Friday, November 28, 2008

We have keys!!

No time to post any details, I have to go to work tonight, but we have the keys and it looks like all our plans for next week can go ahead.

I'll post an update sometime tomorrow, if I get a chance. I obviously lost my mind when asked to run a polling place for the council election tomorrow, because I said yes. D'oh!

Gotta go set up tables and chairs and cardboard furniture now....

Cross your fingers for me - PLEASE

We have our final house inspection booked for 1:30pm today. As of last night, there is still a LOT to be done before we'll be prepared to hand over a big chunk of money.

I said to Bike Boy last night that building this place has been like a long and very painful labour. Now I'm hoping that: a) what we've given birth to will actually seem worth the torture; and b) moving in will be very quickly followed by a post-natal euphoric fog of amnesia about just how HORRIBLE it actually was.

Let's hope.

First though, there's going to have be some minor construction miracles performed in the next few hours.

So, fingers crossed, please. If it doesn't happen, you will probably hear the sound of my head exploding. And as Bike Boy said last night, it's a very good thing that guns are illegal in this country.....

*********************

I've been trying to exorcise some of the stress, anger and misery by writing about our nasty home-building adventure. So as not to bore the bejeesus out of everyone who couldn't give a proverbial rat's anyway, I started a separate blog. I'm still only part way through the story and I've glossed over a lot of the stuff-ups, or I'd be writing for the next 5 years.

Anyways, if you're wondering why we've found it such a miserable experience, some of the answers are over here. And more photos. :o)

Now I'm going to have a shower, get dressed and go down to the bank to scare the staff there.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

I'm not hiding

.....just having a very ordinary time at the moment and I reeeeeally prefer not to bang on about it here, because - who wants to listen to my whining anyway? Not even me, to be honest. So I haven't been blogging and haven't even been posting on my fitness forums.

I'm following the advice that all our mothers gave us: If you can't say something nice, say nothing at all. Big hugs and kisses to those who emailed or PM-ed or left me Facebook messages recently; I appreciate it, and I am still alive.

There may be some news to report tomorrow. Or possibly not. I'm not laying money on it at this stage.

Anyway, busy. Gotta run.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

My two cents worth

Ooh, look what Sara's published! An interview....with yours truly!

Tuesday, and all is well

I woke up at 5:30am today - didn't have to get up till 7:00, so that thrilled me - with a massive headache like a steel band around my skull. Ah, November - month of allergies and sinus troubles.

BUT - I found the cure: a nice sweaty weights session at the gym! Seriously, it was like a miracle.

********************

Today I got confirmation in writing of our handover date on Friday the 28th, and the invoice for the final progress payment, which I'm about to go drop off at the bank. I also have the floorboard guy booked for the following Monday, the concreter can do our driveway the same week, and then the carpet goes in on the 11th. We will be moving on the 12th and not a second later.

This process HAS to run smoothly - I gave notice to the rental managing agent today and as of the 16th, we will have nowhere else to live...

I'm thinking positive thoughts.

********************

It just occurred to me that we have to now make this place presentable for prospective tenants to look through in the final two weeks. While we're packing. Um.

Oh well, it's only temporary.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Incoming!

For all of us, life gets a bit challenging at times. When it's a day here, or a week there, you can heave a sigh and just plod on anyway. Even if you totally lose the plot and attempt to eat your own weight in Mars Bars, at least it'll only be for a short time - and how much harm can you DO in a day or a week anyway?

But when the stress continues on, and on, and ON relentlessly, with no end in sight, it's a lot more difficult to deal with. I honestly do not know how I got myself competition-ready this year, with everything that was going on. My best theory is that comp prep worked as a distraction, something to focus on other than how shitty life was in general.

I do have a few strategies for dealing with tough times. Sometimes they work, sometimes not so much.

One thing that often works for me is to take a big dose of perspective - the old it could be worse way of thinking. This one, I've pulled out quite a few times over recent months and it usually has the desired effect, at least for a short while. Honestly, just look around and it's easy to find several somebodies who have it far tougher than you do.

