Monday, December 31, 2012

Goodbye 2012


I went for a walk this evening and thought about my New Year's Resolutions. I will only deal with my health/weight-loss resolutions here.

2012 was certainly imperfect in many ways, BUT

1. Yesterday is not tomorrow. Yes, I know that Dr Phil says that the best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour, but I can't live as if that was true for me or I'll never get anywhere. I am putting aside regret, shame and guilt for not achieving my goals already. Every decision is a new chance to make a better choice.

2. Exercise every day. 30 mins minimum. An hour would be better. Two hours would be wonderful. But if I can only manage 30 mins, then that is better than nothing. Much better.

3. Follow my pre-diabetic diet guidelines. Restrictive, punishing diets are not sustainable. But I will count my carbs and stay within my limits. I'll track again (just carbs) until I am sure I have a handle on that.

4. Hydrate hydrate hydrate! One glass of water with lemon and two cups of tea a day are not enough.

And that is all.

I've been feeling particularly yuck for the past few days. I've had sciatica (pains from my lower back going down my leg) since Christmas, probably due to compression in my back from so much standing in the kitchen. I've had it before, but never for more than one day at a time. Also lower back pain, I've been using the massage chair a lot which helps. And headaches and general yuckness from the heat and (probably) dehydration. I am so looking forward to feeling healthier. It isn't aways about the scale.

Goodbye 2012

picture by Alex Abion

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Looking back and planning forward


With only one more day of 2012 to go it is time to look back and to plan for the future. I don't feel like I achieved anything this year. In terms of weight-loss, this morning I weighed exactly 1 kg less than on 1st January. Better than gaining weight, but it doesn't feel like much of an achievement. I have bursts of exercise that slump back to laziness as soon as I hit an obstacle, and I haven't stuck to any healthy eating plan I've started.

I was diagnosed with pre-diabetes in August, and while I have an occasional panic I haven't really done much about it.

My paid work continues much the same, I don't work very many hours so I don't earn much. For various reasons working from home for limited hours is the best option for me right now, and I think I am good at my job, but it is lonely and I think this affects my mood.

I've stopped almost all social activities. I rarely go to my writing groups, never to my editing society meetings, often avoid gatherings with friends and hardly ever get to see the friend I would really like to see because she has gone back to work and has less time.

I don't think I'm particularly nice to live with. I've been strangely moody and often irritable.

But I have control over almost everything in my life, so if I'm not happy then I can do something about it.

What is important to me?

My weight and health are high on the list and they are very much under my control. I am certainly not saying it is easy to lose weight, just under my control. As this is my weight-loss blog, I am going to focus on that one here. I know that being thin wouldn't suddenly make my life perfect, but being miserable about the way I look affects a lot of other things in my life so I think it will make a difference. And of course pre-diabetes is a big health issue.

How am I going to achieve a 20kg weight loss in 2013? Less than half a kg (about 1 pound) per week. I'll get back to you on that one.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Wrapping up Christmas


I got on the scales this morning with a certain amount of apprehension, but I had been right about not putting on weight. Despite holiday fare and no formal exercise, I am back down to 77.8kg, 700 grams less than six days ago. I was on my feet a lot and ate less than usual because I was so busy and tired.

Christmas Night I was again too exhausted to sleep well. The bomb going off every couple of minutes in the lounge room didn't help, and neither did waking early and thinking about what I needed to do for the day. I think I got about five hours, which isn't terrible but was the third night in a row of poor sleep, leaving me with a pretty big sleep debt.

Ten of us went to see The Hobbit, which was great. Tim's family are all fantasy nerds like us and there was some talk of dressing up but in the end it was just Tim's cloak and Matthew's Darth Vader hoodie. We left the children at home with my pregnant sister-in-law who said she would be too uncomfortable sitting so long (it was a three hour movie).

