My Weight-loss Journey

My Weight-loss Journey

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.

Before 83.5kg October 2018. After 66.1kg October 2019

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!

Before photo June 2018, After photo November 2019

How to Keep on track with your health goals during holiday season

How to Keep on track with your health goals during holiday season

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.

So many temptations during holidays and celebrations

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

Dessert Grazing Platter

Dessert Grazing Platter

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.
  • Greek yogurt
  • 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.

http://dessert grazing platter

Savoury Grazing Platter

Savoury Grazing Platter
A healthy savoury grazing platter - healthy options for your cheese platter include vegetables, low fat cheese, salsa and hummous and leave out processed meat, crackers and high fat cheese
A healthy savoury grazing platter.

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
  • cherry tomatoes
  • 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.

https://midlifestylist.com/2019/11/26/dessert-grazing-platter/

13 plus ways to get more colour in your diet

13 plus ways to get more colour in your diet

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
  • A large stir-fry
  • Soup loaded with vegetables, like my recipe https://midlifestylist.com/2019/11/13/easy-vegetable-soup/
  • 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!

My weekly haul from the Markets includes a variety of fruit and vegetables

Main Image from Amroon Ra, Unsplash

What’s with the Middle Aged Spread?

What’s with the Middle Aged Spread?

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:

Recommended number of Servings per Day

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!

A healthy diet should contain 2 serves of fruit and 5-6 serves of vegetables per day
A healthy diet should contain 2 serves of fruit and 5-6 serves of vegetables per day

There are some great resources on the internet about serving numbers and sizes. The one I use is an Australian Government website:

https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/

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.

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

I lost 17kg without setting foot in a gym or running. Due to my chronic back pain I am limited by what exercise I can do. I had to give up running and going to the gym about 10 years ago because of health issues caused by a congenital heart condition. But those limitations have not stopped me from exercising regularly. Instead of focusing on what I can’t do, I focus on what I can do.

I can walk! I walk my border collies nearly every day, approximately 3 – 3.5km. My son and I usually walk them together, and we use that time to talk. The bond we have developed from our daily walks is incredible. We really miss that when one of us is away. The obvious other benefit is seeing how much our dogs love their daily walk. We’re really lucky to have fabulous parks and beaches nearby that are dog friendly.

My daily walk with my dogs

Regular exercise is the key. It doesn’t need to be high impact or energetic to have health benefits. Even a low impact exercise like walking, swimming or yoga has multiple benefits. Starting with a short walk and slowly building up over time, you will see benefits to your health and well being such as weight loss, improved stamina, and better mood. I also increased my incidental exercise by parking further away and climbing the stairs at work instead of taking the lift.

I use a Fitbit tracker to keep track of my steps, and aim to walk 10500 steps a day. Some days I walk more, some less, but at the end of the week it averages 8 – 10,000 steps per day. I find it is a good incentive, and being in Fitbit challenges spurs me on to walk more.

The key to develop a healthy exercise schedule is to do something you like, do it regularly, and set yourself goals such as walking further, climbing 4 flights of stairs a day, or walking for 10 minutes every hour. Over time you will see the benefits

If you enjoyed this article, you may like these related posts:

How to keep on track with your health goals during the holiday season – tips that may be applied to daily life, not just holidays

My weight loss journey – how I lost weight and maintained the weight loss through healthy lifestyle changes

Healthy snacks – snacks needn’t ruin your diet. These suggestions are nutritious and low on calories

All healthy lifestyle articles may be found at this link

Please comment and share if you enjoyed this article.

Don’t try and Do It Alone

Don’t try and Do It Alone

Updated 24 June 2020

Getting support with healthy lifestyle choices

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.

Other Resources

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:

All healthy lifestyle articles can be found at this link.

Advice on a healthy diet can be found here, as well as healthy recipes.

Please comment and share this post if you enjoyed it.

Just Change One Thing

Just Change One Thing

Many people feel daunted by the prospect of getting healthier because the goal seems so hard to achieve. For me, I wanted to lose 10kg. I thought that goal was going to be impossible to achieve. It came down to breaking a bad habit. The thing I’d noticed that was in common for the slimmest people I knew was that they ate salad for lunch. One of my colleagues brought a massive salad to work – the size was like a family sized amount to me – and she was really slim. My lunch consisted of sandwiches, a large muffin, a full sized yoghurt and some fruit! So I started by eating a large salad at lunchtime instead. That one change meant I swapped a meal consisting of high calories, with one that had healthy vegetables and was only around 150 kcal.

