Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Free advice - from me to you

It seems at the moment that many people I know - clients, friends, family, total strangers who email me out of the blue - are struggling to keep things together in terms of training and especially nutrition. In many cases, it's obviously got a lot to do with coming off the back of the Chistmas/New Year Woohoo! let's eat everything in sight and lie around like sloths period. But it seems that everyone has an obstacle - something so insurmountable that they simply "can't" do their workouts or eat properly.

I've been doling out advice like nobody's business, but then I remembered that I wrote something on the subject some time ago, so I thought "Hey - why reinvent the wheel?" And then I thought I'd post it here, just in case it might help somebody:

I see a lot of people who manage to eat well and exercise regularly when life is going smoothly. But the minute an obstacle crops up, they crumble and fall off the wagon. Unfortunately, many never get back on the wagon. They can spend weeks, years, or even months, floundering around, all because something unexpected messed with their plan. The obstacle may be an illness or injury, extra hours at work, travel, house guests, or something as minor as an invite to a special occasion meal or some other interruption to their normal routine.

At some point in everyone’s journey towards whatever goal they’re working for, an obstacle is going to pop up – that’s just life. So how do you deal with those things? You can’t anticipate the unexpected, right? Well, maybe you can.

I spent many years working in a sales job, and one technique we used as part of our regular training was something we called an objections clinic. The object of this exercise was to brainstorm every possible objection a customer might come up with in response to a sales pitch, and to script replies to those objections. The point was to anticipate a problem and figure out in advance how you might deal with it. Then when the situation actually arose, you wouldn’t be taken by surprise and left standing open-mouthed, with no idea where to go.

You can use this same technique with training and nutrition – if you invest a little time in thinking ahead and anticipating potential obstacles, you’ll be prepared with your ‘script’ if they happen.

For example, if you train first thing in the morning, what will you do if you oversleep? Sure, you could just blow off training for that day, since you don’t have time, but perhaps you can fit a session into your lunch break, or do it after work. Or if you don’t have time for an hour-long weights session, maybe you DO have time to squeeze in a 20-minute interval training cardio session and do the planned weights workout tomorrow?

How about injury? Obviously, this one depends on the location and severity of the injury, but let’s say you have an injury to your right arm, leaving you temporarily unable to lift anything with that arm. You can still train legs and abs, still do cardio, and still eat right.

What if you’ve had your free/treat/cheat meal or day for the week, and you get invited to a restaurant for a friend’s birthday? You could get the restaurant to email a copy of their menu so you can pick out something in advance that will fit with your meal plan. If you know beforehand what you’re going to eat, you’ll be less likely to be tempted by other choices. You can drink sparkling water or diet soft drink, and forgo dessert. Think about how you’ll deal with pressure from other people – you know, when they press you to have some birthday cake or something similar. If you feel you can’t say no, perhaps you can ask to have a piece of cake wrapped to take home “for later”. Once you get it home you can freeze it for your next cheat meal, or just throw it away – they’ll never know.

If you invest just a little time in running these sorts of scenarios in your head, and coming up with possible work-arounds, you’ll be far more likely to just automatically put “Plan B” into action when the situation actually arises, instead of just throwing your hands in the air and giving up.

Life never runs smoothly all the time, and perhaps you won’t always have an answer to every little problem. But with some careful thought and planning, you’ll have a really good chance of staying on track even in the face of considerable adversity.

The times, they are a-changin'

The Baby started high school today, with his oversized shirt (just like most of the other Year 7s) and slightly scruffy long hair (also just like most of the other Year 7s). There was a bit of nervousness, excitement, trepidation and fear of the unknown. And that was just ME.

He also managed to catch the bus home, all by himself, without his big brother to supervise him.

I suppose that means that he's officially NOT a baby any more. But do I care? Nup. He's still The Baby to me.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Thursday, January 24, 2008

And another thing...

Further to yesterday's post, a few of you expressed the view that anyone who's unsure of the right way to do an exercise should ask an instructor for help. Which is great advice, except that..... hmm, gym instructors.... they don't exist at this particular gym.

