Thursday, July 31, 2008

Filling Up

I don't eat oats very often at the moment, but when I do, I have steel cut oats.

These are whole oats that have been chopped into small pieces. They have a firmer texture than rolled oats (which have been steamed and 'rolled').

Because they are less processed, steel cut oats take longer to cook and require more water (see some recipes here). But this means they are also much more filling - gotta be happy with that!

On a related note, the last couple of days I've tried to convince myself that I would be OK with whey if I had it in hot things (pancakes, oats) instead of shakes, but this morning my stomach disagreed. So back to no whey for me.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


For Jacque

Gluten-free, dairy-free pancakes

40g quinoa flour
6 egg whites or 200ml liquid egg whites
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp xylitol
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
1/4 tsp coconut oil
5g agave syrup
50g raspberries

Place first 5 ingredients in a large bowl and mix together with an electric beater, or place in a blender and whizz up.
Heat a large pan to medium hot and add coconut oil.
Use 1/4 cup measuring cup to measure out batter for individual 'hotcakes' or just pour the whole lot in to the pan to make one large pancake.
Flip when the batter has bubbled around the edges and is almost set in the middle.
Once cooked through, remove from pan and add syrup and berries.

364cals: 6.9g fat, 26.7g protein, 41.6g carbs, 27.2g of which is starchy carbs

I get Lotus quinoa flour from Greenline or Evelyn Faye (cnr Bourke & Elizabeth St) in Melbourne. The agave syrup, coconut oil and xylitol are also available at Evelyn Faye but I've seen the coconut oil and xylitol at other health food stores. If you are having trouble finding agave syrup you could try here.

Today I subsituted the quinoa flour for 1 serve (37.5g) of Orgran Gluten Free Buckwheat Pancake mix (available at Coles), and liked it better as the mix has a raising agent in it, and a milder taste than the quinoa.

Buckwheat pancake
338cals: 5.3g fat, 24.9g protein, 42.9g carbs, 28.5g of which is starchy carbs.

***Edit: Kek has suggested as an alternative to the pancake mix, you can use buckwheat flour, rice flour (about half and half) and a little gluten-free baking powder. See her blueberry buckwheat pancakes here***

Monday, July 28, 2008

67 days to go

Monday 28 July

After finally getting into a routine last week I slept in both days of the weekend, so found it a bit hard to get up early this morning.

After saying I wasn't having any whey at the moment, I realized yesterday that wasn't entirely true. I have a drink after training that contains hydrolyzed whey, but it seems that since it is so refined it doesn't bother my stomach. I did try some whey concentrate last night though, and my stomach definitely registered that (lots of gurgles and a slight feeling of discomfort). Not as bad as the cheese though.

Tried the whey again tonight, but with a dairy digest tablet, and it wasn't so bad. Still felt bloated and a bit gassy, but no real discomfort. I'd rather minimise my intake of dairy than pressure my digestive system by having it and 'helping' things along with tablets though.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

More Comparisons

For my last 2 shows at about 10 weeks out I was sitting on about 1400 cals a day (about 50% protein, 20% fat, 30% carbs), rotating carbohydrates - so on day one I would have one starchy carbohydrate meal (about 25g carbs), day two I would have two, day three I would have three, then back to one again and so on. This rotation would happen regardless of whether it was a hard training day or a rest day, and regardless of how I was feeling. I would start out doing 4 30-minute sessions of cardio a week. At about 4 weeks out, things would be ramped up, with some 0 carb days included in the mix, cardio increased, and food groups decreased.

I must admit to feeling a bit apprehensive about doing something different this time round, just because I knew what to expect in the past. But over the course of this week I've come to realise that I need to treat this comp preparation like most of this year has been - an opportunity to learn more about how my body works. So even though I don't know what's coming up, I know my body better now than I've done in the past, and Liz is helping me to listen to it even more carefully. Filling in a log each day is helping me to work out what I need when. So at the moment I'm averaging about 1700 cals, but some days are higher in fats, lower in carbs, and other days are higher in carbs, lower in fats. This is based on the demands of my program and how I'm feeling. I'm doing more cardio than I have done in the past, but I'm eating more too. I know I'm going to come into this show bigger, leaner and healthier.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Comparison pics

Pic 1 is 10 weeks out 2007 (58kg)
Pic 2 is 10 weeks out 2008 (56.5kg)

69 days to go

After writing about agave syrup yesterday, I asked my husband to pick me up a bar of Loving Earth raw organic dark chocolate on the way home last night. It's sugar-free (sweetened with agave), gluten-free, dairy-free and low GI, but contains 72% raw organic cacao. I only wanted a small (40g) bar to have when my hubby and his mates were sharing their chocolate tonight. Needless to say, I wasn't very impressed this morning when I found out that hubby had eaten more than half of it on the way home, leaving me with just four squares! So I got another one from the health food store this afternoon.

