Inspiring a Healthy Lifestyle Series

Inspiring a Healthy Lifestyle Series

A guest interview with Morgan Fitchett

Meet Morgan Fitchett, Vegan Life and Wellness Coach. She is the second guest for my Inspiring a Healthy Lifestyle Series. I felt inspired just by reading her story and I hope my readers are inspired as well.

Morgan Fitchett, Vegan Life and Wellness Coach

Tell me about yourself. 

Hi, I’m Morgan Fitchett. I’m a Vegan Life & Wellness Coach. I help women adopt a vegan lifestyle with confidence. People often worry about what they are giving up or leaving behind. They can’t imagine fitting veganism into their social, home, family or work life. So I work with women to find ways to fit veganism in without losing or compromising what is important to them.  

What is your background and how does that impact what you do now?

I have a background in law, administrative and clerking work. After the birth of my son (he is now 2), I decided that I didn’t want to return to that life. 

I’ve been vegan for nearly 7 years, and I wanted to reach others and help them connect and make the swap. I started blogging as a way to reach more people. That then evolved into mentoring for Challenge 22(a free Facebook support group for those looking to transition).

I found that I wanted to be more involved and get one-on-one with people. I had considered mentoring, and through exploring that idea, I discovered coaching! 

I then dove in and took some certification programs on both life and wellness coaching. I added in a vegan nutritionist diploma program for good measure! 

Honestly, I am always learning. I am currently taking even more programs on coaching methods to further expand my knowledge and help others more effectively!  

What drives you? Where do you get your passion?

Well, veganism transformed my life in a lot of ways. It helped me take control of my health and weight and find a cause that was bigger than myself. I see a lot of people struggling in life with things a plant-based diet could help better or even eliminate. 

Plus, there are all the environmental, ethical and personal benefits to veganism. I think spreading the word and showing veganism is practical, fulfilling, and affordable is important! 

What is the defining moment that set you on this course of interest? 

I knew that I wanted to be my own boss and work at something I loved. I took the first plunge with my blog, and then I joined Challenge 22. I enjoyed interacting with the Facebook group and the environment they created, but I felt like it wasn’t enough for me or others. 

I kept thinking I would move into something more “one day,” and then I realized there is no such thing as “one day” – I needed to take action now. That shift in mindset really propelled me. Once I discovered the benefits of coaching, I knew I wanted to apply this to veganism. There are so many people that can benefit from working with someone one-on-one. 

Who or what inspired you?

Seeing other strong women being visible and confident in themselves and their veganism has been very inspiring. I started following more women online and really loved the way they used their platform to shatter stereotypes and myths. 

I also joined a plant-based dragon boat team last year, and being a part of a bigger cause and connecting with so many like-minded people was really inspiring. It was a combination of both those things that pushed me to get outside of my comfort zone and start something! 

What are your goals in life?

Wow, big question! I think my goals are always changing and evolving. They shift and become more clear with time. 

But right now, my main goals are:

  1. To support women who are interested in starting a vegan lifestyle but just don’t know-how or have beliefs they are holding back
  1. To help others no matter where they are in life or their financial constraints. I’ve been trying to make sure that help is available in my blog posts and other free content in addition to my paid coaching.
  1. Create a successful business, so I can stay at home with the kids and be my own boss!
  1. Continue learning, evolving and exploring new things!

What message would you like the world to hear?

Eat more plants! Your body will thank you, the earth will thank you, and the animals will thank you. It’s easier than you think.

In your opinion, what does the world need now that would improve it?

More plant-based eaters! So many of the world’s problems could be improved or solved with the adoption of a plant-based diet. 

You won’t need fad diets to stay thin, or pills to control your blood pressure (though, don’t stop taking them unless you get an okay from your doctor!). Our environmental impact on the planet will be slashed, and the animals will no longer have to live in the worst conditions for food that’s making you sick. 

You don’t have to give up anything, you just have to make a shift. All your favourite items and comfort foods are available in plant form.

