Friday, January 30, 2009

Eating Healthy

One of my challenges for the having my best year this year is living and eating healthily. My first step towards achieving this was re-organising my fridge and pantry, donating any foods that weren't wanted, and restocking with healthy options.

I started with the fridge; after a thorough clean out and then a good wipe down with a solution of vinegar and vanilla extract, I had a sparkling clean and fresh smelling fridge ready to be restocked. And this is what it now looks like:

On the fridge on the left, I have

  • low fat yoghurt - natural and fruit - this is great dolloped over cereal, made into a fruit smoothie or as a replacement for cream and sour cream.
  • lots of fresh fruit - peaches, apples, oranges, apricots, grapes and strawberries - buy what is in season for the best prices. It is also likely to be local, which is better for the environment.
  • low fat milk - we go through a lot of low fat milk; I try and have at least three serves of dairy a day, and Stephen drinks a lot.
  • sparkling water - I am determined to stop drinking diet soda, but I really need my fizz! Sparkling water is a great substitute - if you really need to add some flavour, slice a lemon or orange into it, or crush in some mint leaves.
  • fresh herbs - I pop fresh herbs into my herb saver and change the water every couple of days and my herbs last up to a week. Fresh herbs are a great addition to most meals; they really add some zing to any meal.
  • Up & Go breakfast drinks - these are a quick and easy grab when I run out of time to eat breakfast. While these are not ideal and fresh, wholesome food is better, this is an OK option that prevents a mid morning junk blowout because I am ravenous from skipping breakfast.

On the fridge on the right:

  • plenty of fresh veges - I store them in my Tupperware Fridge Savers to extend their life. I always have capsicums (bell peppers), cucumbers, tomatoes, cherry or grape tomatoes, celery, carrots and some sort of lettuce or green like baby spinach or arugula. This means I always have the fixings for a salad, or a snack plate.
  • sliced ham and turkey - great for sandwiches or as a protein addition to a salad.
  • lean meat - when I took this picture, I had some pork steaks, and some veal leg steaks.
  • eggs - these are a great source of protein, and make a quick and easy snack when scrambled and served on a toasted english muffin.
  • shredded low fat cheese - shred your own each week and store in a plastic container.
  • low fat Babybel cheeses - my son loves these as a snack, and if you like cheese these are tasty and portion controlled!
  • low fat hummus and ricotta - great as a dip on a snack; instead of butter on a sandwich; or as a way of adding interest to various meals.
  • feta cheese - a fantastic addition to salads or homemade pizza
  • various sauces and marinades - these can spice up a meal without adding to many calories. Look for salt reduced versions.

My next step was my pantry. First of all, it was just a mess - things were all over the place; I often bought something and then got home and realised I already had three; I didn't know what I had and what I didn't. After a clean out, I restocked, and the results make me smile every time I walk into the pantry!

These drawers are the only ones that have some junk - some packets of Tiny Teddies cookies that Stephen adores and can have occasionally.
  • tinned fruit in natural juice - pears, apricots, pineapples. This is a great way to always have fruit on hand even when it is not in season, and is often cheaper than fresh fruit. I mostly use these in cooking or smoothies.
  • Ryvita rye crackers and rice & corn thins- great as a bread substitute, especially when you are craving something crunchy. One of my favourite lunches are the thins, topped with some ricotta, ham, avocado and tomato, sprinkled with basil or oregano and coarse ground black pepper.
  • apple puree - this is great as an egg or oil substitute in baking, or as a quick snack.

The next set of drawers contain meal ingredients:
  • wholegrain pasta - lasagne sheets and spaghetti. These take slightly longer to cook, but are so much better for you. Check the ingredients to make sure it is 100% wholegrain.
  • tins of tuna and salmon - great sources of omega 3 fatty acids (especially salmon), and tinned tuna has much less mercury than fresh tuna at the fishmonger.
  • tinned beans and lentils - while it is much cheaper to cook your own beans, I honestly just don't find the time to soak and then cook them. Tins are convenient and these make a great start to a vegetarian meal.
  • tetra packs of chicken and vegetable stock - again, home made is better, but store bought is a convenient and adequate option. Make sure you get salt reduced.
  • brown rice - great with stirfries, in rice pudding, and as rice salad.
  • tinned tomatoes and bottles of tomato puree - use as a base for spaghetti sauce, chili or casseroles and braises.

Next, I have all my staples:

  • Brown rice
  • Wholegrain macaroni
  • Wholemeal breadcrumbs
  • Couscous and polenta
  • Flour, sugar, etc

Lastly, I have various wholegrain breakfast cereals including weet bix, cheerios, and rolled oats; as well my baking supplies shelf.

