Monthly Archives: March 2011


I hab another head cold. This is my third cold this year – and over our summer. I know where it comes from… Daycare. My little one is in daycare 2 days a week and his immune system is being challenged and now so is mine.

It is only a head cold, so while I did not do my 40 min walk today at lunch I did do a 30 min walk this evening with the pram.

This week, I am doing well so far. I am eating a little more than previous weeks – I added a point back in and I am making sure I am eating all of my points every day (which is almost up to my kJ target). I think I will spend this week and next week counting in both systems and see what results I get at weigh in. I spent some more time today looking at the numbers and reassuring myself that I am ok. I did a little forecast for the rest of the year in terms of weightloss and kJ intake and am happy with how things look. I just need to keep on with the exercise, keep on with watching my portion sizes and intake and I will get there.

WW tracking vs kJ counting – and how I solved the tracking mystery

I have wanted to move away from the WW points system for a while now. I don’t go to WW, I am not a member. I am using the material I got when I had a brief fling with them last year, so, the material is not that out of date (but it is not the current system used in Australia, either). My issue is that I want to have more control. I want to be able to understand my intake on its own rather than relying on someone else’s calculations. This is going to be important if/when I get pregnant because I want to eat a healthy amount (rather than over-eat like last time). It is going to be important when maintaining a healthy goal weight. I needed to work it out and counting kilojoules (kJ) seemed to be a good answer for me. (I work in kJ here, not calories but it is the same concept just differnt measuring scales).

I hadn’t swapped to counting kJ because I was using a great app on my phone which helped me track ww points. It is so convenient to track on my phone!!! And I wanted something as convenient for counting kJ. Well, on the weekend I went looking for an app to help me out and I found two that look promising.

But I also needed to have a better idea of what my kJ target should be. There are so many quizzes online and they seem to give me different answers. So, I turned to something I trusted. I had previously followed the CSIRO Total WellBeing Diet and they provide information about how to calculate energy requirements so that you can pick a level of their program. They use the Harris-Benedict equation (see the article by the same name in Wikipedia) which is a way to calculate your Basal Metabolic Rate and from there energy requirements. I used this to work out my requirements for losing weight and established a kJ range to aim for in a day. I spent quite a while seeing how changing the activity level changed the kJ target. And I was pretty sure that I was on track with the calculations.

Once I had my kJ target range, I could start counting my kJ in my new phone apps.

One of the apps is really quite simple. It does not have a database to draw on, so you need to enter in the kJ amounts for every food. But it does remember the foods, so after a while I will only need to enter random or rare foods. I have a calorie counting book which I am using to help me start out. And then the app just does maths. You tell it your kJ target, you put in what you eat and it adds it up and tells you how much is left. Really simple. It can give you some weekly/monthly stats so you can see how you are managing over time. You can include exercise in the input. It has no weight tracking section, but I have spreadsheets at home, work and on my phone already for that 🙂

The other calorie counting app has a database to draw on. You can search for foods and enter portions. The food database can also tell you protein, carb and fat intake as well as kJ. It is not Australian, so alot of the foods are not relevant to me. I would need to make sure I am picking the right thing from the list. I have not yet created my own foods yet but the funtion is there. The app also has an exercise journal and a weight tracker. It is alot more complicated. The downside is you need to be connected to the internet to access it (I am often not connected) and the app uses alot of battery power. I think I would be interested to see how my fat/protein/carbs balance out but I don’t feel I need that at the moment. Really, all I need is somthing to do the maths…

So, for this week I am tracking in both WW points and kJ in the simple counter. And you know what? I have discovered a problem with the way I had calculated my points allocation back in January. For the last few days I have been at the top (or just over) my ww points allocation and under my kJ daily target by a good snack. It has been bugging me! I spent a long time working out my kJ intake and have confidence that it is a good target for me*.

And when I was walking this morning, I realised that I did not know if my ww points allocation included anything about exercise. I know that my kJ calculations do take exercise into account. So, tonight I went back to my ww material and realised I had selected the ‘no activity’ option in the quiz when I worked out my points allocation. That was true before I started but I am now exercising 5 or 6 days a week. I should have been up maybe 2 points a day for the last 6 weeks! I have adjusted my ww points up and now both my ww and kJ tracking are at the same place.

I am a little bit frustrated because I feel the quiz to work out WW points is misleading in relation to activity (it talks about how active are you at work – I picked the mostly sitting option. Well I do have a deskjob!). But I am pleased I am learning to listen to my body and to know when I am hungry. I am also pleased I have been able to work it out. I am excited that I can start to move away from WW and start doing more of my own thing and be in control of my own healthy life style.

