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It’s Droptober again.

The never-ending challenge to be more healthy in a world awash with excess, with junk, with tempting morsels!

I like a challenge that is specific and time-limited. I don’t seem to do so well on the “just eat healthily and do exercise for the rest of your life” mode of being.

Although my Fit it is keeping me motivated, new month, time for a new challenge. OK, the month is just over half way through, but trust me, I’ve been doing this since October 1. (What is it about linking challenges to the calendar? Do you like starting them on a Monday or the first of the month too?)

Anyway last year I made up Droptober: dropping something unhealthy from the diet for a month. I broke the nexus between a cup of tea and having to have several bikkies. And I lost a couple of kilos. And I haven’t felt the need to eat a lot of bikkies since. I used to buy packets and packets every grocery shop. Now I might pop in one or two, but usually walk straight on past the biscuit shelves.

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Droptober time again! I just read through my entries from last year. God, I impressed myself! I was not only more prolific, but I wrote some good shit.(Click on Droptober to the left and have a look, if you like.)

Opps, focus! What am I dropping this time?

1. Limit white bread. Swap toast for porridge Monday to Friday.
2. No biscuits. (OK this one won’t be too hard.)
3. No cakes or similar except for special occasions, such as birthday or dinner out. (This is hard as there’s always a morning tea for something or somebody!)
4. No sausage rolls. (We seem to have these too often for morning teas.)
5. No lollies or chocolates or sweets – except one small treat a day. (Mmmm, we always have chocolate and lollies in the house. A house of lolly and chocolate lovers. They fall out of all manner of hiding holes.)
6. No chips or Twisties or the like (except plain chips when on road trips as they stop me getting car sick.)

So, basically I am dropping the things with bad, processed fats and white flour and the things high in sugar – and in some cases, both!

How would you go on this challenge? Would it make much difference to your eating patterns.

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If you’re dieting, why are you eating that?

You know the rolled eyes? The one that means, “Thought you were dieting?”

I’ve also been directly asked, “Why are you eating that? I thought you were dieting?” Or, “But that’s high fat.”

See, I’m not depriving myself. I’m not changing my whole eating plan. I am not making wholesale changes.

What I am doing is making one small change – to my snacks.

(And no getting around it by saying I will have the slice of cake for lunch. Cakes and bikkies are not lunch food.)

I still have oven fries occasionally with my steak for dinner. And BBQ sauce, which is high in sugar.

I still have pasta. With grated cheese on top.

I still go out for Indian or Thai.

I still have the occasional toasted white bread with jam for breakfast.

Diets, where you have to follow a menu of foods you wouldn’t normally eat, don’t work. You cannot sustain it. No one can. You won’t eat what you don’t like or don’t normally eat. You come off “The Diet” and put the weight back on.

But a small change, a change to my snacks, a return to 1970s view of treats, has had a big impact on my diet, diet in the broader sense of what we eat daily.

There is scope to make more small changes should I feel the need or feel I am up to it. Portion size, alcohol reduction, more protein, more fish. I might look at those. But for now, I can definitely see the principles of Droptober continuing, even if more “special” foods slipped in while on No no no November.

I don’t feel deprived. If the cake is delish, and it is a special occasion, and I have not had it every day in the past week, I can treat myself.

Now, all this might fly out the window if my cholesterol continues to rise. But as my waist is shrinking and my weight is decreasing, I hope there is a commensurate decrease in my cholesterol.

And while I went nearly totally cold turkey in October Droptober, I allowed myself the occasional treat. A treat in Droptober that had some eyes rolling at work…. A gluten free mango cake. My God it is the most delicious thing you have ever tasted. It is worth whatever its calorie content. I had two small pieces. It is such a rare treat as it has to be especially ordered in with 24 hours notice; this one was because we had an international delegation visiting our workplace. I haven’t asked where I can get it from. I don’t want to be tempted to get it too frequently.

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10 Things I Learnt from Droptober.

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A month of dropping the non-nutrient, not-real foodstuff I have learnt:

1. Don’t have the tempting foods in the house. If they are readily to hand, when you are feeling hungry or tired or emotionally weak, you will eat them.

2. If you have to buy junk for other members of your family, as mothers often have to do, buy things you don’t like. Then you won’t be tempted.

3. Have healthy alternatives ready. Some fruit cut up or fruit that is easily eaten. Some yoghurt. Some nuts.

4. Plan for when you are at work. Being busy and hitting the blood sugar lows makes you more likely to reach for a quick sugar burst.

5. Don’t beat yourself up. We are all surrounded by so much junk food and advertising of junk food that it is easy to be influenced without even being aware. And old habits are hard to break. And, sometimes it is just nice to have some of the sweet and creamy foods you like. That is why cake has always been used at birthdays!

