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I recently gave up on one of my best friends...

I had to. We had reached a point as a family where things were really hard.

In the midst of modern day life we had become so tied up in the ‘busyness’ of it all that the fundamentals of what make a person and a family happy, were beginning to suffer, or rather, were suffering.

So it was time to simplify.

For a long time I just kept plugging away, knowing I was busy, too busy, but not knowing what to do about it. It’s an all too common occurrence that we don’t get motivated to make change in our life until there’s a crisis or we hit rock bottom. So with a great feeling of despair upon me, I decided enough was enough.

 I was sitting at my kid’s swimming lessons. I was looking at Facebook on my phone when I really should have been, and wanted to be, watching the girls in the water. What’s with that? Why would I do that? I feel it was indicative of what was the crux of our problem – there’s always something else to be doing, something else to be busying ourselves with instead of being committed to the real and the present. Life has become chaotic in a sense and we are too often living in the past, the future or the un-real when in fact, we only ever really have the actual and the now.  In that moment, I literally said out loud, 'what the hell am I doing?' So I logged out, deleted the app and decided right then to begin an extended break from social media.

That was my starting point for implementing a number of changes to simplify and calm our life. My husband was right on board. Once I began with something, it felt easier to change other things. We’re around six weeks in and have implemented a few other modifications too:

We’ve taken the kids out of those swimming lessons. The two older girls do dance class on a Monday, netball on a Friday night and had swimming lessons on a Thursday arvo. 3 nights per week of being in-and-out of the car, trying to squeeze readers, bath time, a healthy dinner and some downtime in and around their scheduled activity is too much for kids aged 8, 6 and 3. As well as for their 30-something parents! When the weather warms back up and netball is finished, we’ll get them back in the water then. Bor now, no swimming works.

As I mentioned, we gave up a very dear friend; our beautiful dog, Doug. It breaks my heart that we did but with barely enough time in each day to give our girls what they need, an energetic, smart, affectionate Border Collie puppy wasn’t really something we should have added to our plate. He’s gone for a stay at our family’s farm and if he settles in well, he’ll remain there. Running around in a paddock with sheep all day and riding on the back of the 4 wheeler with the wind in his face is what he deserves – not being left alone in our backyard getting one 40 minute walk and a quick hug each day, if he was lucky. You see our eldest has a fear of dogs (she was determined to try her own pet but hasn’t taken to him like she and we’d hoped). My husband isn’t really into animals and whilst the younger two loved him, they found his boisterous puppy ways a little much at times which left me to love, feed, exercise and discipline him.  I told myself I had the time for it but soon learnt it wasn’t really the case. It took me a long time to admit we weren’t the best family for him and even longer to let go of the notion that real families with happy kids have a dog. So often the pressure we feel around these situations, we bring on ourselves. We miss him a very much but it was definitely the right decision to let him go.

We’ve restructured our weekly schedule to ensure there’s now one week day at a minimum where I don’t have to go anywhere. This is a day which now allows me the time to get the kids off to school with no other distractions and our 3 year old the chance to stay in her pj’s if she wants, watch play school and generally potter about with no timelines to follow. It’s proving therapeutic to the both of us and flows onto the rest of the household by way of things being organised and calm when everyone else arrives home. We're also trying to have at leats one day on the weekend where we can stay home and make the day about resting, making and eating great food and generally doing as we please. It’s a great feeling to have a day where there are no deadlines or demands.

We’ve started saying no. And the world hasn’t ended! If I’m feeling a little under the weather, I’ll be an apology at the meeting. If it’s going to stretch things for one of us to keep an appointment, we’ll reschedule. If we’re tired or just don’t feel like going out, we’ll cancel. If we don’t want to do something, we’ll say no. Hardly rocket science hey. Then why did it take us so long to feel we could do it? Since when was making our own needs, health and wellbeing not a priority?

I’ve made a conscious decision to stop investing in a quantity of people and invest only in the quality individuals in our life. This is something my husband has always been very good at. Me, not so much. It’s so important not spread yourself too thin. As individuals we can’t be everything to everyone. Whilst I try to always be kind to all I encounter, from now on, it’s in those who really matter, and return the love, where I shall be investing my energy.

I also spent some time and a little money on attending a weekend retreat centred around positive mindset, self awareness, being present, nurturing yourself and those you love. Investing in yourself and therefore your family is so rewarding. Learning from people you admire and immersing yourself with like-minded individuals is one of life’s simple pleasures and has certainly given me the tools I need to effectively reset, reprioritise and revamp.

On the social media front, I am easing back into Facebook slowly and will get back onto Instagram soon. After all they are both things I enjoy and that can bring good into our lives. But I had, to a point, let them take over. The break from it all has been so refreshing. I went from admittedly spending multiple hours per day using the medium to zero use overnight. Cold turkey. And did I miss it? Not one bit! It was so nice. In fact, I now wonder how I used to fit it in.

The break has been very beneficial and I now feel rejuvenated and ready to restart with it. I have made a number of modifications to simplify my future online experiences though, including reassessing who I interact with on FB, un-liking many pages, leaving a few groups and turning off most notifications. Going forward, I’ll be limiting my use of social media to ensure I’m more present with my family and engaging in the real life I have right in front of me. I’ve also unsubscribed to most of the meaningless emails we were receiving and stopped answering calls from unidentified numbers. If it’s important they’ll leave a message.

With these starting changes in place and more to come, I’m already feeling much calmer and our home is a nicer place to be. More often I’m finding delight in the simple things like the kids playing, a great cup of coffee, warm hugs and the beautiful sunshine. I’m laughing more and feeling overwhelming gratitude for many of the people and things I have always taken for granted. Of course, there’s still the emergence of the day-to-day problems and negative feelings and emotions but I’m handling them better and not allowing them to dictate my overall frame of mind.

We still have a way to go, and in reality will probably always be striving to create a better/happier/calmer environment for ourselves and our girls but things are looking up and right now things feels great.

Life is good. And what more is there than that?

 x

Leah

 
 
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I follow some really great people on social media. Most of them are health and wellness gurus and some are general all-round legends of life. I follow them all for different reasons and I can definitely attribute a lot of my learning to them.

There are also some who I have un-followed if I’ve found that their message or ‘tone’ hasn’t resonated with me. There’s a fine line between enriching people’s lives by aiding them to be more mindful, positive or productive and making them feel inferior or inadequate when they don’t manage to approach life with these attitudes, methods or disposition all of the time.

I hear what you’re thinking – no one can ‘make’ you feel anything – it’s how you choose to interpret their words or how you let their tone affect you. And I agree. In fact this one of the great and unexpected lessons I have learned on the course of my wellness journey. And one I am still trying to nail.

But having said that, I believe a person in a position of influence, particularly in the health and wellness industry, has a responsibility to present their message in such a way that their audience can relate to it without the underlying inference that they are wrong if they can’t manage to apply it to their circumstances 24/7, 365. I find of the individuals I follow, those most valuable and relatable are the ones who deliver their message as a fellow student of their chosen field of knowledge and expertise. The best mentors are those who are still very much soaking up all that they can learn themselves, and sometimes still making mistakes, but who are simultaneously passionate about helping others by imparting their knowledge in a caring and uplifting way. They are realistic in their approach and acknowledge the day-to-day slog that life can sometimes be. They recognize that while striving for the positive and desirable, that there will be hardships and frustration. And that it’s ok, that it’s alright to feel like that.

