the adventures of melly; sans sugar

A year ago, if someone had suggested that I “quit sugar” I would have literally dropped to the floor and rolled around laughing. Me, the eat-a-full-bag-of-gummy-bears-maybe-two-in-one-sitting, quit sugar? Yeah right! But after reading Sweet Poison and being kinda obsessed with Sarah Wilson’s blog and books and instagram for a while, I thought it made complete sense to join her I Quit Sugar (#IQS) 8 week program (#IQS8WP) when it came on offer. When I say sugar I mean fructose. The evil stuff that effects and is processed bio-chemically the same in your body whether its from a can of Coke, a handful of peanut M&Ms or from fruit.

So, how’s it going? you might ask….

Week 1

Piece of cake, well not literally of course, is what I thought when I read the weekly newsletter that included all the details for the first week ahead; meal plan, shopping list and big Sunday cook-up. It actually was really enjoyable to have someone else plan out the week’s meals and they were damn good! I can’t begin to describe how delicious the Paleo Inside-Out Bread is. The Sunday Cook-Up was fun! So much food that I had to set up guard to save Jay eating it all! And the aromas wafting out of my kitchen…think whole roasted chicken, pumpkin & sweet potato puree, 2 loaves of paleo bread and paleo muesli.

The instructions were to gently & gradually wean myself from the sweet stuff; ditch sugar in my coffee (1 point for Melly; I dont take sugar in my coffee), eat a piece of whole fruit instead of drinking a glass of juice (1 point for Melly; I generally dont drink fruit juice unless Jay’s BFF comes to stay in which case I buy almost every version of expensive juice under the sun because that’s our Husbands-BFF-and-wife thing) and opt for whole-fat dairy instead of skim because manufacturers add sugar to low-fat dairy to create the same full-fat flavour. I know. Bastards! (0 points for Melly but ditching the skim I would go!).

my rendition of Sarah Wilson's Paleo Inside Out Bread YUUUUUM!
my rendition of Sarah Wilson’s Paleo Inside Out Bread YUUUUUM!

Week 2

This is where it got interesting. (1) No fruit for 4 weeks! To baseline our no-sugar-bodies so that we can reintroduce later. (2) Make better alcohol choices ie: a glass of red instead of my precious sparkling (WTF?!) and strictly no fizzy drink mixers like Coke or Lemonade (no issue there, yuck!) or dessert wine, which actually was harder to ignore than I expected as I went out to dinner with friends and they all shared a really nice, expensive bottle of champers AND dessert wine. Dammit.

But my face looked thinner and I felt less bloated. And the paleo muesli….oh the paleo muesli…..

beautiful little clusters of deliciousness; paleo muesli
beautiful little clusters of deliciousness; paleo muesli

Week 3

Okay. So I might have had a little slip. Maybe a big slip. My darling best male friends, King & Dobbo, have been feeling a little stressed about our upcoming separation from them (you’d think we were moving countries and not just a little apartment move 15 minutes away), so they’ve been saturating themselves in our company. We had a Friday night out dancing (champagne), Saturday dinner out (more champagne and I may have had a scoop of icecream floating in a shot of Frangelico),  mid-week dinner at their place to help them choose a feature wall paint colour (yet more champagne, this time a fancy bottle of Perrier-Jouët that they had been saving to give me on my birthday in October) and then breakfast on Sunday which was more like brunch which involved a brioche beef burger. Grains AND sugar. Save me Jebus.

my fave men; Dobbo, Jay & King
my fave men; Dobbo, Jay & King

That gets us to Week 4…

Today, quite literally, I would murder my own grandmother for a giant gummy python. Let’s put it down to me coming off an epic crash from last week and the fact that week 4 includes a 5-day detox from all that is good in the world ie: no fruit, coffee, alcohol, grains, and did I mention no coffee??? Did I also mention that today is Day 1 of Week 4? Did I mention no coffee or alcohol? Oh, how will I survive…

On the upside, this is what I had for breakfast – jealous?

paleo bread with avocado & feta smash and a poachie
paleo bread with avocado & feta smash and a poachie

So, this week, amongst the stress of packing, moving, going to my night course and preparing for some upcoming weekend project changes, I will be getting back on track. No grains (yay for Happy Paleo Melly!), no caffeine, no fructose & no debauchery of any kind.