I am going to track both points and kJ this week at least. I want the transition to be smooth. It will also help me build up the foods in my simple calorie tracker. My weight loss will likely slow a little if I am eating a little more. That is not a bad thing. The speed of my weight loss was a recurring niggle at the back of my mind. This puts me in control and better able to manage what I put in my mouth.

*I studied science at university and am quite analytical when it comes to data. So, I do have confidence in how I have calculated my energy requirements. I am also referring to the CSIRO Total WellBeing Diet which I have used before and was influencing how I used my WW points. In their publications they use the Harris-Benedict equation for people to work out their energy requirements. And more generally, I have confidence in the CSIRO. They are Australia’s scientific research organisation and are top people.

Weigh in Monday

After realising on Thursday night that I had been drifting a little, I really focussed on my motivations, and I ate well for the rest of the week and got some exercise in. And it paid off 🙂

This weeks stats:
Start weight: 140.9 kg (310 lbs)
Current weight: 121.5kg (267.3 lbs)
Loss this week: 0.7 kg (1.5 lbs)
Total loss 19.4 kg (42.7 lbs)
Exercised on 5 days of the last 7

I am really proud of how far I have come. I have been committed and consistent. I have almost lost 20kg!!! I am getting into clothes that are 2 sizes smaller (well, the larger ones of size 20, not the smaller ones!). I am exercising 5 or 6 days a week consistently from doing no exercise. And I feel really good.

And all these changes I have made fit into my life now. I think that, on the whole, it can be maintained (although see the other post for today as I am doing some tweaking). And I am enjoying the food I am eating and the exercise I am doing. These are very good things 🙂

This weeks challenges: I have a busy weekend with a 3 yo birthday party, a baby shower and a housewarming. I need to be aware of the choices I make on these days. And, I want to aim for 7 days consecutive exercise.

This week also completes the first 3rd of my 40 week commitment. I am thrilled I have made it through this far. I think the 2nd third will be the hardest; it is coming into winter, the novelty of what I am doing has worn off and the end will seem so far away. This is the time I really need to just live what I am doing. I will have my goals as a backdrop and aim to make the majority of my choices healthy ones. I think, if I get through the next third, I will really be in a better position as good habits that are forming will be reinforced and the old patterns will grow fainter. Bring it on!

And there be progress

Last night I made fig jam. I had not had time to make it during the day. And last night, I bottled up the jam and set aside one serve for me to have on toast for breakfast. I chose to have a taste from the spoon then I dumped the spoon, saucepan and all other utensils in a sink of hot water and washed them all up.

The jam is lovely. The kitchen is clean. I am happy.

My Choice

The last couple of weeks have been harder for me. There have been several occasions where I chose not to follow my plan. And I think it is ok to do this, but it has happened too many times in the last week. I have taken the easy way out rather than choosing the healthy way. Some of it resulted from not being prepared and not having my usual food on hand. Some of it resulted from last minute change of plans and I did not think the options through properly at that point. Some of it was because I felt like being easy on myself and I was happy to relax a little and indulge.

All of these things are ok. But what I want is to make healthy decisions most of the time. I want it to be my default option rather than the backup.

I was thinking about this on my walk this morning. I need to remember the bigger goal. Why am I doing this? What is it that drives me?

I want to have another child. I want to be healthy and be active with my children. I want to run with them, ride with them, play with them. I don’t want to be passive because of my weight/health. I want to live for a long time. I want to be healthy in my old age and not be trapped in my body because of my weight/health. I want to go camping with my family and not feel uncomfortable or self concious in my skin. I want to go hiking with my family. I want to travel and not feel uncomfortable travelling because of my weight. I want to be thin and pretty. I want to be confident. I want to be healthy. I want to be strong. I want all of this.

I want this more than the instant gratification of what I eat today. I want this more than a take away meal. I want this more than alcohol. I want this more than cake and biscuits. I want this more than sleeping in when I had planned to exercise.

This is what I need to remember every day, when I think things are hard, when things change and I need to look at options. This needs to be the backdrop for every day.

Sometimes, I will choose somthing that will take me further away from my goals. Sometimes it is important to do that and enjoy whatever it is. And I need to remember I don’t live in a vaccuum – I have my man and my little boy and our friends. But I want my choices to be mindful. And I want to stay committed to my goals and my dreams.

These things I choose: I will be healthy, I will be fit, I will be strong. I choose this for my future and for my family.

