2016 – It’s never too late to make New Year Resolutions

Happy New Year 2016 HD Image Download

It’s the first of February today. So technically speaking I’m a bit late for New Year’s wishes and resolutions, and a bit early for the Chinese New Year wishes. I could wait a week and go with the Chinese New Year, but my writing muse is speaking to me now, and if there is one thing I have learnt over the years it is to take advantage of those times when the mood strikes!


I have just looked over my 2015 resolutions. I must say, for such a long list I really didn’t do too badly. I feel I can successfully tick off  7 out of 10 of them (of course things like write ‘lots’, weren’t clearly defined, which makes it easy to say I achieved it).


Many of my 2015 list I will continue to do because they have become so much a part of my life. Health and fitness especially, and of course continuing to follow our plant based diet. I’m just loving it! In 2015 I lost 20 kg, got fit and ate such good food. Decluttering is an on-going struggle in our house, but I have taken some baby steps and will continue to work on it. Practicing gratitude is also something I will always do. Without doubt, gratitude is the key to happiness.


What didn’t I do in 2015 that I still want to achieve? Well I didn’t learn to speak Spanish, I don’t think I read more books, and even though I did try, I don’t think I managed to save more. All those remain on the list and hopefully in 2017 I will be able to say that I have done that. I have signed up for a Spanish class which starts in 2 weeks time, I am going to make more time to read, and I’m going to keep a closer eye on my budget and reduce my outgoing expenditure. I started visiting op shops again towards the end of last year and got a few good items of clothing. It’s certainly a good way to reduce spending on clothes! Especially since my clothes are all too big for me now – a good problem to have (in my case), but a potentially expensive one!


So my friends, I hope you too have a list – maybe just a list in your head – of things that you want to do better or do more of or learn or achieve. I have to say, speaking now from experience, that it’s a great feeling when you look back and see how far you have come!


Happy 2016. Happy Year of the Monkey. Go out there, dare to dream and make it happen!


“What would you dare to dream if you knew you could not fail?”


Balls – Delicious, healthy and easy!

Rocket and BallsRocket and balls on our outdoor deck.


It’s been awhile since I have posted anything. But I have been lining up some interesting things (mainly from my recent Plant Based Nutrition course) that I would like to share on this blog eventually! It just seems that there are too many other distractions at the moment, and when I finally have some time, the muse just doesn’t hit me and I end up spending time on facebook, playing on-line bridge, or baking instead! And of course we are coming up to Christmas – the silly season, as we call it here. This means that life just gets a bit busier and crazier for most people.


I always approach Christmas with the belief that I will not buy things for people, and always end up getting drawn into the commercialism of Christmas and buying things for people. But my recent bout of baking has paid off a bit and I have absolutely fallen in love with making balls! They are super easy and fast to make, taste delicious, and provide just that lovely little bit of a treat when you need it. Christmas gifts this year, for anyone closeby, will be Christmas balls!


I am so in love with these balls  that I felt this strong urge to share the recipes with everyone as soon as possible! The first two are kind of my own made up creations, and the last is from one of my favourite blogs Be Good Organics.


This first one has to be my new favourite.  It’s just so easy and so delicious. The ingredients are things that I normally have in my pantry. I can see myself whipping these up throughout the year for those times when I need to bring something to a party, or when I want to give someone a little thank you, or when I just need a treat.


Super Easy Healthy Chocolate Balls

1 1/3 cups pitted dates (this is about 16 to 20 dates)

2/3 cup of nuts (I used a combination of pistachio, walnut and almonds, but try using any combination you fancy)

1/4 teaspoon vanilla essence (optional)

3 tablespoons coconut (I used desiccated coconut, but shredded would be good too)

2 tablespoons cacao powder

1 tablespoon water


Put all ingredients into a good processer or a blender and mix together. Shape into balls. This recipe will make 14 to 20 balls (depending on how much you eat while you are rolling). Keep the balls in the fridge until you are ready to eat or share them.


This next one is nut free. It still has the dates as sweetener, and then oats, seeds, and chocolate or raisins or really whatever else you want to add. You may want to add a teaspoon or two of water if you find it too dry.


Oat and Date Balls

1/2 cup of dates

1/4 cup of oats

1/4 cup of chia seeds (or other seeds)

1/2 tsp vanilla


2 Tablespoons of chocolate nibs (or chocolate chips, or if you don’t like chocolate use raisins, or use both)


Blend it all together, roll into balls and enjoy.


