Wednesday, August 29, 2012

My Inspire challenge.

Warning, you might need a nice cuppa tea or beverage whilst reading this post... I tend to go on a bit... all from the heart!

So, most of you know I do not need much incentive to do something fitness related for charity.  There is nothing more satisfying than completing a walk, run or triathlon knowing that you are doing some great fundraising and building awareness for charities that do such amazing work helping those in the community.  People who know me, know that I am passionate about helping others. I love that feeling you get of being able to give something back.

You will never know when you will need to utilise the help of one of the many charities that are around to help those in need.  We are always touched by stories of loved ones or friends and/or families that have dealings with cancer, cerebral palsy, down syndrome, multiple sclerosis etc and the animal charities that do great work from training animals to help those who have disabilities and cannot even do a load of washing on their own to rescuing animals that are in need.  So many charities I hear you say, so many people and animals that require assistance and need.  So many that need more awareness also.  You do not need to give to all, choose what is dearest to your heart and give either your time, your money or both. Share the information, teaching is vital to passing on that we can make a difference, even if you can only spare 1 hour a month or $2, YOU can make a difference. WHY you ask, because you can! 

Something that is close to my heart is mental health.  Dealing with mental health/illness is something we really do not openly discuss, it is still a taboo and most people think of crazy people, homeless people etc.  There are so many people out there (your friends, family, neighbours, work colleagues) that might not be dealing with things too well and have struggles with depression, anxiety etc this is all part of mental health.  To be mentally well.  Yes some people do have severe mental health problems and if not properly diagnosed, treated can lead to further issues.   I believe we all deserve to be both healthy mentally and physically - we go on and on about diets and losing weight and looking good but we need to concentrate and work on our mental health.  Talking about our issues and problems, no matter how trivial they seem.  It is hard to open up to people and admit that you might not be on happy street, but if you knew how many other people had the same issues, it would lighten the load just a little bit.  I am a big believer that if you get everyone mentally healthy we wouldn't deal with as many issues with obesity, type II diabetes etc.  Healthy mind AND body. All so very connected.

Society puts so much pressure on us to be fit, healthy, good looking, financially stable and to have materialistic items as measures of our success.  If we are not married and don't have children we are failures to society apparently, what the?!  Who on earth made up these hideous expectations? Happiness comes in many forms and no one has the right to tell others that they are not happy!  You are the only person to set any expectations.  Setting unrealistic expectations just makes people stressed, unhappy and they get depressed and anxious. Many commit suicide. They didn't have a mental illness, they weren' t mentally healthy.  Some people truly believe they cannot cope and that they don't have any other choice.  I know most people see it as a form of weakness or disrespect, but until you have been there, you will never ever know.

On the outside I am always such a happy person, always having a laugh and running around like a mad woman but I have suffered anxiety and depression, I know what it is like to have those really low, low dark days, it can be quite debilitating.  First time I was very low/depressed I was living in London (that is normal right? I hear people ask)  I honestly thought I was because of the work I was doing at the time, at a hospital dealing with very sick patients on a daily basis, but I really was homesick from my family, friends in Australia.  The one thing that stood out from me was how quickly I just assumed in my mind the reason I was crying constantly and drinking myself to sleep most nights was, after many hours of counselling with the hospitals therapist I became aware that I was suppressing emotions and feelings and that really frightened me.  We can talk ourselves out of any situation and think we have dealt with things, but in reality we haven't, this can manifest and get out of hand for many people.  Even though I can talk the leg off a sheep (blame the Irish genes) I find it very hard to talk about how I am actually feeling, at my lowest I too felt that I  was weak and I didn't want to burden others with my problems. I am lucky that I was aware of this and I now know how to ride out those dark days or deal with things that make me anxious, I also can talk about it more opening with friends and family (most days).  But the one thing that really opened my eyes was that SO many people do not have the same help around them, they cannot reach for help, they often feel alone and isolated, even though this might not necessarily be the case to any outsider looking in. We need to let people know it is OK to reach out and ask for help.

Becoming a trainer originally was to teach others. Teaching them they can achieve whatever they set out to achieve, that they CAN do it. It isn't always about looking good, it is about feeling confident and in control of your body and mind.  To stress less, to relax and enjoy life instead of being stressed about diet, weight etc.  Exercise releases great endorphins that will help you feel better, sleep better and can help you adapt to any struggles that little bit easier.  Everything is connected.

So I got an email from the great people at the Inspire Foundation.  They are doing a Healthy Minds challenge, you can pick anything you like to challenge yourself to raise funds & awareness, I am mixing my love of exercise and helping charities by doing the 9km Blackmores Bridge run.   Thanks to my great friend Michelle Arnold for donating it to me! I may not complete the run in Michelle times but I will give it an awesome GO!  I am pumped, have gotten an email back from my physio with the all clear (and strict rehab regime to follow until them) for my knee issue!!! Yippee. So my link is below, please dig deep into your pockets donate a little happiness to others.  And if you are doing the bridge run and see me (will try get an Inspire shirt) please make sure I am still running!! Cheers.

Monday, August 27, 2012

No starving yourself!!

I seem to have interesting chats online or with people about nutrition & still so many people still believe that lowering calories to a really low level will help them with their goals! Maybe dropping muscle & a little fat on the scales but that isn't how you get healthier, fitter & stronger!

UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU ARE DOING TO YOUR BODY BEFORE YOU COMMENCE MAD LOW CALORIE DIETS. If you understood what you were doing, trust me you would NOT continue.

I hate the word calories! Most people don't have a positive feeling about calories (or a complete understanding of how they work). I prefer to use the word fuel for energy.  What most people forget is that your body requires a certain amount of fuel to function daily, for key body functions (heart beating, brain function, breathing) etc.  So reducing your energy/fuel to way below what your body needs IS NOT GOING to be good for you long term.

