My Top Posts of 2019

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. I would like to share my top posts 2019 with my readers.

MY TOP 9 POSTS of 2019


In order, they were:
1 How to make goals that will stick,
2 Why your waist measurement matters,
3 My Weight-loss Journey,
4 Slow and Steady wins the race,
5 13+ ways to get more colour in your diet,
6 Gifts that Inspire a Healthy Lifestyle,
7 How to keep on track with your health goals during the holiday season,
8 Just change one habit at a time and
9 Losing weight is a marathon not a sprint.

Read them now to gain some inspiration! Live your healthiest year in 2020.


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. Please let me know what your favourite article was.

A collage of the top posts of 2019 on the Midlifestylist blog.
The top posts on Midlifestylist.com for 2019
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How to Make Goals that Will Stick

This guide will give you examples of unattainable versus attainable goals. It will guide you to make goals that you will stick to and achieve. The key is to make the goals achievable so that you maintain motivation.

The first month of every 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. This sets us up for failure and we often lack motivation to start a new goal for the rest of the year. 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

Unattainable goalAttainable goalHow I will achieve it
lose 20 kg by Marchlose 3kg by March then reassess goalUse a smaller plate, cut out sugar in drinks, eat fruit instead of a muffin at morning tea
Get fit by walking 5km every dayStart by walking 2km daily and build it up to 5km by MarchWalk on my lunch break, park my car further away
Lose 20cm off my waistLose 3cm off my waist by Easter then reassess goalEat a salad at lunch instead of pasta, use the stairs at work instead of the lift
Join a gymSign up for a trial at a gym with no ongoing commitmentGo to a gym at least 3 times to see if it’s the right one for me before committing to it
Give up smokingCut down over 2 weeks then give up smokingUse 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.

Achieving my Goal of Losing Weight

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.

Break Large Goals into Smaller Components

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

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 weight-loss 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.

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Festive Chocolate Chia Pudding Recipe

This is a special occasion chocolate chia pudding recipe 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.

Chocolate Chia Pudding Recipe

vegetarian, vegan skill 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

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Mix the chia seeds and milk together in a bowl
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and stir well
  3. Let the chia seed mixture sit for 15 minutes until it thickens. Stir again.
  4. Pour into decorative glasses, e.g. parfait glasses
  5. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving
  6. Top with your favourite berries, cherries or fruit.

NUTRITION INFORMATION

  • Calories 191kcal
  • Carbohydrates 16g
  • Protein 8g
  • Fat 11g
  • Saturated fat 3g
  • Cholesterol 12mg
  • Sodium 56mg
  • Potassium 259mg
  • Fiber 8g
  • Sugar 6g
  • Vitamin A 4%
  • Calcium 28.9%
  • Iron 10.3%

IDEAS FOR TOPPINGS:

  • Cherries
  • Berries
  • Mango
  • Pineapple
  • Peaches
  • Nectarines
  • Apricots
  • Kiwifruit
  • Passionfruit
  • Purees or sauces made from fruit and/or berries
  • Nut butters
  • Dried fruit
  • Cacao nibs or a sprinkling of cacao powder
  • Spices
  • Shredded coconut
  • Candied ginger
  • Muesli or granola
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Creme Fraiche or whipped cream
  • chocolate nibs, sauce or flakes
This is a special occasion chocolate chia pudding recipe that will fit in with your health goals and is easy to make.  Serve in attractive glasses or bowls and decorate with fruit and nuts
Healthy Chocolate Chia Puddings
This is a special occasion chocolate chia pudding recipe that will fit in with your health goals and is easy to make. Serve in attractive glasses or bowls and decorate with fruit and nuts

Images: Left – Christina Henry; Right Bottom – David Disponett, Pexels; Right Top – Pixabay, Pexels

For special occasions you can make the chocolate chia pudding in a martini glass, parfait glass or glass bowl. Decorate with fresh cherries, nuts, strawberries and mint leaves. Dessert doesn’t have to be unhealthy – you can still have a treat while maintaining your healthy diet.

Chocolate Chia Pudding Recipe

Festive Chocolate Chia Pudding Recipe

midlifestylist
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, Vegan. Skill level: easy
Prep Time 15 mins
Resting time in refridgerator 4 hrs
Total Time 4 hrs 15 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine Vegan, Vegetarian
Servings 1
Calories 191 kcal

Equipment

  • Bowl
  • Serving Dish

Ingredients
  

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

Instructions
 

  • 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.