Since I started my "best year" challenge at the start of the year, I have lost just over 3kgs (6 lbs) and I am feeling great. I have a ton of energy and I feel so much healthier! I challenge you to start your fridge and pantry clean out today!!

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Friday, January 9, 2009

Fun Fitness in the Pool

As part of my best year quest, I've been trying to incorporate exercise into my life so that it is (mostly) fun and together with the rest of the family. The weather here has been so lovely and warm that we have been spending quite a lot of time in the pool. While the kids are in the water I don't want to be swimming laps, but I have found a great and cheap way to get in some exercise while still playing with the kids.

  1. Invest in a pool noodle. These are incredibly cheap - mine cost less than $5. You can do an amazing range of resistance exercises in the water, as well as great cardio that doesn't involve swimming laps. I'll post my exercises in the next couple of days.

  2. Play water polo. We use an inflatable beach ball, and then try and aim at "goals". This is a great cardio workout in deeper water.

  3. Have duck-diving competitions. Throw objects that sink to the bottom of the pool and then who ever picks up the most wins. This is another great cardio exercise.

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Monday, January 5, 2009

Product Review: Neutrogena

A couple of weeks ago, I received a new product to try from Neutrogena. They have just released a range of body products which are designed to be "a little bit of luxury" and seem to be quite spa-like in the range.

The product that I received was their Body Oil (Sesame Oil). This is a light body oil that is designed to be applied to damp skin before you dry off after your bath or shower. When applied in this way, it is instantly absorbed into the skin without leaving any greasy residue, which I really liked. The fragrance smelled a bit artificial for me, but was not unpleasant. The fragrance didn't linger on the skin, which was good. It did a great job of moisturising my very dry skin when applied as directed.

I also tried it on skin that had already been dried off; when applying it this way it is not as moisturising, but gives a great sheen to the skin, almost exactly the same as Nars Body Oil II, but at a fraction of the price. This is great for summer evenings out as it gives a really great, glamorous look. Applied carefully down the front of your legs it will give the illusion of slimmer legs. I would apply it to my shoulders and collarbones as well.

Lastly, it was recommended for the bath as well. I added a squirt to my bath, and soaked for about half an hour. It definitely softened the water, and left my skin soft and touchable. I really liked the fact that it dissolved into the water rather than just sitting on top like some other oils. The "artificial" smell was still somewhat off putting, however.

Overall, this was a great product, especially for the price. For those who don't like the fragrance, it also comes in an unfragranced version; this is what I would purchase next time.

Neutrogena Body Oil: 250ml for AUD$12.99/ US$10.49

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image courtesy of The Soup

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Body + Soul Challenge 2009

My first step towards having my best year is to sign up for Body + Soul magazine's Body + Soul Challenge. I saw last year's challenge on the Martha Stewart show, and it seemed like a great idea. I had incorporated quite a few ideas that I saw on the show into my daily life, but I am really look forward to taking part in the whole challenge this time round. Over a 5 week period, the aim is to take you through a complete body and mind transformation:

Week 1: Clear the Decks

Week 2: Eat Right

Week 3: Get Fit

Week 4: Stress Less

Week 5: Get Energized

This looks like a great way to kick of my goal of making this my best year, as it covers quite a few bases. It looks at the whole body in a holistic way, rather than going for quick fixes that won't last.

If you want to sign up as well, then head over to Body + Soul Challenge 2009.

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Friday, January 2, 2009

My Best Year

It's the start of a new year; always a time of resolutions, new possibilities and excitement. Like many people, I have always made a list of new year resolutions. And like most of those people the resolutions have faded into obscurity my the end of the first week of the year!! So this year, for the first time, I am not going to make a list of resolutions. There will be no promises to lose weight, exercise everyday, never touch junk food again. Instead, I am making just one resolution:

I am going to make this year my best year so far.

This coming year is going to be a hard year. Times are changing, our boom economy is heading downhill, and life is becoming more expensive and stressful. Despite this, I think it is important to make the best of it and to rise above the negativity that seems to spring nightly from the news.

So how am I going to achieve this? By taking baby steps. By evaluating what I really want from life. By looking at what makes me truly happy. By focusing on my health instead of a number on the scale. By focusing on me.

Over the coming year, I will share with all of you what I am implementing, what I am changing, what I am discovering. I look forward to going on this journey with all of you as I work to make this my best year.

I challenge you to join me. Share with us what you can do this year. Make this year your best year!

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