Believe
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Fun runs! Yeah, I used to think they were oxymorons. Until I became a semi-serious runner, and ran my first race when Star was 10 months old. Three years and another baby later, I’m ready for a repeat of the race, and then a stab at a half-marathon later in the year.

BelieveIt’s going to take a bit of training to get there, though I’m managing a 10km run at the moment – but my endurance has suffered. My training will be interrupted by a snowboarding trip to Hokkaido, Japan (woot woot!), leaving me five weeks after our return to literally get back up to speed.

The Run 4 the Kids race is a splendid course, leading runners over the magnificent Bolte Bridge in Melbourne, and through the Domain Tunnel. Proceeds from fundraising go to the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne, a place very dear to us as Star will go there this year for a heart procedure.

I’ve created a training program for myself based on Hal Higdon’s programs. Hal was one of the first ever writers to contribute to Runner’s World magazine and has written countless books on running. His Novice program was too easy and his Intermediate too difficult – so I’ve created a little hybrid program for myself, incorporating some speedwork into the Novice program. I’ve rejigged the days on which I run to suit my work and family schedule. On Mondays I work from home and will do my long runs. Tuesdays are a rest day, Wednesdays are a day for a 5K run and strength training. I will alternate cross-training (swimming, walking to work or a pram walk/run) and yoga/pilates on Thursdays and Fridays depending on whether or not I have the kids on the Thursday or go to work. (My schedule changes every week). Saturdays is speedwork day – either a tempo run (run faster in the middle of the run) or sprints (ouch!) Sundays is another cross-training day. Rinse and repeat, just with different times, and mileages. I’ll be posting my progress as I go along, so watch this space and enjoy the journey! You can check out my Jutsu (action plan) which details my training program, and feel free to create a Jutsu of your own (A plug for hubby’s fantastic new website and app!)

Today was my 5K run and strength (ok I’m yet to do the strength bit). I’m just back from a ten day trip away during which I didn’t run at all but I went for long walks twice a week and did HIIT workouts every day. It was a good re-introduction to running. I’m energised and looking forward to the next ten weeks!

Born-To-RunPhoto credits: http://runningquotes.net/page/2

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The mighty Thermie
Photo: http://throughmylookingglass.me/10-reasons-why-i-need-a-thermomix/
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I love cooking. I used to pore over Gourmet Travellers every weekend, planning elaborate meals from exotic cuisines. Thinking about cooking, planning our meals, and then spending hours in the kitchen creating my masterpiece used to bring me great pleasure.

Example of a meal I used to cook - Neil Perry's duck ragu with fresh papardelle (Photo: http://www.abc.net.au/tv/cookandchef/txt/s2638948.htm)
Example of a meal I used to cook – Neil Perry’s duck ragu with fresh papardelle (Photo: http://www.abc.net.au/tv/cookandchef/txt/s2638948.htm)

Fast forward three years, and my experience of cooking is somewhat different post children. Now I cook in the half hour between the time Play School starts and finishes. I run the risk of being interrupted at any time by a dirty nappy, sibling fight, a baby having separation anxiety or a three-year-old deciding to flood the bathroom with water. Not to mention my children viewing my osso bucco with a healthy degree of suspicion, and demanding plain pasta only. It’s not what it used to be.

Example of what I would cook now - teddy bear pasta (as if kids need to be enticed to eat carbs...)
Example of what I would cook now – teddy bear pasta (as if kids need to be enticed to eat carbs…)

Earlier this year, shortly after Owl was born, my darling husband gave me the gift of Thermomix. Being a Thermie owner is like being part of a cult. Everyone thinks you are slightly loony, keeps asking you how the bloody thing works and is somewhat bemused that you would part with over $1900 for a household appliance. In return you keep saying things like “It’s the best thing that ever happened to my kitchen!” or “I love making my own yoghurt!” and sounding like a never-ending advertisement for good old Thermie.

