Archive | June 2013

Half way through 2013, the year of lean

At the end of every month, I reflect on how I am doing with The Great Wardrobe Diet. But as we are half way through the year I thought it is appropriate to reflect on my goals for the year.

Let’s start with the positive. Great success with The Great Wardrobe Diet.

This month I have only bought one pair of shoes – necessary for work as I have had severe back pain for 8 weeks and as all my work shoes have high heels I needed a pair with a low heel. And I bought a couple of bracelets – cheap, costume jewellery which I do feel kind of guilty about because who knows in what conditions these were manufactured. But not too bad for 6 months.

I have continued to decluttered my wardrobe, shop my wardrobe and re-imagine old items into new outfits.

Which brings us to the next success.


I planned to declutter one thing a day, in the manner of Colleen. And I have been doing this. Well, sometimes I do a few day’s or even a week’s worth at one go, as my job is very time consuming. I am pleased to say that my wardrobe is looking less disorganised and my junk room is nearly at the stage that it can’t be called a junk room.

What I have been less successful is in photographing my daily declutter and posting a reflection on my blog about the item. I had planned to reflect on why I purchased the item or why I kept it; in the aim of addressing and changing patterns of behaviour that had resulted in so much stuff. Dare I say rubbish?

However, I am happy about how I have changed my attitudes towards shopping. Fewer items are coming into my house, than are leaving. I no longer see shopping as a pastime. When I do need a specific item, such as the shoes I bought, I don’t accept near enough. If they don’t have what I want/need, I don’t buy anything. There have been some clothing items I initially think I wouldn’t mind, but then I think about the items I have that are quite similar, even the same, and hardly worn. And, just quietly, I have become a bit of a Scrooge. Charging those prices! They must be mad! There are better things I want to spend my money on than more stuff to add to cluttered wardrobes and rooms.

Ahhh! Now to the not successful resolutions. As well as a leaner house, I wanted a leaner me. I had been working so hard on my fitness but a bad back for 8 weeks has resulted in little, really no, exercise. 70 kilos was my last weigh in. Argh! Haven’t seen that since pregnancy many, many years ago.

Now, lest my next weigh in seem I have been making inroads, let me tell you I have been ill for a few days. Vomiting, not eating have made a dent in my weight, not hard work or self-control.

I had also vowed to be a no-food-waste house. This is really one of the so-so achievements. We are much better than most households and better than we have been in previous years but we could be more committed.

Another resolution was to use one of my digital cameras. Well, I haven’t touched them. No, that’s not true. I have moved them when I needed to dust.

And the big secret continues to be that which I ignore.

Let me tell you after the first few years it becomes easier. I know I will feel so much relief and so much lighter when I get it done. Soon, soon, I say. And another tax year rolls on by.

Well, there it is. Not totally good, not totally bad. It is what it is. A year half done and some goals achieved, some habits reformed, some areas leaner, some areas not. Still, I will be Pollyanna, there’s 6 months to go. Plenty of time left.

Exercise Physiologist

Thought I’d share with you what my hour at the Exercise Physiologist entailed.

Started with a few questions about why I had made an appointment – 8 weeks of pain from a bad back; my usual therapies (massage, osteopath) had give temporary relief but the pain returned with a day or two; anti-inflammatory drugs eased pain but I don’t want to take drugs long-term.

She then explained what an Exercise Physiologist does – assesses needs, designs an exercise program to strengthen muscles, turn right muscles on and build correct use and posture. The work has to come from the patient.

Looked at my X-ray report, asked usual about general health. Some data was taken – height, weight.

Then I had a full body DEXA scan.

20130627-073713.jpg Pout – too much fat, and in the dangerous place, ie around my waist. Remember this post? My waist has been a concern even when I was lighter.

We then had a discussion about what I hoped to achieve; what my goals were for treatment; how committed I would be to an exercise program.

Then I did the Functional Movement Assessment. Think you can touch your toes? Well, every exercise has to be done in a “just so” way. Legs together. Hands here. Back straight. Head this way.

I have been moving in a certain, perhaps unnatural way, to compensate for my bad back. This test showed it clearly.

Ever eager to please “the teacher”, I wanted to show her I could do it. “Look, I can touch my toes like this.” “But I can do a push-up/lunge/leg-raise like this.” Always kind, she responded that it was lovely.


Finally, more talk about how we would progress.

I will go back in a week. By that time she will have designed a program for me. Half an hour a week with her. And, no doubt, lots of homework. I’ve never been good with homework.