The third recipe that I would like to pass on to you are the Cardamon and Orange Truffles from Buffy-Ellen’s blog. These make a larger batch, and take a bit more time to make. They also contain oil, while the other two have no fat in them. They are delicious though and definitely worth the extra little effort.


Once you start making Balls you may want to start creating and designing your own recipes. Have fun and enjoy!


Make a Difference


The future is in your hands. Public Service Announcement.


You can make a difference every day to your health, the health of others, and the health of our planet, by choosing what you eat.


The population of the planet has increased 50% since 1980. There are now 6.8 billion people on earth.


4 billion of the earth’s people, or nearly 60%, are malnourished.


The other 40% are consuming on average 1500 more calories a day than they need. Many of these people are suffering the effects of gluttony and the high fat, high cholesterol American diet – such as heart disease, diabetes and obesity.


Animal agriculture and current fishing practices are contributing to the inequitable distribution of food. It is also the major cause of many other serious global issues. These are:


Climate change – 51% of global greenhouse gas emissions are due to livestock and their byproducts


Deforestation – 91% of amazon destruction is due to animal agriculture


Species extinction, Ocean dead zones, Water pollution, and Habitat destruction – the leading cause of all these is animal agriculture


We can continue doing as we have always done and see the problem escalate. Or, we can recognize that we caused this problem and we have the ability to correct it.


Make a difference. Be part of the solution. Choose to eat a wholefood plant based diet – fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains. You will gain personal health, support equitable food distribution, and save our planet.





Eat Your Fruit


The other day I went to a free lecture on health and wellness. The focus of the talk was on exercise and injury prevention, but the speaker spent a few moments on nutrition. He prefaced his talk to say that he wasn’t a nutritionist, but then went on to talk about how sugar is bad for us and fruit contains fructose which is a type of sugar therefore we should not eat much fruit. He put up a food pyramid like I have never seen showing that our diet should consist mainly of  fats and meats! Needless to say I was angry. These sort of statements are dangerous and keep the public confused about nutrition.


Everything we know, all evidence for achieving and maintaining good health and supporting a healthy weight and immune system point to having fruit as an essential part of our diet. In fact most health professionals will say that eating more fruit and vegetables is one of the best things you can do for your health. Why? The two main reasons are:


Fruits are full of antioxidants – The lovely colours of fruits are not just nice to look at. These colours are derived from chemicals called antioxidants. Antioxidants are important because they protect us from the nasty free radicals that we produce and are exposed to throughout our lives from things like the sun’s rays and pollution. If these free radicals are not controlled then they lead to major health problems such as heart disease and cancer. The best way to get your antioxidants is not from a pill or supplements but by ensuring that your diet is full of fruit and vegetables. And-


Fruit has lots of fibre – Fibre is found exclusively in plant-based food. We need fibre in our diet to improve our digestive health as well as to help prevent heart disease, diabetes, weight gain and some cancers.


So what about the fructose? Yes, fruit contains fructose and fructose is sugar. The western diet is very high in added refined sugars, especially the processed foods we find on the supermarket shelves. Sucrose, glucose, fructose, maltose dextrose, lactose, high fructose corn syrup, molasses, honey, evaporated cane juice, fruit juice concentrates, cane crystals and corn sweetener are common refined sugars. These sugars have no nutrients and cause blood sugar surges and overeating. The natural occurring fructose in fruit can not be compared to the fructose added to soft drinks or processed foods. To say that all fructose is bad and to limit or stop eating fruit deprives us of all the nutrients, fibre and antioxidants contained in the whole fruit.


Fruit has become the scapegoat for one of the real problems of the western diet – refined sugars. Read the ingredients on food labels and avoid buying anything with refined sugar. Instead go for the foods that needs no label, because it is whole and naturally bursting with so much goodness – fruit, vegetables, grains and legumes.


Any diet that has you avoiding or limiting these foods is highly questionable and should be avoided at all cost! I like eating seasonal fresh fruit, especially when you can buy it fresh from your local Farmer’s Market. Look after your health and enjoy your fruit every day.










Less is More

less-is-moreBack in December of 2013 I did a blog post about my disillusionment with the commercialisation of Christmas. Almost two years on and the feeling is growing. Not just with Christmas but all the time. ‘Buy, buy, buy’ – it’s the mantra of the capitalist world. It can leave us feeling inadequate, unhappy, unfulfilled. How can we feel gratitude when there is so much we still don’t have??