Notes

NUTRITION INFORMATION:
Calories 191kcal;
Carbohydrates 16g;
Protein 8g;
Fat 11g;
Saturated fat 3g;
Cholesterol 12mg;
Sodium 56mg;
Potassium 259mg;
Fiber 8g;
Sugar 6g;
Vitamin A 4%;
Calcium 28.9%;
Iron 10.3%
Chocolate Chia Pudding Recipe
Festive Chocolate Chia Pudding Recipe – a healthy indulgent dessert
IDEAS FOR TOPPINGS:
Cherries;
Berries;
Mango;
Pineapple;
Peaches;
Nectarines;
Apricots;
Kiwifruit;
Passionfruit;
Purees or sauces made from fruit and/or berries;
Nut butters;
Dried fruit;
Cacao nibs or a sprinkling of cacao powder;
Spices;
Shredded coconut;
Candied ginger;
Muesli or granola;
Nuts and seeds;
Creme Fraiche or whipped cream;
chocolate nibs, sauce or flakes
Keyword Dessert, Easy, Healthy, Vegan, Vegetarian

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My Weight-loss Journey

My weight loss journey has been a battle over the years. The urge to start writing this blog was because I finally succeeded in losing weight and keeping it off. The difference this time is that my weight didn’t bounce straight back up when I completed the program I was on. I’ve always been interested in promoting a healthy lifestyle through my nursing career. Now I want to help other people towards health through this medium. My weight is now in the healthy range for my age, and I plan to stay at this weight.

I was painfully thin as a child. I didn’t start to gain weight until after having children in my mid 20’s. My weight was still within a normal range until my 40’s. Medications, health issues and grieving all contributed to weight gain. This weight gain escalated after menopause. The battle to remain a healthy weight intensified with chronic back pain and a congenital heart defect.

My Previous Attempts at Weight Loss Were Unsuccessful

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! By being able to control my own diet in a healthy way, my efforts to lose weight have succeeded.

Adjusting My Diet Led to Success

The program I was on 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 carbohydrate, or low calorie 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. Extra flavour and texture is included like feta cheese, olives, snow peas and roast beetroot, so it’s interesting to my palate. The beauty of it is that you can choose what you like. If you don’t like olives but you love nuts, you can swap them out.

My weight loss journey - Before photo was  taken in Rome in June 2018.  The after photo was taken in November 2019 after I lost 17kg
My weight loss journey – Before photo was taken in Rome in June 2018.
The after photo was taken in November 2019 after I lost 17kg

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. During this weight loss journey 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 I am proud of what I’ve achieved and I do feel much better at this weight.

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.

My weight loss journey.  Before photo was taken in October 2018 when I weighed 83.5kg.  The after photo was taken in October 2019 when I weighed 66.1kg
My weight loss journey. Before photo was taken in October 2018 when I weighed 83.5kg.
The after photo was taken in October 2019 when I weighed 66.1kg

I Want to Inspire Other People to Live a Healthy Lifestyle

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. My weight loss journey 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.

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.

If you would like information on anything specific, please comment, and share this post as well! If you enjoyed this article, you may also enjoy:

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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 holiday 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 holiday season. Summer in the Southern Hemisphere is a time of beach, school holidays, barbecues and celebrations, 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. This post will discuss some of the ways you can manage temptations during special events. It will also help you to prepare some strategies before the holiday season.

A collage of tempting, unhealthy food that people may face over the holiday season.  Pancakes and icecream, fried  food, alcohol and large servings of Chinese food
So many temptations during holidays and celebrations. A collage of tempting, unhealthy food that people may face over the holiday season. Pancakes and icecream, fried food, alcohol and large servings of Chinese food

How to Manage Temptations at Events

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 until 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 in 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!

How to Keep On Track With Your Health Goals During Holidays and Special Occasions.  Shows a group of people at a party
How to Keep On Track With Your Health Goals During Holidays and Special Occasions.

I hope these suggestions will help you to keep on track with your health goals during the holiday season. The most important thing is to prepare beforehand. Acknowledge that sometimes eating unhealthy food can’t be avoided. In that case, enjoy the meal and get back on track the next day.

Survival guide for the Holiday Season

This is perhaps the busiest time of the year for most people.  Stress starts to build as we head towards the major events of the year.  This year has already been stressful for most people so the holiday season will leave us even more frazzled.  

Even if you love all the celebrations, the added toll you put on your body with parties will lead to fatigue.  Many people end up stressed and broke at the end of the holiday – they feel like they need a holiday to get over the holidays!

Think of all the upcoming events you and your family will have in the next few weeks and months:

  • School – Exams, Graduation, Formal and then Back to School;
  • Work – Completing projects, End of Year Parties.  Some industries are heading into their busiest time, e.g. retail;
  • Events – Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year.

An offer for you: free e-book

Survival Guide for the Holiday Season

My Survival Guide for the Holiday Season will help you stay healthy during this busy time.  You will get:

  • A guide to healthy eating, self care and exercise;
  • A planner to guide you to set goals for staying healthy;
  • Weekly trackers – checklists to keep you on track.

Sign up now to receive this survival guide completely free. It will help you to keep on track with your health goals during the holiday season. More details at the link.

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If my readers have some other solutions on how to keep on track with your health goals during the holiday season, please share them in the comments. I would love to know how you deal with social events and the “silly” season.

Shared on Denyse Whelan’s Linkup Life This Week.

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Dessert Grazing Platter

Healthy grazing platter for dessert

Healthy Platter to Serve for Dessert

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 of a grazing platter to serve for dessert, 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

Options for Entertaining

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.

Dessert Grazing Platter - a healthy option to serve your guests.
Dessert Grazing Platter – a healthy option to serve your guests.

