My healthy lifestyle blog has been my biggest achievement this year (apart from losing 17kg!). I’ve really enjoyed writing about a topic that I’m passionate about. The hardest part is the self promotion which goes against my introverted nature but it’s vital to gain followers if I want people to read my articles.
Thanks to everyone who has read, followed, liked and shared my posts across WordPress, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter! I really appreciate your support and all the comments, likes and shares. It keeps me motivated to write more.
This time of year is commonly used to set some New Years’ Resolutions. We start the new year afresh with lofty plans to lose weight, get fit and give up smoking or other vices. But often these plans go out the window by the end of January, leaving us feeling defeated and a failure. How do we avoid this?
Set Goals that are Attainable
Many goals and resolutions fail because they are unrealistic, too broad, and unattainable. Let’s look at the goal “to lose weight” for example. Lose how much weight? By when – next week, next month, next year? How will you achieve it? None of those questions are answered in the broad statement “I will lose weight”. You need a plan, and to set a goal that is realistic.
An unrealistic goal would be to lose 20kg by March. You would be likely to start with enthusiasm, go on a fad diet and starve yourself. It will fail because diet regimes that lose weight quickly are too restrictive, cutting out important nutrients and are unable to be sustained long term. You’ll feel deprived, have cravings, and will want to “cheat” on your diet. As soon as you stop dieting, the weight will pile back on because your body has slowed its metabolism down to cope with the reduced number of calories. As soon as you plateau or fail to lose weight you’ll give up because it’s setting you up for failure by being too hard to stick to. This can be avoided if you set realistic goals.
Unattainable vs. Attainable
How I will achieve it
lose 20 kg by March
lose 3kg by March then reassess goal
Use a smaller plate, cut out sugar in drinks, eat fruit instead of a muffin at morning tea
Get fit by walking 5km every day
Start by walking 2km daily and build it up to 5km by March
Walk on my lunch break, park my car further away
Lose 20cm off my waist
Lose 3cm off my waist by Easter then reassess goal
Eat a salad at lunch instead of pasta, use the stairs at work instead of the lift
Join a gym
Sign up for a trial at a gym with no ongoing commitment
Go to a gym at least 3 times to see if it’s the right one for me before committing to it
Give up smoking
Cut down over 2 weeks then give up smoking
Use nicotine replacement therapy, sign up to a Quit support service
Unattainable Goals vs Attainable Goals
The difference between unattainable goals and attainable goals is that you are cutting the goals down to achievable amounts, setting time frames, and planning out exactly how you will achieve them. You are setting yourself up to succeed by not biting off more than you can chew.
When I first started on the Get Healthy Program the amount of weight I needed to lose seemed like an unachievable goal. I was doubtful of being able to not only lose 10 or more kilograms, but also lose 10cm or more off my waist. My confidence was low, and I was skeptical of the program because I hadn’t succeeded on any program in the past. I could usually lose the weight easily but I always felt restricted on a diet and as soon as I went off it I packed the weight back on. My coach helped me to set small, realistic goals to achieve and as I reached each milestone, my confidence grew. I kept moving the goal posts and slowly I lost 5kg, 10kg, 15kg … eventually 17kg and it’s stayed off for over 6 months now.
More important to me was the goal of losing centimeters off my waist. My waist circumference was 105cm when I started which would predispose me to diabetes, heart disease and cancer. This concerned me more than anything. My goal was to get down to 88cm which would put me in a much healthier range but I was eventually to lose 20cm! By changing my diet to include more vegetables and less red meat and sugary food, I was able to achieve my goal.
Realistic goals are ones you break down into smaller components. Start with small goals and as you reach them, set bigger goals. Your confidence will grow with each milestone, setting you up for success. Because you’re starting with small changes to your habits, you’re likely to incorporate them into your daily lifestyle. For example, parking further away and taking the stairs are easy ways to increase your step count whereas running 5km per day or joining a gym would be harder to incorporate into your life and your enthusiasm may soon die out with the sudden burst of energy when they cause muscle aches and pains.
Define your success. What is the end goal and how will you know when you are there? My success was getting down to the weight that I am, and maintaining that weightloss for 6 months or more. I will stay within 3 kg of this weight and not go up in size in my clothes. What is your definition of success and how will you achieve it in 2020? It’s a new decade and a great starting point to setting some goals for yourself that are achievable.
