And on a side note….

A Beard Cake- there's red velvet cake under all that blue icing

A Beard Cake- there’s red velvet cake under all that blue icing

And on a side note, a complete tangent, a completely irrelevant vein, I just had to share- after more than 12 months offline, one of my favourite bloggers is back at it, creating beautiful cakes and beautiful blog posts.

Check out the work of Kaitlin at Whisk Kid. Her writing’s great, her photos are great (even better this time around, actually), and her recipes are great. Her recipe index is always the first I check when I’m in need of baking inspiration, and her Old School Red Velvet Cake is one of my favourite go-to’s (I’ve put a couple of pictures of my various versions of the recipe below).

A word of warning to Australian bakers though- Kaitlin’s recipes use American measurements for an American flavour, so you might want to alter them accordingly.

That’s all!

Whisk Kid's red velvet cake with cream cheese icing

Whisk Kid’s red velvet cake with cream cheese icing

Whisk Kid's red velvet cake with cream cheese icing

Whisk Kid’s red velvet cake with cream cheese icing

 

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Hiking, bikinis, and… what should I eat?

The Cathedral Range- looking south along the ridge towards The Farmyard

The Cathedral Range- looking south along the ridge towards The Farmyard

I’ve had a lot of thoughts about what I was going to write about here this week. I want to tell you that I went hiking last weekend, and I want to tell you that I wore two-piece bathers (swimsuit? togs?) and felt comfortable in them for the first time in my life. I want to tell you about a discussion I had with my colleague about growing up as a ‘not very active’ kid, and about my idea to just smash out the clean eating for one week. Just one week- baby steps!! I guess I’ll talk about it all, at least for a little bit.

cathedrals1

View from the top

Last weekend had the Australia Day public holiday tacked onto the end of it, so after only a week back at work I got a long weekend. With some friends I headed out to the Cathedral Range State Park to do a day hike- and what a day hike it was. The hike was part of our training in preparation to climb Mt Bogong in March, so we knew the day would be a tough slog, but it turned out to be a tougher slog than expected. For a variety of reasons, the walk that we’d estimated to take 4-5 hours ultimately ended up taking 8. You know what though? Physically I was fine – in fact I was great. It was a long day of walking across 12km and very varied terrain, but I pulled up really well at the end of it all. About 2 km from the end we faced a huge staircase uphill, and for some unknown reason I ran up the entire thing. I guess I had energy to spare!! Ultimately a full day hiking through beautiful countryside is definitely not a bad thing at all, as long as everyone’s safe and happy. Which we were!! I’ve put a map of our hike further down in this post, in case any of you care to follow in our footsteps (perhaps next long weekend!).

The long weekend was warm, so as well as hiking I ended up at the beach. It was just an afternoon trip to take a dip in the ocean to cool down, but I still managed to pack two sets of bathers. When my friend and I parked the car a decision had to be made: should I wear the one-piece with the built in support that hides my podgy tummy, or should I accept the fact that the only person I was going to see that I knew was my very non-judgemental friend, and therefore wear the halter neck bikini? I thought about it for a bit. I put sunscreen on. Then I sucked it up, put on the bikini and a huge hat and sunglasses, went swimming, and promptly forgot to care about how I looked. Lesson learned.

I think I might save my discussion on growing up ‘not very active’ for another day- there’s probably a lot more than half a post’s worth of musings and discussions in me on that topic, I reckon!

So, on to the week’s worth of eating clean. I was doing great last year. I cut out the refined carbs and refined sugars, was limiting the amount of unrefined carbs I was eating, and once I got through the week 3 withdrawal craziness I felt really good (and I was losing weight). Then stuff got busy, Christmas happened, and suddenly I can barely remember the last time I brought my own breakfast or lunch to work. It’s time to get back on it. I find it a bit overwhelming thinking about getting back into it all- I still feel like I don’t have much time, and honestly my habits have slipped badly. I’m back on a freddo-a-day habit. So in an attempt to #SayNoToFreddo I’m thinking I might start out with a week of hard line healthy eating, and go from there. Plan it all out, do some cooking, make no excuses- just for a week. I can handle that. I hope! I really do hope, because I’m really not sure. Except I’ve done it before, for longer than a week, so I can do it again 🙂

I’m not starting today, or tomorrow, so watch this space- and in the mean time I’ll attempt to be kind to myself by easing my way into it all.

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Our hiking route at the Cathedral Range State Park- starting at Ned’s Gully car park, and ending at Cook’s Mill car park (click for enlarged view)

 

I’m taking the stairs

stairs

There was an ad on tv years ago, I think it was for Jenny Craig or Weight Watchers or something like that, that showed a woman carrying bags of groceries arriving at the bottom of a set of stairs and an escalator. In the ad she looks up the escalator, bags in hand, then sighs with a smile on her face and starts to walk (trudge?) up the stairs. All of that takes place to the soundtrack of some kind of upbeat happy music (I want to say maybe it was Heather Small’s Proud).

I have no real idea what the product was that the ad was selling, so I guess it failed in that respect, but the idea of choosing the stairs over the escalator has stuck with me ever since. Don’t you hate it when advertising works?!