Of course, there is a point of no return, when you've been so crushed by having troubles constantly heaped on you that even though you can recognise that somebody else is in a far worse situation than you, it makes no difference to your outlook. After all, you can only deal with what's happening to YOU right now. Sometimes just taking the next breath is all you can manage....

Strategy number 2 is to focus on the positives in my life. Kind of count your blessings, I suppose. I have a happy marriage (and staying married for 24-plus years is a huge achievement these days), great kids, extended family that I can turn to for help when needed, a roof over my head, enough to eat, I'm healthy and fit, and I get to make part of my living from doing something that I love. Hmm. That IS a lot.

But what do you do when none of that positive-thinking stuff actually WORKS any more? When everything gets on top of you and you are Just. Not. Coping. Today I remembered some advice I gave to a friend and client a few months back, and revisited it. It went like this (excuse the crappy analogies, I was aiming for a bit of from-the-heart sympathy and good advice, not the Booker Prize for literature):

There’s so much negative stuff going on, one thing after another is going wrong in your life. Every single bad thing feels like a brick being hurled at your head. You can only get smacked in the head by so many bricks before you go down and don’t get back up again.

But you know, sometimes you have to stay down for a while to a) avoid any more bricks and b) lie there and catch your breath and wait for the bleeding to stop. Then you start to look around and think Holy crap! I’m in a HUGE mess….how did I let this happen? It was just a few bricks…. And you get to your wobbly feet and start to think about how far you have to go and how long it will take to undo the damage.

Not that I've inflicted any actual damage on myself, but I haven't quite been hitting my nutrition and training goals, either. I really think I'm at the "staying down" point. I need to just lie here for a bit and regroup and not get hit by any more bricks for a while. For me, what that means is that I still aim to train daily and to eat well, but since I don't have a fat loss goal or an imminent deadline to meet, I will NOT beat myself up for being imperfect. It's not an excuse to eat, drink and blow off training of course, but sometimes you have to put less pressure on yourself and simply tread water for a bit.

All of that is my muddled and long-winded way of saying that I'm actually doing OK. And I can see light at the end of the tunnel. It's still a bit of a distance away, but it's there, shining in the distance.

Meanwhile, tomorrow, I'll be hitting the gym, and hitting it hard. That's always good therapy.

:o)

All sweetness and light, tra-la


I'm fed up with being crabby, so I'm making a determined effort to NOT be. At least for today. My children will be very relieved.

I had a shocking night's sleep, and didn't appreciate being woken by my 15-year-old clattering in the kitchen at 6:15am. Did I yell? Nope...just had an extra shot of caffeine.

The construction manager got held up and didn't show for our meeting. The meeting that I'd ORGANISED TIME OFF WORK ESPECIALLY TO ATTEND. Did I get grouchy? Nuh-uh. I just decided that was a good excuse to take the entire day off from work - I can go meet him when he finally gets there later, meanwhile I get to do stuff around the house that I'd otherwise be rushing through later tonight, and I might even manage a nana nap too.

How's that for putting a positive spin on things?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Quiet week ahead.

Hormones - you know what? You can just piss right OFF. I've had it! My boobs feel like they might actually explode, like some kind of secret weapon in a weird Manga-style James Bond movie (and yes, Bike Boy is still enjoying the benefits...).

I wonder: is it actually hormones? Or stress? Or just fluid madness from too many carbs? Hmm....

My desk calendar is currently flipped to this: Ask me about a fabulous career in bitching. 'Nuff said?

***********
On the house front, I have an appointment with the construction manager tomorrow morning at 10:00am. Which means I have to go into work late. Gee, shame..... Bike Boy is off to Sydney at stupid o'clock, so it's all up to me....

We've put together a short list of 70 items that are not up to scratch. Should be a fun meeting.

***********

And...here's the rest of the purple:


The beam across the front of the portico is not SUPPOSED to be purple, it's meant to be in Colourbond Ironstone....but that's one of my items for "discussion".