Hope you have a great week too!

my delightful IQS book
my delightful IQS book

 

 

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tightening the reins

Remember my New Years Resolution? Well it’s now March and I’m finding general life & eating fairly easy with the paleo way, however, I have noticed a few too many paleo treats creeping in and portion sizes creeping up, so I’m reading and listening to podcasts to realign myself. I have also let my regular intense exercise regime slip; mostly due to my ankle injury flaring up a bit but also because I’ve just been a little slack.

Time to tighten the reins!!!

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ready to run | week of health & fitness

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For today’s post I thought I’d borrow something from Australian Women’s Health magazine Running Guide from their July 2013 issue.

Before I started 12WBT I couldn’t run 500m let alone 5kms. Although I now scale back and forth with the length and frequency of my runs, for some people running is an exercise that comes naturally and for others it can be really daunting. My friend and work colleague Phil is an insanely good runner. He naturally balances his eating with his exercise and has a runners body to prove it. This is a man who regularly knocks out 10kms in his lunch break in 50 minutes! My ultimate goal is to go running with him one day!

*********all text below from WFH mag*********

Haven’t run since high-school athletics? No sweat. (OK, well a little.) This workout plan designed by coach Jenny Hadfield, co-author of Running for Mortals, will help you build from a walk to a run. By the end, you’ll be able to run 30 minutes without stopping – and you’ll be showing off a rock-hard body under your shorts. Whether your goal is to run 5km or 10km, or drop some extra kilos, in one month you’ll be well on your way.

Your Plan: Run 30 minutes in 4 weeks

For all weeks:

  • Warm Up: 3 minutes. Start easy, progress to a power walk
  • Cool Down: 3 minutes. Gradually dial your pace down to an easy walk.
  • Frequency: Perform running workouts 3-4 times a week, every other day.
  • Cross Training: Add a total-body strength-training workout, and either yoga or pilates on 2 of your days off.

Week 1 – Get Outfitted

The two most important items of gear a runner needs are a supportive, high-impact sports bra and running shoes. Both can be found at your local running specialty store. Make sure they fit well: a poorly fitted bra can reduce breathing capacity and make your run feel more difficult. The wrong shoes can give you shin splints, knee pain and a host of other issues. Get fitted by the experts for these items.

Week 1 Runs

  • Warm-up
  • Run 2 minutes, walk 2 minutes
  • Repeat 7 times (28 minutes in total)
  • Cool down

Finish with Flexibility

Just 5 minutes of stretching and muscle-release exercises after your run is enough to maintain a healthy range of motion in your joints – and prevent tight muscles, which can lead to inefficient form and injuries. Use a foam roller to loosen up your shoulders, hamstrings, quads, calves and iliotibial bands (outer thigh). Also take a minute to stretch your chest and your hip flexors.

Week 2 – Monitor Your Breathing

Your running pace or speed ca vary every day because it’s based on a lot of variables: how you slept, food intake, stress, your (female) menstrual cycle, whether you went out last night…you get the idea. The easiest way to run at the perfect pace every day is to run by the sound of your breath. Take the talk test: if you can’t say the words to Happy Birthday out loud 4 times without gasping for air, slow it down. You should be able to hold a conversation while you run. Being out of breath and not being able to talk means that your running pace is too fast.

Week 2 Runs

  • Warm-up
  • Run 3 minutes, walk 1 minute
  • Repeat 7 times (28 minutes total)
  • Cool down

Think About Your Form

It’s normal to feel awkward during the first few weeks of running, even if you’ve run in the past and are starting up again. Begin every running segment on the right foot by thinking about good running form:

  • Head is balanced over your shoulders and focused forward, not down towards the pavement.
  • Shoulders are relaxed to allow your lungs to expand.
  • Arms are bent at the elbow about 90 degrees and swinging like a pendulum from your shoulders (elbows close to your body).
  • Hands are relaxed and not crossing over your belly button as your arms swing.
  • Hips are under your shoulders and stabilising your legs as they move under your body.
  • Feet are landing with short, light, quick strides under your hips.