I work on the 9th floor of a 16 story building. I’ve spent a bit of time in the stairwell in the last year- my exercise group at work used to train in there until we got kicked out, and while I was prepping for the Eureka Climb in November I made my way up and down the whole building over and over as means of training. The whole building’s subject to a fair amount of security, meaning it’s not really possible to enter the stairwell at the very bottom and make your way up, but if you enter further up you’ve got free reign to head up and down.

The point of the story is, I’m going to start trying to avoid the lifts as much as possible and make my way up (and down) by stairs whenever I can. The limiting factor is, of course, that I can’t be arriving at meetings completely red and puffed out- but that’s easy to work around. The easiest way to get more stair walking into my day is to get out of the lift at level 6 and make my way up at the start of the day and after lunch, but 3 floors a few times a day isn’t much.

Still, it’s a bit more movement in my day and it’s a few more steps on my fitbit (which tend to be woefully low on work days), and I guess it will be interesting to see if such a small change can make a difference at all.

Getting my body and my bank balance into shape [raw Thai salad with ginger lime chicken]

thai salad 1

Raw Thai salad with ginger lime chicken

 

Happy New Year!!

I just had a sudden thought. I know I want to be better at blogging, I know I gain satisfaction from writing it, and I enjoy reading other people’s blogs. So this year I will commit to writing at least one blog post a week. I just had a little panic when I decided I wanted to do this and realised it’s the 7th of January, but I guess that counts as being in the first week of the year. Having said that, I’m going to go by calendar weeks (Sunday – Saturday) so I guess I’m behind… whatever. We’ll all deal with it, I’m sure!!!

Well, the holiday season has come and the holiday season has gone. Yesterday was my birthday, which I tend to count as the official end of my annual food and drink overload, which means it’s time to start the discipline again. The wine and cheese has been wonderful, but it’s time to return to reality. Over the season I’ve gained some weight, which is unsurprising, but really the collateral damage is a lot less than it could  have been. I’m up about 1.5 kg, which puts me 7.5 kg (ish) above my goal weight. Blegh. But it’s ok- that goal weight is not exactly a “I must hit this weight!!!” goal- realistically I want to get about 5 kg off in the next few months to feel healthy again. I definitely don’t feel healthy right now. I feel a bit bloated, my clothes are tighter, and I don’t feel as strong as I did. thai salad 2My energy is down, but I know that’s all food related. I actually stayed relatively active across the break, doing plenty of hiking and getting lots of km under my feet, but it’s just not the same as doing the hard weights-based workouts.

I’ve also found that over the holidays my bank account’s got a bit unhealthy too- which is also not surprising. But when I think about it, there’s several things I can do that will improve both my own body’s health, and my bank account’s health at the same time. At the moment it’s not so much a “I could do this” as a I must do this”. So here’s what I’m going to be doing:

  • Cut back from 3 PT sessions a week to 2
    Having said that, I will not do this if it is going to compromise the exercise I do each week. Part of this action is learning how to self-direct and self-motivate in the gym, particularly on the weights floor. I still want to be doing weights 3 times a week at the gym and doing a bodyweight/cardio workout twice a week at work as an absolute minimum.
  • Cook/prepare more food
    I was getting really good at this for a while last year. It was saving me money, and it was helping me eat the kind of food I wanted in my body. But life got busy, and it all slipped, and next thing I knew I was spending upwards of $22 just on breakfast and lunch, and eating out way more than was reasonable for dinner. So that’s going to stop. I’m going to pre-prepare breakfasts and lunches again, and think ahead for dinners. If I don’t have the time to cook, I’ll make sure I’ve got food in the freezer.
    I’ve never done week-ahead meal planning before- I tend to be an on-the-day buyer and cook, but I can see how much that will help save money and food wastage.

On Monday night I cooked my first proper dinner for a long time. When I say ‘proper’, I mean a meal that I though about ahead of time, looked up a recipe for and didn’t just slap together. I think there’s a big difference between cooking to eat and cooking to nourish (both body and soul). I really enjoy cooking when I have the time and space to do it, and that’s what I mean by cooking to nourish. It’s cooking with some love in it (nawww, that’s a bit corny!!).

Anyway, I made the most incredible Thai salad/raw pad Thai that I found over at elsaswholesomelife. I’ve included some photos of my version here, but seriously go check out hers- they are much much prettier! Thanks Ellie for this great dish- I’ve just finished eating it for lunch, and I’ll be making some more tonight. This stuff is addictive.

Raw Thai salad with ginger chicken

For the raw thai salad check out the original recipe– I pretty much followed it to a T, although I used rapadura sugar instead of coconut sugar, and omitted the edamame beans in favour of ginger lime chicken.

Ginger Lime Chicken

  • 400g chicken
  • 1 heaped tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 heaped tsp crushed ginger
  • 3 tbsp lime juice
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Combine ingredients in a bowl. Add chicken and stir, then allow to marinate for as long as you can (half an hour minimum). Place chicken on a lined baking tray and discard marinade. Bake for 20-25 mins at 180 degrees.

Leftovers for lunch! Yum!

Leftovers for lunch! Yum!