This method of delivery is important to me because of my own message. As you are probably aware, I wholeheartedly believe that self care is a major part of being healthy and well. And an element of self care which I think is too often overlooked is letting ourselves feel unhappy. Feeling unhappy is, paradoxically, part of being happy.  Or rather, allowing ourselves to be unhappy when the feeling is there, is part of overall happiness. Learning that to let ourselves feel any type of negative emotion is part of self awareness and self love, both of which are integral to our wellness and happiness.

No one gets it right every time. No one is perfect. No one can be mindful, positive, loving, assertive, brave, compassionate, bold, organised, understanding and patient all of the time. It’s simply not reality. But in the midst of the glitzy and contrived online world, it’s easy to believe that those you look up to don’t encounter these internal difficulties and that if you are to be successful, you won’t either. This can affect how your see yourself when you do feel down or angry or any of the other perceivable negative emotions.

Paraphrasing a quote by the amazing Carren Smith, a woman from whom I have learnt uncountable lessons, sums it up well. When talkig about mindset and our innermost thoughts and emotions, Carren said, “It’s absolutely ok to feel down or depressed, just don’t unpack your bags and live there.” This statement really resonated with me as it relates the notion that it’s ok and even normal to feel down or depressed, but we owe it to ourselves to move on from those feelings also. Prior to being exposed to Carren’s teachings and those of a few other mentors I’m privileged to have found, I had never allowed myself to believe that feeling negative emotions was ok. I’d never given myself permission to have those feelings, to sit with them, feel them, acknowledge them and then subsequently, move on from them.

I think that today’s society and the way we’re brought up makes us consider negative sensations as wrong or indeed, negative, when in fact, they are part of being a functioning, feeling human being. Becoming accustomed to our downbeat emotions and understanding where they’ve come from and where they can take us is a massive part of understanding ourselves and feeling content. In other words, freely experiencing unhappiness is essential to being happy.

So going forward, try to be aware of those you take advice from, spend your time with and invest your energy in. Do they allow room for falling off the wagon, for stumbling or hitting that metaphoric brick wall? And are they there with kind, non-judgemental words of encouragement when you do? And also, as I am trying to remember to do, ask yourself if you allow that of them?

Because if we can do that for each other, while the unhappiness will undoubtedly still come, its accepted presence will benefit us with our resultant happiness.

x

Leah

 
 
I have just learned a lesson.  A lesson I shouldn’t have had to learn given that I have cautioned others against this very problem! A lesson on a topic I thought I was well-versed in already. A lesson that was this:

Don’t presume that a food product is a healthy option just because it implies it to be on the packet...

From time to time I do online orders from websites that stock consumables and other health products that I can’t buy locally. My main objective for this particular shop was to buy some new large glass storage containers with air tight lids. Once I had found those and selected a few other kitchen items, I then proceeded to peruse the store’s selection of healthy snacks. I found some nice-looking baked potato chips and upon checking the ingredients, saw that they were purely potato, coconut oil and sea salt. I happily added them to my cart as a special lunchbox treat for the kids.

I then noticed another chip by the same company called, Baked Sweet Potato Fries followed with the descriptions of Lightly Salted and Made With Real Sweet Potatoes. Being that I was happy with the ingredients of the first packet of potato chips, I presumed that these ingredients would be the same; potato, coconut oil and salt. I quickly added them to my cart and checked out before I spent any more money!

Fast forward a few days and my order arrived via post. I always enjoy unpacking a delivery and quickly hopped into pulling each item from the newspapered depths of the big box. I got to the large bags of potato crisps and glanced over them. The pictures on the front of each pack looked great and I was happy with myself for finding something new to give the kids every now and then. I read the ingredients on the back of the first packet – the same three I’d read on the website – and then looked at the second bag, the sweet potato chips. Definitely not the same three ingredients! Not three ingredients at all – but ten! Regardless of what they are, ten ingredients for a natural potato chip? Ludicrous.

I couldn’t believe my eyes as I read the following ingredient list:

Corn meal, sunflower oil, sweet potato powder, evaporated cane sugar,  sea salt, rice flour, molasses powder, natural flavours, extractive of paprika and calcium carbonate.

What the? Why aren’t sweet potato chips just sweet potato? Why do food companies have to mess around with perfectly good ingredients resulting in a much less nutritious end product? This particular creation would be more accurately named “Corn Meal Stick Thingies Covered In Sunflower Oil With A Hint Of Sweet Potato Powder”. And what the hell is sweet potato powder anyway? Dried sweet spud, ground into a powder? Lord, give me strength!

There may be some people reading this and thinking, ‘those ingredients aren’t so bad, what’s the problem?’ Well, here’s my lowdown on each one:

Corn meal: In itself, not really that bad I guess. The packet states that all ingredients are non GMO. Genetically modified crops can be the concern with some corn, but apparently not in this instance. While it’s a fairly natural product on its own, combined with the other ingredients and fashioned into a chip shape, it’s a whole lot more processed than if they logically and simply sliced sweet potato into lengths. When trying to eat a diet consisting of as many wholefoods as possible, it’s not ideal.

Sunflower oil: Most vegetable oils are chemically extracted using solvents and other nasties to make the production process quick, cheap and the yield higher. The oil is then washed in chemicals during the refining process and finally, bleached to make it an attractive colour for bottling.  How often do you see on the ingredients list of a packaged item, cold-pressed olive oil? Not very often. This is due to the fact that sunflower and other vegetable oils such as canola and soybean can be manufactured at a fraction of the cost of quality cold-pressed, health-giving oil, due to this unnatural processing. Here is a link to a YouTube clip showing the production of canola oil if you are interested: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cfk2IXlZdbI

There are a number of good articles on the subject too if you just Google ‘vegetable oil solvent extraction’.

Vegetable oils can often also be subject to hydrogenation. This is a chemical process which the oil undergoes so that it will be solid or partially solid at room temperature, instead of a liquid. This changes the natural configuration of the oil’s fat molecules to a state that is never found naturally in food. It results in the creation of TFA’s (trans fatty acids) or trans fats as you may heard them referred to. TFA’s have been linked to heart disease and cancer and many other problems within the human body.

Sweet potato powder: Upon researching this phenomenon, I discovered that there are a number of companies marketing SPP as a healthy complex carbohydrate for pre and post workout consumption. I also came across a method for making it at home as a way of using up excess sweet potatoes and preserving them for use later on in recipes. All well and good I suppose, and providing there’s not a whole heap of additives included in the production process, I guess this is a good concept. But for me it just comes back to the whole over-processing issue again. It’s just not logic to make a ‘sweet potato fry’ out of corn meal and then lace it with a vegetable powder rather than making it with potato to begin with. It’s a perfect example of how we have lost our way when it comes to the consumption of natural wholefoods.

Evaporated cane sugar: ECS is a just a fancy way to say sugar. I won’t go into the ills of refined sugars being added to our foods. There is plenty of information available on this topic and I’m sure you have read it and heard it all before. It’s just unnecessary for the sugar to be added. Maybe if whole sweet potatoes were used in the first place, there wouldn’t be a lack of flavour and sweetness resulting in the need for the added the sugar? Not really rocket science. I regularly make sweet potato wedges at home by simply adding olive or coconut oil and a little salt and they taste perfect. Whole, nutritious and perfect.