This is a special occasion chia pudding that will fit in with your health goals and is easy to make. Chia is a grain that is healthy and nutritious. They are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, fiber, iron and calcium. The recipe includes cacao powder, the unsweetened form of chocolate which is very nutritious. Without all the nasties like sugar and fat that are added to it to make milk chocolate, it has many health benefits. It can improve your memory, reduce heart disease, increase immunity and is an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. You can find chia seeds and cacao powder in the health food section at the supermarket. I use almond milk for this recipe but you can substitute it for cows milk, soy milk or whichever milk you prefer.
vegetarian, veganskill level: easy
Prep. time 15 mins. Resting time 4 hours Calories: 191kcal
INGREDIENTS [PER PERSON]
2 tbsp chia seeds
1/2 cup almond milk
1 tbsp cacao powder
1 tbsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Mix the chia seeds and milk together in a bowl
Add the remaining ingredients and stir well
Let the chia seed mixture sit for 15 minutes until it thickens. Stir again.
Pour into decorative glasses, e.g. parfait glasses
Refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving
Top with your favourite berries, cherries or fruit.
Saturated fat 3g
Vitamin A 4%
IDEAS FOR TOPPINGS:
Purees or sauces made from fruit and/or berries
Cacao nibs or a sprinkling of cacao powder
Muesli or granola
Nuts and seeds
Creme Fraiche or whipped cream
chocolate nibs, sauce or flakes
Images: Left – Christina Henry; Right Bottom – David Disponett, Pexels; Right Top – Pixabay, Pexels
Welcome to my new followers! I feel very humbled and privileged that you all have responded so positively to my blog. The urge to start this was because I succeeded in losing weight and keeping it off. The difference this time is that my weight didn’t bounce straight back to where it was when I completed the program I was on. I’ve always been interested in promoting a healthy lifestyle through my nursing career, but now I want to help other people towards health through this medium.
Why do I feel weird when people compliment me on my weight loss? I don’t like getting all that attention, but people are constantly telling me I’ve lost more weight (even though I’ve been pretty steady for the last few months). They ask how I did it and probably expect me to name a fad diet or gastric bypass or something. When I told them I count calories and cut my portions down they seem disappointed! I think people want to know that there is a foolproof way, or an easy way to lose weight, but fad diets especially elimination diets, aren’t successful in the long run because you start craving all the things you can’t have. Whenever I’ve tried a “diet” such as Weight Watchers or Lite n Easy, I’ve been able to lose the weight easily enough but I’ve always craved things and felt really restricted. So as soon as I stop the diet I put on all the weight plus more!
The program taught me how to choose food that is lower in calories while being nutritious and filling. This new way allows me to choose my own food so I don’t have to eat food I don’t like. I don’t restrict myself to eating only low fat, low carb, low cal or any other thing and I don’t give up whole food groups like a lot of diets do. I automatically pick food that fills me up and doesn’t have too many calories, like a big salad. But in that salad I put really nice extras like feta cheese, olives, snow peas and roast beetroot, so that it’s interesting to my palate. The beauty of it is that you can choose what you like so if you don’t like olives but you love nuts, you can swap them out.
A few weekends ago I packed up a large box of clothes that I no longer fit. Some of them are brand new because I had bought a lot of clothes thinking I would get to a certain weight and that would be it, but I just kept on losing weight. I’ve gone down about 3 sizes. It starts to get expensive when you have to replace your whole wardrobe twice in a year! But still, I am proud of what I’ve achieved and I do feel much better at this weight. I feel more like my old self. I was painfully thin as a child and didn’t start to gain weight until after having children in my mid 20’s. I feel like I’m at a good weight for me now, in the healthy range for my age, and I plan to stay at this weight now.
Because I have had a history of yo-yo weight since I was in my 20’s, it is now my goal to help other people to achieve the success I have had. That is the drive behind me starting this blog, so that I can help other people to live a healthy lifestyle in their 40’s, 50’s and beyond. It is not a “diet”, but it is a change towards living your best life with a little advice on how to achieve it. I don’t have all the answers, but I may be able to help in some way. I will be giving tips on what worked for me in upcoming blog posts.
What I won’t be able to help you with is information on beauty products, anti aging treatments such as fillers and injectables, and supplements designed for weight loss. I’m no expert on fitness and exercise regimes either. There are lots of other people who are! As I have said before, I did not go to a gym. My sole exercise is walking the dogs nearly every day.
Once again, thank you for reading my blog. If you would like information on anything specific, please comment, and share this post as well!