I get asked about it a lot, so I thought I’d share my thoughts on my Thermie :)

The mighty Thermie Photo: http://throughmylookingglass.me/10-reasons-why-i-need-a-thermomix/
The mighty Thermie
Photo: http://throughmylookingglass.me/10-reasons-why-i-need-a-thermomix/

1. It’s probably worth the money

Thermie is a versatile instrument. Basically a food processor that also cooks and stirs your food while you put your feet up (or change that nappy). It never ceases to amaze me how many appliances people have hidden away in their kitchens that they admit to hardly ever using. Thermie replaces the following appliances, and the total cost of the items below comes up to around $1800. Plus you save on a tonne of space.

Kitchen Aid stand mixer $650
Food processor $200
Breadmaker $180
Juicer $300
Blender $200
Ice cream maker $150
Kitchen scales $25
Slow cooker $100

2. It’s hands-free cooking

A real boon for mums, who have to respond to little emergencies all the time. How many times have you come close to burning the house down because you forgot something on the stove? Thermie happily cooks and stirs for you, and then stops cooking once the timer stops. I love making bolognaise sauce, as Thermie chops the onions and garlic, sautees them, browns the mince and then cooks the sauce into a beautiful sauce that my kids are happy to eat for days on end. I do vegetable stir-fries using Thermie with pleasing results.

3. It’s quick

Forget slow cooking, how about fast induction cooking for time-poor mums! Thermie cooks a mean stew in about 20-30 minutes with melt-in-your-mouth results. Kneading dough takes a tiny fraction of the time. As does beating butter and eggs for cakes.

4. It’s mess free

Because you prepare and cook in the one utensil, there is only one thing to wash at the end of the day, and it’s dead easy to clean. Thermie’s jug goes in the dishwasher, or is easily cleaned with a dishbrush and some detergent. Or 20 seconds of “self cleaning” on fast whizzing mode gets it pretty clean with only a rinse needed afterwards.

5. It’s somewhat healthier…in some ways

Thermie owners delight in making their own ingredients from scratch. You know, things like butter, yoghurt, grinding your own wholewheat grains into flour, etc. This may or may not improve your health! On the downside, there could be the temptation to create all these absolutely delicious and calorie-laden treats like your own brioche, pastry, ice-cream and desserts. On the up side, by doing things from scratch you can eke out a healthier life. Mince your own meat and you’re eating proper lean meat instead of random dodgy bits of fat and god knows what else that goes into regular mince. I make ice-cream and reduce the sugar content by 50%. You can control the amount of salt that goes into your bread, and avoid using unneccesary preservatives and additives in your jams or what have you. Just go easy on the brioche…

Gratuitous ice-cream shot Photo: http://www.123rf.com/photo_1296688_yogurt-and-chocolate-ice-cream-in-a-bowl-close-up.html
Gratuitous ice-cream shot
Photo: http://www.123rf.com/photo_1296688_yogurt-and-chocolate-ice-cream-in-a-bowl-close-up.html

6. It’s so. Much. Fun.

{Information |Description= Strawberry Daiquiri, yum. |Source=[http://www.flickr.com/photos/88903556@N00/75462673/ Start the Day...] |Date=December 11, 2005 at 03:12 |Author=[http://www.flickr.com/people/88903556@N00 Elektra Noelani Fisher] from London, E
{Information |Description= Strawberry Daiquiri, yum. |Source=[http://www.flickr.com/photos/88903556@N00/75462673/ Start the Day…] |Date=December 11, 2005 at 03:12 |Author=[http://www.flickr.com/people/88903556@N00 Elektra Noelani Fisher] from London, E
Frozen daiquiris. Need I say more?

7. Some people think you could save money.

I like making my own yoghurt. At $1 a kg, I save $5 per week, or $250 a year. Bread costs $2 less to make. Ice-cream is a fraction of the cost. Chicken liver pate? Snort! It costs me $2 for enough pate to feed an army. But while the actual work that goes into making bread or yoghurt is minimal, it does involve waiting around for dough to rise, and yoghurt to cool. I’m about to become a full time working and studying mama, and I am not sure I can justify that time, or rather the energy (I have been known to set my alarm so I can wake up and finish making the yoghurt at night!!)