6. Allow yourself some treats. But plan for them! Eating a slice of cake for a birthday or dessert on your wedding anniversary is not an act that should cause you to feel guilty.

7. Small changes work. Putting yourself on a diet that requires a restrictive menu of food you wouldn’t normally buy doesn’t work.

8. Don’t feel bad saying no to requests to buy fundraising junk. I found saying my doctor says I can’t because of cholesterol a quick way to stop possible pestering. No one wants to be responsible for causing your ill-health.

9. Have a good breakfast.

10. Make sure you drink plenty of water.

Oh, and an extra one for nothing. I lost weight. I didn’t address portion size of lunch and dinner; or cut my alcohol consumption; or eliminate cheese and I lost weight. If you are a regular consumer of junk, you will lose weight too. Make sure you are eating healthy foods and doing some exercise. Then your weight loss will be fat, not muscles or water.

I won’t post my weight loss until next week as I will use the digital scales at my next appointment at the exercise physiologist.

Hallowe’en, not dropping it

I thought I’d be strong. I thought I’d resist the lollies. But there’s something about an open bowl of lollies.

Teeth lollies. Who doesn’t love them? Full of memories of childhood and pretending you had false teeth.

And gob stoppers! Those mouth full of gum that parents banned.

Still, I think I have been somewhat restrained. Only one teeth lolly and four gob stoppers. Ending Droptober with some sugar. Oh well! Remember the no recriminations rule! It could have been worse. I could have eaten chocolates and biscuits today.

Most of the lollies have been given out. And I know my sons will save me from the rest.

Yes, I’m one of those. An Australian who loves Hallowe’en. As I don’t believe in supernatural beings, I don’t care about religious objections. And as I love a bit of fun, I don’t care about the objection that it is “American”.

I decorate my house in a modest way. As do some of my neighbours. I give out lollies. I used to dress up my sons. Now they are too old for it but one still loves seeing all the kids come and loves giving out lollies. He even rang me at work earlier today to ask where the lollies where so he could get ready for the kids.

After dark, we don’t get many knocks. Australian trick-or-treaters mainly come in the day light. Well, it is daylight savings. (And the kids here don’t really get the concept of trick or treat; some simply smile and ask for lollies, but they do dress up. Who doesn’t like an opportunity for fancy dress or playing dress-ups?) Householders who welcome kids hang out decorations or in the very least, black and orange balloons.

I actually wasn’t going to put up any decorations this year. I was exhausted from work and I thought my youngest son was past it. But a neighbour said I just had to. So in between exercises yesterday I popped up these:

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Last year’s effort:

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Mmmmm. The front shrubs need a pruning. Looked much neater last year.

When’s diiinnner?

In the main I have been careful to make sure I have food to eat at times I know I will be hungry. There has been one slip up – last Friday, when I ate the scones with cream and jam for morning tea.

One slip up, that is, until today.

Tonight was my husband’s turn to cook. I was starving. It was late. He was exercising. I ate a slice of bread with marg and honey and two handfuls of Nutrigrain. I could not stop. He would not cook dinner to my schedule. (I am channelling Hemingway with the short sentences and no adjectives or adverbs. Too hungry for superfluous words. See, I am really not myself; my verbose, loquacious self.)

My first real fail at a home in a time I know I normally get the hunger cravings.

Normally my darling husband likes to eat early and complains when I serve dinner after 7pm. I had to leave to go back to work at 7.10 and dinner wasn’t ready and it was after 6.30. If I had known it wouldn’t be ready in time, I would have cooked. Instead I tried to fill my stomach with things and whinge. Loudly. Repeatedly.

Getting shitty didn’t help me but I wasn’t going to let reason stop my ranting and raving and blaming my husband for my bad food choices. His hobbies taking precedence over my hunger was reason enough.

Lesson learnt. I need to have some food ready to nibble, like carrots and hommous. I have been ending to make my own hommous for weeks. I will really have to get a move on.

Actually, I must have been suffering from male pattern blindness. There was some tzatziki in the fridge. And leb bread. Now that would have been a better choice than honey on bread and Nutrigrain.

So real lesson learnt. Don’t grab and run when you are hungry.

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Quitting time

“I’s the boss. I say when it quitting time.”

“OK.”

“Quitting time.”

I realise that it has been over a week since giving you an update on Droptober. That’s because I have been rather successful at it. And, as I have written before, success makes for rather a boring blog. There’s no drama, no need for readers to commiserate, no heightened emotions.

So why have I been able to drop the junk?

There has been the occasional chocolate. (Allowed under my sub-rules, so no breaking the Drop.) This month is not about total deprivation. It is about dropping the unhealthy snacks. One little daily treat is allowed. The treat is savoured rather than shoved down the gullet in the handfuls. Knowing I can have the chocolate is often enough; there have been days when I just didn’t even feel like one.