Stop worrying about the freaking numbers on the scale.  If you are HONESTLY eating good healthy foods (including FATS) and moving your body you WILL shed weight that you do not require. By all means use it as a guide, but you should know from how you feel, energy levels, your favourite black work pants or jeans. Mirrors are amazing things too. Trust yourself. What you put in your mouth reflects in the mirror.  Dropping weight fast is NOT good unless you need to loose over 50+kgs!!!

A simple challenge if you will, make 90-100% of your daily foods from the following list ONLY - good fruits(berries best, kiwi, passion fruit, etc), leafy & colourful vegetables, good sources of meats, fats from nuts avocado, coconut oil, nut butters, eggs, fish! Sweet potato is the main starchy carb (no white potato, no pasta, no grains, cereals)! 

Black coffee, water, black tea. NO soft drinks, limited alcohol & no sugar.

Reduce all processed foods!! Really limit grains & dairy (especially skim or diet products) Have full cream milk if you need it (for those avid tea drinkers).  I know I love my Greek yoghurt though, full fat a couple times a week).

Give up your two or three SKIM lattes a day!! Trust me, swap them for some healthy berries and nuts and a long black, you will notice the difference.

Having two skim milk coffee's a day is NOT good for you... so much sugar.  I prefer to get my calcium and healthy fats from 20 almonds.  If I feel like something sweet I will go for natural sources (strawberries, blueberries). I prefer 12g of fat that my body can utilise than 12g SUGAR. Give it a try, I used to LOVE my skinny latte and now I do not miss them at all. You have to change your mind to change your body.

Your body will take a while to adjust to NEW healthy habits. Give yourself a minimum 4 weeks. Give yourself time to plan foods, to plan when you will shop, when you will prepare foods - if you fail to plan, you will plan to fail. Simple. Schedule in your workouts and stick to them, you don't cancel work appts do you or other appts, same with exercise. Try something new (i have a few fab ideas on my bucket list)!

A fitness challenge to aim for click here.

Fresh foods is best.  Here is a great sample of yummy healthy delicious foods.  Smart choices.  Give this a go for the next few weeks. I bet you will feel amazing. Your body will wonder what took YOU so long to get on the healthy eating plan.  Here are some more of my favourites!!

This will stop the merry-go-round of putting weight on, dieting to loose it then putting it on again. Choose a healthy lifestyle and you will achieve your health & fitness goals.  

I didn't say it was going to be easy, but it will be worth it.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Donna’s Strength & Stabilization Session

Donna’s Strength and Stabilization Session 
(won Lean and Strong competition in Michelle Bridges 12 week transformation program)

Location   Indoor Gym or home with dumbbells
Duration   1 - 1.5hrs depending on breaks & fitness level. 

I would time yourself completing this and aim to reduce the time it takes to complete.  If you can only do 1 x through, that is fine, you have to start somewhere, you always have room for improvement.

Warm up on rower – 3 x 400m – aim for 2:20 split
Alternating with 10 burpees

Complete circuit below, aim for 3 x rounds, finish each exercise before moving onto next one, limited rest during each round

20 bodyweight squats *or dumbbell squat press with 5-10kg db*
20 pushups on toes or walking l
pushups on step/medicine ball

10 jump squats

20 walking lunges holding weight (5-15kg plate, 10-15kgdumbbell or 5-10kg medicine ball)
20 renegade rows with 4-8kg dumbbells (alternating arms, 10 each arm)  **see links below

10 burpees

10 jumping pull ups
10 tricep dips

10 plank to push up

Standing quad stretch
Hamstring stretch
Hip opener
Lower back stretch
Chest stretch
Tricep stretch

Why do you hate exercise? Is it all in your mind?

Why do you exercise? Is it to feel healthy,  get fitter and be strong? Or is it to lose weight.  If you are doing the same thing over and over again and not making any progress, why do you continue to repeat the same processes, time and time again?  If you saw a person banging their head against a wall all the time, wouldn't you stop them? 

What words do you think of when you hear "exercise", what emotions do you have attached with that word? Does it fill you with dread, anxiety or does it make you smile and feel good?  How you think about exercise will reflect on how you exercise.  

I have been noticing peoples reaction when I mention the E word, I would say in my rough calcuations that 90% of people roll their eyes or moan something about "not doing enough"!  Do you feel the same?  Why is that do you think?  Have we trained our minds to think that it is a negative thing, or is that just for some of us?  Do we feel we HAVE to exercise? 

Exercise - Activity requiring physical effort, carried out esp. to sustain or improve health and fitness.

You know you will feel better once you have trained, you know that your body appreciates you giving it a little physical training - so time to train your mind to think the same.   Your body has so much adrenalin to dispense every day, you just need to learn how to tap into it....  work out what do you LIKE doing? No point dragging your sorry ass to the gym to do spin three times a week if you hate it.  I guarantee you are doing it out of GUILT. Well stop it.  

Feeling guilty is something we all need to STOP doing.   Yes you will have your health & fitness goals but make them measurable, so you WILL achieve your goals.  Set your goals too big, you will fail. Simple.   Small goals to link into bigger goals will give you the confidence and courage to strive further, you will notice how far you have come and it won't be so daunting. 

There are so many ways you can move your body that will still be classed as exercise without having to kill yourself or your exercise mojo.    Try something different like finding walking tracks/bike tracks, swimming, dance classes, martial arts, indoor climing, fencing, team sports.  That will keep things interesting, nothing like variety.  Don't be afraid, ask for help or someone to show you, we don't all know everything do we?  But we can learn, I always like to be a sponge, absorbing NEW things, daily. I love it. It inspires me.

I love training outside!  In the warmer months I will be more outside than in the gym and you don't need a fancy membership to be able to mix up your training.  Having run bootcamps for the last 3 years I have noticed ONE thing, everyone loves that feeling of achievement, getting out of bed to attend bootcamp can be hard for most people.