Does Thermie do everything? No, it doesn’t bake, it doesn’t dice or slice (it chops and minces more than anything) and I find the jug is a tad too small – adequate for a four person meal, but without much left over that could be frozen.

However, for a busy mum, Thermie can be a life saver. I may not be creating any gourmet meals in the near future, but with Thermie I can get a meal on the table in thirty minutes, with time to clean up and bath the kids in between. And, when I feel like it, whip up some green tea ice cream and a cheeky strawberry daiquiri… 😉

 

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coffee1
Happy Monday! Today is the day most of you will be returning to work after the Christmas/New Year break. Chances are you’re clutching your cup of caffeine right now, and feeling somewhat guilty for relying on your short black to get you through the day. Well I bring you good tidings (for a change) by letting you know about ten ways that moderate consumption of coffee may be good for your health. (Heavy coffee consumption, that is more than 4 coffees a day, is linked to a greater risk of death). So sit back, take another sip and read on!

1. Drinking coffee may prevent stroke

Photo: http://www.ilovecoffeebook.com/coffeeArt.html
Photo: http://www.ilovecoffeebook.com/coffeeArt.html

A meta-analysis of 11 studies and almost half a billion subjects has concluded that drinking 1-3 cups of coffee a day lowers the risk of stroke. Heavy coffee consumption had no impact on stroke risk. This is reassuring, because it has been suggested that coffee consumption increases cholesterol levels, but this does not seem to impact on risk of stroke.

2. Drinking coffee may help prevent dementia
coffee-smell-wake-up-glade-best-feelings-ecards-someecards
A small study suggests that drinking 3-5 cups of coffee a day may prevent progression to dementia, if you already have a mild cognitive impairment. Researchers think this may be because of certain properties of coffee that prevent the production of deposits in the brain that can cuase dementia. However, researchers aren’t sure yet if drinking coffee is the protective factor, or if there is something about coffee drinking that is protective eg. lower blood pressure levels, lower risk of depression etc.

3. Drinking coffee may help prevent diabetes

Photo: http://themetapicture.com/cant-stop/
Photo: http://themetapicture.com/cant-stop/

Two systematic reviews suggest that drinking 2-4 cups of coffee a day reduces the risk of developing diabetes. However, this research was sponsored by the coffee industry. And if you’re having the muffin of the day with every coffee, you can kiss your reduced risk of diabetes goodbye.

4. Drinking coffee might make you happier

Photo: http://i261.photobucket.com/albums/ii58/katcake_777/funny-pictures781.jpg
Photo: http://i261.photobucket.com/albums/ii58/katcake_777/funny-pictures781.jpg

A large study concluded that drinking coffee is linked to a lower risk of depression while drinking soft drink, especially diet soft drink, increases depression risk. Oh sweet cup of happiness!

5. Drinking coffee may prevent heart failure

Photo: http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2743/4170322237_53bf6ee734_z.jpg
Photo: http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2743/4170322237_53bf6ee734_z.jpg

A meta-analysis suggests that drinking 2-4 cups of coffee a day prevents heart failure in healthy people.

6. Drinking coffee may help prevent prostate cancer
coffee2
Two studies suggest that drinking coffee can help prevent prostate cancer, especially lethal prostate cancer, and reduce the recurrence and progression of prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death (after lung cancer) in men, so this finding is significant.

7. Drinking coffee may help prevent endometrial cancer
Rottenecards_56347440_wj4xw8cb3d
And one for the ladies, drinking 4 cups of coffee a day has been linked to a lower risk of endometrial (uterine) cancer.

8. Drinking coffee may be good for your liver
Rottenecards_45797247_vhzks6vjp8Research suggests that coffee drinkers have a lower risk of chronic liver disease and liver cancer, however researchers do not know why this is, although there is speculation that the antioxidants in coffee may be the key.

9. Drinking coffee may prevent Parkinson’s disease
Rottenecards_85741680_3369zxmxxb
Research shows that coffee drinking is linked to a lower risk of Parkinson’s disease in both men and women.