*****************

My week is looking mega-crazy. I have clients, builder appointments, a billion phone calls to make re power and gas and water connections, a visit to the real estate agent to give notice on our current home, calls to the fencing contractor - who managed to line the fence up to the WRONG PEG AND CUT 2.5 METRES OFF OUR PROPERTY (is everybody actually an idiot???), a meeting with a guy to give us a quote on laying floorboards, and OH LORD, SO MUCH MORE.... I'm exhausted just thinking about it.

The washing machine is demanding my attention now, so I have to go....

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Recipe alert....and I TOLD you it was purple!

Need a super-quick, super-easy pasta recipe that ticks all the boxes for nutrition and taste? Here you go.



*********************

No, obviously it's not finished yet....but my client cancelled so I had time to go back over with the camera and capture the partly-done purple render:




This & that

I'm still battling along. Food has been EXCELLENT these past couple of days (which translates to: not using M & Ms as carb portions), and mostly pretty good all week. Training...all good - until today when I overslept for the second day in a row. You'd think I'd know how to set an alarm clock by now, but nope - stupidity has apparently set in.

Stress levels? - Off the scale. Sleep? - A little skimpy. Supplements? - Mmm, those work better when you remember to take them, I believe....

Ah well, this too shall pass, as they say. I'm hanging in there, which is all I can do.

************

On the home (building) front, our render is being applied today - and I think I love it! We didn't get a sample of the colour and it was hard to remember exactly what we chose. I knew it was purple....yes, that's what I said: PURPLE. At least it's not boring beige, cream or grey, like 90% of the places around here. I'll take a photo tomorrow when it'll (hopefully) be finished and you all can give your opinion. Not that I care anyway.... ;o)

We're booked to do our "walk-through" pre-completion inspection next Thursday arvo, and then handover should be the following week on Friday. At least that's the plan, Stan. I won't be updating my countdown gadget though, mainly because it won't let me. Grr.

Keep your fingers crossed for us.

***********

Tomorrow I have one-on-one clients booked all morning, and then I'll have to fly to the school to pick up The Middle Child and get him to a lunchtime orthodontist appointment. I'll be squeezing my own training in after I drop the boys at school, and before my first client.

I may be pressed for time, but I'll make every second count! If need be, cardio can be pushed back to later in the day, but by hook or by crook, it's getting done!

***********

My weight has been hovering around the 56s, with the odd foray into higher numbers. That's a little higher than I planned for it to be just yet, although nothing alarming. And thanks to some amazing fluid fun and games, I've had a rounder face, squishy waistline and fatter fingers. It was getting better, but the past couple of days has seen PMS return (already? Wasn't that just a couple of weeks ago? Gah!). The only bonus part of that is I have boobs again - which makes Bike Boy very, very happy. Glad someone's enjoying it.

As expected, I have noticed that I look quite a lot different to when I was this same weight on the way down.... I have more muscle definition and overall I'm smaller. My legs even have visible muscle! :o) Which is the main reason the faster weight gain isn't freaking me out at all. I'm aiming to keep nutrition pretty clean these next few days and then I might do some comparison photos.

Or not. I make no promises.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Another boring house post



Things are moving. I've been over at the house annoying the electrician, following the plasterer around and inspecting, photographing and documenting various things that are not quite right. I've also emailed the builder re some mostly minor faults, emailed again to dispute the pricing of one item (got an immediate phone call and actually won on that one!) and emailed again about some discrepancies between what's specified in our contract and what's actually been provided. You can't put one over on a couple of people who've spent most of their working lives dealing with contracts and interpreting legislation.... we both speak pretty fluent Legalese.

Oh, and I disputed another small pricing thing. We'll see what response I get tomorrow on those last couple of things....

I had a phone call from the carpet guy while I was at the gym, and it seems they now can't lay our carpet till the 11th of December. After an initial hissy fit, and a phone call to Bike Boy, I calmed down, created a calendar spreadsheet and worked out exactly what needs to be done when. And you know what? It just might work....

We still need to meet the floorboard installation guy and get some quotes on concreting our driveway, but those things are underway. Then I have to deal with gas, water and power companies - but I'm leaving Bike Boy to do battle with Telstra because generally, they make me want to scream bad words very loudly and hang up on them.

