Saturday, December 29, 2007

Training update

My last eight weeks of training have been great. Have been focusing on developing my glutes and hamstrings, and getting some more thickness through my upper body. My programs have included some new exercises, and some that I haven't done for a while, all at a fairly low rep range. It all seems to be working as my clothes are getting tighter around my thighs and under my arms. My strength is increasing too, with some PBs in the last week. The next two weeks will be higher reps, then on to something new.

This time last year...

I was still stuffing my face, LOL, so am definitely making progress.

I've put on about 1.5kg since last Saturday, but I've also recently increased my calorie intake and started on creatine, so I'm not sure that all the weight is Christmas cheer. Still plays with the mind a bit though.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Lessons from Christmas

I managed to keep my indulgences to Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and was pretty much back on track by Boxing Day, so am happy about that. However, I didn't plan to indulge on Christmas Eve, and I ate more than planned on Christmas Day, and I think that's mostly due to drinking on both occasions, as I tend to be more relaxed with my food choices after drinking, especially when it's a smorgasbord-type situation. So next year I am going to try negotiating Christmas without alcohol and see how I get on.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Score, one for me!

I just successfully avoided Christmas mince pies. I looooove Christmas mince pies. This is probably no big deal for a lot of people that have to cope with this sort of thing at work at this time of the year, but I usually work from home and manage to avoid that sort of thing (I don't buy them so I can't eat them). I'm doing some contract work on-site at the moment so it's something different for me. OK, back to work.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

A Holiday Survival Guide

1. Expect to stay on your program over the holidays

“Fail to plan and you plan to fail” is a time worn and cliched statement, but it’s still some of the best success advice you will ever hear.

Not only do most people fail to plan, they consciously plan to fail over the holidays. Most people expect to “blow” their diet and skip workouts over the holidays. They expect to eat more, to exercise less and to gain weight. As a result, they don’t even make the effort.

Instead of taking control, they resign themselves to maintenance at best, or back-sliding at worst. This negative expectancy leads to a self-fulfilling prophecy. By the first week of January, they’re in the worst shape they’ve been in for a year and they frantically make New Year’s resolutions to shed the excess fat they’ve gained.

You can avoid this trap by planning to succeed during the holidays. Set up a positive expectation. Resolve now that you will not tolerate slipping backwards. Keep your standards up and don’t settle! Not only can you plan to “stay in shape” over the holidays, you can plan to improve! All you have to do is make the decision and expect success.

2. Plan all your workouts in advance

You know your schedule is going to get hectic over the holidays. You’ll be cooking, shopping, wrapping gifts, sending cards, going to parties, traveling, visiting family, and so on. To stay on your training and nutrition regimen is definitely going to take some sound time management skills.

Plan your schedule in advance. Anticipate what’s coming up. Write it down. Put it on your calendar. By doing so, you won’t be caught unprepared.

Use a schedule book or monthly calendar and “make appointments” for ALL your workouts for the entire holiday season. Then, post a copy where you will be forced to look at it every day. This is a powerful exercise that will keep you focused and force you to think about and prepare for each upcoming workout.

If you try to “wing it” and squeeze in your workouts and meals whenever you have time left over, you’ll find that there never is any time left over! Somehow your daily activities always seem to “expand” to fill the hours in every day. So schedule your workouts and meal times in your calendar just like you would any other appointment or event. Once you’ve done that, stick to your schedule religiously.

3. Set some compelling training and fitness goals over the holiday period

Don’t wait until January 1st to set your goals just because you think it will be harder to achieve them over the holidays. On the contrary, studies on personal achievement have shown that you’ll usually reach 80% of the goals you put onto paper. The problem is that few people set any goals at all, and fewer still set them during the holidays.

Why wait? Why not do it now? Set some big goals that you can start working on during the holidays:

Set a goal to lose the 25 lbs you’ve always wanted to lose NOW Set the goal to gain 10 lbs of solid muscle NOW Been contemplating a competition in bodybuilding, fitness or the new ladies figure division? Pick an early spring show and GO FOR IT - START TRAINING NOW!

Goal setting should not be a once a year affair, it should be a continuous process. You should always have your goals in writing and your list should be regularly updated and rewritten. If you only set goals once a year, you’re not going to accomplish much in your life.

4. Give yourself permission to have “free meals” - and schedule them in

A planned “free meal” or “re-feeding day” helps you to stay on your program better in the long run. If you’re too strict all the time, you’re setting yourself up for cravings and bingeing.

A few free meals per week will have very little effect on your physique. Also, if you’ve been on a strict, low carb and/or low calorie regimen for a long time, a full day of maintenance level calories might actually be good for you! It will boost your metabolic rate and give your body the signal that you’re not starving and that it’s ok to keep burning a lot of calories.

Over the holidays, schedule your dinners and parties so they become your “free meals.” Then, for the rest of your meals, be steadfast! Just the fact that you know you have free meals coming up will relieve the pressure of staying on a strict diet for a long time.

Also, when you do have your free meal – ENJOY IT! If you’re going to eat it and feel guilty, then don’t have it at all. If you’ve stayed with the program all week long, then when your free meal rolls around, you deserve it!

5. If you fall off the wagon, get right back on it

So you had about a dozen too many of those Christmas cookies did you? Don’t worry; because you have free meals built into your plan, you shouldn’t let guilt immobilize you. Even if you fall completely off the wagon, don’t beat yourself up. All you have to do is get right back on your program without missing another beat.

Too many people mess up once and then think their entire diet is ruined. They feel as if everything they’ve done prior to that day was wasted and there’s no sense going on. Or even worse, they rationalize to themselves, “Well, I already cheated, so it doesn’t matter now, I might as well keep pigging out.”

That’s nonsense. If you threw in the towel every time you didn’t score 100% on your diet, most people would never get through more than a few days on any structured program. Just because you slip up once doesn’t mean you should quit! You’re only human. Don’t let one small slip keep you derailed. Firmly plant your wheels back on the tracks and start rolling again.

6. Maintain your consistent eating schedule

If there’s one thing that all people who successfully get lean and stay lean have in common, it’s consistency. Without it, you never get any momentum going. It’s like taking two steps forward, only to take three steps back.

Many people allow the busy Holidays to throw them off their regular eating schedule. They completely veer off their usual meal frequency, or they start eating foods they would normally never eat (because “it’s there”).

Once you have a habit pattern going, it’s fairly easy to keep it going. But once you lose momentum, it’s very difficult to get it going again because you must overcome inertia all over again. (An object at rest tends to stay at rest!)

On the major holidays, when there’s a big dinner scheduled, many people think that skipping their morning and afternoon meals to “save room” for the big one later is a good idea. It’s not. This is actually a good way to invite a binge that could set you back for days.

Don’t lose your consistency or your momentum. Continue with your pattern of eating small, frequent meals all year round. All you have to do is count your holiday dinners as one of your regular meals and keep them small.

7. Control your portion sizes.

You can have your cake and eat it too – you just can’t eat the whole thing! One of the most important rules to remember this holiday season is the law of energy balance, which states: To lose body fat, you must consume fewer calories than you burn up each day.

There are two corollaries to the law of energy balance:

1. A caloric surplus gets stored as fat – even healthy food.
2. Small amounts of anything – even junk food – will NOT get stored as fat if you stay in a calorie deficit.

There’s no reason to deprive yourself of things you enjoy. Just make sure you don’t overindulge. As long as you enjoy your favorite foods in moderation, and you keep working out, it won’t end up around your waistline.

8. Don’t buy into the low standards and expectations of others

Keep your standards high, but don’t expect other people’s standards to be as high as yours. Remember that most people have already planned in advance to fail at fitness over the holidays. You’ve decided to stay strong (haven’t you?) Don’t let their negative influence drag you down.

When you’ve reached your pre-ordained drink limit, say “When” and switch to water or a non alcoholic, non caloric beverage. When they offer you seconds on dessert, politely say, “No thank you, it was absolutely delicious, but I’m full, I can’t eat another bite.” And when the wee hours of the morning start to roll around, and your friends are egging you on to keep partying, politely tell them you need your sleep. Tomorrow is a work out day. If they’re really your friends, they’ll understand.

9. Make the best choices possible in every situation.

You know those tables you see at holiday parties that are covered with yards of chips, dips, pretzels, cookies, salami, candies, punch, liquor, and a seemingly endless assortment of other goodies? Well, did you also notice that there is usually a tray full of carrot sticks, cauliflower, celery and other healthy snacks too?

No matter where you are, you always have choices. Sometimes you have to choose between bad and worse. Other times you can choose between good and better. But always make the best choice possible based on whatever your options are. If nothing else, you can choose to eat a small portion of something “bad” rather than a huge portion, thereby obeying the law of calorie balance.

Chances are good that there’s probably something healthy on the menu at every holiday gathering. As you know, lean proteins and fibrous carbs are a great for getting lean, so fill up on the turkey breast, try to get a vegetable in there, and go easy on the desserts.

10. If you drink, enjoy alcohol in moderation

If you enjoy having a few drinks on special occasions, then go ahead and have a drink or two. But if you’re serious about your fitness goals, you must drink infrequently and in moderation. Alcohol puts fat oxidation on hold while providing a large amount of calories. When there’s alcohol in your bloodstream, you’re not in fat burning mode.

