Friday, 25 April 2014

Long time no post!

I'm still here! I am sorry I haven't posted in SO long. I actually have a lot of outfit posts, a lot of health updates, food posts, and things to say about exercise. I hope to get on to that soon.

But in quick summary:
- My health is still not 100% but I'm healthier now than I have been in a long time.
- I'm losing weight but very slowly (not helped by dodgy thyroid).
- I'm exercising every single day. It's like a modern day miracle.
- I am now allergic to wheat and corn so I don't eat those, and I don't eat sugar either. I don't crave or want any of it either, which is astonishing.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Healthy Eating and Weight Loss 3


Today I want to talk about water. I'm not going to go on about the health benefits as I'm sure we're all aware of them. One of the many ways that drinking lots of water helps with weight loss is simply by helping you to feel full. Anyway, we know we need to drink a lot of water - these tips are about how I make drinking water more enjoyable and how I track my intake.


I prefer not to drink any calories - to me it feels like a waste as I'd rather be eating them. I also avoid artificial sweetners like the plague. I won't go into a lecture; Google will bring up research revealing how bad they are for you, if you're interested.

So that leaves water to drink.

Flavouring water


I have started experimentint with different flavourings in my water. I do like a bit of lemon, but I don't like to drink water that has had lemon slices floating in it for a while - I find the pith of the lemon makes the water taste bitter.

A dash of lemon juice, however, is delicious in a glass of water.

I've been trying other fruits in my water, as well as spices - above you can see a stick of cinnamon in a bottle of water, and a jug of water with frozen raspberries in it. Both waters are delicious - the raspberry one is tart but has a distinct raspberry flavour; the cinnamon one, well, my friend Paula was visiting and her little girl drank some cinnamon water and said, "It tastes like doughnuts!" What more could you want?!

The cinnamon water is also divine with apple slices floating in it - mmm, apple pie flavoured water!

I also like to slice up a bit of fresh ginger root into a bottle of water and leave that for a while for lovely ginger-flavoured water.

You can leave the ginger or the cinnamon stick in the water for days, just topping up the water, but fruit tends to go a bit gross after a few hours or a day or so.

If you freeze chunks of fruit then you can use those as ice-cubes that will cool and flavour your water too.

You do have to realise that you are not creating sweet drinks and adjust your expectations it is still just water, but it has a more interesting flavour to it.

I really really want to try leaving a vanilla pod in water for flavouring! I also think melon would be delicious. Cucumber would be refreshing in summer - ooh, maybe a cucumber / fresh basil mix.

Try combining different fruits / spices / flavours, for example the apple and cinnamon mentioned above.

Tracking your water intake

I have big glasses (350ml / 12 fl oz) so only aim to drink 5-6 a day, rather than the standard recommended 8 (which adds up to about 2 liters either way). Here are a few ways I keep track throughout the day of how many glasses I've had:


This is a row of marble magnets along the top of my fridge (it's where I store them). As I finish a glass of water I'll pull one magnet down a little. I can see at a glance how many glasses I've finished.


We have glasses with embossed circles on them. I stick a pink window-cling sticker onto the bottom row of dots. When I finish drinking a glass of water, I move the sticker up a row. I can tell how many glasses I've had by counting the rows.


Sometimes I use a footed glass and draw 6 dots on the base with dry-erase marker. As I finish drinking a glass of water I erase a dot. I can always tell how many more glasses I still need to fit in that day.

I hope you'll try flavoured water - I'd love to know which is your favourite!

How do you keep track of your water intake every day?

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Healthy Eating and Weight Loss 2


As I've mentioned before, I follow the Weight Watchers programme, but I think these tips could be applied to any healthy eating plan.

Track what you eat


"If you bite it, write it." Research has shown that people who track what they eat are more successful in weight loss. Knowing you have to write down what you eat makes you think twice about eating it - especially if you go ahead and share what you eat on the internet like I sometimes do! If you change nothing else, simply tracking your food will make a difference.

I make my own trackers that fit onto my little "command central". There is space to check off my daily points usage, glasses of water, servings of fruit / veg, whether I've taken my vitamins, and even how many steps I've walked that day (for when I wear my pedometer). If you'd like to download the PDF file of my tracker, click here.

Copy yourself


I don't just track to stay accountable, I also track for my own reference. When I have a busy or ininspired week and I don't want to sit and think about what to eat, I can just have a look at what I've eaten before in a day and copy that. It takes the guesswork out of meal planning. The worst part about weight loss is that you kind of have to think about food a lot - following your own trackers means that you don't have to.