10. And drinking coffee does not result in more fractures for menopausal women.

Photo: http://allthingsfabulousblog.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/drinkcoffee.jpg
Photo: http://allthingsfabulousblog.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/drinkcoffee.jpg

Good news for menopausal women again – even though drinking coffee may lead to a small decrease in bone density, this does not seem to translate to a higher risk of fractures, according to a large study.

So there you have it – ten reasons you should feel a little less guilty about drinking that heavenly brew. Bear in mind that the majority of research quoted has only established the links between coffee drinking and health benefits, and has not yet explored the reasons for these links. And that coffee drinking can be detrimental to your health – it can cause insomnia, anxiety, tremors and withdrawal symptoms. Pregnant women should minimise caffeine intake as much as possible, as there are links to fetal growth restriction and other serious consequences. For the rest of us unpregnant folks, enjoy your cuppa (or two of three…) and have a great week!

 

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Get the lycra out!
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AAerobic_exercise_-_public_demonstration07.jpg

So it’s the last day of the year, and we’re all recovering from the silly season with its accompanying drinking, feasting and post-lunch snoozes on the couch. In response to popular request (ok, my husband’s feedback) I’m departing from my usual women-focussed posts and have drawn up a list of New Year’s health resolutions that men should be making. This list also applies to women, of course, but I’m targeting the blokes because of research that consistently demonstrates men to be the less healthy sex. Men don’t live as long as women do, are more likely to engage in unhealthy behaviours such as smoking and binge-drinking, and present less often to their doctors. Married men, you can take some comfort in the fact that being married is associated with better health outcomes overall, but you guys appear to be heavier than your non-married counterparts! Time to take a few simple steps to avoid being a statistic, and have a healthier and happier 2014!

1. Do more exercise

Get the lycra out! http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AAerobic_exercise_-_public_demonstration07.jpg
Get the lycra out!
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AAerobic_exercise_-_public_demonstration07.jpg

This may seem fairly obvious, but it appears that two thirds of men over 25 do not do enough exercise. This increases the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and all its complications (including cancers), diabetes, depression, bowel cancer… and… (drum roll) impotence. Yep, that’s right, use it or lose it, on several levels. Go train, guys.

Do it for the ladiez.....  http://web.archive.org/web/20080202213511/http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/image1.nsf/Lookup/200572675630
Do it for the ladiez…..
http://web.archive.org/web/20080202213511/http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/image1.nsf/Lookup/200572675630

2. Stand up at work

Is your office chair making you sick?
Is your office chair making you sick?

No, not to your boss (unless it’s come to that…) but stand, at your desk. While being employed in general has significant mental and physical health benefits, having a sedentary job is increasingly being associated with poor health outcomes including obesity, heart disease and cancers. Preliminary research suggests that standing for three hours a day at your desk may improve these outcomes. (I couldn’t locate the published article for this small study, but have referenced the very scientific website Lifehacker…)

Photo: By Paul Robinson (Own work) [LGPL (http://www.gnu.org/licenses/lgpl.html), GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

3. Be mindful

SungazingWhile depression is more common in women, men are less likely to present for treatment and more likely to suffer from serious depression. Preserving your moods starts with attention to the basics, like eating well, maintaining a social network, and exercising regularly. Antidepressants and psychological therapies may also be needed, and one psychological therapy gaining popularity because of its simplicity is mindfulness based therapy. Drawing its roots from Buddhist meditation, mindfulness invites us to bring our attention back into the present moment and observe, without making judgements, what we are doing and feeling at the very time. Ever find yourself going on “autopilot” and not noticing where you are or what you were doing, even forgetting how you got from one place to another? Mindfulness is the antidote to this. Mindfulness based therapy has been shown to be a highly effective treatment for depression. For more information visit the Centre for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health care and Society’s website.

