Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Doing a 28 Day Challenge

As I've mentioned, I signed up for a 28 Day Challenge, with the goal of kick starting some weight loss, after adding a few extra kgs to my frame during a particularly busy time at work mid year.  I was trying to get back into the exercise myself, and I wasn't doing too badly, but I needed a bit of inspiration.  After forking over a bit of cash, I joined a local Personal Training Gym, and decided to commit.  For 4 weeks, at least.

The Gym

The gym was Back on Track Fitness, in Hoppers Crossing.  It's a relatively new personal training gym (I think it's been open for about a year) run by Brydon and Jenna.  It was a big warehouse, nothing fancy, with some gym equipment, some fake grass to run around on, and within 6 minutes of my house - critical point!

The Training

I was allocated to the All Female Group Training Sessions at 6:45pm, Monday to Thursday.   We had 45 min training sessions, with Monday, Tuesday and Thursday being bootcamp type training.  Wednesday was Boxing, but I didn't go to any of those sessions.

I've described a little of the training before, but the goal was to mix up strength and high intensity interval training / ploymetrics.  The general format was to do a circuit for 8 minutes or so, then move on to another circuit, and repeat a few times.  We also did some games like picking out Paddle Pop sticks with exercises on them, or using playing cards to choose the next exercise.

I also ran each morning.  Most of my runs were easy, with a couple of interval type runs, and a long run on a Saturday.  Honestly, I just wanted to workout in the morning, to keep up the habit of getting up early and getting moving.  My legs were really tired at the start of the four weeks in the mornings, but by the end, I was feeling good again.

The Eating

We hit the ground running on day 1 with a Detox program.  The goal: eat lots of leafy green vegetables, focussing on high-alkaline / low-acidity fruits and vegetables.  We were also introduced the the Green Monster smoothie (heavy on the spinach and kale) and drinking lots and lots of Detox water - water with lemon, cucumber and mint.  We could have some fish with our evening meal.

After the first week, we could add 150-200g of protein to each meal.  The direction was real lean protein, like fish, chicken, beef and pork.  I honestly couldn't stomach meat in the morning, so I have been adding a raw vegan protein shake into my morning Green Monster, and I think that's doing the job.

I feel like I'm eating HEAPS of vegetables, and I haven't been hungry, especially while making sure that I'm drinking lots of water.  The protein and high fibre is enough to keep me full.


  • It was great to have someone else make all the decisions for me - I just had to follow the instructions.
  • I think this type of training does get results fast, and I was SUPER sore quite a lot of the time.
  • The girls I trained with were all lovely, and very helpful and supportive.
  • Brydon and Jenna knew their stuff, and gave me lots of good hints and tips along the way - especially to do with my exercise form, and new exercises to try.  
  • I LOVED that the eating plan was based around real food - no supplements or pre-prepared food.  Just whole, real good for you food.
  • I lost a bunch of weight (about 5kgs) and cms from my measurements - 37.5 cms overall!  In 4 weeks!  Crazy.  
  • I felt great the whole time.  Well, apart from the sore muscles, I felt like I had lots of energy, was eating more than enough food, and my skin is better than it's been in ages.


  • I'm a morning training person, and I just couldn't get used to the evening workouts.  I made it to I think 9 sessions over the four weeks, which is not ideal, but just practical.  I felt like I had to skip out of work early to make it to training on time.
  • I'm probably not really a group training person.  I'm a loner, through and through.  And as nice as everyone was, I much preferred my morning lonely run, or even doing a DVD by myself in the garage.
  • To continue the training isn't cheap.  It's not expensive for the type of training and support you get when compared to standard PT rates, but I just couldn't justify that cost, when I'm happy to have a go by myself.  As a loner.  But if you are in my area of the world, and interested in this type of training, I'd definitely recommend Back on Track Fitness - you can only give it a go!

What now?

For now, I'm keeping up the eating plan, because I think it's good for me, and I'm enjoying it.  Basically, I'm not eating dairy or grains / wheat, I've cut out alcohol and coffee, and I'm trying to minimise fruit - using it more for pre-workout energy.

I'm actually going to mix up my training, and cut back to four runs and four weights / bootcamp sessions a week.  I want to make the most out of my training, and not keep running 'junk' miles.  I'm going to go to the Pump classes at my local gym twice a week if I can swing it, and make up two other sessions myself - either at the gym, or doing a workout DVD.

Seeing as I'm on a roll, I'm going to keep at it, and try to lose a few more kgs before Christmas and our holiday in Fiji after New Year.  I'm mostly sticking to this because it works for me, I enjoy it, I feel great, and I know it's making me healthier.

Have you done a fitness challenge to kick start your healthy life?  Did it work?  What did you learn?

