Measuring Success

Text: it takes four weeks for you to see your body changing. It takes 8 weeks for friends and family, and it takes 12 weeks for the rest of the world. Keep going.So, I’m more than half way through week four of the challenge. The image I’ve posted is one that’s been floating around Pinterest and Facebook for years, and I’m not entirely sure of how true it is, but it’s something that’s stuck with me. Given that four weeks is nearly up, I’ve started to reflect on my own change. Is it really there? Am I imagining it? What changes am I actually noticing?

Over the past week I’ve started to consider how I’m actually measuring success in relation to this challenge. At the start of the challenge I weighed myself and had a (very confronting!) photo taken of me, but I didn’t take my measurements. Perhaps I should have, because I suspect that’s where I’m going to see the biggest change given that I’m continuing to build muscle. This morning J took a second photo of me- a ‘week 4 progress shot’ (it was required of me by the Challenge organisers). I don’t think a random person would see the differences between the two photos, but I did.

So, having had the photo taken and done a bit of self reflection, here’s how I know I’m succeeding at the four-week mark:

  • I have lost approximately 4 kg
  • My jeans are feeling looser
  • I have gone down three belt notches at my waist
  • My friends commented on how tiny (ha!) my waist is getting over the weekend
  • I can no longer feel the skin/fat folds on my back rubbing against other skin- the folds are shrinking
  • The bulge on my hips is no longer an easy handful- it’s shrunk
  • Looking at the photo, while my shape hasn’t changed much at all my skin’ s looking different. A little less ‘flubby’ on my stomach and legs perhaps?

And of course this challenge is not all about losing weight for me- it’s about changing habits too. I’ve been successful in that so far- but I’m definitely still in the stage where I have to work hard to continue the behaviours I want to set as new habits, and I still have to fight hard against the old habits. Here’s some recent successes I’ve had in terms of all of that:

  • I haven’t had refined sugar since I started. The closest I’ve had has been honey and fruit
  • I’ve had practically no wheat. There’s been a couple of bowls of minestrone that’s had a spoonful of pasta in it, but that’s it. Wheat’s gone (for now at least)
  • I’ve maintained a healthy relationship with starchy vegetables- if someone else has cooked me something with potato/sweet potato etc I’ve not felt bad about eating it, but at the same time I’ve not actively cooked it for myself
  • I didn’t eat any cheese in a social situation filled with cheese (cheese, of course, being my favourite food. It’s not gone forever- just for now)
  • Having said that- I’ve also maintained a healthy relationship with cheese. If a salad comes with some fetta or goats cheese, well heck, I’d better eat it!!
  • I’ve turned down delicious looking cakes and slices at an afternoon tea- because I knew they weren’t good for me, and I was still full from lunch!
  • I’ve made the right choice when it comes to quick lunch on-the-go. Where I would have had McDonalds in the past, in the last week I’ve had two in-car lunches consisting of cut up fruit, veg, a little bit of cheese and one occasion a bag of shredded chicken from the local deli

So, I’ve got a long way to go. there’s 8 weeks left in the challenge, and it doesn’t stop once I get to that point. The real goal here continues to be the squashing of some bad habits and the introduction of some new habits, and I think that it’s going to take some work once I finish this challenge to maintain them. But that’s a hurdle for another day- for now I continue to focus on exercising at least four times a week, and as much as possible eating food made from fresh meat, veg and fruit. Baby steps.

Am I a nutritional evangelist?

First up, a bit of a progress report. It’s the start of my fourth week on the challenge, and I’ve survived my third weekend. I’ll be weighing myself tonight, but I do know that I’m very close to hitting the 4 kilo mark. I’m really happy with losing nearly 4 kilos in 3 weeks, and if I can keep this up I’m going to be very very happy with myself come the end of the challenge. But I’ll talk about on that tomorrow post-weigh in.

This weekend I went to a Wellness Summit. It was interesting…. in that for at least half the weekend, it wasn’t very interesting. The health industry is just so great at preying on those who desperately want and need to make a change, and are willing to pay for it. Having said that, the other half of the weekend was actually quite good. I saw a few fantastic speakers who said things that really did resonate with me, and despite my initial disappointment at the quality of the summit I walked away feeling motivated and re-inspired. I went to a one-day seminar earlier this year with a fantastic speaker (I’ll tell you about it some time), and as J said to me- that seminar was a real ‘awakening’, and this weekend was a reminder of it all.