Now we're busy crunching numbers to see how the cash flow is looking and what we can afford to do before all the contractors close down for the Christmas break.

On top of all that, I got my training done, trained a client, went to the supermarket (twice), dropped off and picked up kids, filled the car with petrol (for the bargain price of $1.18) trekked over to the very inconveniently located uniform shop and bought new school pants for one child, picked up dry cleaning and took care of some paperwork at the bank. In between, I also made inroads into my email backlog, but thanks to all the house stuff, I'm way behind and need to get back to it now.

When I'm finished, I'll be donning my reading glasses, grabbing my pencil and notepad and going through the building contract AGAIN. Just in case there are any more $$ in there that I can claw back. Hey, I'm on a ROLL.

Early night? I think not....

Resuming normal service

Is everyone else sick of the house-building saga? Yeah, thought so.... me too! This isn't meant to be a house-building blog, or an excuse to whinge at every opportunity. So, let's pretend for today that's not happening and just get on with things. La, la, la......

This morning I'm off to the gym to kick my own butt in a big way. I LOVE training, but I especially love training when life is crap. It's a temporary escape from worries for me and a way to let out all my frustrations - you gotta love that! So I'll be off shortly to do my anterior chain workout, followed by a short tready run (Ah! Lucky I just checked my schedule - better put on my running shoes, I HATE running in cross-trainers. Blah!).

It felt good to be back in the gym last week. Having a break was a good thing, and I had plenty of workouts at home to keep me out of trouble. But walking back into that dingy, dusty place, with the smell of sweat and the sound of iron clanging and meatheads grunting, felt like coming home. :o)

Time to get dressed, drop kids off and go get a bit grunty myself....

************

I got my email working again, so the minute I get back, I'll get stuck into those unanswered messages - promise!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Not getting excited YET

Seems Bike Boy's email to the head honcho at Porter Davis must have started a chain of butt-kicking, because he's had multiple phone calls today from our site supervisor, construction manager AND one from the Big Cohuna himself this morning.

And, lo! On my way home, I called past the house and the electrician has been a busy bee...we have electrical flex hanging from walls and ceilings, outdoor floodlights and weatherproof power points, a ceiling fan in our al fresco room, phone cables snaking out of walls and more. There's also some plaster repairs been done and a few other bits and bobs.

We have a date for our pre-completion inspection next week and the handover is scheduled for the week after. I'm VERY nervously handing in our notice of intention to vacate to the real estate agent tomorrow, since we're required to give 28 days' notice. Nervously, because if Porter Davis fail to deliver this time, we're in big trouble, since the Residential Tenancies Act provides for fines if we fail to vacate on time.

If all goes well, we'll have two weeks leeway to get carpets and floorboards down, move all our crap across and then thoroughly clean this place, including getting the carpets professionally cleaned.

If not, we may be looking for a spare room to rent. Anyone?

************

I just want this to be OVER, so I can get back to normal life. You know, obsessing about training and food, the usual stuff...

I also want my computer to play nice. I can't get my email to work at ALL. I'm doing my best to fix it, but I'm pretty useless at this stuff and my tech support is in Sydney. Really, what good is he there? I even have to cook for myself. Tsk!

In my kitchen, I can't live without....



Tefal Jamie Oliver non-stick pan. This was a surprise purchase that Bike Boy brought home one day, and now I ask myself: how did I get through life without this for so long? It heats perfectly evenly, it has an oven-proof handle, and nothing, absolutely NOTHING sticks to it. I use it to cook meat, fish and chicken, make omelettes and scrambled eggs, and of course, my chocolate souffle omelettes.

George Foreman Grill. We love our "George"! It's the fastest way I know to cook meat, since it does both sides at once. And since any fat runs off, and it's easy-peasy to clean, it gets my vote. The best thing is, I can cook up umpteen chicken breast portions in the same time it takes to cook one ...so I have supplies in the fridge, all ready to go for quick meals.

