January :: focus on health

So 2015 is my year to Focus on Life. Every month I will choose a different area of life to focus on, with a list of things of like to achieve.

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January is Focus on Health month.

Here are my commitments:

Ditch coffee. I haven’t had one for a few days now and they were intermittent before that. I don’t like how coffee makes me feel like such a slave to it. I hate how addictive it is, I worry about the chemical load (coffee has one of the highest pesticide doses of all crops) and I don’t think it does good things to my sleep.

Do another Whole30. I’m starting on Jan 8th after our family holiday, but have already cut down on snacking and increased the nutrient density of my meals. I felt ah-amazing during and after my last Whole30 but Christmas kinda got in the way. It was by far my least “treat”-filed Christmas but I’ve still managed to put on a couple of kg and definitely feel more sluggish.

Drink 2L water a day. This may just be my most difficult commitment. I really struggle to drink enough fluids, even when it’s hot.

3km or 30 minutes every day. I saw this on Pinterest the other day and think is a great way to ensure that I just do SOMETHING each day. The 30 minutes can be anything: yoga, Pilates, strength training, jumping on the trampoline, kayaking, whatever; it just has to be some kind of movement. And the loop from our house around the bay and back again is 3km so that’s convenient. Over the month I plan to increase my running distance to 5km a few times a week but I love that 3km is an achievable minimum.

Go to bed by 10pm.
Did I say drinking enough water would be my biggest challenge? I think this might actually tie on first place for most difficult commitment to keep. The kids go to sleep so badly at the moment that those precious couple of hours after they finally go down are really hard to let go of. Still, as long as they’re waking at 530am, and as long as MasterL continues to wake overnight for a feed, the more important getting an early night is.

So there you go, my Focus on Health commitments. Have you made any health related goals this January?

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new year, new focus

New Years Day. Don’t you just love it? A fresh start, an empty book, a whole lotta inspiration and potential. New goals, new habits, new opportunities. No excuses, no baggage, just a whole lot of magical new yearly focus.

focus

Every New Years Eve T and I write a list of goals for the year. We have a book especially for these yearly lists. We don’t open the book throughout the year, just crack it open on the 31st over a glass of wine and tick, cross or give half marks against each point. Then write another list. It’s amazing how many we ticked off this year without really thinking about it.

Still, I love a good challenge.

When skulking around the interwebs they other day, thinking about coffee, I discovered Leo Babauta’s A Year of Living Without. He cut out one thing a month for twelve months in a bid to make More Room for Life. At the end of each month he would evaluate how he went and whether or not he would continue with the omission.

I am a total challenge junkie AND am in the process of saying goodbye to coffee, so straight away this appealed to me. I told T about it and then spent the rest of the day thinking about things to give up, yelling out as they came to mind…

“A month without spending!”
“A month without nasty chemicals!”
“A month without iPhones!”
“A month without technology between 7pm and 7am! ”

With each exclamation T would chuckle/scoff at me. “Why can’t you just make changes?” He asked. “Why do you have to turn everything in to a thing?
“Where’s your sense of adventure Bootz?”

Despite my outer enthusiasm, by that stage I was internally clutching at straws trying to come up with twelve things to ditch. I’ve already quit sugar. I eat very few grains/legumes/dairy. I couldn’t manage a month without meat. Sex? I’m pretty sure I’d be disowned (although, let’s face it, we have been married seven years and had two kids under two… A month without is probably not unheard of).

I thought maybe I’ll just do six months, but that just seemed half arsed. Then I was trying to come up with clever opposites to things I wanted to do, for example a month with out sedentary-ness (exercise every day), a month without stress (meditate every day), etc… But it all started to feel a bit negative on it.

It was then that T suggested that I read The Happiness Project and maybe try and create something a little more tailored to me. I’m only a couple of chapters in though and somehow it’s already January 1st, so in the interest of beginning as I mean to go on, I’ve just planned a few months worth of focus points and i’ll create the rest as I go on.

focus on life 2015

Every month I’ll focus on a different aspect of my life, with specific tasks in each and at the end of the month I’ll consider the impact and make a decision about continuing on with the changes or reverting to how we did things before.

January = Focus on Health.

