Wednesday, February 26, 2014

A 30 Day Challenge: Week One

I'm not great at diets.
There's something about deprivation that immediately has me lusting for whatever it is that I can't have.
And over the years, I've worked hard to build a good relationship with food and exercise.
Like most women, I've had my battles with weight and beauty. Ironically, at the time when I was fittest and leanest, I was also at my most insecure. And there were times when I didn't eat enough, and/or exercised too much, and still beat myself up about it.
Being a Mum has definitely encouraged me to have a healthy view about exercise and nutrition. I don't want my kids growing up worrying about everything they put into their mouths, or whether their butt/tummy/thighs look big in that.
So for me, diets are not the answer. Enjoying food and good nutrition is.
Yes, it's true, I'm no longer the slim, muscled gym junkie I was in a lifetime long ago, and I so would like to have that body back. But I'm more confident and at peace with my body than ever before.
It's grown and nurtured two children. It's kept me here. It gets me to where I want to go.
So fad diets have been out for some time now.
It's no secret what the formula for weight loss is: Energy out has to be more than energy in.
But still, I have weight to lose, for reasons of vanity as well as health. Most of all, I'd like more energy. I seem to constantly battle with exhaustion.
Who wouldn't like an easy fix?
When my old school friend Viv Temple began telling me about a nutritional lifestyle she'd begun, I was pretty sceptical.
She'd lost 5 1/2 kg on a 30-day nutritional cleansing program, and discovered loads more energy as well.
A year later, she's not only kept it off, but she's lost more weight.  (A total of 10 kg, which was her goal.)
Catching up with her recently, I could see for myself that she looked healthy too. In fact, she was a glowing endorsement for the product.
The product is called Isagenix, and Viv now sells it to supplement the family income.
I'm as wary of network marketing as the next person. However, Viv is not the type of person to rip anyone off, let alone a friend, so I knew she truly believed in this stuff.
And, fighting the usual fatigue as we caught up over coffee recently, I found myself agreeing to trial Isagenix for a month.
I looked into the science behind it, and there's loads of information available online, and it seemed to make sense to me.
I know there will be those of you who disagree, and that's fine.
I'm not selling it, and I'm not suggesting you try it. I'm just giving it a go, and sharing my findings.
With Isagenix, you're only required to do 20 minutes of exercise a day - Viv mainly did walking. I do some form of exercise daily. Some days are more active than others, particularly gym days, which is at least 45 minutes.
I started my Isagenix cleanse on a Monday morning after a fairly celebratory weekend.
To be honest, I was dreading it.
You replace two meals a day with Isagenix shakes - which the company claims contain loads of nutrition. They are meal replacements with protein, carbs, enzymes, fibres and essential trace minerals.
There are two flavours, chocolate and vanilla. I loved the chocolate shake, didn't think much of the vanilla one, but it was okay. Then you have one 'knife and fork meal' a day, which I decided to have with the kids.
The first thing that hit me was that this was more than I would normally consume in a day. I've gotten into a bad habit of inhaling coffee instead of eating breakfast, while I see to the kids and make their lunches.
Often, I don't get any fuel until lunchtime. That's if I get time to eat! I hadn't realised how much I'd been neglecting my diet. Dinner is always light, and again, sometimes I'm so tired, I skipped it, unless eating out with friends and family.
I love my food, and I hadn't realised how my busy lifestyle had resulted in me depriving myself of it lately.
Sure, when I do eat, it's usually healthy. But I was kidding myself, that I what I was doing was good for me. I think I thought that by eating so little, the weight would drop off. But it was at a standstill. In fact, there hasn't probably been a lot to keep the metabolism going and fuel my body. No wonder I was so tired!
