Sunday, November 29, 2009

Friday 27 November

Queenstown is beautiful - a town beside a lake, surrounded by snow-topped mountains.

Since we hadn't done much exercise for the previous two days, we decided to do the one-hour uphill walk to reach the top of Bob's Peak, then catch the gondola back down. This is the view from the top:

After that big walk we enjoyed a gluten-free pizza for lunch.

In the afternoon we went jet boating at Skippers Canyon. It was a one-hour drive into the canyon with cliffs that dropped steeply away from the side of the road.

The jet-boat ride lasted 30 minutes and was exhilarating.

We were cold and damp by the time we got back to Queenstown so enjoyed some grilled fish and chips in the car by the waterfront for dinner.

After we'd dried off at our hostel we headed back into town for a few drinks. Found a great place with a roaring fire and stayed in front of that for a couple of hours while we planned some more of our trip.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thursday 26 November

This morning we left camp and drove the rest of the way into Milford Sound.

My mum and dad met here when they were working at the Milford Sound Hotel (which no longer exists) and I spent the first six months of my life here.

Today we took a cruise on the sound with Mitre Peak Cruises

It was beautiful. We saw waterfalls, penguins and seals. The weather was pretty fine but it was windy and after being out on the top of the boat for two hours my fingers were numb!

After the cruise we drove from Milford to Queenstown (stopped in Te Anau on the way to have a coffee and download photos from my camera onto a disc).

It was still sunny when we arrived in Queenstown so after putting our things in our hostel room we headed out for a drink. Found a place nearby to catch the last of the sun while having a glass of wine, and planned our activities for the next day.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Wednesday 25 November

Today was the complete opposite to yesterday. We visited my Gran in the morning, then spent the rest of the day sitting in the car, driving from Dunedin to Hollyford Valley, near Milford Sound.

The most exciting part of our journey was a wild deer jumping out in front of our car as we were driving down an unsealed road to our accommodation for the night, Gunn's Camp.

The huts were once used by workers in the area. The huts are very basic, containing just a coal/wood-fired stove, a table and chairs, and a bed. But we could hear the nearby river rushing by as we lay in bed. Kind of like rain on the roof but without the pitter-patter sound.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Tuesday 24 November

Today we walked from my aunty and uncle's place into the city, had coffee then walked to the other side of the city to get to Baldwin Street, the world's steepest street.

We walked up the street. This is the view from the top

After we walked back down, Rob decided he wanted to try running up it. He made it, just. Wish I had recorded it.

We then walked back into town, did some shopping and walked back to my aunty and uncle's house. We were on our feet for a total of 7 hours. Was great putting our feet up afterwards! Weather has been lovely and sunny for us though think it will be wetter later in the week.

My Nephew

from today's Auckland Central Leader newspaper.

Little James Taylor-Keown could be forgiven for not liking needles.

The 18-month-old receives up to 12 insulin injections a day to control his type 1 diabetes.

James' mum Natasha Taylor-Keown says an insulin pump, which automatically administers daily doses of the drug, would provide an ideal solution for her energetic toddler.

But at a cost of more than $8000, which the family can't afford, and little public funding for the device, James is missing out.

"It's something that's been around for a good few years now and it's known that the pump controls diabetes a lot better than injections," she says.

"But there's still no funding out there for them at all. It's especially hard on little ones like James."

In Auckland the Starship Foundation provides a limited number of insulin pumps to children with diabetes, though it gives priority to patients who suffer from other conditions as well, like coeliac disease.

The Auckland District Health Board provides diabetes services for the region, including ongoing clinical care for patients and training on how to use the pump.

In contrast, the Canterbury board provides a limited amount of funding to purchase pumps for young people.

Even though mum-of-three Natasha is a registered nurse, she says it's hard to figure out how much insulin James needs during the day.

Exercise and the amount of food James eats alters how much of the drug he needs.

"His sensitivity to insulin changes throughout the day.

"It's hard to draw up in that tiny little syringe."

Diabetes Auckland NZ general manager John Denton agrees pumps are useful for regulating the amount of insulin children receive.

"It's difficult for any adult to be a diabetic let alone a child," he says.

"Children find the pumps really useful because the supply of insulin is regulated and much more flexible."

However he says the ongoing costs associated with a pump - like tubes that carry the insulin into the body, can be several thousand dollars a year.

ADHB chief planning and funding officer Denis Jury says it supports funding insulin pumps through the Starship Foundation, but has no plans to purchase pumps for individuals themselves.

If you can help James' family find the money for an insulin pump phone [in New Zealand] 027-520-120 or email

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Monday 23 November

Flew from Auckland to Dunedin

Picked up our hire car at the airport and drove into town. Had a coffee, then decided to drive north about an hour to Moeraki Boulders.

These perfectly spherical boulders are believed to be 60 million years old.