I’ve never met anyone in my life that was truly serious about fitness or bodybuilding who was a heavy drinker. Alcohol and muscles just don’t mix.

The impact goes beyond added body fat; your energy levels and workouts can be ruined for days after a night of heavy drinking. A glass of wine actually has some health benefits. But there’s NEVER any never reason or excuse for binge drinking or getting drunk.

So go ahead and toast to the New Year, but know when to say when.

In conclusion, there’s no reason to let your exercise and nutrition program spoil your holidays, but there’s also no reason to let your holidays spoil your exercise and nutrition program! Put these 10 holiday tips into practice and you can start losing fat today, not next year.


Friday, December 7, 2007

Sleep Deprivation and Fat Gain

from a newsletter by Tom Venuto and

a new study published in the December 2007 issue of "Nutrition Research Reviews" says that sleep deprivation can reduce leptin (the anti starvation hormone, also known as an anorexigenic hormone) and increase ghrelin, a stomach hormone that increases hunger.

This makes total sense. Think about it: less sleep equals more awake time. More awake time equals greater energy needs. Greater energy needs can be satisfied by increasing hunger hormones. Leptin and ghrelin are appetite-stimulating hormones.

The human body is incredible and amazingly self-regulating, isnt it?

In addition, when hormones are out of balance, that can affect nutrient paritioning.

Nutrient paritioning refers to where the energy comes from when you have a calorie deficit - fat or lean tissue - and where the energy goes when you are in a calorie surplus - fat or lean tissue.

So, when partitioning hormones are messed up due to sleep deprivation, it's entirely possibly that you are more likely to add fat (not muscle) when in a surplus and lose muscle (not fat) when in a deficit.

This is similar to what happens during stress. Stress also does not "cause" fat gain, but it certainly correlates to fat gain, for similar reasons. Imagine what happens when you are stressed AND sleep deprived?

Some people seem to get by with less sleep than others. I know many people, myself included, who excel physically on 6-7 hours a night, so there is certainly a variation in sleep needs from person to person.

Developing sleep habits that promote deep, high-quality sleep may also reduce sleep needs an hour or two. This includes going to bed and waking up at the same time every night, getting to sleep early and awake early to maximize night time sleeping hours and daylight waking hours, sleeping in a dark room, avoiding alcohol and stimulants prior to bedtime, reducing stress and exercising regularly.

However, in light of past research and the new data that was just published, if in doubt, it's surely better to err on the side of a little more sleep than a little less sleep, if more muscle and less fat is your goal.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Rep Counting and Self-Talk

I'm going to be doing some lower reps over the next few weeks, and am going to try out this technique:

Q: I read somewhere that you have your athletes count reps backward instead of upward. Is that true?

A: That's correct. This allows you to stay focused on the goal while also being focused on the process.

Let's say I want you to get your best ever 5 reps on a lift. A lot of guys will do one rep and think, "Expletive-of-choice-that-rhymes-with-fire-truck, will I ever make it to five?" By three reps they're thinking how heavy it is and they start doing all this negative self-talk. But if they start at 5 and count down, then the set is going to be over — five, four, three, two, one — and they stay focused.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Ho, Ho, Ho into those Christmas Calories

An excerpt from Craig Harper's post on the real meaning of Christmas.

I was on ABC radio here in Melbourne on Saturday discussing how we might enjoy the Christmas cheer without enjoying the traditional Christmas weight gain, and let's just say that my thoughts weren't met with universal approval from the listening audience. How dare I suggest that we don't gorge ourselves on Christmas day. I was unaware that 'moderation' was a synonym for misery and deprivation. I was also unaware that we 'deserve' to eat ourselves to oblivion and that my thoughts on the matter are unrealistic and impractical. The message I got from some listeners is that there exists a direct correlation between calories consumed and 'Christmas spirit'. And that there also exists a strong link between how much food is on the Christmas lunch/dinner table and having a good time. Lots of food = good time. Not so much food = bad time.

According to some listeners, I'm an idiot and a dickhead. How dare I suggest that we include some healthier options on our Christmas menu and that maybe we don't continue eating until we explode. What am I thinking? Apparently, the point of Christmas is food. You know that whole 'three wise men, the manger, Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus' thing? Well, turns out that the real meaning of Christmas is to see how much pleasure we can give ourselves via an inordinate amount of calories. Who'da thought?

How could we possibly have festive cheer without the gluttony? It's what we do. And not doing it, is a form of deprivation. It's disrespectful. It's breaking with tradition, and who are we to question our parents and grandparents who paved the way by over-eating before us? We've even taken our 'Christmas cheer' to a new level. They'd be so proud.

The crazy thing about Christmas is that we actually plan to overeat and we think that's normal and acceptable. It's what we do. It's how we celebrate. And if we don't indulge ourselves we feel like we've 'missed out'; a little neglected even.

Maybe I'm a freak, but the notion of planning to over-eat on a given day seems kinda stupid to me, especially when I live in a country with one of the fastest growing obesity rates on the planet and more fat (sorry, full-figured, big-boned, voluptuous) people, with more obesity-related medical conditions than ever before. Call me crazy. Call me boring.

While I had my share of supporters who thought I was speaking some common sense, there were others who asserted that "people like me are perpetuating eating disorders" and that I was "a self-righteous moron". One woman told me that I was "dull and boring" and that I was a member of the "fun police" because I suggested that we moderate our food intake on Christmas day. I also had numerous abusive text messages. All in all, a fun time for me.

Okay so here's exactly what I think about ho, ho, ho-ing into those Christmas calories:

1. Of course it's okay to enjoy food, look forward to a meal (or ten) and to incorporate some 'treat' foods into your Christmas food plan. The occasional splurge is fine, but not when it lasts for two weeks or two months. The biggest eating issue at this time of the year is simply the ridiculous volume of food we consume... and not for one day. We eat because it's there. Because it's free. Because it's at our finger tips. Because we've worked hard all year (and therefore we must overeat - go figure) and one of my personal faves... because it's all paid for! Wouldn't wanna waste anything would we? Imagine a world where we ate because we actually needed food, rather than wanted it, medicated with it, socialised with it or rewarded ourselves with it. What a concept. Crazy, I know. That'll never catch on. Needs-based eating... not a chance.

2. It's not okay to plan to overeat. I know this kind of thinking puts me in the minority, but I don't care. People can rationalise over-eating with whatever weird-ass, self-serving psychology they like, but the truth is, it's destructive and bad for our bodies. I am amazed at the ability we (we the society) have to justify stupid behaviour because it simply makes us feel good (for about an hour). One woman said to me recently "but yer gotta live" and when I asked her "so if you don't over-eat at Christmas, does that mean you're not living?" She got grumpy. Of course. When there is no logic left for you, reach for the insult or the indignant eye roll and heavy sigh.

3. Some traditions are stupid and destructive. I don't care how long you've been doing it 'that way'. My great grandparents, my grandparents and my parents all smoked... quite the tradition really.

4. We are pleasure addicts and we associate food with pleasure, therefore more food equals more pleasure. But what happens five minutes after we finish our Christmas lunch binge? We feel physically ill, we feel tired, we regret eating so much and we put our body in a state of stress because our digestive system is working triple-time trying to deal with an extreme over-supply of food. Excess food that our body doesn't want, but our mind tells us we need to enjoy the 'Christmas experience'. What a load of crap.

5. I love food. It's why I was a fat kid. Sorry, voluptuous. Full-figured. And I know that food can be a source of pleasure in a healthy, sensible eating strategy. I look forward to my mother's Christmas lunch and yes, I will enjoy some 'Christmas foods' and some pudding. But no, I won't eat mountains of it. And no, I won't feel sick or regretful afterwards. I know that I don't need to over-eat to have a good day. Actually, I may substitute the pudding for cheesecake.

6. "But surely Craig, you are being a little 'food police' on us; it's only one day?" Good question. I actually don't care too much about that one day of the year. If it was only about over-eating on one day out of three sixty five, I wouldn't write this piece and we wouldn't have a problem, but you know, and I know, it's not. It's about the entire Christmas/New Year period. Some of us over-eat for a month. Some of us for a lifetime. It's the psychology and the mentality behind the Christmas excess (not just that one meal) which is of concern to me. I have worked with many people (over the years) who have gained between 3-5 kgs (6.5-11lbs) over the Christmas/New Year period. They always regret it. Emotionally, mentally and physically, they feel horrible. I worked with a guy a few years ago who gained 10kgs (22lbs) between Christmas day and the end of January - quite the effort. It took him three months to lose.

7. Do not mis-interpret what I am saying. I am not saying don't eat or don't enjoy your Christmas meals. I am saying don't use Christmas as a way to justify gluttony. Eating - fine. Stuffing yourself with an excess of food - not fine.

For me, Christmas is about giving, laughing, relaxing, hanging out with my family, being grateful for what I have and listening to my Dad sing (for want of a better term) all those carols. Again. I really wish he'd get a new CD.


Monday, December 3, 2007


Chicken, Pear & Spinach Salad

My new favourite!

Adapted from More Taste than Time by Annabel Langbein

Serves 1

50g baby spinach leaves
1 Tbsp white balsamic vinegar
1/2 Tbsp flax oil
1/2 crunchy green pear, cored and cut into cubes
50g warm cooked chicken breast, sliced
15g walnuts

Toss baby spinach with vinegar and oil. Mix in pear and chicken and garnish with walnuts.