4. Watch your alcohol intake

By Len Rizzi (photographer) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
By Len Rizzi (photographer) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
 Who doesn’t love a bevvy – especially at the end of a hard day, or at a celebration? However, more than one third of males aged 20-29yo drink at risky levels… and the cold hard facts about the effects of excess alcohol are sobering, including increased risk of some cancers, injuries, and reduced fertility. More importantly, it can cause impotence, and loss of male sexual charactistics like facial and chest hair. So if you want to keep the hair on your chest, keep your drinking below 4 standard drinks a day, and aim for 2 alcohol free days a week. For a list of standard drink measures, see below.

http://www.nhmrc.gov.au/_files_nhmrc/file/your_health/healthy/alcohol/std-drinks-large.jpg
http://www.nhmrc.gov.au/_files_nhmrc/file/your_health/healthy/alcohol/std-drinks-large.jpg

5. Be an engaged dad

Photo: http://www.singleblackmale.org/2013/06/05/fathers-day-2013/
Photo: http://www.singleblackmale.org/2013/06/05/fathers-day-2013/

This one isn’t so much for men’s health as for the health and happiness of their offspring. I must say the vast majority of dads I know today are fantastic fathers. They are “hands on” dads, make a great effort to spend quality time with their children, and are overall taking an active part in raising their children. Being involved in your children’s lives has the potential to have enormous benefits for them (and for you!) It has been shown to increase socio-ecoonomic and academic functioning and reduce undesirable outcomes such as teenage pregnancy, deliquency and substance abuse. No need to lock your daughters up in an ivory tower – just be a present dad! Check out the Fatherhood Institute for more information and ideas. (PS. your wife/partner will love you for it too!)

So there you go – that’s my potted guide to a 2014 filled with health, happiness, happy families, happy wives, healthy bedroom shenanigans and enough hair on your chest! Have a good one and Happy New Year 😀

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It’s the day for my long run and last night was a shocker with one child sick with gastro and the other one waking countless times for no particular reason. Sound familiar? Being a parent and keeping up with exercise routines is frequently challenging because of the sleep habits of our little angels. Have faith – research suggests that exercise performance after sleep deprivation does not seem to be affected, but this may depend on the time of day that you work out or compete. In three separate studies involving both males and females, several preceding nights of partial sleep deprivation (averaging 2h sleep a night for 3 nights – sound familiar?!), no differences in gross motor performance or strength was noted. That is, the subjects ran and cycled just as fast as they did at baseline testing. However, in one study involving women, the subjects found it harder to exercise in the morning rather than in the evening.

It’s not all good though. Deterioration in other functions like reaction time and hand steadiness were noted, as well as affecting “mood states, increasing depression, tension, confusion, fatigue and anger, while decreasing vigour significantly”. In studies that involved total sleep deprivation (that is, no sleep at all for one or more nights), “bizarre behavioural episodes, illusions or hallucinations were often noted” as well as significant effects on mood. So it seems that even though our purely physical functions remain intact, it may feel harder to get motivated and to keep going through exercise.

What do we take from this? Two things, in my opinion. Firstly, that we don’t have to skip a training session just because we didn’t get our eight hours the night before. Let’s face it, sleep deprivation is a scenario that is more common than not when you are parents of small children, and to frequently skip a session may not be in our best interests. Exercise has been demonstrated to improve mood, cure depression, and improve sleep – so you’ll feel better after your workout and sleep better (when you do get some sleep!).

Secondly, sleep deprivation can have some very serious effects on our thinking and moods. Do whatever it takes to get more sleep – get your partner to help out the next night (one recovery sleep can restore all your functions, apparently), phone the sleep school, see if you can wing a nap during the day at all.

So what did I do this morning? Well I can definitely contest to having a change in mood, and fatigue! But I decided to head out the door, because it was a beautiful day and my babysitter (Mum) was around – an opportunity difficult to pass up. It wasn’t easy, but I told myself I just needed to get through 8km and not the 10K I usually do. I managed 9km and took 10 seconds longer per km than usual. I felt great post-workout of course, and snuck in a nap in the afternoon. Here’s to hoping for a silent night tonight and happy sleeping munchkins! :)

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imageSome of you have expressed dismay at my public service announcement about Christmas lunch. Fear not, fellow merrymakers! You don’t need to do much to burn off that extra piece of trifle. How about twenty five minutes today and twenty five tomorrow? In the comfort of your own homes? That means you can have the trifle AND the pav and be back to square one!