Drove back towards Dunedin, stopping at Carey's Bay Hotel (near Port Chalmers) and sat outside for a drink.

In the late afternoon we arrived at my aunty and uncle's place in Dunedin. We hadn't seen each other for about 16 years, so had a great evening catching up with them and my grandmother over dinner and drinks.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Monday, November 16, 2009

The "No-Diet" Diet

I read this great article in the Sunday paper and thought I'd share...

Why the Secret to Dieting is all in the Mind
by Rachel Anne Hill

THE "no-diet" diet, as featured in Esther Blum's latest book, Eat, Drink, And Be Gorgeous, has already earned the confidence of many celebrities, including Sarah Jessica Parker, Sharon Stone and Teri Hatcher, and is now becoming the hottest thing in the US. Instead of punishing eating and exercise regimes, the "no-diet" diet encourages women to eat and drink whatever they want. There are no diet plans to follow, no foods to avoid and no kilojoule counting. The "no-diet" diet is all about freeing you up to enjoy eating and drinking while still getting the results you want. Follow these five steps to find out how.


"It's time to stop the insanity," says Blum. "We've become so used to following strict diets that we've lost the ability to make our own eating and drinking decisions, so throw away your diet books and wipe the slate clean.

"Learn to trust your own judgment. We don't need other people to define our hungers and appetites. We know what our bodies need. We can create our own rules and we do not need others to tell us what to do. We simply need to allow ourselves the time and space when we do eat to acknowledge when we've had enough."


"A healthy lifestyle has to be as enjoyable as possible," says Blum.

"If you approach eating and exercise with passion and creative energy, you carry that enthusiasm across all realms of your life. So forget pounding the treadmill when what you'd really like to do is dance."

And on the "no-diet" diet the same rules apply to food. Blum believes food is one of life's greatest pleasures and is there to be enjoyed. "Try new things," she says.

"Eat a greater variety of different foods and give yourself permission to eat whatever you want. This may sound dangerous, but in doing so we empower ourselves to have control over what we eat rather then letting the food control us!

"Suddenly the fear of 'I'll never be satisfied' gets replaced with 'That's all I need for now and I can always have more'.

"Similarly, when we allow ourselves to have anything in moderation, food begins to lose its power over us and we find those foods we always craved are no longer as irresistible."


Years of strict diets and books listing all the "good" and "bad" foods have left many of us experiencing feelings of guilt around food. But Blum believes "guilty eating" is like carrying around a sack of bricks.

"It feels far better when you put it down! Lighten up on yourself because, as soon as you do, your body begins to lighten up, too.

"Eating a healthy diet isn't about perfection; it's about progress and fostering an empowered relationship with food and exercise."


"When you want to eat and you're not hungry, ask yourself, 'What's really going on here?' Keep a food diary for five to seven days.

Track your hunger levels before and after eating and write down how you were feeling when you ate. Soon you'll notice when you are eating to satisfy an emotional need rather than a physiological one.

"Address the real reasons for any emotional eating you may be doing and, if necessary, put other, non-food rewards in place, such as having a bubble bath, going for a walk or calling a friend."


While Blum doesn't advocate strict eating regimes, she does recommend making a few slight alterations to what is considered best nutritional practice at the moment.

Current healthy eating guidelines still advocate a diet based on carbohydrates; they don't, however, differentiate between processed and unprocessed carbs.

Blum believes this is a mistake and that to maximise our intake of essential vitamins, minerals and fibre we should focus on choosing unprocessed carbohydrates, such as beans, pulses, corn, brown rice and root vegetables, over processed ones such as pasta, white rice, cereals, noodles and breads.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Pea Protein

We are going to New Zealand on Thursday so I'm using up all the stuff in our pantry before we go away. I've finished off all the flavoured rice protein and am now down to unflavoured pea protein. Let's just say it's not my favourite-tasting protein. But it does have other benefits. The following text is extracted from an article titled 'Pea Protein: Give peas a chance!' by Nicholas Thiedeman B.H.Sc

Pea protein and cholesterol
It has been shown that some dietary plant proteins beneficially influence lipid metabolism.

A recent animal study suggests that pea protein stimulates formation and excretion of bile acids, which leads to a reduced hepatic cholesterol concentration (Spielmann, Stangl, & Eder, 2008).

This may be useful especially with overweight individuals who also are at risk of cardiovascular complications due to existing hypercholesterolemia.

Whey vs Dairy vs Pea Protein
Whey protein may not be the best protein choice when trying to lose weight. This is due to whey having a positive influence on insulin secretion, which leads to decreased mobilisation of fatty acids and increased fatty tissue deposition.