Food to Avoid Serving

Try to avoid serving food high in sugar and fat. While being moreish and a crowd pleaser, the aim is to feed your guests healthy food. Avoid serving the following:

  • Chocolate mousse or puddings. Serve my healthy chocolate chia pudding instead
  • Blocks of chocolate or candies. Serve strawberries dipped in dark chocolate instead.
  • Pastries, cakes and sweet biscuits. Serve healthy protein balls or sugar free versions of your favourite cakes and muffins.
  • Salted or caramelised nuts. Serve raw nuts and seeds such as sunflower seeds

Delight your guests at your next gathering by serving them healthy food. They will appreciate the care and attention you make to their health.

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.
Prep Time30 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Dessert, Grazing Platter
Cuisine: Entertainment, Healthy
Keyword: Dessert, Easy, Entertaining, Grazing Platter, Healthy
Author: midlifestylist
Cost: Varies

Equipment

  • Decorative Platter
  • Sharp knife
  • Christmas cookie cutters (optional)

Materials

  • 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

Instructions

  • Assemble the ingredients on a decorative platter. Adjust the quantities according to the number of guests. You may like to serve a Savoury Grazing Platter as well, or add some of the savoury ingredients to this platter

Notes

Healthy grazing platter for dessert
A healthy version of a dessert grazing platter
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.

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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. Some people struggle to eat vegetables because of past experiences with badly cooked vegetables or lack of knowledge of how to prepare them. That is why I have put together this list of ways to increase the amount of vegetables in your diet.

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. Eating a diet that includes plenty of vegetables is essential for healthy weight control. One of my strategies to lose weight was to increase the number of serves of vegetables. I credit that one dietary change for most of my successful weight loss.

Here are some ways to increase the amount of vegetables in your diet:

  • A large salad for lunch, like my Super Spinach Salad recipe
  • A smoothie with vegetables e.g. spinach, kale, carrot, zucchini, beetroot. Try my Blueberry Smoothie recipe
  • 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 healthy vegetable soup recipe
  • 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 excellent option. In our supermarkets we can buy vegetables pre-cut and ready to cook which is a great time-saving idea. 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! If you enjoyed this, you may enjoy Why Your Waist Measurement Matters.

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

Main Image from Amroon Ra, Unsplash

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What’s with the Middle Aged Spread?

Why do People Get a Middle Aged Spread in Midlife?

What is 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! Weight gain around our waistline is sometimes caused 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.

How Menopause Affects Weight Gain

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 abdomen 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 (HRT) 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.

How to Control Middle Aged Spread

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. An adjustment in both my number of servings of food, and the amount of food I ate made a huge difference to my waistline.

Recommended Number of Servings Per Day

Here are the recommended number of servings per age group:

Men

AgeVegetables and
Legumes/beans
FruitGrainsMilk, cheese and alternativesLean meat, poultry,
eggs, nuts, seeds
19-506262 1/23
51-705 1/2262 1/22 1/2
70+524 1/23 1/22 1/2
Recommended Number of Servings Per Day – Men

Women

AgeVegetables and
Legumes/beans
FruitGrainsMilk, cheese and alternativesLean meat, poultry,
eggs, nuts, seeds
19-505262 1/22 1/2
51-7052442
70+52342
Pregnant528 1/22 1/23 1/2
Lactating7 1/2292 1/22 1/2
Recommended Number of Servings Per Day – Women

Adjust Your Eating Habits as You Age

You can see from this table, the number of servings changes 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, Eat for Health. If you are struggling to increase your number of servings of vegetables per day, read 13+ Ways to Get More Colour in Your Diet.

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.

What's with the middle aged spread?  Why do we gain weight around our waist in our 40s and 50s and what can we do about it?
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Getting Support With Healthy Lifestyle Choices

Get support when you are making healthy lifestyle changes

Don’t Try to Do It Alone

This article is about 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. Healthy habits are easier achieve when you have 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. 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.

Find Support Where You Can

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.

Don't try to do it alone when you make a healthy change.  Read about getting support with healthy lifestyle changes.  Healthy habits are easier to achieve when you share the journey.  Image is of two young females with arms interlocking, backs towards viewer
Don’t try to do it alone when you make a healthy change. Read about getting support with healthy lifestyle changes. Healthy habits are easier to achieve when you share the journey.

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.

Updated 26 September 2020

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Just Change One Habit at a Time

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. Just change one habit at a time as this will lead to more success. Small changes in your habits can lead to big outcomes.

I had noticed that the common thing 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 habit change meant I swapped a meal consisting of high calories, with one that had healthy vegetables and was only around 150 Calories.

Swap an Unhealthy Habit with a Healthy One

Changing any unhealthy habits, including weight loss, stopping smoking, or reducing alcohol intake, begins with one habit. My one habit 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 habit. 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.
Just change one thing.  How small changes can lead to a healthier lifestyle.  Motivation to change one habit at a time and achieve long lasting success.  Image shows a man looking over a lake in the mountains.
Just change one thing. How small changes can lead to a healthier lifestyle.
Motivation to change one habit at a time and achieve long lasting success.

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.

Updated 26 September 2020

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