Friday, July 29, 2011

oh what a treat...

I've mentioned before that a habit I've tried to cut out is rewarding myself with food. Mr C suggested a little while ago that I do a post on non-food rewards and I've been stewing this idea around for a while.

I know its a bit of an indulgent topic and in all reality we live lives that are super rewarding in many many ways. Mr C and I love what we've chosen to do with our lives but sometimes we lose ourselves in our work and together with other obligations we get to a point every now and then where we feel like a bit of self-pampering. We used to find that an easy way of achieving this was filling our bellies with all kinds of tastiness. And while this was comforting for our psyches, it did the opposite for our health. So its something we've worked on - here are a few of my favourite rewards...

For a long time I went along with what everyone else liked when it came to music - Mr C has an awesome ear and I can't fault his choices. But I knew I had a taste all of my own bustin' a move inside. About 4 years ago I gave myself a new year's challenge to find a new album once a month and through that process I found my pocket of listening pleasure. I have a soft spot for lesser known musicians, particularly aussies, and scoping out new talent on iTunes is quite a treat for me. Once I've bought something I love to potter around the house and listen to it through a few times.

from the jam

Whether near or far, virtual or in person, short & sweet or deep & meaningful, having a chat with one of the lovely people in my life is so nice. I'm at the age where all my friends are busy - we're all investing in our careers, families, homes and we don't have hours to dawdle around together - and its a pleasure to continue to share our lives when we can.

I don't care who knows it, I love a good clean - the regular stuff or the spring kind - I get a kick out of it and love that post clean feel. I love to postulate about all the alternate jobs I would like to do and high up on the list is cleaner; naturally I imagine running my own cleaning business with some super cute name that sings with efficient cleaning capability.

For those of you who know me, you know I am something of frockaholic. I love to wander amongst the possibilites of what I might wear and spend time shopping. And I'm not shy about hunting down a bargain. I'm about to oust how organisational crazed I am but I like to have my work-week of outfits planned ahead - call me juvenile but I love playing in the wardrobe and pulling those outfits together.

I've come to realise that I don't think food rewards are all bad. I adore food and I have chosen to regularly avoid some of the food I adore the most because it is full of nutritional nonsense and calories, two things my booty does not need. But food rewards don't have to include those typical "treat" foods - Mr C and I love creating new dishes that are calorie-sound and belly pleasing - we've discovered a love of yogurt, apple salad, mushrooms, beans and many many more things that are delicious and rewarding to prepare and sit down to. Branching out from the regular is super fun too - trying out a new recipe, or trying that odd looking item at the store that you've never heard of; I have long screwed up my nose at bubble tea and tried it a few weeks ago only to find it is lovely and quirky, a total treat.

And sometimes, that turkish delight is communicating with my belly on some alternate level and they both know that together they will create magic, and, people, magic does happen - the belly clearly comes from Narnia because it has some serious magic love for turkish delight and I make sure I enjoy every sparkle of it.

And a little treat, a very happy birthday shout out to the DragonLady, who still doesn't know about this blog but might one day.

I hope you are all well out there.

R xx

Thursday, July 21, 2011

just a tip of the hat...getting supplied

Goes hand-in-hand with lunch preparation but its gotta be said, food shopping is essential when it comes to being prepared.

Like most people I don't have tonnes of time to get supplies regularly so I've got a system of grocery shopping once a fortnight with a top up stop at the green grocers once a week. I'm also super spoiled and have a small supermarket directly across the road from my house, and its open until 9pm (which to americans is nothing, but to aussies you know this is something to be lucky for) so I can get milk and essentials there should I need to.