Melnik et al suggests that milk protein consumption induces hyperinsulinaemia. Hyperinsulinemia can leads to insulin resistance and affect the body’s fat metabolism. (Melnik, 2009)

Whey protein has also been shown to shift the growth hormone/insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) axis, which leads to increased IGF-1 serum levels.

High levels of IGF-1 signaling is thought to be involved in the pathogenesis of a number of conditions including acne, atherosclerosis, diabetes mellitus, obesity, cancer and neurodegenerative diseases, thus affecting most chronic diseases of Western societies. (Melnik, 2009)

Pea protein does not influence IGF and therefore may be a preferable protein choice for inclusion in weight management programs.


Theidman also mentions that pea protein induces a thermogenic response and if eaten before your CHO in a meal can prevent the glucose spike which occurs following CHO intake. This combination of blood sugar control and thermogenesis may help with weight loss.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Beetroot, Spinach and Broccoli Salad

Apologies for the slightly blurry pic, but this is what we had for Wednesday night's dinner, along with some grilled organic chicken breast.

The recipe is from Stop the Clock: the anti aging cookbook, by Robyn Martin

Beetroot, Spinach and Broccoli Salad
1 head broccoli
2 medium beetroot
2 large handfuls baby spinach
1/2 cup shelled pistachio nuts
3 tablespoons avocado oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
freshly ground black pepper

Wash broccoli and cut into florets. Pour boiling water over broccoli and leave for 5 minutes. Drain and refresh under cold water and drain again. Peel beetroot and grate coarsley. Arrange washed spinach leaves over the base of a bowl or serving platter. Top with grated beetroot. Scatter with broccoli and pistachio nuts. Drizzle over avocado oil and vinegar. Grind over black pepper and serve.

Serves 6*

Per serve: 640kJ, 4.1g protein, 13.1g fat, 4.8g carb

*We (three adults) polished it off as a main.

One of my favourite parts of this recipe was the pistachios. I am now eyeing up a couple of pistachio muesli recipes to try.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

My Morning Walk

is not really exercise to me. If I go early in the morning, it's quiet and peaceful. I like to walk slowly, take deep breaths, and relax...

View from the top of the park

Near the start of the walk. TJ loves to sniff around all the bushes here

Walking up the gently sloping hill with the sunlight coming through the trees

Walking down the hill towards the lake

View from near the bottom of the hill

Near the turn-around point. You can see how strong the sun is even at 7am

Heading back up the hill

TJ enjoying a paddle near the end of the walk

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Storage of Fat

Since my post on combating obesity with folinic acid, I've been doing a bit more reading. Dr Peter Tunbridge, an integrative medicine expert, has this to say about the MTHFR gene polymorphism on his website:

How does it affect weight?
The gene defect prevents the body from getting rid of oestrogen (female hormone) down a pathway that ultimately affects how your body converts its food into energy.
In absolute terms it makes the body convert most of your glucose (which ALL your food other than oils is converted into), into Free Fatty Acids rather than Glycogen.
This means your body is converting the sugar into fat. This means you have less energy and feel tired all the time. This means you are making fat, and because most of this is occurring in the blood vessels around the bowel then the fat is deposited centrally. If the oestrogen levels are high, then this accelerates the process, and if you have the gene defect then this will also accelerate that process.
The Cell that lines all the microscopic blood tubes in your body is where this happens. If these cells fill with FFA’s (Free Fatty Acids) then its ability to take in more sugar is slowed. The body responds to this by making more insulin in an attempt to give you more energy. This will cause a sudden rapid loss of blood sugar - this is that profound weakness that overcomes your body occasionally when your legs feel like tree trunks and you just want to sleep. The oestrogen levels are making you store fat and so you do not get anymore energy when this happens – just fatter and fatter and craving more and more sweet things.

Will this folinic acid pill make me lose weight if i just take that and do nothing else?
No! It must be used to full advantage as an additive to a proper diet (in my opinion this should be a low carbohydrate diet) and a gradual increase in excercise as you begin to get more energy.

How does folinic acid stop this?
Giving folinic when you have this gene defect essentially provides the body with what it cant make. It thereby “bypasses the biochemical deficit. It therefore allows a better metabolism of oestrogen and stops the body from converting too much of the food into fat. It essentially negates having the gene defect anymore relative to what it stops from happening in the biochemistry of the body.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Wild Venison Sausages

This is what we had for dinner last night. Well, not raw, but they look the same as any other sausage once cooked, so thought you might like to see what the packaging looks like in case you want to look out for them at your supermarket (I got these at Coles).