Sea salt: I haven’t got a problem with this ingredient. The actual amount included at 540mg per 100grams is probably on the high side but as this is a snack item to be eaten in small amounts on an irregular basis, it’s not really a problem for me.

Rice flour: I use rice flour in my home cooking from time to time. It’s a good gluten-free flour and is easy to use. I just wouldn’t expect to see it in a sweet potato chip. Again there would be no need for it if wholefoods were used.

Molasses powder: Another processed ingredient which I presume brings flavour and sweetness to the fries. There are worse ingredients out there, but again it seems an unnecessary inclusion and also raises the question in my mind as to what the ingredients of the molasses powder itself are? If a company buys in an ingredient to use in the production of their product, they aren’t legally required to list the components of that purchased ingredient on their own product’s ingredients list. I have read and heard of people calling companies to question them after reacting to a product which didn’t list their usual allergen on the ingredients list. After much probing, they have discovered that a purchased ingredient used in the production process contained their allergen but as it’s not a legal requirement, it wasn’t listed on the end product.

Natural flavours: This is an interesting ingredient to analyse and one that shocked me when I first learnt about it. We see the statement ‘No artificial flavours’ stamped proudly on the front of a lot of products as a way for the marketing gurus to give us some peace of mind that their product is natural and healthy. Right? Wrong.

‘Natural flavours’ are so close to their artificial cousins, there’s not much difference at all. Most of the time the only variance between artificial and natural strawberry flavour for example, is that the natural one started out with an actual strawberry somewhere in the mix before it was processed and had chemicals added to it, whereas the artificial flavour just never had the strawberry in there to begin with!

Added flavours, natural or artificial, can contain between 50 and 100 ingredients, most of which are man-made substances and chemicals with names beyond the easy pronunciation of the layperson. And yet we are led to believe that this is ok. How did adding synthetic substances to our foods, that our bodies can’t recognise, ever become acceptable? Here is a link to a good fact sheet on food additives including flavourings if you’d like to know more: http://fedup.com.au/factsheets/additive-and-natural-chemical-factsheets/flavours-natural-or-artificial

Again if the product wasn’t so highly processed, the delicious naturally occurring flavours wouldn’t be depleted requiring a replacement. And the other point screaming to be made is, if the natural flavour is so bloody natural, why not just list the natural fruit, spice, vegetable etc that it was derived from as the ingredient? It’s wrong that the chemicals used in the place of a real food item can be called natural.

Extractive of paprika: Why not just plain old paprika? Extractive of paprika is an oil/resin type substance of the plant, usually extracted using chemical solvents.

Calcium carbonate: A mineral extracted from the ground, calcium carbonate serves many different purposes in our foods - as a preserver, colour retainer and anti-caking agent. It is also largely what makes up the calcium supplements we purchase from the chemist. The jury is still out as to whether it is completely safe for human consumption with many health experts suggesting that it isn’t absorbed or utilized as well as the calcium that occurs naturally in our foods, resulting in negative side-effects.

 
So there you go. Bit of an eye opener hey! When purchasing from a website with the word ‘Naturally’ in its name, a product containing ‘Authentic ’ within its name, in my opinion, one shouldn’t have to question the naturalness of the product. It should be a given that it is pure, natural and healthy. But that’s the world we live in. Food terms such as natural, fresh, organic and real are used far too loosely in this day and age and we suffer the consequences with our health.

I guess it comes back to eating as much real, fresh and unprocessed food as possible to avoid the trickery that goes on with the marketing of a lot of packaged goods. Keep it real with lots of fruit and veg, homemade snacks, fresh meat and quality dairy. Then when we do want to purchase some packaged items for the sake of convenience and fun, it’s important we go in with our eyes wide open and know exactly what’s in those products. Be informed and be aware.

We owe it to ourselves and our kids.

X

Leah
 
 
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I love when the start of a new month brings with it the start of other things, exciting and new.  Today is the 1st of February and also the start of my nutrition course with Changing Habits. A brand new chapter. I’m so excited to get started. I don’t think I’ve been this enthusiastic for anything in a while!

Someone recently asked me why I love food and health and why I want to study nutrition. My answer was fairly simple; I love food and the power it holds. I can’t think of anything better than helping people improve their health and consequently their lives by assisting them to change the way they eat.

And coinciding with the commencement of my course, in the midst of another person's new beginning, I have been given a taste of what that could be like. Of what really helping someone to make positive change in their life could feel like. And I must say it’s pretty amazing!

You see, I have a very dear friend who has been battling with her weight and her food choices for many many years. I’ve been there to listen to, and support her but have been careful not to ever push my ideas or values onto her. People have to be ready to hear the message they need to hear and the desire for real change needs to come from within themselves- not be thrust upon them by someone else. And I can now tangibly see how true that is. It’s hard to explain it, but it seems that something has changed in my friend. A switch has been flicked and her mindset has shifted. She has reached out and asked for help. She seems to be seeing herself and food in a new light. Its early days and we’ve only taken baby steps so far but it’s really inspiring and I can’t wait to see where her journey takes her.

Have a read of what she had to say on the weekend and see for yourself the infectious enthusiasm she has for this new path she’s started along:

Day 2:  Why now? What is different? Has the switch been flicked? Is this it?

I have been listening to my own broken record for nearly 25 years! As the more years pass, the more bored of this record I get, it is a depressing record, a record that I know my loved ones hate hearing…over and over again…but no more than I hate listening to it…“this is it”, “I will do it this time”, “I am in the zone”, “I will never be this weight again”, “I am serious”, “There is no going back now”, I WILL do it”, “I have hit rock bottom, so this is it…no more!”…I hear the words come out of my mouth and I cringe, deep down knowing that I am full of shit and will be back eating donuts and Macca’s next week…do I care? YES…but caring has never seemed to be enough…even when I was diagnosed with severe hypertension and told that I would DIE of a stroke or heart attack if I didn’t control my weight. WTF! Once again, as I lay in the hospital having test after test, in tears, while my 4 and 7 year old cherubs were home concerned about their Mummy…the broken record started again…”This is it”, “I will do it this time”…”I have to…for my kids..for my future”…

I am 41 years old, 104.5kgs, now medicated for high blood pressure and have a doctor telling me I CAN FIX IT!...lose weight, move more, de-stress and everything will be ok… easier said than done!

Today is Day 2 and this is 6 months after I was in hospital…

I am a convenient food, fast food, processed, quick and easy food junkie.  As a family, we eat really well during the week.  Good brekkies, healthy lunches and basic balanced dinners…I am super busy, this is not an excuse…but the extras on the weekends and my need to eat Maccas and treat myself with donuts, Zig Zags and Coca-Cola is ridiculous.  I eat when I am sad, when I am happy, to celebrate, to reward, to be naughty…I love food…I have never made any excuses for being overweight, I am an educated woman…I eat too much of the wrong foods and don’t exercise enough.  It’s not rocket science. This makes it all very frustrating as I know what I need to do, but I just don’t do it….or do I?