I’m a huge fan of the Fit Mum aka Colette McShane, and I know lots of you are too. I love her workouts, which are tough, challenging, and keep me interested. You will have already read what I think about HIIT, how it might be more effective than continuous moderate intensity exercise and how it works to burn calories long after you’ve finished your last pushup. Colette’s workouts do not require any equipment, burn around 200-300 calories and are actually really fun! I love her Fitmum 300, Spartan 500 and the latest, the Xmas day workout. Which I’ve just completed. Pass the pavlova, please! So there you go, train hard and enjoy yourself tomorrow :)

 

Photo credit: http://christmasstockimages.com/free/objects/slides/isolated_diagonal_cracker.htm

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http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/30977/christmas+trifle
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There is dessert and then there is Nutella cheesecake...
There is dessert and then there is Nutella cheesecake…

Ho ho ho! It’s that time of year again – time for too much good food, lots of beverages and of course, much dessert. And who can go past Nigella (that evil genius!) when it comes to dessert, especially her sinfully easy Nutella cheesecake? Two blocks of cream cheese, whiz together with one jar of Nutella, that’s right, one jar and you have heaven in a springform tin. I tried to make a healthy version but have declared defeat. It’s definitely a once a year dessert, and what better time of the year than Christmas?

I calculated that it took me an hour’s running to burn off one slice (1/12th) of the cheesecake (450 cals). So in the interests of helping you all not turn into versions of the jolly man in the red suit by New Year’s Eve, here is a list of the usual Christmas goodies and how many calories, that is, how much exercise, it will take you to burn it off. (Two or three extra workouts for me this week I think!) Happy eating, but also happy training!

One hour of running (almost 10km) = 450 calories
One hour of running (almost 10km) = 450 calories
25 minute interval run (hill sprints) = 293 calories
25 minute interval run (hill sprints) = 293 calories

Entrees

http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/26311/prawn+cocktails+with+smoky+mayonnaise
http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/26311/prawn+cocktails+with+smoky+mayonnaise

Potato chips (crisps) 1 single serve packet = 93 calories

Prawn cocktail 1 bowl = 300 calories

6 Oysters Kilpatrick = 300 calories

9 Jatz biscuits = 120 calories

Mains

turkey5 (2)Potato salad 1 cup = 140 calories

Coleslaw 1 cup = 220 calories

One baked potato = 280 calories

Roast turkey, one serve thigh meat with skin = 140 calories

Roast pork with crackling and stuffing, one serve = 300 calories

Lobster tail with butter = 190 calories

Ham, 2 slices = 160 calories

Dessert

http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/30977/christmas+trifle
http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/30977/christmas+trifle

Pavlova, 1 slice = 200 calories

Trifle, 1 cup = 300 calories

Nutella cheesecake, 1 slice = 450 calories

Christmas pudding, 1 slice = 300 calories

Drinkies

By Len Rizzi (photographer) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
By Len Rizzi (photographer) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
White wine, 1 glass = 128 calories

Beer/cider, 1 stubby = 140 calories

Vodka and lemonade, 1 glass = 180 calories

Stick to these options for a healthier Christmas lunch – enjoy!

By Guido (Flickr: Pacific oysters) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Guido (Flickr: Pacific oysters) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
6 Oysters, natural = 57 calories

10 Cooked prawns, no sauce = 60 calories

Lobster tail, no butter = 90 calories

Smoked salmon, 50 g = 90 calories

Green salad, 1 cup = 60 calories

Sauteed green beans, 1 cup = 114 calories

Bubbles (sparkling wine), 1 flute = 80 calories

Fruit salad, 1 cup = 80 calories

Happy eating and drinking, and merry Christmas everyone! :)

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photo 2
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photo 2So it’s almost Christmas, apparently, and I always feel the need to give small presents to my work colleagues and supervisors, and somehow I feel the need for these to be home made. Yeah that’s right, I am insane! So at 10:30pm last night I threw together whatever I had in the cupboards and made these gorgeous little “almost paleo” truffles, which I modified from Jo Whitton’s popular Quirky Eating blog. Jo’s recipe for Raw Cacao Treat balls is sugar free, but I felt like adding some (sugar-laden) chocolate to my truffles, so that’s why they’re not strictly Paleo… but they do pack a good punch of protein, so they’re kind of healthy! I added Kahlua just because I could…

Ingredients

90g dark cooking chocolate (Would have loved to have added “real” dark chocolate!)