I also tried having some cheese today after not having any dairy (including whey) for two weeks (apart from a bit of lactose-free milk on Thursday). I had 5g of Parmesan cheese (yes, I weighed it!) with my eggs this morning. About 10 minutes later I had a sore stomach and felt tired. Same thing happened to me last time I had dairy, on the day of the All Females, which is what prompted me to try going without it for a couple of weeks. I will keep experimenting to see what I can tolerate. I've still been eating mostly gluten-free - not difficult in our house since hubby is a celiac - although the bread rolls our guests were eating tonight looked very nice. I knew that once I started eating one I would find it hard to stop, so just concentrated on my steak and salad and looked forward to my chocolate instead.

Today I also had some pressure point treatment on my left quadratus lumborum, which was feeling a bit tight from posing practice this week, and sitting curled up on the couch yesterday.

Improving chin-ups

Kek and I are working on increasing our chin-up reps at the moment. Co-incidentally, I've read two things today about increading chin-up reps.

The first was at Alwyn Cosgrove's blog:

Chin-ups are interesting to train. It can often take six weeks to get a client able to do a single chin-up. But at that point - you can usually get them to be able to do two chin-ups in about six days! Then it's just a process of working with diminished rest intervals until you can perform multiple sets and reps.

Here's a basic progression:
A: Band assisted chin -ups: 2-3 x 6 reps - 90s rest between sets.

B: Negative chins: 2 sets of as long as possible - 90s rest between sets.
Once we can lower for over 30s in a single set or over 45s in 2 sets combined we add a set. Once we can lower over 45s in a single set or 60s in 3 sets - we go back to 2 sets and add external load.

C: Lat pull-down with the same chin up grip: 10 sets of 2 reps explosively - 60s rest (use around a 4RM)

Each week we cut 15s rest from this until we attempt 10 sets of 2 with 15s rest.
The following week (week five) we do one set of as many reps as possible with the original load. Usually we get 8-10 reps.

I'd repeat this program a second time through. Then test your chin -ups. Most people at this point can get at least one or two reps.

Now just perform a high number of low repetition sets for the next four weeks.
e.g. (let's assume you got 2 reps - we'd then work with sets of 50% of your max)
1A: Chin ups: 5 sets of 1 with 90s rest - paired with:
1B: DB Bench Press: 5 sets of 5 with 90s rest

Week five I'd retest your max and repeat the cycle again using multiple sets of 50% of your max again.

The second was by Charles Staley:

The typical trainee who can do 4-6 chin-ups and who wants to do 10. Typically, he’ll simply try to add another rep every time he does chin-ups (increasing quantity).

Better way: to decrease quantity by dropping down to sets of 1-2 reps. You’ll be less fatigued, and therefore more able to recruit your fast-twitch muscle fibers, which have the best potential for size & strength gains.

Friday, July 25, 2008

70 days to go

You know you're getting into a routine when you wake up before your alarm clock.

This morning I was scheduled to do some HIIT and long slow cardio. I followed that up with 30 minutes of yoga when I got home. I used the Baron Baptiste Unlocking Athletic Power DVD. Haven't done it for a few months now so was pleased to discover I could still get into and hold the crow pose:

It actually looks a lot harder than it is. It involves some upper arm strength but it's mainly a balance posture. My abs were a bit sore after doing prone roll ins on a ball on Wednesday, so could really feel this in the same place!

I was getting a bit irritable and hungry by the end of the yoga so think I will do it on my day off next time instead of after my cardio. That way I can relax and enjoy it without distraction.

Lately for my breakfast I have been having quinoa pancakes - quinoa flour, egg whites, cinnamon, vanilla, xylitol - topped with berries and organic dark agave syrup. I don't eat artificial sweetener, so sugar-free maple syrup is out for me. Agave syrup is similar in calories to maple syrup, but the glycemic index is much lower (19 for agave syrup, 54 for maple syrup), and it's also very thick and sweet, so you don't need much.

Post Comp Diet

Here is an example of a four-month recovery diet outline that will help your metabolism recover by adding some much-needed calories. This works great not only post-contest, but for anytime during the year that you're overtrained and overdieted.

Weeks One and Two
Stay at your pre-contest diet calories with very low carbs, and remove stimulants and other hardcore supplements from the diet. However, Flameout should still be consumed liberally, as well as your multi-vitamin of choice. Exercise should be restricted to walking and other non-training-related activities.

Weeks Three and Four
Increase calories slightly by adding carbs such as Surge back into the plan as part of your post-weight training meals. Weight training should be introduced three times a week (or four if you just can't help yourself), with light cardio on the off days.

Month Two
By now, your appetite should be catching back up to you, which is a good sign that another increase in calories is called for. Add roughly 200 (or slightly more) calories each day, in the form of carbs and protein, and a little bit of fat.