The crunchy pear and walnuts add nice textures and flavours.

I've been cooking up a batch of chicken in the weekend, and portioning it out into sandwhich bags, then freezing. I just grab some out of the freezer every couple of days, so I always have some defrosted chicken on hand to warm up and pop on a salad.


"Perfection is the enemy of progress". There comes a point where you have to stop analyzing and just do it! (Allenkt)

Sunday, December 2, 2007

44 Weeks to Go

Eating more to gain weight has got me really interested in how the human body works. Well, specifically, how mine works. The more I eat, the faster my metabolism seems to go. I'm now eating about twice as much as I was precomp, and even with all these extra calories I'm still a little hungry at the end of most days. I've worked out a meal plan I'm pretty happy with for the first six meals of the day, so now it's just a matter of trying out different food selections and combinations for my last two meals until I find things that help me feel full. I'm like my own little science experiment, LOL. I'm feeling a lot more relaxed about my eating now that I've got a rough plan happening. That way I don't have to think about it too much. Now I just have to make sure I don't get too relaxed and start slipping off-plan things in here and there.

Sleeping has been reasonably good. I've been able to get a few sleep-ins to make up for days when I don't have much sleep (not ideal but better than nothing). Work should be easing back a bit from now on (just one job at a time instead of two, LOL), so am looking forward to having some more R&R time. I've got the Christmas/New Year period off (except for one small fun job), and I can't wait. I'll be training like it's my job, sleeping like a sloth, and eating like a pig (just joking!).

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Great Body. Pity About the Rest.

Another pearl of wisdom from Craig Harper:

Myth: Getting in shape is essentially a physical process.
Reality: Getting in shape (that is creating forever physical change) is more of an emotional and psychological journey than anything else. The physical change is a consequence of that journey. If we don't change emotionally and psychologically, we will never create lasting physical change.

Great Body. Pity About the Rest.

From the same post:

Working hard to be in good physical shape is a good thing; a healthy goal. But not when it's to the exclusion of developing 'all' of us. Not when it distracts us from who we really are, who we might become and what we might achieve beyond a six-pack and some perfect teeth. And not when it turns us into unbalanced, self-absorbed, insecure obsessives.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

45 Weeks to Go

Phew, have been really busy with work this week. Have two jobs on the go at the moment.

Not last weekend but the weekend before I tried a move in yoga I hadn't done for a while and ended up overstretching the illiacus muscle in my hip. Luckily I have a resident myotherapist (my lovely husband) so he was able to get me sorted out pretty quickly. It meant I missed a leg workout on Tuesday last week though as I was still pretty stiff and sore.

Apart from that, things have been going really well. My weights/reps are all still going up, and I feel like I'm eating enough now to fuel my workouts and grow some muscle. I'm getting more sleep and I think that's really helping too.

Goals for this week:
Mon Upper Body + cardio done
Tue Lower Body + cardio done
Wed walk dog/yoga done
Thu Upper Body + cardio done
Fri Lower Body + cardio; plan meals for the following week done
Sat walk dog/yoga; food shopping done
Sun prepare lunches for the week had extras left from previous weeks, so no need, yay!

Every day I must also:
Journal my eating yes
Go to technical failure in the gym yes
Get at least 8 hours sleep ahem

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Tagged Again!

Thanks Ali :-)

Five things you probably don't know about me:

1. My husband and I met in a gym! We got married on our 10th anniversary and have now been together 13.5 years.

2. I have worked as a fitness instructor (weights) and started a nutrition degree but didn't finish it. I'd like to complete it one day, but at the moment I'm just enjoying reading nutrition articles to find out how they can help me rather than understanding all the biochemical reactions involved.

3. I work from home - going to the gym each day gets me out of the house and gives me the opportunity to socialise with other people.

4. I first tried to prepare for a competition about 12 years ago, back when no-fat diets were all the rage. I got lean real fast (probably the leanest my legs have ever been) but had no energy, and ended up sleeping most of the time that I wasn't training (I was only working part time then). I also had upset stomachs from all the protein I was eating. It wasn't until I started working for myself about three years ago that I decided to give it another try.

5. I'm not genetically cut out to do bodybuilding, but I do it because I love it.

I tag Deb, Di, Magda, Tara & Ursula

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Keep It Simple, Stupid

I have a tendency to make things difficult for myself. I overanalyze things. I found the perfect way to decribe this the other day: paralysis by analysis. I give myself too many choices then can't decide what to do. This is a problem at the moment with my food. I keep thinking about what to eat, how much to eat etc. It's taking up way too much of my time - time that should be spent working or sleeping. I just need to remember that as long as I'm consistently eating clean I'll be fine:

'Before you go psycho trying to figure out your post workout meal or order the latest supplements, realize that if you can just consistently exercise and eat clean then the rest of this stuff just does not matter. While you are busy losing your mind and eating bad because you don't have everything right, your neighbor is steadily 'out-dieting' you by eating "some" good things "most" of the time!' (Jodi Jones, Cathy Savage Fitness)

Not that I'm eating bad, but I do feel like I'm 'sweating the small stuff' too much sometimes.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


The lie: Motivation will get you there.
The truth: It won't, motivation comes and goes. It's about commitment - that's what keeps us going when the motivation is absent. It's about being totally emotionally invested into that endeavour so that even when you don't 'feel like it', you're still doing what you need to do to create your desired outcomes. When most people have thrown in the towel, you persevere.

Monday, November 19, 2007

46 Weeks to Go

Got all my workouts in last week, just! And had at at least eight hours sleep every night except two, so that's one better than the week before. Once I've gone a week with at least eight hours sleep every night I'm going to reward myself with a trip to the hairdresser. My hair really needs it so I better start getting some more early nights! Weights sessions are going really well, making small improvements in weight or reps each time. I'm making a real effort to go to failure with each set - my husband would be proud of me, LOL. That's one thing he always used to hassle me about when we trained together - stopping when I got to the required number of reps instead of when I couldn't continue with good form.

Keeping a food log and recording my weight regularly has also shown me some interesting things. I train in the mornings and tend to be hungry the rest of the day, and am then lighter the next morning. On a nontraining day I'm not so hungry, and am heavier the next morning. Common sense really, but something I didn't really think about until I started recording my numbers. This week I'm increasing my cals a touch again, with a little extra on training days to see if I can fix the hunger.

Eating has been going really well. After being restricted with my diet for so long I've found having heaps of variety is keeping me pretty satisfied. I didn't end up having a treat last week. I had thought about a few things I wanted at the start of the week, but the week went by so fast and by last night I realised that that I hadn't had any of them - I didn't feel like I was missing out on anything though. Am sure there will be plenty of opportunities for treat foods over the next few weeks.

Goals for this week:
Tue Upper Body + cardio done
Wed Lower Body + cardio no, overstretched hip muscle doing yoga on Sun, and was still too sore to do legs today
Thu walk dog & do yoga walked dog but didn't do yoga
Fri Upper Body + cardio; plan meals for the following week done
Sat Lower Body + cardio; food shopping done
Sun walk dog & do yoga walked dog but didn't do yoga
Mon prepare lunches for the week did on Sun!

Every day I must also:
Journal my eating yes
Go to technical failure in the gym yes
Get at least 8 hours sleep no, stayed up late one night

Braised lamb shanks with polenta

For Di :-)

2 tbsp cumin seeds
3 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tsp sea salt
4 lamb shanks, about 250g each
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled and finely diced
2 small sticks celery, trimmed and finely diced
4 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
1 400g tin tomatoes, drained and roughly chopped
200mL dry red wine
200mL port
1 litre beef stock

1 litre chicken stock
200g instant polenta
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Green beans for serving

Preheat the oven to 140C.

Using a mortar and pestle, roughly crush the cumin and coriander seeds until fragrant. Add the salt and mix well. Sprinkle over the lamb shanks and press on to coat. In a large, deep, heavy-based ovenproof dish, heat the oil over medium heat and brown the lamb shanks well. Remove the meat and set aside.

Place the onion, carrot and celery in the same dish and saute over medium heat until soft. Add the garlic and tomatoes and stir. Pour in the wine and port, stir, then add the beef stock. Bring to the boil then turn off the heat. Return the lamb shanks to the pan, cover with aluminium foil and place in the oven for 3 hours, until the meat almost falls off the bone.

Remove from the oven and lift out the shanks. Set aside and keep warm.

Skim as much fat as you can off the surface of the cooking liquid, and return to the stovetop over medium heat to simmer and reduce to a slightly syrupy consistency while you cook the polenta.

To make the polenta: In a medium saucepan, bring the stock to the boil. Pour in the polenta in a slow, steady stream, stirring constantly. Turn down the heat to low and stir for 5-10 minutes, or until thick. Season to taste.

To serve: Divide the polenta among four plates and place a lamb shank next to it. Strain the cooking liquid and spoon over the meat (you may not need all of it).

Serve with steamed beans

This is a Luke Mangan recipe.

Graham Schnell's garlic chicken

For Em :-)

4 chicken breasts

6 cloves garlic
1 tbsp black peppercorns
2 tsps salt
4 whole plants of fresh coriander (I take this to mean 4 bundles joined by roots in a bunch, rather than 4 bunches)
4 Tbsps lemon juice

Crush garlic and coarsely crush peppercorns (can use a mortar and pestle or blender for the pepper but I tend to take the lazy option and just use my pepper grinder, until I have about a Tbsp's worth.)