You have to understand the skanky gym - there are no staff on the floor, just someone on reception to collect your money. It's a big ugly barn of a place, full of clunky equipment (and more than a few cockroaches). If you can find two dumbbells the same weight, you're doing well - NOBODY ever racks a weight. It's VERY cheap, you don't need a membership, and it NEVER closes. I mean never. At 3am if you're a shift worker or an insomniac, you can go workout. Christmas Day, if you're sad enough to want to spend time in the gym, you can....

If you want a PT, you can arrange to hire one, but as far as I can tell, there ain't no such thing as a gym instructor.

I have been known to interrupt someone who looks like they're about to have a nasty accident and offer them some advice on technique, but sometimes people don't appreciate interference and you get your head bitten off... Meh. It's their loss.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Strange goings on at the gym

When I'm training, I take absolutely no notice of anything around me. I may as well be completely alone, because I'm so focused on what I'm doing and getting... *ugh* through... *grunt* that*grimace* DAMN REP... that I probably wouldn't notice if a busload of naked male models walked into the place. Well, maybe THAT might get my attention.

Anyway, in between sets, while gasping for breath, chugging down some water and psyching myself up for whatever's next, I tend to idly look around - and some of the sights I see are pretty horrifying. I've mentioned before the chicken-flapping exercise, performed with weeny 1-2kg dumbbells, elbows a-flappin'. I'm still trying to figure out exactly which muscles that's supposed to be training. Then there's the good old broomstick twist. A lot of that goes on at my gym. Seriously? Do these women honestly believe that's going to give them a smaller waist?

But today I saw not one, but TWO women performing seated cable rows with the most frightening technique I've ever witnessed. First you sit with legs straight out in front of you, knees locked. Grip the handles and straighten your arms, being sure to lock your elbows. Then you start the movement by leaning forward at the waist to an angle of about 45 degrees. Using your hips and spine, pull your upper body back until you're tilted the other way, leaning back at ...oh, about 30 degrees should do it. For extra points, go ALL the way back, till you're almost lying down.

Back, forwards, back, forwards (made me positively dizzy!), no arm movement at all, just abs and hip flexors and lower back doing all the work. I thought that seated rows were to work the upper back. Obviously I had it all wrong. It's actually a weighted sit-up machine.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Back to school - BLAH!

So the kidlets are heading back to school mid next week, which meant that today I had to go collect their new text books. Easy, thinks I. I'll swing past the school after dropping The Middle Child at his mate's house and on the way I'll grab some things I need from the supermarket, call at the bank and the newsagent and I'll be home in no time. Yeah....

We get to the school and the queue is out the door. *sigh* Of course it is. Eventually I find someone free to go find our (already paid for) parcels. Rip open bags, check contents, make sure nothing's missing or damaged - check! All OK. So now I just have to go over to where the sign says "diaries and lockers". Um....they seem to want payment. I already paid. *scratches head* I ask one of the grumpy women manning the tables what's the go when you've already paid. She snappily replies that well then, we'll have everything already so we can go. Uh - no, we DON'T have a diary. Or a combination lock. Then you'll have to go sort it out at the office, she grunts. OH-KAYYYY.

So we detour to the uniform shop first to pick up the stuff we ordered last month that they didn't have in stock. They rummage around and hand over a bag - yep, one pair of pants and two polo shirts, great. On to the office.

I ask the office lady why my son hasn't received anything he was supposed to when we paid our fees on orientation day. Did you hand the payment in here, or give it to a teacher? I look at The Baby who tells me he handed it to his teacher. The office lady rolls her eyes. Oh, never do that, teachers have no idea! Right.

My expected 10 minute stop has turned into 45 minutes, but we're all done now, so we head home. I ask The Baby to try on his uniform, just in case.....and they've given him the wrong pants - these fall straight to his ankles. Gah! Now I have to trek back to the school AGAIN. Because I have nothing better to do, surely?

The Baby asks "Do we HAVE to go today?" and I reply that yes we do, unless he'd like to start school next Wednesday in his underwear.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

More fun than shoe shopping

I cracked it this week with our inadequate home weights setup. So today I dragged Bike Boy out to investigate some shiny new equipment. I'm looking at one of these:

It's commercially rated, has a lifetime guarantee and we can get a great deal on a package including a really solid bench, a couple of handles, detachable dip bars, and some rubber flooring. I've also found some rubber coated ezi grip plates online at a bargain price.