Failed my tests

So, I have a bad back. Cause, consequence. Chicken, egg. Who knows?

But my increasingly sedentary life has not helped, both in the pathology or the treatment. Spend a lot of time sitting at work, causes a bad back, causes can’t move, causes bad back.


In the two months I have been “disabled” I have put on 5 kilos!!!!

I have had massage, osteopath, drugs, Pilates. All give temporary relief. But the pain returns.

I even bought one of those allegedly non-false back things on TV. Don’t bother. Waste of money. But when you’re in pain, you are willing to try anything. True!

So, my doctor recommended an exercise physiologist.

It’s a new profession. Rather than a passive treatment, as in having things done to you such as a massage, this is an active treatment. The exercise physiologist develops an exercise plan.

I don’t have that yet. Today was the assessment. Over an hour.

Hence the title: failed my tests.

I hate failing. And I tried so hard to pass. Even though the exercise physiologist said it is not about pass and fail; it is about assessing for treatment.

What’s my failure?

  • 70 kilos!!! I have only been that when I was pregnant.
  • Nearly 40% of my body is fat.
  • Over 40% of my waist is fat.
  • I scored very low on a functional movement assessment.
  • Boo hoo. So how committed am I to change?

    I want the pain gone.

    I want stability in my back.

    I want to lose weight and body fat.

    New challenges on the agenda. New routines and habits to build.


    The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul by Deborah Rodriguez


    So, I’m reading again. All is well with the world.

    Well, not in the country in which this novel is set.

    Rodriguez opened my eyes. With all the reports on the nightly news, with the images in our newspaper, with other novels set in Afghanistan (like Parvana) that I have read, this book still opened my eyes. I have learnt a lot.

    Some information provoked further investigation, such as the visit to the last Jew in Kabul. Some details were very interesting – like the colour of Afghani wedding dresses, food eaten, customs – but there were also striking, important ideas that go to the heart of much that troubles me. Specifically, why is there so much hatred of women? It defies understanding, defies comprehension. Where’s the benefit to society? To men? To families?

    Why the need to control? To inflict pain and destruction?

    There were some bits of this novel that were a little cliched, reunions too sweet, too coincidental. And some of the dialogue didn’t ring true.

    But I enjoyed it, as much as it challenged me. (And I always love to learn something new or see things from a new perspective.)

    Thank you Jo for your gift. It was good read.

    Back in the day

    I have been decluttering my junk room. It looks less and less like a junk room with every passing day. At the moment I am sorting photos.

    I take hardly any photos now we are in the era of digital cameras. I think the joy, the surprise, the mystery has disappeared.

    Remember when you took one or two or, when feeling extravagant, three shots. Then you waited for weeks, months, even years, until the film was full and the photos developed. Back came the photos. A thumb in the way. Red eyes. Heads cut off. Over exposed. A few gems.

    Now we take hundreds of shots. “No, wait. Need to take another one. That one’s not right.” And again, and again, and … “That’s e-bloody-nuff.”

    Then we had the joy of looking at photos found in boxes, in drawers, and for the organised, in photo albums. Now, we save them in the thousands in our hard drives – only to lose them when our PC crashes. Or people turn them into books, as if they are professional photographers. Again losing the serendipitous encounter with our past.

    Like some of these gems. Two with my sister. (We were often in photos together before she abandoned my to move interstate.)

    Who’s that serious looking child? Not me. I’m the baby that my older sister is letting fall. Even the blow-up Pluto is looking on in surprise. I do love the black and white photos. Things look so more interesting, don’t they? Even back yards in the suburbs with washing hanging in the back ground.


    And here we are all groweded up. In the 70s. I know, the purple poncho and black lace up boots are a give away. So on trend for the 70s pre-teen.

    And what glamorous environment are we at? Hadn’t we heard of the Clean Up Australia campaign then? No. Anyway, we were at the Domain. With the speakers. Like London’s Speaker’s Corner at Hyde Park. Politically evolved people were too focused on politics to pick up their rubbish.


    Was I ever this skinny? This is me in the 90s. Obviously pre-kids.


    Probably didn’t eat so many pastries or so much bread. Definitely didn’t drink as much alcohol. But did eat more chocolate. It was a gorgeous dress – sequins, halter neck… What’s not to love?

    May the gorgeousness return!