Budget your points or calories


If you are following a programme like Weight Watchers (or counting calories) you will have a budget to stick to. I get 29 Weight Watchers ProPoints (same as Points+) a day but it's not going to help me if I eat 20 of them for breakfast.

Through trial and error I've worked out how many points I want to set aside for each meal or snack throughout the day - 5 for breakfast, 6 for lunch, 3 for afternoon snack, 10 for dinner and 5 for evening snack. In the photo above you can see part of the sheet of paper that I have inside my pantry outlining my points budget and ideas for snacks and meals within those points. If you would like to download the PDF file, click here.

I do switch it up - if I know I'm going to make something for dinner that is more than 10 ProPoints then I'll eat fewer at breakfast, lunch or snack time, but it's nice to have a general plan.

Always weigh or measure


It is in your own best interest to always weigh or measure your portions because if you're estimating then you could be eating too much. BUT, you could also be under-estimating and giving yourself too little of something. Personally I want to squeeze in every last gram of whatever food I'm weighing, and not go short!

I have the Weight Watchers food scales (thank you, Rebecca!) and highly recommend them.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

The last two weigh-ins

After my first week back on plan I lost 0.5kg (a pound), which I was quite happy with.

This last week I only lost 0.3kg. I'm still pleased that it's a loss, but I know I can do better. I thought it over and realised where I went wrong:

1) I haven't been tracking properly
2) Right at the beginning of the week we went to a friend's get-together for her daughter's birthday and I ate lots of "naughty" food at the finger buffet
3) On Wednesday evening I went to a church meeting and there were refreshments afterwards - I ate two shortbread-with-marshmallow-layer bars and a cookie. I brought a cookie home for Grant but he didn't want it so I ate it
4) Grant has been working silly hours (I hate his rotating shift pattern!!) - leaving for  work at 5:30pm twice means I was caught off guard and didn't have dinner ready early enough, and wasn't going to cook for just me and the kids because they just moan about everything I make anyway, so we had toasted sandwiches or something (I can't even remember).

So, plan of action for this week:

1) Track, track, track! I think I will go back to photographing my food like I've done recently.
2) Avoid treats - they seem to be a slippery slope for me and I think I do better if I just abstain altogether. I know this will be hard on Saturday at the police family Christmas party but I will try hard to keep under control.
3) Plan meals for the whole week, taking note of Grant's shifts.

Friday, 30 November 2012

What I wore

A couple of recent outfits. I've been wanting a black knit maxi-skirt for a while. I thought it would be really comfortable and versatile - wear it with flip-flops in warm weather, and with leggings and boots under it in winter. Of course I couldn't find exactly what I wanted, so I made one and I love it. It's seriously more comfortable than wearing pyjamas. I wore it running errands - it was a warm day but I knew the supermarket would be cold so I added the denim jacket for that. (Not shown: I was rocking red lipstick for the first time. Go me.)




Skirt: made by me
T-shirt: The Warehouse (on sale)
Denim jacket: thrifted
Sandals: Hannahs (staff discount)
Watch: eBay
Necklace: Clarks outlet store
Spike bracelet: eBay
Silver bead bracelet: thrifted
Orange nail polish: dollar store

This is what I wore running errands and to a get-together at my friend's house for her daughter's birthday.


Skirt: made by me
T-shirt: Matalan
Cardigan: eBay
Sandals: Hannahs (staff discount)
Bracelet: gift from a friend
Earrings: part of a set from Matalan
Necklace: bails from eBay embossed by me; chain from Etsy

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Healthy Eating and Weight Loss 1

As I've recommitted to healthy eating and weight loss I've been thinking a lot about what works for me and makes it easier to eat healthily for weight loss. I jotted down a bunch of tips and thought I'd share them here.

Now, I'm of the opinion that I won't take financial advice from someone who can't look after their money and I won't take parenting advice from someone whose kids are running amok and I won't take weight loss advice from someone who is overweight. You might feel the same. Let me just qualify this advice by mentioning that in the past I lost 15kg (2st5lb / 33lb) and kept the weight off for 3 years. Our whole emigration drama happened then and the weight piled back on because I wasn't following the tips below. They do work.

I'm currently in the middle of losing the weight again and have so far lost around 10kg (1st8lb / 22lb) and will continue until I am back at my goal. Here are some of the things that help - I've broken them down into different subjects and will do a series of posts.

Please let me know if you have any questions that you would like answered, or topics you'd like addressed.


