Sunday, July 26, 2009

No place like home

Even though home's not where it was a few months ago, and it may not be home forever, it's DAMN good to be back. After some heinous late nights at work (not over yet...), and a energy sapping bike ride yesterday, I decided "f*&K it!" and slept late this morning. I didn't get to work until 11am, but some rest and a 20 minute stroll in in the sun has brought me back to my old self.

My wonderful husband made lunch for today- salad with spinach, chickpeas, a little grated cheese and tomato, with a wholemeal pita bread and a spoonful of hummus. Simple, bordering on boring, but just perfect after last week's parade of toasted PB sandwiches! I have choir practice tonight (VERY exciting), and am looking forward to quickly whipping up pasta and veges before I go. You just cannot believe how much I am hankering for piles of fresh veges!

Anyway, inspired by all the wonderful food bloggers out there, Phil and I are now having a great time planning a healthy race weekend for next weekend. I am going to need to get some quality fuel into me to make sure I bring my A-game!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Mermaid or whale?

An email fwd that made me smile:

Recently, in a large French city, a poster featuring a young, thin and tan woman appeared in the window of a gym. It said:


A middle aged woman, whose physical characteristics did not match those of the woman on the poster, responded publicly to the question posed by the gym.

To Whom It May Concern:

Whales are always surrounded by friends (dolphins, sea lions, curious humans).. They have an active sex life, they get pregnant and have adorable baby whales. They have a wonderful time with dolphins stuffing themselves with shrimp. They play and swim in the seas, seeing wonderful places like Patagonia, the Bering Sea and the coral reefs of Polynesia. Whales are wonderful singers and have even recorded CDs. They are incredible creatures and virtually have no predators other than humans. They are loved, protected and admired by almost everyone in the world.

Mermaids don't exist. If they did exist, they would be lining up outside the offices of Argentinean psychoanalysts due to identity crisis. Fish or human? They don't have a sex life because they kill men who get close to them not to mention how could they have sex? Therefore they don't have kids either. Not to mention who wants to get close to a girl who smells like a fish store?

The choice is perfectly clear to me; I want to be a whale.

P.S. We are in an age when media puts into our heads the idea that only skinny people are beautiful, but I prefer to enjoy an ice cream with my kids, a good dinner with a man who makes me shiver and a coffee with my friends. With time we gain weight because we accumulate so much information and wisdom in our heads that when there is no more room it distributes out to the rest of our bodies. So we aren't heavy, we are enormously cultured, educated and happy. Beginning today, when I look at my butt in the mirror I will think, Good gosh, look how smart I am.

Sunday, July 19, 2009


Yoghurt is the friend of every healthy eater- yummy, versatile, full of protein and calcium and (depending on the type) low in fat and sugar. Perfect!

It's those parenthesised words that are the kicker!

One of my favourite changes over the past year or so has been the gradual, and nearly complete, transition from flavoured (by the manufacturer) yoghurt to flavoured (by me) yoghurt. Instead of buying pottles of sugary or fake-sugary yoghurt, I buy plain, unsweetened yoghurt (my absolute favourite is Naturlea, but "Slimmers Choice", Yoplait Lite Greek and De Winkels are also yum!), and then go nuts!

Today I've added frozen blueberries,cinnamon, honey and walnuts to my yoghurt for an afternoon snack. Sometimes a little banana, if I'm in need of some energy, or almonds (sliced or whole), or whatever's in the cupboard. It might work out a little more expensive (surprise, surprise- good quality fresh ingredients cost more than processed), and even a little higher calorie, but the yumminess factor and the control factor (very important to a type A like me) way outweigh those as far as I'm concerned!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Another missed photo!

This morning's breakfast was definitely a missed photo opportunity. After oats and dates and a 1:30 run (sooo good- read all about it on my running blog!), we met friends for brunch at one of the best cafes in Wellington- the Maranui surf club.