For the next 4 months my sister and I are challenging ourselves not to buy anything new for ourselves. This includes clothing, homeware, furniture, and such, but not foot ware, medicines or toiletries. And of course not food! So we will still be buying, but really just the essentials. We excluded shoes and boots mainly because we both have hard to fit feet and it is important to have good and proper fitting shoes, especially if we are running or doing lots of walking or hiking. Fortunately neither one of us have shoe fetishes (or I can see us overdosing on retail therapy by buying lots of shoes)! We aren’t minimalists …. not yet…. but, you never know – small actions can lead to bigger things. Like with this guy. Of course he started with way more stuff (and money) then I will ever have.


I live close to Newmarket shops. It is, I believe the best shopping area in Auckland. My yoga studio is there too. So lately as I have been walking to yoga I see the signs such as ‘Clearance sale’, ‘New Spring fashion’, ’30-70% off all items’…….and so on. It is sooooo hard to not be drawn in and just have a wee look. But I’ve stayed strong… as looking may prove to be just too tempting for me.


I have been making a bit of an effort to acquaint myself with the consignment shops and second hand shops, because if we really need (or want) anything our challenge rules say that we can source it second hand. It’s all about upcycling and recycling. I’ve been surprised at some of the nice things that I have found in these shops. I haven’t bought anything yet though. Just doing the research for when I really do feel the need! I’ve also done a big clean up of my drawers and closet and gave things away that I haven’t worn in years. That felt good! My drawers can now open and close easily, and my closet no longer looks crammed.


By buying less we hope to have more – more money to save, or to travel, or to give.  I also hope to find more contentment in the things I have, more time to do the things I love and to learn new things, and more feelings of gratitude for the things that really matter. I will let you know how I do and if I manage to experience less being more. Have you done something similar? Want to join the challenge?


And just to end, a quote from Socrates:


“The secret of happiness is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less.”

Just Keep Moving


In my last well being post for successful weight loss you will see that my rules for my new lifestyle change included regular activity (rule 4). I want to talk about this a bit more because being active is so fundamental not just for our weight, but also for good mental and physical health.

Weight Loss Lesson #4 – Just Keep Moving

After four and a half months on my weight loss journey I took a month off to holiday in North America with family and friends. Holidays can be notorious for times of indulgence in good food and wine. Unless you are the adventurous traveller, it can also be a time of more relaxing and sedentary activities. Both of these often mean arriving home carrying a few extra pounds not just in your suitcase but around your waist!


The good news for me is that while I did indulge to some extent in things I normally wouldn’t eat at home – such as the delicious Seattle Pops, a delicious variety of crisps and dips, and  vegan gelatos – and while I did drink a fair amount of wine, I did continue to follow my basic plant based diet lifestyle of eating vegetables, fruit, grains and legumes, and I kept active. Because I have incorporated this now into my lifestyle it means that my weight loss is more likely to be long term and sustainable. It has become easy and natural and that’s the key.


Research continues to show that exercise alone will not help us lose weight. To lose weight we must look at what we eat and how much we eat. But research does clearly show that exercise plays an important part in assisting and maintaining weight loss and in improving our overall mental and physical health.


Exercise does not have to be structured activity. The key really is just to keep moving. The well known research by Dan Buettner on the Blue Zones, where people are enjoying a healthy old age of up to 90 or 100 years without medication or disability, strongly supports the theory that we need to ‘move it or lose it’. The five Blue Zone areas are:


Sardinia – an island off of Italy

Okinawa, Japan

Loma Linda, California

Nicoya Peninsula – Costa Rica

Ikaria – An isolated Greek island


So what kind of activity are they doing? Treadmills? Bootcamps? Ultra marathons? No, none of these. They have built activity into their daily lives – walking hills, working the land, and just using their bodies for daily activity. It’s not about endurance or going as fast as you can either. Slow and relaxed activity works the muscles and circulates the blood just as well, building strength and helping our bodies fight disease. (These people also don’t take nutritional supplements and eat mainly a plant based diet).


If you don’t live in the Blue Zones then it might be fair to say that incorporating daily activity can be more difficult and requires more thought. Long commutes to work, hours behind desks or at computers, the demands and stresses of daily life, and the conveniences of the modern world have made being sedentary the norm.


