANYTHING!”  We left feeling like we’d wasted our time with    teeny, tiny movements that barely broke a sweat.  The next morning I woke up and could barely move.  I shuffled my arm out of bed to reach my mobile and called Liz next door. “Can you come through, I’m really sick.  I think I might have meningitis….”   Thankfully when we compared ‘symptoms’ we finally realised that Pilates had done a lot more than we realised……!

My exercise habit developed in a hap hazard way but usually only if I had a friend with me.  Working out with a mate is a great way to get going, but ultimately I think I talked myself and others out of exercising more than we actually exercised! I realised when I moved to Sydney that exercise was my responsibility and no one else.  Sometimes my bestie would run with me and we would sweat and hobble our way around Mona Vale.  Other times, I would head out in the rain to beat my way around the block and get my sweat on while she stayed tucked up on the sofa.  Something had clicked in my head and I realised that exercise is a decision.  And it is a decision you have to stick to.  It doesn’t matter if someone I wanted to go to the pool with can’t make it, they weren’t going to burn my calories anyway.  I soon got into a routine of jogging and Zumba, and knowing a day was a ‘run day’ and another day was a ‘zumba day’, which meant I didn’t have to fight my schedule to fit it in.  It is there and not negotiable.

We all know the benefits of exercising and if I didn’t feel like it I reminded myself that I didn’t like the feel of my jeans being tight or feeling fat either.  Focusing on the feeling afterwards is better than whingeing to yourself that you don’t want to.  Just do it, get it over and done with, push through it, focus on feeling better, healthier, lighter.  It works.

I go through phases.  Running phases, Zumba phases, swimming phases, Pilates phases, Yoga phases.  It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you’re moving, getting sweaty, raising your heart beat and feeling alive.

N.B. My bestie is now in a running phases herself, and has just completed the 9km harbour bridge run – with much of the training on her own – go Lyndsey!

Find what works for you.  Because not doing anything isn’t working.  No one will burn your calories for you…. 🙂

Green Veggie, Chicken & Chia Stir Fry

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I’ve been overwhelmed by the response to my first blog – thank you all 117 of you! I’ve been asked numerous times for recipes that I’m using to get people started. So here is one of my favourite ‘go to’ meals at the moment. I probably eat it at least once a week.

Leafy green veggies are by far the best to include in your meals as they contain high levels of vitamins, minerals and chlorophyll. They alkaline the body and support cell repair.

Chia seeds have 8 times more Omega 3 than salmon. Great news for me as I hate fish!

Coconut oil is amazing! It helps control sugar cravings, aids weight loss, reduces bloating and manages type two diabetes (to name just a few).

For more information on coconut oil have a read of body and soul website

Green Veggie, Chicken & Chia Seed Stir Fry

Get buying!

1 heaped tspn coconut oil
2 organic/free range chicken breasts
2 spring onions
2 zucchinis (courgette)
Green beans
Snow peas
125g spinach
100g kale
Chopped coriander
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon of Chia seeds (I like black ones)
Pinch of pink Himalayan salt

Get cooking!

1. Thinly slice the chicken breasts and stir fry in the coconut oil

2. Slice the onions, zucchini and green beans and add to the wok

3. Add the rest of the veggies when the chicken in cooked through. Add the oyster sauce, salt and coriander.

4. Serve immediately with chia seeds sprinkles on top.

Enjoy!