How to Stay on Track this Silly Season

The Silly Season is upon us! This is the time of the year where all your hard work in the gym comes to fruition, only to be compromised by those festive Mince Pies, colourful Candy Canes and celebratory after-work drinks. It’s a fun time, an exciting time and in Australia, unfortunately, Christmas coincides with Summer. Which means, after your Christmas feasting and drinking, you will at some point have to expose those thighs or expanding belly in order to not die of heat stroke. Help is here! There is a way to avoid the dreaded Christmas belly, if you stick to a few simple rules. DRINK WATERDrink a glass between alcoholic beverages, and aim for around 2L of water over the day as well to stay hydrated. Had a bit too much to drink last night? Try a glass of water with a nip of apple cider vinegar or a squeeze of lemon in the morning to kick start that fresh feeling. MAINTAIN YOUR GOOD HABITSThose good habits you’ve built all year should be fairly easy to maintain over the silly season. Eat home cooked meals when you can. Include protein in every meal. Include vegetables in every meal. Try not to associate a good time with over-indulgence. Be prepared and meal prep if you know you have a massive week ahead. If you have parties to attend all weekend, just make your weeks immaculate with your nutrition and training.  Aim to get enough sleep to combat afternoon sugar cravings (6-9hrs). TRAINProbably one of the most important parts, don’t stop training just because it’s holidays. You may just have to juggle your time a little better and MAKE TIME to train. The best time I found to fit in training is first thing in the morning, as your events and catch ups with friends are more than likely in the afternoons. Why not have a catch up with a friend over a walk or exercise?? Exercise increases happy endorphins, burns calories and reduces stress. The perfect combo for the silly season. 80/20When at events, before grazing over those delectable platters, work out which ones you want or would enjoy the most, and which ones probably aren’t the healthiest so you aren’t just scoffing all of them. Stick to the seafoods, grilled meats, colourful salads, nuts and the protein dense options. Avoid deep fried foods. WALK IT OFFSpend time with your loved ones on a lovely walk before sitting down for hours eating and drinking. Wake up early and embrace the holidays with a morning stroll. Walk the dogs/babies/kids. Get out and about with accidental activity (hello Boxing Day Sales). I must agree, that in the end, if you haven’t put on a little weight over Christmas, did you really do Christmas right? ENJOY IT. See you next year for my next Challenge 🙂

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Introducing Solids REALITY CHECK

Although I had really good intentions to follow a amazing gut health protocol which is supposed to help with immunity, hyperactivity, dermatitis and other symptoms that can stem from the gut. Julian simply did not love it. Whether it was because he wasn’t ready (started at 4 months), or because the foods were given in a way he didn’t enjoy, I’m not sure. So we followed the gut health protocol for a good 4-6 weeks, I never needed to increase the amount of food we gave him (as it recommends) because he hardly ever finished the small amounts we started with. He really didn’t enjoy it in a puree on a spoon, so I ended up using a sarynge to squirt it into his mouth (basically force feeding, but he needed to put on weight). Julian loved the cod liver oil element of the plan. Instinctively, I knew we couldn’t continue on this plan exclusively if we wanted him to actually enjoy food as well as put on weight (which was why we started in the first place). So I started researching other avenues and kind of made up my own thing based on how Julian responded. I love following @boobtofood as she has some great ideas. I was also emailed a document on Babies First Foods by Kitchen Vitality which has many elements of the Gut Health Protocol, but also provided some great recipes too. So here is what I am actually doing, and Julian has just hit the 6 month mark, he is sitting up on his own and seems so much more interested in food now, which makes feeding him easier.  Here are some foods I feed him at any time of the day. No set time, but usually I wait at least 20mins after breastfeeding to give him something.  Banana chia seed pudding ( will post recipe)Banana whole (he loves to bite off chunks using his 2 bottom teeth it’s so cute)Avocado mashedSteamed veggies mashed with bone broth and butter or olive oil. Dippy eggs (with finger sized sourdough)Egg yolk still warm and runny from a boiled egg (loves this)Cod liver oil (Loves this so much)Anything I’m eating that’s not processed There it is. Way simpler. Less effort. And he seems to enjoy the process! I do plan on introducing some slow cooked meats and blend it into his veggies in the next month. There is one food I really want to try that babies are supposed to love, and that’s liver! Apparently if you shave raw liver on top of egg yolk babies just go crazy for it! I’ll keep you posted on that one. 