No more driving to the gym.....bliss!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

You don't have to like it, you just have to do it....

Liz blogged about overcoming a bit of bad attitude yesterday and I think that maybe it's contagious, because - bleurgh! - my day's been exactly like that today.

I've been in a bad mood for a couple of days and had a serious case of the 'don't wannas' this morning. Just didn't want to get out of bed, didn't want to get on the bike, didn't want to go water the garden (it's 'our day' today ....water restrictions... gotta do it when you can!), didn't want to work, DEFINITELY didn't want to do the ironing.

I got dressed and got started anyway, and I spent 75 puke-worthy minutes on the bike and actually hated every second of it, but took a big dose of Suck it up Princess and did it anyway. I felt the same way about my weight training, and managed to procrastinate a bit (I called it recovering....) but finally got down to it. Didn't like that much either, but with some teeth-gritting, I got through it.

I actually thought more than once about just stopping and lying on the couch with a magazine. That wouldn't have helped though - about the only mags I have are fitness mags, and I'd just end up feeling guilty and inadequate.... :)

In the end, the garden got watered, the ironing's done and I've ploughed through quite a bit of my work, so I'm feeling a sense of achievement. I'm also feeling knackered, but that's a whole other thing.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Saturday, January 12, 2008


The Vietnamese prawn cakes were SENSATIONAL. Definitely a winner. And my salad was fantastic - even Bike Boy (the salad-hating man) liked it.

I'll be posting the recipe tomorrow, that's a promise. Or a threat - depends how you look at it. I also have to post the recipe for Thai chilli jam for Batty F. *ties string around finger*


I used to buy a jam that had no added sugar - I'm pretty sure it was made by IXL, but it seems to have disappeared off the supermarket shelves. I don't often eat jam, but every now and then I want a teaspoon of something sweet and fruity to add to some concoction I'm making, and I prefer to use one that isn't predominantly SUGAR.

So today I scoured the shelves at Coles and found squillions of jams and conserves by the big manufacturers of every flavour imaginable, all listing sugar as the first or second ingredient. Most also contained ingredients that don't even have names, only numbers. Eeuw. I DID find some Cottee's diet jam, (I remember my diabetic Grandma always had a jar of the raspberry in her cupboard) but that contains some unspecified artificial sweetener.

Eventually I located a jar of St Dalfour's red raspberry spread. The ingredients? Raspberries (55%), unsweetened grape juice concentrate and fruit pectin. Now, I'm not stupid - I know that fruit (and grape juice) contains sugar. And there's likely little difference between this and 'normal' jam in terms of calories. But at least I'm eating fructose, not refined sucrose from sugar cane.

So what happened to the IXL one? I'm guessing it wasn't popular and didn't sell a lot, so Coles refused to stock it any more. Maybe it's not even being made now? It's a pity though - St Dalfour's is a French company and the jam is a product of France. Something local would have been nice.


After the ball incident yesterday, my little darlings have been amusing themselves quietly. They're both into music at the moment....well, THEY call it music....but it's good to see that they haven't quite outgrown Lego:

Voila! One rock band, complete with mike, guitars, drum set (with cymbals!) and an audience.

Aren't they clever?

Friday, January 11, 2008

Great reasons to have kids #2

Oops, that should read Great reasons NOT to have kids.

Guess what happens when your 12-year-old is bored on a 40+ degree day in the school holidays, and kicks your stability ball forcefully across the room, INTO A SHARP METAL OBJECT?

There was opportunity for much shouting of the NOW do you realise why I tell you that is NOT a toy? I'm not just talking for the pleasure of hearing my own voice, you know!! variety.

*sigh* It's happened. I've turned into my mother.


I've just posted a new recipe on my food blog. If you like Indian food, barbecues or just plenty of flavour, go check out my tandoori chicken. OK, so it's actually Bike Boy's tandoori chicken. Enough of the nit-picking!

I almost promise to test out a yummy prawn recipe over the weekend. If it's as good as I think it's going to be, I'll share......

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The secret weapon

After restricting myself to only two coffees yesterday morning, I managed a deliciously uninterrupted 7 or so hours sleep last night. I also sneaked in a 2-hour nap yesterday arvo. Bliss.... I'm feeling much better, thanks.