So mix things up with your sessions - here are some of my favourite sessions that I can do indoors and can also take to the park with my ipod on for a good solid 45min workout.  You have lots of other stuff to do, do not make exercise longer than it needs to be! Quality over quantity.

Tabata training
Is a form of High Intensity Interval Training(HIIT) and involves performing 20 second intervals of all-out intensity, followed by 10 seconds of rest. This cycle is repeated 8 times, making the entire interval workout last only 4 minutes.   Choosing between 4 - 10 exercises (average 6-8).  You can download apps on the iphone which will count for you!  I highly recommend it, still works with your music... NO distractions.

My fav Tabata session I created
Rower or treadmill warm up (sprints)
Turkish getups or squats
Squats with medicine ball press (heavy med ball)
Tricep dips
Clean & press (with bar/weights) if outside sprints, hills or stair runs
Plank with side tap
Pull ups
V sit ups

Is an enhanced form of interval training, an exercise strategy alternating periods of short intense anaerobic exercise with less-intense recovery periods - good pumped up cardio.
A HIIT session consists of a warm up period of exercise, followed by six to ten repetitions of high intensity exercise, separated by medium intensity exercise, and ending with a period of cool down exercise. The high intensity exercise should be done at near maximum intensity. The medium exercise should be about 50% intensity. The number of repetitions and length of each depends on the exercise. The goal is to do at least six cycles, and to have the entire HIIT session last at least fifteen minutes and not more than twenty.

HIIT training - want to increase your running distance, try incorporating jogging with walking at different intensities. Adjust it to suit your goals.

Moving between a certain amount of exercise stations after 30 seconds, limited breaks in-between for a set time.   You can mix exercises between cardio and resistance training.When one circuit is complete, one begins the first exercise again for another circuit. Traditionally, the time between exercises in circuit training is short, often with rapid movement to the next exercise.

A good circuit training course works the different sections in the body individually. An example of a circuit may be.
  • Squat ups
  • Bench dips
  • Back extensions
  • Pull ups
  • Medicine ball chest pass
  • Bench lift
  • Inclined press up
  • Squat jumps
  • Compass jumps
  • Step ups
  • Shuttle runs
  • Bench squat
  • Burpees
  • Treadmills
  • Squat thrusts
  • Skipping
  • Sit ups (lower abdominals)
  • Stomach crunch (upper abdominals)
  • Back extension chest raise

Monday, August 20, 2012

Challenges from Vinyasa to Bike mini-bucket list!

The little things that you say you always want to try and never do, what are those little things?  Life is too short... I am going to cross a few of the easier (well easy to arrange) ones......  NO more excuses,  not enough time, too busy? Money? Pfft... work them into the schedule. I have decided to step outside my little comfort zone and try a few new things - see how they go!  Have nothing to lose and it will distract me from eating chocolate and drinking red wine (to achieve my health & fitness goals).  Nothing to major to start with.... I figure I do a lot already with charity walks, fundraisers, fitness events etc.

Incorporating fun activities into one's schedule....   will blog about these new experiences of course!  So many things on my list.. here are a few.... some are just fun things I have come across, others are fears (they will be more apparent)!

  • Bikram (Vinyasa) yoga
  • Baking/cooking healthy recipes (using online blogs, recipe books as guides)
  • Open water swimming (without hyperventilating)
  • Writing courses (to help with blogs, getting my brain used to writing... )
  • City bike riding courses (one is tres nervous on bicycle in the big city) to lead to moped courses...
  • Write a book
  • Book free Mac training (learning how to better utilise my Mac, especially iphoto)
  • Visit more Eco Grow markets & stalls to buy fresh produce, sharing details with others
  • Experience more walks in Sydney (besides the Spit to Manly, Bondi to Coogee) revisit Oxfam tracks
  • Trapezing (last visit was a mess, I was a wreck)
  • Move in with my gorgeous boyfriend, a house
  • Create a vegetable/herb garden
  • Adopt a dog from the RSPCA
  • Join the Big Sister program through the YWCA
  • Make macaroons
  • Return my hair colour to a more natural one
  • Go to Waterworld/Movie World
  • Go camping!
  • Eat dessert only at a restaurant
  • Photo-a-day of ME - September
  • Watch more Arthouse movies at Dendy
  • Get more ink!!
  • Re-watch The Bucket List

Friday, August 17, 2012

Why weight training? Want results? Add it into your training...

Weight Training - training with weights.  Many people are afraid of the weight's area at the gym.  It is a common fact.  I know when I train I am pretty much the only girl training in the weights section of most Fitness First gyms I go too.  Why? Because most women (and some men) still believe that killing themselves with cardio will give them the body they desire.


Cardio gets you cardiovascular fitter, by strengthening your heart and lungs. More blood flow to your body and it's organs.

Weight training will help you get stronger, build a strong core, stronger muscles, you will look leaner and also burn more bodyfat at REST. Yes people, burning more at rest.

Cardio and weight training work together to ensure you are fit, healthy and strong.

If your goal is to run marathons, then you will stick to training that will enable your body to run for long durations, this will include strength training (weights). You obviously don't have to do strength training to actually do a marathon but it will enhance your training.

Train for your goals. Swimmers, triathletes, runners all move differently and will adapt a training program to suit their needs.  But for most of us, we just want to be fit, healthy and maybe even feel good about your body.

Your body will adapt to any changes that you give it, but it is your head that stops you. The fear. Fear of  failure, falling over, embarrassing yourself stop so many people from achieving their goals.  Of course you aren't going to know exactly what to do in a weights area of the gym if you have never done weights before, your brain only knows what signals it has received from other training you have completed.  But you didn't know how to walk or talk at one point in your life, did you and how is that going for you now? You CAN achieve anything.