While it may require more thought and initial planning, we are all capable of changing our behaviour to incorporate activity into our every day. To make it sustainable change the key is to make it enjoyable, easy and a part of who you are. The more you move the more you will enjoy moving. If you have an injury that restricts or prevents you from moving as you could then I suggest going to a physiotherapist or other health specialist who can suggest targeted exercises or activities for you to do to help overcome this. Once you are healed you can look at doing things that your injury prevented you from doing. I have done so much damage to my right leg over the years (hamstring issues mainly) that I was absolutely sure I would never be able to run again, and I wasn’t even sure if I could bend down and get up again without pain. (I am not wanting to be a marathon runner, but I do enjoy the occasional jog or 5 or 10 kilometre run). I finally got talked into going to see a physiotherapist and thanks to the exercises she gave me to do I am now bending without pain and happily doing a few runs a week again.


Here are some of the things that have helped me incorporate movement into my daily life:


We got a dog – a dog is a sure way of getting out for a walk at least once a day. And walking a dog is so much fun. We’ve met other dog owners in our neighbourhood this way and also made new friends.


I found an exercise that I love – yoga. There are lots of different types of yoga. I started by getting hooked on Bikram yoga, and have moved on from there to a variety of different types. I love the more slow moving types of yoga now – gentle flows where you can feel every muscle engaging, and the yin yoga where you hold the postures for a long time and really stretch out the fascia or connective tissues helping to keep our joints mobile (so very important for us as we get older). After 8 years of going to yoga classes I have also started doing some home yoga. This means that I am now more likely to do it when I’m away from home. I do yoga poses while brushing my teeth, waiting for green lights when out for walks, after sitting at my desk for a long time, or just whenever the feeling hits. I think yoga has something for everyone but often people think that they have to be flexible to do yoga. Just the opposite really – if you are not flexible, you need to do yoga!


I’ll take the stairs over lifts or escalators –  It’s a little thing, but it is often the little things that matter.


I have car free days – I try to make at least one day a week a car free day. We have actually just gone from being a 2 car family to a 1 car family, so this might mean more car free days for me. It means instead of jumping in the car to buy some broccoli or go to the library, I think more about walking. It’s a great way to also explore your community and often makes for a pleasurable journey. It also means that my bike comes out more!


Long weekend walks – planning different weekend walks with friends is lots of fun. We have a group of people who come together a few times a year for a planned walk. Sometimes it is just for a day or half a day and sometimes it is over a weekend. It is a great way to explore your region, have fun and catch up with friends.


So keep on moving people and you will reap the benefits for many years.


Yoga on Seattle wallHere I am doing one of my favourite yoga poses requiring strength and balance on a wall in Seattle. I think I have done this pose in every city and beach I have visited!


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Family Fun – Photographs and Memories

Me Mika and Teo 4

The month of August was family fun month. I went to Vancouver and Seattle with the main purpose in Vancouver of connecting with my mother, brother, sister, niece and nephews, and in Seattle with my daughter, son-in-law and grandkids. It’s hard having these people who I love so far away. My intention was to spend as much time as I could with them all over the month, and perhaps it’s fair to say, especially the grandchildren. I also managed to connect with some good friends and cousins along the way, and I want to apologise for the friends and cousins that I didn’t see this time. There is just never enough time to do everything.


If you are following my well-being posts I will be continuing them soon. August was my month off. I was planning on having a ‘restricted’ food day one day a week for maintenance, but that was too hard to do with everything going on every day. But after lots of good food and wine I came back not one ounce heavier! More about that with my next post. Here are some fond memories of my trip –

Cruz family

The Cruz – Minett family. Hiking the Discovery trail.

me and Mika walking

There was always lots to talk about on our walks.

Me and Pamela

Me and my girl.

Me pushing Mika on swing 2

Much of my time in Seattle was spent in parks, playing on swings….

Seattle market

and going to farmers markets (went to 5 different markets in Seattle)…

Teo and me

and watching this one grow!!

Teo and Mika at Green Lake

and watching Mika swim (she’s a little fish) and Teo splash…

Mika and me sitting

and getting as many cuddles as I can!

Yoga on Seattle wall

and let’s not forget the yoga!