Anyway, I just want to write about one particular thing from the summit today, although I’m sure I’ll mention more in coming weeks. One of the speakers came on stage and said something very simple regarding nutrition and eating:

“Don’t become an evangelist. When it comes to nutrition, no-one likes an evangelist”

You know what?! It’s so true!! The more I learn about this stuff the more excited and passionate I get and the more I want to apply it to my life. And the more I want to apply it, the more I want to share the knowledge with family and friends. I know that some of them would benefit in huge ways from hearing some of this stuff- but it’s not my place to tell them. I need to be so careful- whenever I learn new things that I find exciting or interesting, I want to share them with everyone. As I’ve discovered how eating in a certain way effects my body, I want to share that. Especially with those who I know are capable of change but, for whatever reason, keep providing themselves with excuses not to. In many cases they are excuses why they shouldn’t learn, rather than why they shouldn’t act– I think these people know deep down that once they start to learn they’re going to find all of the reasons that they should, perhaps even must, act. And then they’ll be left with no choice.

I am in danger of becoming an evangelist when it comes to eating and exercise. I need to constantly remind myself not to sprout off the cause of my weightloss. I need to make sure I don’t tell my friends what a ‘healthy alternative’ might be to whatever it is they’re eating. I need to remember that, as I was told yesterday, the best way to promote what I believe in is to show them the results. Shut up, do my exercise, eat my food, and at the end of it they’ll see what it’s done. They’ll see the weightloss. They’ll see that I haven’t had to compromise (too much) when I’m out to eat with them. They’ll see that I’m taking less and less sick days.

In the mean time, it’s hard to do all of this inconspicuously. Not only in terms of not becoming an ‘evangelist’, but also in terms of having my everyday food choices questioned by those that I’m with. Turning down icecream with my dessert (which I’ve deemed ok to eat) gets me funny looks. Ordering an (actually quite delicious) salad has others questioning their burgers. Not putting any chips on my plate from the communal bowl has others thinking that I’m judging them- which I’m really not. If they could hear what’s going on in my head as a pass on the chips, they’d know that I’m in no position to judge. The voice is screaming at me “EAT THE DAMN CHIPS!!!! JUST ONE! OR TWO!!! THAT’S ALL… JUST EAT THE CHIPS!!!”.

But, as yet, I haven’t eaten the chips- and I don’t intend to. And every time I turn down the chips I’m a step closer to showing why I’m doing what I’m doing, rather than just telling them.

Today I am struggling

Today is hard. It’s got nothing to do with food or exercise- although I suppose it has everything to do with food and exercise, really. I’m feeling incredibly down today. Not emotional, not moody, not flat- I’m feeling low. I thought I’d already written about the moods and emotions I’ve been experiencing over the past two weeks, but I just found the draft of that post in the trash folder so I guess I never got around to finishing or publishing it. Emotionally the last two weeks have been a journey, but I think today’s the hardest.

As my body’s gotten used to reduced sugar, refined carbs, dairy and fats I’ve gone on a bit of a rollercoaster of emotions and moods. I’ve been short tempered, and I’ve been a bitch to those who are supporting and helping me, but for the most part I’ve been aware of it and remotely in control of it. I’ve felt up and down depending on the day, how much exercise I’ve had and what I’ve eaten- and depending on how I felt about all of that. too.

Yesterday afternoon I got angry about something (too angry by reasonable normal standards, but fairly in line with ‘Challenge’ me) and it put me in a bit of a ‘light fog’. That’s how I’ll describe it- a light fog that made me feel down a bit. The fog stayed with me until I’d nearly finished cooking dinner, at nearly 9 pm. Thank goodness for cooking- it lulled me out of the fog. It’s such a meditative process for me, when there’s no time constraints and no-one around to disturb me. It’s just me and the veggies and the chopping board. A bit like writing, actually.

This morning I woke up and, as my day started, the fog started to roll in again. I know why, but the reason doesn’t matter. I’ve sat at my desk not really achieving anything, flicking between screens trying to find something that inspires me to do something. Anything. Work stuff, non-work stuff- none of it’s worked. I went for a walk at lunch time, and far from my usual power-walk through the city, my feet dragged. Everything felt heavy. My usual fix for a crap day is food of some kind- normally unhealthy food, too. Today I can’t turn to a hot chocolate or a piece of cake- not that those things ever particularly help anyway. And not that I normally feel this down, either.

This afternoon I’ve put my headphones on and I’m blasting some Mumford and Sons. It’s helping to block out the world, and it’s making it all a bit more bearable. The fog’s lifting a bit.

It’s really hard to tell what’s a chemical response in my body right now and what’s a genuine reaction or feeling. I suspect that most of it is genuine emotion that’s being amplified by changes in my body. But then the little voice in my head says “is your body really changing? Are the chemical reactions real? Probably not… it’s just a great excuse….”