Seriously, lack of sleep can really mess with you in a big way. Even if you're not suffering from insomnia, being woken constantly by small children, working rotating shifts or whatever, the cumulative efffects of going just a little short on sleep on a regular basis can be pretty dire.

When my snooze hours are compromised, I find it difficult to train at all, let alone give it the intensity it warrants. I'm exhausted, cranky (my husband would ask what's different about that?) and barely functioning. And the health risks of sleep deprivation are well-known too: increased blood pressure, some funky hormonal effects, increased risk of diabetes, and of course fat loss and muscle gain go all haywire - not in a good way. But the thing that I always notice, even with short-term sleep deprivation, is the effect on my appetite and food choices.

It's like crappy food becomes completely irresistable or something. I know that my mental focus and decision-making skills are a little fuzzy, sure, but the thing I always notice is that cravings hit HARD when I've not been putting in enough snooze time. And the things that I crave are always sugar and/or processed carbs. I put it down to the hormonal thing (something weird to do with insulin, maybe?), plus my body's need for an energy boost, since I'm apparently making it stay awake for 3 zillion hours straight. That's obviously what made the croissant with butter and jam seem like just the thing for second breakfast yesterday morning. At least I burnt it off (and then some) in my insane cardio workout. And it was delicious, by the way. :p

So, getting enough sleep is important for everyone, but when you're trying to improve your physique, it's absolutely vital. These are the things that usually work for me:

1) Having a regular bed time, regardless of whether I'm working, it's the weekend, or I'm on holidays. I haven't done too well at this one lately....
2) Staying off the coffee after dinner. (Again with the not so well....)
3) Getting up at the same time (-ish) every day. *sigh*
4) Avoiding daytime naps, except in emergencies. Um....

Looking at my list, I've broken every single one of my rules over the Christmas period, so it's actually little wonder I've been feeling weary. Sometimes you need a gentle reminder - or maybe a smack in the face with a heavy frying pan, if you're a bit thick like me - to get yourself back on track.

So, my tip for today: if your healthy eating and/or exercise attempts are suffering, and you can't seem to get it together, maybe you should take a look at your sleeping habits.


Edit: I have a vague recollection that leptin and serotonin are the likely culprits for the appetite/craving thing, and that both are affected by sleep (or lack thereof). I'm sure Sara knows, she's clever.....

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Maybe I'll stay off the coffee....

I've had two really bad nights in a row, in terms of sleeping. There's been very little of the sweet dreams stuff for me, and apart from making you cranky and tired, sleep deprivation apparently makes you stupid as well.

Today I got to the gym, knowing I had to do a treadmill workout plus my upper body session. I quickly read my instructions for the cardio workout and my eyes nearly popped out of my head:

5 minutes walking to warm up, then:

5 minutes gentle jogging
2 minutes incline walking
3 minutes faster jogging

Repeat cycle 5 times, then cool down. That added up to an ENTIRE HOUR on the treadmill! Once I stop hyperventilating, I think to myself that can't be right .....check again ....nope, it definitely is.

*sigh* OK then, if I must....

So I did an hour of jogging/incline walking/faster jogging intervals. Tired, crabby, sooky Kek was having an argument the whole time with I'm-not-quitting, kiss-my-arse Kek - inside my head, you understand, I don't have blazing rows with myself at the gym. Not usually, anyway. It went kind of like this:

I'm tired. I didn't get enough sleep. I can't do this.
I. Am. Not. Quitting!
OK, it's a 3 minute interval - I'm at 2 and a half minutes, that's near enough. I'll slow down now.
No way, Baby, it's only 30 seconds. Pfft, I can do another 30 seconds of this.
But I'm tiiiiiiiiiired!
I don't quit! This is the second last set of intervals - I can DO this.

In the end, I got through it (cursing Liz rudely, the whole time), did my upper body workout, stretched and staggered out to the car.

Then when I got home, I read over the instructions again. It actually read:

5 minutes walking, then 5 minutes gentle jogging to warm up, then:

2 minutes incline walking
3 minutes faster jogging

Repeat the TWO intervals 5 times, then cool down.