Week 3 – Find The Fun

The best way to guarantee running success is to finish with a high-five moment. When you finish your workout feeling as if you can go just a little further, you feel a sense of pride, happiness and success – all of which lead to wanting to do it again and again. Running habits are created as a result of happy running moments, so try to keep it fun, rather than pushing yourself to the point of exhaustion.

Week 3 Runs

  • Warm-up
  • Run 4 minutes, walk 1 minute
  • Repeat 6 times (30 minutes total)
  • Cool down

Work On Your Stride

A common mistake that many runners make is covering too much ground with every step. That’s a bit like climbing stairs two or three at a time – it takes a lot more energy and the impact on your body is much greater. Aim for short, quick strides and a turnover rate (the number of steps you take in  1 minute) of 180. To figure out your turnover, count the number of times your left food hits the ground in 1 minute and multiply by 2. To increase your turnover, match your stride to music that’s about 180 beats per minute.  You can download mixes at this speed, and others, at rockmyrun.com.

Week 4 – Learn To Listen To Your Body

If you start to feel aches and pains that don’t go away after a few days, it’s time for active recover with lower-impact activities like cycling, swimming and the cross trainer. In most cases, minor aches will heal with a few days of TLC. Aches may also be a sign you’re pushing too hard. Ease up a bit, and you’ll continue to improve without injury.

Week 4 Runs

  • Warm-up
  • Run 5 minutes, walk 30 seconds
  • Repeat 6 times (33 minutes in total)
  • Cool down

Ebb And Flow

Running is like life: there will be rockin’ fun workouts and also runs that humble you. You’ll make the most gains when you run based on how you feel on any given day. On days when you feel great, take advantage of the opportunity to push a little harder or run a little longer. That way, when rough days come along you can ease back on the throttle and still make progress.

Week 5 And Beyond

Building your running regimen by adding 3-5 minutes to your workout time and decreasing your walking time every 1-2 weeks until you reach your goal.

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glowing green | week of health & fitness

The saying goes that 80% of abs are made in the kitchen. This means that after all the hard workouts if your diet isn’t clean the majority of the time you ain’t gonna see no results! (preach)

In a world of supplements and quick fix powders & shakes, what we really should be packing our body with is superfoods; foods that are nature’s dynamite and pack a large variety of nutrients into a small natural product. E.G. kale.

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I love to start my day off with a green smoothie.

I remember the very first one Jay made for me apon getting our Vitamix. The taste was very green. Like eating grass! And a little thick which made swallowing that more difficult but after a few more tries & tweaks it became addictive. You feel healthy drinking it.

So I wanted to share a few of my Instagram photos of my green smoothies and give you some guidance and ideas for making your own.

Note that you don’t have to have a Vitamix to create gorgeous green but you will need to blend the hell out of it to get a good smooth consistency.

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People at work do look at me funny when I’m carrying around my ‘to go’ bottle of the green stuff!

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My go-to ingredients are:
– coconut water
– kale
– cucumber
– celery
– apple or pear
– flaxseed or chia seed
– water to get consistency as required

But here are some other ideas I found via Pinterest (aaaah Pinterest!).

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Popeye would be proud!

♥♥♥

why you should drink more H2O | week of health & fitness

Can you remember the lines (aka nagging) your Mum constantly repeated when you were growing up?
Anytime my brother & I opened the fridge, like some kind of fridge-sensor, my Mum would yell from somewhere in the house “Have a glass of water”!

The average adult human body is 50-65% water,
so it only makes sense that we drink up!