When we got home we had our traditional Boxing Day BBQ (very late, the movie finished at 2.30). I sent Tim out with the meat and quickly threw together the spicy vegetable skewers and fried some fish for those who weren't eating red meat. Since I'd used up my salad ingredients the night before, the skewers were all the vegetable I had and I don't think there was even enough for one each, I certainly didn't have one. We also went through a loaf of bread, I totally forgot about the garlic bread I had in the freezer. I made ice cream sundaes for dessert. A couple of hours later I just put out all the many and various left-overs for a light dinner, and made a simple pasta to go with it. No one was really hungry yet, but we had to feed the kids and get them to bed.

More games and fun, but the night did end on a slightly sour note with an acrimonious conversation about a disputed inheritance issue between a couple of the older members of the family. Tim broke it up after a while and we all went to bed, here or at motels. Tim and I lay awake for a while and talked about the inheritance thing and then about the movie to get our minds off the inheritance dispute. I finally got a good night's sleep.

Yesterday was the final day of visitors and I was so ready for them all to go home! Our houseguests helped us put all of the furniture back in its usual place and do a final clean-up (people had been helping all along, so while I did nearly all the cooking I did no washing up at all, just a bit of fussing around) then they went, and the rest of the family dropped in throughout the day after checking out of their motels. I heard the final pair arrive just as I was lying down for an after-lunch (leftovers) nap and I couldn't drag myself up to go and talk to them. I slept for half an hour before going out to say goodbye. And the Christmas celebration was finally over.

Despite another good night's sleep last night I am still feeling totally wiped out. I think it's going to take me a couple of days to recover. But it was an excellent Christmas, and well worth the work.

photo of boxes by scotproof

Christmas part 2

Still Thursday:

Ok, I was up to the present-unwrapping. It was a lovely time, family and presents and excited children. And the day before had been horribly hot (another reason I was so exhausted, especially all that cooking in a boiling kitchen) but Christmas Day was cool and comfortable.

Everybody was contributing to Christmas lunch and of course many needed some access to kitchen facilities to reheat and prepare. I needed about 45 mins, so I was glad when some other people got started early. But as the time scheduled for lunch came and went, one couple was still working away, taking up almost the entire kitchen. They said they were almost done but another half an hour passed before I got access to my oven. The puzzling thing was that they were making a salad! Admittedly they had to poach chicken for it and make a mango sauce in the blender, but still, two and a half hours for a salad? They are most definitely not regular cooks.

So, we were running behind time and I knew I was supposed to get the turkey in the oven straight after lunch, so dinner was going to be late as well. Still, I got a production line of helpers going for my vol-au-vents; cutting out the pastry circles and stirring the mushrooms and grating the cheese while I shredded the chicken that I had cooked the night before. We got everything on the table only an hour late. It was a lovely banquet that everyone had contributed to which made it extra special.

Two years ago we started a tradition of a MasterChef challenge where everyone has to make a dish with a key ingredient. I won the first year (lemon), my brother-in-law last year (raspberries) with probably the best chocolate mousse I've ever had (with raspberries on top, obviously); this year it was mango so we had a couple of mango salads and mango with prawns and a mango pudding but we had plenty of other flavours as well. A couple of us reserved our mango desserts for evening to spread them out a bit. We voted the next day and my brother-in-law won again with the mango pudding, 8 votes out of the 15! Yummy.

I jumped up after dinner and got the huge turkey seasoned and in the oven, then I only had to baste every hour or so for the rest of the afternoon until an hour before dinner when I'd roast the potatoes and prepare some salmon, so I had plenty of time to join in games and fun with everybody. I'd broken through the tiredness barrier caused by three hours sleep and was having a lovely time, even grooving along to music while I basted the turkey. Then as dinnertime approached I asked if anyone else needed kitchen facilities. No. No, because no-one else had anything. One dessert, that was all.

I think a couple of things I had expected at dinnertime went on the table at lunchtime, but also a couple of things that I was expecting did not materialise. People brought lots of snacks and drinks but very little real food.

Out of five main meals (not including breakfasts) for an average of 15 people, I had help with one.