Thursday, 12 November 2015

The gift of health

This week I've been quite contemplative about the important things in life.  A wonderful friend passed away this week after battling leukaemia for two years.  She was my age, and as I've been remembering the times we shared, I have also found myself thinking about my life.

I'm not one for big life goals.  I don't want a big house or fancy car.  I like to travel, but I'm not obsessed with it.  I enjoy time with family and close friends, but I also like time to myself.  I like my job and what I do for work, but it's not the be all and end all.

If I tried to describe the life I want, I think it would be a life full of peace, contentment and respect and appreciation - for myself, for others, and for the world around us.

I think this is exactly why I have reached a point where I have a focus on health in my life.  Although the passing of my friend reminds me that there are things that happen outside of our control,  there are many ways in which a healthy life supports the kind of life I'm seeking:

  1. At the simplest level, exercise for me brings me peace.  A run (whether good or not so good) always clears my head and my heart, and centres me.
  2. This week has reinforced for me that we only get one body, and there are things we can do to give this body of ours the best chance of supporting us through our journey, and giving us the means to do the things that we find fulfilling
  3. Making healthy choices is also a way of showing your respect for yourself, and for the people you love.  I care about my family and friends enough to treat myself well, and do the things I can control to be there for them for the rest of my life - because at some point, I might not be the one in control of my health.
  4. The more I learn about healthy eating, the more I appreciate the amazing gifts we receive from nature.  Real wholesome food is truly wondrous, full of goodness, and generally yummy!  
  5. A healthful life is also quite humbling.  It reminds me that there are things bigger and more meaningful than me all around, and we lucky to be able to be part of the big picture.
It is so easy to forget why health is important - if not the most important gift you can give yourself - when you are trying to meet a deadline at work, or running from day to day.  For most of us, good health is a choice we can make, and appreciating the fact that we have that choice is a gift to be savoured.

What do you do to appreciate the gift of health?

Monday, 9 November 2015

The simply pleasure of enjoying food

I've been on a pretty basic but healthy diet these last few weeks, and I have really liked how I feel as a result.  My meals are pretty much:
  • Breakfast: Green smoothie, with spinach, strawberries, mixed frozen berries, parsley, flaxmeal, chia, goji berries and protein powder.
  • Lunch: Large salad with lettuce base, usually includes tomatoes, spring onion, beans, capsicum, celery, carrot and corn, with protein - either canned tuna, or left over meat / fish from the night before
  • Dinner: Steamed / stir fry / roasted vegetables (ie. pumpkin, brussel sprouts, broccolini, bok choy, zucchini, onion, asparagus) with some meat protein (eg. salmon, chicken breast, kangaroo fillet, roast beef etc)
I've also been drinking heaps of water - for me.  The basis is a detox water that just has lemon, mint and cucumber in it, but also just having the occasional peppermint tea, or mineral water with lemon juice.

This kind of diet seems to suit my body, and I've already noticed a few things:
  1. My skin is much clearer than it has been in forever!  I still have a bit of redness because my skin is sensitised apparently (according to the chick to did my last facial), but it just feels heaps better.
  2. I have never been hungry.  Seriously, I was thinking about it on the way home from the gym.  Even yesterday when I had a relatively late lunch, I didn't feel hungry.  This leafy greens and extra water totally help fill you up.
  3. I haven't had that awful overfull filling either.  I can eat a huge bowl of salad or vegies with some meat, and I still just feel comfortable.  
  4. I've been sleeping like a log.  Crashing early and having a deep, restful sleep each night.

What has been hard about eating this way has been weekends.  Right or wrong, I associate food and drinks with certain events, mostly relaxing with family and friends.  I love a good Sunday brunch with coffee and eggs.  I like dessert on a Saturday movie night.  I like a glass of red on a Friday night after a long week.  I like baking on a Sunday afternoon.

I think in the end I just really like enjoying food.  As healthy as what I'm eating is right at the moment, and important for a specific goal I have, I believe there is still a place in our health-conscious world for food to be enjoyed and savoured.  The challenge we all have is to find the right balance of healthy foods and purely enjoyment foods in our lives.

Don't get me wrong - I enjoy eating healthy foods!  I love love love this fudge recipe.  I enjoy baking with coconut flour and almond meal and using mashed banana instead of sugar in recipes.  I like making meals from scratch, whether it be a homemade pizza, Mexican salsa, trying a new sauce for chicken, or using avocado in a chocolate mousse.

But I also enjoy having amazing cheese with a glass of wine, or a piece of organic dark chocolate.  I love a large cappuccino with eggs, avocado, tomato and spinach for breakfast.  I enjoy making a berry crumble, pumpkin pie, or having a scoop of decadent icecream.  And I especially enjoy sharing these things with family and friends.

After this 28 Day Challenge finishes at the end of this week, I'm really looking forward to continuing to eat in a healthy, mindful way most of the time, but also take the time to enjoy food again.

How do you enjoy food?