Morgan can be followed on her website The Veg Query, and social media:

thevegquery.com

facebook.com/thevegquery

instagram.com/thevegquery

twitter.com/thevegquery

pinterest.com/thevegquery

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCfQMMuuY_JCA7p42peUMgnQ

Inspiring a Healthy Lifestyle Series

Inspiring a Healthy Lifestyle Series

A guest interview with Sevinj Ahmadova

Meet Sevinj Ahmadova, founder of Healthy Recipes Guru


Sevinj Ahmadova, founder of Healthy Recipes Guru

Inspiring a Healthy Lifestyle Series is a series of interviews with people whose life goal is to inspire others to live a healthy lifestyle. Since I began Midlifestylist I have been privileged to “meet” many people who are passionate about health, diet, and lifestyle so I invited some of them to be interviewed (online). My aim is to inspire others to live a healthy lifestyle, and seeing some of the websites and social media posts of my guests shows that they have the same ultimate goal.

My first guest is Sevinj Ahmadova from Hungary who is the founder of Healthy Recipes Guru. Her website has the most mouth-watering recipes and the best thing is, they’re all healthy. Read on to be inspired by her passion for healthy food.

Tell me about yourself. What is your background and how does that impact what you do now?

My name is Sevinj, I am the founder of Healthy Recipes Guru, I am a master graduate from international economy and currently working full-time for a multinational company as finance specialist. Even though in my background I don’t have any specific study that I can say that is related to food, I could develop myself thanks to my passion to healthy eating by reading a lot and getting the right information. By saying right information, I consider the fact that not trusting each piece information, rather to go and research for empirical clarification of it, because Internet is full of myths that people blindly trust and then get the perception of staying hungry because they “eat healthy”.

What drives you? Where do you get your passion?

My passion had come to me when I started my healthy lifestyle, because I could see the difference in my body, in my skin, in my nails and hair, and most importantly, IN MY MIND! It all starts with brain and thinking. No one wants to prepare burgers, but everyone wants to eat them ready, right? It is because in our mind it is a burden to prepare them (to fry meat, to toast bread, add cheddar slice cucumbers and tomatoes, put all them together, ah nooo, lemme grab Burger King!) and eating them is so satisfying that we can hardly remember the number of preservatives in them (some people do not have even idea of them). But if you think that eating healthy is easy and satisfying and you do not always have to cook, you can even order but the right food or eat outside with making healthy choices, then your mind says: why don’t we try it? So, it all started at this point, when my mind started thinking positively about eating and being healthy.

What is the defining moment that set you on this course of interest? Who or what inspired you?

2 years ago, when I still was a master’s degree student, I had bunch of stuff to do for university such as writing daily assignments, studying for next day, researching the thesis work… So basically, I did not have spare time to cook (or I perceived myself so) and I was eating all the junk stuff that you can imagine on a daily basis. I could eat pizza for breakfast, salami toast for snack, meat sandwich for lunch, Whopper for dinner and chips before sleep. As you can imagine, when I finished school I had 20 kg difference from my weight when I started school, I was 20 kg more than that (and to be honest, I have never been a thin girl, I was just normal before that), and according to overweight calculations based on my height and age, I was already considered overweight. After graduation and seeing my pictures there, it all started.

In the beginning, I want to emphasize that I was very sceptical and not motivated at all “eating healthy” because I had same false perceptions in my head that many of us have. I thought that healthy eating and healthy food are “no more pizzas”, “no more burgers, and especially, “no more enemy potatoes” at all! But then, I have started reading a lot about healthy eating (I think, I will be thankful to myself for this for my entire life) and I realized that all of this stuff were just myths and of course I can eat burgers and potatoes, the only thing I should consider is to change some products to the healthy ones, or if I am going out with my friends and I “have to” eat McDonalds, then I should control my portions!