Keeping your bone density at a safe level you HAVE to do some form of resistance training, not running or cardio!!  Losing muscle will increase your risk of low bone density. No matter how much calcium you digest, your body stops laying down new bone in your 30's- you need to stimulate to lay down more -  muscles and tendons NEED to pull on the bones to be stimulated to produce more get the blood flowing through, regenerating the area, having healthy bones, it protects against falls and fractures as well improving balance and strength.  (falls and fractures aren't just for older people)!   Which promotes overall health and reduction of so many diseases!! Overall health people is our goal.

Do you want to have a fit and healthy body? More importantly do you want to have strong bones, strong muscles (don't think size, think strength) if you want to step forwards into your goals for fitness and well-being you will steam ahead with adding weight training to your programme 2-3times a week, easy.  

Quality over quantity.   Your body needs to recover to grow and adapt to changes.  Constantly pushing your body through its paces will slow down this process, you need to:-

FUEL - clean healthy foods, lots of fresh vegetables, lean meats, good fats and water!!
RECOVER - if you feel tired, run down, listen to your body. Eat well, sleep well, avoid late nights, avoid loads of alcohol, sugars, get a massage.... LISTEN TO YOUR BODY!
REST - full day rest one day a week MINIMUM (no active recovery)

Don't compare yourself to how others are training unless you know exactly what they are training for and where in the scheme of things they are up too! They probably have a different goal than you or are at a different achievement process, or they could be over training if they are doing like 10 classes a week!


I love a good circuit weights session when I really want to ramp up my heart rate and get some solid training in I will do super-sets and work opposing muscle groups (biceps/triceps) and then through in burpees or jump squats to increase the intensity.   Even when I am training a certain body part with weights I am in and out of the gym in 45mins. You don't have to spend hours on training, quality versus quantity!

So how to get started? Some gyms have great deals for PT so you can have a few sessions and get comfortable with the basics. Pump classes will teach you a few simple lifting techniques which you can practice on your own in the gym - you have to start somewhere!  

I love (bodybuilding site) they are so informative and you can really find out about training, read easy articles to get you started.  Check out this article!

Aim for 2 full body weight training sessions a week to get you started.... or you can split the training into upper/lower.  This is better if you are time conscious.  When the weights get lighter, put them up! You can do it!

My favourite splits are

Day 1 - Legs & core - squats, walking lunges, step ups, calf raises, deadlifts - warm up on bike or treadmill, do 1 warm up set lighter weights and then 3 sets of each exercise with 10-12reps.

I add core exercises in between sets ie
walking lunges
plank hold for a minute
repeat this 2-3 times
step ups (with handweights if you have strong balance)
calf raises
side plank holds each side 30 seconds

When you are doing your leg exercises with free weights this is working your core as your body has to stabilise to complete the exercise.  This is why I recommend you don't use machines when you first start out! Learn how to train your body and then incorporate these machines for a more isolated workout.

Day 2 - Upper Body - chest press on swiss ball, seated row, shoulder press, lat pulldowns, pushups, tricep dips, back extensions.

I would mix up the exercises something like this:
chest press on ball
alternate with seated row - complete sets and then do
Lat pulldowns
Shoulder press
Tricep dips

Is the weight too light? My rule of thumb is if the last 2-3 reps you cannot feel the burn, it is too light, DO NOT BE AFRAID TO GO UP, that is how you get results otherwise you are not challenging your muscles!!

If you wanted to do three days on the third day you can mix up the two upper lower, something like this

Day 3
chest press on ball
walking lunges
lat pulldown
step ups (with handweights)
tricep dips
step ups

Add one or two cardio/high intensity training days and you are done for the week!

Other reasons why weight lifting is good for you... read this article!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

So, about your body!

SO I have a question for you, would you like to be your ideal body shape or fit and healthy?  We talk so negatively about our bodies and punish ourselves far too much -  do these comments sound familiar?

"I hate my thighs"
"Does my butt look big in this"
"I wish I had a six-pack"
" She is so lucky she can eat what she wants"
"I wish I was skinny"
"I wish I didn't have tuck shop arms"
"I am too tired to exercise"
"I don't have time to train today, had a busy day and the kids....."

You get the idea.   We are never freaking happy! Something is always happening or "stopping us". There is never going to be a perfect time to commence any change in life, but you have to give it a crack.  I love that I have fallen down so many times in my life, because I am a stronger and more determined person for it. I can reflect back on those times when other hurdles appear and know that I will be able to deal with this because I have before.  I now believe in myself and I know I can achieve things if I set my heart, soul and my mind to it.  Some of us still choose to change our lives by thinking  fad diets, quick fixes, or overdoing it with countless exercise classes, give up and wonder why we bothered as nothing worked, did it?

Ahh yes... the whole "quick fix" and "I want it now" syndrome. Very common in western society, mostly among women.  We quickly drop our IQ because a magazine cover tells us that we can drop 10kgs in five seconds...  Think about the other areas of your life, your home, you work, do you sit down and research and plan for your job, business and home affairs? Why not your body and your mind? 

Did it take you that long to put the weight on or to get unfit? NO. Well sorry to be the bearer of bad news, it ain't going to happen that quickly either.  The scales BTW are NOT your friend. They will not show you your dreams. They will make you obsessed, miserable and feeling like you have failed (when you have probably been quite good in some respect).  If you cannot focus on anything else except those numbers on that scale, you need to bin them, now. You need to get your head into a healthier space about your body/weight. Because it isn't as simple as the numbers on the scale. They do not reflect who you are, what you have achieved, do they? 

Stand in front of the mirror every night before you go to bed and say three things you were grateful for today - they could be anything. This is to get you into a positive habit of saying good things about yourself. They don't have to be body related at all. They could be a) I had a great meeting with my manager b) I got the early train home from work c) I feel great after my session at the gym d) saw a great movie with Jane. You get the idea.