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Starting Solids

Now this was something I wasn’t prepared to start for 6 months!! But nearing 4 months, and I have been recommended to by my health nurse. Every 2 weeks I have Julian weighed and measured (this is recommended and is free in Australia) to keep track of his growth, health and milestones. He started off great, putting on heaps of weight and the nurses/midwives were happy. Although recently he has not been putting on enough weight. It’s recommended 150g a week, but he has only been putting on 150g every 2 weeks. It’s either from him being so active (he literally does not stop moving) or the possibility that I am not producing enough breastmilk. I tried for 2 weeks to feed him as much breastmilk as I could, I even tried formula (he HATED it) at night. But, unfortunately, nothing worked. I was hoping to start him on solids once he could sit up on his own (apparently its better for digestion), which now isn’t going to happen because I have one very hungry baby!! I have been sent many great recommendations from mummy friends and from my lovely followers, and I decided to start off with following a gut health protocol. Here is basically what I have done so far: Week 1: 1-2tsp organic chicken bone broth per day (just a slow cooked organic chicken with filtered water, then strained) Week 2: 1-2tsp organic chicken bone broth mixed with 1 tsp organic natural yoghurt per day Week 3: AM -2tsp organic chicken bone broth mixed with 1 tsp organic natural yoghurt per day PM – 0.5ml cod liver oil & 1tsp mashed avocado Week 4: AM – 2tsp organic chicken bone broth mixed with 1 tsp organic natural yoghurt per day MIDDAY – 1-2tsp pureed non-starchy veggies with 1tsp of fat (either butter, EVOO, Cod Liver Oil) & 1 tsp organic natural yoghurt PM – 0.5ml cod liver oil & 1tsp mashed avocado As I go on, I plan on increasing amounts of the foods I give him, as well as adding in some pureed boiled/slow cooked meats as well as organic egg yolk, pear puree and anything else I feel! EDIT: So far, I weighed him after 2 weeks following this, and success! He put on 145g each week! I am not really finding I need to increase his food amounts just yet, as he isn’t really that interested in food. I am just changing it up with the veggie purees I make. I actually tried egg yolk the other day and he LOVED IT! It was literally the only thing he has thoroughly enjoyed eating! I would love to know if there is anything you did with your bub and solids? Any tips? 🙂

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Collagen Banana Pancakes (husband approved!)

I LOVE pancakes. I have experimented with so many different recipes, and I may just have found my favourite one! The added bonus of collagen powder in these pancakes means so many extra health benefits! Collagen powder is tasteless, and a few of it’s health benefits are (if taken regularly): Helps to improve skin moisture and elasticity, improves joint and bone health and recent studies are showing it is great for your gut health too. This simple 6 ingredient recipe keeps your pancakes moist and tasty!! Serves 2 hungry adults. INGREDIENTS: 1 cup plain flour 1 cup milk 1 large egg 1 banana (riper the better) 1Tbsp collagen powder 3tsp Stevia or 1Tbsp pure maple syrup for sweetness Butter or olive oil for cooking METHOD: Put all ingredients in to a blender. Blend until smooth. Heat up 1/2 cup water in a pan for cooking until it’s almost boiled. Tip out water and reduce heat to medium (step 3 and 4 are optional, I find I don’t burn my pancakes when I boil water in the pan first). Weird but it works. Pop a little butter in the pan and let melt, then add your pancake batter. Cook one side until bubbles appear, then flip for another 30secs or so. Top with maple syrup or honey, or whatever your heart desires!! ENJOY!