Over the last 20 odd years I have had glimpses of success.  Before I got married, I joined a gym and worked hard for just over a year, lost 18kg and walked down the aisle at 83kg, still overweight but feeling a million bucks. I maintained that weight for 2 whole weeks, then gained 15kg in the following 3 months, fell pregnant and 2 children and 8 years later, I am back over 100kg and have maintained 95kg – 105kg this whole time. In that time, I have tried many ‘diets’ & ‘detoxes’…up and down like a bloody yo yo!

I have known Leah for nearly 8 years, my first ‘real’ friend in my new country home.  We met at mothers group and instantly connected.  Although opposites in so many areas (she has style and is slim…hahaha), we had lots in common and were on the same page with many life & parenting issues.  She has listened to my broken record many times and always showed concern and support.

If Leah and I were out and there were donuts & nuts in front of us, I always marvelled that she would choose to pick the nuts, a choice that I never would pick.  I would laugh and joke “This is why I am fat and you are not... hehehe”. Ouch.

I have followed Leah’s wellness journey from the beginning, watched her make some amazing changes to her life and turn her long term love of food and health into “Life’s Pantry”.  I have listened to her remarkable stories as she researched and educated herself about food.  I loved hearing how passionate she was, how committed she was…the more she learnt the more changes she implemented and I was often left thinking, I could never do that! I could never eat like that…

Leah has researched, educated and built a health blog called “Life’s Pantry”.  I love it and support it and we have had many discussions about how she can help me.  “Thanks so much Leah, but it’s just not for me…I fully support you, but I’ve got this…” I have always thought that…I don’t need help, I can do it on my own…deep down thinking, “I hate seeds and nuts, I hate all the foods she eats”... If I just eat less and move more…I don’t need help…oh god, there goes the broken record again. How depressing…

Leah is a huge fan of That Sugar Film, a film that I have heard all the rave reviews and listened to her share the information from it.  Could all this really be true? Despite being a clever cookie, I grew up in a world of Weight Watches and diets that were filled with low fat processed foods.  If it said Low Fat on the packet, then it had to be good for me…right?  I foolishly believed the corporations selling these products as healthy.  So, to discover that the many years of me cutting out fat, counting fat grams & calories and devouring low fat snacks and meals may not have been helping me at all was alarming.

Leah’s words are always with me…”If you need me, I can help, I want to help”.  I can only imagine how frustrating it must be for her to listen to my broken record, to see someone she cares about hurting, overweight and unwell. 

Ok…I need help. I can’t do this on my own.  How can she help? How can she help when I don’t like half the healthy food she eats…eeek…awkward!

I am completely honest and open with her and READY. Her support, her guidance, her knowledge, her BELIEF in me is motivating.  We have had a few ‘sessions’, lunch and coffee dates that have been leading me to this point.  One of the first things I needed to know (as a food lover) was…Can clean eating, wholefoods etc taste nice? Anything remotely like this I have tried has tasted like crap.  Day 1 was yesterday. Lunch with my new “food coach”, a plate served up with so many foods that I would NEVER prepare myself.  Salmon with roasted macadamias and pepitas, coleslaw with homemade mayo, salad, avocado and quinoa.  Looked amazing on the plate and was DELICOUS!

I was shocked, excited and scared all the same time.  She explained how easy it was to prepare and all my “I’m too busy” excuses flew out the window.  We sat in the kitchen and discussed some simple changes I can start with. We drank coffee and had a date/nut slice that blew my socks off with FLAVOUR and sweetness.  She will teach me about clean foods, wholefoods…foods that will result in me ‘fixing’ my blood pressure, losing 25kg (I know…daunting) and extending & improving my life…all through food…pretty powerful stuff! She will not push, she will not pressure.  She will educate, she will inspire, and she will find a balance for me as she knows that I choose not to cut out all the crap.  She will help me find foods that I will enjoy and that will nourish me.  Enjoying this type of food is vital to my success and she believes we will find the balance.

I came home after our ‘session’ and finally watched the movie that everyone is talking about! Geez, how could I have been so naïve about food? Maybe it isn’t as easy as eat less and move more.  It is however about the types of food I eat and this is what Leah will help me with.  I do need help and she can help…I won’t need to count calories or fat grams, I will eat full fat again, I will significantly reduce my sugar intake, I will enjoy what I eat, I will feel and see the changes…she is positive and this is infectious..

My ‘journey’ has begun (man, I hate that word, but it is the one that best describes it).  I have so many barriers…baby steps…I am confident that small changes will help…there is so much more I could write, but this is already a novel…so it’s time to sign off and wish myself LUCK, LOVE & HEALTH and HAPPINESS….



See what I mean? How great is that?! This is an amazing step in her life and I am so privileged to be helping her to take it.

We’ve kept in close contact these past few days and I am wrapt to report she is still well and truly on track, cooking and eating like I have never seen her do. It hasn't all been smooth sailing but she is committed and giving it her all. I can’t believe that with my course under my belt, I could do this on a daily basis; help people in this way every day.  I know people who have made a career out of their life’s passion but never thought that could happen to me. Now I think it could and probably will!

So here’s to new beginnings – all of them, vast and various, that life has to offer!

X

Leah


 
 
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I'm feeling like crap.

Yes, I’m busy. Yes, it’s been a long year, and yes, I need a break but I’m not happy to write it off as just that.

The truth is, I haven’t been taking great care of myself of late and now I’m paying for it. My body is talking to me and it’s not happy; my head aches every day, my back aches more than usual, I’m not sleeping well, my skin is dry, I’m exhausted, I’m cranky, I'm constantly thirsty, I have a sore in the corner of my mouth (eeew), my eyes are dry and I have a mucusy throat (eeew again).

Since finding a few amazing health and wellness mentors I’ve become more in tune with my body and what serves it best. I’ve also learnt that our bodies are truly amazing machines with an innate intelligence that will always alert us to the fact that something isn’t right. It just depends on whether we listen and respond accordingly, as to whether this inherent communication is of any use.

To explain it more simply I’ll paraphrase a statement from nutritionist Cyndi O’Meara: “At first our body whispers to us if it’s not happy. If we don’t listen and make the necessary dietary and lifestyle changes, it speaks a little louder. If we still don’t listen, it yells. If we still aren’t listening, it ends up screaming at us and by then we can actually find ourselves quite sick.”

In the last few months I’ve been pretty stressed with a few personal issues to deal with along with the regular stuff we all have on our plates like 3 busy little girls, a business and household to run, a 2 acre property to maintain etc. etc. During this time I’ve somewhat dropped the ball on self care and my body has started to talk to me. My job now is to listen and proactively respond.  I'm going to stop ignoring the messages and start making my health a priority again.

But in what ways have I dropped the ball you ask? Well, here’s my list:

Cooking: I haven’t been spending as much time in my kitchen that I usually would which has resulted in us eating more processed and packaged foods. I haven’t let it get completely out of control but definitely need to get back to preparing meals from scratch a lot more regularly.

Eating out: I’ve eaten out more. And whilst I do love to eat out, try to choose quality cafes, and try to make good choices, the truth is you’re never 100% sure what’s in your food when you’re away from home. And if I’m honest, when I’m feeling a bit drab, fried chips are just too hard to say no to!