Digital scales. These were a cheap buy from Big W - they cost me thirty-something dollars and they've been invaluable. When I'm testing out a new recipe, I can use the z-total function to weigh each ingredient separately as I add it....saves me heaps of time. And maths.

Measuring cups and spoons. I have two sets of these, just the standard plastic ones from the supermarket. I've learned from experience that guesstimating simply doesn't work - somehow "portion creep" always happens over time and then you start to wonder why the bathroom scales aren't moving downwards...

Food processor. I bought a Sunbeam Oskar about a hundred years ago, and it gets a regular workout. It's perfect for blending up smooth pancakes mixes, making oat "flour", curry pastes, pureeing soups, and a billion other things. I have a blender too, but Oskar beats the pants off it, except when it comes to making super-duper shakes.

Citrus zester. This inexpensive little gadget is one of my favourites. I add lime or lemon zest to lots of recipes, and cutting the rind off, then removing the pith, then slicing it finely is for the birds!

A really good set of knives. I put up with crappy knives for years, but nothing beats a perfectly balanced, German forged steel kitchen knife with a blade you can sharpen over and over and get a really good edge on. I need to add to my collection (a decent bread knife and a smaller cook's knife would be handy), but the large cook's knife is my favourite and most-used.

My husband. He cooks. Really well.

What can't you live without in the kitchen?

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Hmm....

I did think when I added that countdown thingie to my blog, re the house completion, that perhaps I was tempting fate. Aaaand, you guessed it: progress these last couple of weeks has pretty much ground to a halt.

According to our revised building program, which it took a major dummy-spit back in September to extract from the builder, we should be getting the keys this week. Yeah, sure. And I believe in the tooth fairy.

Let's see....where are we at?

The painting is still unfinished, thanks to plaster having had to be repaired and re-finished for the fourth (or was it the fifth?) time. The painter buggered off to work on another house, since he was fed up with repainting the same walls two, three and even four times. I don't blame him.

There's been no sign of the renderer, who was supposed to apply the colour finish two or three weeks ago. I give you the evidence of his non-appearance:

I'm quite sure we didn't order pale grey render....

The caulking guy turned up, did a half-arsed job and disappeared again. Hello? We have 10-12mm gaps under our timber windows. And I have no idea what else he missed inside the house, since I can't get in to check.

The plumber came to do the fit-off, installed most of the heating and cooling vents, the taps and toilets and then buggered off. We have no heating or cooling in the lounge, there's no sign of the heating vent in the laundry that we paid extra $$ for, and our gas heater so far has no flue. Water is obviously connected, because the porta-loo was taken away last week.

The electrician, who should have been finished two weeks ago, has apparently lost the site address and is wandering in the wilderness somewhere. There's not a power point, light fitting or anything else vaguely electrical to be found.

The garage interior is still unfinished. Some work in there that WAS done earlier looks like the Year 7 woodwork class kids did it. Without the teacher's supervision.

The portico beam has been rendered. Very neatly too. There's just one teensy problem - it's supposed to be PAINTED, not rendered, according to my colour selections and according the plan....but then, we haven't had a single tradie so far who can actually read a plan anyway, so why am I surprised?

There is so much more that's unfinished or done badly, but I'm depressing myself even further just thinking about it...

I'm clinging to the thought that we might be moved in by Christmas, but I'm not getting my hopes up. It would be nice to think we could be spending our summer holidays relaxing in our al fresco room with the barbecue sizzling and a cold drink in hand...


I wonder why I drowned my sorrows in a large quantity of wine last night? Of course it didn't help, only gave me a hangover this morning. D'oh!

Anyway, cross your fingers for us - we expect a response tomorrow to the very terse email we sent on Friday night. Let's hope that gets things moving again.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Recipe alert!

This afternoon I was horribly, horribly tired. I lay on the couch and dozed for half an hour, then woke up all groggy (as you do) and realised that the dishes still weren't done from this morning, it was almost 6:00pm and my youngest child needed feeding. *sigh* So I washed the dishes, turned on the oven to heat a pizza for The Baby and idly thought that I probably should do something about dinner for the grown-ups.