Wash coriander and finely chop the lot, roots, stems and leaves.

Mix all marinade ingredients together and rub well into the chicken (I usually just chuck everything together into a large snaplock bag and roll it all around).

Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour - overnight if possible.

Grill or BBQ chicken pieces. Serve with a simple salad of cucumbers, tomatoes, a small red onion and red or green capsicums. Dress with a little vinaigrette.

Sunday, November 18, 2007


Four dishes I like to cook:
I love cooking so this one is hard for me. I especially enjoy cooking for other people - it gives me great pleasure to see someone enjoying something I've made.
1. whole fillet of beef marinated overnight with red wine, mustard & garlic - great for dinner parties/BBQs
2. garlic chicken (marinated with garlic, salt, pepper, lemon juice and lots of coriander) - another great BBQ food and great for dieting too.
3. basil beef (Thai stir-fry with beef strips, onion, red capsicum, green beans, red curry paste, lots of garlic, chilli and basil) I love having this when I feel like I'm coming down with a cold - the spicyness helps me sweat it all out, and it tastes great!
4. braised lamb shanks with polenta and green beans. Time consuming but worth it - the meat just falls off the bone.
That's just the savouries, don't get me started on the sweet stuff!

Four qualities I love in people:
1. Good listener
2. Good sense of humour
3. Supportive
4. Optimistic

Four places I have been:
1. Japan
2. Italy
3. Turkey
4. New Zealand

Four things in my bedroom:
1. Queen-size bed that dog and cat also like to sleep on - it can get a bit squashy!
2. Chair that cat sleeps on when he's not on the bed
3. Latest 'Readings' brochure to help me decide what I want to read next.
4. Clothes horse piled up with clothes in various states of cleanliness

Four dirty words I like to use:
1. Sh*t
2. P*ss off
3. Damn
4. Bugger

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

2007 INBA Victorian Figure Novice line-up

5th............1st............2nd.............3rd..........4th (me!)
Thanks to Ursula (the winner of our class) for sending me the photo

47 Weeks to Go

My metabolism appears to have increased after adding more calories. Prior to my show I was eating 0 or 1 complex carb meals per day. I'm now having 4 small carb meals a day, and I still haven't put on much weight. I'm pretty happy with my bodyfat level at the moment, but I'd like to grow some more muscle, so I'll be continuing to slowly increase my calories.

I've finally bought some xylitol, so will be using that instead of Equal in my coffee. That's one less chemical going into my system. I buy the La Ionica chicken, as that's processed without chemicals, and this week I'll be looking into having organic fruit and veges delivered. My other focus this week will be making sure I get enough sleep, as I know how important sleep is to help me grow.

Goals for this week:
Tue Upper Body + cardio no, was behind with my work
Wed Lower Body + cardio did upper body & cardio
Thu walk dog & do yoga; plan meals for the following week did lower body & cardio, walked dog and did yoga; done
Fri Upper Body + cardio rest day
Sat Lower Body + cardio; food shopping did upper body & cardio, shopping and prepared patties for the week - a productive day!
Sun walk dog & do yoga did lower body & cardio
Mon prepare lunches for the week done on Sat! Walked dog and did yoga today

Have one planned treat Things I've thought of so far: shortbread, caramel Magnum (I'd like to try the mint one but am worried it won't be as nice as the caramel one, LOL), swiss cheese

Every day I must also:
Journal my eating
Go to technical failure in the gym
Get at least 8 hours sleep no, was up late Friday & Sunday

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

48 Weeks to Go, LOL

Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs. (Henry Ford)

It's been a month now since my show. I trained for about two weeks afterwards, but then decided my body needed a bit of a break. I've done that after every show - kept on going hard then trickled off. Next year I am going to plan a holiday after my show so I have to rest whether I like it or not. Today was my first workout after my break - upper body and a bit of cardio. It's full steam ahead from here!

Goals for this week:
Tue Upper Body + cardio done
Wed Lower Body + cardio done
Thu walk dog & do yoga; plan meals for the following week done
Fri Upper Body + cardio done
Sat Lower Body + cardio; food shopping done; done
Sun walk dog & do yoga; walk yes, yoga no. Aim is to do 1 yoga session a week so it was a bonus if I got this one in.
Mon prepare lunches for the week done

Have one planned treat Maybe another cheese pizza at Amello? The one I had there when Lia, Rae, Combat Girl and I went out for lunch was the best! Plus they do gluten-free meals, so Rob can eat there too. Still haven't had my Snickers dessert at Circa either, but both places are in St Kilda, so will probably be one or the other, depending on if I feel like having savoury or sweet. Didn't feel like going out on Sunday so made a cheese pizza on a gluten-free base, plus had a Snickers bar and a couple of glasses of wine.

Every day I must also:
Journal my eating yes
Have only one coffee with Equal no, two on Tues
Go to technical failure in the gym yes
Get at least 8 hours sleep no, stayed up late working on Tues & Thurs, and Oscar got me up early on Sunday so I decided to stay up and do some work

Don't spend too much time focusing on what not to eat, rather, focus on including loads of great foods in your everyday diet. By eating enough antioxidant-rich fruits and vegies and grains, legumes and pulses full of fibre your body will soon crave better, more wholesome foods and hopefully ward off disease naturally (Amy Pongrass)

Monday, November 5, 2007

Good Luck Claudine!

While all the Australian shows have finished, Claudine, our French-Canadian friend from Montreal, is still counting down to hers - she's competing in her first show this weekend at the Coupe ProGym - Espoir Qu├ębec.

Here's a sneak peak at her suit

(Claudine's blog is in French, so if you want to read it in English, paste into the Google search engine, then when Miss Fit comes up as the result, click on 'Translate this page'; when the blog loads, scroll down to read the text in English.)

Sunday, November 4, 2007

The Bodybuilding Poem

When you break it down
Bodybuilding is an individual sport

You may have advisors and trainers,
But the bottom line is this:

At the end of the day, you will reap what you sow.

As you prepare to head into the gym~
into the kitchen~
or lie down to sleep,

You are the ultimate controller of your efforts and goals.

No one can make you train harder
No one can make you block the pain
No one can make you eat clean
No one can make you sleep a little longer

You are the manager of your free will.
How you do stack up?

Friday, November 2, 2007

What are you going to do with your off season?

by Jodi Jones, Cathy Savage Fitness

Are you going to waste this time fighting with yourself day in and day out saying the same ole', "I blew it, so now I'm just going to eat blah, blah, blah." Or, are you going to maximize what little time you have and FOCUS for the next season?

My biggest problem is getting everyone to realize how little time there is in the offseason…it is over before you know it. The most effective thing that you can do in the offseason to better manage your competitive career…is goal setting and planning. Decide right now, "If I was to fast forward to next November and look back at the 2008 season, what would *truly* make me happy?" This question is so important and so profound that many of you are going to miss it because of its simplicity. Your answer is going to shape your offseason more than you know. Here is how:

LOWER BODY: My goal for the offseason is to fix my lower body. Ok, you have your work cut out for you. First of all, lower body takes about 18 to 24 mos to "fix". Less time if all you are doing is reducing the size. For most of you, though, you need to increase your upper body size as much as you have to reduce your lower body so you have dual work. DUE DILIGENCE is what I recommend for you. CONSISTENCY. Stick to your workouts like glue, lose the processed food, stop looking for the miracle exercise because there isn't one, stop running, get on a track and run some sprints. Lift so heavy that the big guy in the gym asks YOU for a spot!

LEANNESS: I really want to be super lean next season…Ok, if you are semi lean, looking to get leaner I need two things from you: a clean offseason and an increase in cals. If you think that you can eat your show cals now for weeks on end and get leaner and leaner you are going to ruin your chances of leaning out. (Please note: You cannot be lean, eating 700 to 900 cals, doing oodles of cardio and think you are going get leaner. How can you drop your cals more? Where can you go from there? 3 hours of cardio per day? 600 cals? Smelling your food? You must raise your cals in the offseason and then drop them again to get more out of your body. The trick here though is to raise your cals without gaining any weight. So you do it S-L-O-W- L-Y.) …

MUSCLE: I want to add some muscle. Ok, if you think that you are going to add major size in 8 weeks, it's not going to happen. At best we might get 2 quality pounds of muscle on you. We need way more time than that, we need to stay FOCUSED that whole time AND you need to eat like a pig and sleep like a sloth. Can you stick to it? LMK 'cuz I'm not going to feed you more and send you to bed if you are not going to lift like a psycho and eat as clean as a newbie two weeks out from show. It could get ugly. (Running and hiding as I type!)

…Please. If you do nothing else for the offseason, decide (and stick to it) what you want for your 2008 season.

More Advice on Avoiding the Rebound

From a competitor on the Oxygen website:

I would say the key is to not do anything drastic on either side of the coin. If you are able to keep in cheat meals going into the shows and still drop bodyfat at a comfortable rate, then try it. Since I've done that, I haven't had a three-page grocery list of items I want to eat as soon as I get off stage. I also continue to eat six meals a day even during the off season, and I don't stray from the cardio. Cheat meals/days are scheduled and carefully chosen, and the weight workouts are serious even during off season days.