Wine: I’ve drunk more alcohol of late than I usually would. Don’t get me wrong; I love a good glass of wine or 5, but my vino consumption has really stepped up of late and it’s time to say goodbye for a while (at least until Christmas Day anyway!)

Grain intake: I’ve been eating a lot more grain than usual. There is a lot of new research out declaring that too much grain isn’t good for us and is one of the main offenders in weight gain. I’m still learning about this and have a lot more research to do but what I do know now is that I feel a lot better when I keep my grain consumption to minimum. This is hard as I love it. Bread, crackers, rice, pasta, the list goes on. But not a great regular choice for me if I want to feel good.

H2O: Not drinking enough water. I don’t think I need to elaborate here. We all know drinking heaps of water and keeping hydrated is essential to good health. It’s the elixir of life. Time for me to keep the water jug permanently out, fill it every morning, have it gone by lunch time, then refill and empty it again throughout the afternoon. I’m a visual person so having it right there in front of me will keep it in my mind.

Caffeine: Too much tea and coffee. Last Christmas we shouted ourselves a whizz-bang, expensive coffee machine. And we got what we paid for - it makes bloody great coffee. It also got me hooked on something that I hadn’t really been very interested in before. And by the middle of this year I found I would really crave my arvo coffee if I didn’t have it. Then more recently I started buying a coffee every time I was out and would have another one from our machine when I got home. Add to this the one or 2 black teas I have most days and that is just way too much caffeine for me. It would sometimes even give me the shakes and a yucky indigestion-type feeling. No thanks.

I am happy to report though, that I’ve managed in the last weeks, to limit myself to only a couple of coffees per week and have switched to mostly herbal teas. This has eradicated the shakes and the indigestion, but I could easily regress to my caffeine guzzling ways if I’m not careful!

Less greens: I feel my best when I eat a beautiful fresh salad at least once a day. In the last while, this hasn’t occurred. Feeling down or pressed for time, I’ve gone for quicker, easier lunch options. And whilst it hasn’t been Maccas that I’ve turned to, my choices haven’t been as nourishing and cleansing as fresh, crunchy greens.

Less movement: I’m happy to admit that I’m not really into exercise. I don’t like the gym, I’m not a runner and not great in the water. But I do love long brisk walks, yoga, functional stretching and Pilates. I’ve let all of these things take a back seat lately and my body really does need to move. All bodies do - that's what they’re made to do. I haven’t been a complete couch potato but need to up my daily movement in order to get back to feeling great.

So there you have it; the ways my body is telling me it’s not happy and my summation of why it’s not. I'm thankful that I know how to listen to it and have learnt the benefits of doing so. Life is to be lived to the full and I certainly can't do that unless I'm feeling alive and energised. So thank you, my body, for giving me the messages I need to make the improvements I need to get back to my best. I'm glad I have you in my life.

How about you, can you hear your body talk? Are you listening? There’s plenty to hear if we just take notice.

x

Leah

 
 
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My elderly grandfather’s house sold at auction today.

The desired price was achieved and my Mum is relieved that it’s another thing taken care of. See, my grandfather, affectionately known to us all as Papa, entered an aged care facility a few months back when the onset of Alzheimer’s began to rob him of the ability to live alone. And since then there’s been a fair bit to organise and finalise regarding finances, furniture, assets etc. And yes it’s great that these tasks are sorted and nearly over and done with, but to me, it’s the end of an era and I’m feeling sad.

Papa is 89 years old, has a heart of gold and is my hero. He’s the kindest, gentlest, most loving man I’ve ever had the privilege to know, little own, the honour to call my grandfather. Throughout my life, despite my Dad always being there for me, Papa has been a second father. He’s supported me in every way and was a rock for my mum as she did her best as a single parent.

We lost my Nana back in 2003 and Papa had lived alone in the house since then, cooking, cleaning, gardening and shopping for himself, all the while maintaining an active social life and being there for his daughters and us grandkids. While he definitely missed Nana, he only mentioned her occasionally and, I think, just adopted the old school attitude of ‘getting on with it.’

From the years prior to Nana passing I have so many happy memories of she and Papa and the rest of the family at their home. I can’t believe how quickly that time has passed and how things have changed so completely.

BBQ’s on the lawn under a tree and singing along to Nana’s Rolf Harris records. Drinking way-too-strong Nesquick out of the orange Ned Kelly cups and playing gently with Mousey Brown; the ancient ragdoll mouse that always sat on Nana’s spare bed. They’re just the small things, but gee, right now amid my melancholy nostalgia, they seem big. Over time, they’ve become big I guess.

I know I’ll always have the memories created during the years at number 31, the red brick house with the bull nose veranda, but today the tangible link to those memories was somewhat deleted. I know it will still be there to drive past whenever I feel like it, but it will be weird. Different people will be inside, doing different things, creating different memories. Some houses are just that – buildings in which people are housed, but this house has always been more than that to me. It was a home away from home and a place I always felt relaxed.

The last time I saw my Nana was in the house – I’d dropped around unexpectedly one evening to borrow some shredded cheese. (That was back in the days where the supermarket closed at 5:00 most weeknights and I’d found I was out of Coon only after I’d started cooking dinner.) When I arrived, Nana was sitting in her green chair in the front room watching tele, which in her last few years of life was often where you’d find her.  As usual, she had a half-eaten bag of Minties stashed down the side of the chair and I caught a whiff of them as soon as I walked in. I’ll never forget how nonchalantly I said my hello’s, asked for some cheese, kissed them both goodbye and left. I think it was just a few days later that Nana died in her sleep there at home, and that last encounter with her became not so run-of-the-mill after all.

More recently, in the months leading up to Papa gaining a place in The Lodge, the aged cared facility that happens to be located just over the side fence of the house, I started thinking about the fact that this day would come. The day when the furniture would have been sold or divided up between the family, the clothes and odds and ends donated to charity, the photos packed into boxes and the family and living rooms filled with our talking and laughter for the last time. I thought I’d be ok with it.

Turns out I’m not.

Turns out, I want to turn back time and embrace it all just once more. Experience it all again with knowledge of what today feels like. The saying really is true that you don’t appreciate things until they’re gone. But that’s the thing about the end of an era – it’s final and unforgiving in its conclusiveness.

So given that I can’t turn back the clock and revisit it all, from now on, I’m going to do my best to remember that there’s a lot more ‘eras’ in my life that will come to an end eventually and that I should embrace them and appreciate them while they are here and still occurring.

For now, I think that’s all I can do.


 
 
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I had an epiphany the other day. Out of nowhere, I realised I don’t need to put so much pressure on myself! Simple enough right?

Wrong! I regularly see quotes about this kind of stuff and have read other people’s blogs about it, but sometimes these little light bulbs have to be switched on from the inside. For some reason, we all do it in one way or another. For some it may be the pressure to constantly earn a certain amount or to always run a certain distance in a certain time. For others it may be to have certain labels in the wardrobe, have a spotless house or an amazing garden. For me it’s the self-pressure to be making ALL our food from scratch and making perfect food choices ALL the time. FFS, Leah, take a chill pill!

