Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Tuesday Done

The good:
I slept in.
My bikini arrived today :-)
Last heavy back session done.

The bad:
I've done about 2.5 hours of walking today. Sixty mins on the treadmill this morning, 75 mins walking the dog this afternoon, and another 20 mins on the treadmill after training tonight. My lower legs are tired. Should have worn my Skins. Will be wearing them tomorrow methinks.

The ugly:
Had to go to the dentist today and get a filling replaced (have been putting it off for a few months now). Had a numb face for a few hours. Made eating and talking interesting!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Monday Done

Last HIIT session done
Last heavy leg training done

Deadlines for work met and I now have the next four days to focus on comp prep.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

More Fun with Quinoa

I've been enjoying sweet potato for my starchy carbs lately, but this morning I felt like having quinoa. But since I'm not having protein powder at the moment, I didn't want to have a bowl of quinoa on its own (a bit bland). So then I started thinking about a quinoa pancake with egg whites (I'm not having dairy at the moment either). But I couldn't be bothered with the mess of flipping it in a pan. And then I remembered our omelette maker...

Quinoa and blueberry 'omcakes'

6 egg whites
1/3 cup quinoa flakes
1 tsp xylitol
frozen blueberries

They almost look like blueberry muffins!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Two Weeks to Go

Last week was not fun. Rob came back from NZ. His dad's operation went well but Rob lost 4kg the week he was away (stress) and came back with the flu. I didn't get enough sleep as I was trying to do my work plus look after Rob, and nearly got sick myself. I woke up every morning with a sore throat but luckily nothing came of it. I managed to catch up on all my sleep over the weekend, and felt almost normal by yesterday. This morning I woke up before my alarm for the first time in ages, and actually feel positive and energetic today.

I feel a bit behind in terms of fat loss, but on the positive side, yesterday's pics show how much muscle I've gained over the last 12 months (and managed to retain while prepping).

These next two weeks are going to be a challenge, but I think I work best under pressure. Bring it on!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Barbeque precautions

By Dr Jonny Bowden

During grilling at high temperatures (or frying for that matter), compounds known as HCAs- heterocyclic amines- are formed, and most researchers believe that these are human carcinogens. Some research shows that eating more heterocyclic amines increase the risk for colorectal, stomach, lung, pancreatic, breast and prostate cancer. The better done and more "burned to a crisp" the food is- and unfortunately this includes "blackened" varieties of fish- the worse it is from a heterocyclic amine point of view.

So besides grilling at lower temperatures, cooking slower and avoiding the splash back of fat onto the meat or fish and the formation of "blackened" crusts, what can we do?

Actually, quite a lot.

Researchers at Kansas State University and the Food Science Institute now believe that marinades may hold the key to healthier grilling.

These scientists marinated steaks for an hour in ordinary store-bought marinades. They coated the meat on all sides and turned it a few times before grilling at 400 degrees for five minutes per side. They then compared similar steaks that had been made without marinade.

The steaks made with marinade had between 57% and 88% less carcinogenic compounds (some marinades, like the "Caribbean" one, performed better than others, but all reduced HCAs by at least half!)

The common ingredients in all marinades were spices and herbs with high antioxidant properties. The best performing marinade was made with thyme, allspice, rosemary, chives, red and black pepper.

So if you're grilling this summer, consider using a marinade, be generous with the spices, and cook slowly at lower temperatures.

And consider washing it down with some red wine or other high antioxidant food or beverage (Pomegranate juice, red grapes, green vegetables).

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Muesli Cravings

By about 4 weeks out from comp I'm usually down to no dairy and 1 serve of fruit per day, and I often start craving muesli and yoghurt. And that's usually one of the first things I eat afterwards...

That's me on the left, digging into my muesli and yoghurt after my first show

I know now that eating conventional muesli is not such a great idea for me, as the wheat and dried fruit mean that I find it hard to stop at one bowlful.

This comp prep, things are different. On Sunday for breakfast, at 3 weeks out, I had yoghurt, apple and berries, along with quinoa, protein powder, cinnamon and hazelnuts, made into a lovely gluten-free, bircher-style muesli.

I liked it so much I had it again yesterday. I'm eating it preparing for a comp, and I'll be eating it after comp. No more muesli cravings for me, and it doesn't send me 'off the planet'.

Quinoa Bircher Muesli

Mix together 1/3 cup quinoa flakes (35g), juice of 1/2 lemon and 1/4 cup water, and soak overnight.
In morning, mix in 100g plain low-fat yoghurt, 1/2 scoop protein powder, 1/2 grated green apple, cinnamon and 1 tsp xylitol.
Top with 25g defrosted berries and 5g chopped nuts (I used blueberries and hazelnuts).

This came out to 336cals: 5.4g fat, 21.5g protein, 46.5g carbs (of which 23g is starchy carbs).