And so the battle in my head goes on.

Time to step up the exercise

day 21
day 21

Well, weekend #2 is down and I’m officially heading into week three- I’m up to day 15!! Time’s kind of flown and it makes me worried that I’m not trying hard enough, not pushing myself hard enough. My food’s been pretty great- the only thing I wasn’t completely happy with over the weekend was dinner last night- Indian takeaway. Having said that, I didn’t have any rice or bread- curries only- which means I was consuming veg and meat (all good) and a bit too much oil (not so good). As far as ‘bad’ meals go, that’s not too bad. Especially when the rest of my weekend was very good- I even said no to garlic bread on Saturday night. Garlic bread!!!! I was so so so tempted to just have on small piece with my pea and ham soup, but J was great and kind of talked me through it. His support has been so awesome over the past two weeks, I wouldn’t have got this far without it.

On Thursday night my trainer weighed me, and told me I’d lost 800 grams since Monday night. What!? 800 grams in three days?! That was pretty exciting. I’ll weigh in again tonight, so it will be interesting to see where I’m at post-weekend. I’m feeling a bit frumpy, and I’m a bit worried that nothing will have fallen off over the last couple of days (then again, I was feeling this exact same way last Monday and ended up having lost 500 g across the weekend).

So why am I feeling like this? The answer = exercise. I normally have a PT session on Friday night, but last week he couldn’t make it. He left me with exercises to do, but life got in the way and I didn’t make it to the gym (I would have had to cancel my session with him even if he’d been around). That meant I’d done three days of training in the week so far, my old benchmark, so I definitely needed to do some moving and shaking over the weekend to make sure my days were up from 3 to 4 or 5. Needless to say, it didn’t happen. It’s not like I sat on my bum for two days- I was busy the entire time, doing ‘weekendy’ stuff. Visiting a market, spending time with the family, all those kinds of things.

But three workouts in a week is not enough any more. One of the habits I want to kill is thinking that three in a week is enough, and one of the habits I want to kickstart is getting at least four workouts happening per week. For the duration of the challenge, it should really be a minimum of five.

I’ve been reading the forum on the Challenge website. Some people have shed more than 7 kg in the last two weeks. That seems pretty dramatic weight loss in a quick time to me, and I’m wondering whether some of them are becoming truly active for the first time at the same time as changing their diet, which is leading to such dramatic weigh loss? For my own part, last time I weighed in I’d lost upwards of 2.5 kg in less than the two weeks, and I was stoked. I guess I’m just at the point where I actually know I’m capable of more than that, and if the scales don’t show me what I want to see this afternoon then I’ll be really disappointed in myself. Honestly, whatever they show I’ll be disappointed in myself- because I know I could have done more to get a better result.

But I didn’t, and the lesson is learned. I’m heading into week 3, and it’s time to stop making excuses. Food’s doing really well- time for the exercise to match it.

Struggle town [recipe: raw vegan berry cheesecake]

raw vegan berry cheesecake

Today I’m in struggle town. I’ve been there since last night. I want the chocolate, I want the baked goods, I want the muffins…. I want it all. But I haven’t had any.

It all started with a dinner time meeting last night, which featured Dominos pizza. Luckily I knew it was coming, so I turned up dinner in hand (red miso beef with asian greens from Sumo Salad, in case you’re interested), as well as a pear for snacking on and some mineral water to stave off the inevitable soft drink cravings. You know what? I did really well. I ate no pizza, no soft drinks, and no lollies, and I really enjoyed my dinner. That’s not to say I didn’t stare at the pizza and everyone eating it, of course, but once I got over that hurdle I was ok.

I got home last night and my boyfriend (I haven’t introduced him yet. Let’s call him J) was hunting for chocolate. I keep a bowl of the sweet stuff in my cupboard just for him- it’s currently featuring easter eggs and half a packet of Smarties, which says something about how much I go for the easter eggs (they’re still there! From easter! In April! I haven’t eaten them!). So last night he went on the hunt for chocolate and when he pulled out the bag of Smarties, which I normally don’t like at all, I lost it inside for a little bit. I reeeeeaally wanted just one easter egg. One of those tiny tiny Cadbury easter eggs. Or a Smartie!! Just one! What harm would that do!?

The answer is: it would do a lot of harm. I don’t want to crack, because once I crack it will all come flooding out. The thing is I don’t need that stuff- honestly, if there’d been any fruit or veg in the house I would have quite happily snacked on that alongside J’s chocolate consumption. So lesson learned- I need to buy more fresh stuff to keep on hand.