With Isagenix. the shake is quick and easy for breakfast. I can make it in seconds and drink it while I'm doing the mum stuff. All the while knowing I'm getting some decent vitamins and minerals and enzymes at the same time.
(I'm not a doctor, but there are notes you can take to your doctor or medical advisor for approval or otherwise. My GP thought it was fine, though my Chinese Medicine practitioner had a lot of negative stuff to say. I'll give him a chance to air his thoughts later. Meanwhile, if you want to find out more, you can go to www.isagenixhealth.net)
Vitamin and mineral supplements are included. All up the initial pack I needed cost about $7 per meal, but that included everything - including the supplements and a blender.
I can honestly say that for the first six days I was an angel. Nothing prohibited touched my lips. I had my two shakes a day, and a small meal. (I was allowed snacks as well, but I found I didn't need them). To my surprise, I didn't have any inital detox issues, like headaches or withdrawls, because I guess I eat quite well anyway. But by day three I was dreaming of a coffee at breakfast time, and a wine before dinner. I ignored the cravings, with the help of some moral support from Viv.
I was tired too, but I started on a week when I had what was being treated as an upper respiratory infection, later diagnosed as asthma, and finally pneumonia. So I'm not sure how much of the weakness had to do with the Isagenix and how much was due to being ill.
After four days of shakes, I did two days of cleansing. The idea of the Isagenix cleanse, isn't that your body is dirty and needs to be 'cleaned. It's that on the first cleanse day, your body takes sugar from your liver, then the colon. By day two, when your body is still looking for sugar, it goes to your fat, removing the toxins and impurities from the fat around your organs.
This actually allows you to burn the pesky fat that has been hanging around for so long.
You don't have to do two days of cleanses in a row, or any cleanses at all. But if you want to lose weight, it's recommended. And I wanted to lose weight.
During the cleanse, you take a powder up to four times a day - I drank it in purified water as a tea. In between, there are little chocolate flavoured tablets to snack on. Plus your supplements and loads of water.
The tea tasted nice, and although the tablets tasted like cardboard on the first day, they were delicious by day two!
There weren't any horrid side effects, as there are in some cleanses. Yes, I needed to go to the loo a little more than usual, but nothing to write home about. (Or blog. LOL).
I didn't actually feel hungry either. Or weak. At least on day one.
It was surprisingly easy. I even cooked the kids a roast pork meal and didn't even feel tempted to taste it.
However, I found cleanse day two really hard, and felt really hungry, tired and deprived.
I'd been encouraged by Facebook support group that I'd feel good when I woke up after the cleanse, but I still felt crappy. (But hey, pneumonia will do that to a girl).
The day after cleanse 2, my son was eating chocolate croissants as a weekend treat, and I had one too.
The thing is, I never eat chocolate croissants! It's a treat I don't allow myself. But because I'd been on a 'diet' and I guess feeling deprived, I gave into temptation. And I beat myself up about it! (Because you're supposed to burn more fat the next day if you continue on the Isagenix program).
I gave myself the day off after that. I didn't eat crap - just salad for lunch. It was a super-hot Queensland day, and I drank a low-carb beer with a friend in the afternoon. (I didn't feel like dinner).
Viv, my coach, was encouraging, and said it was fine to take a break and resume the next day.
Which I did.
I thought my slip-up might have ruined everything.
However, by the end of day seven, I had lost 2 kg, plus 1.5 cm off my chest, 1.5 cm off my butt and 1.5 cm off my thighs.
I felt really encouraged, because despite eating little in the past, and exercising, it was the first time I'd lost weight in ages.
I was still waiting for the energy hit (but bear in mind I was still quite sick). However, my eyes were clear, and my skin looked good.
People who didn't know what I was up to were telling me I looked great.
I wondered if the Isagenix fans were onto something ...