Even if I could not do this last night because I was too busy with hanging out with my friends, it is not a problem because I can balance it next day with healthy food and not staying HUNGRY AT ALL! Because the most important step in healthy eating is to understand that mixed tomato, lettuce and cucumber salad will not fulfill you, even I am not talking about satisfying. But if you add cheese/chicken and cashews/walnuts and some olive oil with vinegar and lemon or honey-mustard sauce, then it can be your lunch because it is fulfilling and very satisfying. So healthy eating is not about being hungry, eating lettuce and craving burgers, it is about being full, getting satisfied with food and being healthy!

What are your goals in life?

My main aim by creating this blog was to share the best recipes that I have under healthy umbrella because most of the time, people do not really know which food is healthy and which is not and there are some people who consider the food unhealthy when they see that it is dessert (“because you are not allowed to eat dessert if you eat healthy”), or calories are a bit more (“because healthy food is always under 300 kcal, no matter what, and an empty stomach is an indicator of healthy eating and weight loss”). So now, I am trying to create outstanding content and promote my blog basically because I want to make some impact by making a change in minds and to show the real face of healthy food and healthy lifestyle. That turned into my life goal.

Bio: Sevinj Ahmadova, founder of Healthy Recipes Guru.

Take a look at Sevinj’s website Healthy Recipes Guru, and social media sites:

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com.au/sevinjahm/

Instagram account: Healthy Recipes Guru

Twitter account: Healthy Recipes Guru

Healthy Snack Ideas

Healthy Snack Ideas

Keep on Track with your Healthy Diet with these Ideas for Snacks

It can be very difficult to keep on track with your healthy diet and often the biggest blow-out is caused by the snacks we eat. Some snacks have as many calories as a full meal and the food is often high in salt, saturated fat and sugar. Before you know it, you are hungry again and reaching for another packet of chips.

I have put together a list of snacks which are filling, nutritious and healthy. Snacking on each of these options will improve your diet, rather than detract from it.

Healthy snack ideas, nutritious and filling snacks

Snacks under 200 kCalories

  • 28 grams mixed nuts
  • Capsicum cut into strips with 85 grams guacamole
  • 100 grams Greek yogurt with 1/2 cup berries
  • 1 cup cucumber slices with 100 grams hummus
  • 1 piece of fresh fruit
  • Chia pudding – see my recipe for directions
  • 2 boiled eggs
  • 1 cup Edamame (steamed unripened soya beans)
  • 25 mixed olives
  • Miso soup
  • 1 tomato, 28 gram feta cheese, drizzled with 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 egg on toast
  • Homemade vegetable soup – see my recipe for directions

Snacks under 300 kCalories

  • Apple slices and 1 tablespoon peanut butter
  • 5 celery sticks and 60 gram cottage cheese
  • 3 corn thins with 1/2 avocado
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes and 60 gram mozarella cheese
  • 60 gram piece of cheese
  • 100 gram ricotta cheese and sliced pear
  • strawberries dipped in melted dark chocolate
  • Banana, 1/4 cup Greek yogurt and 2 tablespoons nuts

Why Waist Measurement Matters

Why Waist Measurement Matters

One of my biggest concerns with my weight was my waist circumference. My waist measured 109cm (42 inches) when I started on my journey. This put me at a much higher risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer. An ideal waist measurement for women is 88cm (35 inches) or less, and men is 102cm (40 inches) or less. Anything above this is classed as abdominal obesity.

All the extra weight I was carrying was fat, which was surrounding all my vital organs like my heart, liver and pancreas. I had been taking tablets for high blood pressure for a couple of years, and for my cholesterol for at least 6 years, so my body was already showing signs of issues caused by this excess fat around my abdomen.

According to research, reducing the size of your waist to a healthy size will increase your longevity as well as reduce your risk for other diseases, such as dislipidemia, insulin resistance, cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Even if you are relatively smaller everywhere else on your body, the increased weight around your waist will still lead to other health problems.

How to Measure Your Waist Size

Along with wanting to lose weight, I was desperate to reduce the size of my waist to prevent any other health issues. So I started measuring my waist, hips, bust, thighs and upper arms along with weighing myself 2 – 3 times a week. I used a Body Fat Calculator to assess this. My body fat percentage a year ago was 43.3% which is very high, and now it is around 28% and in the healthy range for my age.