One of my hobbies is cake making and decorating (I know, not very handy right now huh?!) but I also really love reading baking blogs. The women (yes, they’re all women) who write them have such wonderful stories to tell, and such wonderful recipes to share!! Whenever I need a recipe I will never open  a cookbook- I will always turn to these blogs for inspiration. This afternoon I’ve been checking out one of my long-time favourites, I Am Baker. I’ve been following Amanda’s work for several years now, and even tweeted her photos of my own attempts at her great creations on occasion. She’s always lovely, and very supportive. This afternoon however, all I want is to ingest about 50 of her Chocolate Zucchini Cookies. How good do they look?! Now that’s just not going to happen, so in an attempt to diffuse my craving for baked goods I’m going to share with you a recipe I tried for the first time last week, for Raw Vegan Berry Cheesecake.

Yep, it’s raw. Yep, it’s vegan. Yep, it contains no cheese. But it does taste like cheesecake, it is easy to make, it settles a craving, and it’s a great treat without feeling like you’re cheating. Give it a go. Enjoy it.

Raw Vegan Berry Cheesecake
Recipe adapted from


  • 1 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1 cup pitted dates
  • 1 cup frozen raspberries
  • 1 cup cashews, soaked in water for at least 2 hours then drained
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup maple/golden syrup (if using golden syrup it won’t be raw)
  1.  To make the bottom layer, pulse the walnuts and dates in a food processor until they crumble. Continue to process until the mixture is ground up and sticking together when you squeeze it in your hand- like a pastry would.
  2. Press the layer into the bottom of a greased or papered tray- I used a brownie tray. Put in the fridge while you do the next step.
  3. To make the top layer, blend the cashews, berries and oil in the food processor until very smooth*. Add golden syrup to taste (you might want more than a 1/4 of a cup- I think I used less)
  4. Pour the top layer over the bottom one into the pan, smooth over, and leave in the fridge overnight
  5. Cut into squares and enjoy!!

*Note: I was using a pretty weak food processor and you can see my top layer didn’t come out super smooth. That’s ok- it still tasted great, and wasn’t an issue at all. If you’re wanting a really smooth ‘cheesecake’ texture, make sure you use a great processor


P.S- Please please please forgive me for that horrible photo. I promise I’ll do better next time I post something 😛

My first weekend

Well here I am, on day six of my 12 week challenge. My first five days actually went really really well- and I suspect that’s because they were weekdays. On weekdays I have near complete control of what goes into my mouth, and the exercise I do. Breakfast, lunch and snacks all happen at my desk, and dinner is pre-planned, as is exercise. When I have my gym gear sitting underneath my desk, it would be silly to carry it home rather than heading to the gym if I’ve planned a workout.

But on weekends, things change. I wake up later, which means I don’t want to eat as big a breakfast (after all, lunch is just around the corner). Another factor for me on weekends is that I spend a fair bit of time with my family. By no means do my family eat unhealthy (in fact they eat really healthily)- they just eat differently to how I’m trying to at the moment. Today for instance, my mum made a delicious vegetarian cauliflower crust pizza for lunch. I was pretty excited about the prospect of this (lots of veg to be had here!!) but it turns out my mum’s recipe contains quinoa and chia seeds- both things which, honestly, I have no idea if I’m supposed to be eating right now. Given that I’m trying to make a complete break from most carbs right now, the pizza base combined with some fetta cheese on the top of it made me feel like I was eating a massive cheat meal, without really wanting to.

How crazy is that?!?! I’m sitting there eating a delicious cauliflower base pizza, and I’m feeling kind of like I’m eating a huge hamburger with fries, and I’m feeling that guilty about it. Cauliflower pizza. All veg.

If I reflect on today, my logic tells me I’ve had a really good day of eating. A long black with a dash of  milk, a few mouthfuls of a couple of raw vegan desserts my mum was trialling (mostly nuts, dates and fruit in these), the pizza, and some cherry tomatoes (dinner’s still to come). It’s a day lacking in protein, but besides that it doesn’t look too bad at all. Except that I feel like I’ve had a ‘bad’ day.

I think it’s all a matter of perspective. I’ve had six days of (dare I say it) ‘clean’ eating, and that’s a huge achievement for me. I’ve lost weight- a lot more than I’d hoped I would in my first week. This time two weeks ago, my idea of an unhealthy lunch was a pile of lasagne with some chips on the side, and today it’s a meal that contains anything other than meat, veg, herbs and spices.

I’ve had a really good week, and next week’s going to be just as good. If I can just get through tomorrow (which I will), it’s all downhill until Saturday rolls around next week. At least that’s what I hope. And intend.