It was 5-minute sets, not 10-minute sets, YOU MORON! All up, including warm up and cool down, it should have been 35 minutes. Doh!

I think I'll go lie down for a while now.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Are you serious?

Spotted today, January 7th, at my local Coles:

I'm sure it's not quite a record, but ARE THEY KIDDING??

Yay for 2008!

My more-fit-and-less-fat efforts continue, with my Monday morning weigh-in showing a motivating 1.1kg scale loss this week. Nothing like dumping a heap of fluid, gained from eating more desserts, more starch and more alcohol than usual. :) Holiday maintenance is officially OVER - now it's down to the business of getting on with whittling away a bit more fat.

It feels good to be back to 'normal' with food after the Christmas/New Year craziness. I'm still having regular small treats, a little chocolate here, a glass of wine there, but I'm loving my salads and fruit, lots of barbecues, and I'm back on my ricotta kick. Yum! I'm working on coming up with some new recipes....did a salmon one the other night that needs a little work, but when I get it ju-u-ust right I'll share it.

I'm pleased with my training progress - I'm noticing that I'm getting faster and stronger on the bike, so woohoo for me! I can also run again for more than a minute or two at a time without feeling like my chest will explode. I suspect I could crank out a (very slow) 5kms if I wanted to - and I do plan to do a fun run or two this year, so that's a good thing. Today I'm riding part of the Lake Placid triathlon route, and I'm actually looking forward to it. Huh, that's progress too - I used to dread cardio sessions.


Things are gradually returning to normal on the home front too - Bike Boy went back to work today (not all that willingly - he'd much rather stay home and play with us) and The Baby will be home from his holiday in the country tomorrow. I'm not sure he's all that keen to come home actually, it's been all waterslides and creek-swimming and playing with his cousins and over-indulgent grandparents for the last 10 days. I spoke to him last night and told him I missed him. His reply was a bit dismissive, so I asked if he was looking forward to coming home. His answer? Yeah, spose. Are there any of those Christmas lollies left?


I'm officially back to work this week myself; got some new one on one clients to see and the existing ones will be resuming training over the next couple of weeks too. I also have a steady influx of online training enquiries, which will increase over the next few weeks, so looks like I'm going to be busy.

At the moment, I still have a couple of vacant spots for onliners, so if anyone's been considering doing an online training program, drop me a line via my FitBodies site.


Just quickly - nice to see that Marie Claire shares my opinion of Miss Shauna's book. The Amazing Adventures of Dietgirl ranks #1 in their list of 10 best diet books. Go, Dietgirl!

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Lost afternoon

I got back from the gym late yesterday morning to find my copy of The Amazing Adventures of DietGirl had finally arrived!! *cue much woohoo-ing and air punching* So, bugger showering and getting out of my sweaty clothes, I headed straight for the couch with my reading glasses and a bottle of water and settled in for an afternoon of total slackness. I actually stayed there for almost 5 hours - apart from one trip to the fridge to find food to quiet my growling stomach, and a couple of loo breaks (damn you, bladder! WHY aren't you bigger?). I was determined to finish the entire book, and I did.

Let me tell you - this is one great read! Shauna's story was already very familiar to me, having been a reader of her Dietgirl blog and her other blog for some years, but the book isn't just a cut-and-paste of her online posts, it contains so much more. I was reduced to tears several times, and chuckled out loud many times too. (I actually snorted and blew a snot bubble out my nose at one point - I'm so glamorous!). It isn't just a Fatty-boom-ba loses a lot of blubber and her life instantly becomes perfect kind of thing though. Shauna discovered along the way a couple of important lessons that so many people fail to grasp:

1) You don't have to wait till you lose weight to start living. Being slim doesn't make you more deserving of a good job, a great social life, or love. And being fat doesn't mean that you're not entitled to those things. If you've always wanted to go back to university or learn to ski or do whatever your dream is, then DO IT NOW. Don't wait for the perfect moment, because it might not ever arrive.
2) When you DO get to your end goal, everything doesn't suddenly become perfect. We're all works in progress - ALL THE TIME. We all have ups and downs with fitness and nutrition. There's never a point where you just find the whole thing a breeze and clock up perfect day after perfect day for ever and ever, amen. We're human and we trip and fall - sometimes we fall long and hard. But as long as we keep on getting up and forging onwards in some fashion, that's OK.