I also don't mess with diuretics...not even over the counter. I feel those just worsen the rebound effect, which initially is mostly water retention. If your conditioning is on point, then you don't have to drop as much water for the stage.

Continue talking with other competitors. We all go through the same thing of seeing cankles and uni-abs just days after we would have walked naked onto the New York subway with our etched muscles and done it with pride. Take comfort in knowing you aren't alone and see what other competitors do to have a few of the foods they enjoy but keep it in moderation...even when there isn't a show at the end of the goal line.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Stop Me Before I Eat More!

An article about appetite. It's a long one, but helps to explain a lot of what happens to your body chemically after a show. If you're short on time, I've highlighted some of the more relevant points in blue.

Stop me before I eat more! Who's in charge--you or your appetite? Eating right would be a piece of cake if it weren't for that overpowering urge called hunger. But where do those "feeeeed me!" signals really come from? Your genes? Our culture? The mysterious hunger hormones leptin and ghrelin? Michelle Stacey helps you get a handle on the Big Pang.

LIKE THE INSATIABLE HOUSEPLANT IN LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS, our bodies send a message to our brains: "Feeeeed me!" The monster within us makes its relentless demand, we comply, and soon enough it rears its ugly head yet again and roars for more.

We're supposed to feel hungry when we need fuel, but hunger has become so fraught, so linked to our collectively ballooning girth, that it often seems less like a finely tuned bodily function and more like a beast in need of taming. Who's in charge--our appetites or our brains? And is there really such a thing as willpower?

The answer to the second question is yes, of course, but if we try to live by will-power alone--to eat less than nature intended us to eat, to be thinner than our genes meant for us to be--we're in for a struggle. The sad truth is that for some people, staying thin means going hungry. The much happier truth is that scientists are beginning to understand much more about how we know when, and how much, to eat. Millions of people, from the clinically obese to those struggling with an extra five pounds, stand to gain (and lose) from the researchers' insights.

A major advance in Big Pang theory came in 1995, with the discovery of leptin, the first recognized hormone that regulates body weight. "Since then, the pace of change in understanding appetite control has been exponential," says David E. Cummings, MD, associate professor of medicine at the University of Washington in Seattle. Two years ago, Cummings himself reported that surges of another hormone, ghrelin, prompt hunger before meals. Both breakthroughs have brought us much closer to figuring out how, when, and why the creature must be fed.

In a perfect world, two to three and a half hours after eating breakfast, your empty stomach secretes ghrelin, which travels to the brain and triggers your appetite. You begin to feel physically hungry, you think about lunch, and pretty soon you're eating. The food then signals your ghrelin levels to drop off, decreasing your appetite.

As you eat, other molecules and hormones--including PYY, which was recently found to have a role in hunger--tell your brain to stop eating: Your stomach expands, and nerve impulses from the stretch receptors there, as well as hormones stimulated by food in the intestine, alert the brain that you're full. Together, ghrelin and PYY are part of a tag team of hunger, turning appetite on, then off.

Leptin also turns your appetite off, but in a longer-term way than PYY: It lets your brain know how much fat you've stored in your body. Leptin is made by the fat cells, and as fat stores rise, more leptin is secreted, traveling to the brain with the message You're fat enough--stop eating so much. If fat levels fall, so do leptin levels, and appetite increases. Mice that are genetically unable to produce leptin grow enormously obese because they never get the word to stop eating.

This elaborate chemical dance is a brilliant system, capable of balancing food intake with what Jeffrey Friedman, MD, PhD, who led the team that discovered leptin, calls "an extraordinary level of precision." Unless, that is, there's a glitch in your particular system. One glitch, says Friedman, a medical researcher at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at Rockefeller University, is that "for some reason, obese people appear to be resistant to leptin, which is probably part of the reason they're fat": The leptin message--to eat less--isn't getting through. Another problem isn't really a glitch as much as a very clever (too clever) refinement of the system. Lots of evidence now suggests that your genes determine your personal ballpark body weight, or set point, and that hunger is one of your body's tools to keep you right there. When you try to diverge from your set point by becoming thinner or fatter than nature decrees, your entire chemical system kicks into gear to pull you back.

When you diet, your metabolism slows down to conserve calories. At the same time, your hunger increases dramatically, regardless of your need to lose weight. "The 300-pounder who goes to 285 will feel very hungry," Cummings says. "The 100-pounder who goes to 95 will also feel very hungry."

One reason, he explains, is that when you lose weight, ghrelin levels not only spike before mealtimes but also rise overall. "You'll still have three spikes a day, plus the whole level shifts upward," Cummings says. "The troughs and peaks are all higher than before losing weight. And these changes appear durable--they don't seem to go away even if you stay below your natural point for more than six months. Over time, they erode willpower." As fat stores go down, so does leptin, and your brain gets an unrestrained hormonal signal to eat more. "The evidence suggests," Friedman says, "that people who have lost weight below their personal set point are hungry a lot of the time."

You can probably guess why all these systems kick into gear when you lose weight: To your genetic code, this restraint looks like starvation. "People have an illusion that they can consciously control their food intake," Friedman says. "That's true over the short term, but over the longer term the biological drive to eat enough to get your weight back to your individual level almost always overcomes your conscious control."


WAIT A MINUTE--WE'RE MORE THAN just animals, right? We've got highly evolved brains full of thoughts and emotions and plans for a bikini summer, and surely we can tell our bodies what to do. It also seems clear to our logical brains that there are other things besides hormones that prompt us to eat. The biggest factor, even die-hard biologists like Cummings and Friedman say, is the environment--everything from food smells and portion sizes to emotional connections to food dating back to childhood.

It's well documented, for instance, that an environment of many flavors prods us to eat more and keeps us hungry. Megan McCrory, PhD, a nutritional scientist at Tufts University, puts hunger and appetite into separate categories. "Hunger is a physiological feeling, while appetite is the desire to eat a certain food or foods," she explains, and that desire--that craving--gets turned on by our having lots of choices. "We want to try all of the great variety of flavors available," McCrory says. "And when we eat a little bit of everything, we tend not to keep the calories the same as when we're eating only one or two foods." She says that studies have shown that we eat 25 percent more, on average, in a single meal when more variety is available.

This so-called buffet binge may help explain why some restrictive diets, like Atkins, work--at first. How many meals of steak and eggs can you eat before you lose interest in eating them, and are driven to eat carbs?

An environment that constantly offers lots of carbs can also spur hunger. High-glycemic-index (GI) foods like potatoes and white bread break down quickly into glucose, which causes a spike in blood sugar levels, followed by insulin release, which pushes blood sugar down. Your body wants to bring blood sugar back up to normal--and what quicker way than with another cinnamon bun or bagel? "Of all the studies that have shown the effects of GI on appetite," says David Ludwig, MD, PhD, associate professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and director of the obesity program at Children's Hospital Boston, "virtually all showed that high-glycemic-index meals make you hungrier sooner after eating. In our own study of obese teenagers, after a high-GI meal they wound up eating many more calories than if the previous meal was low-glycemic-index."


WHILE OUR CULTURE OFFERS INFIN-itely more temptations than the prehistoric world of our ancestors (they didn't watch commercials for hamburgers at 9 P.M.), what about the environment in our minds? Any number of forces conspire to lure us to the fridge: stress, boredom, celebration, misery, and that old standby "It's time to eat." Whether it's our psychological state or our hardwired nature that predominates is the question that most divides biologists and behaviorists, with the former saying that most of our eating habits are preordained and the latter believing that much about hunger can be taught, controlled, or unlearned.

Susan Head, PhD, a clinical and health psychologist in private practice in Durham, North Carolina, helps patients with the emotional side of obesity and dieting, as she previously did at the Duke Diet & Fitness Center. Head identifies two misuses of hunger, both of which lead to overeating. One has to do with that enticing exterior environment, where portions have expanded and food is everywhere. "A lot of people are eating unconsciously these days," Head says. "They don't wait till they're hungry. They're eating like robots. The doughnuts are there--say, at a meeting--and people eat them." For them, eating is about availability, appetite (desiring food), and scheduling ("Lunchtime!"). Hunger has nothing to do with it.

The other kind of overeater has absorbed the ambient cultural anxiety about weight and enjoys the feeling of being hungry (or at least of being "not full") because, Head says, "being not full means I'm losing weight--hunger is good." So she puts off eating through the early stages of hunger--which include having thoughts about food and a vague empty feeling--until she reaches the growling-or aching-stomach stage, at which point she could eat a horse, and often does (or the equivalent in pizza).

Taken to the extreme, such hunger denial is expressed as anorexia, which is an example of the power of the mind, or will, over the demands of the body. Anorexics, Head says, don't even admit they're hungry; they define that starving feeling as "success." Their eating experience is so dominated by rules, and has so little to do with what their bodies are telling them, that they have redefined all the terms to express it. "Anorexics are way too insensitive to hunger and way too sensitive to fullness," Head explains. "Any absence of hunger is 'full'"--and while full feels comforting and soothing to most people, it feels terrifying to the anorexic.