90g pitted dates

180g almond meal/almonds

3 tbsp tahini

splash of maple syrup

teaspoon of vanilla essence

100g Kahlua (or whatever tipple you fancy – rum, Baileys, Cointreau…)

40g cocoa powder (Jo uses cacao)

Method

Throw everything into your Thermomix, or food processor, whichever you possess in your kitchen. (Yes I do have a Thermie and I love it – that’s a whole blog post in itself!) This is what it looks like half way through the blending – I blended on speed 9 for 40 seconds then had to scrape down and do another 30 seconds… Just blend until it’s nice and smooth :)

photo 4Then roll into balls, put in fridge and enjoy the extra Kahlua/rum because you’ve been a good girl/boy…

photo 3
Did I mention I love my Thermie?

The next morning, package up your little treats… I love these little gift bags from Ikea.

photo 1Too easy! Merry Christmas everyone! :)

 

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http://chattahbox.com/science/2009/11/07/babies-cry-in-accents-heard-in-the-womb/
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http://chattahbox.com/science/2009/11/07/babies-cry-in-accents-heard-in-the-womb/
http://chattahbox.com/science/2009/11/07/babies-cry-in-accents-heard-in-the-womb/

Having a baby is a wonderful and frightening thing. You are sent home with a tiny person who seems to need so much care and attention. You’re completely in love, but it can seem overwhelming. And while we all know babies cry, some babies cry A LOT. About 30% of babies will have “excessive crying”, the type that can last for hours, and cannot be soothed. This is incredibly frustrating, heartbreaking, and bewildering for parents. Aren’t we all told that babies “only cry for a reason” and all they need is milk and cuddles? Then there is the sense that you must be doing something wrong, because other babies don’t cry the way yours does.

My daughter (I’ll call her Star) was one of those excessively crying infants. The crying (or screaming, rather) started at four weeks and ended at nine weeks, quite suddenly. It often lasted hours, and one day she cried for EIGHT HOURS. I am not kidding! In between she was flourishing and was adorable, of course.

She wasn’t a chucker, so “reflux” wasn’t diagnosed. However, this seems to be a very common diagnosis these days in unsettled babies. While some babies undoubtedly do suffer inflammation and pain from reflux, in the most case a “spitter-upper” is not crying because of reflux. Studies have demonstrated that episodes of crying are not related to episodes of reflux. There is little evidence to support the use of popular anti-acid medications like Losec, with studies showing that babies do not become less unsettled or cry less on these medicines. Yet reflux continues to be a convenient label for an unhappy baby.

I came across a wonderful new website called “The Purple Crying period“, which I highly recommend to all parents with crying babies. Written by paediatricians and child psychologist researchers, it provides a reassuring, balanced and evidence-based approach to the crying baby. The website presents the excessive crying period as a normal part of infancy, and discusses some of the common techniques to calm babies such as swaddling, white noise, movement, baby-wearing etc. The experts make the point, which has been confirmed in clinical studies, that there is no one magic technique that works all the time. Time helps, with the excessive crying abating by 3-4 months. In the vast majority of cases, babies are perfectly healthy and are free of disease. However, all babies should be examined by a doctor if they are crying excessively, especially if they are unwell, not gaining weight, or have symptoms like fever, vomiting and diarrhea.

www.purplecrying.info
www.purplecrying.info

Parents of babies who cry excessively are more prone to depression, stress and anxiety. It’s vital to understand that it’s “normal” or usual for babies to cry like this, and that it does not reflect parenting abilities. All too often parents are accused of being “too stressed” about their babies, indicating that relaxed parents don’t have crying babies. If your baby cried for hours on end at any time of day, of course you would be stressed! Stress is usually the result of, and not the cause of, the excessive crying – but in the same token, mums and dads need to pay attention to self care and seek help if they are struggling.