One of the hardest times to keep on track with our health goals is during the “silly season” – Christmas and New Year, up to Australia Day at the end of January and even up to Easter. In the US and Canada, Thanksgiving Day in November is the start of the silly season. Summer in the Southern Hemisphere is a time of beach, school holidays, barbecues and celebration, while winter in the Northern Hemisphere is a time for hearty meals, staying indoors in front of the fire and eggnog! It has to be the most challenging time of the year for people trying to keep to their health goals.
If you are having a celebratory meal or gathering of any kind, inevitably the menu includes food that is high in calories and alcohol, and wouldn’t be normally in your day to day diet. Some suggestions to deal with these situations are:
Take your own platter with healthy food to share. This is my number one way of dealing with these situations! Try using my recipes for a savoury and sweet grazing platter – or combine both for a really interesting platter
Eat a small portion of the food on offer
Drink water in between each alcoholic drink
Take your own beverages
If you don’t want to drink alcohol but feel pressured to, order a drink that looks like an alcoholic drink e.g. mocktail, lemon lime and bitters or soda water. I’m a fan of Kombucha which is really refreshing and doesn’t include many calories.
Drink less high calorie alcoholic drinks like a wine spritzer or vodka and soda water. There are low carbohydrate beers and diet mixers as well
Order a salad with the dressing on the side. Salads are often covered in dressing in restaurants and that is where all the calories are
Many restaurants list how many calories or kilojoules are in their food. Some of them even publish it online so you can research the venue before you go.
Don’t go to an event with an empty stomach
Don’t order a 3 course meal. Just a main meal is usually ample. My husband and I share an appetiser or dessert if we really feel like another course
Don’t stand near the buffet! Take a small plateful and walk away
Space out your meal. Give your body time to feel full. Only eat til you start to feel the signals that you’ve had enough
Having said that, if I know that I’m about to blow my calorie allowance for the day, I plan for it advance and eat lightly for the rest of the day. A small breakfast and a salad for lunch counterbalances a blow-out for tea.
Learn to be assertive and say “no thank you” when offered food. This was always a challenge to me but I’m getting better at asserting myself
Accept that some situations are going to be out of your control. If you’re eating to plan during the rest of the week a day of overeating is not going to affect you long term.
Enjoy that blow-out meal! You deserve it.
Don’t neglect your exercise regime during holiday periods. You will feel so much better if you exercise on days that you’re consuming a large number of calories. Even a walk in the morning before an event will help
Try to make celebrations around activities rather than just feasting and getting drunk. Do something active like a picnic at the beach or a bush-walk. Even active party games can take the focus off eating and drinking. Have a game of cricket after Christmas lunch!
If my readers have some other solutions, please share them in the comments. I would love to know how you deal with social events and keeping track of your health goals
Most dessert platters are heavy on high calorie food such as chocolate, cakes and sweet biscuits and candy. It can add a massive amount of calories to your intake, especially if it’s at the end of a large meal and alcohol. This is a healthier version that will appeal to most of your guests.
Plenty of fresh fruit like grapes, melons, strawberries and mango cheeks
unsalted nuts like almonds and cashews
dark chocolate is healthier than milk or white chocolate. I included cranberries dipped in dark chocolate by Angas Park. They contain antioxidants and have no added artificial colours or flavours, or preservatives.
dried fruit such as apricots or figs
If you plan to have just one grazing platter, you can combine the above with the savoury grazing platter – cheese, fruit and olives go very well together. At Christmas time, cut the melon with a star or Christmas tree shaped cookie cutter to add a festive touch.
Everybody loves a cheese board! They can turn a buffet into something special, and look amazing. This is how to make a savoury grazing platter that is healthy and appealing to most people.
Most grazing platters are heavy on processed meat, cheese and crackers. While tasty, they are high in calories and saturated fat. Instead, try using these healthier versions:
low fat ham or roast beef, thinly sliced
chicken breast, grilled and cut into bite-sized pieces
carrot, capsicum, celery sticks
one or two cheeses – I usually use Brie for the soft cheese and a hard tasty cheese. The one shown in the photo is a vintage cheddar cheese I picked up from the Good Food and Wine show. Because it’s a tasty cheese, a small amount packs the flavour in which means you’ll eat less of it
low carb crackers like these Tribe Organics rice crackers and baked pea crisps from Harvest Snaps
Dips and spreads such as hummous and salsa which are healthier than a lot of other dips such as french onion.
olives, sundried tomatoes or pickles
You can increase the size to cater for the number of guests you’ll have. You can also put some sweet flavours in like dried apricots, grapes and honey. Nuts such as cashews and almonds go well too. Alternatively, you can make a separate platter for dessert, like my dessert grazing platter.