Head believes that all of these habits--unconscious eating, hunger denial followed by overeating, and eating disorders like anorexia--can be broken. Both overeaters and undereaters are trying to ignore what's actually an essential internal meter for good eating. Head works with tried-and-true tools to get the hunger apparatus working again. (See "Hunger Management," below.) Patients use hunger scales to rate their hunger and fullness from 1 to 10, relearning what hunger feels like and when to respond to it. They also learn to redefine fullness or satisfaction so that it doesn't mean "stuffed."


SOME PEOPLE CAN GO A GOOD PART of the day without food; others become ravenous without regular feeding. Some are full after half a cheeseburger; others finish one and want a few more. Are such differences all in our heads?

Our minds and bodies are so linked that sometimes what seems psychological is almost completely biological or chemical in nature. This became clear long ago in regard to hunger, when an American researcher during World War II put a group of volunteers on a semistarvation diet to study how to help victims of wartime famine. As the men lost an average of 25 percent of their body weight, they became not only sluggish and cold (signs of a slowed metabolism) but also obsessed: They were constantly hungry, they talked and thought and daydreamed about food, they read cookbooks and fantasized about meals, they carefully guarded their rations from others, they became increasingly irritable with one another.

Eating-disorder experts have come to recognize, in light of this study and others, that some psychological symptoms of anorexia nervosa--obsessing about food, hoarding it--occur as a biological response to deprivation. Rather than stemming from some neurotic fixation, these symptoms appear because the body is screaming "Eat!"--as it does whenever a person's weight has dropped below the set point.

This could all sound depressing to anyone who has been battling her own hunger cues for years, but researchers like Cummings have a different view. "If you're born with obese genes," he says, "now you know it's not your fault. A lot of overweight people realize that their bodies have fought their efforts to lose weight, but those around them have always faulted their willpower."

For people to really curb hunger, Friedman anticipates drug therapies that manipulate (and outsmart) chemical signals--therapies that are already in the animal-testing stage. "We're looking at it the way you'd look at any other medical problem, like cancer," Friedman says. "You figure out how the system normally works, then figure out what's different when you have the disorder, then develop therapies." For hunger and overeating, Cummings says, one very promising research direction is a ghrelin blocker, now in preclinical studies, that would stop ghrelin from acting on the parts of the brain that trigger hunger. Researchers are also pursuing the use of PYY as a possible long-term treatment for obesity.

Once we have "the equivalent of Prozac for obesity," Friedman says, people may finally begin to believe that big appetites and big bodies are the result of more than "simply a set of bad lifestyle choices." But if, in the view of biologists like Cummings and Friedman, hunger is primarily an unbending fact of nature, how do they explain the enormous rise in obesity over the past two decades? It's not that our genes have altered in 20 years to make so many more of us fat, Friedman says. Rather, across the population there has been an average weight gain of seven to ten pounds in the past decade that's still within the approximately ten-pound range of variation that many people's set points allow them. This overall weight gain, attributable mainly to environment, he says, has pushed a certain percentage of the population over the border into the range of obese. Those whose genes gave them a blueprint for slenderness, meanwhile, have remained at much the same weight.

So how might a Prozac for hunger change this situation? Those who have a major wiring problem will benefit from drug treatment, and the rest will have to cope on their own--the same way people with the ordinary blues rather than clinical depression come to terms with their problems and learn behavioral strategies to feel better. Mentally, that could mean shooting for a reasonable, livable weight toward the low end of your set point. Practically, it means avoiding buffets or big loads of refined carbs, becoming sensitive to your personal hunger-rating scale, and simply stopping to think before over-eating. "If you're craving a half-gallon of ice cream every night," Head says, "I wouldn't trust that craving." She suggests asking yourself, What else is going on in my life? Am I feeling lonely and depressed? If so, a half-gallon of ice cream isn't going to solve that--although a dish of ice cream, eaten slowly enough so that all those little satiation nerve signals get activated, might make a tasty compromise.


A piece of chocolate, a scoop of ice cream, potato chips--to eat anything like this without giving it total concentration is foolish. It's wasting the joy. The richer the food, the more heightened attention it merits. Turn off the TV, close the book, and just take a few minutes for you and your treat. Feel the texture in your mouth, how the flavor bursts and fades. Focus. Make the most of it. Wallow in it. You might be surprised at how it really tastes. We often eat in a trance, unaware of what we're putting into our mouths, and for reasons that food ultimately can't satisfy. The most exquisite chocolate can leave you wanting more because you missed the experience by not paying attention. Eating mindfully breaks the trance. It lets you know when you've had enough to make you happy and when having more will make you unhappy. Wake up and eat!--Amy Gross


Hormones, hardwiring, and set points aside, hunger isn't completely beyond our ability to control. Clinical and health psychologist Susan Head, PhD, suggests several ways to stave it off when we know we've already eaten enough:

* Have a drink--water, coffee, tea, club soda with lime. Often what initially feels like hunger is thirst, and the liquid can temporarily fill your stomach.

* Eat breakfast. Many people who skip it eat much more later.

* Delay. If you're hungry even though you think you've eaten enough, give yourself 20 minutes to consider whether you're feeling real hunger or boredom, stress, or unhappiness.

* If a mealtime is coming up in an hour or so, remind yourself of that. Just knowing there's only a short wait can give you incentive to hold off a little longer.

* Chew gum. It can quiet hunger aches for a while.

* Avoid processed foods, which are usually stripped of filling elements like fiber and water.

Making progress

July 2005...............August 2006..............October 2007

It's a slow process for me to put on muscle, and I sometimes wonder if I've made any progress at all. So today I pulled out some of my pics to compare. It's nice seeing that I have changed a bit and hopefully I'll see even more changes over the next 12 months.

Make it Happen

I will step up to the plate every day. EVERY day.
I will squeeze every ounce of potential out of every cell of my body.
I will not make excuses.


Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Welcome Ursula!

I competed with Ursula in the INBA Victorian Figure Novice Class on October 6. She won our class and has some great plans for 2008. She is stuck in Tassie, so please give her lots of support!

Sunday, October 28, 2007


Remember that CONSISTENCY IS KEY. Start making daily habits out of doing the things you know you need to do. Successful days turn into successful weeks, which turn into successful months. It is this CONSISTENCY that will allow you to build your ultimate physique! (Russ Yeager)

Friday, October 26, 2007

Advice from Experts: How to Control a Rebound

Lee Labrada, President of Labrada Bodybuilding Nutrition:

When done correctly, a methodical reduction in the amount of carbohydrates can help you achieve your ideal shape. To maintain your physique after a competition, you have to follow the natural laws of metabolism: base your diet on small, frequent feedings, consume adequate protein to maintain muscle mass (the foundation of metabolism) and manipulate carbohydrate and fat calories to meet your energy needs.

Keith Klein, founder of the Institute of Eating Management:

Even if your intentions are to stay lean after a contest, when you start eating more normally, your brain is going to turn up your appetite. The body doesn’t know the difference between true starvation and the purposeful withholding of food. Have an exit strategy with a formula that will work for you. For example, when the competition is over, celebrate and eat whatever you want that night and for brunch the next day. But on Monday, resume your clean eating, except for a “cheat day” once per week.

Hal Louis, founder of Better Reflections:

If it took you 12 weeks to get into contest shape, allow at least 8 weeks to return to an eating program that you can maintain for life, slowly adding back small portions of “normal” food. Continue with your cardio and weight training, and strive to stay within 10-15 lbs. of your competition weight. Remember that you have achieved what millions fail to do every day!

See here for the full article.

Eat Clean, Train Hard, Rest

Some more Craig Harper:

Do what most people won't
The tough things.
The uncomfortable things.
The thing which produces results.
Create different standards for yourself... expect more of you.
If you want to be exceptional (different to most), then you need to do exceptional things.
Every day.
If you do what 'they' do... you'll get what they get.
If you want 'average'... then do average.

At the very least, be active.
Move your body; it needs love too.
I can hear your heart, lungs and muscles applauding already.
And when your body is happy... your mind will follow.
If you already exercise, do something different.
If you haven't stretched since 1993... limber up.
If you haven't done a push up since high school.... gimme ten.
If you haven't had your heart rate up since 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre'... then move your limbs and raise a sweat.

Be still... even for ten minutes.
Every day.
Clear your mind of the clutter.
No phone, computer, people, noise, music... complete silence.
Stop hurrying and worrying for a moment.
Step away from the busy-ness of your reality and listen to that still small voice; the one you ignore too much.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Don't Let Yourself Go

Why do you let yourself get so far from your best that you have to torture yourself so hard to get back? (Bunklers' Journal)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Artificial Sweetener

Since I try and get most of my foods from natural sources and avoid anything processed, it seems silly that I rely so heavily on artificial sweetener. So I'm going to try and stop adding it to things. I will just have to learn to appreciate my food without it.

Drinks are another matter. It will probably mean that I will be off coffee. It doesn't taste so great without the sweetener. But since I'm also aiming to have 4L water a day, hopefully I won't miss it too much.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Positive Changes for the Off Season

I've been looking at some of Craig Harper's articles today and decided to use A Better Life in Seven Easy Steps to help me make some positive changes for this off season:

Step 1: My stumbling blocks - food and motivation
I competed in November 2006 and decided my next show would be October 2007. At Christmas I stuffed my face, eating way past the point of fullness on several occasions. By mid-April 2007 I had lost motivation, stopped going to the gym and started making and eating a lot of muffins. From mid-May onwards I was cleaning up my diet and increasing my cardio to get rid of the extra weight instead of using that time to focus on putting on muscle.