How you are is how you think. If you think positive, you will reap positive. Yes shite happens, but you know what, it happens to everyone, that is life, that is living, that is part of becoming stronger and more determined to be a better you. Another favourite message from the lovely Mish Bridges, is "stop being the victim". Be strong. Be proud. No more excuses or blaming others.

You are what you eat.  This takes time obviously to change how you feel within yourself. But notice the small things that happen when you start to take control and eat fresh wholesome foods and move your body - are you sleeping better, stressing less about stuff, is your skin glowing more, do you generally feel happy and more energetic?  It will take a few weeks to kick in, but start noticing the little things that change. Stop focusing on the BODY image so much. Fall in love with who YOU are and you will start to find the journey to getting healthier and fitter easier (is there another word for journey, really)?

What are the main reasons for not achieving your goals, in general?  Here are my reasons that I believe are stopping us from achieving our goals (to be fit, lose weight, run a marathon, learn how to hula hoop, whatever):

The fear of failing, the fear of trying something new and being out of your comfort zone, why are we so afraid to try new things, what honestly is going to happen to you? How do you think you will feel once you have completed the task you were afraid of?

 (I have visions of me out at Home bush on the trapeze, I so wanted to be calm climbing that ladder and jumping, why was I so scared, I wasn't going to drop to my death, but it still crippled me)

Fear of being successful - what happens if you do achieve your goals, you will be out of your comfort zone so far you won't recognise yourself, which is a positive thing, but it is still change...  which leads me to the next point...

Why do we worry how people perceive us?. We are so freaking worried about what other people might say or do that it can limit us. Why do we care so much about what people think about us?  Be that unique person in your life, be that person that people talk about, saying look what they achieved!  If they cannot handle it, then that is their problem and not yours. The issues they have with you are actually a reflection of how they see themselves, harsh but so very, very true.  Some people like to see you unhappy because it makes them feel comfortable, that is not healthy and you don't need to be surrounded by toxic people who do not support you 100%.

I learnt many years ago that whilst I have long legs I will never look or be like Elle MacPherson (I know I know, I was so shocked too, I used to do her aerobics tape and everything)!  Stop comparing yourself to others, they aren't you and you aren' t them.  You need to achieve YOUR goals for YOU. You will probably have to do things differently to others to achieve them, because you know what we are all different, our bodies and minds are the same but they are slightly wired differently! Some could have injuries, have food tolerances, allergies - you need to work out what you CAN do and focus on that... you might be surprised what you find out about yourself.

***I am not perfect, I don't want to be perfect, I am just me, comfortable in my own skin and need to just give myself that little confidence boost now and then to remind me that I too can achieve anything I set out too.

I need to tackle my fears just like the next person... so am thinking let's tackle them together.... what is your biggest fear? Discuss...

Monday, August 13, 2012

Healthy recipes for you to try!

I find being prepared (especially for breakfast and snacks) keeps me on my healthy eating plan! Here are some of my favourite recipes I have made up or found! Enjoy! Love you to share others you have created or found with the rest of the 10week team!  Food dosen't have to be fancy to make, no-one wants to spend hours in the kitchen. A couple cook up days a week and you are good to go, you will get into a pattern and have favourites that you cook time and time again. Add your own flavour to these also.I encourage you to share your recipes...

Egg Muffins
These are great for breakfast, lunch or snacks! They freeze well too.  You can bulk them up with any protein and vegetables that you like.

You can either use muffin tins sprayed with olive oil or put cupcake patties in the muffin trays or onto an oven tray.

*Do not overfill if you are just putting in patties on a tray, they might expand

Makes 16-20 egg muffins
10 -12 eggs whisked well (use whole eggs)
1 shallot
2 zucchini
3 big handfuls of spinach
1 cup  roasted capsicum (red and/or yellow)
6-8 slices of cooked bacon or sliced ham
Fresh basil
salt and black pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 180 degrees, grease with olive oil two muffin pans (or one at a time depending on your pan situation). Whisk all your eggs in a big bowl. In a food processor throw in the shallot, zucchini, bacon, and peppers and process until finely chopped but NOT smooth (yuck…).  Add this mixture to your eggs.  Throw your spinach into the processor and finely chop and also add to your eggs. Mix the egg mixture well and using a 1/4 measuring cup, fill the muffin pans Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the eggs are set in the middle. 
Allow to cool for 15-20mins before putting in fridge or freezer. I use glad bags and freeze two at a time, they are ready to go!  Serve with a green salad, avocado and homemade salsa! YUM

Baked eggs 
I so love this on the weekend or even a cheeky mid week dinner, if you have ramekin dishes these are perfect.... 

I use tinned tomatoes, mix with pref fresh herbs, garlic
Fry off some onion, chorizo (or bacon) mushrooms if you fancy, do not overcook
Mix in with tomatoes/herbs, place in ramekin dish and crack egg on top (two if dish fits)
Bake for about 15-20mins at 160degrees
Serve with avocado, salsa and spinach

Quick homemade salsa
  • 2 large ripe tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 large onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice
  • salt, pepper, and garlic (to taste)
  1. Combine tomatoes, onion, pepper and lime juice.
  2. Add salt, pepper and garlic to taste.
  3. Serve.
  4. Store fresh homemade salsa in the refrigerator.

Baked chicken, with paprika, lemon garlic (great for large batches for left overs)

500g - 1kg chicken breast or thighs (your choice, I love thighs myself)
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp chilli flakes/or fresh
2 cups fresh lemon juice
2 tsp garlic
Put 500g to a 1kg of chicken breasts (sliced in half ) or thighs (with skin, or without, your choice) in a oven proof dish.

Mix paprika, lemon, garlic into a paste and pour over chicken   Cover chicken with lid or foil.

Bake at 180degrees for 20-25mins, taking cover off for last 5mins.

*For something different, add chorizo and pineapple to the mix. Delish.