San Juan fisherman

For the first time in about 20 years I went camping – not once but twice! The first trip was with Pamela, Ivan, Mika and Teo . Pamela organised a trip for us all to the San Juan Islands for 2 nights. Pamela, Teo and I climbed Mt Constitution – the highest point on the San Juan Islands (you can check it out here). We had two beautiful days with cold nights. The photo above is the view from our campsite at night.

Oregon coast rocks

The second trip was with Barb down the beautiful Oregon coast. We had 3 nights and perfect tenting weather. Pamela and Ivan lent us their tent and I got to use their most comfortable air mattress. Oregon provides hot showers and good toilet facilities in their state parks – it was almost like glamping!

me and Barb Cape lookout

We did some hikes along the beautiful beach as well as along the Cape Lookout trail (that’s a picture of us on the trail). The evenings consisted of good (cheap) California red wine and lots of fun and laughter.

Chief me and Barb

Back in Vancouver I ticked off a few of the things on my ‘must do’ list. This included hiking the Chief with Barb. (Note the sign behind us says ‘This is not a walk in the park’).

Granville Island

And going to my favourite place in the world – Granville Island (not once, but twice)…

mum at starbucks

And spending time with Mum. We enjoyed a few Starbuck coffees, and some nice walks around the neighbourhood. I was also able to take Mum around the Camosun bog. It was her first time seeing the bog, a community restoration project just a few blocks away from her home.

Mum at Art Gallery

Mum and I also went to the Art Gallery. The exhibition wasn’t that exciting, but we enjoyed a nice coffee on their deck and checking out their gift shop. It was just nice to be in the heart of the city with Mum.

me Maya Barb on Jericho

No trip to Vancouver is complete without going to the beach. This photo is with Maya and Barb on Jericho beach.

me and Rob at airport

Before I knew it the month was over. Rob took me to the airport and we enjoyed some food and drink and one last catch up before I had to board the plane back to Auckland.


There are so many pictures I haven’t included and so many pictures I didn’t take. Hopefully this selection will be enough to remind me of what a fantastic time I had and how lucky I am to have such good friends and especially lucky to have such a wonderful family.


Thank you family xxx


Making the Rules



It’s time for action! If you have been following my wellness series for weight loss  then you will hopefully have your motivation and are prepared for making permanent life style changes. So what’s the next step? Well the next step is to take the first step to a new, healthier you.


How do we begin? The best way to start is to make the rules. We like to follow rules, and people everywhere do this with rules others have made up – Atkins diets, Zone diets, weight watcher diets, and so on. What you are embarking on now is a lifestyle change. This is not a 2 week diet. It is to be something that you can sustain for life and will see you achieve your goal weight and keep it forever. For me this means that there must not be counting, weighing, speciality foods, powders, pills or portions. It needs to be just good wholesome food that fits into your day to day life.


Lesson #3 – Making the Rules


Because these are your rules, this is for you to think about and do. What I have outlined below are the rules that I follow and that have helped me to lose weight without ever feeling like I am “on a diet”.


1. No more seconds – I have eaten a healthy plant based diet for over 3 years now, but I have not lost weight on it. The main reason, is because I continue to eat too much. My rule now means I take one helping and that’s it. No matter how delicious. No matter if there is just a few mouthfuls left over that might go to waste. Just one, average size serving.


2. Two days of restricted eating – I read the 2 day diet by Dr Michelle Harvie and Professor Tony Howell and have found this to be a great concept that works for me. Basically for 2 days a week I eat very little – a bit of protein, a bit of fruit, a few nuts, and vegies. There are no vegan options in the book, so I modified it to suit my whole food plant based way of eating while still keeping to the basic concept in the book.  My restricted days were usually Monday/Tuesday. However I was flexible with this rule, and on a few occasions made it Sunday/Monday, because of other things going on for me during the week. I have to say, I just love this way of eating. On my restricted days what works for me is the following:

Breakfast – a grilled vegan sausage with tomato

Lunch – 3 brazil nuts, 3 walnuts, and 4 almonds (or 10 cashews or 10 pistachio nuts), 3 dried apricot (or some fresh pineapple)

Dinner – Stir fried tofu with vegies

Snacks – 2 or 3 cups of coffee – soy latte


I always have enough energy on these days to still work, walk our dog and go to yoga. Sometimes I feel hungry on the second day. But it is okay, because I know the next day I can eat more. I have been finding though that I usually stick to the same breakfast through the week (sometimes adding a piece of bread), while on weekends I also add more vegetables to the grill. It’s important not to binge on the 5 days of regular eating as you are unlikely to achieve any results that way. The 5 days is about your new ‘normal’ way of eating. (The concept of fasting, proper water fasting, is very interesting and I hope to discuss this more in another post).