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Healthy Fats Banana Bread

Moist, Delicious and Full of Healthy Fats. I am in my Second Trimester of pregnancy now, and ensuring I get enough fats in my diet is essential to keeping my skin supple, and also provides essential fats for my developing baby. This is so quick to put together, all you need to have ready to go are some ripe and spotty bananas. 10 minutes of mixing and you will have a yummy banana bread ready to bake! Prep Time: 10 mins Baking Time: 40-50mins INGREDIENTS: 1/3 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil or Avocado Oil 1/4 Cup Honey 4tsp Stevia 2 Large Eggs 2 Mashed Bananas 1/4 Cup Coconut Milk or Milk of Your Choice 1tsp baking soda 1tsp cinnamon 1tsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste 1 & 3/4 cups of plain or wholemeal flour 1Tbsp linseeds 1tsp chia seeds 1Tbsp dark choc chips (optional) METHOD Pre-heat oven to 165 degrees Celcius. Whisk up oil, honey and stevia until well mixed in a large bowl. Add the 2 eggs and mix again Add the mashed bananas (can have a few chunks) and milk and mix again. Add baking soda, cinnamon, vanilla extract/paste and mix. Now using a spatula, add the flour and mix well. Add linseeds and dark choc chips. Pour mixture into a loaf pan and sprinkle top with cinnamon, chia seeds and choc chips. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes. The bread is ready when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Turn out onto a cooling rack and allow to sit for 20 mins bbefore serving. I love this served with butter!

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Can’t Even – Meal Prep

We all have those days when you just can’t even. Some days, I am superwoman, I train, wash clothes, meal prep for me, meal prep for my husband, sweep the floor, re-organise the bookshelf, wash the cat. Other days, getting off the couch after work is a struggle, I just want to lie there covered in peanut butter and ice-cream. I used to love cooking, sometimes I still do. But meal prep is another story. Maths is required for meal prep (ew). Working out how many serves, how many veggies to throw in, do I have enough containers, dammit I forgot to get eggs! So much planning is required for meal prep. But those days, when the thought of grocery shopping and picking up a spatula are too much, here are some tips to get you sorted for the week. Boil Eggs – the perfect snack. great with a sprinkle of cheese Nuts – a small handful of nuts makes an awesome, good fat-filled snack. I prefer brazil nuts (5 or 6 keeps the hunger at bay) but pick your fave, throw it in a small container and take along to work. One-Pan it – chuck everything in a pan. My fave combos: Chicken, Chickpeas, brocollini and season with moroccan spices. Turkey mince, veges, taco seasoning (mexican anything is yum!). Beef mince, kidney beans, veges, chilli con carne seasoning. Double your Dinners – Upsize your dinners every night of the week and wallah! Lunch for tomorrow. Easy. Quiche it – grated zucchini, spinach, cherry tomatoes, eggs, basil. Chuck it all in a wallah, 20 minutes of baking and heaps of quiche!! Smoothie freezer bags – Freeze all your smoothie ingredients then chuck it in a blender with some milk/coconut water and you are good to go. Cook 2 x per week – Cook up on a Sunday then again on Wednesday so you aren’t doing as much prep on your weekend. Frozen Veggies – Frozen Diced onion changed my life and I no longer ball my eyes out every time I cook. My fave frozen go to veggies are spinach, peas, corn, kale and blueberries. Slow Cooker – chuck it all in in the morning and come home to a feast! Sunday Markets – yeah yeah…. only early morning risers and super organised people do Sunday markets. But market veggies last twice as long in the fridge as normal veggies from Woolies, buying from the markets also supports local farmers! Plus markets are usually open until 12pm, so get out of bed and give it a go. TIP: Protein in every meal (I mean, eggs, meat, tofu, legumes, or protein powder), will help you feel fuller for longer. I would love to know your go-tos when you simply cannot deal with Meal Prep 🙂 Sonijay  

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Social Media’s Distorted Reality