    A post-blah post


    A litany of blah symptoms: bad back, long hours at work, short hours of daylight, (and all these three mean I can’t walk, so have put on kilos), work to bring home on the weekend (yuck, double yuck), listing food is boring. It’s boring me to even write it. And the killer blow? Developer wants to put in flats. Flats! Next door. I live in a lovely heritage listed house. Have I told you I swear? This makes curse, cry, scream.

    Actually I just have a general sense of ennui.

    You know when you are bored at work (or even at home) and people say, “Why don’t you do X?” The answer is I never said I didn’t have anything to do, just that I was bored.

    And the killer? I don’t even feel like reading a book!!!

    I can’t sustain the mental concentration.

    I flick through my favourite blogs. And guess what? Apparently they don’t update as often as I flick! But I still flick back within the half hour, just in case. I need entertainment.


    I have been doing some decluttering. But couldn’t be arsed taking photos. That sense of ennui.

    I have had a half-hearted thought of putting things on eBay or gumtree to sell, but, you know….

    Luckily I don’t feel the need to use shopping as entertainment.

    Then some of you – Jo, Sarah – you are so good. Look at your higher consciousness, Jo, and general all round goodness. I feel guilty putting my plastic shite in the bin. And Sarah, your neatness and organised living!

    Anyway, sob, moan, whinge…. Blah de, blah de, blah.

    Now here’s the plan. I decided to force myself to read a book. Once into a book, I always feel better. Just need to get going.

    And tomorrow, I will outline my eating issues. Maybe someone can give suggestions for improvement?

    And a final random picture from google image searching for I’m bored.


    Edited to add: I wore bunches growing up. Remember when they were called that and not pig tails? Or was it just my family?

    First world blogger problem

    Feeling blah! I don’t feel up to posting. Couldn’t be arsed logging my food.

    But I check into my blog to see if anyone is visiting. (OK, it’s more a procrastination technique – flicking through websites rather than doing anything useful or meaningful.)

    And then I feel hopeful when I see my stats. People are viewing my site!!!

    Nah! It’s just spammers. Leaving crappy messages that don’t even make sense.

    Any real people out there reading?

    We will resume normal transmission shortly.

    Back on the chain gang

    After a conference with continuous consumption piled on top of a long weekend of excess, I was not surprised to hear the scales sigh in exasperation at me expecting, hoping, wishing the scales to show a weight loss.

    OK, the scales didn’t sigh. They showed no emotion. Even when they showed a weight I haven’t been since I was pregnant!

    Is this a plan?


    OK, time to do better. Let the accurate recording re-commence.

  • Breakfast: usual workday breakfast of Vitamin D pill, small glass of calcium enriched juice, porridge made with water with sugar and low-fat milk.
  • Morning tea: eighth of apple, two mugs of tea, handful of grapes, about 5 strawberries, eaten throughout the morning, from about 10am until 12.30.
  • Lunch: toasted cheese and cranberry jelly on wholemeal.
  • Afternoon tea: I use tea loosely. I had two glasses of bubbles and a banana. Not at the same time. About an hour in between.
  • Dinner: bowl of red curry with chicken, beans, brussel sprouts, red capsicum and rice. There was also bamboo shoots in the curry but I don’t eat them. Why eat wood? And 2 mandarins for dessert.
  • Sounds OK. Yeah, I had alcohol but it is Friday. Now before I reveal my shame, let me tell you what I refused today. I didn’t eat the piles of junk offered at morning tea. I declined chips (as in hot, greasy chips). I turned away from doughnuts and pastries. I didn’t even go and look what was on offer at the other table. I looked, but didn’t touch, the chocolates from the Cadbury Milk Tray, even though my favourites were still there.

    And now the shame. While typing this post, I have eaten four Scalliwag biscuits. Even typing about how good I have been, even knowing I am sharing my food consumption, even focusing on healthy eating didn’t stop me opening the packet, taking three and then returning to have another one. They are such good dunking biscuits and I had a craving for something sweet. And the two cups of tea just called for a Scalliwag. Craving satisfied. Now I won’t eat anything else for the rest of the night.

    Not from Australia? Don’t know what a Scalliwag is? Yummy chocolate biscuit, but not with chocolate coating.


    The Perils of Conferences

    I spent the last 3 days and 2 nights at a conference.

    Conferences are the devil’s work when it comes to tempting one in eating and drinking to excess. Good intentions are forgotten by the first morning tea. And conference dinners are fraught for those who are trying to reduce alcohol consumption. Positively fraught, I tell you!