  • Ditch coffee
  • Do another Whole30 (I’m starting on Jan 8th after our family holiday)
  • Drink 2L water a day
  • 3km or 30 minutes every day
  • Go to bed by 10pm

 And with that, I must be off… It’s 9:42pm; I can’t break my own rules on day one!

Have you set any goals for the new year?

Happy New Year to you and yours. I hope your 2015 is a cracker. xx

 

Six reasons I’m giving up coffee in 2015

 ‘You can’t buy happiness, but you can buy coffee. Which is close.’

‘If you can’t say anything nice, you obviously haven’t had your coffee yet’

‘I am not addicted to coffee, we are in a committed relationship’

‘If someone tells you you drink too much coffee, ignore them. You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life’

addicted to coffee

Coffee has become SUCH a socially acceptable crutch. Many of us can’t get through the day without at least one cup, often in a takeaway vessel, which is usually single-use only and ends up in landfill. We start the day with coffee. We are nicer to be around after a cup of coffee. We make flippant sorry, very serious jokes statements about how coffee helps us to be better people.

Major presentation at work this morning? Scull a quick coffee before you go in.
Doing a long run this weekend? The caffeine will aid your performance.
Got a business meeting planned? Schedule it for the coffee shop down stairs.
3pm slump? No worries, grab another cuppa joe.

These days we are such coffee snobs! I don’t remember my first cafe cappuccino, but I do remember that back in the day it was most certainly a special treat and it’s froth was so thick it was akin to stiffly beaten egg whites. We moved away from Nescafe Blend 43 in the home, to Moccona or some other fancy brand, then plungers, stove top espresso machines and – if you were a real connoisseur- a nice Breville or Sunbeam bench top coffee maker in your home. Yee-ha.

These days there are domestic machines that will make a perfect cup with the touch of a button (or the puncture of a pod, don’t get me started on those). We walk around with paper cups (or stainless steel, BPA-free plastic or tempered glass reusable cups for us greenies) permanently attached to our hands. We buy 250gram packets of beans and grind them ourselves to ensure maximum freshness and flavour of our favourite brew. A quick yellow pages search revealed 993 cafes in Surry Hills. We know which do great coffee and which ones are rubbish, then plan our days and our routes around such venues. If we don’t know where to get ‘great’ coffee, there are apps to help us decide. Alternatively if you don’t have an iphone, just keep an eye out for a bunch of cyclists. They’re a pretty good indicator.

I’ve given it up so many times now; sometimes for a week, sometimes a month or two. Each time I do so well and then somehow I just get sucked back in to the warm and toasty coffee-haze.

Coffee is entwined in our social culture and it binds us together.
It makes us happier and less stressed.
It makes us feel human. Connected. Accepted. Normal.
Coffee is addictive.

It occurred to me recently (actually, a couple of years ago… this quitting business is a work in progress), if you need a substance to make you feel normal… It’s probably not that good for you.

Let’s for a moment consider the quotes I listed above, and then change them up a bit.

You can’t buy happiness, but you can buy ecstasy. Which is close.

If you can’t say anything nice, you obviously haven’t had your valium yet.

I’m not addicted to pot, we’re in a committed relationship.

If someone tells you you drink too much alcohol, ignore them. You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life.

Coffee is a drug, man!

It produces feel-good hormones that tell your brain you are happy, and life is wonderful… Until you don’t drink it, then you suffer headaches, anxiety, stress, have difficulty concentrating and feel as though you are walking around in a fog…

Which is where I was a week or so ago (after 2 days with no caffeine), until MasterL woke up at 10pm and didn’t go back to sleep until 2am and then I was just. so. tired. that I couldn’t possibly get through that next morning without cawfeee. Oh, dear cawfee…

So here’s why I’m giving it up. Again.

1. It costs us a stack of money we don’t really have. I don’t even drink that much (1-3 cups a day) but at $35+/kg for a bag of beans for home use, and an average of $4 per takeaway, 3 days a week, we spend about a thousand bucks a year on coffee in our household. For those of you playing along at home that have a daily takeaway habit, it’s $1000 just on takeaways, plus the contribution to landfill and ingesting questionable chemicals as you go.