A slimmer, fitter, less-stressed Bronnie ... 


Sorry for crap selfie. Just before starting the Isagenix thingy 

Have you ever tried Isagenix? Or a cleansing or diet/nutrition program? How did it go? 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Happy birthday Harmonie

It was Harmonie's turn for a birthday yesterday, as she became a grown-up 11-year-old.
In our usual family tradition, she had a weekend of celebrations.
It began with a blue light disco on Friday night, one of her favourite places to go since we moved to Kingaroy last year.
Saturday was busy, starting with a special morning tea with Grandma and Pa-Pa. Later, we prepared for a sleepover with two special friends, and a get-together with a gaggle of other girlfriends the next day.
We had dinner with my family on Saturday night, including Harmonie's cousin Connor who turned 11 a week earlier. 
Three little girls shared a queen-sized bed on Saturday night through to Sunday morning, and I'm not exactly sure that much sleeping was done. There was lots of giggling and chatting, and plenty of bonding time - no boys allowed. 
The next morning, the trio helped get together for the party. "Childish" party games, like pass the parcel, musical chairs, and balloon races were out. Though there was talk at one stage about throwing darts at a photo of Justin Bieber! 
They planned mainly to hang out, talk, play music, and watch you tube videos. I guess my baby is now a pre-teen! 
But the tomboy in Harmonie couldn't resist one planned event - a water balloon fight! Every pair of togs she owned was shared out and worn, pretty much every towel in the house was wet, and my clean lounge room rug was now covered with grass and dirt. The girls ended up in the pool after that, and I'm banned from posting any photos of that particular activity! 
Lucy dog was in danger of being petted to death, the cats ran away, and I'm quite sure Chase was in hell. 
Like her brother, Harmonie didn't want a birthday cake. She wanted a cheesecake. (Chase, the Australia Day Baby, patriotically chose pavlova.)
I'm not known for my cheesecake making skills, and there isn't a Cheesecake Shop in Kingaroy, so I was relieved when my lovely neighbour and friend Kayla offered to make it.
"She'll probably do a better job than me," I said to Harmonie, trying to assuage my guilt at not making it myself. "No offence Mum, but she probably will," Harms shot back. Ouch! Clearly the memories of dodgy themed cakes of birthdays past have not yet faded.
(Oh and the cheesecake was delicious!)
We were all exhausted the next morning, but it was a school day after all. Harmonie, a studious child very much like I used to be, was happy enough to go. 
Living in Queensland, we took water ice-blocks instead of cake to share with the class, a decision that proved very popular because it was a sweltering hot day.
It was also very eventful. Harmonie sang in the school choir at an official ceremony that afternoon, and was sworn in as a senior leader.
But wait, there's more!
She and her brother recently took up Taekwondo, and Harmonie was determined not to miss a lesson, deciding to attend class rather than go out for a meal.  
In another family birthday tradition, she got to choose the evening dinner ... plain steamed rice! 
"You can choose anything you want tonight, and you're asking for steamed rice?" I asked. 
"Yes, it's yum," she replied.
Luckily, there were some meals I'd prepared earlier for later in the night when everyone got hungry.
Like Chase, Harmonie has entertained me so much over the years, given me so much love, and taught me so much about parenting, life, love, and myself. 
I will always love her to the moon and back and even more than that! 


Harmonie as a newborn. Photo taken in a rare moment, sleeping!


The mischievous phase begins ...


She loves her brother ...(sometimes!)


Biker chick


Wild child


Her feminine side


Happy birthday Harmonie!

Do you have birthday traditions in your household?


    

Monday, February 10, 2014

All the single ladies!

I’m not a fan of Valentine’s Day.
It’s true, I’ve had a few romantic ones in my time.
But even when I’ve been part of a loved-up couple, we’ve usually had other goals or wants in mind, and have agreed not to spend a zillion dollars on overpriced roses, chocolates and dinner on one night of the year.
To me, it’s always been more special to get flowers ‘just because’. Or to go on a spontaneous weekend away for the fun of it. To enjoy an indulgent dinner when everyone else in the area isn’t doing exactly the same thing (and paying twice the price).
That isn’t to say I’ve said no when someone has rocked up with a big bunch of roses or tiny box of jewellery.
But now is the time to confess: I’ve had some really horrendous Valentine’s Days as well.
It all started with those awkward teenage V. Days, where you go to your schoolbag, and your heart leaps to find a lovey-dovey card – only to find it’s from your BFF.  Or worse, there’s nothing at all!
The really sucky ones are the ones where you break up with your boyfriend on V. Day because he showed no respect by trying to drag you to a disco while you were studying for your first politics exam. (Told you I was a swat). To add insult to injury, he then showed up hungover on Valentine's Day bearing roses stolen from a stranger's garden along the way ... I may be practical, but a girl still likes a little romance! 
Then there are the ones you spend alone after breaking up with someone, going through photos, and cutting them out of the picture so to speak … (Just grabbing examples out of thin air here. Cough).
One of my weirdest Valentine’s Days was when I’d  broken up with someone, but because I felt sorry for him, we’d agreed to stay friends. (Note to self: This never works.) He made a big deal about wanting to take me out to lunch, because I was still so special to him, blah blah blah. I feel guilted into going, so I ended up cancelling plans with girlfriends. So he picked me up and took me to … a fish and chips shop! And we didn’t eat it anywhere special or romantic, like the nearby beach or river, where a picnic blanket and a view would have saved the day.
Nope, just at at the plastic tables outside the shop. And to add insult to injury, he had ‘forgotten’ his wallet, so I had to pay for it! I remembered exactly why I had broken up with him in the first place.
But Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to suck, even if you’re single. In fact, some of my most fun V. Days have been when I haven’t had a man in my life. Girlfriends and I usually get together and enjoy good food, wine and flowers just the same. Oh, and of course, chocolates. (Why should couples have all the fun?)
The lovely people at We-Vibe are also keen to make sure that singles don't miss out on pleasure on this special day of the year.
Yes, you don't need a Valentine to have a lot of fun if you've got one of their fabulous adult Thrill toys handy.
Thrill by We-Vibe, which I reviewed earlier this year, is designed for indulgent solo play. 
The winner of five international awards, the Thrill by We-Vibe is 100 per cent waterproof, whisper quiet, and comes with eight sensual and exciting modes, including the tease and the Cha-Cha.
It's made of medical-grade silicone, and is completely curvy so it fits into your body. And it's designed to stimulate inside and out, with both a G-Spot and Clitoral stimulator.
Better yet, We-Vibe are giving three of my lovely followers a Thrill of their own for Valentine's Day.
To enter, just like my facebook page, if you're not already doing so. Then leave a comment below, sharing your worst, weirdest or most wonderful Valentine's experience yet.
This competition is technically for single ladies, but since my last review I received quite a few messages from women who were married or in relationships who were left feeling unsatisfied in the bedroom.
So I'm opening it up to you as well, though I feel sad that you're in a relationship and not getting your needs met. 
I'm hoping to do some posts on this at a later date.
In the meantime ... Happy Valentine's Day, and good luck!