Today I was scrolling through my Instagram, and spotted one of my fitness idols sitting on the beach, looking lean, shredded, tanned and beautiful in her tiny bikini. Next to her was a protein shaker containing a fat burner. Her post was about how she was staying lean thanks to this fat burner…. is she serious? How misleading???!!! Fair enough they are probably paying her for the post, but she’s giving women a distorted reality of what it actually takes to get that lean. This chick recently competed in a body building competition so was still at a very low body fat percentage. Her diet would have been immaculate for months leading up to her compettion, and her body 1 week post competition would still be almost just as lean as she was stepping on stage (for those who don’t know how lean, 10-15% Body Fat). I am saddened that she is basically discrediting her 6 months of hard work, sweat and determination by saying she’s lean thanks to a fat burner. Statistically, supplementation accounts for a mere 1 or 2 % (if that) of performance or body composition (think, if you are on a 2000cal diet, thats only 20 calories!!). Most fat burners (if legal by the FDA) in the majority of studies come up short when it comes to containing an evidence based amount of substance to elicit a therapeutic benefit. She’s lean because she probably has great eating habits, high metabolism, plenty of lean muscle and has just competed in a body building competition. She’s lean because she’s conditioned to be lean. At the end of the day, remember: Instagram posts can be misleading. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t waste your money on fat burners or supps unless you are also investing your money in a good gym program and good nutrition. There are no magic bullets .. nothing can be found in a pill that a shit ton of hard training and long calorie restriction can’t do when it comes to lean body composition…  I would love to be proven wrong on this. On another note – https://thebutterflyfoundation.org.auSeptember 3-9 is the Butterfly Foundations promotion of “love you body week for schools” – the impressionable age where students can promote positive body image and  build body confidence … unfortunately all IG images like this don’t promote health, let’s learn to love our bodies and appreciate what they can do for us without thinking we need pills to get lean and feel good about ourselves.

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How to Change

So you want to lose 5kg, or 10kg, or simply just start eating healthy. All of these things take commitment, desire and behaviour change. Are you are the type of person who goes all or nothing? You are either found in the gym on some crazy detox, sweating hard and praising kale for it’s amazing health benefits, or you can be found sitting in your bedroom, sweating, and surrounded by MnMs, chocolate, cookies and chips..? This is the article for you. One of my best friends sparked this one. You can thank her. She’s the type of woman who when she decides to do something, she will go 100% effort, all or nothing. She puts her mind, body and soul into whatever she decides to do. She is amazing. But, with one downfall. When she’s good, she’s good. And when she’s bad, she’s bad. For example, when she’s good, she will research every single vitamin, and then find all the fruits and veggies containing each vitamin and make sure she’s eating all of them. She will down concoctions of apple cider vinegar, lemon and cayenne pepper in the mornings, and go the gym like a crazy person. When she’s bad, she will binge eat until she’s sick. Chocolates, chips, maccas, brownies, milkshakes for hours on end. Then complain about how bloated she is, then a couple of hours later she’s planning what bad foods she will eat next. It’s a crazy cycle. It’s nice to have balance. Not to stress over your food. Stop thinking so much about food, and think about nourishing your cells. What you eat, actually gets broken down, and is used by the body to make new cells, which turn into your skin, organs, hair, nails etc. You really are what you eat. Your body is made up of trillions of cells, yes trillions. The average adult body must make 300 million cells every day to replace old cells! When you physically open your mouth to put nutrients in your body, think, is this what I want to be made of? On that note, if you find you need to change ALOT to become the healthy version of yourself. You don’t need to commit all at once. If you need to start a new exercise program, change your breakfast, eat more veggies, drink more water, fill in a food diary, as well as tackle your work load, do the washing, study etc, you might be setting yourself up for failure, if you change everything all at once. Try to implement just one thing. For example, if my all-or-nothing girlfriend decided she wanted to become a healthier version of herself, she should have probably simply started with committing to drink her apple cider vinegar concoction every day for the first week. Then the next week, add in some more veggies in her lunches and dinners. The week after, start the gym program, and drink more water during training sessions. The week after that, changing her breakfast option to a better one… and before she knows it, she’s doing it easily, and it’s all becoming a habit. She is transforming into the healthier version of herself without all the stressful instant changes. She may find it’s easier to maintain, and is actually enjoying it! So the next time you embark on a crazy “I need to lose 5kg in 4 weeks” Diet, maybe sit back, and ask yourself, what small changes can I make to get me closer to this goal, without crash dieting? Embrace the journey of change, what’s the rush?