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glowing skin¹

Water facilitates filtration in our system. It assists the kidneys to do what they do best and transport all the toxins out of our body. Top up your hydration with at least 1.5 litres of water a day (that’s 50 oz) and you’ll see the improvements in your biggest organ; your skin!

faster weightloss²

Weight-loss studies the world over agree that people who drink more water lose weight faster. This is probably because you’re filling that ‘hunger’ gap with zero-calorie fluid and not peanut butter cookies! Try drinking two (500ml or 16 ounces) glasses of water before breakfast, lunch, and dinner and you may get away with eating 75 to 90 fewer calories during each meal. Win!

it regulates body temperature³

After chasing birds & playing fetch for hours, Harley will find a nice puddle of mud or body of water to sink himself into to cool down. Pigs also wallow in mud to regulate their temperature. Much like our beloved pets and tasty animals (!) everyone knows that if you’re overheated, it’s important to drink water “but did you know that it’s even more important to drink it when your body is freezing? The risk of dehydration is actually higher in cold weather because your body is working harder to stay warm. Water regulates your body temperature while hydrating it.

say buh-bye to headaches

If I haven’t drank enough water throughout the day, by mid-afternoon I get a cranking headache and start to feel tired and crabby. Avoiding that feeling (and me if I was you!) is reason enough to hydrate! If you find yourself getting a lot of headaches, dehydration may be to blame. People who don’t consume enough water are more likely to suffer from cramps and other aches as well.

dotox your body

I’ve tried juice cleanses and the Lemon Detox Diet and not only do they make you ravenously hungry, they also mess up your digestive system while making you feel like shit. There really isn’t a need to take such extreme gimmicky measures if you’re eating cleanly (small portions, no refined sugar or starch and heaps of green leafy veggies) and drinking heaps of water. Can’t deal with litre upon litre of H20? Then add fresh lemon or green tea to your water. Help your liver flush out those toxins!

get things running smoothly

It’s not a topic most people like talking about, but I’m fine with discussing bowel movements! Lack of hydration leads to constipation which can lead to a whole host of uncomfortable situations (piles anyone?!). Consume enough water to keep things flowing smoothly.

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So how much water do you really need?

As a guide I think 1.5 –  2.5 litres (<0.7 gallon) is enough unless you’re exercising heavily or live in a really hot, humid climate. My brother who lives in Perth (where it’s on average it’s 32°C in summer) works outdoors and he drinks 6+ litres a day! But if you want something more scientific, here is a little calculator

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tasty & detoxifying
tasty & detoxifying

¹[while there are no published scientific studies backing up these claims, there are ‘before-after’ studies to support this]
²[here]
³[here]

gotta get up | week of health & fitness

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What gets you up and out the door in the morning for your early workout?

I know not everyone does their exercise in the morning, but for me if I don’t get it done before I go to work, chances are pretty slim that I’ll get it done later in the day. Exercise guru Michelle Bridges always says that it doesn’t really matter when you workout, as long as you do it, but it’s better to do it first thing in the morning before “life” gets in the way. I agree!

I get up in the morning for 2 reasons;

  1. because my love of food means I have to workout.
  2. because I have a little dog named Harley who needs to go for a run before we leave him for the day, otherwise we’d come home to a house destroyed!

I’m lucky that I live in a beautiful suburb where my morning jog is along the gorgeous Sydney harbour. I don’t take my iPod because I love the early morning quiet. It’s just a time to detox from the busy city life.

Here are my top tips to make getting up at the crack of dawn just a little bit easier:

  • go to bed early. It’s almost impossible to get up at 5.30am if you’ve only had 6 hours sleep. I make sure I’m tucked away in bed by 10.30pm. That means that the TV is off by 9.30pm!
  • layout your workout gear before going to bed. It’s way easier to fumble around in the dark (and the cold in winter) when your stuff is on the floor next to your bed.
  • prep your breakfast and lunch the night before. That way your when your workout is over, you’ve had a shower and gotten ready for work, your breakfast is easily prepared and you can grab your lunch and head out the door. On schedule!
  • have a backup plan so if it’s raining you can still workout; at the gym, with a workout DVD in your lounge room or like me, out the door in a raincoat!