Turkey meatballs, tomato sauce (homemade or tins fine) with zucchini strips

I just love Nigella's recipe for turkey meatballs.  I take out the sugar and use fresh breadcrumbs.
Use fresh thyme when you can! Dried is ok.  This freezes great too!  Serves 4 people. Bulk it up and make lots... mmm.
Steam some zuchini slices, and serve.

Simple Curry
Seriously, the internet nowadays is a great resource, I have so many favourite links stored with recipes.  This one I started using this recipe late last year and found it easy, which should be the whole point of cooking. I always have coconut milk and curry paste in my cupboard - just add fresh ingredients depending on your mood! I love a red fish curry with green beans and sweet potato.  
* use light coconut milk if you want, Ayam brand is best. Don't be afraid to use full fat. serve with steamed vegetables or just have on own. If for lunch serve with brown rice.

 Baked Fish

When I get home from the gym and could eat a horse, this is what I whip up.

Put fish fillets (I use basa) on tin foil
Mix up soy sauce, ginger, garlic, chilli and a little lemon
Pour over fish fillets
If you have a bit of time, marinate the fish in the marinade for 10-15mins then put in oven
Bake in oven for 20-25mins or until cooked, 180 degrees
Serve with steamed vegetables (bok choy, asparagus, zucchini, broccoli) or with some sweet potato mash if you fancy.

Protein Balls

These are great if you really feel like eating bad processed chocolate or lollies - these are a great treat, you can make them and freeze them in sep bags and they will be a much healthier option.  I wouldn't eat daily.....

200g almond meal
1tbsp cacao powder (or cocoa powder)
10 dates (chopped super fine)
1 scoop your favourite flavour of protein powder (I love Tony Sfeir's natural or pea protein) choose one with low sugar and less crap added in.
Mix in a little water to get a good "ball rolling" consistency and roll in coconut.

Other quick meals that are cheap and easy to plan
** Bake sweet potato and other veggies to have with chicken and wild rocket (baked beetroot is great) have raw cauliflower with it and carrots
** Tuna, shallot and celery mixed with lemon juice, have with some baked veggies and/or spinach
** Blend up some fruit, coconut milk into a shake (berries, banana)
** Apple with almond butter (great snack)
** Almonds, blueberries (yum) great when eaten together... try it...
**  Kangaroo sausages (or lean meat sausages) on tomato and avocado for breakfast or snack

Fresh, delicious, colourful and easy to prepare dishes.  Do not be afaid to eat healthy foods everyday - do not starve yourself this WILL NOT make you healhier and fitter in the long run - just stuffs up your bodies metabolism and you want that baby firing with great fuel.

Dressing on salads, make them fresh with lemon juice and herbs. Have greek yoghurt with lemon, garlic, dill etc. Make things fresh. When shopping, stick to the outside of the supermarket except for cleaning products etc. Do not think that museli bars and packaged health foods are GOOD for you.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Kick starting your challenge..... nutrition tips - healthy eating

Being fit and healthy starts in the kitchen.  This doesn't mean you have to eat chicken and broccoli or bland food everyday, that is not living and experiencing great food.  You can eat healthy and still enjoy fabulous tasting cuisines.  Experimenting with recipes and finding a good dozen that you will cook or prepare regularly and you will start to create a healthy eating habit, it is this healthy eating habit that will make you feel healthier, have more energy, you will sleep better and probably find you feel better overall, your hair glossier, nails stronger, digestion has improved, skin clearer and even your clothes might become a little big on you.

My first rule is not to label food good or bad. Yes there is food that isn't the best for you & has zero nutritional value, but you need to get out of old habits of associating words with foods,  to create NEW habits.  If you just buy fresh foods and eliminate all processed foods from your shopping trolley, you will notice a difference.  Takes time and a little organisation and planning.  If you are organised with your food, preparing your snacks you WILL achieve your goal of getting healthy.

Second rule - don't think you deserve foods. You don't, I don't care if you have had the worst day ever or you have trained your butt of at the gym, you deserve only to fuel your body with healthy foods it requires to function, that is all. Period.  Do not reward yourself with food. You ain't a dog.   If you feel like a glass of red, have a glass of red, fancy a square or two of dark chocolate with your evening cuppa, then have it.  The world will not end.  You will battle those food demons, once you control them you will achieve your goals. Busting your gut in the gym and counting every little bit of food you put in your mouth, will drive you insane and you probably will find you ain't achieving your goals. Is that how you want to live your life?

I want you to be in control mentally, I want you to not have emotions attached to food.  This won't be fixed in 10 weeks but it will start to become apparent.  There is so much advice out there, so many plans, do this don't do that.... listen to what works for you.   Use this 10 weeks to learn about what you can achieve, not just about the number on those scales, but about who you are, and what you want. Break those habits, take down those walls, love you for you and know that you ain't perfect, who wants to be? You can be great, awesome and achieve wonderful things. You can.

So for the next 10 weeks, your first aim is to reduce/eliminate processed foods you consume.  It will be hard, but like every other challenge you have had in your life, you will succeed.  Do not make this to hard for yourself, will take a little to get used to, concept is quite simple but will take time to get used to, creating new habits to last a lifetime. You didn't become who you are overnight did you?  Takes time, patience and a little effort.

So you have seen my favourite meals to make:

These are simple using ingredients available from the store and they are quite varied.  You don't have to be a superwhiz in the kitchen.  Take time out to prep meals and trust me you will do well, I do two cooking days a week normally, I find freezing stuff works but I also know that if I get to work one day with NO food make up I know what I can have and eat clean still without thinking ahhh feck it today is just a bad day. No way.

Fresh vegetables, green leafy ones, different colours, eat them all. Refrain from white products (potato, breads, rice)

Fruit - blueberries, mandarin, apple, figs, strawberries, kiwi fruit, pineapple

Proteins - meat, kangaroo, fish, salmon, prawns, chicken, eggs, nuts (almonds, brazil nuts, cashews) non roasted nuts, raw.