My plan is to keep doing the 5 and 2 diet until I’m at a weight that I want to maintain. It’s become easy for me and I’m enjoying it. Then I will go down to 6 days of normal and 1 day restricted for maintenance for awhile, before I go down to 7 days of normal eating. I anticipate that it may take me a year or so to get there.  I’m not quite at my ideal weight yet, just about 3 more kilos to go. The last few can be the toughest. Because I am off on a month holiday, I’m going to work having one day a week of maintenance for the period that I’m away to hold what I have achieved so far, and then starting back with 2 days a week when I return from holiday. When you make the rules, you can also choose to alter them to fit your life.


3. Five days of healthy eating – The rest of the week I maintain a healthy diet. Lots of vegies, fruit, legumes, wholegrains – the fundamentals of good health. I don’t eat meat, fish, eggs or dairy. I do eat chocolate now and then. I aim to have no processed food at all, including of course no soft drinks. I drink water, coffee, herbal teas and wine (red wine). My wine consumption has greatly decreased and for one month I eliminated it completely. But I like a glass with a meal occasionally and would like to maintain this in my life, so am fitting this into my lifestyle in what I like to consider to be a healthy way, just like I have made room for good dark chocolate occasionally.


4. Regular activity – Doing some activity everyday is important. It’s not about going to the gym or going hard out at anything, but just keep active. You will lose weight without being active, but for good health and to feel good mentally and physically at least a 20 to 30 minute walk a day should be the minimum. Early on in my new eating plan I broke my toe and was in a moon boot and unable to exercise for 3 weeks. I still lost weight each week, but felt so much better once I started moving again. The more weight I lose the more I enjoy moving too. The exercises I most enjoy are yoga (which I feel I have a healthy addiction towards), walking (which my dog loves), and a little bit of jogging. If you are a couch potato then change. Get activity into your life. It is so worth it.


5. Chart your progress – In the preparation lesson I said weigh yourself so that you know your starting point. After that I recommend that you weigh yourself on the same day, at about the same time each week. No more no less. Watch the weight go down. I weigh myself every monday. My husband weighs himself every Saturday. He’s hoping his weight has gone up or stayed the same each week. I’m hoping that mine has come down. Also, during the first month I wrote down what I ate. I liked this discipline, but didn’t feel I needed it after the first 30 days.


6. Read – get some interesting books around you and read about life style changes. I already mentioned The 2 Day Diet book which I consider a must read, but a few other books I recommend are: The China Study and Whole both by T. Colin Campbell, and The Pleasure Trap by Douglas J. Lisle and Alan Goldhamer. A key website to look at is Forks over knives and I would highly recommend watching the Forks over Knives movie too.


That’s probably enough to get you going. The main thing is to have fun! At least let the fun outweigh the darker moments. The main thing is never to feel deprived. If you feel deprived you will get sad and start craving the food. Better to allow some of it occasionally then to feel bitter that you can’t eat it anymore. When I had my wine free month we had a dinner party and a friend brought over a very expensive, yummy bottle of red wine that he had been saving up. I said ‘no thank you I’m not having alcohol this month’, and didn’t really think much more about it. Next time we met he made a comment on how I had ‘missed out’. I quickly corrected him and said I didn’t feel that I had missed out at all. I had chosen not to have any wine.


Tomorrow I am off on my one month holiday. My next weight loss post may not be for awhile. If you are working on losing weight then please let me know how you go. I’d be interested in your thoughts on the books I recommended too, and if you have any other books you would add to my list. I am also always interested in hearing your thoughts, ideas or questions.


Till next time. Wishing you good health and happiness,









So you feel that you are now really motivated and you want to make some changes to your life to lose weight and gain health. The next step is to get prepared – as Confucius would say your success depends on it. You prepare for most things in your life – you prepare for a trip by thinking of things like where you want to go, what you want to pack, where you might like to stay, and how long you would like to be away for. You prepare for a job interview perhaps by learning a bit about the organisation, what their needs are and what you have to offer. While preparing doesn’t always guarantee success, not preparing almost always guarantees regret and disappointment.