If you're in a hurry, you can use boiling water instead of soaking overnight.

The traditional recipe uses 1/2 cup oats, 1/2 cup yoghurt (about 125g), no protein powder, honey instead of xylitol, and 1 Tbsp nuts.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Turmeric: The Super Spice

My gene test indicates I lack the required detoxification mechanisms to remove free radicals formed by toxic waste (xenobiotics). Overaccumulation of xenobiotics can lead to a range of health problems. A diet high in cruciferous vegetables (eg broccoli and cauliflower), allium vegetable, citrus peel and the spice tumeric will aid in detoxification, which will improve exercise tolerance and reduce fatigue.

From an interview with Jonny Bowden at T-nation:

Q: You wrote in your 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth book that turmeric, the spice, deserved to have a whole book written on it. What's so great about this stuff, besides the fact that it makes Indian food taste good?

A: The active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin, a member of a class of plant chemicals called curcuminoids. Curcumin has anti-cancer properties. Even the very conservative American Cancer Society says on its website that curcumin has "demonstrated some anti-cancer effects."

Several types of cancer cells are inhibited by curcumin in the lab, and it's slowed the spread of cancer in some animal studies. It's also a powerful antioxidant and highly anti-inflammatory as well, and since inflammation is a component of virtually every degenerative disease on the planet, that's a very powerful résumé.

And if that weren't enough, curcumin (or turmeric) is one of the most liver-friendly compounds on the planet, which is why you almost always see curcumin in liver-detox supplements.

Another Skins Convert

My gene shows I have negative variations in eNOS3 and MCT1, which means I have lower blood flow to the muscle combined with poor lactic acid transportation, resulting in faster muscle fatigue.

'Skins is body-moulded gradient compression performance equipment with built-in BioAcceleration Technology™ which will enhance your performance in training, competition and recovery.The future of technical wear is engineered gradient compression. When compression is engineered to apply a balanced and accurate surface pressure over specific body parts, it triggers an acceleration of blood flow. This increases oxygen delivery to working muscles to enhance their performance. The circulation improvements also help the body to eliminate lactic acid and other metabolic wastes. The combination of these effects allows you to work at a higher rate for longer.'

I started wearing mine yesterday and could feel a difference in how my legs felt straight away.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

3 Weeks to Go

After my weight not changing much (about half a kilo) in the last month or so, I've dropped 1.3kg since last Sat. Think it's a combination of a few things:

1. being more focused now that comp is closer

2. worrying about something other than comp prep (Rob and his dad)

3. eating less - even though we changed my intake to about 1500 cals at the end of last week, I probably haven't been eating that much. Have had more low cal days than high, mostly because I haven't been that hungry (see point 2).

4. eating more veges, and a slightly higher ratio of protein. At start of comp prep I did the 40/40/20 ratio but felt like I wasn't getting enough good fats. Tried doing high fat, low carb (with a high carb, low fat day every so often) for about four weeks, but started craving more veges (it's hard to squeeze in many veges when you're only doing 10-15% carbs and still want some postworkout starchy carbs!), and I knew that I didn't want to eat less protein once my cals dropped (I like my meat!).

Training has been OK. Knew I was starting to get depleted towards the end of the week as I didn't have much energy for training, and there was little to no improvement on the previous workouts. Friday night was probably the worst, where I felt like things were actually going in reverse in a couple of cases. So had some extra starchy carbs after training. Didn't top me off though as I felt a bit irritable before going to bed (couldn't relax in my bath) and this morning TJ got a big telling-off for pulling on the lead. So had some starchy carbs after my walk. Didn't used to worry too much about carbs after my walk, but now they are around the one-hour mark, I may start to need them. I haven't been walking on an empty stomach though - usually have something small beforehand as I get nauseous doing any kind of exercise on an empty stomach. And walking TJ is not always a stroll in the park.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Change of Routine

I admit it. I'm addicted to the internet. I spend far too much time surfing when I should be working, spending time with loved ones, or cleaning our pigsty of a house. But as much as I enjoy using the internet to discover new stuff, sometimes it's just information overload and it's hard for my brain to switch off, especially in the evenings.

The last two days I have finished work (I work from home), switched my computer off, gone to the gym, come home to shower and eat, watch TV for an hour and then gone to bed. I feel so much more relaxed doing this, as my head isn't buzzing with all the things from the computer. TV isn't really a great substitute, but it will do until I get some more books to read.

Am looking forward to training back tonight, coming home to eat, then having an Epsom salt bath and going to bed. Exciting Friday night, huh?!

Have a great weekend everyone (and Happy Birthday Liz!)

Thursday, September 11, 2008


Kale is a vegetable I only started eating this year. It was listed on the website of Greenline, where I get my organic fruit and veges from, so I thought I would try it.