2. I don’t like the idea of being dependant on addictive substances. If I neeeeed coffee, I really don’t need coffee.

3. I need to sleep better. When I did the Whole30 (and gave up coffee) I felt clear in the head and slept so much better. I had more patience with MissC and was generally nicer to be around. I had no energy slumps and actually woke up feeling energised.

4. It’s full of crap. I’m actively taking steps to nurture my body and rid our environment of toxins, and coffee adds an unnecessary (and enormous) load pesticide load.

5. It isn’t a mindful habit. Often I don’t even enjoy the ritual, I simply buy, walk, scull, forget.

6. I’m a bit flighty at the moment. I’ve always been a bit of a scanner, but I am having so much trouble just stopping and being. Given that caffeine increases stress hormones, maybe removing it will help settle me.

I’m just about ready to let it go… It’s been a few days since I had one and whilst the headaches seem to have passed, I’m still rather foggy and (according to T) quite moody (read: not nice to be around). I’m planning a variation on A Year of Living Without and my first month will definitely be coffee, so that I can try and break this habit for good.

Have you ditched your coffee habit? Was it hard? Will you ever go back?

it’s not brain surgery, and i like it.

Do you hear that?

Listen carefully.

That, my friends, is the sound of two kids sleeping.

It was a bit of a mission, and one that I nearly lost, but I got there in the end. MissC was easy for once. She fell asleep at the table while she was eating lunch. I transferred her to her bed, grubby hands and face and all, and there she remains. MasterL on the other hand… Just because his big sister was asleep didn’t mean he fancied the same. I gave him another half an hour and then lay down beside him til he fell asleep. No sooner had his eyes closed I jumped up and grabbed the lap top, drafted words pinging around my head just itching to get out. Turns out I got up just a little prematurely. As I walked past him he opened both eyes and grinned at me.

Nice try, mum.

Michael Darling

{image from pinterest}

But I won in the end.

And now I sit. I’ve had a crazy urge to write for the last week or so and now that I have ten, maybe twenty minutes up my sleeve I’m not sure I can do this. Not sure that I want to do it. Not sure that I know why, all of a sudden, I’ve been nearly obsessed with blogging again. I say “nearly” obsessed because of course I had to make the blog look pretty first, which took, what? Eleven million hours? But here I am. Sitting. Writing.

Waffling. Let’s call it what it is.

I returned to work a few weeks ago. Not nursing, which is strange. I’m doing editorial research and coordination, social media management and advertising stuff for an Australian blogger. It’s a three-day a week gig and I enjoy it. One day a week in the city, two days a week spread out at home. Great work-life balance, nice to get out of the house, nice to be with like-minded individuals. Like I said though, strange not to be nursing.

Yesterday I got myself into a tizz. I miss-timed a deadline and felt as though I was going to make a mess of things. I’ve recently taken over the electronic newsletter at work and I’m still pretty slow with it, so it took way longer than I thought it would. I had emails from my boss wondering where it was, was it ready, and I got myself into a bit of a funk, certain that I had stuffed up.

Although I hadn’t ‘gotten in trouble’ I felt like a little girl who had been scalded and I was just waiting to be subjected to a talking-to when I walked into the office. What am I? Five years old?

It occurred to me, as I walked along, that I was worrying about AN EMAIL NEWSLETTER.

I hadn’t mis-timed a treatment that would have detrimental effects on someone’s health. I hadn’t forgotten to press ‘approve’ on an order that would distribute food to thousands of starving kids in Africa. I hadn’t lost track of time and left a kid in a hot car. I hadn’t even missed an antibiotic dose for my pooch. Whilst there was a potential risk of my boss looking un-professional on some level, there was still time before it was to be sent out and at the end of the day it was still *just* a newsletter.

So I dusted myself off, high-tailed it to the office, put my head down and finished the job. In time. With no detrimental effects. No starving kids. No worries.

My new job is different to my old. I have much to learn and am enjoying the change. It’s not brain surgery, but I like it.

Jenn x

PS, I got 30 minutes before the kiddies woke, in unison, and climbed all over me, demanding attention while I finished. Back to my other, most important job xxx

(nearly) Niçoise salad

When we lived in the mountains we belonged to a fresh food co-op and got 1.5-2kg of fresh seafood for $40 every fortnight. The selection was seasonal and varied; whatever was swimming that week that could be bought for a decent price. I admit there were times when we had a backlog of fish in the freezer but for the most part we enjoyed trying a bunch of different types of seafood and preparation styles.