They don't have a very strong meat flavour. In fact, I'd say the strongest flavour is garlic, with touch of aniseed/fennel. They aren't as salty as the kanga bangas made by the same company. The macros for 100g are actually quite similar to a scoop of protein powder (18.6g protein, 2.6g fat, 1.6g carbs), so they might make a nice portable snack.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

A typical day for me at the moment

walk TJ

Option 1
high-fibre cereal, lactose-free milk, medium fruit or a snack pack of organic dried fruit; fish oil, vitamin B

Option 2
organic egg OR baked beans on sprouted grain bread, medium fruit; fish oil, vitamin B

protein shake with lactose-free milk and low GI fruit; Vital Greens
(sometimes I have the milk in an organic coffee and make the shake with water instead)

sprouted grain bread
with lean meat, chicken, salmon or sardines OR baked beans or bean salad
and large salad
and small fruit

protein shake with lactose-free milk and low GI fruit; Vital Greens
(sometimes I save the milk to make a cocoa before bed, and
make the shake with water instead)

go to gym

Lean meat, chicken, fish or beans/lentils
and potato/sweet potato/rice/pasta/bread
and vegetables/salad
and small fruit
fish oil

(optional) Snack

I'm breaking some 'rules' during my day: I don't always eat protein with every meal; I eat meals with starchy carbs outside of the workout period; and I drink 'calorie-containing beverages' like milky coffee and cocoa. But, eating this way is keeping me sane (it's flexible and enjoyable, and pretty healthy), and it's sustainable (I'm less likely to eat a whole heap of crap in one go if I can eat a little bit of whatever I like whenever I want). And my abs are coming back. So there!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Gone Crazy About Food

'A large amount of work I do is with women who are recovering or dealing with eating disorders. Time and time again this issue was coming up. "I can't eat these foods, they are fat gaining foods." "I was told my thyroid stopped working because of these chemicals so now I only eat xxxx."
All of a sudden the health problems my girls were having were because of a type of carb, or chemical, or a combination of "fat gaining foods." All of a sudden the reason they were so tired and dealing with massive exasperation was because they weren't eating organic. It couldn't possibly be because they were doing 5-6 day a week extreme training programs (HIIT, supersetting, high volume, heavy weights, etc) on no calories leading to the inevitable binge fests. No, apparently it was the type of spinach they were eating.'
Source: Leigh Peele, in her interview with Tom Venuto

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Small things amuse small minds...

Had to pop into my local Coles at lunchtime to pick up a couple of things and noticed they are now selling venison and goat (sausages, fillets, mini roasts etc, along the same lines as the Macro Meats kangaroo products). Think some of them will be finding their way into my trolley on Saturday...

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Training update

I seem to spend so much time here talking about food, so thought I'd say something about my training, particularly in regards to my monthly cycle. My last comp was October last year, and my periods started again in January. I've had them every month since, although the timing has varied slightly, ranging from 18 to 33 days. What I have noticed, though, is that for the few days before my period starts I am absolutely pooped, like my body is putting all of its energy into that. I need much more sleep and I really struggle to get out of bed. Once I'm up, I don't feel like doing much, including working out. I think I've skipped the workout prior to my period arriving for the last 3 months running. I thought it would be great to have a program that I could fit around my monthly cycle, structured so that I'm training less vigorously leading up to my period and more at other times.

And then I read Danny McLarty's Deload Week: The Missing Link. In it there is a Four-Week Strategy for Women that suggests a deloading week around the time frame that I typically have lower training tolerance (days 22 to 28 of cycle).

Here is what he suggests for a 28-day cycle:

Week 1 — Days 1-5 of menstrual cycle: Medium Volume Week

Because you should still be on the "cautious" side here, I suggest leaving a little in the tank on each set by staying a rep or two from failure. Volume-wise, aiming for 16 sets per training session would be a good guideline.

Week 2 — Days 6-13 of menstrual cycle: High Volume Week

Time to get after it and really push it! Aiming for 20 sets per training session would be a good idea over this time period.

Week 3 — Days 15-21 of menstrual cycle: Very High Volume Week

Time to crush it again, just like in week two, but now we'll increase the volume even more because we know that we'll be backing off next week, as that's when the deload time begins. Shoot for 24 sets per training session here.

Week 4 — Days 22-28 of menstrual cycle: Deload Week

Once again, you have the option of reducing either volume, intensity, or both. You can either reduce your volume by 50% from the very high week, or reduce the intensity by 10-20%. Since this is the time of the month where injury risk is at its highest, I suggest taking a break from plyometrics and any other high impact or high injury-risk movements during this week.

I am in week 1 at the moment and have adjusted my training schedule so that I am using it as the first week of a new program. The following two weeks will increase in volume, then my 'deload' week will essentially be my first full week in New Zealand, when I'm not expecting to get as much exercise done. Am looking forward to seeing how this approach works for me. Am feeling pretty good so far, deliberately being a bit more cautious this week than usual.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Don't Compare Yourself to Others

"I just detest comparing! Don’t. Compare yourself to YOU. YOU and nobody else is the important person in your life. So keep your focus where it should be; on YOU." (Pauline Nordin)