Earlier in the year I was getting this kind of kale. The stalks are woody so I only ate the leaves.

Lately I have been getting this kind of kale, which is also known as lancinato kale, black cabbage or cavalo nero

I know I feel good after eating it, and now I know why...

From Jonny Bowden:

'Kale is the highest ranked vegetable on the ORAC scale, a measure of antioxidant power. (It's value is 1770; the next best vegetable is spinach with a rating of 1260.)

'It's a member of the brassica family of vegetable royalty and, like other members of this family (cabbage, for example), contains powerful phytochemicals like cancer-fighting indoles which have been found to have a protective effect against breast, cervical and colon cancer.

'It also contains sulforaphane which helps trigger detoxifying liver enzymes, helping the body to rid itself of chemicals and free radicals that may cause cellular and DNA damage.'

Bowden suggests a raw kale salad with dried cranberries and pine nuts, and says it's also great stir fried in some coconut oil.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Progress Pics

But not of me :-)

While thinking of my hubby today I was looking through my pics. Realised I had two of him taken in August, three years apart.

He is probably 5-10kg lighter in this year's pic. He does weights a lot less now (only a couple of times a week in the gym as opposed to four or five) but does about 10-12 hours a week of Mixed Martial Arts training (which he loves). All going well with his dad, he will be competing at Jiu Jitsu nationals in October.

August 2005

August 2008

For My Husband...

...who is in New Zealand and needs a big hug

His father's heart operation went well but the next couple of days are critical. He is still unconscious and they are going to try to wake him today.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

4 weeks to go

I haven't had enough sleep this week. I was up late at the start of the week trying to get some work done, then it all caught up on me on Friday. Was planning to go to the gym in the evening but my quick nap turned into a four-hour snooze! Woke up at 9pm (when the gym closes) so ended up watching a movie on the couch with Rob. Haven't done that for ages, so felt very relaxed but of course it was late (early a.m.) by the time I got to sleep as I napped for so long. This morning I was up at 4.45am to see Rob off to the airport. He is flying back to NZ to be with his dad, who is is having a heart valve operation tomorrow. Bit of a stressful time for him as the last time his dad had a similar operation he had to be resucitated several times. So he's hoping it goes better this time.

TJ (our dog) and I are enjoying our walks. We are doing about 45 minutes to an hour each day. I even get a bit of an upper-body workout in sometimes when the 45kg beast decides to haul his 55kg 'mother' over to investigate something. We were out early this morning and it was lovely to hear the kookaburras laughing away. Have mostly been walking in the morning then training in the early evening this week. I am familiar with my new program now and am trying to push the weight/reps up for each exercise, though some days are better than others. Yesterday was frustrating. There is only one set of 1.25kg plates in the gym, and I like to use them to put my bench press and BB bicep curl weights up or down in small increments. I could only find one of the plates yesterday, so had to jump up or down in bigger amounts, making it harder to hit the number of reps I wanted. Weights have been followed up by about 30 minutes of cardio. Then home to eat my quinoa and berries - yum!

Enjoyed the variety of meat I got from the markets last week, especially the venison. Yesterday I got my organic fruit and vege from the markets instead of having it delivered. Since there is just me at home this week, I thought it would be nice to go and choose a few things for myself. I found some asparagus and broccolini, two of my favourite veges, so was happy about that.

Weight was pretty stagnant for most of the week, so have dropped down another 100 cals in the last couple of days, to average about 1500 cals. Some days are higher than this (1700), some days are lower (1300). This time last year I was on about 1350-1450 cals consistently so it's nice to be eating a bit more, and to have some higher cal days to balance out the lower ones.

Have been drinking more water the last few days too. Probably about 5 or 6 litres a day, which is a lot for me.

Not long to go now!

One Step at a Time

"The elevator to success is out of order. You'll have to use the stairs... one step at a time." Joe Girard

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Hump Day

The last week or so has been a bit tough for me - more on an emotional level than anything. I was tired, depressed and teary (hormones??) for most of last week and the early part of this week. I think I also had severe 'Mondayitis' for most of the week - things have been pretty quiet with work for a while, but I'm back into 'busy' mode again and it took a bit of adjusting to. There has also been some family illness to deal with. So all in all have been feeling a bit stressed and not sleeping well.

Today felt like a bit of a turning point for me. Moved my training session from the morning to the evening so I could take advantage of the nice weather this morning to get out for a decent walk, which was great. Training this evening went well - did a PB for Romanian deadlifts. Also had a reminder to keep enjoying my journey - something I needed as lately I've been focusing (worrying) more about the final outcome (the competition).

The best thing of all though was that I found out I might be able to combine my love of food and interest in nutrition with my career in publishing. It's just on a volunteer basis at this stage, but could lead to other things. Very exciting.