The moment of not-so-ground-breaking realisation came when I was beating myself up for giving up on making my homemade coconut yoghurt. See, some things I try in my kitchen, despite my love of cooking and utilisation of traditional methods, are just plain tedious and unrewarding. My coconut yoghurt was one of them.

So it got me thinking about what I need to put emphasis on and what I need to let go of a little. Of course, in a perfect world, I would have the time (and the inclination) to be in the kitchen all day, every day, making everything from organic locally grown produce that has been picked by Mother Nature’s own hands and then delivered to my home on a golden ray of sunshine. BUT, I have 3 kids, a husband, a business and a household to run, friends to see, places to go etc etc. And because of this, I’ve conceded that I need to pick my battles!

As I don’t do so well on dairy, I was keen to try a dairy yoghurt alternative. Add to that my desire to get more fermented foods into our diet and I came up with the big idea that I MUST start making my own coconut yoghurt and it will be fun, easy, nutritious and delicious -god dam it!

So when I finally got myself a starter culture and made my first batch I felt very proud of myself for a bit and then quickly quite down on myself when I realised I didn’t enjoy making it, the kids didn’t like and to be honest, it didn’t taste that great L...

In light of these things, you’d think it would be a no brainer to just say ’yep, I’m done with that’, but in wearing all my hats (such as modern-day woman, capable mother, wellness advocate and brilliant wife), instead I gave myself a hard time for it.

But not anymore! I’ve had my epiphany and I’m running with it. If from now on I buy Coyo, instead of slopping coconut cream all over my bench in the production process and then forcing my kids to “try the yummy yoghurt”, is the world going to end? Are we going to be any less healthy? I don’t think so. In fact, I’ll probably be healthier in the long run for the stress I’ve saved myself!

So I guess what I am trying to say is simply, when it comes to life, by all means have goals and push yourself to achieve them but don’t stress the small things and definitely pick your battles. Coconut yoghurt isn’t the path for me but on the other hand I’m really loving fermenting my own kombucha and veggies so I’ll stick with that for now. I don’t have to do EVERYTHING. I’m going to focus on what I enjoy and what I’m good at and try new things along the way but without the self-pressure to do it all or nail it all first go.


 
 
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Presumably as is the case with most people, it doesn't matter to me whether a person is short or tall, black or white, male or female, or, dare I say it, fat or skinny. The person they truly are isn't affected by their height, colour, sex or weight. So all of that really is of no consequence right? It's what's on the inside that counts isn't it?
But what about when what's happening on the outside is a direct reflection of what's happening physically on the inside? What about when what's happening on the outside starts to harm a person's health, gets them down, affect the way they feel about themselves, and how they relate to the world? I think we will all agree, that what's on the outside actually does begin to count then.

The reason I began pondering these questions was my recent chat with two gorgeous young girls I know. These girls are in their early twenties. They're smart, fun, have spunky partners and are very easy on the eye themselves but have an annoying problem that's been plaguing them for a while now; they just can't seem to lose the weight they want to. Neither of these girls are obese or could even be described as 'big' but nonetheless they have a few kg's they'd like to see gone and are really struggling to shift them. And from what I am seeing and hearing out here, this is not an uncommon situation. In fact, this was me for quite a long time, up until about 18 months ago.

As I've previously mentioned, I spend a lot of time educating myself about all things health and wellness.  I read, attend seminars and listen to podcasts. And what I am finding is that no matter what the medium, there always seems to be one resounding message: the food we eat absolutely and completely effects who we are, how we feel and how we look. In other words, we really are what we eat! 

Every day, in one way or another, we see weight loss being touted as the be all and end all. It's portrayed in the media and within our own communities as the only way to feel good about ourselves and the only way to be beautiful or socially accepted. It's made into a superficial issue, associated with discouraging  words and notions such as deprivation, reduction, hunger, calorie-counting and denial.

I really think it's high time that as a society we take the emphasis off of dieting, losing weight and depriving ourselves and put it back on to nourishing ourselves, gaining health and rewarding our bodies with real and whole foods. Let's value ourselves enough to put in the time and effort to improve our health through the food we eat. We have so much to gain from this simple yet powerful act of self-care; more energy, better clarity of mind, increased happiness, improved sleep, and the all-important, ever-elusive, highly-revered WEIGHT LOSS!  By switching our perspective and our approach to emphasising health gain, the weight loss will invariably come.

As the young but very wise Kale Brock put it during his presentation at The Wellness Summit last weekend, "Health is not the end goal, but a tool to get you where you want to be." Not a wiser word has been spoken in my opinion. Just as our intention should be to gain health as a means to going out and living our most amazing and inspired life, weight loss should be one step on the path to gaining that health - not the end goal. (And yep, that's his real name! An up and coming wellness entrepreneur's actual name is one and a half veggies! he he. Money can't buy that kind of cool!)

Anyway, referring back to my chat with these gorgeous girls, they were after a bit of guidance on what it actually is they should be eating in order to gain their health and lose the weight. Me being my usual particular (or maybe annoying?!) self, I wrote them out a bit of a guide to read and keep to give them a leg up into starting. I've copied and pasted it below if you are interested. Just keep in mind, I could talk/write about food and health all day long. What is below is just a bit of a nutshell view of my philosophy around healthy eating and losing weight. I hope you enjoy the read and find something to take away from it. I'd love to hear your thoughts or questions.  I'd also love to help anyone out with some recipes if you want to start making some changes for your self and your family. Just email me or drop me a line on facebook.

X

Leah

Let’s take the focus off of losing weight and put it onto GAINING health by eating real and nourishing wholefoods.

When we shift our focus away from constantly counting calories and depriving ourselves of what we love and move it over to eating real and nourishing foods, the weight loss invariably takes care of itself.

How many diets have you started and not stuck to?  How many left you feeling deprived, frustrated, hungry and tired? How many were unreasonable and unsustainable and possibly expensive? Most of them? That’s because dieting is not the answer! IMP diets should be outlawed!

Making gradual, manageable, sustainable changes to the way you eat and regard food is what will allow you to maintain a healthy weight without the constant feelings of having to cut back, count calories and conform to the new fad.

To give you a bit of an insight on where I am coming from, here’s a rundown on what I have learnt and what my beliefs are around food:

  • The way the human race eats has changed more in the last 50 years than in the 10,000 years preceding that. When you think about that, it’s pretty full on.

  • Since these major changes to our diets have occurred, we have become increasingly fatter and sicker as a race. Every 2nd person is either obese or has an illness of some kind.

  • We have moved away from seasonal, natural, fresh foods to highly processed and refined foods that are laced with chemicals, preservatives and all kind of additives. We simply haven’t evolved to eat like this. Our bodies struggle to recognise most of what is eaten today as food.

  • We eat far too many refined carbohydrates and sugars and not enough fruit, vegies and plant-based real foods.

  • We need to replace the high amount of refined and processed grains, namely wheat, in our diets with other plant-based options. Grain has its place in a healthy and balanced, but not at the rate it is consumed by most westerners.

  • We are scared of fat when it is actually very beneficial to us. The high consumption of good quality fats from nature actually aids in weight loss, not weight gain.

  • We need to get back into our kitchens and invest time into our health and wellbeing. The convenience foods that fill 90% of our supermarket shelves are just that – foods that should be used occasionally when needed for convenience in special situations - not form a major part or all of our daily nutrition.