That's as far as I got. What I really wanted was some of that pizza.... Then Bike Boy arrived home, also tired, and feeling uninspired on the cooking front. So I went and rummaged in the freezer and came up with CHICKEN. Of course - my favourite. But what to do with it?

I checked in the fridge and we had cooked rice, a couple of bunches of bok choy and some coriander that was looking a bit limp. Hmm, how about....Vietnamese chicken and tamarind stir-fry?

WAY better than pizza. And almost as quick.

The winning post


Life is extremely challenging at the moment. After a year and a half of almost constant stress, our house is STILL not finished. We can't give notice to quit our rented temporary home, can't arrange for utilities to be connected and basically can't get on with our lives until we have a definite completion date. Which seems to be an impossible task for our builder to comply with. I had arranged for the carpet guy to show up to do the measure and quote thing today, since we were assured by the builder that there would be someone there to let him in. There isn't.

With all this uncertainty, disappointment, frustration and unplanned financial cost, it's no surprise that in our household, sleep is lacking, tempers are frayed, I've had a constant headache for days and life sucks in a major way right now. I'm trying to maintain some semblance of normality, but I'm not succeeding too well.

Just as an example, I went to the bank this morning to get some papers out of our safe custody packet. One of the girls who used to work for me back when I was manager there saw me standing at the counter and simply asked how I was ....and I started to cry. Oh no! Just could not help it. Luckily she knows me pretty well, knows about the trials of house-building and didn't think I was a total fruitcake. Having a meltdown in the middle of the stodgy bank is not my usual style though. Embarrassing? Yup.

But, I'm totally fed up with things that piss me off, so it must be time for a win list....

1. I have a new training program this week and it's back to the gym for me. Yay! I love new programs. :o) DOMS has struck with a vengeance too - not so Yay....but it comes with the territory.

2. I'm doing OK with nutrition. Not great, but OK. Under the circumstances, I'll settle for that.

3. Yesterday I had a day OFF and went to the races. No work, no training, no clients, no housework. It was nice to get dressed up and have a girls' day out. I didn't win, but then I hardly bet at all. Given my usual luck, it was probably just as well. Better to lose $4 than $400.

4. In spite of Connex's spectacular debacle, which saw rail services from Flemington racecourse just grind to a halt (ON OAKS DAY - gah!!), I did not lose my cool. Luckily, we always leave before the last race to avoid the rush, so we were on a train before the whole thing really blew up. We did get dumped at Kensington station with no idea of how to get to the city to catch our train home....but being resourceful gals, we tottered down the street in our high heels in search of alternative transport. Not a taxi to be had (of course not, they were all at the race course!) and all the buses were heading OUT of the city - and WHY are there no trams in Kensington? Hmm? We eventually spotted some boom gates and found the Upfield line - which was running. Sure, it took 3 hours to get home, but it could have been muuuuch worse.

5. The extremely weird fluid bloating that I woke up with on Monday is finally leaving. What WAS that about....? My fat fingers are back to normal today, hooray!

That's all I can come up with right now, but for someone who's barely holding their shit together, it's not too bad. I may not have won on the tote this week, but I still have a few wins on the board. :o)

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

What was I thinking?

When I made this as the birthday cake:


Must have been a moment of insanity, really. There can be no other explanation for purposely having 2kg of chocolate cake, coated in rich dark-choc frosting and covered with Maltesers, anywhere in my vicinity.

Positions vacant

Wanted: Large crew of people with good appetite and no concerns about the health implications of eating lots of sugar, cream, etc.

Mission: To remove all traces of cheesecake, trifle, cherry flan and other party leftovers from my fridge.


Or.... I could just toss it all in the bin.

Guess what I'll be doing when I get back from the gym?

Monday, November 03, 2008

Many happy returns

Monday before the Melbourne Cup is a de facto holiday here in my home town. Honestly, the state government really should just declare it an actual public holiday and be done with it, because almost NOBODY goes to work today. Some workplaces shut down so their staff can have an extra-long weekend, and many other people take RDOs, a day's annual leave or a good old-fashioned sickie.