I had a minor panic at this point. There was plenty of meat, with the turkey and salmon plus some cold ham left from lunch, but roast potato was the only vegetable I had planned on doing myself. And with very limited fridge space I hadn't bought anything I didn't think I would need for the holiday period. But I pulled myself together and made the Greek salad I had planned to serve with the Boxing Day BBQ, and found half a bag of frozen peas. It would have to do. Despite the brief panic the dinner all turned out perfectly with a fantastic turkey and gravy if I do say so myself. I think this was the only meal I over-ate at.

Then more games until bed time. I was completely wiped out and staggered off to bed at 10.30 but had to get up an hour later to ask everyone to be quieter. They were playing Pass the Bomb which involves not holding the bomb when it goes off. The bomb was horribly loud, even from in my room with the door closed. But I finally got to sleep when they moved on to another game.

I think I had better make a part 3. Sorry for the thesis-length posts, but I enjoy having all this written down for my own rememberings.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas! Part 1


It has been a fun but exhausting few days. We've had from 12 to 17 guests here from 2pm Monday to 3pm Thursday, so we've only just got the house back to ourselves. But it was a really successful Christmas period.

On Monday we cleaned and cleaned and cleaned. I was tired by lunchtime, but soldiered on. Family started arriving after lunch. All guests brought some food contributions for Christmas Day, but I was doing Christmas Eve dinner by myself. I made and served roast pork and chickens with various sides and then two desserts, for 12. Everything went smoothly. I was too exhausted to eat much, and I think I was the only person to only have one of the dessert options! I haven't actually weighed myself over this Christmas period but I don't expect to have gained weight, overall I think I ate less than usual although I did have desserts twice a day and some alcohol. Didn't snack much.

Anyway, other people washed up (as they did every day, I stacked the dishwasher a couple of times but didn't have to do much cleaning after Monday morning), we might have played a game but I don't remember. I really wanted to go to bed but we had another couple of people arriving in the evening so I waited up. They didn't get here until about 11.15. Then things went a little pear shaped.

I have just checked my old emails and about two months ago I told my husband's family that there would be no beds available and they would have to bring their own airbeds/mattresses (many people chose to stay in hotels in the end), the reply from this particular couple was that they could bring their own "if need be". The subject didn't come up again, for which I blame myself since it was a long time ago. I should have sent a reminder. Anyway, they didn't bring anything, and looked at me blankly when I asked them. I ended up giving them the spare bed and my brother slept on some couch cushions on the floor. This wouldn't be a big deal except my brother has some mental health issues and only comes to a crowded Christmas celebration at all on the condition that he gets the spare room so he has some space to himself. I felt really guilty about it but didn't see what else I could do. I briefly considered putting little Aiden in with us and giving my brother Aiden's bed, but Aiden is a wriggler and I desperately needed sleep.

Not that I got much. My whole body was aching with tiredness, my feet throbbing and my hips twinging. I had given my brother my own pillow so I only had a little hard cushion. I slept a couple of hours then lay awake for hours before I dozed off again; I estimate three hours sleep for the night. So I got up Christmas morning without much enthusiasm.

However, it was present time! No one can stay un-enthusiastic for long during a present orgy. There was a small amount of awkwardness as some of the family had been pushing for a secret Santa for years (where you only buy one present for one person -- everyone therefore only gets one present!) and the dissenters grudgingly agreed to try it this year -- sort of. We did a secret Santa with the wider group (husband's aunt and cousins & their spouses) but basically still exchanged presents amongst the closer members which was more than half the group anyway. The original plan was that we would be doing this before the wider group got here but some came early so witnessed the huge present giving. Oh well, they were the ones who opted out of it.

Of course the kids got huge piles of presents from everyone (they are the only children so far on both sides of the family), but I got a pretty good haul. My main present from Tim was a thingy that means I can record stuff from TV which I haven't been able to do since we got rid of the old video player a year ago. Also lots of books and CDs and DVDs, and a voucher for a Zooventure tour where you get to feed the tigers and bears and pat the cheetahs and stuff. And some ankle weights, and a food processor from my mum and probably some other things I have temporarily forgotten. But please don't think that we didn't want to give up the present orgy just because we wanted more presents, we love all the careful chosing and giving to others as well.