  • We need to make changes gradually. There’s no point going from breakfast cereals, Coke, white bread and KFC one week to carrot sticks, water, seeds and kale the next. It’s simply not the way the human mind and body works. For most people, the unhealthy eating habits that are so ingrained have become so over the course of a lifetime. And a lot of them have been taught to us by apparent experts. We can’t expect to switch that off overnight.

  • You have the rest of your life to make the positive changes and lose the weight you want to – don’t put too much pressure on yourself to be eating perfectly in a day, a week or even a month. Remember, this is about long term sustainable habits. E.g.; if you’re drinking 10 cans of soft drink a week, start by reducing that to 8 for the week, then go to 6 the next, then 4, 2 and eventually 0. After 3 weeks, you’ll have reduced your intake by over half and that’s something to be really proud of - and will give you the inspiration you need to keep going.

  • Losing weight doesn’t mean we need to eat bland, unsatisfying food. In fact, it should be the opposite so that the positives changes are something that we can stick to for the long term. It’s about making sustainable health-giving changes to our diets using yummy, fresh foods in order to give our minds and bodies the nutrition it deserves.

So, where to from here?

To shed the kg’s that you want to, these are the action steps I would recommend:

  1. Decide wholeheartedly to make some real and sustainable changes to how you eat.

  2. Decide on an absolute bare minimum time frame that you will stick to attempting to make changes so that you don’t give up prematurely eg. 1 month, 6 weeks etc.

  3. Remember to be kind to yourself and do this gradually. If you have a bad day of eating don’t give up, just get up tomorrow and try again!

  4. Experiment and try new and different things. Just about everything in the standard western diet has a healthier, more nourishing version that you can buy or make and I have found that it is usually actually tastier than the more common, unhealthy version.

  5. Don’t try to implement changes that involve foods you don’t like. Just because it’s healthy, it doesn’t mean you have to like it or eat it.

  6. Get more fresh real foods into your body i.e. – fruit, veg, nuts, seeds, quality dairy, cold pressed oils and grass fed and/or free-range meats. Real food doesn’t have ingredients – it is ingredients! And it especially doesn’t have ingredients you can’t pronounce or buy or make yourself.

  7. Start with breakfast! As mentioned it’s important to do this at a pace that is doable; not by cutting out everything you’re used to overnight. So in order to do that, changing your breakfast habits to healthier, more nourishing options, is a great place to start. Then, once you have breaky nailed, you can move on to improving the next meal.
So if we are starting with breakfast, what should you eat?

Breakfast cereals, most toast and crumpets are all highly processed, additive-filled foods that aren’t really food! They are high in carbs and sugar and usually low in healthy fats and other essential nutrients. They promote weight gain.

These are the things I recommend you try making a habit at breakfast time:
  • CADA - a fresh grain free muesli made from coconut, apple, dates and almonds. I usually add some seeds as well. It is absolutely delicious.  I have it every day and even the kids love it. I usually serve it with some fresh berries and a big dollop of pure cream. Superb.

  • Eggs – eggs aren’t the fattening, cholesterol raising horror food they were once made out to be. They are full of vitamins and minerals and are very filling. Have them as an omelette, boiled, poached, fried or raw! There are so many sides to serve them with from avocado and bacon to fresh rocket and tomatoes.

  • Fresh fruit topped with chopped nuts and or/seeds and a little yoghurt, cream or coconut cream.

  • Gluten free seed bread – I have just made for the first time an oat and seed loaf which is so easy. It is delicious when toasted up then topped with pure butter and a little honey or avocado and tomato. It takes no time to make and is a very filling, pure nourishing breakfast or arvo tea.

In addition to these breaky ideas, there’s lots of things I could recommend you substitute at other meals times to get more real and nourishing plant-based food into your daily diet and less of the nasty, processed, high carb and sugar laden foods. I am happy to tell you all about that but thought for now I’d just focus on breakfast so we can do just a little bit at a time.

X

Leah

 
 
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I've been a bit quiet on the blog front of late. To be honest, I am struggling to find the time to actually sit down and write - which is frustrating as it's one of my favourite things to do. The best time of day for me to write is in the quiet of the evening once the girls are asleep. But after the long day full of school and kinder runs, cooking, bookwork, housework, cooking, errands, washing, more cooking and somewhere in there some one on one time with kids and an actual adult conversation with my husband, I'm finding I'm just hitting the couch for half an hour before finally falling into bed, pretty exhausted!

They say though, if something is a priority, you'll make time for it. This is very true for me when it comes to sourcing quality ingredients and preparing most of our food from scratch, so I figured if I can make time for that each and every day, tonight I can find an hour or two to myself to write.

Now that I am sitting here doing it, I am reminded of how good it feels to let the words flow out of me and how therapeutic that is. It is so important to take time out to do the things we love! In fact, as I'm writing I've just established in my mind what this piece is now about - the importance of self care.

To quote the beautiful Kim Morrison of Like Chocolate for Women and Tewnty8 -

"Self care isn't selfish, it's essential!"

When I first heard those words, it took me a moment to process them. Then it dawned on me that, indeed, I had always considered self care as kind of indulgent! As something that we shouldn't get too carried away with or invest too much time or money in. But why not? If we don't take care of ourselves, who will? Why would anyone else put us first if we don't ourselves? If we aren't feeling fulfilled, happy and cared for, how are we then supposed to be the best version of ourselves? If we want to give the best to those we love, work with or care for, we need to make sure we've given our best to us first.

In this day and age, with the fast pace we all seem to live at, it's easy to forget to care for ourselves. Between, working long hours, looking after the kids, being their for our partners, parents and other family members, keeping on top of our household duties, running the errands, doing the groceries etc., there's precious little time left to think about us. The irony is though, as I touched on in a previous post, if we do take some time for self care, these menial day-to-day tasks won't seem so hard, we'll feel happier and healthier and life will be that little bit rosier.

So what exactly is self care you ask? I have learnt that there are five basic elements of self care that apply to everyone on the planet - nutrition, movement, connection, sleep and fun! Each as important as the next and each easy to fulfil if we make them a priority.

Nutrition - we all know the importance of nourishing our bodies with good wholesome food. We really are what we eat. We don't fuel our cars with inferior fuel and wonder why they don't function properly, so why would we do it to ourselves? Ensure plenty of fresh wholefoods are on the menu every day. Limit processed foods, sugar, carbs and alcohol. Drink lots of water and make good food a priority. You're worth it.

Movement - too much emphasis is put on exercise sometimes, in my opinion. We can be lead to believe that we need to be pounding the pavement or hitting the gym for an hour every day at 6am if we are serious about moving our bodies. It doesn't have to be this hard, expensive or early! If everyday we can get some kind of good functional movement in, that is enough to keep us healthy. As a mother of 3 young kids, and someone who has never been so inclined to run or workout, I get my movement in in many different ways: walking my eldest to the bus stop, running around with the kids in the backyard, yoga classes, taking the stairs, gardening, playing and umpiring netball, parking in one place and walking everywhere when I'm out shopping, basic stretching, bike riding with the kids, walking with a friend, housework etc. etc. Granted, I'm not going to break any running world records but I can certainly do everything I need to do without ever feeling fatigued or puffed out. On a further note, since cleaning up my diet and my weight consequently finding it's happy place, it has been so nice to be released from that nagging feeling of needing to work my bum into the ground in order to maintain my weight. It really is 90% what goes in your mouth, not how many hours you rack up in an aerobic class each week.