When parenting gets tough, take time to have a cup of tea with friends.  http://www.mfa.org/collections/object/the-tea-32829
When parenting gets tough, take time to have a cup of tea with friends.
http://www.mfa.org/collections/object/the-tea-32829

It does come to an end, of course, but I remember those days and nights as though they were yesterday. I believe it served a purpose – to make me stronger; to acquaint me with the myriad of techniques that can help soothe babies (white noise, jiggling the baby, positioning, I know it all!) and most importantly, create compassion and empathy for other parents. Hang in there to all of you doing it tough. It WILL end. :)

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Everybody put your hands in the air...
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Everybody put your hands in the air...
Everybody put your hands in the air…

I have been on a diet for a couple of years. A media diet. I avoid watching the news, reading about it, and all newspapers in general. My mental health has improved and I have more time to devote to more interesting pursuits than reading about who died in the latest high-speed car accident.

The only news I get is filtered through (ahem) Facebook, family and friends, and my patients. Recently one of my patients showed me a new app, called “Seven”. This groovy little app takes you through 12 exercises using the principles of body weight resistance training and high intensity interval training. It has a timer for the 30 second intervals and reminds you every day to work out (with the sound of a whistle). The creators have even attempted to turn it into a little game, with hearts to be lost, and new workouts to be unlocked.

It seems this workout, which has been doing the rounds, is based on an article published in the American College of Sports Medicine’s Health and Fitness journal and written by an exercise performance coach and the director of Exercise Physiology at the Human Performance Institute in Florida. The authors reference research on HIIT and exercise performance, insulin sensitivity and weight loss. However, the Seven Minute Workout itself has not been tested clinically and is not specifically designed for weight loss, although the authors do state that HIIT can be “an efficient means to improve health and decrease fat”. (I’ll post the link to the article as soon as their website is up and running again!)

Could it work? And obviously, for most people the question is could it work for weight loss and could it replace traditional methods of exercise such as moderate intensity continuous exercise (walking, running etc?) There are some researchers, bless their souls, who have been dedicated to researching not only HIIT but low volume high intensity training. That means, train harder and for less time. God love them!

One clinical trial in healthy young women compared HIIT, which equated to a 25 minute total session (5 minute warm up, then up to 60 repetitions of 8 second sprints and 12 seconds slow cycling, then a 5 minute cool down) three times a week, to moderate intensity continuous exercise (40 minutes cycling) for 15 weeks, and found that the HIIT group lost more fat. Overweight women lost more fat than women who weren’t overweight, losing an impressive 14.7% fat over the 15 weeks. Another trial found that a 6 week program of 10×60 second cycle sprints three times a week resulted in small reductions in fat mass.

Total time spent doing sprints was 8 minutes per workout, or 24 minutes a week. Is this workout equivalent to the Seven Minute Workout though? It sounded like subjects sprinted at maximum capacity or “all out” pace, whereas the Seven Minute Workout, while challenging, does not require quite this level of effort.

However, doing the Seven Minute Workout (which requires 6 minutes of high intensity training per circuit) for five circuits a week may approximate what worked in the clinical trial above. The authors state that more than one circuit may be required at a time. I love that it uses body weight training, and hence no equipment is required, and that it targets the whole body. I did three circuits the first time and found it to be a fun and easy way to train (easy as in I did it at home, when the kids were asleep, not easy as in it didn’t require effort!) I think it can get monotonous though, so I would mix it up with other exercises like burpees and tuck jumps and variations on the plank. And since I am eventually planning to run a half marathon, I am still doing my endurance runs and hill sprints. You can read more about how I discovered HIIT here and a little bit more about the exciting science behind it here.

Kudos to anyone who can motivate people to exercise, though, and it’s always good to know that a new weight loss trend isn’t a fad and is based on some science. Train hard!

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