Dairy - full fat products (less sugar than diet stuff) do not eat ANY diet products.  If you want to really notice a difference give up all dairy except yoghurt a couple times a week.  Long black coffees are the best & tea, took me a few weeks to get used to it! Taste buds prefer black

If you love muesli, make it yourself, have with 1/2 cup with yoghurt, seeds, nuts and fruit.

No soft drink, no diet products, no packaged goods. No frozen meals unless you cooked them. Allow yourself a glass or two of wine a week, some dark chocolate with green tea, or black tea.

So what to eat I hear you...  I know it is easier to have a suggestion of foods for meals... so here are some great things to eat.... you can eat them anytime of the day, your body doesn't know it is breakfast time, it just needs fuel.  So kangaroo for breakfast? YUM yes please.

Do not starve yourself. If you are hungry you need to eat fat and protein.  Do not just eat fruit on its own. Fat should be at least 30-50g a day from meats, proteins etc.  Your BODY will love you putting more fat into it for fuel - healthy fats!

Kangaroo, broccoli, brazil nuts
Omelette with veggies and protein
Fruit with muesli, yoghurt or coconut milk (you can do light version for this, ayam is great)
Egg muffins with ham/salmon
Boiled egg, ham,  quarter or half avocado

Fruit with nut butter or yogurt (Greek is best full fat, nom)
Avocado with chicken
Nuts (almonds, brazil nuts, cashews)
Baked apple with walnuts
Protein balls (will post recipe)
Protein shake (pea isolate is good) raw protein powder ok for shakes a couple times a week on the run.

Huge spinach salad with chicken, fish, prawns or any meat with beetroot, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, gherkins, onions - lots of colours
Left over dinners
Soups with veggies or baked chicken
Any Protein and veggies
Omelet with prawns and vegetables
Curry with coconut milk (beef, chicken) lots of vegetables, brown rice or quinoa
Shepherds pie with sweet potato mash on top
Baked fish and vegetables (steamed or baked)
Baked chicken, with paprika, lemon garlic (great for large batches for left overs)
Turkey meatballs, tomato sauce (homemade or tins fine) with zucchini strips
Cheeky scrambled eggs with smoked salmon (or tinned tuna, salmon) great for last minute dinner
Seafood and papaya salad (still reliving Thailand experience)

Soups, with chicken or fish, salads, bulk up with veggies
Beef burgers with mushrooms, onions on salad (no bread)
Protein stir fry with lots of vegetables, chilli, garlic, fresh herbs ( no pasta.rice or noodles)
Protein with sweet potato mash and steamed veggies
Spaghetti bolognase served on steamed vegetables or baked veggies
Roast meat with baked vegetables

Use coconut oil, olive oil to cook. Fresh herbs and spice to marinate foods, Lemon, Limes, chilli, garlic.  Yogurt with garlic and lemon juice is a great dressing.
No sauces, no salt (soy cause low salt)
Do not be afraid to cook with fat. Or eat fat. 
Do watch portion sizes - 100g protein for main meals. 10-20 nuts for snack. 100g yogurt. 1/2 cup brown rice, quinoa. 50g sweet potato or pumpkin.  Two servings fruit a day only (with protein.fat).
Lots of water, herbal tea, black tea and coffee. If you cannot have coffee black, dash of cream or full fat milk (soy or almond milk if you have those, try not to have too much of these processed products).

Friday, August 10, 2012

FITbyDons get fit & healthy challenge..... dare you!

What is your ultimate goal? Your Number ONE goal - to be fitter, healthier?  Great... but where do you start? That is a broad goal.Time to put thoughts into action.

Winter is hard, you know you should be eating better and moving your body a couple times a week but it is just so hard to get up in the mornings, it is cold, dark, wet, miserable - I totally get it!  You have your good days and some not so good days... you are human, you will have those days where you just think it is hopeless, so you go to bed and then continue the next day.

In about five weeks time it will be getting warmer and summer will be on it's way (we hope and pray) and you will all be thinking EEEEk beach body isn't ready... well time to get fit and healthy NOW! Put down that hot chocolate, step away from the stodgy dinners and get your body & mind ready for the warmer weather!

Let's work together to gain results - getting you feeling healthier, stronger and leaner!  Make you feel better, sleep better, reduce stress and also look great.

I know I am super keen to challenge myself, I hope you are too! Some of you may even be following another plan at the moment, there are some great ones (Mish Bridges 12WBT and 50-days No Sugar) if you have missed those or are stilll keen to challenge yourself, we can all get fit and healthy together - always nice to know others are going through the same struggles and challenges, together.

Where to start I hear you. Start today. Yes a Friday, yes near the weekend.  Get the wheels in motion, start thinking and planning today to get ready for Monday!

What you need to do, actions and planning are KEY: 

1. Write down your goals, ultimate goals. In detail. SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely)

MINE: To eat clean, healthy fresh foods 90% of the time, rid of all processed foods, be organised in the kitchen and have food prepped and ready for each week.  Follow my exercise programme 5-days a week to get stronger, end goal to do 10 full body unassisted chin ups. Rehabilitate my knees by completing assigned leg exercise 3 x a week as set out by physio to prepare me for surgery next year. Drop overall body fat to 19% (currently 24%) and increase muscle mass by 4kgs.  Oxygen covergirl photo to be sent in by October. LOTS of work to be done.

2. Plan your week out - when you have work, shopping, cooking prep, family activities,  plan it all out, so you know exactly what you have on this week, planning is key.  Some days things won't go to plan, that is life, but at least you will know where you are at. Plan red flag days (fabulous thing I learnt from doing Mish Bridges 12 week plan) write down those birthday parties, work drinks etc.  You can PLAN around them.

3.  Work out a rough meal guide for the week - list of fresh foods to make meals. Have a cooking day if you can and make healthy foods to put in the freezer, I will share some of my favourite bulk meal recipes that will help you feel organised and keep you eating healthy.  Check out some of my favourites here.