My son says it is his turn on the computer, so part two later.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Out to lunch


Friday was the last day of school, so the last chance for Tim & I to go out to lunch without the kids. We'd had lunch while out Christmas shopping a couple of times during the week, but wanted to go somewhere special so we went to one of our favourite places; Rock Salt. I don't know whether it keeps changing hands or they are just innovative, but everytime we go (maybe a couple of times a year) both the decor and the menu are completely different. It has got a bit more casual over the years, but still good.

Anyway, we had some garlic bread and both ordered the steak. And they were huge! We each only ate about half, we should have shared. It was nice (not nicer than I make at home, but I didn't have to cook it or wash up) but not worth how I felt afterwards, even after only eating half. I was sleepy and bloated for the rest of the afternoon. I feel a bit silly ordering it now, anyway, it is something I can cook quickly and easily myself but it was probably the most expensive thing on the menu. It's what I felt like eating at the time, but now I wonder why I didn't have something a bit more elaborate that I don't know how to make. Still, it was a pleasant lunch out with my husband.

I've spent most of the weekend cooking in preparation for people arriving tomorrow. One of the desserts -- the chocolate volcanoes -- took 3 blocks of chocolate, 2 dozen eggs, and nearly a kilogram of butter. I've also been grocery shopping and house-cleaning.

It's been very hot so I've been feeling pretty tired all day. We're expecting a cool change in time for Christmas Day, though, for which I am very grateful considering I'll have the oven on all day.

I'm really looking forward to Christmas. Two more sleeps!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Belated weigh-in and busy busy


On Monday my weight was 78.5 kg, up a whole kg from the week before. It went up for my ToM but it hasn't come down again. Bummer. Maybe something to do with all the festive snacking.

That afternoon I did an hour of Just Dance 3, in competition with my husband. It's even more fun dancing with someone than alone.

Then two days of no exercise. I blame spending all day Christmas shopping both days, then stuff like taking Aiden to gymnastics and having people over for supper. I still should have fit in exercise, but I didn't.

Today I got a lot done, including half an hour gardening (the area around the new outdoor furniture now looks really nice, with miniature fruit trees in pots) then half an hour dance (no new 5 stars, damnit), reading and reviewing two short stories, emptying and cleaning 4 kitchen drawers, finding and copying baby photos to take to a party, sorting through both children's end-of-year schoolwork that they brought home and deciding which things to keep for their memory boxes, and calling a tradesman to ask why he didn't show up a week ago or contact me. That was nearly everything on my list!

Only a few days until Christmas. I feel like we have everything under control. Tim is out buying a very last present, the house is half-clean, and the food shopping list is prepared. Bring it on.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

A delicate flower


After a couple of weeks of almost no exercise (just a little walking most days) I have lost any fitness I managed to build up. I did 45 mins of very gentle exercise yesterday: I started with Kinect Adventures which is moderate intensity (or high, with some games) but quickly had to switch to Carnival which many would say isn't exercise at all. But it had quite a bit of arm movement (tossing rings and throwing balls) which mobilised my stiff shoulders and got some blood moving, so I felt it was a good way to get back into it. That afternoon I was sore around my ribs. It took me a while to work out it was the muscles, from the exercise! Arg! That made me sore? I really am delicate.

This morning I didn't get started for a while and in the end only had half an hour before other activities took over the day, but I did a mix of high and low intensity (Adventures) and was left tired and sweaty so at least I felt like I had done a bit of work in the time.

I've been going barefoot a bit around the house as part of my plan to start toughening my feet, and they get sore pretty quickly and the skin on one of my toes is cracked. Pathetic, huh? Being barefoot on carpet, super-low intensity exercise, and my body is protesting.