All of your more hardcore supplements should be added back in with full force. They'll now serve to increase your metabolism and muscle mass while your food levels increase.

Things like Creatine , BCAA's, Hot-Rox Extreme, Se7en, and a whole host of other staples should be taken regularly. Think of them as useful for building and recovery, instead of fat loss. Your energy levels will go up, thus enabling you to train harder. This will set you up for then next increase.

Month Three
Start out with an additional 200 calories between the two meals following training on weight lifting days. An additional 100 calories on cardio days is also a good start. It may be time to add some interval training at the start of your cardio sessions again.

Just be careful not to over do it. In the off-season, there's no reason to do more than 10-15 minutes of intervals at any one time.

Month Four
By now, you'll have added roughly 500 calories back into your daily diet. You'll be gaining a sense of pride about how you've trained your body to want more, and you can actually feed it without losing your hard earned results.

Your appearance will not be the result of a post-contest rebound, or a long drawn-out diet that resulted in post-burnout binge. Your mood should be fantastic, and mentally, you should be stable and satisfied! At this point, you can increase your activity levels and food even further, depending on when your next event is.

The Most Important Part

Once you get to this point it is crucial that you don't turn around and diet again. You should revel in this new state of homeostasis. Let this be a time to increase PR's in the gym, eat lots of clean foods, and maintain your bodyweight over a period of time.

Let your body enjoy being "normal" for at least a month before going back to a more strict diet. This will serve as one of the best physique decisions you ever make. And that, my friends, is a promise.

Full article

Thursday, July 24, 2008

71 days to go

Only got to bed a little later than planned last night. The cat and dog were both waiting on the bed for me. They both know when it's bedtime, even if I don't, LOL.

Woke up with sore back and shoulders this morning, so thought getting through my chest and arms workout today would be interesting. Enjoyed it though. Did a couple of tricep exercises I haven't done before and got a good pump out of them. That was the good part of my day. The bad part was that I had low blood sugar afterwards, which makes me shake and sweat and then mucks around with my hormones so I'm teary for the rest of the day.

On a related note, my Dad (who is a type 1 diabetic) had to go and visit his eye specialist today. One of the complications of having diabetes for so long (over 30 years) is that the fluctuations in your blood sugar can damage nerve endings and eyesight. He has had laser treatment on his eyes several times but today STOP READING NOW IF YOU ARE SQUEAMISH

he had to have an injection in his eye. Here's what Mum said about it:
Dad's eye appointment was rather stressful. The specialist assured Dad that the procedure would be uncomfortable rather than painful once he had local anaesthetic. It turned out to be very uncomfortable, probably not helped by Dad having a sore neck, making it hard for him to cooperate with the procedure. I ended up feeling really faint and had to lie down for awhile to recover (due to hearing Dad's discomfort - I was standing next to him but not watching the procedure).

So I really feel for Dad at the moment. If Mum felt faint just listening to him, I would hate to think how Dad felt.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

72 days to go

Sleep wasn't the greatest last night. Went to bed later than planned, then the cat woke me at 5.30 this morning. I've now set my alarm for bedtime, so I have to stop what I'm doing and get ready for bed, LOL.

I'm enjoying training in the mornings again. Even though it's freezing cold outside, I like walking to the gym - it's so peaceful. The gym is quiet and I can use whatever equipment I want without having to wait. The members that go at that time are regulars and we all recognize each other and say 'hi' but get on with our training as we're all there for a purpose at that hour of the morning. I was training in the afternoons for a while in the off season, but think I will stick with mornings from now on.

Did back and shoulders this morning and got a great pump. Managed to get out four chin ups on my own, which is great considering my weight at the moment. Can't usually do these until I'm lighter and leaner.

I am enjoying this recipe at the moment. Mum and Dad made it for me when I went home recently. It's yummy and so easy to make.

Huntsman's Chicken
1 large onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 cup chopped mushrooms
1 400g can diced tomatoes in juice
400g skinless boneless chicken breasts

2 tsp instant chicken stock powder
1/4 cup boiling water
1/4 cup red or white wine
1-2 tsp sugar or sugar replacer
2 Tbsp tomato paste

1/2 cup sliced olives
2 Tbsp chopped parsley
2 Tbsp chopped fresh basil, if available

Turn a fairly large slow cooker to LOW. Place onion, garlic and mushrooms in the cooker and mix together.
Spoon tomatoes and their juice evenly over the onion mix.
Place whole chicken breasts on top.
Combine next 5 ingredients in a measuring cup or other small container and pour over chicken.
Cover and cook on LOW for about 8 hours or HIGH for about 4 hours.
The chicken should be soft enough to shred with a pair of tongs or fork without removing from the crockpot.
Stir in olives, parsley and basil, and serve.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