Step 2: Dealing with my stumbling blocks
1. Stop dieting for shows and start thinking about my body on a long-term basis.
2. Understand that motivation is temporary. If I only exercise when I 'feel' like it, I'll never be consistent and I'll never create life-long change.
3. Break up the off season into one-month blocks, so I have new goals each month.

Step 3: Specific goals
1. Limit myself to one cheal meal per week. Too much 'free' food will make it harder for me to track whether I need to increase the amount of clean food I'm eating to gain muscle.
2. Do my prescribed weekly exercise sessions even when I'm not feeling motivated. Once a session's done, I'll be glad I did it.
3. For each monthly weights program, aim to be stronger by week four.
4. Drink 4L water per day.
5. Include one yoga session per week as part of my training.

Step 4: Plan
1. Journal my eating - it will keep me on track longer and make me feel more successful.
2. Exercise first thing in the morning. Just get up and go. Then there are no execuses.
3. Record the details of each workout so I can constantly improve. The last two reps of every set must be extremely difficult to complete. If they're not, keep going - don't just stop at the prescribed number of reps!
4. Buy water bottles to measure my water intake for the day. Finish it all by the end of the day. Refill and refrigerate for the next day.
5. Buy a block of yoga classes so I'm 'booked in' to attend, or buy a yoga DVD so I have no excuses if I don't feel like going out.

Step 5: Take action
Each month I will:
1. Get bodyfat tested to see how much muscle/fat I've gained
2. Take girth measurements to see which areas have increased in size
3. Have photos taken so I can see any changes
4. Do a strength test to see how effective I've been in the gym

Step 6: Improvise & adapt
From the results of my assessments I will see if anything needs to be changed for the following month.

Step 7: Finish what you start
'Even when the motivation wears off (and it will) do it anyway.
Even when it ain't fun (and it won't be sometimes) do it anyway.
When most throw in the towel, stay committed.

If you want to be like everybody else, then do what they do.

If you want to be exceptional, then do exceptional things.'

Friday, October 19, 2007

Two Weeks Post Comp

Thanks for all your lovely comments about my pics. A few of you mentioned my smile. While I don't feel confident on stage, I (strangely) don't feel nervous either. I just go out there and enjoy myself after all the hard work I've put in. I also think the audience's encouragement really makes a difference. So if you go along to prejuding, and you've got something positive to say about the person on the stage, don't be afraid to yell it out.

I'm handling post comp much better than last year. I've learnt which foods are triggers for me (white rice, white pasta, bread, cereal containing dried fruit), so I decided I would avoid having them after this show and in future. I don't keep muesli in the house as I can go through it by the boxful. Instead I have it if I go out for breakfast. That way, when I'm finished what's in my bowl, that's it - it's not calling my name for the rest of the day, tempting me to finish what's in the packet and then start on something else. Yes it's better for me than junk food, but eating huge quantities of carbs isn't great for my waistline or my mental health. I'd rather gradually increase the quantities of carbs that I don't go bananas on (brown rice, wholemeal pasta, rice cakes, oats, sweet potatoes, potatoes, pulses) so I can feel OK about having a treat when I need one.

While I'm back at the gym, I'm probably not eating enough yet to start putting on any muscle. I should be back to 'regular' eating by the end of the month, and am looking forward to mapping out a building schedule to start on from November.

Friday, October 12, 2007


Nothing tastes as good as being in shape feels

I read this article a while ago on Craig Harper's site and thought about it today as I was trying to decide whether to demolish the rest of the protein balls in the fridge. Yes I've just done a show, and yes I can afford to put on some weight, but I want to save my treats to have when and where I've planned them, rather than being lured by something just because it's there. Food for thought, LOL.

I Love food.
Baked cheese-cake in particular.
And lasagne.
And dark chocolate.
Specifically, Lindt.

And I love a hamburger with egg, cheese and onion.
A massive hamburger, dripping with egg and sauce (ketchup for my American friends), covered in a pound of cheese and two inches of fried onions.

If I was hungry and someone got between me and that hamburger, there's a fair chance I'd hurt them.


I have food issues.

I'm a work in progress.

People think that because I do what I do for a living (trainer, exercise scientist, educator, etc.) that I have an aversion to anything with sugar, fat, salt or flavour.

Are you kidding?

Let's get one thing clear:
If I could eat five pieces of thick white toast with crunchy peanut butter for breakfast every day, and stay lean and healthy, I'd do it.

No brainer.

Cheesecake every night and stay in shape?
Okay, I'm in.

Yes I love food (healthy food too), and yes I enjoy the odd, infrequent, splurge (oh, the frailty of the human condition)... but what I love more is:

.....being in shape.

I've been fat... and I've been lean.
It ain't a big decision.

And for some people (like me) we need to make a decision.
And we don't need to get all precious and melodramatic about it...

We just need to make the decision.
Now even.

Do I want to eat junk (regularly), or do I want to be in shape.

I can't do both.
So I Choose to be in shape.

I'm always talking to people who tell me how deprived they feel when they don't eat their favourite junk foods.

Q. You know why they feel deprived?
A. 'Cause they focus on what they're missing (junk food), not what they're gaining (a leaner, lighter, healthier body).

It's an attitude and perspective thing, not a food thing.

So next time you're feeling a little 'deprived', don't focus on the cake (biscuit, ice-cream, chocolate) that gives you five minutes of pleasure... focus on the body that you live in twenty four hours a day.

By the way, I'm yet to talk to somoene who feels good (emotionally, psychologically or physically) after they have made a bad food decision or over-eaten.

Some practical suggestions:

Option 1.
No junk, get you're head where it needs to be, don't be a sook, enjoy your new body. Have the rare splurge (once a month).

Option 2.
Eat your five small meals per day (35 small meals per week) and allow yourself one meal per week where you eat a favourite junk food (not a wheelbarrow full).

Option 3.
Eat a very small amount of your favourite food daily. The problem is not that we eat a chocolate; it's that we eat forty chocolates. I worked with a choc-o-holic who ate chocolate every day and lost twenty three kilos (50lbs)... because she reduced her intake from plenty ... to two chocolates a day (every day).

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Show Trolley

I've rejigged my checklist now that I'm done for the year. I found Lia's list really helpful so am sharing mine in case it helps anyone else. I like to keep my items as easy to get to as possible, hence the box with the tanning stuff in it, and the box for my make-up. Digging into toiletry bags trying to find stuff just stresses me out. If I do use bags I tend to go for the snaplock ones as they're clear and things are easy to see. The show entry form has a running sheet with approx show times on it so I just pencil in times to eat, and roughly when I should start pumping up. I've decided to keep it in two places as I referred to it a lot and kept moving it from one place to the other - show day nerves, lol.

Outside, top pocket
• Gum
• Lip balm
• Routine CD
• Sheet with show times and plan for the day

Outside, bottom pocket
• Glasses case and cleaner
• Sewing kit

Mesh Compartment
• Mini snaplock bag with jewellery
• Mini snaplock bag with lollies x 2
• Mini snaplock bag with salted almonds
• Medium snaplock bag with cotton buds, nail file, panadol, sml pack tissues

Main Compartment
• Bikini
• Black towels x 2
• Box with tanning equipment
• Box with make-up
• Heels
• Resistance band
• Sheet with show times and plan for the day

Cooler Bag
• Chicken cut into cubes for snacking on
• Veges
• Diuretics
• Bottle of water (frozen)

• Backstage helper tickets
• Camera
• Umbrella

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

My DVD has arrived!

Just sat down and watched my part of the show. I was initially nervous about watching it but am actually really happy with it. Even though I placed fourth out of five, I was in the first call out with the girl who placed first, and the next call out was the other three girls. The two judges I spoke to afterwards for feedback both said they had me placed higher than fourth, so I think it must have been close. I know I needed to come in a little bit leaner but it's hard for me to lean out anymore than I did and not take muscle. So the aim is to gain a bit more muscle in the off season to back up the dieting. I've been back in the gym since Monday, just doing light workouts or cardio, and am really enjoying it. I'm excited about what the next 12 months will bring.

Monday, October 8, 2007


Has anyone ordered competition photos through Creative Fox or Brendan Breen? I'm not sure who to get my photos from. If anyone has any thoughts I'd be happy to hear them.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Notes for the Next Show

Thanks to everyone who posted their congratulations. It was lovely to read all your comments today.

I was pretty happy with my posing and stage presentation yesterday. The judges said the colour of my bikini really suited me, so that was nice to hear. My routine was OK - I mistimed slightly so ended up not being quite in sync with the music, but that's my own fault for not practising as much as I should have.

I had lemon tart and a glass of champagne last night after the show, then went out for breakfast this morning and had pizza tonight. I'm back into my gym workouts tomorrow morning, and am going to reverse out of my contest diet over the next few weeks, adding in more variety. Will still do a couple of high intensity cardio sessions in the gym a week but am looking forward to doing most of my cardio in the form of evening walks with my husband and our dog.

Goals for the off season
1 Keep within 5kg of contest weight (maximum of 56kgs), while aiming to put on more size.
2 Get bodyfat tested regularly to measure my success.
3 Include yoga in my weekly routine.
4 Keep water intake up to 4L a day.
5 Keep waxing up.