So the start of changing any unhealthy habits, including weight loss, stopping smoking, or reducing alcohol intake, is to start with one thing. My one thing was swapping out my lunch with a healthier option. One of my relatives changed drinking beer with a vodka and soda and started losing weight. To stop smoking, many people stop the habit that they do along with the smoking, for example if they normally drink coffee and have a smoke, they stop drinking coffee and that can help them stop smoking because there isn’t that trigger anymore.

My healthier lunch - a salad and Kombucha.  Swapping my lunch to this one helped me lose a lot of weight.
My lunch nearly every day

New habits can be gained as well. I started walking up the 4 or 5 flights of stairs at work. At the beginning I could barely breathe at the end of it and my heart was racing for the next 15 minutes. Over time I have improved my stamina, to the point that my husband and I could walk up to 19000 steps a day on our recent holiday to Japan, and climb Mt. Mison while we were there.

So if it seems too hard at the beginning, start by just changing one thing – start a new healthy habit by swapping one thing with another. It can lead to other changes and the end goal will become that much easier to achieve.

Small Changes You Can Make Today

Some examples of small changes that you can make today, that will lead to a healthier lifestyle:

  • Take a salad for lunch instead of getting take away food,
  • Walk the stairs at work instead of taking the lift,
  • Have fruit instead of a muffin or cake for morning tea,
  • Eat breakfast instead of waiting to eat until mid morning,
  • Don’t eat after dinner,
  • Eat a snack sized chocolate instead of a full sized bar,
  • Don’t drink soft drinks. Drink water instead.

If you enjoyed this short article, more information is in the following:

All healthy lifestyle articles may be found at this link. Please share and comment if you enjoyed this article.

Losing weight is a Marathon not a Sprint

Losing weight is a Marathon not a Sprint

This month marks one year since I weighed my heaviest. I have lost over 17kg and managed to sustain the weight loss for 6 months. I didn’t use any fad diet or expensive program to do it. I will be sharing tips on how to lose weight as part of this blog, but for now I will just say that to lose weight, you need to keep at it. Rapid weight loss using fad diets that cut out major food groups do work, however I believe that they can’t be sustained long term. Using my own experience, I managed to lose weight many times in the past, but as soon as I stopped “dieting” I put that weight straight back on, plus more. My yo-yo weight was not healthy.

I am not a dietician, and I urge anyone wanting to lose weight to see their doctor, and a dietician before doing so. Once you get some professional advice, start your weight loss, and stick to it. I was losing about 500grams per week which is a safe, steady way to do it.

I did get professional advice – my doctor had to give me medical clearance. I signed up for a free program sponsored by the Queensland Government called Get Healthy, my eligibility was due to me being at high risk of developing diabetes. Even if you’re not eligible for their programs, there is a lot of free information on their website. My weight loss success was even featured in their website: https://www.gethealthyqld.com.au/success-stories/stories/christina .

The photo that spurred me to lose weight - at my son's graduation in 2018.  I was at my heaviest
This is the photo that spurred me on to lose weight. It was at my son’s graduation in 2018

My final decision to lose this weight forever came about after my son graduated and I saw how hideous I looked in all the photos. I had bought an outfit in Malta and had saved it for this special occasion but when I saw how I looked in it I was deeply ashamed of just how big I had become. Now every time I look at my son’s graduation photos I am reminded of just how far I’ve come. Sometimes that’s all it takes to start you on your journey.

Please refer to my disclaimer and note that I advise you to get medical advice before starting any fitness or weight loss program. Best of luck on your journey.

If you enjoyed this article, there’s more valuable advice here:

For recipes and advice regarding a healthy diet, follow this link

For articles on maintaining a healthy lifestyle, follow this link

Update 24 June 2020 – It’s now well over a year since I reached my goal weight and I have sustained the weight loss using the same principles. In the last year I’ve had several health issues but I’ve stayed at a healthy weight despite being limited in my ability to exercise. If you’re struggling with your weight, or you’d like to mention a method that has worked for you, please comment. It’s an issue that a lot of people battle with and I’d love to support you on your journey.