73 days to Go

Fish is banned! From the supermarket that is. I have had food poisoning twice from fish bought at supermarkets in NZ. I bought some nice-looking fresh tuna from Safeway last night, got it out of the bag this afternoon and it smelt...fishy, which fresh fish is not supposed to do. I thought it might have been smelly from sitting in the plastic so decided to cook it anyway. First few mouthfuls were OK, then had one mouthful that tasted NQR. I wasn't about to get food poisoning again so spat it out and didn't finish the rest. :-(

First day of new program today (legs) and it went pretty well. Haven't done some of the exercises for over 12 months so had no idea what weight to use for some things. Was a bit of trial and error. Am doing it again on Monday so should be able to hammer it then. I didn't do any food prep last night and ended up being a bit pushed for time doing everything this morning between getting home from the gym and starting work, but it should be all good from now with my new schedule.

Also spent too much personal time on the internet today when I should have been working. It's not so bad now as work is a little bit quiet, but come mid-August it's going to get busy so I need to get my behaviour sorted out now so I have a nice routine happening before I get caught up with full-on comp prep and work.

Meals have been a bit all over the place the last couple of days while I've been trying to get my eating back into comp mode. As I'm hungrier a bit more now, I need to give myself a rough guide to meal times so I don't eat most of my calories by midday, LOL. So I'm thinking something like this:

6.15am meal 1
7-8.30am training: weights, cardio, stretching
8.30am PWO drink
8.45 recovery method: hot/cold shower
9am meal 2
9.30 start work
11.30am meal 3
2pm meal 4
4.30pm meal 5
5.30 finish work
5.30-7pm prepare food, clean up, organise for next day
7pm meal 6
7-8.30 internet time
8.30-9.30 read
9.30-6 sleep

Monday, July 21, 2008

Rest and Recovery

I need to spend more time recovering and sleeping. I'd also like to spend more time reading (as I find it very relaxing) and less time on the internet, so I'm trying to schedule these activities.

Tues, Wed, Thurs
7-8.30am training: weights, cardio, stretching
8.45 recovery method: hot/cold shower
9.30-5.30 work
5.30-7 prepare food, clean up, organise for next day
7-8.30 internet time
8.30-9.30 read
9.30-6 sleep

7-7.45 cardio
8-8.30 recovery method: yoga
9.30-5.30 work
5.30-7 prepare food, clean up, organise for next day
7-8.30 internet time
8.30-9.30 read
9.30-6 sleep

recovery method: massage/accupuncture/beauty therapy/Epsom salt bath

cardio (incl recovery method): walk (sun exposure)

7-8.30am training: weights, cardio, stretching
8.45 recovery method: hot/cold shower
9.30-5.30 work
5.30-7 prepare food, clean up, organise for next day
7-8.30 internet time
8.30-9.30 read
9.30-6 sleep

Lets see how it goes...

74 Days to Go

I didn't sleep very well last night. Woke at 4am, got up to go to the bathroom then couldn't get back to sleep. I start back with Liz this week. In the meantime I was wide awake at 6am so decided to get up and do some cardio to give myself a head start. Will try and give regular progress reports from now on. Hopefully some pics this weekend.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Mind, Body & Spirit

Accomplishments this week

Even though I was apprehensive about using Calorie King again, I started this week and it's been interesting to track my body's response to different amounts and types of food and exercise.

PB standing BB shoulder press 70lb (32kg) for 1 rep
PB barbell bentover row 55kg for 1 rep

I am getting lots of sleep and feeling very relaxed

Saturday, July 19, 2008


'Do, or do not, there is no try.' Yoda

Friday, July 18, 2008


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.



Thursday, July 17, 2008

Seize the Day

By Craig Harper

G'day Groovers. Happy Thursday! Today is an amazing day because it's the first, last and only July 17, 2008 that you and I will ever have. Ever! I'm pretty excited about that. So perhaps you and I should make the most of this once-in-a-life-time day. Waddya think? I'm up for it. Yes, it kinda looks, feels and smells like other days but that's just our mind getting in the way of our possibilities. Again.

Change-Your-Life Thursday

Sure we've had lots of Thursdays before but we've never had this Thursday have we? Imagine wasting another day. And another opportunity. And a bit more of our potential. Or even, wasting a life. As if we'd ever do that. That's not how you and I are wired is it? In many ways, today could be spectacular and unique if we choose to make it that. It could be a defining day for us. A life-changing day. It could be a cross-road where we stop and make that turn we should have made years ago. Or it could be just another typical Thursday. Before another typical Friday. In another typical life.