Notes for the next show
1 Get routine organised earlier so it's one less thing to worry about as the pressures mount closer to the show.
2 Get entry form in early to get closer to the middle position on stage.
3 Work on my transitions so I can move into my poses easily and fluidly.
4 Practice holding poses for longer periods, especially facing front and relaxed poses - we were on stage a long time while the judges were making up their minds!
5 Think about poses from feet upwards - get the feet and leg positions right then work my way up. I often squeeze my leg muscles as an afterthought.
6 Turn my upper body around more to the front when doing side chest and relaxed poses.
7 Have the day off work on Friday so there's plenty of time to do nails and tan and let them dry. Cover hands and feet with plenty of moisturiser so they don't end up too dark.
8 Put make-up on before I get to the venue so I don't feel under pressure when I'm there. Foundation needs to be lighter, eye make-up stronger.
9 Get a make-up case to put all my bits and pieces in so I don't have to worry about small things going astray when I need them.
10 Take bikini off after prejudging, freshen up and redo tan for night show. Consider getting a second bikini to wear for the night show.
11 Take care when applying bikini bite. Stay inside the lines!
12 Keep up vitamin C supplementation after the show.
13 Take supplements the week after the show to help prevent cramps.
14 Have a break from the weights for a week or two after the show. Calories will still be low so no gains will be made by doing hard workouts in the gym. Still do some exercise every morning, but do something light and fun, like swimming or yoga. That way I will be refreshed when I go back to the gym. Gradually increase number and intensity of workouts as calories increase.


Came fourth out of five. Judges were happy with my shape, and said I would have placed higher if I was a bit leaner. I also need to work on gaining more size. So that's my goal for the next 12 months. Will post pics as soon as I get them.

Friday, October 5, 2007

One More Sleep!

Things left to do today
1 Practice routine
2 Sew bikini straps
3 Have nails done
4 Shave and exfoliate
5 Have tan applied
6 Relax!

Best wishes to Magda and Tara for tomorrow. Have fun! Enjoy your day!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Wanna See Something Funny?

This is the fourth time I've tried applying my stage make-up and I'm finally OK with how it's looking.

I get carbs tomorrow. Woohoo! It's gonna be like Christmas!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Hump day

It's day two of depletion, it's 8pm and I'm off to bed.

One more workout and one more cardio session to go. Yay!

Monday, October 1, 2007

Hell week begins...

Thanks to those who posted comments in reply to my message yesterday. Work helped to keep my mind off things last night and I'm feeling better today. I'm doing a stricter depletion this year so hopefully I will look sharp at the end of the week. I'm not having too much trouble with the water so far. Think the salt is helping with that.

Tomorrow morning I'm off to have my waxing done. Not really looking forward to that. Haven't kept up with it so I've only got myself to blame. Am leaving my nails until Friday as knowing my luck I'll probably break something if I have them done any earlier.

Things left to do:
1 Practice posing and routine
2 Practice applying make-up
3 Start packing bag
4 Sew bikini strings to length

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Feeling blue

Have done all my training sessions and cardio for the week. My energy levels are pretty low right now and I'll start depleting tomorrow, so they won't be getting any better for a few days. I don't really feel like I'm in contest shape just yet. Hopefully I'll be feeling a bit more positive tomorrow.

Friday, September 28, 2007

1 week!

This past week has been a blur of cardio and training, with some protein and veges thrown in. I've slept so heavily, and have been lucky enough to have a couple of sleep-ins, but still have moments where I struggle energywise. And I feel a bit like an old lady at the moment - I go to do something, then forget what it was.

Weight: 52.5kg. I suddenly felt 'skinnier' during the week and it turns out I've lost nearly 1.5kg since last weekend. For my last show I cut my carbs back hard about 4 weeks out and lost weight very quickly. This year I've waited a bit longer, done a bit of extra cardio and I feel a lot better for it. I've only been irritable for a week instead of four, lol.

Food: Am loving my broccoli at the moment. And am actually enjoying chicken and kangaroo. And I don't mind having egg whites for breakfast. Boiled lots of eggs this morning and made toy soldiers for Rob. He loved them. I'm not liking fish so much, and I'm sure I'll be having plenty of it over the next week. Will have to cover it with balsamic vinegar.

Just had our shopping delivered and we got a complimentary bar of Belgian chocolate, lol. Have put it away with the bar of Swiss chocolate Vanessa brought me back from her trip to Geneva. I'm sure I'll be dreaming of it once all my fat and carbs go early next week.

Water: Am getting it all in, just. Am sure I am going to feel like I'm drowning at the start of next week.

Training: Only a couple more sessions to go. Will use my spare time for much-needed posing and routine practice as I haven't done nearly as much as I'd like.

Cardio: Intensity and duration will be decreasing after this weekend, thank goodness. I won't know what to do with all my spare time. Ah, yes... practice posing and routine.

Things to do this week:
1 Posing and routine practice
2 Practice applying make-up
3 Make appointments for waxing and nails
4 Pick up lollies, salted almonds, jandals
5 Start packing bag
6 Sew bikini strings to length

Monday, September 24, 2007

My make-up has arrived!

In the past I've had someone do my make-up for me but this year I've decided to have a go at doing it myself. I ordered some products from MAC on Thursday and they arrived today!

Another thing to do this week: practise applying make-up and take pics.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

2 weeks to go

I have come to the conclusion that I am going to look different this year. I am not as lean as I was before, but I am fuller, so at least I won't look as tiny as I have done in the past.

Ditzy moment of the week: So the other morning I got ready to go to the gym and couldn't find my keys anywhere. I looked in all the usual places, but nothing. I tried to think of when I last used them, and it was coming in the front door the night before. Sure enough, when I opened the front door, there they were, hanging out of the keyhole. So I'd been asleep in the house all night, with the keys in the front door. Plus my husband is away at the moment. Lucky I have a big dog in the house with me. In fact I think he is the reason I left the keys in the door in the first place - he was so excited to see me when I got home I could barely get inside. Well, that's my excuse anyway!

Weight: 53.8kg. Not much change on the scale since last week but have seen a few changes visually. Can finally start to see the muscles in my quads, yay! Will change things up a bit this coming week to try and get more definition.

Food: Yawn. I was trying to give myself variety by having a different source of protein at each meal of the day. On Saturday I was busy and had some cooked chicken to use up so ended up having chicken and beans for three of my five meals, and chicken and baby spinach for the fourth. And I didn't mind. It was actually easier than having to prepare five different meals.

This coming week I will be losing what little protein powder I've been having, so looks like I'll be having egg whites before I head off to the gym in the mornings. Not sure I can face chicken or fish at 6am. Will cut carbs back to one serve every third day (Mon, Thu and Sun).

Training: My energy levels have been a bit lower this week, but that could be because of the time of the month. I struggled to get to the gym on Friday and piked out of my last set of circuit training. From Monday I am going to up my reps from 10 to 12 so will see if that helps.

Cardio: Will add 4 30min cardio sessions, so will be doing 60-90min per day (60min on weights days, 90mins other days).

Water: 5L a day from Monday.

To do this week:
1 Keep practising posing and routine. Take pics/video.
2 Make appointments for week of show: waxing, nails, hair.
3 Pick up lollies, salted almonds, cheap jandals (dog ate last pair, grrrr)

Treats I Want After the Show:
1 Lemon meringue pie
2 Circa Snickers

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

That Time of the Month

As you can tell by my last post, I wasn't feeling my usual self at the end of last week. I felt like I was retaining water and was frustrated at my lack of definition. I felt down in the dumps, a bit teary and got irritable at the smallest things. I wanted to eat chocolate. My hips ached and I had no energy. Normally a few of those signs would immediately let me know what to expect, but I was just putting it all down to competition preparation - except the water retention, which really had me stumped. Yesterday my body suddenly seemed to change, my mood improved and so did my energy levels. And today I know why...doh!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

3 weeks!!!

Welcome to my rollercoaster. For my last show I lost fat fast, started looking a bit skinny and ended up having to increase my carbs in the couple of weeks beforehand to maintain my weight. This year I've been eating a little more throughout my preparation, so I'm looking bigger (which is a good thing) but I've been worried that my body fat isn't going to come down enough in time. It's a bit stressful after cruising in last year. I'm trying not to think about it too much as I don't want my cortisol levels to rise and stimulate body fat storage. I can see a few changes after dropping my carbs and increasing my cardio this week, so hopefully a few more tweaks each week will have me in the right place by show day.

Weight: 54kg. Most of this week's weight loss seems to have come off my butt, thank goodness.

Food: Cooking is definitely easier at the moment, but my food is starting to get a little monotonous since I don't have as many choices and can't add sauces etc. Luckily it's not forever.

Training: I'm beginning to hate my circuits. I'm absolutely exhausted by the end of them. I'm hanging to do straight sets again, with no supersets, giant sets or circuits. I am enjoying doing some plyos, but my calves are really starting to feel it. ***Note to self - I'd like to fit in some yoga in the off season.***

Cardio: Will increase to one hour a day from Monday. My legs are starting to feel really tired from all the exercise they're getting from the circuits and the cardio, but I feel like it's worth it after the change in my butt this week.

To do this week: Keep working on my posing and routine