Weight Loss Lesson #2



There are a number of things to consider when preparing for permanent weight loss and health gain. Below is a list that will help you with your preparation.


1. Weigh yourself

As hard as this may be for some people, you do need to get on the scale and see your starting point. The main reason for this is so that you can start setting goals. If you want to lose 5 kilos (11 pounds), this may not be so daunting. However if you want to lose 30 kilos (66 pounds) or 50 kilos  (110 pounds) or more this can be quite unnerving. In the case of the need for larger weight loss it is good to set smaller monthly goals. The best goals are achievable goals so that you can get the sweet satisfaction of success and feel motivated to continue to set monthly targets.


Some people also like to take measurements of chest, waist, hips, thighs. Personally I don’t. I’ve never been good at measuring myself and don’t want other people doing it for me. The loss in inches is evident in your clothes and the notch in your belt, but if you like numbers than you may want to get the starting measurements as well.


2. Cleaning out and stocking up your fridge and pantry

This part of the preparation involves looking at what food you have at home and throwing out stuff that you don’t want to be consuming anymore and stocking up on the food that will now take up the most part of your diet. For the clean up there are a few key things to look at:

a. Is it loaded with sugar – if yes, throw it out

b. Is it highly refined – if yes, throw it out

c. Has it got ingredients in it that you can’t pronounce or can’t recognise – throw it out


For the stock up for now the rules are simple. Make sure you have lot of food from the 4 key categories listed below. I will prepare a list of suggested staple foods to have on hand in another post.

a. Vegetables (get acquainted with your local green grocer and only stock up what you can use every 3 to 7 days)

b. Fruit (fresh and frozen – with fresh once again don’t over stock as you don’t want things going bad on you)

c. Whole grains – whole grain foods are foods are foods that contain all the essential parts and naturally-occurring nutrients of the entire grain seed in their original proportions. In other words they have not been through a refinement process that strips away the bran and all the goodness. Examples include food such as brown rice, barley, quinoa, oats, wheat and rye.

d Legumes – this includes beans, nuts, peas and lentils.


3. Get some recipes

It’s a good idea to prepare and even practice some good, quick and easy recipes that could be your go-to meals when you are hungry and don’t want to spend a long time cooking and preparing meals. The internet is a great place to search for ideas and there are of course a huge number of cook books out there. We wrote down dinner menu plans for the first month or two when we changed our diet. In the process we discovered a few favourite recipes that we now use regularly. I also find stir frys great and easily adaptable for whatever you have in the house. If you eat take-aways a lot you may want to look at reducing this as much as you can, and looking at the healthy take away options you can choose from.


4. Tell people what you are doing

Now you may not want to shout this out to the world, but it is a good idea that the people you live with or are closest to know what your goals are and what you are doing.


5. Set a starting date

It may be wise not to start a diet change right at Christmas time, or on the day of a big event involving food. Choose a date that will help make it as easy as possible for you to transition into the changes that will lie ahead.


Researching and planning for a  trip can be as much fun, although perhaps a different type of fun, than the trip itself. Preparing for a change in diet can also be lots of fun.


Enjoy preparing for a new you! Please feel free to leave me your comments and suggestions and see you next week for Lesson #3.



The Secret to Fast and Easy Weight Loss and Good Health



Before I begin I want to tell you a bit about my own background and why I am writing this. I was a chubby pre-teen, unhappy in my body even then. Through my teens my weight went up and down. I played a bit of sport and rode my bike a fair bit, which helped keep my weight somewhat under control. When I got my drivers licence though and started smoking the weight built up again. That’s when I usually resorted to various diets, all lasting about a couple of weeks with the focus on finding a quick fix to the problem. They worked, at least for the short term. In my 20’s things got better. I lived away from home during my university years. I was usually poor and on a budget, as I had to make the money I had earned over the summer months last me through the rest of the year. Food intake decreased during this time, with many dinners being not much more than a bowl of Campbell’s tomato rice soup. (The thought of eating that soup now makes me feel sick to the stomach). Travel also helped keep my weight in check. Then I got married and had children. My first baby was small and I didn’t gain much weight. All weight I gained I quickly took off again, and more. I felt really good then. My second child was big and with two small children I found I had little time to focus on myself. I started gaining weight. I enjoy being active, and bouts of going to the gym and lots of activity (including running some half marathons) helped me get my weight back under control once the children got a bit older. But never for long. I always seemed to get back to a point on the scale that frightened me. How could I be that heavy??