Since moving to the river we’ve had fish & chips far too many times, but I can count the number of times that we’ve purchased fresh local fish on one hand (with fingers to spare).
Doing the Whole 30 may add a bit to your fruit and veg bill expenses, but in our case it has drastically cut the amount of moolah that we throw away on eating out . Don’t get me wrong, eating out can be a wonderful sensory experience, but when your sensory experience consists of hearing your baby bang on the table, seeing your toddler escape from her seat more times than you can count, smelling your meal for far too long because you are too busy feeding/entertaining/wrangling to taste it, tasting the bitter disdain that fellow diners have for you and feeling like none of it was really worth the $50 you just dropped on two coffees and a couple of steak sangas… Well, it’s not really worth it!! And now that I’m not eating grains/dairy/sugar/alcohol, finding a suitable eatery is near impossible.
So the other day we splurged and bought some fresh salmon. It’s been far too long since we’ve had fresh fish and whilst I baulked at the $35/kg price tag, I knew it was 100 times better value for money than a stressful meal out. I bought three fillets for dinner but we only ate two, leaving one lonely salmon steak for three of us the next day.
How do you make one piece of salmon serve three people? Turn it in to a salad of course! Based loosely on this recipe, we were all three satisfied and satiated. I give you my (nearly) Niçoise salad.
Salmon and sweet potato salad

Ingredients

  • 1 large salmon steak
  • 2 eggs, hard-boiled, peeled, and sliced
  • 2 small sweet potatoes, soft but not mushy (mine were baked whole that morning)
  • 3 handfuls baby spinach
  • 2 ripe Roma tomatoes, cut into eighths
  • 2 good handfuls of green beans, stem ends trimmed, blanched
  • 1-2 mini capsicums, sliced
  • 1 tbsp. capers, rinsed
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Vinaigrette
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp. fresh oregano leaves, finely chopped (or 1 tsp dried)
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Method
Preheat the oven or your BBQ (we used our weber) to 200C. Rub the salmon steak with a wee bit of oil and season with salt and pepper, then cook on a lined tray for 10 minutes. Let it rest for 5-10 minutes then slice it up. Arrange all the ingredients for the salad on a plate. Sprinkle some capers all over the salad, drizzle the vinegarette and you’re good to go.

Jenn xx

things i know :: the Whole 30 edition

On Tuesday I completed my first Whole 30 Challenge.

I feel so great, so on top of my eating, so much like I need to share a few things I know about my little one-gal, whole-food eating experiment.

Which is handy, because today I’m linking up with Ann from Help! I’m Stuck! for Things I Know… A weekly blog link up about, well, things you know. Funny that!

So here goes.

I KNOW that eating this way (real, whole foods for 30 days – no sugar, no legumes, no dairy, no grains) has made me feel better than I have in months.

I KNOW that for the first time in living memory, I went looking for a new pair of swimmers the other day and almost left the store with three pairs! It was actually a pleasant surprise to try on several pairs and have to pick the best of a good bunch, rather than the best of a bad bunch.

Speaking of appearance, I KNOW that my face likes the way I am eating.

I KNOW that I am far less sick than I would have been if I’d been eating as I used to when this bloody flu hit our household like a ton of bricks (though sadly I haven’t escaped the lurgy all together – much to my disappointment, but I am faaaaar better off than the rest of my clan).

I KNOW that I can now fit into both of my pairs of size 10, pre-pregnancy jeans.

I KNOW that I’m no longer constipated, no longer bloated, no longer unhappy in the belly.

I KNOW that I have kicked my coffee habit.

I KNOW that I have far fewer energy slumps during the day and no longer crave high-energy foods to ‘get me through the day’. In fact, despite the fact that Master L seems to be waking far more often overnight than he ever has before, I can function well during the day… yep, even without coffee!! … and I sleep well at night (around the waking).