I have found that taking those measurements is more incentive to lose weight than just weighing on the scales alone is. I can also see that some days I’m quite bloated with my waist ranging between 84cm on a good day to 88cm on a bad day! The “bad day” is usually from working night shifts or having a day or two of eating and drinking unhealthy food – but we all need a day or two like that occasionally.

Image credit for feature photo: Pixabay on Pexel

If you are interested in starting to do the same measurements, there’s a great website called Calculator.net that has a number of health and fitness calculators that are easy to use, including a Body Fat Calculator. If you don’t want to go to that much trouble, try writing down your waist measurement and weight once or twice a week.

The way your clothes fit will also be a good way to gauge whether you’re losing weight off your waist. I’ve had to totally replace my whole wardrobe twice in the last year, down to my underwear! It’s so rewarding to be able to see the results, and know that I’ve done a lot to improve my health by reducing my waist size.

Here are my measurements before and after:

October 2018 / October 2019

Weight 83.5kg / 66.1kg

Waist 105cm / 84cm

Hips 109cm / 95cm

Bust 104cm / 90cm

Thighs 69cm / 59cm

Upper arm 30cm / 27cm

Before 83.5kg October 2018. After 66.1kg October 2019

How to Reduce your Waist Size

The following six steps have been shown to effectively reduce your waist size:

  1. Cut out all sugar, especially drinks that have been sweetened. A high intake of sugar leads to the liver getting overloaded, resulting in insulin resistance. Because your body can’t cope with so much sugar (fructose) and stores it as fat in your abdomen and liver.
  2. Increase your protein intake, because this reduces cravings and boosts your metabolism. High quality protein is important, such as that found in eggs, fish, legumes, nuts, seafood, meat and high quality protein supplements (whey powder).
  3. Cut carbohydrates, particularly highly refined ones found in cakes, sweets and white bread. Some people cut carbs drastically leading to ketosis (the popular keto diet) which reduces your appetite and leads to rapid weight loss. My brother has done really well on this diet, while I found just dropping all the rubbish like lollies, cakes, muffins etc. was enough for me to be effective. I find that if I have any of those foods now I get a migraine so that just proves to me that this type of food is bad for my health.
  4. Eat food high in fibre, particularly vegetables. This helps to fill you up, and aids digestion. One of the most effective steps I took was to amp up my vegetable intake, replacing a lot of the carbs with vegetables. Vegetables contain plenty of vitamins and minerals which also help our health and wellbeing. Other food sources of fibre include fruit, cereals and legumes. Adding a fibre supplement like Metamucil would be effective as well.
  5. Exercise, in particular aerobic exercise such as walking, running, swimming and cycling. Spot exercises like sit-ups do not work! Improving your core muscle strength will help you overall but it might not necessarily reduce your waist size unless you are doing aerobic exercise. I can’t do heavy exercise but I have found that regular walking has been effective for me.
  6. Count your calories using a macro counter. I use an App on my phone to record everything I eat, and from there I can see my macros (percentage of protein, carbs and fat), and calorie intake. I try to keep to between 1500 – 1800 Kcal per day, and make sure my calories in is lower than my calories out. I still track this every day even though my weight has been stable for months because I find it helps me stay accountable to my health goals.

Another benefit of reducing your waist size is that clothes fit better! I always found it really hard to find clothes that fitted my apple shaped body and was always trying to hide my belly with tunics etc. It’s now so much easier to find clothes that fit, and my body has a better figure (not quite an hourglass shape though!)

The Skills I Learned from my Parents That I Still Use Today

The Skills I Learned from my Parents That I Still Use Today

How Old-Fashioned Skills are Helping Me Now

In my previous post, I explained that I am investigating self-sufficiency as a prospect for a sustainable future. We plan to supply most of our own basic needs, including growing our own food. My parents taught me some important skills as I was growing up, most of which I took for granted and have not used in my adult life. As I am heading into my later years, I am realising that those old-fashioned skills are relevant now.