I mulled over the menu for ages, before deciding to try the Victory Breakfast (vege big breakfast) for the first time- after all, I was feeling victorious after my run! It had perfectly poached eggs, grainy toast (I ate one egg on toast and had to give the rest to Phil), crushed avocado, grilled tomatoes with homemade almond pesto, wilted spinach, mushrooms (which I didn't eat, cos I don't like them) and some herbed potatoes (I ate one, but didn't want to waste space on potatoes!)

It was amazing- huge, but delicious and so SO much better than the standard big vege breakfast fare! So often it's just egg with a bit of sloppy tomato, a hash brown, and a couple of spinach leaves (if that)!

Thursday, July 16, 2009


I wish I'd taken a photo of my breakfast this morning before I snaffled it down because it was AWESOME!

On Fridays, I often treat myself to a naughty coffee + baked good breakfast. I generally try to pick something healthy-ish, but it's definitely a "treat meal" for me. I love the feeling of indulgence you can get from a brown-bagged breakfast after a week of wholesome (and delicious, of course) oats and fruit!

So this morning, I decided to go to my favourite bagel place- it's only in Wellington and I really miss it- to see what they had on offer. What's particularly awesome is their $5 bagel + schmear + coffee deal. Last time I enjoyed a treat breakfast there, I had a delicious blueberry bagel with blueberry lemon cream cheese. YUM! They also make a to-die-for banana walnut bagel.

Sadly, there were no banana bagels today, and the blueberry-lemon schmear was not on the board. There were cinnamon raisin bagels, but none of the cream cheese flavours appealed, so I just grabbed a low-fat plain and headed back to the office.

But it felt like something was missing. Luckily, I had a bag of sliced almonds in my office, so I thought I'd add some of those. Then I remembered the honey in the kitchen, so I splurted a wee bit into the cream cheese and mixed it round. While I was stirring, I noticed some cinnamon I'd left in the office, so added a generous dash. BOY- these simple additions made all the difference. My bagel and pear were a perfect breakfast and I'm STILL full now, at noon!

This was a great reminder that we don't have to just stick to what's on offer when we choose our instant meals. Whether it's adding cottage cheese and spinach to frozen meals, adding extra fruit to packaged instant oatmeal (I never do this now- I prefer my own "packaged" version..) or spicing up the cream cheese, there's a lot we can do to make a regular meal into a healthier or yummier version!

Monday, July 13, 2009


I'm remembering now that it's never that hard to take care of yourself when things are running along smoothly. The point of building healthy habits is so that you can fall back on them when things start bumping.

This next fortnight is going to be a tough one. I'm working away from home, away from my gym, my bike and my swim squad, working long hours and, instead, of staying in a nice nearby hotel with a gym and a lap pool, I'm staying with family about a twenty minute drive away. Plus, I'm staying with people who have different nutritional priorities and tastes and preferences to me, and who keep different hours. Oh- and I don't have my nice, moderately well-stocked kitchen in my nice wee apartment!

So- what am I doing to make sure I don't lose sight of everything I've built up?
First- I'm going to do my best to re-jig my workouts to fit around everyone. If I can't rise early (it wakes the whole house, and I just don't think that's fair), I'll run into work, or I'll get up a little later, catch the bus in and run from work. I'm keeping it real though, and so is my coach. If I can't find a bike or get to the pool, I'm off the hook- just this once. And if I'm just working too hard to train, he knows it's better for me to take the training down a notch than to burn out trying to do it all.

Next, I've bought a stock of semi-staples to keep me going at work. Some oats, dried apricots and almonds for breakfast. Pitas, hummus and a big bag of salad greens for lunch. Couscous, frozen veges and tuna for dinner. A box of "super berry" cereal to give me something to look forward to at snack time and make me less likely to raid the vending machine!

Also, I've got a long list of pretty healthy places I'm just dying to eat at while I'm here- the wonderful bagel shop across the park, the pik n mix salad bar down the road, the myo salad/sandwich shop in the mall and the best goddamned sushi joint I've ever frequented.