In addition to my V8s and cheeses there a few things I make sure I always have in the house -
1. Ready made soup - sure soup is easy and homemade is better but I'm all about ease. And, truth be told, I love knowing the calories in my food - if its on the label rather than me adding it up with a recipe I'm all for it. I didn't know this was from NZ - and I feel a bit bad that its not local - this is my go to brand for soup and my favourite is lamb with vegies.
2. Toast - I'm a an old woman at my core, just like I love tea and biscuits, soup and toast is lovely, nourishing and easy. We are blessed with lovely bread in Australia, with lots of options of grain and seed mixture - I really just get whatever is there and takes my fancy. These are all lovely and more likely than not, one will be in my basket. I also love fruit toast for breakfast, so a loaf of that will usually be there too.
3. Breakfast in a flash - I usually have time for breakfast, I wake up hungry so its high on my priority list to get some food in my belly. Occasionally though, it is somehow imperative for me to sleep that extra 20minutes and these make a great quick-fix. Judge me all you like about them, they've saved the world from a grumpy hungry woman quite a few times. They make a great fill-in when I've worked too late for dinner but I need something before bed or for when I'm meeting friends for a lazy morning brunch but I still wake up at sparrow-fart*.
4.  Frozen fish and vegies - they keep for ages, are delicious and nutritious and can be freshly cooked in a snap. I'm also big on frozen prawns that are peeled and deveined.
5. Canned stuff - I like to be ready for a month or two worth of rationing/apocalypse/nuclear-fallout with a supply of cans - chickpeas (I don't think ahead far enough to soak and prepare - a can-full is ready in as long as it takes to take off the top), beetroot (I love freshly roasted beetroot, but they are messy and I tend to have red hands for a day afterward), lentils (as for chickpeas), apricots/peachs/pears, tuna, pasta sauce (technically, usually in a jar - add some prawns and spinach and tada! an easy, luxurious meal)
6. Dried fruit - after much discussion with the bff prunes have made it in my high rotation list of dried fruit, along with dates, apples, pears and apricots.
7. Biscuits - I love biscuits, I'll never give them up. I do try to go for whole grain options but generally I get whatever jumps out at me.
8. Cereal - aussie kids are weet-bix kids, we can't help it - we all have our favourite way of having them - mine is with hot water, honey and topped with cold milk - I like others too and probably have about three varieties on the go at any one time.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

just a tip of the hat...exercise gear

I got some great exercise gear last year and it gave me some pep in my step. I think its beginning to look a little bit ratty and baggy - but the message is the same, good gear makes exercise easier and makes me feel better while doing it.

from: weeweeyun

Whether its form or function that matters, the key for me is that its clean and ready for operation. I love to actually have laid it out ready to thrown on when I get home. Its a simple step and one those things - the less obstacles in the path the more likely I am to succeed.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

just a tip of the hat...exercise

Sad but true, I try to exercise every day. Its become my routine to do a workout when I get home from work.

I don't love exercise, I really don't. So I make sure I have a few options always on the go. I tend to have a rough plan about which I'm going to do on any given day. And I do try really hard not to be all-or-nothing about it, if I miss a day its not a big deal.

from: overthesea

Bike with a show
This is my basic option, when I don't feel like anything else I'll watch a show I've "recorded" (totally legally, always :) ) while I wile away. I've come to realise exercise equipment is always going to be part of my family, I've lost the majority of my weight so far by spinning the wheels of a bike or crosstrainer, when everything feels too difficult the exercise bike is like an old friend who will ride a couple hundred calories with me. A good show also helps - the rule is nothing is too trashy for me and the bike :)

Exercise video
I probably do a video twice a week - Jillian had me at hello, so I do one of her multitude on offer, trying to live up to her high expectations.

The bff and I know how to pound the pavement and get through some serious talk-therapy while we're at it. Its good to walk with her, I really look forward to it, it goes fast because are so busy scrutinising te world and it schedules my exercise, which I like :)
My pals at Two Fit Chicks also make terrific walking companions via podcast. And Mr C and his super long legs make for a terrific exercise session too, and we always have the most remarkable things to talk about.

Mixing it up
Earlier this year I was working a job 10-14 hours a day and I was way too exhausted at the end of the day to exercise. Fortunately I was on my feet all day, hustling around so I got lots of incidental exercise. I decided rather than struggle with trying to fit in some extra exercise I'd give myself a challenge to not use the lift for the last 6weeks - I used it going "down" a couple of times, usually because I was with colleagues or the doors would spring open as I rushed past, but I never used it going up.  

Monday, July 18, 2011

just a tip of the hat...lunch

I work five or six days a week. I'm currently on a cushy version of my job but that is very temporary and usually I'm flat out all day. To be honest, I'm sometimes stressed out too. So something good to eat is essential for me, as silly as it might sound I look forward to my food and knowing I've packed something that fits the bill for my lunch makes my belly smile.

I usually make my lunch for the next work day at the same time as I make my dinner. I'm in that "food preparation" zone and it make sense to get it all done together :)

Lunch is usually a salad of some description - tomatoes, capsicum (or peppers to you crazy americans) and baby spinach primarily make the base with one or combo of egg/tuna/potato/pumpkin/chickpeas/cheese/beetroot lumped on top - that part might from a can or be left overs from dinner.