It's a Choice

"But Craig, it's Thursday and I don't really do spectacular or amazing on Thursdays. I usually save spectacular for special occasions. Christmas or maybe New Year. At the very least, it's gotta be a Monday. Definitely not a Thursday. Besides, I'm busy. Today's not so good for me. I wasn't really planning on doing or being anything special today. I thought I'd take a quick peek at your site and then continue on with my average, not-particularly-special day. Just like every other Thursday. I didn't really expect this kind of full frontal assault. My head's not really in the right place at the moment and to be honest, I'm not feeling that great. And I'm kinda busy. Did I mention that already? And my therapist said I should pace myself and not to put myself under too much pressure while I work through my issues. Anyway, if a good or bad day (and life) is determined by 'me' then who can I blame and get mad at for all those bad days I have? You know that blaming and getting mad is healthy right?"

What if...

A great day is not about what happens to us or around us on a given day, but about what we do on that day (today). The decisions we make (and don't make), the mindset we adopt, our conscious behaviours and how we deal with the events of that day.

"It's not what happens that matters, it's how we react to what happens that matters. "

It's about the attitude we consciously take into every situation, circumstance and conversation for that day. I can have a great day every day by choice. Even on a Thursday. The quality of my day will not be determined by things over which I have no control. I can't control what other people think, say or do. I can't control the weather. I can't control most of what happens around me. I can't change what happened yesterday, last month or last decade but I can change how I let that affect me today. The quality of my day will be determined by me. Today will be a good day because that's my choice.

An Opportunity

Today you and I have an opportunity to choose to do something we've never done. Doing different to create different. We can choose to face that fear which has held us captive for too long. We can stop waiting and procrastinating and start doing. We can stop feeling sorry for ourselves. We can stop justifying and rationalising all that destructive crap we do. We can get responsible and proactive instead of offended and hurt. We can stop being victims and start being warriors. We can work through the uncomfortable stuff and grow, learn, adapt and change in the process. And we can consciously, strategically and courageously change our life.

Or we could do what we did last Thursday. And the one before.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Figure Competitors - Solutions for Success

MWA: What are some of the biggest obstacles women who are at this "extreme" level face, and more importantly, what are the solutions to ensure success?

Dr. Mohr: With figure competitions, it can be tough staying positive and clean with the diet, particularly the farther out from a competition you are. However, I think that time is just as critical as right before the competition. It all has to do with "letting yourself off the hook." When you say you will do something, such as eat clean, workout 2 x per day, pack meals ahead of time, etc., and then you don't, you chisel away at the commitment you've made to yourself.

The first time you do it, it's easy to rationalize (remember: "to rationalize" means "to tell yourself rational lies"). The next time, it becomes easier and easier to rationalize and pretty soon you're deciding whether you should choose a later contest or push it off until next year. Maybe it's a little fear of failure, maybe it's fear of success, but it all boils down to not believing in yourself enough to commit to make it happen.

So stay positive and focused. Make lists of goals, and not only the big goals: break them down into monthly, weekly, and daily goals, so you have something very specific to follow. Celebrate small successes, but not with food! Another great tool is using visualization techniques every single day.

Visualize long-term goals such as being on stage but also daily goals such as completing a tough leg workout or being around friends and passing up dessert. Research has shown that the mind doesn't know the difference between a dress rehearsal and the real thing.

full article

My Biggest Competition

Morning of my second comp, 11 November 2006

Are You An Exerciser Or An Athlete?

By Charles Staley, B.Sc, MSS
Director, Staley Training Systems

Becoming an athlete doesn't require advanced pedigree, a nasty steroid habit, bulging biceps, or even jaw-dropping talent. What it does require is a commitment to a set of practices that define the athletic lifestyle. People who consistently practice these habits can call themselves athletes, while those who do not continue to reside in the exerciser caste.

As you continue to read, take a self-assessment to see how many of these five habits you already practice, and which ones are missing from your dossier.

1) Process Orientation:

The athlete pursues goals, but the bulk of his day-to-day attention is focused on processes. A premise is first developed which states "If I do this process, it should lead me to this end." Once the premise is established, the athlete trusts the premise (much like a pro golfer must trust his stroke under competitive conditions).

The athlete shifts his sights away from the long-term goal and devoted his entire energy toward the day-to-day practices and habits that will give him the best chance for success. These practices encompass everything from training tactics, to nutritional and recuperative strategies.

2) Delayed Gratification:

The desire for instant results is the hallmark of an exerciser. Athletes know that the big payoff is worth the wait. One telltale sign of maturity can be found in sound nutritional practices: many people can commit to an exercise program, because there are immediate benefits- endorphin production, muscle pumps, greater energy, etc. However, there are little to no short-term benefits to be gained from a sound nutritional program - the payoff takes time to accrue.

3) Systemization:

Athletes record, document, and analyze their training, and often, their food intake. In other words, they keep records. When you don't have systems, you need to reinvent the wheel every time a unique situation presents itself. Athletes tend to know their maximum capacities in various exercises, they know how they react to various nutritional practices, and they're also familiar with the psychological states that produce superior performances. All of this knowledge is gleaned through the process of record keeping. After all, the best way to predict future performance is to study the past.