Luckily, Shauna has included many of the best bits from her blogs, including one of my all-time faves, the Great Nutella Incident of 2005.

You have to read this book (yes, because I said so!) - it'll be out here and in New Zealand on the 1st February, but you can get it now from

What are you waiting for?


Edit: I forgot to say that the book is worth buying just for the cute little shrinking Dietgirl animation thingy at the bottom of each page. You know, those cartoon drawing things where you flick through the pages and the little figure moves? With this one, you can watch tubby Shauna turn into slim Shauna. Clever.

.....Or if you flick the pages the opposite way, Shauna can regain all the weight. No-o-o-o-o! Don't do it!!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Shoes + chocolate = heaven

I picked up the Woollies food magazine Good Taste yesterday and while lazing on the couch flicking through it (ahhh - holidays!), I came across the most perfect, perfect thing - chocolate shoes! The pic in the magazine showed the cutest spotted stilletto, apparently retailing for $19.99 at Big W.

Then last night we were in town to see Spamalot, and had time to kill between dinner and the show, so where did we go? Uh - Big W, of course. Yes, we really know how to have a good time. There was no sign of spotty shoes, but I did discover these for $4.95:

Then I did some searching around online, and found these at Gayle's Chocolates. They're even MORE cute. And a lot more exxy:

At least they wouldn't take up space in your wardrobe for long....

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

101 ways with tuna

Well, two anyway. I've posted a couple of new recipes over on my food blog.

First, there's today's lunch (which was sensational, by the way!): Asian-style tuna and sweet potato patties. One of them got a bit black because I wasn't paying attention. Let's just pretend it was on purpose and call it Cajun-Asian style, OK?

And I remembered I took a pic of another tuna creation, which is so simple, a 5-year-old could make it. If that sounds like your level of culinary expertise, then go check out my cheesy tuna baked potato. The picture isn't actually all that great, because I was lazy and skipped the whole scooping and grilling bit, and just piled everything on top. Close enough, I say.

Business as usual

Christmas and New Year seem like distant memories now, and life's back to normal - thank goodness.

Training's done for the day and BOY, was it hard! I've been increasing weights and decreasing reps the past few weeks, but this week I'm doing sets of 15 - EEK!! Add in some treadmill running, interspersed with sets of box squats and I was a hot and sweaty mess. The gym's doing some renovations; let's hope it includes installing air conditioning. Meanwhile I'm test-driving a new gym on Friday, which should be fun. :)

I've decided that I seriously need to revamp my recipe repetoire. I've been very lazy lately, and consequently I'm feeling a bit bored with my food. Time to trawl through the recipe books for something new. I found a yummy-sounding recipe for Vietnamese prawn cakes last night that I'm dying to try.....think I'll hit the shops tomorrow and give it a whirl.

Right now I have an appointment with a tennis ball to do some myofascial release to try to fix the lower back pain I've been putting up with the last few days.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

How did I see the New Year in?

With this (which was far more delicious than the photo promises):

And a few of these:

Plus some time on the couch with two of my favourite boys. Yep, it was quiet, unexciting and low-key. Just how I like it. I'm so not into crowds, loud drunken parties or New Year's Eve hoo-ha.

*I haven't disposed of any family members, BTW - The Baby is away for a few days, visiting his Nan and Pop in the country and Number One Son was out somewhere getting rat-arsed.... of course. So it was just me, Bike Boy and The Middle Child.

Holy melted bitumen, Batman!

It's HOT today. Not that I mind the heat, except that I slept till late, thanks to staying up to see the *yawn* New Year in, so haven't done any training yet. And, God!'s already almost 40 degrees (unless you're down by the seaside at Geelong or Frankston, where it's only in the high 20s).

Today's scheduled exercise is a walk..... but I think I'll be leaving that till after the sun goes down. A nice session on the couch with a water bottle and one of my new books might be the go this arvo.

One good thing about this heat is that the washing dries in an hour. Even with the ridiculously small clothesline that we have here, I've been getting through mountains of towels - I might even do the sheets today! Of course, heat like this leaves your towels about as soft and fluffy as an emery board..... but ah well, at least you can exfoliate while you dry.