Without giving it too much thought I guess its consistently vegies-and-some-kind-of-protein mixture. I went through a stage of only having vegies and I'd be flat within a few hours. And have too much gas to-boot :)

When the supermarket is just too much for me to bear and the fridge has slim pickings I take cheese and crackers with a V8 on the side - its luxurious enough for me to look forward to it and avoid the cafeteria (which inevitably always has sad soggy sushi or hot chips to offer) and its good in terms of calories and nutrition.

Mr C and the bff (and even the bff's mister) tell me original V8 is actually disgusting to everyone else on the planet, they all like the fruity versions though. I always have a couple of small packs in the fridge and I always, always, always have cheese in the fridge. Its not even a fridge to me if it doesn't have cheese in it. My favourite cheese de jour is this one.

And when that fails, you know I always have eggs handy and I make an omelet with (frozen) peas and feta/ricotta/cottage cheese (or whatever I do have) and take that in - reheated or cold its great.

I'm not a sandwich person at all, but I have been known to shock the pants of everyone with a sandwich - usually boring boring boring with vegemite/jam/cheese&pear/egg. Mr C loves sandwiches - thank goodness opposites attract :)

I might have mentioned before that lunch needs dessert for this girl. Its usually yogurt or dried fruit - if someone brings in morning tea I have to convince my stomach that dessert was had before the main event; a mint is good if it continues to struggle with the concept.

I usually have fruit sometime in the afternoon or in the car on my way home. Apples, bananas, pears, kiwifruit - I try not to discriminate. Not big on oranges or mandarins though; sorry, citrus fruits.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

just a tip of the hat...the days to come

I'm not about to claim I know all the secrets in the world about weight loss but I have a couple of things that I try to do to make sure I stay on the straight and narrow and they seem to help me. So I thought I'd do some posts* about my version of Preparation.

I can tell you're excited :)

I'm a typeA personality, things are ordered, colour coded and listed whenever possible, it makes me calm and looks nice too :) The healthy changes I've made in my life remain a work-in-progress - they seem that little bit harder when I don't have things organised.

* This series of posts started out as a simple list of things, then I realised the list had some clear "categories"  - so living up to my self proclamation above, before I even knew it, I had reshuffled the list. So over the next couple of days I'm posting each category. Its riveting isn't it :)

Saturday, July 16, 2011

things I'm loving...

A couple of years ago some friends and I were sitting around having a general moan about life and circumstances. It was all quite cathartic and meaningful, with lots of agreement amongst us about how annoying things were.

One of our group piped up and suggested we all proffer something we love, we were all the mood for some sharing of feelings and although this somehow seemed more revealing that whinging, we gave it a shot; a surprise letter in the mail from a loved one, the smell of fresh laundry, waking up thinking its a work day to find its a day off, Mum's roast and on and on we went, before we knew it we were interrupting each other to share our "happy" thoughts and there was a general feeling of sunshine in the air.

I often think of that discussion when I'm gloomy and dark and try to challenge myself to think of the more positive things in my life, and there are a-plenty people!

So here's some things, all food naturally, I'm loving at the moment;
1. Prunes: The bff is a huge advocate, I've been on the fence saying dates are better but I'm a recent convert - love them
2. Pears: I've recently re-discovered my love of the humble pear, bananas are crazybucks in Australia at the moment so I've been broadening my usual apple and banana habit, I'm a big fan of pear and cheese sandwiches
3. Chickpeas: On pretty high rotation in the House of Landsoftly - if this recipe doesn't do it for you, you be crazy
4. Oatmeal luna bar: sent from my special supplier, thanks Mr C!
5. Tuna: love this one, in oil with chilli, on my lunch salad, the oil acts as my salad dressing too
6. Amaretto biscuits: there is no reason to explain - marzipan in a biscuit, delish!
7. Brussel sprouts: love them steamed with a dash of butter and sprinkle of salt
8. Flat white: I have to put this on the list, after realising how good Australian coffee is, I shall never take thee for granted again
9. Arnotts Royals: don't judge me, I know they are rotting my teeth, brain and stomach with their simple sugar stupidity, but who can resist a biscuit topped with jam and marshmallow all dipped in chocolate? not me, love love love
10. McVities digestive: I'm just getting it all out there, I'm a biscuit and tea lady, I blame a fellow fibre lover for getting me addicted to these, the crumbly texture is just devine, they are even better when dipped in chocolate (but what isn't)

So there you have just a few of my gustation obsessions. Hope you're all well out there.
R xx