4) Professionalism:

The previous three practices are all components of professionalism, but here, I'd like to discuss a "root" habit that gives birth to all of them: distancing. This practice is perhaps best personified in the old weightlifter's credo "There is no joy in victory, no agony in defeat." Athletes maintain a certain impassionate distance from their craft. They know that if they identify too closely with their role, they'll be less likely to put themselves on the line, in the competitive arena.

Instead, they simply put in the work, do the right things, and resign themselves to whatever outcome might occur. Athletes know that commitment to the effort means more than the outcome produced by the effort. Exercisers on the other hand, are typically unwilling to put in the time, and instead resort to pills, powders, plastic surgery, and various other shortcuts that inevitably lead to failure.

5) Functionalism:

Exercisers are concerned exclusively with "form:" an improved appearance. Athletes are concerned exclusively with "function," which results in better form than what exercisers typically achieve. Put simply: form follows function. When you train like an athlete, you'll look like an athlete


I hope you'll notice the consistent parallels between these 5 practices. They all stress means over ends, practices over outcomes, long-term growth over immediate gratification. All of which are expressions of maturity. If you're currently living an exerciser lifestyle, you're ahead of the curve, but why not set your sights higher and join the athletic community?

Thursday, July 10, 2008


'The reason I may fail instead of succeed will be because I traded what I wanted most for what I wanted at the moment. I won't let that happen.' Kris Aiken.

Posing Lesson

Had my posing lesson with Jo Rogers this afternoon. I also got to meet the lovely Kek, who was leaving just as I was arriving.

I first met Jo two years ago. She came to New Zealand the weekend before the NZ All Females, my first show. The top pic is me then, the bottom one is me today:

21 June 2006

10 July 2008

Jo did a fantastic job today, making me look bigger and less gangly. Now I just have to practice, practice, practice!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Red & Green Cabbage Salad

This is an Australian Women's Weekly Magazine recipe. I use it a bit as it's kind of like coleslaw, but without the mayo.

Red and Green Cabbage Salad
Serves 6
Preparation 15 mins (plus 3 hours refrigeration time)

1/4 cup (60mL) extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup (80mL) lemon juice
1 clove garlic, crushed
300g red cabbage, finely shredded
300g green cabbage, shredded finely
2 sticks (300g) trimmed celery, sliced thinly
1 small (70g) carrot, grated finely
1/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1. Combine oil, juice and garlic in a large bowl. Add red cabbage; season to taste with salt. Cover, refrigerate for 3 hours.
2. Add remaining ingredients, toss to combine; season again to taste.

I like serving this with sliced chicken breast.
I have made it without mixing in the dressing first, just adding the amount of dressing I want later.
Instead of the dressing, you could use sweet chilli sauce, a la Liz

Posing Lesson

I have a posing lesson tomorrow with Jo Rogers from Style on Stage. How exciting! I am going to be sore on Friday...

The 11 Best Foods You Aren't Eating

The 11 Best Foods You Aren’t Eating (from the New York Times article)

Nutritionist and author Jonny Bowden has created several lists of healthful foods people should be eating but aren’t. But some of his favorites, like purslane, guava and goji berries, aren’t always available at regular grocery stores. I asked Dr. Bowden, author of “The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth,” to update his list with some favorite foods that are easy to find but don’t always find their way into our shopping carts. Here’s his advice.

Beets: Think of beets as red spinach, Dr. Bowden said, because they are a rich source of folate as well as natural red pigments that may be cancer fighters.
How to eat: Fresh, raw and grated to make a salad. Heating decreases the antioxidant power.

Cabbage: Loaded with nutrients like sulforaphane, a chemical said to boost cancer-fighting enzymes.
How to eat: Asian-style slaw or as a crunchy topping on burgers and sandwiches.

Swiss chard (silverbeet): A leafy green vegetable packed with carotenoids that protect aging eyes.
How to eat it: Chop and saute in olive oil.

Cinnamon: May help control blood sugar and cholesterol.
How to eat it: Sprinkle on coffee or oatmeal.

Pomegranate juice: Appears to lower blood pressure and loaded with antioxidants.
How to eat: Just drink it.

Dried plums: Okay, so they are really prunes, but they are packed with antioxidants.
How to eat: Wrapped in prosciutto and baked.

Pumpkin seeds: The most nutritious part of the pumpkin and packed with magnesium; high levels of the mineral are associated with lower risk for early death.
How to eat: Roasted as a snack, or sprinkled on salad.

Sardines: Dr. Bowden calls them “health food in a can.'’ They are high in omega-3’s, contain virtually no mercury and are loaded with calcium. They also contain iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper and manganese as well as a full complement of B vitamins.
How to eat: Choose sardines packed in olive or sardine oil. Eat plain, mixed with salad, on toast, or mashed with dijon mustard and onions as a spread.