This afternoon was taken up with five hours of watching a couple of hundred children (including our own) doing their end-of-year gymnastics performance. I quite liked it, but five hours? That whole last hour, with a toddler screaming next to me because every other kid in the gym was getting a medal and he wasn't, and the hard metal bench making my behind ache, was moderately horrible. But both our kids did really well. It's great they have a sport they both enjoy, so that being active is fun.

Sweat is fat crying.
Toughen up, princess.

photo from Swem library

Thursday, December 13, 2012



Woo hoo, I'm done!

I just finished my current editing job -- at least as much of it as the client had given me up to this point -- and I'm on holidays! Kids are still at school next week but my husband will be home, we'll have time to prepare for Christmas and hopefully do some relaxing too.

My body is really suffering from the lack of decent exercise so I will get back into that. I'm not making any promises about eating better. That tray of mangoes by my side looks pretty good, but then so does the free box of chocolates my supermarket gave me today (they sent me a voucher, presumably for using my loyalty card a lot, they are good chocolates too not cheap junk). Some of each! Hmmm, you know it's hard to beat fruit dipped in chocolate ...

I managed to find the time to do a little clothes shopping this week, I only had one pair of shorts (that fit me) and I ripped them quite badly last week. Two new pairs of (long) shorts, four pretty blouses, and sunglasses that don't pinch my head -- the last ones left grooves in my brain. Still haven't got any sandals, they are next on my list. And I would like a dress for Christmas, but I find dresses tricky for my body shape. Not just that I am plump, but also very short. Maxi dresses drag on the ground, shorter dresses often become a very odd length on me, and I won't wear anything above the knee. Also my shoulder stiffness means I can't get in & out of anything too tight around the top or do up zippers by myself ... it is pretty hard to find the perfect dress. But I am happy with my new shorts and tops.

There is test cricket on the TV (each game takes five days, it is an acquired taste) and all is right with the world.

PS. Thank God It's Holidays

Monday, December 10, 2012

The one day detox


My clean eating plan went really well yesterday, I ate within my guidelines with fruit for snacks and salmon for dinner. But today, not so good. Maybe because I started the day with butter on my toast? I didn't have morning tea and was starving at lunchtime, my planned chicken and vegetable stir fry seemed too labour-intensive and bland (even though I love it when I have it, it isn't really bland at all) and I ended up having some reheated leftover pepperoni pizza. Then I had a mini Magnum (premium ice cream covered in chocolate) in the afternoon. So basically no vitamins have passed my lips today.

I also haven't been exercising much lately, for nearly two weeks I really haven't done more than short walks. I am trying hard to get some work finished by the end of this week so I can have a break before Christmas (BTW I was wrong about the kids finishing this week, they still have another week after that, but my husband has taken next week off). I know that busyness is no excuse, I have the same 24 hours a day as everyone else and a lot less to do than some. But still, I do struggle to fit in more than a couple of things a day, while the kids are at school. I can do grocery shopping plus editing work, or exercise plus housework, or review a book plus have tea with a friend ... I can't fit it all in. To do my goal of a couple of hours of exercise a day I would have to give up some TV in the evening, or sleep, or playing with my iPhone, or reading other people's blogs or something vital like that. At the moment Christmas planning and shopping has taken up a lot of time too.

Still working on becoming a better me.

picture of pizza by roccospizza

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Tender feet and pre-Christms detox


I really need to toughen up my feet a bit. The problem is that I always wear proper supportive shoes with socks; generally I wear my crosstrainers, running shoes or walking shoes -- the only other shoes I regularly wear are only slightly less sporty. No heels, no sandals, never barefoot. As a result my feet are as soft and smooth as a baby's. I have certainly never needed one of those grater things that scrape dried skin off. But on the down side, they can't take much abuse. A long walk, or even a short walk in the heat, costs me a few layers of skin. So I have a campaign this summer to get a bit hardier. I spent a few hours this weekend barefoot, mostly inside on soft carpet but a little bit on grass. I plan to buy some sandals this year, and wear them for short periods at first to get used to the horrible discomfort of the rubbing. By the end of summer I'll be able to stride boldly over hot coals!