Connection - Build and nurture good relationships. Put time into them. Whether its your relationship with your kids, spouse, parents, siblings, friends or even co-workers, if you value a person, make your relationship with them fulfilling. Personally, I am at my happiest when I am feeling connected to those I love and respect. I remember commenting recently to my sister after spending a few hours with her and my beautiful niece, my mum, aunty, cousin and grandfather, how happy I felt afterwards. We all live in the same country town but it's rare for us all to be in the same room at once. I decided that day that I would make seeing them regularly, more of a priority from then on.

Sleep - I know some people seem to do fine on very little, but if I want to be and feel my best, 7-8 hours per night is absolutely essential. Going to bed a bit earlier can have such a dramatic positive effect if you are prone to feeling worn out. In both the short and long term. Just google 'more sleep benefits' and you will find a plethora of articles all attesting to the amazingness of plenty of sleep.  Until recently I was someone who, since my teens hadn't slept overly well. However, after making a few changes such as eating better and cleaner, no caffeine after 5, dimming or switching off all the lights an hour before going to bed and getting to bed earlier, I am sleeping a lot more soundly. And feeling better for it!

Fun - This is the best bit - go and have fun! Do what lights you up, what relaxes you, what inspires you; Do. What. Makes. You. Feel. Good!

Whether its tending a garden, listening to heavy metal, playing football, reading trashy magazines, mountain climbing, having your nails done, watching Disney movies, collecting stamps, writing a blog, running 10k's, getting a massage, regularly catching up with friends or simply sitting quietly in the sunshine, if it feels good and warms your heart - do it!  And do it regularly and deliberately. We all lead busy and demanding lives so we must invest in ourselves in order to keep up. Parents often give their kids quiet time when they're grumpy or tired; we see the need for our children to have time to themselves to do what calms and relaxes them, so it makes sense that we should allow ourselves the same privilege.

So there you have it: permission to look after yourself. If there's an area of self care you feel you are lacking in, try making it a priority for a week and see how you feel. I recently had the privilege of hearing The Vitality Coach, Nikki Fogden Moore speak at an event and she imparted a great little pearl of wisdom - commit 1% of your day to yourself. 1% of any given day is only 14.4 minutes! She explained that no matter what area of your life needs attention, you are worthy of your own time and everyone can find less than 15 minutes each day to give to themselves if they want to. Go on - try it! I'm definitely going to this week!

X

Leah


 
 
One of my best friends moved away over the Easter weekend. She moved 2.5 hours down the road, but right now I feel that it may as well be the other side of the world! It's hard knowing she's not just around the corner anymore, with her ever-listening ear and a cup of herbal tea at the ready. She's kind, generous and caring and I am going to miss her so much. Our kids get along well - especially our 2 year old daughters - and the kids will feel their absence too.

I will adjust to the change over time, but for now, despite the fact that I know emotional eating isn't the answer to anything, I am turning to food! Comfort food to sooth the soul. Luckily for me, my insides and my waistline, comfort food for me no longer consists of Cheezels, M&M's and nachos. These days for the most part, my comfort food whilst still delicious and satisfying, is more nutritious and health-giving than the 'treats' I would have once turned to!

Last night, I felt like 'picking' - there's something that feels a bit indulgent about picking away at a variety of foods which all together, make a meal. So I busied myself in the kitchen for half an hour and came up with a yummy, healthy and comforting meal for a cold Autumn night - smooth vege soup served with homemade seed crackers topped with avocado and seaweed salt, along with some rough-looking mini egg and bacon 'sandwiches'. I love coming up with easy nutritious meals and was especially happy with this one which included a number of my favourite foods - hot soup, avocado, eggs and bacon - and my hubby and kids loved it too! 
These are pretty simple dishes which anyone could throw together so here's just a quick run down of what I did:

Soup -
Sautee a chopped onion and 3 garlic cloves in olive oil. Next add in some chopped herbs of your choice (I used parsley, coriander and a little rosemary). Sautee momentarily until fragrant.
Next put in chopped vegies of your choice - what you use and how much isn't really important as it's a matter of personal taste (remember - we're going with what feeds the soul!) and what you have on hand. I used 1 carrot, 2 celery sticks with leaves included, 1/2 red capsicum, 1/2 green capsicum, 3 x large kale leaves, 2 x large tomatoes, 1 x zucchini, and some frozen peas and corn. Next add about 1500mls of water and/or homemade bone broth. Add salt and pepper to taste and set to simmer until all vegies are soft.
Once vegies are cooked, transfer to food processor and add in some previously roasted pumpkin, potato and sweet potato. Process the soup on a high speed until smooth. The roast veg gives a nice creamy consistency and adds a lovely finishing flavour. The more pumpkin and sweet potato you add, the sweeter the soup will be, so add a few pieces and taste test to see what you think of the flavour.

Mini egg & bacon 'sandwiches' -
Beat 6 eggs in a bowl and season with freshly cracked pepper. Heat a large frying pan and once hot, fry off some chopped bacon. I did mine in sticks but squares might work better. Experiment with shapes and sizes. Once cooked, set aside. Next, without cleaning pan, pour the egg mixture in, covering the whole pan. Like when cooking pancakes, leave to firm up on the bottom. Once firm, carefully flip the egg over to cook on the other side. I cut the large circle down the middle first to make the flipping easier. Once egg is just cooked, remove from pan and cut into shapes to suit the size and shape of the bacon. Using one piece of bacon as the filler and two pieces of egg as the 'bread' put your sandwiches together and serve either still warm or at room temperature.

Seed crackers -
See here in the Life's Pantry Recipe section for the seed cracker recipe.

Being that my good friend gave me the recipe for these seed crackers, and is actually the person who helped me get started on my health and wellbeing path, it was very therapeutic to make these in her absence. I guess they'll always remind me of her! (I know I'm kind of acting like she's disappeared off the face of the earth but I really do feel a bit hard done by at the moment. It'll pass but in the mean time you'll have to put up with me!)


This morning after a big breakfast, by the time I felt hungry again it was nearly lunch time. Not wanting to ruin my appetite, I simply helped myself to a few good spoonful's of nut butter. Is there anything more satisfying than eating a spread straight from the jar?! My choice today was Mayvers Super Spread. OMG - this stuff is amazing. Check out the link to read about how great it is but more importantly, try some to see how delicious it is - I put it on everything!  

Dinner tonight was another of my favourite comfort foods - stir fry! I love a good home made stir fry full of fresh crunchy vegies served on a steaming hot pile of rice. Yummo. Click here for my original recipe including the simple honey and sesame sauce.

In finishing, I guess I better admit to my other little comforting indulgence over the past few days - a couple of sneaky Easter eggs when the kids have left their stash unguarded! It's not something I do very often anymore; eat sugar-filled, devilishly naughty chocolate, but boy have I enjoyed every little bit that I've had! The way I see it is the more I eat, the less the kids consume - it's my duty as a good parent... that's what I'm telling myself anyway!

X

Leah