I KNOW that I still have some food connections that aren’t great. On day 31 I tried one rolled oat cookie that T made for Miss C. They were healthy (so healthy that she didn’t go back for seconds, which is saying something for her!) – oats, dates, nuts, spices  and coconut oil I think – and even though I didn’t particularly enjoy the first mouthful I still somehow ate the whole thing. I know that oats do not fall under the ‘Foods With No Brakes’ category, which means it was the mere biscuit factor that had me going back for more (and more and more).

I KNOW that the above cookie incident was enough for me to not rush out and try any other foods that have been off limits for the last 30-odd days! I want to finish reading It Starts With Food first and then figure out how best to test drive some of my old foods!

I KNOW that said cookie incident is completely overshadowed by the massive food win that I had last week when I realised that I don’t actually have to eat everything on my plate – even if it is delicious.

I KNOW that eating this way is sustainable for me. I simply have no desire to slide back into my old habits.

I KNOW that I am super glad that I get Rhianna’s blog updates in my email, because without her I wouldn’t have known that TIK is now being hosted by Ann. Thanks Rhi x

Have a fabulous weekend!

Jenn xx


whole 30 days 22-28

I’m almost finished my first Whole 30!!

I had a couple of food wins this week.

Number 1:  I no longer feel compelled to eat everything on my plate.

Not even if I’ve made it. Not even if it’s delicious. This week I sat down to a scrumptious breakfast of parsnip, pumpkin and apple hash (inspired by this recipe) and I was enjoying every mouthful… Until all of a sudden I wasn’t. I realised that I was no longer hungry, put my fork down and stopped eating. It was like the  **i’m full**  light switch in my head was finally flicked.

What is satiation? Here’s a run-down about satiety and satiation from It Starts With Food by Melissa and Dallas Hartwig:

Satiety occurs in your digestive tract – specifically, in your intestines. When you’ve digested and absorbed enough calories and nutrients to satisfy your body’s needs, hormones signal to your brain that “I am well-nourished now”, which decreases your desire for more food.

This is based on actual nutrition and how long the food takes to be digested though so can take several hours for the message to get through.

Satiation is regulated in the brain and is based on the taste, smell and texture of food and the perception of “fullness”. As you eat, you perceive various sensations all of which send your brain status updates to help you determine whether you still want more… It is an estimate dependent on your perceptions, not an absolute measurement.

On Wednesday my satiety/satiation functions worked beautifully and I simply stopped. eating. when. i. was. done.

This is a massive breakthrough for me.

I don’t think that I’ve EVER stopped eating something delicious before; certainly not something that’s delicious AND healthy.

Amazing.

Number 2: Food is medicine.

FBQuoteayurveda{image from here}

No, I’m not suggesting that medicine is redundant, but after this week I believe that what you eat certainly impacts your health… for better or worse. There has been sickness in our house for over two weeks now. T had a cold a couple of weeks ago before going to QLD for a tv shoot. He returned a few days later even worse for wear. The following weekend we had friends stay and their slightly-snotty toddler woke in the middle of the night moaning and grabbing her ears and was a total wreck the next day. The day after that both C & L started to display cold and flu symptoms. For the last seven days our house has been a bit of a snot factory. T’s been sleeping for hours every day, supplementing and medicating by the handful and the kids have been dosed up on panadol, neurofen and homeopathic symptom relief. Yesterday the three of them saw a doctor and the little ones are continuing to throw temps and leak grossness.

I’ve been largely unaffected.

I honestly believe that my lack of inflammatory foods (think sugar, legumes, grains, dairy) and the wide variety of vegetables, proteins, fats and fruits that I have been consuming has boosted my immune system significantly.

I have been a little scratchy of throat the last few mornings, and a little watery of eye the last couple of nights when L wakes for a feed, but if you knew how sick this household has been – and how hands on I have had to be with our little snot monsters, whilst T is out of action – I am very well, thank you! Not out of the woods by a long shot, but doing just fine!

How amazing is that? Imagine what illnesses and diseases could be drastically minimised if we all just ate real food?

So there you go. Two very exciting food wins as I enter the last few days of Whole 30.

Happy Monday!

Jenn xx

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Two Beautiful Bunnies

I'm a mama to two beautiful babies. I have started this blog to gather my thoughts and try to improve who I am as a person but particularly as a mother, wife, daughter and sister.

Gabrielle Bernstein, Inc.

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