I managed to get in a short walk yesterday morning and another one this evening as the roast was cooking, but we spent most of the weekend driving to Sydney to see family and then back again. And eating. On the way home, after our second on-the-road McDonald's in two days, I resolved to do some kind of detox. There are five more work/school days before we are all on holidays a week before Christmas, and I am banning junk for those five days. I had a bit of trouble decided exactly what my detox would involve, but as my diabetes dietitian has advised me to eat a certain number of carbs per meal I have decided not to cut out all processed food; I will keep in bread and pasta. But no junk. My definition of junk includes chips, chocolate, biscuits, cake, deep-fried anything, butter, alcohol, cream, lollies. Pretty much anything from a jar or packet, laden with sugar and/or salt and/or preservatives. I will still have a small amount of low-GI fruit sugar in my tea; I am still slowly working on reducing that. Lots of fruit and vegetables and lean meat. I've found a surprisingly nice low-fat cheese, and I already use low-fat milk.

This is not a particularly drastic detox, in fact it is just a healthy diet that I should be eating the majority of the time anyway. I've been slumping into bad habits lately, yet with Christmas two weeks away I am not ready to commit to a "forever" kind of change. For now, I am committing to five days. I think it is achievable, although there are already some hurdles lined up. I'll let you know how I go.

picture of bare feet by smallestbones (not my feet)

Thursday, December 6, 2012



I'm staring at the blank screen trying to remember what I did yesterday. Nope, nothing. I mean, I did some editing work, but surely I did other stuff as well? Can't remember. I watered the garden. Well, the pots with the new dwarf fruit trees. And I ... hmm.

Ok, today I did more editing work. And cleaned the house. And had a friend over to morning tea. And went for a long walk and it was too hot and I think I rubbed the skin off the balls of my sweaty feet and it hurts to walk now. And reviewed four short stories submitted for a magazine I slush read for.

As I walked and wilted and eventually hobbled, I decided that it is definitely time to move the exercise indoors. I said this the other day but then we had a cold spell and it had only just warmed up again today. It wasn't even that hot, really, but too hot for me.

I'm trying desperately to think of something witty and/or interesting to say, but I still got nothing. So goodnight.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Super powers and muffin top


Haven't done a lot of official exercise lately. I had a sore leg on the weekend and had to ice and rest it. Yesterday was another shopping day -- got Christmas presents for my husband, then picked up the kids from school to buy them new shoes and they chose presents for daddy. Lots of walking around, but nothing strenuous. I plan to fit something in today, somehow.

I found that I have a super power -- low-light vision. I already knew I could block off my nostrils without touching my nose, I just use nose-muscles to clamp the nostrils shut. Like a camel. Only more inside, where you can't see it, so possibly a bit less useful in a sandstorm. It sounds like you have a cold when you talk. I had assumed everyone could do this, to avoid nasty smells, but apparently not. My husband can't. Our daughter can, though, so maybe it's genetic. Like wiggling ears or rolling your tongue.

I've often noticed that I can see in the dark much better than Tim, especially when going from a light room to a dark one or just after turning off the light. He is essentially blind for at least 30 seconds, whereas I take maybe 1 second to adjust. The other night when walking into a dark room I realised I not only widen my eyes, I actually consciously dilate my pupils. It is hard to demonstrate in the light but I was able to do it to show Tim and he said you can really see it. Can anyone else do this? I still can't see in complete darkness, but I adjust much quicker in low light.

It's kind of cool to have control of at least some of me. 'Cause other bits not so much.

I squeezed into freshly-washed jeans last night and was horrified at the enormous muffin top that exploded over the top. I haven't put on any weight, I guess they are always challenging when they shrink and it was after dinner too. But it looked awful, and I ended up putting on my larger size pair, which was disheartening. Then I went to the movies and ate popcorn and malteasers.

I really should be working right now, or exercising, or housework, so ...

photo by Zen cupcake