If we are to supply our own food, we will need to be able to preserve food that we have grown ourselves, so that we have a steady supply during the months that our garden isn’t producing. Plants grown in season are more easily grown – you don’t need to provide an artificial environment (such as a green-house or water sprinkling system) to keep them alive. This means you harvest a large quantity at one time. Learning how to preserve some of the crop is essential.

My sister and I in 1977 with our mum – holding a 9 lb trout. Our love of fishing and the outdoors stems from our parents. We always had a boat for fishing on the many lakes around Rotorua, New Zealand

My mother was a down-to-earth, practical and savvy woman. She was a stay-at-home mum of four kids under 5. The skills I learned from her were:

  • Budgeting – she took full advantage of using discount coupons, bought in bulk, never racked up a debt, and seemed to be able to stretch her money so that we never went without;
  • Sewing – mum made all her own clothes. She taught my sister and I to sew and knit. Mum also had a spinning wheel and made her own wool out of sheeps’ fleece;
  • Gardening – my parents were avid gardeners and grew most of our vegetables. They researched alternative growing methods and put them to use through having a greenhouse and hydroponic set-up which could produce out-of-season food in a cold climate. We also learned composting from them. Their green thumb has passed on to the rest of the family and we all enjoy growing our own produce;
  • Cooking – we rarely ate out, and mum cooked all our food. She baked cakes and biscuits, made icecream and other desserts. My dad cooked every Sunday for a house full of guests – he loved to experiment with food and entertain our guests. We all love cooking, and especially love to experiment with new flavours and techniques.
  • Preserving food – My mum used to make chutneys, jam, and preserved fruit. Dad made brawn – preserved meat. These skills are ones I now want to learn as a skill that will be needed for self-sufficiency. I have made pickles and chutneys, but only in small quantities. I am going to learn about bottling food so that it can be stored safely for future use;
  • Smoking food – we have a smoker so we can make smoked fish and meat. I know this has been used successfully to preserve food so we will learn how to do this as well;
  • Fishing – my husband and I both grew up in families that loved fishing. My parents owned a boat and we used to go trout fishing on one of the many fresh water lakes around our city. My husband’s father took him sea fishing and they still enjoy that now on their boat.
  • Health promotion- my mum was into natural therapies throughout her life. She knew every natural remedy known to man! She preferred to promote health by having a healthy diet and supplements. She practiced yoga and meditation as part of her philosophy of self-care.
  • Housekeeping and house maintenance – my parents did all their own cleaning, yard work and maintenance. I learned many skills from them and still struggle to hand those tasks over to anyone else. I prefer to do all my own cleaning, and my husband does everything he can in the garden and around the house. We are only able to hire someone else when we acknowledge that the skill required is outside our limits, or would take us too long to finish. As we get older we are realising our bodies aren’t up to doing hard work and sometimes it’s better to hire someone to do it;
  • Researching – my parents passed on their love of reading. They used to research all different things, and that love has passed on to me. My other hobby was genealogy which I learned from my mother – I was able to use her research as a basis for my own. I have another blog, This Is Who We Are about our family history
My father and his tomatoes – grown in New Zealand during the winter in a greenhouse.

I guess I was like any other teenager and did not really appreciate my parents until I left home and had my own family. My mum passed away when I was 24. I really missed her presence in my life – it was very hard bringing up my sons without my mother to advise and help me. I was lucky that she was such a wonderful parent and I learned so many skills from her as I was growing up. I was able to draw on that knowledge throughout my life. I certainly don’t take it for granted – I really appreciate everything my parents taught me.

My sister working in the hydroponic greenhouse my father set up in the mid-80s. It was the first hydroponic garden in New Zealand and used to attract tourists from all over the world

Many of the skills I learned like preserving food will be necessary as we aim towards self-sufficiency. In the next few years I will be researching different skills in order to be able to live a self-sufficient lifestyle.