Hope this helps you on your workout tomorrow!!! And I’ll leave you with a few photos of the views I enjoy on my early morning workout adventures… 

chasing pavements
chasing pavements

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nothing but fog....winter settles in around the harbour
nothing but fog….winter settles in around the harbour
before sunrise; a view of the city
before sunrise; a view of the city
after sunrise; a view of the city
after sunrise; a view of the city
welcome sailors! a cruise liner on it's way into port
welcome sailors! a cruise liner on it’s way into port

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view from Barrangaroo
view from Barrangaroo
my little workout buddy; Harley
my little workout buddy; Harley & his stick

Happy Monday!

a week of health & fitness!!!

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get ready for it!

a whole week of health & fitness posts

something to motivate and inspire you (and me)
and get us both moving!

it’s winter here in Sydney and I’m starting to use that snooze button a little longer than usual. lucky I have Harley who helps get me out of bed while it’s still dark but I’m always on the lookout for inspiration.

whether it’s scrolling Pinterest, reading fellow bloggers food & exercise posts or dog-earring fitness magazines, I thought I’d dedicate an entire week to motivating us all to eat a little better and exercise a little more!

watch out for the first post Monday 17th June

weekly fitness roundup | week 1 | 12wbt

You know that feeling of accomplishment you get from sticking to a punishing schedule? Yes?!!! Well that’s what I felt like this past week being back on Michelle Bridges’ 12 Week Body Transformation program.

My calorie intake is capped at 1200 per day
&
I am doing 6 days training per week.

Here’s my round up….

Monday:

Monday
Monday workout

6am outdoor training session; interval walk/run, running stairs, steps-ups & abs.

brekkie - banana bruschetta
brekkie – banana bruschetta
dinner - fish with chickpea, tomato & spinach salad
dinner – fish with chickpea, tomato & spinach salad

My BFF Gracie stayed the night & loved this dinner too! We’ve committed to doing the 5km Color Run in May in Newcastle! Isn’t she supportive?! Can’t wait!

dessert - fruit jelly
dessert – fruit jelly

Tuesday

Tuesday
Tuesday workout

6.15am Body Pump class at the gym.

brekkie - apple muesli
brekkie – apple muesli
steak with green beans & mushroom sauce
dinner – steak with green beans & mushroom sauce

This is one of my fave meals! The sauce looks creamy but it’s made of Philadelphia extra light cream cheese for cooking, dijon mustard & mushrooms – and only 283 calories – yum!!!

dessert - fruit salad
dessert – fruit salad

Wednesday

Wednesday
Wednesday workout

6am outdoor interval walk/run & abs

brekkie, coffee, dinner & dessert
brekkie, coffee, dinner & dessert

brekkie – avocado & eggs on toast
dinner – potato, spinach & feta frittata
dessert – fruit jelly

Thursday

Thursday workout
Thursday workout

6.15am Pump class

macchiato & brekkie
macchiato & brekkie – avocado, beans & rocket on toast
dinner & Valentine's Day dessert
dinner – beef with avocado & corn salsa & mini-cheesecake bite for Valentine’s Day dessert

Friday

Exercise Rest Day!!!

brekkie, lunch & dinner
brekkie, lunch & dinner

brekkie – banana bruschetta
lunch – mushroom frittata & salad
dinner – pita pocket pizza

Saturday

Saturday workout
Saturday workout

The aim was to burn 1000 calories but this tough workout got interrupted by a thunderous storm that forced us shivering & completely drenched, in white t-shirts, running the 1.5kms back to the car!

brekkie
brekkie – eggs, ham, tomato, cottage cheese & spinach
lunch
lunch – pumpkin, avocado, chickpea salad
dinner - Japanese
dinner – Japanese

Sunday

Sunday workout
Sunday workout

Body Balance class. Jay even came with me & loved it!!!

brunch
brunch – coffee & pumpkin, walnut & chicken salad
dinner
dinner – homemade beef burger & wedges

Keep training hard!!!