To start with I thought I'd talk about fruit and vegetables. You might be groaning if you don't enjoy vegetables, but hear me out.

Soup and salad


Besides the health benefits, fruit and veg help you feel really full. I follow the Weight Watchers plan and (almost all) fruit and veg have a zero ProPoints / Points+ value, which means that they don't count towards your daily budget of points.

Weight Watchers teaches you healthy habits. If you cook a WW recipe and divide it into the specified portions you will learn what an appropriate portion size is. However, if you're used to larger portions, you might not feel full at first, when eating the new smaller portions.

If you have a big bowl of vegetable-based soup (made without cream, butter, etc) or salad before your meal, by the time you have finished eating your meal you will feel really full and satisfied.

Use fruit or veg to bulk out pretty much anything you eat:
- add stir-fried peppers and onions to your cheese omelet
- pile your burger or sandwich with salad leaves, tomato, cucumber, pickles, onions
- top your oatmeal or cereal with a sliced banana, berries or steamed apple
- grate or finely chop carrots, zucchini, mushrooms or cauliflower to add to minced-beef dishes
- or simply enjoy fruit or vegetables on the side

Make sure you eat some fruit or veg every time you have a meal or snack and you will feel full and satisfied throughout the day.

Frozen and tinned fruit and veg


Don't feel like you need to constantly be going down to the store to pick up fresh fruit and veg if it's not convenient. Frozen and canned fruit and vegetables is convenient and sometimes has even more nutritional value than fresh as it's frozen almost immediately after being harvested. Be sure to choose vegetables that are canned without additional salt or sugar, and fruit that is canned in juice (not syrup) - I also drain and rinse my tinned fruit.

Frozen berries and fruit make wonderful smoothies. You can buy frozen fruit or simply freeze your own. I like to buy about 4 or 5 bunches of bananas at a time - I enjoy them fresh and then as they become super ripe I'll slice and freeze them in 1-and-a-half-banana portions, ready to make my favourite banana milkshakes as a snack or dessert.

You can also freeze any vegetables that you might have excess of, that won't get eaten before they start to rot.

Buying pre-prepared frozen vegetables can be a lifesaver when you're busy. I like to buy packs of frozen stir-fry for a quick and healthy lunch or dinner.

Tame that sweet tooth


If, like me, you have a sweet tooth then you know how difficult sticking to healthy eating can be when the cravings kick in. I do find that as I cut out sugar and limit carbs my cravings disappear, but sometimes the desire for something sweet becomes irresistible.

Rather than reaching for chocolate, try some fruit. A big fruit salad in the fridge that you can dip into any time you want can keep you from the cookie jar. A handful of berries or grapes can satisfy that sweet tooth. A banana milkshake will fill you up and give you the chocolate hit you are looking for.

If you still really want some refined sugar after eating your fruit snack, and it won't be denied, then have a little something - but at least you've snuck in one of your five-a-day first!

Grow your own


If you really don't like vegetables then I urge you to grow your own. Just give it a try. Vegetables fresh from the garden taste infinitely better than those from the supermarket. You might come to like vegetables ... and if you don't, at least you know you've given it a good try!

If growing veg is a bit much for you, try your hand at growing herbs at least. Fresh herbs can dress up any meal - whether used as garnish or for flavour - and most grow without much need for gardening skill.

Stuff your face

On those days when I just want to shove food in my mouth non-stop (*coughhormonescough*) or when I am just super hungry for some reason, I like to peel an entire butternut and slice it into French fries, toss with one teaspoon of oil, lay the "fries" out on a cookie sheet and roast until tender inside and toasted on the outside. Then I trough the lot. And it doesn't even use up any points (I don't count the 1 teaspoon of oil, but then again I don't use my weekly points allowance.)

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

What I ate


Breakfast - between 8:30 and 9:00 - 5 ProPoints / Points+


One slice of wholemeal toast with low fat soft cheese and an egg; peeled and sliced apple.

Lunch - usually around 12:00 - 5


I was out over lunchtime so only got to eat around 1:30, by which time I was starving. I made a huge salad (this is actually a serving bowl!) with iceberg lettuce, cucumber, tomato, carrot, yellow pepper, grapes, celery and leftover roast beef (from dinner the night before).

Afternoon snack - usually between 3:00 and 3:30 - 0 ProPoints / Points+


I had a late snack because I'd had a late lunch so just grabbed a banana.

Dinner - between 5:30 and 6:00 - 12 ProPoints / Points+


Bobotie (South African dish, click here for the recipe) with chutney, brown rice, and steamed broccoli, cauliflower and carrot.