My weight loss puzzle

I have been reading some books about getting healthy recently. One is called Lighten Up*. It has 365 tips for getting healthy. I don’t read it every day but every couple of weeks, I will pick it up, read, think and work through 20 or so. The tips are structured into 3 categories: motivation and mindset, good food and move more. I have taken to underlining and making notes about the bits that strike a chord with me and I want to share some of them here.

One that I really liked is called ‘Solve your own weightloss puzzle’. It talks about how getting healthy and losing weight is different for every person. That something which is not an issue for me might be a struggle for someone else. It groups the puzzle pieces into different areas. There are food related parts of the puzzle: portion size, fat type, binge eating, emotional eating, social eating, alcohol, food variety. And there are activity related parts of the puzzle: incidental exercise, transport, planned activity, frequency, duration, injury, metabolism, fatigue, laziness, muscle mass. And then there are other parts of the puzzle: genetics, stress, medication, disease, age, history, gender, family commitments. (There are about 40 pieces listed in the book, I have just listed some to give you an idea)

I found it really useful to look at what I find easy and what I find hard. An easy one for me is that I don’t really drink much alcohol (I have had 3 drinks this year). I don’t miss it, I have not banned it but I just don’t want it. For me, alcohol is not a problem piece of the puzzle. I struggle with why I eat (social, stress, boredom, emotional). My genetics are against me. I am really bad at incidental exercise and last year I was really doing no exercise at all. I was able to see some areas that I can work on and this made me feel that I have more control. I don’t need to worry about all the puzzle pieces, I just need to work on a few to see changes. And it was interesting that not all my problem pieces were food related. There are a few from each group that are an issue.

Looking at this also reminded me that everyone is different and I should not compare myself to another persons’ struggles. This is my journy, it is my path. I need to find my own way. And a quote from another tip in the book applies ‘Aim for improvement, not perfection’. I am healthier today. I did not have a perfect day food wise. But I am healthier and more aware today then yesterday.

*Lighten Up (365 Ways to Lose Weight and Feel Great) by Andrew Cate

Monday – update and new week

Being sick is not a good way to lose weight. Infection + period did not make for a good week in terms of exercise and my food intake was lower than normal. I am still on antibiotics and almost feel well again. I can tell that the antibiotics are messing with my system a little but I am recovering. Today, I went walking today for the first time in a week. It felt good to get out.

I much prefer the exercise and making healthy food choices way 🙂 And that is a good thing to realise.

This week’s stats:

Start weight: 140.9kg (310 lbs)
Today’s weight: 122.2kg (267 lbs)
Loss this week: 1.8kg (4 lbs)
Total Loss: 18.7kg (41.1 lbs)

My head is in a better space today than it was yesterday. There were some good lessons in the angst that came out in yesterday’s post. But I re-read it now without the fear or guilt, just the commitment to my plan.

This week’s challenges:
I really want to bake a cake. I love baking and I have not done any baking this year. I miss it. So, I plan to do some baking on the weekend and take the left-overs into work on Monday. The challenge will be to work out what satisfies me and make the cake with care and joy and really enjoy my slice without needing to eat it all.

And I want to get back into my regular exercise routine. I am planning shorter walks this week as I am still recovering but I want to exercise on all my planned days.

Things I learnt this week

– not to make my little boy something for dinner that I really want to eat. It just ends up with me testing it before he eats and then finishing it off. It was the first time I really broke my rule of not eating his food.

– when I make something yummy, or somthing that I have been looking forward to (which is hopefully yummy), I should plan to try it out straight away! I made some almond butter yesterday. In Australia, we don’t get a huge range of nut butters. It is really kind of special and expensive. I had been hearing about all the different kinds and flavours of nut butter that are available in the US. And then I found out how easy it was. So, I toasted the almonds, blended them up and then it went all lumpy and took a while but finally it came together. So, I had a spoon full. And then I put in some cinnamon. And I had a spoon full. Then I put it in a jar and I had the bit the didn’t quite make the jar. It was really nice. And then I dumped the blender bowl in the sink, with the blades and the spatula and filled it all with water. And afterwards I was frustrated that I had so many tastes. Wake up, sister! What did you expect? I should have made the nut butter just before afternoon tea and had a piece of bread ready. Next time, plan it in. And, previously I would have cleaned off the bowl and spatula before filling it with water. I have learnt some restraint!

I know it is ok to eat things that are not on the plan. I know that losing weight and getting healthy is the sum of many decisions – not decisions in isolation. I know that foods are not good or bad and I can choose to have somthing for nostaligic reasons, that I can try new things. I need to relax about this stuff but still have the majority of my choices end up on the healthy side.