Lastly, I'm promising myself a real treat for the end of the week to help me resist the temptation to have too many mini-indulgences during the week (day 1: epic fail). I'm going to keep Tuesday to Friday chocolate free, and then boy am I going to enjoy a cupcake from the wonderful Tempt!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

My day in food.

Before my ride, I indulged in a decent-sized piece of Date/Banana/Walnut bread. This stuff is the shiz, seriously. SO GOOD. I savoured it sitting up in bed, along with a cup of Moccona instant, while reading a chapter of my book and getting ready to ride.

My ride was great!

Breakfast was a bowl of pretty boring bircher- 1/2 c oats, 1/4c apple juice, 1/4c plain acidophilus yoghurt (Naturlea) and a bit of cinnamon. I was out of almonds and didn't quite think walnuts would fit, so I packed some AB for a bit of extra protein at work.

At work, I was naughty and ate a couple of pieces of the Lindt 70% dark chocolate bar I bought yesterday, along with a cup of tea. The idea was that I'd eat four pieces this week, and save the rest, but I'm PMSing and have been feeling sorry for myself, and there's only one piece left now! Oops. Cheeky chocolate is one of my main Things to Watch, so am going to try to make sure this doesn't happen next week.

For morning tea, I had some dates with a teaspooon or so of almond butter. Yum! This is more of a "treat" than I'd usually have at morning tea time, but I ate my loaf this morning, and just needed a wee smackerel. I've been meaning to try AB for yonks, and it was only getting into reading food blogs that made me go for it. It's so good! Heinously expensive, but delicious- and I find it much easier not to overdo it, unlike PB. Also had a couple of carrots, which are great at the moment- so juicy.

Lunch was delicious. I've been trying to use up an avocado I couldn't resist and a jar of slightly old salsa, so there have been lots of wraps! Today was a gigundo salad, with baby spinach, a little grated colby, a spoonful of salsa, 1/2 of a green bell pepper, 1/2 a grated carrot and 1/4 of the avocado. I added some white beans I'd had out for last night's dinner- and it was lucky I did, as I forgot my pita bread and would have keeled over in Court had I not added the beans :)

I had a toaster waffle for afternoon tea- I was soooo hungry and needed more than my apple. I also picked up a banana on the way back from Court. Even with the beans, the salad wasn't quite enough for lunch.

Now I'm off home. I'm heating up some macaroni mince for tea, then making an Israeli couscous salad for a semi-potluck tomorrow. Yay!

Me and food.

I started exercising when I was about 15. I walked to school regularly, swam occasionally, and started going to the gym in my first year of university. I continued working out for sporadic bursts until I was 22.

But then, when I was 22, I started running. And since then, I've barely taken a week off regular exercise. There have been a few less regular periods, but every day, being active, enjoying the outdoors, training and working out become a more essential part of my life. I don't imagine that it'll be smooth sailing from here, as I travel, raise a family, and continue to work through the challenges of life, but the habits are there now, and every time it's easier to get back into it.

So, now's the time to do the same thing with food. It's time to move beyond the immediate and think about the future of me and my family.

I'm feeling more positive about improving my health than I have before. I think this is because the current (and, I hope, continuing) "trends" in food are so optimistic, so permissive, and so holistic. We've moved past the low fat/low carb, fake food, fake sugar, nutrient-optional crap that's dominated the last however-long, and every day there seems to be more about fresh food, socially and environmentally-aware eating, affordable food and, above all, REAL food.

I was reflecting on food yesterday, and sent my husband a list of some ways our eating has changed over the past few months. Now, we were reasonably healthy before, and we both moved past the excesses of uni-life years ago, but there was still a lot left to change. Now we are eating:

Far more whole wheat options (pasta, pitas, etc)
Less bread generally
Much more organic food
(nearly) NZ produce only- except bananas!
Free range eggs
Much less processed food (muesli bars etc)
Natural yoghurt
Dried fruit
Less meat
Less tuna
More chickpeas, white beans
Less PB, more plain nuts
Fewer empty but low fat white carbs (pretzels and so on)

So this blog will be dedicated to a new, all-round healthier, me!