10 Skills my Parents Taught Me that I Still Use Today
10 Skills I Learned from my Parents that I still use Today

How to Grow your own Sprouts on your kitchen bench

How to Grow your own Sprouts on your kitchen bench

Sprouts have many health benefits: they are full of nutrients, antioxidants, vitamins such as Vit. D, A, zinc, biotin and iron, fibre which aids digestion, and omega-3 fatty acids. The process of sprouting enhances the nutrient value of grains, legumes and beans. They are easier to digest when sprouted, allowing our body to utilise the nutrients easily. While they are full of nutrients, they are low in calories so you can eat a lot of them without worrying about the calorie intake.

To buy them from the supermarket is relatively expensive and they have to be used within a couple of days. I usually end up throwing most of them out because they deteriorate too quickly. By growing my own, I can have sprouts at various stages of growth so that I have a steady supply. They are very easy to grow – you don’t need a garden for these! They can grow on your kitchen bench in a jar and only take about 3 days to grow.

Equipment Required

  • Clean glass jar. You can use any jar for this but a medium sized jar is best
  • A sprouting lid which has wire mesh to allow air to circulate, and water to drain off the sprouts. I have made do with the foot end of a pair of pantyhose stretched over the mouth of the jar. A piece of muslin or cheesecloth and a rubber band would work as well.
  • Sprouting seeds e.g. alfalfa, red clover, mung beans, chia seeds, broccoli, wheat, radish, soybean, mustard, lentil, sunflower seeds and pea shoots. Anywhere that supplies seeds should have them, and they will say sprouting seeds on the packet. Health food stores usually supply them too, and you can buy them in bulk online. It’s best to buy special sprouting seeds because they are free of bacteria and are packaged in a controlled environment. Using lentils or other seeds from the grocery store is not as safe because they are meant to be cooked, meaning that they may not be free of the bacteria that causes salmonella or e. coli gastroenteritis.
  • I use a tea strainer to strain the water off as some of the seeds are very small. The rinsing and draining process is important as you don’t want them to sit in stagnant water.
Equipment used to grow sprouts and sprout seeds

Steps

  1. Place 1 or 2 tablespoons of seeds in the jar. Cover with warm water and leave overnight – 8 to 12 hours
  2. Drain water off (I use the tea strainer to drain it through). Rinse a couple of times until the water runs clear. Do this morning and night. Leave them pointing downwards so that the water drains well.
  3. After a few days the sprouts will be ready to eat. Put them into an air-tight container in the fridge and eat within a few days.
Sprouts growing – day 2 to day 5

You start a new batch of sprouts every couple of days to ensure a continuous supply.

Enjoy them in salad, sandwiches, wraps or stir fries.

Using sprouts in a salad

How to Make a Healthy Burrito

How to Make a Healthy Burrito

Burritos are easy to take to work, can be as healthy as you want, and always go down well in my household. I usually serve them with all the ingredients in individual bowls, then everyone can just make them with their favourite ingredients.

To take them to work, I roll the wrap and cover it with Glad wrap. In a separate container, I take the filling. Then I can assemble the burrito at work. We have a sandwich press in my lunch room at work so I can toast the wrap as well.

This burrito uses the Super Spinach Salad, lean ham, shredded low fat cheese and corn kernels in a white wrap

How to Make a Burrito

Put a wrap on to a dinner sized plate. Assemble the filling on the wrap as shown in the photo. Don’t overfill it

Step 1: how to make a burrito

Fold the bottom half up

Step 2: how to make a burrito

Fold sides in

Step 3: how to make a burrito
Step 4: How to make a burrito

Pick it up and enjoy! Use a sandwich press if you want it toasted

Step 5: How to make a burrito

Ideas for fillings

  • lean meat or chicken
  • omelette
  • any salad ingredients – see my recipe for Super Spinach Salad for ideas https://midlifestylist.com/2020/01/10/super-spinach-salad/
  • sauces and salsas
  • shredded cheese
  • chili con carne
  • beans e.g. kidney beans, nachos-style re-fried beans
  • Asian stir-fried greens and vermicelli

Total Calories for Burrito as shown in photos: 289KCal, Carbs 30.8g, Fat 11.4g, Protein 16g