    Being locked away in air conditioned dungeons, without seeing the real world, brings with it a whole other worldliness in which eating several pastries for morning tea seems quite reasonable. And butter chicken, beef bourguignon, Moroccan lamb stew, rice, Greek salad, bread roll and fruit for lunch? Why ever not? Oh, and now it’s afternoon tea! Feeling quite peckish. And I do so need a pick to wake me up.

    I didn’t record all the food and alcohol that crossed my lips. Oh the shame! The shame! (To paraphrase Dr Smith.) I can’t actually recollect what I ate or drank. Vast quantities is as close to an accurate record as I can get. Glasses of bubbles were passed into my hand by others with frequent generosity last night.

    And, if only I could say I burnt off the extra calories by fast and furious exercise. No time! No desire! What is it about conferences where it seems there is no time to actually do anything? And chatting away the lunch break seems more desirable, than getting changed to do a spot of exercise. The more you eat and drink, the less you feel able to move. In for a penny, in for a pound. If I am going to let myself go, go big, I say.

    But in one area I stayed strong. I vowed not to bring home the gumpf from the conference sponsors. Last year’s bag of advertising material was only recently decluttered. Why have it messing up my house? Why would I have rubbish in my home? Why collect things I don’t need and don’t want?

    So this year, I did not collect any of the little gadgets, knick-knacks, lanyards, pencils, “executive toys”. I decluttered the bag of advertising material before I came home. I have only kept a few pens, a cotton bag, a very good back pack, a few USB sticks and a couple of pages of advertising material that I want to share at work. The stationery will be used by my family.

    This didn’t come home with me:


    Back on track tomorrow.

    I hope!

    Long Weekend Sustenance

    I don’t know that I did too well this long weekend! I did stop eating some things and stopped myself going back for more, such as for another teaspoon of Nutella. (I have never stopped at just one before!) Definitely earned the could-do-better stamp.

    So let’s have a look.


  • Breakfast, around 10am: half a small glass of calcium enriched juice, 3 pieces of white bread with jam, pot of tea, milk for the tea.
  • Cup of tea.
  • Lunch, around 2pm: small tin of baked beans.
  • Party, from 5 to 9.30: well, memories are vague, so quantities are even vaguer. Quite a few glasses of sparkling wine, some little nibble things – couple of smoked salmon on piklets, one with roast beef, twisty pesto thing, some pâté twirly things,one twirly thing with egg, homemade sausage roll(s), little case with cherry tomato and feta or Bocconcini, mmmm, maybe that’s it!!??
  • Afterwards: piece of vegetarian thin base pizza. (Left over from kids’ dinner!)
  • Sunday

  • Breakfast, around 11am: half a small glass of calcium enriched juice, 2 pieces of white bread with jam, pot of tea, milk for the tea.
  • Lunch, around 3pm: 2 pieces of vegetarian pizza. Square of freetrade, organic dark chocolate. Cup of tea.
  • Dinner, around 6.30pm: BBQd piece of New York cut steak, oven roasted chips with ETA BBQ sauce (Is there any other brand! I know tomato is better, and BBQ is mainly sugar but I love it), lots of salad with mixed lettuce, cherry tomatoes, cucumber and Persian Feta cheese with Balsamic salad dressing.
  • Midnight cup of tea, after coming in from night out, parched.
  • Monday

  • Breakfast, around 10am: small glass of calcium-enriched juice, 2 soft-boiled eggs, I piece of white toast with butter, pot of tea, milk for the tea.
  • Snack, around 2.30pm: small apple.
  • Another snack, around 4.30 (no lunch): one piece of white bread toasted with butter and honey and a mug of tea. Delish!
  • Dinner, around 7pm: homemade chicken, leek and mushroom pie with carrots and French peas. Thanks Jamie. This is soooo good. (I modified Jamie Oliver’s chicken pie from his 30 minute meals. Sorry, Jamie but I like my version better. Though I never would have got there without you.) And for dessert? A teaspoon of Nutella and a mug of tea.
  • Today’s decluttered items = still decluttering one thing a day, and here’s this weekend’s efforts:
    5 caps and 1 hat:

    Cracked folders and plastic sleeves. Sorry for the plastic, and landfill but there is nowhere else for these. Dastardly plastic!:

    A cardboard folder holder, squashed up and destined for the recycling bin:


    And a little item given as a “gift” from a home delivery company. This opens up as a shopping bag. But it stinks! No way could I even donate it. Why did they give it to us? And without a chance to say, “No thanks.”