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This is Why you aren’t a Morning Person.

These days I bounce out of bed, at 4:30am. I kiss my fiance, wash my face, down some kombucha & coffee and head into work. I never used to be an early riser, I used to love sleeping, slowly rising while the sun peaked through the blinds…until I chose a career that required me to get up at 4am. The sun is NEVER up at 4am. It’s still night-time at 4am. The body does not naturally wake up at that time. EVER. I used to get so angry when my alarm went off at 3:55am, I would hit snooze 2-3 times before angrily rising, cursing myself for choosing such a career. That continued for a few months, until I learned behaviours that set me up for an awesome sleep, and an easier rising. Setting yourself up the day before is THE MOST IMPORTANT STEP. Here are a few things I do every day which I find contribute to feeling fresh and vibrant the next morning: Drink 2-3L of water Exercise or move daily at least 10,000 steps Take a good magnesium supplement before bed Limit refined sugars & alcohol (super important on weekdays) Make sure I am in my bedroom 8-9 hours before I need to wake up No bright lights (warm bedside lamp only) 10-30 mins before bed I also find that certain routines in the morning will also set me up for a great morning at work. I start work at 5:30am. I make sure I wake an hour before I start so that I am completely awake and alert. Here are my tips for a better morning routine: Get up earlier. Having more time in the morning means you can calmly get up and get ready without the unnecessary stress and rush. Scenario one: 3rd alarm goes off, sit up in a fright realising you only have 20 minutes to get ready and leave for work. Quickest shower, sloshing water over the necessary bits, quick brush of the teeth, scramble around for clean clothes, throw your hair up, grab your work bag and head out the door, doing your make-up in the car or on the bus. No time for breakfast. Buy a coffee and a toastie on the way to work. Adrenalin and cortisol (stress) pumping from the second you wake up. Scenario two: Alarm goes off and you wake feeling bright and alive. Bounce out of bed excited for breakfast. Take a cold shower for 30 seconds to get the blood pumping, before turning to warm water for a nice warming lather up. Time to wash the hair, time to add a hair mask, floss the teeth, brush your teeth, put on moisturiser. Calmly get ready for work while sipping on your morning coffee, grateful for the calmness you feel today. Then sit down to a nutritious breakfast, before bounding out the door to take on your day. Which of these scenarios appeal to you? I know which one I prefer. Practice Gratitude. I have a reminder set on my phone to go off at 5am, 3 times per week. This reminder will buzz at me while I am getting ready for work, and it simply asks: What are you grateful for today? Somedays I can only manage to be grateful for my coffee, and other days I delve deeper into my gratitude for my family, life events etc. I have found that by practicing gratefulness for 1 minute in my mornings really helps to set my mindset for the day. Coffee. Big one for anyone who struggles to talk to people in the morning. Make a cup, chill out for 10mins (not on your phone). Be in the moment. Play music. Pump on some beats that make you smile,sing or bop. If you aren’t into music maybe put on a podcast and learn something while you are getting ready/driving to work. No Social Media. Try not to look at social media, emails, TV or messages until you have been awake for at least 30 minutes. Say good morning to your spouse, dog, family or housemates first. Don’t press snooze. Ok so this is a hard one for me too. You always think that extra 5-10 minutes is going to make you feel so much better, but once you are in the habit of getting up straight away, it’ll be so much easier. Why not use the extra 10 minutes to set your day up? Have the time to actually eat breakfast, make your lunch, put a load of washing on, read an extra page in your book. Once I tried to see how much stuff I could get done in the 90 seconds it took to cook my oats in the microwave. I unstacked the dishwasher, wiped the benches & got my lunch out of the fridge. Man, you can get alot done in 90 seconds, imagine how much you can do in the extra 10 minutes! Exercise in the morning. Go for a walk, lift some weights, practice yoga or whatever activity you enjoy. Get the body moving, it will thank you for it by releasing happy endorphins. If you hate the mornings, and aren’t trying any of this, give it a go, I would love to know if you can turn it around.

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