Experiment with different combinations of flavours, adding in food that you enjoy.
Eating more vegetables every day is a sure way to improve your health by filling you up (more fibre) and providing essential vitamins to aid your body in maintaining vital functions. We should all be eating 5 – 6 serves of vegetables and 2 serves of fruit a day. A serve of vegetables is about 75g or
1/2 cup cooked green or orange vegetables, e.g. broccoli, spinach, carrots
1/2 cup cooked beans, peas or lentils
1 cup green leafy or raw salad vegetables
1/2 cup sweet corn
1/2 medium potato, sweet potato, taro or other starchy vegetable
1 medium tomato
Depending on the vegetable and the cooking method, a standard serve of vegetables is only 100 – 350kJ (24 – 84kCal). Compared to a small ham sandwich (approx. 271kCal), a meat pie (445kCal) or a Big Mac from McDonalds (520kCal), a large salad will only set you back 50 – 200 kCal depending on the ingredients.
Here are some ways to increase the amount of vegetables in your diet:
A large salad for lunch
A smoothie with vegetables e.g. spinach, kale, carrot, zucchini, beetroot
Load other meals such as stews, bolognese, and pasta bakes with vegetables such as broccoli, tomatoes, spinach, carrots etc. If you have fussy eaters in the family, try grating carrots, zucchini etc. so that they’re barely visible
Sandwiches with lettuce, tomato, cucumber etc. and meat or cheese.
Mexican food like tacos, burritos, nachos can be loaded with legumes such as kidney beans. We have grated carrots, shredded lettuce, corn, tomatoes and guacamole on ours as well
Try having a meatless day at least once a week. There are so many options for vegetarian recipes online these days that it’s not difficult to think up ideas for meatless days
Carrot or celery sticks with hummus
Add spinach or grilled tomato or mushrooms to your breakfast, e.g. in an omelette
Potato or sweet potato wedges with tomato salsa
Potato salad or bake
Make or buy zucchini noodles to use instead of pasta.
Vegetables don’t necessarily have to be fresh. Frozen, canned and dried (legumes like beans or lentils) are all an option. In our supermarkets we can buy vegetables pre-cut and ready to cook which is an option if you are lacking in time. I prefer to steam most of my vegetables in the microwave for a couple of minutes, or stir fry them. This retains the crispness and flavour.
These are just some of the ways you can incorporate vegetables into your diet. I’d love to hear from you some other ideas because I’m always interested in healthy options!
We’ve all heard about the middle aged spread. Many of us in our 40’s and 50’s start to put on weight which seems to cling to our abdomen, hips and thighs. But why is that, and what can we do about it?
I’ve always put weight straight on to my tummy. Looking at photos of my family, we all have a “pot gut” which we inherited from our father! So it is sometimes from hereditary factors, and sometimes from just learning about food from our families. We’re all foodies in my family – we love our food, we talk about food in detail, and love to experiment with cooking. Being good cooks means we enjoy it just a little too much at times and all our social occasions are based on lavish feasts. All well and good when you’re young and fit and can keep your weight down with exercise and eating well the rest of the week.
But after the age of 40, the reduction in sex hormones in both men and women (yes there is a “manopause”!) can lead to excess body fat being stored around the stomach for men and the buttocks and thighs of women. Women and men store fat differently and it can change due to aging.
I went into a sudden and severe menopause when I was about 46 where my ovaries switched off overnight. I suffered hot flushes every 5 to 10 minutes, severe anxiety and insomnia. For me, going on to hormone replacement therapy was vital for my health. I started to put on weight at the same age, but put it down to lifestyle factors. It wasn’t until this year, at the age of 53, that I managed to slowly wean myself off HRT over the course of about 6 months. It’s only been since then that I’ve been able to lose weight more easily than before. Scientific studies dispute the link between weight gain and HRT, but for me, I believe HRT made it harder for me to control my weight.
Because weight gain in middle age is so common, it is important to look at what we can control, especially our diet. I genuinely did not know that the recommended number of servings of protein and grains is lower after the age of 50. Here was I, eating the same amount of food as my sons who are in their 20’s, and wondering why I was putting on weight! It wasn’t until the dietician told me this that I had a light-bulb moment and realised that I needed to change not only how many servings I was eating, but the amount of food per serving as well.