There were several occasions this past week where I was thoughtless in my eating. Things were in my mouth and gone without me making a conscious choice. This is old behaviour, and it is the first time I have done this in the 11 weeks of my new lifestyle.

I don’t know why. Maybe because I am not quite well yet and still on antibiotics. Maybe it is because I feel I am doing well and that I can ease up. Maybe it is just old neural patterns asserting themselves.

In my future, I don’t want to obsess about every thing I put in my mouth. But I don’t trust myself to start yet. I have so far to go. I want to have these new patterns really ingrained before I start to let go of the monitoring. I want to have a healthy lifestyle in place and then jump off. I need the crutches right now. And I guess I am scared that I can’t do it, that the weight will come back and that I will fail at this challenge.

I made a commitment to live a healthy lifestyle for 40 weeks – that is food and exercise. Today I have completed 11 weeks of that timeframe. I will keep going. Part of the reason for the 40 weeks is that it is long enough to really build good habits but it is not open ended. It allows for a concentrated effort and then a reassessment. I am determined to see this through. And when I get there, that is not the stopping point. That is a celebration point and a reassessment for my future.

My fears will not hold me back from choosing a longer life with my family.

One day, one meal, one space between meals at a time.

Octopus in Red Wine

Last night my man was a little low. I had run out of time to cook what I wanted to. I was going to throw together a quick stirfry but thought about what my man would like, about his comfort food. And so, we decided to get Indian Home Delivery from one of our favourite Indian Restaurants.

It was nice. I ate too much – but it was less than what I used to eat. That is a good thing. We had Tandoori Chicken, Palak Paneer and another vegegetable dish.

And so tonight, I decided to cook yesterday’s dinner: Octopus in Red Wine. I found this recipe in a book called ‘Meals from the Freezer’. I went through alot of my recipe books in January, looking for healthy dishes that would fit into the new lifestyle. This one has the bonus of being suitable for freezing which means there are left overs for another night.

Octopus (and calamari) need to be cooked either really quickly or really slowly. This recipe is one of the ‘really slowly’ variety.

I am aware I do cook a number of variations on the theme ‘Protein in Tomato Based Sauce’. While there are similarities, this dish was distinct for me. It had a deep, seafood richness. The octopus was so tender, the olives added bite and the basil, freshness. I was pleasantly surprised. The following are also plusses – octopus is relatively cheap, it is very low in points value for me, the finished meal can be frozen, the recipe can be doubled (it originally was – I scaled it down just to try it out). I think I would also like to add some prawns or scallops or pieces of fish at the end – it would not take long to cook any of these and I think they would add to the dish in terms of texture and presentation.

I served the meal with rice because I find it easier to portion rice than something like garlic bread (some nice sour dough would be lovely with this!). And we had a fresh salad with lettuce and tomato from the garden, rocket, baby spinach leaves, cucumber, pickled garlic and artichokes. I forgot to take a photo because I was hungry tonight and it was gone before I remembered. Octopus with Red Wine won’t become a weekly or fortnightly dinner option but I will cook it again for special occasions.

Octopus in Red Wine
(Serves 4)
1kg cleaned baby octopus
1 tbs olive oil
1 large red onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3/4 cup red wine
1 x 400g tin crushed tomatoes
1/3 cup torn fresh basil leaves
50g kalamata olives, seeded
1 tbs drained capers, finely chopped

Place the octopus in a heated, dry large saucepan; simmer, covered, 15 minutes. Drain the octopus and discard the liquid. Wipe the pan with paper towel.

Heat the oil in the same pan, cook the onion until soft. Add the garlic and octopus, cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Add the wine and cook, stirring, until most of the liquid has evaporated. Add the crushed tomatoes. Simmer, covered for 1 1/2 hours or until the octopus is tender. (Can be frozen, in portions, at this stage)

Just before serving, stir through basil, olives and capers.

Serve with rice or crusty bread and a mixed green salad.

Nutritional Info:
total: 6786 kJ, 263 g protein, 38 g carb, 44.7 g fat
per serve: 1696 kj, 66 g protein, 9.5 g carb, 11.2 g fat

I can see I have lost weight!

Still not 100% over my infection. But I am much better than Monday. And last night I felt well enough to go for a little walk – just to the corner shop and back. It was so nice to be moving! I have really missed it. And I think that learning that I miss exercise is fantastic 🙂

This morning I got dressed and I looked in the mirror. I can now see that I take up less space than I used to.

I want to write more but I am tired and my thoughts are scattering like the leaves outside (it’s going into Fall here). So, I will save my thoughts and hopefully they will come together with something interesting.

And I will be back later with New Food Friday 🙂