Turmeric: The “superstar of spices,'’ it may have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.
How to eat: Mix with scrambled eggs or in any vegetable dish.

Frozen blueberries: Even though freezing can degrade some of the nutrients in fruits and vegetables, frozen blueberries are available year-round and don’t spoil; associated with better memory in animal studies.
How to eat: Blended with yogurt or chocolate soy milk and sprinkled with crushed almonds.

Canned pumpkin: A low-calorie vegetable that is high in fiber and immune-stimulating vitamin A; fills you up on very few calories.
How to eat: Mix with a little butter, cinnamon and nutmeg.

You can find more details and recipes on the Men’s Health Web site, which published the original version of the list last year.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008


I wanted something quick, easy and wheat free this morning. Buckwheat porridge? I couldn't wait 15 minutes. Quinoa? None left. What else was in my pantry? Polenta! So I boiled some water and chicken stock in a pot, dumped in the polenta, stirred until thick, then added a sprinkle of parmesan cheese for some extra flavour. Served with reheated chicken breast (leftover in fridge from yesterday) and silverbeet salad (also leftover from yesterday). Quick, easy, yummy and kept me full for about three hours.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Buckwheat porridge review

Today I had buckwheat porridge.
The kernels look like little stones, but soak up about four times their volume in water, so soften quite a bit after simmering for 15 minutes, leaving chewy kernels, a bit like barley. I mixed up the cooked kernels with protein powder, and topped with defrosted frozen berries (as the mixture was quite dry) and yoghurt. There wasn't a strong buckwheat taste but it was a different sensation to eating oats. Still filling and satisfying though.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Off-season goals

It's coming up to the end of my off season and at this stage I'm uncertain about competing in October. Nevertheless, I thought I would look back at the off season goals I set myself after my last show, and see if I've followed through:

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.
Did better at Christmas this year but had some trouble getting back on track after eating sweet food - it left me craving more. Late April saw me starting to eat more 'trigger' carbs again but I kept up my workouts for the most part (was very busy with work). Injured my hand in June then went away on holiday, so training and eating not the best that month.

Step 2: Dealing with my stumbling blocks
1. Stop dieting for shows and start thinking about my body on a long-term basis. Yes, apart from the last couple of months where I've been having issues with avoiding and then reintroducing carbs. This has meant that I've put on more weight than intended.
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. Overbooking myself with work meant that I sometimes felt like I didn't have time to fit in a workout. My time management and prioritisation needs to be better.
3. Break up the off season into one-month blocks, so I have new goals each month. Sometimes programmes changed every four weeks, sometimes every six. I prefer every four weeks.

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. Yes, except for the last couple of months, where I've been having issues with trigger foods after reintroducing them to my diet.
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. Yes, although this is easier when I train in the mornings and am not swamped with work.
3. For each monthly weights program, aim to be stronger by week four. Yes
4. Drink 4L water per day. No, don't usually get that much on a nontraining day, but am OK with that, as long as I get 2L in.
5. Include one yoga session per week as part of my training. Yes until I got really busy with work, which is probably when I needed to be doing it most.

Step 4: Plan
1. Journal my eating - it will keep me on track longer and make me feel more successful. Writing down what I was eating (but not calculating numbers) did help keep me on track. When I stopped doing this I also started eating my trigger foods.
2. Exercise first thing in the morning. Just get up and go. Then there are no execuses. Mornings are definitely the best time for me to train consistently.
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! Yes for the most part - not always in the first week of a new program as I tried to work out what weights to use.
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. No, but have been using my SIGG bottle instead of plastic.
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. Bought yoga DVDs and was using them regularly until a couple of months ago.

Step 5: Take action
Each month I will:
1. Get bodyfat tested to see how much muscle/fat I've gained More like every couple of months.
2. Take girth measurements to see which areas have increased in size Did this for a couple of months then stopped.
3. Have photos taken so I can see any changes Not in the last couple of months
4. Do a strength test to see how effective I've been in the gym No, but I know I'm getting stronger as I'm able to lift heavier weights, especially in chest and shoulder exercises.
I would like to track my progress more regularly from now on, so I can see what's working and what's not.

Step 6: Improvise & adapt
From the results of my assessments I will see if anything needs to be changed for the following month. Have done this with my diet more than anything - got too hung up on it at times.

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.'

I've been more consistent with eating and training this year, have tried a few new things, and am getting to know my body better.