I have always been interested in food and nutrition, dabbling in vegetarianism and healthy cooking. Nearly 4 years ago, my very slim and fit husband was diagnosed with heart disease. He also has high cholesterol and diabetes. At that stage we took a new interest in food and how it affects our health. We read books, googled articles, researched questions. We were hungry for information that would help us to improve our health through diet. The topic now has me so captivated that I have enrolled in further study on nutrition and am looking at making a rather late in life career change and becoming more qualified on the subject matter.


This blog post will be the first of a series of posts to share with you what I have learned so far and what I will hopefully learn more about over the coming years. I have no grand plan. Things will unfold spontaneously, and I will be happily guided by your comments and suggestions. I will draw on some of my own experiences as I write this. I have been following a whole food plant based diet for nearly 4 years and have been focusing on achieving permanent weight loss for 4 months, dropping about 3 kilos (6 to 7 pounds) each month. I am still aiming for my ideal weight, and that number keeps dropping as I see the possibilities of achieving even more than I imagined. I’m having fun, in amongst the self-doubts, and, other than the moments during my darker days, I can see myself achieving my goal. My hope is that you will also have fun and achieve your personal goals too.



At this point I must confess that I used techniques well known by the food industry to get you to read this post. The title of this blog “The Secret to Fast and Easy Weight Loss and Good Health” could be seen as somewhat misleading – just like the “low fat”, “natural”, “no added sugar” labels on food. But let me explain myself.


1. Is what I’m about to tell you a ‘secret’? Well if it is it won’t be any more. You could think it’s a secret if you have been so confused with all the messages bombarding us about weight loss that you have no idea what to do. In my blogs I will be unveiling a few things which could be seen as ‘secret’ as well as secrets that the food industries have been trying to keep from the public because the truth isn’t always very pretty.


2. Will the weight loss be fast? That depends on your definition of fast of course and is completely open to interpretation.


3. Will the weight loss be easy? Yes, at times it will be easy. There will be challenging times too. In the end when you achieve your goals you will probably look back and say that wasn’t so hard!


4. Will you achieve good health? Absolutely. If the weight loss is going to make you sick then please stop! The number one goal must be optimum health. Good health is what will make you happy, and ultimately it is happiness that we strive for.


If you are seeking the silver bullet, the quick fix, the one-size-fits-all solution then I don’t have that. No one does. What I hope you will be able to take away from reading my posts is ideas that you will be able to personalise and that will help you in achieving your weight loss goals permanently.


Weight Loss Lesson #1



Nothing happens without motivation. Every successful person that has lost weight has some motivating driving factor that has helped them through it. Short term motivation – such as wanting to get into an outfit, or a wedding dress – will deliver short term results. For some people it may end there, while for others it could also help to kickstart a new motivation – the motivation that will be needed for long term results.  Long term results often requires life changing actions. Permanent diet changes. Permanent attitude changes.


The first secret to weight loss is to look inward and really explore your internal motivation. External motivation is the quick short term benefits you can gain – getting the zipper up on your pants, getting nice comments from family and friends. What will keep you going after that? What is your internal motivation?


Write down your reason. You will need this to go back to in your dark days (and you’ll have some dark days) when your motivation starts slipping.


I used to train midwives on how to support their clients to stop smoking and motivation was one of the topics we covered. I told a story of a woman who when we explored her motivation to stop smoking discovered that it was so that she could always sing to her baby and her children. She didn’t like what smoking was doing to her voice. Without fail, in every training session there was at least one midwife who was shocked by this. They would feel that she should be motivated by the damage she was doing to her unborn child or to her health. My message was to stop judging. We can not tell people what should motivate them. They have to find their own reasons. Whatever motives us to make positive health changes is good. There is no wrong motivation.


Losing weight will require change because if you change nothing then anything you achieve will likely be temporary. “If you always do what you have always done, then you will always get what you’ve always got”. Your motivation will need to help you through the tumultuous times of change.


So do you have your motivation? Are you ready to embrace change? Think about it for awhile. Your long term success will depend on this.


While you are reflecting on your motivation I will begin to think on Lesson #2. If you haven’t subscribed to my posts you may want to look at doing that now. That way you will never miss a lesson.


Have a lovely week and hopefully I’ll catch up with you again soon.