4. Measurements - how are you going to measure your success? I suggest weigh in ONCE a week, do your measurements with tape measure and also have your trusty jeans or black pants that you can measure by.  Take a before shot, DO IT, no-one likes the before shot, but I guarantee you you will be so glad you did it when you put it alongside your AFTER shot in about 10 weeks time. 

5. Rewards - how are you going to reward yourself for your fabulous achievements? Put money aside each week into a kitty and you can do a pamper day, have a manicure, massage, new dress, new shoes... whatever YOU feel like you would love to reward yourself.  NO FOOD rewards... 

6. Positive people - tell a close friend or someone that you can trust for support, some people will try and sabotage you, this is to deal with issues they are having, so just brush it off. People will want to give you cake, tell you that you are fine the way it is... it is your goal remember, so stick to it.  Do up a visual board, cut out pictures of people or things that inspire you, put it up near your bed, on your fridge, this constant reminder will keep you positive.

Join  Facebook community
Follow me on Twitter and use #Fitbydonschallenge

Blog topics to come:
Healthy meals and snack recipes
Weight training exercises - beginner, intermediate, advance
Core strength, how it enhances your training
Importance of rest days
Why Sugar is bad for you!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Is that a cupcake?

You think you are plodding along all nice and healthy and BAM there is a pretty pink cupcake sitting there in front of you, everyone else is having one and you think "I shouldn't" - what do you do?  I ate that gorgeous sweet delightful cupcake with its high sugar content..... I had planned my sweet encounter. I knew it was coming.

It was GOOOD.  Enjoyed every sugar licking mouthful.  Why you ask, gasp?! Because I had been really good nutrition wise and training wise in the last two weeks since I got back from Thailand, managed to drop a couple kgs on the scale (beer & noodle belly, aka buddha belly) and just felt like a cupcake, with my nice long black. Yummy, delicious, scrumptious, get in my belly.

The positive thing is I haven't fallen off the healthy band wagon, I have just made the decision to have a little something sweet and enjoyed it. I still ate my healthy snacks for that day and trained like a mofo in the gym. This boys and girls I find works for me and keeps me from "binging".  I am not training for a comp, or Olympics (yet) I am getting fitter and stronger everyday, I can tell that from my training and my body shape in the mirror.  

The only person I have to answer to is me. I am human and thank god I am in a healthy mind space about food. We have cake for the next two days at work, but I have already had my little piece of heaven (helps being the person who is responsible for the ordering the cake, so I can work out what I like and what I can indulge in)! Plus I don't really worry about saying NO. People around here are used to me with my "strange" eating habits.

I don't count calories anymore, I don't worry about doing three classes back to back if I have chocolate, I just make sure the chocolate is yummy and made with natural ingredients! I track my nutrition intake to pretty much keep an eye on my sugar and ensure I get enough fuel (I can funnily enough under eat some days).  

Who wants to live like that so restraint?  My wish for everyone out there, even the ones who do seriously have a good solid 10+kgs to lose, is that you are what you eat and think. Start thinking healthy, planning healthy activities with your friends and family, fill your cupboards with good fresh snacks and healthy meal plans. Allow yourself something a little naughty once a week (not a cheat meal or day) no cheating here or binging! Prepare for it, so you will enjoy it, keeping you being on track the rest of the week. If you fall off, well get up and dust yourself off and get back on the healthy wagon, it should become easier and just part of your lifestyle.  Learn NEW healthy eating patterns, learn what to buy from the shops, where to get fresh cheaper produce and have a good solid list of quick and easy recipes.... it will take over the old habit and be your new healthy habit. DO IT.

Do not give yourself the opportunity to be sabotaged by yourself or others. What do YOU want to achieve. Stand on your two feet and say "No, I don't want that, but thanks for asking".  What is your goal?  We all know you ain't going to get the changes you want until you change.  So what are you waiting for?  

Monday, August 6, 2012

Overheard on bus this morning: when I lose "more" weight everything will just be better for me, I know it!

After hitting the snooze button three times this morning I trundled (trotted? toodled) to work on the #377 bus from Randwick.  The bus was packed and I had my earphones in but hadn't pressed the play (trying to juggle bags, gym and handbag) as I caught up with my morning social media networks (who was eating what for breakfast on Facebook and Twitter) it was then I overhead the two very young girls discussing going to the gym after work.

I smiled, thinking to myself "me too" and kept scrolling down my Facebook feed not really concentrating on the rest of the conversation until I heard "sometimes it is just so hard, you know, trying to lose weight"! I think at this moment I turned my head to the left to actually check out the bodyshape of the young girls - slim, slender.  (So glad I had my fake Prada sunnies on from Thailand so they couldn't see my eyes).... then her girlfriend responded with " I know when I lose more weight everything will just be better for me,  I know it"!

I just wanted to lean over and slap these two 24-year old something girls! They have so much in life I am sure, they looked healthy and well dressed, no doubts have great jobs somewhere in the city and still they are still talking about their image, like being underweight and having spaghetti arms is going to be the big saviour, that once they get to their ideal weight (god knows what they weighed, around 50-53kgs?) that everything will just fall into their laps? That being skinny/slimmer than they are now is the answer to everything? 

Now alarm bells rang when she said the word  "MORE"... when I lose more weight... now she could of very well lost you know 20 or 30kgs previously, but you could just tell that it was more likely 1-2kgs... I have trained girls like this in the gym...

This is the point I put on my headphones and starting drafting this blog post.   The message still seems to be very loud and clear - you are not accepted or successful unless you are skinny! Arrghhhh.  I know not every girl thinks the same but I guarantee you this, there would be many young girls who would say the same thing, guaranteed.

So lets get THIS message right

Strong is the new skinny, healthy is the new skinny......