I had a small banana smoothie for dessert.

Evening snack - usually around 9:00 or so


Chocolate cereal

Sunday, 25 November 2012

What I ate

Showing you what I eat in a day keeps me on track; here's what I ate on Tuesday. I didn't photograph my glasses of water with the meals - just know that I drink water throughout the day - and I tried a different way of photographing the food but although I think it looks nicer it doesn't show portion size very well so I've since switched to birds-eye-view-of-the-plate style.


Breakfast - between 8:30 and 9:00 - 5 ProPoints / Points+


I stir-fried some finely-chopped onion and yellow pepper, adding garlic and half a diced tomato towards the end. I put it into a 2-egg omelet with some Parmesan cheese and sprinkled it with salt and pepper.

Lunch - around 12:00 - 5 ProPoints / Points+


I buy bags of frozen stir-fry veges to have on hand for lunches (and the occasional dinner). I usually add in things like onion and cabbage - this time I just added onion. I also mixed in half a pack of low-fat instant noodles and some leftover pork loin chop (from dinner the night before) and sprinkled soy sauce over it all before devouring. I like stir-fry because you can eat a huge plate of food and it's zero points unless you add in goodies like the noodles and meat - but you can easily control how many extra points you add.

Afternoon snack - between 3:00 and 3:30 - 4 ProPoints / Points+


I had half a pita bread stuffed with some low-fat soft cheese and pineapple, with grapes and a peeled and sliced apple.

Dinner - between 5:30 and 6:00 - 10 ProPoints / Points+


Roast beef (done in the crockpot) with gravy, steamed broccoli, cauliflower and carrots, and roasted potatoes. I wash and dice the potatoes, toss them in about half a tablespoon of olive oil and some coarse salt, lay them out on a baking sheet and bake until crispy and my family loves them. Because I use so little oil over the entire batch I just count the potatoes (but then, I never eat my weekly points).

Evening snack - usually around 9:00 or so - 5 ProPoints / Points+


I had chocolate cereal with skim milk, and a banana.

Total ProPoints / Points+ for the day: 28
Servings of fruit / veg: 8

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Food diary in pictures

After 3 months of houseguests and moving too I'm sure you can imagine how far off the wagon I am. And yes, it is showing on the scales - I've gained 2.5kg (5.5lb) and that was getting off lightly. Yesterday was the first day back on track and I decided to show you what I eat when I am following Weight Watchers.

I eat every 3-4 hours or else I get low blood sugar and get really cranky and have no energy. I try to limit carbs and sugar. I don't feel like I'm on a diet and I don't go hungry.

Breakfast - usually between 8:30 and 9:00


Yesterday I had two scrambled eggs with salt and pepper and a little parmesan, and half a can of fruit salad (in juice), drained and rinsed, and a big glass of water. I didn't have any toast or cereal because I am breaking a sugar addiction and find I have no cravings if I start the day without bread or cereal. I am trying to eat fruit and / or veg at each meal and this was before I went to the vege shop so we had none fresh.

Lunch - usually around 12:00


Broccoli and cheese soup - a recipe from a Weight Watchers magazine - and a big glass of water (I also drink extra water between meals). I love this soup, it is delicious. I made extra and froze it in portions.

Afternoon snack - usually between 3:00 and 3:30


Banana smoothie with vanilla and cinnamon, 20g of almonds and more water. I was starting to get some carb cravings and this took care of them, filled me up and gave me energy.

Dinner - usually between 5:30 and 6:00


Lean pork loin grilled on the BBQ, steamed potatoes (I added a little butter and salt), salad (iceberg lettuce, tomato, cucumber, carrot, yellow pepper and grapes) with a little vinaigrette, and of course more water.

Evening snack - usually around 9:00 or so


I'm sure I'll get comments about eating (especially carbs) late at night but honestly it works for me and I still lose weight. I look forward to my cereal or porridge in the evening, it's my little treat :) If I don't have something to eat I wake up in the early hours with my stomach rumbling. Last night I had porridge (oatmeal) with skim milk, a little cinnamon sugar and sliced banana.

All of this food was delicious, filling and not too much hassle to prepare and fell within the 29 Weight Watchers ProPoints (Points+) daily allowance (in fact, it totalled 28).

Please let me know if you are interested in seeing different meal ideas as it will keep me on track if I know I am showing you what I ate in a day ;)

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Weigh in

On Sunday I weighed in. Grant's parents have left and my dad is visiting so I am still not totally on plan but have been toning things down a little. I had lost 100g - which is still better than staying the same and of course much better than a gain.