It may be my mind is like that when I did Dry July? It is only a month, we can cope. Possibly. But I think my internal thinking really is more along the lines, “Treats are for sometimes. Your health and weight loss are more important that eating junk every day.”

But those who can’t stand to hear that others are successful where you are not in battling the reaching for fatty junk food, fear not. I succumbed yesterday. At a meeting off-site, so no access to my office or work fridge. Meeting started at 8.30, and by morning tea time I was famished. My tummy was grumbling. I ate two small scones with jam and cream. Didn’t feel bad about it, just wished there was a more healthy choice. I couldn’t not eat because I would have been making earth shattering grumbling noises by lunch, (which was a Thai beef salad and fruit, quite healthy).

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I didn’t eat the chocolate last night as I had already eaten a treat with the scones. Remember the concept of treats? They are for sometimes, for special occasions, not for being the major source of calorie consumption or eaten throughout the day, everyday.

Earlier in the week I explained to a colleague that I had eaten enough biscuits in my life and really didn’t need another Arnotts assorted to feel like I had something good in my life. Much better to be healthy and look forward to the treats that will come at Christmas.

My husband is doing his best to support. No negative comments, no saying “You shouldn’t eat that.” Yesterday evening he was siting outside. I went to talk with him. “Don’t come out here!” he called with a sense of urgency or warning.

“Why? Did you fart?”

“No, I’m eating liquorice.” Bless him. He didn’t want to tempt me, knowing I don’t want to weaken and break my Droptober.

But you see, it is the same as the Great Wardrobe Diet. Get over the initial addiction, and it becomes much easier.

Get it out of the house

This is what Michelle Bridges says to do if you want to start her body transformation.

Throw out all the crap food in the house. Clear out the cupboards of all the sugary, processed and tempting refined foods that have been holding you back. Restock with fresh whole foods.

But when you are not the only person in the house, you can’t do this. I know, I know. People say, “But you’re the mother and you should have healthy food for your children.”

Well, one of my kids is an adult and the other one is nearly there. They both will buy junk if it is not in the house. And as they both also eat healthy food, and do not have a problem with their weight, why should I deny them access to the treats that until two years ago I enjoyed without any impact on my weight or cholesterol?

And then there is my husband. He enjoys chocolates and biscuits and the occasional ice cream. If I don’t buy them, he makes a trip to stock up on Darrell Lea favourites. And he asks where the biscuits are from my fortnightly grocery shop, if I don’t buy any. (As do the kids.)

But I know that in moment of need weakness, if junk is present, I will reach for something naughty. Like last night for instance. My youngest was eating Darrell Lea liquorice after dinner and left the packet open, in full view of me. The smell is quite strong and I succumbed. (Though I did stop at two little pieces. And I didn’t eat my allowed chocolate as I had the liquorice instead.) But it just goes to show. I didn’t want it until I saw and smelt it. Imagine when I am feeling down or have a craving for something? I will scoff it if it is there!

So how to reconcile the competing needs? My family’s need to have the junk they like. And my need not to be tempted and to protect my health and weight.

Well, last shopping trip I bought these:

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My husband loves them. I hate them. No matter my sugar craving, I won’t be tempted.

And I bought him these:

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I love Darrell Lea soft eating liquorice. But I won eat hard liquorice and I won’t eat bullets. These can be sitting right next to me, and I won’t be tempted.

I found this in the rubbish bin.

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My darling husband had bought these for himself but hid the packet as he knows I love them, won’t stop at one if I see them in the pantry and am doing Droptober, so these are dropped. So his hiding them wasn’t an act of selfishness but an act of support and kindness.

And you know what? When I saw the empty packet I didn’t feel left out or deprived. I know these chocolates will continue to exist and when my weight is down and it is an appropriate treat time, like Christmas, I can have some. I don’t need them every day!

(And just a little brag. I had my hair done yesterday. While I am waiting for the colour to set, my hairdresser brings me a cup of tea and either biscuits or scones with cream. I told her I was doing Droptober, so she gave me a small cup of almonds with my cup of tea. And in the afternoon I visited my sister-in-law who put out a plate of Aldi chocolate Christmas treats, which she says are divine, to go with our cup of tea. But I said no thank you. Told her about Droptober. [She had already noticed how good I looked and how my waist looked slimmer.] I ate some yummy grapes instead, EVEN THOUGH THE TREATS SAT ON THE TABLE THE WHOLE TIME I WAS THERE and my sister-in-law ate one and made a face of ecstasy and said how heavenly they were. I will wait till Christmas to try them. God, I’m virtuous.)

So my journey to gorgeousness continues! And today I am off to lunch here:

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I won’t lie to you. Beers will be drunk. And pasta eaten. My tax will have to wait for another day. Fun is the order of this weekend.

Exercise log week 3

My last week of exercise while I am on leave.