Entries close at 5 pm on February 14 AEST. Each Thrill by We-Vibe is valued at $169. Open only to Australian residents I'm sorry. You can follow We-Vibe at instagram@wevibeaust and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/WeVibeAust 

The competition has closed and the winners are: The Global Goddess, Kellie, and Claire L. Congratulations! Please send me your contact details so I can arrange for your prize to be delivered. 



Tuesday, February 4, 2014

And now the dust has settled ...

So the kids are well and truly back to school now.
Chase is settling into high school. He's loving the variety of subjects and teachers, but finding the volume of work and homework a challenge.
Just carrying around his brand-new backpack (thanks for the gift, Aunty Susan and family) is a task in itself - it weighs a tonne! No wonder he's exhausted every day.
Harmonie is at home in year six, at the top of the school. Her teacher seems nice, and although she'd been put in a class without any of her best friends, she's making new ones quickly - and of course, catches up with the others during breaks.
Schools don't waste any time these days though.
Chase came home with a multitude of forms last week, including homework, and permission slips for his first year 8 camp, which will be later this month. It's one I have mixed memories from my own school days.
I remember having loads of fun with my friends. But I also remember cold showers, and having to do long walks in the freezing rain. And the leeches. Oh the leeches. (Shudder ...)
Oh well, I'm sure it will be character building.
And Harmonie started school swimming yesterday, and will be swimming every day this week. Luckily, she's an Aquarian and is part dolphin, so she's happy about that.
I had to chuckle at one of Chase's permission forms, which was to allow him to participate in 'high risk activiities'. The activities? Stir-frying and pan-frying in home economics! He's already a dab hand at that.
I would have thought lugging that backpack between classes would be more dangerous!
By the end of the first week back at school, we were all tired and thoughts of doing something adventurous went out of the window in favour of a lazy weekend.
I've had an upper respiratory bug which has kept my energy low, so we all decided to sleep in on Saturday morning.
After a spot of shopping, we decided a weekend of DVDs was just what the doctor ordered.
Sunday was another sleep-in, followed by Chase's favourite Eggs Benedict for breakfast - I usually do a cooked breakfast at least one day on the weekend. Next weekend, it will be Harmonie's turn.
Oh we threw in some gardening, a little cleaning, a play with the neighbours' children, baking and more, but it was basically a time to recharge our batteries before another busy week.
The shiny new shoes are already scuffed and coated with a film of Kingaroy red dust, and the uniforms are stained.
But the enthusiasm is still there.
Readers, how did you and your children cope with going back to school?