Foods/supplements that work for me:
- fish oils (help decrease body fat and reduce inflamation)
- good fats (nuts or seeds, avocado, olive oil etc) help to keep me full and reduce cravings

- cruciferous/fibrous veges (broccoli, cauliflower etc) are more filling than other veges
- BCAAs (help retain muscle mass/decrease body fat)
- lots of water/tea (helps flush everything out, and keeps skin hydrated)
- vitamin B or a multi that's high in vitamin B (helps with water retention and mood)

- ZMA (helps prevent mouth ulcers and white spots on my nails, and helps me sleep)
- creatine (volumizes muscle cells and stimulates protein synthesis -> muscle growth)
- carbs (need them for brain function, BUT I need to minimize my sugar and grain intake; see below)

What to avoid:
- sugary foods (having these, even for a treat, makes my body crave more sugar)
- grains (cereal, bread, pasta). Once I start eating these I find it hard to stop.

- some types of dairy (make me feel bloated and give me wind). I'm OK with yoghurt and kefir.

Exercise strategies:
- I exercise more consistently if I do it in the morning.

- I like training legs twice a week.
- I like changing my programs frequently so I don't get bored.
- If I want to eat more carbs as it gets colder, I need to choose ones that don't send me over the edge. I also need to increase my exercise to correspond with the additional food intake. (Walking is not enough to keep the fat off my butt.)

Stress-reduction strategies:
- say no to extra work when I think it might encroach on my training, sleeping or recovery time.
- limit (schedule) my computer time so I can prioritise training, sleeping and recovery methods.
- schedule time for training, sleeping and recovery methods.
- journal my eating to keep myself accountable.

I am also getting a gene test done so hopefully I will be able to add more to this list soon.


From Katie's blog

'Ironically, some people who are sensitive to wheat products crave these foods and have trouble not overeating them. Addictive eating can occur with any food, but wheat seems to be a particularly common addictive food, as most nutrition counselors and members of Overeaters Anonymous will attest. Wheat contains opioids, substances with amino-acid sequences very similar to those in narcotic-like drugs. These substances can set the stage for addictions, overeating and binge eating - what I call "grain-o-mania" and "grain gluttony"--in people with undetected wheat sensitivity. If patients eat many forms of wheat throughout each day and say they can't give up wheat, that's a surefire sign to suspect hidden wheat sensitivity. Typically, cravings lift and other symptoms improve after four or five days on a wheat-free diet.' Melissa Dianne Smith

Thinking back, I have been like this since childhood when it comes to grains. I would come home from school and eat slice after slice of toast. I can also down bowl after bowl of cereal without feeling satisfied. When preparing for comps in the past I haven't eaten grains, so haven't had any problem controlling what I eat. But in my off seasons, as the weather gets colder, I reach for carbs, and they tend to be grain based. Maybe that would explain why every year around autumn I feel like I have trouble controlling what I'm eating.

'Carbohydrate addicts need to minimize their grain and sugar intake in order to break their addiction. If you are a carb addict you should focus on getting your carbs from vegetables and small amounts of fruit.

If you eat grains, it best to eat whole grains that you cook such as brown rice, wild rice, quinoa, teff, amaranth, barley, oat groats, kasha. These whole grains require a lot of chewing and the digestive enzymes have to work hard to get through the different layers of the grain to break it down.' source

Armed with this knowledge, perhaps things will be different from now on.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Food Sleuth

This week, by choice, I've had no gluten and very little dairy (except a little homemade kefir (from lactose-free milk) on my quinoa/buckwheat porridge. Also no whey. This morning we went out for brunch. I had bircher muesli and fruit toast, two of my faves (but also trigger foods that I don't keep in the house). I then had some haloumi cheese from my husband's brekkie and a skinny flat white. Felt bloated after breakfast, then was a bit 'irregular' this evening. My mum told me when I was a baby I couldn't tolerate much milk, and I know I get bloated sometimes when having cheese, milk or cottage cheese. I'm OK with yoghurt and we only have lactose-free milk at home. But I've also noticed that a lot of my trigger foods seem to involve grains. More investigation required.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Trying Something New

While I was staying with my parents I looked through some of their crockpot and diabetes recipe books. I came home with about 10 new recipes to try, so have been enjoying cooking something in the crockpot each day - makes the house smell great! So far my favourite has been braised kangaroo sausages with lentils.

The past few days we have been having quinoa flakes for breakfast. I usually buy the little round quinoa to make into porridge but Rob doesn't like the texture that much. Was in the health food store on Tuesday and saw the flakes. We like them much better for porridge - they cook really fast (90 seconds on the stovetop) and they are really filling. I picked up some quinoa flour as well so will try making some quinoa and berry muffins sometime soon.

I also picked up the New Zealand version of the Healthy Food Guide for July. There was a lot in there on gluten-free living, including a section on buckwheat, which is actually a fruit seed related to rhubarb and sorrel. I've had buckwheat pancakes before but I'm going to try making buckwheat porridge for breakfast tomorrow. The kernels take a while to cook, so I found a recipe where you can 'cook' it overnight in the thermos - hope it turns out OK!