Will I be able to sustain the regularity when I am back at work? Pilates is in my diary, so that is safe. But I cannot dodge out of work early every day. Weekends are generally free to do two walks and one set of exercises. So I need to fit in another two walks and one set of exercises.

Anyway, here’s my log for the past week:

Day 1: 3.18km walk in 32 minutes. My set exercises.
Day 2: 3.2km walk.
Day 3: 4.2km walk in 47 minutes.
Day 4: 4.2km in 44 minutes.
Day 5: 4.2km walk in 46 minutes. 1 hour Pilates.
Day 6: 2.75km walk in 26 minutes. My set exercises.
Day 7 Yesterday: Nothing! Sydney had a bad day. The wind was wild and I live in an area with lots of trees. Too dangerous to walk as branches of gum trees (also known as widowmakers as they drop branches) can fall without warning. And Sydney was ringed by bush fires; the sky was orange and full of smoke. So too smokey to walk. (And my thoughts are with the many who have lost their homes.)

Droptober review of Day 14 to 17.
Day 14: No bikkies or cake or waffles or any high fat and sweet things.
Day 15: one piece of chocolate.
Day 16: one piece of chocolate.
Day 17: no baddies passed my lips. As in none of those things I dropped.

It’s not hard, it’s soft

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Every year, Australians drink 113 litres of soft drink each. Or 300mls every day per person.

I might have a can or a glass once a month, so who’s drinking my share?

And why is it called soft drink? What’s soft about it? OK, there’s no alcohol. But sugar is addictive.

So glad that I am happy with water and tea (no sugar, lots of milk) during the day and I don’t have an addiction to cola or other soft drinks to contend with. All those empty calories! All that damage to your teeth!

But what about other sweet drinks? I have cut my morning glass of fruit juice. I always knew it was better to eat the fruit and that juice is the fruit sugars concentrated, but the one I drank had calcium added to it, I only drank a very small amount, less than half a cup, and I did enjoy the way it refreshed my palate in the morning. Then last month my supermarket stopped stocking the calcium fortified juice, so I thought bugger it, I will just stop. So that’s one less high sugar source in my diet. Don’t know if it will help my weight loss.

Now my confession. I do like adding cranberry juice to a glass of bubbles. I figure the vitamin C and dilution of alcohol is worth the drinking of sugar.

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The progress Day 12 to Day 13:

  • Day 12 = had more of the banana bread and a chocolate.
  • Day 13 = in a bad, bad mood all day. But did not turn to chocolate or lollies or biscuits for comfort. I did have half a slice of banana bread. Thank goodness it is all gone now.
  • Latest round of exercises

    Oh, she’s a cruel woman, my exercise physiologist.

    No actually she is just a young, fit whippersnapper who loves sport and exercise.

    And I do feel sorry for her, trying to motivate and push me. Madness, I know, given the pain I suffer with my back and that I pay her to give me exercises, but I do try to bargain down the number and repetitions that I have to do.

    She is also a stickler for form. Exercises have to done correctly or the intended muscles won’t be worked. I strongly recommend getting someone who knows the correct form, stance, move to show you and guide you rather than just doing them on your own.

    Anyway here’s the update on my next round of exercises:
    1. Dead lifts, 3 sets of 12 with 15 kilos. I have trouble with the correct form of these. I tend not to move from the hips but just complete the movement with my shoulders.
    2. Lunges, 3 sets of 15 on each side. These are killers! Oh my hip flexors!
    3. Step-ups, 3 sets of 15 on each side. I have to watch the stability of my pelvis and knee, hip and angle alignment. I am stepping up two steps on my verandah. On the top I lift my knee up, and then return the foot to the start. This one really makes me sweat.

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    4. Side plank from the knee, 3 sets each side with 15 leg lifts. I am only able to do 12 leg lifts this far. But I am building up. Previously I could only do 10 leg lifts.

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    5. Plank, 3 lots of 30 to 60 seconds. I am only at 22 seconds at the moment, but I will build up.

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    I have also added bicep curls, 2 sets of 8 at 7.5 kg, and triceps, 2 sets of 10 at 4 kilos.

    And a range of stretches focusing on my backside, hamstrings, hip flexor, back and side of my body. You can look here for some stretches I do.

    Droptober update
    Flippin’ ‘eck. That banana bread is delish! I was cursing my husband for bringing it in.

    “Don’t you know I am trying to avoid fatty things?”

    “Yes, but you can have it for breakfast instead of toast. And you don’t need to put anything on it. You’re looking good. Droptober’s working.”

    “I’ve only lost half a kilo.”

    “We’ll, the shape of your waist has changed.”

    Is there anymore motivation to NOT have that second piece than knowing your husband has noticed your weight loss?

    So this far in Day 12, I have only had one “naughty” thing, a slice of the banana bread. Did I tell you it is 40% banana?

    Staying strong! Hope it holds for the afternoon and evening.