Once I did this, the weight actually came off easily. I could no longer eat 3 stalks of broccoli and call it a serving, and 200g of red meat and think that that was a reasonable amount for dinner. Here are the recommended amounts of servings per age group:
You can see from this table, the number of servings drops after the age of 50, so it’s important to adjust our eating habits accordingly. I had assumed that my diet was full of healthy fruit and vegetables, but when I looked more closely at it, I realised that I really wasn’t eating many vegetables at all. It was easy to fix – I just started eating a large salad or some homemade vegetable soup for lunch, and loaded extra vegetables into my night time meals. My serve of meat is now much smaller, and I’ve started incorporating legumes with my meals. My son went vegetarian at the beginning of this year and we’ve really enjoyed cooking sessions where we experiment with different recipes. He’s becoming a good cook as well. His meals look far nicer than our carnivorous ones!
There are some great resources on the internet about serving numbers and sizes. The one I use is an Australian Government website:
It really is as simple as that: keep to the recommended guidelines for your age and sex, and you will begin to lose weight. Add in exercise, and you’ll not only lose weight, you’ll feel so much better too.
When starting out on your journey of self improvement, whether it is for weight loss, improving fitness, learning to cook or another healthy lifestyle choice, reach out for the support of others. The reason why I was able to succeed in losing 17kg this time as apposed to all the other times I’ve tried, is because I had support. Firstly, I was part of a program that matched me up with a coach. I was able to choose out of a dietician or an exercise coach, and I chose a dietician. Secondly, my brother was also on a journey to lose weight and we have supported each other through this.
Why you need Professional advice
Having professional advice regarding my diet was a game changer for me. Even though I’m a Registered Nurse with a background in health, I really had no idea about a healthy diet. I learned so much from the dietician, in particular the dietary requirements for over 50’s are a lot different than a younger person. She gave me advice about incorporating more vegetables into my diet, and cooking food in a healthier way. I would definitely recommend that you consult a dietician because they are experts in nutrition and weight loss, and are trained to be your coach.
So many times I felt like giving up, but I felt accountable to my coach. She would phone me every three weeks and was so positive and encouraging that I felt I couldn’t let her down. I’d hear her voice in my head urging me to walk up those flights of stairs even when my feet were aching and I was breathing like a steam train! My successful weight loss is mostly due to that constant support – when I felt like giving up and was full of self doubt, she pulled me through and gave me the confidence to succeed.
Support from non-professionals
Every time my brother and I spoke on the phone it was the same kind of encouragement. We gave each other advice and praised each other’s achievements. I wouldn’t have stuck to it if it weren’t for those two people. My brother used the keto diet and intermittent fasting to achieve his weight loss, and we acknowledged that we could still support each other even though we were using vastly different ways to lose weight. No one method suits everyone, and that is another key reason why consulting a dietician is important.
I also had encouragement from a few of my work colleagues which was really lovely. Only a few people at work knew I was trying to lose weight. It actually took months for anyone to notice – I had already lost 10kg before people really noticed the weight loss! I thought it was funny how unobservant a lot of people are. Getting that praise boosted my self esteem, and made me so much more confident in myself.
My dogs have been great motivators as well because they are border collies who need walking no matter what. If you’re not lucky enough to own a dog, try buddying up with a friend for regular walks. If you normally meet for coffee, try get it to takeaway and drink while you have a stroll.
So my message today is, get support, even if you have to pay a professional or join a program. Lack of money or time? Find a Facebook group or online community that is based on weight loss, exercise, or whatever your area of self improvement is. It’ll make a huge difference.
I have found the following resources helpful and they are mostly free:
The first port of call should be your GP. Any weight loss or healthy lifestyle program should only be started after consulting your own doctor. Please read my Disclaimer here – this website is for informational purposes only.
For more inspirational articles on living a healthy life, read the following:
Midlife crisis does not accurately describe midlifers as it is reflective of them expressing their true self. Our sense of identity is well developed by midlife and we are more secure in expressing ourselves.
I was interviewed with Sue Loncaric of Women Living Well Over 50 - we discussed staying positive despite the setbacks in life. It was my YouTube debut but it went well because Sue put me completely at ease and the conversation flowed freely
Inspiring a Healthy Lifestyle special guest Lauren Spencer explains why therapy is beneficial for emotional well-being. A healthy lifestyle is only possible when we strive for mental and emotional wellness as well as physical health
All the essentials you need to know for walking for your health. Buy all you need to start walking for your health. Read about the health benefits of walking. How walking can improve your health and help you lose weight. How to get more walking into your daily routine. Click the link for more information on what you need to know before you start walking