After all, it's a long time since the Queen's birthday way back in June, and you can't live forever without long weekends, now can you? (we used to have a holiday in September, but don't get me started on how THAT one got Jeffed, along with the Easter Tuesday bank holiday....)

Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah....the point of this post.....today is Number One Son's 21st birthday. My firstborn was actually born on Cup Day - and very inconveniently, I might add. It's the ONLY time I've ever missed the running of the Cup. In fact I didn't even get a bet on, since I was otherwise occupied THE ENTIRE DAY.

We're celebrating the momentous occasion tonight - yes, on a Monday, since tomorrow is a holiday. So I need to get my A into G and get moving. I have a cake to pick up, a nail appointment, and then I shall be busy cleaning and organising food all afternoon. I'm looking forward to the glass of champagne at the end....



On that note, I'm off!

Cravings - compulsion or choice?

Katie wrote a great post the other day about the pitfalls of following the only-eat-what-you-like school of thought. Lots of stuff to get you thinking there, and it got ME thinking about a related topic: cravings.

I've had many arguments with people who insist that if you crave something, then it must contain some nutrient that your body desperately needs. For instance, if you crave oranges, you must be short of vitamin C. I actually did have incredibly strong cravings for oranges during two of my three pregnancies. I'd buy one of those big string bags and chow through the lot in about 3 days. As far as I can tell, I wasn't lacking vitamin C. Just as a side note, I also craved a lot of Mars Bars and Tim Tams and I really doubt that I was in dire need of extra sugar or fat. In fact, all that got me in 20 weeks was a bonus 20-odd kg of bodyfat. :o(

Anyway...back to the intuitive thing. There are all kinds of reasons why you might have cravings, and the most common are emotional responses and habit. If you think about it, you hardly ever hear anybody say Ooh, I have such a strong craving for spinach/broccoli/choko, I just HAVE to get some NOW. Nah, it's always chocolate, lollies, ice cream, or maybe toast, pizza or hot chips. Always, ALWAYS high-carb, high-GI, not-very-healthy foods.

If you've developed a habit of regularly eating potato chips while watching TV at night, then the minute you sit down in the evening and turn on the box, that conditioned response will kick in and you will crave potato chips. If you have always dealt with certain emotions (or more accurately, avoided dealing with them) by turning to favourite childhood foods, then that's exactly what you’re going to do as soon as you feel that scary anger/disappointment/loneliness or whatever feeling it may be.

Sure, it is important to be in tune with your body’s needs. As an athlete, knowing when you’re carb-depleted is vital, so that you can take appropriate action – and by the way, that means having a big bowl of oats rather than a giant-sized pack of marshmallows. And sometimes the signals can be a bit subtle, or can easily be confused with other things. But if your body is “telling you” that you need a pizza, a couple of vodka Cruisers and a big slab of mud cake, then it’s LYING to you. They do that, you know….

If you follow a sensible nutrition plan, with a balance of protein, carbs and fat, and a small allowance for treat foods, and you eat regularly, then you’re less likely to have a problem. Sure, breaking a habit can be difficult initially, but I get impatient with people who say they “must” have chocolate every afternoon, or that they “can’t” stop at less than an entire family block. They’re using the wrong word: it’s not CAN’T, it’s WON’T. They’re simply not prepared to take responsibility for their choice, preferring to blame it on some mythical compulsion.

Breaking the cycle isn’t all that easy, but it can be done if you really want it. You might need to employ some simple strategies to help get through the initial weeks. For instance, if the TV thing is your issue, then try doing something else at that particular time of night….instead of turning on the TV, go for a walk, call a friend - clean the toilet, whatever works. And don’t have bags of potato chips in the house, at least not initially. It’s not brain surgery….

I make bad food choices at times too. I fall into old patterns now and then, overeat and so on – but I don’t tell myself that I couldn’t help it, because I “had to” eat that huge pile of chocolate. I accept the responsibility, tell myself it wasn’t the best response to the situation, and I move on. Another day, another meal – I know I’ll do better.