15 ways to style a black dress


I found the perfect black dress at SaveMart (a thrift store) and it only cost $12.99. It fits perfectly, is super comfortable and I knew it would be very versatile so I gleefully snapped it up when I found it.


If there's one thing you should have in your wardrobe, it's a black dress. You can dress it up or down and wear it year round. Here are a few ways that you could style your plain black dress:

Coloured tights
If, like I am, you're a little nervous of sporting coloured tights then stick with darker shades - maroon, forest green, navy, or purple like I'm wearing here. I chose purple shoes to help elongate my legs and tied in the colour with a purple handbag and a floral scarf and bracelts with purple in them.
Tights: Number 1 Shoe Warehouse; Shoes: Lime from Next outlet; Bag: SaveMart; Bracelets: gift from my friend Rachel; Scarf: Primark


Scarf and boots
Toffee coloured boots bring this dress into autumn. A matching belt and a soft scarf complete the look.
Boots: Clarks outlet; Scarf: can't remember; Belt: came with a dress from Tesco


Touches of punk
Enjoy the punk trend by adding black leggings, black flat boots, and leather and spike bracelets, with a denim jacket. I only have riding style boots but biker boots would look awesome.
Boots: Clarks outlet; Leggings: Matalan; Leather bracelet: Cotton On; Spike bracelets: eBay; Denim jacket: SaveMart


A pop of colour
The black is lifted by a pop of turquoise in necklace, ring and shoes.
Shoes: Asda; Ring: eBay; Necklace: eBay


Fun coat
The black dress is a perfect background to this fun polka dot coat. Fishnet tights and black shoes complete the look.
Coat: SaveMart; Shoes: thrift store; Necklace: Accessorize outlet


Lighten up for spring
A white cardigan, yellow belt and wedges bring this dress easily into spring. The belt-over-cardigan thing just looks wrong on me but if it works on you then I'd recommend wearing it that way.
Cardigan: Sainsbury's; Belt: eBay; Wedges: eBay

Layer a blouse underneath
Adding a blouse underneath the dress creates a little interest at the neckline. The red belt and wedges tie in nicely.
Blouse: thrift store; Belt: Sainsbury's; Wedges: Asos


Another spring look
The contrast of the black showing through the white of this crocheted cardigan really shows up the lacy pattern. Adding a pop of colour with necklace, bracelet and wedges keeps the look fun.
Cardigan: thrift store; Necklace: Clarks outlet; Bracelet: can't remember; Wedges: Number 1 Shoe Warehouse


A touch of silver
Shine with silver in shoes, belt, bracelet and necklace.
Shoes: eBay; Belt: eBay; Bracelet: thrift store; Necklace: Next (gift from my friend Rachel)


Casual in pink
A pink short-sleeved cardigan, ballet flats and bunting necklace keep this look casual.
Shoes: Tesco; Cardigan: eBay; Necklace: eBay


Out on the town
Dress it up with sexy shoes, pretty jewellery and a pashmina (or, in this case, a scarf repurposed as a stole).
Shoes: Hannahs; Scarf: can't remember; Necklace and bracelet: Forever 21 (gift from my friend Leith)


Casual and comfy
Another casual look with a short-sleeved cardigan, long necklace and black flats.
Cardigan: eBay; Necklace: gift from my friend Karen; Shoes: Brantano


Layer a fun 70's inspired chiffon blouse over the dress and add a belt. Team with boots for a look that screams autumn.
Boots: Clarks outlet; Necklace: can't remember; Belt: Matalan; Blouse: eBay


Black and brown
Yes, you can mix black and brown together! Add a brown belt, chocolate corduroy blazer, brown tights and black shoes for a comfortable winter look.
Blazer: Next outlet; Belt: thrift store; Necklace: Accessorize outlet; Tights: Asda; Shoes: Shoe Market


Keep it casual
A denim jacket, long necklace and wedges are enough to keep this dress casual.
Jacket: SaveMart; Necklace: gift from my friend Leith; Wedges: eBay


And there you have it, 15 ways to style a black dress! And on a budget too - if you read the fine print you'll see that almost everything I wear is thrifted, on sale, from eBay or from outlet stores. There's no need to spend a lot when growing your wardrobe.

I hope this was helpful in some way. If there are any other items you'd like to see styled different ways, please let me know in the comments and I'll see what I can do :)